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2019: Cross the Threshold to Your Full Potential This Year! by Kathryn Ross

The Old Cupboard by Gloria Doty

Winter Days at Home by Nina Newton, Sr. Editor

Home for Christmas Bounty of by Norma C. Mezoe Treasures by Cynthia Knisley

I Lost My Identity by Living for Hospitality: My Husband A Warm Simple Gift by Shoba and Sadler by Jehn Kubiak

Finding Jesus Each Month January’s Flower: The Carnation by Carol Peterson

The New Year and God’s Do-Overs by Sharon L. Patterson

RUBY Magazine Your voice, your story JANUARY, 2019

In This Issue of RUBY

Each Day is New by Joan Leotta

One Beautiful Way to Organize Your Space by Theresa Begin Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays has come and gone, it’s time to focus on a New Year and our goals for the coming months. 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 bring warmth to your winter days.

How Firm a Foundation Hymn Stories by Diana Leagh Matthews

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!

Lesson from the Blizzard of ‘96 by Lisa J. Radcliff

Laundry Love Note by Nancy Frantel Senior Editor: Nina Newton Editorial Assistant: Theresa Begin Feature Writers: Sharon L. Patterson, Norma C. Mezoe, Shara Bueler-Repka, Lisa J. Radcliff, Jehn Kubiak, Nancy Frantel, Kathryn Ross, Joan Leotta, Diana Leagh Matthews, Cynthia Knisley, Brittany Keating Pate, Cindy Evans, Carol Peterson, Shoba Sadler

A New Take on Psalm 23 by Jehn Kubiak

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.

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

by Nina Newton, Sr. Editor

After the busyness and excitement of the Christmas holiday and the New Year’s Eve celebrations, it is suddenly winter. It is cold and blustery with wind whipping the brittle branches in the steel gray skies. Our windows are covered with misty fog on a winter morning, and give way to frosty etchings on even colder winter nights. It is easy to become weary of the bleakness of bitter winter days, one after another, shrouding our world in shades of gray.

One of my goals in this New Year, starting right now at the beginning of January, is to focus on creating a peaceful, cozy home where my family can relax and regroup after busy days of work and school. Of course, I have always TRIED to do that, and some days I am more successful than on other days . . . . like yesterday when no matter how hard I tried or how much I planned, things just didn’t turn out exactly the way I had hoped.

Some of us even experience unpleasant physical symptoms of going days, and weeks, and finally months with limited sunlight. That is why it is so important to prepare for these potentially difficult days ahead and make sure we can enjoy our winter days at home. Let’s get cozy and brighten up our homes to chase away the chill of winter.

When the phone rings right in the middle of a project that has a looming deadline; when the car breaks down and needs to be taken in for repairs (requiring a major shift in the day’s previously scheduled events); or when there is a semi-emergency trip to the dentist; or any number of other interruptions – it is hard to stay on task. That’s why we need to just “roll with it” when those kinds of things happen.

After all, it is a New Year so I think we should look forward to the coming days with anticipation and joy! I know that is easier said than done for most of us, especially depending on our specific circumstances and personalities. If you are by nature a “home body” but you have to go outside every day to drive to a job, that is one kind of challenge on a particularly miserable winter day. On the other hand, if you are a person who loves to be out and about, and you get snowed in or there is ice on the roads, then that is another level of misery in the cold weather months. But if we make a bit of effort to create a cozy, inviting, peaceful, and restful place in our home, then whether we get to stay home or have to stay home, or if we get to go out and about or have to get out in the blustery weather, at least we will have a place of refuge no matter the weather.

But in between those moments of crisis or chaos that enter into all of our lives on a fairly regular basis, my goal is to make the most of those times when I have the opportunity to bring a sense of calm, peaceful, restful atmosphere to my home. So I will be posting different ideas that I try out as I discover new inspiration for finding joy in the midst of winter days at home. And even if you have to leave your home every day to go to a job (I’m so grateful to be able to work from home, but not everyone has that option), there are still moments and small ways that you can invite the blessings of a simpler, quieter way to do life. Let’s work on that together! I think we all could use a little bit of joy and peace in our days, don’t you? I hope you will join me on this journey into the New Year, seeking the peace that God can bring to our hearts and our homes.

Each Day is New by Joan Leotta

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV January is a traditional time for “starting fresh.” We make resolutions that we hope will transform us during the coming year into better, happier people, than we were in the year just finished. Usually, those resolutions are to lose weight, work smarter, and a few other similar ones. It is our hope that making these improvements will bring us happiness—at least that’s true for me. However, happiness originates on the inside, not from any of these externals. The true key to changing our lives so we will be happier, is to make changes in our inner selves, develop habits that will bring joy by aligning us more closely with God’s prescriptions for living as stated in His word. Strengthening our inner selves also prepares us to deal better with problems and challenges that may arise during the year. We cannot control our future, but we can make ourselves stronger, more resilient, and able to react to whatever comes in a positive manner. Happiness and spiritual calm as goals are not as easily quantified as are such things as a weight loss goal. For this reason, I advocate a “daily” approach, instead of setting a benchmark for a year-end (ego lose ten pounds) that requires daily adherence over a long period of time. Think about each day as a separate unit. Try to implement the four suggestions below, each day. One of the advantages of daily goal setting is that every morning you start all over again. There is no mid-March slow down. If you miss a day, a week, a month, you simply start again.

What are we doing once a day? Spend time in God’s word and with God in prayer. Set a goal of reading at least a verse a day. Try to spend more and more time with God, alone. I like morning because it starts my day right. “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2 (NIV) Follow the advice of Psalm 136: Start each day with gratitude. I try to thank God for each new day—for having a roof over my head, for being able to make breakfast. Even the small things count. This year, I will try to write one thing daily in a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal is a good thing to remind us, when we feel low, how much good there is in our lives. The Bible directs us to be grateful. Gratitude is a great re-maker of the human spirit. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1 (ESV) Do good. Check out local volunteer opportunities to be sure but fulfilling this can be as simple as smiling at someone, letting someone go head of us in line, saying something nice to another person even on Facebook, or simply refraining from being mean when someone disagrees with us. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) Make things less important in our lives. Throw out or give away something that is not needed any more. One item per day will help declutter our houses and our hearts. Think before we spend. Do I really need that? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV) Morning by morning we will see His mercies if we set our eyes and heart on God. Each day is new. Do not be discouraged, if you miss one or more of these daily transformation exercises. Missing whichever of these you have chosen to do daily does not mean failure. Just start over again. After all, every day offers the opportunity for a fresh start. That’s 365 fresh starts in 2019. Happy New Year! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the creation has come. The old has gone and the new is here.” 2Cor. 5:17 (NIV)

