Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bye-Bye, Blog-tember!


Can you believe it's the last day of September?  It's funny how when we're going through our days they can drag on, & yet we still feel surprised with their swiftness, too.  It's a mind-puzzle, that.

Thank you to all who stopped by & visited during 
Bailey Jean's Blog-tember Challenge!

Here's to October & all that it holds!


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

10 Blog Topics for October

Need more blogging/journaling prompts once Blog-tember ends?  Try these 10 ideas...

1. What's something that scares you?  How do you deal with your fear?

2. What do you love to do, eat, attend, experience, celebrate, etc. in the fall?

3. Share a favorite childhood memory.  Go ahead, get nostalgic!

4. Which do you prefer: snail mail or modern technology methods {texts, e-mails, etc.}?  Why?

5. Describe autumn using only colors, smells, sounds, &/or textures.

6. Choose a favorite Bible verse & tell why/how it speaks to you.

7. Choose a favorite song & tell why/how it speaks to you.

8. Share a favorite fallish recipe or DIY.

9. What has surprised you about your life so far?

10. Create a list of random acts of kindness you'd like to try.

Writing Love,

Monday, September 28, 2015

This Is Today

Super busy.  Super excited.  Nervous girl {me}, trying to play it cool.  And, by the grace of God, succeeding.  Today, I started a new job I am praising God for!  I mean, in my mind, I'm doing cartwheels & the high-pitched squeal of glee.  Outwardly, I'm smiling & cool as a cucumber {I hope & pray}.  

So, today was not a typical day.  It was special.  God has blessed me with a maternity leave position for the rest of 2015 teaching 4th grade science, social studies, & writing {my fave}!  And... it's in a good school!  Don't get me wrong, I have loved all of my past students, but I've never got to experience "normal" - I've only dealt with the bad parts of town where students come crying inwardly & outwardly, hiding pain & stories most would find hard to believe.  I am thankful God put me in those neighborhoods & hurting hearts.  I am thankful & say it was enough if He used me in one of those precious lives He gave me the privilege to cross.  And, now, I wait to see what He will do with me where He has put me this time around.  There is still much to be done to love on these kids with the more "normal" lives.  God grant me strength & may all the glory be Yours.

That was my day, moving furniture, observing classrooms, & getting ready for Wednesday when they will fill up my room.  I am so thankful & God is so good!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Current Wish List...

I want:
  • peace like a river
  • joy no matter what
  • trust when I'm in the darkness & the light
  • grace that covers my frailty
  • love not dependent on outward things
  • hope for tomorrow
  • strength to keep marching His straight & narrow
  • comfort for fear
  • healing for brokenness
  • forgiveness for my wretchedness
  • a jar for counting the tears - that they be not wasted
  • beauty in the chaos
  • purpose in the perpetual in between
  • glory for the One who is the Giver of all good things - may it be unto Him

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Reading List


You know how those who work at Dairy Queen {or other like establishments} say they become {Dare I say it?} sick of ice cream?  Well, since I've been working at a library, my bookish appetite just hasn't been what it used to be.  Today is actually my last day there, so maybe I'll be craving books again soon!  Here's a peek at my current reading list...

Recent Reads...
  • the book of Acts in the Bible
  • It's Not About Me by Max Lucado {I highly recommend this encouraging/gently-convicting read!}
Currently Reading...
  • the book of Joshua in the Bible
  • Revealing Jesus daily devotional by Darlene Zschech
Planning to Read...
  • You'll Get Through This by Max Lucado
What's on your reading list?

Bookish Love,

Friday, September 25, 2015

Song Love {September}

"To Those Who Wait" by Bethany Dillon

"Open My Hands" by Sara Groves

"Oh Fear {My God is Near}" by Moriah Peters

Music Love,

P.S.: This is one of my favorite lyrics 
{from "Open My Hands"}:
I am nodding my head an emphatic 'yes' 
To all You have for me
That verse packs a sermon!  May it be said of me, that I said 'yes' to Him.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

5 Blogs I ❤

Rubyellen is a sister-in-Christ, mama to 4 sweet girls {True, Brave, Soul, & Glow - most amazing names ever, in my book}, wife, author of a super nifty sewing/craft tome, & all around cool person.  I love taking a peek into her days.

