Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas 2015

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, 
everyone was resting, even that old trusty mouse!  
It's been quite a year with adventures and firsts, some were quite grand and others the worst!  
Georgia was first up on water skies, where she laughed and she smiled and enjoyed the lake breeze!  She's quick on the soccer field and always has fun, 
she ran for Student Council Treasurer and guess what?  She won!  
Mack can't get enough of any sport with a ball, from baseball to soccer, the boy plays it all! 
 He's had many firsts with school and water skies; 
while he slept his first tooth came out with great ease!  
Emma had a first that wasn't so fun, a trip to the ER with pneumonia in the midst of the summer sun.  She continues to dance and can't stop spinning, she leaps and she jumps and never stops singing!  
All of the children are now back in school, it's a first for this mom and it's really quite cool!  
Daddy’s knee was reconstructed which wasn't his first!  
But he had his first appendectomy and that was the worst!  
A year filled with firsts, some rough and some better, 
we've made it through stronger and so happy together.  
With God our great guide, forgiver and mender, He sent His son Jesus as a baby so tender.  
He's always been working since time first began, to love us and draw us right into His hand.  
His hand that can take all of our broken pieces, and make something new, His work never ceases.  First joys and first pain, He is always there; He loves you and knows you, each detail His care.  
So make this a Christmas with Jesus the center, 
He's the giver of firsts and His second chances are even better!
Now I'll be the first to end this note right, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Love the Newquist Family

Monday, December 21, 2015

The True Meaning of Christmas - a guest post

As I cleaned up our play room to prepare it into a guest room for the holidays, I came across a small manuscript.  With hand drawn pictures and cursive writing to make a Moma proud, I sat down and read the 5 pages.  As tears filled my eyes, I went to the children and asked, "who wrote this?"
My sweet Georgia claimed the authorship.
"I want to have it published Mommy," she said.
Not having the first clue how to make that happen, I realized that I can be her publisher and let her publish her story on my blog!
So, it's my pleasure to welcome Georgia Mae to "Not My Own" today!

It's that time of year again..... Christmas!
Everyone is rushing around to buy presents or get their tree. 
But that's not the reason for Christmas.
It all started with a girl name Mary.

Mary lived in a town in Galilee called Nazareth.  One day an angel named Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.  Do not be afraid Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus."

Mary and Joseph went to a town called Bethlehem.  There they looked for a place to stay but there was no room, so they stayed in a barn.  Mary had her baby, wrapped him in cloth and laid him in the manger.  Then she did what the Lord told her, she named him Jesus.

Jesus came down to earth to save us from our sins.  
He was born and grew up and died on the cross for us.  
Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth.  Jesus is our Christmas gift, he is our gift of love.

Merry Christmas
Georgia Newquist

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room with Banana Bread

Last week I invited a group of women into my home for a 3 week study of Advent, the coming of Christ.  We all know it's easy to get overwhelmed, over-run and over committed this time of year!  So I wanted to intentionally carve out 2 hours each week until Christmas to just be still, and focus on Jesus.  Having women join me helps hold me accountable to doing this!
I dropped the children off at school and raced home to do the dishes in the sink, so it would be tidy when my guests arrived.  As I drove home the little fairy chime on my phone kept dinging, "I'm excited to see you this morning," one text read.  And then another, and then another.  I thought only one friend was going to be able to make it this first week, but the fairy chimes were telling me otherwise.  I started to panic.
"I don't have fresh flowers."
"I didn't make any food."
"The elves left powdered doughnuts for the kids this morning, I think there is some left over.  I also made cookies last night and I think there are some left over."
"I wish I would have made banana bread."

And the failing thoughts kept coming.

As I pulled into the garage, the clock was ticking and I ran into the house and started frantically throwing the kid's mess into closets.  I threw the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, and arranged a plate of left over treats on a plate.
"I need to sit down and just pray over the morning," I kept thinking, but the swirling mess around me and lack of preparation took over.

