four-minute friday

four-minute friday: 1000

Go. I realized today that this is my... drum roll please... 1,000th post!

I can't believe I've been at it for this long. 5 years of blogging. 1000 posts. And someone (many someones, really) actually shows up to read it. I will never cease to be amazed.

That, to me, is the significance of the number. Not 1000 posts of my words, but 1000 posts of yours. Because what makes The Grit what it is, isn't what I have to say. It's what goes on in the comments.

Encouragement. Prayer. Friendship. Family. Love. Laughter.

I am so grateful that you are here. That you come, however often that may be, and cozy up on our big ol' Glorious couch. You listen to my threadbare heart (and even my ridiculous confessions), and you share your heart in return. Joys. Griefs. Struggles. Victories. All poured out over hot frothy beverages and fleece blankets. (Or you know, through laptop screens and keyboards. Whatever.)

You have made this sacred space feel like home.

Comfortable. Warm. Welcoming. Safe.

And I can only hope you've found as much solace, healing, and strength here as I have.

Happy 1000, friends!


four-minute friday: STORY (so far)

Go. My heart is teetering on the edge right now. Let's see if four minutes of rambling balances things out a bit, or ever-so-slightly causes me to tilt even further into the abyss...

My time at STORY has been incredible so far. It's just been so packed that I don't feel as though I've had time to process anything yet. I've taken furious notes, and have gotten so many great nuggets out of each speaker... but I'm not sure I know how to answer the "how is STORY?" question. I'm gonna need some breathing room to go back through all my notes and really chew on everything that's marinating in my heart right now. (I think that analogy is stemming from my growling stomach at the moment. iHunger. Clearly.)

Soaking in God's presence as Kari Jobe led worship yesterday morning was by far one of the highlights for me. I get lost in music. Yet I feel God uniquely find me in that place. I think I love music even more because of that paradox.

Another highlight has for sure been all the great conversations I've had. I've been able to spend time (too brief, as always) with so many amazing people. I seriously am overwhelmed to tears by the stellar people God's put in my life. I feel undeserving to run with such giants. So, so thankful. And so, so humbled.

Okay - it's your turn. Give me four minutes of ... anything. Please?


four-minute friday: light and fluffy

Go. I wanted to four-minute about something light and fluffy. Mostly because I'm wiped out and don't have energy for anything of substance. Besides, it's Friday! We can all do with some extra light and fluffy in our day.

But all I keep hearing in my head is the little girl on "Despicable Me": "It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!"

Have you seen it yet? It's cute. And 3-D. And that whole fluffy-unicorn bit is hilarious. Seriously. Watch the clip. You'll find yourself repeating "It's so fluffy!" in that creepy funny voice of hers.

Cracks me up every single time!

Anyway...  Clearly in need of blogging assistance, I sent out a tweet asking for light and fluffy post ideas. What did I get back?

Marshmallows. Angel food cake. Cotton candy. Whip cream.

Y'all are one hungry bunch. You fit right in around here! Ha.

So now we ended up with four minutes of basically nothing. Just like how cotton candy melts away into nothingness in your mouth. Minus the sugar high.

Oh geez. This is going downhill fast.

Calling it quits. And calling on you to tell me something light and fluffy...

Ready? Go!


five-minute friday: 12 hours in nyc


Five minutes is definitely not enough time to tell you about my whirlwind trip to New York City last Friday with Tracee. But here are some highlights... I'mma type fast...

The moment my favorite skyline came into view, we both bust out singing "Only in New Yoooork..." And it became our theme song for the day.

I'd heard about this initiative going on that placed pianos all over the city "to bring music to the streets". We made it our mission to find one, and sure enough... We played on a random piano in the middle of Times Square!

