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The Old Cupboard by FillGloria yourDoty Home with Love! Valentine’s Day DIY Projects for Every Day Home for Christmas by Norma C. Mezoe

God’s Incomparable Love by Sharon L. Patterson

Hospitality: A Warm Simple Gift Defeating the Dreamand Thief by Jehn Kubiak by Shara Bueler-Repka My First Valentine’s Date by Joan Leotta Live Abundantly by Lisa J. Radcliff I Lost My Identity by Living for My Husband by Shoba Sadler Part 2

RUBY Magazine Your voice, your story FEBRUARY, 2019

In This Issue of RUBY Seeing With My Heart by Pat Jeanne Davis

Make these Sweet Little Gingerbread Boys and Girls for Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here at RUBY magazine and community, we wish you the joy and blessings of the season of love. God’s love, and the love of friends and family, all bring warmth to these cold winter days.

“Eternal Father, Strong to Save” Hymn Stories by Diana Leagh Matthews

I hope you will join us this month . . . in this issue of RUBY magazine you will find creative inspiration for your home and family, as well as inspirational articles, devotionals, poetry, short stories, book reviews, crafts and recipes that will be a blessing and encouragement to you ever day of the month. We would love to have you join us in the RUBY community, now on Facebook, so it is really easy for you to connect with us. Here’s the link: Hope to see you there!

How to Have a Truly Lovely Valentine’s Day by Rebecca Hastings

A Lesson from Carl Lee by Norma C. Mezoe

Senior Editor: Nina Newton Editorial Assistant: Theresa Begin Feature Writers: Sharon L. Patterson, Norma C. Mezoe, Shara Bueler-Repka, Lisa J. Radcliff, Jehn Kubiak, Joan Leotta, Diana Leagh Matthews, Cynthia Knisley, Cindy Evans, Carol Peterson, Shoba Sadler, Rebecca Hastings, Pat Jeanne Davis, Rebecca Santos

Love in a Bowl by Cynthia Knisley

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

Creating beautiful designs and dĂŠcor for your graceful home

Visit Graceful Home Studio for inspirational, seasonal, and holiday home dĂŠcor items that will reflect the grace and joy of family life in your home.

Handmade and refashioned garments and accessories from Tatters to Treasures

Baby, it’s Cold Outside! by Nina Newton, Sr. Editor I haven’t been outside of the house for a week. It has been THAT cold here in the midwest. It was SO cold outside that even inside, it was barely above 45 degrees. The furnace just couldn’t keep up with all that bitterly cold air blasting around the windows and doors. Working here at home has it’s advantages, and I am very grateful that I have this opportunity . . . but it was really challenging this week to accomplish much at all. Fortunately, I have a little electric heater that sits here by my desk so in the early mornings when I am teaching my online classes, wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, so at least my feet aren’t completely frozen. After being bundled up in my home for so many days, however, got me thinking about all of the things I am truly grateful for (in addition to the opportunity to work from home). As I watched my sweet hubby bundle up in layers upon layers of sweatshirts, hoodies, gloves, scarves, wool socks, heavy gloves, and insulated coveralls every morning, I was reminded again how blessed we are to have a Daddy that works so hard to provide for us. For many of us, we don’t feel as safe and secure as we would want, and it is difficult to focus on the blessings when we are in the midst of trials, or scarcity, or chaos, or brokenness. We all go through times when we just can’t “feel” the warmth and comfort of another person who cares for us. I learned a long time ago, long before I was blessed with the gift of an amazing life partner, that I simply cannot depend on other people to take care of me. Oh, I am so grateful that I am no longer in a place of constant fear and uncertainty, but I remember the feeling of being all alone. It is in those moments when we must make a choice to face the world where it is all too often cold and lonely. We get to choose how we are going to respond to those times of seeming despair and hopelessness. Will we recognize that this is only temporary, and God alone is the One who can guide us through the darkness? Or will we give in to the feelings of emptiness and abandonment? I have watched people that I love make the choice to reject God’s gift of grace and redemption, and choose another path. A path that leads to utter despair and destruction. I have prayed from them to come in, out of the cold, into the warmth and hope of God’s embrace. But still they wander in the cold darkness of a winter night. Praying for them helps me stay focused on the truth – that these bitter, frigid temperatures are only temporary, and I know that I can look forward to God’s blessings as the days grow a bit longer and the sunlight appears just a few more minutes each day. I pray for each of you, as well as for those I love, who are still searching for the light of God’s love, forgiveness, and grace. How are you handling these really super-cold winter days? Baby, it IS cold outside, but spring is coming! Don’t despair, seek God and His wonderful gift of love and life.

Fill your Home with Love! Valentine’s Day DIY Projects for Every Day

Whenever I think about seasonal home décor, I am reminded that everything that I create or buy for our home is one more thing that will need to be stored somewhere at the next seasonal change. And with the recent trend of “minimalism,” well . . . it just makes me feel ambivalent about bringing even MORE stuff into our house. So, I decided I would see if I could find a few fun DIY projects for late winter and Valentine’s Day that would be simple and inexpensive, in more neutral colors so that they would still look pretty and festive all the way to spring. Here’s what I found to share with you all this month . . . .

Sweetheart Valentine’s Day Wreath from Flamingo Toes If you’ve never visited Flamingo Toes, you are really missing out on some amazing DIY projects! I love this Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Wreath for many reasons, one of which is that it has been created in muted, neutral tones with a touch of blush pink for a gentle touch of femininity. You can find the complete tutorial on the Flamingo Toes blogs.

Valentine’s Day Painted Mason Jars from ADL Magazine Of course, everyone LOVES making DIY projects with Mason jars! They are so versatile, and you can use them for storage or just for decoration. And these painted Valentine’s Day Mason jars have also been designed and created using the soft pastel colors of ivory and blush pink, with chipboard hearts and twine wrapped around the top. Find the tutorial at ADL magazine.

Soft Shades of Love DIY Valentine’s Day Wreath from The DIY Mommy This is an absolutely gorgeous display of soft neutral shades and shapes for Valentine’s Day! This is so sweet and simple, and it would be perfect any time of the year, with any home décor theme you have going on. The beautiful heart-shaped wreath is made from vintage book pages, and you can find the complete tutorial HERE at The DIY Mommy blog.

Words of Love Valentine’s Day Candle in a Jar from BeautyHarmonyLife Such a sweet and simple, creative way to bring the warmth of Valentine’s Day into your home! Another clever DIY project that can be displayed every day of the year, these cute candles could be lined up on a fireplace mantle or a window ledge. Vintage book pages with heart cutouts surround a votive candle nestled safely in craft sand. All tied up with twine (or ribbon if you want a touch of color for Valentine’s Day) and you have charming home décor that will last for many seasons to come.

“All of Me Loves all of You” Farm House style wall hanging from The Dotted Bow Check out the Pinterest board of The Dotted Bow to see all of the beautiful home and family designs, all in gorgeous neutral shades. From rustic wreaths to heart-shaped wall hangings, garlands, banners, and pallet signs, you will be inspired to create your own DIY home décor projects. Or you can click through to her Etsy shop and purchase one of her hand-crafted designs.

How to Have a Truly Lovely Valentine’s Day by Rebecca Hastings “Valentine’s Day is coming!” my daughter exclaimed surrounded by pink and red hearts at the store. “Yup.” I replied, swiftly pushing my cart past the displays. Valentine’s Day has long been a holiday that caused in inner battle for me. On one hand I spout that it’s a silly Hallmark holiday and we should show people we love them every day. Of course while I’m saying this I secret long for sweet declarations of everlasting love, preferably with a heart -shaped box of chocolates and flowers.