My blessing and my curse is that I often have a clear vision of what an experience is to look like in order to achieve the maximum results!
I know that walking into a home with a fire burning, candles, clean sink and de-cluttered counters as well as the smell of warm banana bread coming out of the oven will make women smile, exhale and feel at home.  I swear the Holy Spirit will move if there is banana bread in the house!
The pit in my stomach was growing,
"Why didn't I make banana bread?"

The nag to just pray over the time before everyone arrived kept pressing into my gut, 
almost making me sick.  
"I just need to prepare the room, then I'll pray."
Then it hit me, the old Christmas carol, "Joy to the World," which sings:
"Let every heart prepare Him room."
Yes Lord!  That's what I'm doing, I'm preparing you room!  I know you'll show up if the mood is right, the house is clean and there are treats on the table.

I cannot prepare Him room,
He must prepare ME, so there is room!
I cannot create a perfect environment to usher in the Holy Spirit, it's ridiculous!
And I can't really prepare my heart so there is room for Him, because the very things that clutter my heart and mind are the very things that Jesus came to get rid of because I couldn't do it on my own!
I cannot prepare my heart, but instead, I must be still so that HE can prepare my heart by de-cluttering, cleaning, forgiving, lighting His light within me and allowing a lovely aroma surround me.

The irony of the morning!
I invite women over so that we can be still together and focus on Jesus, all the while, I'm focusing on preparing the room, missing the fact that only Jesus can prepare our hearts to receive Him.
Joy to the World!


We met again this week and you can bet your buns that I had fresh banana bread!
Just as a delicious reminder that it isn't the banana bread and preparations that will make room for Jesus this season, it's being still and allowing Him to prepare us!
Merry Merry

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful for Teachers

I'm the "party mom" for my son's first grade class and on Friday we had our Thanksgiving feast!
I had one game planned before the feast.
One game.
A little balance the pumpkin on your head relay race.
There are 15 kids.

I couldn't get those kids to listen to me to save my life!!!
I was so exhausted by the end of the feast, I came home and laid on the couch
 until it was time to go back and pick up my kiddos!
I then proceeded to go to bed at 8:30pm!

Teachers are magical and amazing!
I marvel at their patience and creativity.
I am in awe at their grace and organization.
I'm so thankful for brilliant teachers that love my children and
teach them with energy and enthusiasm.

I'm always a little against doing anything "Christmas" before Thanksgiving,
 but this time I can't resist!
Another great teacher and lover of children is my dear friend Kristie Christie
(yes, how cool is that, she married a man with the last name "Christie!!!)
She has worked in children's ministry for over 15 years and is one of those magical people like Mr. Rogers who simply captivates children with her sweet spirit and authentic love for Jesus.
She has developed an incredible children's ministry curriculum, but has also created a wonderful family advent for this Christmas season.
Click the beautiful graphic below to go to her site and make your holiday meaningful by gathering as a family and preparing your heart for the coming of the King of King.
A 25 day family advent devotional!

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Halloween Candy For Christmas

Do you still have piles like these around your house?


Lord have mercy!
Notice you don't see too many Twix, they're my downfall!
My children go to bed and Moma has a field day of indulgence!

Every family deals with Halloween candy differently and that's cool.
Some send it all to the troops.
Some do the "Switch Witch,"
(my kids were terrified at the thought of a witch
coming into their rooms to take their candy!)
Some turn it into their Dentist.
And some, like us, let their kids eat it!
Not all of it (obviously, it's November 16th and we still have all of this!).
I kinda do what my mom did with the candy - you keep it out in the old school plastic orange pumpkin buckets for a few days and let them have it whenever they want it.
 Then after a few days it goes into a cupboard.
Out of sight, out of mind!
And then, every so often, they ask, "hey, where is my Halloween candy?"
 And I reply, it's in the cupboard, go pick a piece.
They days between them asking for the out of sight candy get farther and farther apart until I hit the
"Expiration Date."
Once we get to Thanksgiving, the candy expires in our house!  And usually I throw it all away.

