Friday, March 20, 2020

My Reading Adventures of 2019

1. It's Not Supposed to Be This Way - Lysa Terkeurst
 Honest, moving, deep, and refreshing nonfiction!

2. gods at war - Kyle Idleman
Interesting perspective on idols.

3. Inspire Kindness Anthology
Inspiring stories from various authors, of which I am blessed to be one.

4. Generous Justice - Timothy Keller
Fresh take on Godly justice.
 
5. Before I Wake - Dee Henderson
Thrilling, moving, and captivating story coupled with fantastic, lovable characters.

6. Assault: Thoroughbred Legends - Eva Jolene Boyd
Inspiring story of a legendary horse.

7. Miles From Where We Started - Cynthia Ruchti
A novel that wrecking me in the best possible way. 
Moving. Fresh. Authentic. Beautifully written.

8. Holy Hustle - Crystal Stine
Good, motivational nonfiction read! 

9. Lady in Waiting - Susan Meissner
Beautifully written story connecting two women from different times.

10. Word Gets Around - Lisa Wingate
Fun, entertaining, easy to fall in love with story.

11. Levi's Will - W. D. Cramer
Good story. Good characters. Good read.

12. Tailor Made Bride - Karen Witemeyer
Fun. Laughter. Love. Excellent read!

13. Captivating -  John and Stasi Eldredge
Interesting view on a woman's soul.

14. Courageously Creative - Jenny Randle
Energetic, fun, inspiring, and encouraging.

15. Roundup of the Street Rovers - Dave and Neta Jackson
Entertaining story that weaves in fiction with the life
of Charles Loring Brace and the Orphan Train Movement. 

16. Life After - Katie Ganshert
Fantastic, thrilling, emotional story that was beautifully written and moving.

17. Courting Trouble - Dianne Gist
Witty, entertaining romance.

18. Uninvited - Lysa Terkeurst
Emotionally captivating, relatable nonfiction.

19. All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
Intense, detailed, and creatively written story.

20. Factory Girl - Barbara Greenwood
Informative, tragic, and moving mix of nonfiction and fiction.

21. Made to Match - Deeanne Gist
Fun, energetic romance.

22. Bride in the Bargain - Deeanne Gist
Humorous, well-done romance.

23. Sophie's Heart - Lori Wick
Sweet, authentic, and enjoyable!

24. The Princess - Lori Wick
Touching romance that will make you smile.

25. Inspire Grace Anthology
Inspiring stories from various authors, of which I am blessed to be one.

26. Becoming Lucy - Martha Rogers
Another great read to add to your list!

Orphan Train - Jody Hedlund
27. Searching For You (Book 3)
Great addition to a beloved series.

Shadows Over England - Roseanna M. White
28. A Song Unheard (Book 2)
Fantastic read that build anticipation for the next book.

Chesapeake Valor - Dani Pettrey
29. Cold Shot
30. Blind Spot
31. Still Life
Amazing first three books in the series that kept me on the edge of my seat, 
turning pages, and invested in each character. 
They were the final books of 2019 and I immediately read the final book 
in the series at the beginning of 2020. 

Return To Red River - Lauraine Snelling
32. A Dream To Follow
33. Believing The Dream
34. More Than A Dream
Lauraine has been a favorite author of mine since childhood.
I fell in love with the characters and setting and was once again whisked
away into a story that kept me coming back for me.

Daughters of Blessing - Lauraine Snelling
35. A Promise For Ellie
36. Sophie's Dilemma
37. A Touch of Grace
38. Rebecca's Reward
The saga continues with more love, new characters, and captivating stories.

Home To Blessing - Lauraine Snelling
39. A Measure of Mercy
40. No Distance Too Far
41. A Heart for Home
A family written so beautifully it leaves you in awe. 
Excellent stories that make you smile.  

