Today is the 47th anniversary of my marriage with Lynda Bryan Cooke. I wanted to stop and share with any and all why this relationship has survived and thrived to this day.
I first noticed Lynda on a Saturday night at a youth retreat on Lake Norman just north of Charlotte, NC.
There are two things worth noting for context. First, I had come by circumstance, via an invitation from my best friend Stan Smith. If “Smitty” was there, chances were good this was going to be worth my time. Second, I had brought with me my girlfriend Diane. At the end of the evening it would be the last time we would talk to one another. That’s important because of what I’m going to tell you.
Two thirds of the way through the evening we were gathered up by our adult chaperones and youth leaders to hear their ideas about the upcoming summer for our Youth Group at Calvary Baptist Church.
I had my own ideas about my own upcoming Summer but I dutifully presented myself into a large circle of fifty teenagers to consume mass quantities of hot dogs while enjoying the blazing bonfire.
As the talk of a fantastic Summer Youth Ministry was being shared, my eye caught a glimpse of a girl whom I had yet to meet.
Looking across through the glowing hot fire I turned to Smitty and inquired of him,
Who is that girl sitting directly across from us? He responded to my question, That’s Lynda Bryan, she’s Wilson and Pat’s daughter.
I found my way over to Lynda Bryan to introduce myself. I do not recall the details of the short conversation as I was, and this is the truth, smitten by what I felt in the presence of this new girl 579 days younger than me. But what I can tell you is that I left that gathering later that evening knowing that Lynda Bryan would one day be Lynda Bryan Cooke.
That evening, that event, took place in May of 1970. I know;, I know, that’s a long time ago! Four years later, Lynda and I would share our vows on a Saturday evening at Calvary Baptist Church.
And 47 years ago today, Lynda and I would depart into the evening headed for Columbia, SC. There was a message in our madness we had plotted out together. Our thought process was that while it had been 4 years since we had met across that bonfire on Lake Norman, we could both survive just another hour and a half to get to our first destination in order to consummate our marriage. Is that too…, well never mind.
If you think, and you probably do, that Columbia was a strange place for a night you’ll never forget, just know the honeymoon got better with each day as we headed for Charleston and from there to our final destination of Hilton Head Island.
We would return home to Charlotte later that week to begin our lives. Of course each day in the early going was a day of new discovery of being husband and wife. There was never a dull moment as we felt ourselves being pulled into God knows what.
Lynda and I are polar opposites when it comes to our personality profiles. Somehow we managed that which often times fails young couples. But before I run out of time, I am writing this blog post knowing that marriage can be maddening… until it becomes manageable and then, with some help, it has a chance of becoming marvelous.
God created us for one another. And together, the mystery of marriage, over a lifetime, begins to change who you are. Two people, not simply becoming a great couple but celebrating each other for overcoming the worst of times life will try and throw at you.
In our late sixties, Lynda and I realize that without help from others in our lives, alongside the Holy Spirit, we may never have made it this far on a journey that has has tested our mettle in life like never before these past five years.
We’ll be thanking you guys as long as we live. Thankfulness has become our go to on days when we would just as soon cash in our chips. One of us has often said to the other, You know what I’m thankful for today? You!
The Apostle Paul once said; These three things remain, faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. I think that is true especially for couples as they experience their own conflicts. The biblical concept of love is far deeper than the secular concept. And this, brings my back to where this all began.
A 16 year old boy meets a 14 year old girl on an evening across from a bonfire. Together they begin a journey and find a love that remains.
Tomorrow we will be at it again. And so it goes, and so it goes!
While I have heard this old saying for many, many years, these last three years, these last 1095 days, have taught me WHY these eleven words, this one statement is so authentically true.
It was a Friday morning, February 23, 2018 that I lost my son Bryan. Since then, there has not been a day in my life, that I have not awakened to this terrible tragedy.
