Tag Archive | courage

Monkey Wrenches

We’ve all had times in our lives, when we’re sure someone threw a monkey wrench into what we had planned, or gotten a complete surprise that we weren’t expecting. Sometimes it’s a snow storm that keeps us from doing what we intended, or an illness, or simply being in a big hurry and forgetting something we definitely need when we were out of the house. These things happen so very often in real life that of course I have to use them in my writing… I love working with monkey wrenches! In New Parish Sarah gets hit with many monkey wrenches, some are small and trivial, some are simply annoying, but some are huge and, at times, she thinks, insurmountable.

Sarah is a high-tech modern girl with a few old fashioned values, she simply wants to get married and be that soccer mom that she’s always dreamed of being. Her huge monkey wrench is that she can’t find a fella to do that with…

New Parish Coming Soon!!!!

Excerpt from New Parish:

            “Around lunch time she headed out to the children’s center. As she walked down the busy Atlanta sidewalks she looked around at the horde of people on their way to their next destination. She thought about when she’d first moved to Atlanta and how excited she’d been to be living in a big city with so much going on. She’d lost that excitement: it had turned into a tired frustration. The city hadn’t contributed to her dreams at all, her experiences there had diminished them. Her thoughts went to how much her goals and dreams had fragmented over the last few years. Her career was great, but she’d planned on being married and having at least three children by the age of twenty-seven. She sighed thinking, “I have neither a husband or children.” Her frustration on this was starting to grow beyond the normal parameters. Her thoughts turned to her job, “Right out of college, I got this great job, doing what I love, being a graphic artist for children’s books. I’ve worked hard, and now I’m the top artist in the company. I chose this career so I could be a stay at home mom. Sheesh! What’s a girl gotta do to make her dreams come true?”

            Extremely loud sirens jolted Sarah out of her thoughts, she jumped and looked to see what was happening. “Oh, it’s just the cops,” she thought and walked on. No one else seemed to notice. Sighing she thought, “Growing up in Savannah didn’t really prepare me for living in the big city of Atlanta, or the daily adventure each time I leave my apartment.”

            She continued down the sidewalk a few more blocks and entering the children’s center, went to the front desk to sign in. She quickly scanned the sign-in sheet to see if Mary was already there. She was.

            “I can’t believe I’m actually going to ask her about this plural marriage thing,” Sarah thought to herself. “Am I really that desperate?” her thoughts were interrupted by a large group of preschoolers running up to her with giggles and open arms for needed hugs. She spent the next hour playing and reading to them. This calmed her mind, it was therapy for her – her dream of having a big family with lots of children was both eased and made more difficult by the involvement with her little friends.”

Friends…

We’ve all known them, friends, those who come into our lives for a short time, those who we’ve known our whole lives, and those who come into our lives to stay – and change our lives forever. As I’ve said before, I pull from my own experiences when I write. So, I’ve pulled from personalities and characters, bits and pieces of people I’ve either known or heard stories about to create the friends Sarah encounters in my book New Parish. To me this brings the characters to life and gives them depth, because after all, I really know them…

It all begins with Mary, who’s out in Atlanta working on her bachelor’s degree at the local children’s center, where Sarah volunteers. They become fast and true friends, which opens up a whole new world for Sarah… Mary becomes that new friend, who not only becomes one of those who come into her life and changes it forever, but introduces her to more of new friends who become her, forever best friends.

New Parish Coming Soon!!!!!

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah’s mind went to something her new friend Mary had said when they were working together at the children’s center. Mary had mentioned her home, a place called New Parish in Arizona; she had explained that she was only going to be there for a while, just until she finished her degree in early childhood development with the work study program she was involved in at the children’s center.

That day, Sarah had been complaining about the poor dating prospects and her dream of being a mom floating away from her. Mary revealed to her that in the community she came from the people did plural marriages, so any girl could get a good man and not have to worry about missing out on being a mom. Her descriptions of her home made it sound like a little piece of heaven, where people lived happy lives, and found their happily ever afters.

Sarah sighed, thinking of the small rural community Mary had described, “Maybe…””

……

““Mary!” Sarah waved as she entered the room.

Mary was working with a group of three year olds on coloring pictures of shapes.

            “Hi!” was Mary’s cheery reply.

            “Do you have some time to talk today?” Sarah asked, noticing Mary’s strawberry blonde hair. She always had it done in some really pretty style, today it was rolled up behind with a pretty colorful clip in it. Sarah liked how petite Mary was, she was only about five feet tall and very slender with bright green eyes that always seemed to be ready to smile.  

