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Footprints in the Mud: Winter Snowdrops When God Upsets the by Rejetta Apple Cart Morse by Beth Brubaker Old Chocolate Box Joan for Leotta Setting by a Path the

New Year by His Joan Leotta Hands by Alisha Ritchie

Songbirds in the Snow February by Rejetta Morse

by Thea Williams

When Family Breaks Relatively Your Speaking Heart by Deb Ilardi by Jewell Utt “Sing like the birds……” by Cynthia Knisley

Ruby Magazine Your voice, your story FEBRUARY, 2017

In This Issue of Ruby

Intentional Love by Mary Dolan Flaherty

Red Velvet Sweetheart Collection from Marilyn’s Treats

With January behind us, it is time to begin thinking about spring! For February we focus on Valentine’s Day and all the ways we can show love to our friends and family. The ministry of RUBY continues to reach women across the street and around the world with God’s message of hope, grace, love, encouragement, and joy that is found only in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us know how we can be an encouragement to you today. We would love to hear from you! Contact us at Stop by the RUBY blog and click on the link to purchase your copy of the latest issue of RUBY magazine at http://www, PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH JOHNSON

Waiting for the Key of Love: What the Starling Sings by Kathryn Ross

Senior Editor: Nina Newton Assistant Editor: Beth Brubaker Poet-in-Residence: Keith Wallis Feature Writers: Sharon L. Patterson, Carol Peterson, Joan Leotta, Rejetta Morse, Kathryn Ross, Mary Dolan Flaherty, Norma C. Mezoe, Jewel Utt, Marilyn Lesniak, Thea Williams, Paula McVay, Cynthia Knisley, Suzane Avadiar, Miriam Jacob, Sharmelle Olson, Krystal Nicole Martin, Cassidy Burdge, Lynn Mosher, Jennifer Workman, Deb Ilardi, Alisha Ritchie, Courtney Livingston

Book Reviews by Carol Peterson Doesn't She Look Natural? by Angela Hunt

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

Tatters to Treasures for vintage and refashion designs and creations.

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

So Many Voices Nina Newton, Sr. Editor Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:4-5 Technology has changed our lives. Everyone has experienced some of the benefits and blessings of technology, even those who don’t pay much attention to all of the “new-fangled” stuff out here. Grandmas and Grandpas, although often not even realizing it, benefit from faster communication and information storage and accessibility at the doctor’s office. Grandma might not be on Facebook (or she might be, and you don’t know it!), but her life has been touched by technology. But we have also experienced the negative side of technology through the explosion of “noise” all around us. It is an amazing thing to be able to click a few links and read a daily devotional or Scripture verse. We have access to Bible studies, Christian communities, and inspirational articles that offer encouragement and guidance. I often wonder, however, if there is just too much of a good thing. Because my job is to discover and share insightful and encouraging information wherever God leads, I also frequently come across voices that give me pause, and cause me to ask myself, “Can that be possible?” With the easy accessibility to seemingly unlimited information, don’t you sometimes find that there might just be way too many voices? There are voices calling you to “Look over here! We’ve got just what you’ve been searching for!” or “99 Ways to Fix Your Marriage,” or “Seven Reasons Why Your Church is Failing.” The other day as I was reading and doing a bit of research I came across a headline that said something like “Stop Putting Your Family First.” I found that intriguing, partly because that has been a topic of interest to me for many years. Raising children in the church for many years, I discovered that Christian trends come and go, kind of like fashion fads where every season we need something new and different. I knew families who felt called to the mission field, who would travel to the other side of the world to preach the Gospel to the lost souls on another continent.

They would either raise their children on the mission field in the native environment, or send them off to boarding school, or sometimes they would send their children home to the United States to live with relatives while they went to school. Then there were families who felt God had called them to invest all of their time, energy, and spiritual gifts into raising their own children, including home schooling them to make sure that the children were prepared to share the Good News of the Gospel with those in their neighborhoods. And then there were the parents who were just trying to get through a day, making sure they had the resources to feed and clothe their children, keep a roof over their heads, pray with them every morning and tuck them in with a prayer and Bible reading at bedtime. There has always been a variety of ways in which families honor God with their lives, their homes, and their families. But recently, it seems with the advent of technology, the voices keep coming, louder and more frequently, reminding us that we just aren’t doing it quite right. Information is good. Information overload can be harmful, especially if you are the kind of person who is striving to honor God with your life, and all of this “noise” is confusing you. Here’s some advice from this Vintage Mama – trust God to guide YOU, find wisdom and guidance from His Word and learn as much as you can. But be careful of all of the voices out here calling you to look this way, and run that way, and second-guess yourself every step of your journey. God is big enough to let you know when you’ve gotten off track, we really don’t need to be scolded and chastised from every direction we look by those who have it all figured out . . . or do they? Just a thought. But I’m pretty sure that if you seek God for direction in your life, He will honor His Word, and speak directly into your heart.


Footprints in the Mud: Microwave Mentality vs. a Simmered Soul by Beth Brubaker, Assistant Editor Life goes too fast.

We can’t do that if we’re too busy to read!

We get caught in the fast lane of life, taking bits and pieces of God’s Word as we rush by, barely able to taste the goodness given before we zip off to the next task.

Don’t get me wrong, grabbing God’s blessings here and there is great when we can do it, but it shouldn’t be the only thing keeping us afloat.

It’s so easy to follow in the wake of others in the fast lane. Have you ever been in one of those above-ground pools and tried to make a ‘whirlpool’ by getting everyone to run/swim in the same direction? It’s really easy to follow the flow, but try to walk against the whirlpool or slow down? It takes a lot of effort and is almost impossible. Another example is instant rice. Great for on-the-go eating, but try to make a risotto with it, and all you’ll get is mush. Why? Because you need to simmer the rice slowly as you stir, stir, stir. You have to simmer the rice as it absorbs the liquid. Instant rice just can’t take that kind of abuse, and dissolves entirely when you try. Unfortunately, these analogies are also accurate concerning faith in God. Microwave moments are fine as long as we also have a simmered soul to outlast the busyness. What is a simmered soul? It’s when you make the time to get to know God in deep prayer, pausing for a minute or three to listen, digging deep into His Word, and discussing scripture when fellowshipping. Sometimes you need to be chin-deep in His soothing waters before you feel your soul relax.

I love my prayer droplet moments; those times when I’m too busy to blink, but manage to slip in a prayer here, read a daily verse there, or bless a friend (or they bless me!) with a scripture told in passing or on the phone. That’s good. But to make the time to bask in His blessings, to fully understand a verse that had perplexed me, or to have a really great God-talk with a friend? That’s like slipping into a warm, scented bathtub after a really long day. Aaaah. Much better than a quick shower! Life can be like instant rice. However we should strive to be more like the risotto- it might take longer, but the spiritual results (and a simmered soul) are worth it! I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. Sometimes I fall back into the whirlpool and have to swim my way out of it again. That’s why I’m saying make the time, not find the time. For someone who’s busy (especially us moms!), there is no time to find- we have to put it on our lists or schedule it in somewhere, otherwise it won’t get done. Microwave moments happen. Just don’t forget to simmer your soul deep within His Word when you can. God loves it when you spend time with Him!

Visit Beth on her blog, Footprints in the Mud, for more humorous and inspirational posts!

Winter Snowdrops by Rejetta Morse As snow falls from the cloudy skies the cold winter winds blow as tiny snowdrops rest below the soft blanket of snow. Soon at the bright morning sunrise cold waters start to flow from snow that melts above the bulbs that rest below the snow. As soon as water wakens them their sharp green leaves arise and cuts through frozen snow – they climb – below the bright sunrise. Now with a willing heart they weave their tiny silky heads through the deep snow – they rise and peek – their crowns above their beds.

As heat rises from their bodies the snow melts where they stand and breathes sweet fragrance of the spring over the wintry land. Then they stretch their long green arms with tiny bells to ring with white blossoms that dangles from their arms to welcome spring. They nod their heads and take a bow and ring a joyful tune. As nature wakens as they ring: “Springtime will be here soon.” Song of Solomon 2:12

The flowers appear on the earth . . .

Old Chocolate Box by Joan Leotta Every time the word comes to clean out , pack up, move on I sort the memories reduce the tangibles and move on except for that chocolate box Whitman sampler heart from my dad holding the first card from my husband A dried rose from our toddler son No, I do not "need" to smell those remaining cocoa traces, run my hand over his card or fondle those papery petals However, I will not give up my triple Valentine. Previously Published, Righter Quarterly 2016

Intentional Love by Mary Dolan Flaherty We love him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19) February may as well be called the Love month. Valentine’s Day demands that we declare our love to our intended. Then there’s President’s Day—which is, apparently, the best time to buy a mattress—and who doesn’t love a sale? If you live in a colder climate, the opportunity for snow days abounds. Kids love those. Moms, maybe not so much. I love so many things. Should I celebrate them all this month? I love my husband, but I also love ice cream. I love my children, but I have a few favorite television shows that I also love. Are they two different kinds of love? Merriam-Webster defines love as an unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another. I can apply this to my husband, but maybe not the ice cream. The first is a person. The other is a thing. And then there’s that word—unselfish. Loyalty , benevolence, and concern are easy. Unselfishness? Not so much. My love too often comes with conditions. Jesus said, My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15: 12-13). Ah, now we’re getting to the meat of love. I’d lay my life down for my children, but not for a television show. That’s real love. It’s easy when the spouse, child, parent, or friend is lovable. But what about the hard-to-love? The belligerent child? The angry spouse? The needy friend? The aging parent with dementia? The negative co-worker or demanding supervisor? That’s when we need to love with intention. We need to love them like Jesus loves us. After all, He made the ultimate sacrifice. He laid his life down for you and me—and for each one of those difficult to love people—when we didn’t deserve it. And He commands us to do the same both for those who are easy to love, and those we feel don’t deserve our love. We may not have to literally lay our life down, but we are often asked to sacrifice something just as important—time. And that’s where selfishness rears its ugly head.

