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Sacrifice of Praise by Norma C. Mezoe Interview with You’re Worth More Debra Gray-Elliott than a Penny Author of by Mary Dolan Flaherty From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose Red Letter Day by Pat Jeanne Davis

My World "As ItTurns Really is..." Upside Down by Sharon L. Patterson by Vera DeMay The Wealth of El Chimí by Shara Bueler-Repka Beach Adventure with Jesus by Paula McVay The Pulse of Prayer by Sally Ferguson

RUBY Magazine Your voice, your story SEPTEMBER, 2017

In This Issue of RUBY Quick and Easy Ideas for Back-to-School Lunches from Vintage Mama’s Cottage

Listen and Let Go by Cynthia Knisley

It seems like only yesterday that we were eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring. Now we are all getting ready to celebrate the beauty and joys of autumn! Here at RUBY magazine and community we are continuing to share encouragement and inspiration through the words of our writers and in our online community group. We would love to have you join us in the RUBY community, now on Facebook, so it is really easy for you to connect with us. Here’s the link: Hope to see you there! Let us know how we can be an encouragement to you today. We would love to hear from you! Contact us at Stop by the RUBY blog and click on the link to purchase your copy of the latest issue of RUBY Senior Editor: Nina Newton magazine at http://www, Assistant Editor: Beth Brubaker Feature Writers: Sharon L. Patterson, Norma C. Mezoe, Thea Williams, Shara Bueler-Repka, Jennifer Workman, Gloria Doty, Emmanuel O. Afolabi, Cindy Knisley, Carol Peterson, Connie Arnold, Paula McVay, Mary Dolan Flaherty, Vallerie Sharmain Smit, Pat Jeanne Davis, Katherine Corrigan, Kaylena Radcliff, Sally Ferguson, Donna B. Comeaux, Toni Samuels

Lunch Box Love Note Printables from Katherine’s Corner

The Power of Prayer by Emmanuel O. Afolabi

“A Bitter Wound” by Kaylena Radcliff

The Goodness of God by Vallerie Sharmain Smit

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

Tatters to Treasures for vintage and refashion designs and creations.

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

“Chasing Time” by Nina Newton, Sr. Editor God has given me a gift. This gift is one that I would never, in a million years, have received back in the “old days” when we hadn’t yet heard the word “internet,” or “social media,” or “Facebook,” or “Twitter.” Back then we made friends among the neighborhood kids, or at our country school, or in our little church youth group. Sometimes we might have the infrequent opportunity to travel to a far-away town (a trip to the Big City 20 miles away was a pretty big deal back in those days!) to visit extended family or friends that our parents hadn’t seen in a long time – and once in a while we would make a new friend that way. But the chances that I would ever have a true friend that lives on the other side of the country was simply not something that ever occurred to me . . . until I discovered the wide world of communication and connection through the internet. Actually, several of my writers here at RUBY have become long-distance friends over the years. Beth Brubaker and her family traveled from Pennsylvania last summer to vist us. Now that’s a true friend! But the other gift that God has placed in my life is my friend Katherine Corrigan of Katherine’s Corner. I always learn so much from her sweet, gentle spirit and her encouraging words of blessing and inspiration in my life. So the other day when I read her blog post, “Chasing Time,” I knew that it was a truth that I wanted to share with you all, the readers of RUBY magazine. I think we all find ourselves “chasing time” in our days of endless running, and doing, and hurrying, and scurrying to get everything done on our very long To Do lists.

But more and more I’m realizing that “chasing time” isn’t really getting me where I need to be going to honor God with my life. So here are Katherine’s words that truly spoke to my heart about “chasing time.” “I have been chasing time for years. I was chatting with my daughter the other day. She quietly listened to me unburden myself of the list of unaccomplished tasks on my never ending “To Do” list. While I was telling her about moving the Between the Lines, Bloggers age 50 and up support group to Facebook, I mentioned how long it had taken for me to take photos, add the pretty details, watermark, etcetera and get them loaded onto the BTL group on Facebook. She stopped me right there. She said, “Mom, watch this!” She showed me her phone, as she took a millisecond to find a pretty photo from her favorite free photo place (somewhere, I suspect she has little elves involved) added the title “lifestyle blogs” and then she loaded it onto Facebook. Time spent doing this task - less than a minute, seriously a minute! She looked at me and said, “Mom, you make so much extra work for yourself, nobody will recognize the work involved only that it has been done.” Then she said, “Mom…you are not using your time wisely”. Do you know that feeling when you are drinking from a glass filled with ice and your favorite beverage and you tip it up too far and the ice and beverage splashes onto you or down your shirt? Yes it was like that. BAM! Here’s some ice down your shirt mom, and you are welcome. So today it’s just me sharing about my experience of the ice down my shirt, and me admitting I need to work smarter not harder. I will save you the pie chart, graph or other visual aid showing how I use my time. Instead I will share these pretty daisies; our local Walmart often has bouquets of flowers for $5, and I will ask you… are you chasing time?”

Footprints in the Mud Sins vs. Virtues - Sloth by Beth Brubaker The dictionary defines sloth as a reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness. But is that what the Bible defines as sloth?

Ecclesiastes 10:18 brings that point home - literally: Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.

Yes and no.

Unwillingness to act can also mean refusal to do certain jobs for an employer. Proverbs 10-26 states Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes.

We think of sloth as a person sleeping on the job, not willing to work, or moving slowly - too slow to be truly productive. However, this is not entirely true even busy people can be slothful! It’s more than just laziness. Being slothful is not just the physical act of doing nothing. Let’s dig a little deeper and disperse some of the shadows concerning sloth. There are four separate ways to be slothful. Carelessness. There is no effort in your workplace, your family life, or your walk with God to connect with others. You wait for them to come to you instead of reaching out to others. I’ve done this more with my family than anyone else, especially after a long day when I’m tired. Oh, it’s so hard to rise to the occasion when you just want to be by yourself for a while! Proverbs 24:33-34 says it best- “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” This verse doesn’t mean not to rest at all- it means only to rest if your body or mind needs it. Don’t rest just to be resting when there are things to be done. And God says there are always things to be done! Unwillingness to act. Proverbs 20:4 says, “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.” Tasks are left to others (or no one at all) and things pile up - yet nothing is done about them. Just ask this reformed borderline hoarder - stuff never goes away on its own. Ever. And the longer you wait the more effort it takes to get it done.

It’s never a good idea to irk the boss, whether that be the Boss in heaven or the one on earth. And those dishes at home won’t wash themselves either. Getting discouraged during difficulty. This one is more spiritual and mental than physical. Trials come and go (and then come again) and during the struggle, hopelessness clouds your mind. Outside circumstances can hinder our progress. For instance, those times when you pray for financial relief, then you get a bonus in your paycheck - and the car breaks down. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel if the exit is far away or blocked! This mental slothfulness can do more damage than any other, because the mind feeds the body- and if the mind is overwhelmed, the body won’t function properly. A clouded mind feels like the weight of the universe is on our shoulders. Doing things half-heartedly. This one is tough because most of us are really busy people. Do we really do anything half-hearted? Well, when we’re too busy to read the Bible, take care of family, or even go to church regularly, then yes, even busy people can do things half-heartedly. Perhaps especially busy people. God wants us to be busy, but with His work, not ours - and He wants us to be excited about doing it! Half-hearted efforts tend to be sloppy, disorganized and take a lot more time than you realize.