            “Yes, in about ten minutes when these little guys get to go to the gym,” Mary answered.

            “Cool,” said Sarah, “I’ll wait around in the garden room.”

            “Okay, see you there,” Mary said, as Sarah waved and walked away.

            Sarah was checking messages on her phone when Mary joined her on a bench underneath a big tree. “Hi, what’s up?” asked Mary.

            “Well I don’t know if I’m really desperate, stupid, or what, but I wanted to ask you about that whole plural marriage thing that goes on where you’re from,” Sarah said with some apprehension.

            “Oh?” was all that Mary said as she sat down beside Sarah and waited for her to continue.

            “Yeah, well, how does it work?”

            “Very well, I think,” Mary said, looking quizzically at Sarah.

            “Oh come on! What do they do? What’s the process? Are they miserable? Are the women conditioned to be in these relationships, like “Stepford Wives”? Do men abuse the women? How do the women get along? Are they mean to each other?” Sarah bombed Mary with all the serious questions she could think of, and in a way, trying to talk herself out of further inquiry.”

…….

““All I can tell you is that my mothers all seem very happy, they don’t attack each other, they’re really good friends. They’re always joking around and laughing, I haven’t seen any of that attack stuff,” Mary replied, now looking at Sarah with concern.”

I can’t wait to share the whole story with everyone! Very soonish…

 

Christmas in New Parish

My mind has been reflecting on Christmases past. There have been wonderfully happy times that will linger in my memories throughout eternity. Watching my children reach a level of joy that could only be associated with Christmas morning, reading the story of the first Christmas to them, and of course all the covert and sneaky activities throughout the year to create the Christmas morning that will last forever.

As I reflect on those Christmases past, my thoughts drift over to the Christmases I’ve written about in New Parish. These Christmases are filled with family, large families, and Christmas traditions that have been observed in these families for generations. Sarah’s first Christmas in New Parish is as a guest in her friend Mary’s home, as she investigates maybe moving west herself – she finds a Christmas morning that will linger in her memory forever…

New Parish Coming Soon!!!

Excerpt of New Parish:

            “On Christmas morning Sarah and Mary were up early because Mary said Sarah, “didn’t want to miss this!” Entering the main sitting room, it looked to Sarah like a magical place of happiness. The tree was full of colored lights and was filled to the brim with ornaments that depicted children, toys, and candy, and all sorts of Christmas happiness. The tree had been there when Sarah first arrived and she’d immediately loved it. Mary had complained that she missed the decorating and explained to Sarah that the whole family gets in on the event, they put the tree up together, place the lights together, hang the ornaments together, make homemade things like popcorn and cranberry garland together and put it on together. She’d given Sarah the whole run down on Christmas at her home.

            The presents that had been added over night were covering a third of the room and there was a table with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and cool-whip. The table, with hot chocolate, made Sarah think of that “incident” she had been trying not to think of, she quickly put that out of her mind. The room looked and felt like Christmas, the best part of Christmas, you could feel it when you walked in… the kids were all filing in with excitement in their eyes and big smiles on their faces. Everyone was in their pajamas. This made Sarah think of her own childhood and the wonderful feelings she had on Christmas morning. This made her both happy and sad, as a deep longing to share this type of experience with her own children filled her heart.

            Brother Michael came in last and as the kids excitedly jumped up and down pleading with him for permission to open presents he laughed and said, “Okay, have at it.” They did just that, there was a present opening frenzy the likes of which Sarah had never seen. She watched as Brother Michael slowly walked over and put his arms around two of his wives and kissed each on the cheek. Sarah smiled thinking she might like something like this, “It could really work… maybe,” she thought.”

Oh yeah, just wait till you read what happens at Christmas time in Return to New Parish… I can’t wait to share that with you too!

Merry Christmas!

 

Winter Chill

The winter chill has arrived early this year. Outside the wind feels like it’s coming from the polar regions, the trees have lost their leaves, and nature is going into brrrr mode. This time of the year is the perfect time for a nice cup of hot cocoa and warm visits with friends and family.

On Sarah’s journey to New Parish she finds new family and friends to share not only hot cocoa and warm visits with, but also a whole new life that’s more than she ever imagined.

New Parish Coming Soon!

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah didn’t get a chance to thank the cowboy but she thought, “I do need to.”

            By that evening, she felt like she could move once again without shivering. The exhaustion of the morning was prevalent throughout the night and into the next day. She and Mary skipped church and stayed home bundled in pajamas and blankets. Susan had brought them in some hot cocoa before they left for church so they spent their morning sipping the hot cocoa and clinging to their blankets.”

