Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Interjection: Colombia

So I have to make an interjection before the last two posts in the Singlehood series. I've been wanting to share this with you, my blog readers, and I can't wait any longer. In four short weeks from this coming Saturday, I get to go on a medical mission trip to Colombia!

I was given this incredible opportunity to help lead a team from 12Stone Church for a week as we travel to two villages outside Barranquilla. We'll be setting up medical clinics in each of these villages, providing medical care and connecting with the villagers as we share the good news of Christ's death and resurrection. We're working with e3 Partners, a ministry organization that exists to share the Gospel through equipping nationals to evangelize and establish churches throughout their own countries. Their mission and vision is incredible. I am so excited to be working with an incredible ministry in a country where God is at work doing amazing things (some good friends were there with e3 Partners in June)! 

The two villages we'll be traveling to are new to e3. For some reason this excites me to the extreme. I think maybe because it's an opportunity to rise to a challenge - working where e3 hasn't been before. Yay! We're there to help pave a way for new ministry opportunities, new churches, ultimately new eternal life. 

Our team consists of doctors, nurses, paramedics, and nursing students, coming together from South Carolina and Georgia. I am eager to get there, eager to see a new place, eager to get to work, but most importantly I'm eager to follow God's lead in conversations, actions, and prayer. I have a high expectation for God moving through our team. That is my prayer. That He would move and speak and bring life and encouragement. Restoration of lives through His redemption. 

Ugh...can we just leave already?!

I would love for you to join me in this. Two ways you can do this: prayer and/or money - they don't have to be mutually exclusive. :) 

Prayer for...me and my team as we prepare our hearts, our minds, our bodies for the week we'll be there....for God to prepare a way for us to move and build relationships...for safety...for boldness in sharing the Gospel...for wisdom in medical care...for increased submission to God's will and leading and guidance...the list goes on and on, but there's a start.

And finances. The cost of the trip is $2600 and I've got $900 left. Would you pray and give as God leads? I am fully confident in His provision and am trusting Him to provide the remaining funds in two weeks. 

Here's the link to donate: https://www.e3partners.org/erinscooper2012

Thank you, thank you!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Living As A Single Guy in God's Kingdom (X/XII)

Don't worry, I am not about to tackle this one. I can give my thoughts on what we ladies might like you guys to hear, but when it comes to living as a single guy, well, that's where I plead the 5th. It's about time this blog had a break from my thoughts and words, anyway.

Enter: Matt Snyder. A friend of mine, a male, a fellow writer and believer. And up until recently a fellow journeyman in the life of singlehood. I am grateful for his willingness to share his thoughts. Thank you, Matt! 

Gentleman (and ladies), Erin Flew the Coop is honored to present you his writings on living as a single guy in God's Kingdom...

When I was a boy, I remember dreaming about my wedding day. I’m a grown man now, so I’m not afraid to admit it, but I would oftentimes fall asleep at night daydreaming about what my wife would look like, where we would live, what we would do for a living, and more. This happened well into my mid-twenties.

Sometimes I felt like my life paralleled the Genesis account of creation: God made Adam, gave him some specific instructions about living in the Garden, and then gave him the enormous task of naming all of the animals… by himself.

Replace the “Garden” with “my parents’ house” and “naming all of the animals” with “trying to determine the will of God” and you have my life.

It was hard as a geeky twenty-something, seeing my friends get married, and wondering wedding after wedding when it would be my turn. I always thought I’d be married by the time I was 23. Instead, I was 25, single and always on the prowl. Why, yes, I was a wife-hunter.

I dated some pretty amazing girls in the interim but despite all of my attempts to honor them and pursue them with character and integrity, none of them saw me fit to perform that task for a lifetime. I had a gaping hole in my side made just for my wife and it seemed like nobody wanted to fill that void.

I finally gave up. It’s probably not the most charming thing female readers want to hear, but it’s true.

I heeded Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:12 and sought contentment in the midst of my self-perceived “circumstance” of not having a wife. I decided that I’d use my time without a significant other pursuing His peace and more of His Presence.  Even more, I used my singleness as an opportunity to greater pursue the things that the Lord was putting on my heart (fighting human trafficking at home and abroad) and encouraging those around me.

It was amazing how alive I became. I no longer was thinking about “who” I didn’t have beside me, and Who I really did. The Lord encouraged and grew me into a bigger man during that season and I will never regret it. 

And you know what happened when I stopped looking? She came.

At the time of writing this, I’ve been married for seven weeks to the day. Five years after I thought I would get married, I finally did. 

And you know how I found her? I found her through pursuing the Lord’s heart first and chasing the passion that He placed inside of me. There’s nothing more fulfilling than knowing the one you were made for has your same passions. But you’ll only find her if you actually pursue them.