But this year, I have a brilliant idea.....
Make GINGERBREAD HOUSES with all the candy!
I wanted to make an example to share, but I don't want to waste our candy!!
And it goes against everything I believe in to do anything "Christmasy" until after Thanksgiving!
Every year I go buy a ton of candy to use to make our Gingerbread Houses, but not this year!
Tootsie Rolls become chimneys or stacked for a log cabin effect or stacked outside the Gingerbread House like a pile of fire wood.
Lolly pops become street lamps.
MnMs and Skittles become Christmas lights on the Gingerbread House.
Smarties line the walkway up to the house.
Nerds become tiny Christmas lights on the house or used to make designs on the house.
The possibilities are endless!

So Happy Halloween turns into Merry Christmas!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mom's 70th

I just returned from a fabulous adventure with my Mom to celebrate her 70th birthday.
Her destination of choice:  Cape Cod
We flew into Rhode Island and spent a day in Newport, touring the mansions, 
before we drove out to the Cape.

If you know my mother and her dramatic imagination - hats were a must at the mansions in her book!

The extravagance, the opulence, the wealth, it was all too much.
Yet I'm confident I was made to live in one of these mansions!

We had the most fabulous food.
Lobster Rolls to die for and the decadent 3 course breakfasts at our Inn.

We chased sunsets, sun rises and lighthouses.

We did a little shopping and a lot of walking.

 She made her art...

And I made mine.

It was such a treasured time away, celebrating my fabulous mother.

I'm blessed everyday to have my Mom as my best friend.  Some people spend their whole life searching for their best friend, their soul mate, kindred spirit.  I was lucky enough to be born to mine!
All that I am and all that I hope to be is her.
Love you Moma
Happy 70th

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Like Cookies In The Orthodontist's Office...

I had another Mommy Fail this morning.
The kids were all dressed up for "Tacky Tourist" day and I wanted to snap a picture.
As they gathered together, one little sister grabbed a little brother and pulled him next to her in a less than nice way.
Start the arguing and end with me putting the camera down.
"When are you going to stop this?  When is it going to end?" I asked them all, knowing there wouldn't be an appropriate answer.
"When we get to heaven I guess," the grabber answered with a snarky tone.
Hmmm, not sure if I can wait for heaven for the bickering to stop!
Then we got into the car to head to school and another round fired up.
This time it was over a lunch bag that was "touching" a child that it didn't belong to.
Start the arguing and end with me loosing it and crossing a line!

"You're really going to argue about a lunch bag that fell over and touched you?  Really?  This is nonsense.  There are real problems in the world, things worth getting upset over, but a lunch bag, really?"  And then I proceeded to list off some of the awful things happening in the world, both appropriate for small children to hear and one that was not so appropriate.
Great job Mom!
One little child said, "why did you tell us that?  now we're going to have nightmares."
Grabbing, bickering, now nightmares!

I pulled into the school, told them I was sorry and I that I loved them, and as I pulled away I felt awful.  I let my frustrations get the best of me and I crossed a line.
The whole drive home I was thinking how I need to be different.
I need to be an example to them, with great self control, who gently guides them in the right way, not scares them into it.  My time is drawing to a close with these littles - not to be dramatic, but my girls will be in middle school in a moment and then it's all down hill!  I really need to change and be the mom I want to be for them.

I got to the orthodontist office for my morning appointment and as I sat in the chair, the assistant in scrubs came over to me and said, 
"Are you ready to change over?"
I just stared at her blankly.
Did she know what I did this morning?
Did she know the line I crossed and scared my children?
Did she know that I desperately want to change over to being a more self controlled mom?
Again she asked, 
"Are you ready to change over?"
"What do you mean?" I replied.
"Your Invisalign, are you ready to change over to the new set?"
Phew!  She had no idea that I majorly failed with my kids!

But I left with that question on my heart,
"Are you ready to change over?"
I'm so ready but I don't know how.
I want to change, but where do I begin?
I'm embarrassed.
I feel unworthy.
I am just about as disgusted with myself as I am with my children's bickering!

