Filed under: an hour in the life,bardenisms,family,just because,newsworthy,word of God — admin at 11:44 am on Saturday, October 13, 2018

I had a session in August with a GORGEOUS family! They asked me to keep the family photos off the interwebs since they wanted to use them for CHRISTMAS!

And when I got done – they were some of my FAVORITE family shots! But – I couldn’t “show them off” – go figure!

I had a session in September with a family and they asked me to NOT post the photos – and … THEY WERE MY FAVORITE!!

But – since you couldn’t see WHO they were – I did post a few!

I REALLY REALLY hope they order a GIANT print of the dancing one!

ALL THIS TO SAY – who am I looking to get praise from?

Obviously my clients – at the end of the day – it doesn’t matter WHO might happen to “like” my photo if the client doesn’t love it.

Shouldn’t that be it? I could argue that in this business I NEED other people to see photos of families & seniors & brides & grooms & babies AND love those photos and therefore ask me to take their photos!

But what if the ONLY people who saw the photos I take were the people IN THOSE PHOTOS.

Would it be enough? Shouldn’t it be enough?

I post the photos I take because I LOVE THEM! I love the people in them. I love the moments I capture. The tiny details.

I believe that the unique eye God gave me is worth something.

Do you know what I love to do most to relax? Edit. (and binge-watch star trek series) but – EDIT. I love taking photos and I LOVE editing photos.

It’s relaxing and life-giving and inspiring and BEAUTIFUL.

Like I said – I believe that God gave me this gift. And I praise Him by using this gift. By giving you long-lasting memories – BEAUTIFUL long-lasting memories.

And really – at the end of the day – it ONLY matters if the person paying me LOVES their photos.

It’s hard being stuck in that place where I need other people to see and love my photography and ask me to photograph them BUT I need the people IN the photos to be happy with what I’ve given them.

When I have a FANTASTIC session and the only people that see them are the ones in them – it’s been hard for me to not show the world.

I get it. I respect that my clients don’t want their faces ALL over the internet.

I’m discovering that your (the general public) praise might be what I’m looking for.


A girl at after-school care asked me about shaving her head – because she hates her hair. People pick on her about her hair. And her teeth. And her weight.

I asked her – do those things bother YOU? No. But they bother everyone else.

LISTEN. People are ALWAYS going to tell what they THINK is wrong with you. I wish I could tell you that it will get better as you get older.

You can’t change other people. And while what they’re doing isn’t kind or right or good – you can only change YOU.

And Jesus LOVES you. And He would die for you OVER & OVER again. And He looks at you and calls you worthy. He looks at you and calls you BEAUTIFUL!


SO – if I’m gonna practice what I preach – I need to STOP CARING about what everyone might think about these pictures I take. STOP CARING about how many likes they might be getting.

STOP CARING that people might not see some of my best work. Because – the people who are hanging those photos in their house – LOVED THEM.

START REALLY BELIEVING THAT I AM ENOUGH. Because Jesus tells me that I am.


Filed under: family,friends,just because,kiddos,lifestyle,love,my family,my town,newsworthy,word of God — admin at 11:18 am on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

If you read THE baby announcement – you know a little bit of Missy & Cody’s journey.

Cody recently encountered Jesus and it’s been AMAZING to watch his transformation!

He made the beautiful decision to be baptized!

So – I’ve known Sierra for a while now – since she and I were pregnant with Asa & Enoch – but only in the terms of yeah – I know WHO she is.

But – we’ve grown closer over the years. Her husband and Cody have gotten pretty close – starting with their shared love of ALL things car-related!

Missy & Sierra have gotten close while their husbands were growing their friendship.

Jared & Cody & Jose all get along really well. Sierra & Missy & I all get along really well. AND our kids LOVE hanging out with each other. WIN WIN WIN!!

Jose and our pastor Mark were in the water with Cody!

Everything was going smoothly – Cody got a little choked up giving his testimony – but nothing too weepy for the crowd – until …

Jose started to pray – then Cody was crying – I was crying – Missy was crying – and I’m guessing a few other people were crying!

Cody didn’t really care whether Sierra wanted a wet hug or not!

The ONLY blue-eyed kiddo IN THE BUNCH!

That guy – so much going on in that head of his. And Asa JUST turned FIVE! Enoch will be FIVE in November!