Many of you know the story. The context was simple. Bryan and I, in our spare time, had gone to finish a project for a family awaiting a newly renovated house. It was an old house to be moved into by a Veteran and her family.
Sometime that morning, close to 11am, we were accosted by two young men who entered the house, apparently, based upon their statements, to rob us. Bryan met them, they pulled out a gun, and shot him. One of the assailants ran outside and Bryan ran after him before falling in the front yard where he would lie momentarily as his Spirit and Soul would transition from this temporary life to a life without end.
While this exchange was happening between two worlds, one of the assailants stood four feet away just outside of a small bathroom and shot me five times. Somehow my life would be spared.
My, family, our friends, and all who loved and knew Bryan would soon receive the news. The news that Bryan was gone. The news that we had all lost a man in the prime of his life. The news that Jenna had lost her husband, Sophia Grace had lost her father, Lauren had lost her brother, Lynda had lost her first born, Eric had lost… The news that Today is the first day of the rest of your life remains true even as we discount its veracity in an attempt to forget how precious life is.
Over the next several weeks, I would like to pull out of me and share what is and has been inside of me these last 1095 days.
It’s important because my life and your life have met once again. It’s important because Bryan is the central character in this event that will forever remain a mystery to us all.
While I’ll try not to ramble beyond ramblings necessity, I’ll depend on my two editors, Lynda and Lauren to pull me back with their red pens.
To be honest, this is a story full of seemingly unrelenting tragedy, suffering, and grief. But, it has also been true, in my own 1095 day journey, to experience hope… that bridge to tomorrow. And Bryan, I must say, has been a constant reminder for me that hope does spring eternal, if we will allow it into our lives.
There are many topics inside of 2/23/18 which need to be accounted for. I intend to do just that regardless of who may be curious or not.
I’ll close for today with these four statements which I concluded my message at Life Community this past Sunday.
Three years ago our family has an option.
Because of Bryan, we survived.
We chose to live so that Bryan could be seen in us.
I have a question – Where Are We Headed? Which leads to another question – How Will We Get There?
Both questions can be, no that’s wrong, both questions should be considered once every three to four months. That is, if we’re not just daydreaming our time away.
Both of these questions are critical to our lives, and no one knows this better than God. In what is called the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament, the book of Proverbs is replete with a call to pursue wisdom. Proverbs 16:16 – How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
Jesus, throughout the Gospels of the New Testament also encourages us to answer those first two questions at the top of this E-Letter. He was, as we have often noted, a “disturber of assumptions.” Jesus, now and then, provoked us to think in new ways and prompted us to act in new ways.
Sunday, as we continue the January/February series One Day At A Time, we’ll be talking about how Transformation internally becomes manifested externally.
Sunday is going to be one of those Intersection Days, where you and I can find ample opportunity to make up our hearts and minds about Where Are We Headed? and How Will We Get There?
Kelsey is taking a much needed day off while Maggie B. will lead us in Worship. We love these two ladies and are always drawn closer to God through their giftedness.
Get into the Life Community Church service for the countdown and remember today is a good day to text or call that friend of yours who could benefit tremendously by what they see and hear about LCC!
What INSPIRED your life this week? Stop. Take a few minutes and work back through these last five to six days.
What enlivened you or motivated you? What encouraged you or invigorated your life? In these days it doesn’t take much to accomplish for us to be inspired!
The cool thing about inspiration is that often it comes to us in the most surprising of ways.
Think about this for a moment. What is your typical response to being inspired? Let me suggest there is one which beats all others. When inspired, integrate that most recent inspiration into your life in some way, pay it forward!
Sunday, as we continue our One Day At A Time series, we’re going to look at some inspirational ideas that can help us move away from hectic schedules that pull us away from being present to the hour, the day, and the week ahead of us.
Think of it with this question in mind: How can we Connect the details of our Daily Lives with the Present Availability of a Parallel Option for living?
This is First Sunday which means we will be celebrating Communion together. Get your Bread and Wine ready and join us for this Sacrament. As always, this is more than a religious ceremony; this is about finding strength for the journey we are all on.
