How To Find Peace In Your Imperfections

Hello Loves!

This week has been super crazy with work and school and my boyfriend visiting and I forgot to post this guest post by the lovely Molly Shaffer. So I’ll step aside and let her take over the blog today.

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For over three decades, I’ve struggled with self-hate. So much so that I couldn’t stand to see the woman staring back at me in the mirror. The world said I had to change in order to be beautiful. My face, without makeup, was not beautiful. The stretch marks that etched across my body were not beautiful. The cellulite, pimples, smile lines, and God knows how many other countless flaws, were not beautiful. In fact, there was nothing redeeming about me, and beautiful was a word meant for other people, not someone as broken as me. Lies!

This past year, the infamous 2016, was my year of self-growth. My New Year’s Resolution was different from my past ones, the ones where a number defined my life. In 2016, I made the resolution to become healthy: mind, body, and soul. Little did I know that uttering those words would send me on the most gut-wrenching journey of my life. A year of pain, growth, and ultimately, the beginnings of self-love…truly, honestly, lasting self-love.

How did I do it? How did I go from an inability to stare at my own reflection to becoming my own champion? Faith, quiet time, and most importantly, banishing the negative thoughts that were at war in my head. It took a lifetime to hate myself, and a year to come to peace, but it will take a daily commitment to choose love, in order to make lasting changes in my life. This is how you begin the process. This is where change resides. Not in a miracle pill or fad diet, but in rewiring your brain. Realizing that weight is truly just a number, but health runs much deeper than beauty ever will.

 

Step 1: Recognize the lies

One morning, I woke up ready to start a brand new day. I had a song in my head and a smile on my lips, but one step in front of the mirror, and my entire mood changed. Like a light switch turning off in my head, I felt the negativity creep in. My hair was in disarray, and my mascara smeared under my eyes, creating dark circles that would make a raccoon envious. I sat at my vanity, my head in my hands, and I cried. What happened to that strong woman from a second ago? Where did the warriorNowherewhere. She was inside me at that very moment. I had silenced her with a lie.

I picked up my head, and forced myself to look in the mirror. My eyes watered, but I refused to look away. I stared until my face blurred, and I ignored the menacing voice in my head…the liar. Slowly, ever so slowly, I began to make out an image. A cute button nose and full lips. Finally, a positive thought. I liked my nose and my lips. I ran with these thoughts, and as soon as the liar emerged once again, I had a weapon. Sure my eyebrows need to be shaped, but have you seen my nose. Damn, that’s a good nose. I took that first step, which lead to two more, and then, I was running.

 

Step 2: Find a Mantra

The negativity had defined me for far too long. The time had come to find my life quote…the one I could use to defeat the enemy…my war cry. I read through scripture until I came across the verse that spoke to my soul. Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ.” I had read this verse many times before, but for some reason it held a new meaning for me. I can do anything. Anything. Give up the bad habits. Strengthen my body and soul. Heck, I could even love myself. Why not? My life verse echoed…all things. The key word being all. I can do this. I will do this.

You may not be religious, and that is okay. Find your life verse. The verse that clings to you, or better yet, the verse you cling to. You’re going to need it, because the liar is strong in you. You’re going to need a mantra to defeat that cycle of abuse. Find your verse, memorize it, and repeat it until it sticks. Over and over again, like a song on repeat. You can do this.

 

Step 3: Phone a Friend

I have an accountability partner. Her name is Jessica, and she is my sister from a different mister. There are moments that I feel we are the same person in different bodies. Kindred souls thousands of miles apart. It’s kind of freaky how well we mesh. The best part, I can be real with this woman, and she doesn’t judge me. She pours truth into my life, refuses to sugar coat my failures, or accept my excuses. She isn’t harsh in her redirections. I don’t need a drill sergeant. I need a friend. Someone I can cry out to and laugh with. Jessica is that friend to me.

My journey will not work if I try it alone. I can talk myself into some stupid mistakes. “Go ahead, girl, you deserve a slice of that chocolate cake…no, you deserve the whole cake.” So, before I make a bad choice, I text Jessica. She either affirms my madness, or gently redirects me. Find your Jessica. She’s out there.

 

Step 4: Give Yourself Grace

You’re going to screw up. It’s inevitable. The best thing you can do when you muck everything up, is to realize you haven’t really mucked everything up. Stand up, dust off your bum, and get back on course. So you failed: who cares? That’s part of the process. Don’t slit your other three tires because you have a flat (I love that analogy). Give yourself the same grace you would give to your best friend, because after all, you need to begin seeing yourself as your best friend.

 

Step 5: Perfect isn’t Real

For most of my life, I sought perfection, until recently. I read this amazing book, Present Over Perfect, and I had an epiphany. Perfect is cold. Perfect is plastic. Perfect isn’t real. I want warm, comfortable, snuggly, and sometimes that comes with messy, flawed, and blemished…and that’s okay.

The price I paid for perfection is profuse. I spent countless hours inspecting my physique, holding myself to severe standards, and beating myself up when I didn’t reach the unattainable. Sound familiar? It’s the anthem of our world. Kill yourself so others will love you. Well, I say, love yourself and kill the negativity. Once you can see the lies you’ve believed about yourself are just that…lies…you can begin to speak truth into your soul. That’s where real transformation begins, and I’m here to tell you, life on the other side is great!

