Archives For My Life

Rethink Advent

November 29, 2013 — 1 Comment

Rethink Advent

Back in February and March, I did the Lenten Photo Project from Rethink Church. It was incredibly meaningful and caused me to spend time each day reflecting and considering the day’s word. Some days seemed impossible at first, but inspiration came when it was needed. Some days turned out to be very fun themes, even though I hadn’t expected that to be the case. Some days, it was at the last minute that a photo op came!

Rethink Church has done this again for Advent. What you do is simply take a picture every day that brings to light the day’s word.  Then you post it…somewhere! Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your own blog or website…

For all of the ways to connect with Rethink Church and all the ways to post your photos, click here.

It’s fun to see how people interpret the words so differently every day. This is something anyone can do! If you want to experience Advent in a different way this year–and would like to spend some time each day during this busy season considering the reason we celebrate–join in!

(And if you plan to participate, let me know!)

Christthanksmas 021Ten favorite Thanksgiving Traditions:

1. The Turkey Trot (Presby Church at 9:00 Thanksgiving morning)

2. Sweet potatoes

3. The Macy’s parade

4. Turkey

5. The ornament exchange after dinner at Jason’s aunt’s house

6. Post-Turkey Trot nap

7. Time with family

8. Coffee all day long

9. Picking out our Christmas Tree

10. Everyone’s thankful attitudes

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

douglas_fir_2-145x180Here is the order form for our tree selection this year:

Troop 280 Trees 2013

Trees will be available for early selection and pick-up by appointment next week (Thanksgiving week) and the lot will be staffed starting Friday, November 29 on the following schedule:

Monday-Friday 5pm to 8pm

Saturday 9am to 3pm

Sunday 12pm to 4pm

Contact me (Becky Durham) or any BSA Troop 280 Scout Family to order your beautiful, Michigan grown Christmas tree today!

loucon2 023I’m blessed to be part of a wonderfully creative group of ministers and youth directors in the Presbytery of Western Kentucky. This year, David Muffett (The Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, KY), Katie Todd (MOTA at Murray State University), Mason Todd (First Presbyterian Church of Mayfield, KY), Rob Wilson (First Presbyterian Church of Madisonville, KY) and I (Becky Durham, Presbyterian Church of Henderson, KY) put together instructions and materials for eleven prayer stations based on themes from The Game Of Life board game. These were designed for our middle and high school youth at our annual Fall Retreat at Camp Loucon. (You can find instructions for last year’s prayer stations here and here.)

Students were let into the large space in groups of ten or so. They were able to rotate through and visit the stations at their own speed in their own order. The idea of this night of prayer/worship/mission/community is that kids will be able to pray and meet God in ways that are new and in ways that fit their own gifts and callings.

You can find part 1 (stations 1-5) here.

Station #6: Speed Bumps

At this station, students wrote letters to prisoners at a prison local to one of our churches. That church is doing a Great Banquet weekend at that prison and will have the letters written by the kids to give out that weekend. Supplies: Paper, pens, sample letters.

GOL SpeedBumps

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Station #7: Investments

Students added songs to a list on Spotify, which we played over a speaker that could be heard throughout the whole room, at every station. Supplies: Laptop, spotify account, adult who knows music enough to monitor.

GOL Investment

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Station #8: Payday

In a “pay it forward” station, students create candy cane crafts for kids in ministries local to our churches. They attached a story to candy canes with ribbon. Supplies: Stories on red and green paper, candy canes, ribbon, hole punch

GOL Payday

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Station #9: Retirement

This was simply a station that allowed for students to rest, to pray, to meditate, to sit quietly. They were invited to light battery operated tea-light candles before they left the station. Supplies: Bibles, tea light candles, glitter meditation bottles and mirrors (optional)

GOL Retirement

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Stations 10 and 11: Losing and Winning

The last two stations are connected to each other. At the losing station, each student was able to take a 3 x 3 piece of tile, write about a loss on it (a perceived failure, a regret, a horrible thing that had happened). Then they took it outside and smashed it with a hammer. Supplies: tile squares, sharpies, hammers, cloth bags to keep tile from flying around.