Here’s a few ideas to keep the sanity and spread the love:

And therein lies the problem. I hate it and love it all at once, so maintaining my expectations is precarious to say the least. Especially for my husband.

Heart Butterfly Craft Fruit Loop Heart Bird Feeder Heart Shaped Ninja Turtle Super Easy Heart Wreath Teddy Bear Graham Cookies Holding Conversation Hearts

None of this is ideal for a day all about love. Instead of letting the war rage I’ve decided to be honest, embrace the best of it and let the rest go. Here’s how.

Valentines – The most important part of Valentines is to know what you’re dealing with. Know the rules, get the class list, know if your kid needs a special box or if a grocery bag will do.

First, I’m reminding myself where love comes from.

Knowing what is required ahead of time saves you from a massive headache later.

When I remember that God is love and Valentine’s Day is about love, it takes the pressure off creating some magical greeting card holiday, and shifts the focus to love those around me well.

Next is to get them early and work on a few each day instead of a tear filled cram session the night before. This makes a big difference, especially for the little ones.

To do that I’ve divided things into two main two categories because, well, there’s love with kids and there’s love with the hubby.

Finally, remember you are not trying to outdo anyone else. Do what works for you and move on.

Ready to get started?

No one really remembers who gives the valentine with the best sticker.

Kid and Family Ideas Simple Kid Craft – I’m not talking Pinterest here.

Snuggles – Use this time to remember what is important. Be together, and my favorite way to do that is with extra snuggle time and books.

Well, okay, you can find it on Pinterest, but it needs to be simple. An hour or less start to finish. No crying, no wishing you had never started, and preferably no glitter.

Serve Someone – Thinking about others is a great way to show the love outside your family. Work together and color pictures or grab some premade cookie dough and bake.

It’s always a good time to remember people who are important to you like school staff, police, fire and ems workers, library staff, and homeless shelters. You can even bring some dog treats to the animal shelter. The point is spreading the love together! Romantic Ideas Be Honest -- Think about what you really want from your spouse and be honest. Saying you don’t want anything if you really want to be surprised with a dozen long-stemmed roses is a no win situation. It is okay, even preferred, to communicate what would make you feel special. And don’t forget to give your partner the same opportunity. Think Ahead – If going out is important, plan ahead and get a sitter on the calendar. It’s a popular night to go out so make sure you book early and pay well. If you want a certain type of flowers, order them ahead of time. If you want to eat at a certain restaurant, make a reservation. You’ll be glad you did. Think Outside the Box – Be flexible with what you do and when you do it. If you can get away for a Valentine breakfast or lunch while the kids are at school, go for it! If you want to celebrate the day after, decide on the details and make it happen. Whatever you do, make your plan so you don’t feel like you both forgot. Celebrate at Home – This is my favorite. Grab a special dessert and a bottle of bubbly to have at home after the kids are asleep. Light candles and enjoy being together in the peace and quiet of your own home.

Remember When – Take a few minutes and go down memory lane. Look at old pictures or even your wedding video. Tell funny stories, visit a favorite place, or do something you used to do when you were first together. For a bonus, you can look at how to love other people in your circle. How can you show the cashier love today? What about the secretary at the kids’ school or the person in the next cubicle? Sharing love doesn’t have happen on February 14th, but it’s a great reminder to love others well. The best way to enjoy Valentine’s Day is to do what works for you! Be purposeful about celebrating this day devoted to love. “We love because He first loved us,” John 13:34

Learning to Appreciate the Positives on Valentine’s Day by Jehn Kubiak

Imagine this scenario. Peter always gets home at 8 p.m., even though he’s only required to stay at the office until 6 p.m. His wife, Katie, constantly asks him to come home on time; to join her and the kids for dinner. Even so, Peter constantly makes excuses: “We need someone to provide for this family,” or “We can’t get through life without work.” Katie once really appreciated Peter’s tender heart towards others and the way he affirmed her. Now she only thinks about his lack of generosity or selflessness. Sadly, this has become more common over the last decade. As spouses cope with several demands, children, and their own marital life. They forget the reasons why they love each other––they only see each other’s flaws instead of their positive qualities. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Valentine’s Day can act as a powerful antidote for relationships that have gone awry. Valentine’s Day reminds people to be thankful for the important people in life. It allows us to step outside ourselves and care for one another––especially that special someone in our life, whether that’s a boyfriend/girlfriend, a best friend, a beloved parent, or a husband/wife. God calls his children to love one another; after all, love is the mark of a disciple of Christ. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” John 13:35. Furthermore, marriage serves as a way for humans to understand God’s love for his children and Christ’s love for the church, who is his bride. How grateful can we be for Christ’s love and the things he has done in our lives if we can’t even appreciate our spouse? Life happens sometimes, and people will yell at each other. They’ll say things they don’t mean out of frustration, anger, or sadness. Despite this, people often hold grudges and can’t forgive each other.

Place yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about what it’s like for them. It’s possible they’re not really angry––they’re just tired and overworked. Or maybe it’s not that they don’t have time; they’re just anxious and don’t know how to cope. Affirmation is powerful. People need to know that they’re loved, cared for, and cherished. Even a simple “You’re the brightest star in the sky, and I’m glad God pointed me to you,” is enough. Wives, remind your husband how much you appreciate his hard work; husbands, remind your wife how beautiful her love is for the kids. This Valentine’s Day, sit down with your spouse and make a list of the things you appreciate most about them. Spend at least a good 15 minutes on this exercise. Afterward, read your list out loud to each other. Feel free to keep this list in your journal or Bible to look at each day and remember why you love your spouse. Learning your spouse’s love language is another way to let them know how special they are to you. Knowing someone’s love language is crucial because not everyone gives nor receives love in the same way. Therefore, someone who ranks low on words of affirmation may not receive compliments as “loving,” while someone whose love language is words of affirmation may not appreciate physical touch. Love is difficult, especially when you live with the same person for the majority of your life. However, beautiful times bloom from hardships, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the amazing spouse God has placed in your life.

Words by William Whiting, Tune by John B. Dykes Hymn Stories by Diana Leagh Matthews In December, at the funeral of President George H. W. Bush, the hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” was sung. This was a song I recognized from the last line of the first verse. The title I was familiar with was “For Those in Peril on the Sea”. My familiarity with the hymn under this title, came from the hymn’s connection to the Titanic. This was the hymn strongly believed to have been sung on that fateful Sunday of April 14, 1912, at the close of the worship service only hours before the famed liner collided with an iceberg. The hymn was written by William Whiting, who was an Anglican churchman from Winchester, England. He was born on November 1, 1825 in Kensington, England. He was educated at Chapman College and Winchester College. Whiting grew up on the coasts of England and was very familiar with the sea. He was a poet and published two poetry collections in 1851 and 1867. When he was thirty-five years old, a violent storm nearly claimed the ship he was sailing on. He felt God spared his life as he called on him to calm the sea. Years later, in 1860, while headmaster of the Winchester College Chorister’s School, where he served for 36 years, a student approached him who was about to travel to the United States. The student confided his fear of the upcoming voyage and Whiting shared his own experiences of the ocean and wrote this hymn “to anchor his faith.” He is believed to have been inspired by Psalm 107 in his writings.

