Ranch Life


We have an exciting announcement!

Focus on the Family has selected Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch to be their featured organization for the Adventures in Odyssey Club (AOC) during the month of September! The purpose behind the AOC is to introduce parents and their children to other like-minded Christian organizations and the impact they’re making through high quality audio dramas. The 30-minute audio episodes combine the faith lessons parents appreciate with characters and stories that kids love.  

We’re thrilled to be featured in an episode that will be heard by over 19,000 families who are a part of the AOC. In the latest exclusive Club adventure, “Angels in Horsehair,” Whit & Renee travel to a horse ranch that reaches out to hurting kids through rescued horses and the love of God. Don’t miss this heartwarming tale of renewed hope and healing based on actual events in the ministry of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. Each Odyssey episode comes with a special video documentary and a set of activities, called Web Quests. The episode, documentary and activities will relate to or feature Crystal Peaks in some creative way. 

The episode will be available online beginning September 1st, 2017. The club offers a free 14-day trial (no credit card needed) for families who are not members of the club and wish to listen in. You can sign up for the free trial and listen to the featured CPYR episode titled, “Angels in Horsehair” by clicking here. 

In addition, we have created a kid friendly landing page for the CPYR website. This special page invites kids from the Adventures in Odyssey Club to explore our website and learn more about the heart behind the ministry.  If you would like to visit this special page, click here.

By: Sarah Aydt

Ever feel like you just don’t get the point?

Or maybe you do understand the point, but you still seem to be missing some major part of what’s going on? This is the perfect description of me every time I’m asked to work with a horse in a round pen.

Many of you may not understand how to train a horse in a round pen and perhaps now would be the best time to explain this concept. However, since I’m still learning, let’s explore the concept of round penning together.

About a month ago, the Lord asked me to work with a horse in the round corral for that specific week during our Crystal Peaks staff horse class. Even though I work on a horse ranch, I’m still a relative beginner with horses.  Stepping up to the call made my heart alternate between excitement and nervousness.

Although I still had very little clarity as to why the Lord was moving me to choose this activity, I voiced my desire to Jeff, our equine manager and fabulous teacher. I did my best to explain what I was hoping for during class that day. I was guided to work with Little Bear because, as Jeff put it, “He’s a pro!”

Jeff was right. Little Bear was great in the round pen. The moment I took off his halter, he began to move with thoughtful purpose.  The massive buckskin gelding closely followed the wall while I stood in the center of the round corral. Working within my limited understanding, this was the first step of reaching the goal: to ask the horse to circle around you.

My hope was to encourage the horse to consider “choosing me.” This equine choice, or ‘join-up’ is the beautiful process of when a completely free horse chooses to trust, yield and bond with a human.  This is demonstrated in several ways, the most powerful being when the horse stops all forward momentum and turns to face you.  And then, with no more invitation than extending your palm, the horse moves into the center of the circle and touches your outstretched hand with their muzzle.

To be chosen by a horse . . . is a powerful experience.

It was only a matter of minutes before Little Bear turned to face me.  I watched in awe as his giant feet moved toward my extended hand. At this point, I thought the session was over. Little Bear had done what I had hoped for.

I turned to Jeff to explain my thoughts and request guidance with how to best use the remaining hour of our time in the round pen. He answered by giving me some ideas of what I could do to strengthen my new bond with Little Bear. I asked the giant gelding to change directions at a trot.  Each time he turned back towards me.  I quickly realized that there are many teachable moments in round penning. Finally, Jeff prompted me to request Little Bear to slow from a trot to a purposeful walk. He suggested I do this by simply taking a deep breath.  Much to my surprise, the horse DID slow down to a walk. It was a seamless transition from a trot to a strong walk all from a simple and subtle cue.

A major “Ah-ha” moment filled my heart in that same instant. The ultimate point of working in the round pen is to guide your horse to attune to you—and you to your horse. It’s through this process of learning to ‘read’ the horse you’re working with and encourage them to ‘read’ you—that communication in the round pen reaches its full training potential.

That is what the Lord wanted to say to me on this day. “Sarah, your purpose isn’t found in finding the right answer and getting the job done. Your purpose is found in the daily relationship of getting to know ME.”

What I am slowly learning is this: it’s within the pursuit to know God—that all His fruit through us—falls into the hands of those who are hungry.

As we keep our eyes on Jesus and practice following His lead, we will start to grasp His voice quicker and more quietly.   We will be watching for His subtle cues to ‘turn in’ and ‘join-up’ with His plan, ready to follow Him at any moment.

Do you feel like you’re in the round pen with God?

