Guest Post By Tessa Emily Hall: Can Our “Imperfections” Further Our God-Given Calling?

Guest Post By Tessa Emily Hall: Can Our “Imperfections” Further Our God-Given Calling?
I’m super excited to be hosting Tessa Emily Hall of Christ Is Write here on Notebooks and Novels today! Her next first devotional for teens, Coffee Shop Devos, releases next month, and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on a copy! =D 
About Coffee Shop Devos

There’s something special about spending time at a coffee shop with a friend–engaging in a meaningful conversation, then leaving refueled and ready to tackle the rest of the day. What if your quiet times with God energized you the same way?

Coffee Shop Devos offers a warm atmosphere that will inspire you to discover your God-given purpose and live to your greatest potential. Choose your devo flavor in the Menu of Contents based on your current need. Then lean into deeper intimacy with Christ through reflection and prayer. Along the way, you’ll pick up tips and recipes for making your own coffee-shop beverage–regular or decaf–to enjoy while you read. And don’t forget to share your journey with your friends! #CoffeeShopDevos

Each of the 180 challenging and motivational devotions will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated–almost as though you’ve shared a steaming pot of brew at a coffee shop with your Creator.

Click here to pre-order Coffee Shop Devos on Amazon.
Click here to mark Coffee Shop Devos as “to read” on Goodreads.

Doesn’t it look fantastic? I’m excited to get to read it! =D But for now, I’m happy to get to read this lovely guest post that Tessa wrote. It’s not only encouraging, but it is also a challenge for us to discover who God made us to be and what He put us on this earth to do. I’m excited to get to share this with you all! =) Happy reading! 

Have you ever felt different from others your age? Maybe you’re not into the same hobbies your friends are into. Perhaps you’re not as social, don’t have as many followers on social media, or don’t care about shopping.

This is how I felt in middle and high school. Like I stood out. Like I was the only introverted girl my age—the only one who preferred to stay at home on the weekends and write rather than hang out with friends.

I felt like something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I fit in?

The thing is–I didn’t want to fit in. I didn’t want to become someone that I wasn’t just so I could receive acceptance. Yet even this made me feel as though I needed to be “fixed”.

It wasn’t until I grew closer in my relationship with Christ that my desire to receive approval from man began to fade. It wasn’t until then that the truth laid out in Psalms 139:13-16–which says that every detail of myself was selected with a purpose–that I began to accept who I am. And during this time, I had a realization:

My “imperfections”–what I once thought were flaws–are actually the very traits God will use to further my calling. 
You see, the enemy doesn’t want me to love who I am. Instead, he wants me to resent the very aspects about myself that God views as beautiful. Why? Because he wants me to refrain from embracing my potential and pursuing my calling. A calling that could result in the furthering of God’s Kingdom. 
But now that I’ve learned this tactic, I can allow God to transform these “flaws” into strengths. Just as He originally intended. No, not even so I can gain human acceptance–but so I can play my role in building the Body of Christ. So I can tap into my fullest potential and pursue my calling.
Does this mean perhaps God created each of us in a way that could aid us in pursuing our unique path? Does this mean He gave us our personality, strengths, gifts, desires—and, yes, quirks—for a reason?
I believe so. I believe He purposely crafted each us differently so we could contribute to the work of His Body (The Church) in various ways. He wants to send His message throughout the ends of the earth, and we are His hands and His feet (1 Corin. 12:12). The way He formed us is directly correlated with how He wants us to further His ministry on earth.
What I once viewed as a weakness — being introverted — was actually a God-given strength to help me fulfill my calling: writing. If I wasn’t an introvert then I wouldn’t have the ability to stay quiet and observe in a social setting. I would also probably go crazy if I had to stay at home and write for hours on end!
What is it God has called you to pursue? You might not know the entire picture, but perhaps you have an understanding how you’re different. You’re familiar with your personality type. You understand your various strengths and interests. What if these unique facets that make up you are arrows pointing you toward your unique calling—or at least hints that could give you a glimpse into what He might want you to accomplish on this earth?
My challenge to youSpend time with God today. Ask Him to help you accept every part of who you are–yes, even the “flaws”. Then, see if He reveals ways you can begin to tap into your potential and pursue your unique path.

