Monday, December 22, 2014

the greatest christmas present ever

After a season of waiting we received the most perfect and amazing Christmas present. We are in incredible awe of what God has done for us, how he has blessed us beyond measure with the most perfect daughter and in turn allowed us to become a family.

Let me introduce you to our daughter 
Esther Marie Carlson

We love her so much and we can't help but just sit and stare at our beautiful miracle baby:) Our hearts are full!

Even though  our adoption journey has not been easy at times, God provided us with a wonderful birth family that we had the opportunity to get to know towards the end of the journey. We truly care about this family and their incredible loving sacrifice that allowed us this beautiful healthy daughter. We look forward to sharing with Esther her beautiful birth story. 

We are incredibly humbled by the outpouring of love and support from so many of you for our adoption. We lack words to express our thankfulness, but we will start with a THANK YOU! Thank you to everyone who has helped make our dream of bringing home our Carlson baby a reality. Thank you for loving us and in turn loving little Esther.  

We are still raising money to help fund this wonderful adoption. If you are interested in making a tax deductible year end donation please consider making a contribution to 

If you would prefer to purchase something tangible that supports our adoption as well then if you buy some yummy candles at Waiting Hearts Candle Co using our link ( we will receive 35% towards our adoption.

Thanks again for all of your support! We are overjoyed this Christmas season to have Esther as part of our family! God is good!


Monday, December 8, 2014

milling mondays: danish christmas recipes

As I mentioned in my last post I can't believe that it is almost Christmas! So exciting:) I just love love Christmas time. I love the cozy times spent with family and friends. Christmas trees and decorations, gift exchanges, Christmas smells, and yummy yummy food and dessert that are served this time of year. This season is often filled with nostalgia for me and with that the desire to make Christmas recipes I grew up enjoying. Here are some of my favorite yummy Danish Christmas treats featured on this blog if you want to try something new and delicious.



Danish Rye Bread with Dried Fruit, Seeds and Nuts


Ginger Cake (Ingefærkage)

If baking isn't your thing and you enjoy yummy smelling Christmas candles you can head over to Waiting Hearts Candle Co using this link to purchase some.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

christmas gift ideas

I can't believe it is already December which means Christmas is just around the corner! If you are looking for some Christmas gift ideas here are some options... and a portion of each purchase goes towards our adoption!

One idea is to get some yummy candles at Waiting Hearts Candle Co. (who doesn't like receiving candles?). They have great Christmas and Fall flavors perfect for this time of year. The people who created this company have also adopted and they in turn have a desire to help others raise funds for their adoption. For each candle purchased using our link ( we will receive 35% towards our adoption. And they are currently offering free shipping so it can't get better than that:)

If you know people who love coffee (yes please!) another gift idea is purchasing coffee and things of that nature at Just Love Coffee Roasters. If you make a purchase using our link ( a portion will go towards our adoption (if you go to their fundraising page you can see how much of each purchase goes towards our adoption).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

thank you

As I have mentioned we are adopting! We are so incredibly grateful to all of you who have supported us already in this journey. We have been so humbled by people's generosity. As you may know we just completed our shirt fundraiser. Thank you to all of you who helped us sell 70 shirts! They should be on their way to your front door.

Many of you have also helped support us by contributing on adopt together. If you are interested in making a tax deductible year end donation please consider making a contribution to to help us bring Baby Carlson home:) 

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at

Sunday, November 2, 2014

happy birthday maya

this fun girl's birthday is today. 
happy birthday, maya! 
we wish we could be there to help you celebrate. 
we miss you and look forward to the next time we get to see you.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

one way to help

I can't believe it is November already! This year has absolutely flown by. Pretty soon the holidays will be upon us and maybe just maybe we will be out of the 90s in Phoenix:)

As I mentioned in my previous post - we are adopting! We also mentioned there are several ways you can help support us if you feel led. One of the ways is by buying a shirt. If you have been thinking about getting one then you have one more week. The shirts will be available until Friday, November 7.

If you are interested here is the link (they send them internationally as well)

If you have any questions please let us know.

Monday, October 20, 2014

milling mondays: whole wheat raspberry almond coffee cake

Who doesn't like raspberries? Last month when raspberries were on major sale I enjoyed these lovely berries and kept thinking how wonderful these raspberries would taste in a dessert. Well, I didn't get around to making a raspberry dessert while the berries were on sale, but I am so glad I still ended up making one. It was delish! This cake was light and moist and not too sweet and the almonds added a nice little crunch. What a great little treat.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Almond Cake


6 oz fresh raspberries
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour (2/3 soft wheat berries and 1/3 hard wheat berries)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbs butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together the raspberries and brown sugar and set aside.

If you mill your own flour, grind 2/3 soft wheat berries and 1/3 hard wheat berries. I used my WonderMill on the pastry setting. Sift the flour once to make the cake less dense.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl mix together the egg, sour cream, butter, and vanilla extract.

Mix together the dry and wet ingredients

Then add half of the batter into a greased and floured 8" round baking pan.

Top the batter with the sugared raspberries.

Spoon the remaining batter on top of the raspberries.

Finally, sprinkle the cake with the almond slivers.

Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool. Serve with icing if desired. I typically mix together confectioners' sugar with a tiny bit of water and maybe a little vanilla extract.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

sometimes plans change

It is funny how our plans seem to change. Mine do anyway. I often have these great plans (at least in my mind they are) and then they turn out to be exactly that, my plans. Many times the path I think would be best for me is not what God has in store for me.

