How Refreshing


I finally finished the Refresh project I started in January 2010. You know, the one where I was supposed to write about 52 different topics, one a week, for a whole year. Only took me 1 year and 10 months to do it.

I may not have done it in the allotted time but I should get a little bit of credit for finishing it. There were times I wanted to not, because really, at this point, it’s embarrassing to be so late. I’m all for “fashionably late” but this was way beyond that. However, I saw value both in finishing what I started and in rethinking the topics the author outlined. And I’m glad I did.

Funny how already I can look back on how I felt about a certain subject or how I saw certain topics and I already have learned more or feel differently about that subject. These posts really are snapshots of how I felt at the time. The same topic at a later time would bring out a different response.

Check out the Refresh category in my word cloud to see all 52 posts.

To Caesar what is Caesar’s, to God what is God’s


My co-worker and fellow blogger shared this article with me in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. This week’s topic is tithing.

I’m putting this topic on hold for now. It’s a topic I’m exploring personally aside from this re-thinking project, and I’m not quite where I need to be with it to formulate my thoughts much less write about them here. But I will, before the year is out.


The above was published May 7, 2010. Updated Sept. 29, 2011.

Well, I didn’t write about tithe thoughts by the end of 2010, but at least I made it by the end of 2011.

There is more than one way to look at tithing. Some look at it as an Old Testament command that is no longer required or necessary after Jesus came. Tithing is not mentioned in the New Testament yet giving is. And then there’s the traditionalists that believe in the 10 percent tithe, and some combine the tithing + giving ideals and go with God expects 10 percent but cheerful giving is giving above and beyond that.

My current beliefs are not based any one or two verses or on others’ beliefs or theories. My beliefs are not even based on what my parents taught me, which was that for every $10 of allowance I got $1 went to church. My belief is based on what I have experienced Scripture and the Holy Spirit revealing to me personally.

Around the time of this original post, in May 2010, John and I had recently started giving to church again. We had been lax about it for years. When we lived in Indiana we were faithful tithers, calculating 10 percent to the penny and then rounding up to the next closest $5 or $10, and that small “excess” was our giving.

When we moved back to Huntsville, after Finn as born in 2003, neither one of us was working for some time. No money in meant no money to tithe on. We didn’t just “give” either. Slowly we found jobs — low-paying jobs for what we were accustomed to — and now we had a baby. So it became easy to not give, sometimes not at all and definitely not 10 percent. It occasionally bugged John, and he would say “we need to start giving again” and we might give a little for a week or two or three — never back up to 10 percent but a $50 check here or there — but never consistently. Something always came up right? An unexpected bill, too much spending, etc. We didn’t trust God to take care of us. We didn’t acknowledge our lack of trust but that’s what it really comes down to.

In April 2010, I finished our income tax forms, and instead of getting a refund like we had every other year we were going to have to pay. We were going to have to pay thousands. The IRS listed suggestions for how to not have to pay in the future, one of which was to increase charitable donations. We calculated that if we gave even just $100 a week — $5200 a year — it would put us into a lower tax bracket, so that’s what we committed to. It wasn’t 10 percent. Being transparently honest — we didn’t trust God enough to give Him that much of “our” money — it’s all His to begin with right? — and we selfishly wanted our money for us. It wasn’t for the right reasons. But, we justified, it was a start.

So each week I wrote $100 a week check to the church. Two months later, when John died, I kept writing that $100 a week check. My income was now greatly, greatly reduced. $100 a week was more than the 10 percent tithe on my current income, and I had a small laugh inside when I realized — God gets his 10 percent one way or the other. We weren’t willing to give 10 percent. We were willing to give $100. So He changed our/my income to match what we/I were willing to give. Now of course I wanted to back off $100 and tithe just the 10 percent but I stuck with the $100 … for a while.

When I left my job back in April, not working and thus having no earned income made it all too easy to stop giving altogether.

So lately I’ve been wondering and praying over what God would want me to give now, in this current season. I am not working and thus not bringing money in. Do I tithe on what non-working money comes in? Those provisions are gifts from Him, so I should at least be giving back some to Him, which is the spirit of tithing and giving anyhow.

Then God sent me to the passage in Luke 21 about the widow’s mite.

1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

I am not poor or poverty. God has blessed. But I used to be the one giving out of wealth, giving out of excess, giving what I didn’t even miss. If the amount got high enough that I might actually miss the money and feel the impact, that was too much. But what good is giving if you don’t even notice. The reason John and I never got back up to 10 percent is because when we calculated it, it was too much; it was more than we wanted to give up. Again, being honest, $100 was some week’s less than we spent eating out. Had we given 10 percent, we would’ve had to live differently, we would’ve have had to sacrifice (possibly sacrifice all that eating out), and we chose that was too high a price.

I don’t want to choose this life and forfeit my soul any longer (Matt. 16:26). I pray I never again not give to God, who so generously gives to us.

Friday Night Lights


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The Christian high school I attended didn’t have a football team, but I still had the Friday night football experience at the high school in my community. It wasn’t about the football, per se, at least not for some of us, maybe even a lot of us. Friday Night football in rural communities is as much the social “place to be” as it is anything about the actual football game.