Brides of The West - Lori Copeland
42. Glory (Book 4)
43. Ruth (Book 5)
44. Patience (Book 6)
Wonderful find at my favorite local bookstore!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sometimes I Think In Poetry

You were waiting in the dark
Ready for morning's light
For with it would come
Your glorious transformation

At the sun's first light
You soaked in its warmth
Shuddered off the breeze
And burst forth with color

Your entrance was expected
But your beauty surprised
Each year is the same
But the awe is never lost

You stir excitement
Remind of a promise
Represent hope
And lead tenderly

You mark the beginning
Of color's return
New life is coming
Spring waits at the horizon


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Year of Opportunity

With optimism, I have decided to call 2020: a year of opportunity. I am determined to view this year as a good one and perhaps in time that shall translate into my feelings. Twenty-one days into the year and so far, its been fantastic.

For those of you who don't know, I went back to school! That's right folks, I said it. My "gap year" has come to an end. It has been three and half years since graduating high school and I took the leap into the college scene. Well, more like a step...seeing as I am still doing school from home, in sweats and sweatshirt, messy bun, and listening to music half of the time. Anyway, I have completed week one and so far and I love it. I know as the semesters go on it might become challenging, but I am finally excited to learn again. In approximately two years, I hope to graduate with my Associates of Arts in Creative Writing from Liberty University (Online).

My writing has slowed a bit, but I am still trying to make it a daily occurrence to write, even if it is not my current novel. This year I have several conferences lined up to attend. At these events, I hope to meet Lauraine Snelling, who wrote some of my childhood absolute favorite books, and Charles Martin, who is a refreshing voice in the writing world and inspires me to write authentically. In addition to writing, I plan on reading 50 books this year (not counting my college textbooks).

Whatever else the Lord has planned for me this year, I look forward to it eagerly. He has already given me joy in the few things that has happened and will be happening over the next few months. I pray that you too will venture into 2020 with an optimistic perspective and an open heart.

If you want more frequent tid-bits on my journey, reading ideas, or encouragement, follow me on my socials. God bless!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_jadesparks_
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JadeSparks_

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Another post, another year.

My last post of 2019. Wow, it is hard to believe the year is almost over. The older I get the more it feels like time goes by faster. Jesus is so good and I am forever thankful for His love and guidance. A lot has happened in the last year and I am looking at 2020 with hope and excitement. Next year will be another adventure.

The past year has been filled with times of growth. I have had to do things outside my comfort zone, but I never had to go through them on my own or without encouragement from people around me. I have learned how important it is to invest in friendships, and that quality is better than quantity. I have also learned and am continuing to learn to be courageous and confident as an individual.

There has been some tough times this year. Mental illness, physical illness, emotional pain, troubles with communication, loneliness, and typical life stresses. But Jesus brought us through it and will continue to help us process it all. He is our strength and our healing. We choose to hold onto His light and cherish the good in life.

So many adventures were had this year. I vacationed with friends and attended a friend's wedding. I attended another writers conference, met authors, spoke with mentors and had a couple short stories published. My family and I celebrated my nephew entering double digits and watched my niece start kindergarten. I became a leader for my church's junior high ministry. My family and I cheered my sister on as she finished college and started her first job. 

I am filled with hope and excitement for the coming year. There are new things on the horizon and memories to be made. I look forward to building on the relationships in my life and the opportunities that lie ahead. I pray as 2020 approaches, you too are filled with hope and anticipation. May Jesus's love surround you and your household.

Blessings, dear readers. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Words

The hardest thing with blogging for me is coming up with a topic. The actual writing part isn't too bad. It's the beginning. The starting point. The one thing you must know before you begin: what you are writing about.

I must confess that before writing this, I wrote a paragraph for at least four different topics. It ranged from motivational posts to encouragement for writers. Then I deleted them all. They just weren't hitting the mark. My next thought was to try titles. Sometimes if I come up with a clever title it inspires me to write on that subject. That too, was no good.

"Falling In Love" was going to be a post about falling in love with writing. Then it changed to "Falling In Love Again", which was still going to be about writing but with a humorous tone. It turned into "Falling In Love With Writing" so that the title was not misleading. I didn't want readers clicking on the article thinking they were going to get a juicy article about me finally finding my Prince Charming and instead get a post about my current love-hate relationship with writing. Let's be honest, it would be disappointing on so many levels.

