Fleeting Glimpses of Beauty

The other day I received a photography tip that suggested carrying a spray bottle around to enhance pictures of flowers etc. This morning as I walked my children to the bus, I was delighted to see that God decorated my yard with his own spritz bottle – a heavy dew, combined with brilliant sunshine. After my children were on their way to school, I enjoyed fleeting glimpses of beauty in my yard. Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy.

Sparkling early morning dew
Fleeting beauty
Enjoy it while it lasts!
Beauty in small things

Bankhead: a hidden treasure near Banff

Our family enjoyed hiking through the ruins of Bankhead this summer on our vacation in Banff National Park. We camped at Two Jack Main, so we were just kilometres away from the ghost town. However, we didn’t realize there was more than a hiking trail at Lower Bankhead until we went on the Boat Cruise at Lake Minnewanka. While we were on the cruise, our guide told us that we should definitely set aside some time to explore the mining ghost town at Lower Bankhead.

We discovered signage for Lower Bankhead is only visible when you’re travelling from Lake Minnewanka back past Upper Bankhead. The hiking trail is 1.1 km, and designated “easy” (the most difficult part is the stairs to get down to the trail). We found the trail easy to follow, mostly marked with coal. Signs with historical information helped us decipher what used to exist in Bankhead.

The mining town of Bankhead only existed from 1903 – 1922. At it’s height, the town was a prosperous, booming mining town of 1,000 people. An amazing amount of coal was mined in those years, a half million tons of coal during peak production. However, I found it disconcerting to read that most of the miners were Chinese and that they lived “on the other side of the slag heap.” The many rhubarb and raspberry plants which still grow are evidence that the Chinese families worked hard, both in the mines and in their gardens. Although the signs pointed to a happy life for many residents of Bankhead, I wonder if the prosperity was shared equally.

Below are some of the pictures I took during our hike.

For more information:









Town of Banff

Our 2015 family holiday in Banff National Park

This past week our family had the opportunity to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of Banff National Park. In this post I’m sharing some of my favourite pictures. In the next few posts I’ll provide details about some of the places we visited and activities we enjoyed.

Big Horn Sheep
Big Horn Sheep

We were able to see many different kinds of animals. When I commented that the sheep were molting, one of our sons commented, “Well, you know, Mom, it is summer!”

Glacier Sky Walk
Glacier Sky Walk

The Glacier Skywalk topped my list of activities. What an amazing view!

Ghost mining town at Lower Bankhead
Lower Bankhead

Looking for a free, educational activity? Check out Lower Bankhead, which used to be a mining town in the early 1900’s.

Boat ride on Lake Minnewanka
Boat ride on Lake Minnewanka

Although we had been on the boat ride before, we learned many more interesting facts, thanks to our informative guide, Dan.

Hiking in Banff National Park
Hiking in Banff National Park

There is a wonderful variety of hiking trails in Banff National Park – all lengths and levels of difficulty.

Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure
Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure

The Brewster bus ride onto the Columbia Icefield Glacier takes you down the second steepest incline (32 degrees) in the world.

Bull and cow Elk near Two Jack
Bull and cow Elk near Two Jack

We were delighted to find this pair of elk just outside the entrance to the Two Jack Main campground.

Elk at dusk in Banff National Park
Elk at dusk

The above shot of an elk at dusk is my favourite photo from our trip.

Bird on sign at Jasper glacier
Lots of natural beauty

A whiskey jack entertained us while we were at the Columbia Icefields visitor centre.

Too close to the bear!

Despite warnings, tourists insist on feeding animals and getting close to the wild animals. One guide asked us if we knew which animal sends the most tourists to the hospital from the national parks. Any guesses?

View from Sulpher Mountain Gondola

We enjoyed a ride on the Sulpher Mountain Gondola. What a view!

Where did you go on your family vacation this year? Any hints to share?