We can see where he drew for inspiration: Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. (Psalm 107: 23–26) In 1861, his text first appeared in the Hymns Ancient and Modern. Whiting continued to revise his text as his poem spread throughout England. William Whiting died on May 3, 1878 in Winchester, about the time the Navy of both his home country of Great Britain and across the ocean in the United States began using his popular hymn. John B. Dykes {1823-1876}, an Anglican minister, composed a tune known as “Melita” to accompany the hymn. Melita was the island the Apostle Paul reached after he was shipwrecked. John Bacchus Dykes was born on March 10, 1823 in Hull England. By the age of 10, he was the assistant organist at St. John’s Church, where his grandfather was vicar. He studied at Wakefield and St. Catherine’s College and co-founded the Cambridge University Musical Society. He was ordained as curate of Malton in 1847. He published many sermons and articles on religion but is best known for his hymn tunes. He died in Sussex on January 22, 1876 at the age of 53. Dykes was a well-known composer of over three hundred tunes. Some of his tunes include: “Holy, holy, holy!” “Lord God Almighty!”, “Jesus, lover of my soul; All Hail the power of Jesus name; Our blest Redeemer, ere He breathed; and O perfect love, all human thoughts transcending.” The hymn was soon popularized and adopted by the Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Air Force, British Army, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps. Each particular branch of the service altered the lyrics to represent their branch. For this reason, the hymn is often referred to as Hymn of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, the Royal Navy Hymn, the United States Navy Hymn (or just The Navy Hymn), and sometimes by the last line of its first verse, “For Those in Peril on the Sea”. The Royal Navy began using the hymn before 1879, which was when the U. S. Navy first recorded the hymn and began to use it in both academy ceremonies and church services. On August 9, 1941, the hymn was sung at a service aboard the Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales, in which both Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt were in attendance. The service commemorated the creation of the Atlantic Charter. The hymn has been sung at a number of funerals including those of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush. All of these presidents {except Reagan} served in the U.S. Navy. The song was also performed for the memorial services of the USS Cole and USS Maine and the funerals of news broadcaster Walter Cronkite and Senator John McCain.

Find more FREE Valentine’s Day printables at Raising our Kids.

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

Kids’ Korner fun with them!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond “Join Mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as he celebrates Valentine’s Day with all the friends he loves. This board book with sturdy pages is perfect for preschoolers, who will enjoy the simple introduction to the fun of Valentine's Day. This title follows Mouse as he makes valentines for all of his friends," said School Library Journal. "Each valentine is made to represent what he loves most about each of his friends, such as Pig 'because she's a good dancer' and Bunny 'because she's the best at hide-and-seek.'" Budding artists and crafters will love this book, perfect for pairing with Valentine's Day activities. A surprise at the end adds to the read-aloud fun!

Best Son Ever: Blank book, Sketch book, Draw and Paint Journal Having trouble coming up with a way to tell your teen or pre-teen son how much you love him? Here’s an idea! This blank book / sketch pad will let him know he is special while encouraging him to be creative. Especially great for a young man who is an aspiring writer or artist!

Best Daughter Ever: Blank book, Sketch book, Draw and Paint Journal This is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your teen or pre-teen daughter. Inspire and encourage creativity with this blank book where she can write poetry or stories, paint or draw pictures, or create an art journal.

Visit RUBY’S Reading Corner where you can find these books for Valentine’s Day along with many other family-friendly titles for you and your family.

Defeating the Dream Thief by Shara Bueler-Repka

I dreamed I could step off that cliff. In my mind, I sailed off it like there was nothing to it. But in reality, here I stood, strapped into my harness, secured with ropes, frozen in fear. Sure, it was an 80 foot cliff, but the other kids didn’t seem to have a problem as they rappelled down this rock-monster. I felt like such a wimp. But I couldn’t move. I had practiced on small boulders and easier outcroppings and figured I was more than ready to tackle this beast. I even swaggered a bit as I made my way across the top of the rock to get geared up. But no matter how hard I tried to convince myself I’d be OK, and no matter how hard my youth leader tried to encourage me, my body wasn’t getting the memo of the mind-over-matter-thing. I guess no one would really blame me as I teetered on the edge. I could almost hear “them”: “I don’t blame you a bit!” Or even, “You’re nuts! I wouldn’t do that if you paid me a million bucks!” Or, “So what? Who cares whether you do it or not? It’s not a matter of life or death.” (Well, that last part apparently was debatable, because I couldn’t budge.) “Come on,” my friend, Landyn encouraged. “You’ve got this. Just don’t look down. Focus on the rock face.” A cold breeze blew through my hair, but sweat trickled down my cheek. Finally, the youth leader walked to my side. “How about letting some of the other kids have a turn,” he said gently. “You can hang out, relax and try again later.”

I was relieved and disappointed in myself all at the same time. The climbing/rappelling crew unbuckled my gear, and I shuffled my way to the pile of extra ropes and helmets. My dream of being the heroine that conquered the mountain was slowly dwindling. Laughter and whoops echoed off the craggy walls. I wanted to join the fun so badly! “Just do it!” I scolded myself in frustration. As the sun made its way towards the horizon, I sighed in defeat as the youth leaders and older kids packed the gear to head for home. Landyn sat beside me and jiggled my shoulder. “Hey, don’t sweat it. You can try again next year.” As the bus bumped and jolted down the dirt road, I stared at the sagebrush sailing past the window. All year long that cantankerous hunk of rock invaded my thoughts. Mocked me in my dreams. “Lord,” I prayed, “maybe this shouldn’t be a big deal…but it is. Please help me conquer that cliff!” As the weeks turned into months, I counted the days until I could face my challenge again. I remembered my panic as I stood frozen on that edge. I had felt totally out of control. Somehow I needed to learn to trust that the ropes and harnesses wouldn’t break. To trust my youth leaders to get me out of trouble if I got hung up. And, most of all, I had to trust God that He would keep me safe. When the climbing season finally rolled around again, the youth leaders took us to easier climbing/rappelling locations to get in shape for the tougher ones. Finally, the big day arrived. The church van rumbled and bumped down the familiar washboard road. The towering Joshua trees zipped past my window. This was it. The moment of truth. Would I conquer? Or would I freak? The van finally came to a squeaky halt at the trailhead. Youth leaders and kids piled out and hiked the trail toward the climbing rocks. We followed the path around sagebrush and boulders. And then, rounding a bend in the trail, there it was. The huge rock beast! I stared up at its menacing face. My mouth felt like cotton and my heart pounded like it would bounce out of my chest. A hand patted my shoulder. Landyn had walked up beside me. “You can do this,” he said. “I know you can.” I looked at that rock again. “Yeah,” I nodded. “I’m taking you this time.” We all finally stood on the smooth top of the rock, listening as our youth leader finished his instructions. “You can do this,” I whispered to myself. “You can do this!” “Ready?” The question was directed at me, interrupting the pep talk with myself. “Yep,” I replied, trying to sound confident.

The youth leader strapped me into the climbing harness while the other leaders checked all the ropes, carabiners, and every inch of all the equipment. “You’re good to go!” they said. My heart jumped. I stepped to the rim of the cliff. Looking out over the high desert, I whispered, “Lord, please keep me safe, help me remember what I’ve learned, and give me courage to do this!” As I turned around and placed the balls of my feet on the edge, I suddenly felt brave. Excitement (the good kind) replaced my fear as I slowly lowered my hind end out into space. The last thing I saw was Landyn’s hopeful face as I disappeared over the ledge. The rope slid smoothly through my fingers as I walked my way down the face of the cliff. Before I knew it, my feet touched the soft desert sand at the bottom. The rappel was over too soon! Cheers from my friends and youth leaders rang out across the desert. Nothing could stop me now! I joined in the fun with my friends as we raced each other down that rock the rest of the day!

Visit RUBY’S Reading Corner where you can find Walk Like a Warrior by Shara BuelerRepka along with many other family-friendly titles for you and your family.

