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“Envy” by Cyndie Randall

“Confront Doubt” by Jewell Utt “Persevering to Answer His Call” by Helen Ellis

“Wisdom for Moms” by Laura L. Zimmerman

“A Red and Yellow Bracelet” by Joan Leotta


Ruby Magazine Your voice, your story AUGUST, 2016 www.rubyforwomen.com

In This Issue of Ruby “Envy” by Cyndie Randall page 12

“Wisdom for Moms” Ruby is on the move! You might notice a few updates to our brand as we reach out to even more women with the words of hope, inspiration, and encouragement that our writers share with you in each issue of Ruby Magazine.

by Laura L. Zimmerman page 28

Stop by the Ruby blog and click on the link to purchase your copy of the latest issue of Ruby for Women http://www,rubyforwomen.com Let us know how we can be an encouragement to you today. We would love to hear from you! Contact us at editor@rubyforwomen.com Senior Editor: Nina Newton Assistant Editor: Beth Brubaker

“Kids’ Reading Corner” Page 30

Poet-in-Residence: Keith Wallis Feature Writers: Lynn Mosher, Katherine Corrigan, Sharon L. Patterson, Carol Peterson, Gloria Doty, Sarah Johnson, Miriam Jacob, Toni R. Samuels, Cynthia Knisley, Heather King, Lanette Kissel, Marilyn Lesniak, Connie Arnold, Michelle Lazurek, Ifeoma Samuel, Alisha Ritchie, Donna Comeaux, Jennifer Workman, Joan Leotta, Jean E. Wieben-Hill, Stan Popovich, Ifeoma Samuel, Christie Browning, Frances Gregory Pasch, Helen D. Ellis, Rejetta Morse, Linda M. Crate, Kathryn Ross, Vicki Killion, Mary Dolan Flaherty, Jean Ann Williams, Laura L. Zimmerman, Pat Jeanne Davis, Kathleen McCauley, Nells Wasilewski, Norma C. Mezoe, Ann Williams, Cody Brubaker, Angela Hiskett

“Confront Doubt” by Jewell Utt page 35


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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 for Women may be reproduced, copied, or shared without the permission of the author. Advertising information is available by contacting us at editor@rubyforwomen.com Questions? Email Nina @ editor@rubyforwomen.com or Beth @ bethatruby@aol.com Ruby for Women is published by rubyforwomen.com All submission inquiries should be directed to Nina Newton, Sr. Editor Ruby for Women editor@rubyforwomen.com or Beth Brubaker, Assistant Editor bethatruby@aol.com Advertising inquiries should be directed to editor@rubyforwomen.com


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The View from My Prison Cell Nina Newton, Sr. Editor I look out the window of my prison cell and the world seems to go on as if nothing has happened. The lace curtains flutter in the warm summer breeze that drifts through the window of my prison cell. But the invisible bars on that window imprison me in this dark place of sadness, pain, and fear. There is no escape. Or maybe there is, if I could just find the door. Perhaps today the door will unlock and I will walk through it, leaving the dark memories behind me. Forever. What does the view from your prison cell look like? It might be pretty much the same as mine . . . . blue skies with soft white fluffy clouds slowly meandering across the horizon, bright summer-green grass poking up everywhere it doesn’t belong, giving my flowers a bit of grief until someone has the time to pluck those weeds out. You might see out the window of your prison cell the trees and shrubs of a tidy, landscaped yard and garden, or perhaps you have a lake, or a lovely woods out your window. But we all live in a prison cell some days. Yours might not be the same as mine, but we all have bars on our hearts that make us feel safe. Sometimes I think that I really need to gather up my courage and break out of this prison cell of fear, old memories, sadness, and heart break. You think that, too, I know you do. But then I decide to go back inside where I feel safe from all of the storms of life (at least a prison cell has a roof, even though the door is locked), and once again I tell myself, “Not today.” So here I stay, in a prison cell of my own making. Oh, some days, I feel really brave and determine to take one step – just one step – closer to that locked door, but then I convince myself that it’s too risky, and it is much safer to stay right here and look out the windows with the invisible bars. Well, they aren’t invisible to me, but no one else can see them. Those bars are so strong that they protect my heart. I feel safe behind those bars because they keep everything and everyone at a safe distance, so they can’t break my heart. Again. When will I have the courage to break down the door of this prison cell, and walk out, free in the knowledge that I am enough. Because God said so. When will I decide it is time to do more than look out that window at a world that is etched with the shadows of those invisible bars? Not today, I say again to myself, because I am afraid. You are too, so perhaps we can offer one another a bit of grace, some words of encouragement, a hug and a smile, the gift of forgiveness and gentleness – I think that’s what we are waiting for before we have the courage to break free. But it is time. Today. I’m quite weary, actually, of the view from my prison cell. Are you ready? Let’s go!


Footprints in the Mud: Tales of a Borderline Hoarder by Beth Brubaker, Assistant Editor I like stuff. I admit it. I like collecting it, looking at it and sometimes even using it- but when the stuff gets in the way of life, we need to reevaluate our habits.

I asked a neat-nik friend to help me out. She was totally shocked when she first walked into my house. My friend said she needed to sit down and 'contemplate my space', but I knew she was plain-old flabbergasted! She It started when I began indulging myself in all of my encouraged me to get rid of things and reorganize my interests, flitting from one-to-the-other like a hummingbird amongst flowers, never really settling on house to make the most of it. The first decluttering wave took me two years. The just one thing. It was never half-way, either. If I was doing quilting, I had to have all the colors (just second wave has taken a year. Now I do little waves on a regular basis to keep up with the clutter. This will be in case), all the threads, and as many patterns and an ongoing job and will never be finished for someone doo-dads I could get my hands on. Then I wanted to do denim purses, and no pair of used jeans was able like me, because I still like to collect things- I'm just in better control now! to escape my clutches! (Insert evil laughter here). I also love to cook. So I gathered gadgets and gizmos Sometimes I still suffer from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome), but it's not nearly as often as that would turn me into a culinary genius- everything it used to be. I still need to work on turning some chores from cookie cutters to pasta makers. into habits (like cleaning *shudder*), but things are Our two-butt kitchen was nearly impassable from all coming along nicely- just so long as I don't have any the clutter, as well as the living room, dining room and more interests! the bedroom, because that was where I stored my craft supplies. I became so stressed over the mess, I If you are like me in this capacity, let me share some of couldn't even gather the energy to do anything with it. my mantras I used when I was going through things: I had shut down both mentally and emotionally.  If it doesn't make you happy when you look at it, ditch it. A few years back, the show, “Hoarders” pushed me in the right direction. I started seeing that my stuff was looking like the piles those hoarders had; only my things were nicer. Why? Because I hadn't left my treasures around long enough to fall apart...yet. At first, I denied this revelation. After all, I didn't have any bugs or dead yaks in my clutter, and my piles were organized. I knew precisely where everything was; I just couldn't get to it. I could’ve sewn all-day, every-day for the next ten years, and still have enough fabric left over to make a cozy for the Washington Monument. Okay, maybe two cozies. I had enough jeans stashed away to clothe a thirdworld country for the next five years. I’d have to go to culinary school for a decade to know how to use half the appliances I bought; yet I only had the counter space for a toaster and a microwave. I hated the idea of getting rid of any of it!

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 

Don't think about it- there is no second guessing. Keep it or get rid of it, now. If it doesn't have a place, it doesn't stay. NO junk drawer. Never ask yourself if you'll use it. You'll always say ‘yeseventually I will’! Ask yourself, do I use it- this is a yes or no question. The more you declutter, the easier it gets. Think about how nice it will be to have that space back!

These mantras worked for me, but you might want to add or change them to suit you. Do what works best for you! The main thing is: DO IT. It might take you a few months or even a few years, but the results are worth it! I feel more confident about inviting people over now, and I don't mind when someone drops by. I don't have to hide messes, or tell them they can't come in or feel shame when I answer my door anymore. It not only a blessing to me; it's a blessing to my family as well!

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


Be-YOU-tifully YOU-nique Embracing who you are; becoming who you were made to be by Mary Dolan Flaherty

Am I Beautiful? I recently saw an article on my town’s website advertising a new program for tween and teen girls. It’s designed to promote self-confidence in a young woman through public speaking and addressing self-esteem Issues such as peer pressure, body image, and carrying oneself with grace and dignity. Mentors help each young woman reach her potential and recognize her inner beauty by emphasizing the need for self-respect. Girls are encouraged to do well in school and in their community. I assumed they would be taught how to take care of their body, mind, and emotions.

The influence was on fashion, hair, make-up, and photography. I figured we weren’t talking about “looking through the view-finder” photography. I assumed the kind they spoke of was from the other end of the camera—the one that hair, makeup, and fashion can cover up to give the illusion of self-assurance. After five weeks of discovery, these young and impressionable girls—who were supposedly being taught to realize their “inner beauty”—were to give a runway show! What?

Sounds great, I thought. I decided to read on, not because I have a child of this age who would be interested; my children are grown. I was curious. Exactly how did they plan on achieving these lofty goals in only five weeks?

I was truly saddened after reading this. While I realize that it’s unlikely for a town to approve a Christian-based “self-awareness” program, I had hoped that it would at least focus on positive selfimage, regardless of outward beauty.

