Thursday, December 29, 2016

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

A novel is filled with mystery, heartbreak, love, plot twists, victories, and hope. New characters are introduced and some take their final bow. Each chapter brings something new and sometimes unexpected. Parts are exciting and others are boring, but we read on. We read to find out what happens to each character and to get to that greatly anticipated happily ever after. The same can be said of life.

2016 is almost over and with what few days we have left, we are reminiscing over the past year. It was a hard one, but there were joyful moments and blessings sprinkled among the hardship. This year was a year of change. My brother moved out. My sister and I graduated high school. We finished ballet, horseback riding, and soccer. She started college and I got a job. My grandfather passed away, leaving a large hole in all our hearts. And my father finished his job of near 20 years, to follow God's calling.

While there has been adjustments, grieving, and goodbyes, this year has held tremendous opportunities and fun. I got to visit my grandparents more than I usually do. My family went on vacation to Europe for near a month, as well as traveled to Indiana and Kentucky to visit friends. I was able to spend more time writing my poems and novels. And God helped me grow deeper relationships with my friends and family.

I look on at 2017 with hope. I know it will not be all sunshine and flowers but it will hold great memories. God has a beautiful and perfect plan for this next year and I am excited to see where He guides us. And there is no one else I would rather have writing my story than God.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Forever Thankful

Thanksgiving for us was small, with two of my siblings, my parents, and my nephew. Mom and I had done some prep work for the meal, but were still in the kitchen Thanksgiving day. We had homeade stuffing, green bean cassarole, dinner rolls (made with lots of butter), strawberry jam, cranberry sauce, sweet potato cassarole, gravy, mash potatoes, pickles, olives, and most importantly turkey. 

During dinner we each shared a couple things we were thankful for. After eating, we enjoyed a much anticipated football game (yay cowboys!), and played many word games. Dessert is a must and we did not hesitate in tasting the pumpkin pie, homemade chocolate creme pie (with an oreo crust), and pumpkin cheesecake. One thing I love about Thanksgiving dinner is that there is always leftovers! 

This year I am thankful for the trials God has allowed me to go through. They have drawn me closer to Him and closer to my friends and family. I am also grateful to the friendships I have. They make me a better me. I am thankful for a job and writing opportunities. This year has been a good one, and I thank God for his protection and guidance through it all.

I hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving too. God bless. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Exploring Malcolm Haven - A Thief's Honor

Malcolm Haven was born into poverty in New York City during the 1850's. His father was an unemployed alcoholic and his mother took what work she could with a child underfoot. Four years later, his brother, Matthew, was born. With an extra mouth to feed and an alcoholic father that only got worse by the day, any hope of a brighter future was extinguished. Living conditions only worsened and at a young age Malcolm was sent out into the world to find work. His father became more abusive and Malcolm took the bulk of the beatings. When his younger brother was of age, he too began to work odd jobs.

Then an bundle of joy came into the world, a little baby girl. Although it was another mouth to feed, Maylee Haven brought joy to their mother and to Malcolm. She represented all that was good in the world. He called her their angel on earth. It was Maylee and Matthew's future that Malcolm worked hard for as he grew up. Malcolm took the place of their father and shielded them from the abuse at home. His desire to hold up the family was too great and drove him to sacrifice his principles for the sake of providing for his family. 

Malcolm's intense personality is explored throughout his novel and at times leads the story. Growing up in an abusive home, made him desperate for control and have an explosive temper when pushed. He is stubborn and loyal to a fault. Trust was never a strong suit of his, but when it is given, it is near unbreakable. With an abuse father at home, Malcolm connects easier with women and children and often sees men as threats. He is a protector to those without any means of protection because he can relate and never had anyone to protect him from harm. Malcolm appears gruff but deep down he has a caring heart. He sees most people worthy of redemption, save for a handful of his adversaries and himself. His tough mannerisms and slight emotional detachment masks the terrified child within and acts as a safeguard from getting hurt.

