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Of War and Faith and Encouragement by Sharon L. Patterson

Walking in Another’s Shoes by Norma C. Mezoe

I Write Prayers by Katherine Corrigan

Patriotic Craft Collection from Vintage Mama’s Cottage

Ruby Magazine Your voice, your story JULY, 2017

In This Issue of Ruby

Vintage Book Treasure Hunt: A Book for Laura by Kathryn Ross Summer is here in full bloom! Our gardens are growing, the flowers are cascading over the edge of the porch railing, and the sun is shining. There is so much to celebrate in the summer months, and July is the month when we remember our nation’s birthday on Independence Day. I hope you will join us in remembering those who have sacrificed so much that we can live in the home of the free because of the brave. We would like to invite you to join us in the RUBY community, an interactive website where you can connect with other Christian women. Let us know how we can be an encouragement to you today. We would love to hear from you! Contact us at

Bags, Bags, Everywhere‌Bags by Gloria Doty

Stop by the RUBY blog and click on the link to purchase your copy of the latest issue of RUBY magazine at http://www, Senior Editor: Nina Newton Assistant Editor: Beth Brubaker Feature Writers: Sharon L. Patterson, Joan Leotta, Mary Dolan Flaherty, Norma C. Mezoe, Marilyn Lesniak, Thea Williams, Shara BuelerRepka, Jennifer Workman, Cindy Evans, Lucy Adams, Gloria Doty, Kathryn Ross, Kathleen McCauley, Emmanuel O. Afolabi, Cindy Knisley, Carol Peterson, Katherine Corrigan, Frances Gregory Pasch, Kelli Brewer, Alicia Ai Keng Lim

The Art of Bullying by Mary Dolan Flaherty

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

Tatters to Treasures for vintage and refashion designs and creations.

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

Paralyzed by Junk by Nina Newton, Sr. Editor Some people are paralyzed by fear. They find it impossible to move forward because of uncertainty or anxiety about the unknown. I suppose there are any number of reasons that people get “stuck” and have a hard time getting beyond whatever challenge they are facing. I know that in my life there have been many times when I just couldn’t quite bring myself to face that “nightmare in my closet,” and so I just didn’t do anything at all. Recently I’ve been paralyzed by junk. This time it is the ordinary, annoying, overwhelming piles of stuff that have been accumulated over the years of moving and storing possessions in boxes and on shelves in the garage and in the guest room. My intentions were really good when we moved into this house, but then life has a way of keeping us distracted and so more and more stuff that came into the house from who knows where, just ended up being stacked and piled in the extra room until another day. Well that day has finally come! For the past few months I’ve just been “stuck” with feeling so overwhelmed by all those piles of stuff that I couldn’t function. It wasn’t “bad” stuff, it was just stuff that the girls brought home from school (you know, art class treasures from the fifth grade and 4H projects from three summers ago that they just couldn’t part with – that kind of stuff), or seasonal decorations that somehow just never made it back out to the garage where they belong, and of course, lots of my craft / sewing / painting / creating stuff. All good stuff, just too much of it.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

We are in the midst of painting my sewing room so everything from that room was temporarily relocated to the guest bedroom, and now I am able to sort through everything and keep only the stuff that we really need or that we will keep for sentimental purposes. And then THAT stuff will need to be stored somewhere other than where I am trying to work. I can breathe easier already! So as I was sorting and tossing, sorting and storing, sorting and organizing, I was reminded of how much junk we keep in our lives. Lots of good stuff, just too much of it. And it is really hard to sort that stuff out! If you are a people pleaser, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You agree to do this and help with that, or volunteer to be in charge of this project, and teach that Sunday School class or Bible study, or help at VBS or be in charge of the snacks for the fourth grade class or the volleyball team, or help with the neighbors garage sale or take care of their three preschoolers for an afternoon – and then you discover that you are so busy doing what everyone else expects you to do that you can’t hear God’s still small voice telling you what HE wants you to do. Maybe He wants you to do some of that stuff, but I have realized that I was so quick to agree to do whatever anyone asked of me that I really didn’t slow down long enough to hear what God was speaking to my heart. This summer I decided that it is time for me to stop long enough to be sure that I am investing my time, energy, and resources where God is leading me – I guess maybe I just need to take a deep breath, slow down, be still and . . . . listen. How about you? Have you ever been paralyzed by fear or anxiety or junk? Life is filled with choices, and it’s time for me to stop allowing the junk of life to get in the way of the true treasure of obedience. It’s time for me to be still and know that He is God. He will guide me if I just take the time to listen.

Footprints in the Mud Sins vs. Virtues - Lust by Beth Brubaker Lust is all around us. Thanks to the internet, it’s more prominent and has invaded the sanctity of our homes more than before the digital age. Lust has permeated our culture to the point that it’s almost commonplace; in fact, it’s considered healthy to have a certain amount of lust. But what is lust? Lust, by definition, is a very strong sexual desire. This seems like a healthy thing, right? But note that there is a serious lack of anything else in this definition. There’s no mention of love or affection. There is no love or affection concerning lust. There is only a physical sexual need - no emotional attachments required. Society has twisted this sin into something that sounds positive. The lust for money. Lusting after a goal. Lust has become a synonym for love, instead of its opposite. Lust is not love. Love requires an emotional attachment that lust just doesn’t have. In the Bible, lust refers to a wrongful desire of someone. Not only physically, but even in your thoughts! Here are a few examples. Exodus 20:14 You shall not commit adultery. Matthew 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Wow. Even if you think about it, you’ve done it. Those are some strong (and convicting) verses! 1 Thessalonians 4:7 says For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. This is the standard in which God wants us to live. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to live in purity. So how do you fight against lust, when it’s all around you? Chastity. Chastity simply means refraining from sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, there’s nothing simple about it.

Everything we read, watch, or listen to has some form of lust in it - sometimes tame, sometimes wild and crazy. Even if you’re watching something godly, it often gets interrupted by lustful advertising! Abstinence and avoidance is key to fighting lust. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God. Look at the last line of these verses; who do not know God. People who were not introduced to God have no idea what God’s standards are, so they can’t understand why someone should be chaste when the world is happily jumping into bed with everyone else. They don’t understand the commitments God wants us to make to satisfy both physical and emotional needs, nor can they fathom that attraction and desire for one person is not the same as lust for a multitude. 1 Corinthians 7 gives us an eyeful of just what God intends concerning desires of the body. … “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control… Yes - even married couples need to be careful!

But what about the unmarried? 1 Corinthians 8-9 answers that question as well. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. God gave us a desire for the opposite sex. He wants us to enjoy each other in marriage. But He also wants us to have a healthy resistance to avoid lustful traps. A perfect explanation of God’s reasons for keeping yourself morally and physically pure is in 1 Corinthians 6: 18-12. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Personally, I’ve been on both sides of this particular fence. I was in the secular world until my early twenties. I wondered why the relationships I was having weren’t fulfilling, leaving an emptiness inside. That was until I found God, and few years later I met my husband. We abstained until we were married. What a difference! Not only was our bond to each other stronger than any of my previous relationships, but the connection we have filled up the holes in my heart. We just celebrated twenty years of marriage, and fires are still burning steadily. Resistance isn’t futile - it’s fulfilling. Don’t let the world convince you otherwise. It really is worth the wait!

For more inspirational articles by Beth Brubaker, visit her blog at Footprints in the Mud

RUBY Magazine is now available in print! Every issue of RUBY Magazine can now be purchased as a print publication. Now you can have a copy of our beautiful magazine to share with your friends and family. To purchase RUBY magazine in print, please visit the RUBY blog at where you will find the link for each issue.

