Times of Refreshing

About a week ago I decided that I wanted to take a break from Facebook. There are a few heart-reasons for this, and I would like to explain my goals for the time away.

First, in the course of a few days, I read two blog posts that got my mind spinning. One was Preparing My Heart for Motherhood on a blog called Passionate Homemaking, and the other was On Quitting Facebook  by yourwishcake. The first article included one idea that was particularly inspiring to me –  taking a retreat before the baby comes. This allows for more time spent with the Lord, asking for grace and simply resting in His presence. For some expectant mothers this may mean a literal couple of days away for retreat. I don’t think that’s what it will mean for me, but I do want to feel centered and prepared. I want to feel like my relationship with the Lord is strong and close as I enter into what is sure to be a challenging and wonderful new stage in my life and motherhood experience. The second article was specifically about why the author (also an expectant mother) decided to quit Facebook. I enjoyed her humorous outlook and could relate to her thoughts on the downsides of time spent on Facebook.

During the time when I read these articles, I was feeling totally exhausted and spent a couple of afternoons crying about my lack of energy and accomplishments in a day. Since then I’ve had a blood test that discovered mild anemia. Taking an iron supplement has improved my strength, but it was also apparent to me that I needed to first cut myself some slack in my high expectations for my already hard-working body, and then cut out unnecessary things from life so that my waking hours could be spent more wisely. Facebook, of course, is a “non-essential,” and thus was one of the first things that came to mind in making these cuts (does it sound like I’ve been listening to too much talk radio about the budget deficit? true! ha!).

I really love Facebook. I love keeping in touch with friends near and far, staying “in the loop” about events, easily and instantly messaging friends when something comes to mind, sharing photos with family, etc. Social networking can be a really awesome tool. And yet there is balance to be found in everything, and for now I need a time of rest. Rest from constant updates, rest from temptation to compare, rest from thinking too much about others’ lives. I want to live these days as fully as possible. For me, that means separating myself from the world of Facebook for a time.

And you know what? The first week of this break has been a little difficult. Facebook has become a part of our life and routine. But, I feel increasingly confident in my decision and the time off-line been really nice too. My mind has been more restful. My time has been better spent. I’ve read Tolstoy instead of my Newsfeed. I’ve had more consistent (and longer) morning devotion times. And honestly, I feel like I have been a better friend even though I’ve been less “web-accessible.” I have spent more time praying specifically, writing personal letters and e-mails, having a few phone conversations, etc.

I don’t think Facebook is a villain by any means. I think its a wonderful way to be connected – but I also think there is a time for disconnection with a purpose. My purpose from now until Hudson arrives is soaking in these summer months and living fully, resting and preparing emotionally, physically and spiritually for our new phase (as much as can be done!) and fasting from a normal habit to make sure that it is kept in check.

In the meantime, I appreciate your prayers for our family as we are going into a really special time! We are so excited about the baby on the way, plus Nels is entering his final semester here at seminary. There are lots of unanswered questions and possibilities. I pray that God will prepare my heart to follow in whatever way He leads us!

<3 jc

three years ago…

Three years ago…July 29, 2008…

He asked me if I’d marry him.

On a picnic blanket beside the Missouri River, with mulberry-stained feet he sang to me and read to me and we prayed together and I said yes.

He gave me this ring and a kiss and we sealed the deal…<3

…and began this journey towards becoming one.

I was 19 and he was 25, just home from training in Ft. Jackson. It was a lonely summer apart and the thought of being together for always seemed too good to be true.

I wouldn’t trade these first three years for anything.

(…but maybe a few of those first months…! ha! kidding!).

jc

18 Months

Kaya Abigail,

Well today is your half-birthday! Happy un-birthday to you, my love. <3 It seems like we just celebrated your first birthday and now here we are, half-way to your second!

You are growing into such a big girl – and a beautiful one too! There are so many moments when I just watch you – trying to memorize every little detail of your chubby face and delightful 2’6″ stature, the sound of your still-babylike voice, testing out new words on your untried tongue. I love just watching you occupy yourself reading in daddy’s chair, turning pages like such a miniature grown-up. Your joy and enthusiasm for fresh air, plants, squirrels and birds is so contagious. You squeal when you go outside, you squeal when you see other children or babies, you squeal when we get to church or return home from running errands.

God breathed life into your lungs 18 months ago and every day I am amazed at just how much life, energy and joy can be bottled up in your sweet body.

