Wednesday, June 18, 2014

See Ya Later!

Dear Readers,
RUBY Magazine Troy UMC wanted to thank you for an incredible three-year run.  Take the time to search our archive for honest, inspiring essays, delectable recipes, and some interviews with some amazing women blessings.  

Blessings to all,

RUBY Magazine

Monday, June 16, 2014

Renewing My Faith: The [extra] Ordinary Christian Way

Let me share a few lists with you today. After all, don’t we all keep lists? So here goes (it’s a short list, I promise):
In the past year I
1. relocated to Troy, IL, from Toledo, OH,
2. started a new job at a wonderful local university
3. became pregnant and gave birth to my 3rd, lovely child.

I share this list because each item you see there has been both a blessing and a challenge for me. I really didn’t want to leave my husband’s and my childhood hometown, but in order to accept the teaching position, I was compelled to leave home. While starting something new can be exhilarating, meeting new colleagues and branching out in a new work environment can be equally terrifying (for someone like me, at least, who wants to control every aspect of her life!). But here I am, enjoying my new teaching position. And I don’t even need to qualify this, but there just isn’t anything like having a baby. For me, it is the ultimate human experience, but it sure is a draining and thankless job at times.

Lists are powerful. They help us remember what we need to pick up at the grocery store. Lists remind us what we need to accomplish during the day (even if it is that millionth load of laundry). More importantly, lists can highlight what is most important in our lives. Taking stock of my short list above, I recently realized how God has blessed me. And I am humbled by it.

I don’t try to hide it – I’ve been a lukewarm Christian for a long time. I just couldn’t make the connection or the commitment to put my faith in action. The person I saw in the mirror just didn’t measure up with what I mistakenly believed an “ideal” Christian “had to be."  I had a fairly long list running in my head dictating to me what an ideal Christian was, and not one of my attributes could be found on that list (sad but true – I really didn’t believe I could be of any use to God). I had come to accept that I was outside God’s full grace.

But I want to share a shorter list than the one above – it is something I recently [re]discovered, accepted and now live by (having children has really revealed new and old insights!). This list is the not-so-secret “set of requirements” to receive God’s blessing, to be the “ideal” Christian:
If I, or anyone, want to be and live as a Christian, all I need is:
1. Faith

That’s it. As Po discovers in Kung Fu Panda, there is no secret ingredient in his father’s soup. (Yes, I just linked my spiritual “aha” moment to a computer-animated film. I have young children, remember?) Po learns that the soup is delicious because everyone believes it is. The soup is special because people believe it to be true. Likewise, I am special because God has blessed me – even if I see myself as just an ordinary cup of Christian soup. All I need to do is believe. All I need is faith the size of a mustard seed.

So today I am posting a new list on my bathroom mirror. It is the ordinary Christian list, and there are just two items on it:
What I need to be an ordinary Christian:
1. Faith

The most special ordinary Christian:
1. Me

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, KJV)

Amen to that!

Looking for more on faith and the challenges you will encounter throughout life?
Check out 1 Peter 6-7

By Stephanie Quinn/@QuinnWordWoman

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Thanks

A kind smile from a complete stranger . . .

Celebrating Father's Day with three generations of men blessings . . .

An unexpected thank you . . . 

The commitment of woman blessing Carol P. to RUBY Magazine . . .

Laughter found in an odd news story from a small town . . .

An invitation for my daughter from a woman blessing neighbor . . . 

The opportunity to share my love of writing and reading to additional students in the fall . . .

For what are you thankful?  Reflect on this past week, and share your thoughts in the comments section below.  You may help others appreciate the richness in their lives.

Daily Wisdom: Intimacy

God does not hold resentment or bitterness against my inattentiveness, but His heart aches for intimacy with me. He does not need my love to complete Him; He is complete within Himself. However, He longs for all my heart, all my mind and my undivided devotion as He draws near to me.

                                 ~Katherine Walden~
Submitted by Carol Pigg/@carols_kitchen, "This spoke to my heart. Btw, we've found a really old church to attend Sunday. The Wesleys travelled a lot through this region." 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lisa Jo Baker's Five Minute Friday: Messenger

Messenger . . .  as I think about this word, I think about Sports Camp this past week at church where the message was delivered daily to the kiddos enrolled through devotion, prayer, and example. . .  

What ensued was laughter, encouragement, helpfulness, friendship, and sharing . . . messengers.

Tonight I heard my girls sing one of the devotional songs in their room . . . messengers. 

Consider messenger in the context of your own life, and take five minutes to share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Daily Wisdom: Grateful Heart

"A grateful heart is one that finds the countless blessings of God in the seemingly mundane everyday life."


Submitted by Carol Pigg/@carols_kitchen, "Can we get a few 'amens' on this?"

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cleo's Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons dry milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour *
1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ยบ

In large bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin to smooth. Stir in dry milk, sea salt, and dried parsley (if using, optional). Add brown rice flour gradually, combining with spatula or hands to form a stiff, dry dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface (can use the brown rice flour) and if dough is still rough, briefly knead and press to combine.

