My Something-Borrowed Veil

Traditionally, Brad carried me through the front door into our remodeled home the night of our wedding. He lifted me up and swung me into the doorway like a dream…until the veil caught on one of the sharp bricks. When he put me down, I drew the veil around me to see if it was torn. A hole about the size of a quarter stood out like a sore thumb. My heart sunk down to the pit of my stomach. I pathetically looked up at Brad and said, “This veil was my something borrowed, and I don’t know how I’m going to get this fixed. Only me…” I dreaded telling my friend about me tearing her veil, but I mustered up the courage and told her the story. She was very merciful to me and assured me that it was okay. As upset as I was about the veil, God used it to grab my attention.
Just like I have mentioned before, a lot went wrong leading up to my wedding day. I worried and stressed over each stupid little thing. I was scared it wasn’t going to be what I wanted and had been planning. But the day came…and it was beyond perfect and beautiful and the best day of my life. God used this illustration of the veil being torn to say, “Hey! Nothing is between You and me anymore!” It wasn’t God that put anything between me and Him…it was ME. Once the wedding day was over, He made it known to me that I was the one who distanced myself from Him. He never changed. He also showed me love, grace, and mercy when I ran to Him more than once.
Wherever you are in your relationship with God, know that He is the same and you’re the one who changes that status. Every veil has a hole in it for God’s indescribable, undeniable character to poke through. So reach through, grab it, hold on, and He’ll pull you out of whatever stuff you’re in right now.

The Danger of Trying to Prove Yourself to Others

You are too inexperienced. You aren’t ready yet. I don’t think you can do it. You are too weak and small.
Those words cut me deep. Like to the core kind of deep. The kind of words that make you so angry and frustrated at yourself that you cry a little bit and wonder what you are doing trying but also the kind that motivate you to prove them wrong.
I admit I’m TOTALLY NOT a jack of all trades or a master at any of them, and I see that I am full of flaws. I know I need practice to understand. In fact, I am aware that I may never get to be as good as the rest. I lack in several areas.
I was determined to prove them wrong, and maybe, that was their intent to begin with. I’m not sure. But what I am sure about is that I, Emily Cooper, went about the situation the wrong way. Why did I see that I had to prove myself and my worth and my abilities to someone else? My worth and my abilities are not what I can do. They are what God can do through me. I plowed persistently through the situation with more determination than ever to prove a point, but I sadly didn’t think about how God could use my inexperience, lack of abilities, and weaknesses to reflect His power using His weak vessel…ME. I was in the “all about me” mode after the hurtful words sunk in. I honestly didn’t seek God in the situation. I need His strength and not my own. Take your eyes off what you think is wrong with you because God can use it. He can use you…but you need to let Him. Don’t run from His calling. Don’t force yourself where you don’t belong. Let Him use you for all your worth since He’s the ONE Who knows your complete worth in the first place. People will speak hurtful words to your face without thinking. I mean, we all do sometimes. But it’s how you go about reacting to the situation…as in you can either pray about it and ask for God’s strength or you can try to do it by yourself. It is so rewarding when you ask for Him to use you and what you may or may not have instead of doing it yourself. You can’t “climb the ladder” alone.

Stay True to Being You

If you can’t truly be yourself around him, you shouldn’t be with him at all.

You especially shouldn’t have to obsess over what you look like when you see him. It’s nice to dress up for him, but if he complains when you don’t, this is a red flag in the relationship. This could mean that he is only drawn to your appearance and not who you are or he is using you for the wrong reasons.

Don’t change yourself to be with a certain guy you like. In fact, the times that I didn’t change my morals and values was when they would find another girl…and that’s okay! If they wouldn’t have found someone else, I wouldn’t be in the amazing marriage I’m in now. God has created someone to love every little thing about you in all your goofiness, mistakes, weird laughs, bad habits, and unique personality if that is His plan for you. I enjoy randomly picking flowers to put them in my hair and singing in the shower. My husband loves those silly things about me and embraces them with open arms instead of being critical about them. There is no fun in a relationship if you feel like you must hide parts about yourself from him. Quit holding back who you are and be who God made you to be…beautiful and one-of-a-kind!

That Time We Lost Each Other On the Honey-Moon

Where did Brad go?” I looked over my shoulder when I reached the bottom of one of the waterfalls, and he had disappeared. I stayed there admiring the view wondering where he was for awhile, and then, traveled back to where I thought I lost him. The trail broke into four different parts, so I lingered in that section for the longest time beginning to freak out after not finding him for 30 minutes. I started going up the mountain trail straight in front of me hoping he may be on it trying to find me, but there was only a 25% chance I would get it right. The trails were long and arduous, and I didn’t want to miss seeing any of these beautiful falls with him for the first time. I trekked for a 1/2 mile, & there he was…his arms were crossed and his eyes were glaring at me but he broke into a smile. My heart danced in my chest! “I found you!!” I exclaimed, loud and proud. “Emily, you left me. I walked over 2 miles looking for you!” Whoopsie…
I’m almost too adventurous for my own good to the point that I get lost in my intentions and goals that I forget about others on my way to the destination. Then, I have to backtrack to find where I went wrong. Don’t get so caught up in pursuing your dreams and goals that you forget about the people “following” you. You are a light and an example to everyone around you, so make time with them. Strong relationships and friendships don’t grow overnight. Besides, if you have no one with you when you make it to your destination, what good is in that?

