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

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas!

 For those who don't get one in the mail... here is a {virtual} Christmas card.

Have a WONDERFUL Christmas tomorrow!  💖

Dear Ones~                                                                                                                         December 2020

Merry Christmas!

What a surreal year it has been, wouldn’t you say?  I mean…Covid19, a shutdown economy, farmers dumping milk and slaughtering pigs while food pantry lines are miles long, toilet paper hoarding, mask-wearing, never seeing smiles, displaced children, school closings, churches shut down, abortion clinics not, riots, looting, death, destruction of property, election mayhem…even Aunt Jemima was cancelled.  We have had a good solid 9 months of humbug.  2020 stink, stank, stunk.

This isn’t going to be a very uplifting Christmas letter…. or is it?  😉

1 Thes. 5:16-18 tells us that we are to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

No time to be grinchy- there is too much to be thankful for. Once you start the counting of blessings, it is hard to stop!  Here is just a sampling of things to be thankful for from each of us from this past year.

Moses is still alive though he is a magnet for trouble, is fearless and a Sneaky Pete! (an exhausting combination.) We watch him every second and I still had to call poison control twice in one week for this dude.  Ingesting gross things is not the only thing this boy does in his free time.  He also enjoys sneaking out of doors and windows and is abnormally attracted to shiny, sharp objects.  I am thankful that the Lord has even the itty-bitty babies in His Hands- because Moses needs that (and I need to KNOW it!).  He is almost 15 months old and still only really says the word “Mama”, so he wins the award for slowest talker in the Newman house.  He knows plenty of signs to help him communicate though, which helps.   Imagine! A quiet Newman!  😉  He walks backward when feeling defiant (Whaaat?), dances to any tune he hears and still has delightfully squeezable thighs. 

Ineke is turning five a few days before Christmas and I do not wonder at the gifts she will get- she is all about unicorns, mermaids and princesses…the little girl trifecta.  She asks every day to “do a hard thing” which inevitably involves my oversight and lots of messes to clean up.  She is creative and clever and rambunctious and feisty- and she has the twinkly eyes to prove it.  She has a sharp mind; she asks deep questions and makes observations that I wouldn’t normally associate with a four-year-old.  I love watching her face as she watches movies- because she feels very deeply and wears openly her joy or sorrow. 

Judah is 10 and is most often seen around the house wearing soldier-sized military clothes that are a tad too big for him.  He loves to play with the G.I. Joes that Matt played with when HE was a boy. Judah draws wonderfully intricate pictures- mostly of soldiers- and loves to read and write- mostly about wars and weaponry.  I am thankful for this interest and passion while being simultaneously thankful that he has been shielded from the destruction and pain real wartime brings.  Judah also enjoys helping Matt on his building projects- just last weekend he helped Matt bury electrical cable to the Timber Shed.  Matt couldn’t have done it without him.

Adele just turned 12 on Thanksgiving Day and you wouldn’t believe the difference a year has made!  Last year she looked like such a little girl in pictures and this year she is quite the young lady.   She likes being curled up with a good book (Favorite book of the year : The Winter King by C. Cohen Current read : Heidi by J. Spyri ).  She also enjoys drawing at the table, going for walks, wearing pretty dresses, writing letters to penpals, and knitting on the couch (she just finished knitting a beautiful cowl in just a few days! I try not to be jealous of her skills).   She joins Moses in the ‘quiet’ department and is perfectly at ease, even by herself.  This is a wonderful quality to have- contentment comes easily to those lucky sorts!

Andrew is my 14 year old naturalist~ he is most at home in the woods.  He enjoys taking my camera out with him to ‘shoot’ things- as is evidenced by the sheer volume of photos on our computer of sunsets, trees, geese, beaver dams and deer.  Of course, he enjoys the other sort of shooting too - he continues with his record to score a buck on the second day of hunting season for the fourth year in a row now.  Andrew also traps- in fact, he got two muskrats a couple days ago.  I look forward to seeing him tan those hides instead of storing them in my freezer. 😉  He decided to take on the maple syrupping endeavor this spring (almost) single-handedly and wound up with a gallon or so of delicious maple syrup for his efforts.  Of course, he continues to be a huge help with the farm chores and cow milking and is such a hard worker that even neighbors have asked for his help on projects like pruning orchards and picking potatoes.

Corynn is now 17 (gulp!) and brings such exuberance to this house that I have forbade her to leave it until she is at least 35.  (She thinks I am kidding- but she is wrong.)  She got her drivers’ permit, a bit late due to Covid and a Mama who wants her little girl staying little- and wound up getting a little blue ‘Smurfmobile’ to drive around in even before getting her license.  Corynn continues to find (and bring) joy in and through her art.  This year, she collaborated with someone to illustrate a privately published picture book which was a new and exciting (and sometimes stretching) opportunity for her.  She enjoys running (particularly with friends), playing guitar (particularly FOR friends) and writing letters (to -you guessed it!- her friends).  I love watching the mail because even her envelopes and those of some of her penpals are works of art! (I try not to be jealous of her mail.)  She makes me feel better by feeding me warm cookies from the oven and giving huuuuge hugs.

