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Happy New Year from New Parish!

I hope everyone has lots of great goals, dreams, and happiness planned for this next year! I always say, you never know what’s just around the corner… So I have high hopes for 2020. I just finished another chapter in my next book in the New Parish series. From Sarah’s journey, to Hannah’s journey, things were very different, now for big sister Brenda things are completely different too… I’m so excited to share their stories with you all, this next year.

I hope everyone notices the unique bond between Sarah and her sisters, it play out with each sister and in each book of the series. Below is a little sister talk from Sarah and Hannah.

Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 3 – Palominos

“Once inside the house Hannah felt the need to talk to Sarah, so she headed up to her room – she knocked and waited. She didn’t want to walk in on something, so the old tap and enter from when they were kids was not an option.

            She heard Sarah say, “Come in.” So she opened the door and seeing the mess and disorder shook her head and laughed.

            “Hey,” she said, looking around the room. “Did you get more stuff or is this just the other stuff shifted around again?” she teased her sister.

            “I got more stuff,” Sarah said defensively. Then she chuckled as she looked over the mess of her sitting room that was going to be her nursery.

            “So, there was a thing while I was out riding,” Hannah tentatively began her exposition.

            “What thing?” Sarah asked with eyebrows raised as she reached for her chiming cell phone. After quickly reading the text she looked at Hannah with worry in her expression, “Okay, what happened? Max just text me wanting to know if you’re okay and if you got home okay.”

            Hannah could see Sarah replying to Max’s text and insisted, “I’m fine, I’m fine,” it was her turn to be defensive.

            “He’s saying that you almost rode into the sinkhole! And that Uncle Alex caught you just in time to stop you,” Sarah looked at Hannah accusingly.

            “Okay,” Hannah said, trying to play the events of her ride down, “So, this is what happened.” She plopped down on part of a sofa that wasn’t full of baby stuff, sighed, and continued. “I was riding near the stream and heard a tapping sound coming from the fence line that was just beyond the creek.” She waved her hands to show the direction of the fence, “I looked to see what it was and saw a big beautiful palomino standing on the other side of the fence, like a statue, then that guy came around the horse to put stuff in his saddle bags,” Hannah paused to make a face of disapproval and blow out a big sigh then continued. “I didn’t want to talk to him so I took off in the opposite direction and before I knew what was happening, he was jumping on his horse, jumping the fence, and chasing after me!” Hannah threw her hands in the air for effect and gave Sarah a “what the heck” look. “So I go faster not knowing what he was up to, he catches me and grabs my reins!”

            Sarah interrupted her with, “You didn’t punch him did you?” there was a pleading sort of begging tone to Sarah’s voice.

            “I tried!” Hannah defended her actions. “But he’s pretty quick for an old guy. Sheesh!”

            “Hannah!” Sarah shouted at her in exasperation.

            “I missed!” Hannah shouted back still trying to defend herself.

            “Hannah! He was saving your life!” Sarah shouted back.

            “I didn’t know that’s what he wanted to do!” Hannah shouted, “For all I knew he was going to do something else out there, with no one else around,” her voice trailed off. Quickly thinking of a way to refocus the conversation she asked, “Besides, if he’s so rich why is he out mending fences anyways? Can’t he afford to hire people for that?”

            “He’s a cowboy,” Sarah answered, with exasperation in her voice. “He’s always doing cowboy things. Yeah, he’s rich, but he’s very hands on.”

            “He’s very annoying,” Hannah shared her opinion of the old cowboy.

            Sighing out a long groaning sigh, Sarah said, “He’s a really great guy! He married Max’s mom and raised him as his son. He helps people all the time. You don’t know him, yet.”

            “I know enough to know I don’t want to know any more about him,” Hannah replied holding her hands up dismissively.

            “He saved your life!” Sarah reminded her.

            “He wouldn’t have had too, if he hadn’t chased after me,” Hannah replied, again trying to defend herself.

            “Please try and be nice to him tomorrow,” Sarah begged. “We’re going to be over there almost all day helping out with the party prep.”

            “I’ll do my best,” Hannah promised, with a shrug and a smile. “He’s really annoying, I don’t know why he gets under my skin so much, but he really does.”

Sarah plopped down on the other sofa looking tired, “He likes to joke around, the first time I met him, he looked me up and down and said something about me being a pretty filly. That’s just the way he is. So I looked him up and down and told him he wasn’t too bad himself. We hit it off, he’s a lot of fun, really.”

            “I guess I’m just not up for his kind of fun,” Hannah acceded.

            “I do understand,” Sarah gave Hannah a look of “You know what I mean. Just because Nathanial was low enough to do what he did, doesn’t mean every other guy is like that,” Sarah tried to explain Hannah to Hannah. 

            “I know,” Hannah sighed, “I’ll try to do better tomorrow, promise.””


Find Return to New Parish, New Parish, and Brigham Tea Magazine on at the link below:


Christmas in New Parish – Part 3

Christmas is full of traditions. Traditions that have been cherished, loved, and observed over the many generations in each family. In Return to New Parish Hannah learns about a wonderful cowboy tradition, that has been handed down from generation to generation in the James family.

I hope you enjoy Max’s rendition of the Cowboy Good Samaritan Story!


Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 6 – Things Change

       “Come on, Dad, you have to tell it,” Johnny said.

       “Yeah, Dad, it wouldn’t be right without it,” Joseph and Jake chimed in.

       Max smiled, “Alright then,” he stood and returned to the fireplace.

       Hannah’s seat mates looked like they were thrilled and got a little wiggly, but soon settled back down when their dad began to speak.

       “Long, long ago, on Christmas Eve,” he started, “a group of cowboys were herding cattle on the trail from the south to the north. They’d been out on the trail with the herd for a good long while and they were all tired and worn from the work. It was cold, but the snows hadn’t come yet,” Max paused for a moment looking into the fire. “It’s said that this story can only be told around the campfire, so I guess our fireplace will have to do. The cowboys say this day on the trail was long and hard even if they ran out of daylight early. The cowboys had found a stream that had some patchy grass for the herd to feed off of and had decided to make camp there for the night. It was Christmas Eve after all and they were hankering to stop work for the day and get some much needed food and rest.

       As one cowboy rode into camp, he fell off his horse, his saddle cinch had broken, it was worn into from age and use.

       The other cowboys all laughed at him and taunted him saying, “You should’ve bought a new one last time we were home.” And, “That needed replaced long ago.” Another one accused, “I know you had the money to get a new one.” Then another one blamed, “Yeah, if he hadn’t of given it all away to his sister.”

       The cowboy shrugged and replied, “She needed it, her family’s having a hard time.”

       “Yep, and now you’re having a hard time. Herding cattle without a saddle isn’t going to be easy,” they laughed at him again.

       “I think I can fix it,” he said, looking over the worn frayed leather.

       “It’s your own fault that you’re in this mess,” they scoffed.