Imagine doing the dishes and only washing the top of each plate in the dirty stack in the sink. You restack them, don’t dry them, and shove the stack in the cabinet. Any washing you’ve done will be a wasted effort t - and wet dirty plates will warp your cabinets! But there is more than one way to purge slothfulness from your life. One answer is diligence. The other is zeal. Diligence is a careful and persistent effort. Zeal means great energy and enthusiasm. Use both and sloth will not only take a back seat, it will move out of the house entirely because you’re making too much noise! Fight carelessness with carefulness. Make an effort to connect with family, co-workers and friends. Talk to them about God. Talk to God in prayer when you’re with them. And when you’re too tired after a long day? Tell your family you need a moment to truly rest your body and mind before focusing and reaching out to them. Fight the unwillingness to act, by acting. Finish those tasks. Make a schedule. Help others. Get that project done for the boss before he asks for it (if possible). You’d be surprised how much you can get done once you have a set of goals in front of you and a timeline in which to complete them- not to mention the good feelings you get by helping others with a smile! Fight discouragement with encouragement! Get out the Bible and read Psalm 55:22 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Isaiah 41:10 is also a great verse for encouragement. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

“Diligence is a careful and persistent effort. Zeal means great energy and enthusiasm. Use both and sloth will not only take a back seat, it will move out of the house entirely because you’re making too much noise!” Use Google to find more verses - there are way too many to list here! Find positive friends who love to encourage and call them. Invite them over or out to lunch if you’d prefer them in person. Talk with them on Facebook. Just connect with someone who will listen with a caring ear and a loving heart and let God encourage you through them. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Fight half-hearted efforts by getting excited to do the work! Like Mary Poppins said, ‘Find the fun, and every job is a game!” You need to find the excitement, the blessing, the zeal within the work, and it won’t be done half-heartedly; it can’t be done half heartedly. Don’t leave things unfinished. Take those unfinished projects and organize, plan, and knock them out, one by one. Put on some of your favorite dance music (if possible) to give your heart an upbeat boost! Sloth can be a debilitating sin for a Christian. Society revels in sloth, and encourages people to attain wealth so they can spend the rest of their lives doing nothing. But a soul without purpose is a bereft one. Let God fill you up with diligence and zeal, and put that sloth back where it belongs- in the zoo!

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

Quick and Easy Ideas for Back-to-School Lunches from Vintage Mama’s Cottage Apple Sandwiches from the Tickled Mummy Club Actually I’ve made apples with peanut butter and granola on them for my kids for a lot of years, but I never occurred to me that I could make them into little sandwiches to put in their lunch boxes. The way I always did it was just to mix up the peanut butter and granola in a little dish and spread it on apples slices. Works just fine that way, but kind of messy to try to send in a lunch box. This is definitely going to be one at the top of my school lunch ideas list!

Chicken Salad and Crackers in a Mason Jar Well, what do you know? I’ve seen little packages of chicken or tuna salad and crackers all put together nice and tidy at the grocery story, but I’m not going to pay to have someone else put stuff in containers. I didn’t know that those empty plastic fruit cups (OK so I actually will pay to have someone put stuff in little containers after all) fit perfectly on top of a small Mason jar. I have saved a few of those plastic cups and we already have a few small Mason jars, so I’m going to try this idea, too.

Mini Corn Dog Muffins from Hip 2 Save Cute! I’m thinking my girls would be delighted to find something like this in their lunch boxes this school year. They probably would even make them (so I can do something else!) and we could have them ready to pop into the lunch box in the morning.

Taco Salad in a Jar from Pocket Change Gourmet Those Mason jars are really versatile! My girls love taco salad (and chicken Caesar salad, too, which would work in a jar as well), but it always seems so messy to try to pack a salad for lunch. This way we could have all of the ingredients in the fridge, and layer it in the jar in the morning. Chips on the side so they don’t get all mushy, add a bit of sour cream and you’re good to go. On the list!

Mac ‘n Cheese Bites from My girls really do love mac ‘n cheese but sending it for lunch can be challenging. These cute little mac ‘n cheese bites, however, could be made ahead and popped in the freezer – perfect to drop into a Ziploc bag and toss into the lunch box. Now that’s my idea of lunch!

School Lunch Station from Design Improvised If we can all get a bit more organized at the beginning of the school year, it will actually be fun to come up with a few new ideas for lunches. Here’s a great way to get everything ready to go for making lunches every day – a School Lunch Station. Looks like we need to get busy organizing our kitchen pantry and designate one or two shelves just for lunch stuff! How’s your back-to-school planning coming along? Even if you are a home school family, or even if you no longer have school age kids at home, these are still really fun and pretty easy lunch ideas. We would love to hear how you plan and prepare for back-to-school at your house! All images and recipes are the property of the original bloggers. RUBY magazine does not own any of the images in this article and they are used only as part of a featured collection. To find any of the original articles, please visit the blogs which are linked to each recipe.

Memories of Elderberries Gloria Doty My mother had many and varied kinds of berries in our yard and garden: strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and mulberries, to name just a few. But she never had a domesticated elderberry bush. Perhaps that was because she didn’t particularly care for elderberries, but my dad did. He loved elderberry pie. I never asked if his mother made it when he was a child or where exactly he developed his romance with the dark purple, nearly tasteless fruit. Elderberries grow wild along the roadsides and unless you find them on a lonely gravel road, you take the chance of getting struck by passing traffic when you’re trying to harvest them. Several times a year, we would travel the 100 miles to visit my aunt and uncle and their family. The highway was only two-lane at that time and quite busy. When Mom spotted the flowery white bushes in a tangle of green vegetation along the road, she would ask my father, who was always the driver, to make note of where they were. That way, they could find them later in the summer when the fruit was ripe. Elderberries are small and the wild ones are even smaller…picture BBs in a cluster. Once they’re ripe, it’s difficult to spot them along the road. When the trip was made again, in a few months, Dad would cautiously pull off the highway, onto the berm and Mom, prepared with her scissors, would cut off the clusters and put them in plastic bags. When she got home, the tedious task of removing the tiny, finger-staining berries began. I was never allowed to help but I watched intently. Mom would reserve enough for a pie and freeze the rest for later. There was no elderberry wine, juice, jam or tea made, only the pie. I would watch as she peeled an apple and schnitzed (German word for ‘cut fine’) it and added it to the berry mixture. When I asked the reason for that, I was told that elderberries had very little taste, so they needed a bit of something sour added to them. I, a child who loved sweets, thought the pie was wonderful. Sweet, purpleblack filling bubbling up through the holes in the top crust made my mouth water. As I vividly recall these memories about a tiny berry, I'm always amazed by the time and effort my mother put into making something she didn’t even particularly like. Perhaps that was one of my first encounters of ‘what love looks like.’ She went to the trouble of doing something simply because my father enjoyed it. God does so many things for us: sunrises, sunsets, flowers, with the ultimate sacrifice of his son on the cross, simply because he loves us. Perhaps we should remember to do things for someone, even if we aren’t particularly thrilled, simply because it would bring joy to their day. My parents have both been in heaven for many years, but I never see the elderberries growing along a roadside without recalling this childhood memory.

The Magnolia Series by Gloria Doty is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner!

Trees Puzzle by Beth Brubaker Find the hidden words within the grid of letters.

Answer Keys in back of magazine

You’re Worth More than a Penny Mary Dolan Flaherty

See a penny, pick it up. And all the day you’ll have good luck.

Not worth the investment. We tell ourselves we have no value.

I saw a penny on the ground yesterday. I was too busy to pick it up. Too disinterested. It was, after all, only a penny. A dull and weathered one. Tails no less. I think the pre-requisite for pocketing stray coins must be heads only. At least if you want the good luck part.

What if I told you that you’re worth far more than a penny? In fact, you’re worth more than rubies. God’s Word says so. A wife of noble character who can find? She’s worth more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10).

I once had a boss who used to throw pennies in the trash. He considered them worthless, a waste of pocket space. One cent won’t get you too far. Penny candy costs at least five cents now.

Let’s break this down a bit. Forget the wife connotation. Not every woman who reads this has a husband. You can still be a woman of noble character without being married. In fact, I think it takes more strength to stay virtuous as an unmarried woman.

Penny for your thoughts? Social media has made it possible to share your thoughts for free. Even your opinion isn’t worth much anymore.

The Hebrew root of the word noble has many meanings: strong, capable, excellent, virtuous…and worthy.