I was disappointed. The next paragraph told me that the girls are taught to discover what truly makes them happy—okay, that’s important. Not everyone fits into the same mold. Sports might work for one girl, and chemistry club for another. What bothered me was what came at the end.

I felt like this runway show defeated the whole purpose of the program. If I had a daughter between the ages of 11 and 15, I certainly would be hesitant to sign her up.

“ …beauty fades. Eventually, it becomes less important, and we are left with who we are. Where does that leave the woman whose focus has been on outward beauty her whole life?”

Proverbs 31:30 (International Standard Version) tells us that charm is deceptive and beauty fades; but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. THIS is what we ought to be teaching our young and impressionable 11-15 year olds…and way before they reach that age. Any girl can be taught to charm the camera, especially when she is armed with the false assurance of make-up, professionally coiffed hair, and sexy clothing.


But beauty fades. Eventually, it becomes less important, and we are left with who we are. Where does that leave the woman whose focus has been on outward beauty her whole life? However, a young woman who arms herself with the assurance of God’s love—a love that unconditionally accepts her, regardless of her outward appearance, inner turmoil, or past mistakes will never feel the need to charm the camera (or mirror-our everyday camera).

The woman who fears (reveres, respects) her God understands that she was beautifully and uniquely designed to be exactly who she sees in the mirror— with or without makeup. She will never need to wear the mask of false beauty because she understands that it is simply who she is that makes her beautiful. Not what she puts on. Whether you are 12, 42 or 82, I hope you know that you are beautiful. Celebrate that today. Be uniquely you. And just for kicks, go out without make-up. I think God might just find that rather charming.

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 SonRiseInsights.blogspot.com.


Solitude by Kathy McCauley The person called to solitude is a rare soul. Identifying this hunger or need in one’s soul is difficult. The hunger for solitude is sometimes disguised as restlessness --- taking us the wrong direction. The one who is called to solitude is purely content with their thoughts, prayers, and presence with God. There is no fear of being with self or being alone; the relationship with God fills the mind, heart, and imagination. There is a fine line between isolating and seeking solitude – but how does one know the difference?....by its fruits. Isolating comes from not wanting to see or interact with others. Solitude is a desire to be still and alone with oneself and one’s God. Isolating is usually a reaction to something or someone (usually moving away from something). Solitude is an action to seek silence of mind, body and spirit (usually moving toward something). In seeking silence one must purify the motives and be able to experience God’s voice and presence in a deeper way and at that moment. While silence and solitude have lost their allure in today’s world, it is still there, beckoning the hungry heart to shake off the noise of this world and be still in the richness of a soul in solitude. Seek solitude and the soul will soar!!


Putting on Godliness

by Cassidy Burdge – The Christian Prepster “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” ‭-Colossians ‭3:12 ‭NLT‭ Wouldn’t that be great? Living a life clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I have yet to master this skill, but I try really hard to live up to it. God sent His Son for me, but I still live a stubborn and angered life as if that price was not enough. I need to swallow my pride and reflect Jesus throughout my days. I believe if we want to live the life presented to us in Colossians 3:12, we need to do some deep dissection, people! The word ‘clothe’ means to put on clothing. Daily, we all “put on clothing”. We don’t just wake up clothed and ready to face the day. It takes time, effort, and some early mornings, it takes all the energy we have. The same runs for our attitude. If we want to reflect Christ, it will take time, effort, and all the energy we have. When we become annoyed or frustrated, it will take all of our efforts. When we are tired, it will take all of our energy. Colossians 3:12 is our ultimate goal when we interact with others. Our aim should be to show Christ’s love and joy to the faces of this world. I want to be a compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient person. I want people to be able to see Christ through me. I know those traits will take time and effort, but I believe they are totally worth it. My prayer for you is that you will continue to seek Christ above all else, and strive to live a life in harmony with Colossians 3:12. XOXO, The Christian Prepster

Click the banner or CLICK HERE to visit Cassidy’s blog-site: The Christian Prepster

Hello! I am The Christian Prepster, a high school student living the Christian lifestyle in a preppy state of mind. I have a deep love for sharing Christ through writing and blogging, and am so excited to be a part of the Ruby magazine. I blog about anything from Biblical teachings to book reviews! I hope you enjoy what the Lord has placed on my heart. XOXO, The Christian Prepster


“ENVY” by Cyndie Randall I am so envious. I’m envious of people with really good teeth. Especially when they’ve never seen an orthodontist and they drink liters of black coffee between donut-chewing and not flossing. They do all this while smiling, by the way. I’m envious of women who OWN that two-piece swimsuit even after their bodies have sagged and settled. Yes, I do jiggle and bounce up this beach. And??

She’s here for a reason, you know. You can’t just ignore her or pray her away. Don’t invite her to sit for tea, but do pay attention. Why is she visiting so often, my love? Where is she poking you? What do you keep hoping she’ll offer? Answer these, and you’ll find something true about yourself and something true about me. They are deeply personal questions, aren’t they? I don’t want to answer them for you. But I will answer them for myself, at least in part, and maybe you’ll find you can relate.

ENVY VISITS WHEN I FORGET WHO I AM

This kind of bikini-wearer isn’t worried about containment because she is too busy with freedom.

She stays when I refuse to live as one Beloved. Now. Just as I am.

When I find these women, I study them as I would aliens — my head tipped, brow furrowed curiously, mouth gaping. I like their kind. Teach me your ways, space creatures.

Size four jeans (or six or eight) will never hold me; I could spend a lot of time shut up in my room, grunting and sweating and doing bad yoga moves trying to push myself into them. And nobody would ever see me again, as this would be an eternal effort, not to mention a fruitless one. Those clothes are lovely and fine, but they aren’t mine to wear.

And I’m envious of deep things, sacred things. I’m envious of joyful girls who have snuggly fathers and of patient mothers with healthy ovaries and of any human or non-human who rests well at night and is sure of the voice of Jesus.

SHE’S ANTI-LOVE My envy is a husky, red-dressed opera singer who will not get off the stage. When she pushes out from behind the curtain, I suddenly can’t hear any other singers: not Love, in that warm and encompassing bass; certainly not Hope, with her ethereal whisper. And Faith seems to bail completely, diving headfirst into the orchestra pit.

Envy makes certain I will not enjoy myself or anybody else. This bossy soprano gets stuck in a crescendo loop — her highest, strongest notes dominating the room — until I want to pop right out of my skin. I can jam fingers in my ears but her glass-shattering song still finds a way to pull all my triggers. Envy’s vibrato is loyal, but she is a fierce and cunning devil, always stealing my life space, always proposing a clever promise. I do ask God to escort her sassy-ass out the back door, remembering all of what He has warned about her — how anti-love she plays. But He usually says something like:

Envy has been loud and proud in my ear lately, telling me I need to write more like THIS person and THAT person. The immediate problem is I’m not THIS person or THAT person; I don’t speak like THIS and I don’t live like THAT.


I cannot become the ambassador I’m uniquely fashioned to be if I’m too busy longing for and living someone else’s ________.

ENVY DOESN’T POKE ME, GOD; SHE STABS ME She stabs me right in the center of my need, in the place where I am aching for something, for someone. She always uses a version of truth to pierce me and push the knife in, but then she twists it into a big, bloody mess. “Don’t you want to be special?” she asks. Respected? Loved? Yes, of course. I’m made by love, with love, for love. That’s exactly what I want, what we all want. Sure you do. Well, anyway, THIS writer here and THAT writer over there? — They are special AND loved because of what they’re doing, because of what they have. If you say THIS and be THAT, you can be special and loved too. She may lie in the end, but do you see the hidden gift here? The reason I need to pay attention? My envy exposed two of the most vulnerable and beautiful truths about me: 1) I have needs, and 2) I cannot fulfill them.

I HOPE ENVY WILL OFFER ME PEACE I keep hoping she’ll meet those good needs in me, or at least lead me to what or who can. I want her to soothe my pain, make me feel like enough, give me a purpose. But she won’t, because she can’t. And even if Envy could satiate, she’d only offer the temporary, counterfeit goods. Remember? Cramming my thighs into size four jeans? — My gifts into somebody else’s life? That’s all just chasing wind.

Her forever job is to get me to believe my need can be met by the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Surely this is too many wrongs to lead to any kind of peace.

If it’s not the way to be who I am for the glory of the one who made me, it’s certainly not the way to fulfill my heart’s desire. In short, this is Envy’s climactic high note: Her forever job is to get me to believe my need can be met by the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Surely this is too many wrongs to lead to any kind of peace. THE SOMETHING TRUE Envy blinds. She is a false protector, a distraction, and a sure way to escape vulnerability. I have used her a thousand times to avoid standing face to face with what I’m actually feeling and experiencing inside; a thousand more to carve out my own way, to build my golden calf. When I envy others, I don’t have to get way down inside the painful desire I have to be special and loved for who I am; I’m too distracted trying to become someone else. I also won’t have to profess what I’ve perceived to be weakness: That I’ve had God-given need my entire life. Nor must I explore the moments that caused it to feel like an unmanageable, aching, raging dragon. When I envy what is not mine, my own goodness, gratitude, grief – they all pile up in me and hold their breath. They become lost somewhere off the path of expression and healing and resurrection. When I’m off that path, I don’t have to explore my own dark and glorious heart or God’s mysterious and lavish one. This can feel like the safest way, but it’s never the one that leads to abundant life. Envy has always been one of my most dependable routes to the disconnected and inauthentic. But I am made for so much more, and oh how I tire of her same old song. Unless we’re talking about teeth, of course. I still want good teeth.

