Iowa Great Lakes – N.W. Iowa’s Resort

I have great memories of visits to our Iowa Great Lakes area as a kid and as an adult. There are many things to do while there and this small town comes alive in the spring and summer months. I thought I would share about this area, as on the 4th of July they have a spectacular fireworks display and if you can catch it from a boat on the water that is an even more fulfilling experience!

Okoboji is a city in Dickinson County in Northwest Iowa and in 2010 their population was 807. It is located along the eastern shore of West Okoboji Lake. Pikes Point State Park is located within the city limits. It is a major tourism area for the whole family to find something to enjoy while vacationing here or visiting. Surrounding cities are Milford, Arnolds Park, Lake Park, and Spirit Lake, Iowa. Driving from Milford to Spirit Lake or Milford to Lake Park gives you the feeling that you have never left the city limits, as there are quaint shops and business all along the way to Spirit Lake and Lake Park.

I recall spending some summers in this location enjoying their amusement park, small though it be, there is something there for everyone. Arnolds Park Amusement Park is home of “The Legend” – the 13th oldest wooden roller coaster ride in America that is still in operation. They celebrated their 80th anniversary in 2007. They have many rides to choose from, miniature golf, Go-Kart racing, and so much more to enjoy within the Parks walls. If you are not into amusement parks there is entertainment most evenings on the weekends in the way of various bands and music artists, there is “The Queen II” a steamer boat that was commissioned and built in 1986 after “The Queen I was retired finally in 1973 after 89 years of service. This new steamer was designated as the “Flagship of the Iowa Navy.” You can take a ride on this steamer boat around West Okoboji Lake and learn all about the history of the area while you enjoy an hour long trip. There is summer theater productions, camping areas and bike/walking trails throughout the area, fishing, boating, miniature golf/golf, art centers to visit, activities during the summer where you can learn a new art, and so much more! There are a variety of places you can stay to roughing it or renting something much more luxurious. There is shopping and places you can get souvenirs to take home from your trip. You can rent boats and water sport equipment to enjoy the water. There is something for everyone at the Iowa Great Lakes! Here is a link to the Arnolds Park Amusement and other things available to do at the Iowa Great Lakes:
http://http://www.arnoldspark.com/explore/queen.php

Okoboji refers to several lakes and then the town that is named after it in the Iowa Great Lakes region. There is also an East Okoboji Lake that people boat and fish on and Spirit Lake, Iowa is located along the north tip of the East Okoboji lake. Spirit Lake also has a large lake called Spirit Lake and on the northern side of this lake there is a road that runs east and west. Cross to the north side of the road and you are in Jackson County, Minnesota and cross back south on that roads center line and you are back in Dickinson County, Iowa. Good place to throw your line in for fishing I have heard.
Spirit Lake and Okoboji became notable after the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857 when a renegade band of the Sioux tribe attacked the frontier settlements, in part for food, as they were starving due to a severe winter with heavy snows. It was the last Native American attack against settlers in Iowa. Here is a link to learn more about the area:
http://http://www.iagreatlakes.org/

When I was in my late 20′s I was involved with a singles group up near the Lakes area and one 4th of July we rented a pontoon boat and took it out and boated for a few hours before the fireworks display. We had so much fun and from the water the fireworks display was very beautiful! There are various places to rent boats and other water craft and if you are interested in learning how to scuba dive – they have a place on the waterfront where you can do that as well. All these small towns come alive in the summer months and their population rises considerably, but there is so many places to visit there and things to do, that you do not note that it seems overcrowded, unless you are ever there in the winter when things are quiet!

