Saturday, June 28, 2014

"What If We Were Real" by Mandisa

The Song

The Story Behind the Album

I'm loving this song by Mandisa!  To read my "real" post just click here.

Be Real,

When We Suffer II

Sufferings II

I’ve reread this last post & thought something was missing from it. Perhaps it’s missing cause I don’t want to tell it {ya think!?}. Life hasn’t been easy lately – I have tons of blessings, yes, more than my fair share – but there are places of ache & hurt in my life that I can’t easily hide from myself, but I can hide em from you & the rest of the world - &, I guess, I feel safety in the hiding. But, l think I’d rather be free. So here goes…

My Struggles
If you’ve read here for awhile you may know that I’ve had trouble finding the job I went to school for – which is teaching – since I graduated college back in 2009. I taught a year in inner inner city & the deep “politics” {for want of a better word} of the job jaded my “I Can Do Amazing Things” attitude & left me without a position the next fall. I loved my kids there. I taught 5th grade & one tough boy, with an amazing talent for writing, called me “momma” & told any students who were behavior problems to “not mess with his momma” in no uncertain terms {he was African American & I’m a pale white girl, but God let me be his school mom just the same =)}. I created educational raps & “performed” em – my kids said, “I kilt' it!” I was glad I could be there for my students – the majority didn’t have someone to depend on at home. It was a mission field, but at the end it was over & there were some of the most painful invisible scars from the” higher ups” that I’ve ever known.

So, I did my best to keep trusting, & find another position. No teaching jobs opened up. I subbed every so often, but it was hard to be so close to what I wanted to do & yet so far. I fell into depression & often cried myself to sleep & wept again before my feet hit the floor in the mornings. Next, I found work at a call center – trying to get surveys from typically angry {occasionally very creepy} people on the opposite coast from around 4 to midnight. It took great courage to even get in the car & drive to work each night {I disliked it that much}, but I did it cause I had to {& God gave me the strength}.

An opening popped up at a Headstart program, which I took, & soon after that another position for a permanent substitute at an elementary school presented itself {again another urban setting very near to my first school}. I would be at the same place everyday & at least get to know the kids & teachers & hopefully get my foot in the door {again}. 

In November a teacher announced she was moving. However, her class was school renowned for being a difficult one {which is putting it extremely lightly}; one of her students wasn’t even supposed to be allowed at the school again, but at the last minute the principal’s bosses didn’t support her decision & the kid got back in {What else is new?}. I applied for the position, prayed about it, but then withdrew interest out of fear. I kept praying & praying about it, though, because I truly wanted to teach. I ask God that if this was what He wanted me to do that He would make it clear. The vice principal eventually called me to her office one day & asked if I’d reconsider & take the job. She said that after all the interviews I was who the other teachers in that grade wanted. I told her I had been praying about it & this seemed like a clear answer that I should take it. I got the job after withdrawing interest & never even had to interview! But, could I do this? I knew I could do all things through Jesus’ strength & that I’d have to for this class – I was their third teacher of the year & it was only November!

All in all, it started out better than I anticipated {thank you, Lord} & the vice principal was so supportive & kind. Then, right before Christmas break, we get the news that our vice principal has been moved to a principal position at another school starting in January! I had only been there about three weeks, & now my head cheerleader was being moved! To make matters worse, when we learn of her replacement, one teacher bursts into tears! This can’t be good, right? Right.

In January, right before students would return from break, my upstairs neighbor’s pipes froze & burst, flooding my apartment & making it unlivable, & forcing me to eventually seek legal advice & move {ick}. In February, a teacher died right before the school day started. It was terribly sad & hard for everyone – teachers & students, alike. It was an extremely rough/stressful year, & my position was only temporary – meaning it would be reposted for any & everyone interested to apply for & I’d have to reapply myself. Oh yeah, & the vice principal that causes grown women to weep at mention of her name was to become principal of the school for the next year, our principal had been forced out because of low test scores & such. So, I was not asked back, & shame & pain keeps me from telling others so. I wonder if I’m just not a good teacher, or God has something else in mind for me; I simply don’t know. All I know is I’m facing another summer of job searching since I graduated 5 years ago. My life hasn’t gone as I thought. But this I’m sure: my God is faithful & for me & “He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” {Philippians 1:6}

This was what was missing from my generic “Sufferings” post - my personal story of pain & lost dreams. The destroyer wants us to hide our hurts & struggles, & seeks to do so through shame, lies, guilt, pride, & so on. I have found myself down in his trap many times these last few years & I have done my best to keep the truth about my story under wraps for fear. But, what the devil doesn’t want us to know or believe is that the truth is a freeing thing, & a hand up out of his traps.

We all struggle in this corrupt & broken world, but there is healing in Jesus. He is the hand that lifts us out of the pit.  I pray you know that hope – even when the evil one temporarily succeeds & that hope slips away at times – I pray deep down that you’ll know the story will end well for His children if we just keep seeking, obeying, & taking one step at a time. He is the giver of Joy & I praise Him!