Have you felt as if you’re running in circles, looking for the right answer to fall before you so you can take the next step? Friend, be encouraged. Take a moment today to stop running and striving for the answers—and start to just pursue the character of God. Turn into HIS plan and HE will give you the next step. Look to Him for who He is—your God.

As you grow in your relationship with Him, you won’t have to run after the answers—instead—He just wants you to run after HIM.  The ‘answers’ you seek won’t feel quite so much like the point anymore . . . they will feel more like pursuing the ONE who already knows the way.



By: Sarah Aydt

One of my favorite seasons to walk up the ranch hill is when winter is turning into spring. On my way up to the office, I search the garden beds that follow the hill for little specks of green. The new growth shares such hope with my heart that life is coming. These new plants push through nearly frozen ground! They’ve been tucked away, buried beneath soil for the stretch of winter.

I suppose the plants sort of “retreat to their roots” for the harsh season.  Then they faithfully return to display their beauty when spring arrives.

Seeing this beauty emerge from the frozen ground reminds me so much of our faithful Father. Many of His promises come to mind as I walk slowly up the hill and allow my mind to soak in all He has done. He creates beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3), He makes all things new (Revelation 21:5), and He makes everything beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The simple truth of these promises is enough to make my soul sing.

Yet, the Lord calls us even deeper.

Not only are these promises true from God, but they are true of YOU in Christ. Because of Jesus, in His time, all the pieces of you are being made beautiful.  Even the deepest parts of you are made new. This isn’t just His will for His people, it’s His will for YOU.

If you’re like me, sometimes this isn’t an easy truth to live out. I once asked a treasured friend of mine, “If I know what’s true of me in Christ, how do I live like I believe it, even if I don’t feel like I do?” Her answer wasn’t one I loved at first, but it’s stuck with me ever since. She simply said, “You just live like it’s true.”

So I began to ask the Lord, “How do I live the truth of something I struggle to believe?” His answer was right within the hope I gain from those flower buds that arise from the frozen ground every spring. He asks me to tuck myself away in Him to draw from His strength. Just like those plants, when I need to soak in life, I “retreat to my roots,” which is Jesus Himself.

As we walk with the Lord, seasons of life will come and go.  What doesn’t change is our faithful Father. If our roots are in Him, those won’t change either—no matter what we face. So when life around you seems hard to endure, take time to return to your roots and find yourself at the feet of Jesus.

My friend, if you return to the deep place of His Presence, you will see Him lift your heart from the frozen ground and spring new life from it. You will be renewed every time—and your beauty will shine like those flowers reaching up toward the warm spring sun.

For those who desire to know their worth and beauty in the Father, this is my encouragement: Seek Him in the process. He desires to guard you and keep you, to mend you and mold you.  Most of all, He wants to hold you secure in His arms, teaching you who you are in His eyes. The way we find His heart for us is by resting in what is true of Him. When we rest in these truths, we learn that these things are true of us, too.

Finding our roots in Christ is foundational to living.  It’s the bedrock of life that springs from death, light from darkness, beauty from ashes, and new from old. Trust in the One who is able and see Him work in you.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” (Ephesians 3:17, NLT, emphasis added).

Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
(Colossians 2:7, NLT, emphasis added).



For those of you who’ve been around the ranch for a while and for those who happened across this post, we have exciting news!

This year, Crystal Peaks is participating in #GivingTuesday! Being only a three year old program, Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving, designed to provide a place for people to give back to their community by donating to the organization or project of their choice. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Giving Tuesday will take place on November 29th this year.

A few years ago Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch was gifted the resources to purchase the ranch property located across the street from the main ranch. This tremendous gift has afforded us the opportunity to expand what Jesus is doing in and through this place. Since that day, we’ve been seeking the Lord in how best to utilize the many facets of the new 51-acre property. One of the most exciting aspects of adding this property to the Crystal Peaks campus is the 70-year-old dairy barn.  It stands beautifully placed on the property.

In His goodness, the Lord has provided us this space to invest in a larger meeting hall. Perfect for remodel, our strategic plan is to turn this 70-year-old barn into a Conference Center we will call the “Big Barn Conference Center.” Our project team has formulated a plan for the remodel and the design will safely accommodate up to 400 people! We share all this information in hopes that you will join us in becoming a part of this project.

We would like to invite you to choose Crystal Peaks this #GivingTuesday and donate to the restoration of the Big Barn. Help us transform this old dairy barn into a beautiful conference center!

Follow this link to hear the heart behind this project and for more information on how you can help!