Of War and Faith and Encouragement by Sharon L. Patterson

As we celebrate our 241st Independence Day, we find ourselves still at war after fourteen years. Our sons and daughters are deployed around the world. Internally, we are struggling as to who we are as a nation. In the middle of struggle, divisions, and war there is great need for remembering who we have been in other times when called upon to endure hard places. Just 13 years ago, my youngest son was on his first deployment and I was writing to him very often what I prayed would be full of faith and encouragement as he was at war. In honor of this time when we celebrate our independence even while we are still engaged in combat and vigilance against foreign forces I want to share a personal memory…an email I wrote to my son when he was in Iraq. I offer it as a tribute to all our sons and daughters who are away from us serving this beloved country of ours. May the Lord bless and keep them and cause us to remember…always. *********************************************************************** Mom Subj: A new day Date: 12/16/2004 It is a new day with hope in my heart and I pray in yours as well. I do not know what I would do without my hope in Jesus. You know, it isn’t just a word about tomorrow, but about today. So many times this week He has given me literal signs of hope. I had some discouragement but He brought me through it and out of it by the simplicity of my hope in Him. He used others’ kind messages, e-mails, and phone calls. Something rises out of nowhere (actually, the great somewhere), fills your heart and restores your pathway with clarity of purpose. It leaves the unanswered questions in more capable hands than mine, lifts the spirit to soar above the heartache, loneliness, sadness, and trouble. What a God we serve! What an intercessor we have in Jesus! When I was in the l0th grade, I saw pictures of the holocaust…just pictures but they so profoundly affected me. When I grasped the horrors of what evil men will do to innocent men, women, and children, I decided to have a study on it when I became a history teacher years later. I read about these types of events to my students every year. I cannot imagine what it has been like for you to experience the kind of pictures and descriptions I simply read and looked at. I had trouble with those pictures and asked to be a force for good in this world against such evil. I never dreamed that one day my son would literally fight the kind of evil I saw in those pictures so many years ago. Dearest Son, thank you for daring to be part of such an unbelievable undertaking that has been so costly to your heart and mind as well as your body. Thank you for taking courage, for trusting in God, for bearing the great pain of war, for helping to eliminate evil. I wish you could peek into my heart and feel what it feels for you; how I wish I could wrap my arms around you and comfort you like I did when you were a little boy. A mother could not be more proud of her son than I am of you. I pray the peace that passes understanding to surround your heart and mind. I pray the strength of angelic forces about you. I pray the hope of Jesus to fill you up. I pray the love of God to lift you up. We will be here for you and we will listen when you need to talk. Our shoulders are here for you to let out any emotion you need to. We are not weak and need protection against anything you need to unload for we are soldiers too, made strong by compassions formed in adversity, pain of heart that seemed unbearable except for God’s holding us in such times. Do not let these things go down into a cavernous abyss of depressed or suppressed darkness. Only what is brought to light can heal. I love you so much, precious son. Take heart, let the Lifter of your head point you on to finish your tasks with His strength. All my love and prayers, Mom

I Write Prayers by Katherine Corrigan

I have written several prayers over the years and shared many of them at my blog, Katherine’s Corner. I am not a member of the clergy, so what would you call me? What do you call someone who writes prayers? My best reply to that question is, “Call me faithful.” I often write reverent declarations to God expressing my devotion and including my fervent requests for simple things; please Lord let him arrive safely, please Lord give her the strength to conquer her circumstance, I ask you to hold close those who are affected by senseless violence ( I’ve written far too many of those). Most of my prayers are simple acts of communion with our Lord and Saviour, expressing gratitude for each day and strength to persevere when sometimes things feel dire. I don’t find the act of prayer to be associated with any specific organized religion. I find it to be more of a personal or shared religious and spiritual observance. My faith- filled form of devotion often includes requests to my angels to watch over me and my loved ones, too. A prayer is not a wish. A young boy said to me once, “I’ll ask him to tell my parents to get me a new bike.” I asked him to sit down and I replied, “He is not Santa.” “It might be better to say thank you for the bike you already have,” I encouraged. I recently read an article on the “I believe” website. It was written in 2015 by Christina Fox. She was suggesting that we should write our prayers down. Not just as another form of spiritual communion with God, but more as a faith filled validation. Allowing you to look back at what God has done, to provide answers, peace and change as a result of the power of prayer. I think a prayer journal will be a valuable tool. I am an “encourager” for writing in a gratitude journal. But, it hadn’t occurred to me to write down my prayers. With the exception of those I share at Katherine’s Corner, I will include my prayers in a journal now.

Visit Katherine’s Corner for weekly inspiration for your home and family.

Summer in the ‘30s by Frances Gregory Pasch Running through the sprinkler while Mom sat shelling peas… playing hopscotch in the street what precious memories! Life back then was simple no computers nor TV… just going to the movies was such a special treat. A comic book was special too I only had a few, and so I savored reading them through and through and through. On holidays we watched parades as townsfolk lined the streets; our eyes were glued to floats and bands as vendors sold their treats. It was a thrill to get a drink, perhaps a snack or two… a flag to wave and celebrate— balloons, red, white and blue. It sounds like life was boring then compared to things today, but we were quite contented in a very simple way.

Will Your Treasures Last? by Frances Gregory Pasch Are you running on empty? Are you walking too fast? Accomplishing things that you know will not last? Are you storing up treasures here on the earth… though you know in your heart they have no lasting worth? Why not change directions? Seek God and His plan… when you focus on Him He’ll take hold of your hand He wants to direct you there’s no greater Guide… plus His Holy Spirit will be at your side. Your pace will be slower you might not walk fast... but the treasures you’re storing are those that will last.

Vintage Book Treasure Hunt: A Book for Laura by Kathryn Ross Vintage books represent old lives. People from the past, who lived, loved, laughed, cried, and recorded the treasure of their minds and hearts in words on printed pages for posterity. Not just those who penned the words—but very often, those who read those words and subsequently responded to them. Perhaps with handwritten notes of their own compositions in the margins, or back pages. I came into possession of a vintage book titled, Day After Day: A Manual of Devotions for Individual and Family Use, as compiled by 19th and early 20th century evangelist John Wilbur Chapman. It was published in 1919, at the end of the First World War. One of the first places I go when treasure hunting in a vintage or antique book, is inside, opening to the front page in the hopes of finding an inscription of its owner. I was not disappointed in this small navy-blue volume with gold embossed lettering. Etched in pencil, in what appeared to be a hurried cursive handwriting, was the epitaph: “To Laura, with love from Emma & Sade.” An error in composition required erasing the original, “from with love,” for the edited, “with love from.” My only disappointment was the absence of any more clues as to date and occasion. Was it Laura’s birthday? Confirmation? Marriage? Who were Emma and Sade? Best friends? Beloved sisters? With so many unanswered questions, my imagination kicked into high gear, fueled with inspiration. This is the stuff short stories are made of, I thought. I found only one other clue on the end pages of the book to help me piece together who Laura might have been. A few poetic verses, roughly drawn, in need of an editor. The writer drafted it in pencil first, and then wrote over the pencil in tell-tale fountain pen ink as if to set it in stone. A poem. A prayer. Titled very simply: Peace. Perhaps, she copied it from another source. Perhaps, she composed it herself. A prayer for peace in troubled times. A young woman living a hundred years ago. In 1919. At the close of a global war that reset both Europe and America. Those who survived would never be the same. The loss of 126,000 American soldiers stripped the innocence and formality of the Victorian and Edwardian age from society. Fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers were not coming home to loved ones and the potential of a life lived. Add in the 245,000-wounded returned from French, German, and Italian battlefields, it was clear that the year 1919 would be fraught with exhilaration at the war’s end, equal to the anxiety of living in a physical and social landscape dramatically altered. In total, 11 million military personnel died and 7 million more were wounded. Civilian casualties were equally shocking.

