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Perfectly Pineapple Summer Collection of Recipes and Crafts

Interview with Debra Gray-Elliott Author of From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose

My World Turns Upside Down by Vera DeMay

Beach Adventure with Jesus by Paula McVay


Ruby Magazine Your voice, your story AUGUST, 2017 www.rubyforwomen.com

In This Issue of Ruby Watermelon Savories: A poem and a memory by Joan Leotta

Vintage Book Treasure Hunt: Restoring the Family Altar by Kathryn Ross It’s hard to believe that it is August already! It seems like it was just yesterday that we were welcoming spring to our winter-weary lives. And as much as we love spring and summer, we are always ready to contemplate the beauty of autumn. For now, however, we are still celebrating summer here at RUBY, and we want to invite you to share in our gratitude to God for such a glorious time of year.

God Moves Mountains When Women Pray Book review by Michele Morin

Let us know how we can be an encouragement to you today. We would love to hear from you! Contact us at editor@rubyforwomen.com Stop by the RUBY blog and click on the link to purchase your copy of the latest issue of RUBY magazine at http://www,rubyforwomen.com

Precious Seeds by Cynthia Knisley

Senior Editor: Nina Newton Assistant Editor: Beth Brubaker Feature Writers: Sharon L. Patterson, Joan Leotta, Norma C. Mezoe, Thea Williams, Shara BuelerRepka, Jennifer Workman, Cindy Evans, Gloria Doty, Kathryn Ross, Kathleen McCauley, Emmanuel O. Afolabi, Cindy Knisley, Carol Peterson, Michele Morin, Connie Arnold, Paula McVay, Katt Luce, Michelle Madrid-Branch, Linda M. Crate, Debra Gray-Elliott, Krystle Nicole Martin, Lynn Mosher, Nells Wasilewski, Lisa Radcliff, Vera DeMay, Suzane Avadiar, Mark Glamack

Potter's Wheel by Cindy Evans


Credits and Copyrights All stories and articles are copyright by the authors. All pictures and images are copyright by the authors and / or have been purchased, used by permission or are in the public domain. If any pictures or images have been used inadvertently, and they do not belong in this publication, please email us and we will immediately remove them. Nothing in this issue of RUBY magazine may be reproduced, copied, or shared without the permission of the author. Advertising information is available by contacting us at editor@rubyforwomen.com Questions? Email Nina @ editor@rubyforwomen.com RUBY magazine is published by CreativeLife All submission inquiries should be directed to: Nina Newton, Sr. Editor RUBY magazine editor@rubyforwomen.com

Tatters to Treasures for vintage and refashion designs and creations. www.etsy.com/shop/TattersToTreasures

Visit Vintage Mama’s Cottage for handcrafted, unique gifts, home décor, craft and sewing tutorials, and children’s boutique clothing patterns.


Are you invisible too? by Nina Newton, Sr. Editor Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2: 3-5 When I was a “younger mom,” I frequently wondered why so many of the “older moms” in the church were no longer involved in the ministries and activities that kept the other women busy throughout the week. Of course, that is not to suggest that all of the older women in the church were just “checking out” or uninterested. In our church now, there are lots of “older ladies” who are on the leadership board and who are involved in weekly Bible studies and other ministries. But I have noticed over the years that women “of a certain age” sometimes just kind of fade away into the background. And I wonder: what’s up with that? So I got to thinking, and talking with some of the “older ladies” who have devoted most of their adult lives to serving the Lord in their homes and churches, to see if I could get some perspective on this observation (outside of my own head!). It seems that there are several reasons this happens to some women, not the least of which is that they are just worn out! After years and years and years of doing so much in ministry, some women are just needing to take a break and catch their breath. Another reason I’ve realized for this phenomenon is that, in some cases, by the time a woman is “of a certain age” she might be in the midst of all kinds of life “drama” as a result of events in life. I’ve heard it said that if you live long enough, you will have a broken heart. The Bible tells us that we WILL have tribulation, but to count it all joy in the midst of our brokenness because we know that God is still in control. But over time, a broken heart will wear you down, even if you are “counting it all joy.” Knowing that God is in control is the only thing that keeps folks going when they are completely exhausted from the daily challenges of life. But another reason that I’ve observed is that there isn’t always an emphasis on the concept in Titus 2 where we are encouraged to have the older women teach the younger women to live godly lives in our home and in all of our relationships. It seems that we seek out the young, attractive, dynamic “celebrity” Christian women to follow. Bible studies by the “famous” Christian women seem so much more appealing than sitting and listening to the wisdom of an older, perhaps broken-hearted, woman who has learned to depend on God even in the midst of life’s tragedies. Younger women have much to say and to teach, and we can all learn from their study of God’s Word – but perhaps we might want to consider looking beyond the glory of youth to the wisdom of age so that the women “of a certain age” in our churches don’t feel invisible. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. You can always email me at editor@rubyforwomen.com


Footprints in the Mud Sins vs. Virtues - Pride by Beth Brubaker

Pride, by definition, is a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. But does God hate all pride? Not necessarily. There are several kinds of pride.

Yikes! If we look back using our well-tuned 20/20 hindsight, we can all see moments where we’ve been prideful. So how do we fight this sinful kind of pride? The answer lies in Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

One is pride in one’s own work, which God approves of- He wants us to do well and take a certain pride in what we do - as long as we don’t get too big for our own britches.

Humility is the answer. But what exactly is humility?

The second is taking pride in someone else’s achievements, like when we see our children walk for the first time, or when a friend makes a breakthrough or succeeds at a goal.

Being humble doesn’t mean we put ourselves down or not take credit for the good work we’ve done - it simply means we let our work speak for itself, and let others speak well of us instead of boasting.

The third kind of pride is where God has an issue. This kind of pride makes one look down his nose at everyone, lifting himself above others.

Proverbs 27:2 sums it up nicely. “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

Proverbs 16:18 states, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. “Read that again. A haughty spirit. Haughtiness, arrogance, and disdain are the triggers that make pride a sin.

Please note the definition of humility is a low view of one’s own importance, not a low view of one’s true importance.

Proverbs 16: 5 drives home this point, along with a consequence. “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”

Humility is a modest or low view of one's own importance, or humbleness.

We are worthy because God makes us worthy; He deems us to be important to Him! His glory shines through us and through our work. And when someone appreciates what you’ve done or said, give God the glory - God will bless you for it!

For more inspirational articles by Beth Brubaker, visit her blog at Footprints in the Mud


Watermelon Savories: A poem and a memory by Joan Leotta Watermelon. Just the thought of it reminds me of childhood summers, leaning over large wedges at outdoor picnics as I took a bite, trying not to let the juice spill onto my shirt. Seed spitting contest with my cousins. Now, I tend to cut it off of the rind into a bowl and drink the remaining juice. Now is the time to experiment if you are so inclined. Watermelon is plentiful in supermarkets and farm markets all across the United States. But restricting watermelon to dessert or snack status seemed sad. What about the rest of the meal? Watermelon is power packed, full of vitamins and is a good source of potassium. So, extending its use could only be a good thing. I wondered if watermelon could have a part to play as a savory in the entrée and or side dish part of the meal.

Last year, after hearing NBC's Joy Bauer recommend pairing watermelon chunks with feta cheese chunks as a simple salad, I began to investigate the savory side of this delightful fruit. Local chefs here in the North-South Carolina border near Myrtle Beach were helpful in this effort. Many were using watermelon on their menus, often paired with pork belly as an appetizer, celebrating the contrast of sweet and salty. These creations were a tasty, but prep was complicated in many cases. So, I turned to the Florida-based National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) www.watermelon.org. Their Senior Director, Stephanie Barlow gave me permission to share some savory recipes with readers. The website is a treasure trove of ideas for new-to-me uses of watermelon. Here are my favorites from their website:

Mediterranean Salad Courtesy of the NWPB Ingredients  6 cups torn mixed salad greens  3 cups cubed seeded watermelon  1/2 cup sliced onion  1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil  1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese  dash cracked black pepper Method In large bowl, mix all ingredients except oil and pepper. Just before serving, toss salad mixture with oil. Garnish with pepper. Serves 6


Grilled Chicken and Boursin Sandwiches Courtesy of NWPB Ingredients  1 9 or 10 inch round herbed focaccia  5 ounces Boursin cheese  3 grilled skinless boneless chicken breast halves, sliced  4 thin slices seedless watermelon  1/4 cup sesame seeds  3 ounces baby arugula Instructions Split the focaccia through the center as for a sandwich and spread the Boursin over the cut sides of the bread. Arrange the chicken over the Boursin on the bottom piece of bread. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the watermelon and grill it quickly over hot coals just to warm. Arrange in an even layer over the chicken and top the watermelon with the arugula. Place the top of the bread, Boursin side down, over the arugula. Cut sandwich into halves or quarters. Makes 2 or 3 large sandwiches

Shrimp and Watermelon Napoleons Recipe and photo courtesy of NWPB (Joan's note—this recipe calls for "salad" shrimp. I prefer to cook wild caught local small shrimp instead and cut them up to the size of the salad shrimp—taste is much better!) Ingredients  2 cups cooked baby salad shrimp  2/3 cup mayonnaise  1 tablespoon fresh snipped dill  12, 4 inch seeded rounds of watermelon about 1/2 inch thick  4 large cocktail shrimp  4 dill sprigs Instructions Mix together the shrimp, mayonnaise and dill. Chill until ready to serve. To serve, place a round of the watermelon on a serving plate and top with a thin layer of the shrimp salad. Top that with another round of the watermelon and then another layer of the shrimp salad. Top that with another watermelon round. Place a cocktail shrimp on top with a sprig of dill. Repeat to create four Napoleons. Serves 4 All recipes in this article are used by permission of the National Watermelon Promotion Board.


Watermelon as a dessert, especially a picnic dessert, will always be a favorite way to eat this fruit, (for me). Below is a poem about a childhood picnic in Kennywood Park, a large amusement park in Pittsburgh (great roller coasters!).

Snapshot of Annual Family Picnic 1955 by Joan Leotta On our family annual outing to Kennywood we packed eggplant "parm," cooled spaghetti, watermelon, salads hot dogs and more into baskets. Grandma and my mother, claiming, "We don’t care to ride." Staked claim to several tables while we scattered, fanning out to our favorite rides— coasters, ponies, merry-go-round. Uncles won prizes at three-chances-for-a-quarter booths. My Dad stayed by my side until we heard the noon whistle from the nearby mills calling us back to the picnic area. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma, parents-we ate and talked and talked and ate as sun burned sky away, then spread out once more to rides while others packed up. Darkness brought fireworks exploding with color, fighting with the moon for sky supremacy. When all lights and noise gave way to the quiet cool twinkling of stars, and moon declared victory over man-made flashes, we piled into assorted Oldsmobiles, Fords, and Studebakers and headed home.