Malcolm's novel, currently titled A Thief's Honor, begins when he is fourteen and juggling three jobs. With a rebellious ten-year-old brother and a barely talking toddler sister under his care, Malcolm struggles with teaching them right from wrong. His father is rarely sober and his mother is weak from working day and night and caring for her small children. After intense tragedy,  Malcolm feels his options running out and starts to live a dangerous lifestyle in order to keep food on the table and clothes on their backs. Along the journey, the Children's Aid Society gets involved and Malcolm makes a decision that will change all of their futures.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

"Thy Will" Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

Hillary Scott & The Scott Family's song "Thy Will" has been a huge comfort to me recently. My sister introduced it to me and I continuously heard it on the radio until I finally bought the song. I listen to it over and over before falling asleep at night. It is a reminder that no matter what crazy things come my way, what hurt I endure, or what life twists I encounter, that God is in control, not I, but our Heavenly Father. He has a perfect plan for each and every one of us. Everything that happens to us has a purpose beyond our understanding. He sees the big picture and we must trust in Him always.

Song Lyrics:
I’m so confused
I know I heard You loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of Your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know You’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know You think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all Your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that You’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know You see me
I know You hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness You have in store
I know You hear me
I know You see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness You have in store
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know You see me
I know You hear me, Lord

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Twins, Sisters, Friends













(photo credit: Katie B. Images https://katlynbphotography.wordpress.com/)

As many of you know, I am an identical mirror twin. Her name Adri and she is my whole world. We look alike (we personally don't think so but most people think we do) but we do things opposite and our personalities are very different.  

As you can see in the photo, she likes short hair (that is the longest it has been since we were little) and my hair reaches my waist. Although we both write right-handed, I can write with my left. In sports I am ambidextrous and Adri is a righty. In school, Adri loved Math and I preferred English.
Adri loves fashion, jewelry, shoes and always dresses classy. I, on the other hand, am a combat boot, sneakers, jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. Personality wise, Adri is quiet but can be a social butterfly and I am super shy. I usually let her do the talking for the both of us. When it comes to movies, Adri will watch just about anything, even cheesy films. I stick with action movies, but on occasion will watch a slower, romance with her. We both love crime shows though. Our music tastes are pretty close, although I like classical music more. We both like horses, books (but different genres), soccer, and ballet. 

Many people ask us if we have our own language. When we were little, Mom and Dad said it sounded like we did. As of now, we do not, however there are key words and looks we give each other to communicate. We think alike a lot too. I can be singing a song in my head and Adri will start singing it aloud without me telling her that was the song I was singing. We will often have the same response, one person just happens to say it first.  Or we say the same thing at the same time. Our emotions are very connected too. If we see the other one crying, we will start crying too. We can be in different rooms and if one of us is feeling sad, the other can sense it. We cannot stay mad at each other for very long because it makes us feel like a half of us is missing. The longest we've ever been apart was three days and it was one of the hardest things ever.

I love being a twin. We have a unique sibling relationship and a constant companion. I have known her my whole life and she knows me almost better than I know myself. Thank you Adri, you are the best sister ever. <3 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Beating Writer's Block One Step At A Time

Writer's Block is a frequent visitor to most writers. But how long it stays is completely up to the writer. I like to show it to the door as soon as it appears. Everyone has their way of chasing it away. Re-reading, editing, and character charts sometimes helps me get rid of Writer's Block.

I personally find word wars helpful. Word wars are when two or more people agree to write for a certain amount of time and at the end of that time they calculate how many words they wrote. Whoever writes the most wins, but winning is not really the point, its to motivate others to write. You can also do these by yourself and try and beat your own goals.

Another effective method I have found is discussing the novel, scene, or character you are struggling with. There have been several times where I am frustrated with not being able to write. I found a friend willing to listen and I explained what was going on. As I talked, ideas formed. We exchanged opinions and suggested different things. By the end of the conversation, my creative juices were at work. Perhaps it is the fact you have to make things so clear for someone else to understand that you in turn understand it better.

So how do you conquer Writer's Block?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Going Places

For the last month I was in Europe on the trip of a lifetime. My family had been planning this trip for a year. Seriously planning it. We had talked about it times before but it was more of that desire that seemed highly unlikely. However, God provided and we went. Dad did all the travel arrangements and we all pitched in with deciding which apartments we wanted to stay at. Soon we were packed and headed to the San Fransisco airport.

After a day of travel, we made it to Paris, France. We were blessed with an entire week filled with tours of the Louvre, Versailles, St. Chapelle, Notre Dame, Marie Antoinette's village, and much more. Mornings were filled with coffee and croissants. Gelato was almost a daily luxury, if not there was some delicious pastry in its place. We walked at least 5 hours a day, and every night had to climb 80 steps up to our apartment. It was hot, and rained almost daily, but the weather did not stop us from our adventures. We became experts on riding the metro and navigating the streets.

