What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, December 30, 2011

I am Listy, I know.

A few goals for the new year~ to keep me grounded and improving. I know they seem lofty, but I think they are attainable. And anyway, I always encourage myself thus~

If you shoot for the moon and still you fail, at least you will be among the stars.

(A poster that hung above my 12 year old bed and bizarrely, stuck with me.)

Here we go!


Every year we have a mortgage is a year that requires Matt to work at D.O. So until this thing is paid off, it will always be at the top of my yearly goals. The sooner we pay it off, the sooner we can try again at the home business thing. In the spring, we have to fix the foundation of the house and do some construction type things. So my financial goals are
  • to create a new (and relevant) budget for 2012
  • to pay off business debt
  • to buy and pay off a bigger tractor for Matt that can be used for the bigger projects to come.
  • to pay (at least) 10% of our mortgage off in addition to paying out of pocket for foundation work, repairs.
  • to earmark money from EACH paycheck for our savings, no matter how small.
  • to start a car fund as our paid off car is well over 100,000 miles now and inevitably, will need to be replaced at some point. Being prepared for that point can only be beneficial.
  • Start up my Etsy Shoppe again.

Hopestead Goals-

ahhh! We have a Place. A place where I can finally begin to grow a place of permanence. Like perennials! And fruit trees! And ASPARAGUS! The problem now is not trying to do it all at once. My goal here should be to be WISE in my planning and PATIENT in the results. But more tangible goals are:

  • To plant ONE particular type of fruit tree. (for now.) Cherry? Pear?
  • To plant garlic in the fall.
  • To plant potatoes in a just-for-them plot.
  • To add ONE perennial (unless I can get them for free or at yard sale prices~ then you KNOW I will go nuts.)
  • to find elderberries around the place.
  • To clean out the cow barn and fix it so we can get some animals in there.
  • To organize the granary.
  • To cull the old chickens in our flock and get chicks in spring.
  • to prune the very neglected rhodo., rose bushes and lilacs.
  • to harvest and dry more herbs.
  • To look into planting some medicinal herbs.
  • Do one house project each month, no matter how small.

Personal Goals~

  • to write a letter(s) on Sundays as a way of one-anothering one another ;-)
  • Send Opa (my grandfather) mailings TWICE each month. At LEAST.
  • A new twist in the whole "Christmas in July" bit~ I want to have half of my Christmas gifts made/prepared/bought by July. I am going to shoot for at least ONE homemade gift per month.
  • To drink 60 ounces of water a day BEFORE I drink anything else.
  • To exercise in some form 3 times a week.
  • cut WAAAAY back on sugar
  • One family read aloud each month.
  • Scripture memorization once a month. For ME.
  • Going through a devotional each day. Perhaps this one?
  • Catechism questions for the children.

If you thought I was listy yesterday I am sure I proved it today. But wait! I am not yet done! Stay with me as the Listyness goes insane!

I think the key to success in resolutions in threefold:

1) Little, shorter term goals pave the way for yearly resolutions.

2) Keeping your eyes fixed on your resolve


3) evaluating your success/where you need to improve often.

To that end, (and this is where Listyness Goes Wild) I intend to post an update on my progress at the end of each month. Never done that before and perhaps it IS a bit O.C.D., but I think it just might be helpful. I have a terrible memory so if I forget and you remember (as if you care), please do hold me to it! And if (more likely) you hate all these lists and public notes-to-self I put on my blog, stay far far away from Renaissance the last day of each month! ;-)

I wonder~ does anyone else do resolutions each year?

{ quote photo by Home Sanctuary via Pinterest}

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Measuring up in 2011: Reflecting on Last Year

I am a HUGE New Years Resolutions fan! HUGE! (but you probably already knew that....) In my case, they truly DO help me to grow and stretch and challenge myself in ways I wouldn't ordinarily. I know this isn't the case for everyone. But for me, it is. And I will submit that nothing but GOOD can result from reflecting on how you have been living and ways you can improve. Yearly. Or monthly. And even daily. I have found that looking back always help point the way to what is next.

My tradition, about this time of year, is to look back upon last years goals and see how I measured up.

Imagine my surprise then, when I couldn't find my 2011 resolutions post! Where did it GO? Well, searching my blogger dashboard, I found that I had the post written but had never actually POSTED it. (doy.) And the post spoke of how I had measured up to my 2010 resolutions but had not a.SINGLE.GOAL for the coming year.

The end of the post was " So what are my goals for this year, you ask???" and then nothing.

Apparently, you DIDN'T ask. ;-)

Truth be told, I don't know that I would have measured up to any real goals this past year anyway, what with the new business venture, and then returning back to work, the flood, the emptying of Grams house and the moving into it as our own. All of it, unknown territory. It was one crazy year.

While I don't have any specific goals to measure up to this past year, nevertheless I would like to reflect on the past year a bit.

Because you DIDN'T ask:

On Finances~ Matt was able to quit a job and start a new one using money we had saved in preparation for the business~ The Network Dragon Fund. During those 5 months, we had to dip into our savings fund only once but that dip did not exhaust the fund. Paying off our car and all debts was an incredible burden lifted. I am immensely proud of us for this feat.

