Category Archives: Life

Finding quiet prayer time in a busy world


Matthew 11:28-30-Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

A couple months ago at Wellspring one of the attendees said she was trying hard not to say, “I’m busy,” when people ask her how she is. I loved this idea and I have been trying hard to do the same. Our brains are so programmed to answer with busy, this is a hard change to make. So as I slowly am trying to be more aware of my words I have to constantly ask God for help and continually remind myself of the change I am trying to make. Being involved and active and doing good each day is so important but we can’t let our busyness consume us and keep us from quiet time with God. For those of you who know me, you know that relaxing and sitting still are very difficult. I have to make a conscience effort to just sit and let my body and brain relax. My body is wired a bit differently than a lot of people’s and I have come to accept that and embrace it but that does not mean that I am not always trying to work on making more quiet relaxed time in prayer.

The last couple of months have been no exception for busy (all busy in a great way) and life is good but as this happens I find myself not spending as much time in the Word and in prayer. As I was sitting in a warm bath with essential oils and a hot cup of tea the other day, this devotion idea came to me. First, I was mad at myself for slacking on reading the Bible as much as I had been each morning and then I realized I had not been praying in depth as much as I had been. I oftentimes pray throughout my work day, but I realized I have been lacking on complete quiet time praying. We know that when we put God first and go to Him for our every need life runs more smoothly. So I am saddened that I was not being as consistent as I was but I am grateful for this wake up call and for a loving and forgiving God, who promises us in the verse above to give us rest. God is there for us always and we must keep Him at the front of all we do.

Find a way that you love to relax and make time for God and do that more often. For me, a warm bath and hot tea help me feel relaxed and clear my mind so I can pray and take all of my worries and thanksgivings to God. As the beautiful season of Christ’s birth comes upon us, let us not get caught up in the devil’s trap of busyness. Let us remember the reason we are celebrating and embrace each day with a deep joy that comes only from knowing Christ our Savior.

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, We never want to be too busy for you. We know that we can give you all of our burdens and worries and you will give us rest. Please give us wisdom throughout the next few months to lean on you and not be burdened by the busyness of the world. Help us to find quiet time with you so we can see the many blessings you have given us. In your name we pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

What things help you clear your mind for Bible reading and prayer?

How can you become less “busy?” Give one specific example of what you can change starting today.

Time for fresh, local produce in Worthington

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 the Worthington Farmers Market starts in downtown Worthington at 4 p.m . 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.

farmers market 13 final

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.


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 this year the Saturday market starts July 11 and 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!

So last week we in our fresh produce box from 10 Acres Flat there was kale. This is definitely a vegetable I have grown to love but trust me it took some time. Last year, Freya from 10 Acres shared the kale recipe posted below. It made me love and crave kale!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?

Why is kale a winner-


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 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 last week, I chopped the avocado into pieces and did not mash it. I used a red pepper and cucumber for my first batch this season and loved the flavor the cucumber added. 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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Learn to #MarketSmarter June 24 in Worthington

I am a passionate person and my passion drives everything I do (yep, for those of you who know me well, you know this is Amanda stating the obvious). For quite some time now I have been passionate about social media—it is so important that small businesses, nonprofits, churches and large businesses in rural areas learn to use it well to keep our towns vibrant. When we all do better, we all do better and I truly believe this when it comes to social media! If we all do a better job marketing our businesses and services we can enhance people’s view of our community! I believe this wholeheartedly and that is why I have invested time and energy (I am still learning every day) how to use social media better for my stores, The Daily Apple Worthington and The Daily Apple Storm Lake.

When I was asked by Julie Foote of MVTV Wireless to attend a planning meeting for an upcoming social media event, I did not hesitate to attend. I had no idea what I was saying yes to, but let me tell you #MarketSmarter coming up June 24 in Worthington, MN, is going to be an event you don’t want to miss. There are people registered from Wells, Pipestone, Luverne, Storm Lake, IA, and many other places around. It has been a pleasure to work with Julie, Anne Foley and Darlene Macklin to put this superstar event together.


