Saturday, February 26, 2011


Stephen Bly
Copyright 2008

Cowboys and farmers and such mostly live outdoors. They witness lots more of God’s splendors than folks who hunker banker’s hours in buildings. One winter morning, I ran with the temp 10 degrees around the frozen lake across the way from my place. The sunrise began at deep purple and orange. Then mellowed into bright pink clouds that scooted across a crispy blued sky. As the clouds stacked, half the expanse lighted up fluorescent orange. This lasted five minutes, max. Seemed like the Lord setting off fireworks in the excitement of a new day.

Reminded me of the foxfire on cattle drives in the Old West.

As they drove those big herds north across the plains during the 1870s and 80s, electrifying summer thunderstorms hit in Indian Territory and Kansas. Lightning flashed. The smell of suffocating sulfur hung heavy in the air. At night, the cattle’s horn-tips, horses’ ears, and cowboy hat brims shined with phosphorescent light. An eerie glow right out of a science fiction story. . .or bad dream. They called it foxfire or St. Elmo’s fire.

One old timer said, “Ever’ once in a while the circle crown of some cowboy’s hat would glow and it sure enough looked like a halo. ‘Course it only stayed a few seconds. We used to kid ‘em and say that’s about as close to bein’ an angel as they’d ever come.”

We may never wear halos. But we do have a chance at a crown. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).

Now, I’m pretty much stuck on wearing cowboy hats myself. But I’d gladly trade mine for a heavenly crown. That comes as a reward. . .not for living a perfect life—sure can’t do that. But it’s for those who worked hard to obey the Lord’s lead after the life-changing moment of trusting Him as Savior. We’ve got a better hat to wear in that next life. And I’ve got an inkling that the other glories up ahead will make cold morning sunrises and foxfire on cattle horns seem like a dull, faded memory.


Throw The Devil Off The Train
Throw The Devil Off The Train

She's got to escape. He's determined to get revenge. They collide on a train headed west. Can they make a truce long enough to try to throw the devil off the train?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A DAD OF HIS OWN, fiction by Gail Gaymer Martin

A Dad of His Own

With his Dreams Come True foundation, Ethan Fox turns wishes into reality. Amazing trips. Meeting heroes. But Ethan has come to care deeply for a sick boy whose dream is. . .a dad. And not just any dad. Ethan

Though little Cooper has a great chance of getting well, widowed Ethan can't chance loving---and losing---again. Yet he's spending time with the sweet boy and his lovely, single mother, Lexie Carlson. Could a little boy's wish for a dad of his own come true after all?

In stores now wherever books are sold or order on line: Click to Order:


Gail Gaymer Martin
Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin writes Christian fiction for Love Inspired and Barbour Publishing, where she was honored by Heartsong readers as their Favorite Author of 2008. 

Gail has forty-eight contracted novels with over three million books in print. She is the author of Writers Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance. 

Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations  and presents workshops at conference across the US. She has a Masters degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and was a licensed counselor for many years. 

She lives with her husband in a northwest Detroit suburb.

Gail's Video Interview about A DAD OF HIS OWN and a little about her career can be viewed on her blog at: 

Visit Gail's Website at
Gail on Facebook:!/profile.php?id=1429640580


 . . . .Also, available on Amazon

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


For those of us in the throes of winter, butterflies and fall flowers seem a distant memory. But Kym McNabney of Illinois reminds us of country life when the snow’s blown and flown. Here's our latest 'Country Life Captions' entry. . . . 

Gods Creation

When I hear of one questioning whether or not there’s a God, I have to wonder if they’re missing the amazing creations right outside their window. There is so much marvel in a dainty little butterfly feeding on nectar from another of God’s beautiful creations, a flower.  

The Beauty of the Butterfly

Yellow, black, white, orange, green…Just a few of God’s colors for us to enjoy.

 Tiger stripes

Butterflies: What an amazing assortment of colors and designs like the flowers they feed on.

Flowers for the Picking

Orange and red and yellow, reaching for the bright, warm sun above.

Kym McNabney calls herself an aspiring Contemporary Romance writer. A wife, mother of four, and an animal lover, she’s been fostering Collies for Collie Rescue of Greater IL since 2005. She’s also the Adult Pen Pal Coordinator for Willow Creek Community Church, as well as involved in other areas of the prison ministry. She loves to write, read, and listen to music. “But,” she says, “in ALL things I do, I do for the glory of God.”

