FIVE YEARS LATER

Filed under: baby barden,bardenisms,just because,my family,the marriage fight — admin at 11:32 am on Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Five years ago today the world fell out beneath my feet. Beneath OUR feet.

My husband was not himself. He was cocky. Arrogant. Spontaneous. Those are just some of the nicer words I can use to describe what was happening.

Turns out – he was going through a manic breakdown. Through that breakdown – as most of you know – some secrets came to light. Issues in his life and our life together – came to a head.

I was pregnant with Enoch and God had told us that AMAZING things would happen during this pregnancy.

This was NOT amazing – but does amazing mean good and warm and fuzzy or can it also mean terrible BUT great. Things can be terrible & great. Amazing & terrifying.

And I was “alone” with a two-year old boy that missed his daddy and a baby kicking inside my womb.

I say “alone” because our family was beautiful and supportive and our friends were beautiful and supportive. But I was alone in this marriage.

I was crying. Wondering. Praying. Trusting God. Some more crying. Not really hoping – trusting.

AND HERE WE ARE – FIVE YEARS LATER!

TOGETHER. Because we were all together on that fateful day.

We usually celebrate in style. But my FIL is still on the mend from his stem-cell transplant AND yesterday the rain rain rain came down down down. We found some sunshine in the afternoon and took a chilly dip in our favorite pool. The rest of the day was spent playing games – watching cheesy Christmas Hallmark movies & a little bit of Planet Earth II – spending a much better day together than this day five years ago!

Jared – I love you. I love what our marriage has become and look forward to it getting even better as the years continue. I love that you are so transparent with what happened to you and our lives. I love that you love Jesus and your parents and my parents and our families and our friends. I love how you love our boys and I love how you love me. You love me so well.

ARE YOU WORTH IT

Filed under: bardenisms,family,love,the marriage fight,word of God — admin at 6:30 am on Friday, February 23, 2018

I read a blog recently - She Only Said Yes Once - and it resonated with me.

I shared it and it sparked some conversation on the facebook.

Here’s a part of the article – which is an article within the article – if that makes sense -

“Last October the New York Times published an article describing what sex education is like for tenth graders now in San Francisco.  A new law requires that teachers give lessons on something called “affirmative consent”.  These children are taught to ask for consent at every point in a sexual encounter.

Do you want to kiss her?  Ask for consent.  Do you want to touch her breasts?  Ask for consent again.  Do you want to take her clothes off?  Ask for consent again.  Do you want to penetrate?  Ask for consent again.

If that’s too graphic for you, just remember, this is 10th grade material. If it makes you uncomfortable, then just imagine being one of the 15 year-old kids in that classroom who are hearing those words (and many that are far more graphic) with other boys and girls their own age…the same boys and girls they used to finger-paint with in kindergarten.

One student, upon hearing that he needed to check with a girl before touching her in certain places or doing certain things, asked, “What does that mean – you have to say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes?”

“Pretty much,” the teacher answered.

Somehow that seemed extraordinarily out of place to this young man, that one would have to pause the progression of an intimate encounter to ask, over and over again, “May I do this now?”
Those aren’t exactly words of passion and romance, are they?”

And they’re NOT exactly words of passion and romance. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t teach and understand consent. Right now I’m trying hard to understand that Enoch doesn’t want a kiss. BUT THOSE CHEEKS. I have to kiss him! BUT I am also reminding the boys that when people say no – you must respect them and stop. We DO need to teach our kids consent.

My argument is this – let’s teach kids about the beauty of sex the way God intended it to be. I’m not saying – just tell your kids – WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE MARRIED. JUST WAIT. BECAUSE IT’S WHAT GOD WANTS FOR YOU. When that’s all you say – it’s not going to end well.

Kids are only hearing NO NO NO – DON’T DO THIS! And all that does is send off the extra signal of – I MUST DO THIS! MOM & DAD SAID DON’T! BUT I MUST!! IT MUST BE AMAZING SINCE I AM NOT ALLOWED TO DO IT. AND MOM AND DAD DO IT. I MUST.

I read one of those BUZZ-FEED time-trap things – crazy things people have overheard in conversation -

Friend A – Can you imagine marrying someone without having sex with them first?

Friend B – I can’t imagine having dinner with someone without having sex with them first.

WHAT!? Really!?

Friend A – I’m excited about this guy but I’m gonna try to keep my expectations low.

Friend B – Yes. Guard your heart but not your vagina.

Basically – YES. Exactly that.

I had a discussion with someone recently and she told me of a miscarriage she had – long before she met her husband. This guy that she was seeing – it wasn’t really THAT serious. Not serious enough to have her son – who was pretty young at the time – meet him yet. She liked to protect him from heartache if she could – until things got serious. It was there that I stopped her. I said – WAIT. You wanted to protect your son – but what about protecting yourself? Because things weren’t THAT serious? But serious enough to have sex with him? That’s pretty serious. Very serious. THE DEFINITION OF SERIOUS. Why were you having sex with this guy while in the back of your head you thought – this might not work out. You did a great job of protecting your son from heartache – but not YOUR heart. Why were you having sex with him?

She looked at me and said – Huh. You’re right.

LADIES – GENTLEMEN – I beg you. Protect your heart AND your bits.

I can’t tell you how many girls I know that have intense heartache because of sexual relationships – outside of a marriage. Shoot – I know lots of women that have heartache because of sexual relationships INSIDE their marriage – either from their husbands or the previous relationships before they were married. Sharing sex with someone is a BIG DEAL.