 
If you’d like to read more about my journey to self-love, visit my website: www.mollyshaffer.com. I’ll be the one with the love of words. The messy chick with a crooked grin. But guess what, I’ll be the one smiling!

Loving Who God Made You To Be

Hello there lovelies!

Today we have a guest post from my friend Cori. She was one of the first people to volunteer to write a blog post for this new blog post series I wanna do throughout the year and I LOVE what she has to say.

I hope you all receive some encouragement from this lovely gals words of wisdom.

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Well, it’s a new year again and our social media is filled with “New year new me” posts and new years resolutions that will last a couple of weeks.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with trying to better yourself, but when its all about me, me, me I think we might just be missing the point. My resolution is to grow closer to Christ and to love who He made me.
        The world tells us that it is all about you. You do you. You only live once. I agree to make the most of your life but when your life revolves around you and you only that isn’t exactly what God has planned. God tells us to live humbly and to always put your neighbor before yourself. He tells us to give a homeless man the clothes off our backs if he doesn’t have any. He tells us to pray for our enemies and love them no matter the harm they’ve caused you.  That may not be very easy, but that is what we are called to. There is a difference between loving who God made you and being a self centered jerk
        Now my life hasn’t been that easy. I was sexually abused, I’ve harmed myself and did for many years, and I even attempted suicide. Growing up I’ve had major self esteem problems.  I would look at myself in the mirror and hate everything about my reflection. I would cry at night because I wasn’t good enough for society or even myself. It wasn’t until recently, actually, that I realized  I wasn’t living how God had planned. It took a mental hospital being waved over my head for me to finally get my act together.  My point is this: God made you who you are for a reason and you are perfectly and wonderfully made. He planned out every inch of you, beautifully, inside of your mother and God, the God of the universe, does not make mistakes. (Psalms 139:13-18)
        Now I pray that in this new year you learn to love yourself for who God made you. Not for what the world wants you to be. Serve your Lord with all your heart soul and mind and love every bit of yourself because the creator of everything there ever was and is to come made you and that is pretty amazing if you think about it.
    Now I still deal with all of these things today. I am not saying that life is gonna be a bundle of joy on a sunny day. Life sucks, there’s no other way to put it, but it is so much easier to have hope and to love who God made you to be then to dwell on things and to try to be this perfect person society makes the standard out to be. You will never be perfect. You will never be “Good enough” , but you know what? That’s why Christ died for us. So that in Him we are good enough and always will be. God doesn’t look at us for all the bad things we have done.  He looks at us as perfect, just as He made us perfectly.

“Lord help me to love who You made me to be. Help me serve you in any way that i can in this new year. I pray that in the new year i grow spiritually and grow to love others more than myself, thank you for all these blessings, i pray that my self esteem will be high this year. In your name I pray , Amen.”

Yours Truly,
Cori Heck

2017

Hello lovelies!

Sorry I haven’t posted at all this month life has been crazy and all over the place but I’m hoping to explain some of that here and my post plans for the new year!

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So the new year has come and gone and its almost February! Like what?! My apologies on the lack of posting. I’ll explain why, but hopefully there wont be so many apology posts this year due to lack of posting. Part of the reasons is I don’t feel like apologizing anymore.

Not that I don’t love you lovely readers or that I don’t care but in the past I’ve missed posting and torn myself down for it. I don’t want to be doing that anymore so my blogging is going to be a little more relaxed this year.

I have a goal to try and write one blog post a week on top of my busy schedule but at the same time I don’t want to beat myself up every time I don’t post! The reason being because I started blogging because I had (and have) things to say and it was fun to express it in that way. My passion and love for my blog hasn’t changed but with my more busy schedule this year, posting will be less frequent for sure as I have other things that (sadly) hold a higher priority over blogging.

WITH THAT SAID! I still have some exciting things for this blog. So lets talk about exciting things because I’m not stopping posting entirely! Just gotta adapt my blog schedule to my busy life.

On the blog this year I want to turn this around from a book review blog (as I started to do when I changed the name) to more of a personal, thought sharing, encouragement blog. There will still be book reviews or discussions on my writing and music and stuff every once in a while for sure but not as often.

I want to focus on not only encouraging and building up you guys but also growing myself in the process. I would argue that self-love and self-care for women is especially hard and I’m seeing that more and more each day. I personally am tired of looking in the mirror and calling myself ‘good enough’ or not liking what I see at all and I want to change that. This year I want to go on a journey to change how I feel about myself and my body and take time to grow closer to God.

Spend more time doing life. And I want to encourage others through this process.

To help me kick this off I have asked some wonderful people (girls and guys alike) on my Facebook page and twitter to help me out and guest post for me. (if you wanna join in too, contact me!) Speak whats on their hearts. Tell me about their struggles and what they are doing to turn those into positivity, self-love, and growth!

On top of that I already have a lot of exciting things in my life in 2017 that I can’t wait to share as they happen!

 

Hope to see you around and that you benefit from this journey as much as I.

 

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Dancing Through The Pain

Now you might think the title is metaphorical but no. I mean literally…but also get ready for some real stuff and life lessons! Wooh!