The Lord opened up some great ways for me to make money during this time too, allowing me to help contribute financially over $2,300.00 by taking photographs for a magazine and a few individuals, having yard sales, selling clothes to consignment shops, cleaning a church, and selling a few craft goods. Along with using it for groceries, I was able to buy a topnotch dehydrator (ours broke) and a fabulous used grain mill, two things we have been needing in our putting-by repertoire for some time.

Also during this time, I stopped my weekly shopping trips and only would go to town for diapers and milk or cheese. The cash only budget system went down the drain when Matt began his home business because we were on a strict no-spending budget, as money coming in was very unreliable. It was a time of very tight belts, making me realize anew how easy money can (and does) pilfer away little by little without you even realizing it when you don't have a budget and/or go to town often.

Matt did accrue some some business debt~ not much~ but you know how I am with debt. And we bought a house so for the first time ever, we have a mortgage to worry about. Thankfully, mortgage payments and rent checks look an awful lot alike with the exception of your name on the deed, so we can deal with it.

On Health~ Since I still have about 20 pounds to lose since Judah was born (YES, he IS a year old. sigh) , you can see I have a big L on my forehead in this department. I wasn't doing so bad until the stress of Matts' going back to work and the reality of moving hit me. We ate more junk during those months and I drank more soda than all year. COMBINED. What can I say? I have to do better. HAVE TO.

On a positive note~ last year I became very interested in herbs and learning the benefits of certain foods to your system and healing properties of herbs. Unfortunately for me, sugar doesn't fit into any of those medicinal, healing or healthy categories.

On Preparedness~ We opened up our home during a devastating flood to a family of 7 for a week and had provision to do so. And before that, we had staples enough for us not to worry about not being able to get to a store at a time when a great many people were very very worried.

We butchered two cows and two pigs and got TONS of meat from it. I wished, too late, that I had kept detailed books on the cost of feed and butchering so I would have a good idea how much our (quality) meat ended up costing us. I didn't even record how MUCH meat was our return! (shirk) I don't know if it was financially worth it, but money isn't everything. I certainly know better for the next time.

We had a great garden harvest but I regretted not planting certain things-like potatoes. What family garden does not include potatoes?!?!

On Education
~ I feel always the failure when it comes to education, and no more so than this year, when so many things seemed to thwart my good intentions. I have fallen so short this year on my own expectations for myself and my hopes for my children that I can hardly wonder at what I have done RIGHT this year. I fail miserably at making education what I want it to be in my mind and sometimes have to fight the doubt that I am just NOT the best option. I know that many homeschoolers struggle with these same feelings and I wonder if my perfectionist tendencies seem to harden the blow.

No one is perfect, but to hold myself to that standard means that I will ALWAYS FAIL and will always be unhappy with what I HAVE accomplished.

That said, Corynn and I found the groove we needed to get math (her most frustrating subject) done and done well. Andrew is excited and ready to read and is well on his way. He knows his letter sounds and can sound short words out~ so it is only a matter of patience and perseverance before we have TWO bookworms on our hands. We are catching up on the work we missed during our move, and are on the fast track to a great rest of the year. In this area, more than all others, I call for the grace of God and thank Him for his mercies, new, each morning.

On One Anothering One another
~ our pastor says (and I often chuckle) that the Greek word Koinonia is a call to "One-another one another". I chuckle because it is funny (it is!) but it is also a great challenge for Christians to hold fast to the body of believers. I have loved holding to a tradition of writing widows and the elderly (and friends and family) on Sunday afternoons as a way to keep the Sabbath and did well at it in the beginning of the year. Several of those I wrote to passed away this year and then the latter half of the year happened and I was too busy even to write the few people left. I miss that.

I tried (and pretty much failed) to counsel some loved ones with great difficulties in their lives.

We gave financial gifts as we were able.

Matt helped neighbors repair their driveways when flooding happened (even though he was sick! Sorry, brag moment.) and we helped his family empty his grandmothers house, a daunting task to be sure.

But it all seems inconsequential when I look at the whole of things. I can't help but feel discouraged about the fact that we could have done so much more to help, encourage, uplift and bless the saints around us. Even in the small, hidden things like not taking offense when I do. In forgiving. In judging myself rather than my brother. In praying, without ceasing, for those in need. In giving of my time and myself, even in the messy, dirty times. In letting my faith alight upon my sleeve, so without fail, without question, I can declare God in all things.

This leads me to:

On Spiritual things~ I learned one thing this year, what with the home business and all~ there is never enough time for worship unless you MAKE time for worship. Even when Matt began a home business, time was precious and it was a challenge to make time for family worship. We didn't do it every single night, sadly, but I did see great improvement from last year. So thankful that even as he has gone back to work, that has continued.

I continue to read, discuss and quiz scripture, pray and sing to/with the children during the day, but I need to make a concerted effort when he is away on business trips, to lead the family in worship during the evening meal. I hate leading evening meal worship alone. I hate eating our evening meal alone those nights.