A BIG DEAL. Much bigger than dinner. Vulnerability at it’s best. But I would argue that people would say sitting down and sharing their feelings with their significant other is more vulnerable than having sex. We’ve made sex into nothing. Which goes into another blog I wrote about the state of our country – the world today. Why are we shocked and surprised that more and more men are being accused and found guilty of sexual crimes? We’ve done this to ourselves. But the consequences are far too severe. Far too painful. Far too close to home. Far too real.

My friend commented on the article that I shared at the beginning of this blog – and while we didn’t totally agree or have the same perspective on the issue – which brings me to say – PERSPECTIVE IS A BIG DEAL. And healthy debate and disagreement is good. But often times we forget that we are passionately SURE of our opinion just as much as the next person is passionately SURE of their opinion. And 37 years of a certain perspective will not change 37 years of their perspective.

But – something she said was very thought provoking – “And telling non-christian teens to practice abstinence until marriage is just not helpful anymore. Because without a desire to do God’s will because they know Him and have a relationship with Him, why would they bother to wait? It’s like trying to push moralism on people without the power of the Holy Spirit. And that doesn’t work.”

This was my response -

“Back when we had myspace I wrote something about the HPV vaccine and why I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. I’ve since looked for it and can’t find it – but basically – I don’t think that it’s too much to expect people to stay abstinent until marriage. I realize that in the majority of all cases – people just don’t. However – some people do. And I’m sure some people that do ARE Christians and some aren’t.

I think that the bottom line is how do you value yourself? And just like everything else in this world – no one deserves sex. it’s not some right that we “get” once we’ve reached a certain age.

I’m pretty sure i’ve shared this before – but we had a demonstration in high school once. Sally and Joe stepped onto a sheet – they were debating having sex. After all – Sally had only slept with one boy before Joe and he the same. But – the one person they both slept with had slept with two people. And those two people – two people. And those two people … you get the idea. That sheet gets full REALLY quick. It’s not just two people. It’s ALL THE PEOPLE.

Where does your self-worth come from? And in my case – Jesus. But in the cases where it’s NOT Jesus – I would say that people still value themselves. And understanding that opening yourself up to sleeping with every guy you want to – isn’t really loving yourself and showing your self-worth. So maybe just maybe (while I realize that everyone NEEDS Jesus) we really NEED a relationship with Jesus to get this. Although – I would argue that lots of Jesus loving people still don’t save sex for marriage. And I’m a realist – I can accept the reality of the world MOST times. This one is one that I have a hard time saying – it’s a lost cause. Saying – we have to figure something else out because you just can’t expect people to not have sex. But – I say it CAN happen.”

After I wrote that something about HPV – a friend said – Danielle lets her religious beliefs affect too much of her life – or something along those lines.

WHY YES. YES I DO. Thank you for noticing.

If you ARE worth it – do you think that you are valuable? Do you think that you are worth more than what you can give someone in the bedroom. Or what you can GET from someone in the bedroom? Sex outside of marriage is a selfish act. And sometimes IN marriage it’s a selfish act. We’re offended that men can’t control themselves. HOW DARE THEY – the animals. And I’m not saying it’s our responsibility to make sure the men in our lives don’t sin. Think about this – when we are handing out sex to everyone that we eat dinner with – it’s certainly not helping the cause.

ARE YOU WORTH IT? YOU CERTAINLY ARE!

THANK YOU JARED BARDEN

Filed under: bardenisms,family,just because,love,marry me,my family,project,the marriage fight — admin at 11:50 am on Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I shared a post recently that I wrote in 2013 thanking my dearest Lori for being my cheerleader in life. For helping me remember to NEVER lower my standards in life.

For a boy – for a job – for friendship – for ANYTHING. For helping me establish good self-esteem at a young age. For helping me hold onto that attitude throughout life.

For showing me what a life dependent on Jesus looks like. For showing me how to love like Jesus.

And it got me thinking about someone else that I need to say thank you to.

In November – Jared and I went to a marriage conference – one like we’ve never been to. We were strongly encouraged to spend LOTS of time focusing on each other – and not only encouraged – but the conference was arranged so that you DO get to have lots of time focusing on each other.

Over the course of that weekend – I was able to share something with Jared that I’ve never really been able to put into words before. Or even thought about putting into words before.

I have a good sense of who I am. I am unapologetically me. BUT – Jared Barden helped me be that person even more so!

Before Jared and I started dating – I was trying HARD to win the affection of someone else. I wasn’t totally myself – in hopes that I would win the attention I was hoping for.

But Jared – he saw me in the moments when I wasn’t trying. The moments when I was simply myself and not scheming to win someone over. And he loved that person.

He loves me at my best. He loves me at my worst. He loves me when I laugh too loud at the movies. He loves me when I’m whining about living in this house. He loves me when I haven’t shaved my legs all winter. He loves me when I shave my head – actually PREFERS when I shave my head.

Because I am so secure in his love – it allows me to be even more unapologetically myself.

When Jared and I started talking – like I said – I had NO intention of dating him. The thought wasn’t even on my radar. But when I talked to my mom about it – in her quiet wisdom – she said – you’ve spent so long trying to win someone else over – if you tell this guy no – you might be missing out on the rest of your life.

Our first date – we went to my brother’s soccer game. He sat with my dad. On the way over – we had talked about what we wanted out of life. I told him that my family was REALLY important to me. If he didn’t mesh with them – deal-breaker. If he didn’t want kids – deal-breaker – cus I was born to be a momma. And if he saw anything that was a red-flag on his end – let me know. We started dating with a goal in mind. Marriage. I didn’t want to date for years and years without any idea of marriage on the table.

But – my dearest Aunt Lori and my sweet husband aren’t the only reasons for my strong sense of self and security.

