Wellspring, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014

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John 14:1-3-Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

In these verses God promises us a heavenly home if we believe in Him. We must keep focused on our heavenly home throughout our daily life here on earth. We must do as much good as we can all for Christ’s glory. God has given us very specific instructions to live a life filled with abundant love for others and with a servant’s heart that we may show God’s amazing love by the way we live. We must realize as the verse above says only God knows when it is our time to go to the place he has prepared for us. We must be ready!

There is so much to be done and so many people who need Jesus. There is suffering all around us. Here in the United States we are blessed with religious freedom. As the people of Iraq and many other parts of the world are being persecuted right now, we must give thanks for having the freedom to worship our awesome God. We must continue to share his love with others and we must pray for the people of Iraq and all of those being tormented because they are Christians. This is something so horrible that it is hard for us to even imagine what these people are going through, but we can lift them up in our prayers.

John 14:1 is a great reminder when life gets difficult and we want to quit keeping on, God tells us not to let our hearts be troubled and then he makes the beautiful promise of our heavenly home. Oh what comfort His promise brings when we are living in such a troubled world. Isn’t it hard to believe that God tells us that He is preparing a place for us and that He will be there with us? That is such a big promise, each time I read the verses above it gives me goose bumps just thinking about how amazing our heavenly home will be.

Prayer for the week: Dear God, As we go throughout this week, we pray that you do not let our hearts be troubled and that you help us to keep our focus on you. We pray for all of the Christians in Iraq who are being persecuted for following your Way. Give them strength to face the days ahead and keep them safe. Lord we thank you so much for our religious freedoms in this country and help us to remember your will always. Help fill our hearts with abundant love for others so that we may serve others for your glory. In your name we pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

How can we keep our hearts filled with Christ’s abundant love in our troubled world?

Do we sometimes take our religious freedom here in the U.S. for granted?

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”?

Wellspring devotion June 17, 2014

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Ephesians 2:8-9-“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

What a powerful verse here from Ephesians to remind us that it is through Christ we are saved. His grace is so amazing it is difficult for us to comprehend that God gave us such a wonderful gift that we did absolutely nothing to deserve. This whole concept of God’s amazing grace is a hard one to wrap our heads around in the world we live in. We live in a world where we want more, we long to do better. It is easy to think that there is something we can do to earn God’s unending love, but the reality is what we have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. We cannot get caught up in the trap that we can get to Heaven any other way. We do not get to heaven by the good works we do, by the books we read or by the people we hang out with. It takes a personal relationship with Christ. And we must remember not to boast about our own good works, but instead we should give all the glory to God.

When we have a relationship with Jesus, we want to do good works because we are inspired to live like Christ and love others. The Bible tells us to help the poor, love our enemies and share the Gospel with others. Instead of taking the credit for what we do, we give the praise and thanks to our loving Father. When we walk closely with the Lord we continue to grow in our faith each day and we want to live out what the Bible teaches us.

This verse also reminds us that God loves us no matter what we have done! For some people, it is hard to have faith that God loves them no matter what mistakes or sins they have committed. Our God is a forgiving God and He shed his blood to free us from our sins. Yes, all of our sins, no matter how big or small they are. When we ask for forgiveness, Christ heals our wounds and helps us walk closer with Him. If you have never taken the chance to ask Jesus to be a part of your life I encourage you to do so. There is no time like today, to ask Jesus into your heart and ask Him to forgive your sins. The God who created you and knows everything about you wants to be a part of your life. Asking Jesus to be a part of your life is not difficult but it takes courage and faith. The greatest peace of all comes from having Christ as your personal savior and He will guide you every step of the way in everything you do. He is the greatest friend we could ever ask for and He will never leave or forsake us in our time of need.

Prayer for the week: Dear God, Thank you so much for your amazing grace that saves us from our sins. Please forgive us for the times when we think we can do things on our own. Help us not to boast but to give you all the praise. Please help us to give you all of the glory in every situation we go through. It is only by faith in You that we can live our life for You focused on our heavenly home. Thank you Lord, for the wonderful gift of salvation. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

How has a personal relationship with Jesus changed your life?

If you have not accepted Christ as your savior, what is standing in the way?

Rhubarb pudding is a treat

Last Saturday when I was visiting my friend Jen, I discovered she had a huge rhubarb patch with some very fine looking rhubarb! We picked lots and lots of rhubarb and she let me take a bunch home with me. For some reason this year, I am just loving the taste of rhubarb.