Social Media Blog Hop Week 2: Favourite Graphic Program/App

Social Media Blog Hop

No matter which social media platform you use, you need great graphics. Images draw more attention to your content and improve your chances of being seen and heard. Make sure when you use pictures, that you use royalty free images and are NOT infringing on copyright. There are sites which offer free graphics, but I prefer to either use my own pictures or pay a small fee to use pictures taken by others.

I recommend the following sources for graphics:

  • Dollarphotoclub.com (High resolution royalty free images AND vectors are available for $1.00 each and may be used for commercial purposes.)
  • Clickartonline.com (Clipart, photos, photo objects, fonts, sounds, web graphics, and animations are all available to use. The yearly fee is $39.99 for unlimited downloads and you are able to select the size of the image you want to download.)
  • Take your own pictures using your phone, iPad, or camera. (Take the time to edit your images and present the best visual appeal you can. You may want to use an online editor like PicMonkey)

Once you have a graphic to work with, you can add text and personality to them by using design apps or software.

Created on Canva
Created on Canva
Created on Canva with a picture I took on my iPad
Created on Canva with a picture I took on my iPad








I recommend:


(This program is available online at www.canva.com or as an app from iTunes. You can either sign up for a free account or sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account.)

Canva has predesigned “canvas” sizes for: Food & Drink Menu, Social Media, Presentation, Poster, Facebook Cover, Facebook Post, Instagram, Blog Graphic, A4 Document, Card, Email Header, Twitter Post, Invitation, Business Card, Album/Podcast Cover, Twitter Header, Pinterest, Real Estate Flyer, Google+ Cover, Kindle Cover, Photo Collage, Facebook Ad, and Facebook App. You are also able to select “Use custom dimensions” in the top right hand corner and create a canvas using either pixels or inches.

Canva provides many options for design with text in various fonts, background colours, layout options, and uploading your own pictures. Canva also provides access to 1,000,000 images, some of which are free, and others available for $1.00. Basically, if you can dream it, you can design it on Canva.

I like the many options Canva provides, but making an image can be time intensive. I’ve also noticed that sometimes the downloads (either png or pdf) are not as clear as I would like them to be. But for a free program, it’s a great tool.

Rectangular image created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay
Rectangular image created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay


Created on WordSwag with a free image that comes with the app
Created on WordSwag with a free image that comes with the app

As far as I know, WordSwag is only available as an app. (I use it on my iPad.) WordSwag is intuitive, easy to use and great when you want a quick blog graphic or want to share a quote on social media. It has several options available, including access to images on Pixabay (over 330,000 free photos, illustrations, and vector graphics in the public domain).

The graphics created on Wordswag are either rectangular or square. Wordswag is not very flexible, but still provides great graphics in very little time. (All of my graphics for this year’s blog hops were created on WordSwag.)

Created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay
Created on WordSwag with an image from Pixabay



What is your favourite source for graphics to use on your social media sites? Enter a comment or link in to our blog hop below.






Feel free to share the blog hop button on your site. Here’s the code:

<a href=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/2015-social-media-blog-hop-week-1-favourite-social-media-site/#.VPcPGHZks1Y” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://ruthlsnyder.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Social-Media-300×300-150×150.png” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>

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Writer’s Blog Hop – Sample from Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life

31 Days of Hope231 Days of Hope1

One of the major projects I’m working on this year is a series of Kindle books (31 Days of … Series). The first book I’m putting together is Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life. I’ve worked on the cover design and received feedback. Now I need to finalize which colour scheme I’m going with. Which cover do you prefer? Left or right? Or is there a different colour you think I should try for the main title? (Let me know in the comment section below.)

Below you’ll find Focus, one of the devotionals I’ll be including in the book. I’m also learning to make podcasts, so listen in if you prefer 🙂

NOTE: to see what other authors are working on, go to the blog hop.