I didn't do as much memorization as I would have liked either. For myself OR the children.

There it is in a nutshell. How we failed, succeeded and everything in between.

Coming up next~ my goals for the new year.

Whether you like it or not.


PS. All photos in this post are taken the month we moved in, when my father-in-law gave us the tractor tour of our new property. Which, as you can see, has just about everything from fields to corn, to quarries, to woods. Including a secret cabin in the woods!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


How was everyones' Christmas? I hope it was lovely and sweet, every minute of it.

Ours on the other hand~ not so much.

Since Christmas Eve, it has looked very much like this, as a matter of fact.

Which seems wonderfully serene, except that when it doesn't look like that, it looks like this:

Christmas Eve was wonderful. My sister hosted this year to give me a break since we just moved. It was grand.

The beautiful hostess~

Later that night, however........Matt spent the night throwing up and the children spent the night coughing up lungs and I spent the night running from room to room... to room.

I LITERALLY woke up every single hour after 1 am. No, I am not exaggerating.

Christmas Day Matt was still feeling awful so I took the children to church by myself-to one right down the road- while he slept. I wore the shawl that I crocheted (but must still blog) with a red dress and felt very Christmasy. The children were angelic in church. (Still praising God for that Christmas gift!) That night we went to his parents' but by then I started feeling pretty bad myself. I took not a single picture there.

Matt had Monday off and what should have been wonderful family time, ended up being us sprawled on couches and cringing every time we had to swallow or in my case, move my head. We still aren't well, so finally, I screamed UNCLE!! and decided against doing the 12 Days of Christmas this year. Bummer too, boy did I have plans....

Here are a few pictures from our Christmas, in no particular order.

My brother makes THE BEST truffles ever. And this year they SPARKLED!

This is for Cameron. Who says, whenever I bring out my camera, "We'll be seeing THAT on the blog."

I post the above picture for the sole reason that he is almost out of that outfit and I remember when Raggedy Andy wore it.

(In lieu of a mantle, I brought in an old handmade ladder from the barn. Matt had to practically cut in half to fit.)

Is Judah the same size as Adele'? Why YES. He is!

For two years Corynn has been begging for me to buy a coconut. She got it in her stocking.

Andrew got a starfruit but graciously shared it so that everyone could have festive breakfast plates.

Some of the homemade gifts included:

plantain salve in an herbal medicine basket
Button napkin rings made by Adele' and Corynn:

Garlands. By EVERYONE.

The children on my side of the family, since there are SO many (a happy predicament indeed!) draw names. Corynn got her cousins name, who just HAPPENED to be getting a kitchen set for Christmas. She made her felt food for it. I think she covered all major food groups.

Andrew also drew a girl cousin and decided to make a necklace to go along with a teddy bear. He enjoyed necklace making so much, he couldn't stop!

And for my new nephew I made a Peter Rabbit sweater. I know, I know. The same sweater I always make. But his Mama always admired my childrens' sweaters and I thought she would appreciate one of her own. I made it with same coloring as Judah's for no other reason than it mimicked Peter Rabbit well, so it went well with the book I got him.

I also made a hat which was HUGE and finished it with just minutes to spare so I didn't get a picture of it.

Sick or not, Christmas is still the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR.

God gave Himself Flesh in order to give everlasting life. For us. And our children. And our childrens' children.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Greetings from the sticks!

2011 has been a most interesting and in some ways, excruciating year! Some years pass and you lament their passing and some years you say GOOD RIDDANCE. For me, this year is the latter! ;-)

Matt took a giant leap of faith this May and began his own home-based business called The Network Dragon. For 5 months, He was successful, He was home, and it was bliss. Then a most wonderful Dream in which we would purchase (as in FINALLY OWN) our own home became reality~ on land that has been in the Newman Family for generations. A joy beyond measure!

That Joy, while such a blessing, brought along with it a mortgage and responsibility to pay it off A.S.A.P so Matt made the hard decision to return to a reliable, steady-paying position at Dairy One.

And then of course, there was the emptying of two houses (the one we were living in and the one we were moving to) and the MOVING of a household~ with lots of repairs and cosmetic work sandwiched in between~ all within a months time.

And with four children, buzzing about all the while.

There were quite a few times Matt had to hug the desperation out of me, I admit.

But we are now on the other side of the moving deadline and settled in quite nicely and ready for that long nap of winter, being all holed up and cozy.

We are adjusting to Matt’s new work schedule as well, and thankful for the means to pay off a Mortgage (our own!).

If God taught me anything in 2011, it was to rejoice always. Always. Not just when all was well and wonderful and just how I planned it~ gratitude comes so freely then~ but to be thankful at all times, in everything. even in those things we can not change, can not understand, and wish were not our portion.

1 Thessalonians 5 16-19 is going to be the Newman Motto for the coming year:

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit.

A lesson I am sure to have to relearn every day of every year to come.

A merry, merry Christmas to all!


Us Newmans

Matt, Rebecca, Corynn, Andrew, Adele’ and Judah