Archives For kids

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.

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.

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?

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.

Honduras Day 1

Erik Cooper —  June 9, 2009 — Leave a comment

Hitting the sack here in Honduras after a long travel day.  Two short flights with one long layover.  For the record, if you have 5 hours to kill, I would strongly suggest you not do it in the San Pedro airport.

Tomorrow we head out early to help with a new Mission of Mercy mobile dental clinic.  In the afternoon we visit the first of three future sites for MoM childrens centersCity Community Church is hoping to get in the mix literally from the ground up here in La Ceiba.  We’ll meet the local pastors, get a hands on view of the area, and spend time visiting the homes of the families and children that will be affected by the presence of this center.  It’s sure to be a wildly emotional day.

Please pray for us, that we see clearly what God is already doing here in La Ceiba and know what part we have to play in seeing it become reality.  More to come soon.