“Let there be Peace on Earth”
by Jill Jackson
A history of Christian hymns
Our troubled world longs for peace. We are bombarded with reports of violence in towns and homes. Our hearts are broken and we ask, “What can I do about it?” Here is just one story in the history of Christian hymns.
Often there are wonderful meetings of peace-loving people who join their hearts and prayers to understand this deep need. I praise God for them.
But what of the people who can’t attend these gatherings? All of us need encouragement and hope for peace in our troubled world. At times, the best that can happen is that each individual seeks peace in his or her troubled heart. This is what happened to an amazing woman of faith some years ago.
Songwriter Jill Jackson wrote her answer to that question in the song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” As she wrote the phrase, “Let peace begin with me,” that was her personal solution, regardless of the world situation. Those words are the theme for the entire song.
Jackson wrote her thoughts in poetic form in 1955. She had just come through severe depression and had tried to take her own life. Through months of recovery, she found a new purpose for living. It came while listening to a sermon on radio. The preacher’s text was based on John 14:27 in which Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.”
Jackson’s heart responded to the invitation to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. In her weakened condition, she said, “If I live, I will put my life completely in God’s hands. If I live, it will not be as the self-absorbed and tormented woman I have become. I will try to be a window glass through which the light can shine.”
God’s light shone in power as she wrote the words about her own desire for inner peace which she prayed would spread into the world.
The lilting melody was composed by her husband, Sy Miller, who worked for Jan-Lee Music in California.
In the 1960s, it was chosen as the theme song for UNICEF. Its popularity carried it throughout the world. All ages and nationalities joined in deeper bonds of unity each time it was performed.
We, too are filled with hope as we sing, “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” Our longing for peace is matched by our memory of God’s promise in Psalm 29:11, “The Lord will bless His people with peace.”
Lucy Adams In 1984 in Nashville, Tennessee I began to write answers for the question, “Why do people write songs?” Those stories first appeared on a radio program that I created: THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG aired on Christian radio station WWGM.
The program began as I sang six words, “I Love to Tell the Story” and said: “Hi friends, this is Lucy Adams and I tell the story behind the song.” I continued the show for five minutes with a message that answered … who, what, where and why of the hymn – plus a verse or two of the music. These programs continued to play for many years in various towns in Tennessee. Visit my blog to learn more about the stories of our favorite hymns at https://www.52hymns.com/about.htm
Visit the RUBY community for more stories about the history of Christian hymns.
“Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day”—Psalm 25:4-5.
When I was a kid, one of my jobs was to pull weeds. And, boy, did we have a lot of them! I think every species of weed God ever created lived on our place. Some of them pulled up quite easily. (I liked that kind.) Others just needed a little tug. But there were those that rose triumphantly out of their hard soil, defiantly challenging me to give it my best shot. I think they were called mustard weeds.
They hated me as much as I hated them—their pretty little yellow flowers belying what they truly were! These kept me from what I really wanted to do—ride my horse, swim in the pool, play in the stream—the good life! So, I set about devising ways to quickly unearth them from their resistant soil.
My first introduction to this ominous task was a comical one indeed. I grabbed a hold of the top of the weed and pulled with everything I had, putting my whole body weight into it (which wasn’t much at eight-years-old). Suddenly the little flowers, stems and all, gave way and rifted through my fingers like a slick rope, sending me sprawling on my backside. Flopped on my fanny in the dirt, I opened my hand. Yellow petal remnants and green stems were all I had to show for my labor.
Undaunted, I figured I’d get a little smarter. I know what I’ll do. I’ll grab a little closer to the root! The process repeated itself, only with more grunting and growling. This particular process, however, yielded less “fruit” than the previous one—the stems and flowers didn’t even come off.
Desperate now, I chose the next trick up my sleeve (albeit a devious one). I’ll just whack off the top of that thing with a hoe—close enough to the ground so you can barely see it. (OK, well, then kick dirt over the top to really cover it). I quickly found out, however, there could be another type of pain in my backside if I didn’t cease and desist this practice. (Yeah, my dad’s pretty smart!)
Stumped as to a resolution and mad on top of that, I stormed to my dad (really it was more like whining to my dad) and explained how those stupid weeds could NOT be pulled out! My dad (God love him) probably chuckled inside, but he never let it show. He knew exactly how to get those weeds out. In fact, it was so simple and easy it took no time at all. The solution?
Water. We soaked the ground around the root and, little by little, the water saturated the dirt. I then grabbed the weed by the base and pulled it up and out with relative ease.
As I thought about my childhood weed escapades, I reflected on my life and the decisions I had made regarding the “weeds of life.” Oh, how I wish I would have asked the Lord His opinion in my situations—His wisdom—instead of running off with my own brilliant conclusions. Many times I whacked off the top of the problem, but didn’t get to the root of what caused it. And, of course in time, the issue (head of the weed) came up again because the root was still there. (Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 48:17; Hebrews 10:19-23)
As I contemplated the water solution to those mustard weeds, I remembered the verse in Ephesians 5 where God says He “cleanses us with the washing of water by the Word.” As I read the Bible and allow His words to saturate my soul, I’m finding that the hard places in my heart are being softened. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
I’ve also discovered the reason I wanted to make my own decisions—I had a trust issue. This issue was the head of the “weed.” And the root of that weed? Fear.
I finally understood 1 John 4:18 and “perfect love casts out fear.” I’m learning the more I focus on my relationship with Him (reading His Word, letting His Spirit guide my thoughts, talking to Him and asking Him questions, etc.), the more my trust in Him builds. That trust is developing into love for Him and a revelation of His perfect love—His unconditional love. (Proverbs 3:5-6; Lamentations 3:24-25)
Day by day, I’m letting my opinion get lost in His. Contrary roots are disappearing, setting me free, and bringing His amazing peace—the good life. (Galatians 5:1)
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: www.ponyexpressministry.com and her blog: www.trail-tails.blogspot.com, or come for a visit on Facebook.
Mother’s Day is the perfect time to treat mom. And my favorite meal is brunch! But that doesn’t have to mean heading to a restaurant. Fill your home buffet table with a variety and foods that can stand up to the heat of a chafing dish.
Remember to feed the eye first by arranging the food attractively on platters set at different heights, alternating colors and garnishing. Your guests will think you had the party catered! Offer fruit juices, hot and cold beverages, milk for the kiddies, a coffee or tea bar and you’ve got it made. Try these easy recipes at home.
Gluten-Free, Nut-free Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream from Jackie at C.A.F.E.
from Barbara at The Spruce
from Marilyn at Marilyn’s Treats
from Barbara at The Spruce
from Marilyn at Marilyn’s Treats
from Marilyn at Marilyn’s Treats
Visit Marilyn’s Treats for more seasonal and holiday recipes
RUBY magazine and Marilyn’s Treats do not claim ownership of any recipe or image in this collection unless specifically indicated.
Click on the links to be taken to the published recipe.
She felt invisible. No-one welcomed her, or talked to her, or even glanced in her direction. It wasn’t that she expected them to acknowledge her; she knew her place- standing at the back of the crowd, on the outside, looking in. She hated it, but she was resigned to it; it had been twelve long years since life had been different.
Twelve years of sickness and suffering, of doctors and medicines, of hopes raised and dashed. Twelve years of being excluded and avoided and branded “unclean.” Twelve years of wishing and praying, and hoping for a cure that would bring an end to her isolation. Twelve years of disappointment.
And yet she wasn’t quite ready to relinquish hope, because she knew that right there, in the centre of the crowd, was Jesus.
She had heard stories of the amazing miracles he had done: turning water into wine at a wedding, healing leprosy, curing blindness, enabling a paralysed man to walk for the first time ever. Surely if anyone could help her, it was him.
If only she could figure out how to get through the crowd to approach him. The thought terrified her. Surely someone would notice and send her back where she belonged.
Even if she did get to Jesus, what would she say to him anyway? Why should he help her? And what if it didn’t work? She had literally tried everything else – there was no other hope.
She was distracted from her thoughts as the crowd suddenly parted and stood aside. A man made his way through to approach Jesus. He made it look easy.
Well, it was easy for him. She recognized him. He was the leader of the local synagogue. Of course Jesus would have time for him.
She could see that something was badly wrong though. The anguish was written all over his face as, close to tears, he fell to the ground before Jesus and pleaded with him: “Please come and help. My daughter is dying.”
Jesus’ concern and compassion was evident as he helped the synagogue leader to his feet and set off with him, reassuring him that he would come to help. It was an expression of such love and tenderness that her mind was made up.
She had to do this – there was nothing to lose. She had to find a way.
She knew there was no way she could walk up to Jesus like that – she wasn’t important enough – but she knew he was powerful – really powerful. Maybe just getting close enough to touch his robe would be enough.
She hurried along to catch up with Jesus as he strode through the town. Running along by the side of the crowd she overtook them all, until at last she was in line with Jesus.
It was now or never.
Before she could lose courage, she made her way through the people surrounding Jesus, she timidly reached out her hand, and she touched him…
And everything changed. It came over her instantly- a feeling that she had almost forgotten. The bleeding that had plagued her for so many years had stopped and she was well! She could hardly believe it! She was clean at last!
But something was wrong. Jesus had stopped. He turned to the crowd. “Who touched my robe?”
At first she thought she might get away with it. One of his disciples tried to persuade him that someone had just brushed against him by accident. It was perfectly possible with the huge crowd pushing and trying to get close. But Jesus waited- he knew that it had been deliberate.
Now she wished she was invisible. She tried to blend into the crowd. What if Jesus was angry that she had touched him? What would the people say? She could feel herself shaking with fear.
Her heart was pounding and it felt like every eye was upon her as she finally stepped to the front of the crowd and fell, trembling, at Jesus’ feet. The words came out in barely a whisper:
“I touched you. I wanted you to heal me.”
She stared at the ground as she waited for his response. She had no idea what to expect. But then gentle hands lifted her head and as she looked into his eyes, she could see only kindness. He smiled at her.
“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
And as instantly as the sickness had left her, the shame departed. No longer an outcast at the back of the crowd, but someone loved and valued by Jesus. No longer “unclean” but “daughter”.
Thanking him, she rose to her feet and she went, in peace.
