Sunday, October 28, 2012

Connect: Woman Blessing

Beware:  I'm deep, so just kind of roll with it. . . .  Last Sunday, Tami, a woman blessing, posted to RUBY, Thoughts from Tami, about her experience being at church, specifically the 9:00 service which I attend.  I couldn't keep the smile off of my face as I read her post because it brought such wonderful memories to my own mind.  Having been AWOL from church for the last month due to an incredibly persistent bug wreaking havoc on my family's digestive system, I was overjoyed to relive the 9:00 service through Tami's writing.  So, here is where I dive deep . . .
This morning, a new bug has now decided to take shelter in my daughters' respiratory systems.  The humanity!  Yet, I really yearned to be in worship today, but didn't want to risk spreading the illness love with other kiddos.  The hub without hesitation said, "Go!  We'll be fine," so I went, and I am so thankful I did.
Searching for a spot to sit as I entered the Family Life Center, I could see the back of a woman's head with a few empty seats between her and a man.  Score!  A potential spot had been located.  When I approached the woman to ask if she was saving seats and might I sit next to her, I saw the woman in question was none other than the woman blessing who had inspired me to attend service despite my ailing family members.  Kismet, Baby!  I was thrilled to sit next her, squeeze on her, and let her know how much her blog post had effected me.

"Cheek to cheek" we sat and prayed and stood and sang.  The joy emanating from her being was contagious, and I think I allowed the volume of my off-key voice to increase (apologies to the woman blessing and man seated next to me).  A prayer of thanksgiving for not only this woman blessing connection, but for all women blessing connections.

Courtney Winkler

Friday, October 26, 2012

Let the SON Shine In

I love my house. I love keeping it clean. It is such a gift from God. We live in a 100 year old farm house that my great great grandfather built. I never could have imagined living here, and now that we do, I can't imagine living anywhere else. It's just perfect for us.
A few months ago I was cleaning in the kitchen. I had done all of the dishes. I had scrubbed all of the counter tops. I had vacuumed and washed the hardwood floor. It looked IMMACULATELY clean. I  stepped back to admire my hard work. It looked pretty good to me. That was until...I OPENED THE CURTAINS! It was an unusually nice day out, and I decided to open the curtains and let some sunshine in.  In that instant, my kitchen which looked so perfectly clean before, now looked....well, not so clean. As I opened the curtains to let the sunshine in, it revealed streaks on the floor, crumbs under the cabinets that I missed, and spots on the counter top that weren't quite cleaned off all the way. My first instinct was just to close the curtains and say "It looked good before." But, I didn't. I got back out my cleaning supplies and took care of the areas that the sunshine had revealed.
As I was cleaning, I was thinking. This is how my life becomes when the SON shines on it. I may think that I've got everything all under control. I'm reading my bible....almost every day. I'm going to church every Sunday. I'm teaching my kids about God. I'm sponsoring needy children in other countries. I'm giving money to the church. My life, to most people, probably looks like I'm a "good person." However, when the SON shines on my life, I realize the areas that I need to work on. I lose my temper too quickly with my kids and my husband. I am too quick to judge others. The list can go on and on some days.

But just as my kitchen needed that sunshine to reveal to me the spots that needed deeper cleaning, so do I need the SON to shine on my life and show me where I need to make changes to walk more closely with him. I want to be the kind of mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter and Christ follower that He wants me to be. And I can't do that if I'm not letting the SON shine into my life to show me the way.

