most important things {afternoons with kaya}

Lately my days with the kids have been really good or really rough. A few days ago I did quite a bit of journaling and note-taking to evaluate how things are going, what goals I have personally, for our home and family, etc. We’ve reordered our routines to line up better with where we want to be going. It’s been really rewarding to be focusing on those most important things. One of which is quality, quantity, hands-on time with my kids, and particularly some one-on-one time with my oldest.

If our day goes roughly “as planned” I have about an hour with her in the afternoon for some big-girl learning time or dinner prep or cleaning or whatever we need to do that day. It’s been pretty low key -no special planning or big crafting projects-, but our afternoons have been profoundly special all the same.

I’ve loved making lentil soup together in a hot July kitchen, letting her smell the olive oil, the garlic, the oregano – storing up each of her funny and precious reactions in my heart. She measures out 2 cups of lentils and we talk about how she wants to be the best chef, about how the onions turn translucent, then golden, about how we love making delicious food to care for our family and show people we love them. She went outside for a bit and when she came back in, the smell of our soup simmering delighted her and her flushed-cheek smile delighted me.

We read a book together one afternoon. She swept, I mopped. The next day I swept, she mopped. We folded towels. We squeezed lemons for lemonade  (with strawberries in it to turn it pink, of course!) and listened to a sermon. She invited me to play with her dollhouse until her brothers woke up. :)

I treasure it, and I’m thankful for it. I love how our simple play or work together lends itself to the easiest, sweetest conversations.

There are days when I feel tired, overwhelmed and strung-out and like I’m no good at what I do…like I’m not “cut out” to be a homemaker, wife, mother.

But then, there are other days, when I feel the quiet reassurance that being here is a big deal, even if we’re just sweeping floors and talking soup. ;-)




Broken Hearts & the Faithfulness of God

I used to think “brokenhearted” would never happen to me. I had enough high school breakups (only a few, but still enough!) and dramatic fall outs with “friends” growing up to know that one ought to be rather particular about the sort of people you allow yourself to become very close with. “Brokenhearted” only happens to the extremely boy-crazy or ultra-sensitive, right? Ehhh…wrong.

Care about any human being in the world (yourself included!), and you are liable to become brokenhearted at some point or another. What’s more, the Lord calls us to love one another, which leaves us wide open to heart injuries of the deepest, most painful variety.

But – there is sacred balm for this heartache, healing ointment for this crushing discouragement.



Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

We know the Lord is always with us, but in some magnificent and mysterious way, he is near to us in a special way when our hearts are broken. When a close friend betrays you. When your child is living in grievous sin and rebellion. When your spouse is distant, aloof, absent. When a lifelong dream slips away. When the heaviness of your heart distracts, exhausts you. When you can’t remember what joy, community, and hope feel like. When your grief overwhelms you and it seems not a soul could care.

Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Broken hearts think God far away, when he is really most near them…” When you most need him, he is near (Merriam-Webster: “in close or intimate manner”). If you are brokenhearted or crushed in spirit, our tender-hearted Savior is especially sensitive to you. He is close. Don’t believe the lie that He is absent, or unconcerned. He is in tune with your heart, and when you are brokenhearted, know that He is near to you.

As we cry out to God, we know He is able to heal our broken relationships and remedy any problem we face, but even if he chooses not to, there is great comfort in him. In the Psalms, we also hear proclaimed, “How good it is to be near God!” (Psalm 73:28) It is good to be near God! In a great, mysterious and miraculous way, the Lord works good for us out of our brokenness as it draws us near to Him. C.S. Lewis says that in the Psalms (and to David), God is the “all-satisfying Object.” He himself, his nearness, his presence, is balm for broken hearts.

Celebrate the presence today of the dearest, most intimate Friend of your Soul. When your heart is broken, when your spirit utterly crushed, in that moment when you need him most – He is near.

Psalm 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him; to all who call upon Him in truth.”

put ‘em in their place.

Sometimes I forget the place my children really ought to have in my life.

