• Dana L. Butler

As You Turn 3 [A Letter to My Isaac-Boy]

Dear Isaac,

How’s it possible?

Just last week-ish, you looked like this:

And now?  We blink, and…


…you’re turning 3 tomorrow!


My goodness – the time slips like sand through my fingers and I pray I do well at loving every. single. moment with you, sweet boy.

In the last year, your personality has emerged so much more, and what a joy it’s been to see who you’ve become.

You articulate your thoughts in sentences now and express your emotions, and you say things like “Mommy I wanna walk beside you and just hold your hand” and you turn me right into a puddle.

You are both strong-willed and incredibly tenderhearted.  Wild, and sweeter-than-sweet.  Rough-and-tumble, and affectionate.  Curious, and overflowing with enthusiasm.  Brilliant, and constantly on-the-go.

You’re outgoing-yet-introverted, like me.  You also crave a good adrenaline rush (ahem– like, um… me).

You definitely have your Daddy’s sense of humor, and everyone looks at you and sees him in your face.  [And then there’s the hair.  Obviously Daddy.]

You have both Mommy and Daddy’s music-nerd-ness – watch out, world.

You also seem to have inherited your Uncle Aaron’s determination, your Uncle John’s playfulness, and your Aunt Kelly’s insight.  I love that Daddy and I can see ourselves and our siblings in you.

But you are your own person, too.  Spontaneous.  Silly.  Energetic (I mean, energy out the wazoo).  A kinesthetic, hands-on kinda guy.  Passionate about vehicles and machines with moving parts and figuring out how things work.  Oh, and playing crazy with Daddy and bouncing around on our trampoline.

You love to do things with us.  Whether it’s jumping on the tramp, emptying the dishwasher, making a sandwich, playing with your tiger puppet, or sweeping the floor – you just want to be next to us, doing what we’re doing (or have us next to you, doing what you’re doing.)

I love this.

Makes me want to live slow and say yes to every single request to drag a chair over to the kitchen counter and let you climb up on it to work with me and lick the brownie batter off the spatula, because time will fly by and all of it’s about relationship so much more than results.

And oh, how I love watching your heart become tender toward the Lord.  You love to worship.  Loud.  You often say, out of nowhere, “God ALWAAAYYYS loves us.”  You hear worship music on the radio and observe, “They’re singing to Jesus!  Because they love Him!”

You rejoice when you realize you’ve obeyed Mommy or Daddy because you understand obeying us equates to obeying God.

You are generally soft-hearted when it comes to receiving discpline from us, too.  I can see the Holy Spirit at work inside you, preparing you to see your need for Jesus – for a Savior.

What an incredible privilege, to see Him shaping you, molding you, even at such a young age.  To get to partner with Him in the shaping.

Many days, I look at you and waves of gratitude and awe wash over my heart.

You are one. incredible. gift.

so enjoy you, Isaac.

Your Daddy does too.

And it’s our prayer that you’ll know, in the depths of your heart, that our joy over you is only an incomplete reflection of how your Father in Heaven feels about you.  How He delights in all the little, unique ways He’s made you.  How you make His heart explode with joy.

Our dream for you, Buddy, is that as you grow you’ll be profoundly secure.  Rooted in your identity, in your Father and your family.  That you’ll be full-steam-ahead who you are.

Please never stop being all-boy.  Be wild.  Be strong.  Be passionate.  Be free.  Be brave.  Be merciful.  Be tender.  Be silly.  Be honest.  Be excited.  Be bold.  Be affectionate.  Be adventurous.  Be authentic.

Be unapologetically yourself.

And as you grow toward manhood (and what an incredible example you have in your Daddy) – –

Be quick and confident to run into God’s mercy, to receive His forgiveness when you fail.

Be captivated by the extravagance of the Gospel.

Be wrecked by your Father’s affection for you.

Be surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus.

Be confident in God’s delight over you.

Be responsive to His Spirit.

Be a tender warrior.

Be grateful.

Be whole.

Be pure.

Be wise.

Be His.

Here are some of my favorite things about you from the last year.  Ways you’ve grown and changed, and funny things you’ve said or done.

Here we go – in order from right after you turned 2, all the way through to last week:

  1. “Hol-gee, hol-gee!” (Hold me!)

  2. You stuck your hand through some folding chairs stacked against a wall and said, “Tunnel!  Tunnel!  HI JESUUUUS!  All aBOOOOOAARD!”

  3. You called our friends Ian and Sue “Ee-nan” and “Mizzue”

  4. You always said, “Who’s in there?” &  “What’s goin’ on?” &  “Oh my goodness!”  Some of your first complete sentences.  We thought those little phrases were SO. CUTE.  [And we were right.  Obviously.]

  5. We were looking pictures of Gigi and Grandpa Kiser, and you called Grandpa “Papa-Sizer.”  We had some good laughs with Grandpa over that one.

  6. Conversation overheard between Isaac and Daddy:  Isaac: “Chicken!”  Daddy: “No buddy, that’s not a chicken, that’s Batman.” (Lol!)

  7. You’ve enjoyed playing with your cousins – Will and Will [one Will on each side of the fam] – so much more this year when we’ve seen them.  I love seeing you develop friendships with them.