If you have sufferings in your own life that you have been desperately hiding, I encourage you to talk to Jesus in prayer & then to a trusted family member, friend, pastor, teacher, etc. You can also “chat” with me through e-mail at {type “Bess’ Bag” in the subject, so I don’t think you’re spam}. I’d be happy to pray for you! We all know pain in this world; tell your story & it just might help you - & someone else who needs to hear it.

Love in the Hurt,


Friday, June 20, 2014

When We Suffer


Sometimes it is knowing God in our suffering that brings us closest to Him… because there’s nowhere else to go, & because He understands. Our sufferings do not compare to what Jesus went through – nails driven through his very flesh & affixed to a wooden crucifix to die on mocked display for all mankind’s evil {& with unspeakable forgiveness & love fueling His Passion, nonetheless - He became the perfect sacrifice} - but our wounds are still desperately & darkly hurting places where the evil one prowls about to back us into hiding corners {think Adam & Eve} & bondage from shame & guilt {the very things Christ died to free us from} {Is this a run-on sentence, or what?}. However, what the devil intended for harm, God can use to accomplish His good {Genesis 50:20}, because our anguish can help us understand in our own minuscule way more of Christ, through survival of our own brokenness, & in the end knowing it is only through Him that we could have made it to the other side of the valley.

So many times during the storms of life we feel alone & as if God is a far piece off, but just like when Jesus appeared walking on the waves to his disciples huddled in fear on a wildly rocking fishing boat {see John 6:16-21 for more}, He is in the very midst of our tempests, & it is often at the end of a trial that we can look back & say, “God must have been with me, otherwise I’d never have made it,” - & then we know He was there with us, carrying us with His grace & love & understanding all along. He is with you today in whatever you’re facing; I just wanted you to know… & I think He did, too.

Love & Strength for the Storm {Through Christ},

Thursday, June 19, 2014

DIY Pineapple From a Project Life Card

I purchased a Project Life Sunshine kit on eBay quite a while back & I'm still getting around to sorting through it all.  One of the cards sports these sunny yellow triangles that reminded me of pineapple skin, so I thought to myself, "Why not turn it into a pineapple?"  

What You Need:
-Project Life Sunshine Card(s) in yellow triangle design {see above} or yellow paper & a white pen {or white paint or white out} =)
-green paper
-glue stick {acid free works best}

What You Do:
If you don't have the card above, you can create your own by drawing a pattern of triangles using a white pen, paint, or white out on yellow paper.  Next, cut out lots of green, long, & skinny triangles of various sizes & widths.  Then, begin to layer them {like the top of a pineapple plant} & glue them down to the top back of the card.  Use as many green triangles as you like!  After that you are finished with this little trendy fresh fruit!  Use it for scrapbooking {of course}, fun summery invitations, a garland, or whatever you'd like.  

I'm starting my summer pages, but I've got to get some photos to add yet.  I'm a scrapbooking sloth {it takes me forever & a day}, but I enjoy it!

Have you been working on any scrapbooking projects lately?  I'd love to hear about em!

Pineapple Love,

P.S.: I'm really loving this pineapple trend...

Pineapple Power

Monday, June 16, 2014

Disney Movie Quote Quiz #2 {The Answers}

Disney Magic #2

Here are the answers to the quiz... & the winners {be sure to click & visit their charming blogs}!

1st Place: Khloe Grace of "All Things Good" {She only missed 1!}
2nd Place: Kristin of "Sew Technicolor"
3rd Place: Ella of "A Book in the Hand"

1. "Phenomenal cosmic powers!  Itty bitty living space."
-Genie, Aladdin

2. "One minute you're defending the whole galaxy, & suddenly you find yourself sucking down Darjeeling with Marie Antoinette & her little sister."
-Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story {I love this quirky quote!}

3. "I'd rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you."
-John Smith, Pocahontas 

4. "South America. It's like America, but south."
-Ellie, Up

5. "Oh, look at that!  I've been impaled."
-Olaf, Frozen

6. "Who spit in her bean curd?"
-Grandmother Fa, Mulan

7. "All my life, I read about true love & fairy tales, &... Tia, you found it!"
- Charlotte, The Princess & the Frog

8. "The children aren't puppies, they're people - & sooner or later Nana, people have to grow up."
-Mr. Darling, Peter Pan

9. "A princess does not set her weapons on the table."
-Queen Elinor, Brave

10. "Please don't go away.  Please?  No one's ever stuck with me for so long before & if you leave... if you leave... I just, I remember things better with you."
-Dory, Finding Nemo

Hope you enjoyed it!  I stumped some of ya, I know! =) Thanks to all who participated!

