Archives For family

My Baby Girl Is Twelve

Erik Cooper —  February 9, 2011 — 4 Comments

Today my baby girl turns 12. Twelve.

Donuts come in dozens. So do roses. And now I guess years are packaging that way, too. Who knew?

To top it off, Mandy and I have officially become those parents. You know, the ones who spout annoying, clichéd sayings like “when did she ever get that old?” and “how did the years pass so quickly?” and “it seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital.”

Don’t you hate those people?

(I’m sorry. It just happens like unwanted belly fat and male pattern baldness. Involuntary.)

Yet there she is, in all her emerging womanhood. Emma now shares shoes with her mom. She reads books with no pictures. She (occasionally) even talks to her dad about issues bigger than Justin Beiber and iCarly. She’s like a caterpillar in the early stages of pushing through its cocoon.

It’s beautifully scary.

So this year we’re launching an experiment. A year long intentional effort (that I honestly hope mom and dad have the courage to complete).

The entire year between Emma’s 12th and 13th birthdays is our gift (along with a few tangibles for dinner tonight, don’t worry we’re not crazy). Twelve months of exposure to new thoughts. Specific time set aside to write and dialog about those ideas with Mandy, me, and mentors we trust. A year of brand new experiences. A open window into the world. God’s world.

  • Relationships (and yes, the dreaded sex word).
  • Injustice and global responsibility.
  • Money and how we should think about it.
  • Scripture and what it means to work it into our lives.
  • A trip to an impoverished country.
  • Maybe even a physical challenge (a 5K or a biking event if dad can get motivated).

I’ll keep you posted here on our progress (the successes and challenges).

Our job as parents is to build our kids’ muscles. To help them see the world as God sees it. To get them leaning into their heavenly Father fully despite our own tendency to be such broken examples of who He really is (and trust me, even carrying the “pastor” label, we’re as flawed as they come).

So that when their cocoons fully open, they can fly.

Happy birthday baby girl! Here’s to a great year. To flying. Faster. Higher. Straighter. Closer to the Father.

With His heart in you.

All my love…daddy.

Tension is good for music. Notes that don’t naturally fit the chords. Melodies that depart the intended key. Progressions that take you to unexpected places.

Music that never breaks the rules is boring. A little healthy tension is actually what makes music beautiful.

Same is true for life.


This weekend my younger brother and his wife are moving to Houston. Another goodbye in a seemingly endless list of adieus over the past few years

A little more tension in the melody line.

Darren has an unbelievable opportunity to work under a successful music producer in Houston, Texas (which also happens to be Britney’s home town). He’ll be learning the ropes from an industry insider, working on some serious projects, and slowly launching his own production company (all while wearing a ten gallon hat and learning proper parts of speech for the word y’all).

Sad and exciting all wrapped into one. (Sadciting? Exsading?)

When we launched City Community Church, we committed to hold things loosely. To invest in people selflessly. To release them passionately. To see the Kingdom as bigger than our individual church community. To give until it hurt.

Little did I know how close those declarations would hit to home. And how badly they would actually sting.

So we let go. And that release brings pain. And the pain creates tension. The very tension that has the potential to fill life’s music with unbelievably beautiful melodies.

Goodbye D&B. (I guess it’s really more of a “see ya’ll”). Love you. Proud of you. Go write some beautiful, tension filled melodies (with a Texas twang).

(But don’t think for a minute I’m not subtly reminding mom and dad which one of their sons loves them enough to stick around).

A Holiday Tradition Reborn

Erik Cooper —  December 1, 2010 — 2 Comments

It’s December 1, which means one of our family’s longest held Christmas traditions is officially resurrected (Or reborn? Wrong holiday).

The Advent Calendar.

A holiday staple my parents began when I was a child, and one we’ve enjoyed passing down to our own children.

Every day in December through Christmas Eve, a special activity is planned to help bring the holiday to life. Each morning it’s etched (OK, it’s really just printed with whatever pen I can find) on a strip of paper and placed behind the little door of our calendar, waiting for the kids to scramble down the stairs revealing the daily surprise.