An Ordinary Love Affair Francis and Frieda ***

by Gloria Doty Sparkling diamonds, luxurious furs, expensive candlelight dinners. In today’s world, we equate these things with falling in love or being in love. My mother never owned a fur or a large diamond and was never treated to a candlelight dinner, and yet, she never doubted she was loved in a very special way. Francis’s family moved from Ohio to Indiana and rented a farm close to Frieda’s family. The year was 1933, the country was in the throes of the Depression and money for fun was non-existent. Still, there were ways for young people to enjoy each other’s company. They saw each other at church on Sunday mornings and at church youth meetings on Sunday evenings. On one occasion, Frieda agreed to go to a barn dance with this tall, scholarly-looking young man. On the way to the dance, his car had three flat tires. What a way to make an impression on a girl, but he must have made a good impression. They were married in August of 1935. They had $5 between them when they got married. The reception was at Frieda’s parent’s house. In place of a fancy car, they arrived in a horse-drawn wagon. After their marriage, they lived with Frieda’s parents. Francis helped with the farm work and in February of 1941, he began supplementing their income with a job in town. Every two weeks, he earned $23.76 until April, when he received a two-cent an hour raise. Their first daughter, Jeanette, was born in 1938. A second daughter, LaDonna, joined the family in 1942. By 1943, they had saved enough money for the down payment on a house and seven acres. The house had no indoor plumbing and it was heated with a stove that sat in the middle of the living room, but it was theirs. LaDonna became ill. After many tests, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Despite all the doctors’ efforts and countless prayers for her earthly recovery, she died when she was just two years old. Many times, tragedies pull families apart, but for Francis and Frieda, this was not the case. Their firm faith in God and their love for each other never waivered. When Frieda’s father died, her mother came to live with them. After a miscarriage, another little girl, Gloria, was born. It seemed ironic that Francis had only sisters and now had only daughters. He was destined to live in a houseful of females. Their daily lives consisted of ordinary things. Frieda raised chickens and sold the eggs. She planted a large garden each year and preserved all that it produced. She and her mother pieced a quilt each year. They attended church as a family every week and had devotions each day. They said prayers and encouraged their children to do the same. Although they were always conservative, one of the few extravagances was a family trip each year. Although Frieda didn’t drive, they enjoyed touring the country for a few weeks each summer and adding to their daughters’ educational experiences by visiting national landmarks and nearly all the states.


Francis and Frieda lived within the traditional roles of husbands and wives for their generation. She took care of the domestic part of their life and he was in charge of the financial areas. And so they lived, day-to-day, year-to-year. They complemented each other in so many ways. Frieda was an extrovert, Francis was an introvert. He was the valedictorian of his high school class, she only finished eighth grade. They made allowances for each other. She loved her many flowers; he didn’t care so much about them, but always prepared the beds and helped weed them. When Frieda died unexpectedly, Francis lost all interest in the things he loved. He no longer read books, watched IU basketball or made wooden toys. He spent his last years in a nursing home, with Alzheimer’s affecting his memory. When he would have a lucid moment, he would call out her name. “Frieda?” as though she was still there. They were reunited in heaven in 2002. Their marriage survived many things that often tear a union apart: financial hardship in the beginning, living with parents and then having a parent live with them, the death of a child and some illnesses. Was their marriage perfect? No. Did they have disagreements? Yes, of course. Did they ever go to bed angry with each other? Never. This may seem like the most boring love story of all time. However, the constant day-to-day respect, compromise and interest in each other are the strongest threads in the ‘tie that binds’ people together. They shared a faith in God and passed that legacy on to their children, in words and example. Francis and Frieda were hard-working, ordinary people who shared an extraordinary love.

The Magnolia Series by Gloria Doty is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner!


God Moves Mountains When Women Pray Book review by Michele Morin Last year, I started keeping a list of prayer requests, dated and described, and then, to my great surprise — answers! Clear direction for a son, help and success in a ministry opportunity, a new and wonderful job for my husband. Reviewing the list from time to time, I’m reminded to give thanks, and I’m reinforced in my thinking that when it comes to prayer, there is always something new and fresh God wants me to know. Women Who Move Mountains by Sue Detweiler is clear and comprehensive enough to serve as a primer on prayer for the uninitiated, but Sue has shared so many deeply insightful stories and has woven them so beautifully with Scripture that those who are further along on the journey will also find a rewarding read. Twice in the gospels, Jesus talks with His disciples about mountains moving at their command. Of course, this is not a matter of showcasing the disciples’ great faith, but rather, the power of God at work on behalf of those who believe. I have been guilty of praying small and safe, so it was a challenge to hear Sue’s rallying cry to pray with confidence, boldness, and grace. The book is set up with odd-numbered chapters covering real and raw stories of women who witnessed mountain-moving responses to their prayers, while evennumbered chapters pose questions based on living the principles here at ground level. Belief in the ever-present, always-available Maker of Heaven and Earth is the foundation for a vibrant prayer life. Unfortunately, fear, shame, anxiety, perfectionism, entitlement, and timidity often derail us in the mountain-moving life. Staying close to Truth is transformational, and this becomes evident in the lives of women whose childhood wounds have been healed and whose “orphan mindset” has been replaced with assurance that in God’s eyes, they are a much-loved daughter. Sue hammers on one truth about this following life that almost cannot be overstated: “Just because you obey God does not mean that it will be smooth sailing forever and ever.” Our obedience opens the door to God’s help and connects us to God’s plan, but prayer requires trust at every level. Offsetting the vending-machine-God mentality, Sue reminds readers that Jesus suffered greatly in His time on this planet. The following life is not lived above emotional pain and loss. Women who feel like the walking wounded are encouraged to turn to God rather than blaming God for their wounds. Biblical examples of women like Hannah who prayed for a child and Esther who prayed for the rescue of her people demonstrate that prayer is a powerful weapon, that it launches us into our destiny, and that — amazingly — it is as simple as a conversation in which we transparently come before God bearing “our stuff.”


Just as conversation builds relationship between people, prayer is a day-long interaction with God. And since it is not simply prayer or my puny faith, but rather GOD who moves mountains, I want to press into that relationship and know the heart of this powerful God. Indispensable to our prayer life is a right understanding of who He is, and Sue has shared rich Scriptural insights: 1. Jesus is uniquely equipped to comfort and strengthen us when we face rejection. Remember what happened in Nazareth? When He challenged the hometown crowd, they were ready to drive Jesus off a cliff! 2. It’s an American idea that if God calls you to a task and if He is truly in it, then success always follows. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it well: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Some of our most enriching spiritual growth experiences come through failure. 3. Jesus always had choice words of condemnation for the Pharisees in the crowd and set the example for us. “Becoming a woman who moves mountains means you care more about what Jesus thinks than the Pharisees in your life.” F.U.N.K. and H.O.P.E. Sue employs a couple of creative acronyms to stimulate readers to prayer that results in renewed thinking and powerful life-change. The next time you feel as if you are in a funk, realize that you are Floundering Under Negative Knowledge. Everything that seems dark and wrong may be very true, but staying close to God’s truth fights the slide into the pit. Likewise, when the dark tunnel seems endless, hope says, “Hold On, Pain Ends!” God offers His hope when ours has long ago sputtered to a stop. God-confidence gives perspective for the long haul of praying in light of God’s specific promises. There is so much that He wants to do as He trains us in righteousness, so many good works, prepared beforehand, that are waiting for us who walk with Him. Thanks be to God that we have been invited to come before Him in confidence, boldness, and grace. Women Who Move Mountains by Sue Detweiler is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner

Visit Michele on her blog, Living Our Days: Gaining a Heart of Wisdom, for more insightful and inspirational articles and book reviews.


Don’t Worry About Tomorrow by Connie Arnold Don’t spend your time worrying about what will come tomorrow, anticipating trouble with dread or with sorrow, or let your anxieties keep you awake at night, cowering in the darkness, filled with pain and fright. There’s no need to worry or to have a troubled soul, but put your trust in God, knowing He is in control. Release your anxieties and get some peaceful rest, give your troubles to the Lord, who always knows what’s best.


Strength in Times of Weakness by Sharon L. Patterson The long trial we were passing through had tugged on every bit of strength I had and he had, too. Tiredness crowned our bodies from the top of our head leaving us both exhausted as though we were dead. But inside, a prompting rose in undeniable voice that said, “Get back up, you have a choice!” “Have I not promised to be with you always even in the most trying battles and difficult days? I don’t know who spoke it first, but the next thing I did was to grab my purse and join my husband as we got in the car to head to our church that wasn’t that far. We entered to a sea of familiar faces found a seat and took our places. Suddenly sounds of harmonious parts ooured from instruments and worshipping hearts. It didn’t take long till hands lifted up in prayer finding what we lost due to constant care required from us in the trial we faced. Instantly, we were refreshed and renewed in that worship place The songs we sang and the word we heard broke through the despair till it became absurd we left that service with hope’s quickening pace and strength for the journey to continue our race.


Beach Adventure with Jesus by Paula McVay

Breathtaking beauty exudes from every nook and cranny of Cape Cod in historical New England. The hilly land scape sends out a luscious fragrance from the colorful flowers surrounding the charming and distinct homes. My wonderful friend, Joyce, actually gets to live there. She and her late “gentle giant of a husband” moved there after he retired from 30 years of teaching elementary school. This past summer, Joyce invited me to come for a week to enjoy the amazing beaches that stretch in both directions with their clear refreshing water, white fluffy clouds, and cool breezes. Before I get into the beach adventure I must tell you about Joyce. She has never met a stranger. People are drawn to her sparkling smiling eyes, sharp dress, and effervescent personality. She has that special way of making people feel loved and attractive. On one occasion when my late husband and I were visiting, we enjoyed a luscious seafood dinner at one of the quaint local restaurants. She went over to a table of complete strangers and persuaded them to sing Happy Birthday to me. (It really was my birthday). Of course she had to tell them that we had been their pastors in Pennsylvania years ago and how her husband and she had become grounded in their faith. People often ask Joyce how she can be so positive and energetic to which she is always ready with a quick response. She doesn’t give them “The Four Spiritual Laws, “or get out her Bible. She simply tells them how blessed she is and how her life has been so different since she put her faith in God.

When my husband pastored the church where she and her family were members, I taught a ladies group on Tuesday mornings. Joyce was so enthusiastic about the book we were studying that she invited and brought ladies from her work and neighborhood every week. By the end of the year, our average attendance had grown from l4 to over 100 ladies. Joyce always told people that they needed to hear this great teacher; however, I had taught the same lessons in other churches without those results. I’m quite sure it was her dynamic life and personality that drew them in. She definitely “makes the most of every opportunity” as Paul instructs in Colossians 4:5. “Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversations be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.” NLT Each morning during my recent visit, we would begin the day with our coffee and God’s word. As we read, we could not help stopping to give praises and asking God to bring people across our paths with whom we could encourage and tell about Jesus. After praying together for our adult children and grandchildren, we prepared for an adventure to the beach. Little did we know what God had in store for us. Just as we got our colorful and comfy beach chairs arranged with our little cooler full of juicy watermelon, cheese, and ice cold water, two younger ladies scrunched in right behind us on the narrow sandy area.