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I wanted to make rhubarb like my grandma used to make with tapioca. I have not had it this way in years but it sounded so good. As I was looking at tapioca to buy in the grocery store, I decided I did not want to buy a whole box for a one recipe and the idea came to me to use chia seeds and make a pudding. The recipe I came up with is similar to the cranberry chia pudding I shared earlier on my blog. See that recipe here. Chia seed pudding can me made with all different types of fruit so be sure to experiment and have fun!

So Sunday was my rhubarb day. I started out my morning making a refreshing rhubarb drink. This recipe came from Freya at 10 Acres Flat in our first food share box last week (read more about 10 Acres here). In her letter last week to shareholders, Freya said she was hesitant to share a rhubarb recipe because everyone around here already has a family favorite. She did however share a recipe for making rhubarb juice and serving it over ice. The recipe piqued my interest-as I had never thought of making rhubarb into a juice. So I of course, had to try it. It was tasty.

Then later in the day, I decided to try my rhubarb pudding idea.

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This is the rhubarb cooked with honey and it tastes great this way! So if you don’t want it to become the consistency of pudding you can eat it just like this. It tastes good!

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However, if you want it to turn out pudding consistency you can put the rhubarb and honey in the blender and then add coconut milk and blend. And then stir in the chia seeds and refrigerate for at least 3 to 6 hours. This yummy treat has been my breakfast each morning this week. It is very different from my regular breakfast of eggs or a smoothie but I am finding it keeps me full (the chia seeds are great for this and the healthy fats in the coconut milk) and it is a nice treat in the morning.

I am happy that I have enough rhubarb to put some in the freezer so I can make Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp or this pudding again when rhubarb is no longer in season.

And in less than two weeks the Worthington Farmers Market in downtown Worthington will be under way and more fresh, local food will be available!

Rhubarb Pudding

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1/2 cup local honey

3 tbsp. chia seeds

1/2 cup water

1 cup coconut milk (or any milk of choice)

In a pan cook rhubarb, honey and water on medium heat until fully cooked about 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool. Then put rhubarb mixture and coconut milk in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl (that has a lid) and add chia seeds. Stir well. Put lid on bowl and put in refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.

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Wellspring Devotion June 3, 2014

When I first wrote this devotion (on May 4, 2014) I was not sure if I would share it on my blog. It is emotional, it is truthful and it shows me as the sinful being that I am. I quickly realized my blog is called Be Real for a reason and in order for us to grow and change and become closer to God we have to sometimes take a hard, honest look at our lives and realize where we need to spend some time. I have read this particular devotion many times since I wrote it and it is helping me stay focused on the areas I really need to work on right now. Each day, I have tried to remember to pray for the “gentle and quiet spirit” mentioned in 1 Peter 3:4.

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Psalm 51:6-13-“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.”

A few weeks ago in church, a song leader in our church read the words of this Psalm with music playing peacefully in the background. It was a day my heart was heavy and filled with sadness because I had treated people in my family poorly. I used harsh words that hurt them and I was sure not showing Christ’s love with my actions. It is so easy to take out our frustrations and pain on those closest to us and it is also where it can cause the most hurt. After a night with not much sleep, the church service on this particular Sunday could not have been more fitting for where I was. That powerful reminder that we are sinners and we need the blood of Jesus to wipe us clean and make us new again is just what I needed to hear.

Not sleeping well, being overwhelmed with sad emotions, realizing my behaviors are hurting people gave me a much needed wake-up call on that day. Sometimes we have to feel so sad about what we have done so we can take the proper steps to correct the situation.

During the sermon on that same Sunday our pastor read 1 Peter 3:4-“but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is in God’s sight very precious.” Awww, how those words spoke right to my calloused heart. And I wrote quickly and boldly in my Bible. “I pray for a quiet spirit.” I even circled the word quiet spirit and wrote “Amanda needs this,” in the margin of my Bible. We are all a work in progress and for those of you who know me well you know that there are times when a quiet spirit is needed. I am so filled with passion and energy that sometimes I come off so intense without meaning to be. How thankful I am that our God is a patient God and He loves me even with all of my shortcomings. And it is only with God’s gracious help that I can begin to work toward that gentle and quiet spirit.

