According to the Coca Cola Company, more than 1.9 billion servings of their drinks are enjoyed in more than 200 countries each day. I’m not typically a Coke kind of person (I’d much rather enjoy a Diet Dr. Pepper), but Coke has played an interesting, but significant role in my Lighthouse journey.
I am a firm believer that Coke tastes better when it’s from a fountain. And it even better than that when it’s on special for a $1 at McDonald’s. Also, McDonald’s even has those wide mouth straws. So good! I first learned about Lighthouse in December of 2019 during a late-night McDonald’s run drinking, you guessed it, a Coke. Only what I didn’t know at that time was that if I fast-forwarded about a year and a half, sharing a Coke would play a vital part in making a meaningful connection with another family.
So along comes September 2021, I was volunteering at the Lighthouse Colorado Weekend Retreat. We had some free time, and I overheard a retreat mom saying that she really wished she had a Coke. I happened to have one in my room, only because I had received one for free the previous day. So, I grabbed two cups of ice and I split the Coke with the retreat mom. We sat on the back porch of Trail West Lodge, sharing a Coke and talking about anything and everything from lighthearted small talk to deep conversations about doubts and fears and passions. We laughed, we cried, and about two hours had passed before we realized that we had been there for that long. We laughed again and made our way to dinner, but the impact of that conversation lasted far beyond the interaction, and it's become one of my favorite Lighthouse memories to talk about.
I share this story for two reasons: First, I know there can be hesitation surrounding volunteering. It comes with a lot of unknowns and unanswered questions—what family would I serve? What will the conversations be like? How do I connect with people? All of those are completely valid anxieties and if you ask anyone who has volunteered, we’d probably all agree that we had those same concerns. But on the other side of those anxieties comes countless stories of lasting and impactful connections to other volunteers, staff, and retreat families. It may seem scary at first, but I promise you, it’s worth it to take the leap.
The second reason is because sometimes we make decisions to do things and we don’t get the luxury of knowing if it is the right decision or not. Occasionally, there’s a sign, a common thread if you will, that is a reminder that God put you exactly where you are on purpose, for a purpose. Sometimes that comes in the form of something big and obvious, but other times it comes in the form of a Coke.
If you feel a nudge, follow it. Then I encourage you to keep your hands and hearts open to what the Lord may have for you wherever you are and keep your eyes and ears open to seek confirmation that it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.
MEET ERIKA COY: Erika is a Mental Health Counselor originally from Indiana, but now residing in Northern Kentucky where she works at Gateway Community and Technical College. Erika has served on four Lighthouse retreats, including two seaside retreats, a weekend retreat, and the Sunrise retreat. She loves serving people and spends her free time volunteering on the Production/Tech Team and with the Youth Ministry at her church and travels with her friends to serve on Production/Tech/Worship Teams for various youth camps and events throughout the US.