Friday, December 27, 2013

Auld Lang Syne: Where I'm From

Photo courtesy of
Fridays are my days to write, and seeing as this is the last Friday of the month (and incidentally, the year) I wanted to do a looking-back post.

Auld Lang Syne has been stuck in my head, with its haunting melody and wistful lyrics. And so I've decided to write about where I'm from in poem form. The inspiration was taken from one of my favorite blogs, Red and Honey.

Where I'm From
by Sarah E. A. Fusaro

I'm from Chincoteague ponies breathing life into a lifelong obsession of all things equine
From praying as I relentlessly searched the classifieds
And watching wistfully from the wrong side of the fence

I'm from Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts and countless other places in between
Tripping into these places on the way to doing something else
Insatiable for adventures and worlds and people between the covers of a book

I'm from a hospital bed, a stiff neck, and being stuck again and again
Not knowing I had been snatched
From the jaws of death for a second chance

I'm from nowhere and everywhere
Finding home wherever my heart is
A tumble weed with no roots

I'm from crawfish boils and cafe au lait with beignets
And from watching the men make jambalaya for the whole church
While the ladies worked magic in the kitchen

I'm from camping and fires and lantern-lit card games
"Dare ya!"s with siblings and cousins
And blanket forts and laughter and airsoft battles

I'm from lonely days and nights
And long distance friendships that faded away
Despite long phone calls and letters and visits

I'm from working hard and hope deferred
Again and again and again
Falling down, getting back up, and failing to meet expectations

I'm from life-changing words on tear-stained pages
Kindling a desire to write like that
Daily writing to one day touch someone's life

I'm from love that healed a broken heart
Learning what it means to love truly, deeply, selflessly
Making my debate partner my life partner

I'm from a flutter within, new life tucked away beneath my heart
From pushing and bleeding and almost losing
And then holding and loving more with each breath

I'm from feeling the weight of sin on my small shoulders
And then discovering the freedom of the Cross
The relief of undeserved mercy

I'm going to grow and learn to forgive and love better
Each day embracing life and grace
Giving to others as I have been given

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I was driving to a gathering - fearing, anxiously thinking, and maybe even dreading a bit - what might happen. I was reminded of past experiences that had occurred around this certain day - recalling people and moments - and almost sad about what might be experienced on this new day.

I find that experiences tend to have deep meaning for me. I cherish relationships and special moments and if/when something changes - even possibly for the better - I often feel hurt and pain and even grieve over what is no longer there.

As I was driving, praying, and thinking, I was filled with an overwhelming peace.

I was encouraged by the sovereignty of God - knowing that He is in control and comforted by His love, His promises and His faithfulness. My thoughts began to change and I was flooded with reflection about the good and blessed things in my life.

I was faced with an interesting observation. Maybe peace means more to my small human mind through some of my rough experiences.

Perhaps it's coping on the part of the human brain - persistent, probing sad thoughts and memories - or positive reflections of the past mixed with regret about past decisions or loss. But what advantage does this have to our lives? While looking inward and back to reflect and learn can yield helpful results, I find that it can be damaging to mull and obsess over what happened - what could have been - and really, what's in the past.

These thoughts turned my objectives and my mindset towards this event. Instead of focusing on possible fearful reminders and thoughts, I thought about how blessed I am in so many aspects of my life and contemplated how I could encourage and reach out to the people I would be interacting with. As my thoughts turned upward and outward, I embraced a beautiful peace. I have some nicks and scrapes on my heart and mind, but I have a soothing, refreshing, restoring peace - and it's beautiful.

It's a gift to find peace in God through Jesus Christ - but also to rest in it.

The holiday season can hold happy and sad memories. But this season, I hope that you embrace true love and peace.

Romans 5:1-6

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."

John 10:7-10

"7 So Jesus said to them again, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Monday, December 16, 2013

{Monday Morsels} featuring peppermint and chocolate!

I really enjoy the Christmas season.