Some folks are a challenge to love, and I’d rather not. Like the elderly curmudgeon who comes to my office each month to pay his bill—and complains about it every time. But when I took the time to listen, I discovered that when he was young, he wanted to serve his country and wasn’t accepted in the service because of a medical condition. And that his wife had recently suffered a stroke, and he didn’t feel she had gotten the care she needed because she was old. “No one cares about old people,” he told me. “They’d just as soon let them die.” By tossing him aside because he was a grumpy old man, wasn’t I doing the same? Among all the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5, love is the first (v22). Maybe it’s because it’s the most important. Perhaps it should be the easiest. Or at least, the most obvious. Or, maybe it’s because God is love (1 John 4:8). If God is in us, then we ought to love others. It should be easy. Natural. Intentional. But our selfish desires get in the way. We don’t want to invest the time. Or give up the things we love. We’d rather watch our favorite television show than meet our lonely friend for coffee. We’d rather hit that mattress sale than prepare a meal for the neighbor who just had surgery. We’d rather tell the curmudgeon to mail his payment than listen to his griping. But we are told in the preceding verses that if we live by the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Gal 5:16), and guess what one of the fruits of the sinful nature is? Selfish ambition (v 20). Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (v25). Let us crucify that sinful nature and love intentionally. Let us take the time to listen, to care, to love. You’ll sleep better at night. Of course, it could be that new mattress.

It was not by accident… by Cynthia Knisley She approached me during the coffee hour after church. “Would you like some daffodil bulbs? My trunk is full of them.”

As it turned out, the first year of growth produced only greens, with the glorious flowers arriving a year or two later.

She was a delightful friend of many years, always full of energy and known for riding her bike to work even in the winter and for tending a front yard that brimmed with daffodils in the spring.

This reminds me of God’s promise to be faithful to us and that the way is not always easy, just as the winter can be rugged and difficult. He will always be there with us as we move through life. His idea of timing may not the same as ours but we can be sure that He knows best.

It was not a tidy structured bed, but rather an entire expanse of lawn that had turned into an oasis of bright bobbing yellow. These were hearty bulbs, like their gardener, and the result was magnificent! Every so many years they needed to be thinned out.

I think of the bulb as a source of life and good cheer. It reminds me of the miracle of birth itself.

“Yes, thanks. I would love some!” was my answer and we proceeded to the parking lot where hundreds of dusty, earth-matted bulbs awaited us in her car trunk. It was a messy gift, but I gratefully accepted a large armful, planted them in my front garden the next day, and awaited the result……

Have you held a newborn baby recently? My sweet little grandson arrived just a few weeks ago and I was again amazed at the tiny yawn, little feet that wanted to tuck themselves in close to the tummy, and delicate fingers beginning to stretch out into the world around him.

Now, years later, the bulbs, which do their amazing work underground and are rarely seen, bring me great joy as they poke their little stems upward during the final winter snowfall and dot my front yard with the first strokes of color.

New life in the form of a tiny baby is a beautiful gift from God. It’s a source of great joy that changes our lives in ways we can’t even imagine. Like the miracle of human birth, springtime blossoms transform the landscape into a show of beauty that only our Creator can produce and bring us great joy. We need only to open our eyes and hearts to the world around us.

They sway in the spring breeze, become refreshed during the cool evenings, and keep their promise as harbingers of a new happy season, just beginning to unfold. The daffodil or narcissus, one of the earliest flowers of spring, symbolizes rebirth and renewal. The brightness helps me bid farewell to cold drab winter days and welcome the color and warmth of spring. They remind me of transition and the excitement, adventure, and energy that renewal brings. No matter what is happening in life, we can count on those sweet little bringers of joy to be there on roadside banks, home gardens, woodlands, and open fields--every year, in their beauty and sheer bliss. Daffodils teach me about being in relationship with God. Planting the bulbs requires trust, as I planted them on a cool fall day just before the cold winter set in, knowing that fresh new life would arrive months later.

The daffodil bulb not only provides lovely flowers to welcome the new season, but also reproduces and casts its spell far and wide, often outlasting the life expectancy of humans. Just as my friend shared her healthy bulbs and their wonderful potential for beauty in gardens throughout the neighborhood, we are called to spread God’s love far and wide. It was not by accident that a lovely bulb has been planted in us. “For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55: 12

Chart Your Course by Jewell Utt

The New Year is well underway. Ideas are stirring for growth and opportunity because a new year represents renewed hope. Will your plans come to pass or fizzle out as the weeks pass by? Whether it's better health, more time with the Lord, developing an idea, or rekindling an old friendship‌ it requires motivation. Motivation is the key that unlocks the door of change. And it starts with discipline. Discipline is not so much about punishment as it is training, obedience and self-control. And it yields a great reward. Hebrews 12:11 tells us, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Training ourselves to follow a set course without exception is hard, ie‌diet and exercise. But it produces results that yield peace and strengthen our character. A good way to start is to create a road map for success. Chart your course. A visual aid serves as a reminder and an encouragement for each passing day. Schedule a few things that will keep you on track to meet your goal and faithfully follow through. Any worthy goal has challenging steps for you to complete, so start strong. As you see progress it will invigorate you to continue. Add a time frame and a concrete way to measure your progress and there you have a recipe for success. For instance, say your goal is to de-clutter your house. You have ten rooms not including the basement. Think carefully about a realistic timeframe given your current responsibilities. Perhaps you can accomplish two per week, given the weekend. Some rooms aren't as big a job like the bathroom. But others, like a bedroom with closets, will require sorting, sifting and carrying things away. If you stay on task, in five weeks your house will be completely de-cluttered. That may seem like a long time, but it passes just the same when you have done nothing. In this way you have set a goal, you have attached a time-frame, and you can measure your success. Is the house organized or not? Breaking things down into smaller tasks help to see them as manageable and not overwhelming. So whatever you hope to accomplish in this New Year, allow your ideas to become a reality by charting your course and staying on track. You may even get to organize that basement! Walking in obedience to God's call for your life requires that type of commitment. In Philippians 3:14 Paul writes: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. To grow spiritually, develop our dreams, and improve our physical and mental health requires "pressing on." It requires discipline and a positive mindset that knows you can. YOU can do all things through Christ who gives YOU strength. Philippians 4:13

Red Velvet Sweetheart Collection from Marilyn’s Treats Valentine’s Day is all about love, and one of the best ways to show our love to our friends and family is by creating something special and yummy from our kitchen. Marilyn Lesniak of Marilyn’s Treats always comes up with the perfect recipes for every holiday and season of the year . . . and for Valentine’s Day, she is sharing her Red Velvet Sweetheart Collection. You can find all of the recipes in this collection by visiting her at Marilyn’s Treats.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Here’s a rendition of the classic Red Velvet Layer Cake, all done up as a sheet cake which is so much easier, but just as yummy! Who doesn’t LOVE banana bread? Mix it all up with Red Velvet and this has got to be one super delicious loaf!

Cupid’s Lasagna Red Velvet Banana Bread

Brioche French Toast with Cinnamon Glaze This decadent French Toast with Cinnamon Glaze is the absolute perfect breakfast or brunch recipe for your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day . . . .

Red Velvet Whoopee Pies

and why not try some of these cute Red Velvet Whoopee Pies for the kids on Valentine’s Day? They will surely know you love them to the moon and back!

Who says lasagna has to be made with pasta and marinara sauce? Here’s a new twist on one of our favorite supper recipes, all dressed up for Valentine’s Day!