JESUS is. Really He is the ONLY reason.

Psalm 139: 13-16

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

God MADE me – he saw the beauty of His creation and thought that the world ALSO needed ME. And YOU. EXACTLY THE WAY I AM.

This doesn’t mean that I’m perfect. I’m not. I need to change. To grow and learn. I can be a better sister. A better friend. A better wife and mother.

BUT – God isn’t telling me that He will love me WHEN I change. When I become the best mother and wife. He tells me that He loves me NOW. In all my imperfections.

He knows that I had something to give. That YOU have something to give. Your existence is not an accident. It’s amazing to think about the specific conditions that must happen for life to start. Temperatures. Timing. For life to stick around. When I think about that fact that if another sperm had fertilized the egg that is now Fitzy – we would have a completely different child. A child that we would love and cherish – but NOT Fitzy. Not Enoch. And we wouldn’t miss them because we wouldn’t know them – but how different everything would be. It’s not coincidence. It’s God.

He orchestrates every small detail of our lives – and every BIG detail. And you my friend – YOU are a BIG DETAIL!

BE CONFIDENT. Not cocky. BE SURE OF YOURSELF IN CHRIST. BECAUSE HE IS SURE OF YOU!

And having an Aunt Lori and a Jared Barden doesn’t hurt your confidence. Find the people that love you. Really genuinely love you. People that aren’t afraid to call you out. People who encourage you. I’m not talking about compliments for compliments sake. I’m talking about the people that speak life into you. And the people that give you constructive criticism. The people that love you and want you to be the BEST version of you that you can be.

WHY ARE WE SHOCKED & SURPRISED

Filed under: bardenisms,just because,movies,newsworthy,television,the marriage fight — admin at 1:51 pm on Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Jared and I LOVE movies! And TV shows. I love when people ask me if I watch TV or movies and I show them my WHOLE ARM of movies and television. Yes. I watch them. I love them.

We recently saw The Greatest Showman – maybe about FOUR times in the theater! It was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! AWE-INSPIRING! BEAUTIFUL! And – AND – we took Fitzy to see it the second – third – AND fourth time because it was safe for the kiddos. He also LOVES movies – imagine that! We took Enoch the fourth time – and since we’ve been listening to the soundtrack FOR THE LAST THREE WEEKS – he knew all the songs. He didn’t LOVE it as much as Fitzy but the kid only has about a 10 minute attention span.

And Jared and I got talking on the way home from the movie – the first time – about how awesome it was. A message to NOT cheat on your spouse. A message about WHO you are – being comfortable with WHO you are. The struggles of fame and money and wanting ALL THE THINGS. A celebration of humanity.

We always use a site – kids-in-mind.com – not only to determine if the boys can see a movie – but if WE can watch it. They rate movies in terms of content – sex – violence – language.

Jared and I have never really been fans of movies loaded with ALL the things. But – over the years – going through the things we have – we’ve decided to re-evaluate what we watch.

When your husband gets in a little too deep – has a mental breakdown and confesses ALL the deep dark secrets – all the pornography addictions – you take a look at what you’re putting in your life. Having two little boys in the house – to raise and send out one day – you take a look at what you’re putting in your life.

I haven’t watched Deadpool so I can’t tell you exactly what it’s about or the content – but the site that we use spells ALL THE THINGS out.

Does a woman wear a low-cut dress? Does a man caress a woman’s shoulder? Does someone get punched in the nose? Is there blood? Exactly HOW many F-words are in this movie?

Deadpool – for example – is 105 minutes long and has 84 F-words. That’s almost 1 per minute. And I couldn’t read much past the first description in the sex/nudity – it’s intense.

Deadpool got an 8.8.10 – with 10 being the “worst”.

And in this scoring system – it’s – sex – violence – language.

So here’s my question – WHY ARE WE SURPRISED? WHY ARE WE SHOCKED? Why are wondering where all these accusations are coming from? Why? How? HIM? No way. Can’t be. But it must be. WHY? HOW?

Fifty Shades of Grey – another blockbuster – got a 10.5.5 – only about 7 F-words – BUT the sexual content is disturbing. Appalling. Infuriating. It really should be about a 15 if the scale went that high.

How on earth this movie is a MAINSTREAM movie and not porn – I don’t know. And again – I haven’t seen it. But the descriptions were more than enough – and again – I didn’t make it much past the first bullet point.

These are movies that women are going to see with their husbands. Husbands who have serious pornography addictions and the wives don’t know it. Although – I’m sure in some cases – the women DO know it. And excuse it. When we were dating – Jared told me he had an addiction to pornography – sometimes. And while no one in my life TAUGHT me that it was normal for a guy to look at porn – I figured – well – that’s just what guys do right?

Why? Why are we as a society in general comfortable with putting THIS on our movie screens and YET so uncomfortable with the men in this country acting EXACTLY THE SAME WAY. Because it’s just a movie? It’s just acting? It’s not real? It’s scripted? OR because it’s not consensual. And please don’t think that I’m okay with what these men are doing. I’m not. At all. I’m just really not surprised.

I have a theory – a general rule of thumb when it comes to acting. BUT – I wouldn’t take a role unless I could confidently sit next to my dad while the movie played. While he was on the set. You know how you watch a movie as a kid – and then watch it as an adult WITH your parents and you get a little squeamish? Uncomfortable because you didn’t get those jokes as a kid – but now. Ugh. That. I would want my dad AND/OR my Jesus to sit next to me while that movie played in the theater.

Watching people have sex – which is what happens in Deadpool and Fifty Shades – that’s porn right? Pornography by definition - printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings. From what I checked on those two movies – yep. Falls under that criteria.