Beautiful Hope

Elena is the real deal.  Her journey is full of that "beautiful hope" that can only be found in Christ.  She's getting married next month, & I look forward to seeing where God takes her & her godly guy in this new chapter!  So excited for her!!!

Ruffles & Stuff

Pretty much the first blog ever that I truly loved... & still do all these years later.  Disney, you're the bee's knees & the cat's pajamas & all that jazz!  Yes, I just said that.

The Demczak Days

Found this blog recently through the Blog-tember Challenge.  Annie speaks it real.  This post made me cry.  Beautiful.

A Holy Experience
This is the blog of Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts.  Her poetic, God-filled words will encourage your weary soul, sister!

Blog Love,

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Poem

He Has Grace for the Sinner's Soul

"Broken Pieces"

Their jagged edges rip –
&, yes, scars.
Shame deeper, though –
It’s invisibility, a harsher factor.
But –
His grace.
His healing.
Deeper –
Deeper still.



Monday, September 21, 2015

That Faith Step {+ Free Printable}

Sometimes you just gotta take that first scary step into the unknown, trusting God will be with you.  It isn't easy, but if you seek after His path for your life, it will be more than okay.  It will.

This all makes me think of the scene in Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade where Indiana must take that "leap of faith."  Take a look...

Love & Faith,

P.S.: Feel free to snag the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote printable by clicking on the image & right clicking to save the image to your computer {or copy & paste}.  Open in a word document, resize if necessary, & print.

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!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Of Comfort Food & Other Guilty Stuff

Here's my go-to little pleasures.  Some might call them "guilty."  I, however, think that's a little harsh.  I call em "gifts"... & I am thankful.
  • chicken nuggets + honey
  • pretzels + peanut butter
  • watching various & sundry old TV shows {Full House, The Mod Squad, That Girl, The Doris Day Show}
  • hot tea & fuzzy socks
  • ice cream, ice cream, ice cream {in that order - make it Haagen-Dazs & that's even better}
  • pumpkin pie {any time of the year}
  • Bath & Body Works Wallflower plug-ins
  • antique store window shopping
What's on your list?


Saturday, September 19, 2015

One Favorite Day {A Letter of Sorts}

Dear December 2nd,

Dear December 2, 2014,

You came like any other day.  Chilly & - okay, down right cold...  I had planned you as a typical Tuesday.  I wasn't expecting much from you.  In fact, I confess {with a blush}, at first I thought you were quite ordinary.  

At 7:09 PM I somewhat nervously sent a little 27 word {including my closing greeting & name} e-mail to a then unknown guy on a Christian dating website.  Yes, I know, I had said I'd never go on one of those {again}.  And, yes, you're right, I don't like to be the first one to reach out.  But, this guy's profile really caught my eye.  From his words, he seemed to genuinely love & seek after Christ & wanted Him to be the center of any relationship.  So, I hit send at 7:09.  Oh, dear 12/2/14, I honestly didn't expect anything to come of you!

Getting ever closer to the end of you, at 10:48 PM, a reply landed in my inbox!  I very nervously read over his 113 sweet words + a smiley face.  {Yes, it's weird that I did a word count & know the precise time {but it's pretty easily done in the digital age}, & what do you care?  It doesn't get must stranger than writing to a calendar date, anyhow.}

I still did not know, as you quietly melted into the next day in the quiet of those early hours, that you were a very special day.  It takes perspective sometimes, I guess.  But, now, looking back on you December 2, 2014 from the day of September 19, 2015, I know it.  You are special.  You are a favorite day.  After countless e-mails, then phone calls, then visits & adventures, then a "yes" to be his girlfriend, sweet days & hard ones, too...  Yes, you are right & wise in your aged-ness, I still don't know what the future days hold or if they will be as sweet as you were, but I hope.  And, yes, I know, God does, indeed, hold all my days in His hands.

