RUBY Magazine December 2018

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The Old Cupboard by Gloria Doty

Home for Christmas by Norma C. Mezoe

Hospitality: A Warm and Simple Gift by Jehn Kubiak

Wrapped Up In Christmas Memories of an Old-Fashioned Christmas by Nina Newton

by Nancy Frantel

RUBY Magazine Your voice, your story DECEMBER, 2018

In This Issue of RUBY A Christmas Image by Cynthia Knisley

Gingerbread Houses—A Sweet Tradition by Joan Leotta

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Join us here in the RUBY community as we celebrate the joys of the Christmas season. In this issue of RUBY magazine you will find holiday crafts, recipes, short stories, poetry, book reviews, and inspirational articles. RUBY magazine is a great resource for you and your family! We would love to have you join us in the RUBY community, now on Facebook, so it is really easy for you to connect with us. Here’s the link: Hope to see you there!

Gratitude . . . A Lost Tradition? by Theresa L Begin

What We Know by Deb Ilardi

Senior Editor: Nina Newton

Dashing Through the Snow

Editorial Assistant: Theresa Begin

by Norma C. Mezoe

Feature Writers: Sharon L. Patterson, Norma C. Mezoe, Shara Bueler-Repka, Lisa J. Radcliff, Jehn Kubiak, Nancy Frantel, Kathryn Ross, Rejetta Morse, Joan Leotta, Diana Leagh Matthews, Cynthia Knisley, Stacie Eirich, Connie Arnold, Michele Morin, Gloria Doty, Brittany Keating Pate, Deb Ilardi

Quick and Easy Rocky Road Candy Recipe by Theresa L Begin

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

Creating beautiful designs and dĂŠcor for your graceful home

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Looking to the Future, Remembering the Past Handmade and refashioned garments and accessories from Tatters to Treasures

Memories of an Old-Fashioned Christmas Nina Newton, Sr. Editor There have been so many Christmases that they kind of blur together in my mind. But a few memories are still as bright and vivid as if they were only this past year. Of course, like all of us, there are a few Christmas memories that might not be all that happy, in my case mostly because I was anxious and stressed trying to make everything “just right.” You know, like the pictures you see in magazine (or nowadays on blogs, TV, and websites) that I just couldn’t relax and actually enjoy the holiday. I just wanted to “get through it,” and I couldn’t wait for December 26th so I could take a deep breath and then take a nap. That’s what happens sometimes when you have kids whose eyes light up like the pretty colored bulbs on that old fashioned Christmas tree. When I was a kid, Christmas was important and we looked forward to it, but it certainly wasn’t anything like it is today. I remember getting a new sweater, some new socks, and a board game. We didn’t do stockings (I don’t think so anyway because I don’t remember them) probably because we didn’t have a fireplace in the little house where I grew up. My mom would hang strings of colorful, blinking lights in our front window, in the shape of a tree, and we would have little homemade “pigs in a blanket” on Christmas Eve. Our Christmas tree was decorated with the large, colored bulb lights, a few handmade ornaments, and tinsel. Lots of tinsel!

We would make some Christmas cookies and share a few with the neighbors, always on a paper plate covered with a towel (which of course we always got back!), and there would be a few candy canes. It was what we might now refer to as a “simple” or “old-fashioned” Christmas. But it was all we knew, so it was just as magical and exciting for us kids then as it is for kids now. But it was much different. Then, when my “big kids” were “little kids,” it was becoming more popular to go “all out” for kids on Christmas. And, since my own Christmas memories were a bit sparse, I wanted my children’s’ Christmas memories to be glorious! I remember one Christmas when I was about 21 or 22 years old, I only had two little ones to prepare Christmas presents for, so I decided I would make them all on my own. And so I did! There was the life-size Raggedy Ann doll that I made, including the dress and apron, as well as the red yarn hair and embroidered face. It is about 3″ tall (actually I think taller than my own little girl at the time), and I still have it sitting out in my sewing room. She brings back lots of happy memories. And there was the set of three alphabet blocks that I made for the Little Guy in my life at the time. I made them like really big pillows, stitched the sides together, all in different bright colors, some with alphabet letters stitched on, too, and then filled them with square pillow forms. They were great! He played with those blocks for years, sitting on them, piling them up, knocking them down, jumping on them, and of course, lining them up and trying to walk on them, stepping from one to the other until he fell off. One year (maybe it was the same year, I think I was very busy that Christmas!) I made a baby doll complete with button hinged arms and legs, embroidered hair and face, and a sweet little dress and blanket.

Oh, I almost forgot . . . there was the very big (bigger than the kid if I recall correctly!) black and white furry panda bear. With black button eyes, button hinged arms, and the perfect “body pillow” for the Little Guy to cuddle up with for naptime. That bear was dragged around, wrestled with, jumped on, talked to, and cuddled with for many years. I’m not sure where he is today, but his memory lives on in my heart and mind. And then there were other Christmases, when I was perhaps not quite so prolific in gift creating, but nevertheless, we still made cookies, candy, yeast breads, batter breads, fudge, peanut brittle, more cookies, and more candy, and more fudge. We gave it all away to friends and neighbors, in town and in the neighborhood, church friends and family. I had great fun painting pretty little jars and decorating boxes and bags to hold all those holiday goodies as we joyfully shared them with everyone we could think of. There are many more Christmas memories that are in my heart and mind today . . . . we got our Christmas tree up the Saturday after Thanksgiving, along with a few other decorations that I had wanted to put out last year.

But that was the Year of the Flood, and our whole house was topsy-turvy from October until December 24, which is when we finally were able to put up our tree. So this year, we decided to get back on track with our family tradition of putting the tree up on Thanksgiving weekend. It reminded me of many other Christmases, and the importance of making memories, no matter what your circumstances. For some of us, it has been very little, without a lot of hoopla, and that was just fine. After all, what is Christmas really about anyway? I choose to celebrate the gifts of family and home, even in the smallest of ways. We listened to the song “Hallelujah” the other night. Really listened. I was reminded that there will always be “broken hallelujahs” and we can celebrate those moments and treasure them right along with all the other times of “hallelujah.” I hope you will join me this Christmas season to take time to breathe, relax, and really let yourself enjoy the holiday season. And sometimes that might mean you need to stop all the hustle and bustle, have a quiet cup of tea, or just go take a nap. It’s OK. Christmas memories will be made and they will be good.

A Glimmer of Hope by Connie Arnold A glimmer of hope slipped into the world, arriving with love at our Savior’s birth, a promise fulfilled that was long foretold, with divine light piercing the darkness of earth. That hope leapt into the hearts of shepherds at the angel’s appearance with great news of joy. It swelled with the praises to God in the highest because of the coming of this holy baby boy. The shepherds hurried to find the infant lying in a manger filled with hay. Hope overflowed with love and amazement on seeing the precious gift from God where He lay. This hope gleams on in us today, flickering, growing, steady and bright, bringing joy and peace that Jesus conveys into lives receptive to God’s holy light.

Christmas Brings to Mind by Connie Arnold Christmas brings to mind . . . A bright star in the sky above Beaming down on a stable, The birthplace of holy love. Christmas brings to mind . . . Angels rejoicing with singing, Raising their voices to God on high, The Joy that this birth is bringing. Christmas brings to mind . . . Shepherds keeping watch in the night, The awe and wonder swelling each heart, The reverence filling them at the sight. Christmas brings to mind . . . A candle’s glow in a window, A light shining in the night, A Light coming to earth below. Christmas brings to mind . . . The greatest gift the world has seen, Bringing peace, beauty, and life And all this season truly should mean.

Hometown Christmas Memories or The Spirit of My Christmas Past by Kathryn Ross

Each Christmas, flashes of childhood memories transport me back to the innocent days of my youth. Sights, sounds, and even the scents of the season captivate my thoughts in a rush of nostalgia. My reverie may last a moment or two— sometimes just seconds—before I’m reeled back to present day reality. I treasure each precious image that dances in my head like visions of sugarplums. Life goes on. For me, it has done so for close to sixty years.

I have never lost that tender little gal, and hope I never do. Some twenty years ago, at the height of my childrearing years, I penned a series of poems recalling my own Spirit of Christmas Past in free verse, a homemade gift for my parents. In salute to the child in all of us and the gilded glories of long-ago Christmases, published here for the first time are some of the poems I wrote for them—a keepsake of moments once lived and much beloved.