Does Your Healing Feel Like Dry Bones? by Suzane Avadiar Does it? My healing at times does, surrounded by other dry bones, submerged deep in the valley... Do you sometimes only feel despair deep in your bones, even when you cover yourself with the balm of prayers and proclamations? I do. It has made me question... How does my Father's heart feel when mine quivers in doubt that I will ever be healed? How does He feel when He sees me struggling? When my head knows healing is my portion but my heart is submerged in sadness because my body feels as if it is failing? He assures me that He will put His breath in me and I will come alive – so I know that I have more than His assurance to heal me through the cross. I actually have His Word - that He will bring me to life during those dry seasons while I wait for my healing to be made complete, physically. But sometimes, I struggle to just rest in His Word. Sometimes I need more. Sometimes I just tire of waiting. But God is always in the waiting so I go back to what I know, despite what I feel. You see, I’ve learnt that when you hurt the most is when you must sing out to Him. The enemy wants nothing more than to steal your worship to Jesus so you cannot keep silent. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” – Psalm 32:3. So I go back to basics; I worship. I sing but not yet songs of praise – that will soon follow. I first lift up the songs buried deep in my soul. The ones infused with my pain and drenched in my doubts. The ones that sometime cry out in anger, asking Him accusing questions… I lift up that song – the ones filled with demands because I know my Father can handle them. I may not know much else but I do know my God is bigger than my questions and doubt. I know only He can turn my fears into faith. Then, I sing out my thanksgiving -12 things I'm thankful for everyday – a dozen roses for my Father. More often than not, I go way past 12. When I stop singing, I wait. I wait for His peace and joy to flood in, and overflow through me because His presence always shows up when we give Him thanks and praise. And “in His Presence is fullness of JOY” – Psalm 16:11. Then I wait a little more.. Until His Spirit comes to flood my heart and I allow Him to breathe into the balm of prayers that barely covered my skin, to now soothe the dry bones. And I begin to feel His strength overcome their fragility.

Recently, I realized there is something more that God has given us when it comes to healing. “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live’ – Ezekiel 37:9 To me, the four winds sound like community – family, friends and church whom God has placed on my path. They are the winds that surround me and breathe life into me when I struggle to breathe on my own. I think community is very much part of God’s equation to bring healing to my dry bones until I am well and whole again. On this side of heaven, healing is not yet complete and we struggle. There are too many of us who still battle - even though the battle is His, not ours. Even when we are consumed by faith that He will never forsake us, there are many who still physically succumb to a lifetime of illness. It took me a long time to come to terms with that and in some ways, I’m not certain I have. What I have come to terms with is that I don’t need to understand. I just have to trust who I know God is because “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” – Hebrews 11:1. God’s nature is my one true certainty and in Him I place all my faith – no matter how long I wait to be healed.

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

Triumphant Hope (Asha) Submitted by Miriam Jacob

In September of 1997, CUSAT University had a fresh intake of students for their engineering school. We were only their third batch. Among the many who floated into the campus from various places was me. In the initial week of school, a simple-looking, big mustached lecturer sauntered into the classroom unannounced with a face that could burn the room down. He introduced himself as a lecturer in the same department in which I was studying. He warned all the students from treating their studies lightly and how everything would look like ‘endtimes’ should that happen. He definitely caught the curiosity of all the students with that one, and he walked away with the same abruptness. We were 18 and 19-year-olds who were exploring how to ‘make the best’ of the college years. He definitely doused our excitement in a matter of those two minutes. In a few days, we found out that Roy Paul was going to be the lecturer for one of our subjects and we braced for the storm. A few weeks later, I was invited to a Christian meeting that took place in an elementary school near the campus. There I spotted him again, but this time around he was smiling and enjoying a vibrant informal relationship with the students who had gathered. That’s where I saw a beaming Asha and their 3-year-old smart- talking boy, Joshua, for the first time. As one confused about Christianity and dabbling with atheism, I was strangely attracted to this community. Even stranger was how I felt drawn to this family. Within that year, the Lord saved me through the ministry of Roy. That last line was typed in seven seconds. But I could write a book on that period. The best apologetic to the message of the gospel I received was the life of this family. This visible expression of the gospel shone brightly into my life, and the foolishness of the cross at one point suddenly became sweet and glorious.

Central to the family was the role Asha played. They were the most hospitable people I’d known. There were people in their home all the time. What beat me about this family was how, though there were many at their home, still everyone went away with a lot of individual attention. This was remarkable because I have spent considerable time wondering how they managed that. That kind of hospitality requires a lot of wisdom. And I knew it wasn’t Roy who maneuvered through it. As much as he would be the main conversationalist, I realized that Asha was the one who steered the conversations, at the right time, onto the right topic and around a new person. This played out very beautifully in them being a dynamic duo. I’m certain that many people in a good sense may appreciate the role Roy played among students and the larger evangelical students union. But I can vouch as a close observer and Roy’s disciple that Asha was instrumental in weaving all of that wonderfully together. Asha was a keen observer of others, their interests, their struggles and their joys. She also had a sharp memory of all these details. In the nascent days of my relationship with the family, she realized that I didn’t drink tea or coffee. Ever since, she always made sure there was lemon at home so that she could make a refreshing glass of lemon juice whenever I hopped into their home (which was every day!).

“Asha was the one who steered the conversations, at the right time, onto the right topic and around a new person.” She did the same even a few months ago when I had the opportunity to drop in. I know I’m not the only one who could narrate this kind of a story. She knew everyone at a personal level so that she could be a blessing to everyone.

Being in a ‘through the week’ open-home church ministry myself, I can easily imagine the drain on finances their lifestyle caused. It was not unusual that many a discussion intruded into their meal time and she would only be eager to serve all. They even had others live in their home for an extended period because the situation demanded so. In one instance, it was a parent of a student who requested this for their son who was going through a harsh time. The line between late night and early morning blurred at their home. But the time she sacrificed also for unbelieving students who would show up at their door to seek clarity from a range of academic topics (much even unrelated to Roy’s core discipline) was most astounding. The man spent several hours teaching such students from their home for no extra benefit. Asha created a welcoming space for this. Such a lifestyle is usually harder on the woman of the home than the man. Asha could have easily said to Roy, “Let’s have open-home two days a week. That way we will still be a blessing to others as well as have enough resources that we can enjoy a good meal for ourselves and go shopping with the kids and buy me a new sari once in a while.” Should Roy have taken that direction, the family would still have been a huge blessing. But the only thing on Asha’s mind was how she could maximize their service of others and in the process establish God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven and have their children grown up in that missional context. Asha additionally worked hard at starting a women’s Bible study along with the regular discipling of women who were part of the evangelical community. Many girls who were not part of the regular Evangelical Union attendance would turn up for that time with Asha at their home and be blessed! She also made regular time to be in prayer with some of the girls. How she would navigate that along with a young Joshua and baby Joel those years still stumps me. In time I realized that Asha was a simple woman who lived a supernatural life through the indwelling of a supernatural Being.

“The only thing on Asha’s mind was how she could maximize their service of others and in the process establish God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven and have their children grown up in that missional context.” It was obvious that she had died to herself many years ago. When I met her first in 1997, she was a woman who died several hundred such deaths . It was no longer she who lived but Christ who lived in her. And the life she lived was one that she lived by fluent faith in the Son of God who loved her and gave himself for her. She lived in the reality of that truth. And that truth was glorious to her. Many have complimented her for the following traits - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Not surprising! I could write plenty for each of those. The death she finally died to herself is the final one and that she had been prepared for years in waiting for her truly beloved. As an unbeliever, the message of this gospel made sense because it was made visible to me in real life. As much as it was Roy’s message that fell like bricks on my head and heart in 1998, I have no doubt that Asha’s ‘normal’ Christian life (along with Roy’s) had an equal role not just in the beginning of that faith but even in the shaping and deepening of my faith. I can say that she fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. May many men and women be more attracted to the same Jesus she served, as I was compelled to in 1998. As much as many grieved rightfully the last few weeks, it will do well to celebrate her life too. Her life was a triumphant one even in the blaze of her furious final battle. Let us often visit her life in our memories so that we live as ones triumphant in hope! © Vivek Jones First Publication Rights: Our Contact Magazine Courtesy: Photo – VSquareTv; Frame – Google Images

Valentine Blessings by Sharmelle Olson Blessings on Valentineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day are being sent your way; with a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates. As you enjoy this day, think about how much of a blessing it is to Love, Cherish, and think while you are believing. With that kind of charisma brings in good love karma to you and the ones you love from the Lord up above.

Love by Krystle Nicole Martin Love is not lost Love is not hidden Love isn't forbidden Love is open Love is raw Love is real Love is painful Love, in its purest form is unquenchable Love is unmatched Love is a verb Love just does, it doesn't ask Love is beautiful Love is nothing we want, but everything we need. Love forever thine Love keeps you together when you're falling apart. Love is unrequited. Love does not fail Love never questions Love is honest Love gives hope Love teaches us forgiveness

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Just Do It! by Cassidy Burdge

The Christian Prepster Over the holidays my family made our way to North Caroline for a few days, having never been there, I saw some breathtaking views and experienced some amazing things that have refined my view of Christ. Also on break was the second anniversary of The Christian Prepster! It's crazy to think I've been blogging for two years now, it feels like just yesterday I decided to try something new. So, this article is going to be jammed packed with goodness... I hope youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re ready for this! Starting with North Carolina, if you've never been there, I highly suggest you pack your bags and get on the road right now. Being surrounded by mountains, even the hour and half long drive to the nearest convenient store was beautiful and made you feel like you were in a painting. The way the mountains glowed in the sun and how around every corner there were cars pulled to the side and their drivers out taking pictures, staring into God's creation. It's impossible to not stop and take all the beauty in. In the Bible there are so many references to mountains and I can see why! The verse about having faith to move mountains was super convicting to me. Mountains are huge and, umm... seem to be pretty stuck to the ground. There is no possible way a human could ever move a mountain. Never the less, the Lord has called us to have this crazy, impossible looking faith in him. We are to lean on and depend fully on the Lord and who he is. We need to get in the state of asking and believing that the Lord will achieve amazing things in and through us. However, with each mountain there was a valley. In life, the same thing happens. We go through moments of great joy and happiness but also seasons of sadness and rejection. But besides what season we are in, the Lord is still the Lord. He is still perfect and holy and fully our savior.