A New Take on Psalm 23 by Jehn Kubiak

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. 2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. 4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Safety: this is the first word that seizes my thoughts after reading Psalm 23. The soft rhythm produces a sense of stillness––an inability to do anything but breathe a soft sigh. How many times have we read through this psalm without heralding its true meaning? It has become a verbatim verse set instead of a placid picture of Christ’s comfort. Take some time at the start of this year to meditate on the passage and uncover its hopeful message. Holidays signify times of happiness for some and horror for others. While one person receives a splendorous gift, another suffers loss. While one person stays home alone, another joins a large family. While one mother has a miscarriage, another celebrates a new birth. Although this world certainly has celebratory occasions––such as Christmas––it also comes with moments of malaise and malady. Let us not forget the reason we have life––both eternal and temporal; Christ. is the reason for the season. We cannot dwell in the house of the Lord without him because he is the pathway to a relationship with God; without him, we cannot receive eternal life in heaven. Look at the rest of this passage. Although this Psalm most likely refers to the Father’s protection, the Holy Spirit is our comforter and protector; he seals us as God’s children, and the devil cannot steal us away from him, despite our best efforts. He may try time and time again with no avail because we have an identity in Christ. Go back to the third verse. Life - renewal. We experience renewal through Christ because he is the spring of living water; the well of eternal life. He is the fount of blessing we can always drink from if we remain in him. Remember when Jesus said he was the Good Shepherd? Now look back at verses 1-2. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. If Christ is the Shepherd, then this certainly applies to him. He leads us through the darkest places and shows us the way we should take to avoid danger. He leads us to the places where we can find rest and refresh our souls. His rod and staff comfort us because we are his sheep, and we know his voice. He continually loves and protects every last sheep; he even goes after the one that strays. In a world of darkness, despair, and depravity, celebrating Christmas for the wrong reasons becomes highly tempting. After all, singing joyful Christmas songs and watching countless family holiday movies functions as a source of distraction for all who cannot possibly bear any more burdens. But, alas, we don’t have to bear those burdens because Christ already did that for us. And it’s certainly hard to stop forgetting about our pain and hardships, but we cannot continue driving ourselves deeper into the depths of despair. We don’t have to become the greatest optimist, but surely we can drift at least a little bit away from pessimism. Enjoy the holidays and remember Christ’s great sacrifice for the world. His goodness and faithful love pursue us, even when we don’t pursue him back.

“Let us not forget the reason we have life–– both eternal and temporal; Christ. is the reason for the season. We cannot dwell in the house of the Lord without him because he is the pathway to a relationship with God; without him, we cannot receive eternal life in heaven.”

One Beautiful Way to Organize Your Space by Theresa Begin

Have you ever created something for yourself around your house that you think nothing of, only to hear all of your friends and family exclaim how much they love it? They declare that they never would have thought to do something that clever and creative! This is one of those kinds of projects. It came about after finding one more of those big old plastic mugs that some company gave to me for free, with their logo on the side. I’m sure you have one or two of them in your house! It is insulated and is perfect for toting your coffee back and forth in your car. But if you don’t need a big plastic mug in your car, it inevitably ends up as a pen or pencil holder on your desk or kitchen counter. And if for some reason you don’t have a bunch of pens and pencils in that big old plastic mug, then you probably have a tray or a drawer that is full of broken crayons, pencils, and pens that no longer work. That is the kind of thing I’m talking about! It’s enough to make me crazy! So, when I got my new desk and pretty ruffled curtains, I was determined that I simply was not going to let that ugly pen mug sit on my beautiful new desk. And that was the beginning of my journey to elegant-styled organization in my home. First, I threw out that old plastic mug and set out to make myself a cuter, more elegant option for my desk where I spend numerous hours. Let’s face it, if you’re at your desk for many hours, ugly things will not inspire you!

I usually would not bother showing you the brand of can that I used, but it just so happens that this can is not only the perfect height, but also has a white coating on the inside of the can to protect from rust. This also minimizes the sound of placing something in a tin can. Perfect for this project! With this perfect size and shape can, it is easy to turn it into a beautiful and elegant desk accessory. If you have some pretty scrapbook paper in your stash, that is just what you need. If not, what a wonderful excuse to pop over to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby! If you would like to make your very own elegant desk accessory, all you need is a can, some pretty scrapbook paper, scissors, and tape or a glue gun. Let’s make it! Step 1 ~ Clean the can and remove the label. Step 2~Grab your paper, scissors, glue gun or tape and have a seat. Step 3~Cut your paper to overlap by about an inch, when rolling the paper around it. Step 4~Turn under the excess, neatly. This will be your beautiful seam that sits in the back! Step 5~ Glue gun or double-stick tape the folded over section, so your can is beautifully covered with your favorite paper. Final step, make 3 or 4 cuts in your excess paper at the top of the can (I usually leave about an inch and a half) then fold it down inside, giving a nice finished, and not dangerous, top to it. If you would like to make a few of these beautiful paper flowers to display in one of your elegant DIY desk vase, check out the tutorial HERE at Shoestring Elegance. Now it’s time to pull out all of those pens and pencils and sort them so that you have a few that actually work the next time you need one. Your pretty desk accessory will bring a bit of joy to you every time you sit down to work. Have fun!

How Firm a Foundation Hymn Stories by Diana Leagh Matthews

The New Year is upon us, bringing new beginnings and new hopes and dreams for the future. However, regardless of where life takes us, one thing is for sure. We need a firm foundation. How Firm a Foundation was published in 1787 by John Rippon. When it appeared in Rippon’s ‘A Selection of Hymns,’ it was signed simply “K.” All efforts to identify this mysterious “K” have been fruitless; and the mystery remains to this day. Some reprints show the author was “Keene.” Dr. Rippon’s musical director was R. Keene and it’s believed he might be the author of the text, although it’s just speculation. Dr. Rippon was pastor at Carter’s Lane Baptist Church in London, England for sixty-three years. The tune is thought to be from an old English folk tune. Each verse was based on a passage of promises in the Bible. Verse one was based on Isaiah 41:10 {Fear not, I am with you}; verse two is based on Isaiah 43:2 {I will be with you. Verse three is based on 2 Corinthians 12:9 {My Grace is sufficient for thee}; and verse four is based on Hebrews 13:5 {I will never leave nor forsake you}.

How Firm a Foundation was the favorite hymn of General Robert E. Lee, President Theodore Roosevelt, and President Andrew Jackson. “The story is told that once, when the crowds were thus assembled, President Jackson called out to a local minister: ‘There is a beautiful hymn on the subject of the exceeding great and precious promises of God to His people. It was a favorite with my dear wife until the day of her death. It commences thus: ‘How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord! I wish you would sing now.” And so, to please and give comfort to an aging former president, the whole assembly sang the entire hymn. We are reminded in the hymn that we can run to Jesus in refuge, He will hold our hands and strengthen us, and no matter how difficult our circumstances the Lord is our foundation to get through and refine us into the person He wants us to be. On Christmas Eve 1898, American units involved in the Spanish–American War joined together to sing this hymn, finding comfort in the promises the author wrote, during a difficult time. Do you have a firm foundation in the Lord?

A Homemaker’s Thoughts by Norma C. Mezoe I must have been feeling melancholic on the day I wrote the poem below. I was a young mother with three children, ages two, five and seven. Only a few months before, major surgery had been necessary to save my life. I was slowly recovering when the words of this poem formed in my mind and found their way into a small book I used for my journal.

