happy birthday, my love

Happy Birthday, my J

This year. This year has been a full one; the hard kind of full and the really good kind of full. Truly, it's been a significant year for us. The refining that has happened in both of our hearts, in the life of our little band of three, though many times painful, has been defined by the kindness of the Lord. The kindness of the Lord to not leave us to ourselves, to do the unexpected thing (unexpected for us) because He actually knows it's the best thing, to show us how sweet it is to trust Him, to show up with surprises that are filled to the brim with His grace.

I savor the fact that as we've had conversations about all this past year has held, all it has been defined by, that one of the first statements out of our mouths is: He is so good. He has brought us to a greater place of understanding and acknowledgement of the fact that He is so good, all the time. He has taught us to step back and take notice and say, "there's His grace," whether it's the good, the bad, or the ugly that we are facing. He's shown us how beautifully His goodness and His love are intertwined. He's prompted us to see His good, in the seemingly mundane things and in the not so mundane. And He's brought us to a place of craving more of Him, not the good we can get from Him. He's nicked away at our hearts to show us ways we've wanted and/or pursued the "good" rather than the One who does good, and He's changing that. I love that this year has been so significantly marked by these things.

Thank you for flying the banner of these things, my Love. You have lead so well, with words and without them. You have lead in making the rhythm of our home one that sets it beat by the truth. You have lead in change, the kind of change our hearts must have. You have lead in letting us dream, but putting a stop to the "if only" conversations. You have lead in choosing joy and being present. You have lead in desiring that our lives be marked by wisdom and a fear of God alone. You have lead in speaking truth. You have lead in being the one to take the first step of humility. You have lead in stretching us. You have lead in saying, "let's turn off the tv and pick up our books." You have lead in teaching me to not get hung up on things being "just so." You have lead in getting outside of ourselves and looking toward others. You have lead in saying "yes" even when we are tired and saying "no" when our motives aren't right. You have lead in the gentle and needed pushes. You have lead in doing the uncomfortable. You have lead in loving Him best.

 You have lead in this year, Babe. You have lead so well, in a way that makes me whisper many many prayers of thanks to the Lord that I get to be the one lead by you. 

I love celebrating you on this day, J. And it won't ever get told to me that, 9 years ago now, we met on this day. That was a really good day. 

Happy Birthday, my husband. You really are the butter to my bread.

I love you forever.


happy 5th birthday, my Little

My Sweet One,

It's here. Your 5th birthday. The day that I wanted to hold off as long as I could but it just came anyway. 5 just feels so big to me, my Little. As I snuggled you before bed last night you said, "Mom! Because I'm turning 5 that means I'm almost 7!" Oh that felt much too true and I'm just not ready for that. Thankfully, though, you aren't either because a second later you said, "I'm not ready to be 7 yet, Mommy. That's really big." So, my AK, we will not rush to 7 just yet. Instead, today you will turn 5 and we will celebrate that.

These birthdays are such funny things, kiddo. My mama heart feels the oddest tension of sadness and joy that only comes in your birthday season or when you do something especially grown-up.

The joy at seeing how much you've grown, how much you've absorbed, the new words you use in sentences, simply handing you the ingredients as you single-handedly put together the chocolate chip cookie recipe, watching you do flip after flip underwater in the swimming pool, seeing your creativity and your imagination flourish, watching you grow in how you interact with those around you, being inspired by how brave you are, being taught by your eagerness to serve, seeing your mind and your heart struggle with your sin and began to more clearly understand your need for Jesus, hearing you say that you don't want to sin but you want to obey and trust in Jesus, seeing you grapple with the hard questions and watching your heart began to open, day by day, to the understanding of truth and the sweetest grace of God. These moments.

The sadness is a different sadness. It's not the one that is made up of sorrow or pain, It's the one that comes when the door closes on a chapter of life, when it's time to move into the next stage, the new season. With each one of these moments my mind fasts forward to watching you drive a car for the first time, bringing you to college, seeing you walk down the aisle to your husband. All of these are far into the future right now, I know, but their horizons come to mind. And I don't want to shut them out because they remind me of something. This type of sadness reminds me of something. All of this reminds me that you are not ultimately our Little. You are not ultimately ours but you are His. God's. He just graciously said, "Jason and Jenny Coobs, this precious one gets to be yours for a time," and He entrusted you to us. I want to take the moments the horizons come to mind and be filled with hope for those days ahead and be reminded that the biggest mission of my days with you is to "train you up in the way you should go." It's to point you to Jesus. To lead you and love you, to train you and discipline you, to comfort you and help you, to serve you and come alongside you, to laugh with you and adventure with you, to encourage you and dream with you, to be brave with you and hope with you, to do all of this in a way that says, "Here's the best gift of all: Jesus." He died for you, He rose for you, He treasures you, and He desires you to seek Him all the days of your life. Everything I do with you, all that I say to you, is to resound with truth, with the gospel, so that when those horizons comes, by His grace, you will be thoroughly equipped to walk them in a way that honors Him, that loves Him, that knows that "He is better than it all." 