Lisa Powell

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Free Education, My Foot

Who said education was free? It certainly wasn’t somebody who had kids in school. Take last week, for instance. Our seventh grader came home with a hundred $1 candy bars to sell. What they use the proceeds for is anybody’s guess -- condoms to distribute from the nurse’s office, probably. And just where, exactly, are we supposed to sell this huge box of delectable, make that deplorable, brown-colored, fat-laden, no-name candy bars? There are eleven other kids selling them on our street and our nearest living relatives are 500 miles away. I quickly nixed the idea of doing what we usually do which is call Grandma long distance, talk her into buying five candy bars to further clog her narrowed arteries, and then pay four dollars in postage to mail them to her. Thankfully, this child is past the age where he really cares if he sells any or not. I hate it when they run in from the school bus and breathlessly announce, “If I only sell 270 packages of this glow-in-the-dark gift wrap, I can get a real boom box, and they’ll say my name on the announcements, and I think we’ll get to go to Disney World.” Out the door he’d bound, only to trudge in, two hours and forty houses later, with eight big sales to his name, if you count the four I bought before he left. Anyway, back to last week. I was standing in the kitchen, staring at the mountain of chocolate bars, wondering if the fish would eat them, when our kindergarten daughter ran in from the school bus and breathlessly announced, “If you just fill in seven of these post cards for our magazine sale, I’ll get a free smiley face yo-yo, a pair of giant sunglasses, and we’ll get to go to Disney World, I think.” I was on about post card number five when our high school stud muffin walked in the front door, threw a paper down on the kitchen table, and said, “I have to sell at least two, thirty-dollar season tickets and eight, twenty-dollar sweatshirts if I want to stay on the high school baseball team.” I was thinking how cute all of us would look in the matching shirts when he walked back in and said, “I really want to take a girl to the Spring Formal. The tickets are only $15 a piece, but I will need money for a new suit, and money for both of us to go out and eat before it starts, and money for her flowers, and money for pictures, and some of the guys are renting limos.” I was about to tell him I thought he exhibited some gay tendencies, and he’d be lucky if we washed the Honda, when the seventh grader strolled back into the room. He casually announced that he needed a few things for the science fair and proceeded to hand me an itemized materials list as long as Charlie Sheen’s list of illicit liaisons. I was reaching for the calculator when he started waving another paper. “Look, Mom, for only $34 I can go to Memphis to see the Versailles exhibit. I need the money tomorrow.” I was in another room getting a new book of checks when the big guy showed up again and mumbled something about needing a new baseball helmet and a male device to protect the family jewels, preferably by tomorrow. Would it be too much for somebody to need something the day after tomorrow? On his way out, he said he’d be getting $2 our of my purse for the school assembly on hypnosis and $5 gas money for the kid who drives him to school every morning and $7 for the lunch he bought after Saturday’s baseball practice. I was leafing through the newspaper looking for low interest loans when the kindergartner reappeared with a glossy brochure stating that it was time for spring photos at school. “For the low, low price of just $22, you can get professional, studio-quality photos of your child seated in front of beautiful fake props which will make them look like they are on a bad LSD trip. Perfect for Easter!” I yelled back to the boys’ room and asked them if they were having Spring pictures taken, too, and, just my luck, they both produced the same flyer with the same low, low price. While I was writing the three checks and figuring out how much I could get for my engagement ring, my daughter excitedly handed me her Jump-Rope-for-Heart campaign envelope. Since I felt like I was about to have a heart attack after spending all that money on “free education,” I decided I’d pledge my last few dollars to that worthwhile cause. Anybody who needs new notebooks, pencils or legitimate learning materials this week is gonna be flat out of luck.

While few things in life are free, believers are offered one grand freebie: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) We mustn’t forget it is a “free gift with purchase,” the purchase being Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. He suffered and died that we might live! 

Sue Busler

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Connect: What Is Your Story?

As I was reading a church newsletter the other day, a message from a pastor friend, William Adams, resonated deep within.  Pastor Adams suggested a simple task in this newsletter which people may find themselves too busy to undertake- connection, true connection . . . listening to one another's story.  How beautiful in its simplicity, but how crucial an element for an involved web of  meaningful connections.  These four simple words, "What is your story?" can make all the difference in the lives of both the one who asks the initial question and the one who responds resulting in authentic connection.  As Pastor Williams notes: 

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands in not quickly broken.  
                                        -Ecclesiastes 4:12
People may feel welcomed in a church the first time they come but later drift away because their connection isn’t deep enough. They don’t feel our surface relationships can sustain the kind of deep meaningful transformation that God wants to create in all of our lives. And that isn’t Christian.
The problem is we cannot share those kinds of deep meaningful, life changing relationships as we shake hands briefly on a Sunday morning. We cannot help others or ask for help from others unless we share a relationship that is more than a “how-do-you-do”. All Christ centered ministry is relational. That begins with listening to one another. . .
When someone calls to ask if they could speak with you one-to-one please accept the invitation. When you see someone new in church please ask them out for a soda or cup of coffee and listen to their story. And when someone shares with you a deep hurt, a shameful past or current situation, a difficult problem or loneliness simple say you will always be here to pray and listen.*

 I think back five years ago and am so grateful I asked that initial question of my now dear woman blessing friend while at Bug Camp with my two-year-old and six-month-year old.   Taking a leap of faith, I asked for her e-mail so that we may make a further connection for our kiddos as well as each other.  In the interim, we have created book clubs, coached teams, facilitated groups, cried together, had great belly laughs together, prayed together, and worshipped together.  What a difference four simple words can make.  So, go out on that limb today and ask someone out for that cup of coffee or soda.  Approach someone you do not know at church and begin by asking his/her name.  Tap the shoulder of a possible woman/man blessing at your next outing and listen to his/her story.  