At first I wondered why they didn’t go further down where there was plenty of room. I felt a little nudge of the Holy Spirit about my attitude and told them we would move forward a little closer to the water so they would have plenty of room. With big brown sparkling eyes and a typical New England brogue, one of the girls expressed her appreciation with, “You ladies are so nice.” I quietly repented of my previous attitude as God’s word from Galatians came to me mind. “But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” Gal. 6:8b. (NLT) After enjoying the calm clear water, Joyce and I asked the girls if they would take our picture. The beautiful Italian girl, Lisa, hopped right up and said she would love to since we were so nice to make more room for them. She asked us to walk down the beach a little way for better lighting. When we were away from most of the people, she asked us how we became friends. At first she thought we were sisters since we are about the same size, both have short hair and similar personalities. Joyce began to share that we had been friends for 40 years and that she and her family had been members of the church my husband pastored. I told her that we had both just recently lost our husbands who were wonderful Godly men. Lisa held up her hand as she declared, “God and I are not on good terms. I’m a ‘wid’er’ too and my life has been awful these past few years. My first husband was part of a cultish type religion. A few years after that marriage ended, I found who I thought was “Mr. Right,” but he committed suicide one year ago. His two young adult children, whom I loved and thought I had a great relationship with, won’t even speak to me because of disagreements over money. How could a loving God let that happen? He must not care about me.” After sending up an SOS prayer, I began to explain how God truly must love her because of our being together on this beautiful beach at this particular time with two ladies who had prayed specifically that morning that God would allow them to encourage someone. I explained to her that bad things often happen to good people because of the fallen world in which we live. We don’t have to be bitter and sad though. We can have a deep down joy and peace.

As I told her the story of my life growing up in an abusive home and how God’s grace had kept me all these years, she seemed to really listen. I told her that I accepted Christ as my savior and allowed His Holy Spirit to fill me so that I could have overcoming power in any situation. About that time, Joyce chimed in to tell Lisa about a great devotional book she had in her car and asked Lisa if she would read it. As Lisa gave her consent, I began to pack our things while Joyce went to her car to get the book. As she walked back with the book in her hand, Lisa blurted out, “Oh My Gosh, my sister just gave me that book.” When Joyce asked her if she had read it, she confessed, “No, but I think I should.” Wow! What a “God” moment. How awesome that God would allow us to be a part of His seeking this striking young woman. A few days later after I had flown home, I answered the phone to, “Guess who I saw while I was out shopping today?” (Please keep in mind, there are hundreds of little malls around the Cape Cod area and so many people.) Of course, as you have probably guessed, the phone call was from Joyce who told me Lisa and her friend were there at the mall telling her how they were reading the devotional book and asking how they could keep in contact. I wish I knew “the rest of the story,” but I do know that God led us into that beach adventure. He gave us the right words and attitudes and He will be faithful to work in Lisa’s life. I continue to ask God every morning during my devotional time, “Please bring people across my path today that need encouragement. Keep me in tune to your will and use me in any way you need.” Does something like the beach adventure happen every day? “No”, but I am often taken by surprise as I look with “fresh eyes” to see those around me. A statement from Bill Hybels’ book, Contagious Christians, really changed my attitude and put new lenses on my eyes. “There is not a person with whom you make eye contact that Jesus does not love as much as he loves you.” I know how much Jesus loves me and extends his grace to me. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in grace to others. II Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)


Lunchbox Double Puzzle by Beth Brubaker

Answer Keys in back of magazine


Perfectly Pineapple Summer Collection of Recipes and Crafts Every season of the year has special holidays, events, and themes. Summer certainly is filled with lots of fun activities! As summer is winding down and we are looking forward to the cooler days of autumn, most of us are still not quite ready to let summer go so easily. Here is a fun collection of pineapple crafts and recipes that you can do with your family, or just by yourself, which will surround you with the beauty of the remaining days of summer. Fill your home with pineapple décor and the sweet smell of pineapple cupcakes or cookies, or make something you love . . . like this adorable handcrafted pineapple necklace. Have fun and celebrate all the days of summer!

Pina Colada Cupcakes from The Frugal Mom Eh! Sweet and pretty, just the way a pineapple cupcake should be! These lovely Pina Colada Cupcakes are the perfect summer dessert for a party or a picnic. Find the complete recipe at The Frugal Mom Eh!

Pineapple Mason Jar Night Light from A Beautiful Mess What would a summer collection be without Mason Jars? They are everywhere, in just about every design and theme you can imagine. These cute Pineapple Mason Jar Night Lights were created by Elsie and Emma at A Beautiful Mess. Stop by their blog for the complete tutorial for making these sweet night lights.

DIY Pineapple Necklace from The Crafted Sparrow This beautiful necklace was created by Rebecca at The Crafted Sparrow and she makes it looks so easy, we just might give a try here at Vintage Mama’s Cottage! It is made from Sculpey clay and spray paint – you can find the complete tutorial on Rebecca’s’ blog, The Crafted Sparrow.


Free Pineapple Printable from LiveLaughRowe One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to bring a new look to your home is simply to find a cute printable like the Free Pineapple Printable from LiveLaughRowe, print it out and frame it. Super simple and really frugal, especially if you already have a frame you can use. Add some spray paint to an old frame and pop in this free pineapple design and you’ve got instant cuteness for your home. This print would be perfect in a kitchen, a porch, or really anywhere you want a touch of summer whimsy. You can find this free printable at LiveLaughRowe.

Pineapple Cookies from The First Year Blog If you love to make cut-out cookies and decorate them during the holiday season, you just might miss all that fun during the summer. Well, here’s a solution to your dilemma! These sweet pineapple cookies are not only cute, but they look yummy, too. What a fun project with the kids on a summer afternoon when it’s too hot outside, you can make cookies together with a pineapple theme. Get the recipe on The First Year Blog.

Drop Cloth Picnic Blanket from Brit.co Here’s an idea that is not only easy and inexpensive, it is really versatile, too. A drop cloth with citrus stencils would be perfect for a picnic blanket, but think of all the other possibilities! This same technique could be used to make a cover for a picnic table; or with smaller stencils, this would made really cute outdoor pillows for your patio or porch. Find all of the instructions for making a Drop Cloth Picnic Blanket on the Brit.co website. All images and ideas are the property of the original bloggers. RUBY magazine does not own any of the images in this article and they are used only as part of a featured collection. To find any of the original articles, please visit the blogs which are linked to each craft project.


Kids Painting Luggage by Katt Luce

Our grandchildren enjoy art projects. I brought out the acrylic paints and asked them to paint something colorful on our luggage. Why? It’s because our bags are just like most of the other bags on the airport conveyor belts—black! I wanted to easily spot ours. My instructions were simple: Be creative. I also wanted each piece to have a message of God’s love. Before the kids started I sealed the luggage with black spray paint. This way their paint wouldn’t absorb and disappear. It was effective and dried quickly. So how does the luggage look now? 

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One piece has an underwater scene with smiling fish, underwater plants and a happy lobster crawling on the sandy bottom. On the side is the Christian fish sign: the Greek word for fish (Ichthus) which also forms the acronym “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” Another has a rocket ship taking off for the moon with a Bible verse: John 3:16 One displays the American flag and July 4 fireworks representing American’s Independence Day. Written across the top: God Bless the USA. The last is a garden of colorful flowers: Thank You God for flowers, sunshine, etc.

Now we can identify our fun and creative luggage from a distance. The children are pleased to see their artwork put to use. The downside? Sometimes I think when we’re pulling our luggage through an airport terminal we look like a couple of flower children leftover from the ’60’s. But does that matter? I mean, it’s just luggage! Each piece is a conversation starter! For some reason other travelers will ask if we have grandchildren! Who doesn’t enjoy talking about their grandkids? Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23


Out of School Life into Life’s School by Norma C. Mezoe

Graduation has been a high point in many of our lives. After years of studying and attending a variety of classes and learning about many subjects, we arrived at the end of that stage in our lives. When I graduated from high school, our class motto was, “Out of School Life into Life’s School.” It had a nice ring to it, but little did we know how true those words would become. It has been many years since I received my diploma and said “Good-bye” to my classmates and teachers. During those years I have experienced many things in my life. I have attained an education never dreamed of in those twelve years of schooling. Some experiences were happy ones, such as becoming a wife and a few years later, a mother. However, other experiences included heartache, health problems and disappointments. Our Lord never promised that Christians would live a life free of the bad things that happen in living. Jesus Christ did promise that through whatever we encounter, the good and the bad, that he will walk with us. We do prospective Christians no favor when we tell them, “If you’ll give your life to Jesus Christ, your life will be all roses and no thorns.” But we can give them a promise, which those of us who have lived for the Lord have discovered: “Jesus Christ is always faithful.” After a heart-breaking crisis in my life when my husband left me for another woman, I began claiming Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) I have found this promise to be true. As I’ve walked through other sorrows and disappointments, I have never walked through them alone. The Lord has always been by my side. God will be with you also, through the valleys and through the mountain top experiences. As long as you live, you will continue to be educated in life’s school and you will discover that school is always in session. ***************************

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The Greatest Gift You Can Ever Give by Michelle Madrid-Branch What’s the best gift you’ve ever given? Was it a surprise trip for that someone special? Or, was it a puppy for your child? Did you send your parents on that long-awaited dream cruise, or give your employees a day of pampering at a nearby spa? No doubt, these are all wonderful gift ideas, yet, they pale in comparison to the greatest gift you could ever give to another person: your happiness. What, you say? How can your own happiness be a gift to others? It’s really quite simple, yet we miss — all too often — a basic life truth. Your happiness is the purest expression of you! When you approach your days from a core place of joy, happiness, and appreciation, you open yourself to receiving God’s infinite grace. And, this is the very source of who you are. When you are open to connection with God, anyone that you place in your attention will reap the benefit of this divine connection. You see, when you’re in the flow with God, you overflow with abundant happiness. There is no lack. You have a surplus of joy to spread around and it’s the most beautiful offering you’ll ever come across. My father passed away about a year ago. I loved him, but I cannot say that I really knew him. I remember brief moments of what seemed like joy from my father: a chuckle while reading the comic strips in his Sunday newspaper, or a hum while gathering his keys to go for a drive. Yet, I don’t remember my father as possessing a sustainable joy. Something would inevitably happen, like spilling coffee on his newspaper, or misplacing his car keys, and — in a flash — joy would leave him. Dad suffered because he could not maintain himself in a place of feeling joy. Therefore, he didn’t give happiness away freely. Not to himself, and not to others. He didn’t know how. He didn’t know he could. If happiness is the purest expression of who you are, then it’s no surprise that I never truly knew my dad. When happiness cannot flow freely, you hold yourself and those around you in bondage. So, let’s free ourselves. Let’s open the floodgates of happiness, shall we? Here’s how: 1) Understand that you create your own reality. In other words, happiness is a choice. You can choose to live in a beautiful state, and that begins with gratitude. When you open yourself to thanking God for all you have, in this moment, you cannot help but feel the vibration of happiness bubbling up within you. The next time you feel joy slipping away, stop and say “thank you.” Look around and declare, “I’m grateful.” It will shift your state of being from a suffering one to a blessed one, and happiness will begin to flow.