We hit up FAO Schwartz because we just had to play on the BIG piano. (Our "Where's Waldo?" game on Twitter made it even more fun!) We ooooh'd and ahhhh'd at the Apple Store, and played Skee-Ball on an iPhone 4. (So random. And so funny.) The live camera feed on one of the ginormous screens in Times Square was a blast too. Trying to find ourselves up there felt like payback for the Where's Waldo game... But we eventually found us.

We took our time eating dinner at my favorite restaurant -- 2 1/2 hours! -- and savored every bite (and sip). Mmm! I love me some good Italian...

I got a long-overdue hug from my friend Natalie to end off an amazing day, and then Tracee and I cashed out on the bus ride back to DC. We were joyfully content from a day of laughing, talking, walking (lots of walking), and doing everything and nothing together.

It went by so fast. And was far too short. But it was the very best day I've had in a looooong time. What a gift!

"Only in New Yoooork..."



four-minute friday: nyc

Go. I've been sitting here trying to think of what I can four-minute about. And all I can think of is NYC. So I finally decided to go with that.

Because I'm going there today!

As a surprise gift, my sweet friend Tracee bought us bus tickets from DC to NYC for the day. I am soooooo excited!

Depending on how long you've been around The Grit, you may or may not know that I'm from New York. Long Island, to be exact. (Go Yankees!) And after 18 months back in the States from Africa, this will be my first visit back to NY. Thus, my outta-my-mind excitement.

Is it bad that in thinking through what I want to do with my less-than-twelve-hours in NYC, all I can think about is food?! Bagels... Pizza... My favorite Italian restaurant... A pretzel-cart pretzel... (Can you tell I like carbs!?) Mmmm.... My tummy will be full, that's for sure.

And so will my heart. All day I'll feel so loved by my friend Tracee who's arranged this whole wonderful gift.

I know I will. Because my heart already feels full.


I'mma tweet through this whole whirlwind adventure, so be sure to follow me on Twitter if you don't already.

five-minute friday: breathe

Go. My mind is swirling with the ever-present barrage of decisions to be made, things to be done, and thoughts to be thunk. The music playing in the background adds yet another layer to the cacophony, and I feel compelled to check my phone every time it dings. And it dings often.

It's all right there -- constantly flowing at / to / in me. I get overwhelmed by the enormity of everything. Not knowing where to start causes me to not start at all.

I haven't journaled out the things I've wanted to. I haven't written the heart-wrestling blog posts that are currently sitting in my drafts folder as only a sentence or two. I haven't finished the book I began reading four months ago. I haven't given myself time, space, and emotional reserve to process the weighty things in my heart. I haven't replied to all my emails, cleared my Google Reader, or gotten in touch with all the friends I'd love to connect with.

And all those haven'ts weigh on me as need to's any time I get a spare minute to myself.

But in that rare moment, all I want to do is drown that list out of my mind.

And just breathe.

Maybe, just maybe, that isn't bad. Maybe that isn't avoidance or procrastination.

Maybe it's my heart's way of reminding me that life is more about being than it is about doing.


four-minute friday: apples & oranges

I think most of you know my friend Mandy. If you don't, you should. She's incredible. Back on the Q's & A's post, she suggested I have some friends write for Four-Minute Friday. I decided to take her up on her idea...

I asked her to write one.

So here's Mandy Thompson... on apples and oranges:


I think sometimes we can focus so strongly on the differences between us that we begin to see people as being completely "other than" us. We stare at the differences until the only conclusion is that we're different creatures - different beings - different at a core level.

Like comparing Apples and Oranges.

But this couldn't be further from the truth. Our outsides may look different in size, color, and even shape, but we all have the same kind of skin, and the same type of insides. And we can all bruise. And if you throw a bunch of apples in a bag and shake them up, they will bruise one another.

We forget this. We just jump in the bag and hurt and harm others.

We also forget that, buried safely beneath the surface, at the core of who we are, seeds are waiting on the moment when they can grow - bring life from that apple. We all have dreams and plans and desires inside of us. We all have gifts and potential to give MORE to the world - more than who we are in and of ourselves.

