Approximate time markers:


18:00–Choir Anthem

24:00–the Children’s Sermon

31:00–Eric’s Sermon

58:30–Reaffirmation of Baptism, Ordination vows

1:07:30–Laying on of hands and prayer

1:11:40–Jason gets a gift for “ministry”

1:13:00–Renee gives the Charge to the new pastor

1:25:00–Charge and Benediction


beckydurham.net’s 2013 Person Of The Year

Last night:

Me: Know what?

Jason: What?

Me: If I had a magazine, you’d be it’s Person Of The Year!

Him: (in that sarcastic voice he reserves for talking about my blog) Well, you have a blog…


So, I present to you, my blog’s person of the year:

jason 19


Amazing husband, wonderful father, adventurous backpacker, dedicated friend, fearless leader, kayaker, biker, writer, smartass extraordinaire.

Here’s a gallery of some of the year’s best moments:


Bake Your Own Cake: Facebook and Unhappiness

'Cawan Cake :P' photo (c) 2009, Nono Fara - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I saw a link to a study yesterday. You know how studies on the internet are, right? They are everywhere and sometimes they are suspect, but I tend to believe the findings of this “study.”

The title was this: “Facebook Use Leads To Unhappiness.”

I don’t doubt that this is true for a lot of people. I heard one time about the large number of marital affairs that start on Facebook–old flames rekindling or new people meeting, I guess. Also, there’s been many studies done about teenagers and self-image related to social-media. What if you post a picture and no one likes it? What if you post a status and no one pays attention to it? What does that mean?

Probably the biggest reason for unhappiness linked to the social media giant is this: In general, we are not content with the lives that we have. When other people post pictures of their awesome lives, we are reminded of how unhappy our own lives are. Single people are reminded that their single friends are getting married. Married people are reminded that their married friends are having babies. Parents of generally sullen kids see pictures of their friends’ children smiling and enjoying life. Homeowners see that someone bought a bigger house. Friends buy boats, cars, bikes, expensive clothes for their kids…

And we tend to forget that when on Facebook or any social media format, it’s very likely that one will post the awesome things that happen in life, but not the not-so-awesome things. Social media is not a full movie our lives. It’s the trailer that shows the best parts of the film.

My husband, Jason, does a lot of backpacking and there’s something he says from time to time. I think it’s something Appalachian trail hikers say: “Hike your own hike.” Basically, you have to go the way you have to go. You’re there to do your own thing and you need to go at the speed you need to go and see the things you need to see and think the thoughts you need to think and take the pictures you need to take. You’re there for your own reason, so do your thing. Yes, there will be community and a time to share the experience with others, but…

“Hike your own hike.”

I’ve been relating that to other things in life, too. The other day, I had just gotten out of a kayak and Jason and I were talking and I used his phrase, except I said, “Paddle your own kayak.”

I’ve also thought, “Bike your own path.” “Run your own race.” and “Bake your own cake.”

Live your own life.

We are not designed for the same experiences and you are not meant to live a life that is identical to the life of another person. You bring gifts and talents to this earth that I do not have. I could be jealous of your gifts…or I could find my own gifts and use them instead of wishing I had your gifts. I could whine and worry that your life seems to be happening so much more smoothly than my life, but the reality is I am just seeing your “greatest hits” and am unable to see the troubles and struggles you experience. I could try day in and day out to make my life look like your life because I admire it so much…but it will only make me unhappy because my life isn’t meant to look like that.

We each have been given different ingredients with which to bake cakes, so our finished products will never look or taste the same. But, seriously, let’s bake our own cakes. We will all be so much happier!

Photo A Day for Lent: Hear

photo (12)

There are always voices that are missing.

They might be silent or just quiet or they might not even be present in the discussion. There’s always someone that you’re not hearing.

Those who teach know this is true. In my role, I do a lot of teaching and discussion leading and there are always loud voices and quiet voices and voices that are never even raised.

It’s a challenge.

Yesterday in Bible Study at South Middle School before the first bell, a loud 7th grade boy had much to offer. His commentary was loud and boisterous and distracting.

