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Ruby for Women A voice for every Christian woman December, 2011

Christmas Issue!

“Her worth is far above rubies� Proverbs: 31:10 digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2280


Contents December, 2011 www.rubyforwomen.ning.com

December is a time when we find ourselves busy with all of our holiday preparations: cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, decorating, and so much more. In the midst of all of the busyness of the Christmas season, let us take a minute here and there to remember the eternal gift of God’s love and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. We can focus on the true meaning of the season as we strive to show love, kindness, and generosity to others out of a heart of gratitude to our Heavenly Father. All of us here at Ruby for Women wish you a joyous and blessed Christmas! Senior Editor Nina Newton Assistant Editor Amanda Johnson Creative Assistant Katherine Corrigan Family Fun Editor Beth Brubaker Gardening Thomas B. Clarke, Dorothy Homer Devotions Lynn Mosher, Deborah McCarragher Poetry Keith Wallis, Lee E. Shilo

In This Issue . . . Page

Title

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Nothing to Steal Nina Newton, Sr. Editor

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Season of Thanksgiving Amanda Johnson

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Visiting Day on Sunday Deidre Knight

7

November Book Give-Away “A Christmas Journey Home” by Kathi Macias

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Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake Vintage Mama

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Thanksgiving: What Does it Mean to You? Deborah McCarragher

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Thanksgiving Napkin Rings Vintage Image Craft

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What’s Your Angel IQ? Elizabeth Baker

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Introducing Amanda Stephan, Author

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Ask Beth Beth Brubaker

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Autumn Sky Lee E. Shilo

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Holiday Tinnitus

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Carol Mokry Ruby for Women is an online Christian women’s magazine that offers words of hope, inspiration, and encouragement to women everywhere. Knowing that every woman has a story to tell, we seek to give “voice to every Christian woman,” from all walks of life, of every age, from all around the world. For advertising inquiries, please contact our Advertising Administrator, Angela Morris at amorris@rubyforwomen.com

If you would like to share your story with Ruby for Women, please email our Assistant Editor, Amanda Feature Writers Carol Mokry, Connie Arnold, Heide Johnson, at ajohnson@rubyforwomen.com Also, Louise Wright, Kristin Bridgman, Amy Lignor, Sheila please visit our community website at Watson Kraklow, Scott Henderson, Theresa www.rubyforwomen.ning.com where you can connect Ceniccola, Scarlett Von Gunten, Charlotte Siems, with other women. Yvonne Anderson, Angela Blake Morris, Kausar Ruby for Women Iqbal, Deidre Knight, Elizabeth Baker, Maxine 2731 W 700 N Young, Pauline Creeden Columbia City, IN 46725 editor@rubyforwomen.com 1 Quilting Laura Brandt


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Title

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Title

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Gardening with Ruby for Women Sponsored by Thomas B. Clarke

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Thanksgiving Quilt Decoration Vintage Image Craft

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Love from the Prayer Garden: Gentleness Thomas B. Clarke

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Thanksgiving with the Family Word Search Beth Brubaker

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November Hurry Aunt Dots

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Can You Take a Compliment? Maxine Young

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Squash and Apple Bake Aunt Dots

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Vintage Paper Dolls Vintage Mama

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Hot Spiced Cider Maxine Young

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Traveling Trust Amanda Johnson

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Thanksgiving Food Word Search Beth Brubaker

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Stolen Moments in the Gardened Day Keith Wallis

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Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider Maxine Young

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Introducing Elizabeth Baker, Author

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Thanksgiving Crafts and Hospitality Vintage Image Craft

25

Christmas Monkey Pie Elizabeth Baker

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Wassail Punch Maxine Young

Katherine’s Corner Book Club Katherine Corrigan

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A Carpet for the King Keith Wallis

Cowboy Caviar Salad Kausar Iqbal

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Un-buried Treasure Deidre Knight

62

Introducing Angela De Souza, Author

63

Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur Fellowship

65

Hast Thou No Scar? Amy Carmichael

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Hummus Recipe Kausar Iqbal

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Word Search Answer Key Beth Brubaker

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Can You be Thankful for Fleas? Lynn Mosher Page 20

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Walls of Jericho Quilt Block Laura Brandt

38 41

Getting a Fresh Thanksgiving Turkey Sheila Kraklow Page 28 Footprints in the Mud: Leftover Day Beth Brubaker Page 25

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As If Keith Wallis

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Lesson from a Spider’s Web Pauline Creeden

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Autumn Confetti Salad Vintage Mama

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Hot Chai Latte Maxine Young

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Word Scramble Answer key Beth Brubaker

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Introducing the Ruby for Women Administrative Team

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Meet the Ruby for Women Writers

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Credits and Copyrights

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www.laiseoriginals.com 2


Write a Friend Month

Calendar from www.free-2011-calendar.com

December 1: Eat a Red Apple Day December 4: Wear Brown Shoes Day December 6: St. Nicholas Day December 6: Mitten Tree Day December 7: Letter Writing Day December 7: Pearl Harbor Day December 8: National Brownie Day December 9: Christmas Card Day December 11: International Children’s Day December 12: Poinsettia Day

December 13: Ice Cream Day December 13: Violin Day December 15: National Lemon Cupcake Day December 17: National Maple Syrup Day December 18: Bake Cookies Day December 19: Oatmeal Muffin Day December 25: CHRISTMAS DAY December 27: Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day December 27: National Fruitcake Day December 31: New Year’s Eve 3


“Someone’s here for Christmas” by Nina Newton, Sr. Editor

When the snowflakes would begin to fall outside the window of our little cottage by the lake, it always seemed to be warm and cozy inside. Little did I know back then, how difficult Christmas was for my mom and dad. I remember Mom would put a string of brightly colored, blinking lights up in our big picture window. Always in the shape of a Christmas tree so that the whole neighborhood would know we were ready for the Big Day. Christmas was a magical time, even though I know realize that our holiday celebrations were quite modest compared to what most families have now days. In those days, a kid’s Christmas list often included items such as a Chatty Cathy doll, a new sweater, a doll house, or a game of checkers. And when we really became fanciful in our thinking, we might even ask for a new bicycle. I remember many Christmas mornings in our family, cuddled up with a blanket close to the space heater in the middle of the living room, with the blinking lights merrily winking in the pre-dawn darkness. My memories include crawling underneath the Christmas tree in the corner, shaking and rattling the packages to see if I could figure out what was hidden inside those treasure boxes. But what I don’t remember very well at all is any of the actual gifts that were under the tree. Of course, as I look back from the vantage point of age, I recall that the gifts weren’t extravagant or expensive. How could they be, when both of my parents held jobs away from home and they struggled to make the $60 a month mortgage payment? But the memories are of the joy, the mystery, the magic that was Christmas to a little girl.

One Christmas, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mom somehow learned of a family not too far from us that was not just struggling, but they were destitute. After we discussed what we could do to help, we decided to take them a few Christmas gifts for the kids, as well as a basket with food for a special dinner and some baked goods. To this day, I cannot remember where that stuff came from, but I do remember taking one of my favorite dolls to my mom to put into the basket. It was so exciting to put everything together into that basket (I think it was a well-worn laundry basket), loading it into the car, and driving to their home. The memory of driving up that long driveway is still as clear in my heart and mind as if it had happened yesterday! At the end of the bumpy, rocky, dirt driveway sat a rundown, gray and dingy cottage with a sagging porch with broken railings. We knocked on the door and a shy little girl opened it just a crack. “We are here to bring some Christmas presents!” my mom announced. The little girl’s eyes grew wide in wonder as she turned and called out, “Mama, someone’s here for Christmas!” And in the midst of the commotion and chaos of people talking, mamas crying, daddies shaking hands, and kids tumbling over each other, the clearest image in my mind is when I held out that dolly to the little girl. I do not remember her name, but I can see her face forever etched in the memory of my little girl heart and mind. She smiled as she took the dolly and held her close. That’s all I remember. But it is enough. Enough to remind me every year that it is not really about the gifts that we give, as much as it is about sharing our hearts and our love with those around us. Isn’t that what Christmas has always been about? God gave us His very best gift, the Lord Jesus Christ Who came to earth to live and die for us, every one of us. How can we do less than give our best to others, out of our gratitude for His eternal love, grace, peace and salvation? Blessings to you and your family this 4 Christmas season, Nina


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Amanda Johnson, Assistant Editor I love Christmas! I love the lights, the holiday music, all of the decorations, and the warm glow that somehow embraces everyone whether it’s 50 or 80 degrees out! As the song says, Christmas truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year! During this special time of the year, many people will be drawn to the celebration of Christmas whether they believe in Jesus Christ or not. It’s our job as believers to be on standby ready and able to speak God’s message of mercy, grace, and love to those who come seeking answers. God has given us the greatest gift of all by sending His Son into our world as one of us (Luke 2). Both fully God and fully man, Jesus grew up teaching and proclaiming the love of God (Colossians 2:9). He gave His life on the cross as payment for our sins. Rising from the grave on the third day, Jesus conquered the grave; freely giving eternal life to all who believe (John 3:16). Christmas is a time of hope, peace, and joy that can only be experienced through the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ. What better gift to give those we love than the message of salvation through Jesus Christ? Please join with me in passing on this extravagant gift of love to others by sharing the Christmas story found in Luke 2:1-20 with family and friends on Christmas. The passage can be found online in several version of the Bible and in several languages at www.BibleGateway.com. It’s also printed here in the New King James Version. I pray that each and every one of you has a blessed Christmas in the Lord!