You are sure to learn a ton from our keynote speakers. Tena Pettis is a social media expert and accomplished speaker + trainer on all things social. She founded tena.cious, a social media management + design firm in the Twin Cities area. She’s known for building connections both online and off, and is a strong advocate of customer focused, loyalty and relationship based sales. Jerrid Sebesta walked away from a vibrant TV career in search of a dream. And now he’s doing it! He now works for Taatjes Financial Group in Willmar where he’s a life and financial coach – inspiring people and businesses around the region look at their own dreams, make smart financial decisions and leave a legacy.

We have to give a shout out to the awesome sponsors for this event because they are allowing the event to be very affordable—only $49 per person and that includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and a social hour! Typically learning events of this caliber would cost between $150 to $350 per person, for a one-day event. So thanks to District 518 Community Education, MVTV Wireless, Southwest  Initiative Foundation, Southwest Broadband, RadioWorks, The Daily Globe, Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation, Blandin Foundation and the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau. We are also grateful that Round Lake Vineyards & Winery will be doing a wine tasting at the end of the event. We are thrilled to have this new gem right here close by in southwest Minnesota. The fact that these organizations are willing to put money toward this event shows that social media is a key part of keeping our rural communities flourishing!

#WorthingtonMN#Market Smarter (5)

I first heard Tena Pettis speak in January of this year, while I was at Minneapolis Mart purchasing new items for my stores. In one hour, I learned more from Tena Pettis than I have in the last five years about marketing my small business. After hearing Tena speak we started an Instagram account (follow us at dailyapple1) and started posting regularly with a consistent design approach on Facebook and business is booming. We have seen significant growth at both stores and using social media better is the major change we have made. And when I say we, that means my entire team of people has gotten serious about using social media better.

Rounding out the lineup of speakers on June 24 are: Neil Linschied of University of Minnesota Extension, Roxanne Hayenga of Minnesota West Customized Training, Mari Harries of River City Eatery in Windom and I will be presenting a breakout session entitled Making Social Media Come Alive.

#WorthingtonMN#Market Smarter (13)

Do not let fear stand in your way of attending. There truly is something for everyone to learn and if you are just getting started with social media and are not sure what platforms to use this event is great for you. The information at #MarketSmarter is relevant for home based businesses, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, large companies—-pretty much awesome for anyone who wants to learn to market better on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc…

So take action today and get registered for #MarketSmarter. Don’t let excuses or the phrase, “Oh I can’t afford it,” stop you. Truly, if you are trying to grow your business or organization and want to dig deeper into using social media you need to attend June 24. No excuses! Click on this link to get register now! The event goes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Minnesota West Community & Technical College. If you prefer to register by paper you can pick up a registration form at District 518 Community Education, Worthington Chamber of Commerce or at The Daily Apple.  For more details about this event, please visit our Facebook event. And if you are as excited about this day as I am please invite your friends to attend!

Give God the reins

creativity is Intelligence having fun

Proverbs 16:3 - Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

As we were attending graduation celebrations this weekend, I was thinking what an exciting time it is for young people as they close one chapter of their life and look to the world ahead! I remember when I graduated high school I thought I knew exactly what would happen in my life. I planned to go to college, get a job, get married and have a family. That is just how I thought it worked. It is amazing when you step back and let God take the reins how life goes in directions you had never planned. The expectations that are placed on us by the world are not always the way it works out. And for that I am so thankful. I did finish college and went into the workforce thinking I would work in the media business for the rest of my life. I quickly realized I wanted a job with more variety so I went back to college and taught school for four years and then took a leap of faith and bought a small business. That huge risk was so scary but I knew God was at the head of the ship and it was His plan that I stepped out in faith and made a decision that went against what my friends and family thought was wise.

