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.

Hello my darling,

At this writing, you are very close to 3 years and 9 months. The fact that you are almost 4 blows me completely away. The age of 4 sounds so much older than 3 to me, and it really is, I guess, when you compare how much growing and maturing happened during this year. You speak so clearly, often coming up with things to say that leave all the grown-ups in your life shaking their heads in wonder. You are so much taller, and your hair is a lot longer, too, which is wonderful, considering that you spent a good portion of your life without any!

Lately, you’ve been getting in trouble a lot. As you’ve been growing, so has Brody, and he’s keeps reaching milestones like standing on his own, and taking a few steps. And while you’re excited when he does those new things, cheering him on with the rest of the family, you are NOT excited when he makes his way to your stuff and puts his slobbery little paws on it. You’re not all that crazy about how much attention he gets, and how everybody loves on him all the time; so much so, that you get mad inside and take it out on him with a quick shove down, or yank of something out of his hand.

You told me about it yesterday, after you’d gotten in trouble for knocking him down, and after sadly telling me that you wanted me, and we talked about different ways to handle it when you get mad or frustrated. For probably the millionth time, I thought to myself, if I was just there, or they were just here, I could help with situations like this. We could talk about the important things of life over cooking in the kitchen, or playing with the dollhouse. I let myself settle into the crazy cycle of “if only,” and before I knew it, I felt myself sinking a little into sadness and the unfairness of it all.

But you know what, sweetheart? While living in the “if only’s” of life is very easy to do, it’s very dangerous. It keeps you spinning, but instead of propelling you forward, it seems to dig a hole right where you are, trapping you down inside, where you can’t see past the regrets. I’m here to tell you that’s no way to live.

You and I both have to look at what we have, and how things actually are, not how they would’ve, could’ve, should’ve been if only things were different. If we’ve made mistakes, we can’t just run from them, or go back and change them once they’re done. Instead, we have to trade our “if only’s” for “next time’s,” considering how next time we’ll make a different choice. “Next time” moves us forward.

So, next time you’ll maybe put your stuff where your brother can’t get it, and next time I’ll be a little more grateful for the technology available to see your face whenever I want, and plan lots more fun times for us here at the ranch. It doesn’t mean we won’t both still want each other all the time, but it will keep us spinning forward instead of downward, and that’s…well, that’s a GREAT way to live.

I love you, my Lilli…big as the sky.


No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:12-14 NLT