Archives For Family


December 9, 2017

Our tree is up. The lights and ornaments are on it.

Here’s the thing about our tree: I’m not sure it’s pretty to anyone but us, really. I’ve seen some of your trees, all decorated in a colorful theme or with ribbons or balls, and they are lovely, really. Our tree is a mish-mash of various types of homemade and store-bought, old and newer. Ornaments from the trees Jason and I grew up with, carefully saved by our mothers and offered to us when we bought our first house together. All of the angel ornaments given to me, one a year while I grew up, by my Godmother, Donna. Ornaments made at various ages by Jonas, who is now almost 19 years-old. Ornaments we bought from Matt’s Newsstand when it was still open in downtown Henderson and I was trying to begin small collections. Many given to me through the years here in Henderson as gifts from families connected to the church.

Every one is a memory, really, and as we decorate the tree, I remember where each came from, or the story told to me about it (would you believe Jason cross-stitched one of the ornaments on our tree?).

Remembering can be a lovely, humbling part of the holiday season. The season gives us many occasions to remember loved ones no longer with us, fun times from when our children were small and Christmas was a special kind of magical, the mishaps and victories that we associate with tree lights and tinsel. I’m grateful to have so many reminders of wonderful people and times and places.

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:3-7


December 7, 2017

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

Yesterday I was feeling rather sick and didn’t take a single photo.

So I bring you this photo from this past summer. It was taken the night before Jenn and Brenden’s wedding in Cascade, Idaho.

This is such a great passage of scripture. If it sounds extra-familiar, it’s likely because you’ve heard it at many weddings you’ve attended. It’s the one that has the description “Love is patient, love is kind…”

We are known well by the people who love us best, and we are known perfectly by the one who created us.



December 17, 2016

It is Saturday.

On Thursday, I finished my fall semester at UDTS. Yesterday, I cleaned, ran errands, got a haircut, celebrated my mother in-law’s birthday, and made a late night run to Michael’s with Jason.

Today, I slept all the way until 7am, something I haven’t done for weeks. And then when I got up, I poured the coffee and started making my pretzel, chocolate, M&M buttons to give away to neighbors, delivery people, co-workers, and some of Jason’s clients. And–here’s the confession–I turned on the cheesiest, happiest, most implausible Christmas movies I could find. And I’m currently on my third Christmas movie. And I expect to watch at least three more today as I finish writing cards, crocheting gifts, and wrapping things.

Tomorrow is church-a-palooza with all things 4th Sunday of Advent. And Monday, my J-Term professor gives us our pre-load for the class that starts January 2. So today? I’m doing whatever I want.

Oh, and hey, I found this:


December 15, 2016

Simon and Jonas…sometimes a hastily taken photo turns out all right.

Somehow, I ended up in Habakkuk tonight. Habakkuk is the book of the Bible I am least able to spell, and the book I am least likely to read, I’d figure.

But tonight, there’s this:

I will stand at my watch-post,
   and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
   and what he will answer concerning my complaint. 
2 Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
   make it plain on tablets,
   so that a runner may read it. 
3 For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
   it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
   it will surely come, it will not delay. 
Habakkuk 2:1-3

Photo-a-Day: #Joy

February 21, 2015


Jason missed the major snow event, but he’s enjoying the winter weather now that he’s home. You have to look close to see the look of joy on his face as he stands in pajamas and bare feet on the edge of our front stoop and studies the ice covered tree in our front yard, but it’s there. Look beyond him and you can see our yard full of snow and our slush covered road.

Photo-a-Day: #Look

February 19, 2015

copyright Jason S. Durham


Jason is home from backpacking in Florida and he brought this photo of an (annoyed?) alligator back with him. It appears that our reptile friend is not very excited to be examined as he (she?) catches some rays on a trail at Myakka State Park.

I Wonder Where the Roads Go

November 26, 2014

copyright Jason Durham 2014

You may or may not know that my husband Jason is a writer.

He’s decided to start publishing some of his work online at his new site.

He’ll mostly write about his adventures on the trails he hikes and bikes, but it will also be filled with life lessons one can learn on such trails…or the people one can meet in some pretty amazing places…or the pictures one can take in the great outdoors (sometimes while trekking off the trail to pee, he likes to remind me)…or the funny things that happen when you venture out where most people won’t.

