Sunday, November 28, 2010


Janet Chester Bly 

A friend faced a great blow this afternoon. Her husband’s prescription he’d taken for many years had raised in price from $40 to $375. In distress, she checked another pharmacy. Their price: $350.

Then, she bought groceries. Her bill had almost doubled from the previous month.

“How can this be? We’re on a fixed income,” she said. “We can’t do this. What’s going to happen to ordinary folks like us?”

Another acquaintance told us in recent weeks: “A series of medical bills caused us to miss a house payment. Our mortgage company threatened to foreclose. If it wasn’t for family members lending us the money, we’d be out in the streets.”

The awful scare. The cold despair. The shock that hits that you might lose your home. Or your job. Even getting docked in pay. Or becoming the victim of identity theft. There’s so much uncertainty now, when a few years ago most folks felt sure of the basics. They expected to maintain a certain lifestyle. To keep a tiled roof over their heads. To retain a respected title. To count on their worth.

We know of a gal who has a good job. But not good enough to pay her rent that has been raised three times since she moved in. Now she’s living in her car.

Tough Times Are Nothing New  

For those who study history, they recognize an ebb and flow in good times, bad times. And traumas can produce lifelong effects. Many  living today who faced deprivations in the past, such as the Great Depression era and the world wars, suffer residual fears even when they’re in a safe and secure place now.

After WWII, the Allied armies corralled hungry, homeless children into large camps to care for them. But they didn’t sleep well.

A psychologist suggested, “Let the kids hold a slice of bread every night, so they know they’ll eat in the morning.”

The bread provided security, an adequate resource for peaceful rest.

6 Ways To Stand Fast When The Gravy Train Slows

1) Don’t panic: Prepare.
2) Don’t despair: Get creative.
3) Adjust to your new reality.
4) Ask God to reveal what He wants you to learn, what He advises you to do.
5) Find something to hold onto. . .your hand-held slice of bread.
6) Seek out others who have faced the same circumstance. How did they cope?


Download the full article, "31 Ways To Win The Fight For Personal Peace" at our website:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Steve at Maranatha in Michigan
On the Trail with Stephen Bly

Miles City, Montana, holds a bucking horse sale every year. Quite a doin’s with rodeo, sale and plenty of celebrations. A stock contractor friend of mine often heads there to check out good horses to buy for his rodeo string. 

Last time I saw him I asked, “How’d you do in Miles City?”

“Well,” he said, “I got there with both feet at the beginning. But things trailed off at the end.”

When a cowboy says he got there ‘with both feet,’ he means he achieved success with his venture. He did the dance. My friend bartered good deals at the auction’s start, but the bidding intensified later.

Life's often a two-foot dance. Getting to the goal with both feet—that’s what most of us want. Whether we’re presenting at a conference, meeting a dinner deadline, courting a romantic interest, or punching cows.

Or about to enter heaven’s gate.

God told Joshua how to land with both feet: “be strong and very courageous,” then he’s promised prosperity and success (Joshua 1:8).

Sure sounds mighty good. Our role is to be strong. To be courageous. Then we’ll succeed. That is, land with both feet.

However, between the exhortation and the promise comes this command: “Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8).

Whoops—a mighty tall order. That requires diligence … to The Book. To read it. To study it. To memorize it. To meditate upon it. To be careful to follow the instructions. Many folks try to skip that part.

Oh sure, everyone wants instant rewards. On earth, as well as in the life beyond. But things like paying close attention to God’s likes and dislikes, big concepts like discipleship … obedience … that  seems too … constricting.

But there’s no sidestep here.
Follow the basic pattern.
Fully enter in. 
Don't stay on the sideline.
A dance-floor necessity.
And crucial to the spiritual two-foot promenade.

Where do you feel most awkward ... on the dance floor or at a Bible trivia contest?

Have you read The Surprising Side of Grace?
Available at the Bly Books Bookstore: 

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The Sound of Sleigh Bells
novel by New York Times best-selling author, 

Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?

Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serves as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. 

But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. 
Amish wall-hanging
When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry. 
Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking. After Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple. Will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work?
To read the first chapter and/or for purchasing info, go to
Cindy Woodsmall
Bio ~  
Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.  
She is also a veteran homeschool mom who no longer holds that position. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children.

2010 Inspirational Readers Choice Contest winner
CBA and ECPA Bestseller

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and two daughters-in-law reside in Georgia.

Cindy's Amish novels
To visit Cindy’s Web site, go to 
For information on how to receive free bookmarks and autographed bookplates, go to

Buy on Books-A-Million

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Janet Chester Bly

Everybody’s got one. Even the rich and famous.

Movie rags claim Billy Bob Thornton freaks out when around antique furniture. He won’t stay in a hotel furnished with them.