Each apple has within it the ability to be a life-giving tree... if given the chance.

But do we give others the chance? And do we give ourselves the chance? Or are we stuck nursing our own bruisings? Or too distracted by the outside differences that separate us from others?


four-minute friday: randoms

Go. You guys asked me some great questions in the Qs and As post.

Most of them require more heart and thought than I have to give tonight, but there are some random questions I'm gonna force myself to answer quickly. If you know much about me, you know I'm not good with off-the-cuff answers. I think it's because of the whole favorites thing... And the fuzzy brain thing... And probably a few other things as well...


Here goes. Just for you.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? The ability to backspace when I'm speaking like I can when I'm writing...

What do you like to do to relax? Watch a movie/TV. Read (fiction). Cozy up with some blogs. Do nothing with a friend---my favorite!

Hugger or a handshaker? Hugger!

What’s your middle name? ::cringe:: ...Nancy

What do you love most about being a girl? Not having to use a urinal with strangers right next to me doing the same thing ...

I'd love to hear your answers to any or all of these. And feel free to leave me some more questions...HERE.


four-minute friday: giveaway

Go. Did you know we have our own blend of Thrive Africa coffee? We do. It's organic, fair-trade, and air-roasted. And it's made entirely of African-grown beans.

From Africa.

For Africa.

You can win a pound of Thrive coffee and an awesome travel mug to drink it out of.

My friend Ashleigh is doing a giveaway over on her blog. (She's amazing like that.) You need to go read her post to discover all the ways you can enter -- and you have between now and Monday at midnight to do it.

So go on over and enter your name into the giveaway.

You know you wanna.


four-minute friday: iowa

Go. It still feels a little unreal to me that I've spent this week with my friend Sara.

For lots of reasons.

Like the fact that I normally live on another continent. And Sara lives in Iowa of all places. Iowa.

And like how I had to be perfectly healthy so I don't pass something on to her. And that is no small miracle for me.

But all the stars aligned---by the grace of God!---and here I am.

Every now and again I still squeal out an, "I can't believe I'm in your house!" Because it really does seem too good to be true.

And it's coming to an end all too quickly.

I'm not ready to leave, to say goodbye, to give Sara a final hug. I'm not ready.

But I am so unbelievably grateful.

My heart is going to hold on to this week for a very long time.


four-minute friday: in two minutes or less

Go. I don't even think I can get four full minutes in. It's been that long of a week. No, I take that back. It's been a quick week, but overflowingly full in every way imaginable.

My brain is fried. It's been checked out for days. (Which definitely did not help with the hard week...)

So... Yeah. I've got nothing today.

After my raw, vulnerable posts earlier this week, I'm left with nothing to say. For now.

(Hopefully my brain will be back by Monday.)

So... You tell me something. Anything.

You could tell me what God's speaking to you these days. Or you could keep it light and fluffy and just tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

Or what your weekend plans are. Or what your best friend is like. Or why you love Target so much.

You know, whatever.

Just please tell me something so I don't have to feel guilty for not saying anything on here today.

Happy weekend, friends!


four-minute friday: tight

Go. It's been one helluva week.

I've been crazy-emotional. I don't feel well. I'm exhausted. I received some rough interesting emails. I have more to do than I have time to do it in or energy to do it with. I miss my friends. I'm desperate for a real hug.

And that's the short list.

On top of which I went and did something crazy.

Posting about my new normal was by far the biggest risk I've taken this year.

I was scared of being that vulnerable; I was anxious about the responses that would come.

But then there was the hug in the form of a blog post about me that caught me completely off guard in the best way possible.

There were the phone calls, texts, emails, and comments I received from people who care deeply for me.

There was the "I love you" from God that came in the form of "I love you"s from people.

As this crazy-hard week comes to an end, I'm assured that I'm not alone.

He's holding me tight.