At times, they’re an accessory. Something pretty and charming, meant to make me look better. Are they doing well, being obedient, excelling in something? Ahh, good…maybe I’m “okay”…

At times, they’re an inconvenience, a chore, a difficult reality keeping me from some better life I’ve imagined that is less sweatpants-and-”I answered that question 13 times already” and more flattering to my ego or something.

But what are they really? How ought I really be thinking about these little ones entrusted to my care?

They’re not an idol. They’re not an obstacle.

They are a gift from the Lord. They are a blessing. {Psalm 127}

God forbid I consider them any other way.

In the midst of the mess, the expense, the exhaustion, the stretching-in-every-way, the setting-aside of other dreams…Oh, Lord! Renew my mind to truly consider them, from my heart, as a gift and a blessing, and to treasure them as You do.

<3 jc

how we’re treating baby’s eczema

swing love

Our littlest little guy has had some awful eczema that got especially bad in February, a cold, dry month, that also happened to be the very stressful month that we moved! His cheeks got the worst of it, but he had itches and rough patches all over his body.

It has been a really stressful, emotional process for me. It’s awful to see your baby’s beautiful face covered with a rash. Worse to see him uncomfortable and scratching himself raw in different places. :( We’ve prayed for God to heal him, and prayed for wisdom in taking care of his very sensitive skin. [A big Thank-you! to those sweet friends and relatives who have been praying for him.]

His skin is not perfectly clear, but we’ve had some really awesome improvements, so I thought I’d pass on a few of these things we’ve found…

1. gentler products. i’ve cut every cleaning/laundry/bath soap or product with any harsh chemicals (i should say, we’re moving toward this…i still find some rogue products/ingredients and its taken a while to find suitable replacements!). instead i make a lot of products myself, and order a few more natural, chemical-free things online. i miss the classic johnson & johnson baby smell! even aveeno eczema products didn’t do a whole lot of good, although they were better for a while. seventh generation products have been best for him so far (even so i’m pretty cautious using any soap or lotion on him!).

2. keeping cool. it’s so tempting to over-dress babies in an attempt to be protective mama-bear! but this leads to sweating which leads to itchy discomfort and aggravated skin! we keep him dressed lightly, keep his room cool, and opt for light blankets. for a while we were running a humidifier in his room to keep him from getting too dry.

3. essential oils. when something triggers baby Z and he has an outbreak, I treat it with a few drops of Melaleuca and Lavender (one of my favorite oils, I’ve shared about here) diluted with fractionated coconut oil. sometimes we use Roman Chamomile as well, but i don’t love how it smells soooo more often that not i skip that. i try to keep problem areas treated several times daily with these gentle, soothing oils. and since essential oils have become such a big part of our life, i went ahead and took the leap to join doTerra for wholesale prices. we have loved it!

4. food trial & error. it’s been hard discerning what food sensitivities he may have, and it can be really discouraging to feel like i can’t eat anything without fear of him reacting (he’s been exclusively breastfed up until about a month ago…and is still primarily BF). i have cut eggs and peanuts entirely and he is doing a lot better. he may have some dairy or wheat issues as well. if i have a couple days of higher carb/sugar intake it seems to be a problem. i’m still not sure we have this part nailed, and i’m really hopeful he’ll outgrow any of his sensitivities!

5. probiotics. we try to make raw milk kefir really regularly. i haven’t been able to get out to get our raw milk lately, so i take a probiotic and sometimes just make kefir with organic whole milk. this, coupled with the oils, may be the biggest help for our little guy.


Has your baby had severe eczema? What things have you tried? 

I’ll update in a few months if we learn anything else that is helpful.




musings of a stormy monday…

a few random musings on a stormy monday afternoon…

1. flummoxed. (adj.) isn’t that a great word? (“bewildered, perplexed”) i think its wonderful. its new to me, and i found it in “home” by marilynne robinson, which is so moving (& beautiful) it hurts.

2. DG blog. i regularly read the desiring God blog, but it has been consistently awesome lately. posts like “Dads, Date Your Daughter’s Boyfriend” and “How Are Women Saved Through Childbearing?” and “Side by Side on Sundays” are particularly worthwhile. do you follow this blog? what others do you enjoy?