       When dinner was done, they each got their portion of the stew from the pot and sat down to eat. It was about that time when a stranger walked into camp. The stranger said he’d been traveling far and that he’d been robbed, and that the robbers had taken his horse, his money, and all his possessions. He told them he was tired, hungry, and cold. He asked if they could share their supper with him.

       One cowboy turned his back to the stranger and murmured, “Pathetic.”

       Another one shouted at him, “Git outta here, we don’t want your problems!”

       One cowboy looked at him in disgust and asked, “Can you pay for the food?”

       Another one called him, “Liar! Where’s your proof? I know a pan handler when I see one. This ain’t no charity camp.”

       The cowboy with the broken saddle invited, “Come over here, sir, I have plenty for us both.” He gave the stranger a blanket to warm himself in and later when dinner was done, he gave him his bedroll to sleep in.

       You see he just couldn’t stand to see the old fella cold and hungry like that. Even though he was tired and hungry from all the days of being on the trail, he cared more for others than for himself. I digress,” Max excused himself and continued with his story.

       “Well, the next morning when they woke the stranger was gone. The other cowboys started looking around, angrily, to see if he’d stolen their possessions. All their stuff was still there, nothing was out of place,” Max paused, looking around the room, then continued, “As the cowboy gathered up his things he noticed in place of his old worn out saddle there was a new one. It was much nicer than any saddle he’d ever seen before, it had a shape that resembled a Sheppard’s staff carved deep into the side of the saddle skirting.

       The cowboy looked around again to see if he could find the stranger, but he didn’t even see any tracks where he left the camp. The other cowboys were impatient and wanted to get the herd moving. So he saddled up and went to work. He told that story each Christmas Eve for the rest of his life. He took good care of that saddle and gave it to his son when he was ready to leave this world. It’s said that each man who received the saddle passed it on to the next generation and always told the story at Christmas time.

       Over time the cowboy community named that cowboy the Good Samaritan Cowboy, this is his story. I heard it long ago at Christmas time and promised I’d always tell his story and follow his example. I hope you’ll all do the same. The Good Samaritan Cowboy story was told to me when I was about five years old, and I’ve heard it every year since,” Max told them. “Uncle Alex was the one that told me and he taught me to live by the same standards that the Good Samaritan Cowboy lived by. Always share what you have with those in need, no matter if it’s a blanket and a bit of stew. He also taught me not to look for rewards here, but to look for ‘em to be saved in a storehouse in Heaven for you.””


Find Return to New Parish, New Parish, and Brigham Tea Magazine on at the link below:


Christmas in New Parish – Part 2

Is your shopping done? Have you sent your long distance gifts off? Living away from my dear ones, I have to be organized and get things mailed off early. That’s just the way things are in New Parish for Christmas. Sarah and Hannah live a good distance away from their family so they have to think about how to still show their love… In Return to New Parish, Hannah spends her first Christmas there with Sarah and her family. She gets a little more of the culture, lifestyle, and love the family has for each other and for Christmas… She also gets to know Max’s extended family, (one of them, a little more than she wanted to know).

Hope you still have some of that hot cocoa for this week’s post…


Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 5 – Christmas Party

“… With guests arriving Hannah and the others were busy filling the tables with finished goodies as quickly as possible. Hannah saw Hope stick her finger in her mouth to hide the icing that had found its way there when she sat the last of the cupcakes in order for the Christmas tree cupcake cake. Hope winked at her, smiled, and hurried back to the kitchen.

       There was lots of laughter and smiling faces as people began to flow into the Fancy Room, some Hannah recognized from the day before. Mary and some of her mothers came in requiring hugs, Hannah didn’t mind so much anymore, she was getting used to it. She heard Bing Crosby begin singing White Christmas faintly in the background, smiling, she thought, “Perfect.”

       Sarah came up behind Hannah quickly grabbing her arm as a man with dark graying hair, came through the door. Hannah noticed him immediately, his presence seemed to command attention even though he wasn’t doing anything to draw it. Hannah figured he was around six feet tall, just a bit shorter than Max. Sarah was pulling her toward this man shouting softly, “Brother Michael! Brother Michael, this is my sister Hannah.”

       “Oh, hello, Hannah,” he smiled warmly at her.

       “Hi,” Hannah smiled back, noticing that he had piercing blue eyes, which reminded her of Max and his uncle. “So you’re the man in charge here?” she teased.

       Brother Michael winked at her and replied, “Yes, but I deny any responsibility.”

       They all laughed at his deniability clause. Hannah felt instantly at ease with Brother Michael. She liked everything about him, the way he easily smiled, the way his eyes seemed to look into her soul in a way that made her feel like he knew her and who she was. “This man is amazing,” she thought to herself.

       “We’re glad you’ve come to our little town,” Brother Michael welcomed her. “Sarah tells me you want to stay,” he said, almost asking.

       “Yes,” said Hannah firmly. “I do want to stay. Sarah’s found happiness here,” she shrugged, “and, I’d like to do the same.”

       “Sounds good to me,” Brother Michael smiled at her.

       “So what do I do first?” she asked.

       “Oh, well, you have to talk to the church leader about baptism, then set an appointment to talk to him about the matching system and marriage,” Brother Michael thoughtfully explained, holding up a finger for each thing she had to do.

       “Okay, aren’t you the church leader?” she asked a little confused by this information.

       “Why, yes, yes I am. Oh, would you like an appointment with me?” he asked smiling.

       Hannah caught the tease now and understood. “Yes, sir, I would like an appointment,” she smiled. Sarah was having a small giggle fit next to her and Hannah gave her a “thanks for that” look.

       “How about this next Wednesday, around 10:30 in the morning? I’m off for Christmas holidays, then so we’ll have plenty of time to talk about the gospel and everything we need to talk about.” He said, smoothing his hair down, as a gust of wind blew through their conversation when more guests came through the front door.

       “Sure, that’ll be great,” Hannah replied, “Where?”

       “My house,” Brother Michael winked. “Sarah knows where.”

       “Okay,” Hannah smiled, feeling energized at the prospects of this new beginning.

       “Oh, hey! Hannah you didn’t meet Karen and Marla yesterday,” Sarah said. Then, proceeded to introduce her to the ladies that had entered the room, with the previous gust of wind.

       They were warm, friendly, and welcoming like so many people here had been. Hannah felt like she’d found a place to belong and to be happy, maybe… There was also another feeling floating around inside her. She couldn’t put her finger on this new feeling yet, but it was helping with regaining her inner calm. She felt like the battle for peace in her life was gaining ground.

       After meeting Brother Michael and his other two wives, Hannah felt like the party really got underway. Things shifted from Bing singing to Alex James returning home. He entered wearing a maroon colored cowboy shirt like the one he had on the previous day, denims, and black cowboy boots. Hannah growled at herself inside for noticing, but he kept haunting her dreams, so she tried to excuse her inventory of him based on that. He was smiling and shaking hands with people and evoking laughter, as he made his way to the piano. She couldn’t hear what he was saying, but, her experience with him taught her that he was always joking around so she just considered herself lucky not to be in his line of fire.