(based on Luke 8:40-48)
Lesley Crawford – I live in Scotland and work doing youth work with a Christian charity. In my spare time I enjoy music, theatre, reading and writing. Since August 2015, I have been blogging at http://lifeinthespaciousplace.wordpress.com/ and I write to encourage people that, whatever their circumstances, there is always hope to be found in God.
I don’t have a lot of patience. I don’t wait well, and I don’t endure gracefully. I hear the words, “I don’t have patience for this!” come out of my mouth more times a day than I’d like.
Usually, a string of words that are not fit for this holy magazine follow. Guilt and her twin Shame are quick to rescue me, and Grace is pushed aside, useless in her comfort. I’d rather wallow in my self-pity.
I’m not worthy. I messed up again. Why don’t I have any patience? Why don’t you help me, God?
Also known as forbearance, or patient endurance, this is the fourth fruit of the spirit. Perhaps these fruits are listed in no particular order…or maybe they are.
I believe they’re connected. I have no Biblical evidence or documented research to back my theory. It’s just what I think. Don’t take my word. Test it for yourself. But here’s why I believe this:
If I’m lacking patience, another fruit is most likely missing.
Recently, my brand new coffeemaker decided to blow up pods, and I threw a hissy fit. The problem was I had company. Granted, it was family. Thank God. My mother laughed when she heard the string of profanity that followed and said I sounded just like my sister.
But I’m supposed to be the Christian—the one who sets the example for Christ-like behavior. And I messed up.
My husband came to my rescue and patiently (yes, I did use that word—he has what I lack) attempted to fix it. But it kept happening and each time it did, my anger grew. Everyone said they could live without coffee. It was a trivial thing, really. But it threw me.
Because I was exhausted. Because in my mind, I’d already failed at something earlier in the day, and I felt I failed again. Because everything in me has been off lately, and little things have been getting to me.
The joy I usually have has been missing, and I’m not sure where I left it. Peace like a river that I once experienced is attendeth-ing someone else’s way, making it well with their soul, while mine is struggling to understand just what’s going on. Sorrows like sea billows are rolling (although I’m not quite sure what sea billows are).
The thing about fruit is that you usually don’t see just one apple on a tree, one cluster of grapes on a vine, one berry on a bush. If you do…well, it’s probably not a healthy source of fruit.
If joy and peace are not active and low-hanging fruit, patience will be hard to attain. See, they’re all connected.
But there’s one fruit that comes before them and is the foundation for all other fruit.
And I still have that. I may not act very loving right now, but I desperately cling to the love God offers me, knowing that even when I reject His offer of peace, joy, and patience, even when sorrows like sea billows are rolling through my life…it is still well with my soul. Love never ends, and is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:8 & 4).
He’s a very patient God. I wish I were as patient with myself as He is with me. But as I live by the Spirit, I do my best to keep in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25).
I do my best. The desires of the flesh are constantly at war with the desires of the Spirit, and the flesh too often wins. I can allow guilt and shame to move in with me, or I can accept the grace God offers and move on.
I cannot exhibit patience unless I accept the love of God that is patient with me. And so, I will wait. I will patiently endure the dark night of the soul, knowing that God’s got this.
And I thank Him that the fruit of the Spirit never dries up—it’s always there, ripe and fresh. Kind of like God’s mercies—new every morning. Patient, loving, and kind.
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.
I sat up in bed, still startled from what I had just experienced. For a moment, I questioned where I was until I looked to see my husband sleeping soundly bedside me. Was that a dream I just had? It seemed so much more. It was SO REAL! As my husband stirred from sleep I felt compelled to share the dream with him.
“Honey, this is going to sound really strange to you, but I feel like I have just spent time with Mother.”
His quizzical look prompted an immediate response, “I know-it’s impossible.” Mother had passed away a few years earlier.
“What makes you say that?” my husband queried back as he got out of bed to get ready for work.
“Well, to begin with, I can describe the atmosphere of the room we were in. I can still see and smell the flood of sunshine coming through the large open window. It felt like a cool spring morning. I was conscious of the freshness of it.”
“What do you mean you could smell the sunshine?”
“When I was a girl, Mother and I would hang clothes on the line. When they were dry, and we brought them inside, you could smell the sunshine. That is how the room smelled.”
Before he thought me completely daffy, I continued: “There were silk organza ruffled curtains on that window – mother’s favorite. She and I were sitting at the kitchen table. You know, the dinette like the one she and dad had forever.”
“What did you talk about?”
“Mother apologized to me.”
“For all the things she did that she knew hurt me during the years when she was drinking.”
There had been no time for us to talk about much of anything as mother’s death at forty-four was quite sudden and unexpected. She had an acute epileptic seizure and was gone in an instant. I was at school when I got the call. I remember thinking, “I didn’t even get to tell her good-bye.”
But today, somewhere between heaven and earth, Mother and I met at the kitchen table. We had time to talk about things in both our hearts.
I don’t know what exactly happened, but I know that the conversation led to a great healing in my soul that is just as real at the smell of fresh sunshine that flooded that room.
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. You can read more of Sharon’s inspirational articles in the April 2017 issue of RUBY magazine.
Kate pulled her long, brown hair into a ponytail and looked out on the yard of her new home where robins hopped about, snatching up a meal. The sun shone brightly, announcing the approach of spring. Finally! She visualized a row of multi-colored flowers bordering her driveway.
She squelched a sigh. Had she made the right decision to move so far away from family and friends? At the time, a new position seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. A change had been long overdue, Kate reasoned. And not having a special someone in her life provided further cause to accept the offer. Still, the cold winter had lasted far too long, and she missed the familiar faces back home.
Kate stepped away from the window. With a full schedule next week, Saturday was the only time she had to return to Freddy’s Garden Center. Perhaps the promised shipment of flowers had arrived. She grabbed her car keys.
When Kate entered the nursery, she spotted a figure working at a metal counter surrounded by plants and pots. As she approached, he turned and fixed his blue eyes on her for what seemed like minutes.
“Back so soon?” he asked, grinning.
“You’re the one I saw two weeks ago.”
He rubbed his chin. “You came back just to see me.”
Kate flashed a smile. “Can you help me choose flowers for my yard?”
He laughed, revealing straight white teeth. “I’m your man.” He slapped his palms together to dislodge the dirt. “The name’s Fred.”
She took his big hand in hers, intrigued by his friendly manner. “Kate.”
“Let’s see. You told me you’d moved here recently and wanted flowers that bloomed a long time and didn’t need much care.”
Fred gestured for her to follow him. “That’s my job,” he said over his shoulder. “Another supply came in yesterday. You’re in luck.”
They moved down rows of wooden tables overflowing with tulips and daffodils. Kate felt like a schoolgirl on a field trip as she half-ran to keep up, then nearly crashed into him when he stopped and turned around.
“I moved here two years ago to be closer to my eleven-year-old son and opened this garden center last spring,” he said.
Surprised by Fred’s revelation, Kate’s eyes drifted to the bare space on his ring finger. Why hadn’t she done more with her hair and put on a little makeup before coming out this morning? She met his gaze. “It sounds like you’ve been transplanted like these flowers.”
A ghost of a smile crept over his face. “Like yourself.”
Kate nodded. “Came here six months ago after accepting a new position.”
Hyacinths scattered blue, purple, and pink around her. She drew in the sweet fragrance and listened to chimes swaying in a warm breeze.
Fred selected a tray of flowers with little faces. His hand caressed the petals as if they were friends. “Pansies provide a variety of colors that last for months.” He moved to the next table. “The lush blooms on these begonias are hardy as well.”
“I’ll take both.”
He picked up a large white bag. “You’ll need potting soil. I’ll get my son to take these to check-out and to your car. That’s him over there.” Fred motioned for his son.
“Well, what do you know,” Kate said as the boy approached. “Billy is in my class!”
Billy’s eyes widened in recognition. “Miss Haley!”
Fred wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “I finally get to meet the Miss Haley.”
Billy kicked a stone with the toe of his shoe. A sheepish grin spread across his face.
Kate scrambled for something to say to break the awkward silence. “Lucky you, working here with your Dad.”
He looked at his father before taking the flowers and bag. “Yep, I know.”
Fred tousled his son’s blond hair. “I’m the lucky one.”
After Billy left, Fred turned to Kate, pulling his baseball cap forward over his dark, curly hair. “He wasn’t exaggerating when he said you’re pretty.”
Kate managed a smile and lowered her head, feeling her cheeks grow warm.
“And he’s always going on about how you make science come alive.”
“Happy to hear that.” She laughed. “I wish I had that much success with plants.” Or with men.
Fred laughed too. “You’ll need these.” As he handed her a trowel and gardening gloves, their hands touched. Did he feel the same attraction?
Fred shifted his feet. “Take this slip up front and tell them I said to give you a gardening book.” He cleared his throat before speaking again. “If you need any further help, I’m your man.”
“Thanks.” Of course he was her man. Kate recalled her first trip here. Fred answered every question, even the ones she quickly thought up just so she could look into those captivating blue eyes while he answered.
He started walking toward another customer.
“I want to put in some other things,” Kate called after him.
He headed back to where she stood. Her pulse quickened.
“What do you have in mind?”
Kate shrugged. “I need some suggestions.”
“Maybe some shrubs,” he said. “If you like, I could stop by next Saturday, take a look at your yard and give you a few ideas.”
“Sounds good. I’ll keep an eye out.” Kate’s casual tone masked the excitement within. Her heart surged with the wonder of spring and the prospect of a fresh start.
“Write your address here. If you have no one to put them in, just remember, I’m your man. And don’t worry about not having a green thumb.” He winked. “I’ll teach you what you need to know.”
Kate craned her neck to keep him in view as he walked off. Fred glanced back and their eyes met, leaving her with a promise of good things to come.
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 www.patjeannedavis.com
There are days, I know we all have them, in a brief moment of silence, when we wonder if we are doing everything that God intends for us. Especially as women, we often find ourselves busy, busy, busy with daily tasks that frequently seem endless. Which of course, they are. Because no matter how many times you fix supper, you will have to do it all over again tomorrow. And laundry. You can do a thousand loads of laundry, and tomorrow there will be MORE laundry.
If you are a mom of any age, if you still have children at home, there is a never-ending round of activities that require your attention. Some days I just feel like I’m running in circles, and nothing I am doing, nothing in which I am investing my time and energy, will last. Everything will have to be done all over again tomorrow.