Cyndie Randall loves sifting life for good little stories to share. Being a womanpoet-therapist-wife-mother-Jesus-follower and song-maker helps that along. Click here or on Cyndie’s picture to link to her Facebook page. Click Here or click the banner to connect with Cyndie on her website, www.cyndierandall.com


Meatloaf Mishap by Christie Browning I believe it's important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, I am completely comfortable in declaring that I am weak when it comes to cooking. No, this isn't the type of bad cooking that produces dry chicken or overly bland potatoes. My bad cooking brings about burnt, charred, inedible dishes that make the stomach turn. No, I cannot cook and, I am OK with that. However, every now and then I convince myself that there's a certain dish or recipe I could indeed pull off. This happened recently and resulted in my attempt to make a meatloaf. It was one of those weeks where my husband, who is a master chef and usually handles all things food related in our house, was working a lot of long hours. He had planned to make a meatloaf, but time just was not on his side. I sincerely tried to help when I pulled that helpless lump of meat out of the fridge and began trying to morph it into a meal. The end result was not as I had hoped. With all the ingredients in place and the meat perfectly "loafed" in its pan, I shoved the dish into the oven and waited the appropriate amount of time. I must divulge that I used a recipe. Maybe that was where I went wrong, because the recipe called for the dish to cook for 40 minutes at 400 degrees -a temperature that now I've been told is too high. When I pulled the pan out of the oven, my meatloaf was a rich brown color on top and the aroma was rather inviting. Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I cut into the middle to find...RAW HAMBURGER!! So raw it practically “mooed” at me! I wasn't quite sure how to handle this uneven state of affairs, so back in the oven it went, still at 400 degrees, until the middle was done. You can only imagine what the outside looked like: Charred to a crisp. The inside was dry as a bone. When it comes to our hearts and our emotions, it's easy to become calloused and hardened. When we're hurt, betrayed, mistreated.... all of these are prime crimes to toughen our exterior.

Often times we wear that hardened shell as a barrier to protect us from being hurt again. Or better yet, we let the love and affection from others bounce off, proud that we are tough enough. The truth lies inside, though. We are raw. Left hurt and bleeding, we don't heal. What we do is deny, push on and move forward. Raw in the middle -- it makes for an unappetizing meal for a meatloaf and it also makes for a hostile heart for you, dear friend. Choosing to be calloused and chaffed by the world or those in it only conceals the pain left inside. It doesn't allow you to properly "cook through." On the other hand, the opposite is equally damaging. If we choose to stew and overheat about a situation, we do nothing but dry out and become unappetizing to be around. We can lose our entire flavor and crumble under any amount of pressure. God has a different plan for these wounds. He wants us to give them to Him. He wants to apply His love and grace in such a way that we do more than just move on from the pain. He wants us to be strengthened, empowered and inspired by it. Our flavor is amplified and we are able to share pieces of ourselves with others, offering our sweet aroma to those who need it most. The New Testament declares believers are "salt of the earth." That salt brings out the best in others and also heals where there is pain. It's true! Salt is used to enhance the flavor of meats and vegetables. And you know the power of salt in a wound if you've ever experienced salt in a paper cut! Salt, although it may sting at first, heals cures and preserves. I don't think my meatloaf needed more salt. What it needed was more time on a lower temperature with tin foil for protection. In my own life, I need to cool my temper and my emotions, slow down to let myself deal and heal, and always keep God's love and His word as a protection around my heart and mind.

Christie Browning is a speaker and author with a passion to encourage, empower and inspire women to live as the amazing ladies God created them to be, instead of getting hung up on their pasts, mistakes, shortcomings and insecurities. Christie publishes a monthly women’s magazine read nation-wide and can be found on numerous blogs. She is a wife and step-mom with a healthy love of music, hiking and dogs. Click Here to visit Christie’s website!


Seeds from Heaven by Nells Wasilewski Oh, Lord, enrich the soil of my heart to receive seeds of truth from the Holy Spirit. Help me to nourish those seeds, so I will be filled with fruits of love and wisdom. Teach me how to share my vineyard with all people, and when the time is ripe, let all who believe share in the harvest. Read: Mark 4

In the Waiting Room of Prayer by Norma C. Mezoe I cried out to God in my sorrow, "I can't bear this pain anymore. Please take this heartache from me and fling it from my door." But God, in His all-knowing wisdom, smiled and slowly shook His head; and then, I was gently ushered into God's waiting room instead. If your prayers seem to be unanswered, and you think God does not care, you may find that you are resting in the waiting room of prayer.


Free Indeed! by Norma C. Mezoe “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36 (NIV) Darkness was quietly tiptoeing in as I sat on the porch swing in my back yard. Across the street, miniature booms and loud pops filled the air as youngsters celebrated on the eve of Independence Day. Colorful sparkles of shimmering light exploded in the air and then disappeared into the darkness. Once again, Americans were visibly and audibly celebrating their freedom. We are bountifully blessed to live in this beautiful land of the free. We have much to celebrate. Christians, living in America, are doubly blessed. Not only do we live in this great country, but we are also endowed with the true freedom that knowing Jesus Christ as Savior brings. In Christ, we are free to grow and to become all that his love encourages us to be. As we pause to thank God for our country’s freedom, let us remember to praise him for his freedom that can never be taken from us. Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the freedom you have given us through your suffering, dying and resurrection. Amen.

Book Reviews by Carol Peterson Carol’s Book Club

Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers

“I've never read a Francine Rivers' novel I didn't love. This one does not disappoint.” ~Carol Peterson, Author In this novel by Christian writer, Francine Rivers, we meet elderly Leota Reinhardt. At one time, Leota's beautiful garden had been a sanctuary where she had escaped pain brought by war and family secrets and where she had prayed for her children. Now Leota is alone and her garden is neglected. She struggles between keeping past secrets and reconciling with her adult children who didn't know or understand the sacrifices she had made. Finally, Leota turns to God for guidance. A college student who cares only about using Leota as a "case study" and a granddaughter Leota had not known come into Leota's life.

Because of their interaction, Leota is urged to try to repair her family relationships. But Leota's health is declining quickly and she wonders if she will be able to repair the damaged relationships before her time on earth is over. The book is an encouragement for those of us who struggle with painful relationships among our family and friends. The symbolism of the garden provides a nice visual enhancement to the book's theme of ruin and restoration. Discussion questions at the end of the book make this a lovely selection for a book club or for an individual who likes to apply the story points to their own life.


Now available from Ruby’s Reading Corner and from www.Godmissionpossible.com

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom, You Are Awesome! A letter of Encouragement by Gabrielle Nussbaumer In her new book, Dear Stay-at-Home Mom, You Are Awesome!, Gabrielle Nussbaumer offers words of advice, wisdom, and encouragement for the young mom in her home. Chapters include topics such as maintaining a healthy balance in life between the demands of motherhood, self-care, and family life; the myth of Super Mom; the truth about the real cost of daycare and the benefits of staying home, even if it means choosing to sacrifice some material possessions to make that possible. You will also discover ideas for sharing childcare opportunities with other families of young children so you all get to take turns having a “date night” with your husband, and inspiration and encouragement for planning “daily refreshers” to keep your life healthy, real, and balanced. Thoughts on dealing with chaos the comes with a young family; addressing the idea of “wasting your degree,” and recognizing your self-worth being found in who you are in God’s plan, all offer Biblical insight for young moms who are striving to honor God in all areas of life. Dear Stay-at-Home Mom, You Are Awesome! is available from Amazon through Ruby’s Reading Corner.

Visit marilynstreats.com for great recipes all year long!


New from author, Jean Ann Williams

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

Lose Weight, Get Fit & Change Your Life – With 4 Powerful Principles by Carol L. Doyel Carol Doyel is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of LivingBetter50.com. She is a graduate of The Full Gospel Bible Institute and has a passion for women’s ministries, issues and lives. She and her husband of 26+ years have three grown kids and four grandchildren. They currently reside in southern CA. Her desire is to inspire women to live better physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Lose Weight, Get Fit & Change Your Life – With 4 Powerful Principles by Carol L. Doyel is available from Amazon through Ruby’s Reading Corner.


God’s Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother’s Heart by Jean Ann Williams EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth chapter from the book, God’s Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother’s Heart by Jean Ann Williams. We will be publishing one chapter from her book in each upcoming issue of Ruby for Women to share her story with you. We trust that God will use Jean Ann’s story to be a blessing to you. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a Division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ******************************************************************************** Chapter Five Upon Rising He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. —Psalm 91:1 We got up that first morning, anticipating our older son Jason’s arrival from a distance of five hundred miles. We found out later he had stopped in the night to sleep for three hours, and then drove the rest of the way to our home. At six a.m., we opened the door to his knock. His mouth was turned down, and he was ready to sob. His blue eyes were dulled by shock. We, his parents, collapsed into his arms in childlike abandonment. The three of us sobbed within our huddle. Jason’s wife and their three children gave us a few moments to talk with Jason, and then they got out of the vehicle. I hugged my grandchildren, hung on a bit too long, and kissed their faces. My daughter-in-law stood before me, with a pale and wounded expression. The baby she carried inside her belly was barely six months in gestation. My grandchild moved the moment we embraced. Thump. I felt the baby smack against my stomach. I drew back in surprise. “The baby kicked me.” My daughter-in-law stared at me, waiting, I’m sure, for me to sob. Right then, though, my heart felt glad. I thanked God for the unborn child who grew inside the warm and safe place she called home. I sensed this child would be strong of character. Even in our time of sorrow, Lord, You give me hope for the future by way of a kick from a baby in the womb. In Jesus’s name, I thank You. Amen A Mother’s Memories I have stored in my heart my two boys asleep on the bed together when Joshua was a roly-poly fivemonth-old. It often happened that spring and summer that they napped in the same bed. Jason would sing Joshua to sleep with a Jesus song. Later, I’d take a snapshot of the two in a snuggled position. I have one picture of Jason’s back to Joshua, and Joshua’s leg slung over and resting on Jason’s side. At those moments, my eyes glistened for joy and the honor of being their mother. Of seeing my two sons bonded, the younger learning he could trust the elder. Father, You’ve blessed me with two sons, and I am most joyful. In Jesus’s name. Amen.