Brigham Tea Magazine Coming Soon!

The next section of Brigham Tea Magazine I want to share with you is, Life More Abundantly, the fiction section. The first story in this section is called “A Day in the Life of a Sister Wife”. This story is an outtake of a day in Sarah’s life after she’s found her way to her new family. This story isn’t in the book New Parish, just a day in her life to share with everyone who might be interested in how things might work in a wonderful home where there’s more than one mom.

Excerpt from A Day in the Life of a Sister Wife:  

“The mug of hot chocolate warmed her as she braced for impact. She knew tomorrow would be a supreme test of her “mom” skills.

………

“Sarah looked over the now deserted kitchen, except for Parley and Annie, and saw that Leah had cleaned away the lunch mess. Her thoughts organized a to do list – first – give Charlie some Tylenol, then call Del, next clean the laundry room… Her list stopped building abruptly as she saw Annie begin to doze off while still sitting in her chair.

“Oh, baby,” Sarah said sympathetically. She quickly got a warm cloth and washed Annie’s face and hands, then gently removed her from the highchair and took her to the nursery for her nap. Sarah turned on the baby monitor before leaving and grabbed the carry along to take with her.

Returning to the kitchen Parley let her know he was not happy.

“Okay, Dude,” she soothed him as she extracted him from the seat. “Just give me a second. We have to take Charlie some medicine.”

Sarah quickly grabbed the chewable medicine, looked to see how many to give, filled a water bottle for Charlie, and headed for the family room.

“Here you go buddy,” Sarah handed the medicine to Charlie and checked the time so she’d know when he could have some more if needed. “1:20,” she thought, “remember that.”

“Here’s a water bottle,” Sarah handed the bottle to Charlie. You need to drink lots of water, okay?”

Charlie nodded his agreement and sank back down into the sofa.

“I’m going to go feed Parley, then I’ve got some cleaning to do. If you need me just give a shout. I’ll be back to check on you in a bit.”

Charlie nodded again.

Sarah went to the den to feed Parley who didn’t want to wait one second longer. Finding a comfortable seat, she sat and began nursing Parley. “Sheesh,” she thought as her body began to relax. “I knew I was tired but, wow, it feels good to sit and rest for a moment.”

Rosie and Mia came bouncing in the room full of energy and giggles, “Can we go outside and play in the garden?” Rosie asked,

“Sweetie,” Sarah began apologetically, “Maybe later we can go out. I have a lot of work to do now, and Annie’s taking a nap, and I need to keep a check on Charlie, he’s sick.”

“Oh, okay,” Rosie shrugged. “We can help,” she offered.

“Okay,” Sarah replied. “You can quietly check on Charlie for me, but, don’t get to close to him just in case his sick is catching. Okay?”

“Yes!” Rosie and Mia agreed energetically.

            The girls ran out of the den and Sarah’s thoughts returned to her to do list, “Call Del,” she said aloud…”

Home for Christmas

Going home can be wonderful, difficult, complicated, or even a great adventure. This week has been a journey of going home to see family and friends… Without getting too personal, I’ll just say this has been a great adventure! Planes, trains, and automobiles…
I guess the most complicated part has been the unexpected snow… it impaired my ability to go and see someone I dearly wanted to see. Life can be that way, unexpected things happen to change our plans… We live with those things, we learn from them, and we grow…

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah’s memory of last year’s arrival continued in her mind, last year when there were shouts of “Aunt Sarah,” and nieces and nephews coming out to greet her. She wondered what the greeting would be this year. She didn’t have to wait long for her answer to that uncertain quandary. The door burst open just like last year and the usual shouts of, “Aunt Sarah,” rang out.”

…………..

“The last evening with her family was spent telling old stories and sharing new ones. Sarah told about how she and Max first met, everyone laughed, Dave laughed so hard he almost fell off the sofa.

Falling asleep that night Sarah thought, “This was nice, I’ll miss them but it’ll be good to get home. Home, she thought… home.””

 

New Parish – Coming Soon! Summer of 2018! Brigham Tea Magazine – Heroes of the Past

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you chose to do something completely different? Sarah did…

In New Parish she finds a life that’s so different than she’d ever imagined she’d have.