Where did the time go?

As you read through them, I wish you well in your own holiday recollections with a thankful heart.

How quickly the years have flown—from my parents making Christmas wondrous for me, to me making it magical for my children, and now, watching my children light the eyes of my grandchildren with the same simple Christmas joys untarnished by the passing of decades.

May you take great joy in the Child Who has given us cause to celebrate each Christmas these 2000 years, and continue adding to your memory bank of riches for many years to come.

Each year I grow more nostalgic during the holiday season. Family traditions and the anticipation for celebrations and surprises made a deep impact on my inner child.

The Glorious Snows Of the 1960’s Where everything Was covered In sheets of white And the trees glistened Encased in ice And the tires on the car Crunched through the streets Wrapped in chains. Daddy made us a box seat attached to a sled Pulling us around the block The winter stillness warming me And Mommy making hot chocolate Upon our return. Having to wear leggings with my coat and hat The work it was to pull them on and tug them off But I needed them to keep warm in the sled And to see the Christmas parade on Landis Avenue When Santa climbed the ladder To tap a string of alternate red and green lights Strung across four lanes the entire length of downtown They magically light up My hometown For the holidays

The Nativity on the mantle My very favorite thing How beautiful those ceramic figures Were to me As I soaked in Every nuance of their serene features Never knowing how important What they represented Would become to me. Someday. Mommy making trays and tins of cookies and treats That she kept stored on a table in the middle room And how I would sneak a sweet Now and then. Stringing yarn from door to wall in my bedroom Where I hung Christmas cards and candy canes While listening to A Mickey Mouse Christmas on the record player. Watching Rudolph, Charlie Brown, and the Grinch For the first time Enjoying every moment of their Christmas stories. Even now they transport me Back to our old living room With the avocado green rug and cozy couch corner Whenever I watch them Again, and again—I am there. Stringing large Christmas bulbs around the front windows and door The same-sized multi-colored lights wrapped round the tree Daddy brought home strapped to the roof of the car. Uncontained excitement As he set it up in the house And together—as a family Placing the glass ball ornaments And silver tinsel just right And the angel star at the top. Oh! The anticipation of Christmas Eve as I slumbered off To a fitful sleep How hard it seemed for Mommy to wake Daddy So early in the morning When the only light in the living room Were the lights on the tree And the dancing fires in the eager eyes Of my sisters and me.

The festive decorations lit by the fireplace Our house on Christmas morning. Grandma’s sugar bread heating in the oven for breakfast The orange in the toe of my red velvet stocking And under the tree For me New slippers. New crafts to make. New dollies. New playdoh. The year I was five Suzy Smart came to stay On Christmas Day With her blackboard and school desk Prophetic of my future teaching vocation. How did Santa know? Presents in the morning Then church. Family and more presents in the afternoon A perfect turkey and dining room set for dinner The comforting familiar voices Of kith and kin Talking about grown-up things Cleaning up afterwards Praising Mommy for a banquet beautiful While the kids played. Hating to go to bed on Christmas night For want of more play Just a little longer. Please! One more activity set. One more paint-by-number color. Christmas day in the idealized innocent world Of a 1960’s childhood— I never wanted it to end!

Visit Miss Kathy for more stories via her blog and audio recordings at Click on Podcasts and scroll down for family friendly listening. Learn how you can develop a Family Literacy Lifestyle through the writing and speaking ministry of Kathryn Ross—plus book shepherding services for Christian writers—at

How to Make Your Own Holiday Apron for Less Than $10 by Theresa L Begin I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is the perfect time of year to move onto all the Christmas fun, decorating and baking if you haven't started already. I am, truly, so excited at this time of year, so much to do, so much beauty to see, family and friends all around, and so much to be thankful for! I love it, even more, when you can deck your halls from top to bottom and spend very little doing it! This year, I thought I would start by making a Holiday Apron (that’s something I've been meaning to do for quite a while)! It really couldn't be much easier. If you are anything like me, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen this time of the year getting all those Christmas cookies, breads, squares, candy, etc. made.

What would Christmas be without all our traditional faves and a few new ones?! (We are so completely and abundantly blessed). Although, I don't know about you, but that, generally leaves me looking a bit harried when people pop by... I thought about this last year, and came to the conclusion that it doesn't really have to be this way. For example, if I had a pretty apron on... I would be more festive! (Even if my hair or makeup weren’t done). That's my justification, anyway. And so I came up with the idea of transforming my everyday apron, which I must concede, had seen better days, into something colorful and festive, but most importantly fun. The joy I feel while baking in my kitchen should be reflected in how I look, right? I do get so much joy from cooking or baking, especially, when I am going to be sharing with others.(It’s my God time. Well, at least one of my God times). Clearly, this old one (the one I was wearing) did not convey that message.

So, in true Shoestring Elegance style, I went on the hunt at my local Goodwill and thrift shops for fabrics that would help me create what was in my head! This red sheet for $1.99 was perfect and not a difficult find. But for some reason, I didn't like any of the greens I was finding, until last month, when I found this truly ‘vintage-y’ green print. I snapped it up for a cool $2.99! Double size and hemmed all the way around! Score! Saves me a lot of time. After measuring, pulling and then pinning all my ruffles in place, I was ready to sew them on! This is my favorite part... when I can start seeing it all take shape and become what I had been seeing in my head come to reality. Of course, you could choose whatever colors speak to you, but, come on, ladies...who doesn't feel prettier in ruffles?! I got it all sewed together, but it seemed to be missing that certain 'je ne sais quoi', the little bit of whimsy that makes it even more festive. Just then, I opened my Michael's email ad and saw this perfect candy-striped red and white fabric ribbon that would finish it off perfectly, and for 60% off! So, now, the final test! How does it look and feel on?! I quite like it! Somebody asked me recently, "aren't you worried it will get dirty?" Not at all, after all, it is just an old worn apron and a couple of sheets! LOL, We dress ourselves up so pretty for so many occasions and events, why shouldn't we feel and look just as beautiful at home doing what we love? I hope this inspires you to do something to make yourself always feel special, too!! Blessings to all!


Find this beautiful FREE Christmas printable at Pink Polka Dot Creations

“O Come All Ye Faithful” by Diana Leagh Matthews The Christmas season is upon us. A time of merriment and cheer, but also a time of busyness and stress. One of my favorite Christmas images is Santa kneeling at the manger. We are reminded of the true reason for the season and even our secular heroes are not exempt from bowing to the cross. After all, we are told “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow…and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.” (Philippians 2:10-11) “O Come All Ye Faithful” was originally written in Latin. No one is sure whom the original text was written by. Many people have been given the credit, but most likely an order of monks wrote the text. The original text consisted of four Latin verses, which were translated and used in the hymn we now know today.

The composer of the tune was originally unknown, but research shows the carol was written in 1744. Seven handwritten manuscripts have been found bearing the signature of the English layman John Wade. The widely held belief is now that Mr. Wade wrote the hymn. The carol first appeared in Wade’s collection “Cantus Diversi” which was published in 1751 in England. One version of the story’s origin is an Anglican minister, Rev. Frederick Oakeley, translated the text into English a hundred years later. The song was originally translated “O Faithful, Approach Ye” but was not a hit with audiences of the day. Several years later Rev. Oakeley tried again with the words “O Come All Ye Faithful” and the song became very popular. The Spanish song, “Adeste Fideles”, was taken from the first part of the original Latin text which means “be present or near, ye faithful.” Another version says the Jacobite army of Scotland in the mid-18th Century, interpreted the song as a birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie. The song originally appeared in old English Roman Catholic liturgical books near the prayers of the exiled Old Pretender (Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father). The pages were decorated with Jacobite imagery. These facts most likely led to this legend. Yet, another story states King John IV of Portugal wrote the hymn for his daughter, Catherine, as she traveled to England to marry King Charles II. She was announced and accompanied by this hymn everywhere she went. In England, the song became widely known as the Portuguese Hymn. Whatever the truth, ”O Come All Ye Faithful” is still a well-loved Christmas Carol and a reminder to kneel before the Lord our God, whether He’s in the manger, on the cross or wherever we may be in His presence.