And so are you.


four-minute friday: risk

Go. The first two months of 2010---can you believe it's the end of February already?!---have held lots of risks for me. Y'all remember that's my one word focus for the year, right? (What? I'm living in Georgia. I can say y'all.)

My year of risk is well underway.

I went on vacation with a bunch of near-strangers.

I rappelled 100 feet into a Mexican canyon.

I've intentionally endured quite a few awkward situations.

But those have paled in comparison to the risks I've taken with my heart.

I've prayed risky prayers. I've been more authentic in the moment. I've wrestled with truly forgiving my wayward husband.

And as I look toward the horizon, there is a lot that makes me very nervous.

Like the six week ministry fundraising trip I'm embarking on this spring. By myself. It feels incredibly daunting after always having a wingman (who was also the extrovert and public speaker of the two of us).

I signed up for a half-marathon. Which I fear will be a health risk more than anything else. But I am determined to cross the finish line no matter what.

And I'm going to continue risking big with my heart. Although it hasn't started getting any easier yet.

Your turn to check in.

How have you done with your one word?

I'd love to see us rally around each other to cheer one another on!


four-minute friday: something

Go. My brain is struggling to land somewhere I can four-minute about.

I've got nothing.

Because I shouldn't really soapbox about how much I resent the Snowpocalypse that has been kicking DC's butt all week. I mean, I don't even live there.

I can't explain the stressful few hours I had yesterday afternoon, most of it spent on the phone. On hold. And there really is no more helpless feeling than being left on hold for 45 minutes.

I won't bore you with the story of why I packed and unpacked and repacked all in less than 24 hours.

I can tell you I've got that Christmas Eve I-can't-sleep-cause-I'm-so-excited thing going on. And I won't even mind when my alarm wakes me up at 4:30 AM.

If you know how un-morning-person I am, you know that's a really big deal.

But it's so worth it.

So. Worth. It.

But that's all I can say.

So really, you should tell me something.



four-minute friday: self-awareness

Go. I recently realized that I'm not very self-aware. Which, for someone who isn't self-aware, is a pretty big realization to come to. I'm just sayin.

I don't feel as though I have a good understanding of my own personality.

I don't connect the dots about things going on in my life. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. I just don't seem to be cognizant that A + B might've equaled the C I'm currently feeling.

When I hear friends describe themselves or explain how they usually respond in certain situations or say that what they ate yesterday is messing up their GI track today, I always think, "Wow. How did they figure that out?!"

It just hit me that my lack of self-awareness might play a big role in my inability to choose favorites. Or be decisive. Because, honestly, a lot of the time I legitimately don't know what I like. When I shrug and say I don't have a preference, it's because I really don't know what I'd prefer.

I feel like the chick on Runaway Bride who doesn't know how she likes her eggs cooked.

Although I do know how I like my eggs. If breakfast burrito counts as an answer. Seriously, cheese and salsa make just about anything better. That much I know for sure.

But for most everything else, I sincerely don't know what I like. Or how I typically process things. Or even if my tummy issues are triggered by a certain food. I simply don't know.

Because I'm just not self-aware enough to understand me.

What is up with THAT?!


three-minute thursday: take 19

Go. I spent four hours in a studio today shooting a new promo video for Thrive. And I've gotta tell you -- I am juiced right now!

I went into this thing feeling kinda nervous about it. Intimidated by it really. I've done this sorta thing before, but never by myself. And for someone who tends to shy away from the proverbial spotlight, being in a literal spotlight all by my lonesome can be pretty nerve-wracking.

But then I got there. And we started brainstorming. And story-boarding. And talking vision.

And everything changed.

Granted, I was still nervous. And some things took more takes than I'd like because I'd speak too fast, or trip over my own words, or wiggle my arms or legs too much. And there were times I had to say "Just wait a sec" while I took a minute to think through what I wanted to say. But the producer always knew when I was ready. He said he could see me get my game face on and inevitably the very next take would be the one.

