This past Monday I was graced with the privilege of having coffee with my sweet friend Sophie Cundy. Sophie is the wife of Ben Cundy and mother of three and recently is fostering another baby boy. She is a small group leader for Titus 2 (a ministry for Pink at Gateway) and also works in the children’s department at Gateway. OH!! She is British!!!!…which is super cool!!! Coming from east Texas this is just amazing y’all, and it took everything in me to not type in a British accent. “Sugah”(sugar) or “Pastah”(Pastor)…this should really be a video blog post.
I know Sophie from our Titus 2 group. She is my small group leader along with Jenn…whom I hope to have coffee with someday as well. Sophie captured me early on because there is a quiet wisdom that she has that I want to possess. She will observe others around her and then zing in with a word of encouragement or wisdom that just fuels them for weeks…at least that is my case.
Our coffee date was also a play date so it was filled with energetic little boys and my little girl running around playing in the other room…which looks like it came out of an IKEA or Pottery Barn magazine. I have heard from several sources lately that parenting in the day to day…changing diapers, giving out snacks, potty breaks, kissing boo boos, hugging tears away, teaching how to share…etc. etc. were all an act of worship. In the midst of our coffee there was a lot of worship going on, and as I listened back on the recording it made me smile…and I might not delete it from my phone. I LOVED seeing our kiddos play together.
I want to show this woman of God honor. She has taught me so much by just observing her and also by how she daily lives her life. Sophie is deep yet loves a good joke….and that is my kind of people. She is funny, thoughtful,encouraging, beautiful, smart, and crazy in love with Jesus. I just love her and am excited to see how our friendship grows in years to come.
Me: The good news is that you do like coffee, but you are British…so which do you prefer coffee or tea?
Sophie: I drink coffee for energy. I drink tea for the addiction.
Me: So tea…what’s your…?
Sophie: PG Tips.
Me: Can you get it in the states?
Sophie: Yes, in British stores, and I think Kroger….in the British section.
Me: Wait!!! They have a British section?
Sophie: Yes, you can get all sorts of things…including curry actually.
Me: Yeah we had that last night.
Sophie: So yeah…that with a dollup of milk…no sugar. That’s a whole…England’s divided on that subject.
Me: Oh wow! I do know that I was in Heathrow one time and asked for honey in my tea and I thought I was about to be excommunicated.
Sophie: Yeah…that’s as varied as you get. How long do you steep your tea bag…how long do you stir it….then how much milk do you have…and then the sugar. They are the only variations. They are very intricate but those are the only ones.
Me: Black Tea?
Sophie: It’s considered black tea.
Me: Wow…ok so we will have to have tea time.
Sophie: No we should do that! My friend and I went to home depot the other day and picked out varying colors of shades of brown and orange. We are going to stick it up in the kitchen and say these are your choices for tea color because it is very specific for people.
Sophie:…just trying to educate people.
Me: That’s like a Japanese green tea ceremony…its intense. Now I have to be schooled and learn something new. So if you could have coffee…or tea with anyone who would it be? And tell me why.
Sophie: Can I cheat?
Me: You can choose two…and they could be dead or alive. One could be dead and one could be alive…that’s kind of morbid.
Sophie: (Gasps…her mind is blown a bit when she gets her idea) Wooo….I think I can’t get away from the fact that what I would ideally like to see is my people from all around the world in one room and just to see what happens.
Me: Your family?
Sophie: No, not my family. My closest couple friends from Dallas. My closest couple friends from Seattle and from England. My sisters and my brother…and just see what happens….because I like to watch. I like to observe.
Me: And then I will come and just…
Sophie: You could glean.
Me: I want to know as a mom about the stresses of life…and you have four kiddos. How do you manage? You are a wife, you work at Gateway…how do you keep your sanity? How do you balance? Do you GET a quiet time?
Sophie: That’s a VERY good question. Um…first of all, I do my best to get up before any of the children…cause if I don’t do that I am catching up in everything. Speaking with the Holy Spirit…if I could just get a breath in in the morning and say “Good Morning Holy Spirit.”…then that’s good. My day usually starts at 5 o’clock…for that reason. And then my husband is the biggest supporter. We tag team a lot. I am usually the one that needs to have a mommy time out….its usually around 6:30 at night. It’s just for 20 minutes or so. I have space to go to the bedroom and have peace, and read…or pray….whatever is needed. Skype with someone…call someone…because life with children is a lot of noise, and if you are someone who appreciates the quiet then that is much appreciated.