As this year’s graduates of high school and college go out into the new world, we pray for peace and knowledge to follow the plans the Lord has for their life! Don’t feel like you have to do something just because “society” says it is the thing to do. It is ok to take some time to figure out what you want to do when you grow up! It is not college degrees or money or marriage that completes our life….it is trusting in Jesus our Savior to lead us where He wants us to go. So don’t feel rushed to get on to the next thing in life. Enjoy every moment and be a blessing to others where you are right now!

James 4:13-17 says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

This is such a great verse to remind us to be humble in all we do and give all the glory to God for leading us in His path. Even in times that seem dark and very difficult God is with us and He wants us to trust Him to bring us through to better things.


Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, Please be with all of the recent graduates as they move on into the next chapter of their lives. Give them humble hearts that seek to honor you in all they do. Help them to make wise choices for their future and let them learn from the stumbling blocks that might get in the way. Thank you for being our guide in all we do. Help us to always remember to commit all of our work to you and then help us to have faith that you have our plans in your hand. In your name we pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

Are there times in your life when things did not go as planned and you questioned God?

Reflect on a time when things did not go as you wanted them to, but later you thanked God for doing what he did.

Come learn about the awesomeness of essential oils

You may have noticed my blog posts have been very minimal lately and to all of you who have been asking I do apologize. It was never my intent to not keep on with the writing but I was in a season of life that was demanding a lot of my time. I did not keep my blogging as a priority. I am hoping to change that for the rest of this year. My list of blog ideas is piled high and I have so much I want to share with you. I just have to take the time to sit down at my computer and write. So please forgive me for my absence, but know that I am super excited to be back blogging and for all of the great things ahead at Be Real!

Today, I want to touch on the hot topic of essential oils. Everywhere you go people are talking about the many uses of essential oils. It is so awesome to see oils becoming more and more popular because they are natural and they have countless uses! Oils have been used for thousands of years and have been popular in the natural health world for a long time. My dad and stepmom first introduced me to oils when I was about 17 years old. Of course back then, 22 years ago, I sure did not believe a few drops of oil could do so much and I thought all of the oils had a horrible smell! But let me tell you if Dad or Sherry ever gave me an oil for something, it worked! Yes, even as skeptical as I was I could tell a difference when I would use oils.

Essential Oil Starter Kit

Fast forward to almost seven years ago when I purchased The Daily Apple Worthington—-yes you guessed it my inventory came complete with essential oils. I started to dabble and reacquaint myself with the oils and in the last couple of years, I have spent a lot of time researching oils and using them in my work and at home.

The Daily Apple has three big essential oil events coming up this month. If you would like to learn more about essential oils make your way to one of our classes. This Tuesday, May 12 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a class at The Daily Apple in Worthington, MN. On Thursday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. we will offer the same class at The Daily Apple in Storm Lake, Iowa. And we are so excited to team up with The Wine Bar and Art Gallery on Wednesday, May 27 in Arnolds Park, Iowa. Come learn about oils and enjoy a glass of wine and food.  The Wine Bar is under new ownership and we are thrilled to partner with them for some special events this summer.

We are excited to announce that at both Daily Apple stores we are featuring a Now brand essential oil each month and during the month that oil will be 20% off. For our first oil during the month of May we chose the most expensive oil we sell—Chamomile. Chamomile is relaxing, calming and revitalizing and has many wonderful uses. We are so happy to offer you a special price so you can add it to your collection today and start enjoying the many benefits of chamomile.

Product of the Month! (1)

And if you are wondering some of my favorite oils —-my first pick has to be Now’s Cheerup Buttercup blend. I love the fresh citrus smell of this oil and it definitely brings on a happy feeling. We also use Now’s Peaceful Sleep blend each night at bedtime in our diffuser. I am also a huge fan of peppermint and lemon eucalyptus.

Wellspring Devotion Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Proverbs 22:9- Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.

This wonderful verse is a key verse for the non-profit Christian organization, Feed My Starving Children. According to the Feed My Starving Children website the organization is committed to feeding God’s children who are hungry in body and spirit. Children and adult volunteers pack meals that are then shipped around the world. To date Feed My Starving Children works with more than 70 countries. Coming up in less than two weeks people here in Worthington have the chance to play a small part in this mission to feed the poor.

