Friday, January 31, 2014

I am Audacious and Ambitious and That's Okay {Part 1: I think}

Photo taken from

My mom showed this picture by Tony Stomberg when I was young and said it reminded her of me. Fierce Grace. I have adopted that as what I want to be. I have ever been intense, all-in, guts and glory, no holds barred. The other word I've adopted for my life is Audacious.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary online, here are some definitions for Audacious.
Audacious: 1. intrepidly daring: adventurous 3. marked by originality and verve 
But here's the deal.

Everywhere I turn, "The Church" and Christians have this idea of what godly femininity is. How a woman ought to act - especially a godly woman. Demure. Follow the rules. Being a homemaker is the penultimate calling. All those Christian magazines and homeschool toys had only frilly options for girls. 

But I don't fit that. 

And it used to cause me endless amounts of stress. I tried to fit into the tight stays of what I was told how godly women acted and did and said. But then I'd just bust out and give myself a mud bath and eat grass (actual occurrences). 

The majority of people in Christian circles told me that girls are not naturally ambitious. That link goes to Matt Walsh's post about Stay-At-Home moms not owing the world an explanation. I was cheering him on - at first. SAHMs don't owe the world an explanation. They do deserve more respect. They do have a glorious, hard job.

But then he lost me when he started going on about how other jobs don't matter (what the what?!) and how girls are fooled into not following their 'feminine instincts' and how are girls are not naturally ambitious and how what he claims as "feminine qualities" won't serve you well in any job other than being at home.

No. No, no no!!

This is not necessarily a rebuttal post, but that part made me angry. It was published at the wrong time and felt like a kick while I was down. Because my whole life that's what I've been told. Stay at home, play dolls, go shopping, do girl things. Girls are supposed to do this, not that. Being a stay at home mom is a woman's highest calling and wanting to do things outside the home is Dirty Stinky Feminism and Unnatural and Harmful to your kids. You can't be a good mom if you don't stay home. Staying at home full time should be your greatest ambition.

The problem is that while most girls might be like that, not all of them are. Some of us actually do not possess the natural abilities to be homemakers. While my peers were playing dolls or house and dreaming of being mommies, I was running barefoot in the dirt, pretending to fight and save the world and bleed dramatically into the earth. I was having adventures. I was reading books. When I did play with dolls, they were daring orphans who had to escape evil orphanage masters against all odds.

It's not that there is anything at all wrong with being a stay at home mom or in wanting that or enjoying that. It is an absolutely glorious calling. If that is what fulfills you, I applaud you loudly. My mom homeschooled us and was a stay at home mom and I appreciate that about her. She is amazing.

And more than likely, I will homeschool my kids. But I have to ask: What is so wrong with wanting something outside of that? Why *can't* I juggle some sort of non-housework and raising children? Why do we all have to have the same dreams because we are female?

Because in my first six months at this gig, I have been ever so slowly asphyxiating.

There seems to be no room in the church for the outlier females. For the audacious ones. For the loud ones. For the ones that don't fit into neat little boxes and want to do things that only boys are supposed to do.

This is Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings.
This chick is my hero.
I think this picture came from But really it came from google.

And do you know what? That's ridiculous.

Because I believe in a creative God, a God who painted humanity with every colour and a wide brush. Look at nature. He made snowflakes so that no two are alike. And how many snowflakes have there been since the beginning of time?! And those are just snowflakes. Imagine the thought and creativity He put into people! So what makes Christians come in and say women ought to be like such and such and have ambitions like xyz?

There are certainly Biblical principles that apply. I'm not even saying that women should not submit to husbands (though, there are other places in the Bible that call for everyone to submit to each other just as we are all to submit to God the Father so technically it's not just the gals that are called to submit). Certainly, all Christians - male and female - are to act in mercy and gentleness and self control. 

But the God who made the peaceful quiet of snow also made the raucous glory of a hurricane. 