Laura, Emma, and Sade—how did World War I touch their lives? Did they suffer loss? Were they newly-minted war widows consoling each other with a book of devotional readings? I imagine them in this setting, as we celebrate Independence Day this July 4th, and the first of many tragic wars Americans were forced to fight in the past 245 years to secure our liberties and sovereign borders. Thumbing through the thirteen weeks’ worth of weekly Scripture readings and prayers in Day After Day, I came across specialized readings for select holidays. (See transcript at end of article) Among them was Flag Day, where Chapman selects an interesting Scripture from James 1:25: But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. It is interesting to consider the application of this verse to the founding principles of our nation’s liberty—derived, and well documented as so, from the Bible. In years past, training in “religion” (meaning specifically, Christianity) was an integral part of American education, as Samuel Adams attests in these inspiring words dated in Boston, October 4, 1790: Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy, and, in subordination to these great principles, the love of their country; of instructing them in the art of self-government, without which they never can act a wise part in the government of societies, great or small; in short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system . . . Samuel Adams Boston, October 4, 1790 Prayer and open discussion of the Bible, and how its principles applied to public life as a citizen, were a revered part of every school child’s academic years. Until 1961, that is—a mere forty years since the publication of this vintage family devotional, and only twenty years since the end of the nation’s second war on foreign shores. Not to mention Korea. And the contemporary threats a half century ago, of a Cold War. Being a doer of the work of liberty—applying the principles of liberty, including a love country—brings blessing, indeed. But often after much loss. Sacrificial love secures liberty. Like that of Christ on the cross. Or a young man on a battlefield far from home. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NLT

Peace in troubled times seems distant. Laura, Emma, and Sade may have grown up together in a one room classroom learning their American Christian heritage together. In the trauma and aftermath of a world war, they remembered that the anchor of the soul is to be found in stealing away to a quiet place for devotions, meeting in prayer with the Prince of Peace. Losing a loved one in the defense of the nation might have spurred Emma and Sade’s gift of this little book of devotions to Laura. Perhaps the prayer chosen for the Flag Day meditation brought her some comfort: Almighty God, Sovereign of the universe, we thank Thee that our flag has always stood for liberty, justice, and freedom, and that the banner of the Republic floated in the battle front across the seas. (Reference to WWI) Great God, may our flag never be dishonored. Grant that through the coming years its stars may continue to shine, and its colors stand for purity, devotion, and sacrifice. May all our citizens be loyal to it as the symbol of national sovereignty. May there soon come to this weary world the morning of universal peace. This we ask in the Name of Thy Son, our Redeemer. Amen. David G. Wylie, D.D. Reprinted in Day by Day, 1919 This is the first of my treasure hunt finds in this particular volume. Next month I’ll explore more nuggets of inspiration from this old gold mine of beautiful words and wisdom—the legacy of past lives. The more I learn of the hearts and minds of those who have gone before us, the more I am challenged to pursue my own life’s legacy with purpose—seeds for growing on, rather than chaff for the wind. Peace Drop Thy still dews of quietness Til all our strivings cease Take from our souls the strain and stress And let our ordered lives confess The beauty of Thy peace. Breathe through the hearts of our desires Thy coolness and Thy balm Let sense be dumb—let flesh retire Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire A still small voice of calm Our Father, Thy life opens fresh and new in my being this day. They love fills my soul and mind and presses me unto faithful service and high purpose. All darkness, all dimness or vision within or without is but a cloud which the lens of Thy reality will turn to light and clearness. My being rests in calm security in Thy love and knows the beginning and the end is peace. Amen. To hear the dramatized audio version of this article by author/storyteller, Kathryn Ross, visit or click on the PODCASTS page for the link to this and more inspiring audio stories leading to all good things and beauty.

The Art of Bullying by Mary Dolan Flaherty Apparently, I am a bully. Someone very close to me, someone I care a lot about told me this recently. I was a bit shocked. I had no idea. She told me this: Mary, for as long as we’ve known each other, you have belittled, ridiculed, mocked me, and called me names. You’ve told me I’m stupid and fat and ugly and weird. You’ve made me feel inferior and insignificant. I’ve often felt like I just can’t measure up to your standards and expectations, no matter how hard I try. You expect perfection, and I constantly fall short. Then, you lose your temper when I don’t come through. I feel like it’s my fault for everything that goes wrong in your life. I felt my heart pound. I tried to defend myself, but she was on a roll. I feel guilty all the time. Whenever I mess up, I feel like an idiot, because that’s what you’ve told me for years. I see how you encourage and accept others. I watch how you seem to convey to them that it’s okay to have flaws. I listen to you tell them that God loves them no matter what. Regardless of how they view themselves, you always try to explain how God’s love overrides what they think. You allow others to be who they are, but you ignore me. I look at you and see a hypocrite. Why are you so hard on me? Why do I feel as though you’ve never been able to love me, really love me, just the way I am? Again, I opened my mouth to defend myself, but she went on. All I want is to be treated with the same respect and dignity that you give to everyone else. Don’t you think we all deserve that? My heart beat wildly in shame. The more she went on, the more ashamed I felt. I couldn’t believe how I’d wounded this special woman, this soul so dear to me. How had I allowed this beautiful child of God to feel so worthless? How had I not seen it? Shame on me!

But I knew I couldn’t stay there…in that shame. It was more important that I make it right. This wasn’t about me. But it was. I’m so sorry, I said. I had no idea I was treating you so badly. Actually, she said, I believe you did know and chose to continue, because I’m just not as important as everyone else. Oh, that’s not true! I insisted. Of course you are! It is true, Mary, she said quietly. And then, so quietly, that I almost didn’t hear her: You’ve been bullying me for as long as I can remember. It needs to stop. Silence ensued. We stared at one another, she strangely confident for someone who felt so abused; me in an awkwardly dawning revelation, feeling more convicted the longer I met her knowing eyes. Until I could no longer deny it. She was right. I’m sorry, so sorry. You’re right. I have bullied you into thinking that you’re not good enough. I’ve focused on your flaws instead of your beauty. I’ve compared you to every supermodel, every icon, and even every mother. Instead of helping you and understanding your difficulty in remembering certain things, I’ve made fun of you and called you a ditz and a scatterbrain. I’ve even allowed others to make fun of you and never stepped in to your defense.

Instead of building up your confidence, I’ve attempted to tear you down every time you mess up. Instead of allowing you to make mistakes, I’ve kept a tally of everything you’ve done wrong. Instead of treating you with dignity, I’ve called you stupid. I’ve ridiculed you in public and scolded you worse in private. I’ve been a bully and you’ve been my scapegoat. The truth is, when I look at you, I see a beautiful, confident, and smart woman who loves to make people laugh. You use humor to diffuse an awkward or a potentially unstable situation. I remember how you used to rage at the world, and now you don’t let anger dominate your circumstances. You’re no longer that sad, angry, and lonely girl who was filled with self-pity and insecurity. By the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, and through many years of life lessons, you have overcome and you’ve never let anything keep you down. You’ve become a pretty cool person who I’m really proud to call my friend.

