Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Proverbs 31 - How Do You Measure Up?

My husband just left for work.
It's still dark out.
I kissed him goodbye and returned to my bed to read alone before the children wake up.
My reading took me to Proverbs 31.
As I read this famous and familiar passage, I tried to insert myself and see if I "measure up."
"It is hard to find a good wife, because she is worth more than rubies."
My birthstone is a ruby!
"Her husband trusts her completely.  With her, he has everything he needs."
He does trust me, but not so sure he has all he needs.
"She does him good and not harm for as long as she lives."
Um, he's a cop, there are guns in our house, so yea, I don't try to pull anything on him.
"She looks for wool and flax and likes to work with her hands."
I buy amazing chips from Trader Joes with flax seed in them!  And right now I'm working with my hands preparing some fun things for a birthday party (and I'm typing with my hands!).
"She is like a trader's ship, bringing food from far away."
I go to Trader Joe's, it's too far away to walk, and I bring food home from there.
"She gets up while it is still dark and prepares food for her family and feeds her servant girls."
NO WAY!  I just got up in the dark to make my husband a sandwich! 
But wait - servant girls?  I knew it's was God's plan for me to have some extra help. 
Where are they?
"She inspects a field and buys it.  With money she earned, she plants a vineyard."
Now this is just getting ironic - today I'm taking the children to the nursery to buy plants for our garden.
"She does her work with energy, and her arms are strong."
Remember that lawn mower I rocked?  Yep, big, strong arms!
"She knows that what she makes is good."
My tacos last night rocked.
"Her lamp burns late into the night."
I did stay up until 11pm watching Shark Tank.
"She makes thread with her hands and weaves her own cloth."
Um, what?
"She welcomes the poor and helps the needy."
We had 2 college students over for dinner last night :)
"She does not worry about her family when it snows,
because they all have fine clothes to keep them warm."
Check!  I can promise that I have never ever worried about my family when it snows
 here in Southern California.
"She makes coverings for herself; her clothes are made of linen and other expensive material."
Does Old Navy use expensive material?  If so, I'm good.
"Her husband is known at the city meetings,
where he makes decisions as one of the leaders of the land."
Sergeant Newquist, heard of him?  He's well known downtown!
"She makes linen clothes and sells them and provides belts to the merchants."
Once I led a mission trip of college students to Kyrgyzstan.  The only boy on our team didn't have a belt.  Daily his unders were exposed as his pants hung down.  When one of the Kyrgyz teens pointed out how embarrassing it was, I gave him a belt.
Does this count?
"She is strong and is respected by the people."
Well, not sure about the respect, but I think I'm pretty strong, again, remember the lawn mower?!
"She looks forward to the future with joy."
Yes!  Everyday I look forward to 8pm with great joy.  (that's bedtime for the kids)
"She speaks wise words and teaches others to be kind."
Emma - gentle and kind.  Georgia - be kind.  Mack - are you being kind?
yep, I say these words all day long.
"She watches over her family and never wastes her time."
Contrary to popular belief, I do not think RHBH is a waste of time thank you.
"Her children speak well of her."
Best Mommy in the Universe - they tell me every night from bed.
"Her husband also praises her, saying, 'There are many fine women,
but you are better than all of them.'"
WHAT?  You know other fine women?! Hmmmmm
"Charm can fool you, and beauty can trick you, but a woman who respects the Lord should be praised in public for what she has done."
What I call the 'escape clause,' I'm not that charming and any beauty is quickly fading, but I do my best to live and love like Jesus.  So today I'm going to stand outside of Starbucks at 2pm for any passers by to give me some words of praise and encouragement.
Ah, the famed Proverbs 31 woman.  Seems like an unattainable goal.
The bar is set so high.
Or is it?
When we read this passage, or listen to our friends, or read blogs and magazines, aren't the words just left up to our interpretation?  We often take what we read or hear and elevate it to places it wasn't intended to go.  We compare ourselves to others.  We fall short.  We are discouraged.
We are our own worst critic.  We make many standards and goals unattainable. 
But you know what?
If we are following hard after God, doing our best to know Him and love Him more, making it our mission to raise our children to know Him and sharing His love with all we come in contact with, then we've escaped the pressure and unattainable goals of society.
Today, do your best to fear the Lord.
Nothing more.
Nothing less.
It's ok of the house is a mess and the dishes aren't done. 
 Heck, it's ok if you forget to brush your teeth! 
 Just love the Lord.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lower Your Expectatioans