 

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le me Swing Dancing 🙂 ( photo cred: Swing Bridge Dance Club )

 

Something you all know about me at this point: I’m a huge lover of Swing Dance.  (Being deprived of it since I’ve moved is so hard)

BUT

Something you may or may not know about me is this: I have chronic pain in my legs (due to uneven arches in my feet.) This chronic pain affects me daily. Some days are worse than others but usually after a full day of running around doing errands and working I am out for the count and it hurts to walk or move.

 

 

Put chronic pain and Swing together and you get an interesting way of making said chronic pain worse. Yet I do it and keep doing it anyways.

 

Why?

 

Because I love it too much to stop. Now that might sound like a silly excuse but its the truth.

 

Why Swing Dance?

Swing Dance is something I did weekly before moving (I still dance around my apartment lots too. Not the same but hey I’m still groovin’ )  Not only was it fun but it really improved my mood but, for the first time in a long time, I REALLY looked forward to a new week ahead of me cause I always kicked off the week with dance.

Fun fact: Dance or Movement Therapy has been used for many centuries to improve the mental and physical well- being of a person. Since dancing is an art, it increases self-expression and helps people connect with themselves and others. Dancing is a form of art that offers a way to explore psychological roots to overcome certain illnesses such as depression. Research have shown that dancing provide benefits that can help minimize depression’s effects.

As well as it being fun there are actually a lot of health benefits of it. Swing Dancing is a fun way to work out without it really feeling like a workout in the moment. Dancing also makes you happier. Not just in the moment but also in the long run.

I’ve taken many kinds of dance over the last 4-5 years and it really does make you happier! and if I’m having a bad day I put on one of my favorite songs at top volume and just sing and dance away like no one is watching. (usually no one is haha)

Something else that Swing Dance has done for me personally is make me a little more social and confident. – I’m an introverted little human who much prefers sitting in a corner and waiting till someone approaches me and starts talking to me as opposed to my approaching them… but doing Swing Dance totally turned that around for me?

How?

Simple- Swing Dance is a very fun, outgoing, and social type of dance where, whether you are a lead or a follow, guy or girl, if you wanna dance you get your butt off that chair and go up to someone and ask them to dance.

For the first while when I first started Swing Dancing I was like ‘nuh- uh no way. Nope. I’m gonna sit here and wait for someone to ask me to dance.‘ but eventually I started going up to people and asking them to dance!

Now this might sound like a funny thing to discuss but here is the thing. If you are a introverted little human (as mentioned before) you would know that this is a scary thing! But in terms of Swing Dancing I now have NO problem (or almost no problem) walking up to someone and asking them to dance.

Where did the chronic pain come from? What can you do to relieve your pain?

As I stated above, my chronic pain affects my every day life as it is a reoccurring pain in my legs. It caused by uneven arches in my feet and when I went to go get it figured out I found out my one leg is carrying about 70% (cant remember exactly) of my body weight when I stand as opposed to having it distributed evenly. (So you can see there the pain comes from)

Essentially my pain relief comes with doing some stretches for my legs and feet as well as just not walking around and putting my feet up when I can. Other than that there isn’t much to be done.

Why do you dance if it hurts?

I keep doing dance because its honestly something I love and am passionate about. Swing Dance has helped me become more confident in myself and has also made me happier – as well as that I’ve gotten to know some amazing people who I now can call my friends.

 “Whats your point in telling me this, Adriana?” – well. Let me tie this all together here.

Basically my point is no matter what, do what you want to do or have dreamed of doing.

Don’t let anything hold you back whether it be mental or physical.

If there is something you truly love and are passionate about you will find a way to do it. For me that love and passion is swing dance.

For you it might be dance as well.

Or music.

Or painting.

No matter what it is, you can do it. If you just have faith in yourself and find the determination to reach for your dreams.

Achieve your goals.

If you set your mind to it you can do anything no matter what ‘limitations’ people tell you you have.

Orbits – Album Review

I was given a copy of Keith Kitchen‘s newest album to review and that’s what I intend to do!

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So I’ve never reviewed an album before really. I’ve attempted it and am not sure how well I did at it so I’m just gonna talk about why I love it and hope you all get the idea on how amazing it is.

 

My rating: 5 star

 

My Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Keith Kitchen for a while now, having seen him in concert and my family owning all his albums. So I was REALLY excited when I saw he was working on a new album and now that its out in the world!

Something about his music is absolutely mesmerizing and relaxing! On top of that the story telling and such in the songs is beautiful and can only come from a lot of time put into writing each song. With this album I honestly couldn’t choose a favorite song. They were all just beautifully written and once again I’m blown away by the sheer beauty of the songs themselves.

 

You can purchase Orbits or Keith’s other albums on his website or even have him come play at your local church or event! Trust me, it would be totally worth it!

 

 

 

 

Long Distance Relationships – The Real Thing ft. My Boyfriend

So fun fact about me: I’m in a long distance relationship. This is a collab post with my boyfriend to give you a little insight to what that might be like.

Hiiiiiiii I’m Boyfriend

Also by the way, so there is no confusion as to who is talking as it’s a collaborative post between Kolton and I, if you see colored text then it’s my boyfriend.

 

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So I figure I should start off this post telling you a bit about how Kolton and I met. We actually didn’t meet until almost a year after we met…if that makes any sense at all. (She means in person) Kolton and I first met through our school board. We were both in an online homeschooling program for high school and that’s how we ‘met.’