As I continued to speak life into her, I watched her stature and her smile grow. It matched my own. It had felt a bit odd to talk to myself in the mirror. Watching my own reaction had been difficult too, but that was the catalyst to change. I needed to face my wounded self as well as my bully self. You’re right, Mary, we haven’t been very kind to one another over the years, have we? I think it’s time to call a truce, to reconcile. Accept yourself. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Treat yourself with dignity and respect. Do unto yourself as you do unto others. Celebrate who God made you to be, what you’ve overcome and who you’ve become. You’re pretty awesome. My bullied-self and my bully-self made a pact in the mirror. I suppose if my other self wasn’t two dimensional we may have shaken on it or hugged, but that borders on insanity. And that’s a story for another day. What–or who–do you see when you look in the mirror? It might be time to have a serious discussion with yourself.

The Greatest Freedom by Norma C. Mezoe Frank and Jerry are two senior citizens in my small town of four hundred people. They have dedicated themselves to hang American flags on patriotic holidays at several locations along the main street of Sandborn. I take notice of their efforts and appreciate their faithfulness. They have chosen this way to show their thankfulness for the freedom of our beautiful land. Throughout the history of the United States, men and women have shown their love of country, serving in different ways. Many have given their lives to secure and preserve our freedom. Loved ones have watched family members march away to war, never to see them again. We are thankful for the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom. Christians enjoy an additional freedom and are doubly blessed with the freedom that Jesus Christ offers. He suffered, gave his life, and was resurrected that we might have spiritual freedom: freedom from the power of sin, and freedom of a fulfilling and eternal life with him. On this Fourth of July, let’s pause amid the parades and cookouts, to remember the sacrifices that have been made throughout America’s history. Let’s also remember the one who gives the greatest freedom, one that can never be taken away. First Rights

Italian Cream Cheese Cake from Marilyn’s Treats I always have cream cheese in my refrigerator. There are numerous recipes you can make or enhance with this one ingredient. It is a staple I use often. This recipe is definitely on my “to make” shortlist! Moist and light, this cake is not your ordinary out of the box mix. All these fresh ingredients come together to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. I am not a huge coconut fan and this tastes great even without the addition of the coconut. I just add a bit of cocoa powder instead! Ingredients                  

Cake: 1 stick Butter ½ cup Crisco **(see notes) 2 cups Sugar 5 Egg Yolks 2 cups Plain Flour 1 tsp Baking Soda 1 cup Buttermilk 1 tsp Vanilla 1 cup Coconut 1 cup chopped Pecans 5 Egg Whites, stiffly beaten Frosting: 1 8oz Cream Cheese, softened ½ stick Butter, softened 1 box powdered sugar 1 tsp Vanilla Chopped Nuts, optional

Notes For chocolate Italian cream add 1/2 cut cocoa powder. You can also substitute a 9x13 pan for a sheet cake variety. Makes 18 cupcakes, but check on cook time after 15 minutes. **Please do not substitute butter or margarine for the Crisco. It will most definitely alter the taste and the quality of your product. If you're worried about the fat content-you can use applesauce to replace the fat without much difference in taste and can give a moister cake. **

Instructions 1. Cake: 2. Cream butter and Crisco. Add sugar, beat well. Add egg yolks and beat. Add flour and soda. Alternate with buttermilk. Stir in vanilla. Add coconut & nuts. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites 2 Tablespoons at a time. Pour into greased and floured 9 in cake pans and bake at 350 for 20 – 25 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting. 3. Frosting: 4. Mix cheese and butter, add sugar and vanilla. 5. Frost Cake and sprinkle nuts on cake.

Patriotic Craft Collection from Vintage Mama’s Cottage Patriotic Button Flag This is a wall hanging that was in an art exhibit and I thought that it was a great idea to make on stretched canvas with painted stripes and blue behind the stars. It looks like the stars are cut-outs but if I actually get a chance to do this project, I would use white stars, either painted, or star buttons, or white star cut outs. What do you think? Patriotic Painted Birdhouses from AllFreeHolidayCrafts Well, how cute is this idea? I actually have several cute, but old, birdhouses sitting out in our garage and I had pretty much decided that I didn’t want my deck looking “junky” so I was going to toss them out . . . but now I think I’ve changed my mind! This is a project that I could actually do out in the garage on my hubby’s work bench (shhhh! Don’t tell him. I’ll be careful not to get paint all over the place) so maybe this afternoon after I get my other work finished I’ll give it a try. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Patriotic Mason Jar Lanterns from Addicted2DIY Of course, I just had to include a Mason jar craft in this collection! When I came across this patriotic DIY project, I was actually looking for something to do with Mason jars that would be practical. There are lots of beautiful ideas for decorating Mason jars, and lots of them are practical, but many of them are for decoration only. Like the beautiful vases that are all lined up on a windowsill with summer blooms cascading down the sides of the jars. They are really beautiful, but I was hoping to find some inspiration to make some tea lights, or luminaries, or in this case Mason jar lanterns. For the complete tutorial, please visit Addicted2DIY and you can make your own Patriotic Mason Jar Lanterns. Ribbon and Lace American Flag from This one is my absolute favorite! I’ve been wanting to make this Ribbon and Lace American Flag since last summer when I actually had so many other distractions in life that I didn’t accomplish much of anything all . . . I decided that’s not going to happen this summer! So this will probably be the first patriotic craft I do as soon as the paint dries! I love this beautiful, kind of vintage-looking, rather boho design and think it will be beautiful hanging on our deck in our little gazebo (which also needs to be painted, but that will just have to wait for another day).

Patriotic Ruffled Pillow found on Pinterest I love this little patriotic ruffled pillow! Even though I did not find the tutorial, I think I can figure it out just by looking at the picture. I looks like the pillow top was created from navy and while polka dot fabric for the stars, and the stripes have been created from pre-made ruffles. Stitched all together onto fabric to make the top of the pillow, with perhaps a pillow form and a fabric backing, this could be a pretty easy project. I could also use fabric scraps to make my own ruffles, but I’m rather annoyed with my ruffler foot these days and I’m afraid I might need to replace it. Unfortunately they are quite expensive, so that probably isn’t going to happen before the Fourth of July.

Here’s another creative way to make an American flag for the Fourth of July, or really any day at all to display in your home. I found this idea on Pinterest, but I think it was originally posted on but I wasn’t able to locate it. It looks similar to the ruffled pillow top, but it appears to be attached to a frame at the top to keep it straight. I’ll have to give it a try and see if I can figure it out. I love the vintage fabric and all the little vintage buttons for the stars. So many ideas, so little time!

Vintage Buttons and Fabric Scrap Patriotic Pillow Here’s an idea from Pinterest that incorporates two of my favorite things . . . . vintage buttons and fabric scraps! I love the mix of fabric strips, lace trim, top-stitching, and vintage buttons in various sizes and shapes. There’s a million more ideas, so if you want to make something patriotic this summer, be sure to visit Pinterest.

Patriotic Bunting Pillow from The Ribbon Retreat A little different take on the red, white, and blue theme . . . instead of flags, we’ve got a cute little bunting marching across the pillow top. This idea would make a fun wall hanging, banner, or even to embellish a t-shirt for the Fourth of July

Guard your Joy by Emmanuel O. Afolabi

In the book of Habakkuk 3:17-18 we read: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is a very deadly strategy of the Enemy to attack your source of joy to keep you weak and in the shadow of depression. Indeed, it is only people who ar close to you, such as intimate friends or family members who have the capacity to do things that hurt you so much that you may sink into a state of despair. It is easy to react in anger and quickly forget when wronged by a stranger or acquaintance than it is to deal with being wronged by a loved one. That is the reason why the Enemy who is after your joy will always attack you through a loved one who is not spiritually inclined. Our prayer should be that the grace of God be available for us that we would not be used against our loved ones. It is important that your spiritual “antenna” be in tune and active to receive what the Spirit is saying to you. Keep fit and continue to rejoice in the Lord.