Caution: Snake Area
Johnny Depp and Diddy both fear clowns, a condition known as coulrophobia.

Indiana Jones can’t abide snakes.

Others declare their panic at disorder and become natty neatniks or obsessive-compulsive.

Sometimes we call these conditions pet peeves or obsessions. When does it get to phobia stage? A phobia is “a persistent, abnormal, or illogical aversion or fear of a specific thing or situation” (The American Heritage Dictionary).

I certainly have mine. One thing for me. . .I can’t abide heights, especially while in a moving object. . .like a glass elevator, cable car, ski lift, hot air balloon. Or go hang-gliding! On the other hand, I've learned to relax, most of the time, in an airplane. Just don’t let there be turbulence. . .or, horrors, a transparent bottom.

Some fear is good. To stay alert. To be cautious in where you go, what you do. But paralysis to the point you can’t think or act. . .not so great.

Make a measure of peace with your most freaked-out fear. Especially if it prevents your being all God created you to be. Easy to say. Hard to do. Ask God to help you. To come to gritty grips with it. With his presence, his power, his purpose.

“Lord, calm my heart. Ease my mind. Give me one practical action to  fight this giant with a slingshot.”


"Do not give way to fear" (I Peter 3:6 NIV).

What do you dread? What makes you apprehensive to the point of extreme angst. . .or terror? Do you dare even name it? And when you do, what have you done about it?

Download the full article, "31 Ways To Win The Fight For Personal Peace," at

Sunday, November 14, 2010


On The Trail with Stephen Bly

A fella who owns a gas station and mini-mart down the road has an interesting habit. Every time a customer’s check bounces, and he can’t find the person who signed it, he posts the check on his bulletin board and writes across it with a red Sharpie: 
“Gone to Texas!”

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Winter Reunion
Winter Reunion
new novel by ROXANNE RUSTAND
Roxanne Rustand
Book #1, Aspen Creek Crossroads Series
Steeple Hill Love Inspired

When wounded Marine Devlin Sloan comes back to Aspen Creek, he's surprised by his late mother's will.  His new business partner for the next six months will be Beth Carrigan.  His ex-wife.

This might prove to be Dev's most difficult mission yet.  He never stopped loving the sweet bookstore owner, but his military career broke them apart.  Now, as they work together at helping others get a new start in life, he hopes he can break down the walls between them....and explore the possibilities of renewing the life they had with each other.

About the author

Roxanne Rustand has written seven inspirational romantic suspense novels for Steeple Hill.  This is her first romance for the Love Inspired line, and is also the first in her Aspen Creek Crossroads series.  Each book stands alone, but readers wanting to revisit the scenic St. Croix River Valley area and the quaint town of Aspen Creek can come back in Second Chance Dad, which will be out on June, 2011, and in another book which will be out in December.

Roxanne was nominated for an RT Bookclub Magazine Achievement Award in 2005, and one of her books won a  RT Bookclub Magazine Reviewer’s Choice Award in 2006.  END GAME is a 2010  RT Bookclub Magazine Reviewer’s Choice Nominee for Best Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense of 2010.

Note from author:
“I write romantic suspense and warm, family relationship type novels, often with a touch of humor. Many of my books have featured animals as key players--dogs, cats, llamas, cockatiels, horses...even our son's pet albino corn snake, Sssssid, who appeared in my first Superromance back in 1999.”

”Animals have been a big part of my life since I was a child. How about you?”

Suzy Q
About Suzy Q, the horse:

“I've been wanting to find a very quiet, sweet horse for years.  No rodeos.  No surprises.  Road safe, trail safe. Small enough to a be a confidence builder for the grandkids when they are old enough to ride off a leadline. Large enough that the adults in the family can ride, too.  We have one old geezer who at thirty-five is too old and arthritic to ride, and a twelve-year-old who is a tad too spunky to trust with just anyone on his back.”

“This past week, I came across Suzy by chance.  Small, but not too small.  Sweet. Quiet. Her owner and I went riding for an hour on the streets of a small town, with cars, trucks and school buses going by, dogs barking, flags flapping, people coming up to "pet the horsies."  She was as solid and steady as could be, and fifteen minutes into the ride I was sold. . . .”

You can find out more about Roxanne at her blogs and website:
Future books by Roxanne Rustand:
  4/11  Murder at Granite Falls, Big Sky Secrets LIS #4 
  6/11  Second Chance Dad,  Aspen Creek Crossroads LI
11/11  Rocky Mountain Heirs, Book #5  LI
12/11  Big Sky Secrets LIS  #5

WINTER REUNION is available at bookstores everywhere and at:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Janet Chester Bly

Sometimes it seems we here in the mountains of northern Idaho experience the shortest autumn period in the west. A few weeks tops. Yet, fall’s my favorite season. The colors. The sunsets. The crispy, sensory sounds and smells and sights. I could live in the heights of this season forever. 