Italy was our next stop. Vernazza for half a week and Venice for the rest. We rode many trains, ate dinner by the shore, took a boat trip to the nearby towns, hikes. Gelato was a must and a hunt for new seafood was fun. I had one of the best calamari up on the top off a giant hill. Mom was the most adventurous in her meals, but I was close behind. Although it was mostly different kinds of shrimp calamari, and pastas. We did have a few pizza's while there and man they were delicious! Venice we road many buses, visited a glass making island as well as a lace making island.

We were blessed with one day in Austria, where we experiences a yodeling and dance show with dinner. Our hotel was old, beautifully crafted and let us dwell in the heart of the town. We walked the streets, saw the community hanging out, listened to a band play "The Way You Look Tonight", and listen to the sound of fellowship. We ventured across the river, into a few churches and then out for some yummy dessert. Although our time there was short, it was beautiful and a place we all want to go back again.

Our last stop was Germany. Everything is green, country, beautiful, and inspiring. The towns are adorable, with elegantly decorated houses, pastures, horses, cows, tractors, shops and restaurants. We visited Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwaugau Castle, Linderhof Castle and others. Driving on tiny roads and up into the Alps was amazing and it was also humorous to listen to a British GPS guide trying to say German street names. We visited Hitlers underground bunkers, view the Eagle's Next from a nearby lake, and took a boat ride from town to town. The food there is excellent and hearing Mom and Dad speak German was really cool.

This short overview of the last month cannot even start to describe the incredible journey we took. God provided for and blessed us greatly. We had a time to bond, to grow together and learn new things. This trip was extraordinary and I am so glad I had the chance to go. Traveling has always been fun and traveling with three of your best friends is even better! Going places is exciting and I can't wait for the next expedition.

Monday, June 6, 2016

New Chapters

This month is the beginning of a new chapter. I am a high school graduate, semi-employed, eighteen year old in between moving homes. I have no solid plan for the future. But I'm not worried. I don't need a plan. God has one perfectly laid out for me and I am going to follow him in faith.

I am looking forward to summer vacations, hanging out with friends, and the knowledge that I do not have to return to school in the fall. I feel as if my stress levels have lowered and I can full enjoy what everyday has to offer. I do have some goals of the summer. They consist of breakfast in bed, TV from 9am-1am, naps at noon, sitting around the house listening to music, and eating whatever and whenever I want.

I'm just kidding! hahahah. My goal is to finish my novel, since my employment may not start until the fall, I figured I would have enough downtime and vacation time to really buckle down and get to work. I also hope to pick up some babysitting jobs and strengthen friendships through fellowship. This has all been hard while juggling school and sports.

I am also determined to grow a desire to work out. I have a tiny desire inside but my body always says 'no' and I don't do it. Since sports are over, I need to find a way to get active. Running and ab workouts are all I have right now. Thankfully I have friends to keep me accountable.

Now little hobbies I wish to pick up. Writing. Writing. And yes, you guessed it, writing. In addition, I want to work with a punching bag, learn to shoot a handgun and shoot a re-curve bow. These last dreams may take a while but eventually I will have them checked off my bucket list. Perhaps when summer is over, I shall write on how many I actual got done.

What are your summer plans? Dreams? Wishes?


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Love & Memories

The other day, while going through our garage, we came across a kite. It was not just any kite, it was the first birthday gift my dad bought my mom. And that was before they dated, 30 years ago. They thought it was time for it to go, but not without one last flight.

It was sweet to see my parents having fun with the kite. I am not entirely sure why this simple action gave me so much pleasure. Perhaps it was the smile on their faces and the evident love they have for one another. Perhaps it was the fact they did not hesitate in launching the kite into the air and wove up and down the driveway and into the street with no care of how they looked. They did not have to, because it was a scene so beautiful and joy filled.

My parents are truly amazing and I am blessed to have them. They have kept their youth and their humor, filling our house with delightful laughter. They have shared many beautiful memories together and a flight of a single kite showed me how many more will blossom from the years to come.

Their love is inspiring and everlasting and it is something I hope to have in the future. I look on with joy in imagining myself in their shoes many years from now. They have laid down a wonderful example of love and holding onto sweet memories.

After the flight, the kite made its journey into a box, where it shall rest, perhaps another 30 years, until its next flight. It was too precious to let go and the beauty it brought as it spread its wings was too marvelous to be thrown out.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Dreams come true...