Courtney Winkler
A HUGE prayer of thanks to Pastor William Adams for allowing me to share his message.
*Taken from New Bethel UMC's October 12 Newletter  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Live a Life of Verbs

Love, Embrace, Read, Thank, Assist, Forgive, Giggle, Write, Run, Listen, Invite, Welcome, Dance, Walk, Relish, Surprise, Connect, Try, Give, Coach, Understand, Observe, Facilitate, Sooth, Cheer, Praise, Learn, Live, Encourage, Mentor, Remember, Volunteer, Sympathize, Rejoice, Think, Comfort, Pray

Courtney Winkler

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Guatemalan Cookies (Cookies with a Kick)

1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (best with at least half Special Dark Chocolate cocoa)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1.      Mix together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, and     black pepper) and set aside.
2.      Mix egg, vanilla, and sugar on medium speed until mixture is white and creamy.
3.      Cut butter into small pieces and add to mixture, stirring well.
4.      Gradually stir in dry ingredients until just mixed.
5.      Using two pieces of wax paper, form the mixture into two logs, each 8 inches long.   Roll each log in a piece of wax paper.  Freeze for 4 to 8 hours (longer is best).
6.     Slice into 1/3-inch pieces and place them on cookie sheet 1 inch apart.
7.     Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, until cookies are set.   

Makes 48 cookies.

Dannette McKellar

Friday, October 19, 2012

"It Is Well with My Soul"

When I think about how the author wrote “It Is Well with My Soul,” it overwhelms me to believe that someone could be in such grief, yet write such an inspiring song. This song has brought comfort to me many times. It is the last song I sang to my mother before Jesus opened His arms and received her into His Kingdom. A military mom friend knows how this carried me through the days my Mom was in hospice, and made a stamped necklace for me that I often wear when needing comfort. It sits with me when friends call for prayer intercession. I borrow the background for this song from an Internet search as follows:
This hymn was written by a Chicago lawyer, Horatio G. Spafford. You might think to write a worship song titled, 'It is well with my soul', you would indeed have to be a rich, successful Chicago lawyer. But the words, "When sorrows like sea billows roll ... It is well with my soul”, were not written during the happiest period of Spafford's life. On the contrary, they came from a man who had suffered almost unimaginable personal tragedy.

Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were pretty well-known in 1860’s Chicago. And this was not just because of Horatio's legal career and business endeavors. The Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close friends of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords' only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.

Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four daughters on a holiday to England. And, not only did they need the rest -- DL Moody needed the help. He was traveling around Britain on
one of his great evangelistic campaigns. Horatio and Anna planned to join Moody in late 1873. And so, the Spaffords traveled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French steamer 'Ville de Havre' across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay. Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned. He would follow on later. With this decided, Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford returned West to Chicago. Just nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read: "Saved alone."

On November 2nd 1873, the 'Ville de Havre' had collided with 'The Lochearn', an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs.
Spafford's first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, "You were spared for a purpose." And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, "It's easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God."

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father's voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. "A careful reckoning has been made", he said, "and
I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep." Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.

The words which Spafford wrote that day come from 2 Kings 4:26. They echo the response of the Shunammite woman to the sudden death of her only child. Though we are told "her soul is vexed within her", she still maintains that 'It is well." And Spafford's song reveals a man whose trust in the Lord is as unwavering as hers

It would be very difficult for any of us to predict how we would react under circumstances similar to those experienced by the Spaffords. But we do know that the God who sustained them would also be with us.

No matter what circumstances overtake us may we be able to say with Horatio Spafford...

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul!

It is well ... with my soul!
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

May you find your peace as God attends to all our needs.