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

Seeing With My Heart by Pat Jeanne Davis

John and I should be celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary, but it looked like there would be no celebration. We were spending three weeks with John’s family and friends in England and they included me in everything. But today was to be an outing in the park with our two boys.

The camera was ready, and I looked around for background that would make good memories later on. Then, I took my bag, draped it over my arm and snapped several pictures. Soon, I began to worry about John and decided we needed to return to the parking lot. There stood my husband beside the rental car.

However, John had left me there with Josh and Johnny and I was feeling neglected. I paused to watch large white clouds move across a bright blue sky, irritated that I couldn’t share the beautiful scenery with my husband. In three days we would return home.

“Where have you been?”

My sons and I stopped by a stream and watched the ducks glide by. A marching band played nearby.

When the car began to move, I reached into my purse for my glasses and put them on. Now I was getting a headache and my vision was blurred.

Josh, my youngest, held up a camera. “Mom, take my picture.” I took off my glasses and dropped them into my bag. “Hold this while I get the camera set,” I said. “And stand over there.” I pointed to the bandstand where red, white, and pink flowers in large baskets hung along the side. Josh began to swing my bag round and round. “Stop that,” I said, and turned to make sure Johnny was nearby.

He grinned. “Around.” Could he not even give an explanation? Had he not wanted to spend today with me? With our boys?

I rested my head on the back of the car seat and closed my eyes. My son touched my shoulder. “Hey, Mom, you’ve lost the lens in your frame.” I opened my eyes, only momentarily relieved. “What’ll I do without my glasses?” He spoke reluctantly. “They fell out, but I put them back in your bag.”

“Oh, Joshua! You shouldn’t have swung my bag.” “Sorry,” he said softly. As soon as he could, John turned the car around. “We’ve got to go back to the spot where you stood.” Back and forth, again and again, the four of us searched the grass, the shrubs, and the banks of the stream for the missing lens. The setting sun sent shadows across the grass. Soon, the sun began to set. “It’s no use,” I said. “I'll replace my glasses when we get back home.” My husband got down on all fours to look again. “Just one more swipe around,” he promised. I began to see my husband with my heart and less with my eyes. I stooped down beside him. “You’ve done enough. Please, let’s go.” “This is so embarrassing,” Johnny said, ducking his head as a group of young boys walked by and looked our way. “I’ll never do that,” Josh said. John got up, hands and knees dirty. “Don’t count on that.” He winked at me. “That’s what love is all about, son.” *** The next day John surprised me by announcing he’d arranged for his mother to watch our boys so we could celebrate our special day. “Where are you taking me?” I asked as we left the house. “Just wait and see.”

Later, I turned to him in the car. “This road seems so familiar.” “How would you know that since you say you can’t see anything without your glasses,” he teased. So I closed my eyes and listened to the CDs we'd brought along. Then John parked the car and faced me. “I picked these up while you were taking all those pictures with the boys.” I could hear the love in his voice and see the light in my husband’s eyes. He held out two tickets to my favorite musical at the Theatre in the Park―the same park we’d visited yesterday. My heart skipped a beat. He placed them on my lap. “Only pair of tickets left for the last show.” Then he took my hand and placed my glasses in it, intact. “I came back here with my flashlight last night. You should be able to see the stage clearly now.” My eyes pricked with tears. “But where did you find the lens?” “Not far from the stream.” He leaned over and kissed me. “Happy anniversary, sweetheart.” “It couldn’t be a better one. Happy anniversary, hon,” I said, aware that I needed to appreciate my husband more for all his wonderful expressions of love every day. Now, that’s something to celebrate.

NEW from author Pat Jeanne Davis

When Valleys Bloom Again A Novel of World War II Available from RUBY’S Reading Corner

God’s Incomparable Love by Sharon L. Patterson Behold the incomparable love of God! It is simple in message, yet difficult to comprehend. The nearest thing we have to grasping its details is the earthly love of mothers and fathers. Mothers lay down their lives to give us birth and nurture our bodies and souls: fathers give provision, security and boundaries to navigate life. Both teach us as best as each one is able how to give and receive love so that we can grow up and repeat the process for our families. Limited by the humanly flawed examples that reared them, the messages concerning love may be often skewed. Although desiring to convey every right and good thing about love, they never the less teach more through what they do than what they have been taught as right. It is the difference between human love and divine love. There is something deep within our being that knows there has to be a more perfect love than what we have experienced. That thing within us has been placed specifically by God into our hearts. Once we hear about God’s love through preaching or through the testimonies of those who have received it, God’s incomparable love dawns as a very real possibility. When we accept it, it becomes our living reality. There is no copy or facsimile. It stands out and stands alone-incomparable. Observe the differences below: God’s Love /selfless

Earthly Love/selfish

L… lasting O…overcoming V…victorious E…eternal

L…limited O…often over V…victimizing E…elementary

The two sources of love are very different in nature because one is perfect and the other is flawed. The selfless love of God remains simple, viable, and applicable because he verbalized it to us in his love letter for humanity found in John 3:15: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The undeniable example of his love was delivered in flesh and blood. Jesus showed us the selfless love of God not only in what he believed but in everything he did; including living the perfectly good and righteous life we humans have struggled so unsuccessfully to do. Then, Jesus died for our unsuccessful attempts at righteousness (called sin). He paid sin’s penalty and then rose from the dead to give us eternal love and eternal life. Now that kind of love is INCOMPARABLE! A few understandings from God’s love letter, the Bible, give greater insight: I-(Ephesians 1:4): “For he chose us IN him before creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. IN love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and his will,” N-(1Corinthians 13:8): “Love NEVER fails.” Also, (Joshua 1:5): “I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.” C-(Deuteronomy 7:9): “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, he is the faithful God, keeping his COVENANT of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” O-(1Peter 4:8): “Love covers OVER a multitude of sins.” M-(Psalm 109::26): “Help ME, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with your love.” P-(Psalm 119:164): “PEACE have they who love your law.” Also (1Corinthians 2:9):”No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has PREPARED for those who love him.” A-(Psalm 103:8): “The Lord is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, ABOUNDING in love.” R-(Psalm 145:8): “The Lord is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and RICH in love.” A-(Matthew 28:20): “…And surely, I am with you ALWAYS, to the very end of the age.” B-(Song of Solomon 2:4): “His BANNER over me is love.” L-(2Samuel 7:15: a): “But my LOVE will never be taken away from him…” E-(Psalm 118:2): “His love ENDURES forever.” As we have considered God’s love, there is one great scripture to tie it altogether: (1John 3:1:a): “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” Now, may we accept and experience God’s incomparable love through our relationship to his Son, Jesus!

Make these Sweet Little Gingerbread Boys and Girls for Valentine’s Day!

We traditionally think of gingerbread cookies at Christmas time, but why not dress up a batch of gingerbread boys and girls for Valentine’s Day! Here’s an old-fashioned recipe for gingerbread cookies that have been loved for generations, only this time they are wearing pretty pink, purple, red, and white garments. Have fun!

Gingerbread Cookies            

1-1/2 C dark molasses 1 C packed brown sugar 2/3 C cold water 1/3 C shortening 7 C flour 2 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. ground allspice 2 tsp. ground ginger 1 tsp. ground cloves 1 tsp. ground cinnamon Royal Icing

Royal Icing      

1/4 C meringue powder (or 2 egg whites) 1/2 C water (eliminate if you’re using fresh egg whites) 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 C powdered sugar 1/2 tsp. vanilla Food coloring Colored sugar

Combine meringue powder and water, whip to soft peaks (if using fresh eggs, just whip to peaks). Add vanilla, then 4-1/2 C sugar to combine. If icing is too soft, add more sugar, if it gets too stiff, mix in more water by the tablespoon. Separate into 3 bowls, and add food coloring.