Roll dough between 1/4 – 1/2″ – depending on your dog’s chew preferences, – and use biscuit or other shape cutter to punch shapes, gathering and re-rolling scraps as you go. Place shapes on cookie sheet, no greasing or paper necessary. If desired, press fork pattern on biscuits before baking, a quick up-and-down movement with fork, lightly pressing down halfway through dough. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, then bake additional 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely on rack before feeding to dog.

* Brown rice flour gives the biscuits crunch and promotes better dog digestion. Many dogs have touchy stomachs or allergies, and do not, like many people I know, tolerate wheat.

Makes up to 75 small (1″) biscuits or 50 medium biscuits.

Submitted by Carol Pigg/@carols_kitchen

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sports Camp

Need help having your kiddos fall asleep this summer?  We have the solution for YOU . . .  Sports Camp at Troy UMC.

$6/day from 9-11 a.m.  Drop your kiddo for one day or all days.

Devotion, Warm-Up, Volleyball, Soccer, Softball, Cheerleading, Team Building, Friendship, Confidence, Encouragement, Prayer 

Contact Tonnie at for more information!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sew Much Love: Pillowcases

Many of you may know that I volunteer with a group who supports monthly adoptions of deployed US Military Troops all over the world, and MASH units in Afghanistan.  We have some wonderful women who sew through the Troy United Methodist Group called “Sew Much Love.”  Also, for those of you who remember Pastor Joy Cachetta, she has three small churches, and women from there also sew.  What they have all created, as well as all the people who sew across the country, is amazing.  Each stitch is a prayer for a good night’s sleep and a safe return of all our troops.  Pillowcases have gone to ships, to the “Sandbox” (aka Afghanistan), to Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, and Coast Guard groups.  Sometimes an individual in need will contact our group, Molly’s Adopt a Sailor, as we will rush a love box and a pillowcase out to them.

Our pillowcases take only one yard, if you leave out the extra strip of fabric that you will see in the video.  Sergers are the fastest, but for years, I have used a regular sewing machine.   We also have people who have tie died white ones, too.

As you go to sleep tonight, add a prayer for our troops.  If you would like to sew, a link to instructions is included. 

By Carol Pigg/@carols_kitchen

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday Thanks

a safe journey with family

being unplugged for a week

an unexpected apology

the beauty of the ocean 

a rainy day spent inside with loved ones 

time to read

a faithful friend checking in

the confirmation of a young woman blessing

What are you THANKFUL for?  Please share below in the comments section.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

TED Talks Club: Self-Definition

They say you can take the girl out of the school, but you can’t take the school out of the girl. So while I am officially on summer break from teaching at Lewis and Clark Community College, I am still thinking about my teaching. This is my first column in Ruby Magazine and I am excited to start a new feature: TED talks club…it’s like a book club without the guilt of having to read an entire book and the ethical dilemma as to whether you can still participate if you’ve only read the first chapter, Cliff notes, or nothing at all. It’s summer after all, so let’s go easy on ourselves.
TED talks combine two of my favorite attributes: they are INSPIRATIONAL and they are FREE. So, just like a good bargain, I’d like to share them with my friends at Ruby.

You’ll want to go to www. and look around. If you would like a little background on this amazing site, here is a very brief one:

TED was founded in 1984 as basically a one-time event. In 1990, TED began to meet as a yearly conference (reportedly there’s a 3 year waiting list to simply attend this $3,000 conference). These conferences meet at cool international locations and film the speakers to post on this site so that we can be enriched for free. There are smaller conferences such as TedX which can attract a more local audience…with a shorter waiting list for attendance. I’ve heard that Maryville University is planning one soon.

If you sign up as a free Ted member, you can get weekly emails of new offerings. While most lectures are 20 minutes, they have recently added shorter ones. The first one I would like to watch together has implications for us as women, mothers, and friends and looks at the constant process that we engage in of self-definition. You may have seen it as it was on Facebook in the past and can be found on YouTube here. (Yes, certain Ted talks make it to youtube too, but I encourage you to still visit Ted and look around.)

Then think about these questions:
  1. What words do you use to describe yourself?
  2. Whose words are those? Yours or those that have been said about you?
  3. Do you like the chosen words? How often do you redefine those words?

So that’s enough homework for now. It’s summer after all…enjoy! See you next month with another Ted talk to check out. Ted’s slogan is “Ideas Worth Sharing” so don’t keep it to yourself…pass it on. Cheers.

By Elizabeth Grant

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Things Your Mother Should Have Told You

1. Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.

2. Use a meat baster to “squeeze” your pancake batter onto the hot griddle and you’ll get perfectly shaped pancakes every time....

3. To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

4. To prevent eggshells from cracking, add a pinch of salt to the water before hard-boiling.

5. Run your hands under cold water before pressing Rice Krispies treats in the pan and the marshmallow won’t stick to your fingers.

6. To get the most juice out of fresh lemons, bring them to room temperature and roll them under your palm against the kitchen counter before squeezing.