So when I saw the penny sitting on the sidewalk, I stepped over it. I wonder how many others did the same. My guess is someone closer to the ground spotted it because it was gone the next day. I can picture the scene:

A woman like that is apparently hard to find. But when we turn to Jesus for our value instead of looking to others for affirmation that will validate our identity, we become virtuous, noble, capable, strong, excellent…and worthy. Worth more than not only a single ruby, but multiple ones.

The child’s eyes grow large and bright. A penny! His tiny hand drops from his mother’s larger one as he stops to pick it up. His mother abruptly halts when she feels her son’s grip loosen and then fall away. She turns to see her little one clutching the dirty coin, and slaps his fist. “Ew, that’s dirty!” The light in his eyes grows dim as he releases his treasure from his grip. His mother picks him up to load him in his car seat, all the while explaining about germs. Too often we are that penny.

The value of an entire mine full of gems cannot compare to the treasure God says we are. We are worth more than rubies simply because he has deemed us so. We are his workmanship, his creation. We are God’s strong, capable, virtuous, excellent and worthy women! The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” Being discarded like a dirty penny can make us feel undervalued, worthless, and discouraged. But it won’t kill us. Especially if we turn to the One who sees us as worth more than rubies. He will make us strong.

Our contributions are overlooked. Our bodies are ridiculed. Our talents go unnoticed or ignored. We’re called ugly. Stupid. Fat. Dirty. Worthless. Useless. Maybe not to our faces. Maybe not even by anyone but ourselves.

When I sat down to write this article, I noticed a penny sitting on the coffee table, right next to my computer. I pocketed it to remind me that I am worth more than a penny. A couple days later, I spotted a shiny penny in the same spot as the dirty one I’d walked past. I picked it up.

We believe that we are not loveable, lovely, or loving enough. A dirty penny.

It was heads.

Grade School Heroes by Thea Williams I was picked on as a child. It started when I befriended a runny-nosed kid named David in elementary school. The school bullies quickly pegged him as under-confident, and they ran with it. Once word got out that he was an easy target, nothing could save him. His mother signed up to be a playground monitor; they teased him behind her back. She invited the whole class to a themed birthday party for him; they ate his cake on Sunday and resumed their cruelty on Monday. My overtures of kindness to this unfortunate boy became fodder for speculation that I liked him. I went down right along with him. Joy, a minister's daughter who was aptly named, reached out and refused to join in with the others' harassment of me. She wasn't brave enough, as a second grader, to launch a campaign or anything, but she quietly made it known that she didn't share in the prevailing opinion. She was, quite simply, a Godsend. My social troubles remained throughout the elementary years. I coped by taking frequent "vacations" from school, conjuring up sore throats and nebulous symptoms which my lenient mother let me get away with. Towards the end of those lonely years, God sent Jean into my life. I later learned she stood up for me one day while I was absent and the kids decided to hold a Thea-bashing session. Jean was socially everything I was not – involved, outgoing, and most importantly, well-liked. Her voice held sway. If I didn't gain in popularity, at least the bullies began to leave me alone. In middle school (or "junior high," as it was known back in the Dark Ages when I went to school), I still struggled to be accepted. My biggest problem, I now realize, was I didn't believe in myself. I trusted that the sneerers and mockers knew what they were talking about. Also, I hadn't yet learned the liberating secret of acting as if. I didn't know that the one with the poker face wins the hand, that I could pretend to be confident, even as I was withering on the inside. As I struggled with these growing pains, God provided yet another angel, Lisa, who candidly admitted she liked me, but simply couldn't take the risk of letting it be known, lest she become the next victim. I grasped her invisible help like one in quicksand grabs hold of a life preserver. Rescue is not an option; sinking's inevitable, but there's an illusion of hope that allows the drowning person to carry on. Lisa's whispered words comforted and strengthened my flickering self-esteem. I held on for dear life. So on the eve of a new school year, I offer thanks to these dear souls. Their varying levels of courage did not in any way diminish the gift that each gave me in my darkest hours: the gift of a hand outstretched, however trembling, to one that needed to be held. "'The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.'" Numbers 6:24-26

The Goodness of God by Vallerie Sharmain Smit Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Be grateful in God for the good things of today. Every perfect and pure gift is from above. Why does a soul always long for better to come? When it's beautiful and awesome... what God has already done. Even a cup of tea made in love has meaning and value, when it's received as from above. Let the praises of my mouth fill the heavens as now I sing on how many good things, He always brings. For every little thing I will exalt His Name... Let this fountain of praise be heard in heaven and on earth! I have laid it all down and now I am resting satisfied in quiet confidence in the goodness of my God.

Hope by Connie Arnold Hope is what gets you out of bed to begin another day. Hope is what puts you on your knees, taking the time to pray. Hope is what gives you courage and strength to face what comes your way. Hope is what lets you accept God’s help when you can trust and obey. Hope is reading God’s holy Word and believing that it is true. Hope is knowing that when trials come God’s grace will see you through. Hope is recognizing God’s care and protection in everything you do. Hope is realizing you are never alone and how very much God loves you.

T-H-I-N-K by Norma C. Mezoe Our minister’s message was about the usage of words. We can build up or tear down through the words we use. Pastor Mark used the word THINK to illustrate his point. T – Is it True? H – Is it Helpful? I – Is it Inspiring? N – Is it Necessary? K – Is it Kind? Pastor Mark continued his message by saying that at some prayer meetings an expressed prayer concern may become a juicy bit of gossip. I attended one such prayer meeting years ago. A request for prayer was for a minister whose wife had left him. The concern was valid, but it turned into a long period of gossip. A well-known verse speaks of the need to watch our words: “Let the words of my mouth…be acceptable in Thy sight….” Psalm 19:14 (NASB) When we talk with others and when we meet together for prayer, let’s remember to T-H-I-N-K and to ask ourselves the questions Pastor Mark asked in his message. Prayer: Father of Truth, please help us to use our tongues for building up. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Under Construction by Norma C. Mezoe And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV) A road I travel frequently was under reconstruction for a long time. Often it seemed that the road builder was totally confused about the work that was being carried out. Finally, the construction has been completed. Now I can see that the contractor actually had a plan and the results make traveling on that road much smoother. Sometimes I have looked at things happening in my life and they seemed to be a total mess, just like the road. I knew God had a plan for my life but I couldn’t imagine how he would fit all of the jumbled pieces together. Now from the vantage point of age and the passing of years, I look back and see clearly how he has smoothed my life and helped me through the construction periods. Prayer: God, Master Planner, thank you that you know the plans for our lives. Please help us to fit into those plans. Amen.

Red Letter Day by Pat Jeanne Davis Each year that flew by, Debbie fell more deeply in love with Charlie. They’d been married twenty-three years, but never had a real honeymoon. Charlie promised Debbie they would go as soon as they could afford one. She knew her husband had good intentions. As the size of their family grew, a honeymoon seemed unlikely. Vacations were wonderful—and they had plenty of those with their four children—still, it was difficult to be romantic with toddlers under foot. Debbie never abandoned her dream of one with Charlie—just the two of them. When the twins left home for college, Debbie knew her dream could finally become reality. She collected and pored over glossy brochures, eager to plan a romantic get-away. “To think we’ve waited all this time,” Charlie said, surfing the web, looking for the ideal spot. “How does this sound? Two all-inclusive weeks at a resort. Nothing to do but soak up the sun and be together.” “I thought it would never happen,” Debbie agreed. “Let’s go right away.” “I have another idea. Why don’t we wait until our wedding anniversary?” His arms draped around her shoulders, and his eyes gazed into hers. “That’ll make it even more special.” Debbie leaned forward and kissed him. What were a few months more? She smiled as her husband drew a large red circle around October 10 on the calendar. A red-letter day. She could hardly contain her excitement. “It’ll be worth the wait.” He gave a low chuckle. “Just you see, sweetheart.” He kissed the back of her neck. “We’ll have the best honeymoon ever.” *** A week passed, Debbie was sure she couldn’t put it off any longer. When Charlie came home from work, she pulled him over to his favorite chair and made him sit. She placed her hand over his. “I need to tell you something.” Charlie sat upright. “What’s wrong?” “I’m sorry, but we may have to cancel our honeymoon.” He caressed her arm. “What is it? Are you okay? Are the kids?” Debbie nodded, then walked to the window and looked at the buds forming on the trees. “It’s nothing like that.” She took a deep breath, praying that he’d take the news well. “I don’t know how to tell you this.” Charlie jumped up from his seat. “Tell me what?”