The ONLY GIRL in the bunch! FOR NOW!

CODY – I am so thankful to walk this journey with you and your family! I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH WE LOVE YOU!!


Filed under: baby barden,bardenisms,family,just because,kiddos,lifestyle,my family,word of God — admin at 12:55 pm on Sunday, August 26, 2018

This guy. He is GO GO GO – but I think I’ve mentioned that.

He loves fiercely. He also fights fiercely.

He was having a rough time at Fitzy’s business fair.

Really – when it comes down to it – he wants what he wants when he wants it. And when he doesn’t get it – watch out.

Yelling. Kicking. Baby talking. I hate you. You’re the meanest mom. You look stupid. Your hair is stupid. Blah blah blah. I’m never going to wal*mart again. I’m never eating food again.

I think you get the idea!

HARD. It’s been SO VERY HARD. I have yelled – which is something I try so hard not to do. But let’s be honest – when you’re getting screamed at – your initial response is to scream back – at least mine is.

Intimidation is my go-to tactic – being super real and honest here. UGH.

I’ve cried. And cried. I’ve hugged. I’ve kissed. I’ve made him sit. I’ve made him stay – while he kicks and screams and calls me names. I’ve spanked – which i HATE.

And when I make a threat. I do it. I’ve taken things away. I’ve encouraged. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. I’ve asked him what’s going on.

He tells me that I don’t listen to him. I don’t understand him. I don’t even know him.

And five minutes later. He comes up to me and apologizes for being a jerk. For being mean. For being rude. He tells me he loves me. He asks for snuggles.

At the business fair – he wanted a brownie. No. They are not for you. I brought a different snack for you. Cue the throwing himself – in front of Fitzy’s table – while he’s trying to make a sale.

Cue me picking him while he kicks me. Screams at me. Tells me he hates me. I cry. I speak calmly and tell him why he cannot act like that.

You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to be mad. You are even allowed to not like me right now. FEEL THE FEELINGS.

BUT YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED to hit me. To kick me. To call me names. To hit your brother. To throw yourself. We have to figure out a way for you to get your anger out – without hurting people and without hurting yourself.

And I’ve heard it. He just needs a good spanking. Spanks might work for some kids. This one hits back. And wonders why he’s getting hit for hitting someone. That’s not right. And how many times do you spank. How hard do you get? It’s not something I can do. Because while his anger boils over – so does mine. And I can’t keep hitting him more and harder.

Right now – as I’m writing this – he’s breaking down.

The business fair was Thursday – August 16th.

Today it’s August 21st – Tuesday. This REALLY angry behavior started after we got back from the ark – around the 14th.

Our conversation at the moment -

E – so mom – you’re telling me that I can’t get any cards at wal*mart but Fitzy can.

Mom – Enoch – what did I already tell you? What did we already talk about. I told you that if you continue to be mean and rude and hit your brother – you will not get anything at the store.

E – NO NO NO NO!! But I was nice after you told me to be.

Mom – yes – after I told you that you wouldn’t get anything because you were mean to me. You told me that you wanted me out of your life. That means you want me to walk out this door and never come back.

E – You’re the worst mom I’ve ever seen.

Mom – Enoch – I love you.

E – screams. cries. says all the mean things. growls. grunts. (while cuddling with me even though he doesn’t want me in his life and thinks i’m the worst and meanest mom.)

SO – Jared’s mom was at the business fair. I’m not a grandparent – obviously – but I’m told – and have witnessed that it’s different with your grandkids. Enoch needed to sit in the yard by himself while he screamed and kicked and yelled and grunted because I couldn’t hold him down anymore and won’t. But ask a grandparent to sit by and let him be alone. I don’t know many that can do it. I know that my parents have a very hard time too.

The whole thing SUCKS. It’s so VERY VERY HARD. However – kids need to figure it out and learn – it’s not all about you. You cannot continue to act like this. But I cannot hold you down every moment. And we cannot stay in our house all the time. So the judgements come. The stares happen. The tantrums happen. And we all try to navigate the best we can. Failing and sometimes feeling like maybe you will have a tantrum free hour ahead of you – but never really feeling like you’re winning.