Moments with Billy Graham: America's Preacher Whose Ministry Led to Our Changed Lives (Divine Moments) by Yvonne Lehman (Compiler, Editor) This is a beautiful way to remember “America’s Preacher” and discover words of blessing, inspiration, and encouragement from contemporary Christian writers. Moments with Billy Graham features personal recollection of special moments in the lives of people from all walks of life who experienced the gift of inspiration from the preaching of the beloved evangelist Billy Graham. The forward is written by his daughter, Gigi Graham. The writings of over 40 different contributors are featured in this book, including our own RUBY writers Lynn Mosher and Diana Leagh Matthews. Moments with Billy Graham: America’s Preacher Whose Ministry Led to Our Changed Lives is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

A Christmas Image by Cynthia Knisley Thinking of sheep this Christmas ….. They share their dense coat, wool that when clipped, carded, and spun can be woven into blankets and garments that give us warmth on cold wintry days. Sheep provide for us. They wander in arid climates such as the deserts of North America and hills of Judea and Bethlehem, taking little from the earth except a few greens and water at oases. They live simply. Sheep travel en masse, with more than a hundred in a group, yet they seldom make the headlines Requiring a single shepherd to keep the flock together and tend to an occasional snag or injury, they quietly go about their days. They live peacefully. Simple, humble, and unimpressive, they were among the first creatures to hear the Good News when God arrived on earth. “In that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said ‘Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good news of a great joy that will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and 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 among men with whom he is pleased.’” Luke 2: 8 - 14 What an amazing event that must have been, witnessed by the shepherds and their sheep! The shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see for themselves and discovered that the news told them by angels on a hillside was true. “And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Luke 2: 16 It is not reported that sheep accompanied shepherds to the stable in Bethlehem; after all, a flock moves slowly. In fact, we read that the shepherds left their sheep to graze. But manger scenes depict the story of Jesus’ birth with texture and color, from rough-hewn boards to pure white angel wings, and figures, including sweet lambs by the cradle where Jesus lay. Sheep are an important part of the story which was just beginning to unfold! As you wrap a beautiful new scarf or sweater for your loved one, as you bring the creche out of storage and place it under the tree, as you sing your favorite carols this year, …. consider the sheep. It’s not by accident that they are on the stage of the wonderful event we celebrate at Christmas. In His wisdom and love, God gives us a beautiful image of generosity, simplicity, and gentleness as He sends His Son into our lives, one who will become the greatest shepherd of all.

Kids’ Korner Kids’ Korner is a monthly resource featuring short stories, book reviews, puzzles, and coloring pages created by some of our RUBY writers. So call the kids and grandkids, and share the Kids’

Korner fun with them!

Is It Time to Rethink Your Definition of Christmas? by Michele Morin When Christmas seems to have been reduced to a shopping list; when the squares on your December calendar are bulging with enough activity to exhaust Frosty the Snowman, Santa, and all his elves; when you are tired of the knot that has already twisted itself into your stomach by the day after Thanksgiving . . . . . . it’s time to look carefully at your definition of Christmas. This Christmas season, join Meadow Rue Merrill at Lantern Hill Farm where a Christmas party in the barn helps to redefine the season for her young friend Molly who knew all about Christmas! “Christmas was Santa and reindeer and elves! Christmas was bright lights and a tall tree! Best of all, Christmas was presents!” The Christmas Cradle Picture Book (Ages 4-7) spins a realistic tale in the context of family and comes alongside parents with practical and yet winsome suggestions for activities that will help children discover the joy of serving others. Inspired by Jesus, the ultimate Sharer who invites us into a poured out life, our acts of love become a gift to Him. Like Molly and her friends at Lantern Hill Farm, we learn: “Christmas [isn’t] Santa or reindeer or elves. It’s not bright lights or a tall tree. It [isn’t] even presents. Christmas was a baby who shared God’s love with the world so that we could share it, too.” Many thanks to Hendrickson Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty. because of God’s great Gift to the world,

The Christmas Cradle is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner! Now accepting submissions for the

JANUARY 2019 issue of

RUBY magazine Visit the RUBY blog for all the details

The Bicycle Seat by Shara Bueler-Repka

Glancing out the window, the lights of the local department/grocery store blinked at me from a mile down the road. You could probably hear my stomach growling across the busy street. I sat on the couch and swiped the sweat from my face. Man, it was hot! I cringed at the thought of riding my bike in the 100 degree temp, but my hunger pangs won over the heat. These days, things were pretty tight. Dad got laid off and Mom worked overtime just to keep the utilities on. We kept the air conditioner off most days and turned on the fan to save on electricity. I pulled my battered wallet out of my pocket and thoughtfully ran my finger over my name, “Cory,” engraved in the leather. It was a Christmas gift from my parents. A memory of a happier time. I opened it and checked my funds…$3.00. Money I’d made from recycling cans. That wouldn’t buy a whole lot of food, but it was something. I wheeled my bike from the patio and pedaled towards the store. The thick, humid air seemed to stick to my skin, but the breeze in my face felt good.

Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding me! Tears welled up and slid down my cheeks. Everything seemed to crash over me like a huge wave: my family’s struggles, the heat, this sorry neighborhood, and now this. Really? I’d pretty much given up praying to God, ‘cause nothing seemed to get better. Had He totally forgotten us? I plopped down and leaned against the wall. What was I going to do? The thought of pushing my bike through this heat all the way back home made me feel even sorrier for myself. I decided to give prayer one last shot. “Dear God, please help me,” I whispered. Just then a woman and her teenage son strolled past me. I jumped up. "Excuse me, ma'am," I called out timidly. They stopped and turned towards me.

I skidded up to the storefront and parked my Schwinn in the shadows, padlocking it to a pole. The neighborhood was a bit scary. No sense in making it easy for someone to steal my only wheels!

"Would you be able to buy me a bicycle seat? Mine was stolen,” I blurted. My face burned with embarrassment.

I walked through the sliding glass doors and headed for the ‘cheap eats’ aisle. Score! A package of peanuts, some crackers, and…I couldn’t help it…a chocolate bar. Dessert, right? I paid for my dinner and trudged out the door. As soon as I rounded the corner, my heart leaped into my throat. What happened to my bicycle seat?!

”No, not today," she said politely as she turned away and briskly walked through the entrance. “Great,” I mumbled. Asking for charity was humiliating enough, but to be rejected? So much for praying, I thought. I sunk back against the wall with my head in my hands…

The woman and her son continued into the store. This was the second place they had come to buy a filter for their air conditioner. They didn’t like being out at night like this, but the heat was so stifling they couldn’t stand it any longer. They had to get the air conditioner working right again. The woman was on a mission: get what they needed, check out, and get back home. Her son headed for the electronics section and she searched for the filter. As she rummaged through the merchandise, her thoughts kept trailing back to that young boy by the door. A bicycle seat was all he’d asked for. Strange. Her son met up with her a little while later and, with one glance, each knew the others’ thoughts. "You're thinking the same thing, aren't you?" she said. ”Yeah, the kid and the bicycle seat," he replied. "Well, let's go check out the seats," she said as she led the way to the Sports Department. They found a seat for $20.00. "If $20.00 was the only money I had in my wallet, I would spend it on this seat," her son said, a strong urgency compelling him to help that boy.

And if this is a scam, well, it is what it is. But ... what if the kid really is in need? Hmmmmm…. I heard the automatic doors swoosh open and I glanced up. Awesome…the boy and his mom, I thought, rolling my eyes and looking away in shame. He walked over to me as his mom went to get their car. “Hey, man, I have something for you,” he smiled. I met his eyes and then looked at the object in his hand. It was not only the seat that would perfectly fit my bike, it was the seat I’d wanted, but couldn’t afford. I leaped up and gratefully accepted the gift, patting the boy on the shoulder. “God bless you, man! Thank you so much!” I exclaimed. “My name is Nick,” the boy said. “Cory,” I replied. “Nice to meet you. You have no idea what an answer to prayer this is.” And I told him the whole story. Nick smiled. “Well, I know now that us being here was no coincidence. We had gone to another store to get the filter we needed, but they were out of stock. We came here and found it. God’s pretty cool, huh?” “Yeah, He is,” I nodded.

Both mother and son became absorbed in their own thoughts: What's the worst that could happen? If we buy the seat and the kid is already gone, we would just return it and be done with it. The kid isn't asking for money, just a seat.

Nick and his mom drove out of the parking lot, waving at me as they left. I installed my seat and straddled my bike. Pedaling away through that humid, hot night, I thanked God all the way home.

