“little u”: The Story Behind the Song – Van Tillman Utsey


Watch/Listen to “little u”:

(Special thanks to: Lauren Jackson Photography, Annette Goodman Photography and Lovely Photography for some of the photos used.)

Little Van Utsey (“little u”) was born in December of 2009, a sweet miracle that arrived just in time for Christmas. He is my nephew by marriage, but I have as much love in my heart for him and his parents, as I do for my own blood relatives. He has a laugh that will bring you tears of joy. Naturally, when it came time to celebrate his first birthday, I couldn’t help but want to gift him with something extra-special, so I sat down at the piano and started writing a song.

Well, actually it didn’t start with the music. It started with the lyrics, which were heavily inspired by the loving words of his mother (and my sister-in-law) Melissa Utsey, published in their family blog. Melissa began writing down her love for her sweet baby, before he was even born.

The first time we heard the sound of your heart, we couldn’t wait to hold you in our arms…

baby cradled

And, of course, after he was born, and we looked into those baby blue eyes, we all felt the joy that she felt with every kick inside her belly.

The first time we ever saw those baby blues, we couldn’t take our eyes off of you…

baby blues

Though we’ve already celebrated his first birthday, it feels like it was just yesterday that his parents beheld their little “peanut” for the first time. And though he’s only a year old, he seems so grown-up already.

We all want these moments to last, but you’re growin’ up so fast…

baby fedora

In fact, at one year old, he’s already had his first kiss!

First kiss before you’re even one year old; gonna be a ladies man
Melting hearts just like you’ve melted ours, even more than we could have ever planned for…

first kiss

Thank God Melissa is taking the time to write each day down. Because every minute with Van brings another piece of heaven down to earth, and these are times that none of us want to miss. He changes every day, “just like the seasons” (though fall, with it’s colorful leaves and pumpkin spice lattes, seems to be the family’s favorite!) As he grows into the man he will become, Van reminds us all of the beauty of God’s creation and how He makes all things new.

Can’t get enough of your sweet disposition
Being with you is just like a little piece of heaven
A peanut in a pumpkin patch; you’re changing every day
We love you to the moon and back forever and always…

A peanut in a pumpkin patch

Baptism symbolizes this new creation. Jesus said that in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven, we must be born again.

He makes all things new.

I’ll never forget the day Van was baptized. As soon as the ice cold water fell from the pastor’s hand onto his fragile head, he started crying. His eyes immediately shifted focus and landed on his parents. He was crying out to his mother and father for help, a natural reaction for any child. And just like Van, as God’s children, we cry out to our Father for help in our times of need. Watching that interaction, and reading Melissa’s blog post on the event, shortly after, brought the inspiration for these lyrics…

Don’t cry little one, even when the water’s cold
For the Lord will be with you, wherever you go…


Melissa had depicted every moment on her blog with so many pictures and videos. These had also influenced the song’s lyrics, and I know how much she loves photography, so I wanted to use them somehow in my gift. That’s when I decided to make my first video/photo slideshow to go along with the song. We played the DVD toward the end of his first birthday party, and there was hardly a dry eye in the room. Melissa and Derek are terrific parents and they are blessed to have the opportunity to raise this beautiful boy. I’m so thankful to have married into such a wonderful family.



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