"Serving as Christ Serves" (641) 497-5294

Family planning : not the usual type….

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Every three years Quakerdale enters a strategic planning process.  For us the planning has been happening for months, but the actual sessions start next month.   In these meetings our board and some staff will be talking about important topics like:

  • Mission, vision and values of Quakerdale
  • Trends in our culture
  • Things that make Quakerdale remarkable or set us apart
  • Opportunities and threats to consider
  • New ideas to start
  • Old things to end

Thinking about this caused me to think about family (strategic) planning.  Early before our marriage we had exciting planning discussions when we talked about our hopes and dreams.  We reflected on our past and talked about where we wanted to go.  We talked about things happening in our culture and what we thought about them.  We talked about who we were and what made “us” remarkable as individuals and as a team.   It was just two of us and things were much more simple… and overwhelming too!

No, we didn’t call it family strategic planning or anything like that… we were just surveying where we were and where we’d been as we embarked on this huge journey together called marriage.  Things were new.  We didn’t know each other as well as we do after 26 years of marriage.  We had big ideas, few resources and plenty of question marks!  We were talking about life together – forever.   We were being strategic and it was exciting.  The world was a wide open place and we were ready to experience it – together.

But why do so many couples fail to do what viable organizations and companies do and think like we did before we got married after we get married?  Why do we plan at the beginning and then just let life sweep us up?  Except for some major purchases like a home, job changes or major health challenges through the years couples don’t talk and plan like we did at the beginning and it certainly isn’t done in an organized disciplined way?

“Honey, lets talk about the future on June 10th… OK?  And then three years out lets plan to do it again”

I encourage you and your spouse (and you could invite the kids if you want) to take a day and consider these same questions Quakerdale planning strategically about for your marriage or family:

  • What is our family Mission, Vision and Values
    • (why do we stick together, what is important to us, how do we choose to interact within and outside our family)
  • What trends in our culture impact our family and how can we respond
    • (Post Christian culture, healthcare, technology, Sexually charged culture, economy/job availability)
  • Things, traditions, or characteristics that make our family remarkable or set us apart
    • (truth telling, hobbies, no phones during meals, individualistic, accepting, hard working, tight knit)
  • What types of opportunities and threats are we moving toward
    • (internet, social media, financial, maturing children, Older age, college debt)
  • New ideas to start
    • (Church/community involvement, go back to school, new traditions, exercise, travel, mission/service plans, eating habits, etc.)
  • Old things to end
    • (A job, feeling helpless, wasting time watching TV, spending money on ___? ___)

These questions are pertinent at all ages and phases of life.

I wonder what it would take for couples (no matter if they have 3 months, 3 years or 30 years of history together to consider doing some healthy reflection on where they are, who they are and where they want to go the next two or three years…  What if couples and families were more strategic and planned regularly?

I encourage you to be strategic as a couple and a family and see what happens!  Don’t wait for outside persons, or a crisis to sweep you up and control your future.

John Maxwell, a world recognized speaker, teacher and training leadership has a great training on intentional living.  Maxwell does personal planning each year for himself.  It is hard to grow and plan as a family if you are not growing and planning as an individual!

Next we will talk a little about action planning and how Quakerdale takes big strategic issues and begins to break them down into small steps.  If you and your spouse or your family has ever done a family planning session together we would enjoy hearing what you did and how it went.  Please share in the comments or send us an email!

The Quakerdale Team

Quakerdale Winter Classic Qualifies as a Birdies for Charity Participant

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May 10, 2016


Daniel L. Smith
Director of Development

(641) 497-5294


Quakerdale Winter Classic ProAM Qualifies as a “Birdies for Charity” Participant

2016 BFC Logo(New Providence, Iowa) – Quakerdale is pleased to announce that the 2015 Quakerdale Winter Classic Pro-AM Golf Tournament has been accepted as a qualifying 2016 Birdies for Charity program through The Principle Charity Classic. This qualifies the $16,550 raised both during and after the event for the 15% matching funds offered through Sammons Financial Group. Adding the matching funds of $2,482 brings our total to $19,032.

