A DAY IN THE LIFE

This guy – he has short legs like his dad. But he REALLY wanted to climb this.

And then he lost his shoe. And I laughed. And I took pictures. And then I helped him up after he got his shoe.

But. I laughed.

Can you find the Enoch guy!?

I noticed birds building a nest on our light. We have LOTS of great nest spots on the back deck. But NOT here. So I put a snake up. But they didn’t care. The tin foil worked!

Boxes from the FOOD PANTRY!! Imagination!!

Enoch’s favorite snack – dry elbow noodles!! I find them EVERYWHERE!

UNO!! SUDOKU!!!

BANDITS!!

We got LOTS of apples at the FOOD PANTRY so we made apple crisp!!

This guy – his mind RACES!! He’s getting stuck & obsessed again. It’s how his anxiety comes out. So we’re all working together.

And I can honestly tell you that the majority of our time together is joyful!

THAT PICTURE – can you HEAR his laugh!? It’s my new favorite!!

What are YOU doing to spend your days!?

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Filed under: an hour in the life,baby barden,bardenisms,creek exploring,family,just because,kiddos,lifestyle,my family — admin at 11:30 am on Monday, April 20, 2020

Which one will win!?

He looks VERY nervous!

SNAKES!! Thankfully I’m not afraid of snakes – because we’ve run into LOTS of them!

We lost a car – and the boys tried their hardest to find it – BUT I had to stick my hand in that hole and search for it!

MEAT STORAGE!?

Mom – will you hold my hand!? YES SWEET BOY!! Because one day – you won’t ask me!

Throwing cars off the waterfall – finding the small silly things during this crazy time!

Another snake!!

MORE SNAKES!!!

Enoch said – Mom!! This looks like a tiny little honey bee nest. It’s so cute. Can you press it in a book so I can give it to the girl I’ll marry someday!?

And then my friend Ericka told me about Trypophobia!? Have you ever heard of that!?

ONE MORE POST about our day!!

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Filed under: an hour in the life,baby barden,bardenisms,chef fitzgerald,family,just because,kiddos,lifestyle,my family — admin at 4:57 pm on Sunday, April 19, 2020

QUARANTINE 2020.

I wonder if the memory will always be so vivid in my mind. We were at after school care playing with classmates. The breeze was blowing and spring was on the horizon.

The governor called for all PA schools to close for 2 weeks.

We went to my parents that night. I had a wedding reception Saturday. I stocked up on groceries – those that I could – before coming back home Sunday evening.

It’s been a little over a month. A month of distance learning. Almost a month of Jared working from home. A month of virtual playdates.

A month of changes. A month of less spending. A month of less income. A month of social distancing.

I decided to carry my camera with me earlier this week to document our day.

Toys that have sat in the corner are being played with.

GAMES. Carcassonne. RAT A TAT CAT. Scattergories. DOMINOES!

Enoch and I were on a team for Scattergories and our letter was L.

Enoch – we need to think of a word that starts with L – something that you are afraid of.

Losing you mom. CUE THE TEARS.

Enoch – we need to think of a word that starts with L – something in this room.

Love mom. CUE MORE TEARS.

I asked the boys what words they wanted to put in our windows. Since everyone coming into town sees our house FIRST.

My mom made us some masks. And Enoch reminds me EVERY SINGLE DAY that he wants to go to Wal*Mart and get a TIME WATCH as soon as we are allowed.

Most days – I wake up and put on my robe. It’s chilly downstairs but our boys run hot. Clothes are optional at this point.

Our kitchen table has been reserved for SCHOOL. Thankfully we have an additional laptop that Fitzy can use while Jared works.

DISHES. SO MANY DISHES. SO MANY TIMES A DAY.

Helpers. Little chefs.

ART CLASS!!

It’s been a hard financial hit for us. I can’t work and Jared is working but not at full salary. BUT LOOK AT OUR FRIDGE. It’s full.

And so is the freezer. Because of food pantries & school lunch programs!!

We brought the basketball hoop to the kitchen since Jared is working in the playroom.

So. We do schoolwork and we play games. And we do dishes. And we listen to music. And we watch TV.

And we go outside. We play in the ravine.

We give accidental crazy haircuts. And keep them. To embrace our weirdness.

We race cars.

We play.

Stay tuned for the rest of our day!!