Therefore – it’s not surprising or shocking that men ALL OVER OUR COUNTRY are being outed. Sex addicts. Manipulators. Liars.

It’s what we love to watch. But wait – maybe we only love to watch it when it’s controlled? Is it the out-of-control-ness about the people being outed that we don’t like? Is it only okay because it appears to be consensual according to the script? And if it’s NOT consensual – it’s part of the script and needed for the story to be told? What makes it okay in Deadpool and Fifty Shades?

Pornography is a SERIOUS addiction – it changes the patterns in your brain. We are feeding our men and our women and our teenagers and our babies LIES. Sex in the movies – it’s never real. And yet we are wondering – crying out for answers – WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE MEN IN THIS COUNTRY? THIS. ALL OF THIS.

So – THE award show is coming up – THE OSCARS. Like I said – we LOVE movies. And we LOVE going to the movies. But year after year after year – the nominations come out – and we haven’t seen them.

Let’s do Best Picture nominations and then one more film that has been raved about that looks good – from the previews

Call Me By Your Name – 8.1.5 - Set in 1983: A man working as a research assistant with a professor in Northern Italy befriends the professor’s teenage son and their relationship blossoms into sexual romance. So – lots of sexual content. No violence. Moderate language. A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A MAN AND A TEENAGER.

Get Out – 3.8.9 – A young African-American man travels to the home of his white girlfriend’s family and becomes increasingly wary of the behavior of all the people around him. Low on sex. High violence. High language.

Lady Bird – 6.3.6 - The film follows a strong-willed high school senior during the 2002-03 school year, as she struggles with her overbearing mother and other people in her life. Moderate sex. Low violence. Moderate language.

Phantom Thread – 3.3.6 - A famous dress designer in 1950′s London creates dresses for the rich, the famous and the nobility. His ordered life is interrupted when he falls in love with a younger woman with whom he develops an unorthodox relationship. Low sex. Low violence. Moderate language.

The Post – 1.3.5 - Inspired by true events surrounding the story of the publication of the Pentagon Papers by The Washington Post in the 1970′s. Low sex. Low violence. Moderate language.

The Shape of Water – 8.7.6 - A woman working as a cleaner in a 1960′s era laboratory discovers a secret containment area where an amphibious humanoid creature is held captive. She’s drawn to the creature while officials have more sinister plans. High sex. Moderate to high violence. Moderate language. A WOMAN HAS A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH AN AMPHIBIOUS CREATURE.

Darkest Hour – 1.3.3 - Set in May of 1940, the film chronicles the immense challenges Winston Churchill faced as he became Britain’s war-time Prime Minister: The German armies seemed unstoppable in Europe and the entire British army was surrounded and close to total annihilation in Dunkirk. Low sex. Low violence. Low language.

Dunkirk – 0.6.5 - During World War II, allied troops were stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk in the French front awaiting evacuation. German bombers began picking them off and the race to save them began. No sex. Moderate violence. Moderate language.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 2.7.10 - Convinced that lawmen have dropped the ball on solving her daughter’s rape and murder, a distraught single mother rents three billboards leading into town with messages that denigrate the sheriff. Low sex. High violence. High language.

And this one – I, Tonya – 6.6.10 - The real-life story of ice-skater and Olympic hopeful Tonya Harding and the incident that brought her infamy and destroyed her dreams. Moderate sex. Moderate violence. High language.

BUT – The Greatest Showman – 3.3.2 - A musical film based on the story of P.T. Barnum and how his imagination and salesmanship inspired the creation of his sensational circus. Low on sex/nudity – it’s a 3 because people kiss. Women wear tight and sometimes revealing costumes (revealing cleavage or shoulders or thighs). There is a song – You know I want you. It’s not a secret I try to hide. I know you want me – which might make you a little uncomfortable with your kids – however – it does open up the conversation as to what that means. They like each other – they want to be together but society doesn’t want them together because of the color of their skin. And that it’s not cool for a man to tell a woman he wants her and she just gives him what he wants – because if a man wants you – then he must have you – or not. It opens up lots of topics to talk about what God intends for our relationships with other people. Low on violence. There are some intense scenes of people fighting – however – it’s not bloody and opens conversation as to WHY people are treating people badly – because they’re different. Low on language – some name calling. Also – in one of the songs – damn is in the lyrics – we substitute MAN! Fitzy didn’t even realize exactly what they were saying – so that helped.

So – I leave you with the question – WHY ARE WE SHOCKED AND SURPRISED?!

STILL

Another 5 months have gone by since I wrote – which would seem crazy – but it really doesn’t. I barely have enough free time to take a shower – let alone sit down and type!

Going from 1 to 2 children has still been crazy hard for me – like I said before. And sometimes I feel like I’m just a weirdo that can’t handle it. I can’t even tell you that it’s crazy hard sometimes – pretty much all the time. How do you attend to both? How do you meet the needs of a toddler and an infant – at the same time. How do you make time for your husband at the end of the day or the beginning of the day – or anytime of the day. Sacrifice is the only answer I’ve come across. You sacrifice the needs of one for the other. In every situation. I’m sacrificing spending time with Jared over sleep. I’m sacrificing sleep over taking care of a baby in the night. I’m sacrificing spending time with Fitzy over editing photographs while Enoch sleeps. I’m sacrificing a shower over dishes and a walk and picking up toys. Sacrificing spending time with God over wallowing about my situation. Sacrificing – balance – whatever – call it what you want – but it’s what I’ve discovered.