7. To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on the stove top.

8. Spray your Tupperware with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces and there won’t be any stains.

9. When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won’t be any white mess on outside of the cake.

10. If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it’s still cooking, drop in a peeled potato and it will absorb the excess salt for an instant “fix me up.”

11. Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

12. Treat People the way you want to be treated. Life is like a pencil without an eraser. Be mindful of what you put out as it does come back around.

13. Place a slice of apple in hardened brown sugar to soften it.

14. When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn’s natural sweetness.

15. To determine whether an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it is fresh, but if it rises to the surface, throw it away.

16. Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

17. Don’t throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

18. If you have a problem opening jars: Try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

19. Potatoes will take food stains off your fingers. Just slice and rub raw potato on the stains and rinse with water.

20. To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area and you will experience instant relief.

21. Ants, ants, ants everywhere … Well, they are said to never cross a chalk line. So get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or wherever ants tend to march. See for yourself.

22. Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer. Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China. Clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets. Polish jewelry. Drop two Alka-Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes. Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka-Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary). Unclog a drain. Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka-Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of Heinz White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then run the hot water.
 Submitted by Carol Pigg/@carols_kitchen

Monday, May 19, 2014

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

          Years ago, in one of my former lives, I was a hairdresser and had a shop in my home. It was a great job to work around my small children’s schedules and be available for them after school. It is not so easy to have a business in your home, however. In fact, it is very intrusive.
           I was concerned that not many people would be interested in coming to a beauty shop in my basement. In the beginning, it was not a walkout basement. My clients had to walk through my home to come to the basement.
           I was very blessed to have been in a church with the school my children attended and the majority of the staff for the school and church were my clients.
           One day I got a call from a woman, whom I had known in several capacities, to cut her hair. I was a little surprised to hear from her because I had been in business for about 8 years by then and this was her first time to call me. She had really long hair so I assumed she just didn’t go to the beauty shop often. I made an appointment for her with little conversation.
           The first time I saw Sharon was in the backyard of my in-laws home with a shotgun in her hand. Her husband wasn’t far behind her also with a shotgun. I was quite alarmed and called my father-in-law to the window I was looking out and asked if he knew them. He grunted a barely audible “yes” and went out to the backyard to inquire as to why these people were in his yard with shotguns. Everyone along that road had at least 3 acres, and everyone knew one other.
           My father-in-law came back into the house and said they were looking for their dog they believed to have been bitten by a rabid raccoon, and they wanted to put him down. The couple came into the house, and no one ever came into my mother-in- law’s home without eating homemade cinnamon bread and drinking a cup of coffee, so they stayed for a while. My father-in- law referred to them as the neighborhood hippies.
           The next time I saw Sharon was in a women’s Bible study I was leading. Since it was the first class of the season and after school summer break, I thought everyone should introduce herself and comment about why she was there. When it was Sharon’s turn, she waved me off, and I did not want to put her on the spot so I nodded to the next lady. Sharon then interrupted and said that the reason she was there was because her daughter was in the first grade and had been asked to a birthday party from people she did not know. She stated that she didn’t especially like people, mostly women, but felt like she needed to learn how to be more social for her daughter’s sake. She thought a women’s Bible study might be a good start. You could hear a pin drop!
           I saw Sharon around church and the school, and periodically around my in-laws neighborhood but did not have much social contact with her after that class was over. I did notice that she was volunteering more and became more visible over the next five years.
           Five years later, the appointment for a haircut came. Her husband drove her and came in with her, but she told him to go sit around the corner while she got her hair cut. He did as told. She instructed me to braid her waist-length hair and cut next to the scalp. I did as requested. She purposefully then turned the chair around to face me and away from the mirror and took the braid from my hand. She then handed me the clippers sitting on the roll- about next to her and said she wanted me to shave her head. I was motionless and speechless, which almost never happens.
           When I could regain my composure, I finally asked why she wanted a shaved head. She explained to me that she was just diagnosed with breast cancer and did not want to watch her hair fall out in clumps. I had no idea of this diagnosis. My mind raced with so many questions, but I was not sure what would be acceptable based on our limited relationship.
           We spent several minutes in silence, and as I wiped back tears, I slowly and gently placed the clippers on her scalp and drew back one row at a time leaving little black pin dots on her scalp where long, thick, healthy, coal black hair once was.
  So many things raced through my mind. The last few years had been spent in many classes at the church and parenting classes so she could make good on her promise to her daughter to become more social.
She turned to look at me and must have sensed the many questions and gave me permission to ask what I wanted. As I sorted through the many, the main question I wanted to ask her was about how her faith was holding up during this rough storm. She said words to me 25 years ago that I will never forget. She said, “I believe that I am merely a lump of coal, and this is just one more way God can use to polish me up into a shiny, beautiful diamond!”
Sharon honored her daughter by being a great example of what God can do with a dirty, dusty, black lump of coal. For the next three years, you could see the shining, clear glow of a diamond in the rough.

By Pat Schwieder 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Thanks

Laughing until I cry while at the dentist (of all places) . . .
Marking the girls' growth on their doors . . .

