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

Tuesday, December 31, 2019


It's New Years Eve and frankly, I haven't even wrapped my mind around Christmas, let alone the packing away of an old year and the bringing on of the new.  We are hosting one more Christmas bash this Saturday (and the tree is a sad and sorry sight- yellow, droopy and crispy.  HANG ON TREE!) before I can really move past Christmas and face the fact that a new year is happening.

While everyone else is looking back on the year or looking ahead with resolutions and goals and words... I'll be making Christmas meringue cookies and writing lists for this weekend and wrapping presents for a few more days.   And blogging Christmas pictures.  Here they are:

These blankets were a wonderful surprise we found in the mail!  Look!  They have magic sleeping powers over Moses!
Moses gets a handknit hat from Mama, in the nick of time for Christmas photos.  It was made using this pattern.

This year is the year for meringue cookies.  I made about 8 batches of them this year.  I might have eaten a batch myself though.

I used upturned bread pans to make more oven space.  Oh, the cleverness of me!

But they are very pretty.

Note to self: NEVER, ever, EVER put presents under the tree before Christmas morning.  Every child complained that it almost ruined Christmas.


"Because you've NEVER done that before!"

Traditions, smaditions.

Children nestled, and all that.

All is calm, all is bright.

He's only as big as a stocking!

This blurry one is for the thighs alone.  You're welcome.

In which children try to listen to the Bible before opening the stockings that are calling their names from the couch.

Adele' got the cheerful job of opening up EXTRA presents for Moses. 

Which would have been a WAY more cheerful chore if he had more than two stocking stuffers. ha!

I think Corynn's present to Papa was his all time favorite.  He dreams of home additions with snooker tables.

I try and rein him in and what does she go and do? 

She feeds his dream.

Ineke had a gift too- a kitten ornament that said "Meowy Christmas" . 

She cracked herself up every time she said it.
Corynn is a good gift-giver because the gift she gave me this year was my most favorite gift of all too!  A basket that she MADE herself which is beautiful!  But inside the basket was a rubber stamp that she created using a drawing she had sketched this summer.  At the time, I mentioned that it would be an awesome rubber stamp and she somehow found a place to actually make it one.  Isn't it amazing?

Christmas carnage

I was very clever this year and made all the food on Christmas Eve so I wouldn't have to cook a thing on Christmas Day.  Sausage for breakfast.  Lasagna and roasted brussel sprouts for supper.  And I got the bright idea to fashion a big tray of  nibblers for children to munch on throughout the day so I wouldn't have to feed them.  Children did the slicing and dicing.

That idea will be revisited from henceforward.

We invited anyone older who we knew would have a quiet, boring and nothing-special Christmas to dine with us and allow us to add some boisterous spirit into their Christmas Day.  We only had two takers though.  I wonder why?!

The look of wonder you give your Mama when you are gifted a very special hunting knife.

  A camera stealer AND a baby stealer!  What a thief!

Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's house

Lookie here! A sled for everyone!  Who says you can't buy happiness?

 And that was Christmas, in a nutshell.   

And now- just to finish up the last minute handmade Christmas presents and finish up my current read, the book God Rest Ye Merry by D. Wilson.  

Current Project:  A little Penguin Lovey.  For my little Moses Lovey.

Thanks for hanging with me this past year!  It means a lot that you take the time to visit me here...I am especially thankful for those of you who share your time and encouragement in the comments section.  Thank you for that!  

Here's to 2020 and all that it will bring with it.... ready or not....

Happy New Year!