GOL Losing

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At the winning station, students took their smashed tile and glued it to a wooden frame designed to look like a stained glass window. Supplies: Frame (see our example in a picture below), hot glue guns and hot glue sticks.

GOL Winning

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These eleven stations created a meaningful night of community and encountering God in new, sometimes unexpected, ways.

loucon2 023I’m blessed to be part of a wonderfully creative group of ministers and youth directors in the Presbytery of Western Kentucky. This year, David Muffett (The Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, KY), Katie Todd (MOTA at Murray State University), Mason Todd (First Presbyterian Church of Mayfield, KY), Rob Wilson (First Presbyterian Church of Madisonville, KY) and I (Becky Durham, Presbyterian Church of Henderson, KY) put together instructions and materials for eleven prayer stations based on themes from The Game Of Life board game. These were designed for our middle and high school youth at our annual Fall Retreat at Camp Loucon. (You can find instructions for last year’s prayer stations here and here.)

Students were let into the large space in groups of ten or so. They were able to rotate through and visit the stations at their own speed in their own order. The idea of this night of prayer/worship/mission/community is that kids will be able to pray and meet God in ways that are new and in ways that fit their own gifts and callings.

Station #1: School

At this station, students made bookmarks for their Bibles. Katie provided pre-printed card stock cut into bookmark. The verses on the bookmarks were verses relevant to our retreat theme. Supplies: pre-printed bookmarks; markers

GOL School

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Station #2: Career

We used this station to think about vocation and how our gifts and talents and interests can turn into careers that will bless the Kingdom of God. Supplies: 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ sheets of paper; markers
GOL Career

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Now, I’m not going to tell you that all of our students really embraced the vocation thing. We did get some pretty interesting career cards out of the deal: .

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Station #3: Insurance

At the Insurance Station, we had an opportunity to discuss life events that require hard choices. What are your options? What would you do? Why would handle it that way? Supplies: Game of Life wheel; scenarios prepared for students to read and discuss.

 

GOL Insurance

 

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Station #4: Relationships

At this station, students had a chance to affirm their friends, old or new. Each student had selected a silhouette earlier in the day. They wrote a word that they would use to describe themselves on the back and then taped it to the wall. During the course of the session that night, students could select word tiles that described their friends and glue them to the silhouettes. Supplies: Silhouette choices; glue sticks; word tiles (we used cardstock and the tiles were about an inch long).

GOL Relationships

 

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Session #5: Speeding

In this session, we asked kids to record their life stories in 6 seconds using Vine. Supplies: An iPad and a Vine account.

GOL Speeding

 

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There are six other stations that were part of this rotation! Find part 2 (stations 6-11) here!

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

halloween cat lady

Happy Birthday from Imogene (the borrowed cat) and I!

Also, Jason likes to point out that even Jesus was laughing at me.

Speaking of Politics

October 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

1529784087_1373614272I don’t really like conflict. I’d rather avoid it, really. I sidestep invitations to it all the time, using my gifts of tact and diplomacy, as well as my ability to just keep scrolling down the Facebook newsfeed.

When other people start discussing hot topics–you know the ones that lead to conflict and raised voices and passionate words–it’s my instinct to either try to diffuse the conversation or leave the room (or hide it on my FB newsfeed).

Yet, conversation is important. We need to talk about these things. We are nation…a city…a Church deeply divided on several issues including politics and race. Obviously not talking about these things hasn’t really helped us get anywhere. Conversation and communication have to figure into beginning to understand the divide that seems to be widening by the day between one side and the other.

The peacemaker in me would rather shut down or shut out conversations that are leading to elevated voices. The realist in me knows that these conversations need to happen. And I feel that if people can be civil and kind and respectful, I’d even like to participate in some of them. But too often I’ve been the victim of personal attacks rather than respectful dialogue.

Politics is the topic du jour. We are entering week number 2 of a government conflict that is affecting a lot of people. People have strong feelings on both/all sides. The media feeds our frenzy.

Not talking about it will not make it go away. Talking about it can lead to uncomfortable conflict.