About Tessa

Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to show teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, will release with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa’s passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PURSUE Magazine. She’s guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.

Visit Tessa on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook and subscribe to her mailing list

What is one of your “imperfections” that could be pointing to your God-given calling? What’s your favorite coffee shop drink? 

The Get to Know Me Tag: Writer’s Edition

It’s time for a tag! And not just any tag… It’s the Get to Know Me Tag: Writer’s Edition, created by my friend Savannah @ Inspiring Writes. Thank you for letting me steal this tag, True! =) I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and am so excited! Before we jump into the fun, we have some rules… 
The Rules
– link back to the person who created the tag – 
– thank the person who tagged you – 
– share the tag graphic (I kinda made my own… *hides face*)- 
– tag eleven bloggers (this rule might be broken xD) –
Vital Stats And Appearance

Name: Micaiah Saldaña

Nicknames: My dad will sometimes call me Caiah, but that’s about it.

Birthday: March 3rd.

Righty or lefty: Righty.

Ethnicity: Half Mexican, a quarter Filipino, and a quarter white. =)


And for the questions I skipped… *points to above photo*
Firsts

First novel written: I’m going to go with Light in the Dark here, a serial I posted on my old blog. It just…. Never got finished. Ever. And I don’t know if I want to go back and see all the messiness. xD 

First novel completed: Runaway was my first “novel” that I finished, but since that’s in a notebook I don’t know the exact word count. I still refer to it as my first novel though. xD

First award for writing: I got a second place award in Tessa Emily Hall’s Monday’s Minute Challenge. It was small, but I was so excited and kept sending in pieces. I ended up getting first place a couple times after I started honing my skills. *flexes writing muscles* xD

First publication: First publication… I had a few articles published in PURSUE magazine (check out the new issue here!), but my first piece of fiction to be published will be my short story Dear Jamie, Love Rory. And guys. IT COMES OUT NEXT MONTH!!!!

I hope to see you all here at Notebooks and Novels on July 19th, which is Dear Jamie, Love Rory‘s release date and the kick off day for a blog party I’m planning to celebrate its release! =D 

First conference: I haven’t attended any writing conferences yet, but I am working towards a trip to an ACFW conference. =D

First query/pitch: Nothing here either…. YET. 😉

Favorites

Novel (that you wrote): Ummm….. The one I’m working on now. Currently it’s in the idea/brainstorm/find-an-actual-plot stage, but I’m calling it Where Has the Sun Gone right now. I already love it!

Genre: I’ve dabbled everywhere and it is SO HARD TO CHOOSE. Can I just say anything that falls under the YA Christian umbrella? Yes? Thank you. =)

Author: NOPE NOPE NOPE I CANNOT PICK.

Writing Music: Anything Fleurie and Ruelle, although I listened to a lot of alternative/folk-style music for Dear Jamie, Love Rory.

Time To Write: At night before I go to bed. Like right now. *innocent whistling*

Writing Snack/Drink: Salted caramel hot chocolate and anything sweet/baked/bad for me. Lately I’ve been making Nutella strawberry sandwiches and eating Sour Patch Kids. SO GOOD.

Movie: Ummmm…… Every Marvel movie ever made? xD To be honest, if I could only pick one movie, it’d be Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version). That movie…. ❤ ❤ ❤


Writing Memory: It’s a tie between seeing an email saying that I won One Teen Story‘s writing contest and having my mentor Tessa Emily Hall come to lunch at my house. ❤

Childhood Book: AGAIN I CANNOT PICK. I loved reading as a little kid as much as I do now, so it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite out of everything I read. But if I have to pick, it’d be the Chronicles of Narnia and The Jesus Storybook Bible. My dad read them aloud to my sisters and I when we were little, and I have such fond memories of them. Besides, they’re books I still enjoy today. =)

Currently

Reading: Porch Swing Girl by Taylor Bennet (see my interview with her here). It’s so good! ❤

Writing: A story about selkies, a rogue Fae, an English earl, a boy who tells the best stories, and a girl with eyes the color of the Sea. I plan on sending it to Spring Song Press this month. =) I’m also brainstorming THE STORY. We shall see where all that thinking goes. =) I know for sure that it’ll have lots of dessert…. xD

^^^^Lots of desserts like this. ❤

Listening to: Lots and lots of dreamy Fleurie music. Have I mentioned that it’s the best? AND HER NEW MUSIC VIDEO OH MY WORD. Click here to be amazed, and to have a great new song stuck in your head.