  8.  You cracked Grandpa Kiser up by saying “Ocean Liner! Ocean Liner!” over and over again in the lowest voice you could muster.

  9. “Heeeeyyyyyy-licopter!”

  10. “Oh bother.”  Just like Winnie the Pooh.

  11. Back in December, you randomly walked into the kitchen and quoted Joshua 1:9 in its entirety.  We’d been working on it with you but didn’t know you knew the entire thing!  You floored us!

  12. You loved “Chim-chimminy, chim-chimminy, chim chim cherooo” from Mary Poppins.  You used to sing that all the time.

  13. “Oooh, d-d-d-DEAR!”  like Piglet.

  14. You’ve learned about butterfly kisses this year.  You LOVE them.  And I love your giggle when I give them to you.

  15. At one point I warned you of impending discipline.  Your response? “Hmmmm, maybeee… an elephant?  A woolly mammoth?  Woolly mammoth!!  Woolly mammoth!!!!”  (Distractingly hilarious child: 1.  Mom: 0.)

  16. Your “battle cry” for going through tunnels (or under bridges) for MONTHS: “On-tunnel-budget!  On-tunnel-budget!”  (Turned out you were trying to say “Time tunnel approaching!” like the conductor in Dinosaur Train.)

  17. You’ve learned lots of Bible verses, including Eph. 6:1 – “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Only at first, it was, “Children obey your parrot in the Lord.”

  18. You wanted to hold and touch the neighborhood dog that was barking at us.  I told you no, we couldn’t do that.  Your response: “Decoration dog!”  (If something’s a decoration, you know you can’t touch it.)

  19. Another time I told you you’d be disciplined if you did something – no clue what it was – again, and you said, “Or….. a COOKIE!”

  20. You went through a phase of being SUPER into lemurs.  You adored them.  Talked about them all the time.

  21. For MONTHS, you ADORED watching Chariots of Fire scenes with Daddy on YouTube.  You’d reenact the races, complete with slow-mo running.  So. cute.

  22. You used to say “real” and “really” all the time.  Example: Daddy comes home from work.  Isaac: “It’s Daddy!  It’s real, real, real, real, real DADDY!”

  23. You’ve started pretending.  Your toys have conversations with each other and I absolutely LOVE listening to you play.

  24. You’ve started singing in the last several months.  Your favorite song is 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.

  25. You love to act out the story of David and Goliath.  You swing your pretend sling and the invisible rock flies at Daddy’s head and Daddy tumbles to the floor.  You laugh and celebrate your victory.

  26. Kyle, a friend of ours at church, is just. your. buddy.  You ADORE him.  And Caleb Kubicina.  You love to dance with them during worship.

  27. You really love Grandma Della and Papa Raymond (Great Grandpa and Grandma Kiser).  You sometimes call Grandma Della “Armadilla.”

  28. I told you one day how Jesus loves you so much.  Your response:  “I loooooooooove Jesus!”

  29. In the last few months, you’ve gone from being our “only” to our “oldest.”  You’ve handled the transition to big-brother-ness like an absolute champ.  You are a sweet big brother and you’ve grown up so much.  Wow.

  30. You are grasping colors, recognizing most letters, able to count to 15 or 16.  We love the Leap Frog Letter Factory dvd – it’s helped you so much in learning both the letters AND their sounds.  I’m blown away by how quickly you learn.

  31. You’re fascinated by going to the “hossible.”  If you bump your head or stub your toe, you ask to go the hossible. 🙂

  32. If you see a fly, you yell LOUDLY: “SHOO FLY!  SHOO AWAY!  SHOO AWAY FROM THERE!”

  33. You love Thomas, Elmo, Boz, Curious George, and Daniel Tiger.  And anything construction-related.  And trains.  Of course.

Some of my favorite moments with you these days are when I come upstairs to cuddle you after Daddy’s tucked you in bed at night.  I lay down next to you and you talk my ear off about whatever’s on your mind.  Usually Thomas the Tank Engine or Curious George.  Sometimes you’re worried that some shadow in your room might be scary, and I reassure you.

The other night I was cuddling you, getting ready to say good night, and it hit me: I’m so thankful I’m the one (along with Daddy) around whom you’re the most secure and comfortable.  That I have the privilege of knowing you, the ins and outs of your little personality, like no one else will.  Of experiencing all your raw emotions and hearing your thoughts and enjoying all the little things about you that others don’t get to experience.

That I get to really know the genuine, authentic, holding-nothing-back Isaac Patrick Butler.

I am privileged beyond words.

I pray that in 5 years, and 10, and 15, you’ll still allow Daddy and me to know you like that.  That our relationship then will be as openhearted as it is now.

But for now, just know this: We enjoy you, Buddy. So much.

Parenting you is a joy and an honor and the best kind of challenge.

We’re up for it.

Happy birthday, Buddy Bear.  Love you so much.

 {Reading via email and want to comment?  Click here to hop over to the blog.}

{Stan wanted to write his own letter to our boy this year, which he gave me permission to share with you.  Click here if you’d like to read a Daddy’s enjoyment of his boy.}

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