Though the event is actually happening in just 10 days, it has been in progress for quite some time and many people have worked to make this happen in Worthington. It has been nothing short of amazing to see how God has brought many churches and committed individuals together to make this happen. Worthington’s original goal was to raise $22,000 and pack 100,000 meals. The latest goal is to raise $25,600 and local volunteers will pack 132,000 meals during the two-day event.

To see this event come together in our community and the many ways God is working to bring people together is awesome. I have had the opportunity to play just a small part in the planning group and I have learned so much through the experience and each time I leave a meeting I am reminded of how blessed we are in this country to have food and medical services we need at our fingertips. Saving my change for this project is constantly reminding me that only 22 cents can pay for one meal for hungry children in other countries. God has used this project to remind me on a daily basis we can all do things to make a difference for others. This is what we are called to do. The Bible tells us over and over to care for the poor. In Acts 20:35 Paul speaking to the elders says, “In all these things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’” Proverbs 14:31 says, “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” Dueteronomy 15:11 reads, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”

These verses do not promise that we will receive earthly recognition or material possessions when we give to the poor. They tell us that giving is what Jesus wants us to do even when we feel like we have nothing to give. The reward of our giving to others may never be acknowledged on this earth but it keeps our eyes and heart set on our eternal home.

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, Please remind us throughout this week that we are truly blessed in this country. We thank you for giving us enough food to eat and clothing to wear. We pray for every single adult and child who is going hungry day after day. We ask you to bless them and watch over them and allow organizations like Feed My Starving Children to help make an impact for your kingdom. Help us to see and act on the opportunities right here in this community where people are in need. In your precious name we pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

What stands in the way of getting involved and helping those less fortunate?

Has there ever been a time when you had a great need and someone showed Christ’s love and helped you?

Time to think health in the New Year

Does anyone else feel like the New Year is quickly passing by? I had so many good intentions right at the beginning of the year but each day passed quickly and already we are half way through the month. Today, I have decided it is time to look at my healthy priorities for this year. The blog posted below was written last year. It is all still so true so I made a few updates and posted it again. When I read through it is had me thinking healthier choices!

I love the month of January because getting healthier is one of the top things people are talking about. I am fortunate because in my business we see people every day who want to get healthier. But I love all of the excitement and interest people have in getting healthier as a New Year rolls around. Now just so you know, I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions because so many times people make resolutions and quickly get discouraged and do not keep with it…But this time of year gets us talking about healthy lifestyle changes. My hope is this interest and longing for a healthier life will last not just through the month of January but all year long.

There are many people who make commitments at the start of the year to get healthier and they do just that one little step at a time. They know the importance of making changes and they take that step and decide to start somewhere. So let 2015 be the year you decide to step it up a notch when it comes to taking care of your body.

So where do we start? Here are some recommendations that can be implemented into your daily life.