Me: And you are someone who needs those moments?
Sophie: Yes, I do. Very much…I’m naturally more introverted. Where as Ben is not…He could listen to noise all day long and not be phased.
Me: Yeah…no. Okay, you were talking about the Holy Spirit and how He is your best friend….what is your story? When did that start to happen? Where did it get real for you?
Sophie: It started to get real with me at a very young age…because I could very much relate to Rita Springer’s story where people were in and out of her home…the homeless, the needy. My parents were always looking after someone like that and meetings that were very pentecostal…with lots of laughing, praying, and speaking in tongues…so I was always aware that there was always something so much more amazing. I think it was…I was about 14…and my oldest sister…I always loved her relationship with the Lord…she has had quite a prophetic edge for as long as I can remember. I remember just emptying the dishwasher one day and saying to the Lord that I just want something like that. I want something that’s an exchange…not that I feel like I just…I don’t want it to be one way. I heard very clearly…”Well, stop what you are doing, get down on your knees and be ready to listen.” So I did. I think that is the first time where I felt the presence of the Lord in an intimate way…not in a communal sense…people gathering together and celebrating. It was really from that moment. When I was older I graduated and I went to bible school and I learned so much more. I got a greater understanding of the Holy Spirit and how He is your best friend.
Me: ….Man, what I would give to go to bible school…that would be awesome.
Sophie: Sign me up to Kings.
Me: Yes. If anyone is reading this you can pay for my tuition to King’s University…and childcare. (I’m just joking…a little.) Okay, so I’m sure you learned a lot of lessons in bible school but what is the greatest lesson you have learned? If I was to say…Sophie…this is your last day…you have got to get a message out to the world…what is the greatest lesson you would share?
Sophie: (Some weird gutteral…chicken squawky…uncomfortable sound comes from my friend…tee hee) Ahhhh! This is huge!!!! Who!!!! Wow!!!! Uh…… (I keep giggling) There is just so much…that’s the thing. My relationship with the Lord has always been the still small, the wise counsel, the back and forth….I don’t think I would ever be able to articulate something that intimate or beautiful. When I was living in Seattle there was a church planted and their first vision statement was “Love God, Love People”….that is what I do my very best by God’s grace to live. That is what I try to keep with me wherever I go. Also, we as people have huge filters…lots of filters. I think that it is beautiful…thank goodness…that are not altogether, all-seeing…..but God is. I always try and remind myself and I remind my boys as well…You just don’t know the story of the person in front of you. And I think that could save you from making many stupid mistakes…and remind you to be in communion with the Holy Spirit…so it takes you back..it removes your filter…and then you can submit yourself to the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit what do you see? God what do you see? I think that is one of our biggest problems….because we stereotype. Without the Holy Spirit we stereotype people and we judge and we put stamps on people. I remember hearing someone say once…the woman with the issue of blood should not have been named the woman with the issue of blood. Doubtful Thomas should not have been named Doubtful Thomas…but that is what we do. This is what they are remembered for…boom…that’s what they are. But what she did was step out unlike any other person….and Thomas ended up dying by being martyred and by being pulled in four different directions, but that is not what we as people choose to remember him for….we remember him for his doubt.
Me: Well, we take a sin and we label him with that…that is his identity.
Sophie: He’s the one that…She’s the one that. And so on and so forth.
Me: And then no one can truly be free.
Me: Okay…in tough times how do you stay focused? Do you embrace them? Shy away? What do you do?
Sophie: For that we have but Jesus. Shying away from tough times?…no….it’s never the answer. When tough times hit it is the time to create room around you to pause and really assess what is important….and for me in times gone by I have made the unwise choice to take counsel from people who I THOUGHT would have the right answer and I did NOT ask Jesus first…and say who should I speak to about this. Who you should get advice from is very pivotal…so I think to pause is the most important thing. To pause…um…and to listen and then to glean from those that you have seen who have great fruit…that’s really important. My husband Ben…we went through a really hard time a year ago, and if it wasn’t for the community that we are in right now we would be at a very different place. Deciding where to receive wise counsel has changed our lives for the good. Keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus…I think that is the most important. When you are in trauma if you can remember one thing it is to look at Jesus. As you look at Him everything else seems to sort itself out. As you remember His truths…as you read His word…um and then being able to talk to someone while all of that is going on…peace comes back. Love and grace is better than it ever was. Forgiveness becomes real…not just something that you wish that you had but can’t attain.