Visit Katherine’s Corner for all your holiday shopping! You can find all of the beautiful gifts in her

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE CATALOG 2018 at Katherine’s Corner

You are invited to join us for the weekly

Bible Study on the RUBY blog

“I am Elizabeth� by Carol Peterson New lessons posted every week with inspiration and encouragement from the Word of God just for you!

The Old Cupboard by Gloria Doty When my children were growing up, we lived in a large, old farmhouse. The kitchen had been remodeled and new cupboards installed. There was, however, an empty portion of wall space. It begged for a Hoosier Cabinet. That was the name of a type of wooden cupboard, usually with a granite pull-out surface, perfect for rolling pie crusts or making cut-out cookies. My mother had one when I was a child and I always liked it. When my husband brought one home from an auction, I was thrilled. Of course, it wasn’t exactly in pristine condition; several door fronts were warped, the back was loose and it needed some new hinges. I didn’t care. In my imagination, I could see it restored to its once beautiful and functional state and I was willing to invest a little elbow grease to make that happen. The upper doors were taken off and refinished. The back was replaced and new hinges (replicas of the originals) were found and purchased. When it was finished, I could hardly wait to use it. I filled the flour bin with twenty-pounds of flour and immediately rolled out several pie crusts. Were these crusts any better than the ones I had previously made on the counter? Probably not, but the thought that I was doing it ‘like my mother did’ was meaningful to me. Over the years, I used that cupboard almost daily. We referred to it as the old cupboard. If I told a child to find some item in or on the old cupboard, they knew exactly what I meant. There was never any doubt about where the item was. The granite counter top pulled out so there was plenty of room to roll and cut noodles, knead bread and make cut-out cookies. When the grandchildren stayed at my house, they helped with these tasks too. Standing on a stool, they would use the cookie cutters to make various shaped cookies.

We had a house fire which destroyed much of our home. One of my first concerns when I was allowed back in to see the damage was if the old cupboard had remained unscathed. As the years passed, changes occurred in my life. I moved from the farmhouse to an apartment. I sold many things but the one item I refused to part with was the old cupboard. I bought a smaller kitchen table so there would be room for my beloved cupboard against one wall. Over the next few years, there were two more moves and the old cupboard moved with me to each new place. It was the one thing that made any new dwelling immediately feel like home. The last move was to a house in town, but still an older home. The cupboard fit perfectly and became a focal point for any visitor. I didn’t bake nearly as much as I had when the house was full of children and grandchildren so I didn’t keep twenty-pound bags of flour in the bin any longer but it held more than forty-five years of memories for me. It’s amazing to me how attached we can become to some of our possessions. This piece of furniture was not an heirloom or of great monetary value, and still, it had a place in my heart. I realize some people may see this as a form of idolatry, but I do not. I believe God knows what we need in our lives and sometimes, what we need are memories and things that comfort us. We can live without them but we prefer to keep them. My life has taken another turn, after ten years in the same house…I met a man, fell in love and was married. He owns a home that will definitely not accommodate my old cupboard. I always assumed I would keep it until I died and then one of my five children would take it. As it turns out, only one of my children has room for it and she lives 1200 miles away. We may figure out a way to get it to her or it may be sold. Either way, I can live with the fact that someone, somewhere, will be making memories. I would have eventually had to part with it anyway when I died but I wouldn’t have missed it because I would be celebrating in heaven and not rolling out cookie dough.

Christmas Lights and Memories of Pop-pop by Lisa J. Radcliff It was our newlywed Christmas. We bought a little tree, just perfect for our tiny apartment, and invited my dad and stepmom to help decorate. Dad bought colored lights for it.

They settled on the floor in front of the tree to help Pop-pop find bad bulbs among the strings of colored lights using his little tester. They thought it was some sort of magic trick.

The decorations consisted of ribbon and hand-medown decorations from my husband’s grandmother, along with a few ornaments we had collected as kids. The new lights and the old ornaments made our first tree very special.

As the trees in most neighborhood picture windows went from colored to white lights, ours remained the same. Everything about that night was a tradition we cherished.

It also started a tradition of Dad helping us decorate our Christmas tree and taking charge of the lights. A few years later, anticipation was growing as the afternoon wore on. Just when we should have been leaving on our quest for the perfect Christmas tree, my husband called to say he had to work late. Oh no, it would be dark before we could go find a tree.

But then, much too soon, Pop-pop was gone. How would we decorate the tree without him? It was a bittersweet time. We still loved the tradition, but his absence was a heavy weight. I had to leave the room when they were putting the lights on the tree. I tried to hide my tears by going to the kitchen, having a good cry, wiping my eyes, then returning with a refill on snacks.

I called my dad. He came right away, and we zoomed to our friends Christmas-tree farm. It wasn’t open to the public yet, it needed a few more years of growth, but they opened it to a few friends.

But I think they knew how sad I was. Christmas was Pop-pop’s favorite time of year, but now there would always be some sadness accompanying it for me.

The owner, Gary, met us in the field of Douglas firs wearing a headlamp. Dad videotaped the whole adventure, the light from his camera helping the search for our Christmas tree.

A well-meaning friend said to me that first Christmas without Dad, “It gets easier.” I have not found that to be the case.

And, just before dark, it happened. We found the perfect tree! Gary warned us, “Don’t tell anyone where you got your tree. In the light, it may look like a Charlie Brown tree.” But it was perfect in the light too. As the years went by, our boys’ favorite night of the holiday season was the tree-decorating night. They couldn’t wait for their grandparents to arrive so they could get started with the night’s festivities. By the time they came through the door, the Christmas music was playing and cookie crumbs were evident on the boys’ faces. Grammy & Pop-pop always brought each boy a new ornament to hang.

Maybe it’s because, like Dad, I love everything about Christmas—the music, the decorations, the food, the get-togethers, the shopping, even the cold weather, I normally detest feels right at Christmastime. So, naturally, I think of him during the season. There are so many good memories, fun memories, but those memories always end in tears. I just miss him so much. My absolute favorite Christmas tradition is the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Twenty years ago, the first Christmas after my dad’s passing, my family donated candle holders to the church.

As they are handed out to the congregation and each candle is lit, I think of my dad and his joy at Christmas, yet my eyes well up. My tears are a mingling of sadness and joy. I know I am not alone in experiencing the pain of loss during the holidays. I let myself grieve, but I never lose the joy of the season. I imagine God himself felt much the same way on that first Christmas. There was great joy in His Son coming into the world to save his people.

But there must have been some sadness, knowing the pain he would have to suffer, as God placed our sin and His wrath on his beloved son on the cross. If Christmas lights bring you a mixture of joy and sadness, it’s okay. God knows your sorrows and keeps your tears in his bottle (Ps. 56:8). He cares, and he loves you with an everlasting love. It was that love that sent his son into the world. Go ahead and grieve but don’t forget to also embrace his love and joy this Holiday season too.

Christmas Joy by Brittany Keating Pate Please, Christmas Joy, bottle yourself up – perhaps in a festive mason jar – so I may take you with me into all of the months before you will come again. You, Joy, are the cheerful sparkle that makes Christmas shine. The childlike wonder, the pure happiness at the glow of the season. Why not make you last? So, bottle yourself up, Christmas Joy, lf you please, ln that festive mason jar. I will carry you with care into all of the months before you will come again.

Because of Love He Came to Earth by Rejetta Morse Because of love he came to earth to walk like man each day — to suffer pain and heal the sick, and guide us when we stray. Jesus lay wrapped in strips of cloth that held him snug and warm. His tiny arms and legs were bound; his power kept him from harm. Because of love he came to earth to die upon the cross; and from a dark tomb rise again — our souls would not be lost. While on a bed of hay he lay, angels rejoiced and sang, “Glory to God in the highest” to the newborn King.

Wrapped Up In Christmas by Nancy Frantel

One of my favorite childhood Christmas memories includes wrapping presents. Each year, I helped mom wrap gifts for family and friends. Working quietly in the back bedroom, we tried not to draw attention since unwrapped presents waited for their protective covering.

Once Christmas morning arrives, my brothers and I race down the short hallway to the living room and scramble to see which gifts belong to us. Within a minute, my brother wakes up mother and daddy by turning on the bedroom light. After recovering from the light alarm, they join us.

Even though we knew to lock the door, sometimes we forgot. Then a curious, intentional door opener in the form of one, or both, of my brothers would spring into action and try to sneak a peek.

Before opening presents, daddy attempts to redirect our almost uncontainable excitement. He reads passages from the Bible explaining God’s gift of sending His Son.