By Katie Jacobsen

In the video below you will meet Lilly, a precious toddler who volunteers with her mom Catherine. Even before she was old enough to walk, Lilly spent time in a pack on her mom’s back while Catherine invested in CPYR’s volunteer program. Now at the age of two, Lilly is able to work side by side with her mom doing simple tasks such as watering flowers and picking up apples. We love this sweet family of two and consider them a part of our ranch family. We hope you enjoy watching a day in the life of our littlest volunteer.

Our volunteer program encompasses all ages and demographics. We believe that no matter your age, background or circumstances every one has something valuable to give back to their community. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a CPYR volunteer, click here.

Special thanks to Red Owl Photography for their work on this video.


By Zac Bruckner

It was a surprisingly cool day on Saturday, July 25th for Crystal Peak Youth Ranch’s annual Hoedown. Several people returned to their vehicles to grab jackets or sweatshirts to ward off the brisk wind blowing across the Ranch. However, a little bit of cool weather wasn’t enough to stop over two hundred people from enjoying the cowboy/cowgirl event.

Those who came were greeted at the Main Yard by staff and volunteers dressed in their finest country outfits. Adults and kids alike were given new, slightly more interesting names more befitting for a country event: Outlaw Annabelle, Ramblin’ Rose, and Pecos Bill were just a few of the folks roaming about the Ranch that evening. Fresh popcorn and lemonade awaited the newly christened cowboys and cowgirls, as well as apple bobbing, a milking ‘cow,’ target shooting, lariat throwing, and face painting.

A live band starting to strum their strings called everyone back to the center of the yard for the ever-popular country dancing time. People laughed, stomped their feet, clapped their hands, and swung arm in arm with partners.

While everyone else was working up their appetite, a group of staff and volunteers heated up their grills. They prepared a smorgasbord of hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, potato salad, and watermelon. Their work was well appreciated.

After eating, everyone settled down on the lawn. As the band began to play again, they turned the focus onto a good God who allows us to have such fun and fellowship together. A message of encouragement was shared afterwards. Then when it was time for dessert, everyone packed into the barn. Ice cream with fudge or caramel sauce, bits of candy, maraschino cherries, and whipped cream, helped to finish the night on a sweet note.

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By Judy Jeffery

Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch is pleased to inform everyone that Focus on the Family will re-air an interview featuring Kim Meeder’s third book, “Blind Hope”.  This interview, “Unconditional Love: Lessons Learned From My Canine Friend” is scheduled to air Friday, December 26, 2014.

“Blind Hope, An Unwanted Dog and the Woman She Rescued” was released back in 2010.  Kim’s Blind Hope interview with Focus on the Family became one of the top five shows for that year.

On this scheduled airdate, the streaming audio of this broadcast will appear on Focus on the Family’s broadcast page. To view this page, click here.

To find a station that will carry the program in your area, click here.

After the airdate passes, the program can be accessed for 31 days on the “Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast” webpage. To view this page, click here. 

In addition, a downloadable podcast will be available on iTunes (just search for Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast).

If you or someone you know may be struggling in the often hopeless places of life, please tune in for this interview.  During the Christmas season when many are seeking answers and meaning, this is one encouraging way to find the TRUE source of Genuine HOPE, Jesus Christ.

“Blind Hope” and other books written by Troy and Kim Meeder can be found on Crystal Peaks online store. Click here to start shopping!


By Katherine Teague

Stillness permeated the air at the bottom of the hill. Blue sky soared overhead stretching to the towering mountains in the distance, and fresh snow frosted the ground and sparkled in the radiating sunlight. It wasn’t going anywhere soon—not when the thermometer read only 5 degrees Fahrenheit!

Boot prints sunk deep into the white-laced drive, and the snow crunched under foot. With every drawn breath the cold air was icy to the lungs and bitter to exposed skin, but it did not deter the mounting anticipation of what this day would hold. Turning the corner at the greeter’s station the scene changed. The stark, cold stillness of the day was abruptly transformed by warm smiles from a large team of CPYR staff and volunteers. Groups from the ranch rushed around in a concerted effort to make sure everything was just right, each feeling high expectation of something special.

Warmth flooded the space as broad grins flashed from faces, fragrant smoke poured forth from the barn chimney and other fires bellowed within the confines of three outdoor pits. Inside sugar cookies, brownies and holiday treats were laid out with care. Throughout the barn candles lit up windows and old fashion lamps washed the tables with warm light. Garlands graced the walls and the tree stood tall in the corner with stars, boot ornaments, lights and a burlap ribbon draped around for decoration. Smells of Christmas filled all senses—gingerbread, pine, sugar cookies and peppermint. It was a special day. For the second year in a row, the staff and volunteers of Crystal Peaks had the honor of hosting a Christmas celebration for our regional military men and women.