2) Give your attention to only that which is positive and life affirming. In other words, don’t get stuck in the muck. Don’t become ensnarled in negative news and gossip. Happiness cannot flow from the quick sand of skepticism. Stay positive and you’ll find yourself in the perfect position to receive and give abundant joy. 3) Let go of control and give in to guidance. We are programmed, in this life, to be the controllers of our universe. However, we’re not. God is. When we’re in control mode, we close ourselves off to receiving God’s grace. When we surrender to His guidance, we open ourselves up to hearing, experiencing, and feeling the fullness of God’s wisdom and goodness. And that, my friend, is a very happy place to reside. 4) Choose your truths wisely. Be deliberate in the truths that you choose. Many people will want to tell you who you are, what to do, and how to live. If their truths do not align with the core of God’s truth, then you are out of alignment with the very source of who you were created to be. That’s when suffering seeps in. Your attention to any false truth will cause you to stray from who you really are and what you really know. 5) Happiness does not depend on what others do. Happiness depends on you. In every situation, practice reaching for the best feeling thought that you have available to you. If you want to change a negative to a positive, you must think different thoughts. Believe me, if you are not expecting happiness, you are not allowing it to come to you. If you are not expecting joy, you are not able to give it to yourself or to another. Plainly put, you get what you think about. Think happiness! Now, go back to the very first question I asked you: what is the greatest gift you’ve ever given? Can that gift, no matter how large, or how grand, rival the gift of happiness? The answer is, no. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 reads: “There is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live.” Your joy — your happiness — is the greatest gift that you can give. It’s a gift that matters to God. You see, He made you for a joyful and happy life. We, like in so many cases, are the ones who stand in the way of our own happiness. It’s time! Time to breathe, to get out of the way and take in this truth: happiness is the gift that allows us to be truly known and seen. In other words, it’s a legacy gift that can transform our own lives and the lives of generations to come. Michelle Madrid-Branch is a wellness coach, author, speaker, and global advocate for women and children. She is the author of Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart, Mascara Moments: Embracing the Woman in the Mirror, and the children's book, The Tummy Mummy. To learn more about Michelle, please visit MichelleMadridBranch.com.


Vintage Book Treasure Hunt: Restoring the Family Altar by Kathryn Ross

A home is never quite complete until the father takes his place before his household as a priest. I do not mean as an ordained minister, but rather as one who realizes that he is responsible for the spiritual interests of his household. It is not enough that we should provide for the material comforts of our children. It is by no means enough that we should be concerned for their intellectual development. The spiritual nature must be cultivated, and the moral atmosphere surrounding our children carefully considered and properly developed. I know of no one thing that can so aid in doing this as that the day should begin with family prayer. John Wilbur Chapman Day After Day, Introduction, 1919 Old books fascinate and inspire me. Within their pages I discover the record of past lives, minds, and hearts. More times than not, I unearth words and ideas fallen out of fashion and grieve for the loss of wisdom as once was. The day I stumbled across a thin volume of family devotions dated 1919, my heart leapt as I surveyed the introduction, knowing I’d struck gold, once again in a book titled, Day After Day: A Manual of Devotions for Individual and Family Use, by John Wilbur Chapman. This compiled collection of weekly Scripture readings and related commentary by a host of 19th century pastors and Doctors of Divinity, plus excerpts from a work noted as Guidance in Prayer, is drawn from a time when men and fathers were honored in the home, and sought out for their leadership in all spheres of living.


Especially in the spiritual guidance of their family according to biblical truth. Time was when father, gathering his family about him, led the family altar of prayers, modeling faithful Christian living to his children and enriching his wife as the “source of life” in the home under Christ. This truth is never more evident than when we see the Greek word, “kaphale” translated “head” into our English, such as in 1 Corinthians 11:3: But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (NLT) The meaning here in the original Greek word, “kaphale,” contrary to many interpretations, is not speaking of “authority” as much as one upon whose shoulders rests the responsibility of building up, nourishing towards growth, and holding all things together. It is the word used in relation to Christ as the “cornerstone” upon which the Church is built up. Historically, the patriarchal view of man, husband, and father has been stretched out of shape to a place of authoritative dominance. This, in turn, has caused no end of conflict and pain between the sexes, in marriage, and within the traditions of society. Thankfully, there is comfort in properly understanding the biblical truth of this foundational concept in Christian living. The later part of the 20th century saw a marked departure in the role of men and fathers throughout our culture. For over 50 years, we’ve slowly slid down a slippery slope of erasing the biblical truths that have formed the fabric of our society and nation. The traditional family unit of husband and wife, male and female, father, mother, and children, took the biggest hit in the demolishing of human societies. No wonder we emerge in the 21 st century as a confused and combative people seeking to blur the lines between the sexes and unseat responsibility for our lives by dismissing the “source of life” headship that is Christ, and the connected responsibilities conferred upon both men and women. Discovering this redeeming little volume, I thumbed through the pages of a 100-year-old book, published at the close of a destructive war. World War I kicked off the 20th century which would see a total of FIVE wars in which American men and women fought. And died. And returned home forever altered. When so many homes and families lost their men, husbands, fathers, and sons, sifted out of society over ten decades, it is no wonder the trauma of such loss weakened the mortar and knocked out some of the stones that had built us as a culture. A Christian culture. So here, in my hands, I held words compiled at the close of the first major upheaval in a destructive century—words designed to restore order in the aftermath of disorder. The words of John Wilbur Chapman, evangelist and preacher “building up, nourishing towards growth, and holding all things together,” in relation to discipling the Church, burst upon my heart like a breath of fresh air to the pollution of the age. A cup of clean, cool water to parched, dry lips. A cleansing rain to wash away the muddy confusion of a rebellious season. A compass pointing me home.


Chapman opens his introduction with a paragraph summing up God’s idea of men—and specifically fathers—being the “head” of the home. NONE of this takes away from the same responsibility upon the shoulders of women. Of mother—who is often tasked with following through with the daily and practical laying of building blocks of wisdom, “day after day,” as we are reminded in Proverbs 14:1: A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. (NLT) There should be no shame nor competition in our roles as men and women. No over-lording or abuse. Role diversity is necessary as life cannot be created one apart from the other. But ignorance and rebellion have driven both men and women to tear down their homes. The infrastructure of the family needs to realign with the “Cornerstone” of our faith and the “Source of Life,” who is Christ—within whom we live, move, and have our being to fulfill the destiny of our growing up into greater things. Chapman’s introduction and instruction to fathers in this family devotional refocuses us to God’s standard—not the ever-changing and arbitrary traditions of men and cultures. Let’s put Christ back into our homes as the Head. And re-release our men and fathers to take their rightful place of responsibility, so our women and mothers can thrive in their gifts and callings. Chapman has one admonishment on that front: the restoration of the father-led family altar. Let it not be said that life in these days is too strenuous for real family worship. It is possible that we have not the time for extended worship, but five minutes each morning thus given to God would protect a household. Surely it is possible, when the Lord’s day comes, to assemble the entire household, sing a hymn, read the Scripture together, bow in prayer, and thus pledge ourselves to a faithful and consistent following of Christ in the days ahead of us? A prayerless home is a powerless home. A household protected by prayer cannot drift far from God. Therefore, if we would have our homes right with God, and our children kept from drifting, we must pray not only for our loved ones, but with them, and do it every day. A building, so righted, will stand as a strong fortress against the wars upon us in the 21st century. Want to hear more? Visit Miss Kathy at The Writer’s Reverie.com and click on the PODCASTS page, where you’ll find this article dramatized in Episode #19. The show features the full reading of the Introduction by John Wilbur Chapman, as printed in the 1919 edition of Day After Day: A Manual of Devotions for Individual and Family Use. PLUS—Bonus notes on whom the book was inscribed to and the original handwritten poem etched on the end pages titled, Peace.


Respect: A Manifestation of Love and Forgiveness by Linda M. Crate "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." - Matthew 7: 12 Sometimes, I know this is hard. I've had to talk myself down from retaliating in my temper against those who have wronged me. Even Ghandi says, "An eye for an eye would make the world blind." It is hard to remember to forgive sometimes when you don't want to, and yet it is so very important to remember that forgiveness is a part of love. Treating others as you wish to be treated is a commandment we must follow. So if we would want to be forgiven or given another chance then we must forgive and give chances to others. It isn't always easy, but it can definitely make the world a more bearable place to live in. Because first impressions aren't always right, and sometimes good people make bad choices. In a world that says wittiness is more important than kindness, respect can be a hard thing to come by. There are some that test our patience and our limits simply because they can.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." - Proverbs 15:1 It's important in order to respect others and thus gain respect ourselves that we must answer each other gently. We have to swallow down our fury and our ego, and forgive those who have wronged us. Because in order to respect someone you have to love them as they are and where they are. Not one of us is perfect and blameless so we cannot very well hold the flaws of others against them. We can kindly instruct and guide them and forgive them even when we feel that they don't necessarily deserve it. Respect is a lot about love and forgiveness. It's treating someone how you would wish to be treated, it's about being humble, and it's about being kind. Sometimes it's hard and we all fail, but it is something that is worth pursuing.

However, to this the Bible says: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves," Philippians 2:3.

Like any good thing in life sometimes it takes time to perfect, but we can always leave behind the person we were years ago; yesterday, or even moments ago.

Sometimes we have to take ourselves out of the equation. Peace is better than war. Instead of having the last word we must remember that we are far from perfect and God has forgiven us. So must we forgive others.

We must remember not to let our egos get in the way of our hearts for they were made to love. Respect is a manifestation of both love and forgiveness.

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Like a Child by Shara Bueler-Repka We drove onto the farm and made our way around the silo and haystacks. Distracted by an issue I couldn’t seem to find answers for, I stared out the window in silence. While our horse-hay was loaded, I stepped out of the truck and chatted with the farmer’s wife. Her three-year-old granddaughter wandered over and plopped in the dirt at her feet. Suddenly the little girl zeroed in for my attention. Her bright blue eyes danced as she told me about all the ways she played in the mud, the color of birthday balloons she wanted on October “25fift,” and … would I like to come to her party? Her little legs kept in time with her chatter as they fanned wide half-circles in the soft dirt. Faded pink toenail polish peeked through the grains of sand. That beam of innocence dissipated the cloud hanging over me when we drove in. We came for a load of hay, but I left with so much more. As we hit the highway, I heard God’s voice in my spirit, “Like a child. Come to Me like a child.” Funny how God’s “still small voice” and interventions can almost be lost in the distractions of life. Suddenly my problems didn’t seem all that big anymore. I felt a peculiar peace that all would be well even though I couldn’t see any details. My heavenly Father wanted me to approach Him with all the innocence of a little kid. No preconceived ideas. No self-righteous, religious rules. No fear. Just a belief in the love of a Father who has my very best interests at heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13). What is the secret to that kind of childlike trust? Developing a relationship with Him. The mystery of God’s true heart is solved as we experience Him: reading His Word; watching His Creation; recognizing His voice; and respecting any instructions He gives us. We must believe that He is Who He says He is and will care for us as His beloved children. The demands and decisions of life quite often send us down the path of self-reliance. “I’ve got this,” our actions tell God—and we don’t consult Him. We become stressed out, weighed down, and pulled apart. Life becomes more difficult and complicated than it was ever meant to be. When I think of Almighty God coming to us in the form of a child, lying in a feed trough with animals for roommates, humble and simple come to mind. He didn’t have to appear in this fashion, He just did. An example of how far He would go to show His love for us. Like a child. Come to Him like a child. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven”-Matthew 18:4 (NKJV).