A Homemaker’s Thoughts I feel the need to do something different from the ordinary things, to know the uplift that creative work brings. To take pencil in hand and write something witty, or compose a poem, thoughtful and pretty. I’d like to paint a landscape of trees and flowers, or meditate by a quiet brook for unlimited hours. To be a singer with a voice so fine, and no other would have a talent like mine. But all this is wishful thinking and it doesn’t really pay… to spend so much of my time and pass away the day. Envying other’s talents, never thinking of my own, when I possess the talent to make a happy home. I wrote the poem fifty years ago. One of those young children is now a grandmother. There were many bumps along the road, but I never walked alone. God was my faithful Companion and Guide. Thirty-two years ago, following a crisis in my life, I became a published writer. The young mother who penned the poem would have been surprised to know what lay in her future. God has a plan for each of his children. We learn this from reading Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We don’t know what lies in our future, but God does. We can trust him as he works his plan for our lives.

The image of this vintage magazine cover was found at AbeBooks where you can find a wide variety of vintage women’s magazines for sale.

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!

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats No book has captured the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall better than The Snowy Day. Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child's wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats will delight your child with the adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.

The Snowbear by Sean Taylor, Author and Claire Alexander, Illustrator Snow comes in the night, and Iggy and Martina make a Snowbear. But then a sledge ride takes them deep into the woods. How will they get back home again? The Snowbear is a spellbinding story about the magic of snow and the power of a child's imagination. With a simple text and beautiful illustrations, it will be read again and again. Themes of friendship, loyalty, and bravery make it a great choice for story time, as a bedtime read or on car trips. Children will love the crisp, wintry setting brought to life by Claire Alexander’s art.

The Snowy Day and The Snowbear are now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner!

Have fun with this mitten coloring page! You can find more FREE coloring pages at

When He Returns… by Shara Bueler-Repka “You have to leave? When are you coming back?” Rachel cried. “Will you be back soon?” Jimmy asked, nervously picking at his shirtsleeve. The sun peeked through the hills, and a gentle morning breeze drifted through the old farm, rippling the mane of their dad’s horse. He looked into their anxious faces. “Don’t worry,” he smiled, “the job I need to finish won’t take long, but I really need your help here on the farm while I’m gone. The chores I’ve given you aren’t hard but have to be done so we can be ready before the winter storms hit. And it’s going to be a harsh winter.” He nodded towards the house. “If you need help, your uncle is here. I’ve also written your instructions on a notepad in the house.” He paused, and then grinned. “How about a special gift to reward you for your work when I return?” He chuckled at their broadening smiles. “Look for a dust cloud on the dirt road,” he continued. “When you see it, you’ll know I’m on my way home.” He leaned down and gathered Rachel and Jimmy into his arms, hugging them tight. Then he swung his horse toward the horizon. They watched him until he disappeared over the distant hills. The work really wasn’t hard, but there was a lot to do. Rachel jumped right in with her first chore, pulling the weeds in the garden that threatened to choke the vegetables. She wouldn’t be caught goofing off when their dad returned. Humming a happy tune, she remembered a Bible verse she'd read: Luke 12:43: “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.” That’s kind of like me, she thought. I’m helping my dad get ready for winter, just like he wanted. Jimmy kicked at the gravel in the yard, chewing his lip. He planned to fix the loose board on the barn, but he caught sight of his friends in the next field. They chased each other and laughed. They didn’t have to work and follow any rules! He frowned. It wasn’t fair. He half-heartedly walked to the tool shed and grabbed a hammer and some nails. As he lifted the board into place, his friends called to him. “Hey, Jimmy, come hang out with us!” “I can’t,” he sulked. “Oh, come on, Jimmy!” they pushed.

The temptation was too much. Jimmy dropped the board and his tools, running to join his friends. “I’ll only play with them a little while,” he told himself. Day after day, Rachel diligently did her chores. She even helped the neighbors with part of their work. Jimmy, on the other hand, intended to obey his dad, but found it easier to take off with his buddies. On a crisp morning, Rachel sang as she tossed hay in the loft for the horses, cows, and goats.

The wood board on the barn swung in the breeze, a gaping hole peeking between each swing. She caught her breath.

Suddenly in the distance, a large dust cloud swirled on the dirt road behind her. She heard a galloping horse and turned. Her heart leaped with joy!

There was no time to warn him. Her heart ached for Jimmy, for unpleasant consequences would come for his disobedience.

She spun around to shout to Jimmy the exciting news. But he wasn’t there.

And there would be no reward for him either.

Her dad was coming home!

Far across the fields, out of shouting range, Jimmy and his friends clowned around, unaware that the weather had changed. The wood board on the barn swung in the breeze, a gaping hole peeking between each swing. She caught her breath. There was no time to warn him.

Her heart ached for Jimmy, for unpleasant consequences would come for his disobedience. And there would be no reward for him either. Their dad rode up to her, a broad smile spreading over his face. He swung her up in the saddle with him, and together they looked over all she had done. She beamed as he told her how proud he was of her. He looked for Jimmy, and they spotted each other across the field. Jimmy knew he was in big trouble. And sadness shadowed his dad's face as he watched Jimmy slowly approach with his head down. He loved Jimmy so much, but he knew he couldn’t break the rules of discipline—it wouldn’t be fair to Rachel who was faithful. The sun disappeared behind the distant hills. A chilly winter wind gusted through the farmyard, causing Jimmy to shiver and Rachel to rest in her dad’s arms.

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2019: Cross the Threshold to Your Full Potential This Year! by Kathryn Ross

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 NKJV 2019 steps up to the plate with a bat in hand, ready to hit some major home-runs for God’s glory! Disclaimer: Mixed-metaphors abounding. Read on at your own risk! I am super-excited about what God plans to do through His Church and individual believers—as well as through the nations—in this New Year. Lots of surprises and roller coaster rides lay ahead, with unexpected opportunities, plot twists, and sudden answers to prayer.

Yes, they are—but if we are wise and “understand what the will of the Lord is,” we will fear not. We’ll embrace the calling in our lives and opportunities before us to cross thresholds through the portals of our full potential. This word has been singing in my spirit for some time. It was the inspiration for my book, The Gatekeeper’s Key. In this work, a metaphorical short story and chapters expanding on the story’s themes, the varied keys God gives us in our lives unlock gateways of preparation and purpose if we are willing to take the heavenly risks along the way. We can do so with confidence—wise and redeeming our time. Fearlessly! Walking circumspectly.

Why do I believe this? Go Forth! For the third year in a row, my Word for the Year has been the same. Only this time, I hear it reverberating in my spirit with greater anthem and import: GO! Go forth! Wow. That’s a scary thing “because the days are evil.”

You see, every New Year portends a new season in God working out His purposes in the world and in our lives. We each have a part to play in this. The prophetic voices in the Body of Christ today agree—we are living through a time of, not just revival, but more importantly, reformation.

This involves a great cleansing and mountainmoving change as God pours out His spirit on all flesh—and nations. Many of the things we’ve long petitioned Him for in our lives, the things He has been preparing us to walk out and into will begin to come to pass.

As a writer and artist, I honed my craft over the years seeking Gatekeepers at every turn. Teachers. Mentors. These are those who have gone before me, who have learned the way of maturity, and can nurture me to the next level of my strength and calling.

