turning 29

A week ago today, I turned 29.

A couple days before my birthday I stopped and looked at J and said, "Babe, I'm entering my last year before 30. I can't believe it." I didn't say it out of a fear of turning 30, I am excited about getting older! I said it out of a genuine disbelief that I have almost 3 decades of life under my belt and, wow, what a sweet life it has been. It was one of those moments where you take a step back and, in an sort of out of body way, you see your life in an instant. And in that instant, I felt so grateful.

This last year of life was a tough one, though. 28 will definitely be marked by "hard" in my memory book. Good hard and just plain not fun hard. There was a lot of stripping down of myself that happened and that is a painful process. It was a year that flattened me, in a sense, and trust me, I surely did not want to be flattened, but praise God He knows what I need because the sweetest joy laid waiting for me on the other side. 

A deep-rooted selfishness was uprooted. More of that consuming fear of man struggle came to the surface. Tendencies of laziness and greed were seen for what they really are. Deeper layers of distrust and unbelief and crippling fear were peeled back. So many pieces of yuck, so many things that I didn't even realize were debilitating me and robbing me of joy, or at least to what extent they were. And there were many times in the moments of discovering these things were I felt exhausted by discouragement. When I had lost my temper with AK...again, when I wasted time lazily scrolling through my phone while much better things sat wanting....again, when I pushed back on wise words that J spoke to me because my pride was hurt....again, when I compared..again, when I doubted whether we would ever find a house....again, when I wondered if our Little would ever be able to hear laughter without crying....again, when I just wanted to stay in bed for days and cry because the ache for another baby was so deep....again. I felt flattened. Flattened by my sin, flattened by the stuff that was just painfully hard.

I know this is sounding like a super uplifting post right now, but this was last year. It rubbed me raw. It was a fight, in some seasons a daily one, for gratitude, for hope, for "being content in whatever circumstance" I was. So many times I wanted different circumstances, I just wanted "dreams fulfilled". It was a year of coming to grips with what I want most in life, and in that, discovering how often the thing I was saying I wanted the most had everything to do with me and nothing to do with Jesus, and I always came up empty.

But, like the good God He is, He carried me through it all. He reminded me, "those sins you see? I died for those. Now you get to live in the freedom of my forgiveness." He pulled out all those file folders of verses in my memory to help me remember the truest things about myself, the truest things about Himself, and the truest things that define my everyday because I'm His. He showed His perfect strength in my weakness. He showed me His grace and helped me to know what it is to rest in that more. He helped me ease up on things, learn to be okay letting things go, and reminded me of the importance of margin. He showed me how He chose J and me to be AK's parents, not anyone else, and He loves her a whole lot more than we ever could, so couldn't He be trusted with her, too? He reminded me that there's a lot of sweetness to be found in waiting, there's memories waiting to be made every single day. And He showed me, over and over and over again, how He knows my heart most intimately and He is the most present source of comfort. In each and every one of those ways He showed me that He's the best thing; living for Him, resting in the love of my sweet Savior, brings with it the greatest peace and the most enduring sense of joy.

As I said, it was a year of good hard and a year of just plain hard. And not a single part of it went to waste. And, because He is God and He knows just the type of cap that each season of life needs, He showed Himself again. I woke up on my 29th birthday and discovered that there would be no baby this month either. To be honest, I didn't really know what to feel in that moment, but the Lord gave me a quick answer for that. My phone started dinging with text after text of the kindest and most gracious words. My phone rang as my parents and in-loves called and I heard their sweet voices on the other end. FaceTime sounded and I saw 5 of my most favorite faces in all the land, my big brother and sis-in-love and 3 nephews, and they brought the biggest smiles. One of my dearest friends showed up at my door, and she gives the greatest hugs. I read the most generous, humbling words written on instagram posts and a blog that left thankful tear-streaks. I opened cards and was handed beautiful flowers and had packages arrive in the mail. And my people, my two dearest and best, they went above and beyond. They showed me love in the most tender, thoughtful ways. That day literally overflowed with the clearest presence of grace and a love that I cannot possibly fathom the depths of. 

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28, I am glad to close your chapter, but I am thankful for the hardness of you and the fringes of beauty. And 29, my arms are wide open, eager and ready for the pages the Lord has already formed to fill you with. Let's do this thing.

h a p p y n e w y e a r

2017. A new year has come again.

I'm thankful that this happens every year. I'm thankful that we get to tuck away another year, full of its own moments and seasons of hard and good, add it to the memories of all the years that have come before it, and crack open the binding of our newest addition. I'm thankful for the way that it makes me pause and consider, taking a bit of extra time to reflect on what has just passed and what lies ahead. I'm thankful for the planning it inspires, the old dreams that still remain and the new dreams that just begin to take root, and the hope that it refreshes in my heart. I'm thankful for the conversations that we have about what we've walked through and what we are facing. 

I'm thankful that it is new.