 

Okay. So Adriana didn’t tell the whole story here.

 

Well sorry. Was trying to give you the opportunity to do some storytelling here too…

 

Yeah yeah sure you were. Okay, so here is the real story about how we ‘met’. So one day after I was done my classes, one of my friends and I decided to see how many people we could invite to a group chat before the system crashed. (#thejoysofonlineschooling ) I’m fairly certain we had over 50 people in the chat. Nevertheless, Adriana was one of the people who got invited. The chat was complete chaos but someone mentioned Skyrim (a game both Adriana and I love) and we went onto a private chat and started talking and we have been talking every single day since then. THERE THAT IS THE STORY!!!!

 

Well…That’s the story (basically) of how we met summed up. We didn’t meet in person until May 2015 (a little over 6 months after we first started talking) at a youth conference called YC and the rest is history basically. You will kinda figure out a little bit more as this post goes on but today, Kolton and I wanted to talk to you about what (for us) a long distance relationship looks like.

 

 

So one thing we wanted to discuss is: What does our relationship looks like on a daily basis?

  • Lots and lots of text messages and lovey dovey emoji 
  • Random and spontaneous video chats.
  • Constantly missing the other person and hoping that they are doing well.
  • Wondering if the other person misses you as much as you miss them.
  • Days we do get together are either meticulously planned or consist of no planning what so ever there is no in between.

 

 

What have you learned from being in a long distance relationship?

Well in all honesty, Kolton and I have only been dating since June but I mean we have known each other for about two years now and have liked each other for a fair chunk of that time. We both just decided not to rush into a relationship as when we met he lived 16 hours north of where I lived.

Here is a list of Pros and Cons we put together to show what we have learned from a LDR.

Pro:

  • The time we spend together is special and greatly cherished as it is few and far between whereas if we lived a lot closer we would spend more time together and it wouldn’t be as big of a thing when we spend time together (if that makes sense)

Con:

  • The amount of times we see each other is very little compared to seeing each other all the time if we lived in the same place. In result it makes things very difficult. (since we started dating we have seen each other twice once near the end of summer and once in the middle october)

 

 

Pro:

  • You talk a lot and communicate very well. In that sense you’re able to build a stronger relationship with each other over time because of the distance and the constant communication.

Con:

  • Sometimes you just really don’t care about the ‘stronger’ relationship aspect of distance because you just want your boyfriend/girlfriend right here, right now and you wanted them here yesterday

 

 

 

Pro:

  • As many of you probably know Adriana is a Christian, and no one probably knows that I am a Christian as well. This is something that we both were looking for in a partner and something I would not have been able to find without going into a Long distance relationship.

Con:

  • The only con for that one ( ^^) is really just ‘Long Distance’ HAHA

 

 

Something I get asked often (I can’t speak for Kolton) is that people have asked me why I chose to be in a long distance relationship and how I manage it… So before we end this post I just wanna highlight that aspect. 🙂

 

 

So how do you do it? It must be sooooooooooooooo hard.

I honestly love when I get asked if I have a boyfriend. Why?

      1. Because I get to brag about my boyfriend and how awesome he is

And

  1. I get to watch the shock and horror on their face when I tell them I’m in a long distance relationship…. Especially when Kolton and I lived 16 hours from each other. People’s reactions were priceless! They literally resemble something like this GIF I posted below:

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I choose a long distance relationship because to me it’s not about where the person you love is to me it’s about who you love and my girlfriend has the qualities that I have found to be extraordinarily attractive and ones that in this world are found few and far between. I have fallen in love with her and she is one in which i see myself to have a future with beyond dating (which should be the real true reason you date someone
(truth)) and to be it’s a huge bonus that she is super attractive. *winky face*

Long distance may be hard but if you find the right person at the end of the day it is totally worth it. No matter if you are 2 hours apart or 20 however much you put into the relationship that is what you are going to get out of it. If you truly like or love this person and you truly see a future with them you will make it work similar to people in a ‘normal’ relationship. You cherish the time you spend together and you await the next visit. The final thing you do is hope for the day when you never have to be a part again. That’s what Adriana and I do. Isn’t that right, babe?   

Totally true. Also I know that I personally get the question a ton about how we make it work and really it’s the same as what any relationship should be like. You put in what you get out of it. (I already made that point you nugget) With the long distance, he and I have to make that extra effort to communicate and just make our relationship work BUT I feel like it should be the same in any relationship no matter the difference. Really the only difference between a LDR is just the long distance. Really everything else is and should be the same as any other relationship.

Unwritten Melody Blog Tour

Hello  lovelies!

Today I’m excited to share in this blog tour and tell you all about a lovely new book. ❤

 

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Does breaking free require breaking the rules?

Cassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.

James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.

As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?

Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.

 

Book Links:

 

 

 

 Excerpt unwritten-melody-quote8-2

 

© “Unwritten Melody” Excerpt – Written by Tessa Emily Hall – Published by Clean Reads

 

“Why are you staring at the keyboard like that?”

“Like what?” James’s question lurches me back into the present moment, out of the thoughts that had me buried as he played our song for the second time.

