four-minute friday

four-minute friday: uncensored

Go. No preconceived ideas on what I'll write this time, McNiely. We'll take this one exactly as it comes.

Holy crow---By next Friday, you'll be in the same time-zone as me! I still won't have seen you (seriously?!), but at least we'll both be on the east coast of America. I've had July 31st in my brain as D-Day for months; I guess I need to reprogram it with August 8th. Get ready for the tightest hug and longest kiss of your life.

I love that I'm meeting you in DC. That makes our reunion seem so much more romantic and alluring. (No one needs to know we're going there for business.) I've always wanted to be able to say something as chic as "I'm meeting my husband in DC." And now I can. Yessss! Doesn't it sound so... so... like we're gonna have hot, wild sex all weekend? (Am I allowed to say that in the blogosphere?) It does kinda sound like that, doesn't it. You should try it out. Go 'head and say it. Although definitely say "wife" instead of "husband".

I'm ready to see your face, play with your hair, kiss your lips, and smack your butt. Among other things.

I just have one question: How are you feeling now about us staying in a host home the first night together after 11 weeks apart????


six-minute sunday: sick and tired


I slept for 33 of the last 36 hours. I can’t remember the last time I was this sick. So this is a little late, Hombre, but since I'm still sick, I figure I scored myself a few extra minutes to write this overdue Four-Minute Friday.

Leaving Florida was sad, although a bit muted by not feeling well. It had been an emotional and crazy week, and I was glad to be leaving. Yet at the same time, boarding that plane was like peeling back a new layer of grief.

I still can’t believe that within 24 hours of Gram’s passing, we were already sorting through her stuff, making piles of things to keep, donate, or throw away. I wish we didn’t need to do it so rushed; it felt like we’d dwindled her life down to trash bags. I know it was only because of the circumstances, but still…

I’m trying to forget the worst parts of that day, those moments, and only hold onto the beautiful ones. (It’s a hard task.) My prayers really were answered. I'm so glad I was in America and could be with Gram and my family. I know you and I talked a handful of times over the years about something like this happening; you knew I'd want to be with my family if it were at all possible. It was a priceless gift that I was able to be with Gram for her last few days.

I’d even asked people to pray with me that Gram would go when we were all with her so that she’d be “surrounded by our love and wrapped in His peace”. And that’s exactly what happened.

God was good to me. And to Gram. I can’t imagine that she’d wanted to go any other way.

I’m so grateful she was never hospitalized; she never suffered from any long illness. I’m glad we didn’t have to call the list of hospices we’d compiled that morning or convince Gram to use any of the “old age supplies” we’d just purchased. She was strong until the very end.

I miss her.

I miss you.


four-minute friday: anti-blogging

Go. This is my first post in a week. I was taking a bit of a hiatus, but was ready to post something again on Wednesday. And then, in an instant message chat, you had to go and challenge me to hold out until Friday. "It'll be a record," you said.

I think you really wanted me to wait so that my return post would be written to you (since I'm dedicating Four-Minute Fridays to you while we're apart). Either way, I sighed at your suggestion. And decided to take you up on it.

With you being known in internet-land as the Anti-Blogger, and then cheering my absence from the blogosphere for seven whole days, I wonder what hope my future in blogging really has.

You should try it. You might like it. You know what they say: The family that blogs together, stays together. Or something like that.

Someone sent me this picture of you from last week. It makes me smile still. You're so sexy, you know that?

Dang, I miss you. Oh---Nina Panina says hi!


four-minute friday: flag tees


Okay, so you know the $5 Old Navy flag tees that we've gotten every year since 1998? Yeah, I know you know them, since you have a shelf full of them in your closet.

I always have to think way ahead of time to order them online or send mom to the store for me, and then get them shipped out to Africa. But I always do it because... I don't really know why. It's more about the tradition and sentiment than it is about the shirts. But... I do it. And I love it. And you smile. And graciously wear the shirts. I don't really know how much you actually enjoy this tradition of ours, but you sport 'em well. I'm imagining that you're even wearing one right now in honor of the Fourth of July.



I have to tell you something.

There will be no 2008 flag tees for us. GASP!

This year---my first time in America over this patriotic time in ages---I forgot all about it. I didn't order any online; I didn't buy some in any of the Old Navys I've had the privilege of walking by these past few months. Nope. I never thought of it at all.

Until yesterday.

A quick check online and at the nearby store brought a crushing blow. Sold out.

