She is talented, intelligent, and incredibly creative. According to her husband, Phil Cooke, she was a vision in a pink corduroy pantsuit and matching Patton leather platform shoes as a college student at Oral Roberts University. Kathleen Cooke is the co-founder of “Cooke Pictures”, co-founder of “The Influence Lab” and “Influence Women”, national speaker, adjunct professor and now, co-director of “The Ascend Conference”.
Yet, that doesn’t even begin to cover all that she has done, is doing or will do in the future because she is just that gifted. And even though her daily schedule could easily take several people to carry out, she graciously agreed to spend some time with us.
SCH: Kathleen, you are a successful professional who is busy about her Heavenly Father’s business. You have a passion for Jesus and a passion for women to know him intimately. Can you tell us about the passion that created “The Ascend Conference”?
Kathleen: I believe in today’s culture God is calling us as women to be bolder and stronger than ever. To break through our fears that hold us back and keep us from what God has placed in our hearts and minds to do. Fear keeps us from achieving our passions and purpose in careers and personal lives. If we are going to impact the world then we need to share our stories and be vulnerable in our lives and careers.
One of the greatest secrets we can learn in life is that when we are in a hopeless situation to ask God what He needs us to learn, understand, or see.
What is He seeing? What is His perspective? Not “why is this happening to me,” but what joy are you God trying to share with me? Not, how could this happen, but how are you God going to miraculously turn it around for good?
SCH: The theme of the conference is “Fearless Joy”. As it relates to the conference, can you clarify the definition of fearless joy?
Kathleen: 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and love and, of a sound mind.”
The word “fear” in that verse is the Greek word meaning “cowardice.” It doesn’t refer to just any general fear – it means a coward – someone in hiding. He doesn’t want us to be wimps!
He wants us to be bold, fearless, and to have rest, peace and joy knowing He has our back. He’s there right inside our soul. He’s my personal security guard.
The ASCEND conference, ascendconference.org, is built around being bold, fearless, and walking in unexplainable and unimaginable peace and joy in a world and culture of overwhelming difficulties, challenges, and failures.
SCH: We want to speak primarily about “Ascend” but can we take a short detour and ask about “The Influence Lab” and “Influence Women”?
Kathleen: My husband and I have just launched a new nonprofit -The Influence Lab – influencelab.com. The goal is to develop a global strategy for training media professionals.
Missions and evangelism have changed with the use of technology and social media and if we are going to reach this next generation we need to be where they are, and changing how we get our message heard today. And in our culture, it’s through technology.
A Maasai warrior in deepest Africa now has access to more information on his mobile phone (and they have them) than the President of the United States had 15 years ago. There are a billion people using Facebook.
So where are the churches on Facebook? How can the use of social media and digital media change how the church tells the most important story of all time – the story of Jesus?
Part of the initiative is to reach women. I am passionate about helping women reach, discover, and succeed with their passions and in their purpose. The ASCEND Conference is the first event sponsored by Influence Women to help them connect, grow, and be challenged to see themselves differently.
I believe we are all women of Influence. We are REMARKABLE and unique. God formed us in His image and gave us unique gifts and talents to navigate through this world for His purpose. We can go farther and faster when we connect and share them.
I invite women to sign up for my monthly newsletter, Influence Women, influencelab.com/women Join the conversation, events, and dialog as we together connect, grow, and learn from each other. And as we impact other women with our knowledge, inspire others with our God given talent, engage the next generation for the Kingdom of God, and change the world.
SCH: You are married to author, speaker and branding expert Phil Cooke, with whom you have two wonderful daughters, Kelsey and Bailey. How does your family inspire and encourage you?
Kathleen: Yes, and you didn’t mention my two fantastic son – in – laws, Chris and Jeremy. I finally got my boys! First… they keep me grounded in the real world. If you know my husband, he has a reputation of saying what everyone else in the room is thinking.
My kids have learned to do the same – well maybe not always so graciously! They don’t let me get away with anything! They keep me accountable and real.
My dad was a successful high school basketball coach. I grew up watching him plan, encourage, discipline, and shape champions.