       He began to play and the guests were either singing or dancing to the music. Mary came over to her, grabbed her by the arm, and pulling her toward the area that had been cleared for dancing said, “Come on, dance with me. Sarah’s nauseous again and she volunteered you.”

       “What?” Hannah asked in confusion.

       “It’s a line dance,” Mary said, as if that explained everything.

       “I don’t know how,” Hannah protested.

       “Neither do I,” Mary laughed.

       They joined the line of people dancing and did their best to imitate their movements. Hannah laughed so much during the dance that her stomach muscles were getting sore. When the dance was over, she and Mary went to get something to drink and ended up near the Christmas tree. The music stopped and Hope came over to the piano, nodded to Alex and he began to play “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Hope sang the song beautifully, Hannah was so entranced by her voice, it was as though she couldn’t see or hear anything else.

       When the song was over Hannah whispered, “Wow, she’s got an amazing voice.”

       “Oh, yeah,” Mary nodded agreement.

       As they stood there talking, Hannah heard a thud and crash sound behind her. She turned just in time to see the bottom of Alex James’ stool speeding toward the other side of the room. Alex was lying on the floor in front of the piano looking confused. She quickly surmised that for some weird reason the top of the stool had detached from the bottom and they had gone their separate ways.

       The bottom of the stool was on a trajectory that was heading straight for Cilla who was bringing in the cake they had painstakingly made earlier that day. Cilla was carrying the cake gingerly in front of her when she saw the stool bottom coming for her, she quickly sidestepped to avoid the imminent collision. When she did this she bumped, hard, into a rather large rotund man, which caused her to lose the cake. It wasn’t just lost, it was airborne. Hannah could see it sailing through the air almost in slow motion. The cake was soaring towards her, she reached out for it, trying with all her might to catch it. She might have done just that, but Alex James was still on the floor – she tripped over his feet and legs landing on top of him. What happened after that was something that would replay over and over in Hannah’s mind for the rest of her life.

       Hannah could feel herself falling and landing awkwardly on top of Alex James. She could feel him trying to catch her and keep her from hurting herself or him. It was where he caught her that was the problem. One hand on her side as she came down, that was okay, it was where the other hand went that had infuriated her – his comment didn’t help either.

       Alex James’ right hand was firmly grasping her left breast. As their eyes met and he said, “Well, these girls are real.”

       A flurry of movement happened next as Hannah threw a punch with her right fist, then her left. Alex caught both before they landed. Hannah then reverted to using her knees…

       As they rolled over and over on the floor in an all out effort from Hannah to cause injury to Alex he shouted, “Whoa, calm down little lady!”

       Hannah didn’t calm down, she continued her efforts to punch him or knee him in the groin. He tried to stay on top of her to defend himself, but she managed to throw him off and regain the advantage. There were many grunts, groans, and exasperated growls that passed between them during the roll.

       Everyone around them moved quickly out of the way, giving them room to roll. The room filled with laughter.

       In a panic, Sarah shook Max’s arm, “Pull her off him! She’s in nonstop battle mode! She won’t stop!”

       “No, ma’am,” Max refused smiling, “I always let other men deal with their own women troubles.”

       “You’re enjoying this!” she accused him.

       “Yes, ma’am,” he chuckled.

       “Brother Michael,” Sarah implored him for help, “Please pull her off him, she won’t stop!”

       Brother Michael laughed so hard that champagne came out his nose, but didn’t move to help his brother.

       There was a mixture of laughter, some were simply chuckling, but most were laughing so hard they were in need of holding on to something or someone to remain standing.

       A shout of, “The eight seconds are up Alex, you can jump off now,” sounded from near the Christmas tree.”


Find Return to New Parish, New Parish, and Brigham Tea Magazine on at the link below:


Christmas in New Parish – Part 1

Christmas has always been a very special, magical, and wonderful time for me. So, of course, I have to include it in all my New Parish books. When Hannah goes to New Parish, it’s just before Christmas, she discovers what Christmas is like in New Parish, their traditions, and some amazing activities.

So, get comfortable, snuggle in with some hot chocolate, and savor some moments from Hannah’s first Christmas in New Parish…


Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 4 – Mr. James’ Home

“… Upon entering the kitchen, Hannah witnessed organized chaos, there were kids everywhere, adults that were mostly dressed, and food in various stages of preparation. Sarah still had on her pj’s looking as if she was prepared to leave the area quickly, Myra was barefoot and had a towel wrapped around her head. Del had all her clothes on but was still very disheveled, with her long dark hair loose and in her sock feet. Max was sitting at the dining room table, pulling on his boots and smiled at her as she entered.

       “How can I help?” she held back the laughter that was bubbling up because of the scene before her. She was quickly put to work. Leah, and the older boys helped her finish breakfast duty. Sarah, Del, and Myra quickly evacuated the kitchen, Max grabbed an already prepared croissant sandwich, which was loaded with egg, cheese, and bacon before leaving the area.

       Hannah thoroughly enjoyed the in-charge moment and made sure all the kids got their fill of breakfast, then moved into cleanup mode. By the time the others were returning all the dishes and clean up were done.

       “Okay,” Del announced, “Max is pulling the van around front.”


“… Hannah chuckled and said, “Hi,” awkwardly, she’d never been a huggy type person, but Sarah had warned her that it could happen. Myra, who hugged everyone all the time, had insured she was ready for these situations.

       She relaxed a bit after she scanned the area and saw no sign of the old cowboy. Cilla took her hand and said, “I need you to help us with the decorations, we have the Fancy Room, to get done today, the girls have already started, well, they have been in there for a few moments.”

       “Okay,” Hannah smiled thinking, “I can do decorations.”

       Sarah gave her a look of encouragement and quickly squeezed her hand before she and Cilla went through the huge double doors into one of the largest rooms she’d ever seen in a house. “It’s ginormous,” she thought to herself in amazement.

       Cilla gave her the tour along with the game plan of what they had to do. “We’re going to decorate that bay window, the boys will bring in the decorations in a jiffy,” she pointed to the wall on the left of where they were standing. The window was almost the length of the wall which stretched to the very ample French doors on the other end of the room. “This wall is where they’ll set up the tree and the tables and such.” Cilla pointed to the other wall which had a mural painted on it depicting prairies and mesas and mirrored the beautiful desert area she was becoming intrigued with. There was a huge Navajo rug, portraying an ancient Navajo village, hanging in the middle of the mural and two smaller Navajo rugs hanging on either side.

       Hannah stood there not knowing what to say, the room was so amazing and unexpected, that it had caught her completely off guard. She finally got out, “Wow,” as she slowly shook her head.