And I know what you might think while you’re waiting in line behind me. Just buy the kid the dang lollipop and he will stop freaking out. Just let him get the gum and he will stop screaming. JUST GIVE HIM WHAT HE WANTS. Just give him a brownie. Just let him stand where he wants.

Yes. That will stop him crying. For the moment. But the kids are not in charge. They don’t get to set the stage. Letting him have all the things – eat all the foods – watch all the videos – drink all the soda. That’s not helping him. It’s hurting him. And I know that some people would argue the opposite – just let them have the treat. It won’t hurt.

You don’t have to go home with them.


If you threaten a child with a paddle – you BEST use that paddle the next moment they do what you told them not to. If you don’t – then your word means nothing.

If you tell your child that they can’t have anything else to eat until lunch if they choose to not finish their breakfast – you better not let them have a lollipop because you went to the bank. And if you happen to run into someone or go somewhere and they offer your child something to eat and your child says – yes but mom says no. And you explain why – THE NEXT TIME THE KID ASKS FOR SOMETHING TO EAT – you don’t say – oh honey I would but you have to ask your mom. You say – no. You don’t say – I would let you but your mom says no. SERIOUSLY!? Thanks for the support.

So – let me get back to the initial post – it’s a hard season (only a week or so but it feels like months) and I might be a little passionate and EMOTIONAL about this whole thing.

Jared’s mom took Enoch home with her. As much as he needed to stay and figure out the boundaries and expectations – and when your kid is hard – it’s not realistic to just send them away and make it all easier. BUT – I guess if you want to take him and it can be a little easier to breathe and focus on the fair – sure. He’s having a hard time – I’m having a hard time. IT’S ALL SO VERY HARD.

She kept him overnight and I got him in the morning. Within 25 minutes – we were both sobbing. He was reminding me that I was horrible because I wouldn’t let him watch what HE wanted. Eat what HE wanted. Do all the things HE wanted when HE wanted.


I think – we hope – that he’s growing. Changing. Shifting. Please oh please – let that explain this challenging time.

And I remind him (and me) that God SPOKE your existence before we even thought about you. He said you would come. You would be a boy. We would name you Enoch. It means dedicated. YOU ARE HERE FOR A VERY SPECIFIC REASON. YOU HAVE A PURPOSE. YOU WERE CHOSEN TO BE OUR SON. I WAS CHOSEN TO BE YOUR MOM. (even though sometimes I’m sure God must have gotten this all wrong.) I remind him. I remind myself.

THAT FACE – how can so much little sweetness be so mean and irrational?! UGH – as much as this whole thing is so hurtful and frustrating and humiliating – for me – there’s a bigger part of me that is hurting for what’s going on inside that sweet baby boy!

And this – this one might be hard to read – please trust me that it’s hard to TYPE and put out there for the WORLD to see. I’ve said this to my mom. My MIL. My dearest friends. The women at MOPS. Parents – who might get it.


When you’re hoping to get pregnant – hoping to have a baby – hoping to be a parent – these are NOT the parts you dream about. Or even think about.

BUT REMEMBER – that deep and lovely dark – we’d never see the stars without it. Life is mostly about what happens when the hard things come. Who do you reach out to – who reaches back. How hard do you fight for your love and your family and those little souls God entrusted you with?

AND THIS IS REALLY HARD. And I know – I know. This too shall pass – I KNOW. But right now – it’s not passing – it’s digging in and staying. And while I know that we will make it and be more beautiful because of the pressing and the grinding and the shaping and the crying – I also don’t know that we will all make it through. Make it through to send this strong boy on his own in the world with the qualities that are ever so frustrating at this moment – but will be so useful when he’s out making is own way and questioning all the things just because someone said BECAUSE THIS IS THE WAY IT IS.

Make it through to stand at the doorway and look at Jared and say – I’m not ready. I need more time. It went too fast. I’ll do it all again. Rewind.

Because right now – these days are so very long. And so very hard.

I wrote this post last week – today it’s the 26th and that picture was taken yesterday afternoon.

This guy has slowly been getting “better” – he held my face and told me that he was sorry that he was so mean to me. So sorry that we was such a jerk. He told me that I was the best mom in his whole world. We danced. We raced. We hugged. I told him that he had TWO more jumps on the bounce house. He told me – NO. I told him that he had one more jump left – he told me NO. BUT – he did come out – he didn’t hit me. He didn’t tell me that he hated me. He didn’t throw himself on the ground.