Thank you, December 2, 2014, for being a sweet surprise I could have never planned.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

What I'm Currently Into...

+My fave is Banana Cream + Chia seeds & honey mixed in.
+My boyfriend's love & enthusiasm for this is slowly becoming my own.  Confession: I have 2 SW shirts in my closet now.  May the force be with you.
+I'm not a Project Life-r, but I do enjoy pocket scrapbooking special moments.  My pickiness, though, can make this a tricky & long {but fun} process.

What are you currently loving?


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Real Life Vs. Online

Real Life Vs. Online

There's something about the Internet - the one-sidedness of this unique realm - that lends itself to falsities.  Or, at least, incomplete truths.  We can upload the best of our days, tweak the mediocre into the stunning & newsworthy, Photoshop the unattractive parts of our world, & completely leave out anything remotely messy or harsh.

The Web can become a compare snare.  But, really, if we're all comparing each other's incomplete truths that put on the fancy & leave off the ragged & we're all masked by the one-sidedness of what we meticulously choose to share, are we all that different - or that much the same?

Sure, I don't share all the nitty-gritty of my life on my blog - there's a time & place for everything, & this little World Wide Web that's glue has the potential to catch & hold any unwise uploads forever, isn't it for some things.  But, I pray that though I share a lot of the pretty {cause we need some lovely in this dark world}, I never forget to listen to God's nudgings to share some of the sloppy jeans & t-shirt everydayness & the hard & painful, too.  Because, it is when we share some deep truths that we discover we are all the same.

Love from the Infinitely Imperfect,

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What's In My Bag?

Yo, Will, how did you know?  
No, really.  Who told you?

Okay, so sometimes my bag is cluttered with old receipts, wrappers, & ancient grocery lists {i.e.: trash}.  But, it does have other contents, too.  Here's a peek inside...  NOTE: I removed the rubbish for ya.

Besides the essentials {keys, phone, wallet}, I like to keep these handy in my purse...

  • chapstick {I like the kind that has SPF}
  • a few band-aids {for life's little emergencies}
  • braces care {bands, floss, etc.}
  • mini pop-out brush & compact
  • hair elastics/bobby pins {Tic-Tac cases work great to wrangle these}
  • travel-size lotion
  • Listerine strips
  • mini hand sanitizer
  • coupon organizer {I'm not always great at remembering to use them, but I try to organize em}
What's in your bag?

Bag Love,

P.S.: The quote is from Othello.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Books That Move Me

Books that Move Me {Bess' Picks}

Holy Bible
Perhaps it's a cliche answer to some, but there is honestly no other book that has impacted my life more than this God-breathed Truth.  It has rocked my world & changed my heart & altered my eternity.  Romans especially speaks to me, by the way.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Ann Voskamp's lyrical poem-words captured me.  Her beautifully deep & raw redemptive story moved me... often to searching my Bible feverishly, bending knees in bold prayer, & to healing tears.  This book has taken me on the quest to seek out the gifts - to have eyes to see them daily - & to record & count em up & give thanks, that sweet eucharisteo spoken of in the Gift-Giver's Holy Word.

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
The true story of this young woman's journey into the heart of Uganda & its people is nothing short of "becoming less, that He might become more."  Katie's unlikely entrance into missionary work & motherhood speaks of a girl chasing after her God's heart with all she has.  She truly is living out Matthew 16:25, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it."  Katie's story makes me want to do so much more & find true life by being sold out for Jesus.

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
This candid girl extraordinaire speaks to my heart with her bold transparency.  Running throughout the short stories of her life {which are shared in her book} is the thread of God's redemption & grace. Read more on my love for this book here.

Bookish Love,

P.S.: What books move you?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

This Current Season {In Pictures & a Song}

This Season of Wait, Trust, & Hope

This is a season of waiting & seeing.  Of trusting imperfectly in my perfect God.  He will not fail me, though I've failed Him {2 Timothy 2:13}.