Me: Think of your best friend or your best friends or your good friends. What makes those people your friends?

Him (loudly): I don’t have any friends!

Quiet, soft-spoken girl next to me (barely audible): My friends listen to me.

Everyone in the room (and probably the hallway and the cafeteria) heard the boy. Only two of us could hear the girl. What’s more, there were kids who didn’t even answer the question so I never heard what they thought at all.

The trick, as a teacher, is to try to draw out voices and thoughts more equally and not let one exceptionally extroverted person dominate the words and thoughts of the group. It’s hard sometimes. Our ears all work the same way–we hear the loudest sounds best and it’s hard to hear softer sounds when louder sounds are present.

In life, there are a lot of voices we don’t hear.

Today is a day when many people are silent on all of their social media and website outlets as part of the End It movement. There are 27 million slaves in the world (many of them victims of Human Trafficking).

We don’t hear their voices because they cannot raise them.

When you don’t hear someone’s voice, it is easy to forget they exist.

The same is true for other voices we cannot hear–victims of war or genocide, the elderly living in homes where they are abused, children living in unsafe situations who cannot speak for themselves.

But when we know that these injustices are happening, it is our job to speak up. Those of us who are not enslaved, or living in war zones, or being mistreated–we can speak out.

May the God who hears all of us bring the soft and invisible voices to our ears, and may we be faithful to hear them and act.

Photo A Day for Lent: Injustice


Look! Here are some jelly beans! A pile for you and a pile for your best friend. The one on the left is yours!

All right?

If you’re under the age of ten, you probably did not just say “all right.” If you are under the age of ten, you probably said something like, “Wait, why does my BFF get more jelly beans? That’s not fair!”

Children have an incredible ability to spot injustice. They keep careful track to make sure that everyone gets the same treatment or exactly the same amount. When I get snacks ready for the  after school club kids (all in elementary school), I know one thing: I better make plates or bowls or cups that have EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT or I’ll be hearing “Why did she get more animal crackers? That’s not fair!” all afternoon.

One thing that I’ve noticed, though, is that our sensitivity to injustice and unfairness seems to fade as we grow older. I don’t have to count out or measure the youth group lunch components with the same diligence. I know that as long as it’s close enough, no one will care.

By the time we reach adulthood, we tend to just operate with the understanding that life isn’t fair and you take what you get. It seems that we may even develop a bit of apathy toward injustice.

You got more jelly beans than I did? Well, you win some you lose some.

Some people are paid less money for doing the exact same work? That’s the way it goes sometimes.

The coffee grower doesn’t make a fair wage? That’s too bad, but really, there’s not much I can do about it.

He worked hard to earn his Eagle award but Boy Scouts of America won’t give it to him because he’s gay? Well, they’re a private non-profit, so I guess it’s up to them.

Approximately 5,000 children die each day because they don’t have clean water? That reminds me to be thankful for what I have, I guess.

There are more people in slavery in the world today than at any point in history (27 million-ish)? Wow, that’s awful to hear, but what could I do to fix such a big problem?

Injustice exists in many forms, big and small in our world. Yes, it’s awful. Yes, it’s overwhelming to hear about all the different ways people are treated unfairly and without dignity.

But you can do something. There are  places in your life that you can make small changes that impact people who are treated unjustly. You can’t do everything, but you can do something.

Check out Everyday Justice for some ideas about how to get started.

See the original post about this photo project–it’s not too late to take some pictures!


photo (7)Several months ago, I began reading about a new trend in theater(of the movie and the live show variety). There were some arenas who were setting aside blocks of seats to be used as “Tweet Seats.”

Along with this news came a barrage of commentary.

“That’s rude!” came a cry from a great many. “When people are on stage or on screen, your phone should be put away.”

“It’s a shame people are so addicted to their devices they can’t even sit for two hours without using them,” said others.

“Great idea!” Was more of a minority opinion response, I’ve noticed.