Let’s make it! Heat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix until smooth: molasses, brown sugar, water and shortening. Add remaining ingredients (except frosting). Roll dough about 1/4” to 3/8” thick on a floured board. Cut out with heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet – about 1” apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and decorate with Royal Icing.

Finding Jesus Each Month The Flowers of February: Irises and Violets by Carol Peterson

The iris is the main flower for February. Its stalks are tall and sturdy; its flowers large and showy. Although we generally think of irises as purple, they come in all colors. In fact, the name “iris” comes from the Latin word for rainbow. God’s promise to mankind is represented visually in the sky every time we see a rainbow. The rainbow reminds us—and Him—of His everlasting love for us, ultimately made flesh through Jesus. The leaves of the iris remind us of Jesus, too. They are sword shaped. The sword of God—according to Ephesians 6—is the Word of God. The Word of God, explained in John 1:14 is Jesus himself. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). The word “iris” also refers to the part of our eye that helps focus our vision. It is the eyeball muscle, the thing that expands and contracts to control the size of our pupil. Jesus recognized the relationship between seeing physically and seeing spiritually, when He asked the disciples: “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” (Mark 8:17-18) The iris flower then can be a reminder to see through Jesus’ eyes. To look where He points. To focus on Him. The violet is the secondary flower for February. The small, soft blossoms and velvety leaves remind us that humility, humbleness and gentleness are precious to God. Its name reflects the color most common to violets—purple, the color of royalty. The color of King Jesus. Both the iris and the violet represent faith and hope. More than anything, this reminds us that the basis for our hope of heaven is our faith in Jesus. The Iris is the state flower of Tennessee. The violet is the state flower of Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. This article is the second in a year-long series about flowers of the month. You can find out more in the book, Flowers, Gemstones & Jesus: Finding Jesus in the Months of the Year, by Carol Peterson, available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

Strawberry Solution by Joan Leotta Cherokee lore says strawberries are the fruit tossed in the path of an angry woman fleeing home. Entranced by their beauty, she tasted one. Sweetness charmed away her anger. Tonight, I ponder this as I slice these heart-shaped treats onto ice cream for my dearest and myself. We argued this morning.

My First Valentine’s Date by Joan Leotta

In all my 29 years, no one had ever asked me out on Valentine’s Day. So, when Joe, the handsomest, smartest, nicest, (in my mind) single man in our young adult Bible study told me he would like to take me to dinner on Valentine’s Day…….. My face turned red and I began to stammer. My excitement about a date with the man of my dreams was not the only factor. You see, I had a tradition of taking my elderly neighbor, Miss Ranahan to dinner on Valentine’s Day. In fact, just a week earlier I had called to confirm our date and made the reservation at one of her favorite Washington DC restaurants. “I would love to go, but I can’t” was my breathy reply to Joe. He looked puzzled and so I continued. “You see, I’m taking Miss Ranahan to dinner. It’s one of our regular appointments and I can’t disappoint her.” Joe looked at me. “Who is Miss Ranahan?” “She is an elderly woman—turning eighty this year. She was my neighbor in my old apartment building. I visit her fairly often and well, I asked her if she would like to go to dinner on Valentine’s Day. I’ve taken her the past two years.” For a moment I thought about asking him to go with us. But Joe and I had only had a few dates and I was also afraid it would make Miss Ranahan feel like she was “in my way.” After all, I had never mentioned Joe to her. “Will you be out really late?” he asked. “No, Miss Ranahan likes to eat early, so I will be on my way home by eight, eight-thirty.” “So, do you think you could stop by my house on your way home?”

That would be easy since I now lived with three other girls from the Bible study in a rented house, a few streets over from the house where Joe lived with two men from the study. “Sure,” I answered. I had a wonderful time with Miss Ranahan. She was one of my favorite people. We talked and laughed about things at work. I told her about Joe—that we had been out a few times and that he had asked me out that night. “You should have gone, dear. I would have understood.” “No, I had a date with you first, Miss Ranahan! No way, I would break it. Anyway, I think he has a card for me. I’m stopping over no my way home. I got one for him too.” I showed it to her— “Nothing mushy. I don’t know him very well.” I took Miss Ranahan home and drove to Joe’s house. I rang the bell and he came out. It was a warm night for February. He handed me a box of chocolates and a card. “Thought you might like these.” Understatement of the year! At that time Fannie Mae chocolates had a gold outline of a dancing couple on their heart-shaped candy boxes. After the chocolate was gone, I cut out that little couple and saved it. The little golden figures in their white glossy circle reside in my treasure box. Joe and I have been married for 41 years. Miss Ranahan stood in for my long-departed Grandmother at our wedding. And Joe, he told me that one of the things that convinced him that I was the one for him was that first Valentine’s date—that I kept my appointment with Miss Ranahan rather than going out with him.

A Lesson from Carl Lee by Norma C. Mezoe

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:2 (NIV) Have you ever learned a lesson from a dog? My friend, Ruth, has. Here’s her story. “I live in the country, and through the years people have abandoned dogs and cats in front of my house. Several of those animals became permanent residents. All have been given loving care, but a few have become special to me. Quite often, they have not only been my four-legged friends, but they have also been my teachers. Twice a day I give my dogs treats, which they look forward to with eagerness. One day as I handed them the treats, I wanted Carl Lee, one of my favorites, to look at me as I talked to him. ‘Carl Lee, would you please look at me? Look at my face, not what’s in my hand.’ But his thoughts were focused only on the treats and his anticipation in receiving them. I thought, that’s how I am with God at times. He blesses me with so many good things but often, like Carl Lee, my eyes are on God’s hands and what he’s holding in them to give me. I fail to place my attention on God himself and to offer praise and my love for who he is. I love Carl Lee and wish he would show more love to me because of who I am, not because of the gifts I give. Even though that may never happen, I’ll continue giving him loving care. Just as God will never stop loving me even when I look to what he holds in his hands for me rather than focus on the love he offers from his heart.” God gives his gifts because he loves us. He gives willingly and freely. Will we look into his face and see his eyes of love or will we, like Carl Lee, only look at his hands to see what he holds? First Rights –, published online 01/29/18

From the Heart of God by Norma C. Mezoe After an x-ray revealed a large black spot on my liver, I was given a cat-scan to pinpoint the problem area. While waiting for the results, I became apprehensive and imagined the worst. But God gave reassurance in an almost unbelievable way. I was making cookies and had placed cocoa and other dry ingredients into a bowl. When I emptied this mixture into a smaller bowl, traces of the cocoa remained in the larger one. I poured cooking oil into the larger bowl and instantly the traces of cocoa were drawn as by a magnet to the center of the bowl. They formed the outline of a perfectly shaped heart. The heart shape remained until I stirred the mixture. I felt God’s love and peace wrap tightly around me like a warm cocoon. Whatever the results of the scan, I knew God would be with me. I had his promise, found in Matthew 28:20 NIV, “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” When the scan was read, the spot had disappeared.

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

Parenting from a United Front – Us against the Kids by Rebecca Santos

She was so excited! I could practically hear her little heart beating out of her chest. I curled her hair and put on some tinted lip gloss. I knew these memories would be one for me to cherish for years to come. Julie deserved to go. I was right, and my husband was wrong, or so I thought. That was the beginning of some very unhappy months at our house. We were all slamming doors, kids and parents. My husband felt so disrespected, and he should have! Julie was just starting middle school, and she wanted to go to the dance with a boy. I thought I was doing what was best for Julie by letting her go and experience her first date. I wanted to give her a fun mom memory of getting all dolled up and putting on a frilly dress. …But I had made the wrong choice; the rule was set, and she was too young to date. What I had really done was create friction in my marriage. Instead, I taught her to disobey and deceive based on my actions. We both knew her dad had said no. I should have been the adult and enforced the rules, but I wanted to be the fun one!