Carol Pigg

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Garden of Faith at St. John's United Methodist

Jackie Snider Front and Center in the Green/Blue Striped Shirt

As a lifelong United Methodist, I have always been proud to be part of a denomination that has been an advocate for the outcast, the poor and social reform. This is especially seen in United Methodist Women and their support of women and children. The foundations of John Wesley of doing “all the good you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can" has been my mantra for most for my adult life. Through the years, I have participated in a number of wonderful projects both inside and outside the walls of the church. However, it wasn’t until we started attending St. Johns that I realized that God wanted much more from me. He wanted me to take that step out in faith.
So last year when Pastor Sheryl and our Sunday school class studied the Change the World Series, the idea of a mission garden erupted from a number of small groups. This really lit a spark within me because one of my hobbies has always been planting and nurturing both a vegetable and flower garden. When other mothers were taken out for a nice dinner on mother’s day, my day entailed going to church and then coming home and digging in the dirt with my husband and my boys. My family accepted the fact that planting a garden was the best present they could give me. I still continue to try and plant my flowers in and around mother’s day. So the mission garden seemed like a wonderful way to put my faith into action. And boy has it been a journey!! In Hebrews 11:1 it says this about faith- “Faith is the reality of what we hope for. The proof of what we don’t see.” The garden started out with a small idea and has grown exponentially into a wonderful community outreach. I have learned through my faith journey, there are bumps and obstacles; and this “garden of faith” was no different. There have been numerous challenges and this year one of the major ones was the extreme drought conditions. One of my tasks as a member of the garden team was to water. For those of you that don’t know I sing in the choir at the 900 service and so once rehearsals were over I volunteered to serve by watering each Wed night after work. Yes, it was hot and dry but I found it so peaceful sitting under the shade tree, cranking up my Christian praise music on my phone and marveling at the wonder of creation & God’s touch. It allowed me time just to talk to GOD and listen to Him. What a gift the hot summer days gave me. But it also showed me how faith can grow just as the garden was growing. As I looked out over the garden and its growth week after week, I realized more and more how this mission is allowing us all to become more connected to our creator by strengthening our faith through service to others. It was so evident as I watched a multi-generational group of people picking the fruits of all our labor. How great was GOD through all of this!!! The bounty of the garden truly exhibited God’s handiwork. I am just going to share a few stats with you too can see the magnitude of the lives that were touched with this mission.
  • Over 6 tons of produce collected
  • Places where the vegetables were distributed: Glen-Ed pantry, Alton Food Crisis Center, Leslie Bates Davies Neighborhood Center, Emmanuel UMC for their free lunch Friday meal
  • Approx. 50 servants from St. Johns helped with the garden and 20 members of Mt Joy.

Just as the mission garden continues to demand attention and so does my faith journey. It needs nurturing to be productive. I have a love for gardening, but through my faith journey I have discovered my passion of wanting to connect people within the church into those roles they are passionate about. Places where they can not only serve but also develop a deeper relationship with God. So I am serving on the vision team where I feel the essence of my faith is St. Johns vision. It is the constant forward motion of blending good works with faith that allows us to truly be the beacons of faith focusing our passions and gifts to reflect Christ’s love to the world.
We must be generous with our lives. By opening up to others, we’ll prompt others to open up with God. We are here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world whether that’s through Winter patrol, TWIGS, the mission garden, faith coalition project, serving in worship or many other opportunities here at St. Johns. We are called to live Externally Focused Lives.


I would like to close with this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
"Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't even have to make your subject and your verb agree... You only need a heart full of grace...a soul generated by love." —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Jackie Snider, Submitted by Beth Miramonti

Monday, October 15, 2012

Connect with Tonnie Schalk

RUBY: How long have you attended Troy United Methodist Church?
Tonnie:  4 years

RUBY: What drew you to this church?
Tonnie:  Linda and Darrell Burnett, they are my husband’s adoptive parents.

RUBY: Which service do you typically attend?
Tonnie:  9 a.m. I have to hear Tim Price and the Praise Band to start my week.

RUBY: Share a favorite Bible verse and/or inspirational song, and why this is a favorite.
Tonnie:  My favorite song is, "What Faith Can Do" by Kutless. When I first heard the song, it was almost like it was written for me and what I had been going through at the time. Also there is a verse “Impossible is not a word/It’s just a reason For someone not to try.” Those are the exact words I have always told my boys. That and “can’t” is a bad word that I never want to hear them say.

RUBY: Tell us about your involvement at Troy UMC and/or the community.
Tonnie:  For two years, I taught the first and second graders on Wednesday night the Tru Story. Now I try to get involved anyway I can right now. I have been working a lot with Adrian Pratt our Director of Outreach and Recreation. Also have been having fun making desserts once a month for TGIW dinners.
Most recently I have been working with Tim Price on Ignition, really enjoying this as well. I love being involved and helping anyway I can.