I often compare happy and joyful things during the year to feeling like Christmas. Well-the following cookie tastes like Christmas to me! It's a nice of blend of peppermint and chocolate.

When I made these recently I substituted vanilla extract for the peppermint extract and added some creamy peppermint pieces!


Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2.In a large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, then stir in vanilla and peppermint extracts. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
3.Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Friday, December 13, 2013


Original Photograph Sarah Fusaro Copyright 2013

When I was growing up, Christmas was a time of magic and steal your breath away wonder and excitement.

And now, as an adult, I still have that wonder but it's deeper and quieter. Now that we have children, my husband and I have been giving thought and prayer as to what our family Christmas traditions will be.

And one thing I hope that we will incorporate is advent.

One aspect of the holiday that I've been contemplating this year is the fact that Christ came as a baby.

The thing about babies is that they are fragile. They come into this world completely naked and vulnerable and dependent. Their entire existence depends on the mercy of those around them. They come empty handed. They give nothing and need everything.

That is exactly how the Savior of the world came to us.

It's also how He wants us to come to Him.

He came without pretense. He came without guards and walls and princely robes. He put on our flesh and our hurts and pains and fears and sought love. He was love.

And that babe grew up to be a man, the only perfect man, who willingly sacrificed his own life for the love of us.

And now, He beckons us to come to Him as He first came to us. Weak. Vulnerable. The only gift to give our hearts and our songs and our tears and our brokenness.

Christmas is a rich holiday. And yet we humans have turned it into a time of anxiety. Have we made enough food? Have we bought the perfect gift? Have we done this or that? I don't want to see so-and-so for they offended me.

No! The very best gift you can give others is your heart, unfettered and vulnerable and raw. That is what the Savior gave to us in that stable so long ago. He gave us the best of Himself and only Himself in the most real, vulnerable way.

And so on Christmas and during the season of Advent, as we wait the day that marks the entrance of our Savior to this world, may you find  rest. May your heart take a deep breath and know the Peace and Love and Joy that was the ultimate gift given to all of humanity. Rest. Know. Be in awe of the Creator of the Universe wrapping himself in the humblest, most fragile skin of humanity - for you. For me.

Put aside your quarrels and your fears and your fights. People don't love perfectly. Of course they don't. They're people.

But that's okay because we know one who does love perfectly - one who is love. 

You see, He came to trade our fear for peace. Our hate for love. Our tears for joy. Our pain for healing. Our death for life. 

He gave Himself to us completely with no pretenses.

As a vulnerable baby. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let's Talk

There were about 10 or so of us waiting on a meeting to begin. There were some greetings and small conversations that took place and then--

I sat back in my chair and watched.

Clipart Image from
Everyone in the circle took out their phones and began looking at them-intently. It was fascinating. I was in a room with all of these people-and none were talking-but possibly viewing their calendar, participating in the “virtual world” or texting someone-I don't know-regardless, verbal interaction was not taking place.

I see conversation as the opportunity for beautiful moments, for problem-solving, for creative dreaming, and for encouraging growth. Why do people feel the urge to jump and check the machines in our pocket or purse with every buzz, ding, or ring?

What would really happen if we started talking to each other?

Maybe you've had been in a scenario similar to the following:

Someone asks you how you're doing, you say, “Fine, how are you?” -and inside you're thinking,
“My life is crazy, you have no idea how insane it seems.”


You hear someone explaining a struggle they're having performing a skill at work or expressing a frustrating relationship issue-and when a pause occurs in the conversation, you say something like, “That does sound frustrating” or “I'm sorry to hear that”-and inside you're thinking, “I struggled with that same skill for months” or “Wow, I can totally understand that frustration, they're not the only one feeling that way”

I've seen this pattern in our society where it seems that we are obsessed with how we appear. Beyond the outward appearance, there is concern that we will appear weak or maybe out of control by expressing that we don't have everything together-and maybe we are really, truly struggling with something that seems major to us.