The Christmas Letter 2019

Dear Ones ~                                                                                                                                                                                      December 2019
                     Another year has gone by and my goodness, where did the time go?  (I HAD to do it-- a Christmas letter really can’t seem to start any other way, amIright?!)  Well, I’ll tell you where!  It went toward the making, care and keeping of the precious souls in this house, my earthly treasures. 1,095 meals (but let’s be real- there were plenty of snacking and desserts too).  Multiply that number exponentially for the amount of dishes washed.  It disappeared in thousands of miles driving down the road and hours of audiobooks.  It was spent on hundreds of diaper changes (and that has only been since September!)  On the reading of good books.  On the scattering, sorting, playing and tidying up of toys countless times a day.  On hours upon hours of music playing and singing and movie watching.  On planting, weeding and then woefully neglecting a swamp garden.  To the creating, growing and then birthing of a womb baby. To the kissing of boo-boo’s and the mediating of arguments.  To sin, forgiveness and growing in grace.  To the milking of cows and keeping of chickens and hunting of deer and making of cheese ( and copious amounts of ice cream).  It has disappeared while educating our masses and entertaining friends and family.  Guess what was gloriously NOT a part of 2019?  Broken bones.  Considering the last two Christmas letters have been lamenting bones broken, I consider that is a major accomplishment.  That fact alone made 2019 a good year! 
Before we step over the threshold into a brand spankin’ new decade, let me get you caught up on the more interesting tidbits of 2019…the people!
First~ we have a new Newman!  Moses Matthew was born on September 3rd, just 5 hours shy of sharing Corynn and Judah’s birthday!  What are the chances?!  He really screwed up the birthday dates as the childrens’ birthdays are 2, 2 , 2, 26, 22 and now…3.  But with a squishy face like his, he is easy to forgive.   He looks like Judah’s baby twin and I’d swear it WAS Judah if there weren’t 9 years between them.  It took two days to name the poor child because we weren’t sure we were brave enough to use such an awesome name- but I am so glad we did.  Not only does the name suit him but it is remarkably fun to say and easy to include in little songs- which we have a penchant for making.  This is a good thing because Moses loves songs and we love singing to him.   He is the most serious baby I have ever known, you really have to work hard to get a grin out of him…but when he does, oh boy, is it worth the wait!  While he may not smile very often, he was born with his eyes wide open and has been busily observing ever since.   I feel certain he must be an absolute genius.  😉 Moses is so good to me- he lets me snuggle and kiss and sniff him WHENEVER I want, which happens pretty often since they just happen to be some of my most favorite things to do in the world.  He is very generous, self-sacrificially giving of himself, allowing himself to be smooched and hauled around by his doting siblings and Papa too.  It must surely be exhausting to be kissed as much as he is, but he takes it like a champ.
Ineke celebrates her 4th birthday next week but she’s been asking every day if it is her birthday ever since the first snow (and that was before Thanksgiving).    She told me it MUST be her birthday because it SNOWS on her birthday.  (duh, Mama!)  Of all the children, I think she resembles most who I was as a child.  She’s sweet with a whole lot of firecracker.  Her half-moon squinty-eyed grin can break down the highest walls of even the grumpiest curmudgeon and she gives it freely to anyone and everyone who makes eye contact.  If she is perturbed, though, everyone will know exactly how she feels about THAT.  She’ll snuggle into laps with stories or speed across the yard in races.  She loves to wear frilly dresses and sparkly jewelry (she got her ears pierced this year!) but heads to the barn with Papa every chance she can get and can hold her own with her brothers. She has the best bed head in the world and looks like one of the trolls in Jan Brett’s books. She astounds me all the time by telling me things she remembers when she was two.   She is very articulate and speaks like a little grown up for the most part but still charms us with those endearing little childisms that are so common with four year olds.  The most recent one came a few days ago when she complained ‘Mama, I have a headache in my belly” .  I would strongly recommend, if it can at all be managed, that EVERYONE have an almost-four year old in their lives. 
Judah is 9 years old this year and is always in the middle of all the action.  He loves pretty much anything Andrew or Papa love, so he can often be found tagging along with one of them or talking about what they find interesting.  Though quite a few years younger than Andrew, he fits into all Andrew’s hand-me-downs without me needing to pack it away for a year or two.  I just slide in on down to Judah’s shelf.  He is all boy and loves fighting, wrestling, hunting, camping, tools, weapons and military stuff.  He wears camo any chance he can.  He loves to build things and tinker around in the barn and often comes rushing in to proudly display one of his latest wood projects.  Despite the obvious country boy, Judah has some gentry in him as well.  He loves to get dressed up for church in suitcoat and vest, he loves to top his look with a nice hat and he sings like a Tabernacle Choir boy.  I don’t think he knows just how happy it makes me to watch and hear him sing.  One of his favorite cd’s to listen and sing along to is Jamie Soles- who we had the privilege to host at our house last year!  Judah, too, was a help on Papa’s Timberframe project - but after his broken arm last year, I have to say, I was pleased to see his feet planted mostly on the GROUND while doing so! 
Adele’ is 11 this year.  She is in that wonderful stage of childhood where she can flutter between ‘big kid’ and ‘little kid’ on a whim, which is a rare and fleeting treasure.  I have discovered with baby Moses just how much of a natural mother she can be- one time Moses exploded in THE MOST DISGUSTING diaper explosion I have ever seen and she just cheerfully cooed at him while she pulled his slimy body from the wreckage.   (Yep.  A poo story in a Christmas letter.  I did just do that.)  His crying doesn’t put her off either and she can make him calm when others become frazzled.  She isn’t too old or too proud to play with Ineke and littler cousins and friends (which makes her one of TheCoolPeople) but she really doesn’t need a soul to be happy as a lark.  She gets spoiled by a particular neighbor (you know who you are!) and has even gone on lunch dates with her.  None of my other children have ever been given LUNCH DATES by neighbors, so Adele is a particularly lucky one!  She hasn’t outgrown wearing pretty dresses every day, she enjoys reading books and writing letters and I just discovered that she can knit faster than I do! 