An invitation to my daughter from another mother's First Communion . . .

Witnessing the love of reading by children . . .

A surprise found on my sink left by a tween woman blessing . . .

The crispiest potato skins I have had in years . . .

Watching a game with loved ones while sitting in the shade . . .

The memory of a woman blessing working on my hair in the comfort of my home while healing from a double mastectomy . . .

For what are you thankful?  Consider today, yesterday, and the week which has passed, and share your thanks in the comments section below.  Perhaps, your sharing will remind another (as well as yourself) of what all he/she has to be thankful.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Being a Military Mom

Being a Military Mom is a whole new world, even six years into it. It’s knowing that your young adult will not be able to share Christmas and Easter, birthdays, weddings or Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with you. It’s knowing that you no longer bake their birthday cake and watch them blow out the candles. It’s knowing that days turn into weeks turn into months without a hug from them. It’s knowing that “no news is good news” becomes your mantra when they are on deployment.
It’s also joy. Joy that your adult child picked a career to serve their country. It’s joy when you get four lines of an email while they are on deployment. It’s joy when you get the call “Mom, I’m on American ground again. The air smells so good. The sun on my back is wonderful.” It’s joy when a small package comes to your house sharing their love for you.
It’s a world of shared sisterhood of other Military Moms. It’s having them available immediately when one of us is having a bad day. It’s fun gabbing on the phone when the empty house seems so loud filled with nothing. It’s delightful when your hubby sends you away on Mother’s Day to be with other Moms to share in packing boxes for our young troopers we will never meet in person, but who become our “adopted children” for a month, and sometimes longer. It’s hugging anyone in a military uniform when you are in the airport or traveling. It’s sharing the pictures of our troopers in their new military homes, or with their new spouses, or with their new children. It’s a support group that is a gift from God. 

God Bless our Military Moms. Keep their families safe. Share a prayer with them and let them know you care.

By Carol Pigg/@carols_kitchen

Monday, May 12, 2014

You're the Best Ever

My older two daughters, Kaylee and Megan, often respond with the phrase, “You’re the best mom ever!” when they receive a gift from me or when I do something extra special for them. My youngest daughter, Kendall, has picked up the phrase now as well. She uses it much more freely.
I help her blow her nose – you’re the best mom ever.
I cut her sandwich in half – you’re the best mom ever.
I cannot lie, I love hearing it! I always respond with “You’re the best Kendall ever.”
However, I don’t do the things for my girls because I am expecting them to say thank you. Like all the moms here today, I give because I love my children.
I believe our Heavenly Parent feels the same way. God blesses us in big and special ways like new jobs, a healthy baby, and a supportive family. God blesses us in small, everyday ways as well. All these blessings are given because He loves us. But, just like I enjoy hearing my girls’ expressions of gratitude, I am sure God would enjoy hearing the same from us.
God gave us a beautiful earth to live on – you’re the best God ever. I am going to use resources wisely.
God blessed us with a wonderful church home to worship in – you’re the best God ever. I am going to support my congregation financially to help maintain the church.
God blessed us with wonderful friends and family – you’re the best God ever. I am going to share the Good News and pray for them.
And you know what? Just like my response to my girls, God believes YOU are the best ever too.
LeAnn Kitchen/@kitchentreasure

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Thanks

Listening to Tim Price's sermon today at Troy United Methodist Church, he encouraged us all to pray without asking for anything, but instead praying a prayer of complete thanksgiving.  This gave me pause to think we should devote our day of rest and all days to thanking our Creator.  So, every Sunday consider participation in Sunday Thanks.

Please reflect on today, the past week, or one incident in particular.  Share what you are thankful for in the comments section below.  Perhaps, your sharing will encourage someone else to realize how much he/she has in which to be thankful.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Grateful

This week I am grateful for a young man blessing's successful ear surgery, the BEST medical test results for a soul mate woman blessing, the anticipation of dear friends coming to visit, a tremendous group of young women blessings I am privileged to work with and learn from through Girl Scouts, a tasty chocolate bread pudding (for once), revisiting a spiritual locale and receiving such a genuine hug, eating a burger on salad instead of bread (big for me), the end of a semester of teaching, surprise cupcakes on our counter from my child from another mother, cleaning off the kitchen counter, catching up with an amazing woman blessing at a t-ball game, luscious cupcakes (okay, this cancels out the no bread above, but hey), lots of laughter, a hub who is an outstanding Girl Scout, and the Lord.

What are you grateful for this week?  Share courtesy of Lisa-Jo Baker in the comments section below.

Sunday at Troy United Methodist Church!