In this stirring memoir Jean Ann Williams shares her son, Joshua’s, life and also his untimely death at age twenty-five. Being a woman of faith, in each chapter she shares thoughts and scriptures which have given her comfort and support in the hopes her journey can help others. The book is a must read for anyone who has lost a family member to suicide. Gloria Horsley Ph.D. President of Open to Hope Jean Ann Williams has written a powerful book, full of pain and joy, despair and hope, all in the form of short, pithy devotions. This author understands the agony of losing someone to suicide, because her son took his life and shredded his family’s heart. However, though Williams clearly spells out the agonizing grief she endured after her beloved son’s death, she also shows God truly does offer a Light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of loss. And as the author takes us on this long journey out of overwhelming darkness, she also enables us to feel the everlasting arms underneath her, carrying her and healing her every step of the way. If you or someone you know has lost a loved one through suicide, please get this book. It will bless and minister to you as often as you read one of its devotions or reflect on the words within its pages. Kathi Macias, author ***Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is a multi-award winning author of more than 50 books. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Al.

You can connect with Jean Ann Williams and follow her journey as she experiences God’s mercies on her blog at Love Truth: Hope after Suicide.

You are invited to join us in the Ruby for Women community for our weekly Bible study of the Book of Esther. We will discover how Esther's obedience in the face of fear, uncertainty, and death was used by God to save her and all of her people. We hope you will join us as we continue in our study of the life of Queen Esther. All lessons in this Bible study are from the study guide book by Carol Peterson, "I am Esther: A Faith Like Hers," available from Ruby's Reading Corner.


Just a little fun… Play 4 Puzzle

by Beth Brubaker

Fill in the grid using the clues to form words in the rows and columns. (No diagonals)

Answer key on page: 43

Across: 1. Sleeping in 2. Three Kings 3. To smooth out 4. Where paperwork is done Down: 1. Among others 2. Unclothed 3. Self-Esteem (plural) 4. To hit gently

Split Words Puzzle by Beth Brubaker

Words are split into three sections. Starting from left to right, find the right combination of letters to form five words.

Clue: “What Friends Do”

Answer key on page: 43


Put it on Mute by Toni Samuels When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. – Revelation 8:1 (ESV)

We live in a noisy age. Think about the variety of sounds blaring from the devices in our vehicles, homes and offices. Most of us are so uncomfortable with quiet that the moment we jump into our cars, we turn on the radio. And as soon as we arrive home we grab the TV remote. In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John recounts how the Lamb of God opens the final of seven seals before the Lord’s throne.

The reasons for our discomfort with silence are as varied as we are, but I think often it’s because we’re using noise to drown out loneliness, fear, worry, guilt or discontentment. Recently, I’ve been challenged by messages from ministers whom I admire on the power of being silent before God for a period of time each day.

In preceding chapters there has been lots of singing, praise, worship and loud crying out to God. But this single action elicits complete silence for half-an-hour. What a magnificent and awe-filled scene.

This is not necessarily a time for reading or praying, but simply to be still and know that He is God, waiting for Him to speak to our hearts. This discipline hasn’t been easy, and I haven’t been consistent enough to make it a daily habit yet, but I am on my way.

How many of us could sit silently before God for 30 minutes? Or even three minutes, for that matter? Our tech-infused world is on auditory overload with the whirring of cell phone alerts, cacophony of ringtones, blaring TVs and constant media streaming on our tablets, phones and laptops.

Do you desire to hear more of God’s still, small voice and experience greater fruitfulness and victory in your life? For just a few minutes each day, put everything else on mute.

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. – Psalm 62:1 (NLT)

Toni Samuels By day Toni works in corporate communications at a Fortune 500 corporation, but by night she pursues her true passion: to write for God’s purposes and to point people to Jesus Christ. She is grateful and honored to have the opportunity to begin this new chapter in her life, in which writing is not merely a profession but a ministry. In her free time Toni enjoys music, reading, traveling and beautiful beaches.


Beauty of Women A Christian Point of View by Cody Quinn Brubaker

I see it everywhere, the girls, the women, and the clothes they wear. Passing by with jewels all around, not knowing that they are bound. They wear piercings, rings, and tattoos as well But they don’t need those things to come out of their shell They pierce, make holes, and make wound to appeal, but they leave scars…scars that never heal. They wear makeup, gloss, and mascara, Men say, “Take it off! Let me see you “ugly”, I dare ya!” Men can be blind, vicious, and cruel, yet, when they see the body, they begin to drool. People don’t know true beauty, you see. It's not what you think, it's what it is that's key. Girls all want the same: Love and devotion, but when people degrade them, depression sets in motion. They hurt, they cry, they look in the mirror, wishing they had a different posterior. They can’t sleep, eat, or drink; they just lie in bed, with shame and hopelessness filling their head.

… But ladies, I come to you with the truth: Don’t worry, it ain’t a lie, I have proof. I am a Christian, you see, so I have a word or two, God is speaking through me, with a message for you. Proverbs thirty-one, verse ten, for a view, says, “She is far more precious than jewels.” Proverbs eleven, verse sixteen, is not a bother, says, “A gracious woman gets honor.” Song of Solomon four, verse one, is critical. It reads, “Behold, you are beautiful.” Finally, Genesis one, verse twenty-seven, is said to all ages, “So God created human beings in his own image.”

Cody Quinn Brubaker is a senior in high school. He views life through the lens of Asperger’s, a form of Autism. He lives in the city of Philadelphia with his parents and younger sister. He enjoys writing poetry and short stories. This poem is his first submission to the Ruby Magazine.


Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 30 mins Total time: 50 mins

Ingredients      

   

Serves: 10

Instructions

2 cans Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup 1 cup sour cream 2 TBS butter or margarine 1 cup chopped onion 2 tsp chili powder 4 chicken breasts cooled and cubed ( I use the already made fiesta chicken strips found in the lunch meat isle) 8 oz chopped green chiles 1 package of 8-10 flour tortillas 12 oz bag co-jack shredded cheese 2 TBS diced jalapeño peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 2. In a small bowl stir together soup and sour cream until smooth. Set mixture aside. 3. In large frying pan (or 2 qt saucepan) over medium heat, add in hot margarine and cook onion and chili powder until onion is tender, stirring often. 4. Stir in chicken, chilies, and (4) TBS of soup mixture. Jalapeño peppers can be added to the mixture now, or to individual enchiladas in step #6. 5. Remove from heat. 6. Spread chicken mixture along center of tortilla. 7. Place enchiladas seam side down in a 13x9 baking dish. 8. Spread remaining soup mixture over enchiladas. 9. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the entire contents of the baking dish. 10. Bake for 20-30 minutes to melt cheese and warm the enchiladas.

Notes: Mission® brand tortillas work better than Aztech® brand. Chicken can be cooked between steps #3 and #4 – or can be grilled. Recipe courtesy of marilynstreats.com

The Father Calls by Norma C. Mezoe As I was walking, I passed four young boys playing in the dusty sand along the road. Then I heard a father calling, “Billy Gene.” The son was so involved in his play, he didn’t hear the call. In a few moments, the words were sounding again, a little louder this time. “Billy Gene!” The boys continued playing. If Billy Gene heard his father calling, he completely ignored him. He was too busy doing his own thing. How many times has God my Father called to me? “Norma, Norma! “and I was so wrapped up in my plans and in my thoughts that I failed to hear. I am his child and I should be listening for my Father’s voice. But, like Billy Gene, I either fail to hear, or I choose to ignore his calling.


Salad in the Mailbox by Norma C. Mezoe

At the age of 45, I was forced to find employment after my husband left me. I had never worked outside of my home, but God opened doors only He could have opened. Within three weeks, I was employed at a nonprofit organization. I had much to learn because our office served seven counties. I found myself constantly praying as I struggled to learn the many details of my work. This was when I learned the meaning of to “. . . pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). At the time my husband left, we were living in the church’s parsonage. The officers of the church graciously gave permission for me to continue living there until a new minister was called. All they asked was that I keep the lawn mowed. Several people from the church were kind to me and gave needed support and encouragement. I will always remember their loving acts. Marjorie, one of the members, wasn’t always filled with tact but she had a big-loving heart. One hot summery day, I came home from a stressful day at work. I stopped at the large, rural mailbox to pick up my mail.