Members of the Pacific Northwest National Guard Unit poured into the barn. One could nearly watch families take a deep breath and relax, remembering the joyous time they spent in the same place last year. Food was eaten, kids and their parents sat around the tables playing games, conversation and laughter filled the room; and all the while, the fire roared in the wood stove. Upstairs featured a fun variety of things to do such as cookie decorating, rope tying and woodworking stations. Soon, many ventured outdoors to try their hand at roping cow dummies, while others visited with the horses and then warmed frigid fingers while roasting s’mores. It wasn’t long before kids discovered the sledding hill—even the commanding officer joined in for a hilarious ride!

Once again, this time together filled our hearts with a renewed sense of joy and hope. We are so grateful for all that the military men and women—and their families—sacrifice to serve our country. Preserving freedom comes at great cost—we do not take that lightly. What an honor it was to say thank you while laughing, playing and sharing a meal with those who impact our lives in such a powerful way.

In part because of the freedom earned for us, we look forward to many more years of celebration to come!

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Photography By: Katie Jacobsen

By Katherine Teague

Each summer families gather at the ranch for our annual Hoedown, a fun and unique event.  For many, it’s quickly added to the list of “must attend” occasions for years to come. This July we had close to 200 attendees. As each man, woman and child passed through our welcome center, they were given an authentic country-western name of their choosing, a name they would answer to for the rest of the evening. Nearly everyone spoke in their best southern accent and was dressed in their finest hoedown attire.

The afternoon was spent in a whirlwind of activities.  Families first participated in old west type games such as bobbing for apples, roping the wooden bull and a cow-milking contest. All were encouraged to take family “pigtures,” a hilarious scene of everyone snuggling together with their noses taped up to look like pigs!  Then, a large crowd of parents and kids congregated in the arena for a cherry pit-spitting contest, egg toss, three-legged race, manure-pitching contest and more fun than should be had in one day! Just before the yummy BBQ dinner was served, a big group of lively line dancers made merry our main yard.

As the air cooled and the sun lowered behind the towering mountain peaks to our west, families nestled together on blankets and in chairs on the grassy hill.  In triumphant voice we sang songs of praise and worship to our King. Troy then spoke a message of encouragement to those gathered. To top off the evening, everyone returned to the barn to enjoy delicious ice cream sundaes.

The ranch holds this event year after year for one main purpose: to bring families together for a day of fun. Pictures from the Hoedown tell the story of the day well and bear evidence our mission was accomplished!  We sincerely hope that you and your family will be able to join us next year.

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By Colleen Larsen

Sam and kidOne of Crystal Peaks’ four pillars is “Hope for the Family.” We’ve come to learn this looks different for every family who walks up our drive. Sometimes hope translates into words of encouragement, or the simple act of sharing time together. Hope can also become help with a financial burden. Often hope can be delivered by simply saying, “I’ve been where you are and I’m sorry for your pain. I’m here for you and want to pray with you.”

When “Hope for the Family” was established at the ranch, little could’ve prepared us for your heartfelt response. Your desire to help reach children and families has overwhelmed us with smiles and many tears of gratitude.

We’ve been so blessed with the extended kindness of those who’ve chosen to shoulder with this ranch. Within the flood of goodwill, the efforts of one man have captured my heart. His simple gesture of love continues to inspire me.

Last year, a gentleman who lives thousands of miles away sent a handwritten note, scripted with graceful penmanship. Within the lovely letter was a request to use the funds sent to help a small boy this week. With such urgency, our staff focused on finding the right child within this narrow time frame. Once the boy was located, the gift was quickly delivered to his single mother. Unbeknownst to us, this struggling family was in desperate need of vital items they could not afford. The gift from a complete stranger had come just in time.

This same benevolent man has Katie Jacobsen Photography -130207-1continued to send gifts with simple instructions to help boys purchase items such as new shoes and school supplies. His efforts to build up vulnerable confidence and let them know that someone cares, extends far beyond their tender hearts.

What’s transpired in this gentleman’s life, causing him to help in this unique way—we will never know—yet the hearts and lives of many families here in Central Oregon will be forever blessed by his far reaching kindness.

This man’s compassion continues to remind me that our gifts, when offered through prayer, are transformed by God into a profound abundance for those in need. Genuine hope is breathed by God . . . it’s tangible . . . it’s an action . . . it’s wielded through men like this . . . and through you and me.