I can honestly say I had a blast today.

Because I seriously love talking about Thrive Africa.


four-minute friday: ED

Go.four-minute friday 2 I hate pharmaceutical commercials.

One came on the other day when I was watching TV with 14-year-old K. Suddenly the room was flooded with phrases like prostate cancer, impotence, and erectile dysfunction. I silently prayed that K wasn't paying attention.

Sure enough...

"What's a prostate?"

My eyes widened. I maybe even gasped.

"Well, it's a gland that only guys have because it's inside them in their... in their..." I opted for gestures instead of words.

Now it was K's turn for the wide-eyed gasp. Followed by a squeal and some "I wish I didn't know that" groans.

But I got off easy.

She could've asked me what erectile dysfunction is.


four-minute friday: fleece is my favorite comfort food

four-minute friday 2Go. I've been in DC since Wednesday. That was a hard day for me. Even as I type that, I can't help but sigh with my eyes closed. All I wanted to do was wrap up in a warm cozy fleece. But I don't have one. (Not with me in America anyway.)

As I waited for my flight I tweeted that fleece is the clothing equivalent of comfort food. I would've bought one right then if I could.

Instead my friend loaned me one the moment I arrived in DC.

It felt like a hug I could wear all day.

I needed that.

Never mind the fact that it's ridiculously cold here. At least compared to the HTL. Mmmhmm. I just combined Hotlanta and The ATL to form my own brand new nickname for my current hometown.

So I'll keep borrowing a fleece.

To stay warm and keep my heart feeling as hugged as possible.

From DC to the HTL.


four-minute friday: spider-webbing

four-minute friday 2Go. This is how my brain works. I call it spider-webbing:

I bought a pumpkin spice candle today for my room. Because it smells like autumn, my favorite season.

I've always said my beloved chai tastes like autumn in a cup. Mmmm...

While fall is my favorite official season, my favorite unofficial one is from the launch of Starbucks' red cups of happiness until Christmas. Mmhmmm. I just mentioned Christmas on my blog. And it's only September.

I used to love buying school supplies. I've been fighting the urge to buy a pack of really good pens, but maybe I should since I lost one of my favorites this week. It rolled out of reach under a couch occupied by people talking about country music.

I'm heading to Nashville next week. For the first time ever. ('Cause layovers don't count.) And I'm all chuckles because it was my childhood dream to live there. Why? I wanted to live near Amy Grant.

I haven't listened to Amy Grant in years.

I just removed Michael W. Smith from my iPod. Sorry all you still-adoring fans. I just couldn't do it anymore.

A friend video'd herself singing a worship song she wrote, and sent it to me. A few others sent me video messages this week as well. Did you know you could do that with that handy talk to me link up there? You can. I think you should.

I'm actually thinking of maybe making a video for an upcoming Four-Minute Friday. Waddayathink? What would you want me to ramble about for four whole minutes here on the Grit?!

Anyone out there know someone who might want to build a customized blog for this missionary? I figure it doesn't hurt to ask.

Speaking of dustbunnies... Oh dangit! Out of time.


four-minute friday: unshaken

four-minute friday 2Go. In thinking about what to post today, I couldn't help but feel the weight of the actual date. I thought about describing where I was when I heard the news this fateful day 8 years ago, but wondered what it would accomplish to tell you I was in the living room of my chicken-coop-turned-apartment in Africa, and it was snowing outside.

I considered telling you about the NYC firefighter I knew who died doing the very thing he'd always dreamed of. But I don't have it in me to muster up all the words it'd take to tell that story.

So really all I want to say is, I remember. As I know we all do. And I am grateful. Grateful for the country I call my home and the God who stands unshaken above it. Grateful that He is in control even when everything seems out of control. And grateful that He is still righteous and just when all I'm seeing feels the opposite of that.

Today I remember.

And give thanks for His faithfulness.