The Dream Maker

I didn’t know if I was going to become a State FFA Officer. Of course, none of us do when we run. There was one person who was discouraging me from going for it, and it was someone who meant a lot to me at the time. I contemplated if I should listen to that one person or if I should pursue a dream and listen to the encouragement from my friends and my family. I quickly understood that this was a decision I had to make, and ultimately, a decision to follow God’s will for my life or not. I came home from the Louisiana State Convention the State Reporter. I remember relying more on God that year than any year of my life thus far. I had to pray for Him to speak through me, write through me, and give me the confidence I needed because it doesn’t come to me naturally. I went to Him when we lost someone from our team…our leader and State FFA Advisor towards the end of our term. I talk to every single one of my teammates in a group message to this day! It was one of the best years of my life and also one of the most challenging. I will always say that. My encouragement to you today is this: Don’t let one person influence a life-changing decision but instead, allow God to help you make that decision. When you have faith in Him to pursue a dream that He gave you, everything works out to be good in the end (Romans 8:28). No, it may not turn out the way you want it to, but it turns out the way He planned it. God instilled dreams in you for a reason. It isn’t anyone else’s choice but YOURS. Go for it if that is what God wants you to do!!! 😃

What I Learned After I Said “Yes”

What I learned after I said “yes:”
1. Never let the significant other take God’s place.
2. Discuss decisions with your fiance because it will affect him/her in the future.
3. Admit you’re wrong when you know you’re wrong (I’m still working on this one).
4. Just trust that they will take care of you.
5. Don’t depend on him/her for happiness….they will mess up and have imperfections too.
6. Let them know your deepest secrets and struggles.
7. Say “I’m sorry.”
8.Tell them that you love them every single day because you can never overuse “I love you.” ❤
9. If you’re the girl, be submissive and don’t always try to be independent. This means just going with it even if you want to put up a fight (my struggle now). If you’re the guy, lead and provide for the girl.
10. Talk about finances together.
11. Even when you’re really stressed out about wedding planning, moving, remodeling a house, finding a job (all me right now lol), find ways to spend time with him. Being intentional about setting aside time to be with the one you love is critical no matter how busy or stressed out you may be!
12. Texting is the most terrible communication tool!!! If it is important, don’t bring it up through texting. Communicating with each other daily is extremely important and sets you up for marriage.
13. The wedding isn’t what matters in the end…the MARRIAGE of you and your future husband/wife is what is important!
14. If stuff goes wrong while wedding planning, give it to God and find a solution. Don’t cry and stress out like I did!!! I found this out the hard way. Even if it seems silly, God will listen and He’s there for you.
15. Praying for him/her and your future marriage and the current relationship is essential.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I learned while we were engaged. I hope that this can help you future husbands and wives out there!

Fishing for Acceptance

After four months of dating, we found ourselves out in his boat at his family’s camp. I began to fish for bass from the start; cast after cast I didn’t get a bite. When Brad pulled in a small fish, the desire to impress and beat him suddenly made its appearance. I saw a spot between two trees that was shaded by the bank and knew that’s where the bass had to be sitting. I cast my tequila sunrise artificial worm…only to catch a huge branch from one of the trees right in front of me. I desperately started pulling on it embarrassed at my sloppy casting skills. I wanted to live up to being the ultimate bassmaster as I claimed to Brad, but I looked like a fool. I pulled the rod back towards me and the line became tight until it finally gave way. It slung down into the boat barely missing me and Brad. We like to IMPRESS people. We like to show them that maybe we can fish better, talk more eloquently, make higher grades, look prettier than her to get the date with that guy you’ve been crushing on, or lift heavier weights to get the girl. We feel the need to impress people because we want to feel ACCEPTED by people. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel accepted, but that feeling can turn into an obsession. And when we obsess over wanting acceptance from others, we take our eyes off God and put them on ourselves. Then, we begin comparing our abilities, gifts, and talents that God has blessed us with to the guys and girls surrounding us either trying to get them jealous over what we have or what we can do or being jealous ourselves. Wanting to feel ACCEPTED can make the prideful and jealous part of us reveal itself, and usually doesn’t end up pretty. I tried hard to impress Brad to win acceptance from him and to show him that I was good at fishing (whether I am or not is a personal opinion, lol). Even though it ended with laughter, I still felt like an idiot…So the moral of the story is that there is no need for you to try to impress others to feel accepted. Pride + jealousy are both destructive. Just remember that you are accepted into God’s kingdom if you are saved, you are loved by God, and you belong here, right where you are.

