Monday, April 11, 2016

Campfires and Kitchen Tables

It’s a rainy day here at the Cooper Cottage, but I do not mind, friends… No rain. No flowers, right? And this is so true in our lives. Because of the rainy days, we can experience bright, sunshiny days. And our days, rain or shine, make us who we are and create the journey that writes our story. 

Who doesn't love a good story? One full of adventure, action, sweet romance and of course, a happy ending? I love a good read in the hammock on a breezy day, snuggled on the couch with hot tea or with my toes in the sand on the beach, BUT even better are the stories told around a campfire or a kitchen table. Stories told by family, old friends and new. Stories that happened long ago or just the other day. Stories that are full of sadness, joy, hope, silliness, faith, loss, fear, growth, fun and the list goes on and on. Something about the atmosphere of a campfire or kitchen table, for me, creates an environment for intimacy, transparency and openness - an opportunity to gather and connect. 

Around the campfire or kitchen table, everyone is equal just as God sees us. There is not a seating arrangement for “big I” or “little i”, no J.V. or Varsity, but all equally broken, hot messes in need of Him and each other. So what keeps us from taking the time to sit down together and share our stories, openly and honestly? If we are truly trusting the ultimate Author, why would we not want others to read our story of redemption?

Your story. My story. The highs and lows. Chapter after chapter. Seasons of change and growth. It makes us who we are and who God created us to be while trusting Him as He writes each page for our good and His glory. In this chapter of life, I am learning so much about waiting on God and what it truly means to be spirit-led, moment by moment, day by day. I am learning to let Him lead in this dance as I simply follow, step by step, listening closely to the music. I have recently realized and am ashamed to admit that for so long my focus and top priority was just doing “good things”, then praying for Him to come along behind me and “bless” MY good. I do not want my story to be filled with just “good” things. I want my story to be His story, full of His glory…and that my friends, requires FAITH - You know… trusting that He will do what He says He will do even when the “storyline” is not making sense to us, and the dots just don't seem to connect. Living and acting in faith, believing and trusting that He knows my story - beginning, middle and end. And because I am His, there is and will be a happy ending. "Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

Although all different and unique, our stories allow us to connect with each other and ultimately, encourage and inspire. Yes, the good, the bad, the ugly - each chapter of our journey can be used for His kingdom. Jared and I recently attended an incredible, adoption conference and while discussing the importance of being present physically and psychologically as parents, the speaker had us participate in an exercise. Partner 2 was told to close their eyes while Partner 1 was given instructions to tell a story using details of a familiar or common route taken often. Partner 1 was then told to close their eyes while Partner 2 was given instructions to only listen “half-way”, about 50% of the time. The rest of the time, flip through your notes, check your phone, etc. After a few minutes, we discussed how Partner 1 felt - ignored, unimportant, stupid, discouraged, silly, embarrassed. Then we switched, except Partner 1 was given the instructions to listen at about 90%. Partner 2 (me) told my story and was overwhelmed. I felt important, heard, encouraged, excited, but also odd, uncomfortable, awkward, struggling to even keep eye contact myself. The speaker explained that because our culture struggles with and no longer places an importance on being truly “present”, we are all oddly uncomfortable when we feel heard or engaged in genuine conversation. This broke my heart. How terribly sad, friends.  

I want you to be heard, dear friend. I need you to be bold and share your story with humility and grace. Your story may be what speaks life and hope into a hurting heart. Your story may be what speaks joy into someone else’s journey. So, y'all c’mon over to the Cooper Cottage and gather around my kitchen table. Let’s talk life and tell our stories over coffee or tea. Let’s gather around a campfire and be truly present and in the moment while losing count of the s’mores eaten. Let the Author write. Tell His story as you choose JOY in the journey. 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation purchase of God, Born of His Spirit washed in His Blood.
This is my story this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long;

Perfect submission, perfect delight, Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angles deciding bring from above, Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
This is my story this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long;

Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blessed;
Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This is my story this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long;

Worship in Waiting:

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