I've been in a long-distance relationship for many months now.  It's been difficult, full of phone chats, visits that are weeks & weeks apart {this next one will be at least 8 weeks (our longest in-between yet)}, & my little heart is sometimes lonely & blue.  I know God has a plan & I seek only what He wants.  I'm praying for peace & trust & hope during this season, & I'm digging into His Word.  My God is good to me, I know.  In the mix of the roller coaster of emotions & fear, there have been sweet memories made, lots & lots of bouquets of fresh flowers {Have I mentioned he's an amazing guy?}, road trips, shared prayers, & bunches of new stuff for us.  I don't know how this season will end, but one thing I do know...

This season is in His hands.

Love in Christ,


P.S.: This song speaks deep of my "right now"...  Hope it blesses you, too.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Currently {Sept.}

+Celebrating... my nephew's 7th b-day this weekend!  He's full force in the Pokemon stage.

+Missing... someone special.  Counting down the weeks until I see him again.

+Reading... Acts in my Bible.  So much history on the early church & guidance/examples for the body of Christ today!  I'm on week 15 of my read through the Bible in a year plan.

+Praying... for God's guidance & grace daily {24/7/365}.

+Working... my part-time library gig & substitute teaching {the latter one is my fave of the two}.

+Ready... to switch out my summer stuff & make my apt. fallish.  Bring on the pumpkins!

+Fighting... my insecurities {& the enemy's lies} through God's strength & Truth.  It's not easy, but 1 John 4:4!


P.S.: What are you up to lately?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ideas for an Evening In

Friday Night {In}

  • Get crafty!  You know you want to make one of those nifty string art creations, marble some paper using nail polish, create a personalized mug with a Sharpie, or haul out all your supplies/photos & scrapbook some memories.

  • Go for a long walk outdoors & have an inner talk with your Maker, God.  He has made beautiful things!  Look at that sky!  Look at that view!  Look at you!  {Yes, you.}  Share your fears & hopes.  He knows, but He loves to hear it from your own sweet voice He gave you.

  • Take a nice long shower, paint your toenails, let a facial mask harden, & sip a smoothie in a comfy robe.

  • Crank up the tunes & praise God in song!  He alone is worthy!  {This is one of my favorites.}

  • Try a new recipe!  Go ahead, fling some flour & sugar around.

  • Write & send a card or letter to someone you know who needs a kind, encouraging word.  Don't have a stamp?  Try a text, e-mail, or these e-cards.


P.S.: Of course there's always the go-to books &/or TV option.  I highly recommend One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp {+ a few more fiction titles here} & Granite Flats on Netflix.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

10 Bucket List Items

Bucket List Adventure
  • explore an abandoned house
  • swim in a fountain
  • grow a successful {blooming/growing} garden
  • add some more stamps to my passport
  • solve a mystery
  • learn to cook {well}
  • wait {& live for Him in the now} for God’s best
  • get a book published
  • read through the whole Bible
  • be God's girl in this {crazy} world {daily/lifelong goal}
What's on your list?

Bucket List Love,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dear 16-Year-Old Self,

Sugar Paper
It's been over a decade since you blew out 16 candles & made a wish!  Honestly can't remember what that wish was, so I can't report if it came to fruition.  Sorry.  Maybe I need to try some brain exercises or ginko biloba.  Hmmm.  Anyhow, you're older now {obiviously}.  You still make wishes, but mostly you make prayers - which are better anyway.

Girl, why didn't you get braces back then?  By the way, you'll get them in your late 20s & everyone will think you're still in your teens.  Surprise!  I guess one day maybe you'll be glad to look young.  We'll see.  Oh, & problem skin doesn't go away with age, either.  Blemishes still pop up.  Yes, I know.  This letter is depressing, but it gets better.  Well, that's what I keep telling myself.  But, no, really it does.  It will.  Psalm 27:13 & 14 will become very important to you.  

