Archives For Mandy

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.

Mandy and I have been watching the Egyptian political crisis with extraordinary interest. Her name is printed on a plane ticket scheduled to leave all too shortly for this volatile area of the world, where military tanks roam the streets like minivans as protesters violently clash with the Mubarak regime.

Surreal.

When I think of Egypt, my mind effortlessly conjures up images of camels, pyramids, and Yule Brenner. But my wife is (was?) heading there to encounter the effects of extreme poverty. To work with people who have literally built a community among the city trash dumps. (This story may help you re-frame the romanticism and understand a small piece of the unrest).

Now it appears the only Egyptian flights any Americans will be taking are out of the country. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Admittedly, I probably understand as much about the Egyptian political environment as I do about fixing my furnace, and the last thing we need is another ignorant American spouting his opinions about a global crisis he only thinks he understands.

But something hit me square in the face as I watch this unfold. Something that hits close to home. In me.

Control, fear, and manipulation won’t work forever.

Yet our human nature is to control. To demand our way. To gain power and then preserve it. To manipulate the behavior of others from the outside-in.

We see it in governments. In businesses. In churches. In families. In every kind of human interaction.

What we’re watching unfold in Egypt is ugly. It makes us angry. And rightly so. But at its root is something that resides in us all. A sinful desire to hold all the marbles.

Which is probably why Jesus’ example is all the more mind blowing. That the Son of God, at the pinnacle of His earthly influence, would give up His power. Lay down His life. Relinquish control. In fact, it was in letting go of Himself that He actually changed the world forever.

Maybe Mubarak should learn a little something from Jesus.

Maybe I should, too.

One Heck of a Week

Erik Cooper —  January 10, 2011 — 1 Comment

Last week was difficult, I’m not gonna lie.

The perfect blend of emotional soup.  Moments of pure elation followed by waves of fear and sadness. Like your favorite football team just took the lead on a 50 yard field goal only to lose it 53 seconds later as time expired ending their season (wait, that really happened didn’t it?).

Here’s a little recap and a few thoughts (if you’re interested):

THURSDAY:

My 5 year old son, Austin, gets a miraculous medical report.  Born with optic nerve hypoplasia, doctor’s originally warned of potential blindness or even brain development issues.  Thursday’s doctor visit confirmed the continued positive progression we’ve been seeing in his recent visual development. Both eyes have slowly corrected to 30/20, what our ophthalmologist terms “normal” visual range for his age.  We celebrated the answer to years of prayer.

(He’s keeping the glasses though. They’re just too stylish).

FRIDAY:

My wife, driving our daughter to her evening basketball practice, loses control of the car on an unsalted stretch of icy road. The front end of our little Chevy Cobalt is torn off by a swerving pickup truck, her driver side door t-boned by a 15 passenger van. Thankfully, extreme bruising and a few terrifying dreams seem to be the only residual damage (Well, besides ol’ orange. She’s driven her last mile). A few inches either way and I could easily be typing this as a single father of two.

SATURDAY:

My brother and sister in-law move to Houston, and an early morning breakfast goodbye turned a bit more emotional than we had originally planned.  We celebrate their new adventure, but already feel the painful sting of their absence. My daughter’s tears did me in, although after the previous days accident I was just grateful she was there to shed them.

So as Saturday drew to a (Colts-losing) close, this triple cocktail of human emotions had us ready to curl up under a warm blanket and hide from the world. God seemed to be so evident on Thursday. What happened?

I think there’s an unfortunate tendency to miss God in the pain of life. To think His nature is only expressed through our happily ever afters. The easily explained. The comfortable. The positive doctor’s reports.

And I think that cheapens God. Turns Him into a servant of us.

God never promised life would be without pain. Easy to explain. That your favorite team would always be ahead when the final buzzer sounds.

But He did promise He’d always be with us.  That He would never leave us or forsake us. That He would be near to the brokenhearted.

So I’m learning to see Him everywhere.  In medical healings, ugly car crashes, and sad goodbyes.

Yep, there He is.

Top Posts of 2010

Erik Cooper —  December 27, 2010 — 1 Comment

According to Google, these were my most read posts of 2010 (and seriously, who argues with Google and lives?). Since this is the week of top 10’s and best of’s, I thought I’d join the end of year festivities. Hope you enjoy a little stroll down BeyondTheRisk memory lane.

10.  Memorabilia: What Do You Hold Onto?

Our lives are full of memorabilia. Some trigger beautiful memories.  Some conjure up nightmares. [Read more]

9. Should Churches Ever Go Out of Business?

A question I still question if I should have even asked. [Read more]

8.  Should the Church Really Be Promoting Social Justice?

Glenn Beck made some strong statements against churches who talk about social justice. I tried to engage the conversation [Read More]

7.  Saying Goodbye

After 32 years, my parents finally moved from my childhood home. These were my nostalgic thoughts as we closed those doors for one last time. [Read More]

6.  The Problem with the Church

With all the condescending finger pointing and pithy diagnosis, I thought it was time to talk about the real problem with the church. [Read More]

5.  You Can Keep Your Hymnal

How often am I guilty of trying to relive the past? What are the “hymnals” in your life? [Read More]

4.  Embracing Biblical Values and Completely Missing the Point

Is it possible to love Jesus without truly following Him?  [Read More]

3.  Goodbye Maddie

Directly or indirectly, relationships will hurt you (confession: cried again re-reading this one). [Read More]

2.  I Hate When People Tell Me About Their Missions Trips

A trip to Honduras once again messed with our normal. What you hear from these two guys sums it up perfectly. [Read More]

1.  Fifteen Years Ago

My wife and I crossed a major milestone this year. This is my tribute to her (to us). [Read More]

Mandy and I are heading to San Diego for a week. Our marriage crossed a fifteen year milestone this past July, and thanks to Delta bump-vouchers and an extra week in my aunt & uncle’s timeshare, our “crystal anniversary” will be properly celebrated (and nearly free of charge).

This will be the first full week we’ve spent away, just the two of us, since our honeymoon (save the hate mail ladies, I know).

I love my wife more today than ever before, but relationship thrives in pursuit. There’s always something more to learn. To share. To unmask about one another.  And nothing facilitates that more than getting out of the routine, the familiar scenery, and the expectations of life.

I’ll be checking out of the blogosphere. Sleeping until I wake up. Reading some good books. Inhaling the Southern California ocean air.  And all with the love of my life. Fifteen years and just getting started.