One of the greatest pieces of parenting advice I've ever been given was - if your children are not met by a smiling Moma, then lower your expectations of them! 
That hit me hard because honestly, my children are often met by a scowling Moma! 
 I'm frustrated, shocked, disappointed... these little people can drive me nuts!
And then it hit me, my expectations of these little people are far too high.
That's why they often see me scowl.
Mostly at meal times.
Or when we're running late and "hurry" isn't in their vocabulary.
Or when I see the status of their rooms.
I expect far too much from them and I know that frustrates them.
It frustrates me.
Somewhere along the parenting path I've forgotten this little piece of advice.

Then this morning I read,
"Fathers, do not nag your children.
If you are too hard to please, they may want to stop trying."
Colossians 3: 21

Reminded again to lower my expectations of my little ones
so they are met by a smiling Moma more than a scowling one!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Grateful Not Guilty

"Grammie, do I add water to this?  Should I put in more pepper?"
"No, everyone can do their own."
"Grammie, do I do the next potato?"
"Yes, do them all."
"Who's being so kind and nice over there? Is that little Georgia?  I'm so impressed by you."

The sweet conversations of a morning kitchen where my little girls are allowed to help in ways that I'd never entertain.  Frankly, it's too much work.  And I worry about them cutting he selves or getting burned.  And I love to cook and I'd just rather do it myself.  But not here.  Here they get to do all sorts of things without someone hurrying them or yelling at them or telling them, "oh, just let Moma do it."
Here they learn, they are encouraged and they are praised.





I used to feel guilty when my girls were little and my mom would come visit and play with them in ways I never did.  As they got older, she'd let them do all sorts of things that I never would.  Cooking, painting, picking flowers, filling bird feeders... And I'd feel guilty about that too.

Today as I sat and listened to the dialogue between my girls and their Grandmother in the kitchen, I didn't feel guilty, but grateful.  Grateful that their Grandmother is patient with them, finds the good in them and empowers them to be more.  I don't need to feel guilty that I don't let them cook every meal, do the dishes and laundry, wait a minute, am I nuts?!  But seriously, my mom is now in a different place in life.  She's not rushing out the door, taking care of small children, working... She has wisdom and time that allows her to invite her grandchildren into the everyday tasks that they love and let them participate.  I don't yet have that luxury, so in this season I can't let them participate in everything and I don't have to feel guilty about that.  I'm grateful that in our village, there are those who can give my children what I can't and I will continue to surround myself with those other villagers and allow them to teach and refine my children, guilt free!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Black and Blue? Or White and Gold?

Do you ever feel like it just can't get any worse?
I have.
Last week.
My husband has been awaiting knee surgery for a long, pain filled, sleepless month. 
That means I've been waiting too, caring for the pain (his pain, not him!) and not sleeping for a month.
The night before the surgery was the worst.
The pain, not simply in his knee, but whole body pulsed at a rate that kept us both up all night and I kept trying to encourage him, "Hang in there babe, you're on the home stretch.  Only a few more hours and this will be over."
When he wasn't looking, I secretly went in the bathroom and cried.
I was exhausted.
I felt helpless.
I couldn't stand to see him in severe pain anymore.
(Did I mention that we also had 2 little girls up most of the night, crying, scared for their Daddy and scared that they wouldn't see me in the morning when they woke up! - Um, if you never go to sleep, then you don't need to worry about not seeing me when you wake up!  I lost my patience with them around 2am.  "This isn't about you!  I have to take care of Daddy.  You're fine.")
Once we got to the hospital at 5:45am, I exhaled.  This was all going to end shortly.
Praise God.
After surgery prep, an IV, a chat with the anesthesiologist, a talk with the surgeon, I kissed him goodbye and they wheeled him away.
I turned to lounge in the luxurious waiting area and heard, "Mrs. Newquist, wait."
I turned around and saw them putting my husband back in a room.
"I'm so sorry, we don't have it."
Um, have what?
The surgeon didn't like the cadaver ligament they had to put in my husband's knee.
Surgery was canceled.
We'd have to wait one more agonizing day.
St. Patty's was celebrated with surgery and a great new ligament!
Finally we were on the other side.
Hobbling from the car to our bedroom, my husband looked out our front window and saw the grass that now was forming a small jungle. 
He hasn't been able to keep up for sometime because of the pain.
"We're going to have to hire someone to mow the lawns, I can't do it,"  he told me.
"I can do it!  I'll mow the lawns," I offered.
I figured the money we'd spend on a gardener could be applied to a nice pedicure or manicure for me!
 He looked at me like, "there is no way you can mow the lawns!"
My girls agreed, "Mommy, you can't mow the lawns.  You've never done that.  Daddy mows the lawns."
"You just watch your mother rock that lawn mower!" I told them all.
I suited up, and was totally empowered to fire that baby up and squeeze the handle as the mower jumped into action!

