Rugged cross is daily reminder to follow Jesus

Mark 8:34-And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

In this Bible verse Jesus tells us to deny ourselves and follow Him. This is a big task. A lot is packed into this verse in Mark. We must let go of our self-pride, we must change our behaviors that are only self pleasing and take on behaviors that glorify God. We must let go of our sinful nature and our sinful desires and take up the cross and follow Jesus. The cross is a symbol of suffering and pain and also a beautiful reminder that our Savior died a tragic death on that cross so that we may live some day in paradise with God.

cROSS

Oftentimes I think of ideas for devotions and don’t always write them down. As I have been looking at this cross this past week, I have so many questions….I wonder who made it? Is it made out of a special material? I love the rugged look of this cross and as I was looking at it the other day, I was thinking it looks rough and worn. Many people might look at it and think it is junk. To me it serves as a beautiful reminder that sometimes we see only the bad in people and specific situations, when really there is so much good to be seen. Jesus instructs us in the verse above to take up His cross and follow Him. He is asking us to see the blessings in every person and difficult situation. He is asking us to be kind and show forgiveness to those who have hurt us.

So I cannot write this devotion without sharing another one of my favorite traditional hymns, The Old Rugged Cross, written in 1913 by George Bennard. I absolutely love the words of so many of the traditional hymns. So many powerful words to worship our Savior. I find it very sad that we no longer sing these hymns on a regular basis in churches.

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

Mark 8-34-And calling the crowd to him (1)

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, Please be with us this week as we strive to honor you. Help us to let go of our selfish tendencies and let us feel your presence in all we do! We want to take up your cross and let our light shine for you. Forgive us for the many wrongs we commit and help us to keep our focus on you. When we see a cross, let us be reminded of the suffering you went through to set us free from sin. We cannot thank you enough for the gift of eternal life. In your precious name we pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

What stands in the way from taking up the cross in our daily lives?

Are there sins keeping us from a closer walk with God?

 

Wellspring Devotion Tuesday, March 17, 2015

wellspringlogo

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?

Wellspring Devotion, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015

wellspringlogo

 

Matthew 14:23-And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.

The last few weeks as I have been reading chronologically in the New Testament of the Bible it has really stood out to me how much Jesus prayed while He walked on this Earth. This is such a powerful message to us today. Jesus prayed often. He needed prayer and He often talked to the heavenly Father while He was spreading the gospel during his life on earth. The verses in the New Testament about praying remind us how important it is to ask God for our every need. The Bible shows us that Jesus prayed alone like the verse above states. He also prayed for other people. In Matthew 19:13 it says, “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray.” And Luke 9:28 reads, “Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.”

These verses illustrate it is important to find our own quiet time to pray so we can focus and give our full attention to God in our heartfelt words. The scripture also shows us we should pray for others and pray together with each other. There are so many ways to pray and it is important to work all types of prayer into our daily life.

Even at times when we don’t know what to pray for or we are too emotional to come up with our own words, Jesus gives us instructions. In Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13 He gives us the words of the Lord’s Prayer. His disciples asked him directly to teach them to pray and Jesus responded with the words of the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer starts out giving praise to the Father.

In Jesus’ final hours on this Earth as He was being crucified He cried out to his Father. He prayed the night before his crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane and Luke 22:24 says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Jesus prayed until the very end of his earthly life. Let us learn from Jesus’ example and be reminded that anytime of the day, anywhere is a great time for prayer.

Prayer for the week: Dear God, Your son Jesus gave us a great example of the power of prayer. He faithfully turned to you many times in prayer as He walked on this Earth. As we begin this new year, help us to turn to you more often in prayer. Open our eyes and our hearts so we can see what to pray for and in those times when we have no words, let us turn to the Bible and pray the prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

What ways do you make time for prayer in your daily life?

Have you had any answered prayers recently where you clearly see God at work?

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.

FruitVeggiegraphic

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!

Amanda

Pheasant taco soup perfect for a cold day

So today I had it in my mind I wanted to make a recipe with pheasant because we have a lot of it in our freezer right now. I also wanted to use ingredients I had around the house so I did not have to make a trip to the grocery store! The recipe I came up with is Pheasant Taco Soup. Of course, you could use chicken for this recipe and have the same flavorful results if you don’t have access to pheasant. I also think this recipe would work great in a crockpot but today my crockpot is filled with buffalo bone broth. Stay tuned for the recipe soon on the blog!

The pheasant taco soup was easy to make and it tastes great. I used my homemade taco seasoning for this recipe. You can view the recipe by clicking on this link. It is hard to believe we have been using homemade taco seasoning at my house now for about a year. The flavor is great and it is not loaded with unhealthy fillers. I also like this pheasant soup recipe because it uses corn which I froze last summer and tomatoes that I had in the freezer. And the onion came from the local farmers market when I stocked up at the end of the season.

My plan is to freeze some of the pheasant soup leftovers and have it for lunches at work. I think fresh cilantro would be delicious in this recipe but I did not have any at the house. When I make this again I will grab some cilantro to add even more flavor. When serving you could top it with fresh avocado, tortilla chips and/or salsa.