But----perhaps, we're really all more SIMILAR than we realize.

I find there can be beautiful common ground, new ideas, great comfort, and learning that can occur when people share with each other. Sometimes just knowing that I'm not the only one who has struggled with a certain issue, or thought a certain thought, can bring comfort. It's nice to not feel alone in an experience.

For Christians consider,

“23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25

We're called to encourage each other. Life is hard. I encourage you to reach out to those around you and have a conversation. Talk about what's going on in each other's lives, share experiences, and pray for each other. The challenge extends to ignoring that buzz of a text when you're engaged in a conversation and to take concentrated time to focus on the person you're with.

Take the challenge-talk, listen, and share with the people in your life-you might be surprised how blessed the interaction can be.

Monday, December 9, 2013

{Monday Morsels} O Holy Night

{Monday Morsels} O Holy Night

Mondays are generally the most hated day of the week.

The weekend is over. It's back to work.

But we think it doesn't have to be that way! That's why we are launching the Monday Morsels series where we post fun fluff posts to brighten your Mondays. This can be anything from recipes to songs to movie or book reviews to funny comics. All bets are off.

To start things off, because it is December and we are preparing for Christmas, we're sharing a beautiful Christmas hymn.

Celtic Woman. Photo Courtesy of

This is a great, underplayed version by the band Celtic Woman.

Here are the rich lyrics:

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

Have a lovely week!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Great Expectations

We all have expectations for how our lives should look.

Goals are great. Living aimlessly can be dangerous and lead to being unsatisfied with life, not to mention doing absolutely nothing for the Kingdom. God didn't call us or create us to sit on our rumps and wait for Heaven. He called and created us to do, to be.

But living in the 21st Century presents a unique enemy to doing and being what God called us to and being content with that. The enemy's name is Social Media.

Life is full of twists and turns and seasons. One year we're busting our butts in high school and single and finding our way and pimply and wondering when life will, you know, begin. And the next year we're working and juggling and striving and paying bills and feeling like we're faking being adults. It changes. But God has called each of us to do something and He has placed us in circumstances to hone us and make us better vessels for His grace and holiness.

The problem is that while we're going through the messy battle of every day life, we log on to Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or what ever. And then we start realizing that we haven't made it. Our lives seem messier. Why aren't we always that funny? Gosh, I wish I looked that good in clothes. Look at her! Why am I not blessed with breakfast in bed and the best husband everrrr?

The questions creep in. The fear. The anxiety. The worry. Everybody's getting married but me. Everyone's getting a great job/house/car but me. Everybody's ministry is taking off. Everybody's kicking butt at life. But when we look at our lives, we see the messy and the broken and the struggle. What's going on?

Well one thing that's going on is what I call the Highlight Effect. (Patent Pending) (Just kidding you can totally use that).

The Highlight Effect is what happens in social media (and incidentally, dating and "real life" relationships as well). What we see in a person's social media profile is only the highlights. The good stuff. The stuff they want you to see. It's either the worst/most dramatic or the very best.

But we often forget that their profile and tweets and pins and status updates are just a teensy little polished window into their lives. It's stylized. It's created for the purpose to give the world at large people's public face, the best of who they are.

It's the guided tour that steers us clear of the closed closets and dusty corners.

This is particularly hard, I think, for singles. Because whether it's gloating or a genuine sharing of happiness, it's hard not to notice all of the extravagant engagement stories, the mountain-top proposals, the individually designed ring, the almost daily glowing wedding planning statuses and pictures of a Pinterest-worthy wedding. It's hard not to always see the posts of the married friends who talk about the just-because bouquet that takes our breath away with the flawless, lush colors; or the romantic breakfasts in bed complete with a note and flowers. And our single hearts ache because it's just like what we saw in the movies, only this is happening in real life and we want that, we want those expressions of love with every fiber of our hearts as we scarf down Honey Nut Cheerios we fixed ourselves.