In the winter months they hold their Okoboji University Winter Games and so if you love winter sport and activities outside this is something you might want to make a trip to this area! The name Okoboji University is fictitious, it was created back in the early 1970′s but three brothers (The Three Sons) who printed t-shirts with that name and a school crest and it started the joke and craze for this fictitious school, but they do good and hold many fundraisers throughout the year for charities, bike rides, a marathon, and their winter Olympics. Even a local radio station KUOO is in on the joke and they call themselves the campus radio station. They offer all kinds of fun activities including: Broomball, Flag Football, Softball, Bag Tournament, Chili Cook Off, Chocolate Classic, Ice Hockey, Snowmobile Fun & Radar Runs, Polar Plunge, Fireworks, and Burning of the Greens. For more information on their winter activities and schedule – check out this website: http://http://www.uofowintergames.com/

In early August each year they hold the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference or Browns Conference. This is a great event to check out. They have various speakers, musicians, and performers this year from August 2 through August 10, 2014 this year. It came into existence for the soul purpose of glorifying God and developing within individuals a growing love for God and others. There are missionaries who come and share about what they have been doing in the areas of the world that they serve, some are from Iowa. It is a beautiful opportunity to fellowship with others of like mind and a place that will help you to grow and aid you as you head back to where you live and serve in your own communities. There is wonderful entertainment and lots of opportunities to grow spiritually. I have been there a couple of times and always leave inspired, empowered, and stronger in my faith. There is something for the whole family to enjoy at this conference. Truly a blessing you will receive while attending this 9 day conference! To check out more about this conference, please check out this link for their schedule of events and a history of how it got started back in the 1930′s.
http://http://okobojiconference.org/

Wishing you all a Happy and Safe 4th of July – may God watch over and protect you as you enjoy this day celebrating our independence and may you know how blessed you are to live in America!

Quick and Easy Chicken Rice Casserole

1 1/4 c. white rice
3 cans cream of chicken soup
¼ cup melted butter
1 packet of onion soup mix
Salt and Pepper
Chicken pieces (I like thighs and legs)

Combine rice, soup, onion and pimiento in 13″x9″ casserole. Brush chicken with melted butter and place chicken pieces over rice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Uncover, stir rice to prevent drying and bake 15 more minutes. Sprinkle with paprika. Serves 8. Can be stored in refrigerator in advance.

I love this recipe!

Fully Alive – Ken Davis Comedian

I watched a video this evening by Ken Davis called Fully Alive. I found it to be very inspiring and encouraging with much good humor throughout.

Do you ever feel like your life is in a rut or you are going through the motions, but you are living in a silent hopelessness or despair and you have lost your Joy? Do you feel that somewhere along the way you have lost your fire and passion that once lived in your soul? Then it is time to rekindle that flame!

Ken shared some very powerful stories about his life from the point of resignation to living life vibrantly. He uses humor to share about his adventures in life, about eternal joy, spiritual renewal and perfect health. He shares about not wanting to live his life any other way except “fully alive” now that he has turned 65 years old.

If you choose to view this one, I do not think you will be disappointed.

Fully Alive by Ken Davis

Watermelon Days and RAGBRAI – Iowa happenings

Watermelon Days happens in the small town of Quimby, Iowa located about 8 miles from Cherokee, Iowa in Cherokee County. It took place this past weekend and it happens every year the last Friday and Saturday of the month of June. The typically quiet main street comes alive on those two evenings with carnival rides, bingo table, cake walk, city wide garage sales (some years), the fire station serves a meal one evening of grilled burgers and the fixings and my brother-in-law usually works the grill. There are concession stands and the area churches have held meals in the small community center building on main street. There have been quilt shows, car shows, craft shows, a dance held in the street, a kiddie parade, they hold raffles for some really nice things and also hold drawings for merchandise they have picked out and purchased for those two nights, a golf tournament at the fairly new golf course, and new this year was the “Watermelon Crawl 5k run/walk. The biggest attraction is the over 3,000 lbs of watermelon that is served on the second night of the event where they bring in a large Hy-Vee grocery semi-truck loaded with cooled watermelon that gets cut up by a number of guys who hand out pieces to the crowd. People will bring plates, forks, and salt shakers to enjoy a juicy slice of this favorite summer fruit! This year they had their 70th year and were selling T-shirts to celebrate. Here are two links to learn a little more about this little town in N.W. Iowa and information on the T-shirts being sold.
http://http://www.cherokeecountyiowa.com/Towns/Quimby.htm

http://https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quimby-125/169902846416385