Amanda Luke 2:1-20 Christ Born of Mary And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David,

which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Glory in the Highest Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. 5


Reflections by Angela Blake Morris Afternoon had come and gone. Charles had barely noticed the time slip by. Memories of them spending every fall here at this cottage came flooding back. They had sixty wonderful years of wedded bliss. Then she passed in the night, just before the season changed. They were surreal and entrancing memories. He longed to see her beautiful face once more. To hear her singing fill the kitchen. She sang at the local fall festival every year. That’s where he met her. Her singing was what captured his attention. She sang like an angel, and her presence and confidence were breath-taking. Charles was asked to attend the festival this year in her honor. The festival committee wanted to unveil the memory plaque at the park gazebo, and had asked if he would mind saying a few words to honor her. There were no words to describe her. Words did not have the splendor, faith and love she possessed. What was he to say that would reach the crowd the way that her singing did? Nothing, absolutely nothing would do. Charles looked out Into the horizon. This was Sara’s favorite time of day. The sun was setting behind the mountains. The fall leaves seemed to grow richer in their hues of orange, red and yellow. All of it reflecting majestically back into the quiet, still lake. “These are the words,” Charles thought to himself. “This view is what describes my Sara’s beauty.” As the sun melted behind the mountains, and the light faded into dusk, Charles made his way back into the house. “Well, old man, if you’re going to do this, you best get started. Morning rolls up awful quick when you’re my age.” He laughed at himself. He would always say this every night before heading up to bed. She always laughed when he joked about how old they were. Morning came about quickly, especially since Charles had not fallen asleep until two in the morning. He sat under the same oak tree where they always sat together, and drank his morning coffee. “Don’t get lost in thought again, Charlie, ol’ boy. Today you have to honor your wife’s memory. Boy, I sure do hope you’re with me today, Sara.” Charles smiled as he looked upon the lake one more time before heading out to the fall festival. Charles made his way to the gazebo that was the center hub of activity. He took his time. He wanted to take in all the sights and see life for the joy it really was. The smell of pumpkin spice was wafting in the air. The pumpkin pie bake-off was in full swing. There was the face painting book crowded with all the little kids anxiously waiting their turn. The sound of carnival music filled the air as the merry-go-round seemed to be going non-stop. Laughter and chatter were overflowing his senses. Charles stopped at one point, and simply closed his eyes and listened. That’s when he heard it. The son his wife sang every year. A melodic angelic voice floated on the air, stilling all the people. Silence fell upon the crowd. Charles anxiously made his way through the sea of people with a polite, “Excuse me,” with each person he encountered. Everyone graciously moved to let him through. When he made his way to the front of the crowd, a young girl stood on the steps, poised and confident. Her voice was just as enchanting as Sara’s had been. Tears streamed down his cheeks. It was Madison, his granddaughter. He had no idea she was coming. Never would he have thought that Madison could sing like her grandmother. She was just as beautiful as Sara had been, the first day he met her. 6


“Grandpa! There you are,” she called. “Come up here,” she said as she reached out her hand toward him. “Y’all probably know my Grandpa,” she said to the crowd of people. “He has been coming to this festival for sixty years. This is where he met my Grandma, Sara.” Then she handed the microphone to Charles, kissed him on the cheek and took his hand. Charles paused, looking out into the crowd. There were some familiar faces, but most of them were unfamiliar. “I wanted all of you to experience my wife’s beauty. I did not know how to express it because I cannot sing as she did. My granddaughter just gave you a glimpse of part of her beauty.” He paused again, looking back at Madison. “Honey, you did your Grandmother proud. She is smiling on you today.” Then he turned and faced the crowd again. He handed Madison the microphone and walked back to the easel that was beside the town mayor. “Mayor, I brought my own memorial plaque, per se. Do you mind if I shoe it first?” Charles asked. The mayor shook his head in agreement and helped Charles place the item on the easel. “There were no words, none at all, that could share my Sara’s heart with you. But God provided me this beautiful view last night. It was the only thing that could come close to how beautiful she was inside and out. Sara, my Sara, this is for you.” He briskly unwrapped the brown paper from the canvas to reveal a magnificent oil painting of last night’s sunset. The crowd was completely silent. No one wanted to miss what Charles had to say next. They were all stunned by the beautiful scene on the canvas. “The sun is my Sara; warm, loving and beautiful at all times of the day.” He paused for a moment, trying to remain composed. “The mountains were her strength. They carried me, and our entire family, through touch times. When you finally arrived at the top of the mountain, she always wanted to pause and enjoy the view. She said life was a climb, but never, ever forget to look back and remember what God taught us and provided for us.” Charles voice began to quiver; he could feel Sara’s presence in his heart. “The lake reflecting all of the spectacular colored leaves is for me. I am left now reflecting. Seeing the beauty not once by twice; once here on earth and again when I join her forever in heaven.” Madison stepped forward, taking his hand. “Grandpa, will you sing with me? You know the song.” He nodded “Yes,” and began to sing with Madison, Sara’s favorite song, “Amazing Grace.” The crowd joined in and the sound filled the festival. This fall festival would be his second favorite, the first always being when he met his precious wife Sara. For more stories like this, please visit Angela Blake-Morris at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/897732/angela_blake.html 7


Festive Cranberry Salad by Jennifer Stull This recipe is in memory of my granny, Pyrl Dixon, who will be dearly missed this holiday season. Ingredients 1 lb fresh cranberries, finely chopped 2 cups of sugar 20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained 1 lb bag of miniature marshmallows 1 pint whipped heavy cream, whipped stiff (or use one container of cool whip) 1 cup of chopped nuts Directions First, mix pound of cranberries and two cups of sugar together and chill overnight. The following day, mix the remaining ingredients with the cranberry mixture and then chill until ready to serve. Jen lives in the mountains with her husband and five year-old daughter. She is a homemaker, nurse, and business owner. You can visit her site at www.corewellnessnow.com.

December Book Give-Away from Ruby for Women “Passion and Purity” by Angela De Souza "God made us girls for extravagant, wild, imaginative, adventurous, fantastic loving!" The heart of a woman yearns for love, fantasizes about romance and dreams of being someone’s princess. 21st century living has robbed us of that simple heart cry and Hollywood has fed us lies about romance. We need to fight for our passion & purity to take back the awesome adventure of living and loving without compromising our purity. Angela openly shares of how her search for passion ended up in adultery and how she managed to find a way back to purity. A must read for any woman who wants to be free to live and love with passion and purity. If you would like to enter the December Book Give-Away at Ruby for Women, simply visit the Ruby for Women blog and leave a comment with your email address included. 8


These simple, vintage Christmas cards are yours for the making! from Vintage Image Craft We always try to send a handmade vintage Christmas card each year - but we admit succumbing to the after-Christmas half-price card sales. For 2008, though, we are proud to say we again made our own cards, and they are the best and simplest ever. This design and construction was so easy, we want to share it with you. With a little planning and production-line process, you can churn out a hundred of these. We did, and we have the paper cuts to prove it. The secret is buying stock panel cards and envelopes in bulk. Depending on the quality and quantity, you might spend between $.30 and $.70 per set of card and envelope. Our source was www.clearenvelopes.com, for envelopes (#E101) and embossed panel cards (#N101). The glorious post card illustration of Santa and his sack of apples is by Samuel L. Schmucker, published in 1913 by John Winsch. • • • • • •

Vintage images (FREE PDF download). Print the image on matte photo paper (Tips). Embossed panel card stock, 7" X 5 1/8", white or natural. Envelopes, 7 1/4" X 5 1/4", white or natural. Double stick tape (or glue stick). Paper cutter (see Tips). Bone folder.

Instructions 1. Print your greeting inside the panel card. You can use the message we provided ("Wishing You All the Bounty of the Season") or your own. Using your word processing program, format your document size to match the dimensions of the unfolded card stock. Position your text, and print the inside of the cards (see Tips). 2. Using a paper cutter, trim the vintage image. Affix it to the embossed panel with double stick tape (see Tips). 3. Fold your cards on the score line using a bone folder. Tips •

We printed our vintage image on standard matte photo paper. You can print the image on any kind of medium weight or heavy weight paper, textured paper, or even vellum for a translucent effect. 9


The embossed panel on our vintage Christmas card is almost exactly the size of the original postcard - 5 5/8" X 3 3/4". If your image doesn't quite fit, resize it in your word processing or graphic program. Slightly stretching or shrinking one dimension probably won't be perceptible. Just disable the "lock aspect ratio" check box when you enter the new dimensions. You'll need a printed image for each card. To save paper, copy the image from the PDF document into a word processing or graphic document, squeezing as many copies of the image onto the page as possible (we could fit three on a page by rotating one image vertically). We used a rotary blade paper cutter to get straight cuts around the image. More decorative, but more time consuming, is trimming the image with decorative edge scissors for a vintage deckle edge. You can print the message inside the cards using your word processing program. Other methods include rubber stamping the greeting inside, printing your message on vellum and tacking it into the cards with glue stick, or printing on self-adhesive paper. Don't want to buy blank panel cards? Make your own cards with card stock cut to size and scored with a bone folder. With no embossed panel to frame the image, you might want to mat your image with paper in a coordinated color a metallic finish, perhaps trimmed with decorative edge scissors. Or a frame of ribbon. Or glitter. Or a rubber stamp border. Or... or... or...