PheasantTacoSoup

Pheasant Taco Soup

6 pheasant breasts, cleaned well and cubed

1 tbsp. oil

1 small onion diced

3 tbsp. homemade taco seasoning (or 1 taco seasoning packet)

1 bag frozen corn

2 cups tomatoes (frozen or canned)

1 can green chilies

1 jalapeno (optional)

2 1/2 cups water

Put 1 tbsp. of oil in a soup pot. Add cubed pheasant, onion and taco seasoning. Cook on medium-high heat until pheasant is almost fully cooked. Then add corn, tomatoes, green chilies, jalapeno and an additional 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes on low. Remove from heat and serve.

Wellspring Devotion December 2, 2014

wellspringlogo

 

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?

Wellspring Devotion, Oct. 21, 2014

wellspringlogo

Psalm 100:3-4-Know that the Lord, he is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!

As we look around us we have so much to be thankful for. Even in dark days, we must keep our focus on God and remember that He made us for a very special purpose! This is reason to get excited and step outside our comfort zone and give our praises to Him. This past Sunday at the church we attend, we had brothers and sisters in Christ from the Karen community in Worthington visit our church and perform a song. It was so moving to hear the Karen pastor tell the history of the Karen people who now live in Burma and about the many refugees who have come to the United States. Hearing their struggles with slavery and oppression throughout history really made me realize how much we take for granted here in this country. The young man who introduced the song they were going to sing, said they have often been discriminated against and treated like animals.

They sang the song in the Karen language and it sounded so beautiful. The words to the song in English were shown on the big screen so we knew what the words meant. Part of the song talked about how they had been treated like animals and then it goes on to tell how we are all free in Christ and He is the only one who can give us hope. We did not need the words on the screen to tell when they were singing the praises to God. They were singing with so much passion and emotion, I could not help but hum along. And when the song was over, I was wishing they could continue singing more songs. I think I could have listened to them for hours.

God wants us to give Him praises and thanksgiving always! Even amongst the struggles of slavery, oppression and discrimination, He wants us to be a light to others and let our hope in Him be known. There is so much diversity all around us and God wants us to love our neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ, He even wants us to show love to those who do not know Him. Having people from other parts of the world come to our church this month and preach and sing praises to God has been such a blessing. Their passion and love for the Lord are contagious.

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, Help us to remember to praise your name always—in the hard times and in the really happy times. Thank you for all of your wonderful blessings. As we go throughout this week, we pray specifically that you will help us see the needs of those around us so we can be a bright spot and show your love to others. Let us not forget that we have many brothers and sisters in Christ to love. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

How can we show love to a neighbor this week?

How can we get out of our comfort zone this week and show God’s love to others?

Wellspring Devotion, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

wellspringlogo

 

Matthew 4:4-But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Have you ever had a time where a song just speaks to you loud and dear? You get it stuck in your head and just keep singing it over and over. Several weeks ago that happened to me as I was listening to a CD that was given to me by friends. It is filled with upbeat, bluegrass style gospel music. And the song “I think I’ll Read it Again” came on. I have listened to the CD several times before but this song just jumped out at me and I think I listened to it 10 times or maybe more that day while I was driving. And I have listened to it at least twice almost every day since then. I love the Southern Gospel sound of this song sang by Gold City Quartet and the words are just awesome.

Sometimes I get so tangled up in those blessed pages

How I’m gonna rest forever in the Rock of Ages

How I’m gonna live and sing and shout a million years,

And hear Him say, “You’ve made it home, Here’s a crown of life to call your own”

Think I’ll read it again and let it bless my soul.

I think I’ll read it again and see how high I can fly.

I think I’ll read it again and let it bless my soul 

Sometimes when we are reading the Bible it can seem dry and it is easy to get busy and not make time for reading it like we should but as the song says, God’s word is meant to bless us and encourage us to live for Him in this troubled world. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the Bible He replied, “It is written.” Jesus, God’s own son looked to the Word of God for guidance, truth and strength. We must take Jesus’ example to heart and read the scriptures so we know them and are prepared with God’s truth and grace when we are tempted by the devil.

As some of you know I am reading the Bible chronologically in a year. And to be honest as I write this devotion I am about a month behind on my reading schedule. Yes, as I said earlier it is easy to get busy and not spend time in the Word. It is like this song is speaking right to me, encouraging me to keep reading each day. I think I will keep listening to this song each day as I continue to make progress in my Bible reading plan. If there is an area where you could use some extra help, I encourage you to find a song that speaks to you and reminds you of God’s gracious love. Listen to it often and keep your mind filled with positive thoughts!

Prayer for the week: Dear God, Guide us as we dig into your Word and try our best to live it out in our life. Let the Bible bless our soul and encourage us to love one another like you first loved us. Help us to stay focused on your Word and truth so that we can be a light to others. Thank you for giving us this wonderful book that we can read over and over again as we go throughout life. In your name we pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

Do you have a favorite hymn or Christian song that you listen to when times get tough?

Any strategies or tips you use to help you keep up with reading the Bible?

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.

 

Please subscribe to Be Real blog so you can receive email notification each time I write a new post. You can find the subscribe button to the right of this post or if you are using your phone it may be at the bottom of this post.