And all that I'm saying is that maybe women aren't supposed to all fit into this one mold. Maybe we aren't all supposed to act and think and say the same things. Maybe there's not a narrow, approved range of variety, but if we stray from the approved palette, that's bad.

Maybe there's a new way to act, and it's okay. Maybe we can be mamas and not all do it in the same way - and maybe some women aren't called to marry or reproduce at all. 

See, according to the Myers-Briggs personality testing, I am an ENFP. Apparently, only a teensy tiny population fits that type.

My strengths are not conducive to running and maintaining a home.

I'm a creative, an idea-spinner, a dreamer. Details make me break out in hives. Monotony kills me inside.

So what am I to do? I had a spiraling day of self doubt the other day. You can ask anyone who's ever felt this way, there are few things in life as demoralizing as knowing you are not equipped for a job and yet everyone thinking and expecting you to excel at and enjoy it.

I sunk into a pit. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to throw in the towel and cry (okay I did cry).

But the Lord reached into the pit and lifted me up.

The first thing that He told me is that when we are weak, HE is STRONG. He is my strength when I cannot do it. And He will work through me to do what is set before me now and give me the grace and the strength to survive the day to day.

The other thing, though, is that He made me exactly the way I am. He made my brain to function in this way and that's okay. That's part of His plan. And I don't have to be like everyone else and be fulfilled by what everyone is fulfilled by. Maybe He made me to be audacious.

All this to say, I'm inspired. The Breath of Life has breathed fresh life into my heart. I'm starting to research and develop my own style of fulfilling my calling as a mama. This is where I am, and God in his infinite wisdom and humor, made me - the girl who thought she would be the last or the never to be married and raise babies - among the first of my peers to take that plunge. This was not my dream - but it has become a part of my dream.

And He did it knowing how He made me. He did it knowing that it would refine me and teach me. And He will give me the wisdom that I beg for, the grace and knowledge of how to do this and find joy. Whether that means I eventually work outside the home or not. He also gave me a supportive life partner who loves the way I was created and has offered to support me no matter what.

But for now, He has given me peace and grace to co-currently work on other creative pursuits and passions while I'm at home. I'm writing a novel. I'm going to start drawing again. And if that means I get a bit behind on the dishes, so be it.

Because on a grand scale, I do like being home with my son. I look forward to the day when I get to guide him on educational pursuits and help him discover life and I want to be there for him. But I believe moms can do that even if they are not full-time at home. And is it so outrageous and blasphemous that I would desire to pursue other things?

The biggest, most freeing thing is that I do not have to conform to others' expectations of a 'good, Christian' stay at home mom. 

I can find joy in being a mama and I can do it in my own loud, creative, fierce-grace way.

Monday, January 27, 2014

{Monday Morsels} Italian Stir-Fry


Ah, food. 

It nourishes and it brings people to together. It can be art. It gives life. It facilitates fellowship.

And man, do I love it.

Often, I struggle to make good, nutritious sides. Meat I have no problem with. But often I wonder what to pair it with.

The other day I invented something that turned out amazing.

I call it Italian Stir Fry.

The recipe is below and the amount of veggies is what I used for two people who eat a lot. So adjust for what you need for your family.

Here's the Skinny:
2 carrots, peeled
1/2 pepper (red, green, it's good with anything that's on sale ;))
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic (or the equivalent in minced garlic)
2 tbs butter
2 tsp Italian seasoning

First, you're going melt that butter in a pan on medium high. Fry up the carrots to make them crispy. Then, turn the heat back down to medium and add your peppers. Last, incorporate the onions. Last (so the flavor stands out), add the garlic and the Italian seasoning. Serve hot.

So basically, it's cheap. It's delicious. It's quick. And it's healthy. What, I ask, is not to love?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Journey Into Adulthood

Photo Copyright Sarah Fusaro 2014
Some days I have to remind myself that I am an adult. Sometimes when I’m writing a rent check, looking at investments, and picking out a dentist I feel like I’m “playing house”.  As birthdays have come and gone and life experiences have occurred, I find myself an adult. But what makes a person an adult? Is there a switch that turns on one day and all of a sudden a person is able to function independently?