Right after the song leader read the above verses from Psalm, we sang “Amazing Grace My Chains are Gone.” What appropriate timing. From a very young age, Amazing Grace has always been one of my very favorite songs. When I heard it when I was young it would bring tears to my eyes and many times give me goose bumps. This Sunday in church I could not even sing all of the words to this beautiful song because I was so overcome by tears and emotions. I always said I want this song at my wedding, funeral and any other important times in my life. Apparently, this was a pretty important Sunday teaching me some lessons I really needed to hear.

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, Help me to start each day with your everlasting love. Let your joy fill my body so I can do your will in the place where I am. Please help me to see my shortcomings and ask you for forgiveness. Give me the strength to make changes in my life so I can be more like you. When the devil is creeping into my life, help me to see his lies for what they are. And when he is attacking my life, let me cling to you and the Bible for my shield until that wonderful day when you will return. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

Do you have a daily habit that helps you remember to live each day focused on God?

Is there an area of life where the devil has been bringing you down to keep you from growing closer to God?

Rhubarb and asparagus are sure signs of spring

It is really starting to feel like spring. Earlier today my husband and I went on the search for fresh asparagus and we came home with enough for several meals. It is still crazy to me that around here people go out searching for asparagus because it grows wild along the road ditches. For us it is a fun thing to do and I must say my husband is much better at spotting it than me. I say it is because I have not hunted for it until I came to Minnesota. In southern Iowa, we had large asparagus patches in our gardens.

Today, we just drizzled the asparagus with olive oil and some Real Salt or seasoning salt and put it on the grill! It was delicious. I could eat fresh asparagus every day! And it has such great health benefits. It contains glutathione, which is a potent antioxidant that helps detoxify the liver, it is a natural diuretic and it is contains fiber, iron and other important vitamins. So if you don’t have your own asparagus patch head on out and try to track some down so you can enjoy its delicious flavor and all of the health benefits that go along with it.

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And tis the season for fresh rhubarb! I was so happy to get some rhubarb from my mother-in-law this weekend. Rhubarb is a sure sign that spring has arrived. And I love the tart flavor that rhubarb brings to the table.

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I decided to create a new recipe today using the rhubarb. And I am pleased with how it turned out. I used organic raw cane sugar in the recipe  and it has a rich flavor kind of like brown sugar so it worked very well in this recipe. Originally, I was going to use only rhubarb but when I had just under 4 cups of rhubarb I decided to add just over 1 cup of strawberries to the mix. I used my last bag of frozen strawberries from our local strawberry patch, Schumacher’s Berry Farm. Thankfully, in less than a month we can go pick more fresh, local strawberries. For this recipe you could use all rhubarb or you could use 2.5 cups of each. Enjoy in moderation. You will notice this recipe has more sugar in it than a lot of recipes I post but with rhubarb the sugar is necessary to help reduce the tartness. I choose to use raw cane sugar because it is less processed. (That does not mean you can overindulge though…too much sugar, is too much sugar.)

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

4 cups rhubarb

1 cup strawberries

3/4 cup organic raw cane sugar

3 tbsp. corn starch

Topping

1/2 cup gluten free oats (if you need gluten free)

1/4 to 1/2 cup organic raw cane sugar (depending on sweetness you prefer)

1/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup butter

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, mix the strawberries and rhubarb with the cornstarch and one cup of raw cane sugar. Place in an 8 x 8 baking dish. In medium bowl, mix oatmeal, almond flour, raw cane sugar and butter. Pour evenly over the top of the rhubarb and strawberries. Bake for about 30 minutes.

 

 

The Daily Apple puts down roots in Worthington

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I am filled with mixed emotions as we prepare to rename my Worthington, MN, health food store. I am of course excited to see a new name come into play, but I am sad to see the Schafer’s name go. You see the Schafer family had a long business history in the Worthington community. It is a part of our small town’s history. I am so grateful I was able to purchase the health food store from Irma Schafer in 2008. I will never forget how scared I was that day as I took the keys from 93-year-old Irma and realized this is mine. My initial thought was, “Now what in the world am I going to do…” I have so much respect for the Schafer family for believing in me and allowing me to carry on Karl and Irma’s legacy. I am so happy I have gotten to know Herb and Stefanie Schafer and their children. I am forever grateful to them for selling Schafer’s Health Food Store to me.

Irma

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The top photo above shows Irma Schafer in front of the store on July 15, 2008-the day I purchased it from her. The second photo shows the Schafer’s sign that I had put up shortly after I took over and that is the sign that we took down on Saturday to make way for our new one.

