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