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This year I’m ignoring the doctor.

My friend Dr. Mike Elmore despises “read through the Bible in a year” plans. He feels they cheapen the experience of connecting with God. Turn His Word into a task to complete in a specific timeframe. A list to check off.

He’s a proponent of meditating deeply on smaller passages of Scripture, sometimes for weeks at a time. Sucking the marrow out of every nook and cranny. Forcing the Word into the context of His everyday world until He can’t help but hear the voice of the Creator speaking softly. Specifically. Clearly. To him.

I can’t argue. It’s transformational.

Few have inspired me as much as Dr. Elmore. But this year I’m blowing him off (after all, he’s a gastroenterologist and this has nothing to do with butts or guts).

Every few years I love to do a complete read through of Scripture. I need the full context. The history. The law. The poetry. The prophets. The gospels. The epistles. To breathe in how the Great Composer orchestrated the totality of His masterpiece.

So I picked up the must have YouVersion app for my iPhone (the online version is great, too), chose a plan, and got to reading.

It’s a great process. A worthwhile discipline. And the YouVersion app (and accompanying community and study notes are outstanding). But I have noticed something. Something I don’t want to admit.

The doctor isn’t an idiot (that’s why he has an M.D. after his name).

You see those check boxes to the left of those Scripture references? If I’m not careful, they can quickly become my enemy. A saboteur. An inoculation against what I’m really after: a genuine connection with my heavenly Father.

It is so easy to make a God task-list and completely miss Him in the process. To make “get through it” the goal, rather than letting it get through me.

So be intentional. Be disciplined. Be purposeful.

But always be cognizant of your tendency to drift from living relationship to little square check boxes.

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, clich├ęd 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.

(Maybe the spirit of the Hallmark channel has overtaken me, but this just felt like it needed to be said. Braveheart analogies the remainder of the week!).

Sometimes you just need to realize that you’re beautiful.

This is my oldest daughter Emma. Aspiring drummer. Hater of Barbies. First picked in backyard football scrums.

Elegant beauty.

I’ve always known that last part (and not just as an obligated father), but I’m not sure she’s ever thought of herself in that way. Until last week’s school play forced her into a role that suddenly had heads turning and cameras popping. Only then did she seem to subtly awaken to what I’ve been telling her consistently since she was too little to understand

she’s absolutely beautiful. (a 12 year old clone of her mother)

Beyond normal pre-teen insecurities, I think we all wrestle with wrong internal definitions. Past mistakes, unspoken insecurities, or unfortunate circumstances can cast a distorted reflection.

We are broken.

We aren’t good enough.

That’s what makes grace so amazing. That’s what makes the Father’s pursuit so astounding. And sometimes we just need to sit back and absorb the way our Daddy sees us.

Absolutely beautiful.