Part of the Merriam-Webster definition of an adult is the following,
": fully grown and developed
: mature and sensible : not childish:" 
This definition comes with a big call. I believe that growth and development should progress over one's lifetime. But even viewing the "criteria" of being "mature and sensible" are large goals to strive for.
We live in a society that gives us the title of adult at 18 years old. I remember turning 18-and being surprised that it didn’t feel a lot different than 16. I was technically an “adult” by the United States standards. I could vote-but I had been active in politics for a while and saw voting as just another piece of being involved in the political process. I was still living at home, going to college, working, and pursuing further educational goals. I was seeking to understand what love really looks like and trying to embrace personal responsibility. However, I still found myself heavily pressured and seeking outside advice and help for a lot of important decisions.

I remember turning 20. At the time I was bombarded with the task of nursing school and felt a twinge of sadness as I realized my teen years were over and I had now lived 2 decades. I had experienced solid relationships, had traveled to different places in the United States and the world, had reached some educational goals, and knew how to save money, but I still think that at this time I was transitioning to adulthood. 
 So after these experiences and a few more birthdays-I am here to tell you there was no magic switch of teen to adult. Rather I’ve found that this “transition” of becoming adult is more than just paying bills and accomplishing goals. Perhaps, what makes a person an “adult” is the realization of personal priorities in life and thus ordering thoughts, time, and resources around those things.  
The concreteness and reality of this for me lies in what I spend most of my thoughts, money, and time on. This is where the “defining process” of adulthood comes in. Having been given this life and these circumstances-what am I doing? Looking at what I dwell on and what I spend my time and resources on-what are my priorities?
The moment I remember feeling like an adult was when I made a decision that I believed was right, though it hurt and I didn’t have a person presently standing behind me in that choice. However, I find the vastness of upholding priorities rolls over into the decisions that seem both small and big in life. What is done with money that is left over at the end of the month? In relationships, are pursuits for self-happiness or the good of others?   
The heart of this pursuit is fueled by love and supported by peace; as I seek to live an ordered life, this encourages me,

“38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

"31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:31-33

This love, this truth inspires me to try and order my life around putting God first, others second, and everything else in life third. 

The decisions we make in life show what is important to us. Adults-as you pen checks, plan your Saturday night, contemplate educational and career decisions-think about what the priorities you desire to order your life around and see if your decisions support those priorities.

For those still making the transition to adulthood or preparing others for that switch-consider encouraging the development of strong principles and clear priorities.

Your life decisions say something about what is important to you.--

Friday, January 10, 2014

The One for the New Mamas: Your Life Isn't Over

"Huh," he said, giving my pregnant belly a sideways glance, bitterness seeping out of his orange, leathery face. "Well get ready for your life to be over." 

Stunned, I handed him his coffee. I tried to send an apologetic glance to his wife and teenage son who were standing next to him at the bakery where I worked. Their eyes were on the ground. 

{I interrupt this program to say that that man is lucky a certain clumsy, pregnant barista didn't "trip" and spill his hot coffee down his pants} {And may I also point out that instead of enacting my fantasy of vengeance, I smiled and told him that I was embracing motherhood and my husband and I were overjoyed to become parents and welcome new life. I spread grace instead of fists. I've come a long way, y'all.}

Though this man's bitterness was the most extreme comment I received, while I was pregnant I was given so many negative, doom-and-gloom statements about how my life would change, or be over.

And it isn't even the direct comments.

There is an idea permeating our culture like a rotting disease felling elms from the inside out.

The idea that when you have kids, your life is over. You can't do anything. You have no freedom. Didn't finish your degree yet? Forget it. Want a night out? Nope. Say goodbye to your friends and your pretty clothes and ... well... you. You are now doomed to drown in Chef Boyardee and baby toys.