By Ruth L. Snyder

It’s 8:03. The bus comes at 8:25. My daughter wants me to read a story to her and her brothers are looking at the latest Scholastic book order forms, trying to get my attention so they can tell me what they want to order. I want to tell them we’ll deal with the book order after school, except today’s the last day orders are being accepted. My daughter opens her book. I start reading. While she’s flipping to the next page I find one of the desired books and circle it on the order form. I read the next page. One son pushes his way closer so he can listen too. I read the next page then cut out the order form while the page is being flipped. This process continues until 8:11. The book is finished; the order forms are half filled out. It’s time to get jackets, backpacks, and mitts. I still need to add the order up, write a cheque, and write the book down on my daughter’s reading list.

“Get your jackets on. I’ll finish here.”

The children rush to the entryway. I add the order up, write a cheque, staple everything together, and write the book down on the reading list. I’ll clean up after the kids are on the bus.

I take the order and reading list to the entryway. Two boys are on their way out the door. My daughter is having trouble with her zipper. My other son is nowhere to be seen. I put the order and reading list in her backpack and help with the zipper. Then I go in search of my MIA son. He’s just coming out of his room.

“Hurry! It’s time to go.”

As I’m talking to him, a glimpse of the sky takes my breath away. The sunrise is beautiful. For over a week temperatures hovered in the minus thirty range. Today it’s warmer and the sky is showing evidence of the change in temperature. You know the saying: “Red in the morning, Shepherd’s warning.” I race to grab my camera and snap a picture. My daughter’s ready, and my son is close behind.

As we walk to the bus, my focus is on the beauty of the sunrise. The busyness of the morning rush is forgotten. I breathe deeply, smile at the antics of our Husky dog, Olaf, snap pictures, and pray with my children before they climb on the bus. After the bus leaves, I continue to snap pictures as the sun rises and colours change. I revel in the moment, knowing it will soon disappear and the hectic pace of life will be back, clawing and whining for attention.

Focus. We can choose our focus. We can allow all the ugly, dark, discouraging events we all face to drag us down. Or, we can instead focus on the glimpses of beauty that surround us.

In Matthew 14, we read about the disciples crossing a lake in the middle of the night. It was stormy. They had to work to keep the boat going in the right direction. Then, just before dawn, they saw something, someone, walking on water towards them. Some of them cried out in fear, thinking it was a ghost. Peter responded by calling out:

“Lord, if it’s you, tell me come to you on the water.” (verse 28)

Jesus tells him to come, so Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus. Verse thirty tells us:

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter, rebuking him for doubting, and helping him climb back into the boat.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but Jesus does. He’s there for you: the same Jesus who spoke the world into existence.

Are we going to focus on our circumstances today? Or are we going to choose to focus on Jesus and trust Him?

Fading Photographs: National Alzheimer’s Awareness and Family Caregiver’s Month Blog Tour

My dad was diagnosed with dementia about five years ago. Since my dad’s father had dementia, I understood some of the grief families experience. However, just because I mentally grasp what’s happening doesn’t mean it’s any easier to deal with the grief.

104-year-old Batswana woman. Photo taken by Rex Beam
104-year-old Batswana woman. Photo taken by Rex Beam
Making millet into flour. Photo by Rex Beam.
Making millet into flour. Photo by Rex Beam.

I have many happy memories of times with my dad. Ever since I can remember, he and I have had a close relationship. He was the one I ran to for comfort when my little-girl heart was breaking. We spent hours together in the darkroom, one of his favorite haunts since he was an avid photographer. Dad showed me the exact combination of chemicals required to develop each picture. I watched as each piece of photographic paper was immersed into  chemicals and different shades of black and white magically formed to create a unique image.  One time, he even used the bathtub to develop an enlargement of a beautiful African sunset. My dad worked as a printer, but photography made him come alive.

I spent my early years in South Africa and Botswana, where my parents served as missionaries. As I remember, my dad made sure to keep his camera close at hand, capturing  and documenting our activities. Our family had the privilege of participating in many adventures most people in North America know nothing about — touring diamond mines and watching huge truckloads of dirt and rocks being transformed into handfuls of precious stones, observing craftsmen transform chunks of mahogany wood into candlesticks and other beautiful curios, spending holidays camping in game reserves, seeing African animals in their natural habitats, and gazing in awe at the magnificent thundering Victoria Falls. My dad still has a small treasure trove of black and white photographs he captured one at a time on rolls of Kodak film.

