Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Let There Be Light" Children's Book Review

Let There Be Light
by Desmond Tutu
illustrated by Nancy Tillman

Let There Be Light is Desmond Tutu’s personal paraphrase of the creation story for children.  He takes the Genesis account {days 1-7} & puts it into a simple, shortened format with a bit of his own flair.  The pictures to go along with the words were created by New York Times bestselling author of On the Night You Were Born Nancy Tillman.  Tillman definitely implemented an African feel, to go along with the author’s homeland, in her vibrant artwork which depicts giraffe, elephants, lions, & grasslands {to name a few}.  The board book format of this work makes it sturdy for even the very young, though it is not so small, as some board books, that grown up hands can’t easily hold it & read it aloud to the young ones in their life.  Let There Be Light is a sweet way to introduce the little to God’s big creation story in a way that they can easily understand.  Although it does not get into at all the story of Adam & Eve - it is strictly about the creation week - it is a great book to give children a peek into the history of their world & humanity’s beginnings.

Bookish Love,

P.S.: This board book would be a sweet addition to a new baby gift, as well!

*I received this book as a complimentary copy from the publisher (through the BookLook Blogger program) in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry {Christ}mas

Merry {Christ}mas 2014

Praying this day fills you with the inexpressible joy of knowing Christ as your Savior, & that this joy would overflow into the rest of your days in living each one for Him.  He came for you.

Merry {Christ}mas,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Perfect Gift

Happy Christmas Eve,

When It Just Doesn't Feel Like Christmas

He is With Us
There's a wreath on my door, a lit tree in my living room, & Silent Night is playing over the radio, but it just doesn't feel like Christmas...  I wish I could say I'm writing this in retrospect - that this feeling {or lack of feeling} was not happening this year, but somewhere safely healed over in my past.  But, nope.  It's here & now in this year.

Some Decembers roll in & out & the warmth of Christmas eludes us.  The causes are innumerable & unique: death, depression, lost jobs, unfilled dreams, life changes, illness, loneliness, commercialism, expectations, family feuds...  Sometimes it's even unnameable as to the reason why.  My own story this year involves a combination of broken family ties - divorce - & the fact that this Christmas {& the ones to come} just won't look like Christmases of the past.  New normals are seldom easily established, but this time of year makes it doubly hard.

However, there is hope.  There is hope.  Those words stir something deep down.  Christmas is all about hope & love.  God came down into our darkness, weakness, & messy sinful, broken world to bring a Light of Hope, which demonstrates better than any calligraphy-scripted Bible verse His love for us.  He came down here!

He is with us.  Emmanuel is here.  Even when it doesn't feel like it, & we need the wisdom of retrospect that we just don't have right now, but one day will, to know that yes, He was there with us when Christmas just didn't feel like Christmas.  When pain was deep & the night was long & the tears were caught by Him in so many jars, He was present & He is the present given that first Christmas to compel an unworthy world to embrace an unbelievable worth.  You are of great worth & value to the King.  Immeasurably.

I found myself visiting a dear friend in the nursing home recently, & I stayed with her to listen to a Christmas concert.  Going through the motions, I put a smile on my face & shared it with the group of singing volunteers, my friend, & the other graying residents of the home.  I clapped at the end of each song, & kept my mask on perfectly {almost fooling myself}, until one old gentleman requested "Away in a Manger."  When these lyrics were sung & I looked over to see the gentleman softly singing the words, my disguise slipped...

 I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky.
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever, & love me, I pray!

Tears itched to spill out, & I looked away, trying to readjust my almost undone masked facade.  No matter the feelings, or lack thereof, no matter the hurt & struggle, Jesus desires to be with us this season & always - that is why He came.  Even when we can't feel His presence, He is close by our side.  I pray that He will give you a strength & joy through Christ this season.  He is with you, no matter the feeling, no matter the sorrow.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, & shall bring forth a Son, & they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
-Matthew 1:23

Merry {Christ}mas & Much Love to the Hurting,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What I Really Want This Year

Christmas List

Yep, that's it.

{Christ}mas Love,

P.S.: What's on your list this year?

P.P.S.: Linking up with Kiki & the gang!

Print This! {Merry & Bright Reindeer}

Need a quick card or simple gift tag?  Try this free printable whipped up just for those last minute Christmas folks {like me}. =)

Love for the Printing,

P.S.: Be merry & bright!  Shine His light!

INSTRUCTIONS: Click on the image & save to your computer {or copy & paste}.  Open in a word document, resize if necessary, print, & have a very merry Christmas!