You point to my tummy and say “baby,” but I don’t think you know yet that in about two months you will have a little brother! We are so excited. I must admit, at times during this pregnancy I felt hesitant to embrace the wonderful joy of a little baby on the way. How could I be so excited while pregnant with this baby when I was overrun with fear, anxiety, confusion, some unnamed sense of “loss” when pregnant before? It didn’t seem like it was fair – to you. But then, sweet Kaya, I realized that there was no need for this guilt – that you – birthing you, loving you, getting to know you, nurturing you, disciplining you, just watching & enjoying you – God used you to bring about this difference. Our 18 months together has been so special, and in this time God, through Kaya Abigail, has transformed my mind and heart about being a mother, about having children, about making our home my center. Because of experiencing new life with you, I know what a blessing new life is (even though sometimes accompanied by fear).


Each “stage” seems a little better than the last. We are at such an exciting place right now! Every day you are learning new words. You make up games every day. You are cuddly, tickly, affectionate and a bit rambunctious. Lately mommy & daddy have been so proud of you as you learn to use the potty. You pretend to wipe and wave “bye bye” to your potty when it’s flushed. :) Your interests are such a fun mix of daddy’s girl with a little bit of girly girl – you love being outside or playing ball, and you’ll hold frogs or fish without a second thought, but still you ohh and ahh over a fresh coat of pink nail polish and I always catch you trying on my shoes and sunglasses. Reading has been one of your favorite things for months now, and every day you and I read a few books together. When we read your most-beloved stories, you say some of the words before I even read them. You help daddy in the garden a lot – digging in the dirt, carrying squash and cucumbers in your bucket, and filling the watering can with rocks. :) You are such a sweet helper!

Kaya Abigail. Your name means “season’s beginning” and “God the giver of life.” Abigail means “father’s joy.” You certainly are your father’s joy, and your birth brought about a new season in our family’s life. It has been so wonderful, and I am so thankful for you, my little love! You are more precious to me than I ever could have imagined.

Happy 18 Months “diddle diddle,” Peach, Sugar Beet, Boo Boo, Bean, KyPie, Pookie, Miss Abigail <3 We love you!

a taste of summer

Have you been berry picking or cashing in on great deals on summer berries at the farmers market? Yum. One of the healthiest, yummiest things summer has to offer, I think!

We recently visited the berry patch, and though the pickings were slim after this strange growing season, we came home with about a pound and a half of blueberries, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them (I made it last year and have been dreaming about it ever since).

I have to admit, I am intimidated by pie making. I’m no expert. I always burn the crust or make it too runny or too…something…but this pie has still been a winner for us both times…and, all from scratch, it only took about half an hour from beginning to baking-time. My husband said it was the best pie he’s ever had. But then he’s a sweetie and a sometimes-wife-flatterer, and I’m not sure he can be trusted in this case ;-) so you’ll have to try it for yourself.

Here’s the recipe: Blueberry Pie and the simple crust we used: Pie Crust.

Paired with some homemade whipped cream, I still say it’s the best breakfast ever. :)

jc

oh, monday.

Kaya is on her 3rd outfit today.

coincidentally, so am i.

& for a million other reasons – it’s been one of THOSE mondays.

but – yesterday in church Isaiah 40 was read aloud. it was really beautiful – these verses in particular:

     Have you not known?

      Have you not heard?

      The everlasting God, the Lord,

      The Creator of the ends of the earth,

      Neither faints nor is weary.

      His understanding is unsearchable.

  He gives power to the weak,

      And to those who have no might He increases strength.

 

hope/ hallelujah.

also, we heard little Hudson’s heartbeat this morning. Kaya’s eyes were wide when he kicked the doppler…<3 hearing it never gets old.

jc

grace.

(found here)

this has sooo been my struggle this week.

ugh.

i feel too tired to do things, then frustrated about things undone, or half-done.

trying to let God set my priorities

trying to be content with being less than perfect…

…in my housekeeping, in my friendships & even in my own skin.

trying to not listen to Satan & my own self telling me how much i suck.

ugh. its been an ugly couple of days.

…..

here’s to grace 

only from Him.

[[Psalm 138:3 On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.]]

naming our baby boy!

A name is such a huge decision.

I think it’s one of the big privileges (& responsibilities!) of early parenthood. And it’s amazing how people sort of “become” their name.

Anyway, we had one name that we liked for a boy way back before Kaya was born, so of course when we found out that this baby would be a boy, it was instantly at the top of our list. Before long, we were calling him by that name without even realizing it. I wanted to be extra positive that I loved his name…and that it was right. I told Nels we should sift through a lot of names in the baby name books again, and make sure there were no other names that popped out at us. He said it seemed silly, seeing as he already had a name. But still, I wanted to be certain. A name is a really big deal! :)

Of course there were a couple of times that I looked at baby name websites, but one afternoon I was about to pull down a couple of name books off the shelf, and it just felt strange. He already is who he is, and his name already seems to fit. Looking for another name seemed a little ludicrous – like it was just a hoop I was jumping through when in the back of my mind it had been settled already. I put the book back, and it’s probably for the better, as daddy Nels would’ve taken lots of convincing even if I had found another name. :) After praying for some Holy Spirit peace, I have become more and more confident in giving our son this name.