Matt still has a job- unlike many people at the end of 2020- and that is something we do not take for granted!   “Business Matt” is capable, intelligent, professional, handsome (is that sexual harassment?) and as busy as ever.  “Farmer Matt” is reliable, strong, talented, industrious and… as busy as ever.   Matt and the boys spent many a weekend working on his parents’ Lake Cottage project together this year.  He sided his Timberframe shed this year and ran electricity to it.  Matt built bunkbeds for the girls’ room, built a pig pen and ran fencing, built a deer blind with Andrew and many other projects, both necessary and superfluous- he just can’t stop himself!  That he has the strength, talent, motivation, and means to do such projects are also gifts we do not take for granted!

As for me, I am thankful that we have been relatively unaffected by all the Covid craziness.  I am thankful that my children have been homeschooled for so long that it just seems natural to stay home and learn that way, that we don’t enforce masks OR social-distancing in our home, that the children have space to roam free instead of being cooped up indoors, that Matt is still working, that we are all healthy, that we have like-minded friends who share in our struggles and joy, that we are able to worship each Sunday, that we have food on the table, clothes on our backs and even presents under the tree. 

I know that there are many who are not as insulated from the shockwaves of all that 2020 has brought with it- whether trying to readjust to new work, new schedules, homeschooling, having children home, financial struggles, family struggles, health problems or fear, isolation, depression, worry or stress… these people weigh heavy on my heart.  Please know that I truly am praying for this nation and for all of those who are struggling right now.  We all need a bit of saving, that is for sure- but the wonderful news is… we were given a SAVIOUR! 

Whatever the Lord has in store for us in 2021, we know that He will work it together for our good and His glory.  May we all remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength!  So give thanks, we do. Pray continually, we shall.  Rejoice always, we will!    I hope that you will do the same and that the Lord will bless you all abundantly in this new year.  A very MERRY Christmas to you all!

                     With lots of love to you and yours… from me and mine!   Rebecca et al.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Making Spirits Bright

Moses woke me up at 3am this morning, for whatever reason, and didn't fall back to sleep until 4:45 which is a death knell to any chance of my falling back to sleep since I usually am up by 5 or 5:30 anyway.

No matter.

I like early mornings like this- quiet, dark, slumbery- at least until I start to feel hit by a mack truck around suppertime.  ;-)

What to do?  What to do?  Why, blog of course!

Neighbor treat-making with my girl

When Mama says you may have ONE bite and you have to inspect the whole tray for the PERFECT one.

That horrible moment when you feel sure you are going to ruin the whole thing when you paint on a face.

A nativity production put on in a barn, surrounded by sheep and calves.  Made me feel like I had jumped into the world of Tasha Tudor.

Ineke wanted to make presents.

When you are too lazy to actually dehydrate orange slices- you hang them up juicy.  It totally works.  (And they do dry...just naturally!)


handmade and delivered from a friend- isn't this arrangement so stunning?

It is all very Christmas-y 'round here.  Lots of making happening.  Lots of yummy treats.  Lots of scurrying, lots of bustle.  Lots of smiling at strangers.  Lots of Christmas music and movies.  Lots of trying to squeeze lots of things in a short amount of time.  Lots of messes.  But it is all very good.  I love every minute of it.  And miraculously, it is all working all pretty well!  

I hope these days leading up to Christmas are full to the brim of good things for your family too.  Do whatever it takes to make spirits bright.  Smile!  Laugh!  Play games.  Eat fudge.  Turn off the news.  Whatever you do, do it JOLLY.  

As you can see from the many pictures of her, Ineke has entered into the inevitable 'kitchen helper phase'.  She is ready to roll up her sleeves every time I enter the kitchen.  She's been helping me make lots of treats and goodies for family and friends.  But not today!  

Today is her BIRTHDAY and today the treats are made in secret!  

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Heap Big Snow

 When I woke up this morning, I looked out the window to see how much snow had fallen and wondered why I couldn't see anything... when it became light enough, I figured it out...

Moses had enough snow to play with on the porch.  
He would not have gotten very far in the yard...he would have been buried alive in snow.

The yardstick almost was.

33 inches of beautiful snow.

I'm thankful that Matt was able to come home early enough yesterday not to be caught in the worst of it.

That we have a tractor to plow the driveway.

That the electricity never went out.

That we are warm and toasty in our house.

That Matt didn't have to leave early this morning on a road that wasn't even plowed until nearly lunchtime.

That hot cocoa and biscuits and sausage gravy was a celebratory breakfast.

Wondering, though, why boys think it is cool to go outside with nothing but wrapped up plastic bags on their feet in 17 degree weather?  Who does that?!  And then- why are they surprised when they can no longer feel their toes?  One of life's great mysteries, right there.

Snow days are cozy days when everyone is home together.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Sunny Boy

 Speaking of friends and babies... 

I threw a little baby shower for my friend Abby and her womb baby one afternoon after church.

Because I am of the opinion that 10th babies are as marvelous as first babies.

Sunny or Sunbeam, as the baby was nicknamed, was due just a week or two later.

Naturally, the nickname made a theme pretty straightforward.  

I couldn't believe that I still had chamomile and russian sage to fill in and round out bouquets of yellow, even into November.   What a remarkable year.

My friend is so lovely.  (And the little snitchers in the background are funny.)  

Turns out, Sunny was a BOY all along, and a pretty marvelous one!  

God is good to give a sunshine boy to this world of shadows.