We reached a really really low point last week – and it’s been getting better. And better. And better. I ordered a book about explosive children. And we’re waiting to see what preschool does – when we won’t be with each other ALL THE TIME. And if we need to look further and get him and us some professional help – we’ll do just that!

These moments are not what I envisioned when I dreamt of motherhood. I’m a great mom – even when I’m not. The things he told me are not true. I’m not the worst. God didn’t make a mistake in giving Enoch to us.

If you’re having an especially hard time in motherhood right now – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Find your tribe. Find the people you can be raw and real with.

And if you need somewhere to reach out – email me. I know it helps when you really realize that you’re not the ONLY one dealing with the hard things.

AND REMEMBER – you are always always ENOUGH – ALWAYS! With Jesus – you are ALWAYS enough – especially when you’re certain that you’re NOT enough!


Filed under: baby barden,bardenisms,family,just because,my family,word of God — admin at 11:18 am on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Over the weekend – Dave Fitzgerald was visiting!

And I don’t think I’ve gotten a REAL picture with my REAL camera of Fitzy and his namesake!

I had to make sure to get at least ONE! Of course – Enoch wanted in on the photo too!

People have said to me – I can’t believe you let your husband name your child after his friend.

Why did you name your kids what you did?

When I was in middle school – I knew what I would name my kids – Christopher and Sierra and Bailey  – I know I had another boy name – but I can’t remember it right now – certainly NOT Fitzgerald and Enoch.

When we were pregnant the first time we talked about Clark for a boy since that is Jared’s mom’s maiden name. I LOVE Clark for a girl too!

But then we miscarried that baby and decided to name him Enoch – because -

When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died. When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. – Genesis 5

We named the baby we lost Enoch – because God took him away – he was no more.

And then we waited and tried and cried and gave up hope – and really 18 months isn’t all that long at all – except when you’re waiting and hoping for a baby.

So when we got pregnant with Fitzy – we waited to talk about names and dreams and hopes.

We flew to Florida to visit Dave and his wife Christy for Thanksgiving that year – and I felt Fitzy move for the first time sitting on their couch. We got talking about names and I said – if it’s a boy we were thinking Fitzgerald – and Dave said something like – okay. right.

When we found out he was indeed a boy – I thought for sure we would have a girl – we decided that YES – let’s name him Fitzgerald Derek Douglas – and call him Fitzy.

If we had a girl – we would have named her Fitzie Samantha.

And I can’t IMAGINE him being named anything other than Fitzy!

Six months before we got pregnant with Enoch – Dave told us that God had given him a Word for us. That we would have a baby to complete our family. He would be a boy. We would name him Enoch.

Call me crazy. Call Dave crazy. HOWEVER – I believe that God speaks to people – and right when we were about to give up – we got pregnant – with a boy – and while Enoch was not the name I would have picked – God told us to. And how many times in life do we ask God for direction. A sign. SOMETHING. This was one of those times.

I love their names (now) and what they mean and the stories behind them! I love that God impressed it upon us to name him Fitzy and then used Dave to share His promise for our family in the birth AND naming of Enoch.

So – I ask you again – why did you name your kids what you did?!


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.



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.



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.



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.



Filed under: baby barden,bardenisms,holiday,just because,kiddos,lifestyle,love,my family,my town,newsworthy,word of God — admin at 11:51 am on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Jared and I stopped giving Christmas gifts quite a while ago – typically because if we see something we want – we get it. Obviously – within reason.

We don’t really live life that way anymore – but we still don’t give gifts to each other.

BUT – Fitzy and Enoch shopped for us and for each other – so we were REALLY looking forward to opening those gifts!

That little handwriting – the excitement he could BARELY contain!

We LOVE our puzzles!!

Fitzy got Enoch a fence for his animals – his many many animals!

Enoch got Fitzy marbles and a car! And Enoch was SO surprised – he thought the things he picked out were for HIM!

We did get Jared a little gift – STAR WARS FOR LIFE!!

Fitzy picked out this sweatshirt for me! He said – MOM! It’s so ugly – I KNEW you would love it!

And the leggings – they were ONLY FOUR DOLLARS MOM!!