       Cilla laughed, “Yeah, it’s really something. I suppose I’ve gotten so used to it till I forget to appreciate the beauty. That big rug was given to Alex as a gift when he was a young man, by the Navajo people he was working with out on the reservation. The smaller ones he bought because they show the different plants the Navajo use to dye the threads. The big one actually has him woven into it.” Cilla walked over to the rug and pointed to a figure on it, “That’s him,” she turned to Hannah and smiled. “They really liked him so they included him in the village scene. They said that way he would always be with them and they with him, in spirit.”

       Hannah smiled, still amazed, “Well, it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

       Cilla smiled and shrugged, “It’s been here longer than I’ve been here. Okay, let me introduce you to the girls.”

       Hannah followed Cilla over to the bay window where the girls were sitting. She’d noticed them sitting there when she entered the room and smiled at them. She’d never been an introduce yourself kind of person. Hanging back and watching how things unfold was her thing, she’d analyzed herself on this, many times, but this time, it was just an automatic thing.

       “This is Sophia, Isabella, and Cassandra, but we call them Sophie, Bella, and Cassie. I just like to say their real names every now and then.” Cilla introduced the girls who in turn smiled brightly and said, “Hi.”

       Hannah returned the smiles and their greetings, noticing that the girls shared many of the same features, “One could definitely tell they are sisters,” she thought. They each had long dark brown hair, milky white skin, and somewhat familiar blue eyes. Sophie had her hair parted on the side and hanging loose, it reached almost to the bench she was sitting on. Bella had her hair pulled back into a ponytail which Cassie had emulated. Bella was almost the same size as Sophie but Cassie was much smaller.

       “Mommy! I have a box of stuff!” a voice came from behind a box that had walked into the room.

       Cilla laughed again, “Okay, Papi, put it over at the window please.”

       Hannah laughed as the box headed toward the window, “So I guess there’s a small person behind that box?” she mused.

       “Yes,” Cilla smiled at her. “Liam, say hello to the nice lady,” she told the now present boy who had sat the box on the floor in front of the window.

       “Hi!” he said brightly cocking his head slightly to the side as though he was sizing her up. He had thick black hair that was cut short and parted neatly on the side, it contrasted greatly with his pale milky skin. His blue eyes smiled warmly all on their own. He was thin and looked as though he were about to grow too tall for his denim pants.

       All in all, Hannah thought he looked the picture of a miniature cowboy, “Hello,” she returned, trying to suppress the laughter that almost escaped as she watched the small boy. “Are you sure you should be carrying a box that big?”

       “I can do it,” Liam said with confidence, “I can handle the big jobs just like my Dad.”

       Hannah laughed now, she couldn’t help it, “So who’s your dad?” she asked, wondering where this enchanting little boy came from.

       “My dad is Alex James,” Liam said. “He built this ranch with his bare hands.” He held out his hands to give expression to what he was saying, which made Hannah think of Peter Pan.

       The cogs in Hannah’s brain started to turn, he had called Cilla “Mommy” he was her son, so of course, he was Alex James’ son. Why hadn’t she put that two and two together? She wondered as she stood there looking at this incredibly adorable boy, who she now recognized as looking a lot like, his dad.

       “Okay, Papi, go get some more decorations to bring in please,” Cilla chuckled at him.

       “Yes, ma’am,” he smiled and ran out of the room.

       “He’s so cute,” Hannah chuckled.

       “We like him okay,” Cilla said, with some pride in her voice, then continued with the tour. “This is where the outside or overflow will be,” she led Hannah down to the other end of the room and out the double French doors. There was a beautiful rose garden which had desert landscape, flowers and plants dispersed throughout it, just off the deck.

       “Wow! I love roses. What colors do you have out there?” Hannah couldn’t help the question, horses and roses had always been weaknesses for her.

       “I don’t know really,” Cilla admitted, “there must be about every color and some are mixed colors. You’d have to ask Patty, this rose garden is her baby, well she used to work in it all the time, but lately she’s been having the girls help her because of her arthritis.”

       “It’s lovely,” Hannah smiled.

       Cilla chuckled and said, “Patty will love to tell you all about it – she’s really easy to talk to. So anyways, the guys will be bringing the space heaters and placing them out here so that the guests won’t get too cold and they’ll do most of the outside decorating so we won’t have to worry about that.”

       A loud shout of, “Mommy!” came from inside the “fancy room” and they both ran inside to see what had happened.

       “What Papi?” Cilla asked with concern in her voice.

       Liam leaned around the box he was carrying, smiled a very innocent smile and asked, “Do you want this one by the window too?”

       Cilla sighed in exasperation, “Yes, Papi,” she said, sounding a bit annoyed.

       Hannah did the fake cough to cover the laughter that tried to escape, “This boy is so cute,” she thought to herself.

       Cilla shook her head and smiled at Hannah, “I blame his father, that man is the biggest tease in the world. And if he knows he can get to you, well, nothing entertains him more.” She fanned the air in front of her as if to wave the tease out of the air and said, “So let’s get started over here.””


Find Return to New Parish, New Parish, and Brigham Tea Magazine on at the link below:


Thanksgiving in New Parish – Part 3

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Between the turkey and pie, I hope everyone has to opportunity to take a moment and think about what they are thankful for today and every day. We live in such a wonderful time, where we are very blessed and have so much…



Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 13 – Let’s Talk

“That morning as they made their grandmother’s cinnamon rolls Sarah hit on exactly what Hannah had been feeling, “This is it. Day after tomorrow they all go back to Georgia and we go back to normal life,” she sighed.

“Yeah, the time goes by so fast it’s like we just get together, then it’s time to go,” Hannah nodded. “It’s the same every year.”

“I’m going to invite Bren and Beth out for Christmas,” Sarah informed. “Mom and Dad will be on their cruise, Dave and Paul always go to their in-laws, so really they won’t have anyone to hang out with over Christmas. Beth usually goes to Bren’s and they have a big deal with Bren’s in-laws, but she doesn’t have in-laws this year. So, maybe they’ll come out here. Do you think Uncle Alex will help out again?”    

“It’s a great idea,” Hannah pondered aloud. “I don’t know, probably. I’ll ask him.”

“Cool,” Sarah smiled. “Thanks.”

Later that day, after the feast had been feasted upon, Hannah found Alex hid away in his man cave. He was resting in his chair. His head was positioned on the back of the chair, his hat covering his face, with his feet stretched out in front, one cowboy boot crossed over the other. Hannah knew this posture well by now, he was resting, but not unapproachable.

“Hi,” she spoke quietly as she entered the room.

Alex moved his hand slowly to push his hat out of his way, “Hi,” he smiled easily at her.

“You tired?” she asked. Moving toward him and taking her usual seat on the arm of his chair.

“No ma’am,” he winked. “I’m stuffed.”

Hannah chuckled, then said, “Hey, can I ask a big favor?”

Alex sat up in an attempt to be more attentive and answered, “Yes.”