For more info about Kym and her projects, check one of the sites below:

Facebook: kym mcnabney


If you'd like to be considered for a 'Country Life Captions' feature, check out the guidelines on the right sidebar of this blog.


Awakening Your Sense of Wonder
 You might also enjoy reading Janet Chester Bly's book, Awakening Your Sense of Wonder, available at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Janet, gr-d Miranda, baby Alayah
Janet Chester Bly

Joy happens in bits and parts. The good and bad stuff often gets garbled together. Each day's a mixed patch of glorious wonder and sticky weeds.

For instance. . . 

Alayah Isabel Ross, 2 days old
The past few days our 1st great-grandchild was born. . .a girl, Alayah (“Allie) Isabel, a preemie, 5 weeks early at 4 lbs. 14 oz. Such a tiny doll compared to our 8 & 9 lb sons. Hubby Steve has also spent 5 days in the hospital. . .recuperating from pneumonia. On top of that, this week he’s having a splint put into his kidney and a few days after starts another regimen of a new and different chemo. Ups and downs. Sweet and sickly.  That’s our reality. However, we do see Jesus in it all.

“In this world you will have trouble and tribulation,” Jesus stated (John 16:33). No ifs. Just a when.

Which is it for you? Do you look forward to smooth sails or rough rapids today? Storms or glory holes? What do you witness outside your world’s window?

The way you think, the way you faith life, determines your P. Q., your Peace Quotient.

In the peace wars, celebrate when. . .the bathroom scales report the magic number. There’s enough hot water for every family member. The news shows have nothing better to debate than whether Texas or New Mexico chili is better. You get through to a tech support live person on a first try and they speak legible English. Johnny comes marching home again harm’s way and there’s an intact family to greet him.

In the peace wars, also accept the truth of God’s presence, purpose and power when. . .wrinkles are here to stay. A blizzard’s blowing and the power’s off. They’re rioting in Africa. There’s a virus in your body and your computer. Someone close just can’t seem to get you.

Meanwhile, rejoice with those who hit some sort of joy lottery today. Cheer with them best you can. Also, embrace your own moments of grace. Pause for sincere, deep thanks to the Author of all good things. Then, tackle your share of the tumble of troubles poured out on this sin-sick, war-torn planet.

You should know by now, this truly isn’t the Garden anymore. We’re way, way east of Eden.

I pray for you. . .that God who gives you hope will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. I pray that God will help you overflow with hope in him through the Holy Spirit’s power within you. (Romans 15:13 TLB) 


Get a free download of "31 Ways To Win The Fight For Personal Peace" at 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011



Stephen and Janet Bly

Paris has been a destination place for us ever since Janet’s years of studying French in high school and college. And Steve insisted that Rome was the city of his choice. So, we found a European tour that included both, plus gondola ride in Venice, cable car trip to top of Alps in Lucerne and London thrown in too.

Bussing along the French and Italian countrysides proved tres magnifique.

So, we celebrated Janet’s birthday that year in Paris. We stood on a wintry, February day, snowflakes falling all around us, hand in hand at the Eiffel Tower. 

More romantic than we could have dreamed.

Then we went home. And that was when we got the news.

Within two weeks, we huddled in a tiny, sterile doctor’s exam room to listen to the light banter in the reception room, a surreal sound as we waited for the biopsy report. We had discussed the possibility of the diagnosis. But nothing quite prepared us for the official stunning announcement: “Mr. Bly, you have an aggressive prostate cancer.”

We couldn’t breathe. We wouldn’t think past that harsh fact. These words threatened to suffocate us, consume us, shatter our peace, puncture our faith. Cancer changed our whole outlook. It defied our future together. It questioned our financial foundation.

Sometimes life tosses a bomb like that. But we were thankful we still had memories like Paris.

Meanwhile, we’re learning the secret of being okay whatever the circumstances. Whatever the reports from each doctor visit. Every test taken. And we’ve fully enjoyed the months we’ve been given of reprieve between treatments.

This news intensified our already close relationship. It has also brought many shifts and changes. Steve had to adjust in major ways. He went from physically and psychologically and sometimes emotionally taking care of Janet. . .to now needing her to take care of him. This has been a difficult transition.

Janet says: “I’ve appreciated being able to do for Steve in ways he refused or didn’t seem to need before.”