It was like I didn’t care about what he thought and I was not united with him. I went behind his back and told my daughter that what he said was not important. I didn’t realize to him; that was the same as me saying HE was unimportant. Deep down I wanted to be THAT mom. I wanted to be the mom who is always on the same page with her husband. You know, those parents where their child runs into the room to ask a question, and the parents have an entire conversation with just their eyes? They are in tune; they are on the same page and that’s why we need to present a united front to our children. Presenting a united front shows strength, and it shows unyielding power. You cannot easily break apart a united front. Currently, our children now know that if Dad says No, you better not go ask Mom to get a different option. The first answer is the only answer! We are united in everything big and small; from dating to dessert before dinner, my husband and I are always on each other’s team and it’s made our marriage so much better. Presenting a united front to my children is something my husband and I work at constantly.

We want to show them that our rules are concrete and that we respect what each person has to say. We make it our commitment to uphold our rules together and never under cut each other in front of the children. Deciding to agree100% with our spouse when disciplining our kids has improved our marriage so much. When I was kid, I remember pulling the wool over my parents’ eyes. I would ask my mother, and if she said no, I knew my dad would let me. When I became a parent, I used those same dangerous views on parenting in my own home. I would let the rules slide a little too often because I wanted to be the fun parent and I always made the kids’ dad play bad cop. I was not presenting a united front - I’m not even sure I was on the same side of the battle field for a lot of those battles. I understand now, my husband must have felt like he had four kids instead of three and no wife or support back in the early years. We are setting our children and ourselves up for failure by allowing our kids to do something that our spouse has disagreed on. My husband and I now have an understanding. We decide on rules together, and if we disagree on something, we always discuss with each other in privacy. We decided for us to be a united front, we needed to always be on the same page when we are talking to the kids about rules or discipline. There are certainly plenty of issues faced by parents, when it comes to raising kids. And when it comes to these issues, one of the most challenging is ironically, not the kids, but rather the parents themselves.

When it comes to managing these issues, here are several strategies that parents can use. 1) Be Supportive of Each Other If there is one thing that my spouse hated, was the feeling that there was no support from me as his partner. In this regard, support your partner in whatever work they are doing to care for the kids and work on having a mutual understand. 2) Decide on the Right Manner of Parenting Together One of the biggest sources of conflict is disagreement on how to raise kids. Ensure that you discuss the right manner of parenting, before you begin working on it. This is important, if your focus is on creating a successful united front. 3) Do Not Put Your Spouse Down In Front Of Your Children If there is one thing that will sabotage the parenting process, it’s this. The reason for this is because doing so will give your children mixed messages and make them less inclined to follow what is told to them. Examples of this include things like, denouncing the spouse, telling your kids to do something that is the exact opposite of what your spouse has told, etc. The way to get around this is to discuss beforehand on what needs to be done about some parenting aspect, before actually doing it. 4) Seek Professional Help Parents quite often lack the right knowledge on how to raise a child. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you feel that you need it. 5) Make Time for One Another and Listen To Each Other Last but not the least in setting up a united front, is making time for each other. This is not related to parenting but being parents can lead to a strain on relationships with each other. This in turn can lead to couples drifting apart, among other issues. Therefore, work on making time for your spouse and learning to listen to each other It is completely ok and even expected to have a different perspective from your spouse on some decisions - this parenting thing is hard, but having you and your spouse as a team makes the job a lot easier

Rise and Shine by Cindy Evans At breakfast time, I heard my family, "Rise and shine," they said, "Come alive, be with us, leave your warm, comfy bed…" And suddenly, it struck me, why that day, I don’t know, but God is calling us each morning, to rise and shine and go! Go out into the world as bearers of His light, out where those in darkness need a hope that's shining bright... Rise and shine for there’s many who are looking, who are lost, paying the price of independence not realizing the cost – Rise and shine with Good News you’ve been entrusted to, someone needs to hear it now and maybe just from you!

Today the soup crew arrives, arms filled with bags of herbs, cans of broth and beans, and bundles of fresh veggies. Two friends will bring soup pots and one a huge cutting board; each brings a favorite chopping knife. I supply the aprons, ranging from a gathered skirt-style in calico print to full-cover types in bold colors. One depicts a bowl of steaming soup, others a harvest still life and a strawberry field. The aprons are freshly laundered, with a few stains as reminders of previous soup projects. One apron is always left untouched--- a crisp white chef garment, suited to fit any size with thick ties to wrap around the middle. It may intimidate our happy band of everyday soup cooks, but I offer it each time in case…… With aprons tied and hands washed, we get to work:  scrubbing  peeling  chopping  measuring  opening cans  stirring Before long, the aroma of simmering vegetables and herbs fills the house. We set the timer and sit down with a pot of coffee and plate of cookies. The conversation is rich: updates on family members, ideas for Valentine’s Day sweets, up-coming youth retreat, and winter sports events. And then we share stories of our experiences at the shelter in the city, where our soup will warm bellies on a cold night and provide much-needed nourishment. All agree that we are privileged to be a small part of this mission work, where hundreds of homeless people are welcomed each week. For those who volunteer on site, an amazing model of “radical hospitality” can be observed. Hot meals are served daily, Monday through Friday, in a spacious dining room, a setting that once served as a church sanctuary. Daytime guests receive a plate of tasty food, as well as an invitation to visit the clothes pantry for donated items to help them get by. During blustery winter months, sturdy shoes and warm coats are a priority! The guests may also stop by the personal care table for a bag of toiletries, i.e. soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a new pair of underwear---things that most people take for granted.

Love in a Bowl by Cynthia Knisley

Vibrant worship on Sunday afternoons and midweek Bible studies offer food and undergirding for the soul. No one is turned away, each receives the basics he or she needs, and nothing is provided in excess. Guests are served in a respectful manner. Volunteers, who show up an hour early for orientation and job assignment, include groups from small businesses, schools, and churches. An amazing experiment in Christian outreach and love! As for where our savory soup fits in, the ministry offers a café for those wandering the streets at night. These folks receive hot coffee and home-made soup, made by small groups like ours, that has been frozen in large sacks for serving throughout the winter. Hungry guests find a seat at the table where a kind person offers a smile and a patient listening ear. The soup provides not only nutrition, but also hope, the possibility of a second chance, and a moment or two of feeling cared for in a warm, safe place. And so, this is why we gather to make soup. It requires only simple ingredients and a few hours, just a sliver of our abundance and time. We trust God to use this gift in a special way---to lift up those who are having a tough time by warming their bellies and hearts. “And the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’ And he (Jesus) answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.’” ---- Luke 3:11