When my dad was first diagnosed, I didn’t see much evidence of the dementia. He forgot things occasionally and seemed confused a little more often than usual. However, he still played tennis, enjoyed going for walks, sang in his church choir, served on the church board, and actively participated in groups. He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and playing games with them. He continued to capture memories in picture form, but he had graduated to a digital camera and his own photo printer.

As months passed, I started noticing changes — withdrawal from conversations and a lack of interest in activities he used to enjoy, like choir and Bible study. Some changes were so gradual that I didn’t even notice until many months had passed. A year ago my mom asked me to come and help pack so that my parents could move into a senior’s facility. The changes in my dad became clear to me as I spent several days with my parents. Dad sat in his favorite rocking chair and watched as my mom and I worked around him. He seemed detached from the situation, almost like he was watching from a distance instead of being directly involved in the move. He did what he was asked to do, but he didn’t take the initiative to do anything he wasn’t asked to do. In the evenings, he sat and watched TV, refusing to play board games with my mom and me. Mom said, “Dad no longer uses his computer. He still takes pictures, but he doesn’t remember how to download them.”

I said, “I can transfer the images from the memory card to a computer.” I was shocked by how many images were fuzzy. Inside I wept. My dad is just a shell of the person I once knew.

The next day I helped my mom sort through items my parents brought back from Africa years ago. Dad was in his rocking chair, seemingly oblivious to the goings on. As I sorted, I came across several large black plastic envelopes, which I knew contained my dad’s pictures. I picked up one envelope and slid the pictures out. Memories came flooding back. As I flipped through the pictures, I became aware that my dad was standing beside me. Soon he started talking to me and reminiscing about events depicted in the images I held in my hands. The pictures were like a doorway to the dad I knew before dementia robbed him from me. We both enjoyed our trip into the past. I watched in wonder as the hazy look I had grudgingly accepted as normal disappeared from my dad’s eyes. We talked about our trips to game reserves and his eyes danced with delight. I smiled as I remembered the way he used to demand we all sit absolutely still in our Volkswagen van while the shutter on his camera clicked. It seemed a pittance to pay for the treasured pictures, which now reunited us for a few short hours.

Carving a candlestick. Photo taken by Rex Beam
Carving a candlestick. Photo taken by Rex Beam

I know there will be difficult days ahead. At present, Dad’s eyes still light up when I walk into the room. I know some day this will no longer be true. My dad’s decline has reminded me that I need to treasure each day, each moment. I have also been challenged to count my blessings, to savor the good memories I have, to connect with Dad on his good days, and love him no matter what. Dad may not sing in a choir any more, but he told me this summer he’s looking forward to singing in Heaven. We share a hope no person or illness can rob us of — spending eternity together with Jesus Christ in Heaven where there will be no more tears.


Caregiver's month

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and Caregivers Month Blog Tour

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014). The Author Community of Helping Hands Press is getting involved this month, and hopes to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

Staring Nov. 3rd, with Anne Baxter Campbell’s blog post and Sue Badeau’s appearance on blogtalk radio, and finishing on Nov. 25th with Mark Venturini’s blog post, many of the authors in the Helping Hands Press Community will be sharing their personal stories.

Who are the authors, their blogs and what days?

Check them out! Here is the list:

Enjoying God’s Art Show

This morning as we were eating breakfast, the sunrise was breathtaking. I snapped a few pictures to share with you. Enjoy your day!

Sunrise 1
The streaks in the sky caught my attention


Sunrise 2
Time to take some pictures!



Sunrise 3
Amazing beauty and depth of colour
The colour is moving up higher in the sky
The colour is moving up higher in the sky



Clouds to the south reflecting the sunrise
Clouds to the south reflecting the sunrise


Clouds to the south west reflecting the sunrise
Clouds to the south west reflecting the sunrise