Vexing Hexes Puzzle by Beth Brubaker

Answer Keys in back of magazine


RUBY Magazine is now available in print! Every issue of RUBY Magazine can now be purchased as a print publication. Now you can have a copy of our beautiful magazine to share with your friends and family. To purchase RUBY magazine in print, please visit the RUBY blog at www.rubyforwomen.com where you will find the link for each issue.

A Map of Heaven – An Inspirational Novel About the Meaning of Life Author: Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson Book Review by Carol Peterson Thirty-four year old Elizabeth is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and told she has less than four weeks to live. She sets aside her carefully constructed life of isolation and heads to Paris to see the artwork she has only studied in books. Through a series of dreams and heavenly visitors, Elizabeth tries to understand God’s plan for her life while seeking the emotional and spiritual healing she had spent her life avoiding. I picked up this book based on the recommendation of a friend whose comment was that it was “the best and most thought-provoking book” she had read in a long time. Anderson tackles some heavy theological questions and her writing is beautifully rich, giving a wonderful sense of place as we explore Paris through Elizabeth’s eyes. There were parts in the book that felt almost too theologically chatty when spiritual beings explained things to Elizabeth in lengthy paragraphs. The story itself though was captivating and nicely explored God’s love for us and His wonderful, yet complicated gift of free will. The main theme was that the “way” to heaven is found when we use the gifts God has given. Not only will we be better able to live with zest for life, but other people’s lives will be enriched as well. In short, although this novel was not a light read, it was a worthwhile read. Most readers, as did I, will come away thinking about how they might live with more courage and passion. A Map of Heaven –An Inspirational Novel About the Meaning of Life by Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.


Interview with Debra Gray-Elliott Author of

From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose Tell us a little bit about your history, your family, your church, and your community as a background for understanding the story in your book: In 1977 I became pregnant at the age of 16. At the time, my mother was an alcoholic and I did not live with her. I was involved with a man ten years older than myself and into drugs. When I found out I was pregnant, I turned to my mother who was not much help. Eventually, as a result of her drunken abuse toward me, the State of Oregon stepped in. I became a ward of the State and at the time there were no options available for pregnant teens other than abortion. At nine weeks pregnant I had an abortion. For that day onward, every November 4 brought painful memories. I was able to move on, get married and have more children. However, the painful memories and guilt of what happened caused me a lot of grief. My guilt wreaked havoc on my marriage and I divorced my husband. However, I did re-marry and have had a successful marriage for over thirty years. I do not think I would have been able to a have fulfilling life had it not been for the Lord bringing me out of my ashes of pity into beauty of purpose. In doing so, His grace has afforded me an opportunity to help other hurting women who have gone through the pain and guilt of an abortion. Tell us about your book: Every second of every day a woman has an abortion. Every second of every day a woman has to live with the emotional turmoil of her decision. Forty years ago at the age of sixteen Debra had an abortion, changing her forever. In finding her way out of the ashes of pity into beauty of purpose, Debra shares her story and brings emotionally charred women out of the pits of fire, through the ashes into the beauty of purpose. With the direction of God, hurting women weather through the painful journeys, become women of spiritual beauty, find God's purpose, and learn to live again. When and why did you decide to write this book? The book started as a series of articles for a women's Christian website to help women heal from the pain and guilt of having an abortion. The Lord led me in another direction about four years after sharing the articles and I started a blog, and then decided I needed to go further and turn the original articles and blog posts into a book. Where are you now in your journey through grief? There are still days I go through grief, especially on the date of my abortion. Four years ago I lost my youngest daughter to a devastating illness and her loss manifested my grief, but I keep taking life one day at a time by staying involved in various projects such as writing a devotional for grieving parents.


How did you get your book published and where is it available for purchase? I sent my book to traditional publishers and was rejected several times, so I decided to self-publish. That was the best decision I ever made. My book is available on Amazon either in eBook or paperback. The eBook is also available at Barnes and Noble. From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose is also now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner. Tell us about your speaking / writing opportunities now as a result of writing this book: I have been blessed to be able to share my story with others who are grieving at a local church in my area, and have been invited to speak at a women's Christian conference in my area. Debra is a Christian author and inspirational speaker. Her published works include two personal poetry collections and inclusions in several Christian anthologies. Debra has been writing since the age of fifteen. From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose is Debra's first non-fiction work that helps women overcome the negative emotions of abortion through direction, encouragement, and strength. Debra is currently working on her second book Dancing through the Storms 365 Day Devotional: Surviving the Loss of a Child, which was born out of the devastating loss of her daughter Ashley. Debra resides in Alabama with her husband and family.

Choir in the Treetops by Norma C. Mezoe Friends and I had gathered in a state park for an informal worship service. As we began our meeting with a time of singing praise choruses, the park was silent. However, as we continued our singing, each of us became aware of a choir of birds, high in the treetops. It was as though they, too, were joining in praising God. When the song time was ended, the birds ceased their singing. The forest, once again was hushed. We continued our worship service, talking of the blessings of God and of the ways in which he shows his love. Sometimes God blesses through everyday things. Other times, he sends “mini-miracles” such as the unseen choir in the treetops. Loving Father, thank you for unexpected blessings to add sparkle to our days.


You

by Krystle Nicole Martin Here You go again being good to me. Here You go letting me wander off again. How can You stand there and watch me leave? How is it possible that You still love me? Where can I go now without You following? Where can this new found freedom teach me? Who am I without You? Who am I trying to be? What else is there left to say? What else is there left to do? When can I leave? When can I be with You? I am a running wild type of girl. I am a flyby night type of girl. I am a sarcastic type of girl. I am a realist type of girl. I am a girl who knows who she is on the inside I give You my heart I give You my soul I give You my life Find me in the hidden places of this valley. Find me and I am Yours for an eternity. Find me and hold onto me. Find me and love me. You are here You are there You are near You are far You are everywhere


The Blood of Jesus by Krystle Nicole Martin The blood hasn't lost its power. The blood didn't lose. The blood covers a multitude of sins. The blood washes us white as snow. The blood still heals. The blood hasn't lost its power. Joy is found in Him alone. Hope is found in Him. Peace can be found in Him. Life is found in Him. Healing is found in Him. Believe in the impossible. Believe that God can do it again. Believe you can do it. Believe in a God who loves you. Rest is real. Trust is hard. Faith is harder. Jesus came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. There is power in the blood of Jesus.


Take the Bread with You, Even If It’s Just the Crumbs! by Lynn Mosher You’re excited, filled with praise and thanksgiving. Why? Because God miraculously answered your prayer for some sudden situation. He remedied it, fixing your emergency. And now, you feel full and satisfied, just like the disciples.

From His place on the hill, Jesus sees the men at sea. Shards of lightning flash against the black of night, silhouetting the disciple crew as they fight to row the canting vessel against the surging waves and hostile wind.

A great crowd gathers in a fishing village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Thousands of people cover the grassy valley. Moved with great compassion for them, Jesus heals the sick and teaches them about the kingdom of God.

In the light of one lightning shaft, another silhouette appears. The men scream in terror, supposing they see the ghost of a dead one spewed up by the sea.

The day is about to shut its door; the sun begins its descent. The people are hungry. How are the disciples to feed all these people? Something needs to be done. With the meager offering of five loaves and two fishes of a young boy, the Lord takes it and provides an answer by multiplying it. The disciples witness the miraculous feeding of a multitude. They all eat and are satisfied. Not wanting anything to go to waste, Jesus tells the disciples to gather up the fragments. They fill twelve baskets with leftovers. Immediately, Jesus sends the disciples out in a boat while He sends the people away and He goes up the hill to pray. But wait! What’s that appearing just over the hill? A storm is churning and it’s headed your way. You’re stuck out in the middle of roiling waters in a little dingy. Your life-boat begins to rock as the waves of circumstance crash over you. Your heart is overwhelmed, just like the disciples. As the sun slips down into its western bed for the night, it leaves a trail of shimmering gold across the sea. The disciples row for several hours in the dark. Springing out from behind the hills is one of those quick and brutal storms that develop at the snap of the fingers on the Sea of Galilee.

“It is I! Don’t be afraid!” calls Jesus across the growl of the squall, climbing into the boat with them as the storm calms. In your storm, do you cry out to God in terror? Do you quickly forget what God has done for you in the past and you harden your heart as the disciples did? The disciples fail to understand the meaning of the miracle of the loaves. Lacking insight into its significance hardens their hearts that Jesus has the power to do whatever they need. With the smell of the fish still clinging to their fingertips and the bread crumbs still resting in the folds of their garments, they do not remember how those things got there. The bread merely filled their stomachs. Even though they take the baskets of leftover bread with them into the boat, they do not take the Bread of Life with them into their hearts. The next time a storm blows into your life, don’t let your heart harden. *Remember to welcome Him into your boat of circumstance; He will bring the calm. *Remember the miracle of The Bread of Life was broken and multiplied to overflow in leftovers just for you. *Remember the aroma on your fingertips from your last answer to prayer. *Remember to take the Bread with you to rest in the folds of your heart, even if it’s just the crumbs. “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 1 Cor. 11:24 NKJV


Echoes of the Heart by Nells Wasilewski I wrote this poem several years ago on my best friend Donna's (I call her DeeKee,) birthday. She has been a monument of Godly friendship throughout the years. I know she always has my back. DeeKee has filled my life with inspiration and encouragement. Through faith, understanding and mutual respect our friendship gets better with age. Life is full of surprises. Deekee's mother and I went to school together; we were in the same class, and, although we liked one another we were never especially close. Who could have ever guessed that her daughter and I would become the best of friends? God knew even then! Praise Him, Who knows what we need, and sends us each blessing accordingly. How do you describe your best friend? You have been my shadow for thirty years— I hope that I have been yours. We've laughed together, cried together, prayed and dared to dream. We were an unlikely pair, but my head-start of twenty years was only a blink in our ever-changing journey. All these many years, we never had a serious disagreement No matter how much time passed, you were never more than phone call away. You held my hand through painful times. In weakest moments, encouraged and strengthened me. With a gentle shove, you said: "Yes, you can!" You were laughter when things were good and joy when things were better than good. When I think of you, words flit across my mind and echo in my heart: "Cherished Spirit-Best Friend" I am who I am--because you are who you are. Prayer: Gracious God, Who knows our every need and sends us blessings when we least expect them, I thank you daily for sending a best friend like DeeKee.


God’s Favorite by Lisa Radcliff

But as the sun reflected off the object, it didn’t really look shiny but sparkly. I sat there looking at it, moving my head around, and contemplating the way the sunlight bounced off of it at different angles. It sparkled like a diamond. Diamond? I looked down at the ring finger of my left hand. To my horror, all that gaped back at me were the six prongs that had been holding the diamond of my engagement ring. My heart caught in my throat for a second. I glanced back at the sparkly thing on the bottom of the lake. It couldn’t be!