SETH & LAUREN – 3.14.2020

Filed under: marry me,wedding — admin at 1:37 am on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

I may have said this before – but I’ll say it again – GET ON THE DANCE FLOOR!!

This was a first for me!! THEY CUT THE SLEEVES OFF HIS SHIRT!!

THE LAST PICTURE OF THE NIGHT!!

Seth & Lauren – THANK YOU SO MUCH for asking me to spend the evening with you!!!

SETH & LAUREN – 3.14.2020

Filed under: marry me,wedding — admin at 11:48 pm on Sunday, April 12, 2020

I absolutely ADORE this series of photos!

SO MUCH FUN!!

ONE MORE POST!

SETH & LAUREN – 3.14.2020

Filed under: marry me,wedding — admin at 10:31 pm on Friday, April 10, 2020

It was about 9 PM but I noticed a a spot under the street light that would work for a few maternity shots!!

BEAUTIFUL!!

I LOVE capturing the miracle of pregnancy!!

Seriously – some of the BEST dance moves I’ve EVER seen at this wedding!!

STAY TUNED!!

SETH & LAUREN – 3.14.2020

Filed under: marry me,wedding — admin at 1:01 am on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Seth & his mom!!

I LOVE getting different perspectives!

Lauren & her dad!!

THAT SMILE!!

I LOVE those shots!!

MY FAVORITE MOMENTS!!

I’ve got LOTS more to show you!!

SETH & LAUREN – 3.14.2020

Filed under: marry me,wedding — admin at 12:54 am on Monday, April 6, 2020

In December – a rep from WEDDING WIRE & THE KNOT contacted me about being a vendor. PAYING for advertising on their websites.

I’ve been in this business full-time for over 10 years and haven’t really had to PAY for advertising. I made goals for 2020. The boys are getting older and while I do know that they still NEED me in their lives actively – I don’t feel like I will miss too much if I take on more work.

So. I said YES! It was scary. It was hard. I made a 12 month commitment to advertise – trusting that the money would be there.

ALL that to say THIS!

Lauren messaged me on WEDDING WIRE about her reception in March!! YES!!

She and Seth were married in November but were having a reception with family & friends in Owego in March.

Stay tuned for the rest of their reception!!!

HOLINESS > HAPPINESS

Filed under: just because,word of God — admin at 1:55 am on Saturday, March 21, 2020

Two years ago on March 14th I wrote this - 

2018.

God doesn’t care about your happiness. He DOES care about your holiness!

So here’s the thing – we’re human right? And in our humanity – happiness can mean SO MANY THINGS. SO MANY THINGS that aren’t of God. Or from God. Or for God.

BUT it can also mean SO MANY THINGS that ARE of God! From God. For God.

So why are we convinced that God wants us to be happy. That we deserve to be happy.

I would argue that God isn’t about our comfort and our happiness (the way WE define happiness) – but cares more about our lives mirroring Jesus.

Recently – our pastor said something that really put it perfectly.

THERE IS NOTHING GOOD FOR YOU OUTSIDE OF GOD. NOTHING.

NOT ONE THING.

So – since I posted my – WHY ARE WE SURPRISED blog – I’m gonna go off what I wrote in that blog.

The men that abused their power and took advantage of all the ages of both boys and girls – they did it for their own “happiness”. They were selfish. They wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. And they used their position of power to get it.

And what they did was outside of God. WAY OUTSIDE. Certainly not holiness but for their own “happiness” – and that’s what happens when words mean different things to different people.

Happiness – the state of being happy. Happy – feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. Fortunate and convenient.

We have an epidemic going around lately -

I’m taking time to work on me. Making sure that I’m happy. That I get what I deserve. Because I deserve to be happy. Me. Me. Me.

No actually – you don’t. You deserve hell. I deserve hell. BUT JESUS. There is nothing in the Bible that talks about our deserving happiness.