She turned to face him. “We’re going to be parents again.” His eyes widened. “B—but you’re . . . That incredible.” Debbie choked and her pulse quickened. What if he wasn’t happy? Her worries vanished in a second. He swept her up in his arms and danced her around the room. “I’m going to be a dad again. I can hardly believe it.” Debbie gazed into his blue eyes, sparkling with tears. “Neither can I.” “Are you sure you’re not upset.” He frowned. “I know how much you’ve been looking forward to just the two of us and a real honeymoon at last.” She rested her head on his chest. “Of course not. Ever since the boys left for college, the house has been too quiet.” “I miss the noise the children made too. It’ll be wonderful with a baby in the house again.” Debbie laughed. “We’re obviously not meant to have a honeymoon.” He held her at arms’ length. “Why not?” “Well, we have a baby to get ready for.” “Not so fast.” He pulled her back into his arms. “Just yesterday I spotted another terrific spot while online.” He led her to the computer. “It’s last minute. What do you say? This might be our last chance.” Debbie reached up and placed her arms around his neck. “Why not?” “I’ll book it now.” She watched as he entered their information into the computer. Then Charlie pushed back his chair from the keyboard and drew her into his lap. “Soon we’ll be sunning ourselves at the seaside.” He brushed a soft kiss on her cheek. Debbie studied his handsome face with the irresistible laugh lines at the corner of his eyes. “As long as we’re together.” She ran her fingers through his light brown hair. “You’re really happy about the baby, aren’t you?” “You bet.” He grabbed the red pen from the desk drawer, marched over to the calendar hanging on the wall, and drew a large circle around May 30. He grinned at her. “Might as well cross out October tenth.” As he turned the calendar pages, Debbie took his arm. “You haven’t asked when the baby is due.” He rubbed his chin and a ghost of a smile swept over his face. “Not October tenth—our anniversary!” Debbie met his gaze and winked. “A red-letter day after all.”

Desires, Delays and Detours by Toni Samuels “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (ESV) Have you ever had a desire fulfilled as the result of a delay? I have. Since the beginning of the summer, I’d been longing to see a monarch butterfly. Regal, beautiful and increasingly rare, this butterfly is one of my favorite creatures. One hot afternoon while walking in the park, I lifted up a prayer that God would bring a monarch across my path before their migration to Mexico. A few weeks later, I planned a weekend trip to a lovely seaside town with two of my friends, Roxanne and Donna. We had tickets to see a Christian band perform on Saturday night, and then we’d attend church there the following Sunday.

“Maybe you should get out of the car and take the picture,” Roxanne suggested. I did, and ended up with some great photos. The morning’s delay put us in an inconvenient parking spot, but that’s where God fulfilled a special desire for me. It was a small request, but I was immensely thankful and it taught me a great lesson. The Bible has many examples of how blessings can come through delays, detours and difficulty. Ruth was blessed with a secure marriage, but only after working hard in Boaz’s fields and risking his rejection of her request. And David assumed the throne after a long wait and many years of warfare, anguish and loss. What if the God-given desire of your heart has to be birthed through a delay, a detour, an inconvenience – or even adversity? Sure,

We finished breakfast later than planned on Sunday, so by the time we arrived at the church there was no nearby parking to be found. We ended up behind the beach parking lot, a 10-minute walk from the church.

God will bless us with those desires that are aligned with His will and plan for our lives. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you,”

After an inspiring service, we had a full and lively day strolling through the town and on the boardwalk. It was after 6:00 p.m. by the time we walked back to Donna’s car and prepared to head home.

Jesus tells us (John 15:7, NKJV). But our desires may not be fulfilled in the way we expect or in the timing we hope for. Some may even spring forth from obstacles.

Roxanne and I were sitting in the car and Donna was loading the trunk when I spotted it: a majestic monarch butterfly. I frantically snapped pictures as it darted back and forth in a tree about 10 feet away.

If you’ve prayed for a desire that’s within God’s will, I encourage you to maintain an attitude of faith, openness and gratitude. And don’t be surprised if He fulfills it in an unexpected way.

It’s that season already! Parents and children shop for colorful backpacks and lunchboxes. Teens eagerly review their class schedules to see if favorite teachers are listed. College students return to dorms towing hampers, bedding, and stackable crates. I headed back to school too! At least I tried. That meant selecting a course, purchasing textbooks, and figuring out how to access the online course. And then God pulled back the reins. Here’s the backdrop of my story. A “Return to Learn” brochure from the local university had arrived in my junk mail. It got my attention, offering courses from art history and geology to economics and nutrition. It seemed like a good idea to take a class in a subject totally different from my previous studies. After all, learning is valuable at all stages of life. It makes for a more interesting person and provides a boost of confidence. It can be very satisfying to work hard on a challenging project, especially if it involves new learning. Doctors agree. Today, more than ever before, medical experts emphasize the need to use the brain in new ways for long-term cognitive health. To be sure, I want to preserve every healthy brain cell that God gave me……. and that’s why I decided to enroll in a graduate class at the local university. The late summer session equated to a full semester of work compacted into five weeks, which translated into extensive reading and online discussion, two lengthy research papers, and a twenty-minute virtual presentation. The reading and papers fit into the realm of possibility, if I committed hours each day to the work, but the presentation? I didn’t even know for sure what the directions meant, and it was worth sixty percent of the course grade! After sleeping a few hours and consulting Google “how to” sources, I decided the presentation could be a power point with voiceover. Not wanting to give up, I persisted and made a brief sample, just to try the steps listed in the video on U-Tube. It worked! Of course, it would take days to gather the information and create the slides. What about graphics, color, and music in the background? My trial run was bare bones. The younger students would surely know how to create snazzy presentations. Could I learn how to do this on my own in a few days? More questions and doubts arose. Would there be time for all this effort?

Was this the right learning project? It occurred to me that maybe God was nudging me to reconsider this particular brain challenge, but I kept trying to figure it out. Precious days passed. The professor became ill and didn’t respond to my emails, a needed form was missing in the registrar’s office; one textbook didn’t arrive on time. It seemed like I was headed for disaster. Then it became clear. I didn’t have to do this. All the obstacles finally made sense---this was not what God wanted me to do. It might have been my idea, not His. What a relief it was to realize this. I quickly composed a polite note and excused myself from the course. Isn’t it interesting to discover that our determination and unrelenting efforts to make things work may prevent us from riding the waves with God, letting Him be in control. We think we’ve made a wise choice and want to persist in overcoming all barriers. We’re proud that we’ve cultivated a good work ethic and never-give-up attitude. But sometimes God has other things in mind. Maybe what I really needed to “return to learn” was:  pay attention to God’s nudges  let go of willfulness and determination when the path becomes obstructed  rejoice in a loving Father who knows what’s best and makes it all good, no matter how hard we try to stay on our own path Carefree days followed ……. spent with friends and family, wonderful times that simply would not have been possible with the demands and deadlines of that course. I was relieved and grateful. It was okay to change directions and give up my plan. I think my brain is still healthy, and if God calls on me one day to create a power point with voiceover, I may know how to do it. The important lesson, however, is to listen and let go.

The clock here in the bathroom must be wrong. There is no way I could have bathed that long! Formed a teepee with my hair. Scrubbed myself ‘most everywhere. Turned the soap into a boat. Pushed it ‘round and made it float. But the clock here in the bathroom MUST be wrong! Yes, I’m sure the clock is very, very wrong! Though I’ve finished singing nearly every song. Piled up bubbles in my lap. Nestled down and took a nap. Sure, the water has gone cold And my wrinkly skin looks old. But the clock here in the bathroom MUST be wrong!