Live Abundantly by Lisa J. Radcliff From my place in line, I watched the roller coaster slowly making its way to the top of the first drop. The many thrill seekers strapped in their seats were actually lying on their backs, their pale faces staring up at the stars. From that angle, they couldn’t even see when the coaster crested the top, but they knew. Suddenly they were sitting up and, in a millisecond, face down, plummeting to the ground. If they lived through the first drop, there was more fun to be had. What had I gotten myself into? Was there a way out of this line? I must be crazy. My stomach churned with nervous excitement. Part of me could hardly wait to get on. Another part of me wanted to run screaming from the line. Why do I do this to myself? Because I love it. I love roller coasters. I love sitting in the very front, hanging over the edge for an extra second while the rest of the train catches up. Yup, I’m a thrill seeker. I’ve been parasailing, white-water rafting, rock climbing, high ropes courses, ziplining, and more. Given the opportunity (and the financing) I would also go skydiving, base jumping, and ride on that giant swing thousands of feet high in a Colorado canyon. I live abundantly. But is squeezing out of life every thrill possible what it means to live abundantly? Whenever I sign a copy of my book for someone, I always write “Live Abundantly” John 10:10 above my signature. In that verse, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV) Surely, Jesus wasn’t talking about roller coasters, although maybe base jumping off the top of Masada was a thing back then. This verse is in between two “I Am” statements. I am the door and I am the good shepherd. Jesus says he is the door to the sheepfold. We are his sheep. A door has two uses—getting in and keeping out. He says that all who enter through him will be saved. And, as the door, he will keep his sheep safe from those who try to get in to steal or kill them. Immediately following John 10:10, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11 ESV)

So, the abundant life that Jesus is talking about may just be living in peace and rest, confident that the good shepherd is watching over us. And we don’t worry about what he will do because has already proven himself faithful. He laid down his life for his sheep. He loves us and is in control of our circumstances, our concerns, and our future. And the life he laid down has covered everything in our past. Is there something from your past keeping you from experiencing the abundant life Jesus offers? Whatever holds you back or keeps you from abundant living has no power over you if you belong to Jesus. He has set you free from the past, whether it was your own sin or someone’s sin against you. “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) The abundant life he offers is for here and now. You don’t need to wait to be glorified to experience abundant life. And it doesn’t need to be a life full of thrills and chills to be abundant. I visited a friend who has been housebound for quite a while with different physical ailments. She told me she is content, and I saw the peace on her face. She enjoys the calls and visits from friends, but her days are not very exciting. And she is OK with that. She has found the secret of living abundantly in circumstances that seem anything but thrilling – contentment. She doesn’t have time for worry or fear or doubt or regret. She’s too busy being content with where God has her right now. I was encouraged by our visit. Funny thing, I went there to encourage her and left being the one encouraged. That’s what happens when you run into people living abundantly; it spills over into others’ lives. My turn came to board the roller coaster. The butterflies in my stomach had turned into pterodactyls. It was a slow, unnerving crawl to the top, then WHOOSH. I laughed as others screamed. A few more belly-womper hills and some twists and turns, and within thirty terrifying seconds, we were coasting to a stop. “Let’s do it again!” was my first thought after getting my shaky legs working again. It’s probably time I find less-thrilling thrills. But, for now, my abundant life includes occasional adrenaline rushes. And I love it!

I Lost My Identity by Living for My Husband by Shoba Sadler Part 2

During this time, while my son was a baby, he choked on his food. My mother-in-law tried to help but his faced had turned blue. In desperation I cried out to God to save my son. A stranger appeared in our midst. She pulled my son out of my mother-in-law's arms, turned him over and slapped him on the back. He vomited. When she flipped him back I saw him gulp his first breath and colour returned to his face. The lady handed the baby back to me. Overjoyed, I hugged him. Then I ran after her. "Wait! Wait!" I called out. She turned around at the gate beyond the car port. "Who are you?" "I was walking by when I heard someone call for help." I blinked. That's impossible. I was inside the house. I did not shout. An expansive garden separated the house from the road. How could she have heard me from the road? "But who are you so I can thank you properly?" "Don't thank me. Thank God." She opened the gate and left. I took a good look at the padlock on the gate. How can it be open? My mother-in-law is obsessed with locking it. That incident was soon forgotten when I became desperate to provide for my children.

I defied my mother-in-law and Nanda and went to learn sewing from the tailor who sewed sari blouses for my mother-in-law and her daughters. I learnt quickly and in time he was paying me to sew sari blouses for his customers. I didn't have to wear old sari blouses anymore too. I could sew my own. I also joined Amway and Avon, two direct selling companies and earned a good income from sales. I took another step of faith and travelled to India to further my studies in tailoring and beauty services, even selling saris in India to cover my expenses. When I returned, I opened my own beauty salon. I lived with my husband and children at the back of the salon. I had always been the sole breadwinner in my own way out of desperation to look after my children. **** My beauty salon was on the main street of Klang town and I was doing reasonably well, offering facials, threading, waxing and other beauty therapies as well as giving sewing classes at the back of the salon. One day Kumari, my customer saw me hand over MR$50 out of the collection box to my husband. Without a second glance back he was out of my salon. On the shelves were jars of neem and tumeric face masks, moong bean face scrub, ayurvedic massage oils and other beauty products which I sold to my customers.

"What is it for this time?" Kumari asked. She was a regular and had once heard me arguing with Nanda in the reception area. When she came out of the therapy room into reception, she asked what was wrong and I broke down in tears. Ever since then I began confiding in her. "His sister's car broke down and she called him to help." A tear ran down my cheek. "I asked him why her husband can't help her and he said her husband has to work. Sometimes I wish he had not taken early retirement. It's not just his mother who calls him for errands, now his sisters are pestering him too. Of course I have to give him money for petrol for his car to drive to the mechanic, to fetch her and pick her kids up from school. Can you believe that? And he has never once picked up our kids from school!" "Gina, I see you giving facials, waxing, running to weddings to dress brides and still sewing blouses and teaching tailoring. When do you find time to rest?" I wiped my tears away with the edge of my sari. "When I do have time to rest, I like to cook for my youngest boy." "I've told you before there is a God who cares for you. Please come to our prayer service this Friday at my husband's office. It's in the shop lot just behind your salon."

You raised your children to be strong and independent that they can work overseas and pay for their own college fees, without help from you. They know how much you suffer and don't want to burden you." Something in the manner in which she consoled me made me remember the incident when my elder son nearly suffocated and how that strange woman materialized from nowhere and saved him. "All right, Kumari. I will come this Friday. Lunch time is quiet here anyway." On Friday, I attended the Full Gospel Businessman's Assembly prayer service at Lighthouse Engineering, the company owned by Kumari's husband. I didn't see any crucifix or statues around. The room where we gathered for prayer looked like just another office without the desks. About 30 chairs were arranged in a half circle in front of a white board. The music was lively and people where raising their hands and swaying and singing loudly. I had never experienced a gathering of Christians with so much exuberance. My experience with the Catholic Church had always been quiet and orderly and more reverence for the Catholic Priests than for God. Here everyone was lost in praise and worship that I didn't even know who was the priest amongst them. Then everyone sat down except for one man. He began preaching from the Bible and it ministered to my soul. I had never really read the Bible. Then the preacher pointed at me and called me out. I was nervous but Kumari came with me.

"I can't. I'm busy." "Make the time." "It's been 27 years fighting for Nanda's love, Kumari and we are further apart now in this journey of life than when we first started." I sighed. "At least my two older children are studying overseas. I only have my youngest son to worry about." "Christians don't worry about anything. We rest in God and he fights our battles. He has always been there for you, Gina, even though you didn't know Him and didn't acknowledge Him.

When I stood before the man, he began to tell me details about my life - my struggle with my in-laws and husband and difficulties I was facing. This complete stranger was telling me truths about my life he could not have known. Kumari later assured me she had told this man nothing about me. They were words of knowledge from God, she told me. Finally the preacher said to me "God wants you to lay all your burdens at His feet. Jesus wants to take them from you and set you free. From now onwards don't worry about your husband. I am your husband. I will love you and look after you."