Also soon around the corner is RAGBRAI – an annual bike ride across the state of Iowa that happens the middle of July every year and this year it is July 20 – 26th, 2014. Typically in the past they have dipped their front tires in the Missouri River and dipped their back tires in the Mississippi River at the end of the ride, but I am not sure that is possible this year from where it is starting in Rock Valley, Iowa up in the upper N.W. corner of the state, as the Missouri River is a few miles west from there. Rock Valley has had some major flooding this year and residents in Emmetsburg, Iowa were volunteering to come and help them get cleaned up before this event takes place this year.

Cherokee has been a host town many times in the past – we did it 2 years ago and our town grows substantially in population during that overnight stay. Each town they go through there are host families who will open their homes for a cool place to shower up and rest before their next day trek or some like to rough it and sleep in tents and shower where they can – it is all up to the riders and those who follow along in vehicles.

Many people think Iowa is flat, but those who have come from all over the world to bike here find out that Iowa is anything but flat. We have a lot of rolling hills and some are quite a challenge on a bike. There are areas where we have flat land, but I would say there are more hills than flat areas. When you volunteer to help out at these over night stops you meet a lot of people from all walks of life and many of them are grateful for the hospitality and welcome they receive from these towns and cities across our state. Each town has entertainment for everyone, food stands, product stands where they can get things to help them with their week long bike ride, and many just want a clean towel or rag to wipe the sweat from their face and neck and a cold drink of water.

For those who seek a good workout biking hills and valleys this is the event for you! Many people say they love the scenery in Iowa and many come back year after year to bike across this Midwest state. Happy pedaling RAGBRAI riders!

Here is a link to the main page for RAGBRAI so you can read for yourself if you are interested.

http://http://ragbrai.com/

http://http://bestwesterniowa.com/ragbrai-2014

Weather in the Midwest…

We are so water logged here in the Midwest! We got more rain this weekend and a number of showers today. I was coming home from a town about 20 miles from my home and it was questionable if I was going to make it to town – there was quite a lot of lightening and one bolt struck a few feet in front of my car and also one time behind my car on the highway I was traveling on. It was basically on all sides of the vehicle. Some were a distance from me and others were too close for comfort. Needless to say, I prayed all the way to town and thankfully God got me there safely.

Early this spring our river had sandbars showing to the point where people could drive a vehicle out onto them and fish from them. With all the rain we have been getting, our flooding here in town has gone down, but the river is running high just slightly inside of its banks (Little Sioux River). If we get many more days of showers like this it will be back out of its banks. Places in Minnesota are having a tough time with flooding and northeast Nebraska suffered another tornado this morning in Pierce county, a few miles from where the last few have hit. Many of our gravel roads have been washed away and the county has been working overtime repairing them. A few smaller bridges have been washed out and are being repaired as well. Many of us are praying God sends some rain to California and other states in dire need of rain. If only one could ship some where it is needed!

The mosquitos are bad this year and not much on the market for bug repellant works. I did create my own a couple of years ago (Bug-Off Cologne) and it works pretty good, but I need to apply it often, especially on a hot day. I have been using that a lot this year with mowing, gardening, and tending to other outdoor chores. I have sold a few at my sister’s store this summer – some people have come back for more so it must be working for them as well.

We are in for some cooler days for the next week and many of us are looking forward to that, but another round of storms comes in tomorrow and then the weekend there is another round of showers from Friday evening through Sunday morning. They are reporting that in the last 2 months we have had well over our usual rainfall for this time of the year and that is obvious as you drive around the area.