For most of my life I didn’t think much about whether or not God had favorite children, the ones who got all the attention and the good stuff. But then it happened. My husband, three boys, and I went “up to camp.” That’s a Mainers way of saying we were on vacation at the lake. But it is also a state of mind—a time of relaxation, rejuvenating, and getting away from it all. A Maine camp is a small, rustic cabin, usually lacking indoor plumbing. Ours sits among fragrant fir trees, 20 miles from the nearest Walmart but just a stone’s throw from the lake. We were spending this picture-perfect, late August morning playing in the water. Most of the time, we were about 100 feet from our dock, where the top of a large rock peeks out of the 8-foot-deep water. With a ledge on one side, it was easy to climb up onto the top. It was there that a spirited game of King of the Rock was taking place. Lunchtime came, and the exhausted royalty of the rock swam back to shore. Hubby said he would get lunch for us and bring it down to the dock. The boys ran off in different directions. I took advantage of the sunshine, warming my tired muscles and watching sunfish in the crystal clear water. They seemed fixated on my toes, just barely touching the surface of the water. I could tell the sunnies were trying to decide if they were tasty morsels that should be gobbled up or something more sinister. As I relaxed in the warmth of the sun, waiting for a brave fish to give my toes a nibble, something caught my eye. It was shiny like a piece of metal. Decades earlier thousands of aluminum can tabs had been thrown into the lake. That’s a story for another time. Every now and then one worked its way up through the gravel lake bottom.

Gently stepping into the water, I lost sight of the sparkly object. The sun was at a different angle, and nothing looked unusual in the gravel. I climbed back onto the dock and called for one of the boys to bring his goggles. Jason got into the water with goggles on, and I directed him to the area that was sparkling. In just a few seconds he emerged from the water holding my petite ¼ carat diamond. I took it into the camp and regaled my husband with this amazing story as I safely tucked away the diamond and ring of prongs. How unlikely it was that the diamond came out right at the dock and not out in the deep water and that I had spotted it before even knowing it was lost! His reply was that I must be God’s favorite. What other explanation could there be? From that day on, whenever some crazy circumstance worked out to my benefit, I would remind my family that I am God’s favorite. Of course things worked out as they did. When you’re God’s favorite, that’s just how it goes. Now, I know that God doesn’t really have favorites. The Bible is very clear that God shows no partiality. But as God’s child, don’t you feel like you are his favorite? I do. Not only when things go well for me, but when I feel his presence in times of difficulty. When I think about His great love for me, I am overcome with awe and gratitude. He chose me. He adopted me. He causes all things to work together for good in my life. He makes me feel like I am His favorite. I hope you feel like His favorite, too. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18-19 ESV)


Guard Your Joy Emmanuel Afolabi The book Habakkuk 3:17 -18 says: Though the fig tree may not blossom. nor fruit be on the vines; though the labour of the olive may fail; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stall - yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The joy of the Lord is our strength and a very deadly strategy of the enemy is to attack our source of joy and keep us weak and under the shadow of despair. Indeed, only people who are close to you, such as intimate friends of family members have the strength to do things that hurt you so much that you may sink into a state of depression. It is easy to react in anger and then quickly forget when wronged by a stranger or acquaintance, but it is much more difficult to deal with being wronged by a loved one. That is the reason why the enemy who is after your joy will always hit you through a loved one who is not spiritually inclined. Our prayer therefore must be that His grace will help us not to be an instrument in the hand of our enemy against our loved ones. It is important that our spiritual antenna is always active in order to be in tune with what the Holy Spirit is saying. Be joyful always!

Visit RUBY’S Reading Corner where you will find these books by Emmanuel O. Afolabi: The Pathway to Honor, How to Recover from Painful Losses, and The Battle of Identity.


My World Turns Upside Down by Vera DeMay It was early 2000 when I noticed a very slight twitch in my left calf. It was ever so slight. Over the next two years I watched it become more intense and the area affected was larger. After a visit to my general practitioner, a referral to neurology was made. By this time, I was also experiencing a tremor in my left hand. I figured my body was having a meltdown due to the stressors of the past few years. I was not prepared for what the neurologist told me after a 45-minute exam: “You have early Parkinson’s disease (PD). Go home and be happy.” How dare he give me such a diagnosis based on that exam, I thought to myself. He is wrong. Over the next six months I began doing my own research. My symptoms were certainly confirming of Parkinson’s. I requested a second opinion but I knew what the outcome would be. It was confirmed. How could I go on, how could I face the future? Denial is great until you are forced to face the truth. For the next few years I hid my disease from most people. Finally, about a year before we moved to Idaho, I told the directors at work and a few other people. I also told my husband’s family on a visit to southern California. I told my two sisters, but I did not tell my mother because she was battling PD also. It took me a long time to accept that I had a debilitating disease and that it was progressive. In 2005 when we moved to Boise, Idaho from San Jose CA, I started taking meds for the PD and I did very well. I needed to look for a job. It was very difficult to keep my trembling hand out of sight. Stress made the symptoms worse and I didn’t want a potential employer to know. I had two jobs over the next three and a half years. The last job I got fired from because I was making too many mistakes. Which I was, however, everyone was and I knew I was a token to show management that everything was under control. Once I was no longer working, I saw how stressful working had been for me. Over the next year, I looked for a job to meet the requirements for my unemployment. A friend of mine suggested I apply for Social Security Disability. I did and after turning my case over to an advocate, I was awarded the SSD. Over the next three years I was active in my church and I worked out at the gym regularly. I might add here that exercise has always been a part of my life as an adult. I had even run a marathon in 1989 at the age of 39 and completed it in 5hrs 9 min. I was amazed that I had done such a thing and realized that a person can do most anything once you set your mind to doing it. In 2012, I attended my first PD support group. I was overwhelmed by the number of people in the room and some of their conditions. It was rather scary looking at my future. The guest speaker was Rae Ann Norell who spoke on living well with PD and making adjustments in your life because of the PD. She indicated she was looking for a woman about her age to share experiences with. I was that woman! We have become very good friends since. At the same time, I became involved with PAN (Parkinson’s Action Network) and have made three trips to Washington, DC for their forums. It has been a wonderful experience.


Before PD, I was actually very shy and couldn’t speak very well to a group. But something was happening to me. I wanted to be more involved so I started co-leading the PD Support group at Touchmark, a retirement community in Meridian ID. At some point, I was referred to an exercise program specific to people with Parkinson’s. I also got a new neurologist who firmly believed in exercise for her PD patients. When the YMCA started its Delay the Disease program for Parkinson patients in 2014, I was one of the first to sign up. What was so interesting to observe was that every person in the class improved. The Y also has an Artist in Residence and in the spring of 2015 they offered art classes to our PD exercise group about once a month. One of those classes was acrylic painting. We were supposed to paint two hills, a tree and the moon. I found myself painting over and over what I had just done. The brush had a mind of its own. In the end, I came up with Moonlight over the Sea. That was the beginning of my life as an artist and I was hooked. Prior to that I had never attempted to paint anything beyond paint by numbers as a child. I was not artistic. Prior to picking up painting, in 2013 I was compelled to write my mother’s story for the benefit of her grandchildren and future descendants. I experienced a complete reinventing of myself. The book was published in July of 2014 and since then I have written and or edited and published nine books. I helped one 95-year-old friend write her memoirs. She was thrilled to share it with her family and friends. I find that I enjoy helping others get their stories written more than writing my own. There is no one thing that inspires me to paint. Before I started painting, I took pictures with my cell phone and made enlargements or note cards of those and to give to friends as gifts. I have used a few of those pictures to paint. Sometimes I just pick a color and see where the brush takes me! At a particular low point last summer, I painted Calm through the Storm. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by an educational company in Connecticut that puts on symposiums for the healthcare professionals. They wanted to use one of my pictures on their program for their upcoming symposium on Parkinson’s and Psychosis. And they would pay me $250! The picture they chose was Moonlight on the Sea, my first painting! I never knew I had this in me. Research shows that many PWP have an explosion of creativity and I have found this to be true for me. Seeing a canvas come to life that I have worked on is exhilarating. I feel accomplished. And when other people like my painting that is just a bonus. My life has been enhanced by my PD and I am eager to share my story with others. Life isn’t over with the diagnosis of PD. It can be very rich and rewarding. I will not take this disease laying down until I die. I have too much living to do! To see more of Vera’s art work and to purchase her book, visit her Etsy Shop. Portrait of Vera’s mother


Precious Seeds by Cynthia Knisley

The sunflower is looking better. Now this is no ordinary plant. It grew from the seeds my mother gave me one bright summer morning. She moved precariously that day, but with the help of a walker we navigated safely through the large automatic door of her nursing village into the bright sunlight of her outdoor world. There were high raised-bed gardens that residents could easily reach, bird houses and feeders gathered near large windows to be enjoyed summer and winter, tidy mulched beds by the porch filled with colorful zinnias and hosta. In the breeze, white rocking chairs with plump floral cushions swayed gently. A pretty wooden bench beckoned to us, so we sat and rested a bit. I loved those walks through the garden with my mother. Then we moved along further and found the sunflowers. It was already late summer and several plate-like bursts of color had faded and presented seeds. She stretched to pluck off a few and gave them to me. “Here - you take these. You can plant them in your garden.” She was reaching right into my heart, but only later did I fully understand. You see, my mother and I shared a love of gardens, freshly cut flowers and savory herbs, and we both found joy in cultivating something beautiful. I have never forgotten that day. Sadness came as she became ill and eventually left us. But I kept those seeds in a little baggie, a few brown pods that she had gently pressed into my hand from hers, for the day when I would plant them. The time came; the seeds found their way into my little “Secret Garden” and one robust leafy sunflower plant emerged the next spring. Before long it produced tiny buds that grew and grew. Then one morning as I visited the garden the buds were missing! A deer from the woods nearby had likely smelled the scent of those luscious young morsels and had himself a delicious dinner during the night. The first order of business that day was a stop at the garden shop to find a safe deterrent for visiting deer and other critters. Thankfully, the precious plant has produced more buds. This lovely reminder of my mother speaks of her courage and resilience, her beauty and strength. The sunflower will live on, along with the memories, and I will guard it with greatest affection. She too lives on now in her Heavenly home, where she is surely enveloped in the brilliance of a magnificent field of sunflowers.


Endings and Beginnings Part 2 by Thea Williams Been thinking about endings and beginnings again. As I pondered last month’s piece about Elijah handing off his baton to Elisha (2 Kings 2), it seems to me that endings inevitably lead into new beginnings. I'm remembering back nearly 20 years ago when my life was upside down. I was newly separated, raising two young boys, and scared to death. At that time a friend who had survived a similar set of circumstances tried to encourage me. She said her life had come together beautifully, and she was sure mine would as well. In my heart, I scoffed. I was certain this was the beginning of the end for my children and me. Little did I know, God was chiseling out a path for us to follow at that very moment. Like Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road, all I had to do was take one step at a time and marvel as that narrow, cobbled walkway led into to a city of splendor. Sometime after the dust had settled in my life, I helped another young mom begin a comparable journey into single parenthood. As we packed up her kitchen, I thought back to a day many years ago when I encountered this same woman in a local produce market. She had two youngsters in tow and was busy choosing edibles for her growing family. As I watched her, I felt the ugly grasp of envy take hold of me. She appeared to possess everything I longed for – security, contentment, and self-assurance – as she strolled leisurely through the aisles with her toddlers. Next to hers, my life felt inadequate and depressing. Time has now erased many of the differences between us, and I felt privileged to take her hand as she began climbing this steep but manageable mountain. Reflecting on that day so long ago, I gave thanks for the work the Lord has done in me. He has shown me time and again not to compare myself with others. When I still occasionally fall into that trap, I always get the same result. My situation seems either better or worse than the other person's; instead of walking alongside my fellow traveler, I mentally place myself ahead of or behind him or her on life's continuum. Either way, we're on unequal footing. This flies in the face of Scripture, which levels the playing field for all of us: "We are all like an unclean thing and all our righteousness is like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, we all pale in comparison to a sinless God, no matter how "together" we may seem. Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?