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Immanuel . . . God with us by Lynn Mosher The Advent season is upon us once again. It comes more quickly each year. I know, I’m just getting old! Since we’ll soon hear the amazing story of Jesus’ birth being told from the pulpit, I thought we’d take a look at two words from the account: Jesus and Bethlehem. Two seemingly separate words yet intertwined in a surprising way. We’ll look at Jesus today and discover the treasure hidden in Bethlehem next time. In the Old Testament, God’s name and His presence were virtually synonymous, which was evidenced in His name Jehovah-shammah, meaning the Lord is present or there. Jehovah-shammah, dwelling on the throne of heaven, lowered Himself to earth to be born in another form, to live personally with His people. His name? “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9:6 NKJV) In the New Testament, Jesus was Jehovah-shammah, as Matthew, quoting prophecy, said of His name, “‘They shall call His name Immanuel,’ translated as, ‘God with us.’” (Matt. 1:23b NKJV) When Jesus came to be with us, He threw off His robe of celestial royalty and dressed Himself in a tiny, pink suit of humanity, and from the birth-manger to the death-tomb, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14 NKJV) The original Greek says that Jesus “tabernacled” among us. That Divine Flesh was known by the name of Jesus, which the Word says is a “more excellent name” (Heb. 1:4) and the “name which is above every other name.” (Phil. 2:9b TLB) Calling on that precious name has opened the portals of heaven and shut the gates of hell bringing salvation to lost souls, turning away tornadoes, averting disasters, saving the lives of those in car wrecks, healing people of cancer and AIDS, giving the lame the ability to walk, hearing to the deaf, and sight to the blind, delivering those oppressed by demons, and even bringing some back from death’s grip. Dependence on that name is essential. The last thing Jesus said to His disciples was, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20 NKJV) Jehovah-shammah. Immanuel. God with us. Always!

Christmas blessings, Lynn 11


Prologue Still some weeks off ‘til glory day, child and manger, God and hay. Angels, shepherds, gifts and kings wait impatient in the wings. And me and mine ? What of us ? Do we engage in all this fuss, or do we, as we ought to do use this time to prepare for You. Advent Candle #1 (The Candle of Prophecy/Hope) In grey and rainy preparation clouded days preoccupy. Trees are mourning their lost finery, birds flee or prepare for hard times. Day follows day, treading weary paths, a joyless melancholic procession, boughs drip metronomic tears muddy blankets hide spring’s birthright. Bones chilled, cheeks besieged by gust and gale, eyes become refugees daring only to peer from squinting grimaces. Beauty hides, bereaved, crest-fallen. From such dismal obsession the season promises Light for darkened hearts, merry dances for weary feet carolling into heraldic wonder. Candle one: hope and prophecy stout sentries guarding hearts from fear’s incessant onslaught. A small light in the abyss of darkness tilting at the windmill of reality, whistling in the wind. A multitude of stars hide in nightly clouds jostling for position to proclaim the appointed time when their light is outshined. Advent candle #2 (The Candle of the Way) The star begins its journey and eternity spills upon the lost. A lesser light beacons the greater light and feeble footsteps find the way to eternity.

TwäxÇà VtÇwÄxá uç ^x|à{ jtÄÄ|á Advent candle #3 (The Candle of Joy) Heaven’s voice is ringing early its seasonal chorale cascading through the well shopped streets with the waterfall of glory. And the tills sing out their victory as the bankrupt bleed on the battleground of greed. Yet joy is to be found in shopping mall and marketplace when quiet voices with shepherds’ hearts respond to heaven’s greater tone. Advent candle #4 (The Candle of Peace) The dove is loosed from eternity’s door bringing the olive branch warm with love. Waters of darkness recede before the dove-light love-light peace. So even now men of peace stride wars in alien wisdom, their pace of hope shines promise Advent candle #5 (The Christ Candle) And so the die is cast in form of child the God has come. Earth cradles the King in poverty misplaced, misunderstood. The sacrifice of confinement clothing for a while outside eternity the covenant signature. 12


Bringing the Real Meaning of Christmas Home by Sarah Johnson As parents of young children, we sometimes get wrapped up in the food, gifts, and hustle and bustle of Christmas. We have to send a special snack for this party, find the perfect matching dresses for these pictures, oh and order all the presents before midnight to get free shipping! While nothing is wrong with these things per-se, we as adults know the real meaning of Christmas. Hope. Hope in new beginnings, hope in mankind… our hope in a baby born in a manger. As parents, it is our primary role to bring our kids to Jesus. And what better time than when we’re celebrating His birth! So many children love babies- it’s exciting to think of someone that is smaller than them. And by telling them of all who came to worship Him, even the little ones can see the importance of His birth. Christmas is a very special time to make Jesus an intentional focal point of our home. We should keep it undemanding and age appropriate. Sometimes we tend to rush into all of the details and get ourselves (and our poor children) all mixed up! Invite them to imagine how silly it would be for all the livestock to be hanging around when they were born. Talk about how amazing it would be to see the angel Gabriel speaking to Mary. When singing Christmas songs and hymns, explain the meaning of these special songs they only hear this time of year. I know that I am going to get started just by repeating “Christmas is a happy / special time! It’s when Jesus was born!” whenever the opportunity arises. Keeping it simple always works with me! ☺ Here are some easy to understand scripture verses for older children: Luke 1:31- You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. (The Message) Luke 2:10-12- Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (NKJV) Matthew 2:11- They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. (The Message) 2 Corinthians 9:15- Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (NKJV) I hope this holiday brings you warm feelings of happiness, thankfulness, and hope! And may we foster these same emotions in our sweet little sugarplums!

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Remembering You by Tricia Goyer 35-year-old Ava Andrews’ dream job is interrupted by an unusual request – fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather’s last wish by joining him on a battle site tour o Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request. But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own – to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces. Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own. Then, while they’re on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa’s best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava’s first love. For more information, or to order Tricia’s book, Remembering You, please visit her website at www.triciagoyer.com

Simply Give by Amanda Johnson Growing up I learned about giving in relation to tithing of the first fruits or giving 10% of one’s earnings to the Lord. I also learned about giving to the homeless and taking meals to the elderly. This was what giving was all about. It was a simple concept for a young mind. Now that I’m older, God is expanding my mind on His command to give. I’m reading “The Blessed Life” and learning that giving is still a very simple concept, but it can be expanded so much more! Simple giving occurs when we choose to be simply Christian. What does that mean? Christ commanded us to shine as a light for Him directing others to His love, mercy and grace. We can do that through blessing others with the resources God has blessed us with. Matthew 5:44 tells us to love our enemies. Mark 12:31 says to love our neighbor. Most importantly Mark 12:30 tells us to love God with all of our heart, soul, might, and mind. Loving others is part of being a follower of Christ. We show love towards others when we give and bless them. My pastor recently encouraged the church to go into the community and show the love of Christ by simply giving. The result? Members of the community found themselves blessed in some amazing ways. A family’s groceries were unexpectedly paid for by the woman in front of them in line. One man had his gas paid for by another man a few lanes over. A woman who had just lost her job was surprisingly blessed when the woman next to her in line paid for her lunch. It was a strange phenomenon that had many asking “Why are you doing this?” The reply was simple. “God asked me to bless you as He has blessed me. He wants you to know He cares and He loves you.” This is the season of giving and praising God for all God has given us. A powerful way to show our appreciation and thanks is to take what we’ve been blessed with and simply give it to another in need. 14


YÜÉÅ à{x ^|àv{xÇ Éy ^tà{xÜ|ÇxËá VÉÜÇxÜ bÜtÇzx fÇÉãutÄÄá Charming as well as beautiful and delicious, these Orange Coconut Snowballs would look lovely on your holiday buffet table. Make up a batch with the kids or the grandkids, and watch them disappear right before your eyes! * Note: This recipe requires refrigeration before baking What you need: 2 ¼ cups flour 1 ¼ cups coconut flakes 2 sticks butter (softened) 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (sifted) 1 ½ tsp vanilla ¾ tsp coconut extract 1 ½ Tbsp. orange zest (orange part only)

½ tsp salt 2 baking sheets Electric mixer Mixing bowl Parchment paper Melon ball scoop

Before you start: Preheat oven to 350. Toast coconut (place on baking sheet and spread out evenly; cook for about 10 minutes, until golden, watch it closely or it will burn!) Let’s make it! In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium high with an electric mixer until smooth; add vanilla and coconut extract and continue mixing. Slowly add 1 ¼ cups of powdered sugar and blend well. Add flour, orange zest, and salt and continue mixing. Remove mixer and stir in coconut with a spoon. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Let dough rest on the counter for a few minutes to allow it to soften slightly. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a melon ball scoop, or a tablespoon, get one level scoop (tablespoon) of dough for each cookie. Roll dough into balls with your hands and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes and roll hot cookies in remaining powdered sugar. Cool and roll in powdered sugar again. Store in airtight container. Makes about 24 cookies. For more holiday recipes, please visit Katherine’s Corner at www.katherinescorner.com