  1. First off, make sure you drink enough water. I know, I know we hear this all of the time but it is a simple way to be healthier. And when I say drink water here I mean straight water. If you need to flavor it use citrus fruits but do not add artificial flavorings or sweetener to the water.  And all of those “healthy” flavored waters do not count as a daily serving of water. The harmful additives are far worse than the benefits of the water. Citrus Zinger water bottles are one of my favorite ways to flavor water. Read more about it here. And they just came out with new style bottles for this year. We all know water is important but the reality is most people are dehydrated. A good suggestion is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces each day! And if you drink soda, you should drink an extra glass of water for each soda you drink.
  2. Pick one unhealthy food or drink in your diet to cut back on or eliminate from your diet. For example if you are a soda drinker cut back on how much you drink and see if you can get to the point of not drinking any at all. If you love carbs make an effort to cut back on carbs. Do you eat too much processed food? Then cut back on your processed food intake. Remember, this is a process and as you start to change your eating habits you may feel some not so pleasant changes at first. Much of the food we eat today is highly addictive! So changing our eating habits has to be very intentional and it is hard work!
  3. The beginning of the year and at the change of each season is a great time to complete some sort of a detox. There are full body cleansing products you can purchase to help remove toxins from your body. Fifteen years ago this February, is when I completed my first whole body cleanse and started to get a handle on some of my bad habits including my 6 to 8 cans of diet soda a day and a pot of coffee. Just this simple change of not drinking pop and as much coffee helped me start to feel better almost immediately once the horrible side effects from cutting back on caffeine wore off. Even adding a greens drink to your daily regimen can help the body detoxify. Or you can complete a detox eating program like the 21 Day Sugar Detox or the Whole 30 Challenge. There are many options available. It is so important to give our digestive system a break and a cleanse of some sort can help.
  4. Start reading food labels. Be aware of what is in the food you are eating. If it has a lot of ingredients and words you cannot pronounce you probably should not be giving it to your body for fuel! Our bodies will only perform as well as the food we give it. We have the choice to fuel our bodies with whole, nutritious food or processed garbage. For me, reading labels gets me pretty fired up and discourages me from buying things I should not eat.


5. Eat more fruits and vegetables! These wonderful, colorful foods are loaded with vitamins and nutrients and they help us feel full.

6. Find time to prepare your own meals. (And preparing a meal does not include throwing a frozen pizza in the oven to bake). We are all very busy but we cannot use being busy as an excuse to not eat well! So throw that excuse out the window and find a little time each week to cook.  Remember it is what we give our body that makes it work well. The better we eat, the better we feel and the better we can handle our busy lives. We all have different schedules so you have to find what works best for you. For me, Sundays are a good day to do food prep for the week. I like to make recipes in big batches and then freeze items to use through the week and beyond. Also, when we are preparing meals on the weeknights we make plenty so we have leftovers for lunch the next day.

7. If you are committed to becoming healthier, clean out your cupboards. Gradually use up the unhealthy foods you have hanging around your kitchen. It is much easier to eat healthy and feed your family better when there is not junky food in the house. If you have a lot of groceries stocked up this might take awhile but it is worth it. And for some of you—you might just decide to throw unhealthy items away to get rid of them quicker. Shortly after Christmas I did this. I threw away a few gluten free sugar cookies that were left from my family celebration. By this point, I was so sugared out I knew I could not keep them around.  And remember if getting your kitchen loaded with healthy foods is your goal, you have to quit buying the junk each time you go to the store.

Small, consistent changes lead to big, life-long results! You can do this!


Wellspring Devotion December 2, 2014



Isaiah 7:14-Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Tis the season! Aww, the words that conjure up many memories and feelings depending on the person and the circumstances of life. Yes, tis the season of Jesus’ birth. The season when we celebrate the life of our Savior who was born to set us free from sin. It is a beautiful season but it is important to remember for some people “tis the season” can mean a time of extra busyness, extra financial worries, depression, loneliness…there are so many memories and thoughts that go through people’s minds during the month of December. Let us not forget that people sometimes struggle during the holidays. Let us show love and kindness in all that we do!

This past week I was talking to a friend of mine who helped out a family in town who lost everything in a house fire. She has done a tremendous amount to lend a helping hand. She helped organize a community night fundraiser at a local restaurant (one of the busiest community impact nights this establishment had ever had) and she has helped collect items to furnish the family’s new home. I had the chance to ask her the other day how she got involved in this. What she proceeded to tell me during the conversation left me with tears in my eyes. The family is simply a family she knows through her job and she felt the need to help out. Her small gestures have helped this family in huge ways and rallied the community together to help a family in need.

As we approach the Christmas season this December, let us take that extra initiative to help out others in need. Let us step out of our comfort zone and do the uncomfortable things that will bless others. When God lays something on our heart, take action. About a month ago, I had the idea to put a collection jar at my business for Feed My Starving Children. I had the initial idea and quickly tried to bury the idea. I was worried about what people might think. I spent time praying about it and decided it was the right thing to do. It is never easy to do the uncomfortable but it is what God wants us to do. Let us lean into to Him this Christmas season and spread His love in all we do.

