Dear Sadie (2022)

A few years ago, I started posting a letter to my late grandfather on his birthday. I’ve found it to be a great way to remember and honor him — but I’ll admit that I wish I could tell him the things I write in my letter or that he could at least read it himself. It is this feeling of longing that drove me to start writing and posting birthday letters to my three kids. I plan on writing this blog for years to come, so my hope is that they will be able to come here and read them over time. 

Why am I sharing these letters in such a public way? Because I hope they will have value to you as a reader. As you read these, I invite you to remember what you love about those closest to you. If you are a parent, consider writing your kids their own birthday letter. The letter-writing process will help you remember what you love about them. And let that love overflow to how you lead other human beings. You cannot give what you do not possess. So let the power of remembering (I’ll talk more on this next week) increase your love and positively impact your leadership.  

Here is my letter to Sadie… 

Dear Sadie, 

Joy entered my world on August 2, 2016. Let me be clear that joy existed before this day. In fact, as we often talk about at home, true Joy can only be found in Jesus. I know this sounds dumbfounding to those who do not know Jesus, but there is no better love. Indescribable love gives birth to the truest Joy on the planet, for it is worth everything.   

But your arrival was an added dimension to the joy I had previously known. Like the first sights of faith, an entirely new world was opened up to me. Suddenly, I could see new colors — often pink and purple! And wow, those colors are beautiful! It was, and is, amazing. Since then, each day spans the spectrum of the rainbow.  

As you turn six, I already see characteristics developing that will shape the adult person you will become. You are determined. I call you “Momma Jean” as you dole out demands to your two older brothers. They comply out of love and because you are someone they want to follow. They want to follow you because the only human love I have seen matched is from your mom, my wife! There are moments when I see your love in action and gasp, realizing this is what your mom must have been like at your age. It is like I can see into the past with more clarity now. All because you are amazing, just like your mom. 

One thing of note before I go forward: You are amazing simply because you exist. You have a God-purchased amazing identity. This is not contingent on what you do or don’t do. If your eyes see this down the road when life is hard — and life always gets hard — realize that your identity is amazing because of Whose you are, not because of what you do. The same for me. The same for mom. The same for everyone. 

If there is anything better than a “Sadie hug” on this side of heaven, I have not found it. Those hugs are the most life-giving hugs on the planet. They change something deep inside my soul, offering reassurance that things can be good again. And they often lead to you calling for “family hugs.” The boys roll their eyes and typically flee the room, but it is their loss. I will take hugs from your mom and you every single day! 

I will end with remembering our family room dances, always initiated by you. Twirling you, hearing your infectious laughter, and seeing that smile only mom can rival, are the things that make life precious. I find myself wishing these moments would never end.  

My love for you only grows and grows. 

While I excitedly anticipate the adult you will inevitably become, something tells me that I will one day mentally go back to this time right now. A time when you are a little girl with an outstretched hand, twirling, dancing, and falling into my embrace. 

There is nothing better. There will never be anything better. 

I love you. Happy 6th birthday, my special little girl.