On March 30, 2016 I flew hundreds of miles with one purpose. To visit a friend. We had known each other for about two years and had texted, emailed, and video called often, but we wanted to meet face to face. So I saved, and then got my parents involved until we had plane tickets and a hotel in Louisville Kentucky, only a half hour from my friend. I was super nervous about meeting Rain in person. I was afraid we would be different that how we were online and on our phone. As we pulled up to Red Robin in St. Matthews mall, Rain got out of her car and ran toward me. I hurried forward and we embraced. Immediately the nerves vanished and I felt the love we had shared for two years. She was my big sister, my dear friend, and a dream come true. We talked, laughed, and joked over food for a couple hours and then went our separate ways with plans to spend the next day together. I then went with my family to visit Churchill Downs, the famous race track of the Kentucky Derby! It was another dream of mine and it was fantastic.

We walked through the Kentucky Derby Museum and I brushed up on my racing knowledge. That evening we ate at Chick-fil-A and then retired for the evening. Waking early the next morning we picked Rain up at her house, which is absolutely gorgeous! Dad had a conference call on his phone so Rain and I had to be quiet. We got out our phones and talk to each other by texting. It was real funny and awesome. We drove to the Creation Museum and then toured the place. It had a cool fossils and Biblical telling as well as an awesome presentation of the Creation of the Cosmos in the Planetarium. The gardens at the museum and petting zoo was also cool. We got to see peacocks and a Zorse! On the way home Rain and I fell asleep in the car! Friday Rain met us at the hotel and we drove up to the Kentucky Horse park. We walked the museums, visited the different barns and saw draft horses, police horses, and breeds for all over the globe. We also got to meet several Kentucky Derby winner horses as well as the only living man who rode Man of War. He was one of three men who ever rode Man of War. We rode in a horse drawn trolley, visited the graves of Man of War, War Admiral, and Isaac Burns Murphy.

Saturday I visited another friend and we walked the outlet mall in Louisville and had dinner before going to church. Southeastern is a gigantic church and Kyle Idleman did a fantastic job preaching. He spoke on fear, which was just what I needed to hear. Afterward Megan and her mom went to DQ with us and we ate dessert and talked before having to go back to our homes. It was fun catching up with her again. The next morning I slept in and then prepared to go over to Rain's. We arrived for lunch, which was delicious Mexican food. Rain, Adri, Cassie, and I played games and talked, played violin, looked at art, took selfies, and talked some more. Rain and I got to spend a lot of time together and we had great time making memories. There were so many precious moment and I'm savoring all of them. Rain's family is amazing and I especially enjoyed hers, and her older sisters company. I feel as if we had known each other our whole lives. Leaving was hard, because neither of us knew when we would see the other again. We had had a week but it had flown by so quickly. I waved the whole way down the driveway and as soon as she disappeared from my sight I cried. We had an unbreakable bond, an instant connection, and a deep sisterly love.

Kentucky is gorgeous as is Indiana and my love for the place has grown immensely. I love everyone's accents and how they say "y'all", "ma'am", "sweetheart", "honey", and "dear". I kept going through the different ways and say and use certain words. I thought it was also cool how most of the cities were ended with "town", "burg", or "ville". There was so much we did not see and I know I'll be back to tour the beautiful states again. It was the best week ever and I was the happiest I have ever been. This has been my favorite vacation so far and I can't wait to come back! I want to thank Megan for Saturday's fun. I enjoyed myself. And also Rain and her family, for their hospitality, amazing family, and exciting fun we were allowed. I'm so proud to call y'all my friends. Thanks so much. I will be back as soon as I can!!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Children in Our Lives

I have recently realized how surrounded I am by children, and how it affects my love for them and dreams of having ones of my own. For the past 6 years, I have been an aunt. Being called "Auntie Min" was weird at first but now I love hearing it. Having a little kid think you are so cool is amazing. Also, just knowing that someone looks up to you can change how you act and change what you say. I had a nephew first and I was so happy. I love little boys and we wrestled, played catch, baseball, and soccer.

Two years ago my niece was born and being an auntie changed. I thought "oh here we go, playing house and dolls". As a kid, I loved playing those but now when little girls ask to play that I don't know what to do. But boy was I wrong! My niece is the most rambunctious thing there is. She loves wrestling, running, playing with balls, building towers only to destroy them. I hope my children are like that. Both of them are supper smart and catch you off guard all the time. I love the surprising ones.