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Seven Unique Ways to Keep a Gratitude Journal that You Can Stick With by Theresa Ceniccola I confess – I have abandoned more journals than I care to admit. I always begin with good intentions. Like any devoted Oprah fan, I set out on a mission to write down three things I’m grateful for in an attempt to focus my attention on the blessings in my life. The whole process is like a diet – it works for a few weeks or a month and then I let it slip. I take a day off. Or a week. Or a month. Sometimes I pick it back up again and rededicate myself to the daily practice. (Once I even made it a whole year!) But eventually my journal ends up lost under a pile of papers or stuck between the seats of the couch cushions, collecting dust while my heart collects complaints and criticism. I used to beat myself up for this abandoned gratitude. I dubbed myself a failure. But now I realize that I was setting myself up for failure. That there is more than one way to do this gratitude thing. Experts tell you how to do it “right” – select a beautiful journal and a pen that feels good, allocate time each day in your schedule and create a dedicated space where you can write comfortably without distractions or interruption. All great tips. But even when I follow them to the letter, I somehow end up getting derailed. This recipe for journal writing doesn’t work for all of us, all the time. So, here are my personal tips for keeping an attitude of gratitude even if journal writing isn’t your thing! 1. Gratitude Cards: Who needs an entire notebook when you can do the job with a single index card? Buy a stack of colorful index cards and keep them someplace where you will see them. Any time you feel joy, take a minute to write a sentence or word down on an index card and post it on a wall, refrigerator or bulletin board so you can be reminded of your blessings. You can also use sticky notes. 2. Be Social: Turn your Facebook posts or Twitter tweets into a feed of gratitude. Make it a point to share your blessings with your virtual friends each day. You may be surprised to see some of them join in! 3. Gratitude Buddy: Find a partner who is interested in inviting more gratitude into her life as well. Make a commitment to share one thing each day that you are grateful for. Do it by phone, email, text or in person. It helps to have someone else depending on you and expecting you to deliver a thankful thought each day!

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4. Thanksgiving Every Day: If you enjoy the tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and expressing a sentiment of gratitude, why not make it a daily habit? If you have young children, make it a game. At my house, we play “High/Low” at dinnertime. Each person shares a “high” and a “low” from the day. It’s the one time of day when we all truly stop and connect with one another. 5. The Grateful Doodle: Sometimes there are no words to express our feelings. Let your markers and pencils do the talking by spending 10 minutes doodling your delight on a blank page. There’s a side effect to this creative exercise – you get to experience the Art of Being a Stress Free Mom! 6. Write Where You Are: Sometimes it’s just too much to add another place to go –another project to keep up with. What are you already writing on or in every day? A shopping list? Day planner? Devotional? Add a sentence of gratitude anywhere on the page! If you’re a digital momma, type it into an existing list on your smart phone. Don’t worry that it doesn’t “belong” there – that somewhere between the bananas and the paper towels you’ve written, “I’m thankful for my dog!” There are no rules – gratitude belongs everywhere! 7. Green and Grateful: For some people, it’s overwhelming to fill a book of blank pages or use a stack of index cards. Try the eco-friendly approach of expressing your gratitude on a chalkboard or whiteboard someplace visible in your home. When something new fills your heart with joy, erase it and start over. This takes the pressure off how many sentiments you have to come up with and how often you need to add to the list. And it spreads joy and gratitude to everyone in the home. Now, does that help make the gratitude thing seem more manageable? I’d love to know what’s working for you – leave a comment here and let me know how you are practicing gratitude in your own way! Visit Theresa Ceniccola, The Christian Mompreneur, at her website www.theresaceniccola.com

www.theresaceniccola.com

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Waiting for Christmas: Advent Calendars by Vintage Mama

What is Advent? The season of Advent is the beginning of the Christmas celebration, as well as the start of the Church year for most churches in the Western tradition. The meaning of the word “Advent” is “arrival” or “coming” in Latin, and it signifies the anticipation of the birth of Christ, fulfilling the prophecies about that event. It also represents the anticipation as we await the Second Coming of Christ. Advent is celebrated on the four Sundays before Christmas Day, beginning on the Sunday closest to November 30, which is the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle. Advent ends on Christmas Day, and because Christmas is celebrated on different days of the week each year, the Advent season can last between 22 and 28 days. In the early Church, during the 4th and 5th centuries, Advent marked the time of preparation for the “Epiphany” rather than Christmas Day. Epiphany is celebrated in early January, focusing on events in the life of Jesus, including the visits of the magi, His baptism, and His miracles. Advent was also a time when new Christians were baptized and welcomed into the church, as well as a time for the church members to examine their hearts and focus on penance. The leaders of the early Church encouraged their people to prepare for the feast of Christmas by fasting, and it is can be seen in some of the earliest church documents that Advent was seen as similar to the season of Lent in preparation for the celebration of Easter. Later, in the 6th century, the celebration of Advent became focused on the second coming of Christ. In the 9th century, Pope St. Nicholas decreed that the season of Advent would no longer be six weeks, but would be the four weeks that are observed currently. Still later, in the middle ages, around the 1500s, an emphasis on the anticipation of Christ’s birth was added to the focus on His second coming. For more details on the history of Advent, please visit “The History of Advent.” Sometime in 6th century Rome, the focus of Advent shifted to the second coming of Christ. In the 9th century, Pope St. Nicholas reduced the duration of Advent from six weeks to the four weeks we currently observe. And finally, sometime in the middle ages--approximately the 1500's--an additional focus on the anticipation before Christ's birth was added to that of His second coming. For more in-depth information, visit The History of Advent. www.thehistoryofchristmas.com

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Celebrating the Season For Christians, Advent is a time of reflection about the amazing gift that God gave to us in the person of His Son who came to live among us on earth. It is also an opportunity to restore Jesus to His rightful place as the center of our holiday celebrations! Advent is, appropriately, both somber and joyful! The prevailing themes of the Advent season and the symbolism behind the activities which churches and families share are expectation and hope, preparation and peace, joy and sharing, and most of all, love. These themes are represented in the 5 candles of the Advent wreath. On each Sunday marking a new week in Advent, a candle is lit on the wreath (including candles from previous weeks) until we arrive at the snow-white center candle which stands for Christ! All Advent activities and traditions are grounded in the truth of Scripture . . .even though the symbolism and stories surrounding them have changed over time. The focus continues to be the great news that the Messiah was and is coming and how we live out our heartfelt longing for both. Some form of the Advent Calendar has been used for more than 150 years, and becomes more popular every year. The origin of the calendar, like so many of our Christmas traditions, started in Germany in the 19th century. Different methods of counting down the days to the celebration of Christmas were used. Drawing a chalk line to mark off the days, and later lighting a candle every night or putting up small religious pictures marked each day until Christmas. The first printed calendar was produced by Gerhard Lang in Germany. When he was a child, his mother attached little candies to a piece of cardboard and each day Gerhard would take one off. His first printed calendar consisted of miniature colored pictures that would be attached to a piece of cardboard each day in December. Later, Advent calendars were made with little doors to open on each day. The child might find a small piece of candy, a Christmas picture, a religious picture, or a Bible verse. The German calendars were sold until World War II, at which time production was stopped due to the war shortages. After the war, the production of calendars resumed in 1946 by Richard Selmer. Selmer credits President Eisenhower with helping the tradition grow in the United States during his term in office. A newspaper article at the time showed the Eisenhower grandchildren with The Little Town Advent calendar. His company still produces calendars today and can be ordered online. 19


The first Advent calendars were based on 24 days with Christmas Eve as the last night either to put up a picture or take a candy. Today, the tradition German calendars still show 24 days, but in the United States, it is not uncommon to find ones with 25 days – the last opening to occur on Christmas Day. Advent calendars can be found everywhere Christmas is celebrated, and have been made with many different themes. There are permanent ones with little drawers that are opened every day; felt pieces to decorate a tree, religious icons behind the different doors, and lots of pop-culture / character Advent calendars. The traditional ones are still a paper / cardboard piece with a small treasure of saying behind the tiny doors. The treasures can range from a beautiful miniature religious picture, a little wooden toy, or even a piece of candy. One of my most favorite Advent calendars was one that I discovered many years ago when my older children were small. It was a white church made of sturdy cardstock that we could put together and set in the middle of our kitchen table. Each day we could open one of the tiny windows on the beautiful shimmering white church where we would find a verse from Scripture about the coming birth of the Savior. It is not too late for your family to begin a new tradition, if you have not had the fun of an Advent calendar yet! You can make one or you can purchase one at your local card shop, or even at Walmart. For ideas on making your own Advent calendar, please visit www.familycrafts.about.com or www.teachingmom.com For more information about the history of the Advent calendar, please visit www.about.com/adventcalendars You can also order your Advent calendar from Bronner’s at www.bronners.com or the Vermont Christmas Company at www.vermontchristmasco.com Information for this article was found at Wikipedia, as well as About.com and The History of Christmas.

