Archives For Mandy

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.

Medical Update

Erik Cooper —  January 5, 2010 — 2 Comments

A few months ago I shared some medical challenges that my family was facing via this blog and at our weekly gathering for City Community Church.  There have been some very encouraging recent updates, so I thought I’d post them here for those who are interested.

MANDY: my wife’s thyroid issues have all come back clean and clear, and following a couple of preventative procedures she is fully on the mend and back to keeping me and the kids in line (wish her luck with that one).

AUSTIN: my 4 year old is getting used to his new glasses, and if his mom and dad can be more disciplined with his patch therapy, there’s a long-term possibility his vision could improve enough to lose the eye correction altogether.

DISNEY: our sweet little Boston Terrier Disney…well no, she didn’t resurrect from the dead.  But we did get a new miniature addition to the family: a Yorkshire Terrier named “Buzz.” (as in Lightyear).

ME: after two miserable months on anti-seizure medication (if I was mean, nasty, or completely unpleasant to any of you, I do have a medical excuse), I decided to see a new neurologist here in Indy.  This second opinion yielded new perspective on my symptoms and reversed my initial “risk of seizure” diagnosis.  Instead, it seems I have a condition known as Optical (or silent) Migraines.  While still a neurological event, it is not as serious as a seizure disorder and can hopefully be managed without medication.  In fact, I just finished the five week detox (those meds are serious stuff) and am completely off any medication for the first time since early October.

We’ve been excited to share these developments with you, and really to say thank you for all the prayers and love we’ve felt these last few months.  Pain, suffering, and events beyond our control are often God’s greatest shaping tools.  And as much as I hate that reality, this quote from my original October post rings truer than ever today:

I don’t want a belief system – a philosophy – that gives me easy answers I can frame and hang on the mantle, an opiate created to dull my pain.  I need a Savior willing to embody my suffering, to redeem it, to shape me deeply through this far-too-often unexplainable journey, and to both weep and celebrate with me all along the way.

Sometimes our stories seem to have happy endings, and sometimes the pain and confusion is a long-term companion.  But I’m learning to hang onto Jesus no matter what the journey brings, because I trust Him to use both joy and pain to unfold His perfection in me. I pray the same is true in your life.

Opiate of the Masses

Erik Cooper —  October 21, 2009 — 7 Comments

It was communist leader Karl Marx that said “religion is the opiate of the masses.”  That quote used to stir such animosity in my American-Midwestern-Evangelical belief-structure.  But honestly, I believe he was right.  Before you unsubscribe, let me at least try to explain.

In the interest of that transparency and vulnerability that my buddy Nathan and I so often wax eloquence about, we’re coming off an unbelievably crappy week (yeah mom, I said crappythought about using stronger words, but I’ve already opened by agreeing with a Karl Marx quote.  I thought that was enough potential controversy for one post).  Let me see if I can quickly recount the circumstances for you and then at least attempt to make a coherent point:

TUESDAY: I have a brain MRI in attempt to explain the “abnormal” findings of an EEG.  I recently started having strange, foggy, forgetful episodes (my wife says I’m just using the diagnosis as an excuse for manly irresponsibility, but I do have a real doctor’s note) and have been diagnosed with a “risk for complex, partial and secondarily generalized seizures” (hey, why go half way?).  The good news: the MRI showed no tumor (and a functioning brainba dum dum).  The bad news: anti-seizure medication for the foreseeable future.

WEDNESDAY: My beautiful wife of 14 years has a biopsy on her thyroid gland.  Not atypical for the Midwest, she has developed multiple nodules that had to be tested for malignancy.  Twenty-five needle sticks to the neck later, we find the growths are benign (thank you God) but the test takes it’s toll (she wants to have a word with all you doctors who told her the procedure is a “piece of cake.” You should be nervous.  Yes, I’m serious).

THURSDAY: My four-year-old son Austin heads to the eye specialist for a follow up on his infant-diagnosis of optic nerve hypoplasia, an incurable underdevelopment of the optic nerves that in extreme cases can result in blindness and brain defects.  He’s fortunate in that his symptoms are mild, but this day begins long-term patch therapy and a trip to Target Optical for his first pair of glasses (he just wants to be cool like his dad).

FRIDAY: Our two year old Boston Terrier, Disney, runs across the street in front of my in-law’s house like she’s done a million times before.  Unfortunately, her timing for this innocent adventure intersects with a traveling mini-van.  Two hours later, her little body succumbs to post-surgical internal bleeding.

We’ve definitely had easier weeks, and I’m well aware that many of you have had much harder.  But I noticed something interesting in the hours and days that followed our emotional roller-coaster of experiences.  I wanted an explanation, to understand, to make sense of the events that had transpired.  I had lost control, and I wanted it back.