Take a moment and check out his site!


Summer 2014

July 17, 2014
iphone June 455

Our sweet friend, Leslie, gave us this book after we lost Sam. It made me cry and cry, of course!

It’s been quite a summer, really.

Six weeks ago today, we said goodbye to our sweet Sam. It’s still sad when I think about that day. Or when I still reach down to pet the top of his head when I’m sitting at the table. Or when I think about getting home to let him out. Or when I’m left with a piece of sandwich I can’t finish. We do still miss him, but like grief usually does, it gets better every day. In the place where we buried him, Jason has created a beautiful garden with flowers and a bird bath.

The week we lost Sam, we took time slowly. We worked few hours and spent lots of time at home. Jonas was with us (and his friend, Chris, who is part of our family).

But since then, time has gone very quickly and there have been a lot of things going on. Vacation Bible School, a family camping trip with Jeff and Stefanie to the Turkey Run Area (Indiana), the High School Mission Trip to New Jersey, the Middle School Mission Trip to Paducah, KY, various adventure weekends for Jason, a trip to backpack in Medicine Bow, Wyoming for Jason, a trip to Biloxi with his mother for Jonas, time spent with much loved friends and family, and several evenings spent in our kayaks on local bodies of water.

camping familyIt’s been a bit of a blur! A really fun blur. A blur filled with knowledge of God’s goodness in our lives. But a blur, for sure! When this summer is over, Jason and I will have spent more nights apart than together in the June-August window. I still have my 2 week school intensive and he still has a trip to the Boundary Waters. We will spend our 12th anniversary 400 miles away from each other as it will happen during my time at UDTS.

During the high school mission trip, my first University of Dubuque Theological Seminary “class” started. It was an online orientation (no credit, of course) to help us get used to using the online system and give us a chance to meet our classmates, I’m enjoying it very much. Also, this summer, I’ve been dealing with financial aid, buying books and preparing to do my first August intensive. I’ll take three classes in August: Theological Research (1 credit), Foundations of Christian Worship (3 credits) and I’ll meet daily with a Spiritual Formation Group (1 credit). Yesterday, I got my first pre-load assignments for both my Worship and Spiritual Formation classes. Because I’ll kayak beckyonly have two weeks on campus, the August and January sessions will require a two week pre-load and a two week post-load, meaning that class actually starts before I leave and continues even after I get back. The assignments this very first time include a lot of reading, a 5-7 page paper, some journaling and some memorization.

I’m anxious, excited, and terrified. But ready or not, it’s time to get busy. I realize that for the next four years, life will always include homework, papers, books, memorization, critical thinking, bibliographies, lectures, exams, discussion and everything else that goes along with a Masters degree. I also hope it will be full of deep conversation, deep understanding and interaction with Scripture and theologians, ancient and modern, and deep relationships with my classmates near and far.

A lot will happen in the next four years, just as a lot has happened in the previous four years.

But for now, I’m sipping a second cup of coffee, looking out at a beautiful day, and getting ready to crack open a brand new book!


Samson The Faithful

June 2, 2014

399819_10150494028011993_1921053131_nTwelve years ago, on this very date (June 2), an almost-family of three (still two Durhams and a Berdine, as the wedding was still two months away) drove way out into the countryside and brought home two six-week old golden retriever puppies. One of those puppies would not live past her second birthday. Lila’s death marked one of the first very sad moments in the life of our new family.

The other puppy would grow into a funny, handsome, loyal, very good dog who would give us and our guests lots of fodder for dinner table conversation, lots of reasons to giggle and lots of reasons to love life a little more.


Of all the things Sam is, however, faithful describes him best of all. When I am home, even in these last days, he is by my side. When I get up in the morning, he gets up too. When I go to bed at night, he follows behind me and lays down by my bedside. When I go from room to room, cleaning or getting ready to go, he follows me around until he finally gets tired of my constant room switching and lays down in the hallway at the center of the house where he can monitor my activity no matter which way I go. When I watch TV or read a book, he lies down at my feet. When I eat, he stands by hopefully (unless Jason’s eating too–he knows his odds of getting a treat are much greater if he stands by Jason in that case). When I take a shower, he takes a guard position outside the bathroom door. Often, to get him to go outside, I have to go outside too just so he’ll be convinced to stay there long enough to do what he needs to do.