3. hsp. this post was really interesting to me, and i could identify with so much of it. i find that i need to be intentional about many of these sensory things or i tend to become overwhelmed and irritable and then discouraged or depressed. honestly, mood management has been a huge struggle for me lately and we’re attacking it from several different angles and lots of prayer, but i was encouraged by this article and feel a little less alone in it now.


some Scripture on repeat in my mind lately…

And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
“The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
 And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

{the prophecy of Joel, quoted in Acts 2}

<3 Happy Monday to ya.


Saturdays are for exploring.

Saturdays are for exploring.

[Well, this Saturday isn't, seeing as we're all feeling pretty terrible, but you know - in general! :-D]

Recently we’ve had the happy experience of going on some little expeditions following our usual “bagel morning” AM routine. We visited Prickett’s Fort State Park and Valley Falls State Park in the past few weeks. Both are less than an hour from here, so it makes for a nice bite-sized adventure that leaves room for our non-negotiable afternoon naps. ;-)

Ezra thinks its too early for adventuring. ;-)

Ezra thinks its too early for adventuring. ;-)






Prickett’s Fort — lots to do here — we just did the FREE things! :)





“Here lies buried Colonel Zackquill Morgan” 1795





Lovely Valley Falls...

Lovely Valley Falls…


i think the auto-focus on our pocket camera is going...:(

i think the auto-focus on our pocket camera is going…:(




Daddy’s explorer buddies <3








...& the boys were a little overcooked, eh?! ;-)

…& the boys were a little overcooked, eh?! ;-)

And, I would be remiss not to mention the enormous TROUT that Nels caught the Saturday before Mother’s Day…:) The kids were delighted to get to see it early Sunday morning (before it became our Mother’s Day lunch! LOL)


It’s been fun sinking our teeth into West Virginia and discovering the beauty to be found here.

The outdoor adventures have been fun, but mama is missing the big city, so PITTSBURGH here I come! ;-)

Happy weekending, friends. <3


Consider One Another

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. 

{Hebrews 10:23-25 NASB} 

Recently I’ve been reading Hebrews, and repeatedly these words have caught my attention: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”

Usually our thoughts focus around ourselves. It’s a reality of our self-centered human nature. But here, the Lord is calling us to consider our brothers and sisters. To know them, understand them, study them to discern the way the Lord made them. As we begin to comprehend, through the Spirit’s revealing, the essence of their person, we can find ways to “provoke” (KJV), “stimulate” (NASB) or “motivate” (ESV) them to love and good deeds for the body of Christ and the good of the world. To do any of this with and for our believing family, we must be connected to one another through assembling together, “all the more as you see the day drawing near.” – and it is, amen?! :)

Have you studied your spouse in this way? What makes him tick? Who has God called him to love, and how? Is there anything keeping him from that? What good deeds has the Lord given your husband to do? Do you understand what he is called to do and know how to effectively encourage him in that? Proverbs 10:11 says “the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” Are your words motivating and life-giving for your husband?

What about your children? Consider them. What moves them? How might you nudge your daughter to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted?” (Ephesians 4:32) Do your sons open their mouths for the rights of all the unfortunate? Do they defend the rights of the afflicted and needy? (Proverbs 31:8-9) We need to exhort them every day, that none of them may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Let us be always seeking “to do good to one another and to everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15) In this way, we are the true salt of the earth.

Perhaps our own example of righteous living is the best way to provoke, stimulate or motivate one another to love and good deeds, as Matthew Henry says “A good example given to others is the best and most effectual provocation to love and good works.”

Of this passage in Hebrews, Henry also says: Christians ought to have a tender consideration and concern for one another; they should affectionately consider what their several wants, weaknesses, and temptations are; and they should do this, not to reproach one another, to provoke one another not to anger, but to love and good works, calling upon themselves and one another to love God and Christ more, to love duty and holiness more, to love their brethren in Christ more, and to do all the good offices of Christian affection both to the bodies and the souls of each other.” (Matthew Henry)

This is no hopeless endeavor, for we trust in One who is Faithful.

Consider one another.