Surprises will come {& keep coming}.  Some good, some bad, some scary, some exciting {many both}, but God has a plan & you're staking your hope on that.  It's mysterious, crazy, & like a roller coaster to you sometimes, but never to Him.  Oh, & by the way, a cute guy comes along & gets you to ride a roller coaster with him, which for you is a big, big thing {he'll try & tell you it's a little coaster, but that's not how you see it}.  You know you've never been much for the huge dips & dives, but you do it, cause you've got hope, girl.  "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit..." {-Romans 5:5}  I wish I could tell you how it's going to turn out, but I can't 'cause I don't know.  But He knows, & your hope is in Him.  Rest in that sweet girl.  Rest, rest, rest.  God's stories are always full of beautiful love & happy endings after the pain.

All My Love,
Sugar Paper "Awesome" card via here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Autumn Love

Autumn Love II

Autumn is my favorite season!

Here's what I love about fall...
  • the foliage on fire with color
  • crisp, foggy mornings
  • jewel & earth-tone sweaters, boots, tights, & scarves
  • pumpkin everything
  • thankfulness
  • my b-day
  • cozy blankets & warm mugs
Fall Love,

P.S.: What's your favorite time of year & why?

Monday, September 7, 2015

What's In a Name?

Behind My Blog's Name

When I was brand-spanking new to the blogging world & decided to dive in & create one myself, I was faced with every blogger's dilemma: What to call my blog?  I didn't have a specific niche in mind at that point {not that I necessarily have one now} =), so I decided to just think up a simple name, with plans to change it in the future.  I knew I would fill my little internet space with things I love - which made me think of the saying, "That's my bag!"  You know, like when a crazy cat lady proclaims, "Cats are my bag!" or a skater says, "Vans are my bag!"? =) Bess' Bag was born!  However, the name stuck, reader's liked it, & though I've thought of changing it up once or twice in the five years since I started, nothing ever seemed to fit my mixed bag of thoughts quite like Bess' Bag.

Blogging Love,

P.S.: Thanks for hanging out with me here at Bess' Bag!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Bess' Style File

My Style

My style is an eclectic mixed bag.  I don't like to try to pin it down to say, one adjective {or even two or three}.  But here's some of my favorite things...
My Style File

I'm also fond of maxi skirts & dresses, pairing plain old tees with unexpected statement necklaces, & bright sneakers.

What makes up your style?


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Music Mix

Here's 10 songs that I've been playing these days...

1. "How is it Between Us" by Sara Groves
2. "Waterfall" by Moriah Peters
3. "When the Saints" by Sara Groves
4. "Wake Up" by Kerrie Roberts
5. "In Your Sight" by Kerrie Roberts
6. "Don't Want to Live for Me" by Moriah Peters
7. "The Kindness of Strangers" by Sara Groves
8. "Seek You First" by Lauren Daigle
9. "Brave" by Moriah Peters
10. "Unusual" by Francesca Battistelli

Take a listen to one from my list...

Musical Love,

P.S.: What songs have you been wearing out lately?

P.P.S.: Bloggers, have you joined the Blog-tember Challenge yet?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Passion No. 1

A life lacking passion is a doldrums of stagnancy & purposelessness.

Jesus Passion
Jesus Christ is my number 1 passion.  Period.  Any other passions that fill my heart flow from Him & are ultimately for His glory.  He took this girl who was a mess & made her a princess.  He gave up His life for mine, as the ultimate sacrifice that I might be cleansed from all my sins - past & present - & be made new.  He is my comfort & my shield.  My Lord & my King.  He is the only thing good in me.  He is the light I want to share; the example & teacher; God in the flesh.  He is my living hope & my hope of glory.  My only way to the Father.  He is who I turn to when all is falling apart & I am failing - & He always receives me with arms wide open.  He is the one who knows every intricate detail of my being & every flaw in my heart & loves me immeasurably, unchanging, & without condition.  He is the careful beautifier of my soul & cleanser of my brokenness.  In His name my prayers are spoken loud or in an inner whisper.  He is my eternal security & the thing I strive to seek first on this cluttered & damaged earth.  He is living inside & will finish the work He has begun in me.  His words are true & His promises are never broken.  He is faithful & trustworthy - full of patience, mercy, & grace.  And He is mine & I am His.