And I’d like to say that I suppose we are doing fine – but I’m not. I’m overwhelmed. Mostly with the lack of sleep. Fitzy has only started sleeping through the night since April – but he also gave up any naps then too. And by sleeping through the night I mean – he calls out anywhere from 11 to 5 and asks for daddy. Jared ends up in bed with him for the rest of the night. On a typical night – Enoch goes to sleep at 8 in his crib  and is up again at 11 – ready to be up – but I get him back to sleep – in our bed. Then he is up at 1 for about an hour most nights – rolling around and whining – if it’s really bad – I give him a bottle – but try not to. Then he’s up again by 4.30 and sleeps fitfully until about 5.30 when he’s up for the day. He takes two small naps a day. And I’m exhausted. I usually spend every morning sobbing – wondering how I’ll survive another day on this amount of sleep. And I do – but I’m quite sick of surviving and would like to start thriving. Because – believe me – it’s not fun for anyone. I realize that. We have two small bedrooms upstairs – so we share a bedroom with Enoch – because I can’t deal with two kids up all hours of the night. And so starts the cycle of waking up and being in a house all day that I don’t want to be in. I could list the reasons – but I’ll spare you. These two things are what keeps me from loving life. It might sound petty – it might sound trivial. I realize that LOTS of people have it MUCH harder. But that still doesn’t mean that what is happening for me is hard. I don’t think it’s right to say – well – just be grateful for what you have – it could be worse. I’ve been trying to push it down – trying to make it not matter – and it’s just taken a deeper root. I need to experience it – to somehow figure out how to get through this. Because it’s consuming me.

And as I look through my blog posts – I realize that it’s always a struggle about something. And then I think – I don’t remember reading many blog posts – from anyone that go on and on about their wonderful amazing beautiful lives and how they are just rocking everything that’s thrown their way. Struggle? What’s struggle? Isn’t it all about managing our way through the muck. Navigating through the ugly to discover the beautiful underneath? I say that to say this – if you think I’m complaining. I’m whining. I’m ungrateful. Please feel free to stop reading.

It’s hard for me to remember the days when all I wanted to be was a mother. The pain and the prayers – I seriously don’t remember. I mean – I know I felt that way. I know that it hurt – but it’s not there. I look at these two little boys and it’s hard to imagine a life – almost 30 years of a life without them in it. And for the past several years it seems I’ve always been wanting. Wanting pain to go away (it’s not – but much better). Wanting to be a photographer (and I am). Wanting to be a momma (and I am – twice). Wanting to be in a different house. Wanting babies to sleep better. Wanting a minute to write. Wanting whatever isn’t in front of me.

I want to embrace. Not want.

I want to embrace where I am – the pain – the trials – the joy – the beauty. These boys that I wanted SO badly. These babies that consumed my thoughts. To be a momma. A get on the floor and play with my kids momma. A look them in the eyes and LISTEN to what they are saying momma. I want to embrace it. This husband who is quite fantastic to me. Who deals with my dramatic personality. And loves me in spite of it. This guy that just loves me. I want to embrace it. All of it. But. It’s hard. Really really hard. A work in progress – which I will always be – but shoot – I want to be happier. I want to be happier because the truth is – Jesus is crazy awesome. Period. If nothing else. Jesus is awesome. And I need to see that. And hold onto that. Sometimes only that. I want to be happier because right now – it’s hard to live with me. And Jared is pretty awesome – because he is the heart that loves me at my worst and the arms that hold me my weakest. That’s how I can describe him. That’s what he is to me. I want to be happier because these babies are all I’ve ever wanted. And I’m missing out on happy times because I’m too sad to see them.

I want to be happier because I’m miserable. And I’m so tired of feeling this way. So tired of pulling into the driveway with wishes in my heart. Waking up in the morning in tears. And yes – I know. This too shall pass. But it really sucks while you are going through it. And I don’t know how to get over that.

I don’t do Pinterest. And the biggest reason is that it would suck WAY TOO MUCH of my time. The second reason is – I can’t stand seeing all these little improvements for your home all the time. Because it makes me even more frustrated with where I am. Everyone says – be content with what you have. Be thankful for what God has given you. But we all want more. Improved furniture. Better chairs. An updated kitchen. Fancier lights. It’s always something. Updating. Improving. Upgrading. Remodeling. And I get that – I really do. But – our treasures are in heaven. Not here. Yet we all want more. I want a different house – more than I can even express. And my goal – now – isn’t to stop wanting a different house – but to start realizing that it doesn’t matter what this house looks like – outside or inside. That it doesn’t matter that it’s nothing like I would like to have. But that I have it and I have to make do with what we have. I don’t like this. And I don’t think that I need to learn to like it. But I do need to stop allowing this to make my heart ugly – because it is. And it’s bad enough for me to deal with – let alone what Jared is dealing with. It’s hard to focus on building our treasures in heaven when we are so consumed with how our here on earth looks.

And sleep – well. Again – it is what it is. I’ve tried. And because we have tiny bedrooms and someone has to share a room – crying it out in the middle of the night means losing more sleep that what I am now. 5.30 mornings are getting old. Quick. And I know – someday I will say – remember when we didn’t sleep? Cus I don’t. I wish our biggest problem was sleeping at night – or the lack. Instead of mean kids at school. Instead of broken hearts. Instead of dating. Instead of driving. Instead of college. But – again – going through it is ROUGH. But it’s gonna be the way it is for a while – based on how Fitzy slept. And I’m doing it – so I’ll keep doing it. I just need to be happier.