The Principal Charity Classic

This PGA TOUR Champions event will be held May 31 through June 5 at the Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa. It is presented by Wells Fargo. In 2015, The Principal Charity Classic distributed $1,402,487 of its tournament proceeds to local charities in Iowa, including: Blank Children’s Hospital, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, and United Way of Central Iowa, just to mention a few. They also helped Birdies for Charity participants raise $780,246.

Birdies for Charity

The Birdies for Charity program is a fundraising vehicle through which participating organizations solicit pledges from supporters based  on the number of birdies made by PGA TOUR Champions players during the three-day Principal Charity Classic. Participating organizations keep 100% of the pledges collected on their behalf.

Matching Funds have been added to the 2016 event. Birdies for Charity, sponsored by Sammons Financial Group, will contribute an extra 10% on all pledges made through the program. Charities that collect pledges totaling over $10,000 are eligible for a 15% match not to exceed $10,000. Matching funds will be distributed on pledges collected up to $66,667.


Don’t  miss a great opportunity!

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As a child and as a parent, dinner time was an important time to be together and it was expected for us to be there as a family.   Dad mounted a dinner bell outside the back door and whenever it rang we knew it was time to come in, wash up and set the table for dinner.   Dinner time was the time my parents used to have us practice reading aloud our children’s Bible the stories and verses we were studying we were often learning about in Sunday School.  We also closed with singing our Sunday school songs.

My favorite one had the following words:

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.


In our busy schedules today it appears families are missing this great opportunity to plan, laugh, learn, share and pray together.  So I went looking for ideas to try to encourage us eating together.    I liked the following ideas and added my own:

Have a jar in the middle of your dining table with  different conversation starters and have each kid pick one starter out of the jar each night.  Click here for some great conversation starters!

More ways to utilize a jar with questions at your dinner table!

You can change the jar contents according to different holidays for example you could do themed questions such as a Thanksgiving one related to gratitude!

You could focus on values-based choice questions by using this wheel for variety!

Click on the link below to open a PDF that you can see more clearly and print out for making a spinning wheel!

converstation starter-wheel


Here are more ideas for conversations using your jar!

  • Put Bible verses in the jar you may want to memorize as a family.
  • Share inspirational quotes
  • Riddles, jokes, and word games
  • Prayer requests to draw out and pray for specifically





You could also plan a family fun night once a month!  This expands on your meal time or it could be that your evening meal is in the back yard or on a blanket in the living room  Maybe you will like some of these ideas on this blog!  Family fun night is also enjoyable and memorable with favorite finger foods.  You might like to look at this blog to find great family game ideas!  If you have younger children these could be some great options!

Finally, it isn’t just the conversation, but the planning that goes into having a family meal.  There are schedules and grocery shopping that must be done also!  This is a nice video by the Washington Post about the planning that goes into the actual family meal.  One important point is to not be an all or nothing family.  Maybe just one or two nights a week can be a meal together!

If you have any questions or comments please share!  We’d love to hear your ideas!

The Quakerdale Team


Caring for Bandit

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Bandit-webThis week during the “Caring for the Horses” fundraising campaign we are raising funds to “Care for Bandit”.

To learn more about the campaign:

To read about Bandit:

To make a donation to the “Caring for the Horses” campaign:

Wolfe Ranch and the Ministries of Quakerdale are … #MakingADifferenceQ

The Ranch is Preparing for a Summer of Fun!

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Horse Fair Booth 2016The horses are shedding, flowers are blooming, and the fun is beginning at The Ranch!  We have been blessed with an amazing facility, and we can’t wait to share it with the community this summer.  The Ranch team was busy in April spreading the word at the Iowa Horse Fair, Midwest Kids Market, Dia de los Ninos/Dia de los Libros, and our very own Open House.  We were able to speak with many people about our full schedule including: summer camps, VBS summer camps, Horsing Around 101, Encore Equestrians, riding lessons, and 3:16 riding club!  Descriptions of each program and registration is available on our website at this time.  We will add to it as new programs become available!

