Monday, January 24, 2011


On the Trail with Stephen Bly
Copyright© 2008

A farmer back in the 1840s had never seen a real, live elephant. So, when a circus was advertised in a nearby county, he loaded his wagon with eggs and veggies and headed for the market near the event. En route, he met the circus parade led by the elephant. The sight enchanted the farmer, but  terrified his horses. They bucked, pitched, overturned the wagon and ran away. His goods scattered. The farmer got tossed on the ground. 

Wagon broke, horses lost, merchandise ruined, the bruised old man limped home on foot. When his family and friends gathered to console him about his bad fortune, he said, “But you don’t understand, I’ve seen the elephant!”

That phrase resonated in the gold fields of California.  Not all those 400,000 seekers called 49ers, who dug out a mere few dollars in the gold or geode fields, bemoaned their fate. After all, they headed west for the adventure, “to see the elephant.”

What a wonder to stand in the spot where you realize history’s happening.
That sense of wonder surrounded Jesus’ every step of ministry. That’s why tough fishermen like Peter, James and John responded to his call: 

“At once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:18).

They had no idea what might happen next. Or the results for themselves. But they sensed the miracle of the moment. They followed Jesus to. . .well. . .”see the elephant.” He was historic beyond imagination.

This is the exciting part. Jesus still calls us to do something important for him. There’s a lot of history yet to be written on the spiritual frontier. Maybe it’s your turn. Or someone close to you. To enter a cause bigger and better than anything you’ve ever known. . .the size of a proverbial elephant.


What's the closest you've ever gotten to being part of a truly historic event?


Happening May 2011:
release of Throw The Devil Off The Train
She longs to the arms of her fiancé. He seeks revenge for his brother's cruel death. But something evil's aboard on that long train ride headed west.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Janet Chester Bly

My first rides in a plane did a number on me. I get very spiritual walking past a cockpit. I pray for the pilot, co-pilot, flight attendants, and each of the passengers. . .for alertness and protection. 

After all, if they stay safe, so do I.

“Lord, there might be a bomb on here.”

“I will be with you,” he says.

“Lord, that guy over there looks like he could be a hijacker.”

“I will be with you.”

“Lord, what if this huge bucket of bolts and metal dips for the ground at umpteen miles an hour?”

“Then, I’ll carry you in my arms straight to my home, where there’s no bomb, no hijackers, and no need for planes.”

One time I fashioned a fear-breaker course of sorts. I forced myself to walk back and forth across a nearby highway overpass. This helped me face my worst fear scenario – height with movement beneath. . .or getting close to edgy space with potential to fall.

A friend held my hand and kept saying, “Don’t look down. Keep your eyes on that building on the other side.”

I did it for a season, with firm determination. And it helped some. But I’ve got no plans to hang glide or bungee jump anytime soon.

Sometimes the biggest leap of faith is to trust God’s outstretched arms. . .that he'll catch you, carry you, keep you.

Strengthen the weak hands, 
and make firm the feeble knees. 
Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 
‘Be strong, do not fear!’  
(Isaiah 35:3,4 NKJV)


What action have you initiated to take the edge off a phobia or fear?


Free download of "31 Days To Win The Fight For Personal Peace" available on our website: 

Monday, January 17, 2011


Both of us California natives, we believe that Winchester, Idaho, provided us our country 'dream home' ... not fancy, but comfy. We do ministry here. We're close to our kids & grandkids (all who live 45 miles down the mountain from us). We also have been able to write here, producing over 120 published books ... his, hers, and ours. 

Joan Matthews' Deer Buddy

Joan Matthews found her country dream home too ... in Oregon. She sent us this photo above of her deer buddy for our Country Life Captions feature. Here’s what she has to say:

“These big guys only come up to our deer fence, in the rut season.  This guy comes once a year.  Other times, we have quite a lot of tame herds, of does and fawns.  Although we only have one acre, it is my dream come true to live here, after being raised as a city girl.”