Mountains wouldn't be as breathtaking if valleys weren't there... mountains wouldn't be mountains. The high points in life would not be as spectacular if the lower and harder points didn't exist. Now I know it's easier said than done to still have faith and seek joy in the valleys of life but we are in this together and the Lord doesn't leave his children. He never has and he never will, guaranteed. Now to The Christian Prepster's birthday!!! Ekk I can't believe it. It all started as a New Year's resolution in 2015 (unfortunately, one of the very few resolutions I've been able to keep). I'd read many other successful blogs and loved the idea of sharing my faith and also working on my writing skills. But wow, it's not the easiest thing in the world! I would love to say that I always want to write and am full of ideas but I'd be lying if I said that. Some weeks I have to sit down and force myself to write. Some weeks I sit down and pray until I figure out something to write about.

But The Christian Prepster has taught me responsibility, dedication, and that if you want something in life, or want to be someone better, you have to do things and work to get it. Along with that, blogging has given me so much more accountability. There are so many things the Lord has revealed to me but, even though I write about these things, living them out is still hard and is a daily battle for me. Knowing that many people read my blog, it's very crucial for me to live these things out and constantly be praying and growing in my walk with the Lord. If any of you follow my Instagram account, @thechristianprepster, then you have already seen this but I want to say it again . . .

I just want to take a moment and encourage all of you. I love setting goals but I love achieving them even more. So for 2017, let's call this the "do it" year. This year I want us all to do the scary things, the hard things, and the not so comfortable things we must do. But most of all, be love in this world of hate. Do the things nobody else is willing to do out of love for one another. It's time to hike up our pants and start digging deep into our dreams. Who's going to do these things with me? I'm so excited to go on this journey with you guys and hope you all are too! I would love to hear your goals, dreams, and things you are going to do this year. Please don't be afraid to email me at and tell me all you want for 2017!

And the Final Answer is… the LOVE of GOD! by Sharon L. Patterson I have heard the word so many times, read about it in a thousand poetic rhymes. Everyone has an opinion to spout of what LOVE is really all about. In my younger years it was a movement called “hippie” who sang and preached it from a communal society. But slowly its message began to fade, and by the next decade the fruit of what was left behind demonstrated a different kind of LOVE. Hollywood has tried to depict it on the big screen, and actors portrayed it in memorable scenes. Still, its definition falls short and raises questions through which we sort, until we turn to the most incredible story not made up by a screen writer but the God of glory. Who demonstrated LOVE on a rugged cross through His Son’s death for the broken and lost including all mankind in need to begin anew and start all over again. No further search exists for the final answer is… The LOVE of GOD!

My “REAL” Valentine by Paula McVay Valentine’s Day was always great because my late husband, Doug, remembered it more than any other special day…probably because of all the commercials on TV, and advertisements in the stores. He spent so much time finding just the right card, which I loved, but even more, I treasured the words he wrote with beautiful handwriting under the printed message. Every year, the message would include words similar to these. “Even though we might go through difficult times, we will be strong because of our deep faith and love for God and for each other. Nothing matters as long as we are together.” That surely proved to be true as we went through the deaths of five loved ones in a five year period, as well as Doug’s near-death experience with appendicitis, dealing with wayward sons, caring for my alcoholic mother, completing degrees while we pastored and taught, and experiencing financial setbacks during the recent market decline. God surely had met all our needs. Philippians 4:19. On our last Valentine’s Day together, Doug was in the hospital… three days before he died. He was pretty miserable, but his great sense of humor shone through. What a blessing to be loved so much! His eyes would sweep over me in love as he reached out to touch me. I had just given him a bath when two of our sons walked into the room and asked what we were doing. When I told them, they laughed and said, “Why didn’t you have the nurse do that, Mom?” Their dad looked at them and said with a glint in his big blue eyes, “It IS Valentine’s Day you know.” He always made us laugh as he reminded us to “enjoy the journey” of life. He continued to be my Valentine even up to the time he died. Everyone was there at the hospital that night as we discussed who would stay the night. Doug looked at me and firmly stated, “Paula, I want you here.” This was so out of character for him since he was always concerned that I get rest since I had been there day and night for several days.

After everyone else left except one son who had gone down to the cafeteria for a little break, I crawled up into his bed and kissed him all over his face. He lifted his hands, which he’d not been able to do for a few days, rubbed my back, and spoke in a strong voice, “I love you so much. You have been the best sweetheart, wife, and mother any man could ever want.” I couldn’t believe how steady and sure his hands felt as he continued to rub my back for a good five minutes. As I crawled down and stood beside him, I heard him quoting Psalm 3:3, “Oh Lord, You are a shield around me. You give grace and glory. You lift up my head.” Then he would give thanks and tell Jesus he was ready to go. At one point, he lifted his hand toward Heaven and said, “Look, Paula. Do you see that banquet room? It’s crowded. Do you think there will be room for us? “…… to which I replied, “Oh yes, but let’s don’t go now.” Guess God had different plans. That morning at 5:l5 am after a three- year battle with cancer, he quietly and peacefully took his last earthly breath. My son, Vince, actually had to awaken me because I had seen Doug so peaceful at 3am. Wow! I told my son to look at the clock as I exclaimed, “Look, this is just like all of your Dad’s Sundays. He always got up at 5 a.m. to pray and worship. Now he is worshipping around the throne. Hallelujah! After the other sons arrived at the hospital and we gathered around his lifeless body to pray and of course, weep, I asked everyone to leave as I spent time in the room with his body. I have never felt the presence of God so greatly. I praised God as I raised my hands and gave thanks for this wonderful man of God that I got to share my life with for 48 years. Grace and glory wrapped themselves around me as a deep, deep peace settled over me. Oh, I’ve had some tough days since then, but underneath have been the everlasting arms of God. That’s a Valentine that I will cherish forever.

New from author Beth Brubaker

Now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner

“Habits” Puzzle by Beth Brubaker


“Sing like the birds……” by Cynthia Knisley Change is around us everywhere! By now the New Year is well underway, and we remember to write 2017 on our checks and correspondence. Our nation has a new leader who has promised all kinds of change that will affect Americans and countless others around the globe. Change in our personal lives occurs, embodying both joy and pain. Elementary children grow up and move on to middle school. High schoolers begin to drive and date, and before long they select a college and prepare to live independently. Sweethearts decide to marry and newly-weds begin a family. Now that involves huge change! If a bundle of joy has arrived at your doorstep recently you know that schedule and household are turned up-side-down, and you wonder if life will ever be the same again. Work assignments change and families sell homes and move to far-off places, leaving behind friends and familiar settings. Parents suddenly find they live in an empty nest or one spouse decides to leave, or both occur at the same time. Older folks become frail and require new living situations and special care. There is one thing that is certain in life, and that is change. It can result from conditions that are out of our control or from decisions we make. In either case, change requires adjustment and the way we approach the process determines the outcome. I recently reached a significant crossroad in my life and discovered that faith played a major role in my ability to reach a decision and to adjust to the result. This is what occurred. While attending women’s retreat at a beautiful seaside resort I found myself wrestling with a key life choice. Should I retire from a career that I loved? I had considered the pros and cons for several years. The quiet retreat setting gave me time to pray and suddenly a lovely metaphor came to mind, the words of a pastor some time ago: “Faith is like the birds that sing joyfully in anticipation of the morning light---in the darkness, before the sun rises.” Then I knew that God would be with me in the change experience and I could be at peace about it, even though the outcome was still unclear. I could sing like the birds, in advance, trusting in the unseen, and goodness would follow. He would be there in the uncharted territory of my new situation. And He was! May your faith carry you onward into change and happily into the new adventures on the other side.

Cindy Knisley I have been an educator for 24 years in a suburban Philadelphia high school, I have always enjoyed language and writing. Teaching German and Latin trained me to respect the nuances of structure and story as well as the power of words. Three years ago I felt called by God to leave the work I loved in order to support my aging parents. My home is in West Chester, PA, where I tend a "secret garden," enjoy my grandchildren, attend church, and write.