We learned to cover the gifts as quickly as possible when we heard the doorknob click, realizing an imminent invasion. In addition to intrusion problems, after about every third present one of us “lost” the tape or scissors.

While the busyness of buying, wrapping, and hiding gifts had distracted from the most important gift, mother and daddy ingrained in their children to focus on the birth and life of Jesus Christ.

“Now where did the tape go? I just had it.” Followed by, “Have you seen the scissors?” Even when we learned to bring two tape dispensers and two pairs of scissors, the “lost sock in the dryer” problem seemed to take center stage. We knew they were on the bed, but how did they learn to play hideand-seek? The next step involved finding hiding places for the gifts until Christmas. Living in a small house with five people made the mission challenging year after year. Since certain family members considered it their role to discover as many gifts as possible before Christmas, cleverness was key. Closets were too obvious, but with limited options, we made an effort to be creative. A coat in the back of a closet encased several gifts, and blankets provided coverage for others. With the inventory resting in their temporary homes, we discuss how to remember each location. One year we wrote a list, only to cause a new dilemma of where to put it.

I praise God for the gift of my parent’s loving witness on Christmas and every day. Especially this year−the first time they celebrate in heaven together. “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.’ ” Luke 2:8-12 (NKJV) “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

Gingerbread Houses—A Sweet Tradition by Joan Leotta

In my own childhood and in the early years of our marriage and child rearing, gingerbread houses were not a part of the Christmas cookie baking regimen. But once our children were in school, and began to make graham cracker cookie houses, crafting edible accommodation seemed like a natural addition to our holiday tradition. School-made gingerbread houses were really graham cracker habitats decorated with a bit of candy glued to individual milk cartons with a sugary icing. These mini creations ignited our family interest in the subject. However, it was a workshop at the National Building Museum that cemented the adding the making of gingerbread house to our annual Christmas celebrations. Jennie and Joe were in upper elementary when I saw the ad for the workshop in the local paper, for a small fee. The Museum supplied the gingerbread house sides and the roof, baked by a local German baker, the icing and cups and cups of gumdrops, wafers, marshmallows and other candies. Participants were also invited to bring other treats for their own houses as they wished. Each family group had its own table. We had a wonderful time making the house together. We liked it so much, I contacted the coordinator and signed up to perform stories at the event the following year. For several years the children came with me and made a house while I performed. When their schedules no longer were as open on Saturdays, I went to the museum, performed, and brought home the house parts and assorted candies. That same night or the next afternoon they would sit at our round oak kitchen table and assemble the house. Both at the museum and at home, I let the children take the lead in decorating. To avoid arguments, I assigned sides, allowing each total creative freedom in their own space. Conversation around the activity was the best part of building the house. Lots of laughter. The house activity stimulated interest in houses they had known—our previous home, their Grandma’s house—and in houses I had known growing up.

When Jennie was a junior in high school, we hosted two Australian girls in early December. While my husband ushered the girls and Jennie and Joe to see Washington sights, including a display of gingerbread houses at a local mall, I performed at the Building Museum and brought home the gingerbread house forms and fixings as usual. Our Australian visitors were delighted to share the tradition of making the house with us. After all, a house has four sides, so it worked out perfectly. Conversation around the table that year was particularly fun—I let the four young people work on their own, but as I made dinner that night, I did eavesdrop and loved hearing them talk about all of their family Christmas traditions which gave our two the opportunity to offer up the ways in which we kept Christ as the center of our celebrations. After Jennie went to college, the tradition of the gingerbread house faded but not the memory of doing it together. Each time we worked on a house, I was reminded of the verse from Psalms 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Each time we worked on a house, it brought our family closer together—the labor was never in vain.

If you would like to make your own gingerbread house this holiday season, be sure to visit the original websites where you will find the tutorial for each one. Visit these blogs and websites for step-by-step instructions: The Frog Prince Paperie Ivynik Will Cook for Friends Lovefood All images and recipes are the property of the original websites. RUBY magazine does not own any of the images in this article and they are used only as part of a featured collection. To find any of the original articles, please visit the websites which are linked to each image.

What We Know by Deb Ilardi There are thoughtful, sometimes provoking and other times sweet, messages in the lyrics of some songs. Seasonal ones sometimes get forgotten during their less popular times. Then they resurface and stir up the pot of memories like a warm stew simmering on the stove. Mary Did You Know (writers Buddy Greene / Mark Lowry) did that for Samantha Perry. Samantha had heard the song for the first time a few years ago when she was 13. Now, shortly after the birth of her first child as Christmas approached, she heard it again. Like so many new mothers, Sam was often exhausted. She rarely listened to anything but lullabies now, and she hardly knew music had taken a backseat in her days to the assortment of baby sounds she'd grown accustomed to over the past few months. Mostly she was oblivious to the date or the time of day. Family and friends laughed and told her this was all so normal, but Samantha didn't really care one way or the other. She felt she had one mission only, to provide for her child. It was a chilly Saturday morning when Samantha opened the door to see her grandmother Madeline on the doorstep with her arms full of groceries. She was wrapped up in a fuzzy black jacket and bright red scarf and mittens. Her boots were new black leather with sparkly buckles, more appropriate for a teenager than a great grandma. But there she was, nevertheless. Samantha beamed at the sight of her. Then she smelled the fresh baked bread nestled amongst the groceries and hustled them both inside. What happened next was magical. Grandma Madeline made them chamomile tea, and crisp toast from the fresh baked bread, peered at the sleeping great grandchild in the cradle next to the table and then sent Samantha to bed for a short nap. Without hesitation, Samantha moved, weighing each step and gently closed the door to her room. Opening her eyes hours later she recognized the soft sounds of her baby, the smell of a baking pumpkin pie and the song she remembered from a decade earlier about another mother. “Grandma,” Samantha said wide eyed after her luxurious nap, “I didn't worry at all about Abraham while I slept. It was so wonderful. What a lovely gift. Thank you. When did you decide to come for a visit? A surprise arrival, a nap and a pumpkin pie? Is it my birthday?” “Well it was time I got here to meet this baby and see you again;” Madeline started the conversation as she poured fresh cups of tea, peppermint this time, beckoning Samantha to sit down. She handed her the peaceful baby and after a few sniffs to soak in his smell Samantha laid him back in the cradle so she could enjoy more grandma time.

”You know I've been busy with your Uncle Fred since his fall, checking on him every day even though he's in rehab since he broke his shoulder.” Samantha nodded. “Well, your cousin Alex came for a visit and said I was off duty for a week. He was staying at my house, so he was able to give me a little break and also see how his dad was progressing. I checked last minute flights and the rest is history.” “How long can you stay with us?” Samantha asked, “I head home on Thursday afternoon sweetheart. Give me some recommendations about what you need and I am all yours” Madeline beamed. “OK then, sit and tell me where that lovely music is coming from?” “It's on my phone, honey. Do you know about Spotify?” Madeline watched her granddaughter carefully for a smile of recognition. “Your cousin Alex hooked me up to it before I left. It's on my phone and I am so excited to be able to listen to Christmas music all month. Remember, when you were little and we played those songs day and night? It drove your dad wild.” Both women giggled now and had some of their tea which had already cooled off quite a bit. “Yes, I remember Grandma. You never seemed to tire of those songs. I love them all. You even taught me "O Christmas Tree" in German. But tell me, do you know the song that was playing when I woke up? Mary Did You Know?” Madeline sat back down, now holding little Abraham again. “Yes, I know it Samantha. I have always loved the melody and the words, but it means so much more to me now after years of listening to it. What about you?” Samantha’s face softened. “I guess I really do believe that mothers know more about their own children than anyone else, especially during this first year of their lives. I look at my baby and just know he might do great things, and that he is special, that he could grow up to be a person who helps others find the best parts of themselves, leads people to great achievements, shows others love and kindness. So Mary could have known or imagined the greatness ahead for her son.” “So. how does that make you sad Samantha?” Madeline quietly and perceptively posed. “Because He died for us and she had to watch.” Madeline paused, and then spoke as she watched her granddaughter carefully. “But, maybe she was also proud and honored and fulfilled by what happened. It's possible”. “Oh, I guess I never thought about it from that perspective Grannie. I see what you mean about things changing as we get older. When I was a kid, I thought it was a dumb song.”