Inside the box, I found a fresh crispy salad, accompanied by a container of dressing and crackers. Marjorie had placed the salad in the mailbox just moments before she knew I’d be home. I enjoyed the salad twice as much, thinking of Marjorie and her thoughtfulness. I lived in the parsonage for eight months until the church hired their new pastor. During that period, my special friends encouraged me in various ways. Verna was my listener; she let me talk out my frustrations. Johnny and Velda, a sweet older couple, supplied me with meat and fresh eggs. Johnny also kept my push lawnmower working. We don’t have to do extravagant things for people in order to give them a blessing. Small kindnesses, like a salad in the mailbox, bring unexpected joy to those in need of encouragement. When God’s Holy Spirit nudges us to be a helper, an encourager, or a blessing, how will we respond?


Wisdom for Moms: Preparing Your Introverted Child by Laura L. Zimmerman

By nature, I’m an extrovert. Even as small child, I never had a problem walking into a classroom and making friends. Summer camp? Piece of cake. I promptly chose my bed for the week and said goodbye to my parents before they could even get a look around. Even as a college freshman I didn’t miss the fact that I was the lone student who didn’t cry when my parents walked out that door. So, when I had my first daughter, I was eager to get her involved in all the things I’d loved as a child: dance, drama, music and performing in front of a live audience. That is until she refused. She cried at every dance class and would not get on stage. My child was nothing like me! How could we be related? As you may have guessed, I say this tongue-incheek. My daughter is now fourteen and the whole family is able to reflect on this time with humor. But that doesn’t mean our time of struggle has come to an end. At the start of every school year, there are new situations that cause stress and anxiety. It has taken time for her to learn what works best – and for me to learn how I can help ease her transition into a new routine. Sometimes others just don’t understand when I explain that she needs time away or that she won’t be joining in on the fun at youth group because it’s her ‘down day’. But that’s okay.

Not everyone will understand the life of an introvert, just as not everyone will understand my love of jumping on stage before a crowd. As parents, there are lots of things we can do to lessen the pressure of social graces for our children, while assuring their first experience in school, church groups, sports activities or other clubs, aren’t as terrifying as their nightmares allow them to believe. Here are a few ideas of how to help prepare your child for the first day of school and other activities. How your child can prepare: - Stop and Look: On your first day, look around. Who else is sitting alone or not part of a group? They might be introverted as well, and could use a friend. It's easier to approach someone if they are alone, rather than in the pressure of a group. - Be Prepared to Talk: Make a list of questions to ask others. It helps if these questions are related to things you are interested in, since this could springboard into more conversation. This also eases the pressure, in case there’s that dreaded silence! - Have an extra snack: It's easier to break the ice with food! Bring an extra snack to offer another student. They will likely respond with friendly conversation. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find you share the same favorite food!


- Common interests: Spend some time in an area of interest. Do you notice the same people at the library every day? Maybe you both share a love of reading. Hang out with your favorite book for a few extra minutes and see if you can find something to talk about. Love sports? Help clean up the equipment after practice and see who sticks around. They likely love that sport as much as you do! - Memorize Scripture: There’s just no way to avoid that nervous tingle in the bottom of your belly – even extroverts get that! Memorize Philippians 4:13. Each time you’re tempted to walk away, repeat this verse in your head. It will give you the strength you need to step outside your comfort zone and make new friends!

“Not everyone will understand the life of an introvert, just as not everyone will understand my love of jumping on stage before a crowd.”

What you can do: - Talk to the teacher/leader: Let the teacher or leader of that group know ahead of time that your student is an introvert. This will help them know how to approach your child and make things less awkward. - Meet some of the kids before the first day of school or activity: In our age of social media, attempt to reach out to other moms and find students that will be in your child’s class or who will be attending the same activities. A get-together before the first day might be just what your child needs to gain that extra bit of confidence! - Do a walk through: Walk through the school, visit the church youth room or swing by a sports practice with your child before he/she starts. This will give them confidence on the first day, when they know their way around. And maybe they’ll make a new friend when they find they can give directions to someone else who has lost their way! - Pray with your child: The most important thing you can do before the first day of any new venture is to pray with your child. Once they walk out the door, continue to lift him/her up in prayer throughout the day, and be sure to let them know you will be praying. There is no replacement for the Power of Prayer.

A Note from our own garden enthusiast, Sarah Johnson… Monarda is a spreading perennial. Gardening can be rampant at times, but gloriously exuberant. We start with one idea, one flower pot, one small patch and it soon spreads. If we choose to allow the growth, we grow with it. Soon, our family and friends are adding to it, receiving plant divisions, sharing in the view along with us. These photographs are from the garden of Maryanne Beggs, master gardener and longtime plant enthusiast, who resides in Cumberland County, NJ. Several places along the garden path, Maryanne pointed out the contribution of a family member: something given, something in memory, something made, by, from, or to, someone special. And that is what binds our gardens to our hearts.


Kids’ Reading Corner

A Red and Yellow Bracelet by Joan Leotta Mary Ann tapped Rose on the arm. Rose turned to her. Mary Ann said loudly, "So, where did you put it? I know you took it, Rose!" Rose stepped back. Mary Ann shouted, "Give it back!" "What is it? What are you talking about?" Rose asked. "My bracelet. I know you took my red and yellow string bracelet. The one I always wear. One of the strands broke this morning so I left it on my desk when I was at the front of the room watering the teacher's plants. Now my bracelet is gone! You were the only person here who was not up at the front with me. If you don't give my bracelet back, I'm going to tell the teacher." Rose was angry. She had not taken the bracelet. She had been reading at her desk and did not see anyone come and take it. Then Rose saw tears running down Mary Ann's cheeks. Rose did not feel angry anymore. Rose sent up a short prayer. "Please dear, Jesus. Don’t let me speak to Mary Ann in anger. Show me how I can defend myself and help her find her bracelet." Miss Wilson came in and began to talk about the math lesson. Mary Ann stomped down the aisle and took her seat. Rose sat down at her desk. Rose tried to pay attention, but most of her thoughts were on the missing bracelet. Rose remembered Mary Ann talking about the bracelet at "show and tell" earlier in the week. Rose remembered that Mary Ann's Mom had made the yellow and red bracelet and given it to Mary Ann before leaving to serve with the Army in Iraq. The bell rang for lunch and Rose jumped up. She walked back to Mary Ann's desk.


Rose said, "Mary Ann, I didn't take your bracelet." "Then where is it?" Mary Ann shouted. "Tell me by this afternoon or I will tell the teacher." "Girls, what is going on?" Miss Wilson walked over. "Nothing," both girls said. Rose walked down the hall to lunch. She had to find that bracelet to prove she was not the one who stole it. However, when class started after lunch she still had not found the bracelet. Class was about to start. Rose prayed again. "Please, Jesus, help me find Mary Ann's bracelet." Rose was thinking and praying so hard, she did not hear Miss Wilson call on her. The teacher walked down the aisle until she was standing by Rose's desk. "Rose, since you did not answer me, you must come to the front of the class and work out the answer on the board." Rose got up. The windows were open because the spring day was warm and sunny. Rose looked out of the window as she slowly walked to the front of the room. "I see it! I know who took it!" Miss Wilson turned to her. "What are you talking about?" Rose pointed out the open window to a robin making a nest in the budding branches of the tree next to the classroom. Rose smiled and looked at Mary Ann. "Look, Mary Ann. Look at the bird's nest. I told you I didn’t take your bracelet, but I know who did and now you do too." Mary Ann jumped up and ran to the window. Mary Ann smiled. "I guess Mama Robin needed it." Miss Wilson said. "What's going on girls?"


Mary Ann explained, "Mama Robin took the bracelet my mother made for me and Rose found it." Mary Ann gave Rose a hug and whispered in her ear. "I'm sorry I said you took the bracelet. Can you forgive me?" Rose said. "I'm glad we found your bracelet and of course I can forgive you. God's forgiven all of us, so I can forgive you."

Mary Ann gave Rose another hug. "Miss Wilson, may we take a picture of the bird's nest to show my mother where the bracelet is now?" Miss Wilson smiled and took out her cell phone. "That's a good idea. We can send your Mom more photos of the nest as spring goes on. I think she’ll like knowing her gift to you is helping the robin make a home for her new babies." That same afternoon, Miss Wilson emailed the photo to Mary Ann's mother. Then, everyone in the class wrote a note by hand to Mary Ann's mother to thank her for her service. Many in the class drew pictures of bird's nests on their notes. Miss Wilson put the notes in a big envelope and mailed them to Mary Ann's mother. The next week, Mary Ann's mother sent a letter to the whole class, telling them all how much she liked the photo and their handwritten notes. A few days after that, a box arrived. Inside were enough red and yellow string bracelets for the entire class. The card with them read: “For my dear Mary Ann, her friend Rose, and everyone in your class. Always think the best of each other." The End. Joan Leotta has won awards in USA and abroad for writing and performing. She would be happy to "appear" at your book club or school to talk about writing or perform, in person or via SKYPE. Her second picture book, Summer in a Bowl, comes out September 2016. Contact her at joanleotta@atmc.net. Download a free short story and information about starting a school learning garden at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com


Hot Blessings in August by Sharon L. Patterson

It’s August and I’m on my way to the store: the air-conditioner in my car is turned to “max” “Oh that poor person is sweating I just passed!” “Walking in THIS HEAT, now that leaves me floored!” I check for a parking place in the shade, but can find nothing at all. I grab my purse and the list I made, trying to read and walk, I nearly fall… But a kind young man steadies my arm, “Thank you,” I said, “you kept me from harm!” “Count your blessings,” popped into my head! And I thought to myself, “That’s just what I’ll do! No matter how hot this August heat!” Then I see the man I passed earlier and yell, “YOO-HOO … “May I offer you a cool treat?” I open the lid on the ice cold drink that I just bought and hand it out the window for him to take, knowing he must be as just thirsty as he is hot. “Thank you, Ma’am… that sun left me nearly baked!” Grinning in agreement, I continue on my way knowing we both had an unexpected touch of blessing on this hot August day. “Oh Lord,” I prayed, “Thank you so much!” I’ll never think of this month quite the same for there are hot blessings in August. Praise to His Name!