8:00, 9:00, 10:30, or 10:35

Friday, May 2, 2014

Raising Girls Is Not for Wimps

Proverbs 22:6 Says “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” As a mom of 3 girls, some days this task seems so daunting. I pray every day that God would give me the wisdom and strength to do this very thing.
As my girls get older, it seems like there are more and more things that I feel like I have to protect them from and educate them about so that they can make wise choices. And the older they get, the more this weighs on me. Recently, I had “the talk” with my oldest daughter. So, now there’s a wide range of topics that are cropping up because of this new subject. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing; it’s just one more way that she is growing up and becoming a young woman. Our conversations have become way more deep and laced with way more questions than they’ve ever been. I’m constantly praying that I have the right words to say in these precious times and that I can protect her sweet spirit while teaching her about purity and God’s design for her body.
With three girls in the house, something that is always interesting is their emotional clashes. At any given point, our house can quickly go from a house full of laughter to one or more girls crying or screaming. It’s those times that I just have to shake my head, give hugs, and prepare for the days when I’ll have 3 teenage girls in the house at one time. (Pray for me.) 
I grew up in a house with 2 brothers, and I am in the middle. I longed for a sister my entire life. So, I try to teach the girls to appreciate and enjoy their sisters. To treat them well because hopefully when they grow up they will be the best of friends. Sisters are supposed to be there to tell secrets to, comfort each other in sad times and laugh with each other in happy times. I see that developing already in the girls, and it brings so much joy to my heart. I love the times when I catch them snuggled up on the couch together enjoying a movie. Or when my oldest takes the time out of whatever she’s doing to read a book to my youngest. I encourage them often to help each other and to spend time doing things together. Of course, this is not easy. There are many many times when this results in screaming, arguing, crying, etc. But we have to work through it and learn how to love each other, speak with kindness to each other, and compromise.
I love having three girls, but it is not for wimps. There are days I crawl (literally) into bed, waiting for sleep to come and enjoy the blessed silence of three girls asleep for at least a few hours. Having three girls definitely has its challenges, but it certainly has its benefits.  It takes constant prayer and reminding yourself that you cannot do anything without God’s help. I love that my girls know Jesus. That they all enjoy learning more about Him through His word. Some of my favorite times are when we are in the car traveling somewhere and hearing them all singing a praise song together without realizing they are doing it. Or when they seek out children on the playground at the park who look lonely or who have a disability and can’t play with all of the other children, and play with those children so that they make other children happy. Those are the moments when I feel like I’m doing ok. Those are the moments when I am so proud of them and look forward to seeing what else God has planned for their lives. 

By Lisa Powell/@mamaof3gs 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Save the State with Retakes

Sad to say, I am one of "those" women who hate pictures of herself, but I have gotten better over the years. About five years ago, my daughters pointed out that there was about a ten year gap in pictures of me, and they didn't like that. When I'm dead and gone, they want to be able to remember what I look like at each age, apparently. So, I have gotten much better about even requesting my picture being taken with one of them.

However, I just got my driver's license renewed on March 10th, and actually I have never minded my picture-until this year. For some reason, my hair looked blown up on the right side of my head, and I was looking down at something which clearly showed my multiple chins. I asked the guy right there and then to re-take it, and he said that is not policy. My birthday was March 13th, three days later, and I had to show my license at Target where I bought a box of wine. The lady looking at my driver's license said, "Wow, you have really lost weight since this picture!" I explained it was three days ago.

The next day I went to the DMV to get my picture re-taken and was willing to pay the $30. The lady behind the counter told me it was against policy. Really? I was willing to give them another $30. She said if they did it for me, every other woman would want a re-take of her picture. I said that would be great! This state is near bankruptcy, so why not?

My daughters told me that if I were ever in an accident where my wallet was not with my body, the authorities would never be able to identify me. I have lied about my height, weight and hair color for thirty years, and they have never questioned that!

By Pat Schwieder

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Friend

Friend.  I think of the woman blessing who has listened to me despite all of the blubbering and tears, who yanked me out of bed when I was too low to remove those covers, who talks with me on the phone . . . daily, who loves my children as her own, who has created traditions with me, who remembers my ailments, who makes me laugh huge belly laughs, who encourages only, who says it like it is, who is willing to try, discover, and learn with me, who listens to me, who loves me.

Now, you try.  Please complete your Five Minute Friday:  Friend in our comments section below.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Daily Wisdom: Worship, Word, Walk, and Works

In the Christ-centered life, I see four banks providing the necessary boundaries for the greatest benefit to come from this flood we call renewal: Worship, Word, Walk, and Works. These banks not only direct the flow of renewal, they also intensify its force.
                                                                  ~John Wimber~
Submitted by Carol Pigg