On my left shoulder sat the skeptic wondering “where has God gone?”  Didn’t He see what we were going through?  Didn’t He know what sacrifices we were making for Him?  How could He allow us to face such difficult circumstances?  Doesn’t He care?  How can a loving God…?  You know what I’m saying.  You’ve asked it yourself (yeah, I know).

But on my right shoulder was the whispering religious zealot.  “You’re doing such a great work for God that the Devil must be on the attack.”  Or just the opposite, “what unknown evil have you stumbled into that is causing God to punish you in this way?”  Here, have a trite quote or an easy answer to dull your pain.  God is good all the time.  Where God guides, God provides. And I bet you can think of dozens of other “knicknack sayings” aimed at eliminating the tension, deadening the pain, and avoiding the heartache that just far too often comes from living in a broken, fallen, messy, sinful world.

The reality?  We want to explain God. If I do A, He does B.  If I say this, He’ll do that.  If I…then He.  We want control, to be in charge.  Go ahead, admit it.  It’s cathartic.  But we really don’t want to serve a God like that.  A God we have figured out.  A God we can throw in our briefcase, in the diaper bag, with the golf clubs in the trunk of the car and just pull Him out when it’s raining, when we don’t understand, when we need to rub the lamp and get our three wishes.

Sometimes God is a mystery.  And we live in the constant tension of despising our lack of control and celebrating that there is a God who is willing to take it. He never said we’d always understand, but He promised to never make us walk through the heartache alone.

I don’t want a belief system – a philosophy – that gives me easy answers I can frame and hang on the mantle, an opiate created to dull my pain.  I need a Savior willing to embody my suffering, to redeem it, to shape me deeply through this far-too-often unexplainable journey, and to both weep and celebrate with me all along the way.

So far, this week’s been pretty uneventful.  I’m OK with that, too.

Off to Honduras

Erik Cooper —  June 8, 2009 — Leave a comment

Packing up tonight for a short trip to La Ceiba, Honduras…only 2 full days with a travel day on each end.  Heading out with my wife Mandy and our co-pastors Nathan & Tricia LaGrange to connect with Jack Eans of Mission of Mercy.  We’ll be spending the rest of this week visiting Mercy Centers near La Ceiba, but more importantly traveling to communities that don’t have a center…yet.  That’s where we come in.

We’ll be spending a majority of our time in communities where centers are planned but not yet built, looking at future sites, talking to leaders, and even visiting families in their homes.  Our hope is that over the next few years, City Community Church can partner with MoM to literally transform the landscape of these communities.

Stay tuned for blogs, tweets, and maybe even a video post or two from Honduras.  And be thinking of ways you can potentially partner with us in bringing the reality of Jesus love to these beautiful people.

Amanda Lynn

Erik Cooper —  June 5, 2009 — 2 Comments

I’ve written songs for and about my kids, blogged about my wonderful mom, and told stories of my selfless father over and over again.  But I’ve never shared anything in this kind of context about my wife, maybe subtly due to the fact that I think that’s too private or intimate, but probably because I’m just far too often oblivious to some of the sweetest blessings God has given me.

I married up...way up.  And while Mandy is human just like the rest of us (although some days I wonder), her God-given traits and spirit are life to my bones, a strength I impulsively lean back into far more than I think I even realize.  I know husbands are contractually obligated to say it (but I really, really mean it), she is undeniably gorgeous.  I often find myself secretly staring at her in the quiet moments, thinking how lucky I am to have a wife who’s internal and external beauty blend into such perfection.  I just love to be near her.

I don’t know another woman more qualified to walk the paths God has asked us to walk.  As the daughter of a pastor, she never wanted to marry one…and she didn’t.  She married a business man, who turned into a musician, who became a pastor, who is now a church planter.  If she would have seen that in the contract, I’d undoubtedly still be single.  But she never blinked, never questioned, never feared (even when I did) as we turned our focus from highly controlled, unlimited earthly upside potential, to a life of risk, big questions, and buckets full of unknowns.  I’m still amazed at her steadiness as this journey has unfolded.

But more than anything I love her heart…her heart for others.  It can seem hidden in her somewhat introverted nature, but she derives so much satisfaction in doing things for other people.  Her dream is to one day have a decorating firm that is both a business and a ministry, serving less fortunate people by bringing new life to the interiors of their homes.  (Secretly, I tihnk she just wants her own TLC show!).  If she wasn’t a mom she could be running a Fortune 500 company.  I can’t wait until the time is right to help her get it started.

So here’s to my unbelievable wife.  I love you Mandy.  As I look around, it’s undeniable that I have been blessed in ways I can’t even begin to quantify.  But I would trade them all in for you.  Thank you for being my wife.  Thank you for taking this journey with me.  Can’t wait to see how the rest of it unfolds.

“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.  Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.” (Proverbs 31:10 MSG)