A broad smile expands across his face. He rests an elbow on the keyboard and tilts his head. “Like it’s a cheeseburger and you’ve gone days without food. Like it’s a positive magnet and you’re the negative. Like—”

I laugh. “Alright, I get it.” My smile fades, though, because how could he tell? When James brought the song to a close, I couldn’t tear my gaze away from the keys. It’s mesmerizing, how the dance of his fingers can breathe life into a melody.

“Let me guess—you wanna play?”

I plop my head against the back of the leather chair and fight the so-called magnetic attraction. “I can’t.”

He shifts on the bench and turns toward me. “What do you mean, you can’t?”

“Just another one of Grandma’s absurd rules.” I tell James about the white baby grand piano at our house—how he was the first to play actual music on it since Mom passed. How, for my entire life, the piano has served as a constant reminder that my dreams were not within reach. “Any time I’ve asked permission to take piano lessons, Grandma’s refused.”

But I’ve always wondered what would happen if I could play. If I were allowed, would I pour my emotions, longings, and thoughts into music, just like Mom did? Would I be a natural, if I learned how to play?

I often wondered if Mom’s legacy could, somehow—through the mysterious power of music—live on through me. And if the melody she’d begun on the music sheet could find its completion through me.

“Come on.” James scoots to the edge of the bench and pats the space beside him. “Let me at least teach you the chorus to The Other Side of the Road. It’s simple.”

That magnetic attraction he referred to? It’s doubled in size. And for the first time, someone—a famous musician—is offering to teach me a chorus on the piano.

My feet plant themselves onto the ground, but it takes an extra dose of effort to stand. Not because I don’t want to, but because Grandma’s voice booms in the back of my mind, all the times she’s forbidden me from going near our piano.

The floorboards squeak as I shuffle across the worn rug then lower myself onto the bench next to James. I’m not sure what’s more terrifying—sitting so close to James Russo, or finally being taught to play piano.

But my hands stay glued to my lap. It’s as though the keys are alcohol, and if I take a sip, I’ll become drunk on its melody; my fingertips will be stained with the music notes, and I’ll come home reeking with its fragrance.

James’s azure eyes stare down at me, inches from my face. “Follow my lead.” His fingers curl around my hands, and with the gentlest touch, he places them on the keys. His left arm wraps behind my back, over my shoulder, until his hand is clasped on top of mine.

My heart flutters at our closeness, at the way his presence is a warm shield from the brisk air in this music room. I inhale a deep breath, almost intoxicated from his overpowering cologne and the fresh-out-of-the-wash scent of his sweater. And during the brief moment of him aligning my fingers along the keys, nerves mount, causing my chest to constrict. Who knows how many rules of Grandma’s I’m breaking right now?

But when he places his fingers onto mine causing me to strike the first note, a soothing peace washes over me and calms my nerves. I feel myself relax as he guides me through the brief chorus.

“It’s only two chords.” James’s voice sounds deeper than usual, his breath tickling my cheek. “But it’s the same for the entire chorus.”

I don’t even know what he means by that. All I know is I’ve tasted this indulgence, and there’s no way I can resist the magnetic pull from this moment forward.

 

 

Giveaway

unwritten-melody-quote7-2Enter for your chance to win the Unwritten Melody Prize Pack! Two winners will be selected and announced on Tessa’s blog the final day of tour (Friday, December 9th) and will be notified via email.

 

 

 

 

This prize pack includes…

  • E-copy of Unwritten Melody
  • Signed paperback copy of Purple Moon
  • Unwritten Melody mug, filled with goodies
  • Unwritten Melody swag, including a bookmark, pen, and poster
  • Starbucks mocha flavored instant coffee
  • Free Unwritten Melody: Page-By-Page Secrets PDF
  • Handmade journal
  • Typewritten thank you note

 

*This giveaway is open to the US only 

 

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About Tessa

 tessa-emily-hall_headshot1-2Tessa Emily Hall writes inspirational yet authentic YA fiction to show others they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). The debut novel she wrote at 16-years-old, PURPLE MOON (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was a Selah 2014 Finalist. Her second novel, UNWRITTEN MELODY, releases with Clean Reads November 2016. She’s the Founder of PursueMagazine.net, a magazine that inspires teens to embrace their calling. Tessa also enjoys helping writers achieve their dreams through her internship at Hartline Literary Agency.

 

When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, Tessa can be found making healthy homemade lattes, speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. She writes in a small town nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Southeastern coast. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website.

 

 Connect With Tessa

 

 

Blog Tour Schedule

 

Don’t miss the next blog tour stop! Be sure to visit the following blogs on its designated tour date. You can also email tessaemilyhall (at) gmail (dot) com and request to receive the Blog Tour Packet. At the end of the tour, Tessa will send you the downloadable PDF that will contain all of the content from each blog tour stop.