Please reach out to someone you know who would benefit from joining with LCC online Sunday mornings at 10:15.
I ran across an antonym for the word love and immediately found myself thinking “Absolutely! That word covers it.” The word clearly defines for me the opposite of love.
I read a lot of articles and a lot of books. l listen to podcasts and watch a healthy amount of movies. In all four of these outlets, I am searching for a broad spectrum of our culture’s interest in love which is reflected through an individual’s or a groups’ response to the types of relationships many are pursuing today.
Why is this important to a Writer and a Pastor, let alone a Golfer? (I really hope the weather turns warm soon.)
At the beginning of the year I introduced this idea that BEING (who you are) should always overwhelm DOING (what you do).
This is true because this idea of being is what one needs in order to be. Most anyone can do; we get our marching orders and we go to work and we do what we’re told to do. Simple, in the sense that doing doesn’t create in us the depth of becoming who we were created to be. I hope I didn’t screw up this brief summation of do vs be. But, on we go…
OH! This is a grand place in my post to unveil that antonym for love. The word is – indifference. I would venture to guess that all of you have experienced this apathetic, lukewarm, disregarding “friend” during your life.
When we get serious about working on our BEING, there’s one thing God seems to slide into our life at some point on the journey; the “Indifferent Comrade” (IC). He challenges us. We encounter people on our path who are indifferent and challenge our new way of thinking…of being. You know it, I know it, Bob Dole knows it, the whole country knows it, right? (See SNL 35 years ago). I’m not into bashing the IC’s, but I am interested in writing more about why indifference seems to be growing in our country.
According to David Brooks, indifference is the result of Hyper-Individualism And hyper-individualism asks one critical question: “What can I do to make myself happy?” When it is in play, attention, awareness, desire, passion, and interest are all primarily focused ourselves – we become the Indifferent Comrade.
Does that sound like you at times? It sounds like me. I don’t like it, but from time to time I can get so into Mike that I become insensitive to others in need of love. Sometimes they gotta get love from someone else.
But, thank God, there is an answer to indifference. Next post we’ll look at the solution in Brooks’ book The Second Mountain. We’ve been led relationally before by this fascinating read. You’ll be thankful that Brother Brooks’ wisdom runs deep.
Greetings to all of you who have taken the time to see what’s going on @ LCC this weekend. We appreciate your interest as well as your participation with us.
January this year has five Sundays and for that we are thankful – we will use each of these Sundays to continue to challenge each other to consider a life that is lived One Day At A Time.
I don’t know about you, but I have tried a lot of ways to prioritize my life. Many of those seem to have ended up being a waste of my time. Like the time I… Do you have some “Like the time I…”?
You and I have a sense when something isn’t working for us. And usually the culprit is a life that is inundated with too much Ambition centered around too much Activity that leads to too much Anxiety.
The General Social Survey reports that there has been a 6% plunge in the average Americans “happiness” between 2009-2019.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that, social media tends to draw joy from teenagers and adults by stoking anxieties about the better lives others seem to be living online.
Perhaps the bottomline here is that we have lost our RHYTHM? That One Day At A Time kind of life which leads to a more authentic way of living that we’ve been talking about @ Life Community.
This Sunday we are going to pick up where Pastor Thomas left off last week in Matthew’s Gospel. The thought I have here is that we all need a refreshing look at what is TRUE in order to pursue the Life God extends to each and every individual.
As Paul put it, Even though the outside of me is wasting away, I am thankful to God that the inside of me is being renewed day by day.
Sunday we’ll look at 3 priorities that can help anyone find renewal which leads to a life well lived. And guess what, getting two out of three of these ain’t bad.
In hope and prayer, I look forward to you joining us. And if you can’t watch the livestream on Sunday morning @ 10:15, carve out an hour sometime in the week to “pick up what we’re puttin’ down” @ LCC online. (Our livestream is available on our Facebook page during and immediately after our service and you can click the blue link below to find your way there.)