I can't wait to have kids of my own, although I do want 4 boys, if I were to have a girl I would want her to be like my niece. Smart, tough, and active. Children can be exhausting but they can be so much fun and when they tell you how much you mean to the it gives you strength to keep playing, teaching, and being their best friend.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Movies!

So February is always the month where people write, talk, and think about love. Well I'm not going to in this post. 
a) I have already done it. 
b) I feel like bring nontraditional.

So, what am I going to talk about? Well after deep consideration, I have decided that the best course of action would be to talk about movies. I know, I know. I said untraditional, but whatever. It is what I'm into right now. So let's begin!

My favorite genre is, of course, action. Love love love them! Now before I go off listing movies, you need to understand one thing. I watch a lot of movies on ClearPlay. For those of you who don't know what that is, its a special dvd player that takes out the bad stuff in movies. My recent favorites have been action movies my friends introduced me to, and boy am I glad. They are, The Italian Job and Shooter (both on clearplay). And yes, they both have Mark Wahlberg. Another obsession has been the Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2, 3. Orlando Bloom, right ladies? And I will admit I love Jack Sparrow. Johnny Depp took pirates to the next level! Now these are slightly less "actiony" but still, there's fighting, there's humor, and really talented actors. Recently I saw the Lone Ranger, which I nearly died laughing through. Its a bit on the corny side but I liked it. It had action, humor, and a tinge of romance. It also has the honorable Armie Hammer and once again, John Depp. I loved the fact that Tonto had a broken pocket watch and in Pirates Jack Sparrow had a "broken" compass. 

I love the complex characters, the characters that will make hard choices, and the heroes. When there is love but someone is in the wrong level of society I love watching the character that is bound and determined to break tradition. Any stubborn hot headed character always catches my eye. I usually always side with the hero in moves but in some cases it's the villain that is my favorite. Loki, for example, will always be my favorite. His complex personality and eloquent speech has me siding with him. In Thor the Dark World, I loved when Loki got to play the good guy, even if at the end of the movie it seems like he became the bad guy once more. See, I just used "seems" to not condemn my poor villain to his true nature. 

Do you ever do anything different while watching a movie to make it more exciting? I do. I love watching each characters facial expressions. When I watch movies over and over, each time I pick out a different character to watch and study. If someone is speaking, I try to see the people in the background for their expression. You will find you have missed things the first few go arounds.
I also love memorizing movies. At one point I almost had the entire Avengers memorized. Why can't they make textbooks like that? Another fun thing to do with movies is watch them in a different language and see if you know what they are saying. It's also comical to see the mighty Thor speaking french.

What are some of your favorite movies and why? How can you change up your movie watching?

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

2015 came to a close last night and 2016 took its first breath. A new year means new beginnings, new opportunities, and new challenges. I am most excited about a new beginning, a clean slate, and fresh me. 2015 was an interesting year and I honestly do not remember much of it...

I remember random things, like my birthday. I turned seventeen but I felt as if I went back to being a kid. Or camping trips this year with my family. I remember my drivers license test, being terrified to the point of tears and then the grown up feeling of being able to drive myself and my sister. There was also horse camp where I made awesome friends, fell in love with two horses, and built my confidence.

The biggest event of 2015 was getting thrown from my horse again. I actually went to the ER this time but had no serious injuries. It was the scariest event of the year, but it gave me an opportunity. It gave me the chance to build trust and lean on God. It also made me build my confidence back up.

Another large part of 2015 was focused on Hope. Finding hope, holding on to hope, and giving hope. Life's tough no matter what the year. Some people get knocked down harder than others and everyone responds differently. I tried to find hope, that light in the middle of the darkness. Jesus is always our light, and our family, friends, and loved ones are too. I searched for reasons to fight on. When I found it, I tried to hold on as tight as I could for the next storm to come. I also tried to be a reason for others to hope.

As we go into 2016, I want to strive for these resolutions. In 2016, I want to become a better sister, a better daughter, a better aunt. I want to be selfless, give all my time to people who matter to me. I also want to become more dedicated to my craft. Writing is a passion, but there are distractions in this world and I want to be focused on the task at hand. Most importantly, I want to grow in my faith. I want to be solidified in Jesus and in God's Word, to have it hidden in my heart and shown in my life.

This day marks the new year. Don't be afraid to change. Be led by the Holy Spirit and enjoy this fresh slate. Keep the fond memories of 2015 as you venture into 2016. Write down your New Year's resolutions so you can be reminded throughout your journey. God be with you all!

Love,
Jade Sparks