 

Tues., November 1 – Christ is Write

Wed., November 2 – Adriana Gabrielle Writes

Thurs., November 3 – The Depth of My Faith

Fri., November 4 – Sarah Ruut

Mon., November 7 – God is Love

Tues., November 8 – The Bibliophile Angel

Wed., November 9 – Emily Rachelle Writes

Thurs, November 10 – Word Changers For His Glory

Fri., November 11 – Christian Teen Book Reviews

Mon., November 14 – Phyllis Still

Tues., November 15 – In The Bookcase

Wed., November 16 – Girl Meets Publishing World

Thurs., November 17 – Anna Schaeffer

Fri., November 18 – Ramblings of a Writer

Mon., November 21 – Naomi and Books

Tues., November 22 – Reading is My Superpower

Wed., November 23 – Zerina Blossom’s Books

Thurs., November 24 – Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

Fri., November 25 – Labor Not in Vain

Mon., November 28 – Barbara Bruitt

Tues., November 29 – Katy Kauffman

Wed., November 30 – Jen Pheobus

Thurs., December 1 – Northern Belle Meg

Fri., December 2 – 2Me From Him

Mon., December 5 – Nicole Quigley

Tues., December 6 – The Destiny of One

Wed., December 7 – Catherine Castle

Thurs., December 8 – Rachelle Rea Cobb

Fri., December 9 – Leslie L. Mckee

What Jessica Jones Can Teach Us About Abusive Relationships

Abusive relationships are a very real and very horrible problem in our society….Here is what Marvel’s Jessica Jones does to shine a light on this fact.

 

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So I’ve recently watched the TV show Jessica Jones and as I made my way through the show, I started to notice something about the antagonist of the show (played by actor David Tennant) I’ve seen signs on how the antagonist of the show, Kilgrave, though he has super powers, is actually an abuser.

 

Here is what I’ve noticed: In terms of abuse it seems her abusers approach was that of emotional abuse.

What is emotional abuse? It involves a regular pattern of verbal offense, threatening, bullying, and constant criticism, as well as more subtle tactics like intimidation, shaming and manipulation. Emotional abuse is used to control and subjugate the other person, and quite often it occurs because the abuser has childhood wounds and insecurities they haven’t dealt with — perhaps as a result of being abused themselves.

Yes, he has mind controlling powers but the way we have seen them being used, especially on this one character (and the side effects it all had on Jessica Jones) we have seen how he uses it to abuse and control people.

 

  • He is controlling in the sense of always needing to know where she is going, what she is going to be doing, taking her phone and making sure (by making threats he goes through with) she is back within certain time frames.

 

  • Her abuser also plays the victim. (common trait in most abusers) That the actual victim of the abuser is making them do things or something else made them do it. Like things are his victims fault. an example was a conversation in Episode 7 that Jones has with her abuser. (its a little later in the post) There was a time where he would make Jessica Jones hurt herself then make himself save her, pretending to protect her and be the hero or he would make statements such as: “You never appreciate anything I do for you.” making himself the victim and turning it around on Jones herself. Making her think he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

 

  • After her leaving him and getting out of his control, Kilgrave is dead set on finding her and has developed stalker like behaviors (which he probably had before to some extent). Taking photos of her, having others take photos of her and follow her (etc.) Which leads into my last point. Abusers isolate the victim of the abuse. In the scene I’m gonna share in a moment you see this play out in terms of the fact that her abuser is trying to isolate her from everyone she knows. (In this case, killing people close to her doesn’t stop this guy but this is a TV show and a super villain we are talking about in this sense.) In return he is telling her things, professing feelings for her and in result trying to make sure she is isolated and only hearing his words and his opinions.

*spoilers following as I am going to discuss the conversation in this specific scene*

Kilgrave: “I will admit to keeping eyes on you. Spies are easy to come by for me.”

Jones: “Do whatever you are going to do to me, but let them go.” (There is a hostage scene taking place here as Kilgrave is using his powers to hold a whole room of people hostage)

Kilgrave: “Well I have to protect myself so…”

Jones: “Then control me, not them.”

Kilgrave: “I have absolutely no intention of controlling you. I want you to act on your own accord.”

She (Jones) asks: “Act how? Suicide? Is that why you’ve been torturing me?”

Kilgrave, her abuser, then states: “*chuckles* Oh my God, Jessica, I knew you were insecure. That’s just sad. I’m not torturing you. Why would I? I love you.

 

The scene continues and Jones calls her abuser out on his actions calling them a ‘demented declaration of love.’ and how he ruined her life in this act. She couldn’t be any closer to the truth.

Her abuser then says he was trying to make her see “That I’m the only one who matches you… Who challenges you… Who’ll do anything for you.” – In any other case this might almost sound romantic because who doesn’t want to be with someone who will do anything for you or challenges you for the better? But as you can see its not romantic. Not in this sense. Not when he is stalking her, killing her friends and family (he killed a young man who claimed to love Jessica), and becoming obsessive….Trying to get her back.

He then becomes angry (he’s very short fused.) when someones cell phone rings and it interrupts his professing ‘eternal love’

 

 

 

Now sure, no one has superpowers either so this whole abusive situation might be over-dramatized for the show but I feel Marvel was clever in this sense. They took a mind controlling super villain and used him and his abilities to shine a light on abuse. What that looks like and how it might appear to the victim as well. You don’t have to have powers to control or harm someone. If you did this wouldn’t be a real problem, would it? But despite the fact that this character has powers it doesn’t change the fact that he is an abuser and I think Marvel did a really good job in conveying that and not portraying an antagonists actions as okay or somewhat acceptable as most media might convey things.

 

Jesus Called. He Wants His Church Back (Book Review)

I was recently given a copy of Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back by Ray Johnston to review from Book Look Bloggers.

 

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As early as AD 50, Christians had gotten away from knowing who Jesus really is. Our generation is no different.