Resolution or Solution? by Lynn Mosher Why do we attempt to make New Year’s Resolutions, which we rarely keep, when we might choose to make New Year’s Solutions? Is there a difference between a resolution and a solution? Let’s look at the definitions. The dictionaries say that resolution is a formal expression of opinion or intention made. It comes from the word resolute, which means to be resolved or determined on a course of action, set in purpose or opinion. Solution, on the other hand, means the act of solving a problem or question, an answer. Only a small percentage of New Year’s resolutions see fulfillment, a humorous dichotomy, given its definition. Initially, most of them are launched with great intentions but slowly, or sometimes quickly, run out of steam. Determination slides by the wayside. With little acting upon the problem or circumstance, the intended outcome is not accomplished. This is why I’ve never really made any New Year’s resolutions. I knew I would never keep them. While solution infers the act of doing something, most people just have the solution compartmentalized in their heads or written down on paper. Wanting to change a situation or something about oneself and coming up with a solution to solve or improve it is still not the answer. Just because I WANT something to change and may be determined for it to be so doesn’t mean it WILL change. I need more than a resolution, more than a solution. While both executed together are preferable, they must be backed with something more…they need to be backed by actual action. Therefore, the meaning of this scripture takes on a new meaning, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Eccl. 4:12b NKJV)

I think I’ve come up with my action, which is my theme for this year. I’ve borrowed it from an old hymn…I Surrender All! All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all. If I surrender all, then I cannot be a hindrance to the Lord’s plans and purposes for my life. If I do not surrender all, I allow my life to be filled with the same old things from the year now passing. God said through Isaiah, “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Is. 43:19 NKJV) What exactly do I want in the New Year? Or more importantly, what does the Lord want for me and from me? How do I embark on an action if I have my fingers tightly clenched around all the events of the old year? Do I really want a new thing to happen in my life? If I desire the best for my life, I must, as the saying goes, let go and let God! I must…surrender all! Do you desire God to do a new thing in your life this year? Are you dragging all the hurts, sins, regrets, failures, disappointments, and unforgiveness of the old year behind you in a little red wagon or perhaps a U-haul? Let this year be a year of release. Take action! Surrender it all!

Featured Writer: Jennifer Workman RUBY magazine welcomes as a contributor to our magazine Jennifer Workman. Jennifer will be contributing inspirational articles to our magazine with the purpose of empowering and encouraging others towards a closer relationship with Christ and thus empowering them in every facet of their lives. Her articles will focus on a variety of topics from singles, marriage, parenting, finances, and health and wellness, â&#x20AC;&#x153;just to name a few!â&#x20AC;? Jennifer is the founder of Simply Victorious Ministries, a ministry founded on the infallible word of God. The ministry has been established to utilize every spiritual gift endowed by the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the "Great Commission" (Matthew 28:16-20, NIV) and to humbly and passionately serve the needs of hurting and lost people all around the world. Simply Victorious Ministries aims to be a globally recognizable "voice" that ministers to people from different walks of life and to empower, to inspire and to motivate people towards living a fuller life that is found in relationship with God (John 10:10, John 14:6 and I John 5:13, KJV). Jennifer is a highly anointed, vivacious and multi-gifted woman of God. She has been actively involved in ministry all of her life, is an insightful speaker and possesses the God-given ability to reach out and empower others in different facets of their lives. Jennifer has ministered to seminary students, the religious community, high school students and female prison inmates. Jennifer has more than fifteen years in the radio, television and publications arena. She is the Inspirational host and producer of "Simply Victorious for Life," a monthly inspirational podcast aired via Faith Filled Family and Family Filled Youth websites and other media outlets. She has also worked for WSSB 90.3 FM, WPJK 1580 AM, WQKI 93.9 FM, The Times and Democrat Newspaper and Will Owens Productions. Her articles have been published in numerous magazines, blog pages, digital publications and newspapers i.e. Empower Magazine, Ruby for Women Magazine, Inspired Women Magazine, The State Newspaper, Belief Net, Inspirational Blog and others. Jennifer is a gifted song-writer and has written several inspirational songs i.e. "Ooh Lord" and "Awesome God" and is actively pursuing a career as a screenwriter and some of her completed works are entitled "Be Careful What You Ask For," "Egyptian Silk," and "Power Over Darkness." Jennifer is the author of the upcoming book "Never say Never: Conquering of the Storms of Life with Unshakeable Faith and Perseverance" and also the editor of the book "My Thoughts on God and the Men Who went Astray: Why? Where Are They?" She has additionally garnered experience as a Web Content Manager and has established websites: "Simply Victorious Ministries," "Highways Byways Ministry to the Incarcerated" and "Master Kare Plumbing Services." We are looking forward to what God is going to impart through this anointed woman of God that will undoubtedly be a blessing to others and that overall God will be glorified! If you want more information about her ministry and/or other pertinent information, check out her ministry website or her professional website

Featured Writer: Joan Leotta For as long as I can remember I have been a writer and a performer. The joy of doing what I love as a profession came to be when in 1982 I left my job at the Department of Labor to stay home with my children. At home with them I began my own business as a writer for local papers in Washington, DC, magazines, and more. After taking Jennie and Joe to see a storytelling show at Wolf Trap I realized I wanted to do that too, so I took a course at the Kennedy Center, read all I could about story performance, joined the local and national professional groups, watched, told tales and learned. After volunteering as a teller, my son’s preschool hired me to tell and so I began my dual career of writing and telling. Each facet is still equally important to me. In each side of my creativity I seek to serve an audience, produce and present material respectfully, entertain and edify. It is my sincere hope that my performance, whether on stage or on paper, blesses you, my audience.

Joan’s latest books, Rosa and the Red Apron, Summer in a Bowl, and WHOOSH! are now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner! Read about Joan’s upcoming books and poetry publications on her blog at and connect with her on her Facebook page at

Now accepting submissions for the MARCH 2017 issue of RUBY magazine Visit the RUBY blog for all the details: http://www.rubyforwomen/submissions

Relatively Speaking by Deb Ilardi “Elegance is a relative word,” was all that Frank said. He had spoken loud enough for me to hear him, but I pretended I was already too far away, headed to the stairs to fold the millionth load of his clean underwear. We’d been talking about our autumn wedding anniversary and the conversation had not been flowing in the direction I’d hoped for. When we married 39 years ago, doing his laundry had brought me crazy, dumb joy. After all, at twenty three I hadn’t ever really handled men’s underwear and there was a mystery to it, an intimate chore. We also had only two loads of laundry a week in those days after college. Life was simple. Was I so far off base to want an elegant anniversary now, all these loads of laundry later? And what had I been thinking when we planned a wedding the same week as the World Series? Would there ever be an anniversary celebrated away from the big screen, the crowd of fans and the speculating announcers? “You always get so ahead of yourself,” Frank continued. I’d heard that, too. I stomped as loud as the carpeted stairs would allow. I was going to get my way this time. Never one to give up easily, I knew in the months to come a perfect idea would present itself. I’d plan a romantic getaway for us. We’d buy new clothes, travel by plane and have an elegant adventure. How hard could it be to arrange such a memory-making event? I didn’t worry about where the money would come from right now. We deserved this. I ducked into the upstairs office and got on the computer to research vacation destinations. Each website looked more spectacular than the last. Ocean view villas rivaled lush green golf courses. Polished crystal glasses of wine set on linen topped tables adorned with fresh cut flowers softened my edges that quiet Saturday afternoon.

I started to return to the kitchen, chore complete, when I heard the radio. Frank didn’t usually turn it on himself, deferring to the music I turned on and the times I wanted to hear it. I stopped my descent to listen, not quite making out who was singing. The tune felt familiar but I had brain fog. I walked slower, still puzzled. Then I noticed the smell of warm toast, butter and cinnamon. Thinking I was dreaming I sat down on the bottom step. This was a childhood memory, my dad’s way of creating elegant dessert out of stale white bread during the years of near poverty we’d lived through. My revelry was nudged away by the blare of the coffeepot, an annoying beeping that alerted all to the readiness of the freshly brewed pot of java. What the heck was going on, I asked myself? Walking into the kitchen of our 30-year-old suburban home, I saw a single lit birthday candle, the one I’d saved that was shaped like the number 2 but now half melted away, perched in a glass filled with dried beans. It sat in the center of the scratched and stained pine kitchen table, the same one we’d fed three kids at over the decades of parenting. Ordinary paper napkins were unfolded like linen placemats. On our best dishes the cinnamon toast looked like bakery brioche. Frank was pouring the coffee when I entered the room. He turned, beaming, and held his arms out to the sides as he asked “Is this elegant enough for today?” The afternoon was a lovely one and we did talk about the fancy trip I’d imagined celebrating our 40th anniversary. In the end, we decided together we’d go visit the kids instead. We could drive the seven hours there and save the airplane cost. We would play with the grandkids. We could tell all our friends the celebration was elegant. It would be the truth.