Watch. Listen. Walk. And Wonder—at the glory and goodness of the Lord to be revealed in those who love Him and His coming.

These are the peer professionals who can open doors to provision, to jobs, to the next amazing thing I might write that has the power to transform a life.

The Gatekeeper’s Key explores through story, essay, and probing questions, the challenges faced when your moment at bat is upon you.

They are people I’ve been in relationship with for decades of my life, or mere days only, leaving a deposit of direction, and then, never to connect again.

How will you swing? Will you choose to swing at all—or run back to hide in the dugout. Discerning the Gatekeepers

The mark these masters make on my life transforms me inside and out. I want to follow in their footsteps as the young page to Good King Wenceslas, invited by his lord to learn the way of Christian benevolence.

There are many kinds of Gatekeepers in the world. They are the masters who guard the doorposts of opportunity. They are the employers interviewing you for a job. Or teachers in a classroom inviting you to open your book to the next chapter and read the lesson. Mentors recognize your gifts and call you to destiny. They come alongside you to escort you through portals to your potential via relationships built within shared circumstances. Sometimes they are soldiers keeping watch, so no unworthy individual crosses the threshold of a gateway to valuable things and physical places like a castle, home, bank, village, city, country borders, locked rooms with treasures, and the like. But sometimes, Gatekeepers block the entrance to intangibles like opportunity, freedom, healing, love, provision, power, knowledge, understanding, skill, desire, and wisdom. They know to whom they may allow an invitation for the privilege of stepping into the next level of a desired objective. All those who would pass must prove their worth. It may be a token in the slot that one has paid the fare, or paper credentials verifying one’s title, a diploma, or deed of ownership. Perhaps it is a random test to examine the heart or skill-set of an individual to assess readiness for passage through the gate, promotion to the next grade level in school, or job position.

I love these key verses of the 1853 poem detailing the journey to bring food and firewood to a poor peasant man in winter: "Sire, the night is darker now And the wind blows stronger Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer." "Mark my footsteps, my good page Tread thou in them boldly Thou shalt find the winter's rage Freeze thy blood less coldly." In his master's steps he trod Where the snow lay dinted Heat was in the very sod Which the Saint had printed John Mason Neale

Gatekeepers can be true heroes or perceived enemies. In my experience, some of the most valuable Gatekeepers God gave me I saw as enemies at first, not heroes like King Wenceslas. They did not smooth paths for me. Instead, they littered my way with rocks, hills, and mountains that seemed to impede my forward movement. Sometimes, walled in and imprisoned, the waiting to break forth and grow into greater things tested my endurance and patience to its full measure. I struggled with despair in the face of unanswered prayer and a pervasive sense of loss. Loss of direction and purpose. My life wasn’t supposed to work out like this—I thought.

Sometimes we miss the invitation—the opportunity—especially if it comes from an unexpected source—an “unexpected stroke.”

Such places in such times are waiting rooms where we learn to find gain in our losses, are fortified in battle, and steeled stronger for our future. There is a fine line between victim and victory.

This is a fencing term meaning to cut down an enemy with a unanticipated sword thrust to reveal a champion.

Wisdom will not nurse her wounds long, dare she wallow in the mire, stuck in a moment, lose heart in despair, and remove herself from the lineup to be called forth to the plate, at bat. Harboring bitterness for the trials of the journey will never put the bat in your hand for your chance to hit a home run. Nor will it allow your ship to cross the waters into deeper seas of opportunity. You won’t grow into greater things tied to the dock, lingering on the bank. A plunge is necessary. Ultimately, God is the Gatekeeper of our lives, who sets Gatekeepers before us, be they through smooth or stormy oceans of opportunity. Fear of failure can stifle forward momentum to walk in our greater purpose. Past failures might cause us to shrink back from actively petitioning our Gatekeeper Lord for future success—a formidable prize, often feared as well. What will you do with God’s invitation to go forth in 2019, walking in that thing you have waited on the Lord to fulfill in your life for so long? Will you go forth, seize the day, redeem the time, and possess the land before you?

Nineteenth century author and poet Edward Sill, illustrates this well in his classic poem titled, Opportunity: This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream— There spread a cloud of dust along a plain; And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner Wavered, then staggered backward, Hemmed by foes. A craven hung along the battle's edge, And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel— That blue blade that the king's son bears—but this Blunt thing—!" He snapped and flung it from his hand, And lowering crept away and left the field. Then came the king's son, wounded sore bested, And weaponless, and saw the broken sword Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand, And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down And saved a great cause that heroic day.

When I am invited to “Go!” by the Gatekeeper of my life, I am invited to seize the opportunities and provisions in God’s house.

To the brink of obedience. I plunge forward Where the door opens to me

He invites me to pass through the gate, crossing the threshold of my portal to potential—the field of my hopes, dreams, and purposes in Him.

A portal to the impossible Is all light and possibility. Crossing the threshold, I arrive Able, equipped, comprehending. I can do all things good and beauty Through Christ Who strengthens me.

Have you heard His invitation to go forth in 2019? Watch. Listen. Walk, and Wonder—at God’s will for your life . . . Dragging my feet Kicking and complaining, Stumbling through the dark

May you be able, equipped, and comprehend all God’s riches and the fulfillment of His purposes in your life on this dawn of 2019—for your joy and His glory.

Learn more about The Gatekeeper’s Key by Kathryn Ross, a powerful meditation on walking in the fullness of God’s purposes for your life. Journal prompts and a discussion guide at the end of each chapter make this a great pick for your small group or women’s study. Purchase autographed copies of The Gatekeeper’s Key direct from Miss Kathy at

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.

Snow by Brittany Keating Pate Oh, the quiet beauty of newly fallen snow, how it makes a tired land come aglow. The snow’s whisper on its journey to the ground – what a peaceful cadence to drown out a world so loud. A stillness to the air, time to ponder, as if time has paused to embrace this wonder. Snow’s pristine enchantment, a gift to all who see its wonderment. Oh, the quiet beauty of newly fallen snow, how it makes a tired land come aglow.

Snowfall by Brittany Keating Pate A quiet settles over the landscape, Soft and gentle, Embracing the hills, trees, and valleys As only a snowfall can do. The snow tirelessly works, Knitting together a blanket to cover the land, Refreshing and cleansing it, Hiding the blemishes, Creating a blank canvas So that the world, For a startlingly brief moment Can start anew Until the blemishes, inevitably, Seep through again.

Good Night by Cindy Evans I tuck you in tonight, my husband on loan from the Lord, and softly stroke your hair back on the face that I adore... Good night, my husband, I love you. Good night, I'll love you tomorrow. Sweet dreams to you, my gift from God, and the man He's let me borrow. I gaze at you in wonder, in awe of what love has made. I pat the pillow one more time, and, as always, I pray... Good night, my husband, I love you. Good night, I'll love you tomorrow. Sweet dreams to you, my gift from God, and the spouse He's let me borrow. My simple goodnight prayer is that Jesus will be keeping you, looking over as you slumber, watching in peace the whole night through... Good night, my husband, I love you. Good night, I'll love you tomorrow. Sweet dreams to you, my gift from God, and the bridegroom He's let me borrow.