Visit RUBY’S Reading Corner where you will find these books by Emmanuel O. Afolabi: The Pathway to Honor, How to Recover from Painful Losses, and The Battle of Identity.

Joyous July by Cindy Evans Enjoy the month of July with all its summer days. Breathe in the scent of flowers growing under sunshine's rays... Hang out in a hammock or dip your toes in a pool. Buy some lemonade from a child now home from school. Have two scoops of ice cream and wear flip flops on your feet. Play some volleyball in the yard and grill some chicken to eat. Watch the fireworks explode in purple and green and blue, play with shiny sparklers and eat a Popsicle or two! Receive the blessings of now given by God to you and join in the joys of July in everything you do!

Endings and Beginnings by Thea Williams As the time for Vacation Bible School nears, I’m reminded of some truths God showed me a few years back when I was teaching the Bible to first graders. We were pondering the story of Elijah handing off his mantle to Elisha in 2 Kings Chapter 2, and I noticed a circuit. As Elijah's work was finishing, Elisha's was starting. Elijah's finishing made way for Elisha's beginning. Evidently God's people didn't need two miracle-spawning prophet whiz kids at the same time. I pointed out to my earnest six-year-olds that when the school year ends, summer begins, and when summer days lengthen into autumn ones, we pick up our lesson books again. History yields to and creates the present in much the same way that our youthful hair color gives way to the seasoned gray that bespeaks wisdom and experience (or so I tell myself). It seems clear from the text that Elisha was reluctant to put on his predecessor's sandals. He pretty much grabbed hold of Elijah's cloak and refused to let his mentor out of his sight, then told the sons of the prophets he met along the way to put a cork in it when they announced Elijah's departure was at hand. This scenario repeated itself three times, after which God more or less made a red carpet in the midst of the Jordan River, thus nudging Elisha to assume his new responsibilities. I have a rough idea how Elisha must have felt. When I left my husband after 12 years of marriage, I was absolutely terrified. I felt like I was falling off a cliff in slow motion, and dragging two preschoolers along for the ride. God saw to it that I had hands to hold in the form of my beloved parents, whom He guided to nurture me in those fearful days until gradually each submitted to the mortality that claims all of us. I have often marveled at His kindness in getting me ready for their departure bit by bit, growing my strength even as He depleted theirs. When the day finally came that both pillars had been kicked out from under me, it was as though a new, firm platform had been quietly assembled while I wasn't looking, and I could see through my tears that I was as ready as I'd ever be to cross the Jordan. Like Elisha, I have found His almighty Spirit more than ample to meet the challenges at hand.

Are We Any Different than the World? by Jennifer Workman As I sit and contemplate the times that we live in, I am constantly reminded that "there is nothing new under the sun� (Ecclesiastes 1:9). We as people have not evolved much from the way we were in the beginning. Similarly today as it was in history, the focus is on financial attainment, popularity, relationships and many other "worldly examples." The things that we as people gravitate towards and perceive as great accomplishments, achievements and successes in life are viewed differently from our Heavenly Father. The world's mentality is to "acquire all that you can, doing what you can" but, the Word of God tells us "what profit is it to man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?� (Matthew 16:26) We have more at stake than just gathering up things in this life. Our spiritual well-being and where we spend eternity is the more pressing issue. That is why we as children of God need to be better representatives to the world and how we represent the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can't get so caught up in the world's system that we "water down" the Gospel of Jesus Christ to become popular or be seen as "politically correct," for Jesus states in the word, "whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven� (Matthew 10:33). When people see us, they need to see Jesus exemplified through our lives and that is not through our own efforts or trying to make ourselves appear "spiritual" before people, but it is dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit to shine through our lives and help us walk as children of light. So as you go through your daily life, ask yourself this question: "Am I any different than the world? Am I making it my aim to be about my "Father's business" or am I, like others, focused on myself and my own self ambitions?" People are dying all around us every day. Even though many people may not be considered physically dead many people are considered the "walking dead." They are the "walking dead" because they are living in spiritual darkness without God as a part of their lives. So, my prayer is that we as people that have ourselves been "the walking dead" and saved by God's grace and love, will make it our objective to better represent God in our daily lives and will be passionate about spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others, so that they may have life and that more abundantly through Christ Jesus (John 10:10).

The Eyes of the Artist Rearrange the tiles to find the hidden phrase.

Answer Keys in back of magazine

Ken Ken Puzzle by Beth Brubaker Using the numbers 1 to 5 once in each column and row, use the math clues in the bricks to solve the puzzle. The number is the total within the brick(s) – use the mathematical symbol next to it ( - + / x) as the method to find the answer. (The example is a 3 X 3 puzzle, so the numbers will not exceed 3)

Hymn Stories by Lucy Neeley Adams

There’s Within My Heart a Melody by Luther B. Bridgers How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? Psalm 137:4 The news was devastating. It came to Luther Bridgers when he was preaching a revival in 1910 in Kentucky. His wife and three sons had stayed in Harrodsburg with her parents while he was away. But fire destroyed the home and his family perished. When the young husband and father returned to Harrodsburg, he experienced grief he had never known before. His soul traveled into new territory – a dark valley of sorrow. How could he sing a song of faith with a broken heart – his “foreign land”? Bridgers stood strong in his faith as he went to the Word of God. The Psalms were comforting because every human emotion is found there. The question in Psalm 137:4 echoed his own despair. The Israelites wept when they were forced from their homes into exile: “On the day I called, you answered me; you increased my strength of soul” (Psalm 138:3). Their hope was renewed. So it was for Luther Bridgers. The process of healing began. Soon a song was born in which he expressed his bedrock faith. He was inspired to write the words and music for “There’s Within My Heart a Melody.” The melody seems to come from the “sweet and low whisper” of Jesus, who says: “Fear not, I am with thee, peace be still, in all of life’s ebb and flow.” Life has the ebb and flow of trials, but “though sometimes the path seems rough and steep, see his footprints all the way.” I have seen the footprints of Jesus in the life of one who has been touched by deep sorrow. My friend Glenda knows the God who comforts, sustains, and heals the brokenhearted. When her husband, Paul Ray Troutt, was serving a church in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, a terrible tragedy occurred. On a hot August day in 1971, their car was hit by a drunk driver. Paul Ray and their two young sons were killed instantly. Glenda received severe injuries but she slowly recovered. In the past years she has been a part of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In a recent letter she wrote: “I feel that God has been able to use the tragedy of my life to bring comfort to others who are experiencing the same devastation.” Is my faith growing so that, if such a tragedy comes into my life, I am sustained in my grief? Will I hear the melody of God’s Love? Lord, you are with me, and that is my security. Amen. There’s within my heart a melody Jesus whispers sweet and low: Fear not, I am with thee, peace be still, in all of life’s ebb and flow. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know, fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go. Luther B. Bridgers, 1910

Playful & Powerful by Kathleen McCauley

The waves of the ocean are both playful and powerful. They call out to me for attention with their crashing sounds and sultry simmer. When finally enticed to be a part of its erratic behavior and motion… I can feel the playfulness of the waves penetrate my stiff, guarded, otter shell. The ocean has a way of disarming that guarded self, to release the simple, gleeful child who squeals and gazes at each dancing wave. There is at the same time this caution and wonder of its power and energy. These forces keep my attention and focus on the moment and to each crashing wave. The current and force of each wave is somewhat disguised by the beauty of the cresting wave and its foaming, lace-like train. These two gifts of the ocean’s waves, playful and powerful – can teach me to embrace them once again in my life; for I had become estranged to playfulness and frightened of powerfulness. The ocean can teach us the beauty and balance of them both. We cannot have a healthy perspective or ownership of power without a healthy dose of playfulness. And we can’t experience real playfulness without the right placement and appropriation of power. The waves of the ocean can teach us both – if we have the freedom to wade into the waters to enjoy play while simultaneously respecting the need and presence of power and its currents.