They are repaving the main highway a mile from us to town – Hwy 59 and so they have a portion of that road blocked off as they get part of it completed. Then another contractor is working on another road just a mile from Hwy 59 where there was a bridge that needed to be replaced, so one cannot get into town from that direction, and then there is another main highway (Hwy 3) that comes into the other end of our town that is closed off and being repaved, so when the river was over its banks at crest we had no way to get into town from where we live without having to drive many miles out of the way to get there. Once they have the bridge on the road that is a mile from Hwy 59 fixed, then the last 4 miles of the road work will be completed on Hwy 59 in September. It has been a challenge this year between the weather and road work getting around to where you need to go. Certainly has made life interesting and not dull! :)

When did America’s Demise begin?

America was established and patterned after Israel and for many years America was blessed by God. So what happened to our country?

Well, first of all as time passed many attributed America’s achievements to human intelligences rather than God’s blessings and instead of thanking God for His blessings, many ignored his Word, rejected His guidelines, and wanted to go their own way and do it without Him. So the downward journey became a pattern for today and is found in Deuteronomy 8:10-20: “”…when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them… your heart is lifted up and you forget the Lord your God. … you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
“…if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods… you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.”

We see this happening in America today and at an alarming rate.

By the early 1960′s, atheistic leaders were banning prayer and Bible reading from the halls of our schools, while humanistic leaders persuaded gullible followers that God was not real, just a myth. But many became disillusioned and found it was unfulfilling and instead of seeking Christ, it created a hunger for supernatural power opening the door to trying anything that might allow them to gain spiritual power.

“You have eaten the fruit of deception… you have depended on your own strength.” Hosea 10:13

In the 1990′s the New Age movement came upon the scene and promised unconditional spiritual power for self-centered seekers. It mixed Eastern mysticism, an inflated view of human potential, and a fascination with a mystical force and it invited gullible seekers to be their own god. By the start of the 1990′s it had desensitized America to occult formulas.

“…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“In later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1

Today on the rise is Neo-paganism and multitudes are trading truth for lies and reality for fantasy, and God’s promises for pagan dreams. Disguised as angels, animal spirits, wise guides, or extraterrestrials – demonic spirits are spreading a welcome message and many are falling for it. It all sounded so good, how can it be false? The scriptures tell us why they are false.

“The whole world is under the sway of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19

“…they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator….” Romans 1:18-25

Then we have Babylonions paganism where Biblical morality is despised, banned, or forgotten. The masses imagine new gods or enticing new distortions of the true God. The self-focused spirituality means war against Biblical Christianity. Those who chase the rising tide of promiscuity feel nothing but hatred for the old moral guidelines that protected Americans from destruction for almost 2 centuries and is now corrupting America today.

“‘They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time I punish them…’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 6:14-15

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth…” 2 Thessalonians 2:9

And finally to global dominion. The Old Testament speaks about times of mass rebellion and idoltry and how God withdrew his protection from the land that He loved.
Numbers 14:9; Mic. 1:11; Isaiah 22:8-9; Deut. 8:6-20, 31:17; Ezra 8:22; 1 Cor. 10:1-11

It is a time where the enemy will enslave the foolish and rebellious people and all the presumed “rights” to free speech, private property, and Christian child raising is ebbing away. But the loss of those rights is only the beginning of what is to come. The earth will be ruled by a global tyrant controlled and empowered by Satan – the Anti-Christ.
“The beast… was given power to make war against the saints… All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the book of life… [The second beast] forced everyone… to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark…” Revelation 13:7, 16

No one knows when this will happen, but it will and we are given signs to watch for.
“Learn this parable from the fig tree,” said Jesus after telling His disciples about end time events (wars, famines, persecution, false prophets, lawlessness, apostasy, worldwide evangelism…) “When its branch… puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors… Watch therefore…” Matthew 24:32-33, 42

As long as you follow God – He will bless you with peace. Here are some scripture to back that up:

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:6-10
“…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…. Professing to be wise, they became fools…. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves….
“God gave them up to vile passions. …
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased [depraved] mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness.” Romans 1:18-32
“….there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words
“…if God did not spare the angels who sinned… and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly… then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment….” 2 Peter 2:1-10

I cannot believe that these various forms of spirituality are truly fulfilling and give those who seek them out true peace and a sense of security. God is the only way to true peace, to true fulfillment, and knowledge that you will be with Him in heaven. There are no other ways to God, no other paths that will get you to heaven, only one way – a straight and narrow path, but one of solid security in who holds your future and truly what a heart seeks – God is able to provide more abundantly than any other source out there. It is never too late to turn from these false paths and gods to seek the one and only true God! He is waiting with open arms to embrace you and welcome you – no other God really welcomes you and loves you – only the God of the universe and all creation can give that!