Disney Movie Love,

P.S.: Can you pick a favorite animated Disney film - or maybe a top 3?  5?  Share in a comment!  I'm thinking {in no particular order} Tangled, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, Tarzan, Hercules, Mulan... {oh dear, I can't stick to just 5}!  What about you?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Disney Movie Quote Quiz #2

Disney Magic

Yes, it's another movie quote quiz {you can find the first one I did here (it's definitely been awhile)}! 

Do you know what animated Disney flick each quote comes from?  Leave your guesses in a comment & I’ll post the answers in a couple days or so & the names/links of the champs!

1. "Phenomenal cosmic powers!  Itty bitty living space."

2. "One minute you're defending the whole galaxy, & suddenly you find yourself sucking down Darjeeling with Marie Antoinette & her little sister."

3. "I'd rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you."

4. "South America. It's like America, but south."
5. "Oh, look at that!  I've been impaled."

6. "Who spit in her bean curd?"

7. "All my life, I read about true love & fairy tales, &... Tia, you found it!"

8. "The children aren't puppies, they're people - & sooner or later Nana, people have to grow up."

9. "A princess does not set her weapons on the table."

10. "Please don't go away.  Please?  No one's ever stuck with me for so long before & if you leave... if you leave... I just, I remember things better with you."

Disney Love,

P.S.: I've sorta been in a Disney mood since this post the other day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Song Love {June}

"Start a Fire" by Unspoken
There's a special version of this song played on a local Christian radio station where I live.  When they get to the lyrics, "Let it start right here in this city," they've replaced it with my hometown's name {yes, the band was recently in town & I missed it}.  It always makes me so excited/inspired to hear that line of the song!  Let the spark for Jesus start right wherever you are!

"The Broken Beautiful" by Ellie Holcomb
Loving this new {at least to me} artist.  Beautiful lyrics.

"Do Life Big" by Jamie Grace
Who doesn't want to do life big? =)

Musical Love,

P.S.: Sorry I completely missed Song Love {May} last month.  Life!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Let's Go to Disney World {Or at Least Dress Like It}!

All You Need is a Dinglehopper

Hakuna Matata

Stitched Threads

Fawn-ed of You

Don't Judge a Book

Oobee Doo!

Minnie Mouse

Whether your summer plans include a trip to Mickey's stomping grounds or you're simply strolling your city's sidewalks, adding a touch of Disney magic to your wardrobe is always a good idea!  What's your favorite look above, Disney memory, or movie?  Let me know in a comment!

Disney Love,

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy Donut Day!

Happy Donut Day!

Today's the day! Have you got your free donut at Krispy Kreme yet {U.S. & Canadian locations only}?  I highly recommend the Brownie Batter one - so tasty!  

Sweet Donut Finds

Hope your day is extra sweet {donut or no donut}!


P.S.: Don't forget to snag my free donut printables here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Out of Control


Sometimes when things are going crazy & I feel like I’m reeling wildly out of control in a twister of doubts, circumstances, & uncertainties, I remember I never had control in the first place. I hate – no, despise – the feeling of helplessness that being out of control can bring. But, I’ve got a God who is forever in control & forever faithful, & I’m gonna choose to rest in that.  I pray you do, too.


P.S.: Maybe that feeling of powerlessness can actually be a blessing in disguise, driving us into the mighty arms of Jesus - right where we belong.   

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Free Donut Printables in Honor of National Donut Day

Hello, sisters!  Did you know there's a whole day {excuse the pun} dedicated to the deliciousness of donuts?  I wasn't aware of this "holiday" until just recently, but now that I know I'm fully on board & whipped up some sweet free printables for ya just for the occasion.  Let's celebrate National Donut Day this Friday, June 6, 2014 {or any day, for that matter}!

You can stop by any U.S. or Canadian Krispy Kreme location on June 6th, 2014 for a free donut of your choice {no purchase necessary / while supplies last}!  Other donut places also have special deals, so check with your local establishments.

Now, onto the free printables!  

Below is my personal favorite!

INSTRUCTIONS: Click on your favorite donut(s) & then right click & save to your computer {or copy & paste}.  Open in a word document, resize if necessary, print, & donut forget to celebrate on the 6th!

Printable Ideas:
-string several cutout donuts onto some baker's twine for a garland
-print on card stock & cover with clear contact paper for easy coasters
-shrink down & use to create stickers 
-poke the center of your paper donut through a straw for a festive touch
-make it look as though someone took a bite out of your printed donut(s) with scissors

CONDITIONS OF USE: My printables are free for personal use only.  Feel free to share them on Pinterest provided you credit & link back to {Bess' Bag}.  If you want to blog about these printables, or share a project you created using them, it would be fabulous, just be sure to credit & link back to {Bess' Bag} (feel free to use 1 or 2 of my photos, but please don't share the actual printable on your site - just add a link to it).  Thanks & enjoy!

Donut forget God loves you {& so do I}!

P.S.: How do you prefer to spell the word: donut or doughnut?  Any favorite donut flavors?  I'm partial to the blueberry cake donut, myself.