I wish I could say I’ve been as faithful to him. I keep insisting on leaving him behind as I go to work. to Zumba, to the store, out with friends, on mission trips and vacations…I always make sure he’ll be cared for while we’re gone–his list of family and friends is long and wonderful, but I always have another place to go.

Unfazed, however, no matter how long I’m gone–one week, one afternoon, one minute–when I return there is he is, waiting for me so he can greet me, tail wagging, and be by my side again.

1460239_10151751307016993_1563665155_nHe’s a dog, but he’s not just a dog.

He’s been in our family for twelve years today. This Thursday (June 5), we will take him to his vet for the last time and I will stay by his side and say goodbye.

When you get a dog, you don’t hope he’ll outlive you. There’s always the realization that one day, hopefully many years down the road, the time will come to say goodbye. It’s been almost four weeks since we first took Sam to the vet to have his mouth checked out. So many of you have expressed your sorrow and care to us countless times. Sometimes, it seems a little embarrassing for this to be such a drawn-out experience or to be sharing it and updating about it and “making” you express sympathy and concern.

Yet, I know that your care comes not only from our friendship, for which I am grateful, but also because many of you have loved dogs and cats and goldfish and turtles and parakeets and even snakes that you’ve lost and missed or that you dread losing and missing one day. Thank you for both your friendship and your empathy. And thank you for indulging a final blog entry about our very good, faithful dog.




SamWe received some bad news about our dear, sweet retriever Samson on Friday. A rapidly increasing growth in his mouth is most likely (the vet is very certain, but there’s not been a biopsy yet) jaw cancer (osteosarcoma). We are heartbroken, but will work with our vet to give Sam the most pain-free, comfortable, joy-filled end of life possible. The treatment available is jaw removal, which is very painful and would extend his life 6-12 months. We’ve decided to forgo treatment. We’re not so sure about a time frame, although we’ve heard 1-6 months. For now, twelve year-old Sam is energetic and active, not skipping any meals and still hopefully trailing Jason to the kitchen in case some food might fall his way. He raced to the fence this morning to bark at the neighbor dogs and rolled around in the wet grass before he came inside. So, although this post may invite your sympathy, it’s not quite time yet. Know we appreciate it if you choose to pray or think good thoughts for Sam and for us, but also know that we’re still scratching ears and rubbing his belly and feeling grateful for his still wagging tail.

The Tuesday Ten today is a re-post from October of 2010. There are things I could add or change, but I’ll just leave it as it is.

At Jason’s request, ten things about our dear dog, Sam (who by the way is feeling under the weather today).

1. “Sam” is short for “Samson.”

2. Sam is the only suriviving dog from his litter (we had his sister, Lilah, for two years before she got a nasty infection and died). He was the runt of his litter.

3. We got Sam after we bought our house and before we got married (June 2002).

4. Sam loves bread. He loves it so much, we have to keep the bread in a plastic, lidded container on the kitchen counter. He’s eaten whole loaves. He’s also eaten refrigerated biscuit dough.

5. Sam walks backwards in order to keep us in his sights. Like, he’ll walk backwards down the hall just so he doesn’t have to turn his tail to us. Trust issues, maybe?

6. Sam will be perfectly well-behaved and quiet…until I get home. Then he barks when he can’t see me and follows me from room to room, needing to be in on whatever I’m doing.

7. When Jonas was smaller, he and Jason (and probably Sam) looked forward to good snowfalls. Jason would put Jonas in a sled and Jonas would hold Sam’s leash and Sam would slide Jonas all around the neighborhood. We have hours of video of this.

8. Sam is terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms and vacuum cleaners and tile floors and when people wave their hands in his face and about a million other things.

9. Sam can catch and kill mice. He can catch bugs in his mouth as they fly by (like a frog).

10. Sam is not entirely obedient, does not know a bunch of tricks, and in general is kind of on the less smart side of things. He is loyal and friendly and snuggly and gentle and pretty/handsome (which is all better than obedient and smart, I think).