So the sadness isn't really sadness after all, is it? It's more like the salt to the sweet, the flavor to the joy. It's all wrapped up together in the beautiful package that was gifted to me 5 years ago when I became your mama. As I wrote this letter to you last night I was recalling all the minutes of the night before the day I met you. On that day it felt like 5 years old was miles and miles ahead, a faint thought. Here we find ourselves, though, and those miles went a lot quicker than I ever thought they would. They've been sweet, though. Hard and sweet, raw and beautiful. 

There's so many more things I want to fill this letter with, all my thoughts on what this past year has held, all the emotions, the pieces of learning, and the moments that are now stakes in my memories. Some of these things I've shared with you already, some I'll share with you as you grow up, some daddy and I will just share, and some will just be held quietly between me and the Lord.

Know this, my Sweet One: countless times this year I have whispered up prayers to the Lord to thank Him. To thank Him for choosing me to be your mama. To thank Him that He made you, daddy, and me our little band of three. To thank Him that you are the one we get to hope and pray for another baby with, and be so amazed by what your mind thinks and your heart comprehends. To thank Him for your intensity and your tender heart, your perseverance and your honesty. To thank Him that you are our little, fierce one, with struggles we don't fully understand, and strengths that inspire us. To thank Him that He loves you more than we could ever begin to comprehend. 

I hope that this 5th birthday day is a special one for you, my Little. You are so treasured. 

Happy Birthday, my Anna Kate. I love you forever. 


mama, you're not alone

this past Saturday was, no doubt, the hardest day of parenting we've faced since the day our daughter appeared on the scene a little over 4 years ago. at various times it found me sitting on the floor with tears streaming down my face, J and I starting at each other with "I'm at a loss" type looks on our face, and watching the clock like a hawk just waiting for bedtime so the day could finally be over. it was a discouraging, exhausting, rough rough day. 

though that day was on a level of "hard" all its own it was also a day that lead to a whole lot of goodness, as the hard often does, and one very reviving truth: in all these moments, in all these days, I am not alone. I am far, far from alone.

I saw this when I was wrapped up in a big hug from my sweet friend and she told me, "you are being so faithful, so consistent." I saw this when another dear friend reminded me to fight against the lies that were trying to claim a presence in my mind and sweetly ended the conversation with, "you're guys are the best and I love you." I saw this by the prayers I knew these friends would praying -- for sustaining strength and truth-filled minds. I saw this in an evening of happy with our friends who were visiting -- chips and salsa, phase 10 twist, and belly laughing at clips from parks and rec.

I saw this in the face of my husband; in his gentle words, his unceasing consistency, his honesty, and his love. I saw this in the way he spoke and looked at our Little. I saw this in his selflessness in sending me out with my Liz friend so that I could have a break. I saw this in his heart -- that thoughtful, wise, sacrificial heart that I adore. I saw this in his unwavering leadership -- leadership that sees his own need for Jesus so clearly that he reminds me that we must, must cling to Him. I saw this every time I looked at him or leaned on him or squeezed his hand and my mind was filled to the highest brim with thoughts of how very, very blessed I am to be his wife.

I saw my not-alone-ness in all these ways that Saturday and it's continued throughout the past couple of days and, oh, how thankful I am for these people that surround me and us. one singular thought, though, has been linked to all of these things: all of these things are pieces and pictures of the One who, alone, holds the unwavering truth that I'm never alone. all these things are kind gifts of His grace, all these things are pieces of His beautiful presence, and even if all these things would cease to exist the fact that I am never alone would not. in His presence there is comfort, there is fullness of joy and there is power perfected in weakness. and if I truly believe that God is who He says He is than my mind can always be comforted and rest in the fact that I am never alone.

I share these things with you partly to do just that -- to share, to open my heart up to you, to be honest and vulnerable. I share these things to you, though, to encourage your hearts, I hope, by the same things that have encouraged mine this week. in this particular season of parenthood I have faced some of my loneliest moments, my most weak and heartsick moments and, trust me, there have been many times of feeling defeat and intense discouragement. in this particular season of parenthood, though, I'm also facing some of my most transforming moments. moments that bring me to the absolute end of myself and remind me I cannot do it on my own. moments where I'm struck with how much better it is for my daughter to see how much mama needs Jesus than to give her the idea that mama has got it all together. and so many moments where the Lord lovingly reveals Himself to me and renews my mind with the truth that I am His and He is mine, He keeps me and sustains me. that is very best truth there is and the very best thing we mamas have to cling to. 

my own sweet mama reminded me of Isaiah 40 yesterday and I have decided that I need to commit this to memory. these verses, in particular, have been on repeat in my mind:

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increase strength

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Isaiah 40: 28-31

praying for you, sweet mamas, mamas to be, and hopeful mamas. always, always, always.