Kids’ Korner “Bath Time” by Carol Peterson

It says that it is getting close to eight, Which means if I don’t hurry, I’ll be late. The school bell’s in one minute. But this tub—yikes—I’m still in it! Can’t go wet or I’ll get sick. Gotta jump out and dry quick ‘Cause I don’t think Mrs. Finch’s class will wait.

Lunch Box Love Note Printables from Katherine’s Corner

Sudoku Puzzle by Beth Brubaker A big thank you to for the use of their freeware program to create this puzzle and permission to publish it!

Answer Keys in back of magazine

Autumn Apple Craft from Amanda at the Pebbles Blog Speaking of apples . . . here’s a fun autumn craft project you can do with the kids. These sweet 3D paper apples would make a perfect gift for the teacher, or to decorate your home this autumn. Visit Amanda at the Pebbles Blog for the complete tutorial for this adorable 3D Paper Apple craft.

“A Bitter Wound” by Kaylena Radcliff In 1540 John Calvin married Idelette de Bure, widow of his friend Jean Stordeur. Idelette was a woman of strength, individuality, and character, and, as Calvin described, his “best companion.” Though they shared a short nine years together, it was filled with a lifetime of joy and sorrow. In 1542 the couple lost their first child together, Jacques, at two weeks old after he was born prematurely. Over the next five years they would lose two more infants in a similar way. In a letter to a fellow minister Calvin penned, “The Lord has certainly inflicted a bitter wound in the death of our infant son. But He is Himself a father and knows what is good for his children:” a reflection that I stumbled upon shortly after my own miscarriage. It was my second pregnancy. The confirmation surprised us, but my husband and I were overjoyed by the blessing. Despite my husband’s warnings that our articulate two-year-old would spoil the surprise, I prayed for baby with my daughter every night, already imagining life as a family of four. In that short time, we began our preparations, our name brainstorming, our announcement plans. About a week later warning signs of an impending miscarriage turned my anticipation to plunging anxiety, and a resulting overnight stay at the ER confirmed my fears. I was losing the baby. No words adequately express the pervasive, keen despair I felt then, but Calvin’s descriptor of “bitter wound” comes close. Peace came quickly after the death of a believing grandparent only a month before, but this was different. Here I wrestled with questions that until that moment were mere philosophical conundrums—questions of original sin in the young and the unborn, of God’s justice and mercy, and of the meaning of election, among other things. Now that it was my reality, each question brimmed with new immediacy, colored by the grief and loneliness that too many parents know. And my uncertainty yielded no comfort.

Idelette De Bure Calvin via Pinterest I wonder if these same thoughts swirled through the minds of Calvin and Idelette as they did through mine. Though Calvin addresses infant election in his Institutes, confirming in his interpretation of John 3:36 that infants cannot be condemned since they cannot exercise willing unbelief, was his assurance challenged by his own experience? I know mine was. But just as theology does not develop in a vacuum, it is not tested in one, either. The concepts and doctrines that Calvin had devoted himself to exploring and teaching were now held to the fire, and there is no such thing as a scholastic understanding of God’s sovereignty and love in the heartrending aftermath of such a loss. In times of seemingly senseless events, we also stand at the crossroads. We have to earnestly and honestly consider if we really believe that our God is who He reveals Himself to be, trusting where our human sight fails. For Calvin’s part, he bowed his head in faith, and even in the midst of such pain and uncertainty did not lean on his own understanding (as impressively vast as it was), but acknowledged God as his Good Father who knows what is best, even when it’s not readily demonstrated in this life. Truly there will be seasons and sufferings that will challenge our fundamental beliefs, and even if we come out the other side intact, we may never in this life receive an answer that satisfies our questions. We can, however, be satisfied in what the Scriptures consistently confirm: He is our Good Father, knowing above all what is good for each of his little ones.

The Pulse of Prayer by Sally Ferguson

I curled up next to my 95-year old grandmother, as we contemplated how our lives had just been turned upside down. Her only child, my mom, had died suddenly of heart failure. My dad entered no-man’s land of mental collapse as he faced the loss of his business partner and wife of 54 years. I felt like I had not only lost one parent, but two, and Gra’ma’s home was with Mom and Dad. The ensuing months of doctor visits with Dad, hospital stays and tests brought a diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s. His ability to function was enhanced by a multitude of drugs, and his subsequent move into my home was brightened by the presence of my toddling granddaughter. In the worst of times, I saw Gra’ma and Dad rely on the Lord. That night cradled next to Gra’ma, I glimpsed a window into heaven when I heard the most intimate prayer of a child relying on her heavenly Father for her needs. In days when Dad was not able to express much else, he could respond with prayer that made more sense than a lot of the words I’ve uttered. What is it about a lifestyle of prayer that ingrains a habit so deeply in the heart and enables one to call out to God, even in the midst of the unthinkable? On my friend’s deathbed, her practice of prayer was still a priority. But it was for others, not herself. At 54, her body was ravaged by cancer, but her mind still held on to the promises of God found in Christ. As different ones visited in her hospital room, Jodie bowed her head repeatedly and lifted an earnest request for each one gathered there. Her pleas for their protection and guidance were fueled by the urgency of her own mortality.

I met with my 91-year-old writer friend, Bea, on the second week in December. By the third day of January, she was gone. Bea and I had prayed over many manuscripts and life needs, and each time I heard her pray, I knew she was talking to her Friend. Memories are sacred treasures we hold in our hearts. I walked through the deaths of four prayer warriors in a little over four years. Mom, Gra’ma, Jodie and Bea left an indescribable void. I am still observing Dad’s reverent conversations with the Lord and the miracle of his mental health being restored. Is God still there? Does God still care? Absolutely! As a young adult, I heard my pastor say, “He knows and He cares.” (Matthew 6:8) I have continued to see that truth play out in life as the Lord has walked me through suffering. Living in the shadow of death, it helped to know God worked in the lives of others who were familiar with pain, and He would be there for me, as well. I also learned hope and disappointment don’t belong in the same sentence. God is trustworthy and He will not let us down. The trauma of grief is one each one of us faces in life, yet the pulse of prayer runs through our veins with hope in the Resurrection of Christ. From foxhole to hospice care, we all return to prayer in our greatest need. Our Creator installed that default mode, so we would know how to call out to Him. Indeed, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says He has placed eternity in our hearts. The link of prayer may be more noticeable in crisis, but it is available every day of our lives.

Living, refreshing prayer, connected to the living, refreshing Water of Life. When we pray, hard times cannot crush us, because we know Who to lean on. I have not yet reached the other side of my crisis, as we continue to grapple with Dad’s health. But I am stronger for the journey. Faith in God was modeled for me and proved true as He held on to me through devastating loss. Grief has taken me down at times, and at others, subsided. On the days when grief covered me with a blanket of despair, my heart still knew to call out to God, my Safe Tower. Suffering also earns you the right to be heard. People listen, because there is respect for one who suffers. Grief hurts. But compassion for others rises out of the vulnerability felt there. What would I want others to learn from my journey with grief? Life is precious.

We have a legacy to leave to those who come behind us, and the mantle of responsibility for that heritage has been passed on to us. When loss is devastating, my heart’s desire is to let others know God is always there and He always cares. We find Him in the pulse of prayer. ********** I didn’t sign up for this – But I am here anyway. I didn’t sign up for this – But it doesn’t mean I will love any less. I didn’t sign up for this – But I will learn to trust God in the process. I didn’t sign up for this – But I will swim through the storm. I am here. I will stay. I will persevere, with God’s help. Lord, I’m leaning on You. (From my journal, August 13, 2011) Reprint Rights First printing in Becoming Women of Worth: Stories of Trauma & Triumph

My Anchor Holds by Norma C. Mezoe The tree, stripped of its leafy clothing, is all bare twigs and branches. A lone bird nest struggles to hold to its anchor as the wind blows wildly. At times I identify with that naked tree… My soul stripped down to its bare bones as another storm blows through my life. Like the bird nest, I struggle to hold to my Anchor. And I thank my God that when my strength is gone, when I cannot hold on, He will hold on to me.