Fall signifies peace to me. If I could order a perfect weather day, it would be…70-ish degrees. The softest of breezes. Streaks and puffs of layered clouds brushing the azure sky. Clean-cut air.

But just like the weather, peace of mind seems to come and go for me and most of those around me. It’s over-turned by . . . Panic. Turmoil. Sleepless nights. Storms of stress. Troubled times.

Yet, over it all, Jesus says, “Keep calm. Don’t panic” (John 14:27).

My present goal? To walk with God every moment without anxiety, free of fear.

My prayer? “Lord, guide me in your way of peace. Help me do the actions that promote peace. . .for myself and others around me.”

One thing I’ve learned over the decades. . .fighting for God’s peace requires courage because . . . .

1) I choose love over hate.
2) I admit sometimes, “I was wrong.”
3) I try to comfort the afflicted.
4) I reach out to hug a prodigal.
5) I try real hard not to become a cynic when confronted with maddening words or outrageous deeds.
6) I’m on the watch for what God’s doing in my world, above and beyond the salacious, the distracting and diversionary, as well as the evil stuff.
7) When I hear heart-stopping news, I try to remember to ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” rather than “How did this mess happen?”

I’m training myself. . .not to freak out about the future. To grab hold of God’s big picture plan…the one that brims with promise of the abundance of good blessings, with compassion to all who reach out to him, and the forever peace of the life to come.

Autumn’s a transition period, an evolving stage. So is my life. So is yours. Remember that the next time leaves begin to turn and twist and fall.


What is the season that denotes peace most to you and why?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


A Prairie Christmas Collection

A Prairie Christmas Collection 

from Barbour Books

by Tracie Peterson, Deborah Raney, Tracey Bateman and 6 other favorite Christian authors 
Settling the vast open prairies, weathering winter storms, and finding joy to celebrate during Christmas epitomizes the pioneer experience. In a unique collection of nine Christmas romances, Barbour Publishing brings readers A Prairie Christmas Collection where they can relive a prairie Christmas with all its challenge and delights as penned by multi-published authors, including Tracie Peterson and Deborah Raney. 

Special Features:
deckled-edge pages
a foil-stamped cover with fold-under flaps
an ideal Christmas gift for the romance reader.
Tracie Peterson & Deborah Raney
In this holiday romance collection, the warmth of Christmas will radiate new love from the high plains of Minnesota and Dakota Territory, across the rolling hills of Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, and down into the flats of Kansas. Filled with inspiration and faith, each story will become a treasure to be enjoyed again each year. Along with Peterson and Raney, other contributing authors include Tracey Bateman, Pamela Griffin, JoAnn A. Grote, Maryn Langer, Darlene Mindrup, Janet Spaeth and Jill Stengl.

For more information on this book and others, as well as a ‘Best Ever Granola’ recipe, see Deborah Raney's website at
Click a link below to order: 
A PRAIRIE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION is available in bookstores everywhere, or order online at or other bookstores online.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Stephen w/family 1950s

Florence, Idaho, at one time boomed as a frontier town. Settled in 1861 with the discovery of placer mines in the Salmon River Canyon, by 1862 10,000 people reached the settlement. Florence, at its peak, produced $50,000 worth of gold per day. Even when the mine played out, many folks hung around. The post office remained in service until 1912.

Idaho’s full of ghost towns. Some of them lasted a few months, others for decades. A few got deserted almost overnight. Some were torn down and moved to another place, piece by piece. Some burned to the ground. A couple still remain as shells of their former selves. An interesting hobby is to search for those traces that used to be thriving communities.
There’s not much left of Florence today. No permanent residents. Most buildings have disintegrated into the hillsides. It’s a ghost town. I enjoy visiting sites like that to try to imagine its better days and create stories.

People’s lives can become like that.
Do you know someone who’s caught in a ghost life?
There’s signs of a once prosperous existence. Perhaps, they had a vibrant  family. A promising career. Awards and trophies. However, that’s all in the musty past. And there’s no hints any of that will return.

Are they considered worthless now…has beens?
Not to God. With God's grace, anything’s possible. "You are God's building," the Bible says (1 Corinthians 3:9). He can renew any life. With new construction. Rebuild the faulty structure. Mend the broken years. Even create a prosperous city through them.
I’ve seen him do that with folks who seemed destined for destruction. Through the power of His Son Jesus. He stirred new zeal, fresh goals for them. Each of them now has the promise of eternal life, no matter their past.

New novel coming MARCH 2011: Throw The Devil Off The Train