If you’re a twitter user and you’ve ever attended a class, conference or event that had a Twitter #hashtag, then you maybe understand the phenomenon of Tweet Seats better than the average non-Tweeter. At a lot of events anymore, Social Media users are engaging in conversations on the “Back Channel.” While the main event is happening, people are connecting and discussing and sharing information with each other, connected through devices, hashtags and apps.

photo (10)That either sounds awesome or awful to you, I suppose, but this blogger has found a great deal of value in conversations that happen this way, especially during conferences and classes.

Last night, the Henderson Area Arts Alliance offered a block of Tweet Seats for “Shrek The Musical,” the largest show ever to come to our fine arts venue. I was given a free ticket and a hashtag…and then a seat in the back and a quick tour backstage before the musical started.

A few notes about our Tweet Seats:

  • Our seats were in the very last row of the theater. No one was disturbed by the lights of our screens.
  • We were not just using our devices because we could. We had a purpose. We were live-tweeting the musical and engaging in conversations about it. None of us were just sitting there because we can’t stay off Facebook or Twitter for two hours.
  • We were all very attentive throughout the entire performance. A few over-achieving (“OGRE-achieving?”) tweeters were even doing some research about the actors and characters as they watched and tweeting things that were a bit more informative.

photo (9)For me, the night was just fun. Before the show started, I was able to walk through the backstage. While there, I met Shrek.

“Shrek?” I asked (once I found out it was actually okay to talk to him). “I’m sitting in a Tweet Seat tonight and I wondered if I could get a quick picture before the show?”

“Tweet Seat?” He asked. “That’s happening? Cool. Sure!”

After we took our picture, he asked me if I would tag him. “I’m @PerrySook,” he said, and spelled it for me.

I took my phone back to the lobby and became a celebrity for a moment as kids crowded around to see Shrek on my phone. And then the ogre himself appeared near the door and took a few photos with the children gathered there, so who needed my phone anymore?

As it turns out, Perry Sook makes a pretty incredible Shrek. The script was funny and creative, the songs were fun to listen to and the scenery was fantastic. I attempted a few photographs, but an iPhone camera does not do well with stage lighting, so although I did take a few, none of them were particularly great.

photo (8)
My fellow Tweeters: @NibbyP, @Evansville, @GregAGibson

At intermission, I talked to a boy from our church who was sitting a few rows up. “Mrs. Becky,” he informed me. “I looked back at you and you were playing with your phone.”

I flashed my nametag at him. “That’s my job tonight!”

“Lucky!” he replied.

All in all, I think the HAAA’s first attempt at offering Tweet Seats was a success. Kyle Arnett, the Executive Director of the Arts Alliance, is forward-thinking and has some great social media savvy.

It was a fun night for Henderson, Kentucky!



The More You Know (About Religion In Public Schools)…

72433_457291261992_3315711_nThis is my version of a public service announcement and represents my viewpoint only.

I feel the need to issue it because I’ve seen way too many posts by my brothers and sisters in Christ playing the role of a persecuted people living in a society where God and all things holy have been BANNED and REMOVED from their children’s public schools.

Sometimes a little education goes a long way. If you’ve felt the need to decry our lack of religion in schools in the past few days especially, don’t take this post as my criticism of you. Rather, I’m hopeful that maybe once we realize what’s actually involved in this separation of church and state, my fellow Christians and I can stop playing victim and realize what it means for our rights and the rights of other people.

For the last twelve years, on Tuesday mornings (and for a stretch of time, on Thursdays as well) I have driven to South Middle School in my town of Henderson, KY, arriving before 7:30. The group has had many names (First Priority, FCA, ACT), and every year there’s a different “flavor” that comes with a different group of students, but the purpose is the same. I meet with a group of students to pray, read scripture, have discussions and play games. It’s an abbreviated Youth Group meeting that happens in the school library before the first bell rings. Students take turns leading or reading or offering prayer or voicing their concerns for themselves and others.  We make good use each of week of the 3 study Bibles South Middle School keeps on their non-fiction shelf.