Andrew, 13, must have nibbled on some of Alice’s magic Wonderland ‘shrooms, because this year he grew and changed so much that it is getting harder and harder to find any ‘boy’ left in him.  Until, of course, he starts wrestling with Judah or goofing off with Corynn.  Then I think, “Yep- there’s the little guy!”   He is stretching and growing, not just in limb, but in strength and maturity too.   He is a reliable help, especially when Matt is out of town (and even when he isn’t sometimes!), in milking the cow, mucking manure or getting her in the pasture when she’s being ornery.  This is a HUGE burden lifted off of my shoulders and I am so thankful to have his help!  He helped with Papa’s Timberframe shed and built his own deer blind in the off moments.  Speaking of deer- (and if you are ever around him for any length of time, you know you WILL be) Andrew is just as interested in deer as ever.   One of his favorite things to do is grab my camera and head for the hills after his schoolwork is done to see what wildlife he can find.  He has captured so much wildlife on camera!  He waited anxiously for deer season to come and shot an 8 point the second time he went out.  He butchered the deer himself and in fact, we just had venison stew last night for supper!   He is already talking about shed hunting (that is, finding antlers that fall off in winter) though I don’t know where we will put more- he has quite a collection already.  He started writing articles about wildlife in his own widely circulated Game Report News- and by widely circulated, I mean, to family and friends. 😊 It’s a great newsletter though and very well done!  He’s had many compliments on it (and not just from me.) ha!
Corynn may have just turned 16 this year, but she’s always been sweet. I can now officially say, in all confidence, that raising teenagers doesn’t have to evoke feelings of terror and dread in the hearts of parents.  In fact, I think a lot of teenagers get a bad rap these days!  She is pure delight to have around and the only feelings of dread I have toward her is that each passing day is one day sooner to her becoming an adult and leaving us.  She is an avid reader and is just a few books shy of her goal of reading 200 books this year- she will have undoubtedly reached that goal before the year is up.   Her favorite books from this year:  Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (non-fiction) and The Count of Monte Cristo (fiction).   Even more impressive~ she has challenged herself to participate in a Bible Reading Challenge that will get her through the entire Bible in a year.  It’s a big chunk of reading (six chapters a day?! Whaaaat?) but she hasn’t missed a day!  When she isn’t reading, she is often doing artsy things like sketching or painting.  Every year she gets better and better at her art and it amazes me to see her creations.  She’s even made some money at it.  Corynn is incredibly helpful to me in so many ways, not the least of which being taking care of children when I have needed to go to countless doctors’ appointments.  She is thoughtful and considerate of my needs and feelings, in particular, and she can read my face and body language like a book (even when I’d rather her not.)   She is anxious to get her permit so she can get behind the wheel, which I am dreading for the aforementioned reason, but I can’t avoid it forever.  Or CAN I?!?
Matt now has more clothing with a DAIRYONE logo on them than any other clothing on his shelves which is a testament to how many years he has been working there and what most of his year is spent doing!   His work sends him away from home quite often- travelling hours by car or by plane to get the job done- and we pretty much hate having him gone.  But every time he gets back home we rejoice at another gift the Lord has given us in his safe return…and those are gifts I do not take for granted.  Matt made the girls so happy this year by gutting and renovating their bedroom... a much needed endeavor.  New insulation to keep warm, new floors that don’t hide treasures in their cracks (or stub toes) , more than a single outlet to plug into, an overhead light to brighten the nights and bookshelves that line the ceiling full of books that brighten their lives.  PURE LUXURY.  He is a talented Mister and he blesses our lives with the fruit of his hands.  If you want to know what he is REALLY proud of though, it is not the girls’ room!  This year, Matt began to realize a longtime dream of his to build a Timberframe structure just behind where the old Middle Barn once stood.   He’s like a kid in a candy store, that man, when he has a chisel in his hand.  It has been so fun watching him work alongside his Dad, brothers and sons on this project- when I look at the Timberframe shed years from now, I will remember the sight of those three generations of Newmans all working alongside one another. The fun will continue for a bit longer too~ the frame and roof were completed *almost* before the first snow fell in 2019 and the sides will go up in 2020.  His skillful hands faithfully build businesses and barns, but his truest and most lasting achievement is the faithful building up of the souls here.  Matt is a good man and God was GOOD in giving him to us.     
As for me- I’ve been struggling with some mysterious and painful health issues for several months that are making me feel (and walk) more like a Grandma than the youthful sprite I really am. 😉  I am grateful that I have a nursing baby who gives me a great excuse to sit down and snuggle as much as possible since I often don’t feel like doing much else-even though there is always plenty to do!  It’s been a great trial for me but isn’t it funny that it takes having poor health to realize the wonderful blessing of good health- and how much it is overlooked and underappreciated when one has it?   It’s nice to have eyes that see once again.
And that’s a wrap on us!  As always, you can keep up to date more often than once a year by visiting the blog:  www.zeahrenaissance.blogspot.com 
May we all celebrate the good and perfect gift of the Christ Child this Christmas.  He didn’t stay in the heavens but put on flesh and swam in womb water in order to save the world.  JOY!!!  Our King came not in order to be served but to serve, to pour himself out  and give Himself up.   May we all be cheerful imitators of Him in this, as we step into 2020!    

