My darling Lilli…when you get to be as old as your Mimmie, you might start to realize there are things you wish you’d said more intentionally to your own kids, as they were growing up, or, at the very least, you’ll wish you had said them better. I heard once that grandchildren can be a kind of “do-over.” I don’t agree with that entirely, for you are not mine to raise, day in and day out. However, because I am removed from the constancy of your daily care, I think those things that need saying can rise more easily, and with greater clarity, to the top of my heart. It’s my hope that this letter (and the ones to follow in years to come) will help make your life’s road a little easier to travel.

SONY DSCThree. You are three years old today. How did it happen, I wonder? Wasn’t it just last week that I came gliding into the delivery room, 15 minutes late to the party, and felt the earth move on its axis the moment they placed you into my arms? Nothing’s been the same since.

I was just reading through what I wrote to you last year on your birthday. I talked about your sweet and polite nature, and how you said “I hug you, Mimmie.” You still say that when you feel the need to be held. (Seriously, if you said that to me at 22, I’d figure out a way to make it happen!) You are still a sweet and polite little girl, too, which I love, but you are starting to be shy in certain situations, which is new this year. You’re learning your way around how to act when things don’t go your way, and spend a fair amount of time in “time out,” from your determination to be in charge. You remind me an awful lot of your mother at this age. Darling. Full of Life. Fiesty. 🙂

You just spent almost three weeks at our house. You loved it. You fell in love with your Aunt Maddie and everything having to do with the horses. You spent time at the “farm” (barn), with “my” cat and “my” pony and felt sassy and important going down there in your pink helmet and red boots with the white stars. You loved playing in “my” playroom, and you are crazy about helping with just about anything. At night, when I’d tuck you in, you would open up your arms wide and say “I’m happy to come to your house. Thank you for all this.” It was precious.

After a rocky start with your Papa (you didn’t like that he got on to you around the pool), the two of you made up and were good friends by the end. There is just something about seeing you with your papa that makes my heart sing. He’s so crazy about you.

Really, the main thing I’ve loved about you this year is how very much you love me. And I mean you LOVE me. You make sure I know it. We have quite the connection, you and I, and I know that you feel safe with me…loved to your core. You miss me when I’m gone and, when we’re back together, you make me feel like you’ve won the lottery and I’m your prize.

I think that’s why I struggle so when we part company, because I know that our relationship will change as you grow. I hope it will always change for the better, deepening through the years, so that when you’re 15 and your parents are ready for you to come and live with me (trust me, it’ll happen), I’ll still be that safe harbor. I want us to still go out to the swing and maybe, instead of singing and tossing rocks down the hill, we’ll talk about boys, and friends, and God.

When you were here, you discovered a princess dress and tiara with the dress up clothes. YouSONY DSC transformed, when you put it on, into a real princess, through and through. You insisted, one night, in putting it on for the horses, and fully believed in your royalty. We loved watching you.

There are those in the world, sweetheart, who think it’s wrong to encourage little girls to emulate princesses. After all, they are the stuff of fairy tales, and, therefore, don’t give a realistic impression of life with all their Prince Charmings and glass slippers and white chargers. Supposedly, they don’t build strong women, but only weak, disillusioned ones.

But I don’t agree.

You see, you aren’t just pretending to be a princess…you ARE one. You may not be the daughter of a king, but you ARE a daughter of THE KING. The KING of KINGS. You are royalty, my darling. It is not a fairy tale at all, but the real truth for those who trust Christ to rule the kingdom of their hearts. And it’s okay if you grow up and feel weak sometimes – even a lot of the time – because it’s His strength that you’ll depend on. Yes, you are a real princess. Live in that all your days, not to lord it over anyone, or act as if you are above the rest, but to bring honor and glory to the One who could make something like that possible.

SONY DSCKeep shining His light the way only a princess can, and you can’t go wrong. But between you and me, I think you’ve already got a handle on that. In fact, your glow brightens my whole world.

Happy 3rd Birthday, my Lilli. And never forget…how much does your Mimmie love you?

That’s right.

As big as the sky.