Then I turned on my way out of the Orthodontist's office and saw this tray by the coffee maker

Why in the world are there cookies in the Orthodontist's office?
Seems like an oxymoron no?
Then I thought of God's grace.
Getting something that isn't deserved.
Kind of like cookies in a place where they work on your teeth, God's grace doesn't really make sense!
But today I'm receiving that undeserved gift of grace because I desperately need it.
And I think I kinda need a cookie after my ortho appointment too!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Little Problems Lead To Big Problems

Do you ever think, 
"It's no big deal, it will go away."
"This is a minor issue, I can live with this."
"Just once more, I'll stop tomorrow."
Whether it be a bad habit, a small pain in your leg, or the need to eat better and exercise - little problems eventually lead to big problems!
Right now I'm in the midst of reaping the benefits of little problems gone big!
Over 12 years ago I had a dentist tell me I should get a bite guard for my teeth that I grind at night.
My bottom teeth were barely starting to move and become unnoticeably crooked.
That was just it, it was pretty much unnoticeable!, so why should I spend the money to fix something that really didn't need fixing at the moment?!
Well, here I am, 12 years later, doing Invisalign!

(I'm sure you totally wanted to see my retainers!  I'm visual.)

A small problem that was hardly noticeable to anyone grew into a big problem where my bottom teeth became so crooked they changed my bite and I started fracturing my teeth with my hard, unaligned bite!
Now I get to relive jr. high and wear retainers 22 hours a day! 
(insert *high kick* and side ponytail)

Then a few months back my hip started to hurt and when it became almost unbearable I went to the doctor and now am in physical therapy 3 days a week.
Atrophy in a tiny muscle, one that "working out" doesn't really get to, is causing my hip to push out in a way that over time has become rather painful.
They say my butt is weak!
(insert another *high kick* but not so high, I'll pull my groin!)

 (I'm sure you totally want to see my legs.  Again, I'm visual)

3 days a week I get to go have nice men put my legs in awkward positions and tell me to "hold it there for 1 minute," while I sweat and shake.  Then I get to put on my most favorite Dolphin running shorts (no, I don't run unless being chased) and have the physical therapist rub my hip / butt and my thigh.  Luckily my PT is a female friend and I only sweat a little with awkward discomfort.
After the not-so-luxurious massage, I get to have those nice men (or young men rather - now that I'm over 40 I can say that of twenty-somethings!) put their hands down my pants and hook me up to some wires that send electrical currents through my hip / butt and wrap me in ice.
(forget about the *high kick* I'm too sore)
A little problem - lack of exercise and strength training - has grown into a big problem that now allows me to be embarrassed 3 times a week.

Such a great life lesson:
Problems, if not taken care of when they are little, will grow into BIG problems.
And the list goes on of areas in life, that if they go unchecked and little problems creep up, before we know it, we are in deep trouble with big problems.

If there is a small, nagging area in your life today that needs some attention - do it!
Don't allow a little problem to grow into a BIG problem!
(and spare yourself the humiliation of wearing retainers while being rubbed down in Dolphin shorts and allowing strangers to hook wires up to your butt!)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Cardboard Sign

Yesterday I sat at a stoplight after I dropped the children off at school.
There was a  man on the sidewalk with his back to me.    
He had on nice camo pants, a shirt and a ball cap.
He was bent over the bushes, looking for something.
His head was cocked to his shoulder, holding his cell phone.
For some reason, he caught my attention and I continued to watch him, hoping I'd see what he discovered in the bushes!
Then he got off the phone, slipped it into his pocket and turned around to reveal a cardboard sign that read,
"Anything will help."
My light turned green and I left.

The whole scene confused me as though I'd fallen down the rabbit hole
after eating the forbidden cake.
I was a little stunned.
"Is he homeless?"  I thought.
"How does he pay for his cell phone?"
"Where does the bill get sent to?"

Obviously I don't know this man's story.
Perhaps he has a home where he receives his cell phone bills, but he just can't make ends meet.
I have no idea, I just know that the contrast of the scene on the sidewalk puzzled me.
I thought I knew who he was by his clothes, cell phone and his intent on finding the hidden treasure in the bushes.  But then his cardboard sign totally changed what I thought I knew about this man.

When I got home I kept thinking about that man.
Things often are not as they appear.
Our cardboard sign can either reveal our truth, or perpetuate a lie.
We might behave like we have it all together, only to turn around to reveal our cardboard sign that says, "I'm dying inside, help me."
Or we might daily complain, constantly live in "if only...," feel purposeless, insignificant, only to turn around and reveal our cardboard sign that says,
"I have abundant life in Christ because I put my trust in Him."