Bounty of Treasures by Cynthia Knisley

The auctioneer called and said he would come by next week. My stash included old chairs, boxes of ceramics and pottery, assorted artwork, yards of fabric, a nearly new basketball that the children had outgrown, Cabbage Patch dolls with their original certificates, framed mirrors …… and a few pieces of furniture. I had carefully wrapped breakable items and placed them in boxes; the garage was nearly full when my daughter pulled up with extras from their basement. “People will buy anything at an auction. You never know…” said her husband. One unusually heavy piece took me by surprise: a long burlap-covered cabinet, painted a pale yellow. The redeeming factor was a beautiful piece of marble cut exactly to fit the top. It had been found in the barn! One of the cherry Windsor chairs had a rung missing, but the wicker child’s dressing table and bench were glistening white with their fresh coat of paint. Now this may all sound like fun, a growing menagerie of used household items, each with a story of its own, but my back was aching from carrying boxes up the stairs and pushing furniture around.

More difficult was the decision-making. “Shall I send this old chair too? It was my mother’s favorite, and I can envision her relaxing here, reading or napping. How can I get rid of it?” Decisions continued at every turn, and I found it best to turn off the familiar music in the background, as it made me feel sentimental. This was business! I needed to keep the process moving along without stopping to think about memories. The day arrived, and the auction truck appeared right on time. I had decided to smile and take it all lightly as my “treasures” were crated out the door, one piece at a time. There was a moment of tears when I realized how beautiful my classic old dressing table looked, all polished up and with no clutter on top. It was simply lovely! Why had I decided to send it off? The jewelry and scarves that had been tucked into the drawers now lie in shoe boxes in a closet. How could this have made sense?

Well, there were reasons. I had somehow accumulated too much. Always taking care of things, I was not a throw-away consumer. As a result, the basement had become a storage vault. Closets were places for stacking whatever was not needed but had sentimental value or might be useful someday. The living spaces were also crowded, as I had added a piece here or there over time. It was time to purge this stuff. There was a refreshing sense of freedom in the newly gained space, an open corner here and an empty shelf there, as treasures made their way into the garage. An entire book case vanished. With fewer places to display things, it will be easier to keep order and life will be less complicated, I kept telling myself.

There was joy in the thought that others would find delight in these things that were mine for a short while. And, I was thankful for the items that remained, especially my grandfather’s corner cabinet that displays pictures of family, pretty china, and favorite cookbooks through the window-pane doors. That piece and its contents will linger here a while longer. It’s a new year---a perfect opportunity for a fresh start regarding material stuff. We can learn to get by with less, share by donating or sending a truckload of items to an auction, and simplify our homes. After all, we have abundance in our lives that is unknown to most people in the world.

Now this was a bitter-sweet task. While doing the physical work, I realized that what I wanted most was for someone to enjoy these possessions as much as I had----the oil painting of seaside dunes purchased one summer at the beach, the box of canning jars I had used summer after summer to put up jams and sauces, the travel books that had sparked my imagination and guided itineraries when on the “loose” in the world,…… I wanted someone to appreciate these treasures, polish them and enjoy them, arrange them artfully, learn from them.

Here are some “purging tips” that may be useful: 

Keep several empty boxes handy in the basement or garage for putting aside unnecessary items each time you clean. After a few days, you will know if you can get along without these things.

It turned out that the movers were kind and understanding. One told me the story of an older lady who cried when he started to remove her dining room table. He sensed her sadness and reminded her that a new family will enjoy her table, just as she and her husband had.

No need to buy boxes; just inquire at your local retail stores.

Label boxes as you fill them, keep an inventory if you want a record, and have packing tape handy for sealing the boxes when full.

This was just what she needed to hear, he related to me, and soon her tears were gone. I took comfort in the story.

At the end of the day, I was sure that God had answered my mumbling prayers. I had tried to be attentive to the thoughts He put into my mind with each new decision and had survived the event with little regret.

Schedule a pick-up truck with an organization, i.e. Purple Heart, Salvation Army, or a local veteran support group, that accepts donations, or schedule an auctioneer to come see your items.

 

This is all a matter of trust, since one has no idea where such things will end up. I decided to pray while deciding what to put into boxes and which pieces of furniture to give up.

He will have to agree in advance to take your things to his warehouse and market the sale of them. Proceeds from the auction can be donated to charity or saved for a special family outing.

Check your area for a “free-cycle” web site that gives instructions on how to offer your disposables to someone who can use them. This is not for profit but rather a kind of gifting. Decide in advance where a safe pick-up place will be, preferably not your home.

Regarding family members who may like some of your things, tell them specifically what you have available with a deadline for responding. Be clear that they must retrieve their items by that deadline or the treasures will be removed.

Make it a point to not purchase unnecessary material things for your home. This takes discipline but is well worth doing. It’s also good for the bank account.

If you enjoy shopping and have the means to make frequent purchases, be sure to remove used items in advance to make space for the new. Otherwise stuff will pile up, as we probably all have experienced.

Tech savvy people may decide to purge by selling household items online. This can be smart and efficient for those with time and know-how.

Be cautious, however, about turning the project into online shopping, a habit that contributed to the overabundance of stuff in the first place. It is easy to acquire something while sitting on the sofa at home and not so easy to find a place for the item when it arrives at the doorstep.

Engage the family, no matter what age, with the clean-out project. Children and teens can learn useful life skills about organization, values, and generosity.

If you experience a major exodus of cherished items as I did, treat yourself afterwards to something special. I got a pedicure! It was delightful to pick out a beautiful color and to relax with my feet in warm bubbly water, the massage chair working its magic on my back.

If young children are involved, an ice cream excursion or pajama day with their favorite movies and popcorn would let them know you appreciate their help. Now they will have more space for romping around!

And so, we celebrate a New Year----a fresh start, an opportunity to unclutter our homes and share with others, a new outlook toward simplicity in our lives. It is all very good. Happy 2019, my friends! Prayer: Lord, guide us in the direction of simplicity. Help us to let go of possessions, knowing that all that we have really belongs to you. We are the stewards of things for a time. May our bounty of treasures bring joy to others who have more need for them. And bless us all this year, Heavenly Father. Amen

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

The New Year and God’s Do-Overs by Sharon L. Patterson

It happens every 365 days, every 52 weeks, every 12 months, every year-a new year dawns. The New Year reminds us that what is past cannot be relived; it points to a time full of new beginnings that started at 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2019. Our minds fill with plans, even well-intended resolutions as newness overrides all negative remembrances of the past year. We are hopeful, we are determined as if our feet are set in blocks of an impending race. Everything about us is tuned to the moment. The shot is fired and we are out of those blocks, running toward our desired goal-to win! It is 12:02 a.m. January 1, 2019. Determination is heightened; tenacity is at peak level. “No,” “Not,” “Never” has disappeared from our vocabulary. How exciting the New Year is. Like a blank canvas or a clean slate it waits for our hopes and dreams to fill it. There are no blemishes of mistakes to mar its freshness. Our mind may try to recall other such moments at the brink of other New Years’ days that failed but our heart overrules because of one incredible understanding: God is the author of do-overs and if the New Year is anything, it is a do-over time.