And do you know what I've found?

That is a lie.
Romans 8:37-39

Life does change with parenthood. Your life will never be the same again. But do you want to know something? Your life is in a constant state of flux, whether or not you realize it.

Nothing could have prepared me for motherhood. The moment the boy that made me a mama was placed in my arms, all cries and quivering chin and purply, wet skin, my role forever shifted. The reality of my motherhood hit me. God gave me this life to guard and nurture.

I became a steward of souls.

But the truth is that I was still me. There was a shift in roles but not in my abilities.

Motherhood is something you have to learn to do. We first time mamas grope and stumble our way through the a haze of no sleep and slow recoveries for the first months and years, hoping we're doing it right. We yearn for grace, for affirmation that we're not letting our babies and ourselves and our husbands down. Because when we cry in frustration at 2 a.m. and want someone - anyone - else to take that inconsolable infant, we feel like failures and bad moms.

To the new mamas, whether you just discovered a new heartbeat thumping under your own or you've already given birth, this is for you.

I'm a new mama too, but I'm learning. And we can learn together. We can come together when we slip up. When we just want to take a shower and actually shave both legs at once. When we think we're the worst mom ever. When the noise of how other people think you should parent pushes on you from the outside and the cacophony of your own self doubt is ballooning inside you.

When we show up, when we do what we need to do even when we're so tired we can't walk straight, we *are* doing it. When you love that baby so much it hurts sometimes, you're doing it. You've got it, with the grace and power of Christ, you've got it. Every mama stumbles and falls and is crippled from time to time with doubts and fears.

You will pass out of the haze. Those first months will be the longest of your life but you'll get the hang of it. You'll learn. With the right amount of support and grace from those around you, motherhood is something you can learn to do without letting it consume you.

Just remember that in order to be the best mom, you still have to be you. You still need to carve time to breathe, to do something that affirms the woman you were and are and are becoming. Still be a wife, still be the daughter of God. Still be a friend. You - and your children - will be better for it.

No mama can mother on empty. You need to still feed your soul.

Your life isn't over when you become a mom. You enter into a new season of growth. You change in ways you never thought you'd change, but if you but open your eyes, you will see the glory of God even in the changing of diapers and feeding and naptimes. You'll see Him move you and grow you and deepen your capacity to love.

Don't lose heart. And don't listen to those who would tell you that motherhood means your life is over.

Because we can all choose to fully live wherever we are, but that's a post for another day. 

{Five Minute Friday} See

In the wee hours of the morning, the sun not even greying the horizon, and I hear him singing. His baby song composed on the spot, holding his feet and singing singing singing into the dark. It's too early, much too early for this.

In the darkness I stumble to his room, fumble for the lamp. And still he's talking to himself and all raspberries and song. The light goes on and he stops and looks around.

Then he sees me.

The instant the blue eyes that look just like mine behold my face his entire countenance lights up. He gives me the chin-tuck shy smile of his father. Oh, and all of a sudden it doesn't matter what time it is. It doesn't matter that this new mama is bone tired and just wants to be wrapped in a cocoon of warm on this winter night.

It's that smile, that gummy grin that says "I see you, mama." It's the pure joy that washes over his body when he beholds me, a bleary eyed twenty three year old who was given this little person to shepherd and to guard. And even though I want to sleep, I pick him up and hold him against me. "I see you, too, sweetheart. And I love you more than you know." 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It's not always what you think you see...

One of my classes for school involves taking public transportation where you live and writing a paper about the experience and the community. 

I was nervous. Jacksonville is known to have a lot of crime in the city...