How could Jesus not be my number 1?  It is my prayer He is yours, as well.  You will find no passion better anywhere.

 Much Love in Christ,

{Jesus speaking} "I am the way & the truth & the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."
-John 14:6

"He satisfies the thirsty & fills the hungry with good things."
-Psalm 107:9

P.S.: My words are not enough to describe & magnify my Jesus!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bess' Bag {In Pictures}

This is Bess' Bag in tiny captured moments.

It's my hope that this little URL is a place that is full of inspiration, encouragement, hope, & most of all Jesus.

From DIY ideas, profound & un-profound thoughts {any of the profound ones are from Jesus & any of the latter ones are from me - oh, & rambles}, ministering music, style ideas, advice for the college girl, book reviews, random random-ness, & life as this imperfect, forgiven girl seeks to live it for her perfect God...

This is Bess' Bag.  Welcome, friend.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Best Day{s} Ever!

Best Day Ever

Thinking about the ideal day is like taking all of the happy thoughts & getting coated in enough pixie dust to fly to the moon Peter-Pan-style.  In my book, there are the "biggie" best days ever & then the "regular old" best days ever.  Here's a few from my dream box...

The "Biggies"...
  • the day I was baptized & Jesus came into my heart, washed me clean, gifted me with the Holy Spirit, & made me whole
  • the day I made my first solo trip & watched how God granted me a desire of my heart in that {down to the smallest detail} 
  • the day{s} I held my baby nephews for the 1st time
  • spending precious time with special people {vague, but true}
The Yet-to-Be "Biggies"...
  • the day I hear "I love you" from the one I love
  • the day I marry my best friend & we kiss, kiss, kiss
  • the day I get to tell that best friend we're gonna be a mommy & a daddy
  • the someday I get to hold my own baby in my arms
  • the day I move out of my apt. & into a house
  • the day I get published & see my book in a bookstore
  • the day Jesus returns & takes us home {best day ever}
The "Regular Oldies"...
  • a day with cheery snail mail
  • a day opened {& filled with} prayer
  • any day with twinkle lights &/or festive buntings
  • days with hugs from little ones
  • any day with fresh flowers
  • a day an Anthropologie catalogue is waiting inside my mailbox
  • a day when the perfect song comes on the radio at just the right moment & you know it's a "God-thing"
  • days when my eyes see the blessings & count em up & write em down with thanksgiving on my lips & heart
What's on the itinerary for your best day{s} ever?

Much Love,

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's Blog-tember!

Be You

Happy Blog-tember, everybody!

Today is the kick-off of Bailey Jean's 2nd annual Blog-tember Challenge.  Head over to Brave Love blog to find out more about it!  I participated last year {scroll down to the archive in my sidebar & look up September 2014 for more on that}, & am so excited to join in again!  Let's do this!

Today's prompt is to introduce yourself.  
So, here goes...

Hi, I'm Bess!

Here's some things I love...

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Here's some more info...
  • Jesus is my Savior & King & that is the most important thing you should know about me.  I'm forgiven & free only through Him!
  • I've been blogging for about 5 years.
  • I graduated in 2009 with an elementary education degree {still working on finding that amazing teaching job (yes, it's been discouraging)}.
  • I currently substitute teach & work part time at a library.
  • I traveled to Scotland completely solo when I was 20 {I had never even been on an airplane prior}!
  • 4 years later I did it again - this time to England & Wales {click here for more on my travel escapades}.
  • I've been an aunt since I was 4!  My 3rd & newest nephew was actually born this summer!
Thanks to Bailey Jean for hosting this month-long challenge!


Friday, August 21, 2015

August {Song Love}

"Prodigal" by Sidewalk Prophets

"Glow In the Dark" by Jason Gray

"Getting Into You" song by Relient K - performed by Jamie Grace

Music Love,