That understanding is at the core of our Christian faith. We grasp that the gospel, the good news tells us that while we were yet in our sinful state, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). By faith, I give God my life-all the good, bad, beautiful and ugly of it, and He imparts new lifeeternal life. By faith, because of the blood Jesus shed, I don’t get one do-over moment: I get a doover life! When I stumble- if I sin, I confess it to Him and “as far as the east is from the west” he removes it. (Psalm 103:12). We cannot exhaust his compassions according to Lamentations 3:23 for they are new every morningnot because of our faithfulness and love but because of His. So, although the New Year is a wonderful symbol of new hopes, new dreams, and the chance for a doover, God ‘s do-overs do not happen on New Year’s Day alone, but every morning, 365 days a year, every 52 weeks, every 12 months for the rest of our lives. Now, that’s a do-over I do not ever want to do without!

Finding Jesus Each Month January’s Flower: The Carnation by Carol Peterson The flower that represents the month of January is the carnation. Legend says that Jesus' mother Mary shed tears as she watched Jesus carrying the cross upon which he died. When her tears fell to the ground, they became carnations. Carnations thus became a symbol of mother’s love. When the second Sunday in May was selected as a day to celebrate and honor motherhood in the United States, Ann Jaris, the leader of the “Mother’s Day Movement,” chose the carnation as a symbol of a mother’s love. A colored carnation is worn if that person’s mother is alive. A white carnation is worn if the person’s mother has died. As for the meaning behind the word, some scholars believe that the word carnation comes either from the word coronation (to crown the king) or corone, which were flower garlands used as Greek ceremonial crowns. The flowers in those crowns traditionally included carnations. Either base word reminds us of King Jesus. Other scholars believe the word carnation originated from the Greek word carnis (meaning flesh), referring to the original flesh color of the flower. Carnis can thus remind us of the incarnation of God made flesh—Jesus. Unlike more delicate flowers, the carnation is strong and sturdy—staying fresh for many days. Also, unlike the sweeter fragrance of other flowers, the carnation is spicy. That spiciness can remind us of the spices—frankincense and myrrh—brought by the Wise Men as a gift to Jesus. We can see the beauty of our creator in every part of nature. The flower for the month of January—the carnation—can also remind us of Jesus. +++ This article is the first 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.

Let Go! by Norma C. Mezoe

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. – Nahum 1:7 A man was having critical problems. His wife left him, leaving their three children in his care. He was in the army and his responsibilities were many. Not only was he doing his work, but he was also the sole caregiver to his children. He talked with his chaplain who tried to encourage the man to allow God to work in his problems. But the man continued to say he was going to give up, that he couldn’t do all that was needed. The chaplain decided to try a show-and-tell lesson. The chaplain was carrying a briefcase and he asked the man if he would hold it for him because his arm was tired from the load. The man looked at him rather strangely but he reached out to take the case. However, when he did, the chaplain pulled it back.

He again asked the man to relieve him of his burden and again the man reached for the briefcase, only to have the chaplain pull it back. Finally, the man told the chaplain that he couldn’t take the case if he wouldn’t give it to him. Then the chaplain made his point; God wouldn’t take the soldier’s burdens if he wouldn’t hand them over. Are we ever guilty of doing the same thing? When our burdens are heavy, do we ask God to help us with them, but then pull them back and take them up once again? Psalm 55:22 (NIV) gives good advice: “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” We aren’t promised that God will take our problems away but we are promised that he will uphold us and keep our problems from defeating us. We have to be willing to let go before God can relieve our burden.

The Perfect Gluten-Free Apple Pear Crisp by Theresa Begin I usually love to bake the good old-fashioned way with lots of flour, sugar, nuts, and butter. Who doesn’t? Recently, however, I have noticed that a few of my wonderful friends are completely gluten-free. One by choice, but the other two have to because of health issues. This presented a challenge to me because I have to be able to share my cooking with my friends and family. There is absolutely no joy for me in baking my wonderful yummy recipes if I can’t share them with the people I love. That’s why I decided to create a great recipe that I could make / bake for my gluten-intolerant friends. I looked over a lot of glutenfree recipes to see how they were replacing the flour, and I discovered that there is a lot of information out there. But I didn’t find a recipe that I was super-excited to try. One of my favorite fruits to cook with is apples and I love apple crisp. My family has made it since I was a child. We had a Golden Delicious apple tree in our yard and we made all things apple from it. So I got my inspiration from that ol’ apple tree! Our original apple crisp recipe includes flour and oats, but you can purchase gluten-free oats from Whole Foods or another natural food store. With that new information, I began experimenting with the recipe and tried other ingredients that would make a tasty crisp topping without using flour. What I came up with, to my own amazement, was actually better than my traditional crisp. If you are looking for a new gluten-free recipe for a family dessert, look no further! You will love this apple pear crisp and so will everyone you share it with. Here’s what you need: 3 large apples 5 small to medium pears, peeled and sliced. Toss with 1/3 cup white sugar and 1 full teaspoon of cinnamon. 1 heaping tablespoon of Red Mill’s Gluten-Free Pancake Mix (This works much better than the plain gluten-free flour, especially with fruit. It is also wheat and dairy free.) Fold all ingredients together a few times in a large bowl. Dump it all into a buttered pie pan.

Now it is time to add your gluten-free “crisp” to the top! In a separate bowl combine:     

2/3 cup organic oats ½ cup gluten-free pancake mix 1/3 cup almond flour ½ cup light organic brown sugar Add a pinch of cinnamon

Toss these ingredients together with a fork and add about 6 tablespoons of melted butter to your oat mixture. Work it in well so it starts getting clumpy. Then it’s ready!

Work it in well so it starts getting clumpy. Then it’s ready! Scoop the oat mixture over the apple / pear mixture to get it into all the nooks and crannies. Place on a foil covered baking sheet and bake in an over preheated to 350 degrees F for 35 – 50 minutes. Use your knife to check the tenderness of the apples. By the time the knife slides in easily, your crisp is ready.

A cup of coffee or tea to go with it and you have a very tasty, nutty-flavored, gluten-free dessert to share with your friends and family!

Find more yummy recipes and creative inspiration for your home and family on Theresa’s blog, Shoestring Elegance.

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

The lights were out. We were in bed but not asleep. "Did you hear a word I said?" Nanda whispered to me in the dark. "How can I?" I whispered back. "I keep thinking about your mom listening at the door."

"She has other properties in Malaysia. More properties in India. Jewellery and cash locked up in that safe in her room, but she lives like a pauper." "I need to rest. I'm working tomorrow and Navin is going to school." He pulled the covers over his shoulder.

"Don't be ridiculous." "Then why can't we close our bedroom door?" He turned away, his back to me. I chucked an arm over his motionless body and snuggled my nose into his neck. "We've been married a week and she still won't let us close our bedroom door," I whispered. He tensed, but I was not going to back down. "Can we move into our own house?" "Not on my salary." "I make good money. If we combine our salaries..." "Gina, I told you. I have to give some of my salary to my mother." "Some? Some?" I pulled my arm away and raised my head to look at him. "You give all of your salary to her." "That's not true. She uses some of my money for our meals, rent and utilities. We can't bludge off a poor, old, woman." "Poor? Your mother?" I wanted to laugh, but I was afraid she would come charging into the room and accuse us of being indecent under her roof and corrupting Nanda's youngest brother, Navin, who was only nineteen and asleep in the right wing of the house.