So... The tradition has ended. No more flag tees.

I hang my head in shame.


four-minute friday: venti joy

Go. This is my third Four-Minute Friday for you, Hombre, but I don't even know if you're reading them. Hmph. That's ok. To you I shall keep writing.

Amy and I went to Target yesterday. Peaberry had just eaten and sacked out (I've totally picked up Amy's phrase for fallen asleep), so she was very easy to bring along. All we did was buy baby stuff, but it was great to be out and about---just us girls!

The very best part, I must admit, was that there's a Starbucks in Target.

I got a chai. I even got it supersized. It was a Venti non-fat, extra-hot chai kind of day. And they gave us these handy-dandy cup holders that clip onto the shopping cart, which made me giddy. (You know me, always gettin' excited about the little things!)

I can't wait till you're back and we can Starbucks it up together. And of course we'll have lots of lunch dates.

In the meantime, keep missing me, ok?


four minute friday: puppies and kittens

Go. Hombre, I don't really need four minutes to tell you what my heart wants to tell you. I can do it in six words:

I love you. I miss you.

Or even these six words will do:

But since this is called Four-Minute Friday, I'll fill up the remaining three minutes with sweet everythings.

My little namesake is 9 days old today; isn't that crazy? What's even crazier is realizing that you have yet to meet this sweet little girl who's moved into my heart. You will love her, I know. I've missed you a lot these past 9 days as I've been experiencing so much that I wish you were with me for. ::SIGH::

Dave keeps asking me about our futuristic dog. I shrug; I giggle; I say, "We'll see..." This much I know is true: You and I are going to have a blast with the Kitties this coming year. It'll feel like a very long breath of fresh air for our hearts.

I taught Silas to say “Are you ready?” with a British accent. Every time he says it, I can’t help but laugh. I already imagine you teaching him all sorts of crazy things.

But really, all I need you to know is that I love the moon and back.


four-minute friday: groceries

Go. Niel, I'm going to dedicate my four-minute Fridays to you while you're gone. Or am I the one who's gone? Who knows...

While I'm here and you're there, I sometimes worry about whether or not you're eating well. I know you are a great cook, and the king of making yummy meals out of the random leftovers in our fridge (even if they're only yummy to you). But, still... I know it's hard work being back in the bachelor-hood.

So I was really glad you sent me a picture after you got home from the grocery store this week. I appreciate you setting my heart at ease and reassuring me that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet.

My heart rests easy today.


four-minute friday: home

Go. My friend half-jokingly refers to America as "God's country", and her words were on my mind as we touched down in JFK at 6:30 this morning. It feels good to be home.

This is where it gets hard to explain, but I'll my remaining 3.5 minutes.

Africa is home. I've lived there long enough, put roots down deep enough, feel totally comfortable there that I have no qualms about calling it home. I often do. Especially when I'm in America. The phrase "Back home..." seasons my conversations.

But America will also always be home for me. No amount of years living overseas will ever take that away. There's something about being here---something about that instant when the airplane wheels hit the tarmac---that makes me feel like I'm being hugged.

There's much I disagree with and dislike about my home country and culture, as there also is about my new country and culture. But I proudly call both home.


four-minute friday: time zones

Go. Well, it's almost midnight. Which means it's almost Saturday. And I just realized I never four-minuted today. Yikes. i've got a few minutes left to still get it done on Friday. Although it'll still be Friday in America for many more hours. And it's already not been Friday in Australia for many hours. Time zones are a weird thing to think about. So I won't think about that. Not right now anyway.

Although not thinking about time zones now has me thinking about my 17 hour flight next week. Yep, my next four-minute Friday will be written from New York. I have been so busy, I haven't had much time to get too excited yet. But typing that right then? That made me smile really big.

I have an uncanny ability to (typically) sleep through almost the entire over-the-ocean flight. I love it. With my new short do, I'm anticipating landing in JFK with an amazing case of bedhead.


four-minute friday: highlights

Go. So today's my big day. I'm up and at 'em early (where did that phrase come from?) to drive to the big-city for my 11 AM hair appointment. I must confess: I'm nervous!

After my cut (and highlight!) I'm heading to the airport to pick Niel up. Hope he likes it. Especially cause it'll probably never look that good again. There's nothing like that fresh-from-the-salon look. Note to self: Make a point of asking them to show me exactly how to style it so I can do it myself.