Prayer for the week:Dear God, tis the season to give you thanks and praise. As we enter this joyous holiday season celebrating the birth of Your Son, let us show Your love in all we do. Open our eyes so we can see what needs to be done and take action to help others. Let us remember those who are suffering or going through difficult times and help in any way we can. In Your precious name we pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:
How can we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this season?
What ways can we show God’s love this holiday season?


A Thanksgiving week devotion

I originally wrote this devotion last year for the Nov. 19, 2013, Wellspring group. That was before I started the blog so I thought this would be a good time to post it here. So much to be thankful for today and always!

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Psalm 75:1-We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. Werecount your wondrous deeds.

As the Thanksgiving holiday nears, it is a good time to give thanks to God for all we are thankful for. The word thanksgiving is used more than 60 times in the Bible and in most cases it is used generally as giving thanks to God. The book of Psalms is known for the many prayers of thanks and praise to God! Though the holiday of Thanksgiving as we know it today is not a celebration that comes directly from the Bible, it is a great reminder for us to praise our God who has created everything and has given us so much in our lives.

When Jesus walked on this earth he lived a life filled with thanksgiving and praise to his heavenly father. Jesus was full of gratitude and when he would perform miracles he often told the people to give thanks to God. He knew that God was in full control and could do anything. Jesus did not take credit for God’s abilities. And he instructed people often to give thanks. This is a great reminder to all of us to continue to give thanks to God for all he has done. It is important we thank God for sending his son to die on the cross for our sins. Without that sacrifice out of love for us, we would have no hope.

1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Oh how we have so much to be thankful for—God sent his one and only son to die on the cross and pay the price for our sins.

And after giving thanks to God for sending Jesus to die on the cross, it is a good time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for during this past year. Think of the ways God has worked in your life to bring you closer to him. Think of the many blessings he has bestowed upon you—health, marriage, children, grandchildren, new friendships. The list goes on and on. And we must thank God for the struggles and challenges we have faced during this past year. Thank him for the way these challenges have shaped us and made us who we are. We must continue to have faith that God is working during all of these situations and his will, will be done. And as we are giving thanks for all of these things let us remember and pray for all of the people who do not know Jesus. Let the life that we live be a beacon to others so that they may see the love of Christ in action.

Prayer for the week: Dear God, just as Psalm 75:1 says, “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks for your name is near.” As I go throughout the week this week help me to remember that you are near and help me to see the many things in my life I have to be thankful for. I cannot thank you enough for sending Jesus to save me from sin. Help me to live my life more like you Jesus, giving thanks for everything and being kind to everyone I meet. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

During the past year, what things are you most thankful for?

Have you had challenges and/or blessings this past year that have helped grow your faith?

Squarin’ up for the 2014 Old Threshers Reunion

OTCollage As I anxiously await traveling to my hometown for Midwest Old Threshers this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to share a column I wrote 15 years ago (yikes, that make me sound old) when I was the managing editor of the Lakefield Standard in Lakefield, MN. The article was later published in the Threshers Chaff publication. I will let you read that article if you want and then I will have some additional comments below. Chaffphoto (2) By Amanda Walljasper, Managing Editor, Lakefield Standard, Sept. 9, 1999

Another great Old Threshers Reunion was held this weekend in Mt. Pleasant, IA. After some debate last week as to whether or not I was going to attend this event for the 23rd year in a row, I decided I could not miss it.

The Old Threshers Reunion is held every Labor Day weekend in Mt. Pleasant and over 100,000 people come to town to attend the event. Mt. Pleasant-population 9,000 becomes very busy. There are lines everywhere you go and traffic increases dramatically. People come from all over the world to attend the event. It is known as the largest steam engine show in the nation. However, it is a lot more than just steam engines. It seems as though each year there is something new. There is a log village, many work horses, over 400 antique tractors, hundreds of antique cars, museums, crafts and antiques for sale, a trolley, a train, lots of good food, musical entertainment throughout the day, nightly concerts and much, much more. This is only a small list of everything that goes on. I cannot possibly tell you everything but there are a few things I want to highlight.