And there’s another angle, Samantha. When I think of this song, I also see your parents looking down at you and seeing God’s likeness. They knew you would achieve great things, help others, uncover your purpose and affect change in the world.” “Well, lots will change for you and for Abraham as he grows up and finds out who he is meant to be,” Madeline continued. “You won't always be in agreement with him, just as your parents weren't with you, and I wasn't with your dad. But parents are meant to guide and share and love and teach. They are asked to protect and nurture and provide and patiently do the same things over and over and over again. And some parents are asked to sacrifice and support and care for children in ways others are not. You have to take it all and do your very best no matter what they need from you. I know you can do that and more. I'm confident you are ready. And I am here for you when you need to talk about it. When I'm too old you can bring the tea and toast to me.” Samantha looked up with tears in her eyes and reached for Abraham. She snuggled him and kissed him and said a little prayer over him and then she looked up at her Grandma and said, “Thank you for sharing yourself with me, Granny. You are amazing and wise and I need your comforting now more than ever. It is perfect that you're here today.” Madeline had not expected such a thoughtful connection with Samantha during this transition time of mothering. She smiled outward and inward and said a prayer herself for the gifts of her family, the insight into being her authentic self and the gifts that warm our hearts at Christmas.

Gratitude . . . A Lost Tradition? by Theresa L Begin Hello, all. I hope you are enjoying this winter time. It is a rather bittersweet time for me, as I so enjoy Christmas, with all its traditions and family time, and yet, the promise of spring is just around the corner. This specific time of year, late December before the middle of January hits, I am reminded of my childhood and a tradition that I and my siblings grew up grew up with that sadly seems to be all but lost in today's world of technology. Text messages, instant messages, and Facebook postings seem to replace pen and paper, as well as actual human interaction. I must admit, at times, I am guilty of this, too. I do hope this is just me and my observations, but, unfortunately, I’m afraid it has spread much further than just my little world. So, I have a question for you . . . have you written your thank you cards yet? Do you know what I am talking about? For some of the younger adults, reading this, you may not even know what I am talking about. I am certain though that, at least people my age or older, will know all-too-well, what I am referring to. This time of year, when I was growing up, was the time where our parents sat us down and reminded us how many people were so kind to us and how grateful we should be. (For, those who took the time to think about us, our likes and dislikes, went to the stores, or opened their checkbooks and their hearts, and brought or sent us something for Christmas) But, more importantly, how we needed to let them know how appreciated they were for all their efforts. In a truly simple way. Whether we had just received new stationery, that we were excited to use, or we needed to take a little of the "extra" cash that we had just been gifted, we needed to sit down. Make time, and write a letter, not a long, gushing letter. Just a note. A few lines at least, to thank them for what they did or gave. I don't know why this seems to be a lost tradition. Many parents don't seem able to take time to do this with their children as much, I'm sure. But, there is a level of priority needed. Maybe today's world of dual-income families or single moms and dads, raising children on their own, limits our time. However, we do seem to make time for "me time," "date nights," "kid time," even "God time," I hope that we are also able to make, "gratitude time" important once again. It takes effort. It takes time. It shows kindness. It shows love. It shows that we care. It says, what you did for me matters. Just a little food for thought as you and your children are receiving special parcels and money holding cards to celebrate Christ's birthday. My hope is that, both you and I spend a little time being grateful for the abundance of love and kindness that we have received from others. Many blessing to you all for a wonderful, spirit-filled Christmas season!

Hospitality: A Warm and Simple Gift by Jehn Kubiak

Christmas advertisements immediately bombard phones, laptop screens, televisions, and print media the day of Thanksgiving. The season only lasts a month, so every brand establishes their place in the market with haste.

Jesus told one of the Pharisees, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.

All the sale signs and colorful commodity shout for a shopper’s attention. However, with so many friends, families, coworkers, church members, and more, how can a person have enough funds for it all?

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).

We’re often so stressed about making loved ones feel important that we forget a simple truth: some of the best gifts are often inexpensive.

Looking at this, it’s clear Jesus values intentionality––the act of reaching out toward others who aren’t on our radar with genuine hearts.

They don’t even come in wonderfully wrapped packages. Instead, they come from the warmth of a cheerful heart. Hospitality is one of those often overlooked treasures. Look around you––some people don’t have a place to go or a family to spend Christmas with. College students. Singles. Widows. The homeless person you drive past on the way to work. Several of these people spend Christmas sitting alone in their house or living space because they’re afraid to reach out in fear of imposing themselves upon another person.

Caring for others reaps eternal rewards, but it also demonstrates Christ’s love, which many people in this world need. Make a list of people your family could host for the holidays. If you already have many hungry kids, just invite one or two people: the thought counts more than a number. Welcome them with open arms, and treat them as if they were really part of the family. It’s a great lesson for both adults and children. Even more, let the kids invite someone from school or church that might need a place to stay.

Yes, hospitality could technically cost a bit if you count refreshments, drinks, and the meal. However, you don’t have to buy an actual gift––and, if you do, a simple chocolate bar can suffice.

Maybe someone just lost a loved one and needs meals delivered.

The person will most likely appreciate love and thoughtfulness more than a monetary memento.

Perhaps another person is sick and lying in bed at a hospital. In that case, visiting their residence is also a form of hospitality.

Hospitality is even a spiritual gift that the church doesn’t devote much attention to––but it’s important, especially during the holiday season.

All in all, don’t exclude love for just your family. Think of others in the community and show them the same love God showed us.

Dashing Through the Snow by Norma C. Mezoe Our family had enjoyed giving Christmas gifts secretly for several years, so we looked forward to doing it once again. Each year we chose individuals or a family who probably would be receiving little or nothing for Christmas. Because we live in a town with a population of 400 citizens, where news gets around, it wasn’t hard finding someone to whom we could take gifts. This year, we chose a young single mother with three children. We had fun choosing presents for all of the family members. We couldn’t give expensive gifts, but we looked for things each person would enjoy. The presents were packed into a box, along with homemade cookies and candy. Waiting until after dark on Christmas Eve, we walked through the snow and piled into our car, giggling about what we were about to do. Slowly we drove past the house, waiting for the perfect moment to sneak the gifts to their back porch, knock on the door, and quickly drive off. However, our plan didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped. The mother must have seen my young son sneaking the box to their porch. She became afraid and phoned her father, who came quickly in his pick-up. Knowing he had a temper and a gun, that was our cue to make a fast getaway. The father sped after us and we tried to lose him by driving through the country. We drove faster than we should, but the father stayed right behind us. Realizing the man was overweight and fearing he might have a heart attack, we decided we’d better head for home so he would give up the chase. Pulling into our driveway, he followed close behind. He was angry and demanded to know what we had been doing at his daughter’s house. We confessed what we had done. He promised he wouldn’t tell his daughter that we had left the Christmas box. We are encouraged to give gifts in secret. Matthew 6:4a (NIV) advises “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” However, sometimes it’s hard to give secretly. Still, it’s fun to try giving anonymously. No one in our family has forgotten that long ago Christmas when we went dashing through the snow trying to make our getaway.

Christmas Treasure by Stacie Eirich Floating down through foggy air, a mist rests itself in my blackened coffee, causing the heat inside my cup to rise and envelop me in its warmth. Its outline shows in the reflection of the thin glassed window beside me. My breath forms a barrier on its surface, making it impossible to see the bustle of holiday shoppers In the snowy depths on the other side of the glass. I am here for that solitary feeling, stirring my sugar, one single lump. I watch it swirl and lighten the liquid’s color, I add the milky film of cream and transform it further, until it nearly matches the flowing snowflakes nestling near the window. They form an off-white cylinder near my boots where I have tracked in a bit. Yet it seems that this is the only part of the world I have let in to this silent moment, as I sip my Christmas treasure, away from the hurrying and scurrying, content to be in the presence of only myself until my cup is empty and I rejoin the masses, being the last minute shopper that I am‌

Merriest of Days by Brittany Keating Pate Oh, merriest of days, Christmas Day, how you bring so much cheer. Joyous laughter, the sound of a world at play, covers the melancholy of despair, far and near. A blanket of peace-filled merriment, like the enchantment of freshly fallen snow, wraps us in warmth and contentment. if but for a moment, all the world is aglow. The sparkle of lights, the ringing of bells, stockings hung from the festive mantle; a platter of frosted cookies, how delightful they smell. this merriest of days – so bright, happy, and full.