I gave up on the titles and came up with this, which you are hopefully still reading. An insight piece on the life of a writer determined to get rid of writers block and create something that someone in the world will relate with. Whether or not I have achieved that, I'll probably never know, which means I cans simple believe that this post made at least one person smile, nod their head, or filled a few minutes of time they were trying to kill.

To my fellow struggling writers, you can do it. Whatever you create, it may not be for everyone but just maybe there is that one person out there who needed those words. Your words. Or maybe it was something that you needed to hear yourself. You gave life to an idea and you set it free. And that is all that matters.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Reflections

Fall is here. The year is preparing for its final months. Another beginning is around the corner. And so, a time of reflection is upon me. I have always been a deep thinker, a deep feeler. I often think back on life and dream of what is to come. So here it goes...

I have been living the same life for several years now and it had been good. There has been a lot of growth, a lot of healing, a lot of processing that needed to be done. But now I believe it is time for a change. I don't know what that looks like, though I have some ideas. Some of which scare me a bit. That's good isn't it? I've always been one to play it safe. I like comfort. I like low risk things. I like safe. So it's time to take a risk, right?

Sure, I've made some huge steps since graduating high school. I decided to pursue writing, where nothing is guaranteed. Becoming a writer means opening oneself to a lot of rejection before hearing a yes. It's a daily struggle against self doubt and lost motivation. It's a profession that has a lot of waiting. I started attending writers conferences, which as a shy, super introverted, barely-ever-attended-anything-on-her-own young adult was a giant leap. I began flying by myself to visit a friend across the U.S., that took a lot of courage for me. And recently I became a junior high leader at my church. So I've stretched myself...slowly, hesitantly, but nevertheless I did it.

The thing is, I'm not done being stretched. I'm not sure anyone ever really is. This time, I'm actually asking for it. Intentionally. Yeah, call me crazy. I've gotten this desire for something more. A healthy desire. I've been doing relatively the same thing for three years. I was content doing it too. Until a while ago. A part of me is excited for something new. The other part is discouraged. And restless. The other day I described it this way, "It feels like I have a seat to watch life go on without me. Everyone around me is moving and I'm just here."

Anyone relate? I've made progress in life, just slower than others. And that isn't a bad thing. Some people have to take it slower than other. I had some growing to do, spiritually, emotionally, physically. I had things to face and things to heal from. It's all in the timing. God's timing. He knows what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and why it needs to be done. That's where trust comes in. And I'm seriously learning what it is to fully trust.

I'm willing to trust God. His timing. His plan. I want to follow Him down the path He has set for me. It seems that for now, that means trusting Him and stepping out in faith. Trusting that He will take care of the obstacles, the risks, the process. Are you willing? Will you join me in trusting God with our futures? With our jobs? With our education? With our passions? With our relationships? I hope you will. This life with God is an adventure of its own, an adventure I pray you'll be bold enough to take.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Breakout Louisville

Last week I was able to check something off my bucket list.

Escape rooms.

My friend arranged an escape room experience at Breakout Louisville. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about it all. It was something I had never done before and I tend to get nervous about new things. Thankfully we had a couple girls who had attempted an escape room before. Plus, there was six of us.

We were"locked" in a room. (Thank goodness for safety reasons they don't actually lock us in... This in itself was a small comfort.) The game began with an hour on the clock and a few directions. We quickly set to finding clues and unlocking a series of locks that allowed us entry into another part of the room's puzzle. Reading. Codes. Math. Chess. Clocks. It's was thrilling.

We could ask for hints when we needed and the game masters gave vague enough hints that we still had to do a lit of thinking to figure out the next steps. The countdown clock ticked on a screen in the room, changing colors several times and sounding a faint alarm to warn us that time was running out. Time flew by and adrenaline was high. The last few minutes were insane. Our hands were shaking with excitement. We were running around, laughing, frantically trying to finish before time was out.

And yes, we made it. With two short minutes to spare, we made it.

It was so much fun and we laughed a lot. The hour was a great bonding experience and it was cool to see how everyone used their strengths to help get the job done. It is be a great memory I will cherish forever!

If you haven't tried an escape room, I highly recommend it. Get your friends together. Take your family along. Make it a co-worker bonding experience. It's a creative way to spend time with friends, work your brain, have a blast, and try something new!