 I was doing it!
 I was mowing the lawn!
First time in my whole life!
 I had the large green trash can handy as I had to stop frequently and empty the grass clippings as it was way over grown.
Finally finished, I swept the sidewalks, hosed down the patio and lined the trash cans along the curb for the morning pick up.
I felt like I had conquered the world!
The following evening my next manly duty came as it was time to bring in the empty trash cans.
I've done this job before, many times, but this time was a little different.
As I stood on the curb, holding onto the big blue can, I kicked the bottom to get it on it's wheels.
When I did, the open lid rested on the top of the curb and as I stepped down, I stepped on the lid, launching the can into the air and me with it.
My head hit the can hard just before I hit the asphalt.
Pain instantly took my breath away as I quickly got up to make it in the house before I began to feel the weight of what just happened.
I hobbled into the bedroom, out of breath, shaking and crying, where my husband was resting.
Let's just flash forward to 5 hours later when I returned home from Urgent Care, checked for a concussion and 4 hand x-rays!
The knuckles on my left hand looked like hamburger and I had a knot the size of a lime on my forehead.
I guess this Moma just wasn't cut out for manual labor.
As a few days passed, I started to see my face turn different shades of the rainbow.

"Can you see the black and blue starting to surround my eye?," I asked my husband.
"Not really," he said.
Hmmm  I called the kids in,
"Can you see Mommy's back eye?" 
"No Mommy."
WHAT?  Where was my sympathy?
I became desperate and even asked the guy at Trader Joes!
He told me he just came from Urgent Care as he cut his wrist at work (accidentally!)
I commiserated with him and shared my story, ending with, "Can you see my black eye?"
"No, not really."
It was like that dumb dress, did you see black and blue or white and gold?
Apparently people just couldn't see my black and blue!!!
Well, it would only be a few more short days until I would find what I was looking for -
my son came in holding his ear, "My ear hurts Mommy."
It was after hours, so I took him to Urgent Care.
When they called us back, a familiar nurse glanced at me and asked, "How is your hand?  Oh, and it looks like you now have a black eye!"
YES!  She saw it!
I'm not crazy.
And, I think I hit my limit on hospitals and Urgent Care visits for the year!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Use It Or Lose It

The other day I was in a neighbor's backyard and the intoxicating smell of orange blossoms overwhelmed me.  Her orange tree was covered with tiny white flowers that had all the bees buzzing.
In our backyard we have a very prolific lemon tree, an orange tree and a grapefruit tree, but as I looked at her tree, I realized that we don't have any blossoms on our citrus trees yet.
As I walked home, the fragrance of orange blossoms filled the air and shouted, "Spring is here!".
I quickly went into my backyard only to realize that me trees are filled with fruit, but hardly any blossoms.  Maybe new blossoms can't come if the tree is still filled with fruit.
Perhaps all the fruit needs to be picked and used in its season so that new blossoms can bloom and bring forth new fruit?
I got a basket and began to pick all of our oranges, wondering if I were too late - would new blossoms come, producing new fruit?  Did I miss the season because I was too lazy to pick the fruit when it was ready?
Good life lesson - use it or lose it!
God has given each of us gifts and talents, fruit of sorts, and if we don't use those gifts for His glory, they just sit and not only don't bring joy to us and those around us, but eventually they rot.
Unused fruit also robs us of growing in bigger and brighter ways, producing even more fruit.
What unique gift has God given you?
Are you using it?
Use it or lose it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Healing Powers of the Ocean

