Friday, January 16, 2015

"Cold Tangerines" by Shauna Niequist {A Reflection/Thank You of Sorts}

Cold Tangerines

It was in every way like going to a therapist for free to me.  It was reading shards, & remnants, & icebergs from my own story till it hurt.  And then felt like inching, & sometimes 50-yard-dashing, to a place where healing could flourish like kudzu.

I flagged pages that especially resonated with tiny neon florescent tabs like a sincere, over-zealous college student, & let it reside on my coffee table so I could see it often.  I can't tell you the times I cried great big tears, or laughed out loud great big laughs, or stopped mid-sentence to pray great big prayers, because they were too numerous to count.

But I do know I am thankful to God that He made such authors & thankful to the author that she wrote so bravely, so transparently, that us readers could see her true, broken-pieces-full-of-redemption self, & feel we were okay in our most tattered parts, because we were the same & there arises such a kinship & kindred-spirit-ness in knowing we are all broke & even though it doesn't feel okay or good, God calls us beautiful even then.  And there is still so much seen & unseen worth celebrating in the biggest possible way.  So, thank you to all involved.  This book has awoken a long-asleep hope & possibility in my life & I am so grateful... & ready to celebrate in what constantly feels like the interim, maybe because it is {so I've learned}, so I celebrate all the harder.


P.S.: Find it here...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Never Have I Ever...

Never Have I Ever...

I first played this game with a group of girls at church & it was loads of fun.  Each player starts with the same number of candies {something wrapped (like Hershey's Kisses) works best}.  Next, going in a circle, each player shares a true statement about herself starting with "Never have I ever..."  After every statement, any girl(s) that have done the thing the player has never done gives that player one of her candies.  The winner can be decided after so many rounds or after someone loses all of her candy, but either way the winner is the one with the most sweets left.  It's a great party game!

So, pretend you have 5 pieces of candy before you & see how many you could hold onto if this was the real deal...

1. Never have I ever been to prom.
2. Never have I ever played Candy Crush.
3. Never have I ever been bowling.
4. Never have I ever eaten seafood.
5. Never have I ever cooked anything on the stove-top.

What have you never done?

P.S.: Linking up with Kiki!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

These 2 Thoughts Today...


“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”
-Emily Dickinson

"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."
-Psalm 27:13 NIV

Inspiration & Love,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Currently {January}

+Planning... for God's mysterious will to unfold {in everything, but particularly one area, too}.  Okay, so I can't really plan for it - in fact, it feels more like the polar opposite of plan: I'm surrendering.  Ah, & it feels so completely out of control, crazy, & yet so sweetly necessary & good.  God be with me.

+Hoping... to be brave in all things to God's glory.  As a reader reminded me, it is He who makes us brave.  Philippians 4:13!

+Baking... nothing, but eager to try out some recipes soon!  I've been trying to be the next Julia Child, & I've been waiting to start the cooking process until age 32, so as to be authentic to her story {I've got a few years yet}.  Just kidding / poor {yet inventive} excuse.  Anyone else watching MasterChef Junior?  Now those kids inspire me!

+Wearing... layers!  This arctic blast forecast is no joke!

+Resolving... to leave it in God's hands {& not to pick it back up in a daily yo-yo of trust & doubt}.  He is my God & I trust Him {that's written on my chalkboard currently}!


P.S.: What are you up to lately?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Song Love {January}

"As Sure As the Sun" by Ellie Holcomb

"Beyond Me" by TobyMac

"Give Me Jesus" by Moriah Peters

Music Love,

Monday, January 5, 2015

There Will Be a Fight

Psalm 143

No war is fought without opposition.  Indeed, a battle worth fighting must have two sides.  And, today, in this war of bravery I feel the Enemy's lies.  Like cannons flying  & bullets ricocheting, his lies try to break into my armor.  Satan can make my strong shield of faith feel like aluminium foil, as the falsities & fears are fired &, my own doubt triggered, I let them in.  My own doubting soul puts down its own protection & lets the Evil One penetrate my mind.  It's a battle & it's tough & ugly & horrible.  But, we can fight the good fight.  We can turn this thing around through God's power.  Here's some tips that have helped me today...
  • Pray!  Talk to God & let Him know your struggles in all this.  Ask Him for His help & strength & deliverance.  Spend time pouring your heart out to your Heavenly Father.
  • Read!  Open God's Word & ask God to instruct You.  Psalm 143 is where He led me today & it was just what I needed.
  • Sing!  Try singing a worship song to the Lord.  It doesn't have to be a beautiful rendition {it can even be through ugly-cry tears}, but to God it will be of worth & the Enemy just won't like it.
    Keep fighting the good fight!  Keep being brave in Christ!