This Space is For Sale! If you would like to advertise in an upcoming issue of Ruby for Women, please contact Angela Morris, Ruby for Women Advertising Administrator amorris@rubyforwomen.com for all the details 20


j{Éáx V{|Äw |á g{|áR ;`tÜçËá à{Éâz{àá< uç ^x|à{ jtÄÄ|á Whose child is this, a cuckoo all warm and suckling ? If I say you are mine Your eyes tell me that you make me a mother giving me no right to call you mine. If I claim to have given you life you disarm me with a smile that says you will give me mine. Your father has only spoken to me through messengers, I cannot picture his face although I know his love. You were not conceived in passion nor touched into life by intimate caresses. Can I call you my child ? You were mine for forty lengthening weeks and, in your life, you will not know such intimacy again. Will you answer my questions when you grow ? Will you let me be your mother when darker clouds arrive and I need to grieve for you, for me, for the child I kept, a loan from God.. 21


The Isaiah Tree by Ginger Kauffman Sue Staple found her passion when she left off teaching second grade and entered school for floral design. Not that she didn’t love her years in the classroom. It’s just that as an artist she longed for greater avenues to express that passion. For the past 25 years, she has arranged flowers for weddings and other events, and has done seasonal decorating in people’s homes. She’s been so busy helping others decorate for Christmas over the years that she has seldom dedicated much time to decorating her own home. But, that all changed last year. Sue’s other passion is Bible study. Last fall she finished up a 14-month Precepts Bible study of the Old Testament book of Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah foretells the coming of Jesus, painting word pictures that reveal Christ as both the King of Kings and the Suffering Servant; the Holy One, yet the One who took upon Himself our sins; the King in His beauty, but also the One from whom we hid our faces. In celebration of the completion of this wonderful study, Sue decided to create her own Isaiah Christmas Tree. “The star of the tree is Jesus,” says Sue, “and the prophet Isaiah spares no color in painting a rich portrait of Him. It amazed me to see how many lovely names and descriptions of the Savior could be gleaned from only 40 of my favorite verses in this famous sixty-six chapter Old Testament book.” She began with these 40 verses and passages from Isaiah. From supplies she had on hand, she created scrolls and small banners upon which she scribed these selections. She purchased a pre-lit artificial tree and purchased ornaments that represented the prophecies about Jesus. She found that Wight’s Nursery in Lynnwood, not too far from Everett, Washington, had an amazing stock of shiny hand painted old world ornaments, the perfect compliment for her scrolls and banners. Among her decorating supplies she found several spools of ribbon. She was ready to decorate. To actually dress the tree took a good eight hours. By the end of the day, she was finished with her exquisite Isaiah Tree. Not only is it breathtaking, it is also a way for Sue to share the message of Christ as seen from Isaiah’s perspective. And the process brought her closer to Christ Himself. 22


Sue told me, “Being exposed to Isaiah’s word pictures of the Messiah teaches me much about His beauty, His authority, His humility and His sacrificial love. They raise questions that motivate me to explore the Bible further for more information concerning Him.” Has your Christmas tree ever done that for you? Mine certainly hasn’t! But Sue’s Isaiah Tree inspires me to create a theme tree of my own that will draw me closer to Christ and be a witness to those who see it. How about you? I asked Sue how readers might go about decorating their own theme tree this year. Here are the steps she suggested: Get some ideas flowing -- Go to a decorator store or florist to soak up some Christmas tree decorating ideas. Ask yourself: What are the colors? How many? How are they incorporated? How many kinds of material were used? How are those materials applied to the tree? (The fewer the materials repeated, the simpler the tree.) What’s the pattern used? What items are repeated? Choose a theme -- A theme can help unify the tree. Choose a theme that inspires you and tie your tree together around that theme. Here are some possible themes: • • • • • • • • • • •

Angels Hymns The Psalms The Nativity Handel’s Messiah Musical instruments Mother and child/Mary/the Holy Family All creatures great and small Songbirds If you are a quilter, quilt some ornaments If you knit or crochet, knit or crochet some ornaments

Basic design principles – Decorating a tree is a craft. • • • •

Your tree should have meaning and visual relatedness. Your tree should have similarity of objects. Your tree should have repetition of colors. Your tree should have repetition of materials.

Choose your color scheme – Use no more than three, possibly four, colors. The more colors you use, the more you need a dominant color.

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Rule of thumb: use pastels with pastels, brights with brights, or muted colors with muted colors. Consider repeating the colors of the environment in your tree. If your walls are blue with white trim and a third color for accent, you might incorporate all of those colors into your tree decorations. Lights and ribbons – You do have more freedom in your decorating if you use white, clear, or golden lights on your tree rather than multi-colored lights. Ribbon is a good, low cost way to decorate. Here are three ways to use ribbon in your decorating: • • •

Swirl the ribbon around the tree, something like a barber pole. Start at the top of the tree with the ribbon, and bring it down, tucking it in here and there to add interest. Tie bows onto the branches. Check online for help with tying bows if you need a refresher.

Add ornaments – Once you have your lights and ribbon, add your ornaments. Repeat your colors, materials and patterns. Place your favorite ornaments at eye level. Sue’s repeated ornaments were birds, bells, and treasure boxes (to represent that Jesus is the treasure). The old world ornaments helped bring unity to the tree. She also incorporated some items that had special meaning to her—a crocheted cross, a Guatemalan woman, and some vintage jewelry. Are you ready? Let’s start decorating! Ginger Kauffman and Sue Staple beside The Isaiah Tree last Christmas (2010).

The Orange Shoes by Trinka Hakes Noble reviewed by Kendra Peterson

This is a wonderful, old-fashioned, realistic fiction story for ages 7-10. Parents would enjoy reading this to their children and talking about the lessons learned: such as determination, family love for each other, dealing with a bully, and making sacrifices for others. Delly needs new shoes before winter sets in, but Daddy's truck also needs new tires and they cannot afford both. There is also a Shoebox Social coming up at school to raise money for art supplies. The family pulls together and figures out a way to get both the shoes and tires, plus be in the Shoebox Social. Everyone is sure to love how the author reminds us what is most important in life - family. The Orange Shoes can be purchased from Amazon, through Ruby’s Reading Corner at www.rubyforwomen.ning.com 24


TÄÅÉÇw WtÇ|á{ câyy yÜÉÅ à{x ^|àv{xÇ Éy i|Çàtzx `tÅt I learned how to make this Danish Puff from our Great-Grandma many years ago, and it is a Christmas tradition in our family to serve this on Christmas morning. It is so simple, but beautiful and delicious, that we also make a few extras to give to our friends and neighbors. These Danish Puffs look lovely on a crimped tinfoil tray, then wrapped in clear plastic wrap and tied with a bright red or green bow! Perfect for gift-giving, and one of our favorite holiday traditions. Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour ½ cup butter, softened 2 Tbsp water ½ cup butter 1 cup water 1 tsp almond extract 3 eggs, beaten 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 1 tsp almond extract 1 Tbsp milk, or as needed 2 Tbsp red or green sugar sprinkles (optional) ½ cup sliced almonds for garnishment (optional) Let’s make it! Place 1 cup of flour in a medium bow. Mix in butter using a fork or a pastry blender. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of water over, and stir with a fork until dough comes together. Divide into two balls. Pat dough into two long strips on an ungreased baking sheet, about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a saucepan, combine ½ cup of butter and 1 cup of water. Bring to a tolling boil. Add 1 teaspoon of almond extract and remove from heat. Immediately stir in 1 cup of flour until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Gradually stir in eggs until well blended. Divide evenly, and spread over the two crusts on the baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven. Allow to cool almost to room temperature before frosting. To make the frosting, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon of almond extract and a splash of milk in a small bowl until smooth. Add more mild if necessary to desired consistency. Drizzle over the Danish Puffs, and decorate with additional sliced almonds and colored sugar sprinkles, if desired. Makes 2 Danish Puffs, 12 inches X 4 inches. 25


It’s All About the Delivery by Pauline Creeden

God spoke to Moses: “Take the staff, assemble the community, you and your brother Aaron. Speak to the rock that’s right in front of them and it will give water. You will bring water out of the rock for them; congregation and cattle will both drink.” Moses took the staff away from God’s presence, as commanded. He and Aaron rounded up the whole congregation in front of the rock. Moses spoke: “Listen, rebels! Do we have to bring water out of this rock for you?” With that, Moses raised his arm and slammed the staff against the rock - once, twice. Water poured out. Congregation and cattle drank. God said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you didn’t trust me, didn’t treat me with holy reverence in front of the people of Israel, you two aren’t going to lead this company into the land that I am giving them”. (Numbers 20:7-12 MSG) What did Moses do that was so wrong? He took credit for providing the water from the rock. God told him to speak to the rock, but instead Moses hit it with his staff. Instead of giving God the credit for providing the water, Moses claimed to produce the water himself. God gave Moses the gift of producing water from a rock, and Moses used the gift without ever pointing to the source of his strength. God has provided us all with gifts. Some of these gifts are talents: singing, playing instruments, athletics, public speaking.

gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV) The love in this is two-fold: Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV) If you love the Lord with your heart, soul, and mind, then you will not only use your gifts for Him, but you will also give Him the credit as well. If you love your neighbor as yourself, than your gifts will be given to him because your love will be translated into generosity. And all of this will be for the glory of God. Your gifts are given to you for His glory, and they need to be used for those purposes. Love guarantees that the gifts will be used for others rather than for selfish purposes.

There are also spiritual gifts: Speaking and interpreting tongues, prophecy, faith, generosity, hospitality, preaching.

Our relationship with God is what determines the use of our gifts. We cannot let ourselves be carried away by how we FEEL at the time we use the gift. Love is given regardless of how we “feel.”

No matter the gift, if we use it for our own purposes, it will profit us nothing but God’s disappointment.

When you are angry with your child because he crossed the street without looking both ways, it does not affect your love for your child.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the

When you argue with your spouse about the color you want to paint the bedroom, it does not affect your love for your spouse. 26


When your best friend argues with you about where you’ll go for lunch together, it does not affect your love for your friend. Do not let your situation affect your love for God. In the opening passage, Moses was angry with the people of Israel for quarreling and complaining to him. In his anger, he stopped loving them. In his indignation, he thought lightly of God’s command and moved out of his emotions. When people are not grateful for our time and energy, we cannot let their indifference stop our love. If we do, we are transferring the gift that God has given us for them into OUR gift to them. We will become angry at their lack of gratitude, and this will make us indignant and proud.