Watching: I’m excited to watch The Flash season 4 (it’s now on Netflix!) and am also hoping to rewatch Downton Abbey, my favorite tv show.

Learning: That new isn’t always terrible or scary and that it’s okay to take what feels like forever searching for and writing the story of your heart.

Future

Want To Be Published: YES YES YES YES. I would love to publish a novel of mine one day! =D

Indie or Traditional: Both. I think it would be fun to publish a novella indie style and publish a novel traditionally. =)

^^^^Aren’t inspirational quotes the best?

Wildest Goal: To write a timeless classic that would be ranked alongside the works of Dickens, Austen, Brontë, and other greats, and for it to be as heartbreaking and touching as Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. A girl can dream, right?

I Tag…
Anyone who loves Pride and Prejudice, ice cream, Downton Abbey, and salted caramel hot chocolate. Also, we could totally be best friends if you love all of that stuff. Think of all the binge watching and junk food…..
Do you like Downton Abbey? What is one of your wildest goals/dreams? Have you listened to “Constellate”? What is one of your favorite desserts? Let’s chat, friends! =) 

February/March Cocoa Break

It’s time for another cocoa break! This time, it’s a cocoa break for both February and March because I totally failed and didn’t do a cocoa break for February. And yes I know it’s April. Bear with me, folks.   
Real Life…

February wasn’t all that exciting, to be honest. School. Babysitting. Rain (it’s the PNW, of course there was rain). But then March came…. AND I TURNED SIXTEEN?!?!?! *cue gasps* It was the sweetest sixteen ever. I mean, there were three types of cupcakes. Chocolate with salted caramel frosting, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and coconut with coconut frosting. My mom is the greatest on so many levels. =)

There was also a sweet party with some of the best friends ever. =) Everyone spoiled me rotten for my sweet sixteen! I still almost can’t believe that I’m sixteen now. I’M OLD ENOUGH TO DRIVE?!?!? Don’t worry, I still haven’t taken driver’s ed, so the roads of America (and this writer) are safe… For now. xD 

This March, I also got to take my younger siblings to Barnes and Noble. I picked up a Sherlock Holmes collection, and my younger siblings brought home quite the haul. I’m a proud big sister. =) Of course, a trip to Starbucks was also called for (thanks, Mom!). Starbucks and books. They go together like chocolate and caramel, peanut butter and jelly, Oreos and milk…. I need to stop. xD And yes, I did shop for books online after Barnes and Noble. THERE IS NO END TO MY OBSESSION.

Of Notebooks…
…Think, think, think. SERIOUS BRAINSTORMING IS GOING ON. I have a whole notebook that I’m filling up with snippets, prompts, etc. Brainstorming is fun and not-so fun at the same time, to be honest. The fun part is brainstorming. The not-so fun part is not being able to use every single idea/prompt OR trying to fit the prompts together. #writerproblems

This is how I celebrated. Such a sweet way to celebrate. =) And yes, that is salted caramel. 

Also… My short story “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” won the One Teen Story writing contest! HOW AWESOME AND INSANE IS THAT? =D Click here to see the announcement on One Story’s blog.

Of Novels…
I AM AN EMBARRASMENT TO BOOKWORMS EVERYWHERE. I’ve only read one book a month this whole year?!?! SOMEONE HELP ME. But honestly, the books I have read were GREAT. I gobbled up Alison Gervais’s In 27 Days in two days. That is seriously one of my favorite books ever now! I highly recommend it (don’t worry, a review will come!). And don’t get it in ebook form. Grab it in print. The cover is too pretty. =) 

Looking back on this, I’m pretty sure that all you guys think I do is read, write, and eat sugar. xD So tell me, what’s an amazing book you’ve recently read? An amazing sugary treat? What’s your favorite Starbucks drink? Let’s chat, friends! 

January Cocoa Break

Yes, I know, January was a couple days ago. But bear with me, y’all!