Hannah took a deep, steadying breath and began, “So, Sarah is going to invite Bren and her kids, and Beth out for Christmas. They’d be staying over at her place.”

Alex nodded at this information and looked as though he were waiting for the favor to be gotten around to.

“The thing is, Bren might not have much money right now, after her ex-husband harpooned her finances. So, I was wondering if we can get them to come out. Can you help with getting them out here? And, by help, I mean, can you pay for it?”

Alex chuckled softly and nodded, “Yes, ma’am, if they want to come out for Christmas, I’ll pay for it.”

“Thank you!” Hannah said excitedly and leaned in to give him a hug.

He reciprocated and said, “You know, I don’t know if you noticed or not, but it’s getting more and more difficult to think of you in a sisterly way.”

Hannah gave into a total giggle fit and wished he hadn’t. That could have been a moment to move their relationship forward, she lamented later.

The next morning Hannah was busy helping everyone get packed and ready to leave early the next morning. It was a linear procession of, “I can’t find my…” to, “Are you sure everything’s going to fit in there?” But eventually everyone was sitting on ready and sort of spreading out to explore options.

By the afternoon her parents were gone over to visit with Brother Michael, Dave and his family were over at Max’s ranch taking riding lessons, Paul was sequestered in his rooms with his wife who refused to leave them and wanted him to tend their little boy, and all the sisters Sarah, Brenda, and Beth were at Hannah’s apartment to visit and eat leftovers. Brenda’s kids and Liam and Cassie were watching Disney movies, which gave the sisters time to really talk and catch up on what was going on in each other’s lives.

“Liam and Sebastian are becoming really good buddies,” Hannah observed.

“They really are,” Brenda agreed. “Sebastian needs that, he’s never really had friends, mostly he just gets bullied at school.”

“Bummer,” Sarah looked concerned. “What are you doing about it?”

“I’m really thinking about home school,” Brenda sighed. “I don’t know really, I’ve talked to his teacher, but she’s got so many kids in her classroom till it’s hard for her to keep eyes on him all the time. Being out here has been really good for him, and that little Liam is scrumptiously adorable.”

“I agree,” Hannah smiled with a bit of pride in her boy.

“Okay, so,” Sarah began, “I want to invite you and Beth out for Christmas. Hannah’s already talked to Uncle Alex and he’ll pay for you guys to come out. You’ll be staying over at my place. Sebastian and Liam will have loads of time to play, and we’d love to have you guys here for Christmas.”

“Wow, really?” Beth replied, looking shocked.

“Yeah, so what do you say?” Sarah encouraged.

Brenda smiled, now looking very happy, “I’m in!”

“Cool!” Sarah and Hannah chimed.

All the attention turned to Beth, who was doing the Mom thing and trying to ignore the offer.

“Come on Beth, what about it?” Sarah tried to encourage her. “Sisters together for Christmas, it’s been a really long time since that’s happened.”

“Okay,” Beth said softly. “But I’m not going to be the one to tell Mom.””


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Thanksgiving in New Parish – Part 2

Thanksgiving is always steeped in tradition. Each family has their own traditions, such as what food is cooked and how it is cooked, activities that are a must for the day, and of course as much family and friends included as possible. It’s really all about love, relationships – and sharing the work!

In this next part of Hannah’s family’s Thanksgiving in New Parish you’ll learn some more about some of their traditions.


Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 13 – Let’s Talk

“The next morning’s early start was the usual, Hannah and Sarah making their Grandmother’s cinnamon rolls, as per tradition. This time was a bit different, though. The big house kitchen made it easy to navigate, and of course Sarah had Parley with her.

Parley seemed very interested in what they were doing, Hannah dipped her finger in the icing just a bit, and gave him a taste. He got very excited and very animated with both his hands and feet moving rapidly. Sarah gave her a serious scowl.

She shrugged and winked at Parley, “Who’s your favorite auntie?”

He let her know his feelings with a big smile.

It didn’t take long for everyone to arrive on the scene and begin the traditional eating of the cinnamon rolls and meal prep in synchronicity. Hannah noticed her mom looking around often as they worked through the morning.

She began to feel a little uneasy thinking maybe she’d forgotten something important, so she asked, “Is something missing? What are you looking for? Maybe I can help find it?”

“I’m not looking for anything,” Samantha deigned.

“It’s just that, I see you looking around like you’re looking for something,” Hannah explained, feeling confused.

Samantha waved her hand in front of her as if to clear something away and went on with the food prep.

Sarah chuckled from behind Hannah and she turned to see what Sarah was laughing about. “She’s looking for Uncle Alex,” Sarah accused her mother.

“I most certainly am not!” Samantha defended herself, but couldn’t hide the guilty look.

“Oh,” Hannah sighed, catching on, “He’s not here. If, you were looking for him, he’s out till this afternoon.”

“Looking for another wife, I suppose,” Samantha scathingly accused.

“Ha!” Hannah returned. “He wasn’t looking when he got me, so I doubt it. He took Buck and some of the guys over to help out a fellow who’s had some hard times. You know, do some home repairs, mend fences, stock the pantry, stuff like that.”

“Mmm,” Samantha shrugged, “I’m still bewildered as to why you would marry a man old enough to be your grandfather. Even if things were perfect, and he’s not, you’d still not have very many years together,” Samantha sighed in frustration.

“She has a point,” Brenda shrugged. “With Sarah and Max the age difference isn’t that much. But Hannah, really, your guy is substantially older.”

Hannah’s thoughts went instantly to her friend at BYU, “Yeah, there’s an age difference, but it doesn’t matter to me. I think he’s awesome and amazing. Besides, you remember my friend, Helen. She came home with me a few years ago, she was a couple of years ahead of me in school. She was 21 and her husband had passed away a couple months before. They were the same age,” Hannah sighed. “They met their first year at BYU. He was so cute, very handsome, they had fallen in love immediately. He was sweet, kind, and really perfect. They were perfect together, so happy. Till his headaches got really bad. He went to the doctor and yeah, brain cancer, inoperable. Three months later all Helen could do was hold his hand and watch him die,” Hannah sighed again.

Silence settled on the room as Hannah finished telling about Helen. She noticed a sad smile on Sarah’s face, and how her mom was pretending what Hannah had said didn’t affect her at all.

To Hannah’s surprise her Dad spoke breaking the silence, “Sammy,” he began slowly, “You need to leave Alex alone. He’s a good man, and he loves our Hannah. And even more importantly Hannah needs him.”

Hannah wanted to run over to her dad and give him a huge hug, but she knew it would cause trouble with her mom. So she mouthed a silent, “Thank you.”

David winked and nodded, then went back to breaking beans.

Her mom continued to pretend nothing had been said.

When all the work of the day was done Hannah resisted the urge to grab another biscuit as she put them in the fridge for the next day’s work. They always made loads of them for the dressing, but Hannah liked them with a little butter and sometimes a little jam, it was a weakness.