That is when I find myself, in those all-too-seldom moments of quiet . . . sometimes in the silence, I stop and think about all of that. And I’ll be honest, some days I get discouraged, wondering if anything I am doing is making any difference in the world. If you are honest, you will admit that you feel that way on occasion, too.
One day recently I was asking God to give me just a bit of guidance, just so I would have a greater sense of confidence that I am actually hearing Him correctly, and this daily round of running to dentist appointments, piano lessons, volleyball practice, orthodontist appointments, choir concerts, and youth group meetings matters to anyone.
When I finally landed back home, and the girls were quietly doing other stuff (besides fighting like sisters often do!), I sat down at my desk to work on the RUBY magazine – and again I asked God to give me a clue. Does anything that I am doing with my life make any difference at all, to anyone? Or is all of this activity just keeping me distracted from something else, something bigger, something more important?
That’s when I suddenly realized, as I was reading through some of the submissions for this issue of RUBY magazine, that MY writers – yes, MY writers – some of YOU who share your heart and love for the Lord with all of us who read your words – YOU are my ministry. Especially when I read the words of new writers who are timid and afraid to put their precious ideas and thoughts down in black and white and send them off to someone (me!) that they don’t even know – and they trust me to treat their voice and their words with respect.
I have been so encouraged, and truly blessed, by the writing that is submitted each month for our little magazine. And I am so grateful and honored that God has given me the gift of your friendship. I have learned so much from MY writers, and I am so excited to look to the future with all of the opportunities that God will give us, together, to share His words of blessing, inspiration, and encouragement with the world.
So if you ever wonder what you are doing, if God is using you, or if anything you are doing every day is making a difference in the world – know you are not alone, and remember that He has given you a story, and words of encouragement, so that you can share them with the world. We make a pretty good team, I think!
If you are looking for new recipe ideas, the very best place in all of blogland is Marilyn’s Treats! Every week Marilyn shares new recipes that are perfect for families at the holidays, birthdays, every special day you can think of, and just for every day. Here is a collection of special Easter recipes from Marilyn’s Treats – visit Marilyn soon and you’ll find something perfect for your next family meal.
from Cathy at
This beautiful spring candy is easy to make and it just looks like SPRING! It is made from melted white / pastel colored chocolate, covered with pastel colored sprinkles and M&Ms. Visit Cathy at Three Kids and a Fish for more fun springtime recipes.
Sweet Little “Bunny Butt” Cookies
So adorable and so simple to make, these little “Bunny Butt” cookies are sure to delight all of the kids in the family! Everyone can join the fun of making these cuties, using Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookies and a can of fluffy white frosting. Add a few marshmallows and candy sprinkles, and there you have a batch of sweet little “Bunny Butt” cookies.
from Gina at Kleinworth & Co.
Here’s another quick and easy, but oh-so-pretty treat for your family’s Easter celebration. Made with just four simple ingredients, you can make a batch of these sweet White Chocolate Bunny Fudge quick as a . . . bunny! Visit Gina at Kleinworth & Co. for more fun, seasonal, and holiday recipes.
RUBY magazine and Marilyn’s Treats do not claim ownership of any recipe or image in this collection unless specifically indicated. Click on the links to be taken to the published recipe.
Visit Marilyn’s Treats for links to all the other recipes in this collection.
“’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness…” 1 Peter 2:24 NIV
The truth is I miss the Easters of the past when my kids were small. It was always so much fun to pick out cute church clothes that coordinated with each other. We dyed eggs in bright colors, made special crafts, and hid Easter eggs in the yard probably a million times. I bet there are still some eggs hidden out there to this day.
I always loved picking out special items to put in their baskets to open on Easter morning, taking extra care to find their favorite candy (actually, I still give them goody baskets). We had so much fun sharing those special times together while we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.
As the kids have grown into teenagers, you can imagine that some of their excitement over dying eggs and our other Easter traditions has dwindled. They no longer have an interest in posing for sweet nature pictures or decorating bunny shaped cookies with sprinkles.
At times, I must admit I have found myself feeling sorry for myself and a little down because the holiday just isn’t the same anymore.
But then God touched my heart with words I heard as loud and clear as though they were spoken directly into my ear.
“Just because your circumstances have changed, that doesn’t alter what I did for you on the cross.”
Immediately, I was ashamed and humbled for my attitude toward Easter. I knew the Lord was right. Easter is meant to be a time of celebration, joy, and gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, His resurrection, and ascension to Heaven. All of this for me, an underserving sinner.
My heart was focused on the wrong things. There was nothing flawed with the traditions and activities my kids and I enjoyed together in the past.
But when I longed for those things more than I longed for my Savior, when I placed those things in higher esteem than I did the honor and praise He deserved, then they became a problem.
I was too fixated on the memories of the past and what I perceived I had lost with my children forever. However, I needed to focus my heart on the most important memory of the past, the cross, and what I had gained forevermore, eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, my Savior.
How could I feel anything but joy this Easter holiday? The different seasons of my life will come and go. There will be an abundance of memories made, wonderful traditions initiated, and even some traditions that will be dissolved.
Our family will share many new experiences together and will forever be knitted with a bond of love and loyalty. And surely, many things will change along our journey together which will cause me to have to adapt even more.
But inevitably, the Lord will help guide me through, just as He did this Easter. He has taught me that even though my world changes, He is still the same God He says He is and is faithful to His promises. No matter what I face, nothing can alter the cross and what Jesus did for me.
That, no doubt, is reason enough for my heart to bubble over with great, jubilant joy!
Alisha Ritchie writes from North Carolina where she enjoys spending time with her husband, Brandon, of almost twenty years, and two busy but wonderful teenagers, Zack and Abby. She is a Physical Therapy Assistant by profession but in recent years has also become a multi-published author of devotions and inspirational stories to inspire others in their walk with God. You can read more of her writing at www.seekhimdaily.wordpress.com
by Alisha Ritchie
Snuggling… Relaxing… Cherishing time together…
There’s nothing quite like cuddling up under fluffy blankets with your children and enjoying a good book together. This time represents warmth of home and relationships- a closeness and bond between parent and child that cannot be replaced.
God beckons you as His child, “Come, and sit down. Spend time with me in a safe haven of shelter and rest. Let’s share our hearts together and know each other better. Let my love warm you and my voice assure you, you are loved.”
Cozy up with Snuggle Sessions with God to help you abide in the Lord’s peaceful presence in today’s hectic world. These fifty-two devotions will inspire you to look for Him, busy at work, in the everyday activities of life. Your faith will be renewed and your spirit refreshed, as you become increasingly aware of the Lord’s continual presence in every aspect of your life.
Envy is defined as ‘a feeling of discontent and ill will because of another person’s advantages or possessions; a resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires.’
Let’s face it – we’ve all felt envy at one time or another. Joseph’s brothers were so envious of God’s preference and Joseph’s specially made cloak, they sold him to slavers- not exactly the warm-fuzzy family feelings we should have for siblings.
We envy neighbors for their new car, new baby on the way, or that others have more money/influence/things than we do. Envy is definitely not hard to muster if we keep our eyes on everyone else’s prize.
God listed seven deadly sins – and Envy is a biggie on that list.
‘Thou shall not covet’ is in the Ten Commandments, so you know God means business when it comes to not wanting other peoples’ stuff. But what do you do to fight being envious of others?
You love others. Be kind to others. It also helps to get perspective and really look at those we envy. Why are you envying them?
Are you envying their things? Things get old and break. Things are temporary. Fight this urge by looking at all of the good things you have- and can share with others.
Are you envying their money? Money doesn’t mean happiness and spends way too fast to be completely enjoyed. The best way to fight this is to come up with a budget that allows you to splurge once in a while.
You can also budget to get gifts for family and friends, or to save for something special for you and your loved ones. God doesn’t want us to hoard money for its own sake – it’s not like we can take it with us when He calls us home!
Are you envying relationships? Look into your heart to see why you feel that way. God isn’t done molding us yet and that soul mate or bestie might just be around the corner – He’s just waiting for you to get through the road blocks.
A great way to start fighting this is to strike up a conversation with the one you envy, asking about them instead of talking about yourself. Eventually you’ll see why they are a relationship magnet, and you’ll either learn from them or realize you’re not the same type he/she is.
And that’s okay!
Believe me, this is one issue I’m an expert on – It took me a long time to stop envying my husband for his vast amounts of friends. He’s an extrovert and I’m an introvert. There was no way I was ever going to be the magnet he is. The circle of friends I have is a small, but a good one. Once I realized this, it was a whole lot easier to stop envying him and cherish the friends I have!
Are you envying the attention they get? This is another heart issue that you need to talk about with God. You might not be ready for all that attention and need a little more tempering or training. Ask me how I know.
Being in the limelight might seem glorious, but when you’re up there, seeing an ocean of faces looking back at you, it can be an entirely different story!
Fight this by earning that attention – whether you want to be a speaker, a writer, or a good storyteller in social situations – by learning the skills needed for the attention that you want.
The person you’re envying might be years ahead of you and look like they’re a natural, but trust me; it’s a very rare talent that is considered ‘natural’!
The one you envy probably worked very hard to get to that point, and all you’re seeing now is the polished version of their efforts.
Envy can destroy what God wants for you, because you’re too busy trying to be in someone else’s shoes. If you’ve ever gone to the thrift store and tried on shoes, you know what I’m talking about – the fit isn’t always good because that shoe molded to someone else’s foot.
God wants you to put on the new shoes He made for you, not someone’s cast-offs. The shoes He made for you are perfectly suited just to you, and there you are, trying on thrift store shoes!
Don’t envy your neighbor. They might have that new car, but the rest of their life could be a mess. Instead of envying them, get to know them, and introduce them to God. That, my dear readers, is the best way to fight off envy!
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 magazine! You can read Beth’s posts on her blog Footprints in the Mud at http://footprintsinthemudblog.blogspot.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The April 2017 issue of RUBY magazine is our special EASTER edition! Filled with inspirational articles, short stories, poems, book reviews, and recipes that celebrate spring and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, you and your family will be blessed by all of the great resources in this issue of RUBY magazine.
My neighbor’s dog was deaf and blind. She started out with hearing and vision, but age took its toll on this “short person in a fur coat.”