And really – again – only Jesus can do that. Not a new house. Not sleep. Not Jared. Not my kiddos. So today – again. I’m making an effort. An effort to not be miserable. Because when you look around – life is pretty amazing. And be still – which I know is kinda impossible with a toddler and an infant on the move – all the time. But just not be in a rush ALL THE TIME. I feel like I’m always moving at high speed – which is normal for me. Slowing down is hard – because then I spend way too much time in my head. And it usually comes back to – if I slept more – if we lived in a different house. But sleep and a new house doesn’t fix an ugly heart. Jesus does.

And like I wrote last time – life as we know it – has changed. Again. And it will again tomorrow.

LIFE AS WE KNOW IT

Filed under: bardenisms,expecting,family,just because,love,my family,newsworthy,the marriage fight,weight loss,word of God — admin at 7:42 pm on Thursday, April 10, 2014

I haven’t written since Enoch was two weeks old. WHAT?! And now he’s almost 5 months old. Crazy.

When he was a little over two weeks old – I noticed some blood in his stool. I tried not to freak out – but I knew that wasn’t normal. Nor was solid poops for a two week old. Crap. Literally and figuratively.

Turns out that it was suspected he had a milk protein allergy – which is different than being lactose intolerant. So we switched his formula – but he still wasn’t happy – there was still blood in his stool. Poor guy. He would cry when he ate and struggle to poop. He woke up every hour and a half to eat and eat and eat and cry and cry and cry. It was heartbreaking and exhausting. I cried and cried and cried.

At my 6 week appointment – the doctor suggested we switch him to a different formula – Elecare. It’s expensive – but worked! And is working wonderfully! He started to shoot off the growth chart and his whole demeanor changed! He’s doing very well on the new formula and we will introduce cow’s milk to him at 1 and see how he does!

He’s a happy beautiful baby – except for when he’s not! Happy – I mean – he’s always beautiful!

The transition from 1 child to 2 – has been … interesting. Difficult. Exhausting. Yes – rewarding. The lack of sleep has been the hardest part. Oh – and the – how do I do this whole 2 kid thing! That’s been the hardest.

I suppose we are doing fine – both kids are loved and happy. They are growing and fed.

As a first time momma – I felt very confident in my mothering abilities. With Enoch – I feel much less confident – and I’m not quite sure why!

Fitzy is fantastic with Enoch. There have only been a few occasions where he bopped him on the head and when I asked why – he said – cus I need you momma. Then just ask for me sweetie. Okay momma. He comforts him when he cries. He loves to make him laugh. He asks for him in the morning and rubs his little fist all over his face. He asks where he is when he’s not in the room. He can’t wait to help him learn – everything!

As I sit here typing this – almost 5 months after becoming a momma of two young boys – it’s getting easier. Easier in that their naps are usually timed together and I can get editing and my emails and bills done in the afternoon. Easier in that Enoch fits on my hip and is starting to interact more. Easier in that Enoch is sleeping longer periods (not through the night by any means – but I don’t think that was a blessing that was intended for me) at night and I’m not absolutely exhausted all the time. Easier in that I’m not yelling and breaking down two to three times a day (or more) while Fitzy consoles me and says – be happy momma. I just make you happy momma.

My confidence is coming back – slowly. But I feel like I forgot EVERYTHING about raising a baby. I told Jared – if I had birthed another 2 1/2 year old – I’d be set – but this? I don’t remember this. When do they sit up again? How much food does he eat – and when? Is he supposed to be drooling all the time? Why won’t he stay asleep? What do I do with him all day? It’s the weirdest thing. And with Fitzy – ugh. My heart was hurting so much for this little boy that had his momma all to himself. We went to the store – played puzzles – did play-doh – crafted crafts. You name it. And now – I have this little guy to tend to and Fitzy wants me too. And I understand that we are teaching them to be independent and successful on their own – but my word – he’s not even 3 yet. He’s still a baby. Why must he grow up so fast? I would catch myself saying things like – WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? YOU KNOW BETTER. But ya know what – he kinda doesn’t. He’s just a toddle still. And I’m in no way excusing bad behavior. Believe me. And he’s still learning. And I’m learning.

And the lack of confidence and exhaustion spiraled out of control. The hurts of the past few years crept up on me. I’ve been angry. Frustrated. And I’ve held onto it – because it’s easier than facing the truth. That my heart needs to change. I have ridiculous expectations. I have control issues – which I’ve always said. But it’s time to face the truth. I’m not happy. I’m overwhelmed and let down. I’m demanding and impossible to please. My bitterness and hurt started to spill out of me and onto others.

We’ve had a rough year – again. And Jared is doing great. Really. But when I can’t keep a lid on my own crazy – he spirals. And believe me – I have my own crazy. I need to remember that things don’t have to be done now. That when Fitzy says – momma – play with me – I need to really get down on the floor and play with him. When he has a story to tell me – I need to listen like it’s the most important thing I’ll ever hear – because it really is. I need to remember that babies cry and fuss and I’m not doing something wrong. When Enoch won’t go down for the third time and just needs to be rocked – instead of crying and getting frustrated – just hold him and rock him. It will be gone before I know it. When Jared says I’m sorry. Take it. Don’t make him say it again and again. Punishment. It’s a hard one for me – if you’ve hurt me – then you need to spend some time being hurt. Ugh. Even typing those words makes me sick. But it’s how I feel. I can forgive you for hurting me but I am on the ready for it to happen again – so – what good is that. Instead of living in the past and bringing it up every single day – move forward. In God’s love and grace. When Jared was in the hospital – I prayed and asked God to show me what He wanted me to know. What I heard was that HE needs to be the center and source of my joy. Not Jared. Not Fitzy. Not Enoch. Sure – they will bring me joy – but God needs to be the ultimate source. Because nothing – NOTHING – in this life is mine. My husband – these sweet babies – nothing.