Sometimes they’re major, like our annual trek to the ISO’s Yuletide Celebration. 

Sometimes they’re simple, like a slumber party in mom and dad’s room with hot chocolate and a Christmas movie.

And sometimes they’re selfless, like buying or donating a toy to the Wheeler Women’s & Children’s Shelter (part of our CityCom 12 Days of Christmas I’ll write more about later).

I’m normally not a traditionalist, but there’s something about this time of year that screams for special, repetitive family landmarks. Consistent smells. Consistent sounds. Consistent activities. Intentionality that draws the family together and builds memories our kids can carry with them into their own future adventures.

That’s why I love this time of the year.

What are your holiday traditions?

What You Don’t See

Erik Cooper —  November 30, 2010 — 1 Comment

We just received our stunning new family pictures. Not the Olan Mills tilt your head slightly to the left arms folded on the 70’s shag carpet with a fake forest on a vinyl pull-down studio photos.

Real pictures.

From our great friend and aspiring professional photographer Lois Solet.  We were absolutely blown away by what she captured.  The essence of our family completely visible in the millisecond click of a camera shutter.

Images courtesy of Lois Solet

As I scrolled through nearly 180 edited shots, I was overwhelmed by the sense of love. The joy. The potential. The life.

But then I had a momentary reality check. Like a 30 Rock Liz Lemon flashback, I remembered the totality of that two hour photoshoot in October.  I remembered what you don’t see.

My daughters arguing like Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin.  Me ignoring my wife’s staging request so I could update my Twitter status.  My five year old adamantly boycotting further poses like his Derek Zoolander modeling union concessions hadn’t been met. (Notice I didn’t throw my wife under the bus. She’s perfect).

All those imperfections edited out or never even captured at all. Or were they?

They more I looked, the more I realized…

These pictures aren’t beautiful because we successfully staged out all the flaws.  They’re beautiful because we’re willing (OK, at least some of the time) to admit we are flawed. Deeply flawed.

But how often do I fight the self-righteous temptation to manufacture an image that seems better than the truth? When all along, Jesus is waiting to do for us what we can never do for ourselves: Make us truly beautiful.

“God can’t stand pious poses, but he delights in genuine prayers.
-Proverbs 15:8

God, may the image of who we appear to be always reflect the true beauty of who You are in us.

PS: Thanks for the fabulous pictures and unending editing Lois. You’re a friend like very few others.

Fifteen Years Ago

Erik Cooper —  July 29, 2010 — 11 Comments

Fifteen years ago today, I woke up early and went for a jog.  I’m not a runner (and wasn’t then either), but it seemed to be the most logical way to unload some of the nervous energy pulsating through my veins.  After all, I was getting married in a few short hours.

It wasn’t the anxiety of losing my manly independence, or the question of whether I was committing my life to the right woman. In retrospect, I think I feared my ability to become the man she needed me to be. A husband.

I don’t know that I’ve arrived, but I do know one thing:  If I had it all to do over again, I would still choose her.

We’re far from perfect. We disagree, irritate each other, communicate poorly, act like broken humans.  All the things other married couples do.  But love is where we’ve made our home. And love miraculously devours a multitude of dysfunction and self-centeredness.

And from that love, the most beautiful things have emerged. A life, a home, three beautiful children, (a handful of irritating little dogs), and a willingness to follow the voice of God on some of the strangest and most risk-filled adventures.

After 15 years, I couldn’t love her more. Her wisdom and ingenuity.  Her faith in God (and somehow in me).  Her willingness to sit through bad action movies and (sometimes) even pretend she likes them.  Her commitment to our children.  Her ability to give up security for the sake of obedience to God’s voice.

But most of all, I’m grateful that every morning when I wake up, she still chooses to be there.

I’m the luckiest man alive.

Not just because we made it 15 years.  Because these first 15 are just a small sign of what’s yet to come.

I love you Mandy.  If I could do it all over again, I’d still choose you.

Happy anniversary.