We do the same as Moses did in our hearts, even if we “say” that God gives them this gift. But if we remember who the Giver of the gift is and to whom the gift is intended, then we will realize that we are not much more than the deliveryman. How would it be if the UPS deliveryman demanded your gratitude for the gift that he was giving to you? Or what if he kept the package for himself and used it for his own purpose? How do you think the person who sent the gift would respond? Our God is generous. He gives gifts to those who don’t deserve it, and allows us to have the blessing of being the deliveryman for His grace. Let us not lose sight of our position or His generosity.

Connect the Letters Puzzle by Beth Brubaker

Answer Key on page ____

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Make Your Own Vintage Tag Christmas Cards with this fun and easy craft tutorial from Vintage Image Craft This Vintage Tag Christmas Card sports an 1890 Santa Claus "scrap" printed on a shop tag. The Victorians would have approved. They were "scraphappy" by the end of the 19th Century. Printers were turning out sheets of die-cut, embossed, color paper scraps, and people were pasting them in books, on ornaments, cards, furniture and anything not moving! This card is very easy to make. We provide the printable template and tags. You create the traditional shop tag using a manila file folder as stock. Add a grommet and tie on some hemp string. We chose to make this card small, so you can print two cards on one 8.5" x 11" piece of cardstock. Office supply stores now sell boxes of envelopes sized at 4 3/8" x 5 3/4", which perfectly fit standard paper folded into quarters.

Materials: •

Vintage image and template (see below).

Cardstock, gold or brown, 8.5" x 11". We used "Kings Gold" from OfficeMax, where we had 100 cards printed.

Cardstock, manila. We used the back of a manila file folder, trimmed to 8.5" x 11".

Hemp cord or string.

Grommet setter and brass grommets, or hole punch.

Foam mounting tape or squares (see Tips).

Paint pen, silver.

Distressing ink or strong tea for aging the tags (optional).

Deckle-edge scissors or other deckle-edge cutter (see Tips).

Paper cutter or scissors.

Ruler.

Bone folder.

Self-healing mat. 28


Instructions 1. Print the card template (see images below: page 2) on 8.5" x 11" gold or brown cardstock. Cut the cardstock in half to form two 8.5" x 5.5" cards. With the printed text on the inside, score both cards across the center and fold with a bone folder to form two 4.25" x 5.5" vertical cards. 2. Open the card and lay it inside up on the cutting mat. With a deckle-edge cutter or scissors, cut away a 1" wide strip from the leading (left side) edge of the card (see Tips). 3. Yes, this photo has the card upside down and we are cutting away the right side. Choose whichever is more comfortable for you. Notice too that we have a 1" wide piece of blue masking tape on the cutting mat. That made it possible to quickly measure and cut the 1" strips from 100 cards. 4. Highlight the deckle-cut edge on the front of the card with a silver paint pen. You may choose to use distressing ink or even glitter glue, instead! 5. Print the tags (see images below: page 1) on manila cardstock or an 8.5" x 11" piece cut from the back of a manila file folder. Cut them out with a paper cutter or scissors, being sure to cut away the black template lines. 6. Punch a grommet through the hole marked at the top of the tag template. In our photo, you can see our "vintage" 1940s Bates Eyeleter grommet setter, still working like a charm. 7. Now, if you wish, you can age the tag with distressing ink or maybe tea staining.

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8. Cut an 8" length of hemp cord for each tag. Loop the cord, push the looped end through the grommet on the front of the tag, then slip the loose ends of the cord through the loop behind the card and pull them tight. 9. Cut four small squares of foam mounting tape, stick them near the corners on the back of the tag, and then stick the tag to the center of the front panel of the card. 10. There! Easy enough that you may want to make a few hundred! Tips â&#x20AC;˘

The tag on this card was attached to the front panel with a few squares of foam mounting tape, to give it some dimension. You may choose to use double-stick tape, glue, or even tie the tag to the card and let it dangle. If you do, you can write the traditional "To and From" message on the back, and it can be used as a gift tag!

â&#x20AC;˘

Artist and crafters often try to simulate rough deckle edges by hand tearing the edges of paper. Since tears usually follow the natural grain or imperfections in the paper, you really have little control over the result. For this Vintage Tag Christmas Card, we chose to use a Fiskars rotary paper edger with a deckle blade. Deckle-edge scissors will get the same result. If you are more adventurous and want a more authentic look , we suggest you try these methods: o

Purchase a deckle edge ripper. This metal or Lucite straight-edge has small, varying teeth which rip a jagged edge when paper is torn (usually upwards) against them.

o

Fold the paper on the line you want deckled. With a serrated knife, cut through the fold with small sawing motions, from the inside out.

o

Cut the paper apart with a fine-toothed saw, like a coping or jewelry saw.

o

Soften the paper fibers first by brushing a thin line of water along the desired tear line and waiting a minute. One artist recommended a portable watercolor brush, which is like a fountain pen filled with water. The paper should be torn by laying it flat and pulling the paper away from the water line, not up or down. The water helps to constrain the tearing, however it can also stain or cause inkjet printer inks to run.

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i|Üz|Ç j{|àx uç _xx XA f{|ÄÉ It was a candle lit night, and tranquil peace did reign. The candles were, of virgin white, and burned a fervent flame. I was awake, till dusky morn, and heard the Sandman’s tracks. Until the night was newly born, he had but empty sacks.

This sleepless night, rode past my door, and did not stop to check. It did not want me anymore, I felt like such a wreck.

The Sandman's sleep, had passed me by, my sweet slumbers, not. Even though I want to try, I find I just, cannot.

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Angela De Souza announces the release of a brand-new album by the D7 Band! “In the Stillness” Order your copy of “In the Stillness” from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Stillness-D7-Band/dp/B005HZ7KCE

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[ÉÄ|wtç Z|yà Zâ|wx g{|á {ÉÄ|wtç áxtáÉÇ? ãx |Çä|àx çÉâ àÉ ä|á|à ÉâÜ twäxÜà|áxÜá tÇw áÑÉÇáÉÜá yÉÜ tÄÄ çÉâÜ z|yà@ z|yà@z|ä|Çz ÇxxwáA

Sharon Rowley, DCD Chocolatier www.dove-chocolate-discoveries/chocolatelovers

Laise Originals Handcrafted Artisan Jewelry www.laiseoriginals.com

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Dealing with Life Problems Abba, Father; A Simple Prayer by John Poche “It’s not a matter of if we will experience problems, it’s when.” For most of us, life problems are inevitable. How do we deal with problems related to relationships, marriage, divorce, family employment, work, finances, addiction, health or the death of a loved one? John shares his personal story of how a short prayer and simple praying helped resolve some stressful problems and change his life into happy, joyous and free. He describes the development of his simple prayer plan and numerous experiences of his twenty year prayer journey. He offers many suggestions in hope that his biblically-inspired simple prayer will help you experience the joy of knowing that God is present and working in your life. It worked for him; maybe it will work for you. http://www.amazon.com/Abba-Father-Simple-PrayerPoche/dp/145074933X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=13219 80994&sr=8-1

Real Pretty Pics by Angela Morris http://www.zazzle.com/realprettypics

Ruby’s Reading Corner Books would make perfect gifts for everyone on your Christmas shopping list! Visit Ruby’s Reading Corner this holiday season http://astore.amazon.com/rubyforwomenreadingcorner-20 Original Image from Microsoft Clip Art (Royalty Free) Artistically altered by Angela Blake

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Shakeology â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The Healthiest Meal of the Day

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Send Out Cards with Danie Bell This Holiday Season visit Danie Bell at Send Out Cards Cards And let her show you how you can send out out holiday greetings that are personalized, quick and easy to send! https://www.sendoutcards.com/28116

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The Visionary by Pamela S. Thibodeaux A visionary is someone who sees into the future. Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disturbingly prevalent in today’s society. Can the love of God and the power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives? Find out in . . . The Visionary . . . . where the awesome power of God’s love heals the most wounded of souls. Pamela S. Thibodeaux is multi-published in fiction and non-fiction. Her writing has been tagged as “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “Steamier and grittier than the typical Christian without decreasing the message.” She is the Co-founder and a member of the Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. As a former member of American Christian Fiction Writers (formerly ACRW), Golden Triangle Writers Guild, Coeur de Louisiane and RWA, Pam won Coeur’s 1999 “Diamond In The Rough” as well as their 2000 “Ruby” Award and received her RWA Pro Pin in 2001. A committed Christian, she firmly believes in God and His promises. God is very real to her and she feels that people today need and want to hear more of His truths wherever they can glean them. Although her writing is Inspirational, she does her best to encourage readers to develop a personal relationship with God. The deepest desire of her heart is to glorify God and to get His message of faith, trust and forgiveness to a hurting world. Her hope is that all of her stories will touch the lives of everyone who reads them and – in some way – bring them a truer knowledge of God and urge them into a closer walk with Him. Pamela has extensive experience in speaking on a wide variety of topics related to writing as well as women’s issues. To invite Pam to speak at your luncheon or event, email her at: pthib07@gmail.com http://pamelathibodeaux.com/ & http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com/ 39


This holiday season, be sure to visit the Christian Book website where you can order books, music, Bibles and more for your family. http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/home?event=AFF&p=1164946