It’s time for my very first monthly highlights post of 2018! And guess what? Instead of my “just happened” posts, I’m now hosting a monthly cocoa break (what’s that, you say? Well, read on!). If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I LOVE cocoa. Especially with salt. And caramel. Whipped cream is good too, by the way.

What I love about a mug of cocoa, besides how it tastes and how the warmth seeps out of the mug, is that it draws people together. Ever since I was little, I’ve been coming together with people over warm mugs of cocoa, talking, fellowshipping, and just sharing in life. There’s something magical about a group of people and a bunch of mugs full of something sweet, isn’t there?

To tell y’all the truth, I wish that we could all get together with some salted caramel hot chocolate (mochas work too, I guess) and just chat about this wonderful life God has given us—the good, the bad, the messy, and everything in between. So from now on, each month, my monthly highlights post is going to be called a cocoa break. It’ll simply be a time where you can read a little bit about me, my writing, and the novels I’ve read, plus tell me all about YOU in the comments. Cocoa is completely allowed, by the way. =) I know I’ll have a mug or two!

Enough of my ramblings, let’s grab some cocoa!

Life 

First of all, my two little sisters each became a year older! *insert confetti and cupcakes here* Maya turned eleven and Maddy turned nine. We celebrated with lots of cake and ice cream (and as you all know, I was super into that). I’m so proud of the young ladies they’re growing into, and I love seeing them fall in love with Jesus every day. Happy (late) birthday, Maya and Maddy! =D
                                         

Excuse the photography, please, I just wanted to eat it. =)

I found this recipe for vanilla cupcakes for two, and now it is way too easy for me to eat cupcakes. xD I added some chocolate frosting and sprinkles, because if you’re going to eat a cupcake, you’re going to eat it right. But don’t think that I just eat cake (if only…)! This year I’ve been exercising and eating more healthily. Then I eat cake. xD Oh, and it’s 2018. I actually remember that it’s a new year this time around! Well, most of the time, that is.

I also had my blogoversary, which was so much fun. Thanks again, everyone, for helping me celebrate one year of Notebooks and Novels! =) You all are so sweet and just THE BEST!

Of Notebooks…

I entered the One Teen Story short story contest! Ignoring the fact that I was super last minute/stayed up past midnight two nights in a row to get my story done/went through about for different story ideas/sent the final one the day it due, it was fun getting to know my short story characters and play with different plots. And I’m so glad that I finally entered! The results don’t come in for a while, so until then, I’ll be working on my “novel project.”

They have such pretty mock covers…

Remember Second Star to the Right? The story I did a whole post on and was so excited about? How about Hiraeth, the story I worked on for Camp Nano way back when? Confession time: I haven’t worked on them in forever, and I haven’t had the motivation to do so. Right now, I’m focusing on finding the story of my heart, a story that I would want to read, a story that is near and dear to me that I can see to completion. I’m not totally abandoning these other stories. I’m setting them aside and working to find the story. The story that a whole lot of work and editing will go into, the story that my heart and my Lord wants me to write, the story that I would like to have published one day… THE STORY.

So right now… I’m brainstorming. I’m praying. I’m exploring. And I’m searching for the story.

Of Novels…

And… This is all I read in January. One. Book. *crawls under a rock and sobs* BUT IT WAS SUCH A GOOD BOOK. And now, here I sit, waiting for the sequel, drooling over its cover, because I am the unlucky human being who is still on the waiting list for it at the library. Don’t worry, there will be a book review for Unblemished coming your way soon! And for the record… TEAM KYAPHUS RHYEN ALL THE WAY.

What do you think of the new monthly highlights post name? What would YOU like to see more of in these posts? Less of? What do you like the most about these type of posts? Tell me EVERYTHING, so I know how to grow/change. How was your January? DID YOU EAT CAKE? Have you read Unblemished? If so, Team Joshua or Team Ky? Where are you in your writing journey right now? Let’s grab some cocoa and chat, everyone!