But we don't see the whole story. We don't see the fight the night before or the silence between the sheets. We don't see bickering and worrying over finances. We don't see the days where they question the relationship. We don't see the body image issues of the perfect selfies or the anxiety behind the successful businessman. The hard times. The mundane.

We don't see the mess of people's lives. The day-to-day boring-ness. We don't see the plodding along and the questions and the wrestling.

It's the same phenomenon in movies and books. Stories tell a specific narrative so they often skip over the lines like "Then John walked up the steps. He sat in his office chair and stared at his screen and wondered if he'd finally beat his record in Solitaire today." No, everything in a story is there to serve the purpose of that specific narrative.

So in a way, social media has sort of turned our lives into mini-movies - we only share the good stuff. We are creating our own narrative and sharing it for the world to see. 

But just like works of fiction, what is shown in social media is what the person or author wants everyone to see and not always an accurate reflection of the whole truth.

We forget that Real Life is filled with mundane moments that we have to make the best of. It's filled with paying bills and brushing teeth and bringing boring PB and Js to work. Yes, life has highlights. Yes, we can seize the day and do all things for Christ.

But we forget that the doing big things is a process, a climb, a journey that is made up of lots of not-so-spectacular things and putting one foot in front of the other. It's filled with falls and getting up and dusting off our pants and mending the holes stitch by stitch.

As I mentioned before, this phenomenon seems to be the worst in regards to relationships. As a married woman, let me speak some honest truth to all you who are still single.

I know it's hard to be single, especially in an age where all you see in your Facebook feed is pictures of engagement rings and romantic boyfriends and husbands who surprise their wives with the perfect gift. I get it. I've been there. My heart's been broken.

But then I found this awesome man. Our relationship is deep and rich and full of love. He's the other half to my soul. We can basically read each other's minds.

But the truth is, there's also a lot of boring. In between the laughter and rich conversations, there exists the boring grout of daily life. It looks dull, but it's what keeps us together. Most days, I don't get surprise flowers. His proposal was simple on a rainy day in a field where we had laughed and loved and watched the sunset. No pictures or extravagant overtures. I don't always pour love on him the way I should.

Our love life consists of helping each other do the dishes. Sometimes we fight and bicker over stupid, inconsequential things. But we still somehow love each other through the mundane. Much of our time is spent quietly reading. Driving to the grocery store. Making a budget. Changing diapers. Nothing to write a sweeping romance novel about - or even a drool-worthy Facebook status.

But see, the true beauty in a relationship comes when you can choose to love each other despite the emotional ups and downs of life. When you can love each other while paying bills and doing dishes and changing diapers and just being together.

But that is a skill you've got to learn. And if you don't practice contentment and loving people and their real messes and finding joy in the mundane right now when you're single, real marriage will be a huge disappointment.

What you want to look for when you're out there looking for a mate isn't necessarily someone who is going to always offer you extravagant gestures of love and romance. You don't want a Nicholas Sparks novel.

What you want is someone who will love you for who you are - even your morning breath, even your grumpy days, and your weird habits (we all have them). That's where the real love is. It's when we put Christ at the center of our relationship, when we put that other person first, that we find depth.

A lot of relationships are like a fountain - pretty, fun to watch, but ultimately rather shallow. You want a deep, strong river of love - one that might look boring on the surface, but will take a hell of a dam to ever stop.

Those other things? Yeah, they're nice. And I'm not saying you should have no expectations of romantic treats and demonstrations of love. But ask yourself when the flowers wilt and the flashing proposal fades away through years gone by, do you still love each other just as much if not more? Do you still look over the breakfast table at the not fashionably mussed hair the groggy eyes and the newly debuted wrinkles and still know you love that person with every fiber of your being?

That love is what will get you through.

And the same goes for moms and dads. You see other parents and how they look or act put together. The adorable photos and videos of their kids. And then you look at your crying toddler who dressed herself and the baby that seems to time diaper explosions with your best outfit minutes before you have to leave and you haven't slept in forever - you're not alone. The parents who always look together are just giving you their public face.