If your child attends a public school, he or she has rights and privileges, as do all of the other children in his or her school. Here are a few things that I’ve learned along the way that I’d like to share today:

25567_401114301992_758209_n1. At our church, we teach kids that God is everywhere. God is not contained to certain arenas and areas. Wherever they go, God is with them. School is not some anomalous place where God is not. God is there, too! No laws or people can keep God out of school. And I can attest that in schools, God’s people are praying alone and together and God’s people are honoring God alone and together.

2. I find that when people state that they want to put religion and prayer back into public schools, they usually mean THEIR religion and THEIR kind of prayer. The fact of the matter is that there are many religions and many ways to pray. If congress passed legislation tomorrow that made it allowable for teachers to lead prayer at the beginning of the day, there would be people flipping their lids because the teacher led prayer from a Catholic prayer book, or by speaking in tongues, or to Allah, or through any other prayerful expression.

3. I’m not trying to be judgmental, but I find that people who are quickest to fuss about no religion in school are often not practicing religion at home. Does your family pray together before school each day? Does your family read and study Scripture together? Maybe those are better places to start reforming.

4. Students have rights when it comes to observing and practicing their religious beliefs. However, these rights do not include harming other students or teachers, being disruptive to other learners, disrespecting teachers and faculty or breaking basic school rules. (Vandalism is still vandalism. Writing on a desk is not okay. Writing “God loves you” on a desk is equally not okay.)

5. Students are allowed to carry and read their Bibles or sacred texts in school (note: from here on, when I say ‘school,’ I mean public school). A lot of schools have Bibles in their library. At South Middle School, students can take Accelerated Reader tests on every book of the Bible.

6. Students are allowed to pray alone and with other students in school, as long as it’s not disruptive to other learners.

7. Students are allowed to meet in groups for religious purposes (like Bible Study) before school, after school or during their lunch and recess times. If the school allows other extracurricular groups to meet during those times in the building, the school must also allow religious groups to do so.

8. Students have the right to share their religious views, have conversations about religious topics or even share how their own beliefs figure into what’s being discussed in class, provided they are not being disruptive or harmful to others. (Again, standing on a table in the cafeteria is against school rules. Standing on a table in the cafeteria with a Bible and a megaphone–also against school rules!)

9. Students have the right to not participate in school activities or assignments that conflict with his or her religious beliefs.

10. Schools and teachers are not allowed to make any participation in any religious activity, club or class mandatory.

I’m no expert,  but I do think there are a lot of misconceptions that have been spread and embraced by religious communities. A special appeal to my brothers and sisters in Christ: always do your own research and educate yourself before you share and spread rumors or facebook graphics.

Two Resources:

The ACLU’s page of links regarding religion in public schools

The American Heritage Alliance’s Bill of Rights for Christian Students



StonesPerhaps the biggest lie we learn in childhood is “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

We all know that words often hurt way more than sticks and stones. I can remember clearly many instances in my life when someone tossed a careless criticism or and intentionally harmful word my way. Some of these instances still sting or make me cringe or wince as I remember how painful they were for me.

I’ve heard it said that it takes ten kind words to erase or balance the damage done by one harsh word of criticism. I know that for myself this is definitely true.

I’m sometimes careless with my words and I know that you are too. It’s human. For some of us, words leave our mouths before we have a chance to think them through. For some of us, words become a weapon when we’re hurt by someone else. For some of us, words are a way to make ourselves feel superior and others feel stupid.

In the past week:

A fourteen year-old girl in a neighboring community has taken her own life because of harsh, cruel words that came from bullies.

Ann Coulter used the “R” word in a display of gross ignorance.

A child I love was brought to tears because of a careless joke an adult told to make other people in the room laugh.

In the past week:

A child I love smiled toothlessly (and joyfully) when an adult told him that he was a good basketball player.

Two fifth grade girls exchanged compliments of each others’ artwork and both of them felt good about their talents.

I received an encouraging note from a friend that restored confidence I was beginning to lose in a project I’m attempting.

Words matter.

It’s a time in our country where people are choosing sides and it seems to be accepted and okay for adults to belittle and berate each other in the name of politics. The commercials are ugly. The news commentary is ugly. The posts on social media are ugly.