Backyard Paradise by Cynthia Knisley

Warm summer days bring to mind memories of the delightful patio of our childhood home. It was a private oasis at the back of the house, gently shaded by a large elm tree. Lush pachysandra grew around the base of the tree and along the edge of the patio. In between there was a soft grassy area, just right for spinning a hula hoop or stretching out on a blanket with a book. I recall being transported to a tiny raft in the vast Pacific Ocean under the spell of Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki, right there in the shade of the old elm. Beyond the tree in an open patch sunlight danced on a garden trellis and laundry flapped gently in the breeze. The neighboring properties created a quiet woodsy backdrop of shrubs and evergreens that seemed to go on forever. Next door an old moldering fish pond added exotic flavor to the setting. Nearly enshrouded with greenery, it was as mysterious as the quiet elderly man who lived in the house. On special occasions we were permitted to climb through the hedge to get a close look at the large goldfish that silently plied the dark water below the lily pads. Somehow we were always aware of the creatures next door. The entrance to our kitchen was a few steps from the patio. This passage was the source of wonderful culinary treats: tall glasses of cool lemonade, ice cream piled high on cones and nearly dripping away on hot summer afternoons, bowls of sliced peaches still warm from the orchard, and scrumptious fresh garden meals. Mother loved to grow vegetables! She often served freshly picked sweet corn, boiled briefly to preserve the crispness, or removed from the cob and baked up into a savory corn pudding. One of her favorites was sliced zucchini, lightly cooked with slivers of onions and seasoned perfectly with butter and salt. Tasty tomato wedges along with chilled cucumber chips in a sweet ‘n sour dressing and a lovely plate of deviled eggs completed the meal. There may have been a meat course, but the veggies definitely received the greatest applause. The patio was not just a place for serving and enjoying food. It was perfect for long afternoons of playing board games, sharing elephant jokes and other kinds of silliness, and weaving gimp into lanyards and bracelets. My favorite summer days included a game of Monopoly. The roof kept us dry and cozy during late afternoon rain showers, so we could buy and sell properties for hours. Occasionally however we were called into the house and asked to remain indoors. A hobo had arrived at the front door! Mother was evidently known for providing healthy meals to anyone asking for food and this is how it came to be that forlorn and unkempt strangers stopped by. I recall that they were men and they travelled alone. Mother invited them to come around to the patio and take a seat at our table. Within a few minutes she managed to warm up leftovers or prepare soup out of the provisions on hand and each hobo left feeling satisfied and grateful. These guests never visited our friends. We figured that the hobos knew our father was a pastor and trusted his home to be a welcoming place. Indeed, I’m sure it was largely because of Mother’s good cooking, her generous spirit, and the lovely patio dining in our backyard paradise!


Confront Doubt by Jewell Utt

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:16-17 ESV)

As verse 9 points out, “…their mouths are set against Heaven and their tongues strut the earth.” (Psalm 73:9)

We all struggle with doubt. It arises from circumstances, people and Satan. It's natural to doubt, but it's dangerous to allow doubts to encroach on productivity, cloud judgment or thwart our spiritual journey.

Doesn't God notice? Does this escape His gaze? Of course not! Our understanding comes as Asaph's did: When we enter the sanctuary of God. Asaph recognized that he was acting in ignorance and doubt.

“Never turn in the darkness, away from what God has revealed to you in the light.” A pastor shared this over 25 years ago and I still depend on its truth today.

The NIV translation uses the term brute beast. It conveys the idea of an unintelligent animal that cares only about his own comfort and physical needs. We are capable of far more than that.

God has an important job for each of us that involves the people He has placed on our path. The influence we impart can help someone within our circle on their road of doubt.

When we feel embittered or tempted to give into doubt, we can entrust it to God. He guides us with good counsel and reassures us of His presence and strength. This life will hold its share of defeats.

A hub sends spokes out to steady a bike wheel just as God can send direct lines out from us to the people He has placed in our periphery. Unexamined doubt only serves to distract us from our course. Worse, it can spread its poison to others.

The most devoted person may doubt God in times of crisis. Asaph teaches us an important lesson: Retaining unhealthy attitudes can lead to dangerous thinking, but confronting our doubts will help us grow strong.

The psalmist, Asaph, models how we can handle our doubts. In Psalm73, he confronts God about why bad things happen to good people, and why good things happen to the bad. In short, why do the arrogant seem to get ahead? It's enough to make a wise man doubt.

Open up. Be honest. Tell God. Enlist prayer. Expect adversity. Dear Lord, Help us when we struggle with doubt to know You are in control of all things. It's evident that Satan is at work on earth. Help us to trust You and not look around at others, but to look heavenward for our reward.


A Broken Heart and the Garden by Kathy McCauley

I have been called on in these last few days to reflect on the broken heart or divided heart. I know that a broken heart is totally different from a divided heart, but this is how it came together. I have been distracted, actually devastated with a broken heart and as I have brought it to prayer, I realized that it has divided my heart and my attention to God. I guess the brokenness literally makes me feel less able to give my whole heart to God in prayer, diverting my attention and intention. Not only do I feel wounded by this broken heart, but now I feel like I am limping through life, and I know God doesn’t want that. I find it interesting that these disturbances in my human heart are now affecting my spiritual life and my communication with God. I realized after limping through my days like this, that I need to acknowledge what is going on inside, invite God into my pain, and ask Him to heal and bind my heart together. I did this; I was literally imagining God gently binding my broken heart, and this visual led me to the image of the Sacred Heart. For me, the image of the Sacred Heart is God’s way of saying, “I understand your emotional pain caused by love.” This has been very comforting to me over the years. But this most recent reflection has taken this thought a little bit further. Jesus had to deal with the pain and division of a broken heart as well. Where in his life do we see it and how did he handle it? Before going into the desert was Jesus aware of potential division in his heart? Did he sense the various things in his life that were distracting him from giving God his whole heart? Perhaps he went into the desert for the healing and discernment: deciding there, whether he wanted to dedicate his whole heart to this ministry in which he was being called. Then, when faced with the temptations of Satan, did Jesus fear it might prey on his heart still somewhat divided, thus protesting “Step aside Satan”? Almost as a fearful cry for the safety of his own heart? After which he was then able to say that he wanted and was willing to give his whole heart to his call and to his Father. How about us?? When are we faced with temptation that may divide our heart? Or how do I know that when facing a temptation my heart is only half its strength and I fear my ability to stay steadfast to my desire to give God my heart?


What I have realized in examining the life of Christ is that his broken heart was magnified on Gethsemane. It was unimaginably painful, like the pain many of us experience in love which didn’t have the intended outcome. There was Christ wailing, begging, and even being angry with God in the garden that night– but it had to happen as it did. And somewhere in the garden God was able to heal and bind the heart of Christ to move forward. It is that way with us!! Here is the reward for such a painful garden experience of a broken heart, knowing and experiencing the hand of God in our emotional wreckage. God does heal our hearts and can, if we implore him to, just as Jesus did that night in the garden. The healing can be so thorough and complete, that it can then generate enough love for Jesus to sustain and embrace the crucifixion. As too it is with us: having turned our hearts over to God in our moment of despair, we can be made strong enough to endure our crucifixions which come in big and small ways daily. To me this is the most powerful message God has given to us with the life of Christ. It is the true expression of him saying, through Christ, “I understand your emotional pain.” Here in the garden, Christ witnesses to us his unity with us in the emotional world, and on the cross he tells us clearly that he understands the physical pain of our life.

These two messages are eloquently spoken to us in the image of the Sacred Heart. The crown of thorns lies on the heart piercing it. There we find the emotional and physical empathy of Christ in one image. Gaining clarity on this potential for emotional healing has been a huge help to comfort me through many crises. When I am too raw even to bring words to my lips in prayer, I imagine myself in the garden, waiting on the Lord who heals all wounds with his eternal love and compassion. It might take many visits there until full healing occurs, but it is my respite in the waiting for him to bind the wounds of my heart. It is then that I can accept the scars of the wounds as reminders of God’s amazing ability to heal an injured heart and be a part of my human condition. I was comforted by these insights into Christ’s hurt and fragmented heart, which he took to his Father in prayer, and so I will do the same.