The Brief Smile Called December by Brittany Keating Pate Those twinkling, dancing lights stir a sparkle in the darkened room one last time. The season, the merry season, delights my childlike joy for the brief smile called December until it is snatched away, once again, relentlessly, by the cruel thing called time.

Christmas Hearts: A Holiday Collection The Twelve Visits of Christmas Colette Hillard and Elliott Ashcroft have been friends for over three years – and each is harboring a secret fondness for the other. Elliot hasn’t dated anyone for two years – but that isn’t enough evidence to convince Colette he has feelings for her. She hangs back and waits, hopes, and prays for something to happen. It’s been three years since Colette’s husband died serving his country, and despite her inviting smiles, Elliot refuses to ask her out. He hesitates, wondering if, and when, there will ever be a chance at a new beginning for either of them. Then Colette leads a new Christmas program at their church to bless needy families in the community with dinner and gifts. Individuals will pair up and visit the twelve homes on their list – each visit representing a different story. Before he can second guess himself, Elliot asks Colette to be his partner. As Elliot and Colette discover a wealth of emotions along their twelve visits, will love be among them?

Christmas at the Cactus Cafe It’s Christmas Eve, and single mom Toni is regretfully preparing to close the diner that’s been in her family for generations. When a bitter winter storm strands a group of strangers, she’s glad to offer shelter and makeshift hospitality. But who is the mysterious man with the bullet wound? Will the last days of the Cactus Cafe mean danger to Toni and her young son? And what will it do to her heart? Find out in this light hearted Christmas novella. In addition to these two Christmas novellas, you will also find some fun Christmas short stories, and devotions that will help you refocus your heart on Jesus this Christmas season. With Christmas quotes and Scriptures sprinkled throughout, this is a book that's just right for your holiday season.

Christmas Hearts: A Holiday Collection features nine Christian authors, including RUBY writer Lynn Mosher. Other authors featured in this book include Michelle Lynn Brown, Sherry Chamblee, Elaine Faber, Jen Gentry, Heather Hart, E.E. Kennedy, Betty Predmore, and Tearra Rhodes.

Christmas Hearts: A Holiday Collection is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

Home for Christmas by Norma C. Mezoe Mom and I had a good relationship. I was her only daughter, which may have drawn us closer to one another. As Mom grew older, I noticed she was having problems remembering. Eventually, she was diagnosed with dementia, along with other health problems. Over a period of twelve years, Mom’s condition grew progressively more critical.

In her final days, I sat beside her bed, reading from her little Bible. At times she seemed to be listening, especially to the words of the comforting Psalms. On Thanksgiving Day, as I sat by her bedside, talking to her about going home to be with Jesus, she suddenly opened her eyes wide and seemed to be seeing someone or something I could not see. Her eyes filled with awe and with peace, and then slowly closed. I glanced at Mom’s face and called to the nurse. She confirmed that Mom had died. A few weeks later, the stores began playing Christmas music. One song especially touched my emotions. Its poignant lyrics spoke about being home for Christmas. And I knew without a doubt that my mother, who had loved her Lord, was indeed Home for Christmas. Heaven---where all Christians will be home.

Quick and Easy Rocky Road Candy Recipe by Theresa L Begin

If you're anything like me you're rushing around a bit to get all your Christmas baking and shopping done. Isn't it such fun?! Sigh... In actuality, I LOVE every single bit of it. This past weekend all my available sisters, nieces, sister-inlaw, etc. got together at my Mum's house for our annual family Lady’s Holiday baking day together. There is something very special about these days. We take every single day together as the gift that it is. I hope we never underestimate the blessing we have been given to have each other and to share time together. This is one recipe I make ahead and bring to share with my Mum and my sisters on our actual baking day. It is (very easy) Rocky Road! We love it and, honestly, this recipe couldn't be easier. I love combining various combinations of roasted nuts. I make it with three different kinds, you can make it with whichever are your favorite, the only thing to remember is that your total amount, regardless of which you use should total two cups. Tip #1: Simple trick, here: If you line your pan with parchment or plastic wrap and lightly brush some butter on it, the rocky road will just lift out of the pan and make it so easy for you to cut it without losing any goodies stuck to the pan. Tip #2: I highly recommend storing this in an airtight container, out-of-sight, or it will disappear before you intended it to. It also protects your candy from becoming stale. With the amount of nuts and marshmallows called for, this is an important step.

I created this fun little clip and save recipe card, I hope you like it! I do hope you enjoy it as much as we do. These are precious times and wonderful, time-tested recipes. I had to put one last mouthwatering image in just for fun! Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting me today. I, truly, do hope you will give this recipe a try and share it with your friends and family this Christmas Season. It is a nice addition to any one's Christmas baking day! Take some time to bake with your family!

Many Blessings to you all,

Mary Knew by Irene Baron In this historical narrative you will learn about God naming, blessing and ordaining Mary before her conception to become the mother of His Son, Jesus. Angels informed her parents that Mary would be more blessed than any woman born on Earth. This biography provides details about the tribulations experienced by her parents, her birth, and early life, the reluctant Joseph, and the birth of Jesus. Accounts of a multitude of angels, miracles and fulfilling of prophecies are included. This is a compilation of traditions and history from ancient scriptures used in Christian churches for hundreds of years. James, Joseph's youngest son, provided eye witness and awe inspiring accounts, especially of the phenomenal events that occurred during the actual birth of Christ. A copy of his written testimony is included. James became a chief Apostle and was the first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem.

Mary Knew by Irene Baron is available from RUBY’S Reading corner

Ruth: A Story of Redemption by Lynn Mosher Ruth came to a decision fork in the road. Her choice would take her on a path that she could never imagine. How many of God’s companions depart from Him at the decision-fork in the road? When they come to an intersection He has ordained, one that will lead them on the bloodstained road home, what do they do? Ruth’s decision-fork took her on a road that departed from the land of widowhood and devastation, meandered through the fields of impoverishment, and led her through the land of... Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out. Click here to download it at

Granola Bar Devotionals: Spiritual Snacks on the Go! Compiled and Edited by Alisa Hope Wagner Sometimes your faith just needs a little spiritual pick-me-up. In the rush of the day, our faith-filled Granola Bar Devotionals, written by over forty women, offer you a quick inspirational boost to energize the heart and revitalize the soul! Each devotional is unique, but they are all good for you. So go ahead and open one up! Granola Bar Devotionals is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner

Raising Kids with a Millionaire Mind by Priscilla Shumba Bright, smart young people often fail to reach their potential because they never learn what life demands, and that these demands are not personal. The millionaire mindset for kids is more than an arrow pointing to a survival toolkit, it’s the perspective that success demands. Teaching a millionaire mindset to our children will forever change the course of their lives. It’s a compass for doing life successfully. We don’t know what circumstances our children will fact tomorrow, but we do know this way of thinking about life’s challenges and opportunities will provide an invaluable internal guide. We may not all have a million dollars for your children to inherit, but we do have the ability to give them a head start. Let’s give them an advantage in life.

I’m a 2 Rule Girl by Karon Phillips “Let's make it simple. Let's throw out the oversized rule book and get where we've wanted to get all along. Let's follow the rules Jesus gave us – only 2 – and find a new way, a new peace, and a new life. Let's start now. “What is the most important command?” they asked Him. “Love God, love others,” Jesus said. No list needed, no way to fail, nothing to fear. Deepen your trust to a place you've never known, discover and grow the wisdom you never thought you had. Know new strength, courage, power and grace.” * Study Guide and Resources included. I’m a 2 Rule Girl is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner

The Meeting between Christmas and Easter by Sharon L. Patterson

“Why has the Lord has called this meeting?” Christmas questioned as he grabbed the book of earth’s timetable off the shelf in his room. Having grown accustomed over the centuries to glancing at it when prompted by heaven’s host that the month of December was nearing on earth, he was puzzled at the urgency of the present summons. He stepped out of his room and headed for the throne room. Another question arose in his mind as he hurried along the hallway. He was told that Easter was also invited to the meeting. What would the two of them, each with such different missions, separated by several months on earth’s calendar have in common? Of one thing Christmas was certain; God never calls a meeting without a great purpose. Equally perplexed, Easter knew something special must be brewing in God’s great mind. For the life of him, however, he could not figure out the timing since the earthly celebration was still months away. Adding to the mystery of the meeting, Easter was informed that Christmas would also be present. Although there is no sense of time in heaven, Easter hastened his pace unable to discern whether his motive was born from pure obedience or keen curiosity. Arriving at the exact same moment, Christmas and Easter nearly collided with each other. The two angels standing at the entrance to the great room smiled at the oddity of these two invited to the same meeting.