Now accepting submissions for the AUGUST 2017 issue of

RUBY magazine Visit the RUBY blog for all the details

Kids’ Korner by Carol Peterson God is Watching Over You (board book) Written by PJ Lyons Illustrated by Tim Warnes The story of God is Watching Over You ends a child’s day of exploring the world, being reminded throughout everything the child does that God is there with him. After play, a walk home through the setting sun and a playful bath, the story ends with the child finally (at last, back, again) in bed, being reminded once more that God is watching over him, even while he is sleeping. The illustrations are soft colored and restful. The characters are delightfully drawn. The rhyming and meter are perfect. God is Watching Over You is a charming bedtime book for the very young. Although the publisher sets the age range at 4-8 years, my 6-month old grandson counts this as one of his favorite bedtime books. His grandmother does too. God is Watching Over You is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

Family Resemblance by Norma C. Mezoe

As I bent to give her a hug, the elderly patient seemed so alone in her hospital room. Looking into her eyes, I discovered they were flooding with tears which threatened to overflow. Frustration was gripping her. Hardening of the arteries had slowly captured her ability to think clearly and now she could not comprehend that she was in a hospital, recovering from a broken bone. The tears began slowly trickling down her face. As they fell, it seemed they were washing away the depression. Soon, she smiled and made a surprising statement: “You looked like Jesus when you walked through the doorway.” Each morning, I ask God to help me to live so that others may see Him living in my life. Did the lonely woman catch a glimpse of his Spirit as I ministered to her? First Rights – Power for Living, published 10/13/91 Reprint Rights – The Vision, published 8/9/98 Reprint Rights – Seek, published 9/3/2000

Half a Rainbow, the Morning after a Summer Storm by Joan Leotta Walking down to get my morning paper, I glanced upward into a barely lit sky still tremulous with dark streaky clouds from the previous night's storm. I spotted a rainbow springing up from the river running behind the neighbor's house across the street. Bow of color bent over the marsh, its tail end hidden by a still forming new set of storm clouds. I ran back into my house for a camera. Padding back out still in robe and slippers I spotted my neighbor across the street her back to the awesome sight, as she collected her newspaper from her own driveway. "A rainbow," I cried out," there's a rainbow behind you!" "I know" she replied, frowning. She gestured toward my camera. "Its' only a half rainbow. Hardly worthy." Amazed, I shook my head and snapped away. I chose and would choose again to revel even in that small bit of color. No beauty should be wasted.

Three Positive Routines for Managing PTSD by Kelli Brewer for DeployCare When living with any mental illness, routine is key. Human beings as a whole thrive with routine and will find themselves mentally healthier as the routine integrates into daily life. For those with mental illness, routine has a profound impact on the symptoms and side effects of the illness. As stress decreases and your life becomes more reliable, your symptoms will decrease. Of course, treatment is still a critical aspect of living with a mental illness, but optimizing your daily life by formulating a routine can have a greater impact on your health than you may think. If you have PTSD, which can have many side effects, here are a few things you may want to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine. A Well-Rounded Diet A well-rounded diet is a good way to combat the symptoms of mental illnesses, including PTSD. Nutritional gaps and deficiencies can trigger or exacerbate a number of symptoms, leaving your illness more difficult to manage. Some examples of nutrients that many people are lacking in their diets include calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, Omega 3s, and vitamins B6, B12, and D. These can all affect mood and/or mental state. It’s a good idea to consult your doctor or a nutritional expert to locate where your diet is lacking and how you can correct it. Supplements can always be used to fill any deficiencies that are difficult to correct with diet alone. An Evening Routine Insomnia is a symptom that plagues many people struggling with PTSD. Whether due to nightmares or the simple inability to fall asleep, this symptom can wreak havoc on one’s mental health. While there are many medications or supplements you can use to encourage sleep, one of the best ways to do it is to cultivate an evening routine. A set series of actions done at the same time each night will help train your brain to release melatonin at the appropriate time which helps you fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. For example, choose a time, hours before you go to bed, to refrain from working or engaging with a screen of any kind.

Have some non- caffeinated tea and read a book to wind down. If you need a snack, reach for something that caters to sleep, such as chicken, turkey, or almonds. Figure out a routine that works for you, and stick with it. Regular and Enjoyable Exercise As always, exercise is essentially a cure-all. Regular exercise that you enjoy not only keeps your body healthy but improves mental health by releasing endorphins. It reduces stress which is a major factor in the severity of your symptoms. It can also battle co-arising issues such as depression as well as boost mood. Be sure you pick a form of exercise you won’t dread. You don’t want to cause stress by forcing yourself to perform an activity you hate. Some fun ways to get moving might be yoga, hiking, tai chi, or swimming. Learning to live with PTSD is a matter of learning through trial and error. Of course, you should always have the help of your mental health care provider to steer you in the right direction. A good routine does not replace professional treatment. It is a way to make daily life a little easier on your own. Give a few of these suggestions a try and see what works best for you. Before you know it, you’ll have a routine that makes you feel great. Images via Pixabay by Skeeze

DeployCare was established to offer understanding and support to our service members and their families before, during, and after deployments. We have worked to compile necessary resources as well as research solutions to many of the challenges associated with military deployments. Our team is composed of veterans and their spouses who have experienced many of the issues that arise when there is not adequate support when needed. We are mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives. We know that the effects of deployments do not end when your loved one finally gets to come home. For more information about the mission and work of DeployCare, visit their website at

Joy by Cynthia Knisley It began as an ordinary Saturday. The finish was extraordinary. Not the extraordinary of finding a meteor has landed in your front garden or your daughter is expecting her first baby. Not even the news of ….… No, this day ended with extraordinary, simple joy. Here’s the story. I had been asked to transport two teenage boys to the 8th grade dance. Now, these are no everyday boys. They are Congolese by nationality, born and raised in Tanzania in a refugee camp. Their father attempted to return the family to the ancestral village in Congo, but found it in ruins. Less than a year ago, the parents courageously took the leap to a new life in the USA, after a rigorous and lengthy application process. They arrived in my community just in time to begin school. The family spoke Swahili and French. The children knew only a few English words and had no experience with busses and bells, lockers and cafeterias. I was fortunate to be one of several afterschool homework helpers. We came and went at appointed times and were always touched by the same warm greeting as the door swung open: “Welcome!” It was the one English word I heard the children say with confidence and clarity during their first days in this country. Wasn’t it lovely that they knew and used that word. “Welcome!” And always with a big smile. Weeks passed and much learning took place. The boys excelled in ceramics class while their younger sister was good in math. They all enjoyed playing “Go fish!” after assignments were completed. Every Sunday the family attended church and gave presentations, when asked, including African hymns and scripture read in Swahili and English. They survived their first cold winter in Pennsylvania! Before long spring arrived and the older children joined a soccer team and received their first trophies at award ceremonies. And then it was time for the 8th grade dance. Now my job, the late shift, required some special attention. What if I got involved in a project and the boys were left stranded at the school? Or maybe I would go to bed early, wake up suddenly and have to drive to the school in my pajamas.