He asked if I would wear that sweatshirt EVERY CHRISTMAS! Yes sweet thing. Always.

Enoch got Jared a book of 5-minute STAR WARS stories!

And he got me a STAR WARS activity book and a mosaic sticker book!

Fitzy got a set of knives and his VERY OWN CUTTING BOARD!

We’ve played that game SO MUCH already!

Puzzles and games. Crayons and notebooks. Undies and matching shirts. And a lego set for Fitzy – one I’ve been holding onto for FOUR years!

I love that they didn’t need LOTS of presents under the tree. And almost everything I got them – I had bought on clearance throughout the year!! WIN WIN WIN!

Fitzy was VERY VERY excited about this lego set – he’s seen it in the closet for SO LONG! And he wasn’t expecting it because he isn’t 9 yet! And you should be 9 to build then on your own!

He worked most of Christmas day and the day after – with only a tiny bit of help from us!

I really really do not enjoy winter – but Christmas – I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!

I hope you had a lovely Christmas with the ones you love – snuggled up nice and warm doing ALL THE THINGS you love!





Filed under: babes,baby barden,bardenisms,family,holiday,just because,kiddos,lifestyle,my family,my town,parties,RAY,word of God — admin at 12:29 pm on Monday, February 19, 2018

My mom has had this nativity for as long as I can remember – and she let us borrow it for our Christmas Eve service!

Our Christmas Eve service had cookies and hot chocolate and some cookies and fireworks and bonfires and cookies – did I mention the cookies!?

That guy – he wants to be a hunter like his Pa!

My bestest – she’s the bestest!

Those boys love their Mara!!

That gorgeous little guy – he’s super sweet!

That special bond between a grandmother and her little guy!

I love witnessing the world through a child’s eyes! Everything becomes so MAGICAL!

Enoch really didn’t LOVE the fireworks – he ended up inside – away from the BOOMS!

I hope your Christmas was spent with the ones you love – we LOVE our church family!


Filed under: bardenisms,family,farmlife,just because,kiddos,my family,my town,word of God — admin at 1:05 am on Thursday, August 31, 2017

We spent so much of our summer swimming and swimming and SWIMMING!

We visited my sister in New Jersey. We went to Sesame Place. We went to Land of Make Believe (a hidden gem in NJ).

I photographed some BEAUTIFUL WEDDINGS.


We spent time at the farm.

I photographed BEAUTIFUL families.

We spent a day at BUCKTAIL.

Jared & Fitzy played golf.

We volunteered at the Troy Fair.

We spent time with my brother and his family.

We got an updated picture of the Trout grandchildren.

We celebrated 4 years of mania recovery. We slept in a few hotels. We saw some exotic animals. We fed a miniature horse and goats. And some more goats. And yet more goats.

We got together with some friends from church. We walked. We went to the park. We played in the rain.

We swam. And swam. And swam some more!

I took an Instagram break for July and then August and most likely September too – but I DID make sure to take photos throughout the months!

In early August I got a message from my friend. A friend that I haven’t SEEN in person in YEARS. Years and years. She was my bestest friend EVER in Kindergarten. And first grade. And second grade. And then the school districts changed and we lost touch. But we reconnected a few years ago on FB. We’ve messaged about life and kids and Jesus and hopes and prayers. She messaged me and said – I have a strange question. I have to work out your way on Wednesday and Thursday and I was hoping that maybe you could watch my kiddos? Her daughter L is 11 and her son J is 6. I told her that I had some errands to run and we would most likely go swimming – but if she was okay with that and they were okay with never having met me – then yes! I had already told my friend J that I would keep her daughter on Thursday – she’s 9 – so L would have someone to bond with!

She dropped them off on Wednesday and the boys took to her kids within minutes. They acted like they were long-lost friends! We walked around the track at MU and then ate lunch and picked up M a day early and went swimming! If you know me – you might know that I don’t really love being around children and water. It stresses – STRESSED – me out. I’ve gotten SO MUCH BETTER! And for 3 hours – 5 kids swam and laughed and had the BEST TIME! J didn’t want to go home at the end of they day – but they were all excited about seeing each other in the morning!