RUBY: Tell us about your family.
Tonnie:  I have been married to my best friend, J.R. for 21 years now (we have been best friends ever since I was 12). We have two boys- Jack who is 16, a junior at Triad High School, and Jacob who is 13 and is in 7th grade at Troy Middle School. I couldn’t ask for a better family. . . love them so much.

RUBY: Tell us what you have learned about yourself from the Spiritual Gifts Discovery Class.  Any surprises?
Tonnie:  The biggest surprise was the great friends I made in Geneva Cushing, Carrie Cushing, Deb Inman and Courtney Winkler. These women are truly amazing; I am blessed to have them in my life.

RUBY: We all love to hear you laugh, so what makes you laugh the hardest?
Tonnie:  People tell me that a lot. I need to record my laugh sometime cause I don’t hear it. I try to laugh at everything, but Moose (my little nephew) who is almost 2-years-old now makes me laugh the most right now.

RUBY: How may we contact you in order to make a further connection?
CELL: 618-444-5710

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thoughts from Tami

I actually was able to attend the 9:00 service today. I was so excited. I have missed it so much. I have been teaching the 2s and 3s Sunday school class at 9:00, so I have not been able to attend that service. I love that service! With all the new journey groups starting at 10:30, I am now teaching at 10:30. Even though it saddens me because I will miss those kids, I am looking forward to attending the 9:00 service every week. Plus, I get to meet some new kids.
Today's bible verse was Matthew 6:25-34
So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food or clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.
And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about those things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.
So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.
This passage was so perfect for me today. I have been worrying a lot lately. Even though I love this passage and I know how true it is, the human part of me still allows me to worry. I worry about finances, my kids, my health, my business, my families health, our country...I could go on and on. In fact, if you would like me to worry about something for you, just let me know, and I will :)
God is so awesome! He has always taken care of my needs, and He always will. So why do I worry? I do know that I worry much more when I drift away from Him and I am not making "The Kingdom of God" my primary purpose. When I do make it my purpose, everything else has a way of falling into place. There are still struggles and always will be struggles. It is how we handle those struggles and worries that make all the difference in our lives.
Thank you Lord for once again reminding me that you are in control and that you will take care of all our needs. I love you!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Prayer Time with Sue: No to the little Things and Yes to the BIG Ones

Non, Nein, Nyet.
I know how to say it in other languages, Lord,
why can’t I say it in English?

The teacher asked me to assist with computers
on the one afternoon I had reserved for myself.
I hear myself saying, “Yes, I’ll be there.”

The Bible Study Coordinator called and said
they were in a pinch. Could I teach this year?
Every week. 34 weeks. Sure. Why not?

The Brownie leader stopped by and introduced herself.
Any chance I could help at the meetings?
No problem,” I chirped. “I’d be happy to.”

Who wants to be in charge of soccer pictures?
I look around. No hands are raised.
It can’t take much time,” I thought. “I’ll do it.”

The Food Pantry called. They need volunteers.
You told us to feed the hungry, didn’t You?
Of course. I can do that. When do you need me?

But somewhere along the line, I learned to
say it, Lord. I heard myself saying “No.”
My daughter asked, “Can you read to me?”
No, not now. I’m working on my lesson.”

My son limped in from football practice. “How
about a back rub, Mom?”
Sorry, honey, I have to get to a meeting.”

My husband called home from work.
Can you meet me for lunch?”
Afraid not, dear. I have to work at the school.”

And You whispered in my ear, Lord, and
asked me to spend some time with You.
I can’t. I’m really busy,” I said. “How about next
week? Maybe I’ll be caught up by then.”
Yes and no. Little words. Big implications.
Give me the wisdom I need to say no to the
little things so I can say yes to the big ones.

And, yes, Lord, that means You.
In Whose Name, I Pray, Amen

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Heather Budwell

Friendships. I love them! I am one of the most relational people you may ever meet. I love meeting new people and learning about them, but I flourish from deep, meaningful relationships. I wear my heart on my sleeve so you can almost always know how my day is going just by my demeanor. I keep things real and don’t have time or patience for falsehoods. I usually show my cards at our first meeting and if you feel like you can stick around for some more then you have earned yourself a trustworthy, true sister in Christ.

