My dearest Patrick, how far you’ve come; on this your first circuit around the sun!
In twelve short months you’ve found your feet and your laugh. You learned how to hold your own bottle, roll over, crawl, sit, stand, and take your first tentative steps upon this earth. You have attended your first Pirate game, watched fireworks, flown in an airplane, dipped your toes into salt water, petted a newly hatched chick, and been licked by a Labrador retriever. You’ve tasted the goodness of ice cream and Swedish Pepparkako cookiesr; together we shared pie for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving. You are now able to say Mama and Dada. Can Granny be far behind? And you have brought out playfulness in your Grandpa Swede which utterly thrills my heart.
You’ve also battled ear infections, had your heel pricked, endured shots, picked up a couple of bumps and bruises, and fallen down hard a time or two. Throughout all of these, you’ve been attended by the Great Physician–a friend who will always stick closer than a brother.
Those who love you—and, lo, we are many—have watched you learn and grow and develop, and we are truly amazed and so very proud of you. However I want you always to remember, my dear Patrick, my love for you will never be based on anything you can or can’t do.
I love you simply because you exist.
I know your mommy and daddy take you to church and tell you about Jesus. I watched as they read you the story of Advent while counting down the days to your very first Christmas. I’ve seen the Bibles on the bookshelf in your room—the rhyming one, the children’s version, and the Jesus Storybook Bible. Each of them holds words which taste sweeter, even, than ice cream, cookies, or pie. They are life-giving words, and they will tell you the same thing I’ve just told you about the love of your heavenly Father:
He loves you simply because you exist.
There is nothing you can do to make Him love you more. There is nothing you can do to cause Him to love you less. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine, understand, or think. Because of His great love for you, He sent His Son to pay the debt for anything and everything you will ever get wrong in this life. All you need to do is reach up your empty hands to Him and His gift of grace, the same way you do for your mommy and your daddy when you know how desperately you need them.
Soon I will be with you to celebrate your first birthday and, boy, what a party that will be! I know your mama has been busy planning, and there will be cake and decorations and presents. You won’t remember any of it, I’m sure, but there will be multitudes of pictures taken to prove you were there. I’m certain that, in at least one of them, you will have cake smashed all over your face. I’m equally certain I will likely drive my Facebook friends nuts by sharing many of your pictures.
Even though you will be the one opening the presents, I just wanted to write you this little note to let you know what a gift you’ve been to me, and to so many others, even before you drew your first breath. Since you were born you’ve brought so much joy to your parents. You’ve taught them they can do more on very little sleep then they ever would have believed possible. You’ve helped them to see that, even when life is hard, God will always, always provide for them and for you.
On the day you were born, my first instinct was to sing over you as I held you in my arms. Without your realizing it, you have helped me to understand more deeply what it means when God says He delights over His children with singing. I can’t even begin to describe my delight in you, my dearest Patrick. Yet your heavenly Father’s delight is yet greater and deeper. His delight in you is perfect.
Happy birthday, my dear grandson. I wish you much joy in your next trip around the sun. And may we always find time to eat pie and give thanks together.
I love you,
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