WHO’S IN YOUR STORY? by Suzane Avadiar

I’ll be honest; the idea of a community was (and sometimes still is) tough for me. It initially felt odd. Truth is I had preferred to cast my social net over a few than wide. The concept of ‘church-family’ was foreign to me because I never truly experienced a conventional family before. And at first, I didn’t understand how and where they fit into my way of life. In many ways, I’m still learning. But, God’s way of life involves people. Proverbs 24:6 says, “for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

My mother used to say that I tried to run even before I could crawl. I was always so eager and in a hurry to get to places. And I wanted to get there on my own. When I first started driving, I hit 80 miles/h within the week. I wanted to get from point A to point B in the shortest time possible. I hated the brakes. In the last decade, however, God has taught me to slow down…way down. He has taught me to keep my foot on the brake pedals – sometimes to a complete halt. He has taught me how to be patient. He taught me how to wait. And in one of those seasons in the wilderness, He taught me dependency. It was difficult – almost painful! A season of dependency in the wilderness with God feels like winter when everything looks barren and dead. But, it is also when we rest and let our roots grow, much like trees. After a lifetime of me trying to perfect the art of being independent, God began to unravel my art. He took apart my carefully adorned canvas. I began to learn that true maturity in Christ means dependency – solely and completely dependent on Him. And like many other things in the Christian walk, Christ-like dependency was a bit of a paradox to me because it also involves a community. You see, God wants us to first lean on Him without any crutches. He will sometimes isolate us and take away all our safety nets so we rest only in Him and then when we do, He begins to send people our way. God likes to use a community to sustain and keep us in check. He never meant for us to walk this journey alone.

We need wise voices to speak into our lives so we stay on course and finish well. We need witnesses to have our backs in our trials and struggles. People are a necessity in life, not an option. For me, it wasn’t easy to let people in and it was harder still to accept help because that meant letting go of independence. But, I’ve learned that independence is not all that its cracked up to be. Or at least, it is nothing close to what the world leads us to believe. Let’s face it; no one can be completely independent; we can’t watch our own back. Aside from the fact that it is literally impossible, that kind of “independence” forces us to always look over our shoulder. And it won’t be long before we lose sight of what is ahead or around us. Independence can be lonely. The pages are only a few. Community helps us write the story of our life. People are the plot and no story can survive without one! When we begin to wholly depend on God, we will learn to trust Him fully and that trust will always overflow into all areas of our life. We will then learn to trust and let people in. When we begin to do that, we will see our need for community. We will realise the importance of slowing down. We will begin to invest in people, patiently. And a lot of the times, we will see the need to step on the brakes and linger for a while. That’s when our real story will begin to write itself. Who’s in YOUR story??


The elderly woman had struggled with many problems in her years of living. The most recent had been a second surgery for cancer. With a smile she told me about her neighbors and of their acts of kindness: mowing her yard, shoveling snow, checking periodically to be certain she was well. Thanksgiving was evident as she spoke of their caring deeds.

Casting Bread by Norma C. Mezoe

Then, almost shyly, she spoke of the days when she was a young wife and mother. Even though she was busy with her family, she took time to help the elderly couple next door. When she mowed her yard, she mowed theirs. When snow fell and walks needed clearing, she shoveled their walk as well as her own. The older woman told her that many years from then when she, herself, was aged, that she would be rewarded for her kindness. Now in her retirement years, the words of the neighbor of long ago had come true. She was being rewarded for her earlier acts of helpfulness. She had cast her bread upon the water and later it returned to her. Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Ecclesiastes 11:1 NIV Have you cast any bread or good deeds recently?

Potter's Wheel by Cindy Evans Here I am again, Lord, I place myself on Your wheel, shape me, mold me, fill me, Your hands I want to feel. Fashion me as you see fit, I wait as You work and smooth... Spinning around, help me stay soft, do what You need to do. Help me stay on the wheel, surrendered to Your doing, trusting in Your vision, trusting in Your timing.,, And tomorrow morning again, may You find me right here, still asking for Your touch, always staying near.


Trust God by Jennifer Workman “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5) What does trust look like? Webster’s Dictionary defines trust as “confidence or faith in a person or thing.” When we truly trust someone, we allow that person access to our lives, our “intimate space” and our vulnerabilities. We tell them secrets or other information we regard as confidential because we place our confidence in that person, even at the risk of being disappointed because there is no one that we can fully trust other than God. People change, situations change, relationships change but God never changes. The word of God expressively tells us “not to trust in a friend or not to put our confidence in a companion” (Micah 7:5), and “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool (Proverbs 28:26). Nothing is scarier than trusting others or ourselves more than God because he is consistent and we are not. Many of us have had a family member, a spouse, a friend or otherwise tell us that they would always be a source of strength or help when needed, and oftentimes when we really needed them, they were not accessible. Why? Because we can’t expect something from people they can’t give. We are all flawed individuals with many issues and it is hard for anyone to be fully present or available to anyone else, when they are deeply saturated with struggles and issues in their own lives. That is why it is imperative to trust God in all things for God is “our refuge a very present help in the time of trouble.” (Psalms 46:1) I know that it may be difficult for you to trust anyone because many of you trusted people that were not so kind and didn’t have your best interest at heart.

But, God isn’t like man. He has promised in his word that “He would never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) and we can take him at his word, for the Bible states that God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent (Numbers 23:19). So, when life seems to be unbearable and you have people or “forces” around you telling you to give up and “throw in the towel,” remember to trust God. The race isn’t given to the swift nor the strong but he that endures to the end (Ecclesiastes 9:11) (Matthew 23:13). God loves you very much, he sees all that you are going through and those that trust God are never alone but have a friend that is closer than any brother and cares for you!

In the Waiting Kathleen McCauley In the waiting for me to say “yes”….. you were patient. In the waiting for me to reciprocate…. you were present. In the waiting for me to be open…. you were understanding. In the waiting for me to listen… you were constant. In the waiting for me to receive… you were giving. In the waiting for me to not be afraid…. you were comforting. In the waiting I grew to know you, to trust you and to love you. Maybe it was not waiting at all…. maybe it was birthing?


Bullies Exposed by Mark Glamack author / illustrator of Littluns and the Book of Darkness What Is A Bully? A bully is a lowlife who intimidates, terrorizes, persecutes, torments, frightens, oppresses, browbeats, and harasses the innocent among us. They prey on those they think are weak where it gives them power over that other person and if not stopped, this usually leads to violence. The Bully at School A person’s first experience of a bully usually begins at a very young age. Through jealously, intimidation and a bloated sense of self, it can be a sibling in the family who chooses to have controlling power over their sister or brother. But, usually one’s first experience comes at school where we have our first encounter with a bully. It begins with words of intimidation for them to test the waters, demonstrating their egregious dominance over the other person. If the bully sees weakness, the bullying increases until it eventually leads to violence. The bully usually has a minion entourage of fellow losers that follow him around providing the same mindset of intimidation to further degrade their victim. By themselves they are usually weak, but as a group they feel invincible in numbers. If they don’t mend their ways, these moronic predators of a useless and wasted existence usually drop out or are expelled from school; end up criminals or scrape up a living to make ends meet as they reluctantly and defiantly acclimate into the civilized world. Fists to Knives and Guns There was a time when bullies only used fists to demonstrate their superiority over their prey. But sometimes their victim would fight back, and win, which would usually lead to their group’s disbandment. So these cowards of inequity started using knives and guns, further terrorizing the civilized and peace loving people who become their victims. The Malevolent, Wicked, and Evil Among Us From the malevolent bully at school, to the wicked bully gangs who claim neighborhoods (territories) that don’t legally belong to them, to the bully dictator wielding his domination over the people, and the evil bully terrorists around the world where murder and extermination becomes their ultimate goal; we the civilized people of the world demand that justice be served and enforced to the full extent of the law. Anything less is not acceptable. Better yet, imagine if the bully predators woke up and realized the error of their ways. Imagine if a bully turned his/her negative energy into positive efforts for good works. Imagine if a bully redirected all that useless negativity and took a step in the right direction. Imagine a better world under God. Read more at http://www.littluns.net/pages/city2.html http://www.littlunsblog.com


A symbolic view of friendship from fantasy to reality and truth For me, the word friend is usually used loosely without much thought about its importance in our lives. Good and bad experiences come and go, but a friend – a true friend is always there for you. It has been said that if we have one true friend in our lifetime we become the luckiest person in the world. So what is a true friend? True friendship is earned. Without any shadow of doubt, a true friend is a person you can trust implicitly to be there for you (and you) for them. Being true friends must be reciprocal to be complete. A true friend thinks more of their friend than of their own best interests. A true friend is a “Best Friend” when unconditionally grounded in the complete teachings of the Bible and then leads by example in its complete truth. Acquaintances come and go, but a friend, a true friend is forever. What does the word friend mean to you? God's Light, or the darkness Good and evil are also extreme terms with enlightenment discovered of the former under God, and sometimes subtle deceptions of the latter in the guise of its message, temptation, and ultimate seduction. Both offer rewards, but only one offers truth, peace, love, hope, joy, and the heart’s desire. It all comes down to a choice for the Light, or for the darkness. How do we save the human race from itself? Maybe when there are more true-friends in His Light, than acquaintances will we begin to appreciate the full potential of the human spirit in truth, with understanding, and respect for all. We can agree to disagree, but should never lose sight of the possibilities for it is in those possibilities that we become greater than any selfinflicted limitations we may have. “Littluns” symbolize what it is all about in the truth and Light of the matter; a metaphor for what it also means to be a true Christian, with a meaningful and complete friendship found.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Glamack ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Vexing Hexes Puzzle Answer Key by Beth Brubaker


Lunchbox Double Puzzle Answer Key by Beth Brubaker


From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra Gray-Elliott From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra Gray-Elliott brings emotionally charred women out of the pits of fire, through the ashes into the beauty of purpose. With the direction of God, hurting women weather through the painful journeys, become women of spiritual beauty, find God's purpose, and learn to live again. From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra Gray-Elliott is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

Walk like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled by Shara Bueler-Repka Life is an adventure. Bruce and Shara Repka (a.k.a. Pony Express Ministry) are a music ministry that travels the highways and backroads of the western United States with their two horses, Rocky and Nocona (a.k.a. The Boys). Traversing the countryside in their fourteen-foot, short-wall, three-stall, living quarters horse trailer, they travel and minister wherever God sends them. Walk like a Warrior is filled with inspirational true stories that are a testament to how God reveals Himself and encourages us in our everyday lives. They have seen firsthand a real, loving, and powerful God who is always true to His word and who longs to have a personal relationship with us all. In life's challenging moments, do you search for testimonies of encouragement that exemplify God's love, grace, protection, and provision? Find inspiration as you enjoy the many photographs and travel this trail with them, living the adventure!