Growing up in a family who moved every few years I have learned the deep rooted importance of a strong family unit and consider my mother to be one of my very best friends in the world. My dad is my biggest fan and I treasure his thumbprint on my life. I have tried to instill this same strong family value into my family today. My husband, Rich, and I are going on 13 years of marriage and have been blessed with three amazing kiddos. Life is full and exhausting and exhilarating and exasperating all in one day around our house! I consider myself to be a daily recipient of God’s mercy and grace and try to keep my sinful nature in line with these gifts. I have experienced some of the most amazing journeys around the world and have lived out some of the most painful seasons of suffering. I view my life’s journey thus far as a road map to a deeper and more intimate relationship with God, myself and those I pour my heart into.

I express my worship to God through music, singing, dreaming, laughing, hiking, teaching, relating, loving, running, dancing, art, writing, cooking, eating all kinds of good food, journaling, public speaking, creating, designing and crying. I live to love.

Sue Busler

Bible babe, wife, mother, retired Air Force Reserve Colonel, and desperate housewife, not necessarily in that order. She currently lives in Maryville, Illinois, where she is a Certified Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church. Several years ago, Sue was afflicted with a serious case of volunteerism, a condition she continues to battle today, unsuccessfully. She has been a Bible Study teacher, Sunday School teacher, Cub Scout Den leader, Girl Scout leader, food pantry volunteer, Boy Scout committee person, church committee chairperson, youth sports coach, room mother, Ronald McDonald House volunteer, Officers’ Spouses’ Club officer, yada, yada, yada. Once upon a time, Sue was selected as the Reserve Officer of the Year for the entire Air Force, and she has won several other awards, too, including “Best Smile” in the third grade. She loves chocolate, which she did not give up for Lent, and reads everything from Pulitzer Prize winners to food package labels. She works out every day, almost. A wannabe writer, she is the author of a book of prayers and several Erma Bombeck-type articles which were published under her own by-line, “Go Ahead, Sue Me.” She has been married to Bruce for 31 passion-filled years, and is the mother of three very average children: Tom, Luke and Rebecca Joy, a student at Olivet Nazarene. She is also a grandmother to a nearly perfect granddaughter, Annabel Eve. A bad dog, Izzy, rounds out the family.

Jessica Dudley
I'm a 30-something wife and mother of two boys who literally and figuratively fill my plate too full.  I'm a self-proclaimed procrastinator, but I tend to work well under pressure.  I do my best thinking while in the shower.  I make jokes when I'm nervous and insecure. I'm a huge Neil Diamond fan.  I recently checked "Donate Hair To Locks of Love" off my bucket list.  Most importantly, I'm here because I'm a lifetime yo-yo dieter who just recently began a genuine journey towards God for the first time in my life.  It all started after He decided to buy me breakfast at McDonald's, and I want to share my honest, emotion-filled spiritual journey towards God, good health, balance of life, and eternal happiness with others.  

Deb Ellis

I’m proud to say that I am a 47-year-old wife, mom & Christian. I have been married 21 years. My husband is a retired Air Force pilot and we have lived in quite a few locations, but never overseas (bummer). My family “roots” brought us back to Illinois in 2000. Funny, I spent the first 18 years of my life trying to escape the boredom of Illinois, and I am the one who begged to come back. My childhood BFF always said “roots grow deep in the Midwest.” She also made me wear a seat belt before it was the law. I have two beautiful, teenage daughters who have made me a better person. Because of them, I came back to the church and one day found myself in a Women’s Bible Study group. I have been with these ladies for almost ten years, and they have molded and nurtured my soul. God called upon me five years ago to “take care of you” and since then I have been on a journey…to grow…in strength, faith, patience, friendships and confidence. He has taken me on many scary journeys (running ½ marathons, writing for Ruby, cycling for great causes, surfing, accepting a “real” job after many years staying home with my girls, etc.). I am on a faith walk with the Lord, and I am really enjoying the trip!

Julie Ford
I'm in the middle of 100, does that mean middle aged? I love Jesus Christ, his mercy, his grace and his word. I am married to the most wonderful man, yes he does dishes and makes me breakfast, a momma to (3) young adults who make me laugh my head off and sometimes just makes me shake my head....stepmom to my man's (5) loving kids. I love dogs, all kinds and we currently have (4) in our home,, love, love working with women's ministry, sending/receiving snail mail/packages, eating white wedding cake, drinking coffee, Hershey chocolate, reading books/blogs, baking, cooking and giving encouragement. Just recently had a epiphany about my life, I want to do things that I wouldn't have even thought about in my earlier years, guess a bucket list of sorts, and writing is one of them. Bring it on!