The Golden Sky comes after the storm . . . by E.C. Stilson “The "death home" gave my son a really nice funeral, the kind I'd never wished to attend. When they tried closing his casket, I nearly fell on my face, not wanting them to shut the lid on my baby. We lost it after that, totally cemented in our grief. Cade got into drugs, joined a rock and roll band, and even grew out his damn hair. At the time, I was sick of "the oatmeal option" (the only food we had), so I kicked Cade out of the house, and started modeling and working as a diesel mechanic. That was how I met Earl, an old man and unlikely best friend; the "big sag," a middle aged woman who still flashed folks; my neighbor, the stripper next door, and "The Cowboy," a man who fell in love with me. It was slow at first, but Cade reverted back to the man I'd busked with years before. It wasn't until I killed a rogue skunk, and my daughter nearly choked on a fry, that I gave my husband another chance. But could our marriage recover from the death of our son?” To order your copy of E.C. Stilson’s book, The Golden Sky, please visit her blog at http://www.ecwrites.com/

Visit Keepsakes by Katherine where you will find charming gifts for every occasion! This Christmas be sure to stop by Keepsakes by Katherine for that very special special gift for that very special someone. Keepsakes by Katherine http://keepsakesbykatherine.etsy.com 40


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Nana's BIG Storybook by Sheila WatsonWatson-Kraklow A collection of three of the most popular children's stories and rhymes written by Sheila Watson Kraklow, plus a bonus new story; they are all filled with the illustrations of Sheila Watson Kraklow. 131 pages Color Illustrations Complete Bible references included Ages: 5-12 Read-to-me bedtime or read alone Visit DoveQuill Publishing to order “Nana’s BIG Storybook” http://www.dove-quill-publishing.com/Nana-s-BIG-Storybook.html

‘Cause Angels Can’t Sing by Elizabeth Baker 10 Booklets and 10 Gift Envelopes for only $20 Looking for the perfect group gift at a price you can afford? 'Cause Angels Can't Sing, may be the solution! These 38 pages of holiday fiction will make even the Grinch smile as the true meaning of Christmas unfolds in modern settings with characters you can believe. Teachers and co-workers, the clerk you've been praying for and members of your Bible study group will all appreciate this thoughtful remembrance that is more than a card. View the product, read the stories and order in time for the holidays by visiting www.elizabethbakerbooks.com. As a bonus, you can receive a $5 discount by entering the code HoHoHo at checkout! 42


Thank You to the sponsor of the Rubyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gardening Section

Thomas B. Clarke - Author of the book entitled A Garden of Love An endearing gift book for the Christian woman who enjoys flowers

Click on the links below to learn more about this and Tomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s other publications

www.bible-discernments.com or www.prayergardeners.blogspot.com 43


Core Wellness Now with Jennifer Jennifer Stull This Christmas, brighten someone’s stocking with a LightUp Lip Gloss by Artistry! Choose from three different shades at www.corewellnessnow.com

Discovery House Publishers Feeding the Soul with the Word of God

Visit Discovery House Publishers at www.dhp.org

A River of Small Stones by Keith Wallis A beautiful and inspirational book of poetry, perfect for gift-giving this Christmas season Poems written as “small stones,” polished moments of paying proper attention to life Available at www.ariverofstones.blogspot.com 44


The Christmas Promise by Elizabeth Baker When the elevator stopped on the seventh floor Jenise pushed her way past the fat man with a briefcase. “Excuse me,” she said politely. “I’m going down.” She could never understand why people stood in front of elevators that weren’t going their direction, but then, there were a lot of mysteries in life. “Hey, Jenise! Merry Christmas!” a woman’s voice called from the back of the crowded cab. “Brenda! Merry Christmas, yourself!” She threaded her way through the press of strangers until she was standing shoulder to shoulder with her friend. “Got any plans for tomorrow?” “Only what you would expect,” she sighed. It had been a long day at the office and everyone was ready for the holiday to begin. “I still have to bake another batch of cookies. The kids will be up before dawn to find what Santa brought and Brad’s parents are coming over for Christmas dinner.” Brenda yawned behind her hand. “I sure am glad Christmas only comes once a year or I’d never make it.” “That sounds like a lot. I can understand a single gal like me working on Christmas Eve, but you have a family. I don’t know how you do it.” “Yeah, well, I’ve got to pay for all those Christmas goodies, you know.” They rode in silence for a moment then Brenda smiled mischievously. “Speaking of marital status, I don’t suppose you’re expecting a special Christmas gift from Caleb? Like maybe an engagement ring?” “Maybe,” Jenise blushed. “Who knows what might happen with Christmas magic in the air? His flight from Chicago is due in at eleven tonight and he promised he would be at my apartment for dinner at one. Said he had something special to show me.” The elevator stopped and sliding doors opened into the polished marble lobby of Blackmore Consulting Company. “Well, that sounds like a June wedding to me!” Brenda teased as they headed for the exit. A surprising number of people were milling about and Jenise thought the place looked more like a mall than an office building on Christmas Eve. “The big city rat race never stops,” she said as the friends parted just outside the revolving door. The sky was already dusky and Christmas lights twinkled from every window while smiling people rushed past decorated lamp posts. Maybe the rat race couldn’t be avoided, but looking at a city street dressed for the holidays made you remember that it wasn’t all bad. There was another side to New York; a joyous side that nothing else could match. Back at her apartment, Jenise began preparation for the Christmas feast. She would serve a lowfat version of her grandmother’s stuffing and the Cornish hens she picked up at the deli should be just right for two. Soon the aroma of cornbread filled her small space and cranberry salad was cooling in the fridge. Christmas really was a magical time. 45


By six-thirty she was dressed in a comfortable cotton robe, sipping cappuccino and thinking of life back home. Mississippi had been a great place to grow up, but after her parents died, there just didn’t seem to be any reason to stay. Neither of her sisters could understand why she was attracted to the big city, but then, they had never understood many things about the baby of the family. Most years, Jenise yielded to their pleading and flew back home for Christmas. But, not this year. Since Caleb came into her life, everything she wanted was right here. Caleb. Thoughts of the tall, shy young man settled peacefully on her heart. They had known each other for only four months, yet she could hardly remember life without him. Caleb was steady and wonderfully predictable. She often knew what he was thinking before he said it, and he seemed to be able to do the same with her thoughts. They laughed and shared deep, silent moments. They enjoyed the same sports, were members of the same church and even had similar political ideals. An hour drifted slowly by. Usually Jenise would have been agitated over some TV-news report, or on the phone chatting with her sisters, but not tonight. Instead, she turned on a CD of familiar carols, darkened the room and watched the snow fall on a city of colored lights. God had sent the promised savior and Caleb had promised to come for Christmas dinner. Both concepts felt secure and safe. They were promises she could trust. It was still snowing when she woke the next morning, but not bad enough to cause concern; just a light frosting to make this Christmas a white one. She stretched luxuriously then threw back the covers. Cool air washed over her warm limbs making her rush through dressing and giving an exhilarating start to the day. She hummed while she set the table for two and the CD played sweet melodies of Silent Night and Away in a Manger. She danced around the kitchen while slicing potatoes as Jingle Bells filled the air. By eleven-thirty she was nervously watching the door hoping Caleb might decide to come a little early. By the time the clock struck one, Jenise could scarcely contain herself. He had promised he would come for Christmas and Caleb was never late. She paced. She turned off the CD and watched the TV weather channel. No problem with the snow. All streets clear in the big city. It was shortly after one-thirty when she called the airport. All flights were on time. “Have a Happy Holiday,” the recorded voice gave a politically correct response to the season. At two she called his apartment. No answer. She tried his cell. It was either dead or her number was blocked. She checked the hospitals. No one admitted under his name. At three she began to cry. He had promised. The rest of the afternoon was a blur. She wanted to call her sisters, but they would be celebrating with their families. No need to ruin everyone’s holiday just because her boyfriend jilted her. Besides, Sabrina would just tell her how happy she ought to be that Caleb’s unfaithfulness showed now rather than after a wedding and Ginny would only cry and beg her to come home.

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The afternoon faded and for a second evening Jenise stood at the window watching Christmas lights in the street below. Tears stung hot in her throat then pushed their way out and down her cheeks. He had promised. She didn’t know why she turned on the CD player. Maybe she just couldn’t stand the silence any longer. But, the carols were strangely comforting. It came upon the midnight clear / That glorious song of old. The familiar words were like a warm blanket on a cold night and she listened carefully as the choir began the third verse. And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, / Whose forms are bending low, / Who toil along the climbing way / With painful steps and slow. / Look now! For glad and golden hours / Come swiftly on the wing; / O rest beside the weary road / And hear the angels sing. Jenise thought of the years ahead. Lonely years. Many of them would probably involve “painful steps and slow.” But then, that was life. Even if Caleb were the most faithful man in the world, his love could not keep all pain away. It was just that it would have been so nice to have someone to share the “crushing load” as well as the “golden hours.” I haven’t left you. She knew that silent, internal voice. It had often given her comfort and guidance. The voice of her Lord. The tears didn’t stop and her heart still ached, but at the same time she knew as long as that central, soul-deep comfort was part of her life, she would be all right. Maybe Caleb was not the type to keep promises, but the God of all creation surely kept his. She could hope in that. She was jolted from meditation by a loud, insistent doorbell. “Yes?” “It’s me, Caleb. Can I come up?” Silence. “Jenise, I can explain. Please?” Not trusting her voice, she didn’t answer but pushed the buzzer releasing the door. A few moments later, she heard his knock. During the two minute interval between hearing his voice and his knock, she had gone through every emotion from elation to anger to fear. She breathed deeply and waited for this second knock before turning the knob with a shaking hand. “Am I welcome?” he asked timidly. “I don’t know. Should you be?” She backed up to let him in, turning away her face so she wouldn’t have to look at him. “I tried to keep my promise. Really I did. It was the snow” “Oh, stop it Caleb. I checked the airlines. All flights are coming and going on time.” “The snow yesterday. In Buffalo. I was bumped in Chicago and had to catch a different flight routed through Buffalo.”

