Wellspring devotion, Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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Psalm 148:3-5- Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For He commanded and they were created.

Enjoying nature is one of the ways we can see God’s amazing and miraculous work in progress at all times! When is the last time you took a walk and truly enjoyed all of the scenery around you? Or taken a trip to enjoy the outdoors? There is so much beauty in each day’s sunrise and sunset. These beautiful sightings in nature are a constant reminder that we are surrounded by God’s love and we have these gifts from him to enjoy. There is so much life in nature from each plant on the ground, to the birds in the tall, strong trees, to the wildlife that makes its home in the fields and forests of our land. The abundant life we see around us in nature is a reminder of the promise of the greatest gift we have ever received-eternal life through Jesus Christ. Next time you take a minute to pause and enjoy God’s creation in the outdoors be reminded of His promise of eternal life. Oh what joy it brings to know that we get to spend eternity with our loving savior.

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When you see the tall trees that are in our city parks, in our wildlife preserves and in our yards, let them remind you of Christ’s death on the cross and how he died for our sins. Because of Jesus’ suffering on the tree we are free to live.

There are many praise hymns written about nature and God’s beautiful creations. These words in “How Great Thou Art” remind us to appreciate nature and praise God for all he has done. He is great indeed!

Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed;

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze;

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, As I go throughout the week ahead let me see your beauty in everything around me. Help me to take time to breathe and relax and enjoy your amazing creations in the great outdoors. Guide me so I can shout and sing praises to you in everything I do. Thank you so much for being a great and awesome God! In your name I pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

Are there things in nature that remind you of God’s amazing love?

What is one thing you will do this week to appreciate the beauty of nature created by our loving God?

Farmers markets a highlight of summer

I love summer! You know after the long, cold winter our summers here in Minnesota just don’t seem long enough. So I am thankful that today I am able to sit out on my deck and type this blog post. As the hot sun is beating down on my skin, I get to sit here and write about one of my absolute favorite things about summer—the Worthington Farmers Market. Every Tuesday and Saturday in my town we have a farmers market. Buying fresh, local produce from people I know makes me happy and summer meals created with the local food purchased at the farmers markets are loaded with flavor and healthy nutrients.

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Farmers markets have gained a lot of popularity over the last few years as people are becoming more aware about the foods they eat and where they come from. People love the opportunity to buy straight from producers. It feels good to be able to ask questions about the food you are purchasing and a good number of the producers at the Worthington Farmers Market grow their goods without using harsh chemicals. This year, I am happy to see several vendors selling gluten free options. A few weeks ago I purchased a delicious, heavy, homemade bread with good ingredients that is gluten free. It was a real treat. Bread is not something I eat on a regular basis so I enjoy it sparingly.

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If you live in the Worthington area I invite you to visit our local markets. The downtown Worthington Farmers Market goes from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays at the parking lot at Second Avenue and 10th Street and on Saturdays the market runs from 6:30 a.m. to Noon at Ace Hardware along Oxford Street. If you are not around Worthington, I encourage you to find a farmers market close by and enjoy all of the delicious produce and goods it has to offer!

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One of my favorite new recipes I have tried this summer came from Freya at 10 Acres Flat. She included the recipe with one of our weekly farm shares that had kale in it. The one thing I learned from this recipe is if you are eating kale fresh you should massage it so it is easier to digest and it also gives it a better flavor. Now, I know many of you are saying…ick, I am not going to eat kale but give it a chance! And if you don’t like it one way, try it another way. Kale is loaded with vitamins and minerals including calcium and vitamin c. In fact, did you know kale has more vitamin c than one orange? This is the first recipe I have used fresh kale. Usually, I throw kale in a morning smoothie or I sautee it with onion and garlic in butter or bacon grease. This salad was a hit at our house. In fact, my husband and I finished it off the first night I made it and I had to make some just a few days later because I was craving it. And of course, kale is something you can purchase at the local farmers market.

Kale

KaelSalad

Kale Salad

1 bunch kale

1 avocado

Juice from 2 fresh lemons

2 tbsp. olive oil

1-2 tsp. local honey

1 cucumber, bell pepper, carrot or other favorite salad veggie

¼ cup sliced almonds or sunflower seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the stem from the kale leaves. Discard stems and slice kale into strips. Place chopped kale in salad bowl with about a ½ tsp. of real salt or sea salt and 1 tsp. of lemon juice. Rub the salt and lemon into the kale (like you are giving it a massage) for a few minutes until it turns a brighter green and is starting to look almost wilted or cooked. In a smaller bowl, mash the avocado and mix with remaining lemon juice, honey and olive oil. If it seems to thick add a dash of water. Pour over kale and stir well to combine. Add chopped veggie of choice and almonds or sunflower seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

NOTE: When I made this recipe, I chopped the avocado into pieces and did not mash it. The first time I made this recipe we used a red pepper, carrot, cucumber, fresh garlic and onion. We did not put the almonds or seeds on it. The next time I made it I used a carrot and turnips. As you can see you can be creative and come up with many variations of this recipe.

Please share your favorite recipe using fresh, summer produce with us here at Be Real Blog.

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Wellspring Devotion July 1, 2014

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Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)-Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

A number of years ago my grandmother gave me a wall hanging that reads, “Pray about everything. Worry about nothing.” Of course it is special because it was a gift from my grandma but even more it is a constant reminder, that worry is a waste of our energy here on Earth. And though I have read the plaque many times, it seems I often have to remind myself of its truth. When we get busy and life is circling out of our control we have two choices: we can choose to wear ourselves down with worry and negative thinking or we can choose to go to the Lord in prayer. Yes, it is really that simple!

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In Philippians chapter 4, it says “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines thanksgiving as the act of giving thanks and a prayer expressing gratitude. One of the most important parts of this verse is how it tells us to pray about everything. We should pray when we are happy. Pray when we are sick. Pray when we are going through difficult times. Pray when we don’t know what to pray for. It is easy to turn to God in prayer when things are really bad but it is just as important to pray when things in our life our going well. Romans 8:26 tells us, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For, we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” This verse reminds us that when times are so bad we do not know what to pray for the Holy Spirit will guide us. There is no problem too big or too small to take to the Lord.

Prayer for the week: Dear God, Thank you for allowing us to bring everything to you in prayer! What a great feeling it is to know you will take all of our earthly burdens and worries upon you. When I start to worry and waste my energy please remind me to bring my problems and prayers of thanksgivings to you. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

Am I taking my worries to the Lord in prayer?

Do I pray prayers of thanksgiving to God thanking Him for all I have?

What will I do this week to “worry about nothing and pray about everything”?