They had witnessed eons of meetings, but this one, in particular, garnered great anticipation among the entire heavenly host, many of whom had been sent to earth and actively participated in both occurrences. The room grew quiet as Christmas and Easter entered. They bowed before the presence of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They were both awed and filled with the love emanating from the throne. Prostrate in praise, they were lost in adoration when God spoke. All stopped in a holy hush. “You must think it unusual that I have called you both here at the same time!” Knowing He could read both their minds and hearts, they remained reverently quiet waiting for their Heavenly Father’s explanation. “I know you understand your purpose and my timing. You both grasp the mission you accomplished when I appointed you to your primary trip to earth and the yearly celebrations since that breakout from heaven to earth.” Christmas and Easter nodded and glanced lovingly at Jesus. He looked at them, they fell face down once more overcome with humility and joy at what their appointments on earth accomplished. They were the vehicles through which prophecy manifested into flesh that had been prophesied in spirit.

Isaiah spoke: “For to us a child is born, to us, a son is given. And his government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful, Counselor. Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Christmas smiled until he thought his lips might crack. He simply couldn’t hold back any longer, praying his exuberance would be seen for what it was and not counted as an irreverent interjection. “Yes, Father and the prophet Micah told us where he would be born: “But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2) He was relieved when He saw Jesus turn to His Father and smile. His excitement mounted as the angels chimed in recalling more of Isaiah’s prophecies such as: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us!)” (Isaiah 7:14) All of heaven listened with joy reciting the prophecy about the lineage of Jesus, being the root of Jesse, his personality and character of wisdom, counsel, power, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. They spoke of the nature of his rule of righteousness, justice, and how he would strike the earth with the rod of his mouth. (Isaiah 11:1-5) When they finished, heaven erupted in such praise it reverberated through the universe. God looked over at Easter. Tears were flowing from His eyes and his mouth was quietly quoting prophecies as well. Once again, Jesus turned to His Father and in unison, they said, “Go ahead, Easter it is your turn. Where would you like to begin?” May I start with Genesis when the Lord spoke to the serpent that had just tempted Eve, telling him that he would not get away with introducing sin into the world: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) The magnitude of that promise caused shouts from every creature present.

Knowing He could not stop Easter, the Lord motioned for him to continue, much to the joy of everyone. “I am still awed by the secrets Isaiah unfolded about the King of kings who would be the suffering servant. He who would bear all the iniquity of mankind...being led like a lamb to the slaughter…taken away by oppression and judgment. He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. “Father, it took a long time for people to understand why it pleased you to crush him and cause him to suffer but it was because you made his life a guilt offering for you would justify forever those who believe in you. “Glory, hallelujah!” At that, all the host of heaven bowed once more. And in Psalms, you told us what death it would be 750 years before it took place. David spoke prophetically from the first word of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He spoke of your hands and feet being pierced and of your garments being divided, gambling for your clothing!” “How could I forget…your servant prophet Zechariah told about the king who would come into Jerusalem, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9) The rehearsing of fulfilled prophecy went on interrupted with thunderous applause for quite a while longer until the Lord spoke once more to the two invited guests. “Christmas and Easter, I asked you here because I wanted you to see yourselves not just in your separate missions but as the bookends holding the complete plan of my loving salvation in the revelation of my Son.” Facing one another, Christmas and Easter reached out to shake hands, not as distant family members who barely saw each other, but as close brothers, unable to ever be separated again. Jesus stepped from his place at the right hand of the Father, pulled them into himself in a warm embrace and spoke lovingly to them, “Never forget it took both of you to reveal our Father’s heart!” Heaven erupted again!

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RUBY magazine is now available in print! Every issue of RUBY magazine can now be purchased as a print publication. To purchase RUBY magazine in print, please visit the RUBY blog at where you will find the link for each issue.

For inspirational and creative articles, visit Theresa Begin on her blog, Shoestring Elegance.

Be watching for the

JANUARY 2019 issue of

RUBY magazine Available January 1, 2019 on the

RUBY blog

God’s Mercies after Suicide by Jean Ann Williams is available from

RUBY’S Reading Corner

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

Theresa Begin lives in Northern California, where she was born and raised. She is a Christian who loves her family and says, “I have been blessed with the world’s best parents!” She has three sisters and one brother, as well as 16 beautiful nieces and nephews who “mean the world to me!” She is “differently-abled,” and chooses not to allow her limitations to define her life. She loves to write and share her various projects on her blog, “Shoestring Elegance,” which came about as she discovered that living on a tight budget did not mean compromising on style. “Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 NLT Shara Bueler-Repka is enjoying life as a singer/songwriter/recording artist, freelance writer, and award-winning author. She and her husband, Bruce, live in their living quarters horse trailer and call “home” wherever their rig is parked. Their mailbase, however, is Hallettsville, Texas. She also loves riding/ministering with her husband and their horses (aka The Boys) in the backcountry and writing about God’s grace in the various adventures on the trail less-traveled. Join the fun and be encouraged on their website: and her blog:, or come for a visit on Facebook.

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

Writer-speaker, Kathryn Ross is Pageant Wagon Publishing—igniting God’s Word and biblical principles as a vibrant light of literacy and learning in the life of your Christian family. Inspired by the stillness of birdsong, silent reflection, antiques, and teatime, she filters her love of history, classic literature, and the arts through God’s Word, to inform her words. Her passion to equip women and families in developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle produces readers and thinkers who can engage the world from a biblical worldview. In addition, she mentors authors as a book shepherd, assisting them in the development, editing, design, and production of the book God has called them to write. Miss Kathy blogs and podcasts at and

Jehn Kubiak is a. Biola University journalism graduate and current pastoral care and counseling major at the Talbot School of Theology. She is a San Diego native who enjoys distance swimming, coffee, dogs, and painting. She loves researching and writing about people, sports, activities, and more.

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

Nancy Frantel lives in Virginia, and is a published author of three history books, public speaker and researcher. Prior to becoming a writer she worked in corporate management. A “life interruption� injury in 2010 limited her ability to work as a writer. In 2017, she attended several Christian writing conferences, and felt led to start over in a different genre. Her goal is to write inspirational and encouraging stories based on her experiences, lessons learned by trusting God, and individuals He provides along the way.

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

Rejetta Morse enjoys writing poetry so she can write about God and how He speaks through nature. Writing poetry is a new found purpose and hobby she discovered over recent years which brings her joy, peace, and encouragement. She also enjoys reading poetry and is working to learn more about the craft of poetry. She spends her free time singing with her church choir and listening to gospel music, watching biographical movies, and encouraging other people.

Diana Leagh Matthews writes, speaks and sings to bring glory to God.

She has been published in numerous anthologies, including many Moments books. In her day job, Leagh is a Nationally Certified Activities Director for a busy nursing facility. She takes great joy in family, friends and soaking in the beautiful wonders and promises of God. Leagh blogs about her faith and struggles on her website and family history at

Stacie Eirich is a writer, mother and unabashed dreamer who reads poetry by moonlight and dreams of traveling beyond the stars. She's recently published stories & poetry in MUSED, Wee Tales (Golden Fleece Press) and Ruby Magazine. Author of The Dream Chronicles, a fantasy series for middle-grade readers, she lives north of New Orleans with her family and two feisty furballs, Ollie & Oreo - writing, mothering, and dreaming.

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

Brittany Keating Pate is a writer, new wife, Sunday School teacher, and a proud aunt to her niece and nephew. She mostly enjoys writing poetry, but also enjoys writing non-fiction stories about happy childhood memories. Brittany is a small-town girl from North Carolina who loves to read, especially historical fiction. Her favorite time period to explore is the Civil War era, and she loves visiting museums and battleground sites to see and experience what the past can teach us. She’s enjoying her new life as a wife, loves teaching and getting to know her Sunday School students, and is constantly counting down the days until the next Christmas season.

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

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

Deb Ilardi is a registered nurse and has written professionally for decades. She was the Clinical Editor of School Nurse News from 2001-20016. Now she is retired and living in NC with her husband where she enjoys life near the ocean as a freelance writer.

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

Nina Newton, Sr. Editor:

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

RUBY magazine is published by CreativeLife