Here comes the real bummer: We're spending the night in Joburg to pick up some folks at the airport on Saturday morning. So... That means no "big reveal" until Saturday night or perhaps even Sunday. (GASP!)

Spiderweb: I can't believe with or without you got so many comments. The dialogue took some interesting twists and turns. If you haven't followed the comment conversation, you may want to go back and take a peek.

Okay... Since I'll be gone all day, you'll have to talk amongst yourselves in the comments. What do you anticipate being your high and low today? (That's "kitty-code" for the best and worst part of your day.) And then come back and share what your actual high and low was... Okay. Discuss.


four-minute friday: nicknames

Go. My mandibular friend and I have been having an ongoing discussion about nicknames for quite a while now. She decided to blog about it. I decided to copy her.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm a nicknamer more than a nicknamee. I love coming up with unique nicknames for friends, although I've never really had many nicknames in my life. I guess I have a tricky name to work with when it comes to nicknaming... I don't know. My mom's called me Midgey Girl since forever (I'm not really sure where it even came from), and my dad and brothers call me Beece. The only other nicknames I've had are what my friends Dave and Amy call me---Lizzy Kitty, Kitty, or Kitten. Long story. Don't ask.

So I'm taking suggestions for nicknames. Let me know whatcha got. We can narrow them down and vote on it.

How 'bout you? What are your nicknames?


four-minute friday: drinking


I decided to start my day off by watching (AGAIN!) the video I posted yesterday. I laughed just as hard as I did each of the other four times I've seen it.

And it got me thinking about this whole business of loving Jesus and drinking a little. I know everyone has different opinions on the issue of alcohol. But here's mine: I do believe it is possible to do both. Love Jesus. Drink a little.

I love a glass (or two) of red wine with a meal. I don't like beer, but I do drink some ciders. Oh, and there's a local blueberry beer that I enjoy drinking when I'm on Long Island (home sweet home). Mostly because it tastes more like blueberries than beer.

What's your take on drinking?

Oh---And do you want me to order a shirt for you when I order mine?



four-minute friday: cereal

Go. I really enjoy a good bowl of cereal. And I eat a lot of it, but usually not for breakfast. It's my favorite after-dinner, late-night snack. If I'm still up at 2 AM, cereal's what I'm heading to the kitchen for.

Sometimes it seems like the perfect comfort food. Some people go for ice cream or chocolate, or even mac-n-cheese. Cereal does the trick for me. Don't underestimate the healing, soothing power of All Bran Honey Nut Crunch.

The only downside of my cereal-eatage is that I devour it ridiculously fast. In general, I'm a way-too-fast eater as it is. But I have an overwhelming need to eat cereal at an ungodly fast pace. I cannot stand when it gets soggy, so I tend to eat it as fast as I possibly can.

I just had a bowl of cereal-yumminess for lunch. And as I sat here trying to think of what to four-minute-friday about, I figured it was as good a time as ever to come out of the closet about my fast-paced love for eating cereal.


four-minute friday: dressed up


Last Friday night, Niel and I got dolled up and went to a cocktail reception at the Consul-General's palatial house. I dread those types of things (mingling with strangers?! mmm... no thanks), but ended up really enjoying it. I actually felt pretty all dressed up, rather than uncomfortable and self-conscious.

We connected with some great people and stood around talking while servers kept coming over with yummy appetizers on trays. Can't ever go wrong with tasty treats. Gimme food in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other, and I can tackle just about any social situation.

But my favorite part of the whole evening? The napkins.


four-minute friday: gun control

Go. "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." That trite answer to heart-wrenching situations like the one that just unfolded on a college campus in Illinois, is disturbing to me.

Something is going on with young people today, something no one really seems to understand---myself included. Something that drives them to take a gun and shoot their classmates. Something that makes them feel so hopeless, so aimless, so hurting, that they resort to violence.

Not violence for violence sake, I don't believe. Not just to be mean or cruel. But violence because, for some reason, it's the only thing they can think to do with all the hurt they carry inside.

It breaks my heart.

The gun issue needs to be addressed. Absolutely. But more than that, the hurting-youth issue needs to be addressed. We need to find some way to reach these kids, to let them know there is a hope. That even if they've hit bottom, they are not alone. That they are seen, known, loved.

How? I have no idea. But we need to do something. Any ideas?

It's true. Guns don't kill people. But hurting hearts do.


four-minute friday: hope house

Go. I'm cheating. It's after midnight, so technically it's Saturday already.