Walk like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled by Shara Bueler-Repka is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.


Ruby Writing Team Sharon Patterson, retired educator, career military wife, and leader in women's ministry, has written inspirational encouragement in various forms from greeting cards to short stories, poetry, and Bible studies for over thirty years. She has authored three books, and is a contributing author for several of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She and her husband Garry live in Round Rock, Texas. They have three sons and five grandchildren.

Carol Peterson, Author My mission as a writer is to educate, entertain and inspire– children, their teachers and parents, other writers, and readers of all genres. As a children’s writer I try to “Make Learning Fun” by helping busy teachers address curriculum accountability standards, and encouraging other writers to do the same. You can connect with Carol at her blog, Carol Peterson, Author Carol is a member of the Ruby Book Review Team.

Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She is a poet, essayist, journalist, playwright, and author of several books both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is also a performer and gives one-woman shows on historic figures and spoken word folklore shows as well as teaching writing and storytelling. Joan lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband, Joe. www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973

Norma C. Mezoe began writing after a crisis in her life. She has been a published writer for thirty years. Her writing has appeared in books, devotionals, take-home papers and magazines. She lives in the tiny town of Sandborn, Indiana where she is active in her church as clerk, teacher and bulletin maker. Contact at: normacm@tds.net

Thea Williams’s short story, "Phoenix," appears in 50 Over Fifty: A Celebration of Established and Emerging Women Writers. Her work appears in Focus on the Family Magazine and Al Anon's The Rap. Subscribe to Thea’s blog at www.reflectionsbythea.blogspot.com By day, Thea educates and prays for young minds at a local school district. Contact Thea at https://www.facebook.com/thea.williams.16 or https://www.youtube.com/user/theabwilliams.

Lisa Radcliff is a writer, speaker, women's Bible study teacher, and a 35-year volunteer youth worker, residing in Pennsburg, PA. She is a wife, mom, and mom-mom who loves God's Word but also loves football, chocolate, shoes, and Maine. Her hobbies include quilting, shopping, cooking, and raising Seeing Eye puppies. You can reach her at lisajradcliff@gmail.com.

Gloria Doty is a published Christian author, writer and speaker. She has published a nonfiction book, a devotion book, a series of fiction romance books and several children's picture books. Gloria has 5 adult children and 13 grandchildren. She has recently re-married and she and her husband reside in Fort Wayne, IN.

Krystal Nicole Martin lives in Oklahoma City and she loves to write and encourage people through her writing. She loves God and other people and she uses her writing to be a blessing to others. Krystal blogs at Welcome to My World.


Cynthia Knisley After years as a “stay-at-home” mom, Cynthia enjoyed a fulfilling second career as a high school language teacher and curriculum developer. Recently, she took a leap of faith and left the classroom in order to devote more time to family---aging parents, adult children, and lively young grandchildren. Her home is in West Chester, PA, where she plays classical music, bakes bread, and tends a “secret garden.” A novice blogger, she welcomes you to her posts at faithtofigs@myblog.com.

Jennifer Workman is the founder of Simply Victorious Ministries, a ministry founded on the infallible Word of God. She has been actively involved in ministry all of her life and has ministered to seminary students, the religious community, high school students and female prison inmates. Jennifer has more than fifteen years in the radio, television and publications arena. She is the Inspirational Host and Producer of "Simply Victorious for Life," a monthly inspirational podcast aired via Faith Filled Family and Family Filled Youth. Contact Jennifer at http://simplyvic.webs.com or http://jyworkman.wix.com/jennifer

Emmanuel O. Afolabi is a seasoned teacher, blogger, and minister of the Gospel. He is also the author of two books, The Battle of Identity and How to Recover from Painful Losses, both of which are now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner. In his books Emmanuel presents practical steps for Christian living and spiritual growth. Afolabi is married to Sister Mary Afolabi, and is blessed with children to the glory of God.

Kathleen McCauley has been an active retreat leader for over 25 years.

She received her professional training as a Campus Minister and retreat leader at the University of Dayton. Kathleen enjoys working with adults in their cultivation of spirituality and personal growth. Prior to her work as a Career Counselor at Neumann University, Kathleen served as a Resident Minister for eight years at St. Joseph’s University and seven additional years giving retreats for local churches and community groups. You can contact Kathleen to learn more about her retreat work at kathleenmccauley1@msn.com

Kathryn Ross is a writer, speaker, dramatist, and independent publisher at Pageant Wagon Publishing with a mission to nurture the seeds of all good things, innocence, and beauty in the human heart. Her inspiring devotional books for journaling and discussion groups, theatrical scripts for church and school, and storybooks and speaking programs engage young and old with dramatic flair as discipleship tools for homeschool and Christian families, designed to minister to all ages—all at the same time. Visit her online where she blogs weekly and podcasts monthly at www.thewritersreverie.com and www.pageantwagonpublishing.com .

Mark Glamack is a director, producer, and writer for family entertainment in the motion picture and television industries: is a patented inventor, and now author of "Littluns: And The Book of Darkness," winner of two "Mom's Choice Awards" Gold, "The Dove" award, Indi, and honorable mention at the New York Book EXPO

Nells Wasilewski lives in a small southern town, seventy miles southeast of Nashville, Tennessee. After retiring, she began pursuing her lifelong dream of writing. Her writing has been greatly influenced by her faith in Jesus Christ, personal, experience and nature. She has been writing poems, prose and stories all her life. Nells has recently started writing devotionals. Her work has appeared in Haiku Journal, Barefoot Review, Three Line Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, 50 Haikus, Dual Coast Magazine, High Coupe Journal, Ancient Paths, Tanka Journal, Hedgerow and Penned from the Heart https://nellswasilewski.blogspot.com


Kathleen Katt Luce is a registered nurse, married, the mother of two and grandmother of seven. It brings her great joy to share Christ with the lost and lonely. Over the years she's learned a great deal while facilitating Bible studies. She's found herself on college and university campuses, the beach, the streets, the hospital, the jail and the facility for incarcerated teens, sharing God’s message of love. She is also an online missionary with Global Media Outreach. She writes a blog: www.kathleensfaithwalk.com

Paula McVay attended church as a child where she first heard about the grace and love of Jesus. She accepted Christ as her savior at the age of 12, and accepted God’s call to fulltime ministry at the age of 13. Paula has been a teacher in public schools, a pastor’s wife, a mother, and a mentor to many over the years she and her husband, Doug, were in pastoral ministry. Paula is the mother of three sons, and five grandchildren.

Lynn Mosher, Devotions Since the year 2000, Lynn Mosher has lived with fibromyalgia and other physical conditions. During this time, the Lord placed the desire in her heart to write for Him. Now, armed with God’s purpose for her life and a new passion, she reaches out to others to encourage and comfort them through her writing, giving God all the glory. She lives with her husband in their empty nest in Kentucky. On occasion, their three offspring, who have flown the coop, come to visit, accompanied by a son-in-law and three granddaughters. Visit Lynn at her blog, at http://lynnmosher.com

Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) Less Than a Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications - August 2016).

Shara Bueler-Repka is enjoying life as a singer/songwriter/recording artist, freelance writer, and award-winning author. She and her husband, Bruce, live in their living quarters horse trailer and call “home” wherever their rig is parked. Their mail-base, however, is Hallettsville, Texas. She also loves riding/ministering with her husband and their horses (aka The Boys) in the backcountry and writing about God’s grace in the various adventures on the trail less-traveled. Join the fun and be encouraged on their website: www.ponyexpressministry.com and her blog: www.trail-tails.blogspot.com, or come for a visit on Facebook.

Michelle Madrid-Branch is a wellness coach, author, speaker, and global advocate for women and children. She is the author of Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart, Mascara Moments: Embracing the Woman in the Mirror, and the children's book, The Tummy Mummy. To learn more about Michelle, please visit MichelleMadridBranch.com.

Connie Arnold lives in North Carolina with her husband, Tom. They have two children and three grandchildren. In dealing with lupus, fibromyalgia and other difficulties she has trusted in the Lord and shares her inspirational poetry to offer encouragement, hope and comfort to others who are suffering. She is the author of Peaceful Moments of Love and Light devotional, A Symphony of Seasons, Abundant Comfort and Grace, Abiding Hope and Love, and Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace, as well as three children’s books, Animal Sound Mix-up, Count 123 With Me, and Olive and the Great Flood. You can visit Connie at her website, www.conniearnold.webs.com or blog, www.conniearnold.blogspot.com


Cindy J. Evans is a published poet living in the sunny south, married to the man you just read about! She does receptionist work in the greater Atlanta area and also enjoys walking, inspirational movies and church activities.

Debra Gray-Elliott is a Christian author and inspirational speaker. Her published works include two personal poetry collections and inclusions in several Christian anthologies. Debra has been writing since the age of fifteen. From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose is Debra's first non-fiction work that helps women overcome the negative emotions of abortion through direction, encouragement, and strength.

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 27 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. She blogs at Living Our Days because “the way we live our days will be, after all, the way we live our lives.”

Suzane Avadiar is a freelance writer, cat-lover and avid traveler. Over the last 16 years, she has written extensively for various publications and companies in the global marketplace. Writing is not only her full-time job but also her passion and instrument of worship. She now writes solely about her faith and has a deep desire to reveal the heart of God through her writings. Suzane writes daily devotions on social media for her church, C3 Subang and is currently completing her first book, Sent to Journey - a Devotional for Travelers. She blogs at www.senttojourney.wordpress.com and resides in Malaysia.

Vera DeMay

I live in Middleton Idaho with my husband. I am an artist, author, PwP (person with Parkinson's disease) and an advocate for Parkinson's. I especially enjoy my retirement years as it allows me to pursue new areas of interest and passions. In July 2014, I published my first book, Elizabeth’s Story, and several other books have followed. Recently I started painting. I am active in my church and community. We moved to Idaho from San Jose California in 2005 where we raised our children. We have two children, their spouses, and four grand-children. My website is: www.verademay.com

Beth Brubaker, Assistant Editor is a humorist poet and songwriter, and her day jobs include homemaking, writing, and paper and fabric arts. Beth's passion is the written word, and is developing ways of sharing her brand of humor with the world through poems, songs and stories. Don't miss Beth's columns and puzzles in every issue of Ruby for Women! You can read Beth's posts on her blog Footprints in the Mud at http://footprintsinthemudblog.blogspot.com or email her at bethatruby@aol.com.

Nina Newton, Sr. Editor:

When my four older children were in school, I returned to college as a “non-traditional student.” Eventually, I earned degrees in Classics and Philosophy, and a graduate degree in Medieval Studies: History of Theology. After teaching at a small community college in Michigan for seven years, my husband and I were blessed with the adoption of our two beautiful daughters, Gracie and Annie. We live in northern Indiana in a small farming community where I work on RUBY magazine in my home office. I have worked for several years offering my handmade and refashioned garments and accessories in a local boutique under the creative name of “Vintage Mama’s Cottage.” My personal blog is at www.vintagemamascottage.com


RUBY magazine is published by CreativeLife

August 2017 ruby  

The August 2017 issue of RUBY magazine features inspirational articles, devotionals, short stories, book reviews, crafts and recipes for yo...

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