Facing Down the Bumblebee by Nells Wasilewski Thought for the day: Job 12:7-10 (NKJV) “But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? I was sitting in my garden, preparing for a bit of solitude to enjoy the flowers and read my book, when a bumblebee flew by and sat down next to me. I used my book to create a discordance to send him on his way. I thought he would be on his way, but he advanced a little closer. I swatted at him with my book, and he took to flight. Instead of leaving, he buzzed annoyingly around my head. I jumped to my feet and let out a squeal that would rival a train whistle at midnight, but it didn't scare him away. He raised his plump little body in a gesture of imminent departure. He surprised me by honing in on my nose, and hovering there as if to declare that my bench belonged to him! Sliding beyond the realm of fear; I stared him straight in the eye, and made a declaration of my own: “Someone will leave this bench, but I daresay it will not be me!" To my horror, I realized that I was fighting a battle of wills with a bumblebee. Feeling a bit foolish and embarrassed, I changed my strategy and sat down quietly to read my book. The bumblebee obviously got the point, or became bored with the game we had been playing. Without so much as a flutter, he lifted his wings and rudely flew on his way. The next morning, when I came out and settled on my bench, all was peaceful with no distractions. I guess I had shown that bee who was boss. I smiled with pleasure at having my bench to myself again. I opened my book, settled in and began to read. I heard a buzz beside me and I knew, before I looked, that it was that wretched bumblebee! But I had made a decision to maintain my composure; therefore, I stared at my book without moving, except to turn the page. The bumblebee sat just as still as I, and, thus, a pattern developed. Two separate species, from two different worlds, became silent companions; and, for that summer, I shared my bench with the bumblebee. Leaves began to fall and air turned brisk, but on one particularly lovely day, I went outside to enjoy one last sojourn in my garden. The bumblebee came and landed gently on my shoulder. I accepted that as his goodbye, but I humbly admit I felt a sense of loss over that “pesky” bumblebee. Prayer: Loving Father, through your love for us, we find generosity and compassion for all your creatures. Give us a pure heart that we may find the beauty around us. In Jesus name, amen.


Live Like There Is No Tomorrow by Angela Hiskett “Live like there is no tomorrow!” I am sure you have heard that quote. People use this quote to imply that you never know when you will die so you had better enjoy life now. It is a reasoning that you should do what you want to do when you want to do it. It encourages taking bigger risks and sometimes doing something you wouldn’t normally do. It also implies that there could be no tomorrow, so there may not be any consequences for your actions. The phrase has been used as excuses for affairs, death-defying challenges, bad monetary decisions, and I am sure the list goes on and on. Usually when the phrase comes up it seems to be when someone is debating a decision that would have a negative effect on their lives if there is a tomorrow. But, what happens when you die? You and I know that when we die, or Jesus returns, (the only reasons for there being ‘no tomorrow’), our actions have chosen heaven or hell. So step back a bit and ponder a new spin for the phrase “live like there is no tomorrow.” If there is no tomorrow, what do we want to do before we meet Jesus? How would that alter the choices you make today? It still may involve risks and stepping out of the groove you have created for your life. But what would be at the top of your list of things to do? Reaching out to those who don’t know Christ? Time praising God? Time with your family? If you knew there was one year before Jesus returns, how would that change your life pattern? More time helping others, more time serving God and bringing others into his family? Building closer relationships with your family? Why not do those things anyway? If we truly want to ‘live like there is no tomorrow,’ we need to consider where we would be tomorrow if Jesus were to return today or our life were to end today. Tomorrow – we would be seeing heaven or hell. The choices we make today choose our tomorrow. How does that change your perspective on that phrase? It really is a good motto to live by when seen in the right light, the light of Jesus. Keep your lamp lit! “Live like Jesus returns tomorrow!”

“Live like Jesus returns tomorrow!”


When Mice Make Way for the Lion’s Roar by Kathryn Ross

I am overwhelmed with grief at the seemingly impossible state of affairs manifesting in our nation and the world today. How far our founding landmarks have been removed! I’ve watched them be systematically replaced with evil substitutes over my lifetime of close to six decades long. I see human hearts and minds sent strong delusions, believing lies, calling right wrong and wrong right, and a host of other travesties the Bible warns us about in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! All I know to do is to pray. But my prayer is reduced to a waterfall of tears. Words are choked back by sobs. I feel helpless and alone facing the mountains. So, I cry out my complaint to the Lord. “Who am I, Lord? I am helpless to make a difference. What can I do? I’m just a tiny little mouse in this big scary scheme of things. It’s all so dark and impossible.” I’m blubbering by this time.

Thankfully, our blubbering is not a bother to God. In fact, it is the passkey to open the door to His many mercies and grace in our time of need. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 12:14-16 NKJV “Yes,” a commanding Voice whispers in my spirit. “You are a mouse. And you are many.” In that instant, I see . . . mice. Scurrying. On a mission. My mind’s eye flips open an image I know well. The Stone Table where Aslan lay dead—shaved and bound with ropes, his heart pierced and bleeding still. C. S. Lewis does not spare the imagination of the reader in this climatic passage from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In a lengthy discourse, he describes the scene through the eyes of Susan and Lucy. Overwhelmed with grief at the impossible series of events they’ve witnessed—their greatest hope has been humiliated and undone at the hands of a Witch and her evil army. Carefully, they remove the muzzle that had clamped his mouth shut.


“I wonder could we untie him as well?” said Susan presently. But the enemies, out of pure spitefulness had drawn the cords so tight that the girls could make nothing of the knots. Yet, as they kiss his lifeless face, weeping and blubbering in uncontained sorrow, Lucy notices small movements upon his body. A mouse. First one . . . then another . . . and another. A legion of them suddenly materialize on the scene. Susan responds, wildly waving arms to shoo them away. But Lucy sees something more. “Wait!” said Lucy who had been looking at them more closely still. “Can you see what they’re doing . . . I think they’re friendly mice. Poor little things—they don’t realize he’s dead. They think it’ll do some good untying him”. . . They could see the mice nibbling away; dozens and dozens, even hundreds, of little field mice. And at last, one by one, the ropes were all gnawed through . . . The girls cleared away the remains of the gnawed ropes. Aslan looked more like himself without them. Every moment his dead face looked nobler, as the light grew and they could see it better. A mouse nibbled away at the ropes keeping Aslan tied down to the Stone Table. Susan and Lucy thought it a nice gesture, but a waste of time and effort. The girls stroll a short distance away to move about in order to warm themselves and wonder at what they have seen. But a loud clap, a great cracking, deafening noise, sends them running back to where they left Aslan in the murky darkness before the dawn. The rising of the sun had made everything look so different—all the colours and shadows were changed—that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan . . . “Who’s done it?” cried Susan. “What does it mean? Is it more magic?” “Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself. . . .

BECAUSE . . . “. . . when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” . . . Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare to look at it. And they saw all the trees in front of him bend before the blast of his roaring as grass bends in a meadow before the wind. Then he said, “We have a long journey to go. You must ride on me.” The story does not end here. There is yet a war raging for the freedom of a country long held captive. Holding fast to him, Susan and Lucy race to the frontlines of the battle mounted upon he who ... . . . doesn’t need to be guided and never grows tired. He rushes on and on, never missing his footing, never hesitating, threading his way with perfect skill between tree-trunks, jumping over bush and briar and the smaller streams, wading the larger, swimming the largest of all . . . the Lion had gathered himself together for a greater leap than any he had yet made and jumped—or you may call it flying rather than jumping— right over the castle wall. The two girls were breathless, but unhurt . . . Breathless. Yes—that’s how I feel of late in what seems a world gone mad. I am out of breath. I also am aware that I’ve been sighing deep sighs intermittently throughout the day. I feel the assaults in the spiritual realm and need to catch my breath. And I pray. Unhurt. That is my ultimate destiny. Mounted on the back of my Lord Jesus, I will arrive to meet the demands of the day, whatever they may be, unhurt. A little worse for wear, perhaps, as we all are bearing the burdens of calamitous times. But—as my fate is sealed in His Spirit, by His blood and the word of my testimony—I am unhurt. I am a mouse and I’m not alone. You may be a mouse, too. Our prayers in such times as these nibble away at the cords that bind my Lord, as He bides His time for due season to roar.


My mouse-like prayers, taken together with your mouse-like prayers, petition the Lord to let loose the Lion of Judah, that He would exercise His might in our fight. We have such need of the Lord to lead in the battle for the hearts and minds of this present generation and the soul of our nation. I dread my newsfeed. I hate the headlines. But, if they compel me to nibble away the day in prayer without ceasing, I am accomplishing my mouse-like mission in the power of a Lion. I know not how long I must gnaw at the ropes, wrestling in prayer, before the bonds break and the Lion roars. But to be true to my mission in concert with many, I can be confident that I am in the center of God’s will for my life. Aslan was dead. “Poor little things—they don’t realize he’s dead. They think it’ll do some good untying him.” Lucy thought the mice and their efforts foolish towards an impossible hope. In the face of impossible national and global unrest as never before seen in history, God’s grace and mercy stands at the door of unknown outcomes. For me, I choose boldness—standing before His Throne in petition. I’ll live in expectation of the impossible and keep nibbling away.

Jesus has the last roar.

Work cited: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (360 words) By C. S. Lewis Book Club Edition, Copyright 1950, By the MacMillian Company Pages 132-135 NOTE: Listen in to hear author Kathryn Ross dramatize this post for devotional reflection on her August 2016 Audio Podcast—When Mice Make Way for the Lion’s Roar—at www.thewritersreverie.com. The program will include additional fun facts about The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, and bonus devotional resources.

Visit Kathryn at The Writers’ Reverie for encouragement and inspiration.