Here’s what I’ve decided: I will make myself stay for the difficult interactions. I will not ignore them or try to get people to stop talking. I’ll intervene if the words become malicious or hurtful. I will be educated about the issues, yet will try to vet my sources (all media is not created equal). I will not sidestep conversations even if all I am doing is just listening to what others are discussing. I will be respectful of other viewpoints, even the ones I’m tempted to dismiss as stupid. I will pray for our leaders, for people who are tragically affected by this stand off and for good, respectful conversations.

Happy Monday, friends! A new week has dawned and with it, a new chance to love our neighbors.

iphone dump 025October is a big month around here. At the end of October, we’re hopeful that our family will be moving forward toward a more clear goal. We’ve only really stalled a bit in the arena of figuring out what the next year will look like in terms of me returning to school to begin working towards a Masters of Divinity Degree. This is the month I visit two of my options and start to figure out what things might look like as far as application, financial aid and schedule.

This past week, Jason and I visited Dubuque Seminary at the University of Dubuque in Iowa. If we choose this program, I will do a majority of the course work online and visit campus for four weeks during the year to complete the intensive course work that is also required for the program.

This coming week, I will visit Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. If we choose this program, I will commute for all of my classes and complete the entire degree on campus. For those of you playing along from farther away, Louisville is about a two hour drive from Henderson.

I’ve considered other schools and programs, but as of right now, these two are the options I’ve settled upon.

iphone dump 036Once I have all the information I can possibly glean from visiting both places, we can start planning for applying to either or both schools and sit down with church leaders to discuss how either choice would impact the work and ministry I’ve been called to for the past thirteen years.

We also have started considering our finances and scholarship possibilities and potential funding sources for this venture. Because I would be a non-traditional student in both settings, it is less likely that either school would have a lot of scholarship help for my particular course of study. Honestly, the financial aspect has become the scariest part of this leap of faith. It seems like a pretty big hurdle–a dark cloud kind of hanging over all of the excitement of this adventure.

Yet, I’ve simply committed to applying to seminary. I believe that’s what God has called me to do. It costs like $30 to apply, so we have that covered for now.

If God has plans for me beyond the application, I trust that God also already knows how we’re going to pay for it. I’ve taken to reminding myself of this every time that dark cloud threatens my joyful celebration and excitement of exploring my call to ministry.

I appreciate those of you who are praying for us and those of you who are helping me discern as I try to be faithfully who God created me to be. Your encouragement and love fill me with hope.

Weekend Adventurer

September 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

This weekend was full of adventure…as it seems so many of our weekends have been as of late.

On Friday Night, we went to Hovey Lake and met up with a group from our Adventure Club. Yes, that’s right. Somehow, I’ve become probably the least adventurous member of the Evansville Adventure Club. Mostly I joined because I like kayaking and the occasional bike adventure and I was tired of being Jason’s +1 on every trip.

We kayaked Hovey Lake in the dark.

Photo Credit: Chris Norrick

Photo Credit: Chris Norrick

Hovey Lake in the daytime is probably really pretty. We caught a glimpse of it while there was still some daylight, but for the most part, our evening was lit by the waxing gibbous moon and our head lamps. And a lantern that Jason left onshore at the dock so we could find our way back to shore. Of course, before we came back to shore, some jerkface came along and stole our lantern. Luckily some in the club have better navigation skills than yours truly or it’s likely we’d have been in Hovey Lake until dawn’s early light.

Hovey Lake at night is creepy. There are cypress trees growing all over the lake (in the water). There are also cypress tree stumps that one’s kayak will roll right over before one realizes she’s about to hit them. Asian Carp jumped around our boats (over our boats, near our boats, but thankfully never in our boats) and created excitement.

It was fun. And I love kayaking, so I sucked it up and braved the creepiness.

Around 11:00 on Friday night, we were home, unloading the boats and Jeff and Stefanie arrived at our house. They came to help with Mom’s yard sale yesterday morning and to participate in the Riverbend Academy Art On The Ohio 5K. This is a race that I helped organize. I served as the Volunteer coordinator.