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“So, all the telephones were out, too?” “I thought if I could get a flight today, I would still be on time.” For the first time she looked directly in his eyes. “And exactly when did you find out that wasn’t going to happen?” “About one when my ‘on time’ flight from Buffalo landed.” “It’s now six in the evening.” “Flat tire at the airport.” “You never heard of cell phones?” He fished in the pocket of his over coat and pulled out his phone holding it up for her inspection. “Dead battery.” Jenise was silent but at least her hands had stopped shaking. “Honey, I’m sorry,” He looked at her with pleading, blue eyes and after a moment moved toward her. “I really am.” When she didn’t resist, he slowly took her in his arms. It took another three hours for the tension to totally resolve between them, but after a cold, late dinner, they were able to snuggle on the sofa while listening to carols and watching the snow. “Jenise,” he breathed into her hair. “Remember I said I had something special to show you this Christmas?” She tensed. “Yes.” He pulled a small box from his pocket and opened the lid. The diamonds were small but glistened brightly in the candle light. “I am only a man. If you’ll have me for a husband, there might be many times I fail to keep my promises to you. But, I tell you now, in the name of the One who always keeps his, I’ll always try.” The End

Elizabeth Baker is an author and retired counselor, drawing on thirty-five years of experience helping individuals apply biblical principles to real-life situations. She currently lives in Pittsburg, Texas where she concentrates on her writing. A widow since her mid 30's, Elizabeth has four grown children, fifteen grandchildren, and six great-grands. You can find more of Elizabeth’s stories and books on her website at www.elizabethbakerbooks.com 48


Welcome Christmas in Creative Ways by Kausar Iqbal Make simple décor ideas and use simple recipes for an enjoyable dinner. Let your Christmas table décor be unique and let it be full and vibrant! Brush your talents with some of these ideas! Christmas dinner requires a menu that can be planned now. Yes it’s better to do it weeks in advance. Most people follow their family traditions, but unusual recipes are always welcome like a dish of corn pudding or deviled eggs as a starter.

Corn pudding One can evaporated milk 2 eggs beaten 2 tablespoons cornstarch Dash salt 2/3 cup sugar 3 teaspoons of butter Method: Mix all ingredients together then add a can of cream style corn, don’t drain. Stir then pour mix into a greased casserole dish, no lid. Take 3 teaspoons of butter, cut into bits and sprinkle on top of the mixture. Bake for one hour at 350 or in some ovens 45minutes. You have to jiggle it after 45minutes and if it’s still liquid in the centre keep baking, but don’t let it get too brown on top. If it starts to brown too much just lay a sheet of foil over it and continue baking.

Classic deviled eggs 6 hard boiled eggs 3 tablespoon mayo 1 teaspoon mustard 1 teaspoon vinegar Salt & pepper to taste Paprika 2 teaspoons pickle relish Method: Boil eggs starting in cold water. Cover completely. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat then reduce heat to a lower heat and let boil/cook for another 10 minutes. Promptly chill eggs so yolks stay bright yellow. Remove shells from eggs and cut in half lengthwise with a knife. Carefully remove the yolks with a fork and place in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the yolks and stir. Now pipe it or just use a spoon and put the mixture back into the egg halves. Garnish with a light sprinkling of paprika. 49


Simple Holiday Decorating Ideas from Kausar Iqbal

Holiday Room Spray Try this simple recipe to bring the delightful scent of the holidays into every room of your house! Sprayer with mist nozzle 1 cup tap water Sweet orange pure essential oil Clove pure essential oil Cinnamon pure essential oil Ginger pure essential oil Add cup of water to sprayer. Add 6 drops of sweet orange, 1 drop of clove, 1 drop cinnamon and 1 drop of ginger essential oil to water. Use as a room spray. Avoid spraying on skin or in eyes.

Centerpiece Ideas Decorate your Christmas table with edible fruits and edible flowers just sugar them and arrange in a big bowl or on the side of a home baked Christmas cake full of nuts.

Sugaring Fruit Holding fruit by stem, lightly dip fruit or flower into beaten egg whites. Sprinkle your fruit& flowers with superfine sugar and place on wire rack to dry (3 or 4 hours). Place in bowl or with other decorations or use one spray as a napkin holder. Tie a ribbon and fix a flower with long stem.

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The Year There Was No Christmas by Angela Blake Morris Christmas was always my father’s favorite time of year. When the time came, he would break out his “I believe in Santa” t-shirt and we would load up the truck and head out to Janoski’s farm. This is where we would go to cut down our own Christmas tree. This started off our holiday season. The trip was followed by a trek to the holiday store. The smells in the store with rich in ginger and cinnamon, the environment warm and welcoming, and the sound of joyous Christmas music filled the store. We usually did not buy much there. It was mainly a trip to experience the ambiance. After we got our tree home we would have the usual family arguments over which part of the tree should face the front, while mom continued to record the escapade on her camera. We would tell her to “Turn that thing off!” and be of some help. She would always decline and insisted that it was much more fun watching our stress from the sidelines. All the while, Christmas music was playing in the background in an attempt to lift our spirits. Once the tree position was finally agreed upon, decorating would commence. This was always my favorite part. My mother had these wonderful old glass balls that had been her dad’s. Unwrapping them from the boxes and seeing them again after being stored away for the year was a Christmas in itself! There were also the assigned ornaments that represented each person and critter in the house, and the usual homemade ones from years past. The final step was hanging the stockings. Our family had one stocking for each person, and one for each pet. Santa never forgot our pets! After this grand undertaking was complete, we would all huddle together on the couch with homemade cookies. This began the Christmas Movie Marathon. We watched all the classics like Charlie Brown and The Grinch and many more like that. This was our family tradition. One year, everything was different. Money was tighter than normal, and for a middle-class family, we were bordering on poor. My parents were never ones to disappoint, however, and Santa never passed our house by. This year, my parents had to tell me that Christmas would be delayed. Maybe for other kids this would have been a difficult pill to swallow, but not for me. I saw how hard my parents worked; I knew that everything we had came from dedicated, hands-on, hard labor. We might not have kept up with the Joneses, be we saved for things that we wanted to experience for our family. Instead of throwing a fit and feeling sorry for myself, I assured them that it was OK. My dad explained that we would still have Christmas, but that it just could not be on Christmas Day. Instead we opted for January first. We were going to ring in our new year with our very own special holiday gift exchange!

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I did not go without. We still had Christmas with my grandparents. I still received gifts, and we still enjoyed a tasty turkey dinner with the usual holiday pies. Family chatter rang in my ears, and laughter filled my heart. Knowing that Santa passed my house by this year really did not seem to matter. I had my family and their love. At this point, that was all that mattered. Then New Year’s Eve came and went. I awoke the next morning to the smell of pancakes, bacon and eggs, and the sound of Christmas music as my dad called out, “Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!” The tree was up, and there were gifts under the tree. It was like Christmas Day all over again. I still remember the gifts I received almost thirty years ago. I got a Velcro Dart Board, blue and white pom-poms, a basketball, and the Michael Jackson Thriller album. After we finished breakfast, dad and I went down to Agway (a local feed depot) and played basketball for hours. This was the best Christmas ever! No other Christmas meant more to me as a kid. It was special because we pulled together as a family, made it through a touch time, and we all sacrificed things for the sake of the family. Recently I told my father that this was the most special Christmas memory for me. Out of all the Christmas years we had together, that year was always my favorite. To read more stories by Angela Blake-Morris, please visit her at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/897732/angela_blake.html

Shape Sudoku by Beth Brubaker

Answer key on page

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Candy Cane Bark from the kitchen of Katherine’s Corner Some people call it Candy Cane or Peppermint Bark, others call it Peppermint Brittle, but whatever you call it, I know you will call it yummy! I hope you will enjoy making this for your family this Christmas. Great to fill holiday tins, and to give to friends and neighbors, too. What you need: 6 oz. chocolate-flavor candy coating (chopped) 3 oz. milk chocolate bar (chopped) 6 oz. vanilla-flavor candy coating (chopped) 3 oz. white chocolate baking squares (chopped) ¼ cup (about four) peppermint candy canes (crushed) Baking sheet (should accommodate a 10” X 8” rectangle) Foil 2 small saucepans (thick-bottomed) or double boiler Spatula Before you start: Line a large baking sheet with foil Let’s make it! In a small saucepan or double boiler, melt chocolate-flavor candy coating and milk chocolate bar, stirring over low heat until smooth. Pour onto baking sheet and spread into a 10” X 8” rectangle; set aside. In another saucepan or double boiler, melt vanilla-flavor candy coating and white chocolate baking squares, stirring over low heat until smooth. Slowly pour white mixture over chocolate mixture on baking sheet. With a thin spatula, swirl white candy mixture into chocolate mixture. Shake baking sheet gently for even thickness. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm. Use foil to life candy from baking sheet; break candy into pieces. Makes 1 ¼ pounds. Store in air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

www.katherinescorner.com 53

December 2011 TEST  

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