Such sharp contrasts.
Confusing, puzzling contrasts.

I confess that I'm more like the latter sign holder.
Since the children went back to school I've been a little down and discouraged.  I thought I'd get some clear vision of my purpose now that I have some extra time, but it hasn't come yet. I've been a little bored (dare I say it) and just feeling insignificant.
But all the while, I'm holding a cardboard sign, my reality if you will, that says,


Kind of like that man on the sidewalk, my sign has been hidden to passers-by.  Hidden to me.  My reality and my truth has been face down on the street while I behave in a manner that is completely contrary to my truth.

Today I'm letting go of the lie and holding fast to my cardboard sign.

I have abundant life in Christ because I put my trust in Him and He promised it to me.
I am significant.
I have purpose.

All of that because of Jesus.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Dream Life

My Aunt came into town for one quick day and brought with her piles of my Grandmother's recipes!
But she also brought something that I hardly have the words to describe.
It is a notebook that my Grandmother filled every page, in detail, 
with all of her dreams for a perfect life. 

House, furniture, dishes, clothing for every season, food, table linens, baby clothes, nursery plans...
everything is spelled out in vivid detail, including precisely cut out pictures from magazines.
Not one of the pictures has a frayed edge.
There are no ripples from the glue she used!
Her cursive writing with a liquid ink pen is beautiful and without mistake.
The whole book is remarkable.

We read through this book, shocked at the painstaking detail, "2 red bracelets on one arm," to be worn with the blue dot dress.
We're guessing she wrote this book sometime in the late 1930's, before she was married or had children because who would have time for such a thing with a new baby!!!
The pages tell of a young girl's dream for an ideal life.
They allow for a peek into one girl's hopes and wishes of exactly what her life should look like.
The pages intrigued me.
They caused me to laugh at the once esteemed fashions.
And they made me cry.
My Grandmother's life was not at all this dreamy.
I've learned things of her life that are far too personal to share, but I know with confidence they were never part of her "Perfect Honeymoon" or life.

Last Friday, my husband and I celebrated our 11th anniversary.
I posted a picture of us going out with the caption:
"This is what 20 years looks like.  9 years of dreaming, wishing, hoping... 11 years of living the dream! (And digging our heels in!)

For 9 years, since the day I saw this man, I dreamed of him.
We dated off an on (mostly off!), but no matter what our status, I dreamed of him.
And in my dreams, I only saw the good things, the great things, the perfect things.
I romanticised his faults and to me, he was my ideal.
After our final break-up, and when I finally dreamed of him no more, that was when he crept back into my life and wooed me and pursued me. 
 This time I saw his faults, and chose to marry him anyway.
It's been 11 years.
There have been many moments that I would have never eloquently written about in a book with perfectly pasted pictures.  There have been many season that were dreadful and more like nightmares than dreams.
But in these 11 years I've slowly thrown out the pages of my book that held impossible dreams, unattainable perfections, and unrealistic hopes.
I've settled into the truth of forgiveness and redemption and how, only by God's grace and mercy, I can say that I love this man with all of my heart and come what may, I'm going to dig my heels in and fight to keep my vows.
True love is about seeing someone, with all their faults and flaws, and choosing to love them anyway.
It's a choice.
I'm grateful that he still chooses me!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


This past weekend I received a very special gift.
My Aunt from Illinois came down to my house for a day while she was on her California visit and she brought piles and piles of my Grandmother's recipes.
Pure gold spilled out all over our coffee table!

I was beside myself and almost didn't want to crack open the large manila envelopes filled with numbers and ingredients and generations of stories, because the anticipation was almost as delicious as what was inside.
As I poured over the recipes, I'd ask my Aunt questions, "do you remember your mom making this?  what exactly is 'oleo'?  do you make these recipes?"  
It was so much fun to hear the stories that these old recipe cards brought up.
Stories of holidays, potlucks, birthdays, reunions, Sunday afternoon fudge!