Excerpt from New Parish:

“The cool air and busy sidewalks were almost enough to distract her mind from the pervading thoughts of how much this plural marriage thing could go wrong. She wanted to believe that things could be as wonderful as Mary said they were, but she knew how people could be, especially men… her thoughts went to, “Maybe I should just drop the whole thing,” then the idea of dating again entered her thoughts which almost made her nauseous. Then the thought of giving up on her dream of having kids and a family came to her mind. A tear rolled down her face, which she quickly brushed away, that thought was the saddest one she’d ever had…

            Sarah looked up at the sky and saw a plane flying west, she knew she would be on one soon… flying west. She breathed out a sigh and with a new resolve walked back to her apartment.”

Brigham Tea Magazine:

The next section of Brigham Tea Magazine I want to share with you is Heroes of the Past… enjoy the slideshow.

Thanksgiving in New Parish & Brigham Tea Magazine – Wild Desert

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! I’ve always found that it’s not just the turkey that got stuffed on Thanksgiving… This holiday is about families coming together and really spending time together, catching up, and finding out what’s been going one with each other. Whether they live near or far, this is the holiday that brings them together… it’s that way for Sarah and her family each year.

The next section of Brigham Tea I’m sharing with you is the Wild Desert. It’s all about the western desert, the places, plant life, and the critters. Hope you enjoy the slide show…

New Parish Coming Soon! Summer of 2018! Excerpt from New Parish:

“Everyone went into Thanksgiving mode … and food prep was the main activity consuming everyone’s time, down to the smallest three year old who was transporting fruit to the salad area. After so many years of working together on Thanksgiving dinner they all knew what to do and did it with almost perfect precision. Christmas music was playing and children were happily giggling about the mess that was all over. This was the one time everyone was happy to make a huge mess – the rewards were always worth it.

           

The menu included:

The largest turkey they could find

Two hams crusted over with honey, brown sugar and pineapple

Green beans with butter, sea salt, and sprinkled slightly with sugar

Candied yams with cinnamon

Potato salad

Cranberry sauce from a can

Southern dressing which was made out of biscuit bread and cornbread with sage, sweet onion, chicken broth and shredded chicken

Giblet gravy to go over the dressing made with chicken broth, cornstarch to thicken, salt, pepper, and bits of boiled egg and chicken

Corn prepared in a skillet with butter, sea salt, and pepper

Yeast rolls which they never did from scratch the frozen ones were fine

The deserts always included:

Chocolate pies

Cheesecakes

Chocolate chip cookies

Sugar cookies decorated with Christmas icing

Fruit salad which always had pineapple, cherries, bananas, grapes, nuts, cream cheese, and whipped topping

            This menu took the whole family two days to prepare and everyone had leftovers to take home with them after the dinner. Because leftovers are a necessity after Thanksgiving, or at least that was their family philosophy.”

Brigham Tea Magazine – Tea Time

For the next few weeks a section of Brigham Tea Magazine will be spotlighted… We’re starting with Tea Time.

Changes and Challenges…

Throughout our lives we are faced with changes and challenges… some of the changes we choose and some choose us. The same with challenges, some we choose, some choose us. The changes and challenges we choose, we can usually prepare for, like running a marathon, or moving to a new place, or changing jobs. We can prepare ahead of time by running longer distances, packing and organizing, and getting the training or education we need. Those challenges and changes that we don’t choose are often filled with difficulty and defining moments for us to grow from.

The main character in New Parish, Sarah, chooses a big change and knows there will be challenges… she faces the challenge presented to her, but wonders if it’s maybe more than she wants to deal with…

 

Excerpt from New Parish:

Change she chose:

“So I finally got to the end of all the pros and cons and all my own analysis to make this decision, then I prayed…” Sarah stopped to see what her parents expressions would be to this information then continued. “I felt so much peace and calm inside, I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do. I’ve never slept so peacefully as I did last night,” she smiled at her mom and dad and waited for their response.

            “Okay,” her dad said reluctantly, “if that’s what you’ve decided we will do our best to accept this. But you may have to be patient with us for a while. Do you think you can do that?”

            “Yeah,” Sarah smiled at him.”

Later unexpected challenge…..

“Sarah sat and eagerly awaited this life changing information. Brother Michael sat in the opposite chair crossing his legs in a casual relaxed way, then asked, “Are you sure you’re ready?”        

            Sarah laughed, she knew now he was just teasing her, “Yes, I’m ready,” she assured him.

            He smiled at her, “We all prayed about this and we think you should marry…..”

Sarah could hear her mind make that record screeching sound that always happened in the movies when something went the wrong way or the opposite way of what should have happened. She sat there looking blankly at Brother Michael, when the thought occurred to her, “He’s joking, he’s got to be joking…” she gathered herself as best as she could and said, “That’s not funny.””