And listen – I’m not saying that taking time to work on yourself isn’t needed. It is. I can’t write these blogs while the boys are here. Fitzy is at school and Enoch is next-door. And in that time – I’m taking time to do the things that fill me up. Write. Work on my business. Work on myself. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about – you hurt me and I don’t have to stay married to you. Again – in this case – I’m not talking about abuse. I’m talking about what people do to other people – because we are imperfect people. Expecting Jared to never disappoint me – is RIDICULOUS. Expecting to never have to forgive him – ABSURD. Expecting that hard things won’t come and work will be needed – you get the point. Nearly 5 years ago – when Jared was manic and crazy and making no sense and admitting to awful things – I wanted to run away. And many many people told me to run away. Leave him. He hurt you and you don’t have to take that. WHAT ABOUT YOU. TAKE CARE OF YOU. And I’ve written about this before – but photographing weddings while my husband was in the hospital – saved my marriage. I had to stand there and listen to what men and women said to each other – and I had to remember what I promised. And once the mania and the crazy wore off – he was sorry. He was repentant. He asked for forgiveness. He took/takes medication. He went to and still goes to counseling. He asked for help. And I could have just walked away – because I was NOT very happy. And honestly – I couldn’t really see happiness down the road. But – we do the hard things. And no one ever told me that I was a princess who deserved to be rescued by a prince and swept off my feet and live in a castle and have a happily ever after forever. The grass is always going to be greener on the other side. But really – it’s just greener where you water it.

I’m actually reading the Bible this year – and I recently finished Job.

Can we talk about happiness here?

Job was so very happy. He had a wife. He had animals. He had children. He had wealth. He had friends. HE HAD IT ALL. He was the greatest man in all the East. His kids threw parties – and Job would get up early and make sacrifices to God on their behalf – in case they sinned. And then one day – the angels and satan came to God. God said to satan – where have you been? And satan said – oh. I’ve just been roaming the Earth – going back and forth. And God says – have you considered my servant Job? There is none like him. He is blameless and upright. He fears God and shuns evil. And satan says – yeah. but aren’t you blessing him? Aren’t you protecting him? If you take everything he has – he is sure to curse you. So God says – okay. everything he has is in your power – but on the man himself – you may not touch him. His children all died in an unfortunate wind storm that collapsed the house they were partying in. All his animals and his servants – raided or killed by fire from the heavens. Job was grieved. BUT HE DID NOT SIN BY CHARGING GOD WITH WRONGDOING. But satan didn’t stop there. He came back and said – if his life was at stake – certainly he would curse you. So God says – do what you will but you must not take his life. So Job is stricken with sores – across his entire body. His wife and his friends will him to curse God and die. There’s a lot of back-and-forth between his friends and their suggestions. But Job doesn’t. God and Job have words together. Job says – I know that You can do all things. No purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job speaks the truth about God – and prays for his friends that didn’t. And God listens to Job – because He was quite angry with his friends. And after Job prayed for his friends – God restored his fortune to twice as much as before. God blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters. He saw his children’s children to the fourth generation. And Job was so very happy.

And I’m pretty sure there was not much happiness after all his children died and all his animals were killed or stolen. There was not much happiness when he was covered in sores and full of pain and despair. But – Job did not go and find happiness. He didn’t seek the happiness that he thought he deserved. He stood on the word of God. There was not much happiness involved during that time. But holiness – there was lots of holiness.

And that’s why I don’t think that God cares about our happiness – our comfort. I know that He cares about our holiness. Jesus asked God to change his mind. He asked Him to take the cup from Him. Jesus wasn’t happy about dying. He certainly wasn’t comfortable being betrayed and beaten and placed on a cross to die a slow and painful death.

I don’t deserve anything good and great in this life. Working hard sometimes doesn’t “pay off”.

God never said – follow Me and you’ll have everything your heart desires.

He did say – follow Me – I am ALL you will ever need.

In Luke – Jesus says -

BLESSED are you who are poor – for yours is the kingdom of God. 

BLESSED are you who hunger now – for you will be satisfied. 

BLESSED are you who weep now – for you will laugh. 

BLESSED are you when people hate you. When they exclude you and insult you. When they reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. 

REJOICE IN THAT DAY AND LEAP FOR JOY – because GREAT is your reward in heaven! 

That doesn’t say blessed are those who are rich. Who have full bellies. Who have no reason to cry. Who are loved by the masses. Who are accepted.

We tend to equate happiness with blessing – but this passage shows us that our idea of blessed is different than Gods idea!

And this – in James -

Consider it PURE JOY whenever you face trials of many kinds. Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete – lacking nothing!  

Do you? Do you consider it PURE JOY when you face trials? I know that I don’t. And I’m pretty sure you don’t either.

When things are beautiful – when circumstances seem to be going your way – when you can breathe a little easier – do you ask God why? Why do I deserve this greatness? What have I done to be blessed so much by You?