I was on a bus headed towards the downtown area of the city. On the bus I was looking around at the different people, wandering about their lives, and wondering what they might be thinking of me. After exiting the bus at a busy downtown bus stop I heard someone call out  “Excuse me, ma'am!” At first I thought someone was going to ask for money or try to follow me, but my mind quickly changed-

A young man was holding out my wallet! I guess it may have slipped out of my purse as I was getting off of the bus! I felt a bit guilty that I had been so scared about riding the bus. This guy could have easily taken my wallet or it could have been left on the bus-and he returned it to me! 

This experience causes me to think about first impressions and the way we look at each other. 

I think first impressions are certainly important. People are driven so much by image. People can change hairstyles, clothes, and even behavior based on what is seen. However, would I always want to be judge based on MY first impression to other people? I don't think so! 

I've seen coworkers that I thought would act a certain way-and then was shocked as I interacted with them more that they were different than I first assumed. 

The same goes for the guy on the bus. If presented with a visual of the situation before it happened I might have thought he would be likely to take my wallet! How often do we do this? Do we see an individual with a certain title or certain hairstyle and form judgments on how they might behave?

What would happen if we stop casting so many quick assumptions when we meet people? 

I encourage you to talk to those you come in contact with, view their behavior-and you too might be surprised at what you really see. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

{Monday Morsels} Healthy Chocolate "milkshake"

Well, it's January.

Most of us are in detox mode from the holidays. Maybe you've set a goal to eat clean or healthy or maybe you're just all sugared out.

But if you're anything like me, your sweet tooth is demanding, even when your brain knows you don't need sugar.

Because I'm a sucker for chocolate and peanut butter, but I am also determined to be healthy, I have developed a delicious healthy chocolate peanut butter "milkshake" that hits the spot and is only sweetened with honey!

It's also a great after workout pick me up because it's packed with protein!


1 Avacado (makes it creamy!)
2 T honey
1 T cocoa powder
2 T peanut butter
1 c milk
1/2 t salt (optional) (I use it when I use natural, unsalted peanut butter)
3 ice cubes

Pour it in a blender and mix til smooth. Enjoy guilt free, my friends!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Year of Joy

Copyright Sarah Fusaro 2014


First weekend of 2014!

Around New Years, I don't so much set Resolutions so much as I do Goals.

And this year, my husband and I have declared 2014 to be a year of Joy.

I want to live. Fully, deeply, every-fiber-of-my-being live. My heart wants to drink deep the cup which God has given to me and, whatever my lot, rejoice and give thanks.

This life is so short, but a blink in the scope of eternity. And I want to live ready to die, I want to die daily and be raised again in His joy by the power of the cross.

I've been reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. It has breathed life into my dry, anxious soul and convicted me and challenged me not to live clenched-fist-worried about what will come but to live open-handed and grateful for all things God has given.

And so this year I want life to be filled with the peace that passes understanding because of joy.

Here are some other goals for 2014, in case you're interested in those kinds of things:
-To create a peaceful, joyful home environment
-To host more
-To love deeper
-To read through the Bible
-To finish my novel
-To raise my son according to His ways
-To exercise multiple times a week and honor my body as a holy temple
-To name 1,000 gifts from God in my life
-To be a better wife


I used get annoyed with new year resolutions. I would watch people resolve to do these big things that sounded great-and watch them often neglect to follow through within the first few weeks of the year-sometimes even within the first few days!

I do, however, love goals. I've researched creating measurable goals for a more likely outcome and how writing goals and speaking goals to others can help increase success at achieving. When I think about being "resolved" to do something-I think about making a sudden, unwavering change. On the flip-side, I see a goal as an objective I'm working for-like taking a journey to reach a certain place.

With that being said, I embrace setting goals for a new season. Why not set goals for things in life as the concerns arise? I started a new season of my life last spring and set some goals for a year spanning from May-May; so at that point I created some spiritual, physical, and financial goals. However, as I start 2014 I have some more objectives to aim for.

Goals of 2014-and on:

-To love bigger
-To show more mercy
-To get more involved with my church

I love Sarah's perspective about joy. Certainly there is much to be joyful about.

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." 
-Romans 5:6-9