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mercy vs. Truth

A few months ago, I was challenged to pick a word to summarize what I needed to work on the most this year. The first word that came to mind was mercy. A lot of people commented that they thought this was an odd word. How could mercy be hard? What is so difficult about showing mercy? Some said that I seemed like too nice of a person to have issues with showing mercy. However, this is something I have struggled with.
I have been hurt many times by many people. I may be quick to forgive them, but I have issues showing mercy. The problem is truth gets in the way. The truth hurts sometimes. I’m not talking God’s truth, by the way; I’m talking about truth as we perceive it. Let me give an example. When my husband says or does something that hurts me in some way, my truth says “What a jerk!” “ He doesn’t deserve me ever being nice to him again!” and “He doesn’t really love me or he wouldn’t treat me like that!” But mercy says, “He’s your husband. You made a promise to love, honor, and cherish”, “Treat him the way you want to be treated,” and “Love him the way Christ loves him.” But mercy is SO hard for me! If someone hurts me, I want him/her to hurt. If someone is mean to me, I want to be mean to him/her. If someone makes me feel left out and alone, I want him/her to feel that way too. And THIS is why I am committed to working on mercy.
In one of the books I use during my devotion time, Sparkling Gems from the Greek, I came across a passage this past week that was talking about Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus and how Jesus never treated Judas with the way truth said he should be treated. He showed him mercy beyond any mercy we’ve ever known. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do even before Judas knew he was going to do it, and yet he chose to show mercy. There were a few sentences in this passage for that day that struck me right in the heart.
If that person chooses not to respond to the mercy, grace, and patience that is being poured out to him through you, he will have to live with the results of his decisions. Just make sure that you fulfill what God is requiring of you in this relationship. It may seem difficult to do, but you need to be thankful that God has kindly entrusted you with the responsibility of giving that person another chance!”
Ugh. Right in the heart. God has entrusted me. Me. If He is the God of second chances, why do I feel like I cannot give people a second chance? How would the lives of the people around me change if I chose to show mercy instead of responding to the truth of the situation? What a witness to them if they could see God’s love and mercy through me in the way I treat them after they have hurt me!
So that’s my word I’m working on, and I’m doing pretty well…this week.
Luke 6:36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 

By Lisa Powell/@mamaof3gs 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sandwiched Between a Rock and a Hard Place

What do BLTs, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, and I have in common? Yep, we are all sandwiches. I generally think of myself as fried bologna with cheese (if you know me, you know about the cheesy part), happily ensconced between four buns (think about it), my elderly mom on one side and my college daughter on the other.
Being part of the so-called sandwich generation* just sort of showed up on my life menu one day and rather than spit it out with displeasure, I have decided to gobble it up with glee. Oh, sure, there are days when I would really like to send this sandwich back to the kitchen, but when I look at it through the eyes of the Master Chef, I realize it is nourishing me in countless ways.
For one, I am learning patience. I thought after serving 27 years in the military and having three children and a workaholic husband, I knew all about patience. Wrong! When my 89-year-old Mom moved in with us, I quickly discovered there were all new levels of patience I had yet to explore. After a year, I still don’t have the get-ready-to-go-someplace routine down pat, which is why you need to politely smile at us when we come slogging into church late, yet again . . . occasionally without our teeth OR our hearing aids. On the other side of the sandwich, our 22-year-old-soon-to-be-college-graduate-daugther is planning her June wedding and that, too, has taught me patience (“You don’t like the first dress we bought?!”) AND gratitude.
Gratitude, you ask? How can I experience gratitude when money is going out the door faster than cowboys at a heavy metal concert? Well, my heart is filled with thanksgiving that our daughter understands and fully embraces the sanctity of marriage; that she has found a Godly young man who shares her values and loves her unconditionally; and that all of her collections of Barbies, Beanies, and books will eventually be taking up residence somewhere else. I am also thankful that my Mom has gotten to be part of the wedding planning process, adding her nearly nine decade’s worth of wisdom and practicality to the mix.
Not surprisingly, the Master Chef has spiced up my sandwich life with other nutritional tidbits beyond patience and gratitude. Yes, there also has been a squirt of humility, a pinch of compassion, a sprinkle of steadfastness, and a double measure of joy in all things.
If you find yourself as part of the sandwich generation, chow down, friend! Sit back and savor the meal. One day soon it will be but a memory, so enjoy the rich flavors while you can.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
                                                                                              - James 1:2-4

*Those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children and grandchildren.

By Sue Busler

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Where Has the Time Gone?

For some reason, lately I’ve really been thinking about where all of my life has gone and what I’ve chosen to do with my days. As I’m writing this today, I have been alive for 13,605 days, give or take a few. That thought makes my heart kind of sink. That’s a lot of days!! What have I done with those days? I believe that every day is a gift from God. I truly do. But I haven’t always appreciated that fact. I think back to my wild rebellious days and wish I could take them all back and do something worthwhile with that time. In a certain regard, I would not take back those days because they were a part of making me who I am today. However, it almost sickens me to think how much time I have wasted.
Now I’m married and have three beautiful daughters, and I think even more so now I realize how every day is a gift. I try to take time to stop what I’m doing and listen to them. To hug them extra long and take in the smell of their sweet skin and feel of their soft cheeks on mine, because I know that all too soon, they are going to be grown up and on their own. I want them to grow up feeling loved, safe and taken care of. I want to do fun things as a family and make memories that will last a lifetime. I don’t think every day has to be memorable. I know that’s not realistic. But I want them to have great memories of their childhood when they are my age.