Remember two things:

1. Your children are paying attention to what you are saying. You’re making fun of the governor or the president? Your children are watching. You’re making generalizations about a political party? Your children heard that. You speak unkindly to the person who brings your food or lie to a friend on the phone? Your children noticed. You’ve criticized your child’s teacher or a leader in your church? Your children learn from the way you speak to and about others.

2. Your words have incredible power to build up or tear down. Choose them carefully and when in doubt, keep quiet.

“Before you speak ask yourself: Is it kind, is it necessary, it is true, does it improve upon the silence?”

― Shirdi Sai Baba

On Ten Years Of Marriage

313228_10150990232516993_1620509956_nTen years ago today, I was waking up at the Ramada on HWY 41 in Henderson, KY. Within the hour, I would eat breakfast and then head with my bridal party across town to have our hair done. The day would be an adventure from start to finish and would include a missing bridesmaid dress, a late groom, a thousand pictures, a really fun reception full of family and friends, prayer, flowers and candles–and the highlight of the day–marrying Jason.

Ten years have gone by. Honestly? They’ve flown by. I can’t believe it’s been ten years.

In ten years, we’ve bought and sold a house and bought another one.

In ten years, we’ve parented a child who went from being 3 years old to 13 years old.

In ten years, we’ve owned 2 trucks and 2 cars. We’ve had 3 dogs, 1 cat and a hamster. We’ve celebrated 10 Christmases, Easters, Thanksgivings, Halloweens.  I’ve turned 30, he’s turned 40. We’ve been to Branson, the Smoky Mountains, St. Pete Beach, South Dakota, Destin, Houston, Nags Head, NW Indiana and I’m getting too old to remember where else. We’ve planned together, struggled together, dreamed together, worried together, laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed together, cried harder than I’ve ever cried together.

Most days, I figure we couldn’t be more different. He loves the great outdoors and all things primitive and could sleep in the backyard every day when the temperature drops below 40 degrees (and seriously, there are some days when he could sleep in the backyard for all I care!). I love the great indoors and all things books, music and technology. We’re registered with different political parties. We don’t agree on the best movies. He’s an extreme extrovert and I’m extremely introverted. His dream vacation spots include mountains and tents and waterfalls. Mine include luxurious hotels, beaches and balconies. We laugh at different things and most of the things he thinks are hilarious just don’t seem all that funny to me. He’s brilliant with money and I lose receipts and forget to record transactions.  I suppose we’re the poster-couple for “Opposites Attract!”

Marriage is hard, which is something most people don’t mention before you get married. It’s hard to commit to living life together until death do you part. What should tip us all off is the vows: For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.  At the altar, all we see is the better, the richer, the health. But when you share life with another person, there’s usually plenty of worse, of poorer and of sickness too.

picstitch“It’s about compromise,” someone told me sagely before the big day. This person meant well, but their statement was simply not true. Compromise means meeting in the middle with both sides getting some of what is wanted, and that hardly ever works in our marriage.  Usually, one of us has to give up our way and our interest for the sake of the other. I can look back at the last ten years and see many points and places where either Jason had to give up his way or I had to give up my way. I remember some instances where that giving up was painful and difficult, but the one who laid self aside did it because that’s what marriage is about. Neither of us can only think about his or herself only anymore.

And parenting adds a whole other layer to this, for there were many times when neither of us got our own way because the best interest of the child trumps everything else always.

Jason and I are a team. He’s the one who stands by me when I feel completely abandoned by everyone else. He’s the one who reminds me who I am and what I love. He’s the one who can always make me laugh. He’s the one who folds the laundry when it’s the last thing I want to do. He’s the one I can never stay mad at because I know he loves me so much and I love him back. He’s the one cheering during my most successful moments and holding me during my moments of greatest defeat.  He’s the one I don’t mind making sacrifices for and I wouldn’t change a thing about him.

Ten years of marriage is about sacrifice more than compromise. it’s about a laying down of self and a taking up of “us.” And it’s been completely worth it. At the end of this day and all days, God gave us each other and a million great memories. And I’m grateful.

Happy Anniversary, Jason!