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. 

Mommy

a mama's prayer


This past week was a sanctifying one with our 4 year old ball of independence. This past weekend was especially so. Oh, there are some moments where I feel my brain might just explode from the emotions and constancy and weariness of motherhood. Never before have I seen my own selfish tendencies so clearly as I do parenting my girl. Never before have I known a relationship that fills my heart to bursting and, in the same breath, brings me to my knees in complete "i have no idea what to do"-ness. 

I love my daughter more than tongue can tell (to borrow a line from 41). I want to love her well, like Jesus. And He has been hammering, gently but firmly, across my mind these past 48 hours the reminder that the place where all my growth continues is at His feet and in His Word. 


Father, 

Thank You for this bright, fresh day, for your mercies that are new and Your faithfulness that is great that will sustain us in whatever You hold for today. 

Father, give me strength today in the constant care of my Little. Help me to always place her before myself, to give tirelessly, leaning on Your strength and not my own. Help me to love her unselfishly as You have loved me and to show her that by laying aside my desires and needs to care for her sweet self. 

Give me patience, oh, Father, give me patience. Help me to not be controlled by the desire to check off my to-do list today, but to always be willing to set those things aside so that I might better care for my most precious gospel work. Help me to have patient and loving speech, whether in play or in discipline, to use all moments to teach her heart more about You, to graciously answer her many questions and to relish that curiosity that she has because it gives me endless opportunities to help her mind and heart understand and be shaped and to enjoy her. 

Give me wisdom, Lord, in our days. Give me wisdom in what we commit to and what we fill our days with. Give me wisdom in balancing the desires of her little heart with the things that do need to get done that day; may I help her learn, as well, patience and unselfishness towards others. Give me wisdom in discipline, in those times when her sinful heart needs correction and guidance. Give me wisdom so that she might see You, Father, in the way that I respond to her sinful heart; may I be gentle and loving, firm and steadfast as we struggle through our sinful hearts together. Most of all, Father, give me wisdom so that I might best help her see her need for You, just as I need You, and give her precious heart hope in You, the Only One who can truly change us both. 

Give me grace, Jesus, when I feel like my brain might explode because of the constancy of it all, that I instantly ask for Your help when I feel my anger and frustration ready to boil over, that I always, always focus on the memories being made more than the messes, that I enjoy dinner taking 30 minutes longer to prepare because of the little hands helping me, that I am more quick to set down my task to be creative with her, that I encourage her imagination and be just as eager to adventure as she is, that I treasure all the beautiful things that last over the things that will be gone tomorrow. Jesus, help me be more like You with every day that my bright-eyed little beauty will know more of Your love today than she did yesterday. May she know how very treasured she is, Father, not just by her daddy and me, but by the One who loves her more than we could possibly comprehend. 

Thank You, Lord, for Your beautiful grace that You chose me to be mama to this beautiful heart. May I glorify You as I treasure her.

 

because it's loving to her

So a few weeks ago I shared this.....

"Some days it just feels as if the challenges will never end. The disobedience seems constant, words like "no" and phrases like "I not gonna do it" seem to be what I hear the most, and my responses are not at all the reflection of Jesus that they should be. On days like this I just want to throw in the towel. I feel like telling my Little, "have it your way. I'm exhausted."" 

That last little sentence there? Well, the Lord has really chiseled away at my heart in regards to that often felt statement in these days, reminding and teaching me, in various ways, why that's not exactly a good mantra for parenting. 

Never have I better understood the depth to which the Lord loves me than since becoming a parent. The grace He gives me, the forgiveness He grants, when I continually battle my selfish sin, my battles of wanting what I want and fighting Him because He's not giving it to me. Oh, the abundant love that the Lord has for me, that He has not said to me, "have it your way, I'm exhausted." His example to me of perfect, sacrificial, PATIENT love is an example that I want to hold tightly to every single day, and as I teach, play with, talk to, and discipline my Little, to fight to emulate.  

And in the same gentle way that His love for me does not allow me to get away with my sin, but to understand and feel the consequences and the effects of it, and to see that His ways are truly higher and better than mine, so I must teach my Little. To give in to her sin, to say to her "have it your way. I'm exhausted," will not only have unhappy, awful lasting effects, it would be unloving to her. To do that would teach her the very opposite of truth. I want, most of all, for my Little to come to know Jesus and for her independent, brave, strong, thoughtful, creative, beautiful self to be used greatly by Him, just as He designed her to be. That it why I must teach her about her need for Him. 

As I teach her, I share with her. I tell her about my need for Jesus and about what He does, every single day, in my life. I tell her about my struggles to obey and seek Him, about how I fight Him sometimes because I want what I think is best. And I tell her about HIs grace to me and about all He has given me, and she and her daddy top the list. He has done exceedingly beyond anything I could ask or imagine and I want that fact to spill over in every bit of what I teach her about Him.

How often I fall short. How often I do not emulate Christ's love to her and I respond to her selfishly and impatiently and without grace. How often I hold her and ask her forgiveness. How often I fall at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to help me love her better, in the way that He loves both of us. Even in those moments, as defeated as I may feel, there is gold. It comes in the form of another way to give testimony to His perfect, great, magnificent love; and that is the best thing my daughter can know. The greatest way I can be loving to my daughter is to teach her about the One who loves her best.