The Adventure of Not Knowing

One week in advance we set up a date to a beautiful place in Mississippi. My parents had taken me there when I was little, and I was itching to go back with Brad. The view was spectacular; it was like looking at a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. We took a few pictures, but the adventure seeking spirit in me took over. Regardless of the humidity and the hot temperatures that morning, I started trekking down the ravine on tiny trails that others had walked along before me. The trails faded away, Brad was wandering somewhere else, and I ended up at the bottom of the ravine. Then, I heard water which urged me to go further past the ravine and to find the source. Lo and behold, I discovered a natural spring that turned into a creek. I called out to Brad, who followed me down to the creek when he realized my excitement. If I would have stopped when I became unsure about the path ahead of me, I would not have experienced our date to the fullest. I didn’t let the heat tempt me to turn back. I kept going even when I wasn’t quite sure where Brad was at one point. It’s crazy to me how I will do this in real life, but not my own spiritual walk sometimes as much as it hurts me to admit it. I may witness and pick up on the clues and hints that God gives me in the life adventure, but I turn away and let the struggles of what may lie ahead get to me. When I can’t see the end of the trail of my future, I don’t always press on. Y’all, it’s easy to stray from the path that God wants for you especially when it’s a path made just for you that maybe no one has traveled before. Use those God given clues to get you where you need to be. Let Him lead you on the right trail for your life. Because, let’s face it, none of us can make it without Him guiding us through this life adventure.

No Room for Excuses

God places dreams in our hearts and callings on our lives that we feel are unattainable. We make up excuses that we are not gifted or talented, too afraid, not equipped, or don’t have the time for it. We tell God to choose someone else for the job or keep questioning Him that He’s in control. Friend, you can’t run from God’s calling on your life. Four years ago, I was about to enter college when I felt burdened to try to become a State FFA Officer. I dreamed of this becoming a reality since I was a child. I went to State Conventions with my daddy, my ag teacher inspiration, saying, “I wanna be one of them one day.” Little did I know, that I would actually pursue the dream that never faded. I saw that it wasn’t just a dream but a calling on my life. I recognized that this was God’s way of using me for a purpose bigger than myself…ministry. I created 1,000 excuses: “I’m going to miss too much school, I won’t be able to get a good first year of college, stress will be an issue for me, and how am I going to be able to speak in front of people constantly?! God, how am I going to do this?” Then, I realized…I can’t do this, but You can do this through me. After that, I knew I had to just trust Him the whole way.

I prayed, cried, studied harder than ever, practiced, stayed up late, shook from nervousness in my blue corduroy jacket to the point the emblem could have fallen off, and my name was called.

Pursue God’s calling on your life and the dream He has given you, and trust Him with it. He will take you farther than you can ever imagine!

Glimpse into Our Love Story

“No, I’m sorry. I’m busy with homework right now.” He was used to this response from me, but for some reason, he kept pursuing me. After being rejected three times within a two year time span, he was almost to the point of giving up. I pushed him aside and put him in that dreaded place we all know as the “friend zone.” I entered college with a broken heart from a recent break-up and far from home. I only knew four people, and I was afraid, timid, and off-standish. He was one of the four people I knew from my little neck of the woods attending the same college as me four hours away. Brad and I met while we were both in high school through FFA (Future Farmers of America), and we competed against each other in a couple different contests. I always saw him as the person I needed to beat to get to the next level although I always thought highly of him and recognized that he was a sweet, kind person. Whenever you come from small towns, those towns talk and word spreads like wildfire. Everybody really knows everybody, what they’re doing, and where they are. Thankfully, I knew Brad was already at the same college from around the same place, and it eased my mind. My parents always told me if I got into any trouble I needed to go see Brad, and he would take care of me. So I did…but it wasn’t because I was in trouble. We would go horseback riding from time to time, he would always offer to cook for me, and we would just talk to each other for a couple hours or so. As soon as I was confronted to make a decision about going out on a date with him, I kinda freaked out and backed away. I didn’t want to lose a good friend because of dating. I finally agreed to go on a date with him close to my junior year of college. Brad never TRULY had a girlfriend or dated anyone before he started dating me. He told me that when he saw me at college for the first time, he knew he was going to marry me. He waited, waited, and waited for me to give him a “yes” for a first date. He prayed for me during this time of rejection. What endurance, patience, persistence, faith, and LOVE! Can y’all imagine the hurt and pain of rejection and just waiting around for a prayer to hopefully be answered? I CANNOT. The beautiful hidden message behind our story is that Jesus watches us pursue worldly things. He knows some of us are keeping Him only in the “friend zone” when we need to have a more intimate relationship with Him. He’s waiting for us to call on Him for His guidance. Brad most certainly called to God to help him understand if he should keep pursuing me, and for that, I am so grateful. The Lord had His hand in our relationship from the beginning, and now, we are two months from being married. Don’t keep Jesus waiting to have a more personal relationship with Him. He looks down on our sinful lifestyles but is loving and forgiving when we ask Him for those things and turn away from it. I know that my Brad isn’t Jesus, but just as Brad was faithful and patient with me yet became discouraged and disappointed in me at times, he still chose to love me and pursue me anyway. Jesus is like that with us! Get Him out of that “friend zone” to go into a deeper relationship with Him.