Trying to deal with the unexpected challenge……..

“Sitting in her usual chair she waited for Brother Michael to begin the conversation, “After all,” she thought, “it was his idea to talk now.”

            “I know you are not happy with the suggestion that we made,” he began, “but I’d like to tell you about the man before you toss the idea away completely. If you’ll listen… will you listen?”

            “Sure,” Sarah agreed, “I’ll listen, but that doesn’t mean I’ll change my mind.””

Settling the West

Visiting Durango Colorado was a wonderful walk into the past for me. It also reinforced my thoughts that there were many reasons for people to come west. There were beautiful ranches there, and farms, and a very famous train to visit. There were also a couple of amazing museums I visited, and yes, I bought books for more research 😊

I had lunch at one of the ranches near Durango, the James Ranch, (http://www.jamesranch.net/market), they prepare food that is completely organic and have items in their market that visitors can purchase and bring home to enjoy later… I still have some of their cheeses in my fridge.  

The Animas Museum was full of history, there was a classroom to walk through that was set up like they had them long ago, before Durango was Durango, (http://www.animasmuseum.org/exhibits.html). The area was first settled and called Animas Valley, after the nearby river before Durango was ever thought of. The Waterfall Ranch was one of the first ranches in the area, the waterfall is sometimes, not falling, due to lack of water but I saw pictures of it in full flow and it looked beautiful. The Waterfall Ranch changed hands a few times but maintained the name throughout, it also contributed to the history of the Animas Valley and Durango. There was a real west battle over water rights, which included the attempt to divert water, claim water, and someone getting killed in the process. The Lamberts owned the ranch at the time of the water war, and J.P. Lamb who was a sheep rancher, (no pun intended at this time), wanted to divert the water. So, there was a sort of, “I’m gonna!” and an, “Oh no you’re not!” situation that evolved. A few years later, the ranch was sold to a railroad man named Thomas Wigglesworth (I had to use this name! How often do you hear a name like that?) took over, the gun fights ended, and according to my research the ice-cream socials began. His wife was a southern lady and liked to socialize in nice polite ways – no guns. The ranch only changed families one more time, the present day owner’s (the Zinks), ancestors were the next to step into this piece of history.   

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was built in 1881-1882. The train is an integral part of the history of the Durango area, it was built to connect the silver mines in Silverton to the surrounding areas. The train is based in Durango, and now takes visitors back and forth from Durango to Silverton. The route is quite an adventure through the glorious countryside, and along some dodgy looking narrow tracks that skirt around the edges of cliffs. I went to the D&SNGRR Museum and explored the wonderful history that was preserved there, they had old engines, old motor cars, miniatures, stuffed wild animals, and so much more. They even had old movie posters featuring movies that were made in the area. I’m sure I spent over an hour there, and it’s only a two room museum.   

This cowboy history is what builds the history of my characters, or at least the western characters. I love bringing them to life with real historical backgrounds.

Excerpt from New Parish:

““Well, I was riding a horse when I was four,” Max admitted. “Uncle Alex said it was a necessity for every boy to do.” He chuckled then went on, “We were going out to round up some stray horses that had escaped the corral overnight.” He paused in thought then went on, “They made it all the way to the ridge, Uncle Alex used some colorful language when we found them,” he smiled at her and winked again.

            Sarah wished he wouldn’t do that, it was very discombobulating, she tried to smile back but wasn’t sure it had worked. She looked out at the expanse of prairie with the dead looking sage brush and short pine trees, there were tufts of straw colored grasses in some places and some small prickly pear cacti, which Mary had told her about. She could imagine Mary getting a good case of the giggles if she could see her now.

            “Didn’t you ever get scared as a little boy riding such a big animal?” Sarah asked. The question came out in spite of her efforts to not engage him in conversation.

            “Uncle Alex taught me when I was little that if you have a fear, well then, you face it. He told me about when he was doing the rodeo, and they would have a real bad bull to ride, some guys wouldn’t get on that bull, they’d refuse. He said one time there was a bull that he was about to refuse to ride then he heard the announcer say ‘cowboy up’ for another fella that was coming out of the gate. He said that hit him hard, he rode that bull, and from then on throughout his life when there was something difficult or something he maybe was scared of, he could hear the Spirit telling him to cowboy up. So, he taught me that when you’re afraid first you pray then you cowboy up,” he smiled and winked at Sarah, “you get the job done, no matter what it is.”

            Sarah couldn’t help herself, she had to smile back…”