We knew this beige, wide-eyed shih tzu for 13 years. Her name was Dusty Miller, and she comforted everyone in our family at one time or another. When my father lay weak and helpless on what would become his death bed, Dusty curled up at his feet. When my sons had a bad day at school, they went down the street and scooped up Dusty.
In her later years, Dusty found the most enjoyment from being in familiar surroundings because she was minus two of her senses. We carried her up and down stairs and guided her in safe directions when walking.
One night towards the end of her life, I took Dusty out to “do her business” so her “mommy,” Anita, could do some business of her own. As usual, I steered her around obstacles and out of harm’s way, nudging her onto grassy surfaces so she could do her thing. I watched with great interest as Dusty circled and sniffed and even poked her whole face into the earth beneath her.
She was compensating for what she didn’t have, calling on her senses of touch and smell to make up for that which she lacked.
Like Dusty, I’m playing hurt at the moment. Breathing trouble secondary to a bad case of flu sent me to the hospital yesterday in the wee hours of the morning. Technology problems have me in a tizzy, spending many hours and dollars on computer snafus which an end user like me just doesn’t cotton to. In short, life on life’s terms isn’t pleasing me right now.
What’s a girl to do? Here I am, trying to serve the Lord with my writing talents, and I’m running into stop signs. But we don’t sit at stop signs endlessly, do we? We pause, evaluate our surroundings, and use our best judgment to move ahead when an appropriate amount of time has passed.
That’s just what God’s been guiding me to do. He’s assuring me He’s in control, despite appearances to the contrary. He’s instructing me to move forward in any direction that’s not blocked, making headway wherever possible. This article is the first step in that direction.
Like Dusty, I’m figuring out how to work around my deficiencies, and not let them render me senseless.
“If there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.”
2 Corinthians 8:12
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 www.reflectionsbythea.blogspot.com By day, Thea educates and prays for young minds at a local school district. Contact Thea at https://www.facebook.com/thea.williams.16 or https://www.youtube.com/user/theabwilliams.
Have you ever waited??
For someone . . . for something . . . for the next step . . . for healing . . .for breakthroughs and miracles . . for life to happen? I think at least once in our life, we all experience a season of waiting; I know I have.
At times, my season of waiting reminded me of the winters in Minnesota – perpetual and in sub-zero temperatures! Still, I was constantly finding pockets of warm relief and burning hope in Jesus and it kept me going.
Until not too long ago when I hit a frozen wall and felt the chill right down to my bones…
I still don’t quite know what happened but suddenly I felt encumbered by the weight of waiting. I felt snowed in and all at once, my season of waiting simply became too excruciating.
And the disquiet began; the 3am restlessness in bed that allowed panic and anxiety to arrest me, as I grappled with the unknown.
The fear that would only subside when sadness stopped by to lull me back to sleep.
The constant need to put on my “game face” so I wouldn’t inconveniently break down in random places or worse still, let people see my fragile interior.
Because that was my true state – I was fragile. I was struggling. Plain and simple. I believed God had forgotten me and His Word that promised me that “He will never leave me nor forsake me” threatened to become a mere theory.
My head grasped His Words but my heart resisted it – because my reality did not reflect it.
I began to allow my fear of the unknown and the uncertainty, which accompanies a season of waiting, to push God’s Word back into that tomb.
Only He could resurrect it again in my heart.
Then one day during my draught, when the usual silence deafened my ear, I heard something that felt like a punch in my gut. I had just come home and as I turned the key into my door, I heard:
“If I do not give you anything else, will you still love me? Or will you fall out of love with me?”
I knew it was God because I heard those words in first person and the writer in me knew enough to know that they weren’t my words or my thoughts.
I collapsed to the floor and broke down in wailing tears! All I could think of at that moment was that I broke my Father’s Heart!
And I said, without flinching or thinking and with all the conviction I could muster, “I don’t want anything else Lord. Just you. You are enough. I’m sorry.”
And finally, for the first time, I fully understood what it meant to say that Christ is enough. I got it and more importantly, my heart got it!
Not a whole lot has changed since that day. That season is not yet over. I am still waiting, but I’ve come to realize that SO IS HE!
Not unlike the time when He waited for Noah to complete the ark. While Noah took what must have felt like an eternity to build the ark, probably under scrutiny and scornful gazes, God had patiently waited.
He could have snapped a finger and built the ark in an instant to accomplish what He needed to do on earth. After all, He was eager enough to start, afresh but He didn’t.
He waited for Noah to build the ark in his own time because He needed to accomplish something in Noah, too.
“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
Centuries later, my Abba is still waiting. The great I AM is waiting – this time for me.
Waiting for me to take my eyes off what I don’t yet have and set my gaze back on what I do have – Jesus.
Waiting for me to let Him do what He needs to do in me during this season of waiting, so I will be ready for where He is leading me.
He is waiting for my transformation to be made complete and for me to wholly step into all that He has called me to be.
Just knowing that He too is waiting for me, makes me eagerly say, “Take this too Abba. Take my waiting.”
Because the truth is, the winter of waiting is a burden that’s too heavy to bear alone and giving it to Jesus so I can be still, and rest in Him makes the walk lighter and the wait warmer.
Have you been waiting? What does your season of waiting feel like?
Suzane Avadiar is a freelance writer, cat-lover and avid traveler. Over the last 16 years, she has written extensively for various publications and companies in the global marketplace. Writing is not only her full-time job but also her passion and instrument of worship. She now writes solely about her faith and has a deep desire to reveal the heart of God through her writings. Suzane writes daily devotions on social media for her church, C3 Subang and is currently completing her first book, Sent to Journey – a Devotional for Travelers. She blogs at www.senttojourney.wordpress.com and resides in Malaysia.
I am so excited to bring you this special collection of St. Patrick’s Day recipes! Coming from a second generation Irish family means my dad’s side celebrated their heritage every day. When we all got together there was no shortage of green, stories of the old country, and singing of songs. St Paddy’ Day was always a great time and rivaled Christmas for my favorite holiday! This collection comes from many very talented bloggers. Please be sure to visit them and tell them I sent you! Enjoy!
Lori at Recipe Girl has concocted this gorgeous and delicious version of the traditional Red Velvet Cake, but instead of red she has made here green for St. Patrick’s Day and she has added a cheesecake layer. How fun would this be to serve to your family on St. Paddy’s Day? If you want to give it a try, you will find the complete recipe on Lori’s blog, Recipe Girl.
from Kroma Design Studio
Here’s another dessert from Marilyn’s Treats for St. Patrick’s Day that was originally published by Val on her blog, Kroma Design Studio Party Ideas. Not only is this one pretty to look at, it is super easy to make . . . . and since we all know how yummy vanilla pudding and Oreo cookies are, well, there is no doubt that this will be a family favorite! For the complete recipe, visit Val at Kroma Design Studio Party Ideas.
from Lisa at Wine and Glue
Lisa at Wine and Glue says that these Green Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting have the amazing red velvet taste mixed with sugar cookie, and could not be easier! And with the gold sprinkles, they are perfect for St. Paddy’s Day and your whole family will be impressed with your creativity. Want to give them a try? Visit Lisa at Wine and Glue for the complete recipe.
from the Food Network
Originally published on the Food Network website, this St. Patrick’s Day Green Velvet Layer Cake is one more rendition of the traditional Red Velvet Cake with boiled frosting, just like you remember from your childhood. This one requires a bit more time and preparation, but if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will be rewarded with a beautiful layer cake that will become a family tradition. The complete recipe can be found on the Food Network website.
Everyone’s favorite combination, chocolate and mint, are combined in this quick and easy recipe to make a dessert that will be a favorite no matter who you have over for dinner. With instant pudding as the filling, over the Oreo cookie crust, you can whip this one up in no time and you will be win the award for the best St. Patrick’s Day dessert. The complete recipe is available at Tastes Better from Scratch.
from Easy Peazy Mealz
Made from just three ingredients, who could resist this beautiful green fudge? It is similar to the Candy Cane Fudge that we make at Christmas, with sweetened condensed milk and white chocolate chips, but with green food coloring and bright green sprinkles, this fudge will be a pretty addition to your St. Patrick’s Day party at the office, classroom, or as a fun project to make with the kiddos for a cooking project for home school. The super simple, quick and easy recipe can be found on the Eazy Peazy Mealz blog.
from Sarah at The Gold Lining Girl
This luscious dessert is made from a box brownie mix and all dressed up as the perfect St. Patrick’s Day dessert with Bailey’s Irish Cream, malted milk powder, and chocolate Irish Cream frosting. For a bit of dramatic flair this St. Patrick’s Day, give these brownies a try! Visit Sarah at The Gold Lining Girl for the complete recipe.
You can find more great recipes for every day and for every season at Marilyn’s Treats
RUBY magazine and Marilyn’s Treats do not claim ownership of any recipe or image in this collection unless specifically indicated. Click on the links to be taken to the published recipe.
If you are like most everyone these days, you can’t wait for spring! Here’s a fun calendar that you can download and print off or use it on your blog or website, or even set it as you wallpaper on your home computer. Be sure to let us know how you are using the March 2017 FREE printable calendar, and be sure to stop back for the April calendar, too. If you want to download the March 2017 free printable calendar to your computer, just right click on the image and “save as” a picture and you’re all set. Have fun as you celebrate the arrival of spring!
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious hands. Isaiah 41:10 NLT
On August 24, 1996, I married my soul mate, Brandon, in front of all of our family and friends. As I walked toward him down the long aisle of the church, butterflies swarmed in my stomach. My palms grew sweaty as I realized every eye in the sanctuary was on me at that precise moment. I smiled as I glided along but on the inside, my nerves threatened to conquer me.
Proceeding with the ceremony, we bowed together in prayer at the kneeling bench. As we knelt there, eyes closed, heads down, and hearts open, my hands started to tremble. In the midst of the preacher’s eloquent blessing prayer, Brandon reached over and placed his hand over top of my right hand. He squeezed my palm and kept his hand there throughout the rest of our time on the bench. He spoke no words, but it was as if he was saying to me by his gentle touch,” It’s ok, I’m here for you. Don’t be nervous. Everything will work out fine. I’m here no matter what.”