It just wasn’t the normal routine, so I decided to bake cookies and scatter reminder notes around the kitchen. Before long the cookies were cooling and it was time to pick up the boys. Luckily, I had allowed thirty extra minutes to get there and was fourth in the lineup of cars waiting to drive kids home. Then the fun began: loud music, small groups of giggling teens slipping out early, boys in fancy suits with shirt tails flying, girls in fashionable dresses carrying their shoes. A few young ladies lurched along the pavement in full outfit, their feet still squeezed into 4-inch high heels with sharp pointy toes. One carried a shoe and wore the other. They were happy, enjoying their friends and feeling quite grown up. The boy who climbed up the lamp post in front of all the waiting parents must have wanted to get in one last antic before moving on to high school. Finally, my two boys showed up. They recognized the car and hopped in---all smiles, waving and calling to their friends as we pulled away. We chatted about the evening. How was the music? Did you enjoy dancing? Did they serve snacks? Good, yes, and yes were the replies, and then a loud “Thank you” as they hopped out in front of the house and hurried in to their waiting family. How lucky and blessed I felt to know such amazing young men, far from home but “at home” in their new country, unique yet just like the other teenagers. Over the months I had had the opportunity to  watch them grow and learn  see their faith and be inspired by it  imagine the challenges they and their parents face each day  catch a glimpse of their courage and resilience And this night, I got to enjoy the 8th grade dance!

Short Summertime Poems for Kids of all Ages by Alicia Ai Keng Lim Summer Sunshine in the Garden Summer is a time for sunshine… Flowers bloom in the sunshine… Sunshine makes the garden of our hearts bloom…

Everything under the Sun Shiny bubbles Glistening in the sunlight Mesmerizing rainbow colors Dancing under the sun Little ones Frolicking in the sun Myriad hues Reflecting the sunlight

The Sweltering Sun Dogs intermittently barking Ladies provocatively tittering Under the sweltering noonday sun

Wildflowers Scorched by the sun Swaying in the breeze Tiny petals lifted up to tease… The sights and sounds of summer fill our hearts with joy.

Summer Sights and Sounds

The Setting Sun

Succulent berries Strawberries and blueberries Sunripe red cherries!

Children squealing Lawnmowers whirring A symphony of sounds Accompany the setting sun

Birds chirping outside the window Dwindling down and fading out Dainty ladies Sipping tea Tittering over coffee Clinking China in the parlour

Bags, Bags, Everywhere…Bags by Gloria Doty We do not live a day, it seems, without encountering bags of some sort. Reusable bags are given as door prizes, they are passed out at special events, and they can be purchased at every retail store. We are encouraged to use these bags for every purchase. I used to be inundated with plastic bags, but since I am an environmentally-conscious person, I like using the cloth bags. I keep a great number of them in my trunk. However, many times I forget and leave my re-usable bags in the car when I enter a store. I don’t want to make the trip back to my car so I tell myself it will be all right, just this once. Let’s face it: those little plastic bags come into our homes whether we want them or not. What to do with them? My conscience won’t allow me to put them in the trash and I can never remember to take them back to the grocery where they have a ‘barrel’ specifically for bags. I can save them for the next garage sale, but until that time, I have ‘bags of bags.’ That was true until my friend became the ultimate bag lady. I realize that term brings various images to the forefront of our minds; none of them particularly appealing. We usually envision a rather disheveled woman of indeterminate age, possibly wearing several layers of clothing and pushing a grocery cart overflowing with bags that hold all of her material possessions. She may in all probability, also be homeless. My friend has something in common with the word homeless, but it is not what you would expect. The usual stereotypes do not apply to her. Let me tell you about this remarkable, talented and very generous woman. Shirley was a teacher for many years, retiring in 2001. She has never been known for setting back and letting the world go by. Once she retired, she became even more active in her volunteer endeavors. She attends a large church where she regularly sends cards with hand-written notes to members who would benefit from some encouragement; as many as 30 a month. When her husband was hospitalized in 2009, he was given a prayer shawl. Shirley, an avid crocheter and knitter, realized how important that was to him and started knitting prayer shawls to give to others. She branched out to other projects. She knitted many hats and scarves to be given to a local charity for troubled teens and baby blankets for A Hope Center. However, her most labor intensive project was yet to come. A young man involved in Middle School Student Ministries at her church shared the story of a project called, a Mat for the Homeless. Shirley has never been a person daunted by an unfamiliar project so she Googled the directions and started making these mats. They are made completely from those plastic bags most people have and don’t want. Even though many have switched to reusable bags, there are still plenty of plastic bags available. People bring her large bags stuffed with wadded up and wrinkled smaller bags. Shirley straightens each bag, folds it, trims off the top and bottom and cuts the rest into strips. These strips are then individually fastened to each other. The resulting long strip of plastic is rolled into a ball. It is called plarn (plastic yarn).

Shirley then works her crocheting magic and the balls become a 6’ long and 3’ wide indestructible mat. It is lightweight, won’t absorb moisture, won’t tear and if it becomes soiled, it can be rinsed off easily. The fact that a plastic bag won’t disintegrate in a landfill for 1000 years, means these mats should last that long, also. There is no thread or any other material in them; only the plastic bags. The mats can be rolled up like a bedroll. Shirley makes a tie to keep them securely rolled. The tie doubles as a shoulder strap making the mat easy to carry. The strap is made of plastic bags also. It requires approximately 600 bags to complete one mat. She recycles the ‘trimmings’ from the bags so not one tiny bit is wasted. She conducts occasional workshops at her church to teach others how to make the mats. While the mats are certainly labor intensive; this Bag Lady considers it a labor of love.


Here are some of Shirley’s Bag Mats made of “plarn” for the “Mats for the Homeless” project. For more information about, “Plastic Bag Sleeping Mats for the Homeless,” visit their Facebook group:

Additional information on making your own Mats for the Homeless here:

Walking in Another’s Shoes by Norma C. Mezoe

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV) “Father,” I complained, “listen to that mother screaming at her children!” And he answers, “Have you walked in that tired mother’s shoes? Were you divorced when your children were young? Did you face the necessity of earning a living in order to survive? To have money for food and rent—forget the luxuries that you take for granted?” “No, Father, I guess I didn’t.” “Then, my child, have you room to criticize?” “Father, listen to that old woman babbling on and on. I’ve heard that story over and over. I’m sure I could repeat it word for word.” “My child, have you been aged, alone and tucked away in a nursing home neglected by your children? Have you sat hour by hour, day by day waiting for the letter that never arrives or the visitor who never comes?” “No, Father, I haven’t.” “Then you haven’t walked in that lonely mother’s shoes.” As I travel the road of life – sometimes racing through time in jogging shoes, sometimes clogging along shod in work boots – I come in contact with people. Some are screamers, others complainers. Alcohol or drugs are constant companions to many; others puff constantly on cigarettes. Some overeat to the point of gluttony, trying to satisfy a nameless hunger in their lives. Obscenities fill the vocabularies of many of my fellow travelers. Others are promiscuous. I take notice of these and it is then I remind my Father of all “those sinful people” surrounding me. He listens to my self-righteous grumblings and then very quietly asks, “My child, have you walked in their shoes?” For most of those times, I have to contritely confess, “No, Father, I haven’t. Please forgive.” I may tiptoe through life barefoot, slosh through in rain boots, dance my way in airy sandals, but until I walk in my fellow traveler’s shoes, I am not qualified to criticize. Published in – 4/25/15