Are you interested in getting involved this summer?  There are SEVERAL ways to support The Ranch:

  • Participate in programming. Simply visit http://wolferanchquakerdale.org/ and click on the “Events” tab to register.
  • We will have several events during the summer that require extra hands.  If horses aren’t your thing, maybe you could assist with some facility repair and improvements?
  • Partner with us in our CARING FOR THE HORSES CAMPAIGN. We are so blessed to be able to provide the services we do, but there are many other programs we would like to offer at free or reduced cost.  In order to do this, we need help to pay the expenses of the horses and facility upkeep.  Please consider being our partner in this effort! http://quakerdale.org/2016/03/2016-campaign/
  • Last but most importantly, PRAY for us! Please pray that the staff would have wisdom leading this summer, the horses would remain healthy, the riders would stay safe, and mostly that our efforts at The Ranch glorify God!

We hope to see you all at The Ranch soon!


I can’t sleep!

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dessert spelled backwardsWe get asked a lot about managing stress and then also about how to turn your mind off so you can fall asleep or get back to sleep if woken up. These are great questions and I am betting there is not a one of us who hasn’t had stress and trouble with sleep at some point in our lives. We also have children who need to learn these skills as well and parents can provide great life tools to their children to learn to relax.  We all have ups and downs, we are all trying to do more in less time and we all feel challenged to figure it out…after all everyone on social media seems to think they have the answers!

The thing is much of the time instead of taking a step back and seeing our stress, we forge ahead ignoring our bodies and the signs.  Instead, we need to take a break. We think to ourselves, other people have figured it out, why can’t I…what is wrong with me? The first thing we need to do is listen to our own inner dialogue and pay attention to our bodies, what signs are indicating we are stressed and need a break. We are our own worst enemies, we expect perfection. We would never expect the same out of others around us, we give them breaks…we need to give ourselves a break too!

So, how do we actually manage things differently, paying attention to our bodies, reducing the tension we are experiencing?

According to Elizabeth Scott, M.S. a stress management expert at about.com, sometimes stressful situations seem to culminate quickly, and we can go from feeling fine to overwhelmed in a very short period of time. When this happens, it’s impractical to stop your life to go practice yoga, get a massage, or try other effective but time-consuming stress relievers. It’s best to have a quick and effective way to turn off your fight or flight response and trigger your relaxation response.

Here are some simple tips to better manage stress.

  • Unplug before bedtime. Set a time at least an hour before going to sleep to limit texts, emails and social media.  Just looking at the screens can inhibit your ability to rest and relax.
  • Breathing Exercises

I like to use what is called square breathing.

square breathing

Click here for a video on another helpful breathing technique.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation

I like to use what is called Autogenic training. Follow this link to learn more.

  • Excercise

Start small, the important thing is to just get moving (if you have not been regularly exercising).  There is a euphoria that comes from the release of chemicals (endorphins) in your body that will combat stress and help you relax.  (Please consult your physician before engaging in physical activity).

The next thing you can do is take charge of our own thoughts, we cannot expect others to “make” us happy, we have to do that for ourselves. I believe this has a lot to do with perspective, do you naturally see the positive or the negative in a situation. So, change your perspective and spend time thinking about looking at the situation differently.  According to Elizabeth Scott, M.S much of what stresses you does not come from your stressors themselves, but from your response to them. More specifically, your interpretation of your stressors, as well as your approach to dealing with them, can make the events themselves feel much more (or less) stressful.

You can watch this music video if you want to identify with your kids through a pop song about stress.  These young adults are re-living how nice it used to be when they were kids and they didn’t have the stress of adulthood.


Contrary to the video you can’t go back into your childhood when things were simpler and less stressful!  Thankfully, you can choose your thoughts, even if you can’t choose your life circumstances. There are a few ‘tricks’ for gaining a better perspective for remaining relaxed under trying conditions: first, you can adopt the thinking style of optimists by interpreting certain facets of a situation in a way that brings hope and eliminates self-doubt. You can also adopt the view that you may have more power in a situation than you realize (called having an internal locus of control, which is also known to eliminate feelings of stress), and then looking for new solutions. Finally, be sure that you’re not already sabotaging yourself with overly negative thinking, and read over these common distorted thinking patterns, or cognitive distortions–do any sound familiar? If so, you can become aware of them and eliminate this type of thinking.

Here at Quakerdale we have several mental health professionals who can help you learn more about managing stress and how to take back control of your thoughts and moods.

So use these techniques if you need them or share them with your friends or children!

