Archives For fatherhood

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.

(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.

Becoming Mike Ditka

Erik Cooper —  December 13, 2010 — 2 Comments

As a father, I’ve always thought my personality was a little Tony Dungy integrity meets Bill Belichick stoicism (Yes, two of the most prolific coaches in NFL history. This is my blog here, roll with it). But last night I embodied a bit of Mike Ditka hothead.

I yelled at my son.

Not the kind of normal, everyday, sometimes audibly-elevated verbal correction that comes with the fatherhood territory. The kind that erupts from frustration. That serves no real purpose other than a momentary release of endorphins (like I just watched the New Orleans Saints recover another onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl).

It was an un-proud parental moment, and one I’m intentionally sharing in public to try and make a vulnerable point.


http://flyingpigskin.com/tag/nick-thomas/

The nature of my son’s lamentable behavior is inconsequential. He was wrong.

I was wrong-er.

As the tears were drying, I had to ask him for forgiveness. And in that moment, I was reminded that my little boy doesn’t know me as pastor. He doesn’t know me as writer. He doesn’t know me as leader, or teacher, or musician.

He knows me as daddy.

A daddy that often reflects the love and life of Jesus Christ, but who sometimes shows his broken humanity.

A daddy grateful for his Father’s unending grace, the same grace he sometimes forgets to show to his own children.

A daddy who’s far from perfect, but is thankful He knows One who is.

Last night reminded of some lyrics Nathan LaGrange and I penned as a prayer for our children way back in 2002 (three years before Austin was even born). They’re still some of my favorites:

Father forgive me, even on the best of days
I am a poor reflection of Who You really are
So give me the strength to lead them through another day
And when I stumble and I fail
Keep their eyes on You

You’re not perfect. Neither am I. That’s what makes this Jesus thing such unbelievable news.

The Gift of Pain

Erik Cooper —  December 8, 2010 — 2 Comments

Last night my son learned a hard lesson. Pick on a kid who’s older than you and you may get a beat down.  Or as I like to think of it, act like Cortland Finnegan and someone may go all Andre Johnson on you.

Our friends and co-pastors the LaGranges were over for dinner, and my 5 year old was vying for attention the Jersey Shore way:  outrageous acts of annoyance. That is, until 9 year old Carter took matters into his own hands with a certified, WWE, off the top rope body slam that reverberated through the upstairs floor.

Boom!

(Tears).

And I, as a loving father, did what any responsible dad would do.

I laughed.

(Well OK, I made sure his neck wasn’t broken, then I laughed…hysterically).

Because my son got TKO’d?  Nope.  Because reality was teaching him a beautiful lesson. Act like a fool, and somebody may treat you like one.  Thanks Carter.

Lately, I’ve had some days when life seems to have me in a figure-four leg lock.  And while I’m getting my face smashed into the carpet, God seems to be relaxing at the dining room table sipping His coffee, maybe even getting a good chuckle at my wrestling ineptitude.

Doesn’t He care?

Sometimes God loves me best by allowing reality to do it’s work. By letting me struggle.  By not stepping in to stop the fight.  Because the transformation brought by pain can often be a gift. A cutting away of things I wouldn’t have given up on my own.

“He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.” John 15:2

Because God loves me, He won’t let me stay the way I am. Even if it hurts.

The Beauty of Letting Go

Erik Cooper —  November 11, 2010 — Leave a comment

My 11 year old daughter flew out early this morning with her grandmother as a business trip tag-along. Helping man the Mission of Mercy booth at a women’s conference in southern Massachusetts earned her a plane ticket and a few days hookie from school.

She just called me from their layover in the DC airport. “Dad, we saw the Capitol Building!  And the White House! And the Washington monument off in the distance! Even took some pictures!”

She sounded so grown up. So confident. So sure of herself. Off living an adventure without mom and dad for the first time in her life.

That’s the beauty of letting go (even though a trip with Grandma is hardly much of a risk).  The older she gets, the less she will need me to guide and direct the steps of her everyday life.  The more she’ll be able to stand on her own, make some decisions, do the right things, and write her own story.

I’m beginning to morph from a voice barking orders and dictating her schedule (although I must confess, I do occasionally bark).  Hopefully, a piece of me now actually lives inside of her, and her choices are becoming guided from the inside out. Not just from my pre-scripted playbook.

That’s what God promises us, too. He’s not just a set of rules for us to live by.  He longs to send the Spirit of His Son, Jesus Christ, to live inside of us. To re-shape our desires.  To guide our choices.  To shape our adventure into everything He created it to be. From the inside-out.

“You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, ‘Papa! Father!'” (Gal. 4:6 MSG)