First Rights – Penned From the Heart, volume 21

Seasons by Donna Comeaux “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) It’s September. A season of change. A brief moment in time when leaves turn yellow, red, orange, and brown. Some leaves won’t survive the transition from summer to fall. Millions of them will blow away while others form soft mats for tumbling children as they play in the yard. For many of us, change causes a great deal of anxiety. I hate it. I’d rather have a tooth pulled. I’m at my best when I know what to expect. I’m more secure when people and things remain in their proper place. Whether I like it or not, changes tend to stretch me in areas where I need it most, making weak spots stronger, providing patience where I had none. Weeks ago I decided to lose weight. You would think participation in over-exerted activity is the main cause of my reluctance to go to the gym. Although that’s part of it, in reality the idea of rearranging my schedule is what put me in a tailspin. But after overcoming daily bouts with my new routine, I leave the gym much happier due to an unbelievable satisfaction over my accomplishment. I remember the anxieties I experienced before our first son left for college. From his sophomore to senior years of high school, I did everything to prepare for his departure. I’d sometimes drop him off to school then go home and sulk. Told myself a million times I’d be fine. After all, we had another son at home and I had plenty of time before I would experience an empty nest. As the years crept forward, I dug deeper to adapt to the upcoming change. During our youngest son’s last year of high school, I’d cry half the day away. Sometimes I’d stand in the middle of a room and listen to the silence. Kept telling myself, “This is how it will be when he’s gone.” Many of you are going through similar transitions. Perhaps you’ve walked your child to kindergarten and tearfully waved goodbye as you asked, “Where did time go?” There are those of you who have children with special needs who have progressed far beyond your expectations, transforming to a depth of independence that frightens you, leaving you to worry if you’re still needed. Maybe you are like me ─ it’s your child’s last year of high school and you’re contemplating what you’ll do after they graduate and leave home. Some of you are saying your first goodbyes while dropping your child off for their freshmen year of college, doing your best to keep emotions under control. Change is hard Through all my difficulty of adjusting and readjusting to an empty nest, something finally occurred to me . . .

I hadn’t yet learned to appreciate the change of seasons. I spent too much time fighting it; tried too hard to ignore it. Seasonal changes aren’t a well-kept secret. In the fall, leaves dangle from tree branches in an audacious display of spectacular hues, daring the world to ignore them. In winter, cold and frigid air blasts the earth to incubate new life until the gradual awakening of spring. I’ve learned to look at my ever-changing seasons with enthusiastic anticipation. Though the patter of little feet left our home long ago, I’m constantly evolving amid the silence. My new task is to enjoy the evolution rather than fight against it. It’s freeing and refreshing to discover I can do almost anything I want, however I want, as many times as I want. I can waste my day or make each and every moment meaningful. To all who are faced with a new season, please make every effort to find joy in your freedom. Allow it to lead you anywhere you want to go. See it as brilliant beams of light gleaming through an early dawn. There you are, standing at a distance, basking in God’s warmth and unfathomable love. Close your eyes. Smile. Take it all in. Don’t waste a moment of it. Let go of all the negativity which kept you anchored to boring and unchallenged routines. Consider these verses: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19) “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable ─ if anything is excellent or praiseworthy ─ think about such things.” (Philippians 4:6-8) “God is holy. God is good and powerful. No matter what challenges you face, he will pull you through because, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise . . . .” (2 Peter 3:9) See Jesus in your storms. See the glory of the Lord in every yellow and brown and red leaf. Enthusiastically anticipate changes in your season.

"As It Really is..." by Sharon L. Patterson

I feel that I have had a fresh word from the Lord for the past few weeks to become "sharpened." My spirit's pencil point had become dull. Of course, that fresh word followed a knowing in my heart that it was time to once again seek the Lord in depth of both intense personal and intercessory prayer. July dawned with a sense of heaviness I have not experienced in a very long time. Serious world events and grim news paraded across news headlines and blared from the mouths of reporters. It was almost as if we could not catch our breath. Scandals, terrorism unmatched in my lifetime, lawless abandon of timeless principles and endless waves of displaced people crossing the sacred borders of countries other than their own from which they had cruelly been forced to flee. Then, there were the numerous phone calls and internet messages from personal friends facing incredible personal crisis that raised the level of intensity and my own anxiety.

Rising to go outside in the morning, Elisha's servant asked a familiar question we also ask when encompassed by bad news and overwhelming presence of our enemies: (Verse 15)" ...What shall we do?" I love what the Bible says next as Elisha's answer: (Verse 16) "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those that are with them."

I have to admit that my eyes and ears temporarily began to question the reality of what I perceived. Fear tried really hard to rear its head like some Goliath, taunting my faith as to what the near future would be like if all this continued. Is it any wonder that the Lord awakened my hungry heart, sent me to the prayer closet, and directed me to His Word to see, not as I was seeing, but to see as it really is? He has been faithfully restoring my spiritual eyes and ears. I decided to revisit 2 Kings 6: 8-23 to read the story of the prophet Elisha and his servant at a time when Israel was subjected to constant invasion and border raids by Syrian bands. God kept revealing the enemy plans to Elisha who then relayed them to Israel's king thus interrupting Syria's former raiding success. All attention then turned to Elisha who did not run as the Syrians surrounded him and his faithful servant in Dothan. Rising to go outside in the morning, Elisha's servant asked a familiar question we also ask when encompassed by bad news and overwhelming presence of our enemies: (Verse 15)" ...What shall we do?" I love what the Bible says next as Elisha's answer: (Verse 16) "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those that are with them." Now, what comes next ignites the stone in my slingshot against the pesky Goliath of current events taunting my faith: (Verse 17) "Then Elisha prayed and said, "O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he saw, and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." Yes, that servant saw as it really did this servant. So may you!

I am who I am

by Jennifer Workman “Love who God created you to be because you are uniquely you!”-Jennifer Workman This article is dedicated to all people who have wrestled with “identity issues.” People who have succumbed to the deceptions and lies of Satan and people that make them feel that who they are, is just not enough. For those who look to the media, look to relationships, look to money, look to material things and all the “world’s goods” searching for wholeness, when all along, true peace and satisfaction comes from God! Yes, “a peace” as the Bible so eloquently expresses “that surpasses all understanding that will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NKJV).” We will never truly understand who we are apart from God because God is the orchestrator of all things. And, it is through prayer and communication with the father and meditating on his word, is where we find the answers to who we are. For instance, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.” (Psalm 139: 13, 14, NLT). Now, as you contemplate this particular citation from scripture, does that sound like a person that doesn’t have an identity? No, of course not! That sounds like a person that is undoubtedly special and an integral part of God’s purpose and plan for the world. You are who God created you to be and that is why you should never minimize your value and significance as a person. But, as you look at yourself, tell yourself, I am who I am because “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4, NKJV). I am who I am because God created me to be on this earth and to operate as an “ambassador for Christ” (Ephesians 6:20, NLT). I am who I am because no one else can be who God has created me to be other than me and I am okay with that and have no desire to walk in “someone’s shoes.” God created all of us for a reason and if we can see ourselves the way that he sees us, then, there wouldn’t be so many “identity issues” in the world such as men wanting to be women, women wanting to be men, and people looking to celebrities lives as an example of how they should live.