His small act of love warmed my hand and my heart. He brought peace with his touch and calmed my anxiety. From that instant, a calmness washed over me as my nerves were pushed to the back pew and my excitement for the future welled up inside me. I knew we were meant to be and his effect on me further proved the point
Throughout our marriage, Brandon’s hands have been there to help calm my nerves and tensions on many occasions. From praying for me, to wiping tears from my eyes, his gentle touch always makes it better. He is always there to take his turn driving the kids to their activities or washing the dishes because I am stressed or too busy to get it all done.
And those hands have shared in an abundance of happy moments, too. They were there to cradle both of our newborn babies closely to his chest. They shoot basketballs with my son and hit volleyballs to my daughter.
They toss sticks to our rowdy dog as he playfully fetches them. They hold me close as we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. They guide me on beautiful walks on the beach and in the forest as we hike to see waterfalls. They teach small group Bible studies at church and type on the computer countless hours to provide for our little family.
Brandon is faithful to always be there, no matter what- just as he “said” to me with his graceful hands on our wedding day.
God is a lot like that. He is always available to help me with His trustworthy guidance…any day, any hour, any second. He promises in Isaiah to provide strength and assistance when I’m struggling. He desires to calm my fears and give peace with His presence. He gives hope with the reassurance in my relationship with Him as my Lord and Savior.
I have confidence in His ability to be victorious over any obstacle. His relentless love constantly pursues me and continues to work personally in my life every day He cares so much about me (and you) that He reaches out to grasp me tightly with His Holy hand when I’m too feeble to stand on my own.
As I think about how God moves in my life, I realize part of God being faithful to His promises in Isaiah is by sending Brandon into my life. He has blessed me with a devoted husband to do life with- through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. It’s almost as if Brandon’s hands are an extension of God’s own hands, always there guiding, protecting, and helping.
Take comfort in the knowledge God loves you and wants to share in every part of your life, no matter how big or small. He is dependable and loyal to His Word. He will not fail as you trust Him in every area of your life, giving over all your thoughts, worries, dreams, and hopes to Him. Let the Lord’s hands provide tranquility on your amazing journey of life.
Lord, thank you for being my Lord and Savior and for caring so much that You desire to have a personal relationship with me. You are steadfast as You share in all the moments of my life, whether good or bad. Grow my trust in You as I learn to depend on You completely. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Alisha Ritchie writes from North Carolina where she enjoys spending time with her husband, Brandon, of almost twenty years, and two busy but wonderful teenagers, Zack and Abby. She is a Physical Therapy Assistant by profession but in recent years has also become a multi-published author of devotions and inspirational stories to inspire others in their walk with God. You can read more of her writing at www.seekhimdaily.wordpress.com
Change is around us everywhere! By now the New Year is well underway, and we remember to write 2017 on our checks and correspondence. Our nation has a new leader who has promised all kinds of change that will affect Americans and countless others around the globe. Change in our personal lives occurs, embodying both joy and pain.
Elementary children grow up and move on to middle school. High schoolers begin to drive and date, and before long they select a college and prepare to live independently. Sweethearts decide to marry and newly-weds begin a family. Now that involves huge change!
If a bundle of joy has arrived at your doorstep recently you know that schedule and household are turned up-side-down, and you wonder if life will ever be the same again. Work assignments change and families sell homes and move to far-off places, leaving behind friends and familiar settings.
Parents suddenly find they live in an empty nest or one spouse decides to leave, or both occur at the same time. Older folks become frail and require new living situations and special care.
There is one thing that is certain in life, and that is change. It can result from conditions that are out of our control or from decisions we make. In either case, change requires adjustment and the way we approach the process determines the outcome.
I recently reached a significant crossroad in my life and discovered that faith played a major role in my ability to reach a decision and to adjust to the result. This is what occurred. While attending women’s retreat at a beautiful seaside resort I found myself wrestling with a key life choice. Should I retire from a career that I loved?
I had considered the pros and cons for several years. The quiet retreat setting gave me time to pray and suddenly a lovely metaphor came to mind, the words of a pastor some time ago:
“Faith is like the birds that sing joyfully in anticipation of the morning light— in the darkness, before the sun rises.”
Then I knew that God would be with me in the change experience and I could be at peace about it, even though the outcome was still unclear. I could sing like the birds, in advance, trusting in the unseen, and goodness would follow.
He would be there in the uncharted territory of my new situation. And He was! May your faith carry you onward into change and happily into the new adventures on the other side.
Cindy 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 email@example.com.
Are you listening to so many voices all around you that you can’t hear God’s voice?
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:4-5
Technology has changed our lives. Everyone has experienced some of the benefits and blessings of technology, even those who don’t pay much attention to all of the “new-fangled” stuff out here.
Grandmas and Grandpas, although often not even realizing it, benefit from faster communication and information storage and accessibility at the doctor’s office. Grandma might not be on Facebook (or she might be, and you don’t know it!), but her life has been touched by technology.
But we have also experienced the negative side of technology through the explosion of “noise” all around us. It is an amazing thing to be able to click a few links and read a daily devotional or Scripture verse. We have access to Bible studies, Christian communities, and inspirational articles that offer encouragement and guidance. I often wonder, however, if there is just too much of a good thing.
Because my job is to discover and share insightful and encouraging information wherever God leads, I also frequently come across voices that give me pause, and cause me to ask myself, “Can that be possible?” With the easy accessibility to seemingly unlimited information, don’t you sometimes find that there might just be way too many voices?
There are voices calling you to “Look over here! We’ve got just what you’ve been searching for!” or “99 Ways to Fix Your Marriage,” or “Seven Reasons Why Your Church is Failing.”
The other day as I was reading and doing a bit of research I came across a headline that said something like “Stop Putting Your Family First.” I found that intriguing, partly because that has been a topic of interest to me for many years. Raising children in the church for many years, I discovered that Christian trends come and go, kind of like fashion fads where every season we need something new and different.
I knew families who felt called to the mission field, who would travel to the other side of the world to preach the Gospel to the lost souls on another continent.
They would either raise their children on the mission field in the native environment, or send them off to boarding school, or sometimes they would send their children home to the United States to live with relatives while they went to school.
Then there were families who felt God had called them to invest all of their time, energy, and spiritual gifts into raising their own children, including home schooling them to make sure that the children were prepared to share the Good News of the Gospel with those in their neighborhoods.
And then there were the parents who were just trying to get through a day, making sure they had the resources to feed and clothe their children, keep a roof over their heads, pray with them every morning and tuck them in with a prayer and Bible reading at bedtime. There has always been a variety of ways in which families honor God with their lives, their homes, and their families.
But recently, it seems with the advent of technology, the voices keep coming, louder and more frequently, reminding us that we just aren’t doing it quite right. Information is good. Information overload can be harmful, especially if you are the kind of person who is striving to honor God with your life, and all of this “noise” is confusing you.
Here’s some advice from this Vintage Mama – trust God to guide YOU, find wisdom and guidance from His Word and learn as much as you can. But be careful of all of the voices out here calling you to look this way, and run that way, and second-guess yourself every step of your journey.
God is big enough to let you know when you’ve gotten off track, we really don’t need to be scolded and chastised from every direction we look by those who have it all figured out . . . or do they?
Just a thought. But I’m pretty sure that if you seek God for direction in your life, He will honor His Word, and speak directly into your heart.
Nina Newton is the Senior Editor for RUBY magazine, blog, and community website. She is also a free-lance writer and editor. You can connect with her and read more of her creative and inspirational posts on her blog, Vintage Mama’s Cottage.
Sometimes people find my shopping strategies humorous when I tell them that I always pray before I embark on a little shopping trip. Seriously, I pray that God will help me to be a good steward of the money I have, that I might find the best bargains, and to realize what I do or do not need. I also pray that God will make me a blessing to sales clerks or anyone I meet in the stores.
A few years ago, my husband and I were at a Pastor and Wives’ retreat when we had free time in the afternoon. Since I worked full time teaching in the public schools, had 3 sons, and kept busy in the church, I was excited about having a little shopping time. When I told the group about my strategies, one of the pastors laughed and wished me the best.
My husband dropped me off at the large discount store there in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I enthusiastically began my search for the best bargains. Just as I discovered a whole table of great sweaters, I heard an announcement come over the intercom. “Will Paula McVay please come to the service desk?”
Checking to make sure I had my purse and items I wanted to purchase, I made my way to the service desk where I was met by a serious looking, professional man. When he asked to see my ID, I began to wonder if something was wrong with my husband. Had he been in an accident? Was he ill?
When I asked him if everything was alright, he somberly replied, “I just wanted to make sure I had the right person. Here is your shopping list from God.” Glancing over my left shoulder from where I heard laughter, I saw my husband and the other pastor from the seminar feeling quite successful in their little prank.
Actually, my husband was quite proud that I always found the best deals and dressed our family and furnished our home with durable and fashionable things that looked way more expensive than they actually were. Maybe I’m a little naïve, but I felt that God always blessed us so greatly because we loved giving to the church…especially missions.
Many times we did not have much, but knew the needs were there. One time, our church was in the midst of a building program and my pastor husband asked us to pray about what God would have us give over a 3 year period and to write it on the response card. My husband thought that he would pledge for us and I thought he wanted me to.
It wound up that we had doubled pledged. Ouch! We prayed about it and decided that must be what was needed. Even though we had 3 sons in college, we were able to make every payment. Amazing!!!! We never went hungry and with all those bargains, things looked good.
Some people say that if you give, God will shower more on you. Actually, we hit some really hard times right after that event. The market crashed and we lost an exorbitant amount of money on the house we were trying to sell. After going through almost all of our retirement nest egg, we finally sold the home for 100,000 less than its previous assessment.
The scripture says to give and it shall be given unto you. I’m not a theologian, but I think that “it” might not be money, but something even better. God did shower us with his peace that we had made every payment, that we had money in savings, and that we always had enough for daily needs. Every time I drive by that beautiful building, my heart swells with thanksgiving for the ministries that go on there.
Now that God has allowed my precious husband to make that journey to Heaven, I have even more decisions to make. I’m so thankful that Isiah 55:4 tells me that God is my husband and James 1:5 tells me that wisdom is mine through Him. Just last week, I went mattress shopping. As usual, I asked God to help me find the best deal and to be a blessing to the sales person.
As I walked into the store, I saw only one sales person and no customers. I breathed a quick prayer of thanks that I would have plenty of time to ask any questions. The salesman and I easily connected as we talked about his children and my teaching experience. When he wrote up the sales, he was commenting on what a great deal he was giving me.