There are 2 things I swear by when anyone in my family gets sick - sick soup and the ocean!
I have always firmly believed in the healing powers of the ocean.
Let's be honest, a few hours at the beach cures all!
I recently was hit with a cold and had to miss a family camping trip to stay in bed and get well.
On day 2 of being home alone, I realized that I needed to go to the beach and experience some healing powers of the sea
 Off I went.

As I walked on the sand I breathed deeply.
The soothing sound of the waves, the forgiving sand beneath my feet, the briny air that filled my lungs, together I could feel them melting away my cold!
I smiled as I thought back on all the times I've taken a child to the beach on day 2 of their cold
Just sitting and looking out at the vastness before us,
unable to wrap our heads around the beginning and end.
I recently read that the percentage of salt in the sea is the same as the percentage of salt in the human body!  Some say that proves we evolved from the sea.  I say it proves that our God has woven a common thread throughout all of His creation and He is constantly surprising us with His creativity and purposes. ( I also think it proves my theory that the ocean has healing powers!)
After my walk I sat down and began to read my Lenten devotional from Ann Voskamp. 
The passage was from Matthew 6:5-13
In this devotional, you slowly read the passage 3 times,
allowing specific phrases to rise off the page and penetrate your heart.
In this passage about how to pray, one phrase jumped up and struck me -
"your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."
With the sea air filling my lungs and blowing my hair, I smiled.
He knew.
I didn't have to ask.
He knew.
As a homeschooling Moma, I rarely get a few hours alone.
I don't remember the last time I was sick in bed, literally!  My children cried as they left to go camping without me, "will you ever get better Mommy?" 
 I laughed because I just don't think they've ever seen me in bed with a cold!
But God knew what I needed before I even asked.
I got to spend 3 days home alone.
God's healing powers of the ocean not only soothed my cold, but they soothed my soul.
He knows what I need before I even ask!
Do you know that God is for you?
Do you know that He sees your need and longs to provide?
Surrender today.
Stop going about your business (busy-ness) and open your hands to receive.

Friday, February 27, 2015


This year we tried to persuade the children to forgo birthday parties and just take a family trip to LEGOLAND.  However, the little guy couldn't wrap it around his head.
"That sounds great!  And my party will be an Army Party."
"No buddy, we're not going to have parties this year.  Our trip will be your party!"
"OK.  And when we get back we can have an Army Party."
Oh forget it!
So, we decided to go totally simple (my mom is laughing!) and invite a few close friends, raid Daddy's closet for Army stuff and spend maybe $20 at the Dollar Store.
 The only thing I made was the cake, thanks to Pintrist for the fun idea!

 Each kiddo threw on some Army camo and posed with the flag.
 Then PT began

We set up a fun obstacle course of a Paratrooper Drop, Belly Crawl, Zig Zag run, Grenade Toss, and Fortress Escape!

 Gotta love Dollar Store balloons!!

Then to the Chow Hall for dinner.
We prayed for all the men and women that serve our country.

After dinner they were given their secret mission assignment and camo face paint!
We hid (aka threw) about 120 tiny army men all over the back yard. 
Each soldier was issued a flash light, compass, and glow stick.
In the dark, their mission was to rescue the MIA soldiers and return them to safety before the enemy tagged them.  They needed to use their training earlier to be quiet, quick and strong!
If they got tagged by the enemy, they had to hand over all their MIA tiny Army men and crack their glow stick and hold it above their head and wait for a fellow soldier to come free them.
After the mission was accomplished, we went back to the Chow Hall and celebrated!

Then back out to the dark to play with sparklers.

A great night was had by all and truly...
the Mission was accomplished!!!
(did you know they make Army men gummies??)


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