Many of these people have their own issues and things are not “always the way they appear in the media.” God loves us just the way that we are! We don’t have to be taller, younger, richer, lighter, darker or anything else because all of those things are not important to God. God accepts us with our “flaws and all.” People have a falsified idea of others and no one can live up to the world’s depiction of humanity nor should they strive to do so. As a result, they will come out empty and defeated because it is an unrealistic view of life! My suggestion is to look to God! Know that God is the final authority in all things and that anything he does is not for our ultimate demise but for our ultimate good! Anytime you feel that you are receiving messages about who you are that are not in alignment with what God says about you, my suggestion is to read and study God’s word. For in it, you have all the answers to who you are and all that plagues you in life. One example in the Bible is the story of the “Samaritan woman at the well” (reference John chapter four). She obviously wrestled with identity issues and sought her value and significance in multiple relationships with men but it wasn’t until she came into the presence of the “true living water,” that she could find peace and meaning in life because Jesus was all that she truly needed. Jesus is all that you need to fill the void and ache that is in your heart. For the Bible states “Give all of your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (I Peter 5:7, NLT). Also, as you read the word of God and spend time in God’s presence, it gives you peace and confidence to know unequivocally without a “shadow of a doubt” who you are in Him. Consequently you can say with boldness and without reservation, “The Lord is my light and my salvation so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even when I am attached, I will remain confident.” (Psalm 27:1, 3, NLT).

The Power of Prayer by Emmanuel O. Afolabi “Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you: He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22 I’m such a person that worried about my children, especially about their health and success in their education. It came to the point in my life that I began to lose concentration in my job whenever any one of them was sick. Although I called upon God for intervention in prayer, still I panicked. God in His mercy gave me an antidote to my worry by letting me know that He is the giver of those children and He is able to take care of them if I would just trust Him and let it be. The Holy Spirit taught me to pray and believe that God hears my prayers, and that He would answer me if I believe. And truly God answers the prayer of faith! Since that time I have had peace in my heart about my children. To buttress this point, we are reminded in Psalm 50:15 that when we call upon Him in distress, He will answer and deliver us that His name may be glorified. Therefore, Beloved, commit yourself unto God and always be in remembrance that you are in the Potter’s Hand.

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

Sacrifice of Praise by Norma C. Mezoe My supervisor had been upset all week, stressed because of a personal problem. As a result, she had seemed to take her anger out on me. Now as I pulled into my driveway on Friday, I was thankful the work week was ended. I was driving a friend’s car because my old used car was once again in the shop. As I sat in my driveway, I reached into my purse for my door key, but it wasn’t there. Then I realized that it was inside the locked house. It was winter and snow covered the ground. Wearing high heels, I slipped and stumbled through several inches of snow to a building for my stepladder. Carrying it back, I placed it under a kitchen window. After prying off the screen, I was crawling through the window as the phone began ringing. Hurrying through, I hit my arm. Picking up the receiver while rubbing my aching arm, I tried not to cry as I received more frustrating news. Hanging up the phone, I sat at the kitchen table realizing that I had two choices. I could give in to the despair or I could praise God despite my problems. I chose the latter and my praise became a gift of sacrifice to my Lord. Eventually, the car problems were solved and tensions at work eased. God honored my sacrifice of praise. According to Hebrews 13:15, offering our praise is the fruit of our lips and God lovingly accepts our offering. God blesses when we willingly offer our praise to Him.

“Help! I’m Drowning” by Paula McVay A few years ago, my husband and I were invited to go tubing on the calm clear waters of the Muskegon River in Michigan. I was a little apprehensive about taking my three grandsons, ages four, eight and ten until I saw the shallow water that was only up to my waist. I felt especially safe when my 6’2” adult son, who had broken school records on his high school swim team, tied all of our tubes together and pushed us out into the gentle current. I loved jumping off my tube and walking against the current for great leg exercise. We were even able to rent a small raft on which to place our ice chest filled with crispy fried chicken, tangy potato salad, savory baked beans, juicy sliced tomatoes and water melon. Freshly baked chewy chocolate chip cookies topped off our yummy picnic lunch. Over the past few years, I’ve thought about how relaxing that adventure would be for a “Girls Day Out.” I called the rental place and asked if they would be there to help us off the raft at the end of the excursion since we did not have my strong son to help. The manager assured me that he and his helpers would be there. Since it was a little challenging to get off the tubes the last time, I felt a little anxious; however, all three of us ladies are good swimmers and after all, the last time I was there, the water was so shallow, clear, and gentle. I kept asking the ladies if they were sure they wanted to get on the tubes that were much bigger than the last time and the water was not clear. My friend, Jean, insisted that we had driven for over an hour to get there and we were going. Just as we got comfortable on the large tube, I leaned over to check the water depth.

Not only could I not see the bottom, I fell off the tube where the water was over my head. Since I am only 5’3” I could not reach my arms over the 12 inch tube to get back on. Knowing that I could swim over to the shore gave me comfort, but I couldn’t get my tube to go with me. Thankfully, a couple of friendly kayaker paddled us to the shore. Falling off the tube should have been my first clue that we needed to just go back to the dock. The girl who gave us our tubes did not give us any indication that the water was high and that we might need life jackets. Soon we were on our way down the river again but kept drifting into logs or branches off dead trees. Jean tried to paddle her feet a certain way so we would get back out into the middle where the best current was. Just as we rounded one branch, she fell off her tube and once again could not get back on. I broke off a cane sized limb from the tree and paddled us over to the side where Jean tried to stand on the log so she could maneuver her body back onto the tube. After two unsuccessful attempts, I said that we should pray. My other friend, Anne was hanging on for dear life as Jean struggled while I prayed aloud. God immediately answered our prayer as Jean was able to finally hoist herself on to a sturdy log and then plop down into the center of the tube. We all exclaimed “Why didn’t we pray sooner?” We surely remembered to thank Him and asked for protection on the rest of the journey down the river. After we finally got back out into the middle where the current was just right, Jean laughed as she splashed water on Anne, the only one who had not fallen in. How refreshing and relaxing to just lean back and enjoy the fresh air, drifting clouds and to feel rays of sunshine alternating with little rain drops.

Four hours later, we spotted the end of the route. As we tried to get off our tubes and get to shore, the current became faster. The man who had told us he would help us get off the tubes was way up on the shore yelling for us to get off. Just as I was paddling us over to shore with my trusty waterlogged stick, Anne jumped off her tube. Since she is an excellent swimmer, I was not in the least concerned and was preparing to get closer to shore before I jumped off, fearing that the little seat back on the tube would hit me in the head as it had in the beginning of our little trip. Suddenly Jean asked, “Where is Anne?” I looked to my left where I saw her whole body under the water with her long blonde hair floating around her head. I quickly used the stick to get over to her and was able to grab her arm and pull her up. She was choking and gasping for air between her cries of, “I have a leg cramp and can’t swim. I can’t hold on!” I assured her that I was holding her, but by this time, we had drifted by our landing. I began to pray desperately for God to send someone to help us. Jean and I had yelled help to the men on the shore to no avail. About that time, we looked up to see a fishing boat. As we called for help, the three fishermen thought we were just having a good time and started to joke with us. As we continued to yell for help, they came over and told us they would pull us back up the river to safety. I held onto the boat with one hand and Anne with the other. One of the men helped us get to shore as they lifted her l05 pound body back onto her tube. She was still shaking and crying with her leg cramp and a feeling of drowning. They “just happened” to have a fairly long rope to tie onto my tube that was hooked to the other two. They explained how they would turn the motor on and very carefully and slowly pull us back to the rental place landing. Since I was the closest to the boat, the water spraying in my face forced me to lean back so the front of my tube would not go under. Believe me, I was praying desperately for God’s protection as I visualized my legs going into the motor.

Jean was holding my tube to keep that from happening and on the other side, she was holding Anne’s tube as she spoke words of comfort. As we got close enough to get out of the tubes with the fishermen’s help, I told them that I knew they were angels sent from God. (They did not look like angels) They just laughed and expressed their concern for us and how they were so glad they could help. The manager of the rafting place did not help at all, and when we got up to the rental office, he could not even find a first aid kit to clean up the 6 inch surface wound on Anne’s leg. Since all three workers were drinking heavily, they were not taking our concerns seriously. The owner kept saying that we could take a paddle with us the next time. I assured him there would be no next time. I explained that we probably would have drowned if it were not for God’s grace and mercy to send the boat. We had not seen any boats up until that time. This was definitely a miracle! Anne was still in a semi-state of shock with shaking and crying. She told us that she knew she was dying and felt God’s hand lifting her up out of the water toward my tube. Interesting that my scripture reading for that morning was from Mark 6:47-51. The miracle of feeding the 5,000 had just happened. Jesus had gone to a mountain side to pray and had sent the disciples ahead in a boat. When the boat was in the middle of the lake, a storm came up and of course, the disciples were terrified. Seems they had already forgotten about the miracle of the feeding 5,000. They finally recognized Jesus walking on the water and as they yelled out to Him, He said, “Take courage!” It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then He did something wonderful. He got into the boat with them and the wind died. I am so thankful that Jesus “gets in the boat with us.” He calms all our fears and brings peace and protection. May we never forget His miracles!