I expressed my thanks by saying, “I do feel so blessed that God has shown me the best place to come and given me a sales person who is so knowledgeable.” He began to talk about his faith and how he was struggling. Wow! You just never know when God will give you an opportunity to witness.
He expressed his desire to grow stronger and ask for suggestions. I was able to tell him that God’s word tells us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of God. “ He told me he had a study Bible and how he wished he spent more time; however, with his four children and busy schedule, he often neglected doing so. God helped me to remember how I had struggled in those same areas especially when my children were at home. I was able to share how I learned that taking time to read and study and pray actually saves time because God gives us wisdom for life.
He began to tell me that his pastor lived right down the street and that he went to church on Saturdays. I told him I thought that was great and since he goes on Saturdays, he might enjoy visiting our church on Sundays since our pastor, my son, who had also bought a mattress from him, was an excellent teacher.
Now, why was I surprised when he exclaimed, “I would love to visit! I have to work sometimes on Saturdays so going on Sunday to your church would be perfect.” We talked some more and when I got ready to leave, he called out to me, “Wait, I need to get the name and address of your church. Do they have a web site?”
Who would ever imagine that buying a mattress could be so exciting? Even though I did not have a list from God, I had the confident faith that He would lead me and help me to make the right decision. It’s time to get out there again for those “After Christmas” deals. I’m excited to see where God leads. Happy Shopping!!!
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.
Marilyn Lesniak of Marilyn’s Treats has so generously shared some of her amazing recipes from her blog with us, so that we can pass them along to you. Be sure to visit her at Marilyn’s Treats for even more of her amazing recipes!
If you like sweet finger foods, then you have probably tasted a cannoli. A lightly fried shell rolled and filled with a cheesy cream filling is just the beginning of this heavenly treat. Sometimes chocolate chips or nuts are dipped onto the ends. This recipe though is a bit different. Cinnamon and sugar is added to the filling as well as being rolled into the shell.
Shepherd’s Pie is a warm, one –pot casserole and makes the perfect winter supper.. Preparing the meat and veggies takes only about 10 minutes. Pop it into the oven and set the timer for about 50 minutes and when you get home it is ready! The aroma permeating the kitchen is sure to make everyone want to eat right away.
Super-simple, this one-dish meal includes lots of cheese with grilled chicken. If you use the pre-cooked chicken strips, you can put this dinner together in a snap! Once you give these Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas a try, you will want to make them often. Your family will thank you!
These Red Velvet Iced Cookies are so beautiful! Perfect for any celebration or just because, the bright color will bring a smile to everyone’s face. Your family and friends are sure to be amazed and delighted when you whip up a batch of these gorgeous Red Velvet Iced Cookies.
There’s more than one color of velvet, and these Blue Velvet Cupcakes prove that red isn’t the only color that makes for stunning bakery delights! We couldn’t include just the red velvet without sharing Marilyn’s beautiful Blue Velvet Cupcakes. Perfect for any occasion when you want to WOW your family and friends.
The absolute best comfort food, Marilyn’s recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo is quick and easy and will warm up your family’s tummies in a hurry. Combining cream cheese, parmesan cheese, milk and butter to the noodles of your choice is very easy to do, and you just might find this becomes a family favorite!
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
All recipes and images used by permission of Marilyn Lesniak of Marilyn’s Treats.
Your apple cart is filled with a bounty of blessings. Good stuff is happening in your life and things are running as smoothly as they possibly can.
Family life is good, work life is good, and your social life is good. All is well with you, God, and the world.
Then God upsets your apple cart, spilling all of your shiny, fresh apples all over the road. “Why did God do that” you wonder. Everything was going so well!
Then you notice within the mess, that some apples weren’t so shiny after all.
In fact, there are more than a few rotten ones at the bottom of the cart that you never noticed before.
And if you know anything about apples, one rotten apple doesn’t need a lot of time to ruin an entire bushel of apples; but you were only looking at the shiny ones on the top of the pile and never dug deeper into the cart.
God had to tip the cart for you to show the sin that might have ruined an entire crop of blessings.
So when things are running smoothly and then everything seems to go higgledy-piggledy, God’s probably trying to tell you something!
When this happens to me, I usually glare up at God, wondering if He’s lost His mind.
There are very few moments when everything runs smoothly, so when He dumps apples all over my nice, ordered life, I tend to get a little feisty.
You tip the cart, and I have to clean it up? Really, God?
It’s only when I roll up my sleeves and start working on the problems that I notice the heart issues that might have lead me down a road other than God’s path – at least it would have if things continued running smoothly.
Upset apple carts happen enough now that when it does happen, I know a life lesson is just around the corner.
I used to dread it. Things are going so well, I’d tell myself. I wonder when God is going to drop the other shoe. But doing that only stole the joy I would’ve experienced in those few-and-far-between smooth-running moments.
Now I know to enjoy those moments when I can, looking deeper into the cart before God does so those good moments can last longer.
Asking God to show me my heart issues beforehand helps to keep things running smoothly for a little while. He likes it when I ask before He needs to tip over my cart.
Besides, I’m not a big fan of cleaning apple goop from my shoes all the time. It’s better to ask than wait for Him to give me a hint.
When your cart gets tipped over, remember it’s for a good reason. God doesn’t do things for the heck of it – He’s always showing us new ways to grow, learn, and glorify Him.
He wants us to get rid of the bad fruit in our lives so we can enjoy the sweet taste of His blessings!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re all familiar with New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve even made some. Lose weight. Work out. Eat healthy. Spend more time in the Word. Be more generous. Enjoy my family more, and work less. You’ve tried before and failed, but this time, you’re determined to succeed!
What if, instead of being determined, you decided to be intentional?
A resolution suggests a conflict that needs to be overcome, a solution to a problem. I’m overweight—that’s a problem. I resolve to exercise more and eat less. There’s the solution. But what’s the plan, the purpose, the real reason for it?
Making a resolution focuses on the difficulty, and declares with pride, “I’m going to do this!” We have a goal, and we work toward it, but when we hit a stumbling block, we often give up. We feel like we’ve failed, so we go right back to the habit that gives us comfort, the very habit we tried so hard to overcome.
Being intentional cultivates a purpose. To have intention is to have meaning. Not just a plan, but a reason for the plan. And it invites others to take part.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God repeatedly used the word, let, as He formed the earth and everything in it. The Hebrew word for let is from the root, amar, which means to declare, appoint, say, speak, utter, or…intend.
God purposed each piece of His creation into being. He didn’t throw together the heavens and the earth as a solution to a problem. He’s God—He has no problems. He didn’t swoop His hand out by accident and…whoops…there’s the world!
He cultivated—nurtured and helped His creation to grow out of love. Not pride or selfish ambition.
When He had finished letting everything be formed, the Creator turned to Jesus (who was the Word and was with God—see John 1:1), and the Holy Spirit (who was hovering over the waters—see Gen 1:2), and said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness (Gen 1: 26).
It was a collaborative effort of intent. They weren’t determined by hook or by crook; they didn’t make a resolution to try harder, give more, or take less. God created man with intention. He had a purpose—to create a being that would reflect and spread His glory.
Instead of making us robots, He gave us the ability to make choices, some of which would result in turning from Him. So, as part of the Divine Plan, Jesus would be sent to redeem us.
Being fully man and fully God, I believe that Jesus chose the moment of His death. He intended to suffer so that we wouldn’t have to. He intended to endure the shame so that we could overcome ours. He intended to carry the guilt of sins that weren’t His so we could be forgiven of ours.
Jesus could have said, “It is finished,” long before He even went to the cross. But He chose the specific time to utter those words, not with resolve, but with intent. He intended to carry out His Father’s will, whatever the cost. Because He loved his little likenesses.
Can we do the same this year?
Instead of making a resolution, trying to stick with it, and giving up when our efforts are thwarted or when we fall off the wagon, what if we accepted the invitation to be intentional about our efforts?
Instead of making lofty resolutions that fizzle out, what if we resolved simply to refuse to allow ourselves to feel like a failure? If we decided to cultivate a purpose to those habits we’d like to change or that extra weight we desire to lose?
What if we accepted the finished work of Christ, and allowed that collaborative effort of the Trinity to infuse us with Divine Love? How would that change our lives this year?
What if we allowed God to disrupt our lives with His intention instead of resolving to do things by ourselves and for ourselves? What if we let others who have walked our road to help us? What if we reached a hand out to those who struggle with what we’ve overcome?
What if we gave up trying so hard and let go of our pride and selfish ambition, and let God take over? We might be surprised at the result. And we may discover that resting from our resolutions may give us the freedom we need to live a life worthy of God’s intentions.
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. Mary is a regular contributor to RUBY magazine and blog.
A Facebook game/challenge I recently took gave me a “saying” to use as my motto for the coming year. Another challenged me to discover the one word that should guide my actions in the coming year. Those are fun, but why would I trust a stranger or an unknowing algorithm to determine how I will think about or act in 2017 or any other time?
I prefer to march to the tune of another set of words, selected by the Holy Spirit, who knows my every thought, the God who knew me in the womb. I determine that specific path with an annual Bible Verse selection.
A verse for the year is more than a goal on a sheet of paper; it is a contract or promise directly from God’s word to me. I don’t remember where I heard of asking God for a guiding verse, but I do recall it was a bit more than forty years ago, just before I met my husband,
At that time God gave me the verse from Luke, 1:45 Blessed is she who believe that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.
Shortly after I was engaged, I asked God for a verse to guide my life. He gave me verse one from Psalm 45—”My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” After we had children, I left my job as an analyst and became a story performer and a writer—twin professions that draw on my talents and enable me to serve God with much joy.
About twenty years ago, I began the process of praying for an annual verse to guide my actions with greater specificity. I have been doing this now for more than twenty years.
How does He give me the verse? No, a group of angels does not come down and sign it over to me. Nor do I randomly open the Bible and point to a verse.
Instead, I pray and in the course of my daily devotions, a verse strikes my heart and is later confirmed by coming up in church sermons, hearing other people mention it, in other readings, or in the case of this year’s verse, in group readings at my church’s weekly prayer meeting where we focused on sins of omission.
Yet, I cannot say my “method” is perfectly aligned with God’s will for me, only that I try. I base the entire process on prayer. I prayerfully ask for a verse to jump out at me. That verse guides me in all aspects of life for the year and hopefully beyond.