Together, you and I, can discover the truth that life offers us both –
So grateful for you joining us through the Life Community Church weekly E-Letter. We appreciate not only you taking the time to read it, but we also encourage you to respond to the content if you’d like. We always love hearing from you gals and guys!
Pastor Thomas and I spent some time yesterday afternoon discussing our opening series of Sunday messages in 2021 – One Day At A Time. In the first two messages we used two questions as our titles: Who Are You? and Why Are We Here?
These baseline examinations are meant to challenge as well as encourage those of us tuning into the livestream each week. We believe this series is setting up the groundwork needed to support anyone who has a desire to pursue the life God has given them.
In the middle of the Bible there is this awesome Book of Psalms. When you begin reading this book of poems, prayers, and purpose you’ll immediately sense something of the depth of real life coming through the pages.
This week I’ve been considering just ONE statement from the Psalms in the 90th chapter. So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Read that over several times and give it some thought.
So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
For me, the word that stands out here is heart. The word heart occurs over one thousand times in the Bible. To the ancients it’s not about that vital organ in the center of your chest, it’s about our will, our mind, our emotions, our understanding, and our memory. Dallas Willard called it – the executive center of a human being.
If we are interested in building a life One Day At A Time, this verse from the Psalms is critical to that lifestyle. The word wisdom is all about foresight, something we’d need God to bestow upon our day to day living. Or, as another author in the Bible named Samuel wrote; Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Hey, this weekend we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King. MLK was a man of the heart, a man of wisdom, a man who probably prayed that Psalm 90 verse over and over One Day At A Time.
Pastor Thomas will be speaking to us Sunday about “You May Say I’m A Dreamer, But I’m Not The Only One.” We’re looking forward to what this message will add to our series but that’s not all we’ve got for you.
Kelsey and Maggie will be leading us in Worship. Eric will be back with announcements, and it’s a Third Sunday Celebration of COMMUNION which I’ll be leading. Prepare for this sacrament by having bread/cracker and wine/juice on hand.
I’m getting on the phone today to invite some people to join us at 10:15 Sunday. I want to challenge you to do the same and to feel the encouragement in just reaching out to others during this pandemic. And don’t forget, you can’t be a part of Life Community without BEING LOVED!!!
I chose to take a month and a half hiatus from writing in order to find my voice again during these days of pandemic.
I didn’t want to stop writing. I wasn’t bored by writing. It wasn’t that I had run out of topics to write about. It seemed like jumping out of a plane without a parachute…just curious if anyone else had done this and survived?
Having said that, I must confess, is either stupid or sublime. It’s either meaningful or maddening. Or, it’s quite possible that it is the long, slow, creeping each of us experiences as first timers inside of a real pandemic.
During my walkabout I discovered some things about me that I’ll need to write about in my Talk Ain’t Cheap blog posts…………..
This series of posts, Who Are You? was birthed by a couple of old books I reread and a couple of new books (to me) I uncovered. I’ll introduce those books over the writing of these upcoming posts and if there is one thing I could praise about this self quarantining, it would be the return of lost hours of simply reading.
One of the books I read was published sixteen years ago. Lynda had read it then and later encouraged me to read it. “Good advice Lynda.”
The book was written by Laurie Beth Jones. It’s title; Jesus Life Coach. Everybody needs a little or a lot of notorious JLC! The dive into the ubiquitous InTrOdUcTiOn reminded me why I had read this book years and years ago. Why? Because it’s an “8” on a scale of “10”.
JLC is about four words; Focus, Balance, Productivity, and Fulfillment. These themes include sixty chapters with an average of five pages each followed up with two or three questions. While one could literally read this book in a day, in doing that they’d be missing the point of reading it at all.
JLC is about you and me and others, many others…like everyone that has an interest in Who They Are becoming. And here’s the cool thing: my last uncompleted series; Doing Vs. Being, gets absorbed into the Who Are You posts. In my 3rd post on DvB I asked the question; Who Are You? We spent a couple of pages considering that question in a broad based way.