Vitamins and natural health will continue to be “the core” of The Daily Apple but we have “branched” out and added many new “slices” to our small business including clothing, purses, jewelry, kitchen gadgets, vintage and all sorts of unique items. And soon we will be launching an online clothing boutique so people can shop from anywhere in the U.S.

A lot of people have been asking where our new name came from. It goes back four years ago when I opened a store in Storm Lake, Iowa. We spent a great deal of time brainstorming and coming up with a name for that store knowing it would eventually be the name of the Worthington store also. We chose The Daily Apple because often we think of apples as healthy and the name also has a general store feel to it which covers all of the other items we sell. I then went through the lengthy process of trademarking the name to protect our logo and our brand.  We feel our name change will also help us better market both stores. We will mention both Worthington and Storm Lake in our advertising since these two towns are only an hour and a half apart.

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When I decided to leave my teaching career and buy a health food store, it was a huge leap of faith and many people wondered what in the world I was thinking. I had a real desire to see a small town, main street business continue. We know the story all too well of small “mom and pop” businesses closing up shop because it is too difficult to compete in today’s marketplace or in some cases business owners cannot find someone who wants to buy the business and keep it going. I had a strong desire then and even more so now to help keep this community I call home vibrant.

To each and everyone one of you, near and far from Worthington, if you support small, locally owned businesses I want to say thank you! Really, I want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Your support is appreciated so much and it is because of people who make this conscience effort that small shops like Schafer’s Health Food Store and now The Daily Apple can continue for many years into the future. Small businesses have a huge impact on towns all across this country. In just over five years, we have given thousands of dollars to local organizations. We support the local YMCA, 4-H, school activities, charity benefits, the local food shelf, United Way, ….the list goes on and on but you get the gist. We volunteer our time to make our communities a better place to live.

During the last six years, we have slowly updated and expanded Schafer’s and with the changes it is time to give our store a name that reflects all we have to offer. As our new sign says, “The Daily Apple. Health. Clothing. Gifts.”

If you live around the Worthington area we invite you to The Daily Apple’s grand opening party this Tuesday, May 20 at 207 10th Street in Worthington. We will be giving away free apples and we will have yummy appetizers for you to enjoy. All clothing and scarves will be on sale. And we are looking forward to the Red Shack Stamped Jewelry Make and Take Party from 3 to 7 p.m.

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Wellspring Devotion, May 6, 2014

wellspringlogoPsalm 90:12-15-“So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.”

What a powerful verse from Psalm that reminds us that our days here on earth are numbered and everything we do here on earth should point to God. While we are here in this earthly life that Christ has given us we are to seek the truth and grow closer to the Lord through the word of God. A heart of wisdom that is searching out truth is filled with joy because our hope is in reuniting with Jesus in Heaven. Revelations 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

So when we are trying to do everything we can to honor and glorify God, we have to understand we are human and we are going to make mistakes. We will be mean to people, we lose our tempers, we become selfish and forget to keep the focus on Jesus. Repenting our sins and making all of our shortcomings known to God is such an important part of walking with Christ. Acts 3:19-20 tells us, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”

When we repent our sins and give them to God we must let go and continue to work on our shortcomings. The devil is always at work in our lives and he wants us to hold onto our sins and not repent. The devil wants us to be filled with guilt and he wants us to be distracted in keeping our focus on God. As women, we often hang on to situations and emotions from our past and the devil is quick to use this to cause us to worry and doubt our very being by filling us with negative thoughts and self-talk. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

When we keep our sights set upon Heaven and the perfection that God has promised us, it makes our troubles and trials on this earth seem bearable. When we think of the selfless sacrifice Jesus made when he was crucified on the cross, we can handle the ups and downs of our daily life because God gives us strength to get through each situation. God uses the struggles and hard times in our life to open our eyes to His gracious love. He uses these experiences so we can be a light in this dark world.

Prayer for the week: Dear Lord, Help me to start each day with your everlasting love. Let your joy fill my body so I can do your will in the place where I am. Please help me to see my shortcomings and ask you for forgiveness. Give me the strength to make changes in my life so I can be more like you. When the devil is creeping into my life, help me to see his lies for what they are. And when he is attacking my life, let me cling to you and the Bible for my shield until that wonderful day when you will return. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:

Do you have a daily habit that helps you remember to live each day focused on God?

Is there an area of life where the devil has been bringing you down to keep you from growing closer to God?