Trees Puzzle Answer Key by Beth Brubaker Find the hidden words within the grid of letters.

Sudoku Puzzle by Beth Brubaker A big thank you to for the use of their freeware program to create this puzzle and permission to publish it!

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

The Wealth of El Chimí by Shara Bueler-Repka

“He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage” — Proverbs 11:28. I was 16 when my youth group bumped across the border into Baja California. Excitement electrified the air as we eagerly anticipated our first mission trip. A turn-of-the-century Catholic Church sat just over the United States’ line — our base camp for the next week. We unloaded our gear from the bus and threw our sleeping bags and duffels on the floor. We girls began the meticulous task of organizing curling irons, blow dryers, and makeup in the tiny bathroom. (We were 16-year-olds after all.) After settling in, it was off to practice the Bible lessons. Our group had the responsibility of teaching Bible stories to the children in the community assigned to us. Our translator coached us in speaking through an interpreter. The next morning, after last minute instructions from our interpreter and the usual warnings of “don’t wander off,” we tromped onto the bus and rumbled into the small village of El Chimí, Mexico. I stared out the window at the ramshackle dwellings that the upper 48s would have seen in an 1800s border town. The summer sun didn’t waste any time throwing its heat, and sweat blazed trails through my makeup. I was a long way from my middle-class life in California and butterflies did belly rolls in my stomach. New to this mission thing, I also worried about whether I’d make a fool of myself trying to teach through a translator (who was quite cute, I might add). The bus rattled to a halt and the doors squealed open, interrupting my thoughts. We stepped down onto the hard-packed dirt street.

Wide-eyed kids peeked around the corners of shacks and old stone buildings, staring at these white strangers who had come to their village. But, true to children in every culture, curiosity got the best of them and they slowly snuck out of their hiding places. It didn’t take long for the ice to be broken as we all gathered in the middle of the street for a lively game of kickball. After a while I took a break in the shade of an old mesquite tree and rested on a low stone wall. Pretty soon, my quiet perch was crowded with brown, barefooted little bodies, snuggling up to my side. One particular five-year-old ran to have first pick at the space next to me and claimed me as her forever-friend. Her soft brown eyes were the picture of innocence and peace. My adolescent, self-centeredness melted away as I fell in love with these kids. They even made speaking in front of a group easy. My fellow teachers and I stumbled and stammered through the learning process of speaking through an interpreter, but their innocent faces were intent on every word we said. I was also amazed at how we could communicate with them as we played. I spoke only a couple or so words of Spanish; they spoke no English. Yet, we understood each other. I began to see how the language of love crossed all borders. In fact, I realized that the inhabitants of this little village already moved and flowed in a love that could only come from God Himself. Dust kicked up again as one of the boys sent the ball sailing across our makeshift playground. Squealing and laughter echoed off adobe dwellings as the rest of the kids jumped up and chased after it.

As I waited for my turn at the ball, I glanced up and caught movement between the scattered adobes—a young woman walked toward her home. Her red blouse stood out bold against the tan and gray structures.

I arrived home a different 16-year-old. I looked around my wealth and privilege. And although thankful for the many blessings I had, I felt a strange staleness toward, and a detachment of, all things material and a sense of something more important than things.

I thought this odd she would wear red as I had been told that to wear this color was taboo in these parts. I was informed later, however, that this village was so poor, old taboos didn’t count. You wore what was given or what you could find. But something else about her struck a chord deep within me: she moved across the dusty street with such grace and poise. She didn’t walk slumped as if apologizing for her existence or where she lived. She walked proud, but not haughty: a woman who could outclass any that Hollywood had to offer. And for all the dirt and dust in that place, she should have had at least one speck of dirt on her … or a stain, or something of that sort. But she was impeccably clean, despite the shortage of water. When we were back at the border-church, I mentioned my observations to a youth leader. “Yes,” she said. “I know who you’re talking about. She invited me into her house.” She paused, thoughtfully. “Her home was also clean and organized, and I was shocked to learn that she even swept her dirt floors.” I also found out this graceful woman was the mother of my little forever-friend I’d grown so fond of. Her peace, smile, and well-being were all reflected in her daughter. The week passed way too quickly, and we said goodbye to our new friends in El Chimí.

It’s been almost 40 years since that mission trip. Since then, I’ve been invited to mansions and gawked at the gold faucets and the ornate marble sinks shaped like sea shells. I’ve had dinner in dining rooms that could house the New York Jets. And I’ve watched a diamond-draped hostess dressed in the latest of Saks Fifth Avenue, gliding across her spotless marble floors, proud of the wealth she possessed. But as I dined on the wealth of the wealthiest, I felt its emptiness. My thoughts drifted back to the quiet elegance of a mother striding across her dirt streets. I remembered the soft, peaceful brown eyes of my forever-friend, and the innocent, carefree laughter of her playmates. And I decided that of all the wealth there is to attain, I would choose the wealth of El Chimí.

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

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

September 11, 2001 We will never forget

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

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.

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

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:

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

Vallerie Sharmain Smit lives in South-Africa with her husband and daughter. She writes to inspire, encourage and build faith. Psalm 45:1 inspires her. “My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”

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

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

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

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

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

Kaylena Radcliff is the author of Torchlighters Biography: Corrie ten Boom, a frequent contributor to Christian History Institute's blog, and a freelance writer. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Tim, and daughter, Emma, and is expecting to welcome a son mid-September. You can follow her on twitter @ktherad.

Connie Arnold lives in North Carolina with her husband, Tom. They have two children and three grandchildren. In dealing with lupus, fibromyalgia and other difficulties she has trusted in the Lord and shares her inspirational poetry to offer encouragement, hope and comfort to others who are suffering. She is the author of Peaceful Moments of Love and Light devotional, A Symphony of Seasons, Abundant Comfort and Grace, Abiding Hope and Love, and Beautiful Moments of Joy and Peace, as well as three children’s books, Animal Sound Mix-up, Count 123 With Me, and Olive and the Great Flood. You can visit Connie at her website, or blog,

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.

Sally Ferguson lives in the beautiful countryside of Jamestown, NY with her husband and her dad. Her writing includes devotionals, articles, curriculum, and a coloring book, “What Will I Be When I Grow Up?” Sally loves organizing retreats and seeing relationships blossom in time away from the daily routine. Her ebook, “How to Plan a Women’s Retreat” is available on Amazon. Stop by Sally’s blog at

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

Donna B. Comeaux has been writing for the RUBY Magazine ( since 2013. In 2014, Donna wrote devotionals for Hopeful Living, a publication designed to encourage senior citizens, and for Believer Life. Her website is located at: Not only will you find other inspirational stories on her website, you will also find tips for writers, devotionals, and a few of Donna's political views as well. Donna and her husband, Glenn, have two grown sons and eight grandchildren. They reside in Oklahoma.

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

Pat Jeanne Davis writes from her home in Philadelphia, Pa. She is married and mom to two sons. Pat loves to work in her flower garden and travel. She has completed two historical inspirational novels and is represented by Leslie H. Stobbe and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She loves to hear from her readers. Please visit her at

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

Nina Newton, Sr. Editor:

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

RUBY magazine is published by CreativeLife

September 2017 ruby  

The September 2017 issue of RUBY magazine features back-to-school recipes, inspirational articles, short stories, poetry, and autumn craft i...