We took our new interns to Hope House for the first time today. I was flooded with a strange mix of emotions. I was glad to be there. Utterly elated to hold and hug my James. The buzz of excitement that overflowed from the interns was almost tangible.

Yet at the same time, I felt a hole in my heart, in the room, in the children's eyes -- a hole the size of last year's interns.

I watched the children wander hesitantly, tentatively into the room, beholding a whole new group of people. They were reserved. Shy. Withdrawn. Unsure. Confused. And then that wall slowly tumbled down. By the end, the kids were hanging all over the interns. Their hearts opened wide to let in these strangers who will very soon become friends. Loved ones.

I would be wise to let my heart do the same.


four-minute friday: jeans

Go. I'm a finicky clothing shopper.

I prefer to do it alone. My basic standards for any article of clothing are comfort and compatibility. It needs to be oh-so-comfortable, and it needs to match just about everything else I already own. I'm a weird height and often "between sizes", which makes it a challenge for me to find something I really like that fits perfectly. Even if I end up with armfuls of stuff, I usually discard most of it along the way to the checkout. (Niel gets so annoyed when I do this!)

I am in desperate need of jeans. I have two pairs that I wear fairly constantly, and these two pairs have been with me for most of my decade in Africa. I'm serious. (They're a great advertisement for the durability of Gap jeans.)

They are comfortable and comforting, in the way only a favorite-pair-of-jeans can be. They are worn in, and now worn through in certain spots. Namely, the butt and the crotch. What's up with that? The stitching around the zipper and button has just begun to unravel on one pair, so basically the crotch is falling apart entirely. Yikes.

My beloved Joyce has patched them multiple times, the most recent being yet another patch on the butt last week. She told me I just need to get new pants.

My mission is to buy a few pairs of jeans when I go home in a few months, so I told Joyce we just need to get these to last till April. I tried to buy some last time I went home, and failed miserably.

I have to, have to, have to this time.


four-minute friday: 10 years old


Now the challenge is to get this typed in and posted before the power goes out again. I think we've spent more time without power than with it today.

2008 is a pretty monumental year for us. Thrive Africa turned 10 years old! We've been working on a new page for the website that tells more about our journey. It was fun writing the copy for it, although it was challenging to not go on and on about things. (I've got a decade worth of stories to tell... It's hard to fit that onto one page!)

We even dug out some old pictures from our early years and scanned them in (yes, we used film back then!). There's a whole gallery of these classic photos on the ministry site. (Kitty, enjoy the trip down memory lane!)

You can read our story and see our pictures here.

(Yay! Power's still on...)


four-minute friday: empty bottle

Go. I did something I've always wanted to do. I consumed something in the grocery store before I paid for it.

I've always had a strange mix of feelings when seeing someone eat a candy bar or drink a Coke before checking out. My self-righteousness flares up with thoughts like How dare she? and Who does he think he is? Yet, if I'm honest, deep down I'm green with envy. I wish I had the guts to do that.

I was perusing the aisles, pushing my cart. I was thirsty, so I grabbed a bottle of sparking water and figured I'd drink it when I was done shopping. And then I just decided, in that instant, to drink it right then and there.

As I unscrewed the cap, the infamous first-fizz noise of carbonated beverages made me chuckle. With dodgey eyes, trying to see if anyone was watching, I took a quick sip. I laughed to myself as I resumed shopping.

When I got to the checkout, I handed the woman my empty bottle for her to ring up. There. I did it. It was a rather liberating experience.


four-minute friday: ostriches


There are two ostriches outside my office. One keeps knocking on the door. (I'm serious!) The other is staring intently at me through the window next to my desk. Hello, lovely ladies.

She has intriguing eyes. Have you ever seen an ostrich blink? It's very...interesting. Mildly gross, even. But her eyes are larger than life, and her eyelashes are Maybelline perfect.

I wonder why they're staying here; they've been here for hours already. Occasionally, they walk back to the grass to eat a bit, and then they stroll back over. They clean their feathers, strut their stuff, and knock on the glass. I wonder what -- if anything -- is going through their walnut-sized brains. (Did you know their brains are smaller than their eyeballs? Now how's that for a Snapple fact!?)

If nothing else, it's making my day in the office more exciting than it normally would have been. I've got a song on repeat and am ready to crack down on a big project. Thanks for keeping me company, ladies.