California In Pictures

This past September, my family took our silver Airstream trailer on a journey through northern California. Seriously, it was one of the most epic trips EVER. Here are the pictures to prove it. =)
 Writing in the Redwood forest
Hiking into Fern Canyon
Kara’s Cupcakes at the Oxbow Public Market 
Napa Bookmine at the Oxbow Public Market 
On the pitcher’s mound of AT&T Park, home of the San Fransisco Giants
Chocolate ice cream at Ghirardelli in San Fransisco
 The Golden Gate Bridge 
Bodega Bay, California
 Grapes at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate milkshake at In-N-Out Burger
Our Airstream at our campground in Bend, Oregon
Coffee bike in Bend, Oregon

 Have you been to California? Do you like traveling? Camping? What is one of your favorite summer trips you’ve been on?  DON’T YOU LOVE GHIRARDELLI? What was your favorite picture? Let’s chat in the comments! 

Books and Boxers

Wow, it has been FOREVER since I’ve posted. Where have I been? Well…. I’ll fill you in next week, during my monthly highlights post, but before I fill you in on my favorite reads starring dogs, I will tell you that my family has a new puppy. *screams and throws confetti* 
His name is Bryzzo (Go Cubs), and I am OBSESSED with his tiny little paws and his absolutely adorable face.  *hugs Bryzzo* Look at him. Tell me that you’re not already in love with this little guy. I mean sure, he tried to eat my purse and has a thing against my little brother’s remote controlled cars, but he is just so sweet and cuddly and PERFECT. *sighs*
You all may remember Wrigley, my family’s ten year old boxer, from some of my past blog posts. Sadly, he recently passed away. =( We all miss him SO much around here. Life isn’t the same without him waking us up or chasing his favorite red ball, but Bryzzo has been keeping us on our toes!
Now that you’ve been filled in on the four-legged friends of Notebooks and Novels, let’s get to the bookish part of this post, shall we? =) 
And Now, For The Books…
The Shiloh Series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Shiloh series has had a special spot on my bookshelf ever since my Mom read all three books to my sisters and me when we were little. To this day, I still love the books, and I still hold Shiloh to be one of the best dogs ever in the world of fictional pooches. I mean, c’mon, look at his cute little beagle FACE. Even Dara Lynn couldn’t turn her nose up at that! 
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Ginger Pye is another book my Mom read to my sisters and me. Can you tell that she’s one of the reasons I love to read so much? =) But anyways, who doesn’t want a dog that tracks you down with one of your PENCILS? I need a dog like that to help me remember where I put all of my pencils, which I seem to constantly lose…. *hides face* 
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Because of Winn-Dixie is most definitely my favorite book out of all these that I’ve listed so far. Ever since I read it, I was in love with Opal and her dog Winn-Dixie who followed her everywhere in her small Southern town as they ate Littimus lozenges. I personally wish that my librarian let Bryzzo in, but he would most likely eat all of the books…. Trust me, I know from experience. *puts books on a high shelf away from dog* 
A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin
This is, in my opinion, the saddest book out of my lineup, but don’t let that scare you! There is (thankfully) a happy ending, so I was able to read it. Yes, I’m that kid who boycotted Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows because of the endings. Thanks, Mom, for warning me and therefore saving me from wasting boxes of Kleenexes. A Dog’s Life is such a fun read because it’s told from a dog’s viewpoint-like A Dog’s Purpose, which I have yet to read. BUT I SAW THE MOVIE. And, er, cried through it too. 

 What are some of YOUR favorite books with dogs in them? Tell me, so Bryzzo and I can get reading! Have you read any of the books I’ve included in my line-up? If so, be sure to enter the poll I’ve added on my sidebar and vote for your favorite! Do you have a dog? If so, what breed is it? Grab your favorite pooch and let’s swap puppy stories in the comments and chat!

A Quick Hiatus…

It’s finally SUMMER. *throws on sunglasses* Time to hack into my TBR, make a couple s’mores, and write till my heart’s content. *dreamy sigh*
You all have probably noticed this, but I haven’t been very active in the blogosphere lately. And to tell you the truth, I will continue to not be for awhile, due to more camping escapades, so I’ll be going on a quick blogging hiatus until July. Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon, and you’ll get to look forward to….

Some monthly highlights.
A post about 6 things my dad has taught me (I’m late again xD).
A quick blog series about some of my favorite books.
The writer’s tag. 
I hope to see you all around here soon! =)
 What are you doing this summer? What’s on your TBR? What’s blasting through your headphones?