Here’s part of what we considered:
Do I prioritize time over people or productivity over relationships?
Do I fail to express myself openly?
Do you see the complexities in life as a gift?
Does who you are becoming fulfill the role our world needs?
Do you have a deepening sense of where life comes from?
Each of those five questions would be a challenge to the vast majority of humanity today. In two of those questions you will encounter the act of DOING. In three of those questions you will find the words which reveal the essence of a person… their BEING.
Our next post inside this series we will be examining how to Redefine Reality. It’s a piece which calls us to become more specific about the life we’re living. Is it the life you expected? Is there room for honesty? I hope there is.
And as I close, I want to ask you if you have a Mission Statement for your life? Now, don’t check out on me here. It’s just a question. I want to share mine with you and encourage you to work on one for your own life. It’s the FIRST requirement for living a life of FOCUS.
We’ve got a lot to talk about. Think about it like this; we’ve all got a lot to look forward to in this pursuit of a life of Being Who We Are.
How bout this lovely freezing cold Christmas Day 2020? Seriously, it has been a beautiful day especially inside where we’ve been able to comfort ourselves by elevating the temp 25 degrees!
Over the past four Sundays we have celebrated Advent, the coming of Jesus into our World, by sharing four words:
Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
While these words may remind us of this season of Christmas, I pray that you and yours are applying them, in your life, each and every day to experience the nearness of this God who is forever faithful to do more than we can imagine.
This Christmas, YOU helped Life Community in so many ways to give more than she ever has to two families in Charleston County. Two families God had called on us to give a GIFT of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love to.
But you didn’t stop there! Through your giving we were able to send a check over to One80 Place to help underwrite the cost of helping those looking for a new life!
I have to say, Lynda and I have always loved LCC, but never more than right now! There is something about a year like this, that God chose to challenge LCC to bring more Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In spite of this pandemic, God is opening doors for us to move well beyond where we have ever been. I am so grateful for each of you who have stepped up and it’s amazing to see what God is doing to reach this area.
Day after tomorrow we’ll wrap up our last Worship Service for 2020. Pastor Thomas is going to be sharing with us some words God has given him to share. This is the climax to a year the likes of which we have never seen before in our lives.
As we continue to pray against the loss of life, the loss of income, and the loss of civility, we nonetheless have heard four words that can change this WORLD.
Don’t let go of them. Draw them into your heart. Pray them to our Father in Heaven and keep living that life of giving so that others are cared for.
“Jesus’ mission was not simply to save individuals. He came to bring enduring light, truth, and goodness into all the world. ” (Dr. Scott McKnight)
Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
See you Sunday @ 10:15 and in the meantime, stay warm!
Yesterday was an awesome time for our family as we celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends. As the day moved on into evening I recall being grateful for how Life Community Church has stepped up during this Season where this Pandemic has created an increase in needs both locally as well as throughout the World we live in. You guys have come through with your prayers, donations, and time as LCC has filled in the gaps for individuals, families, and Christian organizations.
A couple of weeks ago we considered the question Jesus was asked; Who is my neighbor? Our neighbor can be anyone and everyone.
LCC has discovered that statement to be true and that is because we have all suffered, in some way, through these last 9 months. In my reading this past week I ran across this simple quote: There is Hope in the Struggle. I find in those 6 words, something to hang onto for today and tomorrow, as well as the upcoming months we face.
Here’s what Isaiah 40:31 says to us about hope. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. This Sunday we will be closing our Conversations With God series by talking about Vital Signs. When it comes to vitality, it looks like we have 3 options available to us.
Join us as we begin @ 10:15 with worship and don’t forget that we will be opening the Season of Advent, the anticipation of Christ’s birth in this time leading up to Christmas. It all begins with the lighting of that first candle on the wreath, the candle of HOPE!