I always try to be available to do the Lord’s will, but lately I’ve been more aware of many sins of omission on my part, opportunities to do good that I was passing up. Hence, the verse for last year, 2016, was I Samuel 3:4 ” Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.'” (NIV)
While of course, this is a lifetime issue—so many opportunities, which should I choose, which should I leave for another? Evidently, God has more work to do with me in this area because this year I have been receiving many signals that this verse is to be my verse for the 2017 as well, but with a twist.
God evidently has taken pity on the fact that I feel a bit overwhelmed in all that I am doing so He added onto that verse, a call for discernment.
Through a bit of Bible study to learn more about the verse I was “claiming” as my guide for the year, I became aware that when Samuel made his laudable answer in chapter 3, he did not yet know or understand who the Lord was.
It is later in the book that he learns about God and the high priest tells him to answer the Lord God in a more specific way—yes, we can be specific with God!
Therefore, my verse for 2017 will come from a bit farther in the chapter, “So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.’”
First, I have to determine if it is indeed the Lord calling and if it is, then ask Him to give me the specifics of what he wants me to do. I’m setting out a marketing plan for next year.
Then, I need to pray over all of it, to determine how much of my time and energy are to go into that, what direction He wants me to take in my writing.
All of this will fall within the bounds of my willingness to listen to God, It does not mean I will experience worldly success in these actions, but I if I act according to God’s will , my actions will further His kingdom, even if I can’t see it. That I know.
I think that if you prayerfully ask the Lord to guide you to a verse, you will find one.
Will you select a guiding verse from God’s word for 2017?
We would love to have you share your guiding verse for 2017 with us on the RUBY blog and in the RUBY community. It will be an inspiration to us all!
Visit Joan Leotta at her blog to read more of her inspirational and educational posts at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com
A few weeks ago, as I was teaching an online writing class, I realized that the English language must be really challenging to learn if you didn’t grow up speaking it. I’m sure I knew that before, but I was suddenly confronted with the reality of teaching writing skills to a person who did not yet completely comprehend the tiny nuances of verb tenses, correct pronoun usage, split infinitives, and other seemingly minor things that we, as native English speakers, take for granted.
On an average day most of us don’t think about whether to use a singular verb with a singular noun, at least not consciously, nor do we stop to think about whether to use a plural pronoun when you’ve just used a singular subject. But once you read something that has confused these pesky little things, you suddenly realize how difficult it must be to try to learn the English language.
Well, we made pretty good progress with this student and she was doing really well, but then the class ended. More than likely I will not have her in another class, so I trust that some of our lessons will be helpful to her as she continues on her way pursuing her education as well as in her business.
Here at RUBY magazine we do our best to walk alongside new writers and give them an opportunity to develop their writing skills and to see their stories and words in print. And I frequently am asked, “Why do you do that?” Why would I invest my time in the lives of others who have much to say, but perhaps have not had the opportunity to develop the skills to write those words perfectly? Because we all started somewhere, and we all deserve a chance to figure it out.
For those who are already published authors or accomplished writers, the world is filled with opportunities for you to have your voice heard. We welcome your stories, and your voice, here at RUBY as well. We have such a diverse group of writers and God is using each and every one of you to share His words of encouragement, hope, and grace with the readers of RUBY magazine.
But for those of you who are uncertain, or anxious, or just plain scared to get your words out of your heart and onto paper, RUBY is also the place for you. Our goal has always been and will continue to be to search for men and women who, for whatever reason, feel that they have been silenced. Perhaps you feel that your story is not important, that no one would be interested, or that you just don’t know how to say it. Let’s work together to share that story with the world!
Having been in the academic community for a number of years now, I can assure that people who are “successful” – whether as writers, teachers, or artists – are all just ordinary people with an extraordinary story to tell. Just like you. Some people have greater opportunities in life, but in God’s eyes, we are all amazing and treasured members of His family and we all have a story to tell. And the world needs to hear YOUR story, so let’s start writing it. That’s why I do what I do . . . . because I believe in you.
Best wishes for a very Happy New Year, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Every month as I am creating the RUBY magazine document and preparing it for print, one of the things I love to include is a printable calendar. There are so many amazing calendars out here that you can print off and use in your day timer, or use for your desktop wallpaper, or even upload them to your phone or other mobile device. And even though I’ve been doing a magazine, both digital and in print for a really long time, I guess it never occurred to me that I could make my own calendar pages!
Fortunately I’ve had many generous bloggers who have freely shared their calendars with our readers at RUBY magazine, but on this snowy, blowing, and soon-to-be icy afternoon, I thought it would be fun to try to create my own calendar for January. With all of the free images available on the internet (www.pixabay.com) you don’t even have to be an artist to get started! And with the free photo editing programs available, you can create lots of fun designs using all kinds of artistic fonts . . . . in case you haven’t yet learned how to do calligraphy or other artistic penmanship styles.
As I was searching for a header for my new and remodeled blog at Vintage Mama’s Cottage, I discovered this striking yet subtle image of red winter berries with ice and snow, on a background of a snow covered branch. I fell in love with it and turned it into my winter banner, and then decided, since I like the image so much, that I would make it into a January calendar, too.
So here it is . . . . and if you would like to download it for your desktop or your day timer or your new 2017 art journal calendar (you are making one of those, aren’t you???), it’s here FREE for you to use. Stop back soon, because now that I’ve started this project, I’m sure I’ll want to continue for every month of the new year. And if I get really ambitious, I’ll make the calendars available in the right sizes for your desktop wallpaper as well as your phone or other mobile device.
RIGHT CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE, THEN “SAVE AS IMAGE” TO YOUR COMPUTER
Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy
There are things we must do; things we should do; things we want to do. Unfortunately, it is hard to get things done. Hard to focus. Hard to settle on what is important. As I learn what God means to “number my days” I find that—with less time left on this earth—everything feels important. I want to get it all done. I don’t want to leave anything unresolved or any goals uncompleted.
I “say” this or that is important. But am I spending the time on those things in a way that is evidence of their importance? Am I spending too much time on the mundane and leaving the bucket list on the back porch where I can conveniently ignore it? Lately then I’ve begun a process of prioritizing.
Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s latest book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life you Want helps you understand whether or not what you profess to believe is important is what you are actually spending time on.
As Hyatt and Harkavy recommended, I spent a week thinking. Then I spent a day writing about the areas of life I wanted more focus, what I wanted to accomplish and how I wanted to accomplish my goals.
Based on this book, I’ve focused my life plan on spiritual matters, my relationships with my husband, family members and people outside my family, health, writing, and hobbies.
The hardest part of the plan? Reading the 17-page, single spaced, 3000 word document every day.
There’s something about reading my plan out loud every day that has increased my commitment to it. It’s about announcing the plan to myself, to anyone in hearing distance (usually my dog who interestingly enough comes over and shakes my hand), the world in general and God in specific.
You may be a person who flies by the seat of your pants. Or you may think you don’t have time to create a plan. But plans can help you move forward with confidence, even if the plan changes from time to time.
As we’re bringing 2016 to a close, many of us look forward to what we’d like to accomplish in the New Year unfolding before us. This book is a great read as we prepare to do so.
Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner.
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 and a regular contributor to RUBY magazine.
Roasted Tomato Soup
from the kitchen of SheKnows
Even from a can, tomato soup is one of our favorites! But to make your own, homemade roasted tomato soup seems like the perfect supper on a blustery winter night. We’ll definitely be trying this one soon! Super simple, with just a few ingredients, it just might become a regular dish for our family.
Baked Potato Soup
from the kitchen of recipe.com
Who doesn’t love baked potatoes? Combine all that yummy goodness in your soup pot and you’ve got a delicious, warm and cozy winter soup. Creamy potato soup with crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, and chopped onion on top . . . . perfect!
Chicken Noodle Soup
from the kitchen of CookingMom
Even if you don’t have a cold or the flu, homemade chicken noodle soup is always a warm and welcome supper dish. This is one of those recipes that you can make up a big batch, store it in your freezer, and take it out when you need just one meal or if you have a big crowd. Stock up and be ready for company – or for the next time your family comes down with the sniffles!
May the joy of the season bless your home and family as you celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Tis the season of holiday parties and truly fabulous food! We drool in anticipation with each invitation, but we also start to wonder what we’ll look like on the other side of the New Year. Here are three tips for a healthier holiday party season.
- Don’t clean your plate
This goes against everything your parents taught you, but when it comes to rich party foods, some of them aren’t worth the calories. How can you tell which delights to make room for and which to hide under a napkin? You taste them. Select small amounts of what you think you’ll like and try them. If you don’t like something, don’t eat it. If you like everything, focus on your favorites. Most people are concerned with their own food, not yours, and won’t notice if a few rejects are growing cold on the side of your plate. Eat slowly and savor the bounty spread before you.
- BYOV: Bring Your Own Veggies
If you’re asked to bring a dish to a party, bring along a veggie that you love. That way you know you’ll have something healthy to fill your plate and balance out the superrich foods. Know your fellow partiers, though. One year I brought a tray of raw vegetables to a Superb Bowl party and I was the only one who touched it. The next year I brought Pumpkin Apple Dip (recipe below) and after assuring a few skeptics that pumpkin is not only edible, it’s delicious; the dip disappeared by the fourth quarter.
- Keep exercising
Moving your body burns calories, but it also helps your body process that delicious party food more efficiently. A few years ago scientists did a study on overeating. They had two groups overeat to simulate the holiday season; one group exercised and one group did not. Even though weight fluctuations were similar for both groups, the exercisers showed better blood sugar control and metabolism than the couch potatoes. (https://sunnysleevez.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/good-news-for-gluttons-read-this-before-you-start-the-season-of-stuffing/)
People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Luke 13:29 (NIV)
Pumpkin Apple Dip Recipe
3/4 cup (6 oz) 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Beat cream cheese and brown sugar with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin, maple syrup, and cinnamon and blend until smooth. Serve with apple slices.
Katie Robles is living proof that women who love to bake and hate to sweat can lose weight and get healthy. She lost fifty pounds in four years by changing her habits, one small step at a time. She started writing Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating after she asked herself the question “Why can’t weight loss be fun?” She writes the weekly Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating blog at www.sexsoupandtwofistedeating.com and is the author of Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives (House of Bread, 2016).