Everyone was heading out for ranch tours, everyone except Samantha. They were going to take turns flying over the ranches and New Parish. All this was to happen before the traditional pizza and charades later. Dave and Sarah were already doing a bit of “clean” trash talk about who was going to win, Hannah had found that very entertaining, all day.

When everyone was gathered back together that evening, TVs were set up in the sitting room off of the kitchen for the kids to watch movies and play video games. Alex’s staircase room was the designated charades room, he hadn’t winced much at giving up his man cave for a couple of days.

There were five teams this year, the scoreboard was a large white board set up in front of Alex’s bar. This was the first time Hannah had her own team. She’d always known it would happen and now that it had, it felt even better than she’d thought it would, “A little weird,” she thought, “But, cool.”

Teams were divided up thusly: David, Samantha, and Beth. Her parents had always claimed Beth for their team because she was the book worm extraordinaire, she was also a librarian and had vast knowledge of all things literature.

They thought it gave them an advantage, Hannah thought it only gave them an advantage when the charade was about some old book or Shakespeare.

The next team was Dave and his wife Tabitha. The third team was Paul and his wife Margie. Next was Sarah’s team, which included Brenda, along with Max, of course, and Myra, and Del. Lastly was Hannah’s team, with her, Alex, Patty, Hope, and Cilla.

Once everyone was in the staircase room, numbers were drawn by the team captains to see what order the teams would present. Dave drew the number one, and smirked at Sarah, who rolled her eyes and drew number three. Hannah’s parents got number two, Paul got four, and Hannah drew five.

As Dave went to the charades bag, sitting on the center table, to draw his first challenge from it, Hannah noticed Alex sitting back relaxed looking amused. She had to smile…

Dave groaned a bit when he pulled the old strip of paper from the bag, then walked over to the designated charades spot at the end of the sitting area. He looked at it again as if he was wishing the words had changed, then placed one hand under his chin to accent his mouth opening as his other hand was behind his back acting as though he were moving a lever up and down. The room was silent with a lot of questioning looks on many faces.

Dave stopped this action and then did something very un-Dave like. He tip toed around with his hands pretending he were daintily holding onto a short skirt.

Everyone burst out in laughter and Myra shouted, “The Nutcracker Ballet!”

Dave sighed and nodded, “Thanks for ending that.”

Sarah jumped up triumphantly and went over to the scoreboard and put a tick mark under her team’s name.

David was next, and pulled out another old looking piece of paper. He slowly unrolled it and stoically read it. Then he looked at the back wall as if in deep thought and his eyes return to the slip of paper. With a sigh, he moved over to the presentation spot. Holding out both hands with a questioning look, he then pointed at himself.

“Who am I?” Beth spoke quietly.

David nodded and began to act very strangely. First, he squatted down and stood back up using his hands in a rising motion. Then he started strutting around like a bird with its chest puffed out. Then he opened his mouth as if he were singing, but with no sound coming out.

The audience went from watching intently to uncontrollable laughter in rotating intervals. There was also rapid whispering among the teams as they tried to figure out the answer.

He returned to the squatting and standing, but this time instead of the rising motion with his hands, he looked as though he were holding them purposefully low and then high. Then he began to pretend he were walking up stairs. After that, he pointed to his chin, and pulled at the loose bit underneath his chin to accent the extra part.

Hannah was at a complete loss, so she just decided to sit back and enjoy the show. She could overhear Sarah’s team whispering about a singing farmer and her Mom and Beth saying something about Fiddler on the Roof, but to her it was just hilarious.

Finally, Myra said, “Tevye?” 

As per the rules David still couldn’t speak, so he held up his index finger on each hand, put them together and then apart.

“Oh,” Samantha said, “that’s only part of the charade.”

“How many words?” Sarah asked.

David held up seven fingers and began to dance around like a bird and as though he were dancing around a large pole.

“Tevye, If I were a Rich Man,” Beth asked tentatively.

“Yes!” David said, exhaustedly.

Sarah stood and looked as though she were scared of what the bag might do to her. She grabbed the bag by the top and shook it really good, looking as though she hoped all the hard ones would be shaken down to the bottom. She drew a slip of paper that looked old and very worn, she sighed even before she unrolled it.

Stepping into the charades arena, Sarah turned to face everyone. Her face held a blank expression, she raised her hands to the top of her head with all fingers pointing up. Her expression changed to one that looked prideful and haughty.

Del asked, “Are you a queen?”

Sarah shook her head in the negative and held her arms up to show muscles and express masculinity. Then she pretended her hands were a book which she opened and closed several times as she pretended to read.

Everyone looked clueless so she changed her approach all together and began pretending to dribble a ball, then she suddenly jumped and pretended an epic slam dunk.

“King James!” Max shouted.

Laughter erupted throughout the room and another tick mark was added to Sarah’s team score.

Charades went late that night. David finally had to intervene and call it done for the night. Sarah’s team was ahead by five and Dave was not happy about it.

The next morning Hannah woke to her alarm blaring loudly and was very tempted to snooze it. Forcing herself up, she quickly showered, dressed, and ran down to meet Sarah, who was coming in the front door as she reached the bottom of the stairs.

That day progressed much the same as the day before, only different foods were made ready for the next day’s feast. There was only one incident, which was between Dave and Brenda. Hannah thought Dave should have known better. Brenda had always been able to promptly put him in his place, or the place she deemed he should be put in. They were running out of places to put the deserts and as they deliberated on where to store them, Dave snidely said, “Maybe we should just keep the best ones and toss the others.” To which Brenda replied, “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were trying to solve a problem, I didn’t’ realize you thought it was a moment to be rude.”

Hannah had laughed so hard, not just at what Brenda had said, but at the expression on Dave’s face, which was priceless.

  When the work was finished for the day, they had every fridge in the house full to capacity, every counter top brimming, and five ovens filled with two turkeys and three hams.

Hannah lamented a bit over the smell of food throughout the house, it made her hungry all the time, no matter where she was.

Alex hitched up the big wagon and took everyone for a hay ride that evening before the pizza and charades. Hannah thought it was a really nice respite after the work and before the battle. Max brought his guitar so they sang songs as they rode along the old wagon trail. To Hannah this was a little bit of heaven, she could tell by the expression on Sarah’s face that she was feeling the same.

For the final tally in charades, Sarah’s team won by two points. Dave decided that he and Paul would merge teams for next year’s competition, “It’s only fair. You guys have more people on your teams, creating an unfair advantage over us two person teams.”

“Fine,” David allowed. “You guys can merge next year, but no more complaining this year.”

After her good night hug Hannah went to bed without full recollection of getting there. The alarm once again woke her before she was quite ready to be that way. Yawning, she rolled out of bed, although she was leftover tired, she was excited about the day. Thanksgiving had always been her second favorite holiday, just simply because she knew her family would all be together.”