I think if I had any advice for the single guys (and gals) out there, it would be to stop pursuing the relationship you don’t have and pursue the relationship with the One that you do. What better place to unlock your heart and unearth another’s than in the hands of the One who fashioned them? 

If you have the desire for marriage, the Lord will not allow it to go unfulfilled. Men, the time will come when He’ll petition you to pursue her. Women, the time will come when He’ll encourage you to receive the pursuit. Until then, chase your dreams.

-Matt Snyder

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guys, What We Want You to Hear (IX/XII)

Well, it's what I want you to hear, anyway. I can't speak for every woman. Read and let me know your thoughts...I welcome them. Man or woman. Married or single.

So...here goes, guys.

We might be strong, we might be independent. But we still want you to fight for us. That doesn't mean we will roll over and play the victim. We have our own battles as women to fight (we wouldn't expect you to fight those for us) and we certainly can't fight them while playing the victim lying on the ground.  But we will respond to your pursuing. And we will joyfully and gladly step in beside you and support you in battle.

It's what we were created to do. 

We are your help-mate. This shouldn't be scary. Not as scary as we make it out to be.

Does it involve risk?


Does it involve trust?


Does it require stepping out of your comfort zone?

Probably. But it does for us too. We're wading through the unknown just like you are.

But we ask you to recognize that we are ezer-kenegdos. Adam's helpmate. Scripture clearly spells this out in Genesis 2. Adam was living in the garden of Eden amongst all the other living things, which did not include a human. And God deemed it was not good for him to be alone. So he put him to sleep, and from man He created woman. A helper suitable for him. She wasn't to take charge of the relationship and remove his masculinity. She wasn't to fall into a puddle at his feet and be just one more thing he had to take care of. She was to live life with him...as his helper. She is her own person, created in the image of God. Hear that. She is an image-bearer. Just like man. But she is woman. A way for man to not be alone. So why are we living life alone? Is it really easier that way? Is it really better?

Sometime in college, I remember having another conversation with my mom (years after the kissing dating goodbye one) where I was trying to explain to her what kind of man I was looking for. I couldn't describe his looks or even his personality. But I could describe his character.

A spiritual man of God.

One who seeks after Him with his whole heart and longs to serve Him all the days of his life. Also a man who knows he is complete in Him. Him alone. One who knows that he could live his life completely on his own and be OK. That God has equipped Him with what he needs to accomplish His will. Fully independent and capable.

But He also gave him a choice.

He can choose to live life with the woman who aligns with him. The woman of God placed on his path...to help. To stand beside him and serve with him. A woman who knows she's secure and covered with strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25-26). A woman who seeks God all the days of her life. A woman who is bold and strong, but gentle. A woman who knows she will be completely OK if God never provides a husband, but will gladly accept the opportunity to choose this man's offer of living life with him.

That is the man that I want. My mom's words? "Good luck with that." Well, I'm betting on that luck because I'm not willing to budge.

I recently went on a mission trip to Guatemala. I had the unique blessing and burden of co-leading the trip. I got to lead with one of my good friends, and he and I felt from the beginning that God clearly orchestrated circumstances for us to be co-leaders on that trip. It was an incredibly humbling experience. On the bus ride home back in Atlanta, he and I were debriefing about the trip. I told him how the experience of leading with him felt a little bit like a marriage.  (Don't get any bright ideas...he and I are friends...and both on the same page with that.) But in the months leading up to the trip, he and I were faced with prepping 12 other people to serve the Lord doing whatever He wanted us to do down there. There were meetings, handouts, prayers, logistics, icebreakers, intense conversations. It required leadership, support, submission, strength. And that was even before we left the country! All these things were magnified in our time there. The weight we each felt was heavy. The support hugely significant. Never a hands off, acquiescent approach. Always seeking God first, then each other's input. There were times he took the reins and led, me supporting and encouraging. There were times he stepped back and supported me as I led.

We had each others' backs. And neither of us could imagine leading without the other.

Isn't that what a marriage is supposed to be like? Sharing the burden? Lifting each other up when the other is weak.

I realized on this trip how crucial a woman's role in a marriage can be. As I said in my previous post, you guys don't have it so easy in this world either. Your security is attacked just as ours is. Pressures put on you in the workplace are intense at best, and oftentimes unreasonable. Society begs you to be better, faster, stronger, in all areas of life. As women, we get to step into life with you and encourage you. The task is mighty, but who else will be that for you if we are not? When you come home at the end of the day and you've fought a hard battle, it is no small task to be the one who gets you...really gets you. The one who helps relieve the tension, the one who can challenge and uplift, respect and love you. The one who is let into those private places no one else gets to see, and we accept you there.

That is weighty.