When things are hard and ugly – when the universe seems to have it out for you – when you can barely catch your breath – you KNOW you ask God why. What have I done to deserve this? I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m trying to be a “good” person. Why God? Why?

But go back up to that verse from James – consider it PURE JOY when life throws you trials. Because your faith produces perseverance – stick-to-it-tiveness – drive – guts – tenacity – spunk – stamina – grit. The trials of life MAKE YOU STRONGER. Trials are not happy times. The verse does not say – consider it PURE JOY whenever you are exactly where you want to be. Consider it pure joy when life is easy. Consider it pure joy when your faith isn’t tested – when your faith can sit on a shelf in a pretty box.

No.

CONSIDER IT PURE JOY WHEN YOU FACE TRIALS. WHEN YOU ARE TESTED. BECAUSE TESTING STRENGTHENS YOUR FAITH. STRENGTHENS YOUR DEPENDANCE ON GOD. 

When we were almost married – Jared’s dad was diagnosed with Leukemia. Not long after we were married – Jared lost his job. We moved out of our apartment and in with his parents. Then into this house – a house that I didn’t want to come to. A house that I would still prefer to not live in – a fact that I allowed to steal my happiness. My jaw joint was falling apart – I wanted to start a family – but I could barely survive day-to-day. For two years – we tried to figure out how to manage my pain and anxiety. And once that was figured out – we got pregnant right away! And lost that baby soon after. Overall – there wasn’t a whole lot of happiness. But – I had a successful photography business and a place to write and share my heart. My pain and my joys. And because of that pain and that loss – I met some of the most important people in my life. And then we had a baby. And motherhood was beautiful and exhausting. And then we lost two more babies. And our marriage struggled. And lies and secrets swept in. And my husband was admitted to the psych ward. And we had another baby. And motherhood was beautiful and even more exhausting. And we had skunks living under our house – and I let that steal my happiness. AGAIN. And I let so many circumstantial things in life steal my happiness. AGAIN AND AGAIN. I still don’t want to live in this house. I don’t know how long it will be until we can put siding on the back of our house. I’m pretty sure our kitchen will be carpeted for years to come. I don’t know when we will have a full night’s sleep. I don’t know SO MANY THINGS. But I do know this – God is faithful. And happiness is relative. And being comfortable is a dangerous place to live.

CONSIDER IT PURE JOY WHEN YOU FACE TRIALS. WHEN YOU ARE TESTED. BECAUSE TESTING STRENGTHENS YOUR FAITH. STRENGTHENS YOUR DEPENDANCE ON GOD. 

__________

2019.

Mid-March last year was CRAZY. For us. Our house was getting ready to be torn apart and the price-tag on that project had me CRAZY. I was absolutely convinced that we would struggle. HARD. And we did. I did. But financially – we were okay. And I don’t mean that we were abundantly blessed with extra money that came from the heavens. But I do mean that we were okay. We paid our renovation bill. We paid our utilities. We bought food. And I paid extra on our loan to the bank for this house. The house that I was SURE would drain us. The house that I was sure would be our end.

And we made it. And there were so many days that I was sure we wouldn’t make it. I showed up at Sierra’s one day in my pajamas in a haze. Positive we would never do anything fun again. That we would be stuck. Forever.

And while we are stuck in this house forever and it’s not where I want to spend the rest of my life – I don’t FEEL stuck like I did last year and ALL the previous years.

Remember -

God never said – follow Me and you’ll have everything your heart desires.

He did say – follow Me – I am ALL you will ever need.

We didn’t have everything our heart desired. But we did have everything we needed. And a little extra.

__________

2020.

We don’t have everything our heart desires. But we do have everything we need.

When I think about it for too long. I start to panic. I start to convince myself that it’s all a nightmare. It’s the latest science fiction book my dad insisted I read.

And I have my own conspiracy theories about it – that I won’t get into here. But. It’s SCARY! Anne Frank scary. 1984 scary.

I told a friend that it’s all happened SO quick – then I realized that it really hasn’t happened quickly. It’s been years of scary.

Just not THIS degree of scary that we all see & feel & experience.

AND STILL. 

God never said – follow Me and you’ll have everything your heart desires.

He did say – follow Me – I am ALL you will ever need.

God never said – follow me and you’ll be happy – on this earth.

We’ve been stuck in this house (a different kind of stuck that I am used to dealing with) for 5 days. ONLY 5 days.