As I found the noodle recipe, I told my own memory of Grandma coming to visit and making homemade noodles with beef for supper. 
 I was excited at the thought of trying to tackle these noodles now myself!
How I wish my Grandma Jones was still here to ask guiding questions.
Recipes are like guides.
They give specific details, but what if you don't know what a "butter size walnut" is!  Or what about "sweet milk" and "sour milk"?  It would be so nice to have someone around to ask these questions, someone who has made these recipes and knows the answers to my questions.

Grandma's well worn Bread Recipe that she used for loaves and for her famous cinnamon rolls.  The rolls that have eluded me for many years!!!  I would give anything to have just one more day with her to teach me how to make her decadent cinnamon rolls.
But without her, I continue to try on my own, try new things, add things, take away others, just trying to recapture that one memory filled bite of Grandma's heart and soul.
I'm excited to pour through these recipes and get cooking!
I'm sure many years of trial and error lie ahead of me, but I'm going to enjoy every moment and the memories that come flooding back along the way!

And PS, how crazy cute is this little Duncan Hines' cook book?
Cute little man in a suit cooking in the kitchen.  
"All-Time Favorite Recipes"  all for 50 cents!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

You Should! Oh No I Shouldn't!

I had a meeting at our church this morning, and as I arrived and saw the parking lot full, I realized that today was the kick-off to the women's Bible study.
As I walked into the church, many women were gathering to meet at the opening session.
I was trying to make my way to the church offices where I was meeting a pastor to chat
 when I heard, 
"Oh hi Raeanne," from a familiar voice.
I turned to see a friend of mine who assumed I was there for the Bible study.
When I asked her if she were there for the study, she said yes and asked, "aren't you?"
"No, I'm not going to do it this year," I replied.
"You should," she said.

In my somewhat feisty and sassy way I told her that, "oh no, I shouldn't!" and told her I know it will be a great study and perhaps I'd join in January, bur for now I'm taking the Fall off.

Now that my children are in school and I have my days open without 3 little people, it would be really easy for me to sign up for all sorts of good things that I would enjoy.
Bible study being one of them!
Bible studies are great.
But I had a sense that I wanted to get back to a place of living my life with intention and not just doing things because they were good and I'd enjoy them.
I want to know down deep in my soul that God has ordained my commitments and that means not diving into anything just because now I have the freedom to.
Some people don't understand that.
The woman I saw today was quick to tell me I "should" do the study!  
But I know what I should do is take a quiet few months to be still and listen.
To step away from the good opportunities around me and wait.
Wait until God stirs my heart and says, "this is the way, walk in it."
Waiting can be hard.
Am I wasting time?
But I believe things must become still.
Very still.
Painfully still, 
in order for me to have the space to truly hear God and be directed by Him.
Even if that means saying no to some good things like women's Bible study for now!

I read Susie Larson's post today on Ann Voskamp's blog and laughed!
"Nothing drains us more 
than signing up for things 
God never asked us to do."
I guess I need to read Susie's new book, "Your Sacred Yes," because she's speaking my language!!
Go read her post!!!

Happy Weekend

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Supper Club

It all started last year when I invited a group of women into my home and 
participate in the study of Ann Voskamp's book,
"1000 Gifts."
It was wonderful and the group of women God brought together far exceeded my expectations.
When the study was over, we just couldn't part ways and decided to start a Supper Club and meet once a month to cook, eat and laugh together, centering around Shauna Niequist's book
"Bread And Wine."

Let me just say that the monthly dinners with the Supper Club have nourished me 
in more ways than just one!
This Godly group of women have challenged me, loved me, affirmed me, fed me, prayed for me, 
and given me many reasons to laugh!!
I have to admit, when I first though of asking some women to join me in my home to go through "1000 Gifts," I had a very specific group in mind.  
But one by one, the women I thought would benefit from reading that book, were unable to attend.
And one by one, God spoke a name to me of another group of women who weren't even on my radar!
I wanted to minister to some women around me, 
but God wanted me to be ministered to by some very special women!
We've shared over a dozen meals together and 
I'm so blessed to be part of such a special group of ladies.
I love being surprised by God - when I think I have a good idea, He has a great one!!


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