That is no job description that beckons a woman to roll over and play dead. It requires her to stand up, be strong, boldly support her husband. Affirm where he needs affirming. Speak truth where he needs to hear truth. Be the softness he needs to his rough exterior. Pray her little heart out each day as he enters battle.

That, dear men, is what we want to be for you. And in return, you are to love us like Christ loved the church. Striving to guide, lead, provide.

More on that in the next post! We'll hear from a guest blogger, a male friend of mine who's spent some years in singleness himself. We'll hear his words on living as a single man in God's Kingdom.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NAS

Two heads are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

Thoughts? Post 'em below...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Little Demolition Does a Body Good (VIII/XII)

I like war movies with the best of 'em, but I also like Hallmark movies. I love hiking and backpacking and kayaking, but I also love to bake and decorate and crotchet. I love football and hockey, but I also love eclectic coffee shops and good books. I have a dream of mud-wrestling one day, but I also have a dream of receiving a beautiful bouquet of English roses. It's who I am. Tough, but soft.

But one would have to look hard to see the softness sometimes.

Ladies, does this resonate with you?

Living alone in this world will put some callouses on you, for sure. It will tell you you've always gotta be tough. And when no one is fighting for you, no one is telling you the answer to that fundamental question of "Am I beautiful?" sometimes the softness fades. Now don't get me wrong, man isn't supposed to be the one to answer that question. God is. We are completely and entirely whole in Him alone. I firmly believe that. And I've experienced that in my life. But He also created us with desires and hormones...and ears that love to hear, "You're beautiful." There's something about knowing and believing that in your heart of hearts. It's something else altogether to have that answer reflected back to you. And when it isn't being reflected back, it can be a challenge to remain in that soft place.

Let me remind us: we are warriors. So, let's fight.

Fight to remain in that place of softness. We (I) tend to build up walls as time goes by, even without a specific hurt. I can feel...well...useless. Unnoticed. And so I'll build up my defenses and prove to myself and anyone else that I'm fine. That I can do all things on my own and don't need anyone to do them for me or with me. I have been told that I, inadvertently, send this message to guys. If one might happen to actually be interested, I pretty easily send him the signal that I'm not. Because I've got my world of walls and defenses and "I don't need anyone to do anything for me" attitude.

Sure, that's exactly the kind of woman a wounded man wants to fight for. A woman who is sure she can do all things on her own. That'll be a sure set up for success. And let's pause for a second on the idea of wounded man. I don't mean those words as any disrespect. Far from it. I believe that for as hard as this world can be on a woman, it can be even harder on a man. A man who's lived life with battle scars to his security, to his manhood, to the very core of who he was created to be.

Beth Moore expounds on this little discussed truth in her book, So Long, Insecurities: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us, after conducting a survey on men and insecurities. She writes, "Fear of failing as a provider was the first of two potential failures that floated to the top in the survey with the guys. The second was failure to prove himself a man...Without minimizing the minefield of women's insecurities, our gender could stand to have our eyes pried open to the fierce battlefield men occupy in the fight for their own souls. In all these years, I can't remember ever hearing a female say that she feels the need to prove that she's a woman. We tend to consider it a fact that was settled at conception. We may want to prove that we are desirable women, capable women, intelligent women, or even real women, but there's still a subtle difference. Men aren't tagging their gender with an adjective. They want to prove to be men. And that's when it really occurred to me. They feel a truckload of pressure to be what we would consider them to already be. Girls become women when they reach a certain age. Boys become men when they attain and conquer. A male doesn't become a man just by growing up. Apparently most guys feel like they have to prove something in order to be men...[a]nd it's not just about being manly. It's about being what they consider to be a man." (1)

Do we think it is easy for a man to fight for a calloused woman who has built up wall after wall? What would possess him to shakily step forward and pursue a girl who is proving to the world that she doesn't need him or anyone?

It's time for me to soften myself, ladies. Take a step back. Allow men to be men. And be...woman. The one who was created in response to God's assessment of it not being good for man to be alone. We were created for him...but also in God's image. Remember that we are still God's image-bearers, whether we have a husband or not.

Know that you are clothed with strength and dignity, you can laugh at the days to come (Proverbs 31:25-26).

Let that sink in.


No one can take that from you. Your Jehovah-Sabaoth (the Lord Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, the One who holds sway of all things) will see to that. He is our Protector. Fight with Him to protect your security, your strength and dignity.

Where do you find yourself on the scale of tough and tender? Are you caught up in a solitary world where the edges of your soul are sharp enough to cause wounds? Are you living in complacency and/or apathy, having lost hope in being pursued by a man?

Join me in some self-assessment. Demolish some walls if you need to. Reinforce other ones, the ones guarding truths God has placed deep in your soul. I firmly believe we can bolster up our security and regain a healthy balance of tough and tender.

1. Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurities: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2010), pp 188-89.