A week ago – I spent the day with Missy. I had told her that I was happy about being at the point in our lives that I truly enjoy most of the time I spend with my kids. We had gone away for a girl’s weekend two weeks ago and I missed them. I wanted to get home and spend time with them.

And then. Three days later. I was home and spending every moment with them.

I’m controlling and I’m trying not to be. I’m noticing when I am and asking for help and forgiveness. I’m a recovering perfectionist. It ruled my life for a long time.

This fort brought SO MUCH happiness to their hearts. And mine.

We made the craziest lego guys we could and face-timed with Sammy so she could judge.

We dyed eggs.

We painted a picture of watermelon.

Enoch drew me a purple dinosaur in front of a smiling mountain with a scary cave.

We’ve watched movies. Have you seen INBESTIGATORS or ARCHIBALD on Netflix? You should check them out if you haven’t.

We’ve built puzzles. We’ve gone outside. The boys play soccer in the living room with pillows. We’ve read books. We’ve done school work. We’ve listened to worship music.

We’ve played games. We’ve yelled. We’ve cried. We’ve laughed. We’ve apologized.

If you’ve been following my life at all you know that Enoch and I – it’s hard. He feels all the feelings and he feels them BIG.

Enoch has come up to me SEVERAL times this week and said – mom. I’m frustrated. I’m angry. I’m scared. I’m grumpy. AND I NEED HELP. (this is HUGE)

And I tell him that I’m scared. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. Thank you for using your words to show your feelings.

As someone who thinks she’s in control of all the things (but really knows I’m not) this is really HARD. If I can control all the factors in my immediate circle of my family – I can protect them.

I’ve thought this for a long time. I used to stay up and wait for my dad to come home from work. Because if I was awake – nothing bad would happen.

When I went to college in Philly – I would call my mom every morning – because if I didn’t – something bad would happen. And I already wasn’t there to make sure it wouldn’t.

THIS IS ALL SO HARD. And I mean EVERYTHING.

The fear. The facts – if you can believe anything. The quarantine. The questions. The staying home. The saying goodbye. The staying away. The trusting. And I do mean trusting the people in charge.

But I also mean trusting God. (it’s okay to say that you know – that it’s hard to trust Him)

And don’t forget that people are bringing babies into the world. People have been wondering where their next meal will come from. People have been saying goodbye to their dear ones. People are just living their everyday stressful lives and THEN this.

When will we go back to school? I can’t wait for Kindergarten graduation! Can we go visit G & PA? When will we see Sammy again? Why isn’t there any of my bread in the stores?

It’s really hard – right!?

IT IS SO HARD.

Consider it PURE JOY whenever you face trials of many kinds. Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete – lacking nothing!  

CONSIDER IT PURE JOY WHEN YOU FACE TRIALS.

WHEN YOU ARE TESTED.

BECAUSE TESTING STRENGTHENS YOUR FAITH.

STRENGTHENS YOUR DEPENDANCE ON GOD. 

I’m not there. I’m not at the considering it PURE joy.

We’ve been listening to WAY MAKER on repeat. And I really didn’t like it until THIS WEEK. I found myself singing it and crying. And really believing the words deep in my heart.

I can GUARANTEE that tomorrow will bring more of the scary. More of the hard. More of the hurt.

I can also guarantee you this. Tomorrow will bring more of the love. More of the laughter. More of the healing.

And ONE more guarantee. The end WILL come. For ALL of us. Jesus WILL come back. And He already knows your heart.

Is he living in there? Because it’s the ONLY thing I know that won’t change about tomorrow. I will wake up and He (not me) will still be in control. He knows the end of this. OF ALL OF THIS.

He wins.

BEAUTIFUL 2020

Filed under: beautiful — admin at 7:25 pm on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The winner of 2020 BEAUTIFUL is

TERRI & SCOTT KELSALL!!

Read what Terri’s friend wrote about her -

“I honestly can’t say enough of how she is full of grace, beauty, and the love of Jesus.

She inspires me every single day. She always has a smile on her face! She is tough. She is fierce.

She is beauty and strength. She is an amazing mom and wife. She is so selfless.

She is such a dear, dear friend.”

I can’t say this enough – MAKE SURE YOU TELL THE PEOPLE THAT YOU LOVE EXACTLY HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU!!

Thank you SO MUCH for your submissions this year!!!

 

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