An Unlikely Match becomes the Perfect Catch by Sharon L. Patterson

“Have you heard…Coach P is dating the French teacher?” That was the scuttlebutt going around the high school where we both taught. I guess, in a way, you could say we had quite a crowd watching the development of our dating relationship in the spring of 1981. There was no Facebook or You-Tube, but there were 2300 sets of eyes on us five days a week that semester. What an unlikely match we were. He loved the outdoors and camping as well as coaching football and track. His attire included coaching shorts and tennis shoes. He loved math and science. I, on the other hand, loved fashion and beautiful clothes, trips that included the beautiful outdoors as seen from the window of a lovely air-conditioned hotel room. I loved French cuisine, music and languages. The French teacher and Coach P? Would such an unlikely match make it past that spring? Was it simply a wonderful time of the year when matchmaking becomes the prime goal of teacher friends who thought these two single parents should be introduced? Were we only a source of great student gossip? Thirty-two years later, what began as an unlikely match turned out to be the perfect catch for both Coach P and the French teacher. We continued to be the hottest love story on campus through the fall semester. Everyone grew accustomed to seeing “us” which included my two small sons and his boy at football games and track meets

In between late-night track meets and football practice, a summer trip to France with my students, Coach P and I would talk on the phone till late in the night, get up and teach the following day. We discussed everything we could possibly think of. That is, except for one thing that nearly caused a final chapter in our love story. It happened the afternoon we went to apply for our marriage license. We were filling out the requested information. I looked over at his form and noticed the date he put down as his birthday. “Honey,” I said, “You put down the wrong year you were born!” He looked at me, by now used to my very honest opinions and replied, “Sweetheart, I think I know the year I was born!” “But…that means I am three years older than you!.” “So, what difference does that make?” “Well, that means I am marrying a younger man…I just don’t know about that,” I said. I could not believe that in all our months of dating, through hours and hours of learning about one another, that had escaped us. Thankfully, his persuasion that it made no difference to him was enough to convince me to make the right decision. We married December 12th. We had many witnesses. The story and the school room gossip faded from popularity. “Us” now includes our boys, a daughter-in-law, four grandsons, and one granddaughter as well as thirty-five years of stories and history. The unlikely match remains the perfect catch to this day.

Waiting for the Key of Love: What the Starling Sings by Kathryn Ross

Miss Bertram longs to pass through a locked gate: “Yes, certainly the sun shines and the park looks very cheerful, but unluckily that iron gate . . . gives me a feeling of restraint and hardship. I cannot get out, as the starling said . . .” Jane Austen, excerpt from Chapter 10, Mansfield Park Mansfield Park is a celebrated novel by Jane Austen, written in the spirit of a cautionary tale. Its memorable characters wrestle through a plot peppered with a host of powerful passages, witty turn of phrases, and sharp insights on the human condition. By the scene in chapter ten, as quoted above, the aristocratic Miss Bertram has become disenchanted with her fiancé, Mr. Rushworth. He accompanies her on a walk through the grounds of his estate where she is soon to be mistress. A third member of their party is a newcomer to the neighborhood named Mr. Crawford—a carefree cad, captivating young hearts with his provocative manner. Miss Bertram, quite swept away with his charms, flirts into the clutch of his temptations, imprisoning herself in both jealousy, regret, and discontent. She is, after all, in the throes of planning her own wedding to another. Arriving at the threshold of an expanded meadow in the sprawling park, they cannot pass through the locked gate. Here we are presented with a powerful metaphor to illustrate Miss Bertram's fettered heart as she complains, “I cannot get out.” She feels like a victim, imprisoned at the cause of others. Trapped. Unconscious to her own guilt of a heart on the verge of scandal and betrayal. Her outcry is a literary allusion to a line from a late 18th century novel titled, A Sentimental Journey. The words, "I cannot get out, as the starling said," recall an imprisoned starling in the Bastille at the outset of the French Revolution.

Though set free from a metal cage, he is still imprisoned within the tower. He’s able to see beyond an iron trellis to freedom, but cannot pass through it to liberation, and laments, "I cannot get out . . . I cannot get out." Living life trapped behind a trellised window, with all the glories of a heart’s desire within view, but beyond reach, feeds discontentment to the soul. Jane’s metaphor brilliantly exposes this aspect of Miss Bertram’s character. She, like the starling, laments feeling a prisoner on this side of a locked gate. Such has been a common complaint in humans from the time of Adam and Eve. The consequence of their sin imprisoned them, and all their descendants, to life on the down side of the Garden Gate. Miss Bertram expresses a wish of passing through the locked gate into the more promising park beyond, that . . . “. . . their views and their plans might be more comprehensive. It was the very thing of all others to be wished, it was the best, it was the only way of proceeding with any advantage . . . Go therefore they must to that knoll, and through that gate; but the gate was locked.” Though quite determined, Miss Bertram is forced to settle for less. But. For. The. Key. “Mr. Rushworth wished he had brought the key; he had been very near thinking whether he should not bring the key; he was determined he would never come without the key again, but still this did not remove the present evil. They could not get through; and as Miss Bertram's inclination for so doing did by no means lessen, it ended in Mr. Rushworth's declaring outright that he would go and fetch the key. He set off accordingly.”

If you're an Austen fan of Mansfield Park, you’ll remember Mr. Rushworth stops, turns around and heroically goes in the opposite direction to get the key, quite repenting of his carelessness in leaving it behind. Unfortunately, he leaves Miss Bertram behind in the bad company of the unsavory Mr. Crawford. He fills the void of Mr. Rushworth, urging her not to wait for the key, but to squeeze through the gate to the park beyond, achieving her desires by another way. Most inappropriate. Neither Mr. Crawford nor Miss Bertram meet with a desirable end in the story, I'm afraid. The inevitable consequences of their poor choices are quite in keeping with a want of virtuous character on both their parts. Alas! They are doomed to reject redemption. They really ought to have waited for the key, because, you see—there was one. A Key. That thing uniquely designed to open the locked gate so "their views and their plans might be more comprehensive." So, they might see all things perfectly. Now, we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely." 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

Subsequently, they come to possess the Key of Hope, bringing them to the threshold of a vast parkland alive with God's promises. They hunger to take full possession of what they see, though imperfectly. Chaotically, in fact. Paul affirms their desire to possess all God’s best gifts, but rebukes their inappropriate methods of acting on their zeal. You see, in practice they tried to squeeze through the locked gate with the small space afforded them holding only two keys, when in fact, a third key was necessary to unlock and swing wide the gate. Three things will last forever— faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT The Key of Love There’s a melody, like the starling’s bird-song, that plays out of tune in our world, today. It begins within our own discontented hearts. There’s no use pointing fingers assuming our sour notes are the fault of others. The truth finds us out. Zealously we charge forward, unwilling to wait for our Love who has promised to bring us the Key of Love. The key that makes complete. In the waiting comes completeness. In the trying of our patience, the motives of our heart are refined. We are perfected to fit, turning the lock of a balanced three-part harmony in our life-song: Faith, Hope, and Love. God is Love. He is worthy of the wait.

I often think of this scene when tempted to take another way to making my views and plans more comprehensive, complete, and fulfilled, but for some blockage barring my way. Like a locked iron gate. Waiting on the downside of an obstruction, with the promise of the glories beyond in my line of sight, tempts me to devise alternative methods to reach my goals. The key to properly unlock and open the way before me is delayed in coming. Surely, there must be another way because—I WANT IT NOW! Paul addressed this in his letter to the Corinthians. They begin well enough, taking the Key of Faith— setting themselves on the foundation of Christ through their salvation.

But, waiting is hard. Waiting on the Lord to unlock the gate so we might cross the threshold into the fullness of His calling—the good things our Faith gives us Hope for—is hardest of all. We have prayed to such an end for so very long.

Your Love is on His way to you with the Key to unlock the gate. Will you wait, trusting that you will cross the threshold to all the good things and beauty reserved for you at the appointed time? All things in order? Heart motives pure?

Holding fast on this side of the gate . . . waiting . . . seems like a great waste of time when we could be about the business of doing.

If only Miss Bertram had put her Faith and Hope in her betrothed Love, waiting on him for the key to the gate! Instead, she allowed herself distraction and discontentment through the machinations of an evil outsider.

What grace—what love—the boundaries of a locked gate can be in our lives, were we to regard it as a gift, rather than an impediment! Thankfully, Paul gives us a detailed look at how our Faith and Hope should be walked out in the practical of true Love. The motives of our heart must be fit: If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.

He aimed only to exploit her weaknesses and exult himself. Mr. Crawford was quite the villain of the piece, to be sure. Indeed, Jane Austen gives us a cautionary tale here, mirroring profound biblical principles. When story is used to implant God's Word deep into our hearts, our soul motives are exposed. We recognize the reality of ourselves in the person of a fictional character. Should we learn well the lesson, we might change Miss Bertram’s lament to a love song, chirping with delight in joyful tones: "I cannot get GOD out . . . I cannot get GOD out . . . as the starling said . . ."

If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 NLT Have you stepped into another year wondering why a locked gate stands between you and God’s calling and promises on the other side? Is it a ministry you for which you have a passion? Or perhaps it is a specific answer to prayer for healing, a job, relationship, deliverance, provision? Are you zealous to possess the prize before you’ve taken the ordered steps to achieve it?

To enjoy Waiting for the Key of Love: What the Starling Sings dramatized in my February 2017 PODCAST, visit

And those hands have shared in an abundance of happy moments, too. They were there to cradle both of our newborn babies closely to his chest. They shoot basketballs with my son and hit volleyballs to my daughter.