In every decade we, as Americans, lost something important that we couldn’t afford to lose: • In the 1950s, we lost innocence • In the 1960s, we lost respect for authority • In the 1970s, we lost love • In the 1980s, we lost values • In the 1990s, we lost faith • In the 2000s, we lost security • In the 2010s, we lost hope in the future

What can restore what we’ve lost? Only Jesus. Jesus gave us His name, His friendship, and a commission to accept responsibility for ourselves and for the world. When introduced to His words and ways we’ll rediscover the Jesus who:

• Wants His enemies won over, not wiped out • Wants you to stop playing it safe • Believed great things were possible no matter what things are like right now • Was full of grace and truth • Unleashed compassion • Believed no one was too far from God to return to Him • Came to seek and to save that which was lost • Loves the church

Pastor Ray Johnston shares the Jesus of the Bible and how we can be Christians without being jerks. He reveals how the radical message of the gospel calls us to love and serve not only our neighbors but our enemies as well. That’s the Jesus the American Church has missed and needs to meet.

Jesus’ mission is clear—risk everything in order to take care of people, starting in our home, neighborhoods, cities, and those in need around the world. That’s the Jesus the American Church has missed and needs to meet.

 

My Thoughts

I wasn’t entirely sure what this book would entail and I’m still not sure what to make of it. The book wasn’t bad! Just not what I was expecting. I’m unsure if maybe it;s the fact I’m still getting used to reading more non-fiction or what. I’m starting to ease myself into non-fiction books so sometimes I don’t know what to expect. Aside from that fact I quite enjoyed the book. Though for a non-fiction this one was very factual. In this novel the writer discusses how, since the 50’s, the church and Christianity has changed.  The one thing that jumped out to me was the following statement by the author:

  • In the 1950s, we lost innocence.
  • In the 1960s, we lost respect for authority.
  • In the 1970s, we lost love.
  • In the 1980s, we lost values.
  • In the 1990s, we lost faith.
  • In the 2000s, we lost security.
  • In the 2010s, we lost hope in the future.

This was definitely a good read with facts on the church and how it has fallen from God in some senses then this is definitely a good read

 

 

Blog Hop: Top 10 Spooky Places + A Giveaway

Blog Hop Tour

FOREST OF WHISPERS & CASTLE OF SIGHS

By Jennifer Murgia

October 21 – October 30, 2017

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Top 10 Creepy Destinations !

So this is my little portion of the post where I give you a list of my top ten favourite creepy  destinations. I’m not gonna lie, some of these I looked up for writing this post but the first half were all ones I knew. If they were all ones I knew of prior to writing this post it all would have been abandoned fair grounds and amusement parks so… you know. Though I do promise you you will not reget looking into these creepy destinations either.

 

Abandoned Wizard of Oz Theme Park ( Reopens once a year for ‘Autumn at Oz’ )

– In 1970, two businessmen opened a then-cutting edge theme park in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. Nestled in the mountains, the park was originally opened to keep local ski instructors and workers employed in the summer months.

 

 

Wonderland Amusement Park – Beijing, China

Wonderland was an abandoned and never completed amusement park project located in Chenzhuang Village. Originally proposed by the Thailand-based property developer Reignwood Group, and designed to be the largest amusement park in Asia (to have covered 120 acres ), construction stopped in 1998 following financial problems with local officials, while a 2008 attempt to start construction again also failed.

The site featured a number of abandoned structures, including the framework of a castle-like building and medieval-themed outer buildings. Land was reclaimed by local farmers to grow their various crops while the site was abandoned. People have reported when visiting the site that, sometimes, there would still be parking attendants in the site’s parking lot, presumably to tend to onlookers and curious sightseers that came to visit.

Pripyat, Ukraine

In the 1970s, the town of Pripyat, less than 3 kilometers away from the reactor, was constructed for the plant’s personnel. Once a beautiful town by Soviet standards, its 50,000 inhabitants were evacuated 36 hours after the accident. Today a chilling ghost town, its buildings bear witness to the hasty departure. Dolls are scattered on the floors of abandoned kindergartens; children’s cots are littered with shreds of mattresses and pillows; and in a gymnasium, where teens once trained, floors rot and paint peels. Amidst the surrounding decay, decades after the catastrophe, nature reclaims the town: trees grow through broken windows, and grass pushes up through the cracks in dormant roads that once were glorious promenades – but the town remains unfit for human habitation for hundreds of years to come.

Aokigahara Forest, Japan

Called “the perfect place to die,” the Aokigahara forest in Japan has the unfortunate distinction of the world’s second most popular place to take one’s life. (The first is the Golden Gate Bridge.) Since the 1950s, Japanese businessmen have wandered in, and at least 500 of them haven’t wandered out, at an increasing rate of between 10 and 30 per year. Recently these numbers have increased even more, with a record 78 suicides in 2002.  In 2003, that record was beat with a number of 105 bodies discovered.

Japanese spiritualists believe that the suicides committed in the forest have permeated Aokigahara’s trees, generating paranormal activity and preventing many who enter from escaping the forest’s depths. Complicating matters further is the common experience of compasses being rendered useless by the rich deposits of magnetic iron in the area’s volcanic soil.

Due to the vastness of the forest, desperate visitors are unlikely to encounter anyone once inside the so-called “Sea of Trees,” so the police have mounted signs reading “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,” and “Please consult the police before you decide to die!” on trees throughout.