You see, I started attending Old Threshers 23 years ago when I was just a baby and I have not missed a year since. Then 16 years ago, my Dad started participating in the O.T. Smokin’ Gunslingers as a deputy sheriff. This is a group of guys who re-enact gun fights, bank robberies and such from the past in the days Jesse James and outlaws roamed the Wild West. These guys work very hard to prepare for these shows and each year thousands of people watch them. After each show, the group signs autographs for children and adults. These shows are one of the things I enjoy about Old Threshers.

Another part of the Reunion that I enjoy is working in the church tent and helping out where I can. Many churches and organizations from Mt. Pleasant and the surrounding areas serve a wide variety of food during the five-day event. I had the chance to work in the church tent one day this year while I was visiting. It is important to realize that nearly everything that goes on during Old Threshers is done on a volunteer basis. Thousands of volunteers donate thousands of hours to help with this event.

Just a few years ago Old Threshers purchased a steam powered carousel. This carousel was built in 1894 and it is only one of six steam powered carousels that are operational and active in the United States today. Adults and children enjoy riding on the carousel during the Reunion.

Well, here it is, the number one reason I cannot miss Old Threshers – the square dancing. Each night beginning at 7 p.m. in a barn there is a band that plays old country music and people polka, waltz and two-step. And every so often a square dance is called. Now, I am not talking about modern square dances but ho-down square dances like my grandparents and great-grandparents used to do. I began square dancing when I was 10 years old. Some friends of ours who had been dancing at Old Threshers for 32 years introduced us to this and we’ve been doing it ever since. You see not only is the dancing really fun, but it’s the people. Nearly every year we meet new people and teach new people how to dance. Many of the friends we have at Old Threshers we only see once a year. But I cannot imagine missing this time of year. dance I know this sounds kind of crazy, but it’s a lot of fun. This year for the first time ever, I called a square dance. I still cannot believe I got up in front of over 600 people and chanted the words to a square dance in a microphone. I was visiting with a woman (Aunt Mae) who has called dances at Old Threshers for 26 years and telling her how I would like to try to call a square dance. I want to make sure that in the years to come we are able to keep square dancing. This is a tradition I do not want to end. She immediately was excited and told me she would help me get it started. She wants to make sure the tradition is carried on. Now, before next year I plan to practice calling some square dances so I can do better. AuntMae I believe that Old Threshers is something different for everyone. Some people love to work with the steam engines, others volunteer to help the Reunion run smoothly, some people bring out their antique cars to show off and so on. Everyone likes Old Threshers for a different reason.

Maybe some of you readers have attended the Old Threshers Reunion. If so, please let me know. I would love to hear your stories about the event. If you want to know more or are thinking of attending next year’s event, feel free to ask me more questions. Next year, during 2000, Old Threshers will celebrate its 50th year anniversary. I hope not only square dancing but all of the Old Threshers traditions will be continued for many years to come.

As I typed this column the other day so I could publish it on my blog, I could not believe how true all of what I wrote is still today. For those of you who enjoy the North Village Gang Shows, this year some of the “old-timers” including my dad will be taking part in the 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. shows this Saturday in the North Village on the Old Threshers grounds. My dad retired in the early 2000s from this group, but it will be fun to see him and some of the other guys back in action.

And if you want to try square dancing, we would be happy to teach you. It happens each night at the dance barn starting at about 7 p.m. Check out the Keeping Square Dancing Alive Facebook page for more information and a schedule of the music at the barn.

What do you love most about Old Threshers? Whatever it is that keeps you coming back year after year enjoy it, as today marks the official first day of the 2014 event! And if you have never been to Old Threshers, I invite you to put in on your list of events to attend, it is a wonderful event that happens each year Labor Day weekend in my hometown—Mt. Pleasant, IA.


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