His Hands by Alisha Ritchie

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious hands. Isaiah 41:10 NLT On August 24, 1996, I married my soul mate, Brandon, in front of all of our family and friends. As I walked toward him down the long aisle of the church, butterflies swarmed in my stomach. My palms grew sweaty as I realized every eye in the sanctuary was on me at that precise moment. I smiled as I glided along but on the inside, my nerves threatened to conquer me. Proceeding with the ceremony, we bowed together in prayer at the kneeling bench. As we knelt there, eyes closed, heads down, and hearts open, my hands started to tremble. In the midst of the preacher’s eloquent blessing prayer, Brandon reached over and placed his hand over top of my right hand. He squeezed my palm and kept his hand there throughout the rest of our time on the bench. He spoke no words, but it was as if he was saying to me by his gentle touch,” It’s ok, I’m here for you. Don’t be nervous. Everything will work out fine. I’m here no matter what.” His small act of love warmed my hand and my heart. He brought peace with his touch and calmed my anxiety. From that instant, a calmness washed over me as my nerves were pushed to the back pew and my excitement for the future welled up inside me. I knew we were meant to be and his effect on me further proved the point Throughout our marriage, Brandon’s hands have been there to help calm my nerves and tensions on many occasions. From praying for me, to wiping tears from my eyes, his gentle touch always makes it better. He is always there to take his turn driving the kids to their activities or washing the dishes because I am stressed or too busy to get it all done.

They toss sticks to our rowdy dog as he playfully fetches them. They hold me close as we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. They guide me on beautiful walks on the beach and in the forest as we hike to see waterfalls. They teach small group Bible studies at church and type on the computer countless hours to provide for our little family. Brandon is faithful to always be there, no matter what- just as he “said” to me with his graceful hands on our wedding day. God is a lot like that. He is always available to help me with His trustworthy guidance…any day, any hour, any second. He promises in Isaiah to provide strength and assistance when I’m struggling. He desires to calm my fears and give peace with His presence. He gives hope with the reassurance in my relationship with Him as my Lord and Savior. I have confidence in His ability to be victorious over any obstacle. His relentless love constantly pursues me and continues to work personally in my life every day He cares so much about me (and you) that He reaches out to grasp me tightly with His Holy hand when I’m too feeble to stand on my own. As I think about how God moves in my life, I realize part of God being faithful to His promises in Isaiah is by sending Brandon into my life. He has blessed me with a devoted husband to do life with- through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. It’s almost as if Brandon’s hands are an extension of God’s own hands, always there guiding, protecting, and helping. Take comfort in the knowledge God loves you and wants to share in every part of your life, no matter how big or small. He is dependable and loyal to His Word. He will not fail as you trust Him in every area of your life, giving over all your thoughts, worries, dreams, and hopes to Him. Let the Lord’s hands provide tranquility on your amazing journey of life. Lord, thank you for being my Lord and Savior and for caring so much that You desire to have a personal relationship with me. You are steadfast as You share in all the moments of my life, whether good or bad. Grow my trust in You as I learn to depend on You completely. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

As this New Year opens its gates to many new possibilities, I couldn’t help but sit back and evaluate the current status of my life. The question at the forefront of my mind as I examine my day-today life is always “Am I witnessing enough?” Of course, the answer is a big fat NO. I can come up with a million excuses for why I’m not witnessing as often as I should, but none of those excuses will matter once I come standing face-toface with The Almighty and He asks me why I wasn’t doing whatever I could to further His Kingdom on a daily basis.

Leave Time for the Rest of Them by Courtney Livingston

One of the reasons I think believers have, including myself, for not witnessing enough is because we are already so busy serving in other areas of ministry.

With only a limited amount of time I have to give each week, I was faced with a choice between coaching this cheerleading team at church which would mostly be filled with the children of church-going parents, or join this book club with the intention of making disciples to further the Kingdom.

Between church on Sundays, small group/church during the week, and other ministries scattered throughout, it can be easy to let witnessing to others slip to the back of our minds.

I went with the latter.

After all, serving in ministry is a command for all believers. And while discipling other believers, serving our fellow church members, and giving back using our spiritual gifts are essential in order to maintain a healthy church, we can’t let our duty to witness to unbelievers fall to the back burner.

Sometimes, we need to step out of our comfort zone and ask ourselves if the areas we are serving in are truly benefitting His Kingdom. Millions upon millions of souls are destined for hell, and it is our duty as believers to show them the Way. How can you step out of your ministry comfort zone and reach out to others in an unconventional way?

Ask yourself, when was the last time you led someone to the Lord? Was it this week, this month, this year? When was the last time you shared the gospel with someone you had just met?

If we aren’t intentional about sharing the gospel, we won’t ever do it. I challenge you to find a way you can reach out to nonbelievers, with the purpose of making friendships that lead to converts.

When was the last time you made an intentional relationship with a nonbeliever with the purpose of leading them to Christ?

Whether it be joining martial arts (that’s what my husband is doing!), going to a book club, joining a gym class, or whatever you choose, be intentional, be courageous, and don’t give up.

I know, that’s a lot of questions. But those are questions we must ask ourselves consistently. At the beginning of this year I was given the opportunity to coach my church’s elementary cheer team. At first, I was ecstatic. I inquired about the position, more than ready to give up three nights a week to serve in this ministry. But then I was invited to a book club filled with nonbelievers. Suddenly I felt as though my heart was gripped with indecision.

If there’s one thing all believers have in common, it’s our command to share the gospel. Don’t get comfortable in your ministries- leave some time for the rest of them. The one’s who haven’t been invited, the ones who don’t realize how lost they are, the ones we pass by every day without giving them a second thought. Reach out to them, make time for them, and most importantly, share with them. Matthew 28:19 says Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Book Reviews by Carol Peterson Doesn't She Look Natural? (The Fairlawn Series, Book 1) Angela Hunt While sorting through my Kindle this month, I found oodles of books about Amish women; pioneer women, and women in various periods in history. Then I found a book I hadn't even remembered buying. Doesn't She Look Natural? (The Fairlawn series, Book 1) by Angela Hunt is a contemporary Christian novel about Jennifer Graham, a newly divorced woman with two young boys. She is facing life without a husband or a job, struggling to make sense of her future and trying to listen for God's leading. What makes the book unique is its setting. Early in the story, Jennifer moves her young family away from the fast political pace of Washington DC and into a small Florida community, taking up residence in a funeral home she had inherited. Stay with me here. The idea of a book setting in a funeral home didn't appeal to me either. But Hunt's writing had captured me enough to stick with the book. I was intrigued to see what the character would do with her bizarre circumstances. What impacted me most was how Hunt explored the important work of funeral homes. Society's distaste of everything having to do with death, gives us preconceived ideas of the mortuary business and the people who work in it. The gift of this book was to explore the issue of death as a natural part of God's plan for us on this earth. It showed the people who work in the mortuary business as having a ministry, showing compassion for grieving families by giving them a final, often healing visual image of their loved ones. I've been a fan of Angela Hunt's writing for many years. This book added to my respect for her. In fact, I'm heading out now to pick up book two in the 3-book series. I recommend this book, but as you might expect, I also recommend you grab a box of Kleenex before you begin reading. Doesn’t She Look Natural? By Angela Hunt is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner. Book Two in the series, She Always Wore Red, is also available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

Ken Ken Puzzle by Beth Brubaker Using the numbers 1 – 4 only once in each column and row, use the math clues in the bricks to solve the puzzle. The number is the total within the brick(s) – use the mathematical symbol next to it (- + / x) as the method to find the answer. ANSWER KEYS IN THE BACK OF MAGAZINE

Lord Maybe Tomorrow by Norma C. Mezoe Lord, maybe tomorrow, I’ll talk with you… And maybe tomorrow, your work I will do. I’ll visit the suffering, I’ll pray for the weak, I’ll feed the hungry and encourage the meek. Lord, maybe tomorrow. Lord, maybe tomorrow, I’ll read your Word, And maybe tomorrow, I’ll take up your Sword, Then I heard my Lord softly say, “Tomorrow may not come, today is the day.”

February by Thea Williams A deceptively warm February 40 years ago saw my beloved father experiencing a near-fatal heart attack. I can never forget learning, after enjoying an overnight visit with a school friend, how my mom, hands full with three minor children, no job or even driver's license, elected to leave me an extra day in the company of relative strangers while she dealt with the crisis. I remained there, blissfully unaware that my dad lay critically ill as I dressed Barbie dolls. Fast forward 20 years to February 1991. I shivered on a cold gurney, awaiting surgery which would remove the remains of my unborn child, who had died before ever leaving the womb. Although the calendar said I was only 14 weeks pregnant, this baby already had a name - Abigail - and a huge place in my now broken heart. In short, I was devastated. I remember desperately waiting for the calendar page to turn so I could shudder off the cold, bleak month that had claimed my daughter's life. In February 2003, my precious mother took her last breaths, following years of frail health. Metastasized cancer diagnosed the previous fall caught us all off guard, and swept her away from us in less than three months. While it stings to revisit all this sorrow, I find great comfort in recalling God's mercy during those desolate periods. In wandering through each painfilled song of my life, I find ample evidence of amazing grace rippling through every aching chord. After Dad's heart attack my sister Jane, whose goodness is rivaled only by her practicality, bought Mom driving lessons, rendering her less dependent on her ailing husband. Dad mercifully remained with us another 30 years, longer than any male in his immediate family, although his health was irreparably damaged. He was blessed with good quality of life, thanks to the grace of God and the benefits of 20th century medicine. He lived to see all seven of his grandchildren grow out of diapers and into their school years. The realization that we almost lost him made him that much dearer in our eyes.