2016 was a hard year for me. It rubbed me raw. This past year was one marked by waiting, craving the answer to unfulfilled longings and finding the answer still to be, "not right now." It was a year marked by fear, fear springing from not knowing truly what my little one was battling and of being terrified that I wouldn't be able to help her. It was a year marked by exhaustion, exhaustion in figuring out how to be mama to my little, in staying on top of all that life held, in feeling like I was behind and forgetful with so much. It was a year marked by plummeting to the depths of certain sins in my life, feeling slapped across the face with how toxic and present they were and then embarrassed at how little I actually wanted to fight some of them. It was a year that felt like I was being pruned until I had nothing left. And yet, here I found the "new."

Here, in this place of looking back over the past 365 days of pruning and utter rawness, sits the start of being made new. I am face to face, again, with how desperately I need Jesus. He removes that fear; goodness, He utterly shatters that fear. He meets me in that place of unfulfilled longing and reminds me that He doesn't withhold one good thing from me when I walk with Him. He lets me fall on my exhausted face once again so He can gently pick me up and remind me that His grace is sufficient, His power is perfect in my weakness. And He gives me the greatest hope, time and time again, that those sins that seem so overbearing, so consuming, aren't the truest thing about me anymore. He's making me new.

I am so grateful that the little word that graces the middle spot of that catchy "Happy New Year!" phrase we all shout at midnight every December 31st holds a heavy amount of meaning, really wonderful life-changing meaning. 

And I am grateful for 2016. It was hard year, but it was threaded through with a lot of grace. That grace was found in the adventures experienced, the books read, the travels had, the food cooked, the holidays celebrated, the new opportunities given; but that grace was most especially found in the people that fill up my text message app and my everyday, the people who walk through the raw and the lovely with me, who do more and say more than I could ever write down, and who show me Jesus in every piece of it. In particular, the 2 souls that I've been given to love in the most tender way, the ones who are tangible pictures of the kindness of my Lord every hour of the day. 

This life of mine. It's full of beauty. It's full of beauty because of the one common thread that has weaved through my words here: the One who makes it all new.

2017, I'm glad to see you.

settling back in

Hi friends!

It's been some time. I've missed you guys.

Life has been a whirlwind lately, to put it lightly. To open up my planner and realize that we are close to the halfway mark of August just blows my mind. Where did the summer go!? To be honest with you, I am not mourning its passing as my crisp temperature-adoring, sweater-loving heart is eager to see the arrival of my beloved autumn come around the bend. 

I have missed this little space with you all. Though the load and the busyness of life the past weeks required the blog to sit silent, I have been so eager to return. An absence does good, though, for re-orienting and refreshing, and I've been grateful for that.

And I've just plain missed writing. I am far from an inward processor. No, no, it all must come out. Thankful, thankful, thankful for a patient, gentle husband who has logged maaaaany hours of sitting quietly next to me awaiting the thoughts to form into words that eventually result in my "aha!" moments. Jason Coobs, you are a good, good man. So, over the years, writing has become another outward processor for me. It's a help to see those words on paper; I see the patterns, the tendencies, the struggles. Through my writing, my journaling, my "word dumping" if you will, I more clearly see my heart. Though it may take me many a minute, an hour, a day to get those words out, it is sweet to me. So the longing to return to it has been great.

Now I shall dust off my keyboard, re-enter the land of blogging and give y'all a bullet point catch-up on the the last weeks of life:

-- We have moved. The full story shall be shared soon, but a little over a month ago now we locked the door to Springdale #311 after 3.5 years there and moved into our new apartment home. Though a bit unexpected and rather hurried, it was a move marked by a lot of grace, gallons of coffee, and a readiness to start this new season and fill the walls of this new place with memories.

-- A mark of that grace that was seen daily was in the beautiful people that make up the village we do life with. These people are kind, generous, thoughtful souls that are pictures of our sweet Jesus. Whether we see their faces week-in/week-out or whether they walk with us from a distance, they love us so well and we are thankful. 

-- We have been reminded, yet again, that parenting is an intense tool of sanctification and a very clear reminder of our constant need for the grace and strength of Jesus. Wowsers. The 4 year old stage, you guys. It's a wonderful doozy.

-- We went to visit our mountains. We got back last week from a sweet visit out west to our Colorado family. Always cherish those days with them; the laughter, the lazy mornings of coffee sipping and long chats, the dinners on the deck....so much goodness in those days. And those mountains and that open sky, they will always have a piece of my heart.

-- Our days are filled with good things: J is in the midst of studying for a major exam at work, we ordered schoolbooks for AK yesterday #alltheemotions, we are enjoying all the pool-time we can get, snuggling friends new babies, making fall plans, cracking open new reads, and settling into our new normal. 

It feels good to take some breaths after the whirlwind that has been our summer and look back and be reminded that the greatest mark over the summer has been that glorious, everyday faithfulness of the Lord. The resounding thought in my mind over the past days has been how very glad I am that I don't do this life on my own. He's given me my husband. He's given me my daughter. He's given me my tribe. And best of all, He's given me Himself. Thank you, Jesus, for holding me and all the pieces of this life. 

I'm happy to be back with you, friends. I hope you have the most beautiful Monday!