A Homeless man Church goers ignored…

I am sure many have read this story online, as it has been around for a while now, but I just felt God urging me to share it on my blog and hoping that it touches and opens hearts to those in need in this country.

Pastor dresses as a homeless man...

Pastor dresses as a homeless man…

A pastor transformed himself into a homeless man and came 30 minutes before worship to a church of 10,000 to greet those coming to attend that morning worship. Many looked at him with stares, dirty looks, and down their nose at him. He asked for change for food and no one gave him any. Only 3 people of the 7-10,000 came up to greet him and welcome him there. He went to sit up in the front row and the ushers ushered him to the back row. He sat and listened to the morning announcements and following that the ushers got up and excitedly (they were in on him dressing this way) introduced the congregation to their new pastor. They began to clap and the clapping soon stopped when the homeless man at the back got up and began to walk to the front and the congregation became quiet. He walked up to the microphone and paused for a moment and began to recite:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ ‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:35-45

After he recites these verses he looks towards the congregation and begins to tell them what he experienced before the service began and many were crying and many others hung their heads in shame. He then said to them, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?” He then dismisses church until next week.

Our walk with Christ should be more than talk – it should be action and we should be the feet of Jesus on earth. More importantly we are not these people’s judge, but God calls us to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. Many think it will never, ever happen to them, but one can never be sure of that – countless people have experienced hardships that they never dreamed they would ever have to face or live through. God never promises life will be without problems, besides problems make one stronger, more humble, and keeps you closer to Christ. If everything went your way and you had no troubles you would have no need for a Savior!

When I was younger I read the novel by Charles Sheldon called “In His Steps.” It was based on sermons Sheldon gave to his congregation in Topeka, Kansas. In this book Rev. Henry Maxwell encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ. It was a great read and one that makes you question the things you encounter in life and ask “What Would Jesus Do?”

The homeless pastor above gave his church members something to ponder the first week he was there and to question their walk in Christ. We are to be a light in this dark world, we are to reach out and help the less fortunate whether we think they deserve it or not and treat them as we would want to be treated.

I am presently experiencing a loss of my job, which happened back in December 2013, due to no fault of my own. I know if I did not have my family, who is helping me, that I could also find myself homeless and down and out. Did I deserve to be laid off – NO, but we live in a world where there are no guarantees and what was once a sure thing today may not be a sure thing tomorrow. Even people who find themselves fired do not often deserve it, employers in most states do not need a solid reason to send you packing and it can be as lame as not wearing the right color pantyhose to work or having the wrong view point – it may have nothing to do with your work performance and may have everything to do with their personal preferences of what they are wanting in an employee. That is the evil world we live in now days.

I doubt the majority of homeless, down on their luck people wished to be in the shoes they are in now or without their job. I doubt any of them love to go up to total strangers and beg for change to get a hot cup of coffee or a sandwich for lunch that day. Can you for a moment place yourself in the shoes of those who have less and think of how it feels to have no one to help you, no one to turn to for assistance when you find yourself without money or resources to pull yourself out of a pit?

America is a country God blessed for so many years and He has given it much and the land of plenty should never have had homeless or people down on their luck living within its borders. Could this be another reason God is judging this great nation?

This week when you encounter someone homeless or down on their luck – what can you do to make a difference in their life? What can you do to get out of your comfort zone and be a bright light in their dark world? Put yourself in their shoes and ask how you would want to be treated and What Would Jesus Do if He were here? It will make your life much richer to not question, but to do what you can for another – it can change your heart and life in ways you never imagined! :)