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. 


for you, hopeful mama

Dear One,

        It was Mother's Day yesterday, as I know you are well aware. You might have been dreading its coming, wishing that you could just skip past the day, with all its social media posts and pictures. Wishing you could just close your eyes and not feel the little twinges of pain and heart-aching longing that you've become all too familiar with. I understand. I understand how seeing "happy mother's day" posts and pictures of mamas with their little broods pepper your social media feed brings about the perfect storm of joy and pain. You are so happy for these beautiful mamas, thankful for these precious lives that are being celebrated, but yet you wonder, again, if you will ever get to celebrate this day with them.

     Sweet friend, my heart feels for you today. I understand these struggles; the painful twinges, the wishing that your heart would just stop aching for a few minutes, the rush to wipe away the tears that insist on coming while others walk around you calling out "happy mother's day" to one another, the fight to hold onto hope that you will get to experience this day the same way they do. I understand. I really truly do. As much I can say that, my understanding knows only a little piece. There are corners of your heart and parts of your struggle that I won't ever see and I can't ever know.

   Our sweet Savior understands; He sees those corners and knows those quiet struggles. He is more intimately acquainted with your heart hurts and your soul-aching cries and the ever-faithful monthly reminder that you, once again, will not have two pink lines show up on that stick. And He knows the grief you have faced when that hope has been snatched away all too quickly. He knows each emotion you've experienced, each mental battle you've fought, each time you've thought "when!?" and each time you've wandered through into Gap Kids and let your dreams have a little more life. He knows it all, my friend, and He has not forgotten you. 

    He is using this season in your life, as hard and hurtful as it feels so much of the time. He is wringing your soul to trust Him more; to realize that to be at His feet, to cast your cares on Him, to consider your trials joy, is the sweetest place to be. He is able to be trusted and His ways are higher than ours. He's got it all, my friend. He really truly does. And you are precious in His sight, more precious to Him than the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. "I am His and He is mine" is the truest thing about you. And He is reminding you that nothing is better or more satisfying than He is. 

    Know Him better, my friend. Seek Him even more. Sit at His feet. Fill your mind and heart with the treasure trove that is His Word. Really, truly, pray unceasingly to Him. Talk to Him the way David did. He knows the cries of your heart; speak them to Him and allow His peace that surpasses understanding to overwhelm you. The sweetest balm, the most joyful piece of this struggle, for me, has been knowing my Savior more, understanding another part of the endless depths of His love for me. 

    And, lovely, ask Him to protect your heart from bitterness. The questions of "why does she get to have x amount of kids and I can't even have one!?" and wonderings of "why can't my body seem to do what every other woman's seems to?" are going to be battles you face, they absolutely are. You don't have to remain there, though, and it will rob you of so much if you let yourself stay there. The Lord knows His plans for her and He knows His plans for you. He KNOWS them. It's not an afterthought or an "oops." It is a plan He's had carefully and lovingly orchestrated since the beginning. Ask Him to guard your heart. He will do it. He will increase your joy for others even amidst the pain of you heartaches. He will give you greater grace to celebrate with others as you are slowly watching His plan for you unfold. 

    Share your heartache, dear one. Let the people around you see this piece of your life. Let them walk with you and pray with you and build you up. I am not saying you have to write a lengthy Instagram post about it, or start a blog to share your journey, but don't hide away. The Lord has filled your life with His people, His dearly loved ones, to help you know Him more, to help you suffer well. They are an instrument. Let Him use them. It's such a beautiful thing. 

    "Once you walk through the door of love into the massive, unshakable structure of Romans 8:28, everything changes. There come into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply can't be blown over anymore. The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience in an incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life. When God's people really live by the future grace of Romans 8:28 -- from measles to the mortuary -- they are the freest and strongest and most generous people in the world. Their light shines and people give glory to their Father in heaven." -- John Piper

   I am praying for you, sweet friend. You are dear.     

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.