So there is one thing that I have been feeling lately has robbed our family of these quality times. TECHNOLOGY. Xbox, tablet, phones, handheld video games, computers, TV. We are surrounded! We have had a really, really, really long winter. And in part because of this, I have let my kids (and husband) be on technology way more than they really should be. So now that it’s nice out, it’s become a really hard habit to break. It’s almost as if we have forgotten how to be a family. When the opportunity arises to be together and spend time together, it’s as if we don’t know how. It’s almost like a drug addict trying to get clean. The kids usually ask at least once “Can we play xbox? Can we play on the computer?” Sitting and reading a book, playing a game, writing a story, or doing a puzzle have become foreign to them. And, quite frankly, it’s all my fault. I have allowed them this access to technology, and they have been sucked in. 
So my plan for the summer is to break them of their addiction to technology. To reintroduce them to all of the fun things that childhood has to offer, before it’s too late. Before they have lived over 13,000 days and wonder where all of those days have gone. I want to teach them to be aware that every single day is a gift from God. And to teach them to live every day to the fullest. To spend time together, as a family, with their sisters, with their friends, with their family. To make memories, and to follow their dreams. Because I want more for them than being addicted to technology, and I think God does too!
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days. That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
By Lisa Powell/@mamaof3gs

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Time for Some Spring Cleaning!

I’ve never been much of a spring cleaner! My house is usually “good enough” that I don’t take the time to do thorough spring cleaning, especially with a hubby and three little kids in the house! However, this year I came across a website called and they had a fabulous spring cleaning checklist. It went room by room with an extensive checklist of things to do in each room to get cleaned out and organized. So, I printed it off, and hesitantly dove in. 
The checklists for all of the rooms consisted of things like “wash windows, dust all trim, wash floors, sort through xyz and get rid of things you don’t use any more," etc. It was a very labor intensive process, but so rewarding as I finished each room. It took me almost a week to do the downstairs, mostly because I homeschool and have other responsibilities, so I could only do a little a day. 
As I was working one day cleaning the playroom, it occurred to me that perhaps it was time to do a spiritual spring cleaning. Maybe it was time for me to evaluate my priorities and get rid of things that are taking me away from things that are important to me. So, I have refocused. I have started making my time with God more of a priority. Every night, I have started putting headphones on and listening to praise and worship music while I read my bible and my devotion books. Shutting out the outside world and focusing on God and my relationship with Him. It has been amazing! I’ve focused more on my relationships with my family and friends and the things that really matter; the things that build me up and encourage me. I feel refreshed and renewed just in the few weeks I’ve been doing this. I think this is something I will do every spring from now on. When it’s time to clean out the closets, it’s time to clean out my life!
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me.

By Lisa Powell 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Worst Picture Ever, or the Best?

Using a Digital Camera for the First Time

I know what you are thinking, and the answer is, "No . . . I am not a model."  I am full of joy, though, in the above picture, and to me, this is what matters the most.

This picture was taken over ten years ago by my hub.  We had just bought our first digital camera and laughed until we cried those first few days weeks months of use.  Gratefully, yes gratefully, this pic did not find its way into the "trash bin."  Instead, it has found a safe home in a file on the computer labelled "worst pic evah."  The angle of the photo allows for a full viewing of my double chin, silver childhood fillings, and my "five-pound tongue in a four-pound mouth" as my sleep apnea doctor has explained.  Whenever I stumble upon this picture, I cannot help but laugh.  Then, I usually call the hub over to look as well as my girls so that they can laugh, too.

I can remember being told once in order to take a good picture, one should look at the camera straight on, lean his/her face forward in order to eliminate any double chin, and look up so as to make the eyes appear as large as possible.  I have tried and failed miserably at these suggestions.  Usually, I still discover an aspect of the picture which I find less than flattering . . . a pimple, oily skin, chubby cheeks, and the list continues.  Then, the picture in question usually winds up in the "trash bin."   

While on vacation, I noticed a woman taking a picture of what looked to be her son and husband.  I offered to take the picture for her so that she could be in the photo also.  She replied, "Oh no!  I don't do pictures."  I giggled, replied, "I hear ya!" and kept walking.  

I decided to explore this topic further, so I e-mailed fifty-three women and asked each woman to contribute her worst picture ever.  Seven women responded, five of which sent pictures.  The odds here are definitely not in my favor (Hunger Games) for feedback, but to me, exemplifies the reality of how hard women are on themselves.  

Why?  Why not embrace the joy found in the pictures and the memories the pictures capture?  Instead of viewing the photos with a critical eye, why not a grateful eye?

Song of Solomon 4:7

You are altogether beautiful, my love;  there is no flaw in you.

Thus, I am grateful for these women blessings who agreed to participate, no questions asked, and admire each of these beauties, both inside and out.  The captions and explanations are their own.

Thanks to my lovely Paige!  :)

Summer of 2013 - Well? There is THE worst picture EVER EVER taken of me by a friend.  If that wasn't bad enough, the twist of the knife stuck into my heart when she uploaded it and TAGGED me on Facebook.  I literally cried for weeks!!! Weeks I tell ya!!! I'm not exaggerating!