Elizabeth Grant

Elizabeth Grant is a professor of speech at Lewis and Clark Community College.  She resides in Edwardsville with her husband Steve and sons David (14) and Cam (11).  We are a baseball family...and we dislike Sunday (church day) tournaments but find ourselves on the field a lot during summer weekends.  She is involved at Troy UMC as pre-school storyteller (only because she likes to wear wigs each Sunday) and worship leader (that's my real hair...yep, THAT curly!)   My college's mission includes empowering people to accomplish great things and I enjoy being a part of that process by empowering my students with confidence to speak out for what they believe.

Sarah Kirkpatrick

Sarah Kirkpatrick works in Student Affairs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Sarah received a bachelor’s degree in sociology/social work from Illinois College and her master of science in Student Personnel Administration from University of Central Missouri. She is a Glen Carbon resident, having moved back to the Metro-East area after living and working in Indiana and Northern Virginia. Sarah is a member of First Presbyterian Church Edwardsville where she sits on the Board of Elders, teaches Sunday School, and chairs the Evangelism and Church Promotions committee. She is mom to a 7-year old daughter, Grace. Sarah’s interests include reading, scrapbooking, Relay For Life, and taking Grace swimming and to the zoo.

LeAnn Kitchen
LeAnn Kitchen, age 31, has lived in Troy, IL since 2009 with her husband Kris, and three daughters, Kaylee, Megan, and Kendall. LeAnn is blessed with the opportunity to stay home with her girls. LeAnn enjoys cooking and baking from scratch, attempting to be crafty from time-to-time, and volunteering for positions such Girl Scout Troop Leader and Upward Cheerleading Coach. In addition, she is an active member of the Community of Christ Church in Shiloh, IL.

Beth Miramonti
I am a Jesus Girl, forgiven and anointed!  Empty-nested mama seeking God and wholeness in body, mind and soul. I love learning, research, and books. Some of my favorite hobbies include crocheting, reading, beading, gardening and most anything outdoors. My favorite time of year, fall, I crave campfires in the evening and hikes through piles of fallen leaves.  I love children for their simple pure honesty and passion for life.  I have recently found joy in fitness and have come to believe that one pure act of worship is caring for my physical body so as to provide a Holy Temple for my God to reside within me.  I am truly a work in progress and learning to give thanks for all these good gifts from above.

Carol Pigg, Biography Coming Soon

Lisa Powell

I live out in the country near Ogden, Illinois, a very small town northeast of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  My husband Josh and I have been married for 14+ years and have 3 beautiful girls ages 9, 5 and 2.  I am also a homeschool teacher.  I have been homeschooling for 5 years.  It is a blessing to be able to teach the girls daily about Jesus throughout all of their subjects and be able to challenge them at their individual levels as they need.  Being a teacher/mommy/wife takes up most of my time, but when I have free time I enjoy reading, scrapbooking, cardmaking, sewing, and crafting of all kinds!  I am usually involved in at least two Bible studies at once.  I want to know God more and more.  The more I learn about Him and His love for me, the more I want to know.  I long to live as close to Jesus as I can.

Tami Roderick

Tami is a mother of four children. Brad, age 24, Zack, age 18, Christian, age 16 and Tori age 11. She has been married to her husband David for 25 years. Even after 25 years, He is the love of her life. She feels very blessed to have Him and her four children. Tami owns her own accounting business and works from home. She is in a business partnership with God. She believes that If it was not for Him, she would not be where she is in her business. She has an employee that has also added to her many blessings. Tami is a minister's wife as her husband David is the Family Minister at TUMC. Tami teaches the 2s and 3s Tru Wonder class. She absolutely loves spending time with those little ones. Tami is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in May of 2010. She is in remission. She has seen God's work in the people around her. She hopes that she can always give back as much love and support as her and her family received during their rough times. 

Pat Schwieder

Hi, my name is Pat Schwieder. I have been married to my amazing husband for 35 years. The Lord blessed me with two daughters who are as different from one another as their parents are. Emily is 34, a school teacher and the proud mother of our two grandchildren, Julia (4) and Joe (3). My younger daughter, Jami, is a social worker at a grade school and the proud mother of our two grandcats! They both are married to awesome men we adore.

My husband, Jerry, and I love to spend weekends at bed and breakfasts and explore the towns they are near. Even after 35 years, we still enjoy each other's company.

I have a passion for women's ministry and I have been blessed with many opportunities over the years to meet many wonderful God-loving women of all ages. I am so excited to have the pleasure of contributing to Ruby Magazine.