Valley of the Mills – Sorento, Italy

the Valley of the Mills in Sorrento, Italy was abandoned in 1866. This mill ground wheat, and a sawmill operated nearby as well. The mill was isolated from the sea by the construction of Tasso Square, which raised the humidity in the area and caused it to be abandoned.

New Bedford Orpheum, U.S.A

The New Bedord Orpheum is an old theater and entertainment building located in Massachusetts in the U.S. It was opened in 1912 and closed in 1959 – since then, it has stored tobacco and served as a supermarket. Now, the Orph Inc. nonprofit is trying to raise money to revitalize the building.

Salto Hotel, Colombia 

The Hotel De Salto opened in 1928 near Tequendema Falls in Colombia to serve tourists who came to marvel at the 157 meter-tall waterfall. It closed down in the early 90s after interest in the waterfall declined. In 2012, however, the site was turned into a museum.

Abandoned Military Hospital in Beelitz, Germany

The large complex was built at the end of the 1800s and helped Adolf Hitler recuperate from a leg wound incurred at the Battle of Somme in 1916. Parts of the complex remain in operation, but most were abandoned after the Soviets withdrew from the hospital in 1995.

Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima island in Japan has a wide array of nicknames, including Battelship Island (for its shape) and Ghost Island. From the late 1800s to late 1900s, the island was populated because of the access it granted to undersea coal mines. However, as Japan gradually switched from coal to petroleum, the mines (and the buildings that sprung up around them to support their workers) closed down, leaving an isolated ghost town that reminds some of a ghostly concrete battleship.

The Carlton Villa – New York

The Carleton Villa was built in 1894 for typewriter magnate William Wyckoff as a summer residence and large spot for entertaining. Wycoff’s wife died of a heart attack a month before he moved in, and on his first night in the mansion he suffered a heart attack in his sleep and died. Wycoff’s youngest son inherited the villa after his father’s death, but within a few years the family lost much of their fortune in the Great Depression and the house fell into disrepair.

 

 

About the Author and her Books!

 

shp-author-photo-jennifer-murgia-updated-headshotJennifer Murgia writes moody fiction for teens—from paranormal fantasy (ANGEL STAR, LEMNISCATE, THE BLISS), to contemporary gut-punchers (BETWEEN THESE LINES). Her latest, FOREST OF WHISPERS, a 17th century historical mystery (about witches!) was a School Library Journal Fall 2014 HOT TITLE, and a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Literature Award Winner. The sequel, CASTLE OF SIGHS, released October 27, 2015 from Spencer Hill Press. She is the co-founder and coordinator of YA FEST and currently resides in Pennsylvania.

Literary Representation:

Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary Agency ~ amanda@macgregorlit.com

 

 

Connect with Jennifer:

Website: www.jennifermurgia.com

Email: jennifermurgia8@gmail.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.murgia

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferMurgia

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jennifermurgia/

Goodreads TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18506004-forest-of-whispers

 

About the Books:

FOREST OF WHISPERS

Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago . . . and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting.

Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to — one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder — a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe.

CASTLE OF SIGHS

Some secrets cannot be kept–in life or in death.

Months have passed since Rune has heard a single whisper from her long-dead mother, the great witch of Bavaria. But the absence of one evil has only made room for another. After rightfully inheriting her ancestral home, Pyrmont Castle, Rune settles into a quiet life taking care of two orphans left in the wake of the terrible witch hunt that claimed dozens of lives in the nearby village. As the days grow colder, the castle’s secrets beckon, and something darker seems to have been awakened, as well.

Rune finds herself roaming where no one has set foot in a long time. In the bowels of the fortress is a locked room full of memories that hang like cobwebs–shelves stacked with jars, strange specimens, putrid liquids, and scrolls of spells. Rune is undeniably drawn to what she finds there, and she begins to dabble in the possibilities of magic, hoping she will find a cure for the strangeness overwhelming the castle.

And the key may lie in the dark forest she once called home and the boy she thought she knew.

 

 

Giveaway!

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Blog Hop Participants:

 

10/21: EAPL Teens – Top Ten Witchy Reads – Graphic #1

            http://eaplteens.blogspot.com

10/22: Heather – Top Ten Creepy YA books – Graphic #2

            http://yankeedragon4booknerds.blogspot.com

10/23: Penny – Top Ten Creepy movies – Graphic #3

            https://www.facebook.com/penny.k.wright?fref=ts  

10/24: Ashley  – Top Ten Creepy YA books – Graphic #4

            https://afterthelastpage.com

10/25: Melissa – Top Ten Creepy Destinations – Graphic #5

            http://melissaseclecticbookshelf.com

10/26: Adriana Gabrielle– Top Ten Creepy Destinations – Graphic #6

           https://adrianagabriellewrites.wordpress.com

10/27: Zachary – Top Ten Creepy YA books – Graphic #7

            http://www.zachsyareviews.com

10/28: Paula – Top Ten Urban Legends – Graphic #8

            http://herbookthoughts.reads-it.com

10/29: Brooke  –  Top Ten Creepy Destinations – Graphic #9

            http://www.thecovercontessa.com

10/30: Kimberly – Top Ten Urban Legends – Graphic #10

            https://booksaremetal.com