Persevering to Answer His call by Helen D. Ellis

“Do you have a prison ministry?” I asked my new pastor. “No,” Pastor said, “we don’t have a prison ministry.” I answered, “I’d like to start one.” My husband and I had just relocated to Connecticut from New Jersey for his work. Our new church was tiny compared to the mega-churches we’d attended before, but entering the sanctuary, we felt the presence of God. My pastor’s wife led Spirit-filled worship by strumming her guitar and singing love songs to Jesus. When the worship ended, we prayed that the preaching would contain the “meat” of the word. The pastor walked into the pulpit and preached the word of God ---fervently, anointed by the Holy Spirit and with a passion for Christ that was evident. My husband and I looked at each other and said, “This is it.” After obtaining volunteer clearance, I made the ministry a matter of daily prayer and began attempting to contact the prison chaplain. I tried reaching her by phone and email for weeks unsuccessfully. Sharing my vision of a new prison ministry was met with skepticism and sometimes outright discouragement from people. I prayed to God for an open door, which He answered in a wondrous way. My husband met someone at a work-related event who knew the chaplain personally and he told him of my difficulty contacting her. He said, “Tell your wife to use my name next time.” So, I did. Amazingly, the chaplain returned my call and we arranged a meeting. I prayerfully prepared for this meeting at the prison. The chaplain shared her love for Christ and the inmates, and the fact that she would soon be retiring. I felt a kinship with her since I’d spent years ministering to women in jails and prison. My calling was to share Christ, preach God’s word and remind the women of their humanity in the midst of the concrete and steel.


We connected heart-to-heart and the scheduled-thirty-minute meeting stretched over an hour. She took me on a tour of the prison, and at the end, introduced me to chaplain replacing her by saying, “This is Sister Helen, and she will begin her ministry here next year.” Praise God! God’s favor was extended to me as He opened a door which no man could close. I made the announcement at church the following Sunday. I expected to be inundated with questions about joining the ministry. That didn’t happen. Over the next few weeks, just a handful of folks inquired, and a couple submitted applications. As weeks turned to months, even those who expressed interest withdrew. As our January start date drew closer, I felt discouraged by the lack of interest and enthusiasm for this ministry which I knew was close to God’s heart. I prayed about it and sought the counsel of my pastors. They spurred me on, and told me to trust God to assemble His team for the ministry. When January 27th arrived, the prison ministry team had one member – me. I could have canceled, since I had no one join with me, but the Lord had called me to this work, and I knew He wanted me to walk through that door and share the gospel. So, armed with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, I went. I felt the stands of heaven cheering me on. The church prayed for me and with the sword-of-the-Spirit in hand, I got in my car and drove to the prison. It took five tries to get through the metal detector, but I finally succeeded and passed into the steel entry doors. I followed my correction-officer-escort through numerous steel doors into the hallway area where the service would be held. I set my Bible down on the pulpit and began to pray. I prayed in the Spirit until women began filing in. I greeted as many as I could. There were indifferent stares from some, others scowled, and many others laughed and whispered with their friends ---oblivious to me. The inmate choir began warming up in the rear of the hall and the facility chaplain arrived to greet me. I sat down in the front and continued praying in the Spirit. After the inmate choir sang three songs, it was time for me to minister. The Lord had given me the message, “One encounter with Jesus,” sharing of three individuals whose lives were changed forever by crossing paths with the Savior: the woman with the issue of blood, the madman of Gadara and the woman caught in adultery. The Holy Spirit had given me a song to sing: “Mighty is the power of the cross.” The anointing fell in that hallway when the song went forth. Then, Christ increased and I decreased as the word of God went forth with power, sharper than any two-edged sword. There were many women crying as the Lord touched their hearts. I gave the altar call at the end of the service and 16 women responded, receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Hallelujah! Our Lord still saves, heals and sets captives free.


Ruby Writing Team Angela Hiskett is a child of God, a mother of four, wife to one, and teacher to many, and a writer. She teaches special education in the small town school where her children attend. Her recently published book, Our Legacy: Bringing Families together with God (Volume 1) is available from Ruby’s Reading Corner.

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: normacm@tds.net

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.

Nells Wasilewski lives in a small southern town, seventy miles southeast of Nashville, Tennessee. After retiring, she began pursuing her lifelong dream of writing. Her writing has been greatly influenced by her faith in Jesus Christ, personal, experience and nature. She has been writing poems, prose and stories all her life. Nells has recently started writing devotionals. Her work has appeared in Haiku Journal, Barefoot Review, Three Line Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, 50 Haikus, Dual Coast Magazine, High Coupe Journal, Ancient Paths, Tanka Journal, Hedgerow and Penned from the Heart. nellswasilewski.weebly.com https://nellswasilewski.blogspot.com

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 SonRiseInsights.blogspot.com.

Sarah Johnson writes, photographs and gardens from her home near the tidal marshes of the Delaware Bay. Her work is inspired by the glory of God’s creation and the nuances of light in life, from that of literal sunshine to the shadow-dispelling joy of serving her Creator. Herding three cats, two children and a husband, keeps her busy between editing flowerbeds and weeding paragraphs. She is the editor of 'Garden Cumberland', a gardener’s resource that encourages others to find their hearts in the sunshine and soil of South Jersey. https://www.facebook.com/GardenCumberland


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

Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She is a poet, essayist, journalist, playwright, and author of several books both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is also a performer and gives one-woman shows on historic figures and spoken word folklore shows as well as teaching writing and storytelling. Joan lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband, Joe. www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-LeottaAuthor-and-Story-Performer/188479350973

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 www.marilynstreats.com

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

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 kathleenmccauley1@msn.com or at http://www.threadsofspirituality.com/

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

Toni Samuels By day Toni works in corporate communications at a Fortune 500 corporation, but by night she pursues her true passion: to write for God’s purposes and to point people to Jesus Christ. She is grateful and honored to have the opportunity to begin this new chapter in her life, in which writing is not merely a profession but a ministry. In her free time Toni enjoys music, reading, traveling and beautiful beaches.


Christie Browning is a speaker and author with a passion to encourage, empower and inspire women to live as the amazing ladies God created them to be, instead of getting hung up on their pasts, mistakes, shortcomings and insecurities. Christie publishes a monthly women’s magazine read nation-wide and can be found on numerous blogs including her own at www.revisionforwomen.com. Her first book, “Kick the Clock – How to give up on managing your time,” (available on Amazon.com) brings a Biblical perspective to the everyday struggle of time management. She is a wife and stepmom with a healthy love of music, hiking and dogs.

Minister Helen Ellis, wife and mother of 4 great kids, has preached and taught in prisons in NJ and CT for more than 15 years. An avid painter, she specializes in oils, acrylics and watercolors. She and her husband Andrew live with their family in Norwich, CT.

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

Cyndie Randall

loves sifting life for good little stories to share. Being a womanpoet-therapist-wife-mother-Jesus-follower and song-maker helps that along. Visit Cyndie on her blog at https://www.cyndierandall.com

Cody Quinn Brubaker is a senior in high school. He views life through the lens of Asperger’s, a form of Autism. He lives in the city of Philadelphia with his parents and younger sister. He enjoys writing poetry and short stories. This poem is his first submission to the Ruby Magazine.

Jewell Utt has served in church leadership for over twenty years. She is the director of a local food pantry and the women’s ministry leader at her church. Her desire is to encourage women through writing, speaking and music. Jewell is a resource speaker for schools, churches, and women's events. She has been married for thirty-four years and has three grown sons. Contact her at: jewellutt@yahoo.com visit her website at: www.jewellutt.com.

Laura L. Zimmerman resides in Lancaster County, PA and is a homeschooling mom to three beautiful daughters. She is thankful for a supportive husband, who is always quick to encourage her love of singing, reading, writing or drinking coffee. Laura enjoys writing young adult and middle grade fantasy fiction and hopes to encourage children to a relationship in Christ through her work. You can find out more about Laura at her website and blog www.lauralzimmerman.com on Twitter @lauralzimm , and on Facebook


Lynn Mosher, Devotions

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

Keith Wallis, Poet-in-Residence is an English poet. He is a senior part of the leadership team of Houghton Regis Baptist church. An engineering designer by trade, he brings an eye for detail as well as faith into his poetry. As well as being ‘poet in residence’ at Ruby magazine, he is a moderator at ChristianWriters.com. His blog of ekphrasic poetry is: http://wordsculptures-keith.blogspot.com/ where you’ll also find links to his books and his other blogs. Married to Val in 1970, he has two sons and three grandsons. The eldest grandson is disabled and cannot communicate verbally. Though not an ‘academic’ (school was a disaster!) he was always fond of writing. He began submitting work for publication in the 1980’s after being encouraged by a community writer in residence.

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 http://footprintsinthemudblog.blogspot.com or email her at bethatruby@aol.com.

Nina Newton, Sr. Editor

When all of my four older children were in school, I returned to college as a “non-traditional student.” Eventually, I earned degrees in Classics and Philosophy, and a graduate degree in Medieval Studies: History of Theology. After teaching at a small community college in Michigan for seven years, my husband and I were blessed with the adoption of our two beautiful daughters, Gracie and Annie. Gracie is 15 years old and Annie is 13. They were both born in China, and we were able to travel to China two times to bring our daughters home. We live in northern Indiana in a small farming community where I work on Ruby for Women 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 www.mamaslittletreasures.com


Until next time!

Creative Life Publishing, Inc.


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