While nothing could bring back my Abby, family and friends rallied to bind up my wounds. My sister Jo Ann, herself ready to deliver her second child, realized the seeming unfairness and understood why I couldn't bring myself to visit newborn Madelyn when she arrived March 1. Instead of insisting I celebrate my new niece, Jo and her husband Scott, whom I consider a brother, sent me a glorious begonia with coral blossoms that reminded me life could still bloom even in the starkest winter. For her part, my sister Roz took me out for an expensive haircut, with the thought that a new look might bring a smile to my tear-streaked face. Best of all, the following February found me weeks away from cradling my own darling Aaron, who made his entrance March 16, 1992. Five years later, almost to the day, his precious brother, Ethan, came on the scene. February, indeed, gave way to marvelous March. When Mom was in the last stages of her illness, Jane packed up her suitcases and nursing skills and boarded a flight home across the country. She made it in time to tend our mother and say goodbye. Roz's husband Tom, also more brother than brother-inlaw, came to the rescue, hauling Mom's debilitated body up when she would slip down in her hospital bed. In the aftermath, I cried on the phone with my counselor while emptying Mom's closet. That dear lady wouldn't take a cent for our phone session. A neighbor who had never before been kind cleared snow from our driveway, and others we barely knew showed up to her memorial service. We didn't get through unscathed, but neither were we forsaken. In every season of grief, almighty arms held my family and me high above an abyss of uncertainty and pain. Those arms aren't going anywhere anytime soon. "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27

New from author Jean Ann Williams

Just Claire One mother damaged. One family tested. One daughter determined to find her place. ClaireLee’s life changes when she must take charge of her siblings after her mother becomes depressed from a difficult childbirth. Frightened by the way Mama sleeps too much and her crying spells during waking hours, ClaireLee just knows she’ll catch her illness like a cold or flu that hangs on through winter. ClaireLee finds comfort in the lies she tells herself and others in order to hide the truth about her erratic mother. Deciding she needs to re-invent herself, she sets out to impress a group of popular girls. With her deception, ClaireLee weaves her way into the Lavender Girls Club, the most sophisticated girls in school. Though, her best friend Belinda will not be caught with the likes of such shallow puddles, ClaireLee ignores Belinda’s warnings the Lavenders cannot be trusted. ClaireLee drifts further from honesty, her friend, and a broken mother’s love, until one very public night at the yearly school awards ceremony. The spotlight is on her, and she finds her courage and faces the truth and then ClaireLee saves her mother’s life. Just Claire is now available from Amazon through Ruby’s Reading Corner.

Prayers from a Mother’s Heart by Nina Newton

Prayer journal for moms of all ages Now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner

Shadow Cat in Moonlight by Nina Newton The stories about Shadow Cat are all based on real-life adventures of the beautiful black cat that lived in our neighborhood, on The Street that Was My World. As Shadow Cat prowled, scampered, and played, I watched him through my porch window, and wondered, “What will that Shadow Cat do today?” Through every season, and all through the days, Shadow Cat had exciting excursions under bushes and boats. He hid around corners, and peeked out from under leaves. He silently watched little chipmunks at play, and chased squirrels through the garden, until they scrambled up a tree. So many adventures and stories to tell, of Shadow Cat’s wanderings and silly antics – be watching for the next episode in the escapades of Shadow Cat. Shadow Cat in Moonlight by Nina Newton is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

Messages of Love by Norma C. Mezoe I warmly remember a Valentine’s Day in the early fifties when I was a teen. I wanted to do something special for my family, so I gave each one a homemade card. Imagine the surprise and happiness I experienced later that day when my mother gave me her own homemade Valentine’s card. Many years have passed, but I still remember the love I felt in my mother’s specially made Valentine’s card. God gave each of us a unique Valentine’s card and wrote on it, “I Love You,” in bright letters. God then hung the card on a cross. His message of love will remain forever. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. –John 3:16 (NASB

Circle of Love by Norma C. Mezoe As usual I trudged off to Sunday School alone, the only one in my family who attended. This was a special Sunday, the one before Christmas. Everyone in my class of grade school children had brought a gift for the grab-bag exchange. When the teacher gave a signal, each pupil was to grab a gift. I was shy and was pushed aside as the kids raced excitedly toward the prettiest wrapped packages. I was given the last present in the pile, one suitable for a boy It wasn’t only the disappointment about the gift. I didn’t feel welcome in that class. Eventually, as a sixth grader, I began attending another church. Mrs. Mabes, my new teacher, was a grandmotherly type. She made each girl in her class feel special and loved. As a result of her caring heart, I remained in that church where at the age of fifteen, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. Mrs. Mabes probably never knew the good influence she was in my life. Two teachers touched my young life: the first made me feel excluded but the second drew me into her circle of love. First rights – The Secret Place, published 7/15/08 Reprint rights – Standard, published 10/31/10

“Habits” Puzzle Answer Key by Beth Brubaker

Ken Ken Puzzle Answer Key by Beth Brubaker

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.

Mary Dolan Flaherty is a quirky gal who loves to encourage people and make them laugh. She writes and speaks with self-deprecating humor and transparency, saying what most people think but won’t admit. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, whom she affectionately calls Hubbles, and has two grown children and two grand-dogs. Mary enjoys hiking, theatre, music, gardening, and traveling and can be found blogging at

Kathryn Ross is a writer, speaker, dramatist, and independent publisher at Pageant Wagon Publishing with a mission to nurture the seeds of all good things, innocence, and beauty in the human heart. Her theatrical scripts for church and school, books, and storytelling programs engage young and old with dramatic flair as discipleship tools for homeschool and Christian families. Timeless truths leap from the page and the stage through Pageant Wagon Publishing and Productions—visit her online where she blogs weekly and podcasts monthly at and

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

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

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:

Jewell Utt is a freelance writer and speaker. Her passion is to teach and support the body of Christ to serve in church and community. She is the Director of a Food Outreach and the Women's Ministry Leader at her church. Her retreats encourage women—through the hard places of life—to seek a deeper relationship with Christ. You can visit her website or contact her by "While we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." Galatians 6:10

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.

Marilyn Lesniak is the owner, writer, and most times photographer at Marilyn's Treats. She loves to learn new things and is always improving her recipes, blog designs and articles. If you need guidance she is there to help but is the first to remind you most everything she does is an adventure in trial and error. Come visit in her office/kitchen and see what trouble she is brewing up now at

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

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

Cassidy Burdge is the Christian Prepster, a high school student living the Christian lifestyle in a preppy state of mind. She has a deep love for sharing Christ through her writing and blogging, and she is excited to be part of Ruby Magazine. Cassidy blogs about anything from Biblical teachings to book reviews. You can connect with Cassidy on her blog, The Christian Prepster at

Cindy 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

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

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.

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

Alisha Ritchie writes from North Carolina where she enjoys spending time with her husband, Brandon, of almost twenty years, and two busy but wonderful teenagers, Zack and Abby. She is a Physical Therapy Assistant by profession but in recent years has also become a multipublished author of devotions and inspirational stories to inspire others in their walk with God. You can read more of her writing at

Miriam Jacob is an author and poet in cyberspace, having published a

series of E-Books at She is a book reviewer at CHRISTIAN BOOK DISTRIBUTORS, BARNES AND NOBLE, GOOGLE BOOKS and HARPER COLLINS CHRISTIAN PUBLISHING (BookLook Bloggers). She writes reviews for Christian books, in the categories of literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry and politics. Her articles and book reviews are published on her blog: “AUTHORS FOR CHRIST” Miriam is a member of the Ruby Book Review Team.

Sharmelle Olson is a graphic artist and designer, photographer and poet. She loves to share her poems in the Ruby for Women community magazine. Shar is also an administrator for Ruby for Women Ministries and enjoys helping out around the community and making new friends there. She has been writing poetry and taking photographs since elementary school, and started doing graphic art and design work in the early 2000s. Shar has four children, two of whom are twins. Her first daughter is in her 20s, her son is 14, and her twin daughters will be 13 soon.

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

Courtney Livingston I am a Raleigh based writer and third grade teacher. I seek to do whatever I can to make the world a little brighter. I write about everything from diet tips and travel tips to daily living. I am a writer for both The Wake Weekly and Elite Daily at: A link to my frequent travel adventures can be found on my blog: My articles for The Wake Weekly are published in print each week and read by thousands of readers. A link to the website can be found at:

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

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

Nina Newton, Sr. Editor

When all of 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

Now accepting submissions for the MARCH 2017 issue of RUBY magazine Visit the RUBY blog for all the details: http://www.rubyforwomen/submissions

Until next time!

RUBY Magazine is published by CreativeLife

February 2017 ruby  

The February 2017 issue of RUBY magazine celebrates Valentine's Day and the love of family and friends. Inspirational articles, poems, short...

February 2017 ruby  

The February 2017 issue of RUBY magazine celebrates Valentine's Day and the love of family and friends. Inspirational articles, poems, short...