"Navin is sleeping with your father where your mother should be - far away in the right wing of the house. Instead she moves into the bedroom next to us." Back to back we slept, a newly-married couple with the bedroom door ajar - the fate I had chosen for myself when I married my husband. My own mother had severed ties with me when I married outside my faith and ethnic race. I was a Malayalee, an Indian ethnic group from Kerala, India. My mother was a school teacher and devout Catholic who never hesitated to use the cane on her seven children - four boys and three girls. We all attended the Catholic Church faithfully every Sunday only to avoid a caning. I don't believe any of us knew much about God, including my mother. I married an ethnic Tamil at the temple, in a Hindu wedding ceremony. No one from my side of the family showed up. **** A week after the wedding, I was back at work. It felt like the prison doors had opened. I enjoyed my job as a stenographer and hated going home. On the ride back, I wished I could have stayed on the bus forever. I shrank into my seat as the bus approached my stop in front of the St. Paul’s Primary School.

Through the window beside my seat, my mother-inlaw's house would loom, large and foreboding never welcoming. An expansive field of tall, lalang grass separated the house from the bus-stop. In the mornings, I would see children in uniform cutting across the field to reach the school. But I always took the longer route around. This short cut served not well my heeled shoes and formal dresses. Once, my husband opened the gate outside the car port to let me in. He held my hand a little longer than usual and I responded with a shy smile. My motherin-law cleared her throat. She was standing behind her light blue Peugeot 403. While Nanda sacrificed all his pay checks to his mother, I got to keep mine. There weren't too many after that - because my mother-in-law took away my job. "Look at how she dresses when she goes to work," I overheard her complain to Nanda. "Do you think other men don't notice?" "Amma, it's her office wear. The women in my department dress like that too. It's the 60s and the British influence is still strong in Malaysia." I felt it was his way of showing me his love when he stood up for me and my job. "What self-respecting man sends his wife to work?" My mother-in-law would not let up. "All day I am cooking and cleaning while Madam comes and goes as she pleases." The next day, I came home to find Nanda rubbing ointment on his mother's leg. My father-in-law told me she had had a fall and sprained her leg. She complained bitterly about who would do the chores if she lay in bed to recuperate. Nanda told me not to go in to work the next day. I wanted to protest, but I could not bear to see my husband torn between his mother and me. I began to stay home so often that I decided it was not fair to my company. "I hate to see you go, Gina. What about the promotion and the pay rise?" my boss said to me when I resigned.

I had known about the promotion for two weeks, but I had no one with whom to share the wonderful news. Twenty-two years old and not a soul to share my heart with. I longed to speak to my siblings and father but could not let them face my mother's wrath. My husband's tormented face flashed in my mind. I would do anything to make him happy. "I'm sorry, Mr. Sanders, I have family commitments," I replied. When I told my husband I had resigned he was so happy he took me out to dinner in my mother-inlaw's car. She didn't object. It was the first time since our marriage that we went out together alone. It confirmed my belief that I had done the right thing. Or did I? All through dinner I pretended in my head I was celebrating my promotion instead of my resignation. It was the satisfaction of knowing I was a woman capable of accomplishing set goals. I had only one goal now. To win my husband's love. **** "Let me do that, anni [term of respect for elder sisterin-law].�You should not work so hard when you're pregnant," said Navin, and took over washing the dishes. My youngest brother-in-law was more concerned about me than my own husband. I snuck a glance over at my mother-in-law who had her leg on a pouffe, watching a Tamil movie with her husband. Navin whispered to me, "Quick, go out the kitchen door and join aneh [term of respect for elder brother]. I'll take care of Amma." He had overhead Nanda ask me to go with him to a relative's house to pick up a parcel for his mother, but I had to wash up. Now I rushed out to the car port. "Who's washing up?" Nanda asked when I slipped into the seat beside him. "Navin." Nanda kissed me on the forehead.� Dinner was delicious."

I exploded with joy. I didn't mind slaving away in the kitchen as long as my husband enjoyed my meals. I was happy to learn from my mother-in-law who churned out exquisite Indian meals. In order to please my husband I even learned to speak Tamil. **** Navin reached up to feel around the top shelf of my cupboard and brought down a box of old photos. Cleaning the cupboard when you're eight months pregnant is not a task to be done alone. We looked through the photos together. "Is this the office where you used to work?" He held up a photo of me and two ladies posing at the receptionist's desk. I fingered the photo in my hand for a long time, lost in my memories. When I looked up, I caught my reflection in the mirror. I had swapped the trendy bob in the photo for one long plait with jasmine flowers threaded into it at the nape of my neck. I wore a sari and a red dot on my forehead. I recalled my shock a year ago when I opened my wardrobe and all my dresses were gone. "What happened to my dresses?" I tried to hide the hysteria in my voice when I challenged my husband. "You don't need them anymore," my mother-in-law shouted from her chair in front of the television that had become her permanent throne now that I was available to do everything. "Go get that bag of saris in my room. There are also some salwar kameez. Try them on." As if she anticipated my next question, she added "Don't worry, I'll teach you how to tie the sari." I willed the tears to remain at the back of my eyes. I waited for Nanda to be as outraged as I was. He merely scooped up a handful of roasted peanuts from the bowl on the dining table, popped some into his mouth and laughed at the comedy sketch in the Tamil movie his mother and father were watching. I slid close to his side and he put an arm around me. "My dresses..." I forced myself to remember my indignation because Nanda's hug made me forget. He just touched the tip of my nose and said, "I think you'll look stunning in a sari."

My heart soared. I vaguely remembered my motherin-law saying, "I got rid of them," but Nanda's compliment was foremost in my mind. I could not wait to try on a sari. When I went to the room, I found a black garbage bag stuffed with old saris and sari blouses. "Whose are these?" I asked my mother-in-law when she walked into the room. "They used to belong to my daughters. They don't want them anymore." When I had undressed, she led me to the bathroom and poured cold water out of a bucket on me as I squatted on the floor. "I wash the Christian demons off you! Be gone forever! And if they are not gone, I shall beat them out of you." I became afraid to resemble anything remotely Christian after that. It wasn't difficult because my experience at the Catholic Church was of the same rigid rules and threats. My mother-in-law had statues of the gods Ganesha and Krishna and photos of other Hindu gods in her prayer room. We had statues of Mary and a mansize Jesus hanging on a giant cross. To me they were all the same. After I had dried myself she helped me try on the blouses. They were too big. She brought out some safety pins and folded the excess cloth and pinned them down. She said I should grow my hair long and then dipped her finger in some red powder and circled a dot on my forehead. "Make sure you wear that red dot every day. This yellow thread around your neck is the thali and red dot, the kum kum powder. If you don't wear these you are saying you are a widow." She and her daughters had all switched their yellow threads to thick gold chains but I continued to wear only a thread. "Anni? Anni?" Navin called. "Huh? What?" I mumbled, nudged out of my reverie

"Where are these dresses?" "Gone." "Where?" The same place the girl in this photo had gone. Far away. When it was time for Navin to go to university in London, I cried so much my eyes were swollen. He was the only one I could freely speak to. It felt like I was losing my family all over again.