Find Return to New Parish, New Parish, and Brigham Tea Magazine on at the link below: 


Thanksgiving in New Parish – Part 1


I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful time of year! Today I thought I’d share some of the Thanksgiving activities that happen in New Parish. In Return to New Parish Hannah’s family all come out to New Parish for Thanksgiving due to Sarah’s baby Parley, having a little head cold. So, of course, there’s a cowboy flair to this year’s Thanksgiving…


Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 13 – Let’s Talk

“The morning her family were to arrive, Hannah thought, the holiday arrangements had gone pretty smoothly. The only kink in the plans had been when her mom insisted that she and her dad would be staying at Max’s, not Alex’s. Hannah had shrugged that off with the smirky smile thinking, “Really, it’s dodging a bullet, the less time Mom and Alex spend together the better.”

            Hannah remembered finding a bit of extra humor when Alex had told her, Cilla, Patty and Hope, “We’ll put ’em in the South wing.”

            “Maybe no one else would think it’s funny,” she thought, “but I do.”

            That whole area was empty, putting her family in the South Wing for the Thanksgiving holidays was perfect. It was the South Wing part that had given Hannah the giggles. Her southern heritage had long been a source of both pride and embarrassment, depending on the situation or the topic. When someone would say something had “gone south” Hannah always felt a twinge of embarrassment, but when they would refer to southern hospitality there would be a little beam of pride shining from her.

            Hannah pondered the memory of telling her sister wives about how her family all worked together to make the meal, “The prep, and cooking, and clean up are hang out times for us. We’ve always done it that way.” She was relieved and grateful they had embraced, and even gotten enthusiastic about her family’s traditions.

            A couple of weeks before the family were to fly out, her Mom had sent out the list of ingredients and supplies they’d need for the dinner. It literally took that long to gather all the supplies. Hannah supervised the extreme overloading of the house pantry. It was a very large pantry, twenty foot by twenty foot, but, it was so full with all the Thanksgiving supplies till it looked a bit inadequate. Some stuff had to be stacked in the main house kitchen. Hannah and her sister wives had decided that using the main kitchen probably wouldn’t be sufficient for the monumental job ahead. So, they planned on using Patty’s, Cilla’s, and Hannah’s kitchens to compensate and would probably have to use Hope’s fridge too.

            Hannah felt like she needed to heave a sigh of relief and brace for impact at the same time, as she waited for Max to arrive with the South Wingers. About an hour before the plane was to arrive at the small local airport, Max dropped Sarah and the rest of the family off at Alex’s so they could be there to greet the incoming family. Everyone was excited to see everyone again, and for some it was the first time meeting, so there was excitement all around.  Even Del was there, feeling better, and looking a bit more plump.

             Alex had Buck and the boys on standby, to take the bags to the designated rooms. Hannah watched, at the side windows as Max’s van slowed to stop. The South Wingers began emerging from the van, and Buck and his crew began unstrapping the luggage that was attached to the top of the van.

            “So far, so good,” Hannah thought. Then she took a deep fortifying breath, “This is gonna be fun. I hope…”

            The next little while was full of hugs, kisses, and laughter. Everyone was shown their rooms, and given help with settling in, everyone except Samantha and David. Their things were left in the van. Hannah noticed her mom avoiding Alex, and Alex not minding.

            After the settling, they had lunch in the big kitchen. As they were finishing up with the meal David leaned over to Hannah and asked, “So, where are all those Palominos you told me about?”

            “In the stables,” she chuckled. “I can show you in a bit, after the dishes are done. Okay?”

            “Sure,” he smiled.

            “I can walk out there with you. If you want to go ahead out?” Alex offered.

            “Alright,” David nodded, getting up to follow Alex, “Thanks.”

            “You’re welcome,” Alex said leading the way out of the kitchen.

            Hannah didn’t worry about this matchup, she smiled, thinking, “It’ll be good for them to get to know each other.”

            After inventorying and assessing the supplies, Samantha gave Hannah her approval, “Looks like you got everything, Sweetie. We’ll get an early start on it in the morning.”

            “Yep,” Hannah smiled, feeling a bit proud of her new position in the Thanksgiving hierarchy. All previous years she’d been the gofer, the assistant, and the “go put this in the garage fridge person,” which she didn’t mind at all. She was sure those roles would resurface in the morning. These roles were all comfortable for her. This new role was much more stressful, but she liked it all the same.

            “I made tea so we can have a nice visit in the sitting room,” Cilla said as she joined them in the pantry. “It’s herbal,” she smiled seeing the look on Samantha’s face. “Mint, no caffeine.”

            “Oh,” Samantha’s expression still looked awkwardly uncomfortable as she nodded.

            “Come on Mom,” Hannah chuckled, “it’s not against the Word of Wisdom.”

            “I know,” Samantha said, trying to recover from her obvious awkwardness at having tea.

            “It’s really good,” Cilla smiled. “Del grows it in her garden, all organic.”

            Entering the sitting room Hannah noticed that it was an all girl tea party. She looked questioningly at Sarah, “Max took the kids and Dave and Paul out to the stables to see the horses.”

            “Ah,” Hannah nodded, sitting down on the sofa close to Patty and snagging herself a chocolate chip cookie.

            “Here Mom, take this chair,” Brenda got up from the armchair she was sitting in and took a seat next to Hannah. It was a tight squeeze, but she was a very petite person and made it work.

            “Thanks, Sweetie,” Samantha smiled.

            “So, Samantha,” Patty began the conversation. “Tell us about your Thanksgiving tradition. Why do you all get together and do this? I know there has to be an interesting story in it.”

            Samantha nodded and looked pleased, “My great grandparents were immigrants, from England. They came over in 1915, just as the war was beginning. They were very proud to come to America and become citizens.

            My great grandfather already had some family that had immigrated a few years before, so they had a place to come to. It was in August, and believe me, South Georgia in August is an experience. My grandmother said that her mother told her she felt like she was going to die from the heat that first summer. She didn’t, they survived, and became citizens just before Thanksgiving. So, for them it was a special time to celebrate every year, both being American and being grateful.

            My grandparents taught me that when a family works together, they are close and stay that way. Their family had always worked together, so that’s what my grandparents did. As things changed and the world evolved with different job opportunities becoming available – things other than farming. Well, they made sure there were still opportunities for the family to get together and work together. Over the years that work opportunity has become our Thanksgiving tradition.”

            “That’s so wonderful!” Hope said. “I’m glad we get to be part of it.”

            “Oh, me too!” Patty beamed. “Your Grandmother was right. Working together does bring people close.

            “Gran was an amazing lady,” Hannah sighed. “We called her Gran, but actually she was our great grandmother, we never got to meet our grandmother.”

            “Oh?” Patty queried.

            “She and my father passed away when I was a very young girl,” Samantha interjected. “I was raised by my grandparents.”