So what is it?? :) ….


…Hudson Nathanael.

Hudson is a handsome and strong name that I have loved for years. Hudson Taylor, his primary name sake, was a missionary to China, especially known for founding the China Inland Mission. The name Hudson also reminds me of the Hudson River, which is special to me because I was named for the Jordan River.

Nathanael is Nels’ middle name, a Carlson family name that was given him in honor of his grandfather who had the same middle name. It’s Hebrew, meaning “God has given.” And I am so thankful that he has! :D

Anyway, it feels good to be making progress on our preparation for the little man on his way! I recently started his journal (just like Kaya’s), completed our baby registry for him at Target, and have been getting our nursery organized for a second little one! <3  Only 2 months & 11 days to go till due date – Praise the Lord! :)

jc

life lately

Hmm…what have we been up to lately?

Well, there’s been a bit of finger paintin’ -

And furniture re-doin’ -

We’ve been backyard-turkey-watchin’ (I thought we lived in Kansas CITY?!? ha!) -

Sunny day pool-side-sittin’ -

Enjoyed some spaghetti-lunch-eatin’ -

And 4th-of-July-celebratin’ -

(also – does anyone else gain 90% of their pregnancy weight in their NOSE like i do?! sheesh. at least there are no stretch marks there…yet.)

…and such. We are generally enjoying a rather low-key, peaceful summer…and tonight is date night, so yay! <3

How has yours been? – jc

A Good Wife

“A good wife is Heaven’s last, best gift to man, his angel and minister of graces innumerable, his gem of many virtues; her voice his sweetest music, her smiles his brightest day, her kiss the guardian of his innocence, her arms the place of his safety, the balm of his health, the sure balsam of his life; her industry his surest wealth, her economy his safest steward, her lips his faithful counselor, her bosom the softest pillow of his cares, and her prayers the ablest advocate of Heaven’s blessing on his head.”

- Anonymous Husband

Wow. How’s that for a standard to strive for and a beautiful picture of true womanhood? Only by God’s grace!

<3 jc

Summertime Squash Recipes

How is your garden faring this summer? Ours is starting to burst with squash, and I couldn’t be more delighted. We are coming up with all kinds of tasty ways to use this versatile vegetable, and have had some extra to give away as well. I’ve really been surprised at how having just a small garden plot has really helped us to live well on a fairly light grocery budget this summer. I’ll have to post some pictures soon…we have tiny baby pumpkins and watermelons, lots of sugar snap peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, raspberries, plus lots of herbs and peppers on the way. But mostly, we have some prolific squash growth and we are not sick of eating it yet! And I plan to keep mixing it up by trying new recipes so that we don’t get sick of it anytime soon.

Squash is a mild-flavored vegetable and takes on and compliments the flavors in any given dish quite well. We have enjoyed it as a topping on homemade pizza, mixed in veggie stir-fry dishes and sauteed and served alongside scrambled eggs and salsa for breakfast. My favorite way of eating squash so far is just slicing it up real thin and sauteing with some garlic, onion and red pepper, sprinkling with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese and then tossing with olive oil and angel hair pasta. It is so fresh, so quick and soooo delicious. We have also tried variations of this same dish using different vegetables and spices – like cayenne pepper. YUM. Here are some more squash (or zucchini – but yellow squash or any other squash can be fairly easily substituted) recipes that we have either tried and enjoyed already, or are keeping on hand to test out soon. Hope you enjoy! (Photos not mine.)

Tortellini & Zucchini Soup

Grilled Yellow Squash – We love squash on vegetable kabobs, but these thick grilled slices look yummy too!

Herbed Squash & Rice Casserole – This was so simple and delicious. I used up some left over rice and veggies from the fridge and still it was a hit dinner with my hubby.

Roasted Squash & Fennel with Thyme

Vegetable Lasagna  - Anything from the Pioneer Woman is worth a try in my book!

I think we will also try some squash stuffed in veggie calzones…and I’ve heard you can substitute yellow squash for zucchini in zucchini bread, but I’m a bit skeptical about that! We’ll see…;-)

I do realize this is my 3rd post in a row about food…hmm…I promise to get back to writing about something else sometime soon! :)

<3 jc