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.

At the airport he kissed my daughter in Nanda's arms. Pregnant with my second child, I waved him off with the rest of the family.

The lady handed the baby back to me.

With Navin gone food became scarce. Navin ate a lot and my mother-in-law made sure there was a good supply.

"Wait! Wait!" I called out. She turned around at the gate beyond the car port. "Who are you?"

Now I scavenged left-overs and begged my husband to give me more money so my two-year-old daughter and baby son could have decent food. We were always hungry. Nanda had drained all that I saved from my pay checks by constantly borrowing my money, which he never returned.

Overjoyed, I hugged him. Then I ran after her.

"I was walking by when I heard someone call for help." TO BE CONTINUED Don’t miss the conclusion of “I Lost My Identity by Living for My Husband” in the February 2019 issue of RUBY magazine.

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

Lesson from the Blizzard of ‘96 by Lisa J. Radcliff

A blizzard was bearing down on the east coast. My family was busy preparing. Our three boys packed up and fled to a friend’s farm to ride it out—and have a little fun in the snow. As a nurse, my husband planned to stay at the hospital in case of emergencies. And me? I was blissfully unaware of anything going on at home in Pennsylvania. Three days before, I flew out of Philadelphia International Airport for a conference in Chicago. There had been no mention of a potential storm before I left. I had checked in at home a couple of times. My husband said they were going to get a snow storm, but it shouldn’t be a big deal. In Chicago, nothing was out of the ordinary—until we tried to leave. When we arrived at O’Hare for our return flight, there were some delays, some cancellations. But our flight was still “on time.” The frenzy among travelers was the first alert that something extraordinary was happening back home. Our flight was cancelled just before the entire board switched from delayed to cancelled. Realizing hotels would soon be overwhelmed, our party of four women sprinted to the nearest bank of phones, hurdling suitcases, leaving the more refined business travelers in our wake.

We had no pride, didn’t care about appearing dignified, and just did what had to be done to avoid sleeping at the airport. We each took a phone and went to work. I found a room at a Hampton Inn, one of the last available in the city. Getting the attention of our group, I nodded affirmation, and we all hung up, wishing the next in line good luck. We grabbed the airport shuttle to our hotel and switched on the TV. Now that the city was overrun with angry east coasters, and O’Hare had turned into a makeshift Holiday Inn, the far-off blizzard was a news story. Then they showed what was happening back home. They were calling it “the storm of the century.” I called my husband to let him know I wouldn’t be coming home for a few days. He wasn’t surprised but assured me the boys were having fun with their friends and would be safe there. He was going to stay at the hospital for a few days in case he was needed. I spent the next four days away from the storm. The weather was lovely in Chicago, sunny and cold, perfect for sightseeing in the windy city in January.

We called the home office of our company and were invited to come have lunch there and tour the plant. They sent a long, black limo for us. We were treated like royalty. The limo driver was friendly and informative. On our way back to the hotel, he said, “You have me for the rest of the day. Is there somewhere you’d like to go?” We explained that we were only planning to be in Chicago for three days, but now it looked like we would be there twice that long. We needed some “essentials.” He offered to drive us to Target.

Four days later, we returned home. Landing at the airport, it was hard to tell that there had been a blizzard. There was more snow at the car park but not incredible amounts of snow. Driving home, the roads were clear and dry. The farther north and west we went, the more snow we found. Driving through my small town, the snow was piled so high I couldn’t see around the corners at intersections. Day 4 post-blizzard: we had electricity, the streets were clear, the sidewalks shoveled, and our boys had returned home (via snowmobile). Other than the fact that there was snow that dwarfed my two-year-old, everything was normal.

The limo pulled up to the front of Target. We waited for our driver to let us out and off we went. We found the things we needed and regrouped back at the entrance. Our limo appeared within seconds. The driver hopped out, opened our door, and we all piled into the cavernous interior. The driver took his seat behind the wheel and couldn’t hide his laugher. He said, “I just have to tell you what happened. After I dropped you off, I pulled over to the side to wait. The look on the faces of people in the parking lot was priceless. Some of them were on their way out but turned around and went back into Target. I’m sure they thought you were celebrities.” I said, “That explains the very strange looks from people in the store. Who but a celebrity would take a limo to Target to buy underwear?” We all got a good laugh as we continued our celebrity tour of Chicago, while our families dug out from under three feet of snow.

My experience with the Blizzard of ‘96 made me wonder how often are my friends and family members going through difficult storms of life, but I am unaware? In my world, everything is sunny and worry-free, and from my perspective, their lives are the same. It challenged me to be more in tune with the needs of those around me, to keep a keen eye on the storm clouds gathering over them. I committed to offer a helping hand, pray with them as the storm swirls, or just be present in their time of need—much like Jesus does for me. 3

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:3-5)

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FEBRUARY 2019 issue of

RUBY magazine Available February 1, 2019 on the

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Laundry Love Note by Nancy Frantel

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. ─ I John 4:7 (NRSV) When I walk into the laundry room, I smile. While I don’t mind washing clothes, that’s not the reason for the reaction.

My oldest son wrote the note during a recent visit home. I didn’t find the message until the day after he left.

I don’t expect to check a pant pocket and find a fivedollar bill, or find the missing partner to a lonely sock.

At first, the note startled me. Imagine finding words on a wall you didn’t write. However, it only took a few seconds to read the message, recognize the handwriting, and have tears running down my cheeks.

On the wall hangs a dry erase board where I write my to-do list of responsibilities to complete within the next few weeks. This location allows for gentle reminders, which I glance at when starting a load of laundry. My more urgent “do today or by tomorrow” handwritten list stays on my desk. While I would prefer not to look at the number of tasks on the list, it’s the mature thing to do. I set aside time for housework on both lists. Vacuuming can wait, washing dishes can’t, and laundry is somewhere in the middle.

As a mom, I try to let my kids know how much I love them every time I get a chance. They respond with the same sentiment, which warms my heart. Our Heavenly Father shows love for us, His children. Messages throughout the Bible provide guidance on how to love others, and I believe God teaches my children how to love through the people He places along their paths.

But now, I walk into the laundry room even if I don’t plan on washing clothes.

God gives them opportunities to express love for others, and in this case, a laundry love note left as evidence.

Because when I enter the room, I see “I LOVE YOU MOM!” written with dry erase marker on the board.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. ─ I John 3:1a (NRSV)

Prayer of the Extravagant Spender by Sharon L. Patterson “Lord, help me remember what a spender I can be. Please, help me to curb my urge to splurge when I desire to buy everything in view of my eye. But also, may others fail to buy those things till I can when they go on sale.” Amen

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.

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RUBY’S Reading Corner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUBY magazine January 2019  

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays has come and gone, it’s time to focus on a New Year and our goals for the coming months. In t...

RUBY magazine January 2019  

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays has come and gone, it’s time to focus on a New Year and our goals for the coming months. In t...