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!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dear Single Christmas Girl, {Repost}

I first penned this back in 2010 & it remains one of my favorite posts... &, yep, it still applies to me.  If it applies to you, too, I pray this letter stirs encouragement in your soul this Christmas & into the new year.  Immanuel, God is with us.

Dear Single Christmas Girl

Dear Single Christmas Girl,

I know you… forced to hold your own mittened hands to keep them warm.  You walk wistfully under suspended mistletoe & let out a small inner sigh… I know you, because I’m you, too.

Christmas & other holidays can be especially trying on the single girl’s heart.  So many secular seasonal songs that blast over the buzz of shoppers & invade our radios tell us that being with someone at Christmas is downright required for true happiness.  Take a look:

“When we finally kiss goodnight/ How I'll hate going out in the storm!/ But if you'll really hold me tight/ All the way home I'll be warm” (Let it Snow).

“My world is filled with cheer, & you/...& as I look around/ Your eyes outshine the town, they do/This Christmas” (This Christmas).

“I'm just gonna keep on waiting/ Underneath the mistletoe…/ Baby all I want for Christmas is you” (All I Want for Christmas is You).

I want to stick my tongue out at singlehood (& these songs, too=)!

Take a peek at what the Bible tells us…
Dear Single Christmas Girl II

The Lord appears to Joseph in a dream instructing him to take Mary as his wife as planned, because what is done in her is of God. Matthew 1:23 reads, “The virgin will be with child & will give birth to a son, & they will call Him Immanuel’ – which means ‘God with us.’” This Christmas you may feel un-chosen, lonely, not special, or unworthy of a guy’s second glance, but know this & consider it deeply in your heart this year: the Maker of the universe & all things, the King of Kings, Mighty God, Heavenly Father loved (insert name) so much that He gave you a piece of Him on earth – a piece that would be like (insert name)… tired, hungry, tempted, sad, excited, disappointed, happy, lonely… a piece that would be beaten, abused, mocked, & crucified, just so (insert name) could have the opportunity to know real peace & be with Him forever. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of a truer love than that! It makes the lyrics above seem like mere meaningless mumbles.

Listen to what this song tells us…

Did you catch that lyric? “How many gods have poured out their hearts/ To romance a world that is torn all apart?” (How Many Kings, Downhere). God is still with us today, loving us in spite of us, & seeking our love so that we can experience eternity safe from pain, hurt, & free from all the tears of this earth & the afterlife that scorches. Even if you are (like me) going through a boyfriend-less Christmas, remember “Immanueal… God is with us.” You may appear solo to the world, but if you are God’s you’re never alone.

Love & the Merriest of Christmases,

-Bess- + Her King, {Truest Love} Father God

P.S.: His love is perfect, immeasurably better than any mortal man's... just think How Many Kings...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Song Love {December Playlist}

I just couldn't choose only 3 Christmas songs to share this December, so I'm bringing you a whole playlist of some of my favorites!  Hope you enjoy em while you're wrapping up those gifts, sending those cards, baking those cookies, & having those people over. =) No matter what you're doing this year, I hope this music points you back to the reason for it all: God's amazing love for us through the gift of Jesus!

Merry {Christ}mas!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chipboard + Ribbon NOEL Bunting

Have I mentioned I heart buntings & garlands?  I'm sure I have, but it's worth saying again.  Here'a a little DIY I whipped up to hang outside {though it would look good anywhere}!

Here's What You Need:
chipboard {mine is a chipboard ring-bound book I took apart from Michael's}, paint/foam brush {if you like}, glitter ribbon, heavy baker's twine, gluestick 

Here's What You Do:
Paint your chipboard whatever color you wish {or leave it in its natural state}.  Cut pieces of glittery ribbon to create the word "NOEL" & carefully use your gluestick to adhere them to the chipboard.  String bunting pieces onto heavy baker's twine & hang up {I used a hammer & small nails to knot the twine around}.  

I'm later than usual with my Christmas projects & decor, but it's just been busy here lately.  How is your decorating coming along?

Merry {Christ}mas,

P.S.: Jesus is the reason for the season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hello December!

Hello December!

I've been yearning for you.
For your festive shine & cheer.
Your well wishes & gifts - oh, what a Gift!

Hope is ushered with your coming -
Abounding love that you wrapped in rough cloth
And Light brighter than the sun.

Who am I that I am worthy?
You compel an unworthy world to 
Embrace an unbelievable worth.