First, I'm overweight (no secret there), but this picture is just downright unflattering and not a true representation of what I look like. Right? Wait? Was it? IS IT?? Do I have an unrealistic view of myself?  Hmm?  Is that why I'm fat, because I don't really see it? 

Second, as my friend WHY on earth would she post this of me?  Does she secretly hate me? What did I do to make her mad?

Some major soul searching took place after this photo reared its ugly head, and I'm happy to report that we are still friends.  I'll be honest;  we actually haven't talked much since the summer because we are both busy with work, kids, and life in general, BUT I realized something.  I truly believe she doesn't see me like I see me.  Do I think she should have still known better than to post and tag me...YES! But do I fault her for wanting to share a weekend full of fun camping pictures and one just so happened to be a picture of me loving on my son while enjoying a boat ride...NO! 

She captured an ugly, beautiful, and genuine moment and ultimately I learned from it.  Hmm? Maybe I should send her a thank you note?

Nightgown Seduction Gone All Wrong
Pre-coffee Me

My Most Flattering Side

By Courtney Winkler
P.S.  If you would like to include your "worst pic evah," it is not too late.  E-mail

G. and I making it fun.
Crazy Hair

Behind the piercings, tattoos, and hair is just an ordinary girl.

I wondered what I looked like when I made this face at my husband.
Child steals iphone.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Reluctant Recipient

        Have you ever been in your car alone, received good news and look around to realize you have no one to share it with? That happened to me a few weeks ago as I was driving through Panera. I had a mammogram that was questionable and a week later had to have another one and an ultrasound. The nurse called me on my cell phone to tell me everything was normal and I was elated.
         I always listen to a radio station that advocates sharing “JOY” with someone which also happens to be their call letters. I had not done that in quite awhile, and since I had no one to tell the good news to, I wanted to pay for the car behind me and share my joy. When I got to the window, I told the young lady asking for my Panera card that I also wanted to pay for the car behind me. She looked at me like a puppy hearing a high-pitched noise. She said, “Oh, you know her, right?” I explained to her that I had just received some good news and I wanted to do something nice for someone else and share my joy. Again, apparently, the high-pitched noise. She finally gave me the combined totals, and I handed her the money.
         I slowly pulled away checking my bag with my lunch. I heard a lot of honking behind me and looked in my rearview mirror to see the car whose lunch I paid for, waving out the window and laying on the horn. I was getting embarrassed because I was thinking she wanted to thank me and that was not why I did it. So, I pulled over in front of Dobbs, and the lady pulled behind me and got out of her car. I was trying to practice my most humble, “Oh, it was nothing” when I realized by her body language on the way to my car she was mad! Really mad! As my Granny would say, "Madder than a wet hen!" I tried only to roll down my window halfway until I could feel her out, but I’m not sure electric windows do that.
         She leaned her head in my window and was yelling at me, “You don’t know me! Who do you think you are buying my lunch? I didn’t ask you to buy me a $%$#@ thing! Now you think I owe you something?” My head was spinning. No way I expected this. When I get nervous, I have a tendency to ramble. So, I was trying to explain I had a bad mammogram, my husband has cancer, it’s really bad timing, but is there ever good timing for a bad mammogram, I just had another mammogram earlier that morning and an ultrasound, the nurse called while I was in the car, I saw her car, I listen to JOY FM radio, they say you should “Joy” someone and I did, didn’t you notice the pink sticker on the back of my car, she happened to be the car behind me at the time I decided to “joy” someone and no I don’t know her, but God knows her and no I don’t expect anything in return, that never occurred to me. Wheww!
         All of a sudden, I hear someone knocking on my passenger window. It was one of the guys from Dobbs. He wanted to know if I was okay. I looked at the lady leaning in my window and asked, “Am I okay?” She had a hint of a smile and told me I was okay. I turned to the Dobbs gentleman and assured him I would be fine.
         The “Joyed” lady asked me again if I thought she owed me anything. I tried in a more calm less rambling mode, to explain to her how blessed I am and I pray she is blessed as well. She backed away a little from my car and was a little misty eyed when she said, “No one, no one has ever given me anything they did not expect something in return.” Before I knew it, tears were rolling down my cheeks. I told her I would pray for her and that the only thing God wants from her is devotion. I asked her if she had a church, and she said it had been a few years since she had been in a church. I told her that my husband and I would love to have her go to church with us. She backed away a little more and pointed her finger at me. She had a reluctant smile as she said, “You’re okay, lady!”
She tapped the back of my car as she headed back to hers. I don’t know if she was touching the sticker or giving me the signal to leave. I sat in my car not moving for a minute trying to take it all in. I had a feeling someone was looking at me and realized the Dobbs guy was still standing there. I rolled the window down and told him I was fine and thanked him for being concerned. I started to explain to him what had transpired, and he waved at me and told me to have a good day. He must have sensed my ability to ramble.
The thing the Lord taught me in this encounter is that you never know what hurt may be going on in someone else’s life and how you can be the vessel to pour out His love. I will probably never see that woman again, but I have prayed for her consistently and God knows who she is. That’s all that really matters.

By Pat Schwieder