The dam of pent-up frustrations broke. I realized then I held within me so much anger, bitterness, and fear too of my husband leaving me, despite the fact that I was financially independent from him by now. Yet I was still emotionally dependent on him because I truly loved him. After this first prayer service, I began attending every week. I hungered so much for God and His Word, the Bible that I wanted more. So I began attending church too and reading the Bible and praying. A year after this happened, my husband passed away from a heart attack. Despite his neglect of me and my children, I took it badly. I still loved him and was devastated that he should leave us when he was only 52-years-of age. I remember caressing his head at the hospital and telling him Jesus loves him. Although he couldn't speak as there were tubes in his mouth, I knew he could hear me, because tears ran down his cheeks as I prayed for him. I hope he received Jesus in his heart before he died. The funeral was yet another struggle with Nanda's family. They took control of the whole funeral and insisted on a Hindu ceremony. The body was kept at one of my brother-in-law's house for three days. Ironically, that was the house I scrimped and saved to buy, even saving pennies from selling old newspapers and bottles. Although it was purchased with my hard earned money, my husband practically gave away that house to his brother and I was not allowed to object. It hurt me so much. I had no asset to my name. Nothing. He even left his Employment Provident Fund Benefits to his mother. Now I was alone in the world. Seated beside Nanda's coffin, I cried out to God, "Why did you take him away so young? You promised you would look after me. You spoke to the preacher to tell me You would look after me. Show me. Show me it is true. Please God show me."

As I wondered if I was imagining it, my niece shouted, "Look. Look. Chittapa (meaning Uncle in Tamil) is smiling. Peace entered my heart. I still had one more responsibility, my youngest son. He had finished college and was ready to go abroad to the US to finish the final stage of his studies. I had to come up with MR$43,000 for his fees to get him started. But I didn't have that money. At the funeral, our insurance agent informed me there was some money due to me because of the death of my husband. I was confused. I thought I had stopped paying my husband's premiums some time ago, as I couldn't afford it anymore and my husband didn't help with payments. This agent told me, though, that the premiums had been paid in advance the amount would have run out one day after my husband died. So I was entitled to the insurance claim. The amount was MR$43,000! God had been preparing me in that one year since I became a born-again Christian to let go of my emotional dependence on my husband. Throughout my marriage I had conditioned myself to believe that without my husband I was worthless and I was totally consumed with trying to win his love that I had lost my own identity. Years of trying to win his love by giving up so many things and transforming myself to learn Tamil, wear saris, cook the Indian meals that he loves, all proved futile. He even cheated on me in the marriage. I had been so conditioned and focused on pleasing him that I didn't realize I was now finally free. I didn't know who I was without him. But Jesus redeemed me. It has been 25 years since my husband passed away and in all that time Jesus has always been my side, provided for me and ever faithful. I don't regret what I went through because it has made me strong, and as the Bible says in Romans 5, tribulation brings about patience and patience experience and experience hope and hope makes us not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.

Visit author Shoba Sadler on her website to learn more about her stories and books.

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

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

Use It Now! by Norma C. Mezoe It was mid-January and the winter doldrums were trying to claim squatter’s rights in my home. While washing dishes late one night, I looked at the bare window sill above the sink. I removed my prettiest candy dish from the cabinet and placed it on the sill where it sparkled with every color of the rainbow. I had been acting like my grandmother, putting my prized possessions out of sight. When my grandmother received gifts, all of the family knew they would disappear into bureau drawers. Grandmother died, never having enjoyed her “pretties”. Jesus warned in Matthew 6:19: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy…. (NKJV) Perhaps today would be an ideal time to look through our hidden-away treasures. Why not use them to add sparkle to our everyday living? Let’s use it now!

The Endless Love of God by Norma C. Mezoe Whether skies are cloudy or filled with azure blue, the endless love of God comes shining brightly through.

The Love He Sends by Sharon L. Patterson The love of God, who can begin to understand? But He says, “Come here, my child, open your hand.” “Oh Father, there is nothing there but loneliness and pain, I cannot, possibly, open it again.” Then, gently, the Father takes another hand so scarred, It is heavily pierced, and deeply marred. He places it tenderly over my own, Suddenly, understanding is quietly sown. For now I know His love means caring, It is infinite, so full of sharing. Outward, now, my hand extends to another, To you…with the love He sends.

God's Immeasurable Love by Norma C. Mezoe God's love is deeper than the ocean… and wider than the sea. It's higher than the mountains... and is given to you and me...

Chalk Couture is a fun, unique, and SIMPLE craft! For more information, visit Erin Stephens in her VIP Facebook group.

Be watching for the

MARCH 2019 issue of

RUBY magazine Available March1, 2019 on the

RUBY blog

Moments with Billy Graham: America's Preacher Whose Ministry Led to Our Changed Lives (Divine Moments) by Yvonne Lehman (Compiler, Editor)

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

Call Patrice D. Wilkerson for all your business needs at

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Vintage Mama’s Book Shoppe * DIY Home Décor * Gardening * Parenting *Christian Fiction * Family Life

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

RUBY’S Reading Corner

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

Theresa Begin lives in Northern California, where she was born and raised. She is a Christian who loves her family and says, “I have been blessed with the world’s best parents!” She has three sisters and one brother, as well as 16 beautiful nieces and nephews who “mean the world to me!” She is “differently-abled,” and chooses not to allow her limitations to define her life. She loves to write and share her various projects on her blog, “Shoestring Elegance,” which came about as she discovered that living on a tight budget did not mean compromising on style. “Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 NLT

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

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

Rebecca Santos is the mother of 3 lovely children in the state of Atlanta, GA. She is a childcare expert and a writer for a successful nanny agency called Nannies and Kids United located in the state of Georgia. She is also the co-creator of Nannies and Kids United Blog. She specializes in providing guidance in parenting to parents. Rebecca’s hobbies include spending time with her children and her husband. She enjoys traveling, writing and hiking. For tips on everything on parenting check out her blog:

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

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

Rebecca Hastings believes in finding extraordinary grace in ordinary life. At My Ink Dance, she brings honesty and God’s truth to our feelings in a relatable way. A writer and speaker, she is the author of Worthy: Believe Who God Says You Are, a 20-day devotional inviting women to live life confident of their worth. Rebecca is a wife and mother of three in Connecticut who can often be found typing words, driving her kids places or wherever there is chocolate.

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

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.

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

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

Cindy Evans is a published poet living in the greater Atlanta area. When she's not writing, you may find her a faith-based movie with her husband, making trail mix or serving at the local Christian hospice.

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

Pat Jeanne Davis writes from her home in Philadelphia, Pa. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and travelling with her British-born husband. Her articles, essays and short stories have appeared in print and online. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Historical Novel Society. Pat has a particular interest in the World War II Era. Her debut novel When Valleys Bloom Again is a WWII inspirational romance set in the US and UK, published by Elk Lake Publishing, February 1, 2019. She loves to hear from her readers at

Shoba Sadler is a published author who writes in multiple genres. “My passion for writing is matched only by my passion for cooking with farm fresh produce. I live a healthy lifestyle on a farm with my husband, Kevin, a talented musician, who also loves to surf and ski. We grow our own vegetables and fruits and share our home with a multitude of animals and wildlife. We are passionate about buying directly from local farmers who practice organic farming. We both play music and sing at our church. More about country living and healthy cooking at”

Nina Newton, Sr. Editor:

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

RUBY magazine is published by CreativeLife

Profile for RUBY magazine

RUBY Magazine February 2019  

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here at RUBY magazine and community, we wish you the joy and blessings of the season of love. God’s love, and the lov...

RUBY Magazine February 2019  

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here at RUBY magazine and community, we wish you the joy and blessings of the season of love. God’s love, and the lov...