A very Merry Christmas to you all!  
                                                                                                                     Love, Us Newmans

PS. You lucky folks get the corrected message.   In the *actual* letter, I wrote The Count of Monte CRISCO.  It must have been all the baking I was doing.  ;-)  It was also dated December 2020.  Apparently, being older and fatter is on my mind.  ha!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

December Things

It's been a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants Christmas season this year.  Most of the time I make lists and plan and prepare and anticipate WELL in advance of things happening.  I've always thought it makes things more organized and less stressful.  Especially around Christmas.

But this year I've been preoccupied with Other Things and so, wind up getting ready for things to happen moments before they actually do.  And you know what?  It hasn't been as stressful as I would have thought.  Maybe the long lists and preparations and mental space I usually devote to Christmas may add to the stress?  Or maybe I am just out of sorts and would be pandemonium if it weren't for the Lord being gracious to me in allowing everything to work out in the end.  That 's probably it.

Also- my expectations aren't quite as high.

Even still, these days of December have been filling up quickly!

 St. Nicholas filled klompen on St. Nicholas Day but without the chocolate letters for everyone and only with dutch treats from Aldi- not REAL Dutch treats this year.  It's all good.

Corynn and Andrew volunteered to bring costumed cheer at a library Christmas event and looked pretty cute doing it.  Moses made a pretty dashing Santa too.

The Christmas card picture was done on one of the COLDEST days and took about 40 seconds so we wouldn't freeze... it had to be good enough.  

Didn't get the picture done in time to send to a nice printing place with Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, so we get the darkened, drabby walmart printed Christmas cards. It's all good.

I made a mistake on the FIRST LINE of the Christmas letter which I noticed AFTER I printed 80 of them.  (And then I noticed quite a few more...)  Ah well.

I just got them all in the mail YESTERDAY.  sheesh!

And- I over ordered and wound up with about 20 extra cards.  Anyone want a Christmas card from us?!  (Totally not kidding: email me your address: sgrbear724 at yahoo dot com)

First snowmen were made with the dusting of the first snow.  There has been opportunity for much bigger snowmen ever since.

Our Trim the Tree party happened.  There are a LOT of rules to the trim the tree party. 
Here's how it goes down: we eat EveryGoodSnackWeNeverGet and the first rule is we cannot use silverwear.  It has to be dippable, scoopable or prickable with toothpicks.  The food table HAS to have colored lights on it.  A toast is made with eggnog topped with whipped cream- and that MUST BE the first eggnog of the season.  (We take this rule very seriously even though we inevitably crave it for weeks beforehand.)  Only Christmas tree lights are allowed on during the decorating.  Christmas music HAS to be playing.  The night MUST end with Christmas books read by treelight. And, the most crucial part is that it must be a party for JUST US.  (I'm told this is one makes it all the more special.  I think they are right.)

So it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Ineke's birthday is on Sunday and I have yet to start ANY of the gifts I wanted to make for her.  Even still, I think she will have the best birthday ever.  (Papa made my dream come true!)

Neighbors need treats and I need to make them.

 I am nowhere near being done Christmas shopping.  

I will probably not have time to make all the gifts I originally wanted to make since, well, you know, I haven't STARTED anything yet.  

Birthday feasts and Christmas feasts will be sorted...eventually.

But, guess who isn't worried about ANY of it?  

That would be ME.

Be Merry!  It's almost Christmas!