The Quakerdale Team

Why Our Horses are a Member of Our Team

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EAThe equine-assisted work we do here at Quakerdale honors the natural behavior of horses and herds. We have learned horses are experts at keeping themselves safe and are adept at survival; their behaviors are a model for mental and physical health. It seems as humans we have lost our instinct to keep ourselves safe and healthy. We entrust horses to show us the way back to health. Work and observation in the horse world lends itself to extremely powerful metaphors into our own patterns, strengths, and the nonverbal messages we communicate. Unlike humans, horses are incapable of lying. They do not come into a WomenWithHorserelationship with hidden agendas. Horses hold us accountable for who we are in the relationship with them. Nonverbal communication is critical to all animals and while many humans believe we are primarily responding to verbal communication, we instinctually and unconsciously read and react to nonverbal signals in greater proportion than the spoken word. Horses are masters at reading subtle changes in body language, intention, emotions and energy. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy implements the power of equine-assisted philosophies and exercises to introduce therapy clients to themselves in a modality that has been found to be more efficient and less threatening than traditional talk therapy. (Credit to Greg Kersten)

Where is your puck going to be?

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Wayne Gretzky was the greatest hockey player of all time. He famously said his secret was that he didn’t skate to where the puck was… he skated to where the puck was going…

At Quakerdale we’ve always worked hard to make the right choices before we are forced. We must bravely move toward where we think things are going instead of focusing on the difficulties of the urgent or the now. This matches the quote by the great Hockey player Wayne Gretzky.

Over the next six months there will be choices to make based on decisions and vision determined years ago. I thank God for the wisdom and direction the Quakerdale board through the ages. This is what drew me and my family to ministry at Quakerdale years ago.

Thank goodness God knows where the “puck” is going more than Wayne Gretzky!

Through many counter intuitive historical events God’s message has emerged through the ages. It didn’t matter if it was through activities like an escape through the Red Sea, or a 40 year journey in circles in the desert, a young shepherd who dominated a giant, a church persecutor turned missionary or a King who conquered through death on a cross and resurrection. God moves his people for his plans.

What is it that you need to do to follow through with the plans God has for you and your family?  Your choices may not look smart to your friends or our culture.  Where is your “puck” going?  Are you called to sacrifice your budget and take a ministry job?  Are you supposed to bring in a family member in distress or a foster child?  Are you willing to sacrifice your personal time for something bigger?  Are you willing to sacrifice in a way that might hurt?  Do you need to make a career change?  Do you need to make an attitude or relationship change?  Do you need to make an eating change?  What do you need to do to get where your puck is going?

David, before his battle with Goliath, had to convince King Saul to let him fight.  Saul couldn’t motivate anyone in his whole army of experienced soldiers (including Saul himself) to trust in God and fight the mocking giant. After 40 days of ridicule and challenge by Goliath the shepherd boy couldn’t take it any longer and petitioned Saul once again to let him fight. King Saul, the mighty warrior, was afraid and desperate enough to approve the perceived mismatch.

David, however, was different. He rested his fate in God instead of the odds. David believed God had a plan. David felt he had a role to play even if it didn’t make sense in human terms. So the whole country of Israel rested on the fate of a young shepherd boy. It was counter intuitive.

Two armies diminished to one shepherd boy against the experienced soldier killing giant.

I guess what I see here is how things got more simple. We can make our lives, jobs, and relationship with God very complicated. Sometimes big things must get more simple so they can become focused razor sharp. Israel and their whole future diminished to a shepherd boy! We know how the story ended for David and Goliath!  David defeated the giant with one smooth stone from his sling and the whole Philistine army dispersed. Immediate victory out of faith and obedience.

That’s a pretty dramatic story. I won’t go into all the others in the Bible that are comparable, but I will not bypass the fact that all those Bible stories culminated with Jesus singularly carrying the sins of the world … alone to the cross. How inspiring right? Often things become simple and razor focused before the “next”  happens.

Simplicity is a Quaker value. Our faith and our journey with Christ is simple and requires our focus…but simplicity is not easy.

I encourage you to enjoy this great worship song below as you focus your faith and future. As for Quakerdale… we put our faith, “In Christ Alone.”

The Quakerdale team

Never stop growing in your marriage… your kids deserve it!