Stefanie and Jeff running through the Pink station.

Stefanie and Jeff running through the Pink station.

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Photo Credit: Gisele Purdy

Color 5Ks or Color Runs are fun because as you run the race course, volunteers squeeze and throw color on the runners. You start the race in white. You end the race in rainbow. Obviously this is not only fun for the participants, but it’s fun to volunteer for anything that involves attacking strangers for a good cause.

Here is a picture of the committee that coordinated this race. I only really knew Abbie (far left) before we started meeting several months ago, but the rest of these people (Megan, AJ, Steve, Karrie and Tiffany) have become friends as well.

Photo Credit: Matt Mortis/Abbie Grove

Photo Credit: Matt Mortis/Abbie Grove

Jason’s business sponsored the Yellow station, so he had a group of people working with him to apply yellow powder to race participants.

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The Color Throw Countdown after the race

The Color Throw Countdown after the race

Last night, it was time to sit by a fire in our backyard fire pit with family and friends. This morning, we worshiped together and I taught children’s Sunday School–a true adventure if there ever was one. Jason spent the day fixing every little problem in the house (with a little electrical help from Jeff before he and Stefanie left to head north), for which I am grateful.

How was your weekend?

Spark

September 5, 2013 — 1 Comment

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” John Lubbock

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“Odyssa” and “Bear Bait”

Sometimes, the answer is right in front of your face and you just can’t see it, you know?

I realized today that I had been having this exact problem.

For awhile, I’ve been a bit worried about something. I’ve felt anxious that it seemed that Jonas has not found that thing. Jonas has found a lot of things in his young life…but I worried about him finding that thing. The thing God created him to love or to do…the thing that causes great joy and a spark of life.

Tonight, I realized he’s had it for a long time. I just didn’t realize that was his thing.

It started at Parent/Teacher Conferences at 4:00 this afternoon in his math teacher’s room.

“He talks about hiking and the Appalachian Trail a lot,” she mentioned. “He’s reading this book…”

Jason and I chimed in, “A Walk In The Woods.” (by Bill Bryson–excellent book for anyone, by the way.)

“Yes! That’s it!”

Then his English teacher.

“He loves the outdoors and hiking and the Appalachian Trail, it seems.”

Then his technology teacher. Then his World Civ teacher.

After Parent/Teacher Conferences, we caught up with Jonas, eating a slice of pizza in the school media center and headed to the truck to drive to Evansville to hear Jennifer Pharr Davis speak at the North Park branch of the Evansville Library. Ms. Davis holds the world record for fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (Hiking approximately 2,200 miles in 46 days) and has hiked the entire AT three times. She’s hiked over 12,000 miles on various trails around the world. Her story is wonderful. After her lecture, she took questions. Jonas asked her some great questions.

He and Jason were second in line to buy her book and have her sign it.

Jason asked her, “Could you make it out to ‘Not Yet’ and ‘Bear Bait?’” He asked.

“Those are your trail names?” She asked. “You’re ‘Not Yet…’”

“And he’s ‘Bear Bait,” Jason said, pointing to Jonas.

“Wait,” Jennifer said. “Were you on the trail this year?”

“Yes,” Jason replied. (They hiked Fontana Dam to Clingman’s Dome during Spring Break.)

“Hey, I heard about you guys!” She exclaimed.

The AT Community is a small community, with about 2,000 Thru Hikers making the full journey each year. Stories are told, names are shared. Jason and Jonas were in the Fontana-Clingman’s area around the time many Northbound Thru HIkers were there. It’s completely plausible that some of the ones they met–Goundhog, Skillet, Crazy Frog, Great Legs or one of the others–might have carried a story or their names with them as they hiked.

As I watched both of the guys I love react to that news, slowly it came together for me.

It really should not surprise me that both ‘Not Yet’ and ‘Bear Bait’ love the same thing. Backpacks, long trails, the community that forms in trail shelters and at campfires, stacks of rocks marking the way, beauty in mountains and landscapes…that is what brings joy and causes life to make sense for them.

Today was a good day.