We went to my MOPS childcare meeting – picked out the paint for our trim – and then stopped at the park! My dearest and best Missy came along and we set our bags down and made our way across the playground when I hear little J behind me say – I think I broke my arm. I was turning around saying – Oh honey. I’m sure it’s just fine … OH NO. NOT FINE. He was holding his left arm – all bent and CERTAINLY broken. He wasn’t really even crying. He said – it hurts! It hurts! So Missy called 911 and I called his mom and told her that J broke his arm and we were calling the ambulance and to meet us at the hospital. NOT MY MOST ANTICIPATED PHONE CALL TO MAKE. His sister rode along in the ambulance with us – for the 3 blocks to the hospital. Missy kept my two kids and M at the playground. So I texted my friend J to let her know that the little boy in my care broke his arm and her daughter was now with Missy at the playground. He was so strong. And so very very brave. He barely cried. This 6 year-old boy who just met me and broke his arm without his mom around – barely cried. Until he realized that it meant we wouldn’t be swimming that afternoon – THEN the tears came!

It’s the nightmare that you hope to never experience when you’re watching someone else’s child! And in this case – a child I JUST met the day before! His mom came and hugs happened and x-rays were taken and calls were made. He needed surgery but the hospital local to them couldn’t fit him in until MONDAY night. This was THURSDAY morning! So – the orthopedic that works here in Wellsboro – who doesn’t typically see children – stayed late and performed the surgery. WITH PINS. Seriously. This wasn’t just a small crack – this was a SERIOUS break! So – they waited until the end of the day – and I took his sister back to the park and picked up my kiddos and M. We ate lunch and went swimming and had ice cream for dinner! I took M home and then drove L to the hospital to stay with her mom and brother for the night! The doctor wanted to wait until the morning to put the cast on – his little arm was SO swollen!

And then I finally took a breath. Fitzy had said to me – mom – do you think that their mom will EVER let us see them again?! And I said – well that’s a good question – but I think she will. She’s cool like that. And we did. Saturday – L & J came up to my parents to spend the day with us while their mom was at work. GG joked – OH is THIS the kid whose arm you broke Danielle?! J said – she didn’t BREAK MY ARM! She was just watching me while I broke my arm! On the way back to the park on Thursday – L had said to me – you know what the funny part is? People are going to say to my mom – now exactly WHO was watching your kids when this happened? And mom will say – you remember Danielle right? From grade school – well – we stay in touch online – she was watching them. And THEN my mom will bring up a picture of you and they’ll say – oh so this woman from grade school who now has a shaved head and a sleeve of tattoos? Well … no WONDER he broke his arm! We laughed and laughed! She is such a GREAT kid – and that M – she is such a GREAT kid! I was a little sad that I don’t have the little girls I envisioned having in my life! BUT – that’s a different blog for a different day! And I’m so thankful that I have friends with little girls that I get to hang out with!

And as I sit here writing this blog – 3 weeks after J broke his arm falling off the zip-liney tracky thingy at the playground – I am so thankful that a friendship that was so strong in our early elementary years has reignited and we’ve seen each other quite a few times since it happened.

And that forgiveness is strong. And real. And living out what Jesus taught us is real. This afternoon – we had lunch with J and his mom on our front porch. I made lunch and she cut watermelon while the boys played. We talked about life and marriage and kids and parents and anything and everything that came to mind – and two hours FLEW by! And as we hugged good-bye – with the intention of getting together this coming weekend – I said – while I’m not thankful for J breaking his arm – I am certainly thankful that it’s given us the chance to actually see each other. And to catch up. And to strengthen a bond started so long ago!

S – thank you for forgiveness! Thank you for not placing blame on me. Thank you for reaching out to me several years back and trusting me. I will forever remember what happened that day – and what happened AFTER that day – and I know that our kids will too! It’s such a great story of grace and forgiveness!


Filed under: just because,kiddos,scenery,word of God — admin at 11:48 am on Sunday, November 9, 2014

Our friend – and youth pastor – Mara asked me to take the kids on a God sighting walk – find beauty in your surroundings. Find beauty in the unusual.

I had to bring the boys with me – LOOK AT THOSE FACES!

It’s been years – YEARS – since I took pictures of anything other than my kiddos or clients. It. Was. Awesome.

COMPASSION IS THE ONLY ANSWER. A little gem we found. And I need this reminder. Multiple times a day!

Look for the beauty – all you need to do is open your eyes!

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