It was time to address some issues – face to face. So I did. We did. And forgiveness always wins. Love always wins. When you let it. God is always there to hold your heart in His hands – but when you’ve placed it in a prison – He won’t force His way in. You have to make the effort – make the choice. And airing some hurts and asking for and giving forgiveness has made all the difference.

And God loves me. And wants the best for me. And He knows the best – although I think I do. I think that closing the door to my feelings and living in anger is best. It’s not. And I know that – but it’s what protects my heart. Because I’m tired. Tired of hurting and suffering. But God wants to take that hurt and make it into something beautiful. And I can’t stop living a joyful life because of fear.

Because of some issues we’ve had in the past and some issues that were brought to light over the summer – it’s been hard to trust. It’s been hard to get that trust back. It’s been really hard to get to a place in our marriage where we are happy. And by we – I mean me. Jared is trying. But I expect more. I expect him to be what I think he should be. When I should be encouraging him to be what God has for him.

In March – at a MOPS meeting (that I didn’t want to go to) the topic was on marriage. Intimacy in marriage. Something that has been a struggle for me lately. The challenge was to be intimate every 72 hours. Make a point to make it happen. For 30 days. And see what happens.

Pornography is a horrible awful thief. Of joy and trust and love. It takes something that should be beautiful and wonderful – a deep connection between a husband and wife – and makes it ugly and hurtful. Bitterness is the root. A root that has taken it’s place in my heart and spread. And it’s starting to affect more than just me. My husband. My sweet kids. My joy. It has stolen my joy and replaced it with bitterness. And I’m done. I want to look forward to intimacy with Jared. I want to WANT to be close to my husband. When it comes time – I get nervous. The little voices in my head say – he doesn’t deserve this. You should wait longer. He should have to wait longer. Because that’s what pornography does. It kills. It kills marriages. For me – it kills the want to be intimate with my husband – because all I can think about is what he’s done. Not what he’s doing. The man he is now. The man he wants to be. The man he is trying to be.

And what I need to do is not speak over those voices in my head – but let God. Let God heal my hurts – let God be my trust. It’s been almost a month since we started the challenge – and with a few missed nights due to the demands of raising small children – we’ve made it. And while the beginning of the month started out rough – it’s gotten better. And like anything – it’s not happening overnight – but instead gradually. My attitude has changed and every day I am stopping in the midst of a trial to make a decision (or trying to – sometimes word vomit just pours out) and really think about what I’m saying. What I’m doing.

So – I’d like to tell you that life is getting “easier” because E is getting older – but it’s also getting “easier” because I’m trying to choose happiness over pessimism – which is hard for me. It’s hard for me to not expect the worst so that I won’t be let down. It’s hard for me to believe that God does indeed have good things for me when so much hurt has happened. And while I want to raise my boys with a sense of reality – I also want them to have hope. And not just a hope because we are supposed to hope – but a real honest to goodness HOPE. A hope that leads their steps and their lives. And I need that for me. For us.

And it’s not about an easy life. It’s not about a normal life.

When Enoch first came home – I felt so guilty. Guilty that Fitzy wouldn’t know the love that he did. Guilty that Enoch wouldn’t have the attention and love that Fitzy got when he was a baby. That Fitzy wasn’t my one and only during the day. That my heart wasn’t big enough to hold the love for the two of them. I was a fantastic momma when it was just Fitzy – but with Enoch in the picture too – I felt less than fantastic. How on earth do I give them both the love and attention they need? I cried. A lot. And Fitzy was such a sweet little guy. Don’t cry momma. I make you happy momma. All the time. I yelled. I lost my patience. A lot. Poor little guy. This is my sweet boy and I am hurting his sensitive spirit. So I would hug him and cry and apologize. And he would grab my face and say – I love you momma. I forgive you all the time.

Looking back over the past few months – I don’t know how we made it. Well – God. Just like over the summer. It’s always – but God.

So – every day I am making an effort. To keep the past in the past. To accept an I’m sorry. To trust my husband. To take a deep breath and not overreact (that one is really really rough). To make sure to spend time with just Enoch and with just Fitzy and with the two of them together. To spend time together as a family. Read the Bible (I’m horrible at making that a priority). To give up control. To forgive. To ask for forgiveness. To live my life in reality instead of on Facebook. Some days are better than others. Some worse.

Life as we know it – has changed. Again. And it will again tomorrow. Jared and I talked about how we haven’t enjoyed having two sweet babes as much as we thought we might. How it’s been harder than we thought. How I’ve cried and cried and wondered how I’m going to do this. And do it right. And that sweet little boy reminds me of God’s love when he holds my face and says. I forgive you momma. All the time.

 

LOVE HOPES ALL THINGS

Filed under: at work,babes,bardenisms,birth,expecting,just because,kiddos,love,my family,the marriage fight,word of God — admin at 6:47 pm on Thursday, October 10, 2013

If you don’t know – Jared and I share a website where we blog – the marriage fight.

In order to better understand what I’m about to write here – you might want to hop on over there and read – at least – the last two entries. About grace.

There is so much I want to say. So much I want to just pour out – but it’s not time. It’s not all mine to share. So I won’t.

But I will tell you this. I’m struggling. In the past – I’ve written about the hard times. It’s how I heal. How I process.

That’s a tear on my arm – right above the dandelion. It’s mine. From this morning. There were a lot more. A lot.

I’m angry. I’m confused. I look at the pictures on our bedroom wall and wonder what happened to those people. In our wedding photo. At a picnic. At the beach.