One of such plans was to get married (check) and then have children (still unchecked five years later). That seems simple enough. It seems to work that way for the majority of people. I don't think this was an unreasonable plan, it just wasn't our plan. I have shared about our journey through infertility here and here. In the latter post I reflected on how something needed to change. And something has. God has done amazing work on our hearts.

During our time of infertility God started preparing me for the possibility of expanding our family through adoption. After God and I wrestled with this for a while, and after spending much time in prayer and seeking counsel from others who have adopted, something changed in our hearts. After all the tears and prayers that went into our journey with infertility, God has filled our hearts with a deep and genuine excitement for adoption. Now we can't imagine not expanding our Carlson family through adoption. I am beyond grateful that both Michael and I have a desire to pursue adoption. In August we became certified to adopt (we are home study ready:)) and are excited to move forward.

Even though we are thrilled to expand our family through adoption, this road isn't easy. There are so many things we can't control. When exactly will we become parents? We don't have the luxury of a nine month warning. We could get the baby's room ready now, but then does it become a reminder of what we don't have? Or will it be a joyful reminder of what to expect? We can't control the expectant mother. We can't control how she lives her life while pregnant. All we can do is pray. Pray she will make good choices and most of all pray the baby will be protected. We had to apply to be parents. And now we are at the mercy of the expectant mother's choosing. We can be chosen only for the expectant mom to change her mind.

Talk about a roller coaster of emotions. Infertility brought many emotions, but adoption brings so many more. Oh, and then there is the enormous cost of bringing our baby home. Of course no cost can compare to our wonderful Carlson baby, but the truth is, without help we can't afford to make this wonderful Carlson baby a reality.

This uncertainty has forced us to lean and trust on God. Already this process has made our faith in God stronger. We have to trust that God is in control and that He is all-knowing. This process has also made our marriage stronger. It has forced us to communicate our desires and concerns in
an even deeper way. It has forced us to lean on each other in moments that are completely out of our control. We have already had to lean on our community and many have invested and supported us through this journey already. For this I am beyond grateful. Even though we may have a long way to go still - this journey has already been such a testament to how important it is to be part of a loving and supportive community.

I was talking to a friend a while ago who reminded me of the incredible privilege it is to adopt. Even if it is not an easy road, God has entrusted us to look after this child. To care for His child. To be part of His plan. To partake in His mission. What an honor that He would entrust me. Me! That He considers me worthy despite being unworthy of this.

We are so grateful to be headed toward adoption, but we know this is not something we can do on our own. So if you would like to be a part of this journey, here are some ways you could join us:

1. PRAY. Please pray for God’s continued guidance, financial provision, and protection for our future baby.

2. BUY A SHIRT. Ten dollars from every shirt you buy will go toward our adoption

3. MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please go to

If you have any questions or are interested in helping us in other ways, please feel free to contact us at

Friday, October 17, 2014

happy birthday to my parents

Happy birthday to my sweet parents. These two were born only hours apart, but on two different days. 
So today (on my mom's birthday) I want to wish them both a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
We love you both and wish we could have celebrated with you. 

**i usually don't like celebrating them both on the same day so they can each have their own day:) ... but we are hoping to give a special update/announcement on the blog tomorrow so I wanted to make sure to give them both a shout out today**

Monday, September 15, 2014


Last month we went to New Mexico on a short pastor's retreat with Michael's co-pastor and his wife. We enjoyed a great couple of days together in cooler weather in the midst of the beautiful nature that surrounded us. Glorieta Camps where we stayed had lots of fun to offer and peaceful places to sit and reflect. 

can't go wrong with pbj sandwiches
prayer garden

Thursday, September 11, 2014

happy birthday to my husband

kenya 2014

to my amazing husband!

I am so thankful for this man and who he is. I'm so glad he was born. 
Love you!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

team kenya 2014

Here are some team snapshots from our Kenya travels. Our team motto was everything is awesome! Yes, we all watched the Lego movie on the plane.... Thank you for being awesome teammates!

Celebrating Bailey's 12th birthday in style

lots of laughter

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

wordless wednesday

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

friends in kenya

One of the things I always look forward to when going to Kenya is getting to spend time with both familiar and new faces at Food for the Hungry. These people do incredible work on behalf of FH. They love on the people in the communities they serve and seek to advocate on their behalf. They work tirelessly always with a smile. And even though having a team come visit adds extra work to their job, they always welcome us in with open arms. We consider them great friends. 

Every morning we would start the day at the Food for the Hungry office with devotions and often before we left for Njuruta we would also enjoy a cup of Kenyan tea. 

We got to spend some extra time with Zipporah and Makena who hosted our team. We are so thankful for these women and all they did for us.

We of course also made other friends along the way.
Here are the sweet women who took care of us where we stayed by cooking and cleaning for us. 

Our driver in Meru/Njuruta, Paul!

At the end of our journey, when we returned to Nairobi, we got to see our sweet friends Loise and John. It was so great to see and catch up with good friends. We wish they lived closer.

Monday, September 1, 2014

building a new classroom

One of the projects we helped support while we were in Njuruta was the building of a new classroom. When we were there in 2012 we saw their new brick maker and one of the classrooms they had built with the bricks they had made. This year we got to witness (and help a tiny bit) as they started building yet another classroom. It is so encouraging to see how much they value education and making sure their students have a good environment to learn (see this post for pictures of their old classrooms). They seem to understand how important education is to the flourishing and future of their community. Nicer classrooms also help attract teachers to the area and since they have started building better classrooms more teachers have come. 

One of the days we were there we helped lay the foundation of the new classroom, which meant helping gather large rocks.  

As the days went by it was fun to see the progress as the community came together to help build the classroom.