Your Name Here, Picture and Biography Coming Soon

Courtney Winkler
I am a forty-something believer, book woman, wife, momma, freelance writer/editor, volunteer, previous fish owner (may they R.I.P.), grandmother to a hamster, M.A.T., 4x 5Ker, 1x 39.3 mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Survivor, book club member, Daisy and Brownie leader, ballerina flunkee, recreational baker, lover of preschool crafts, extreme couponer wannabe, reading advocate, amateur photog, film addict, aspiring horticulturist, English teacher, breast cancer warrior, and Author Groupie.

Dannette's Devotional: Let's Race Together

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us
Hebrews 12:1

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive,
encourage the disheartened,
help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14

Anticipation filled the air.  It didn’t matter that the athletes were burdened with wheelchairs, poor eyesight, and other disabilities.  The Gateway Games near St. Louis was their moment to shine.  The final event was a 5K competition: 12 long laps around the track for two wheelchair athletes who had already competed in earlier races.  The young man easily took the lead and continued gaining distance until he crossed the finish line.  But he didn’t stop to rest and enjoy his win.  He returned to the track and caught up with his competitor.  He wheeled alongside, encouraging her for 5 more laps, until she crossed the finish line too. 
The remaining spectators were on our feet screaming.  We cheered for the young lady who persevered to the end and the young man who stayed on the track to encourage his competition.  Both were true winners, racing despite their disabilities. 

Nephew Kory Running in the Paralymptics Trials at the Gateway Games in St. Charles Last May

Do you feel too overwhelmed to start what God is calling you to do?  Remember, God will help you.  Do you feel like giving up?  Remember, God will strengthen you to persevere.   Are you finishing in the lead?  Reach back and encourage those behind you.  God is calling us to all race together toward His prize.

Dannette McKellar

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Like Me . . . You Like You

As Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, I can't help but look forward to watching Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, a family tradition.  An especially moving scene and, I think, essential element of the story is Del's following statement, "I like . . . I like me.  My wife likes me.  My customers like me.  'Cause I'm the real article.  What you see is what you get."

Do you like you?  Do you carve out time to spend with yourself?  Have you allowed yourself the time to really know yourself?  Challenge yourself to make knowing and truly liking yourself a priority.

So, you'd like to lose a few pounds, take some time to exercise while having time alone with yourself.  

Some Quality Time with Myself at Watershed Nature Reserve

Register for that class you have been wanting to take, but can't seem to coordinate schedules in order to find anyone to take it with you.  You just might find some of your hidden talents or, at the very least, scratch an item off of your bucket list.

Card-Making at Archiver's

"Whoever gets sense loves his own soul;  [s]he who keeps understanding will discover good."
                                                   -Proverbs 19:8

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Dump Cake

Photo Courtesy of Julie Ford
Just for fun.  One of my all time favorite things to do is bake.  I am always on the lookout for delicious desserts to bake.  I am sharing one of the very best desserts to make in the Fall, made this the other night and our home smelled so good, made two cakes in less than three days, first cake went to work and second cake for my man this weekend.
I hope you and your family will enjoy this as much as we do.

Pumpkin Dump Cake
4 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups pumpkin (can of pumpkin)
12 oz can evaporated milk
1 yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
2 sticks butter (melted)

Mix first 6 ingredients together and pour into 13x9 pan
Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture
Sprinkle chop pecans over cake mix then pour melted butter evenly over the cake mix and pecans.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour (watch time as ovens vary)
Serve with cool whip on top.
You might like this better than pumpkin pie!

1 Thes 5:11 

Julie Ford

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Not a Creature Was Stirring, Not Even a Mouse

7:45 a.m. in the morning at our house typically means the hub has long gone to work, and we're on our way to school drop-offs.  Yet, a rare Saturday morning changes everything . . .
Three "babies" are still snoozing after an active evening at Dive-In Movie with friends.  All I hear is the water run in the ice maker and see the light streaming in the windows at the promise of a new day.  

How are you going to choose to fulfill your day?  
For me, making a card for a sick friend of a friend, reading a few pages of a borrowed book, relishing the laughter of children at a pumpkin patch, watching a dear friend's daughter, and maybe, just maybe attempting to slay that overflowing mountain of dirty clothes.

Dear Lord, thank you for the multiple possibilities of fulfilling another day.  Lead me to fulfill this day with many praises and many thanks.  In your name I pray, Amen.