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“I Think You Need A Treat!” Sweetness in the Journey with Dementia by Sharon L. Patterson “I think you need a treat,” my father-in-law announced with a Texas- sized smile stretched sweetly across his face. That signaled he was ready for his favorite thing in the world-ice-cream. Helping him to the car, off we went for our treat. We brought him to our home following the death of his beloved Betty Jo, wife of 54 years because his dementia and Parkinson’s required medical tests that could be performed at a facility near us. Our daily routine included his medical procedure followed by a trip for ice-cream. We acquired new talents we never expected: night surveillance when my father-in-law thought it was early morning and time to go to work, although he had been retired for many years. Sometimes, he just wanted to get into the car he no longer could drive, turn on the radio and listen to a favorite countrywestern song. My husband would get in the car and gently refocus his Dad’s confused thought to the song on the radio. Content when the song ended, my father was coaxed back to bed. Then we all went back to sleep. How painful to watch the man who was a jack- ofall- trades suddenly forget how to perform the simplest of tasks. Until we added new kitchen cabinets four years ago, the cup hooks my father-inlaw put in our original ones drew a poignant sigh every time I opened the doors to get a coffee cup.

Humor helped the Patterson clan of three boys, their wives, and eight grandchildren in our arduous journey with his dementia. Respect guided us in all things and, always, patience was the umbrella over all our dealings. My father-in-law modeled each of these traits to family, co-workers, friends-even those who were neither kind nor fair to him. Our family chest always held these significant tools to use when needed…which was often. We deliberately decided to honor and respect him even as the role of parent-child reversed. He needed his sons to do for him what he once had done for them when they were little. To them it was privileged service, not a list of indignant tasks. Were there times of frustration, apprehension, a sense of helplessness as we watched the dementia advance? Yes, but we chose to move out of those torments as quickly as possible. The painful experiences and insecure emotions are very real things, but stronger than any one of them is the bridge to sanity, understanding and help that faith brought us to. As my husband and I grow older and he occasionally reaches for a rubber band to tie something together, or I forget the end of a point I was so sure of moments before, there just might be a need for a very familiar Patterson family tradition. If you listen closely, you might hear one of us say through a toothy Texas grin, “I think you need a treat!” Ice-cream anyone?

From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra Gray-Elliott From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra GrayElliott brings emotionally charred women out of the pits of fire, through the ashes into the beauty of purpose. With the direction of God, hurting women weather through the painful journeys, become women of spiritual beauty, find God's purpose, and learn to live again. From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra GrayElliott is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

Walk like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled by Shara Bueler-Repka Life is an adventure. Bruce and Shara Repka (a.k.a. Pony Express Ministry) are a music ministry that travels the highways and backroads of the western United States with their two horses, Rocky and Nocona (a.k.a. The Boys). Traversing the countryside in their fourteen-foot, short-wall, three-stall, living quarters horse trailer, they travel and minister wherever God sends them. Walk like a Warrior is filled with inspirational true stories that are a testament to how God reveals Himself and encourages us in our everyday lives. They have seen firsthand a real, loving, and powerful God who is always true to His word and who longs to have a personal relationship with us all. In life's challenging moments, do you search for testimonies of encouragement that exemplify God's love, grace, protection, and provision? Find inspiration as you enjoy the many photographs and travel this trail with them, living the adventure!

Walk like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled by Shara Bueler-Repka is available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.

The Eyes of the Artist Answer Key Rearrange the tiles to find the hidden phrase.

Ken Ken Puzzle Answer Key

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Lucy Adams In 1984 in Nashville, Tennessee I began to write answers for the question, "Why do people write songs?" Those stories first appeared on a radio program that I created: THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG aired on Christian radio station WWGM. The program began as I sang six words, "I Love to Tell the Story" and said: "Hi friends, this is Lucy Adams and I tell the story behind the song." I continued the show for five minutes with a message that answered ... who, what, where and why of the hymn - plus a verse or two of the music. These programs continued to play for many years in various towns in Tennessee. Visit my blog to learn more about the stories of our favorite hymns at

Cindy J. Evans is a published poet living in the sunny south, married to the man you just read about! She does receptionist work in the greater Atlanta area and also enjoys walking, inspirational movies and church activities.

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

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

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

Kathleen McCauley has been an active retreat leader for over 25 years.

She received her professional training as a Campus Minister and retreat leader at the University of Dayton. Kathleen enjoys working with adults in their cultivation of spirituality and personal growth. Prior to her work as a Career Counselor at Neumann University, Kathleen served as a Resident Minister for eight years at St. Joseph’s University and seven additional years giving retreats for local churches and community groups. You can contact Kathleen to learn more about her retreat work at

Emmanuel O. Afolabi is a seasoned teacher, blogger, and minister of the Gospel. He is also the author of two books, The Battle of Identity and How to Recover from Painful Losses, both of which are now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner. In his books Emmanuel presents practical steps for Christian living and spiritual growth. Afolabi is married to Sister Mary Afolabi, and is blessed with children to the glory of God.

Kathryn Ross is a writer, speaker, dramatist, and independent publisher at Pageant Wagon Publishing with a mission to nurture the seeds of all good things, innocence, and beauty in the human heart. Her inspiring devotional books for journaling and discussion groups, theatrical scripts for church and school, and storybooks and speaking programs engage young and old with dramatic flair as discipleship tools for homeschool and Christian families, designed to minister to all ages—all at the same time. Visit her online where she blogs weekly and podcasts monthly at and .

Alicia Ai Keng Lim Hi! My name is Alicia and I'm from Malaysia. Malaysian education exposes us to analysis and comprehension of poems in the English and Malay Language but not to creating our own poems. I started writing poems in 2011 when I tutored AOP homeschool students. The opportunity arose again between 2013 and 2015 when I tutored more students under the Cambridge English syllabus. In 2017 I am beginning to pursue publishing my poems and to explore more creative ways of literary expression. Hopefully, I can contribute to the readership of RUBY magazine.

Frances Gregory Pasch’s devotions and poems have been published in devotional booklets, magazines, and Sunday school papers since 1985. Her writing has also appeared in several dozen compilations. Her book, Double Vision: Seeing God in Everyday Life Through Devotions and Poetry is available on Amazon. Frances has been leading a women’s Christian writers group since 1991. You can contact her at

Katherine Corrigan I’m the tea drinker, recipe creator, artist, designer, diy’er , shop owner, photographer, friend maker and hug giver at Katherine’s Corner. I am an open minded and spiritual person who strives to always maintain a positive attitude and greet each new day with grace, dignity and gratitude. I am a child of God. I believe love makes a family. I believe there are angels on earth (my Mother is one.) I am proud to be a contributing writer and photographer for the Ruby for Women Christian women’s magazine. Visit me on my blog at Katherine’s Corner.

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

Nina Newton, Sr. Editor:

When 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

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July 2017 ruby  

The July 2017 issue of RUBY magazine celebrates our nation's birthday and the American spirit of patriotism with inspirational articles, sho...

July 2017 ruby  

The July 2017 issue of RUBY magazine celebrates our nation's birthday and the American spirit of patriotism with inspirational articles, sho...