    Love & God's Strength for the Battle,

    P.S.: I think this quote nails it...
    Satan mounts his mutiny against God through a deceitful stronghold: God is untrustworthy. In subtle & not-so-subtle ways, he places God's heart on trial by whispering insidious lies: "God is holding back on you. He wants you to jump through hoops in order to earn His love. He's stingy. He doesn't have your best interest in mind. You're better off trusting in yourself. Your resources and functional saviors work better then waiting & trusting in Him."
    -James MacDonald

    Sunday, January 4, 2015

    Print This! "Stand Strong"

    How can we live out all this braveness that looks so good on paper, but is tricky & tough & elusive in reality?  One way is to stand strong.  To stand strong in our beliefs, in our hope, in our pain, in our joy, & in whom Christ is & how that changes who we are & our very worth - cause He says we're valuable.  Oh, so valuable!  Do not let the driving rain of this life & the Liar make you sit.  Stand strong bravely, because it is Christ's strength that will uphold you!

    "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you & help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
    -Isaiah 41:10 NIV

    INSTRUCTIONS: Click on the image above & then right click & save to your computer {or copy & paste}.  Open in a word document, resize if necessary, print, & remember to stand strong through Christ!  He is our help & strength!

    This "strong" anthem by Moriah Peters really stirs  me up!  Stand up & take a listen!

    Strong Love,

    P.S.: Click here if you didn't snag yesterday's printable yet!  We can be brave!

    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!

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

    Print This! "Be Brave"

    I want to live this year bravely.  I hope you'll join me.  Mediocrity & safeness just aren't going to cut it anymore.

    "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong & courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
    -Joshua 1:9 NIV

    INSTRUCTIONS: Click on the image above & then right click & save to your computer {or copy & paste}.  Open in a word document, resize if necessary, print, & remember it is through our mighty God that we can be brave!  He is with us always!

    Take a listen to my favorite "Brave" anthem!  Be brave & sing it loud!

    Brave Love,

    P.S.: Stop back by tomorrow for another brave-ish free printable!

    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, January 2, 2015

    Goals {Jan. 2015}

    I've heard it said {& I wish I could remember where} that, 

    "Inch by inch, life's a cinch.  Yard by yard, it's always hard."

    It's often the case, isn't it?  We want to look at the big picture & know how the year will go in one fell swoop, but we can't.  We can, however, focus on today.  While 365 days full of resolution success seems insurmountable, one day at a time seems more within reach.

    I've decided to jump on the band wagon & try monthly goals this year, instead of lofty, well-intentioned resolutions that often don't survive February.  I'm going to try it more "inch by inch" instead of "yard by yard."  Each month I'll share my new goals & let you know how the previous month's goals went down {Or didn't - let's give each other some grace, huh?}.  Here's this month's:

    1. Study God's Word more.  I typically always read my Bible daily, but sometimes it feels like I'm skimming the surface, & I want to put on my spiritual scuba gear & go deep this month! 

    2. Drink at least 1 glass of water each day.  I've never been good at drinking enough H2O, & though I know I should drink more I'm gonna start small & work my way up to make this goal as successful as possible.

    3. Read at least one good faith-based book.

    4. Visit my apartment's mini workout room.  I've lived here almost a year & never done it!

    5. Work on my posture.  I've noticed I've been slouching a lot lately & I want to break the habit while I can.

    Do you have any goals this month?  I'd love to hear about em!


    Thursday, January 1, 2015

    Brave New Year

    Here it is, another year brand-spanking new & chock full of unforeseen challenges & blessings, fears & failures, losses & gains, heartaches & joys... & as I stand at the edge of it, about to jump in not knowing the depth or what's hidden under the surface, I'm choosing to be brave & hopeful.

    Philippians 4:6

    Bravery is a lot like trust to me.  Everyone wants to be brave & everyone wants to be good at trust {both are true of this girl}, but by very definition of each, one must experience the thing that is not wanted: namely fear & uncertainty.  If you're gonna trust, you've got to have some unknown circumstances or obstacles to be trusting about.  Likewise, to be brave, fear must be present.  Trust & bravery are not easy, slight traits.  In order to receive them  you must accept the packaged deal - you must see the dark clouds of fear & the thick fog of uncertainty & choose instead {quite counter-culturally & quite against our broken human nature} to look to your unseen God & keep marching, though blindly, knowing He is with you always & He will take care.  Bravery & trust {& their bouncing baby hope} are tough like warriors, steadfast as the rising sun, & they must be mastered again & again, because fear & uncertainty are always with us on this planet.  

    Isaiah 41:10

    In Christ, we find the strength - His strength - to face unknown, scary things {like this new year} bravely & with hope.  In His Word He has told us not to be afraid & to put our hope in Him, because He does not disappoint or abandon & what He says is always true.  I hope you keep that close as you jump into this mysterious 2015 year.  God will be with His children 24/7/365, & as it says in the last part of Matthew 28:20, "...even to the end of the age."  Because of this - because our loving, perfect Father is always with us - bravery, hope, & trust can be ours today & throughout this brave new year.

    Joshua 1:9

    Bravery, Hope, Trust, & 
    Love For This New Year,