Me: You were saying to keep your eyes on Jesus. Can you tell me about Him?
Sophie: How about I just not talk and I am just going to cry….does that adequately explain it? (pause) Um…whenever I pray and I see who He is…I think that one of the most beautiful things is that He is all seeing…He already sees. So when I look at Him I don’t need to articulate. Sometimes I find it hard…words don’t come very easily to me…then also coming from another country having to articulate is hard. He knows it all…so that’s the first point. That it is already settle in my spirit. He is just all of it. He speaks in a way that comes with so much authority but no judgement. I’ll never find anything the same as that. He is funny…He speaks in a British accent to me…(giggles)
Me: I wish that He spoke to me in a British accent….I am going to go talk to Him about that today. (I actually prayed for this on the way home…still waiting.)
Sophie: (still laughing) Yes, change the settings please, Jesus.
Me: YES!! Like He is a GPS…where you can change the accent. That would be awesome.
Sophie: Yes. Yeah…the only thing that comes to mind is that He is the opposite of what I experience in my exterior. I once had somebody say that you can be distracted by the tyranny of the immediate…and He is the epitome of the opposite of that. He is just all encompassing peace. Before He even speaks to me when I am…gleaning from Him…that’s what it is…I feel the knowing…I feel the peace…and then we go into the conversation. And it is just like pastor Robert said on sunday…saturday…that it can take a few minutes to get there…to experience before we start engaging…is a good way to describe it.
Me: I love that….I can chew on that one for a while. Okay….last question because of Thanksgiving….I know that there is a huge list of things that you are Thankful for but what for this year are you most thankful for?….Although…do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
Sophie: In the U.K. we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving…but we should start a day where everyone could be thankful. I think that would be very good for our culture. Come on, Brits. I am definitely thankful that the labels people put on you fall off because His grace is enough…it’s more than enough. I’m grateful that you can have a better marriage than you ever dreamed even beyond more pain than you think you can handle…because for this we have Jesus. He gives you the thankfulness for it. Is that good?….I am also grateful for American portion sizes….its like triple the size.
Me: That’s awesome…and as a Brit you are not used to.
Me: I probably eat more like a Brit then.
Sophie: That’s not surprising…I can see that. I’ve seen you and your almonds.
Me: (Laughing…and squirrel noises….squeak) Well…I am thankful for you…and taking the time to have coffee with me.
Ok, so this…..
“I always try and remind myself and I remind my boys as well…You just don’t know the story of the person in front of you. And I think that could save you from making many stupid mistakes…and remind you to be in communion with the Holy Spirit…so it takes you back..it removes your filter…and then you can submit yourself to the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit what do you see? God what do you see? I think that is one of our biggest problems….because we stereotype. Without the Holy Spirit we stereotype people and we judge and we put stamps on people.”
I can’t tell you how many times a rash judgement or stereotype has caused me to say something stupid….let’s not count. I have in recent years been working on this but Sophie puts it best. Also talking about how Thomas shouldn’t be labeled “Doubting Thomas”…that rocks me…and rocks the theology that I have walked in most of my life and have until just THIS YEAR. The sins of his past are NOT his identity. As long as we keep labeling people…”The divorced woman.” “He is an alcoholic.” Oh…that’s the “Porn Addict”. How about “The gossip” or “The Self Righteous Religious Christian.” As long as we tie people’s identity to there sins that is what they will always be and it is hard to break from it. What if we instead labeled Thomas “Faith-filled Thomas”. After all, it is the sins that we have walked in in the past and overcome that become our greatest strength and the area in which we have great authority. These are the places that we…kick the devil in the teeth, so to speak.
Last, this…” I once had somebody say that you can be distracted by the tyranny of the immediate…and He is the epitome of the opposite of that.” Oh the tyranny of the immediate. I want my prayers answered…like yesterday…and in a British accent. How beautiful is this? He is directly opposite and in my experience He waits until it is His best. He doesn’t want to give us blessings of unripened grape juice but a fine aged wine…not sure if I am getting my wine analogy right…but I try. His presence lays on us and we know that it is finished…there is victory…He is good…if it is bad now then He isn’t done yet. Man!!! I just LOVE HIM!!!
Hopefully you gleaned from Sophie and saw her beauty, but more importantly I hope you see Jesus through her words. Let me know what you gleaned.