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The more you invest in a marriage the more valuable it becomes.            –Amy Grant

I guess this could be true with anything in life, but when you think about it in terms of your marriage it takes on a different picture.  In the past my husband and I have attended three different marriage retreats.  When I tell people that we are going, the automatic thought is that we must be having troubles. Don’t get me wrong.  We do have ups and downs like any marriage, but that is not the reason we go to these retreats.  We go so that we can keep our marriage going!  I try to explain it to people that you read things to better your brain, why not do something to better your marriage?

If you will, think back through the years and see if you can come up with a couple that have a good solid marriage.  A couple that you would want to model your marriage after.  What stands out about this couple?  The couple/couples that come to mind for me have a great faith in God, work together as a team, and work hard at their marriage.  When I say work hard at their marriage, not only do they keep communication lines open, but they do little things like dropping their wife at the door of a restaurant. Sugaring their husband’s tea when the waitress brings it because she knows that is the way her husband likes it or holding hands in the car when they are driving to get groceries.

Our family has just recently expanded to five, and I want my children to know without a doubt that their parents care about their marriage and are devoted to each other.  I want them to see how doing things together makes us a stronger couple.

An important part of a stronger relationship is learning how to disagree and move through problems.  This is a fun (and short) video that gives some simple ways to avoid those fights that turn personal and result in saying things that we really don’t want to say.



So my invitation to you is to look at doing something that enriches your marriage. – even watch a video on Youtube!  You could attend a Marriage Retreat, read a book together, or simply schedule a date night.  We encourage you to do something that reinforces the importance of the commitment you made to your spouse because your kids will better thrive when you have a healthy marriage!  Oh, and don’t think that if  your kids are all grown and training their own kids that your marriage doesn’t matter.  Your marriage is an important part of your legacy for adult children and grand children!

If you think you could use some help in your marriage or if you are facing a challenge with one of your children don’t hesitate to give us a call at Quakerdale!

If you have any comments or ideas to share with others please leave a comment!

The Quakerdale Team…

Educational Experiences with Horses…SO Much More Than Learning to Ride

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Soccer, basketball, dance, the list of possible activities to participate in goes on and on.   When a child comes to you and says they have an interest in horses, why say YES? After all horses are expensive, intimidating, and dirty right?  Here’s why you should say YES, because horses can teach children and adults lessons that last a lifetime.  I’m going to explain this the best way I know how…by telling you a little about me.

YoungMindyVMy horse story starts at age 9. I desperately wanted a horse.  It might be the only thing I talked about, much to the annoyance of my family.  I had only read books and admired them from afar (mixed in with the occasional pony ride), but I knew I wanted to ride.  In an effort to teach me how much work it would be and scare me off, my dad agreed to let me take a few riding lessons at a local stable.  I was immediately hooked!  I was only 9, but I connected with Trigger (the first lesson horse I rode).  When I was around him I felt relaxed and happy.  I spent hours brushing him, cleaning tack, slogging through mud, without complaining.  Needless to say my dad’s plan totally backfired.  Within a few years my parents were dropping me off at the barn 3 evenings a week and on weekends to work and ride.  You see the experience was so powerful, I wanted to lease a horse but we couldn’t afford it. So, I worked at the barn to pay my own horse bills.  I cleaned stalls, moved horses around, scrubbed water tanks…no matter how dirty the task I did it.  The connection with the horses and the feeling I felt around them was worth every minute of work, and I still feel this way today.

Why do I share this with you?  It is to illustrate a point.  Nurturing a connection with horses can be so much more powerful than “learning to ride”.  Horses are more than just physically strong, they teach us lessons about emotions, friendship, and responsibility.  I am so thankful to Trigger for being patient with me and being kind even when I had NO idea what I was doing.  I am sure I brushed him too hard, accidentally pulled his tail, made the girth too tight, etc., but he just loved me.  (What a metaphor for God’s love for us even when we make mistakes!)  I am also thankful I learned that hard work and being responsible pays off.  I am thankful for trail rides with friends and memories of fun times at the barn.  So next time your horse crazy kids asks about riding lessons or educational courses…please consider all the lessons that can be learned at the Ranch!

Wolfe Ranch will be offering a variety educational programs and summer camps this year.  Please consider joining us or allowing us to work with your child to introduce them to all of the great lessons that horses can teach because it truly is so much more than riding.

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