            “Oh, I see,” Patty nodded understandingly.

            Soon the tea party was over and everyone was back together. Hannah thought the whole house seemed to be alive with life and laughter, and noise. Later that evening was a true cowboy dinner with large rib eye steaks and baked potatoes from the grill and a huge cast iron pot of baked beans cooked over the fire pit. When Alex had said he’d take care of dinner that night Hannah had had full confidence in his abilities but was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. She watched as he and Max manned the grill, including Max’s older boys, teaching them the fine art of manly grilling.

            Hannah got a good laugh when her Dad commented on how good the steaks were and asked where Alex had gotten them. Alex smiled broadly and replied, “Fresh off the hoof.”

            Later that night all the kids were gathered to Hannah’s apartment for the traditional slumber party. All the nieces and nephews along with Liam, Cassie, and Bella were there. Even Rosie and Mia stayed which was a bit of a surprise to Hannah, but she was very pleased they felt that comfortable with her. There was popcorn, movies, and not much floor space when the dust of things settled.”

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Hannah’s Thoughts…

We all have our own unique way of thinking about things. Sometimes we know we’re justifying ourselves, but, continue on anyways… Hannah has a lot to sort out, and sometimes she justifies herself too… But, she does have Sarah to keep her honest.

I love the relationship between Sarah and Hannah, I hope you all enjoy it as well!


Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 6 – Things Change

            “Waking early the next morning Hannah did her best to swipe the vivid memories, of the annoying, recurring dreams, of the old cowboy and his horse, from her mind. She showered and dressed quickly so she would have time to go for a walk before the shopping trip.

            Pulling on her sneakers, she heard a light tapping on the door, it opened and Sarah said, “Hey, I’m glad you’re up.”

            “Oh, yeah, why?” Hannah queried with a “what’s up” look.

            “Mom, called last night,” Sarah said with a raised eyebrow.

            Hannah knew all too well what the raised eyebrow meant. It meant she’d been caught doing something she shouldn’t. She also knew that if her mom had called things were about to change, for better or worse, things were going to change.

            Sarah continued, “She wanted to know how you’re doing and when you plan on heading home. You haven’t told her what you’re planning on doing have you?”

            “Um, no,” Hannah replied a little defensively. “I didn’t want to add any drama to my decisions.”

            “Coward,” Sarah accused her, bluntly.

            Hannah chuckled, “I’ll tell her, eventually.”

            “Han,” Sarah said firmly, “If you can’t tell Mom and Dad what you’re going to do then maybe you shouldn’t do it. This is a very serious commitment, you have to be all in.”

              “Fine, fine,” Hannah sighed. “I’ll call them tonight.”

            “Okay,” Sarah smiled, “We’re leaving at nine.”

            “Cool,” Hannah said as Sarah left her there to dread the call and the changes it would bring.

            Grabbing her coat, scarf, and gloves Hannah went outside. The gardens were all frost covered and when she breathed out there was a white mist where her breath touched the air. Everything seemed too quiet, nothing was moving, no wind, no sound to be heard from any direction. This made Hannah think of the old saying, “calm before the storm.” As she walked past the barn and toward the long driveway that led out of the ranch she wondered, if, there was an impending storm…

            Climbing up on the fence near the end of the driveway, Hannah sat on the top rail. She watched the cows in the pasture, they were standing still, almost like statues. “I guess it’s too cold for them to move around much,” she thought to herself. It was beginning to feel more and more like one of those surreal moments that don’t make sense till later, if ever. It felt almost like time were standing still and waiting for her to get the clue, but she just wasn’t getting it. “Maybe it’s this funk I’ve been in lately,” she pondered to herself. She couldn’t figure out why she was feeling the way she was feeling but decided it wasn’t a bad feeling so she would just file it away for now and sort it out later.

            The sky was starting to light up with a breathtaking array of pastel colors, Hannah sat there on the rail and watched the show. “Time’s not standing still,” she thought, “it’s moving wonderfully ahead.””

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Dreams, Cowboys, and Horses…


As Hannah tries to process the bad thing that happened, she has a few unique dreams that give her some awkward feelings. In these dreams she gets unwanted protection from a cowboy she doesn’t want to think about much less get protection from. Feelings of frustration, annoyance, and anger mount as the dreams persist night after night…

Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 3 – Palominos

            “Sleep came swiftly, and Hannah was back at BYU, it was like a stroll down memory lane. She saw her first boyfriend, Scott, the dream evolved into the night when she was going home from work – when she’d seen him with another girl. Hannah could feel the emotions starting to surface, then she saw a large golden palomino walking toward her with Alex James sitting on its back. He wasn’t smiling – he wasn’t teasing her. His face had a look of hardness she hadn’t seen in the waking Alex James, but his face also held an expression of care and concern. He stopped his horse between her and the scene that would have happened had her memory been allowed to continue.

            Hannah tried to shake herself from the dream, but only managed to shift it to another place. She could see a literal parade of guys that had tried to flirt with her while she was at BYU. They were all cute, charming, and smiling at her. Once again, the large palomino with its rider came between her and the scene.

            Hannah looked up at him, he held out his hand as if he wanted to help her up onto his horse. Hannah pulled back and the dream evolved into the night when she was at the restaurant with Mark, who had laughed at her and let her know she wasn’t good enough to be his eternal companion. She could see the scene before her, him sitting at the table waiting for her to join him, but this time instead of the palomino riding up with its cowboy, just the cowboy came.

            Alex James stood between her and the scene, the look of care and concern on his face was very evident now. Hannah was confused, “Why’s he here?” she asked herself. “And why would he care?” Again, he held out his hand as if to help her – she pulled away once more.

            The scene faded away… The restaurant was no longer the one she’d gone to with Mark it was the one she’d gone to with Nathaniel. Mark was not sitting at this table, – it was Nathaniel. Hannah felt so ashamed, she could hear the soft music and see the soft glow of the drippy candles dancing over the scene.

            Nathaniel sat there smiling at her, waiting for her to come over and join him. Hannah choked back some surfacing emotions, she could feel the fear, pain, and the nausea swelling up inside. As tears began to flow Alex James once again stepped into the picture, standing between her and the table where Nathaniel was sitting.

            “No!” she shouted as she remembered what had happened that night. The ever present whirlwind of emotions that always tried to engulf her when those memories emerged, anger, embarrassment, fear, and the deep sadness that felt like it was now attached permanently to her soul… She’d kept this secret buried deep inside herself, she’d only shared it with Sarah. He couldn’t know, “not him,” she thought, “He can’t be here.”

            Alex James again had a look of care and concern on his face, the ruggedly handsome face had lost all hardness. There was no teasing smile. The tenderness she saw in his face was almost overwhelming. This time when he held out his hand, Hannah took it, and ran to him. She was quickly wrapped in his strong arms. She felt safe… she hadn’t felt that way since the night she saw that little white pill dissolving in her drink.”

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