Pregnant with Fitzgerald. That’s where you can see the change. All the pictures before – we were – different. You can see it. We aged – quickly. That sparkle in our eyes isn’t as bright. Looking back – we should have been in counseling the first time we miscarried. Tomorrow would be Enoch’s 4th birthday. FOURTH. I cannot believe that it’s been that long.

(I’m okay – little Enoch in my belly is okay – I’m talking about our first baby – which we also named Enoch)

And then it all just kept coming. We got pregnant so easily that first time. And then – not so much. And I got really sad. And Jared got really sad. And then we got pregnant with Fitzy. And a new chapter in our life began. In so many areas. We miscarried again. We lost sight of each other and what was important in our lives. In our marriage. We miscarried again. Then we started to get our marriage back. It was a rough spell – but forgiveness and grace was abundant. Then we got pregnant. Again. For a fifth time. And we knew he would stay. And we both felt really awesome about where we were. How far we had come. How far God brought us from where we were.

And then – almost overnight – it started to crash. Hard. Harder than all the crap I just mentioned. Harder than anything I have ever been through. And it broke. And the pieces are still scattered. Just a few corners and edges put into place. But like with any puzzle – once you get to all blue sky in the beautiful landscape background – all the pieces look the same. And you have to start sorting them by shape. Pouring over the slight changes in the color – teeny little changes. And it takes a very long time to fit them together. To figure it out.

I feel like that’s where we are. So much has happened and there’s so much to piece together – that it’s overwhelming. The entire puzzle is blue sky. And even the edges and corners are tough. Intricate and detailed. Specific. Each piece has to fit perfectly.

And it’s taking a very long time. Which in reality – is a speck. But oh my – it seems so long already.

And in less than 7 weeks – Enoch will be here. Another precious baby in this house. A house that will have new windows next week and we can move upstairs. And if I’m honest – I’m having a hard time being excited. Because I’m terrified.

I started counseling yesterday – and she asked – what were 4 things I do well. Only 4? Just kidding. I thought about it.

Well – I organize well. I have a take control personality – so I think I lead well. I am a photographer and I think that God has blessed me with the ability to see things others can’t – so I capture moments well. And I mother well.

What’s your goal? What – my goal? Um – my goal was to have a baby before I turned 30 – I was 29 and 11 months. Check. Start a photography business. Check. But now – to be fun. To be a fun mom and wife and sister and daughter and friend. Because sometimes – I’m not. But we all need that one person that says – c’mon guys – should we REALLY do this? Do you REALLY need that sweater for $100? I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses.

And.

Love hopes all things. Right?

I mean – it’s tattooed on my arm. I look at it every day. Multiple times a day. And still – I lose hope. I cry and I whine. And I HATE whining.

Right now – it’s a deep deep valley. One where the sun hardly shines. And I am so thankful for my growing family. I am so thankful that I get to spend the days with a little boy who is full of joy. And hope.

Fitzy’s newest thing is to stand on something – a block – or a shoe – and balance. He says – MOM – look at me do this! I say – that’s fantastic baby! I’m so proud of you! And he waddles off to find the next thing to balance on. When he sees something he likes – he says – oh momma – that’s so niiiiiiiice. ooooooh. It’s seriously the best. He does the dishes. He does the laundry. He cleans the sink. He folds clothes. He washes windows.

I was so angry that this was happening now. Why couldn’t this have happened when we didn’t have a baby and one on the way. Without Fitzy – I would be in that valley too. Me – personally. I’m in it now with Jared – but I have to be the one to remind him – us – to look for the sun. Without Fitzy – it would be a lot easier to find a cave together – crawl into the darkness – and not care about coming out.

I told my aunt the other day that I felt like God was giving me the bare minimum to get by. That He could see me dangling off the cliff by my pinky – barely holding on. And He said – well – here’s a little deeper of a ledge for you to grasp. Just a little. I know you want more – but this is all you can have right now.

Now – I know – I know – God isn’t mean and vindictive. He doesn’t take pleasure in watching me dangle – although some of you would disagree with that. But it’s how I feel. And feelings are important. And so is the truth. That God is covering us and holding us.

And I tell you what seems like random babble – to say this. God has given me organizational skills. Leadership skills. Strength – but knowing to ask for help when I need it. The ability to see beauty in things that others can’t. And I’m a great mom. I have never had to use those skills like I am right now. Like I will have to. That all that crap was to prepare me – us – for this.

To depend on Jesus.

Fitzy asked me to rock him today – he hasn’t asked me to do that in a while. A few weeks. But it’s been MONTHS that he has fallen asleep while I rocked him. I needed that today. To hold my baby and know that God is holding me – holding Jared – holding Fitzy – holding Enoch – even tighter. That while I’m dangling off the edge of that cliff – while we are – that He isn’t above us – giving us just a little bit more – He’s right below us. Ready. Waiting.

Today – I texted Jared and said – What do I do? He said – Pray. Wait. Listen. Love.

I’ve prayed and prayed – and pray. I’ve waited and I feel like I don’t have much time left to wait. I’m listening but not hearing. And love. Love has been redefined in my book. Which isn’t always a bad thing. Hard – yes. Bad – no. So I love.

But I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what we need.

Well – yes. A miracle. We need a miracle to find our way out of this valley.

While I tend to give out tough love – more than gentle love – I didn’t like receiving it today (not mentioning any names – Ericka) but it was what I needed to hear.

We need prayer. We need hope. We need a miracle. We need Jesus.

the marriage fight

Filed under: love,marry me,the marriage fight,wedding — admin at 1:12 pm on Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jared and I share blogging duties on the marriage fight.

If you haven’t checked it out – please do so!

Today is our 9th wedding anniversary and I had about 15 mintues (thanks to a next door G who loves her sweet grandson) to write what that means to me.