”We live on the largest subdivision in the U.S., but it is quite wild and rugged.  It is ‘Crooked River Ranch.’ * There is a cougar that comes through twice a year.”   

“We overlook the cascade range, with 2 rivers on either side of us, deep in canyons, that look like a mini Grand Canyon.  We are in Central Oregon, near Redmond, Oregon, which is in high desert country.” 



* Crooked River Ranch is 12 miles northwest of Redmond and encompasses app. 12,000 acres. A planned unit development with residential sites from one to more than five acres each. Includes a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, ball field, clubhouse, canyon palisades, deep gorges and the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers.

If you have a country life photo you'd like to send us to feature on our blog, follow the guidelines to the right on the sidebar.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


On the Trail With. . .
Stephen Bly

An old timer up our way left a high school basketball game in a snowstorm, took a wrong turn, and wound up three hours south of home.  I didn’t say too much. I’ve had my share of wrong turns, shortcuts, and getting lost down some scrubby back road. 

When I think about old timers, I’m amazed how the pioneers set out west without roads or decent maps and ended up where they wanted. They just followed the tongue. That is, every night under bright prairie stars, they took a bearing on the North Star. If they were driving cattle up from Texas to Kansas, they’d pull the covered wagon tongue around to head straight to the star. By daylight, they’d follow where the tongue pointed. If they were headed west in a covered wagon, they’d line the tongue perpendicular to the star. The North Star provided the constant to plot their direction.

You’ve got a true north constant too. Like pioneers who struggle across a wilderness, you wrestle with your own trials and troubles and hope to survive. Even though each day’s events and challenges might toss you to and fro. . .even though you might get bad advice. . .even though the landscape of your situation might seem strange or foreign. . .nevertheless, it’s possible to keep on track.

The Bible says to fix your eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He’s your best, most experienced guide. He provides crucial signposts along your daily journey.

In the evening and early morning, realign your mind and heart with Jesus. Straighten your will with His. Ask for His wisdom and way. He will keep you from wandering, from getting lost in the storms. You’ll wind up where you need to be.

When’s a time when you avoided disaster by keeping your focus on a biblical North Star?

COMING MAY 1st, 2011:  
Throw The Devil Off The Train,  
a historical western romance. . . .

Desperate for a change, Catherine Goodwin heads west to a fiance she hasn't seen in 17 years. 
Full of revenge and craving justice, Race Hillyard heads west while in desperate need of sleep...on the long, noisy train ride. 
Holdups, hijacks, kidnappings and gold mine swindles throw the two together. 
Fiery, opinionated and quick to react, can they stop hating each other long enough to throw the devil off the train?

Saturday, January 08, 2011


Janet Chester Bly

In a rush to get to my 20th floor room at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida hotel, I didn’t realize until the door shut: glass elevator!  Distracted by the beautiful surroundings and excitement of the moment, one of my fiercest fears rudely intruded. I don’t do moving heights too well, especially when I can view it happening.

My traveling companion quickly surmised the situation. She turned me around, pushed me against the one solid wall. I shut my eyes and tried to quell the rising panic.

Since I was the main inspirational speaker for the womens retreat, I didn’t think it too cool to take up the director’s offer to move to a main floor room. A coward's choice. Surely I needed to provide some sort of courage model. Determined to conquer the descent and ascent … if not with aplomb, at least with a sort of coping mechanism intact … I walked (okay, sometimes I crawled) down the very narrow hallway that overlooked the lobby far, far below … to get to my room.

I did survive the weekend … by taking as few elevator rides as possible, by seeing how long I could go without squeezing my eyes and hang gliding on the door. The best part … this trial provided great fodder for my talks. The laughter and teasing even softened the terror.

“I asked the Lord for help, and he saved me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 CEV).

Note: I’m reading a wonderful devotional book for 2011: Max Lucado’s Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear … so helpful for life’s dreads and disquiets.

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