I'll bet you deep down, if you both stripped all the pretense away and scrubbed off the make up and sat down over a cup of tea, you'd realize that they're scared too. That their toddler also hates wearing clothes in public - at all. Ever. And that they are also insecure and scared and wish parenthood came with a manual. And that both of you have very real messes every single day. But you still love those kids more than anything and that the messy is a part of the beauty in parenthood.

It's a part of the take your breath away moments when you watch that tender face nuzzle sleepily into your shoulder like they were made for that spot and everything in you just stops. You're not alone in the mess or the mystery or the beauty. We just don't always share it with other people.

Wherever you are in life, keep this in mind: don't compare your real, messy life to someone else's scrubbed up, finished snapshot they present in social media. You're comparing totally different things.

Keep your eyes on your life and whatever it is God has called you to. Know that He can work even in the mundane, and everybody's life has got some mundane in it - they just aren't always honest about it.

Be happy where you are. Savor the subtle graces in life.

If you look hard enough and have the right perspective, joy might just surprise you between the dishes and laundry and the messing up.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Of Beginnings and Crawfish and Sleepless Nights


It's funny how, of all the people we meet in the course of our lives, some people stick when others fade into the grey, misty moor of the past. I love how C.S. Lewis says it: "Friendship is when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought that no on  but myself...'"

That quick fusion that ignites the moment you meet a forever-friend is unique and beautiful. Because of my somewhat nomadic childhood, many dear people have fallen by the wayside of my life's tortuous journey. I haven't been able to maintain 'current' relationships with many precious people. But a few people keep up on a regular basis despite moves and hardships and heartbreaks.

Courtney is one of those people.

We first met in Louisiana, though we had unwittingly been at the same debate tournament years before in Baton Rouge. The time we actually 'met,' we were on a campaign for Bobby Jindal and were in charge of a group of students for a week.

And oh how we laughed and cried and shared our hearts and trudged through the 239% humidity.

That campaign was perhaps one of the hardest events I'd done, all alone, leading a campaign effort with other teens. We worked long hours and were responsible for things far beyond our years. We cried and laughed and ate piles of chocolate. And for some reason, Courtney and I shared a spark that would turn out to be a life-long fire, illuminating and warming my heart for years to come.

After that, Courtney and I stayed in touch. We both joined TeenPact at staffers. I remember sitting with her on the back porch of our hosts' guest house, both of us budding young women, and sharing deep thoughts and conversations.

And now we still stay in contact as regularly as our lives allow and do life together - even from a great distance. Because ultimately 'doing life' is about sharing the heart and not necessarily activities.


I met Sarah at a student project for a political candidate. Going into the experience, I was excited to work with other like-minded people and excited about what God might do during the week; there was laughter, tears, prayer, late nights, and other things experienced by the leadership team. Along with a productive and blessed experience at the project, I had the opportunity to make a genuine, legitimate, long-term, dear friend. When I initially met Sarah I recognized that she had a unique sparkle to her personality and throughout our time working together I came to learn how much we had in common and how special a person she was. In the short time of knowing each other during our work on the project,we shared bouts of laughter, adventures, and meaningful conversations.

We parted ways-at the time living in different states- and found ourselves at other events through the organization, TeenPact. I recall more deep conversation, more laughter, and fun times. I have great memories of talking about life and sharing dreams.

We've never actually lived in the same city; but are blessed with great memories and special conversations.

The past few years have brought challenges for both us; it's been a blessing to walk through life together. We share a love for God, have southern roots, and cherish the relationships in our lives. It's special to write and share thoughts with my friend.


And this is why have decided to start this blog. We wanted a way to connect with each other and other like-minded people in this transient world and have a venue to share thoughts and ideas and fellowship.

We hope you'll join us! Our vision for this blog is to be an encouragement to anyone who happens to stumble upon it.

So here's to adding a little lagniappe in your life! :)