I don’t know about you, but I love to come home. I enjoy traveling, going out with friends, and running errands, but I always love coming home. I might be gone for a week or an hour, but as soon as I walk in the door, I feel relief. I’m where I belong. I love coming home, and I love being home.
Home is familiar. Comfortable. Safe.
It wasn’t always that way. I was a child of divorce, remarriage, and re-divorce. My home didn’t always feel comfortable or safe, and instead of looking forward to coming home, I desperately wanted to leave.
When I started a family and created my own home, I tried to love it, but I was in a bad marriage that eventually ended in divorce. The home my children knew had split and become two.
I wondered if they felt familiar, comfortable, and safe in both. Or did they feel transient, burdened, and always longing for the other home?
Sometimes, as much as I love my home, I long for my other one. I’m comfortable here. It’s familiar. It’s what I’ve made it. And it is safe now because I’ve made it to be. But sometimes, I feel an ache for a place I think I remember but I’ve never been to. A place I’ve only been told about but still feels like mine. A place where, when I look to the sky, I can practically envision. It feels more like home than the one I’ve decorated and furnished.
I wonder what it felt like to be God in the form of a baby. To leave the home that was familiar, comfortable, and safe and to suddenly awaken in a different world, unable to tell anyone who you are or why you’re there. To be fully God, yet fully dependent on the people you created?
In a world of unrest, did He feel safe? In a turbulent time, when his parents took him and fled for their lives, did he wish he had four walls and three squares? Did He long for one home while He was living in the other?
I wonder how much he understood, being a baby and all. Yes, He was fully God, but He was also fully baby, having to rely on his parents to keep him safe.
Remember when Mary and Joseph lost their son? He was twelve. Old enough to be responsible for getting himself to the bus on time to leave Jerusalem. When his parents realized he missed the caravan back to Nazareth, they had to backtrack—a day’s journey (Did you ever wonder how they could have gone a full day before they realized he was gone? If you ever lived with a twelve-year old boy, you’d get it).
They found him in the temple. His mother made an attempt at instilling Jewish guilt by asking him how he could treat them this way. He replied, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
He was Homesick.
And what about all those times during His ministry when He went off to pray by Himself? Did He long for Home then? Did He sit on a mountaintop, or in a rowboat on the middle of a still lake and look up to the sky, His other home? Unlike me, He knew exactly what that other Home looked like. All the more reason to be Homesick.
He was rejected in his own hometown, Nazareth. Yet, when He died, the thief on the cross next to him said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Don’t forget me when you get Home.
To which our Savior—that grown up baby who left His Heavenly Home to live in an earthly one—replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
That’s where our Home truly is. Sometimes we visit a place we call paradise on earth. Maybe it’s someplace tropical—one of those resorts with the grass huts on top of crystal clear turquoise water.
It seems like paradise, but the mosquitoes are the size of dragonflies and we’re worried we might get Typhoid Fever, or we had a bad meal that didn’t agree with us (I’m only speculating, as this is only a fantasy of mine. The mosquitoes and bad meals make the fact that I’m missing out more bearable).
As wonderful as the vacation was, we can’t wait to get home.
And as much as I love the home I have here, the one that is comfortable, familiar, and safe, the one that is waiting for me is all of that and more. It’s paradise! And we all long for paradise.
That’s why I sometimes feel homesick for the place I’ve never been to but feel like I was.
But maybe I have. That’s why I believe that when I finally go to my other Home, my first one, the one that houses God’s workshop where he fashioned me—that I’ll have a grass hut in water the color and depth of nothing I’ve ever seen on earth.
Ah, paradise! That’s Home.
Blessed Christmas. May the peace that comes from Your Heavenly Home be evident in your earthly one.
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
“The Christmas Blessing”
by Sharmelle Olson
As you get into the spirit of Christmas
what is it that you see off in a distance?
You may be able to praise God and witness
the good and magnificent silence.
As we give our gifts here at Christmas time
it is the time to think of giving not receiving,
Yes, it’s a time to receive gift too but give time
to the Lord at the same time you are receiving.
The side of giving gifts is so miraculous
with the good and surprising facial expressions
on the faces of your family members,
which are gracious
and leave you with a wonderful impression.
Sharmelle Olson is a graphic artist and designer, photographer and poet. She loves to share her poems in the RUBY magazine. Shar is also an administrator for RUBY community ministry and enjoys helping out around the community and making new friends there. She has been writing poetry and taking photographs since elementary school, and started doing graphic art and design work in the early 2000s. Shar has four children, two of whom are twins. Her first daughter is in her 20s, her son is 14, and her twin daughters will be 13 soon.
I don’t have to deal with the loonies out there trying to find a bargain.
Or so I thought.
For example, I went to a bulk store doing my regular ‘chest freezer shopping’ and saw people fighting over the last of the giant fluffy stuffed animals left on display. Apparently giant stuffed fuchsia unicorns are more rare than the actual beasts, and these people were almost at fisticuffs over it. A well-dressed lady in a fur coat won the battle, leaving unconscious bodies in her wake as she continued shopping.
It was a stuffed animal, people. Seriously? Fight over something significant, like a foot massager or chocolates for heaven’s sake! Oh wait- someone beat you to the punch. Medic on aisle three and seven please!
What is it about Christmas that turns people into frenzied maniacs? Even the Tasmanian Devil would be hard pressed to come out alive with a gift at this rate! As for me, all I wanted was a two-hundred pound pack of chicken breasts and a few gallons of milk. Oh, and those rotisserie chickens. Gotta get me at least one of those suckers.
I head for the roasted chicken section, only to find it was cleaned out 2.3 seconds before I arrived. The next batch would be ready in six hours. That’s okay, I can wait. It would take me that long to get through the checkout anyway. So I do some more shopping while I wait. I consider getting a pallet truck instead of a cart when I hear the timer for the chicken go off, and I dash for the roasted chicken section once more – as does everyone else in the store.
I crash into the sausage display as I try to stop the momentum of my overladen cart, just as the guy starts putting the chickens on the shelves. People were taking them before the containers hit the sheet metal, but I waited my turn, since they were ahead of me.
Oh no she didn’t!
Have you ever daydreamed about what you’d like to have done instead of what you did? My imagination took over….
The fancy lady’s smile faded as sparks emanated from my very being. How dare she snatch that chicken from me? She won that bout over the unicorn, but I will not be thwarted from my rotisserie chicken!
With a primal yell, I body slam the well-dressed lady like a rampaging Pokemon, and snatch the precious chicken from her hands before the momentum throws her back about three-hundred feet.
Sometimes it pays to be a big gal and understand the laws of physics.
I was surprised by cheers behind me and turn to see the rivals of this well- dressed lady applauding my reaction to her greediness. Apparently she had the last of everything in her cart, and fought everyone and their reindeer to get it. At first I was elated. I was a hero! I stood up to a shopping bully and won!
Or did I?
No, I didn’t – but it was nice thinking about it as she walked off with my chicken in hand. I believe God would’ve frowned on the body-slamming, Pokemon thing though.
Christmas Madness had almost gotten the better of me. And there wasn’t even a gift involved! I just wanted homemade chicken salad for lunch.
Lucky for me the guy saw what happened and told me more was coming in a few minutes. He brought out the chickens and let me pick the one I wanted before anyone else since I was the first in line at that point. All done without carnage and skid marks down the aisle from a greedy woman’s fur coat.
It’s so easy to forget why we celebrate Christmas when advertisers make everything sound so awesome. We want to make others happy, but when we’re willing to body-slam a stranger three hundred feet down the aisle to get it- well, let’s just say that isn’t the spirit of the season God intended.
Just remember when making your purchases, you’ll find a lot of Christmas nuts – but please don’t become one – just deal with the ones in the fancy boxes covered in chocolate!
With the holidays in gear, it seems everyone is traveling to visit loved ones. For most of us, that means either staying with family or having family stay with us. For me, my in-laws come in from out of town and stay with us for the week of Christmas. Having a big family of our own, my husband and I take extra measures to make sure everyone is comfortable while there are an extra two people around. With kids in the house, it sometimes gets a little hectic, so we try to make sure my husband’s parents are as comfortable as possible. Here are a few of my tips to make sure your guests feel at home.
Clean, clean, clean
While some of you might be thinking this is an obvious tip, I still think it is super important to stress! I usually keep my bathrooms, guest room, and kitchen pretty clean and organized, but it is good to get a deep clean before overnight guests arrive. Make sure to get in all the nooks and crannies of your home including under the bed, behind the toilet, and deep in the tile grout. You’ll thank yourself when your guests feel welcome in your clean home. If you don’t have time for this, I would suggest hiring a one time cleaning service. I’ve done this before and my kitchen was the cleanest it’s ever been!
We all know that it’s hard to get a good night’s rest when we’re away from home and our own beds, but there are ways to make your guests feel a little more comfortable in a guest room. Obviously keeping clean fresh bedding for your guests is a must, but I also try to accommodate to their sleeping needs. For example, my father-in-law likes to sleep with a more firm pillow, so I make sure he has a few different pillows to choose from, so he isn’t stuck with one that’s too soft.
Also, I suggest buying a good mattress in your guest room that you can see yourself sleeping on. Chances are if you won’t sleep on it, your guest won’t enjoy it either. There are many great mattresses stores to choose from, but it’s always easy to buy from an online mattress retailer like Leesa Mattress.
My next tip would be to make sure that there is enough food in your home. For this one I also like to do my research, especially if your guest is staying for more than one night. What type of coffee do they drink? Do they have any allergies? Are they diabetic and need certain snacks in the house? It’s always nice to call ahead and ask them if there is anything specific food wise they would like. If they are too polite to mention anything, call a family member of theirs to see if they have any suggestions for things they would like.
Expect the Unexpected
Make sure to always be ready for anything! Have extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. on hand! You never know what your guest is going to need, so be prepared to have extra. Nothing is worse than spending your Christmas Eve in the Rite Aid checkout line because someone forgot a toiletry! I always think it’s a good idea to have the extra travel size bottles on hand. That way you’re not buying full sized bottles for a few nights visit.
Going the extra mile will really show your guests you care. Whenever I do small gestures like these when my in-laws stay, they are extremely grateful. In doing this it will make your overnight visits run a little more smoothly with extra people in the house, too.
What are some ways you help make your guests feel welcome during holiday stays?