Steve adds: “I’ve even apologized for not allowing her to be on the giving end more in our relationship.”

The news changed other aspects too. We don’t like traveling without the other as much as we used to, unless it’s unavoidable. Every hour that we get to be together is a special gift, a treasure. Nothing’s taken for granted. Every touch is sweeter. The laughter and shared events seem brighter.

Here’s advice we’d give any couple when one spouse struggles with health issues. . .about keeping love alive when every day seems a struggle. Sickness doesn’t have to signal the end of quality of relationship or nullify romance.

 1.) Renew your heart. Refresh the ways to express your love. Each day look for some word or action that’s a bit different than you’ve done before.

2.) Be honest about how this altered state of illness affects your life together. But also affirm what are you still willing and able to be and do for each other.

3.) Recall the fun things you did in the early years of your marriage that you could revive again.

4.) Determine to quickly forgive perceived slights, short retorts. Worry. Fear. Fatigue. Weary of the unrelenting strain. Not feeling well. Admit that neither of you has ever been a saint, even less so under these circumstances.

5.) Accept your new reality, but look for creative responses. 

6.) Adapt to each change of the program or treatment or phase with transparent emotion, but also statements of faith you’ve both chosen and developed.

7.) Depend on God’s ability to perfectly write each episode of your revised personal story, to walk you through your adjusted journey, and to fulfill a glorious purpose.  

Steve scribbles one sentence notes on heart Post-its® and sticks them on the bathroom mirror every night. That way Janet knows he’s thinking about her, and she also knows what he’s going through. “I hurt today” keeps us connected as much as “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

Janet doesn’t press for details when she knows Steve struggled with a bad dream or the assault of frightening thoughts. She prays daily for him. She lets him know that he still seems desirable to her.

”I took up golf again, a sport I had mostly put aside since college days,” Steve says. “This helped me both physically and mentally.”

Even though Janet doesn’t join him on the links, she enjoys riding in the cart on occasion and it gives us another topic to discuss that majors on something he does well. When he feels good about himself, we can feel good about us too.

We also watch romantic movies together, lately from the 1930s and 40s. We talk about the characters and how we relate or not, and what memories this brings up from our own dating and younger days together. Our most asked question at movie’s end, “Do you think those two can make it together?” This is one of the activities that provides welcome relief from being riveted on The Disease. 

Some days Steve needs a full back massage. Other days only a gentle touch on the cheek. We express affection how we can, when we can. Sickness doesn’t have to be a barrier to intimacy. In fact, this can often reveal a deeper oneness with each other even more.

Our theme verse the past few years:
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want.” Philippians 4:12 NIV

This article was adapted from a “Romancing The Authors” interview feature with author Patricia Hickman (The Pirate Queen, Painted Dresses, Fallen Angels). Check out her website:

Saturday, February 05, 2011


Fiction author Mary Connealy provides a series of calving photos for our blog's ‘Country Life Captions’ feature. . . .



1.) First baby of Spring


Simmi Blaze
This calf is what we call a Simmi Blaze
Or maybe Simmi Angus Blaze
A simmintal/angus cross calf with a white blaze on her face. My cowboy is particularly partial to this kind of calf. He says, "I like some chrome on them."

Blizzard Baby


Born at the Connealys. Mama apparently ... ahem ... was a bit too generous with her affections during an ... encounter ... so brief only the presence of the calf attests to ... let's call it an 'elopement'.

Mad Cow
4.) MAD COW 

Look very closely and you'll see she is pawing the straw. Pawing the straw. As in bull fighting, el toro, pawing the dirt getting ready to CHARGE. I'm taking these pictures through an iron gate or you'd have pictures of me RUNNING. Even extremely tame, gentle cows, which this cow is, have instincts and I don't disregard them.


Mary Connealy
"Don't be afraid to strive and sweat and pray and fail and strive and pray some more for the desires of your heart. Because my books and site are proof that dreams can come true. That with God all things are possible." Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is the author of the Lassoed in Texas series, Petticoat Ranch, the Christy Award nominated Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. The Montana Marriages series, Carol Award Finalist Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. A stand alone romantic comedy with cowboys, Cowboy Christmas which won the 2010 Carol Award for Long Historical Romance. A new series with ties to both of the old ones, Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats and Sharpshooter in Petticoats.
Also an avid blogger, find her online at:
Petticoats & Pistols
My Blog
My Website

Have you ever been close to a calving experience?

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