HELLO FRESH AGAIN

Filed under: bardenisms,family,hello fresh,just because,kiddos,lifestyle,my family — admin at 12:29 pm on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The next night – another GREAT meal!!

Potatoes and carrots and onions! OH MY!

YUMMY MEATLOAF! We’ve made this several times since!

CHEF FITZY!

This was the crowd favorite!! Thank you Arica for sharing your coupon with us!

HELLO FRESH

Filed under: bardenisms,family,hello fresh,just because,kiddos,lifestyle,my family,newsworthy — admin at 1:12 pm on Monday, March 26, 2018

My friend Arica gave me a HELLO FRESH coupon for a FREE box!

We LOVE having ALL the ingredients ready to go!

This guy – he really loves the ready-made boxes!!

Sweet potatoes with maple syrup!

Pork chops and sweet potatoes and garlic green beans!!

HAPPINESS OR HOLINESS

Filed under: bardenisms,just because,word of God — admin at 11:36 am on Wednesday, March 14, 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. 

BEAUTIFUL 2018

Filed under: beautiful,contest — admin at 11:39 am on Thursday, March 1, 2018

Thank you SO MUCH for writing to me about the people you LOVE!

As always – it was hard to choose a family!

I also want to remind you to tell the people that you think so highly of EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM!

Last year – Amanda wrote to me about her friends Rachel and Rich and their baby girl Reagan.

BUT – they didn’t win – then.

THIS YEAR – they won!

It was SO hard to choose – like it is EVERY year!!

If you submitted a family – but they weren’t the winner – check your email for a limited time offer regarding a session for that family!

THANK YOU AGAIN SO MUCH FOR supporting this little business of mine!

BE THE LIGHT – THROW KINDNESS AROUND LIKE CONFETTI!!