So it is natural for me to be a cheerleader. It’s my “One Big Thing.”
I love to champion my family and encourage and facilitate them to be all that God wants them to be. But they won’t let me sit on the bench either. We know each of us have our own unique gifts, talents, personality, and… weirdness and we respect and love each other enough to let each other learn, grow, fail, and try again.
I am most proud that my kids love Jesus first and foremost in their lives. They inspire me constantly with their talent, honesty, and endless love for Jesus.
SCH: Actually your husband, Phil Cooke, wrote an inspired book titled “One Big Thing”. God used Phil’s words to reveal something to me that changed my life. I say it is a “must read” for everyone who wants to be what God designed them to be.
Kathleen: I am very proud of Phil’s work and insights that he shares in this book. It has been a blessings and inspiration to young people looking for direction and to professionals who need new inspiration and direction in their lives.
SCH: This really is not a loaded question. Has it been a blessing working so closely, day in and day out with your husband all these years? Would you recommend it to other couples?
Kathleen: Phil’s love amazes me because He loves me a lot of times when I can’t even love myself.
People often say they “pinch themselves” to make sure it is true when they are working in a job they have dreamed all their life they hoped to be able to do. I sometimes “pinch myself” because I can’t believe I have been married for 37 years; work daily with Phil, and still like the guy!
Seriously …it is a HUGE blessing and honor for me to be able to work so closely with my husband. But it is something that we talked about and chose to do before we ever got married. It’s why I fell in love with him.
We wanted to take the journey together, to live our lives so that when we reached those “golden years” we could sit and talk about what we did together, and not by ourselves. To revel in what we accomplished together as a couple and helped each other accomplish.
Why get married if you want to sleep in the same bed and go off each day doing your own thing? Where’s the fun and love in that? It’s about the journey.
Would I recommend working together? I don’t think there is another way because marriage is all about working together. Working together to have great kids, working together to have a great career, and working together to have a great life as a couple. And trust me you have to be committed to WORK.
SCH: So, do you happen to have a picture of yourself in the pink corduroy pantsuit and matching Patton leather platform shoes that attracted Phil to you because I know I’m not the only one who would like to see that!
Kathleen: I wish I did but here’s a couple of those early dating pictures. Phil had a bit more hair back then and I of course have not changed a bit!
SCH: If you had to break it down to one truth, one take away from “The Ascend Conference”, what would you want that to be?
Kathleen: Hebrews 12 :2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This scripture is amazing. Jesus went to the cross with joy! He allowed His life to be taken because he despised the shame that keeps us in fear. God created us (the author) and He ended (finished) it when he shed his blood for us.
He did this so we wouldn’t have to hide, or live in fear about anything. He came so that we wouldn’t have any fear of disease, any form of abandonment, or even the threat of death. He gave us eternal life. He went to the cross joyously so that we could live our life on earth without fear and then walk and reign with Him for eternity. Really think about that. That is fearless joy!
Don’t you want that?
SCH: I ask this question of everyone I interview. What is the thing you treasure most about your personal walk with Christ?
Kathleen: It has to be God’s Grace. His Grace is sufficient for… everything!
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
We live in a world and culture where we are constantly afraid it is all going to go away. Brene Brown in her book Daring Greatly calls it the “scarcity” age. We have been made to believe the lie that we are not enough, we don’t have enough, and there will never be enough. It’s the biggest lie I think the evil one tells us. Jesus said His Grace is sufficient – enough! I treasure His Grace.
Now you have a small glimpse into why I am so emboldened in my walk and service to Christ by Kathleen Cooke. You have the privilege to experience her infectious influence in person. Don’t, I repeat, don’t pass it up!
Clear your schedule for a day of discovering how you can break through anything that’s holding you back from ascending to God’s ultimate vision and purpose for your life. Log on to www.ascendconference.org for more information.
Sonoma Christian Home Online Magazine is proud to be an Official Sponsor for the Ascend Conference. To give you more insight into the passion and heart of these gifted speakers, Sonoma Christian Home will be doing a series of weekly guest blogs with these amazing women of God. Stay tuned! SCH is a Christian Women’s Magazine created for the online community of faith.