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Stephanie Newsham

Stephanie Newsham

By Sherri Coner

In the midst of Stephanie Newsham’s busy life, she is very committed to co-leading a program called LifeGroup at Greenwood Christian Church for middle school and high school girls.  Whether the girls are sorting through confusing, stormy times or feeling misunderstood, they can trust that Newsham and co-leader Elizabeth Wetherholt will listen without judgment. Group members are from five different school districts, including home school.

“Working with the same group of girls gives me a chance to get to know them really well, and it gives them a “safe person” they know they can talk to at any time about anything,” Newsham said. “Sometimes teenagers don’t want to talk to their parents, but they will talk with another trusted adult.”

From her experience in this role, peer pressure is still at the top of the pre-pubescent and adolescent list of stresses.

“We’ve already had to deal with things that my heart was not prepared for – even at 12 and 13 years of age,” Newsham said of discussion topics. “For our girls especially, it’s a constant pull between wanting to fit in and wanting to show the world that they love Jesus and want to follow His teachings. You can do both, but how you react when someone is ‘throwing shade’ can make a huge difference.”

Outside of LifeGroup, Newsham and Joel, her husband of 19 years, relocated to Center Grove nearly two decades ago when he became Pleasant Grove Elementary School’s music teacher. They also have three busy kids. From home, Newsham operates two businesses, an income tax preparation business called Newsham CPA, and she partners with Trades Of Hope, a missionary business helping women escape poverty and trafficking by providing a platform for them to sell their beautiful handmade goods.

Because the women live in poverty-stricken countries, there is no outlet for making a profit. “I help provide the market for them to sell,” Newsham said.

As she welcomes the fifth year of working for herself, Newsham describes Trades of Hope as her “joy job.”

What do you consider your greatest virtue? Empathy. I feel emotions deeply whether they are my own or I am taking on someone else’s.

What human trait do you most dislike? I hate being lied to.

What do you like most about living in Johnson County? I love and adore the friends I have made in this community.

If you had to live somewhere other than in Johnson County, where would it be? Somewhere warmer. When Joel underwent chemotherapy 14 years ago, blood vessels in his extremities were damaged. Cold weather is difficult for him.

If you could begin life over, what would you change? I’d have more patience with my kids when they were little.

If money were no issue, how would you spend it? Everything I bought would be fair trade. It’s important to me to know that the person on the other side of my purchase was paid fairly and worked in a safe environment while they were making whatever I am about to purchase. And I would see every musical I wanted to see. My favorite way to spend an evening is dinner and a musical.

What makes you happiest? Singing showtunes. They make everything better.

What is your favorite vacation spot? When we were young and didn’t have children, my husband and I took a whirlwind tour of Europe, and Austria has my heart.

What do you do with free time? I do love to read, and I try to keep up with whatever my kids are reading in school, so I read a lot.

What is it that makes you angry? Injustice – I am a total rule follower – always have been. I identify a lot with the character of Javert from Les Mis (who I think is grossly misunderstood since everyone thinks of him as the “bad guy”).  He’s just big on justice, but short on mercy, and I can be that way as well – especially at home.

What do you do to escape from reality?   Books and musicals

What or who is the greatest love of your life? In the flesh it would be my husband. Not someone I can physically hug would be Jesus.

Which living person in Johnson County do you most admire? My friend, Valerie Stewart, is the most patient, kind, loving person you could ever hope to meet.

What is the quality you most like in a person? Integrity – do the right thing even when no one else is watching you.

What is your greatest extravagance? Seeing live performances is not cheap but is my favorite way to escape reality.

What are your fears, phobias? My kids would say, “spiders.” However, I understand their importance in keeping the bug population at bay. So I will try to capture it and put it outside without killing it. But on a bad day, it’s a goner.

What has been the happiest time of your life? Probably the day I married Joel.  It was a simple yet elegant wedding, and practically perfect in every way.

Which talent would you most like to possess? I would absolutely love to have one of those fabulous singing voices that can pretty much do anything.

What do you most value in your friends? Authenticity – I like people to be real.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? I have lived a pretty sheltered and “easy” life. I have not had to deal with any of the struggles that people who make it into history books have had to deal with. I would feel weird equating myself to any of those women.

What is your greatest regret? I know there are times when I have “lost it” with my kids when what they really needed was patience and connection from me, and those are the times I regret most.

What principle do you live by? I’ll quote Gandalf from Lord of the Rings: “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay … small acts of kindness and love.”

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