So I took the boys to a high school football game tonight, and invariably Finn started asking behavioral questions and making observations. “Why are people walking around?” was one of the biggest questions. Well, I told him, walking around is a big huge part of high school football if you’re a student. You remember walking around during football games, don’t you? You had to see who else was and let who else was there see you … and you didn’t really come to watch tackles and plays anyhow. You came for the comradarie and the school spirit and the experience. In the south, and especially in Alabama, high school football is pretty much just what you do on an autumn Friday night.

While in Indiana, John and I lived in a subdivision behind one of the city’s two high schools. We could see the bright Friday night stadium lights from our home and often walked the few blocks or so up to the school and took in a game. We knew no student there and had no loyalty to that school over any other. We were just there for the experience of it. I still have a Bloomington South t-shirt and stadium cushion to this day in my bedroom closet.

The boys and I arrived near half-time due to traffic and parking. We were able to see the bands march and the players return to the field for the second half. We didn’t watch too many plays but we did see a few. We saw the marching band , heard the fans yelling, saw young people playing a game of pickup football — the experiences that make football what it is.

We did not stay til the end of the game. We didn’t care who won. We didn’t come for the football. We came for the American Southern Friday night tradition. Not the first time; won’t be the last, I hope.

Origins of the Universe


In 2010, I started my “Refresh” project, inspired by an article in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. I finished most of those but got derailed towards the end of the project. I have just a few more to go and want to see it through. So, this week’s topic is origins of the universe.

Hubble Deep Field, deepest-ever image of the Universe Credit:NASA

Everything I need to know about the origins of the universe is in the book of Genesis.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. — Genesis 1:1

Was there a Big Bang? I don’t know, but if there was God caused it. Did animals evolve? I don’t believe they did in the traditional sense of the evolution theory, but each day God’s creation of animals evolved into more and more complex creatures until the apex of creation — man.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.  — Genesis 2:7

Scripture does not say “and the LORD God caused monkeys or apes to become men.” It says He formed man from dust and breathed into his body and man became alive. That’s as far away from evolution as you can get, I think.

I find all the scientific knowledge we have now though very interesting, and time after time science proves Scripture.

In the book Dr. Space (review) is a quote by Werner von Braun from a presentation about the compatibility of science and faith:

“The universe revealed through scientific inquiry is the living witness that God has indeed been at work. Understanding the nature of the creation provides a substantive basis for the faith by which we attempt to know the nature of the Creator.”

You Make Me Smile


In 2010, I started my “Refresh” project, inspired by an article in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. I finished most of those but got derailed towards the end of the project. I have just a few more to go and want to see it through. So, this week’s topic is smiling.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Photo collage by iLookbook for iPhone

God Loves “bad guys” Too


In 2010, I started my “Refresh” project, inspired by an article in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. I finished most of those but got derailed towards the end of the project. I have just a few more to go and want to see it through. So, this week’s topic is your enemies.

A few weeks ago the boys saw on TV part of the movie “A Time To Kill,” which, if you’ve seen you know, depicts racial tensions in a small Mississippi town. A young black girl is raped, and her father kills the two white boys accused of the crime. Images in the movie showed marching protests by hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan, several instances of arson, and members of the Ku Klux Klan kidnapping and beating those who came to the defense of the black father.

The boys had questions about what was going on and why people were treating each other this way. I explained what they had seen by of course referring to history, saying that there was a time when some white people didn’t like black people and treated them mean. But God loved and created all people, I told them, and it was wrong to treat anyone mean for any reason at all.

A week later, we were exiting a local restaurant and a black woman was headed inside. I held the door for her and said good afternoon. As we walked to our car Caden asked if I knew her, and I said no, that I was just being nice by holding the door and saying hello. He replied, “Oh yeah, that’s right, white people don’t like black people.”

I let out a big sigh.

“No, no, no, Caden that’s not what I was saying …” and I reexplained what we had gone over the week before, emphasizing the historical aspect and really emphasizing how it was wrong of whites to treat blacks the way they did. God loves everyone the same.

“What about bad guys?” he asked. “God loves them too,” I said, and proceeded to tell about the two thieves that hung on either side of Jesus. He loves the bad guys but of course doesn’t love the bad they do, just like he loves us but doesn’t love the bad we do.

We’re no better than any “bad guy,” there just may be a difference the kinds of bad we do.

Sense of Humor


In 2010, I started my “Refresh” project, inspired by an article in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. I finished most of those but got derailed towards the end of the project. I have just a few more to go and want to see it through. So, this week’s topic is your sense of humor.

My sense of humor is very reality-based. That sounds pretty boring and very un-funny, doesn’t it?

But what I mean is, I like laughing at life, particularly laughing at myself and my friends and the crazy, silly blunders of life.

I like humor that is clever, like puns and plays on words and double entendre.

I don’t like cheap humor. My boys will double-over laughing at what I call bathroom humor, and I just look at them like they’re loony because I don’t get why bodily functions are funny.

I don’t like crude humor that uses offensive words or terms. Impress me by being funny without all that. Anyone can say a bad word. Show me you can be funny without all that.

The things I find the most funny are the ones that I can relate to, especially humor about motherhood, because let’s face it being a mom has a lot of hilariously funny moments. Motherhood has a lot of moments that if they don’t make you laugh you might just cry and I’d choosing laughing over crying any day.

When I was younger I knew something was really funny if I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt. Now, older and two vaginal births later, it’s really funny if it makes me have to pee.

Oh my, did I really just make a joke using bathroom humor?

Ok, so maybe some bathroom humor is funny.

But please don’t tell my boys.

:)