Sunday, August 12, 2012

What's in a Name part 3

The recent break in blogging can be blamed on the difficult nature of this blog. The prose is raw as is the emotion. Thanks for reading the story of my son's name...

While we had settled on a middle name, the first continued to allude us. Even though we liked numerous names, none really stood out.
One night as we read to Mary Grace the story of Nehemiah from her storybook bible. The children’s book paraphrased the meaning of Nehemiah’s name as “God will wipe away every tear.” The beauty of that metaphor for God’s all-encompassing comfort brought tears to my eyes I hope I’ll never have to wipe away.
When I found out I was having a boy, I was so scared. Michala often quotes me as expressing my fear as “girls are easy, you just have to love em, but boys…boys you got teach em stuff.” What fueled that lack of self-confidence in my ability to be a father to a son was my name.
My relationship with my own father, while having many great strides, has been rather rocky. In some ways, much of my misguided attempts to become a man were desperate grasps at a Father’s love. Much of our time spent together doing my childhood were excursions to the local pub, where I would play darts or pinball, drink cherry cokes and argue with the old guys about sports.  Don’t hear me wrong, I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything but sometimes I desired more. I wish my dad had taught me how to be a husband, how to love Jesus, how to be a man.
So as I learned that our second child would be a boy, a fear settled over me. Would I be doomed to repeat the sins of my father and father's before? Of course we all must face the ramifications of all our fathers' collective shortcomings.
Nehemiah’s story takes place in the midst of a people knee-deep in curse. He returns to the promised land that had been lost due to the failures of the previous generations. As a leader, Nehemiah calls the people to a new life, a redeemed life, a restored life. For so long the people had suffered yet now God Comforts.

We believe that our son will play a major role in the redemption of our family name. We believe that he will be a comfort to our fears. Nehemiah reminds us that exile does not last. There is a time to return, a time to be comforted by the One who comforts. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What's in a Name? Part 2

Here are some of the names Mary Grace suggested for her brother:

Banjo Butterbean

Butter Banjo

Airplane Banjo

Airplane Butter

Nehemiah Airplane

Nehemiah Butter Airplane

Nehemiah Banjo Butter Bum

Mary Grace and Nehemiah
As you can see, she has quite the imagination. You can also see that the names got longer and that at a certain point they began with what would actually become her brother's name. 

Naming our son was quite the adventure. We (lets be honest here, I) went through a phase where the most important charteristic for our son's name was that it was manly. By manly I now realize I meant silly. Some of the options were Rex, Thor, Conan, Abner, Earl, and so on. The name that emerged from this round was Porter; I'm not sure why other than it sounded cool. I had obviously not learned anything since being a teenager.

Because Mary Grace's name is almost over-saturated with family names, we decided to limit the name of our son to one. But which one? We have so many amazing men in our families who deserve honor; men like Madison, Melvin, Marvin, John, and Mike. But it was a meal of chicken and dumplings that helped us choose.

Michala placed the hot gooey dumpling in her mouth and soon tears were flowing. Did she burn her tongue? No, the taste reminded her of her recently passed grandmother Imogene Copeland, the mother of her step-mom Pansy. Michala had found a spiritual mentor in this lovely woman. When we visited, her home felt like our home. And in that fateful bite one afternoon at Cracker Barrel, her absence was painfully revisted. We knew we wanted to honor her and we choose to do so with her surname: Copeland.

We grew to love the Copeland name because of how we loved the Copelands themselves or more importantly because of how the Copelands love us. Very rarely do children get along with their step-mom or step-dad. Michala had the privilege of having two of the finest in Pansy and Mike. In their love and devotion they earned the right to drop the "step" modifier and simply be Pops and Ma P.

But even rarer is to connect with the extended family of a step-parent. Yet in the Copelands we never felt that we lacked a shared kinship. While our blood may have been different, the hearts pumping it knew no stranger, only a daughter and now a son and two grandchildren. We were adopted in the most beautiful way possible. We lost our "step" modifiers as well and simply became sons and daughters.

The Scriptures talk of us all being adopted into the family of God. We were once not a people but because of Jesus Christ we are welcomed into the family fully. Not as slaves but as heirs to the kingdom, full-fledged sons and daughters of God Himself. The Copeland family welcomed us just the same, we are not add-on's but knit into the very fabric of the family. We thank God that our children are not just Gallups but Copelands as well.

Copeland. That's just the middle name.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stuff my Daughter Says

Mary Grace discovered talking not too long ago, she has yet to stop. Recently her volume level has easily tripled. Perhaps she feels she has to speak so loud so that she can be heard in a full house. Yet in the midst of the ear-splitting gibberish are some real gems. Almost each day we succumb to belly laughs at our daughter's words. While we may simply be biased parents, I thought I might share some of her more recent memorable quotes.

"You are a boy with food and I'm Jesus throwing a ball"

"Mommy, do you have any more babies in your belly?"

"My horsie came out of my belly, so I have to make peanut butter sandwiches for his soccer game later."

"My beard can grow a beard."

"My belly makes milk for my baby."

"When my fingers grow toenails, I bite them off."

"He (Nehemiah) goes poop out of his horn"

She is also a rather sweet big sister. When she first heard Nehemiah cry, she repeatedly told him, "Don't worry Bubba, I'm right here." And then proceeded to sing "You are my Sunshine" as he cried.

I have a feeling her words will continue to bring smiles to our faces for quite some time to come.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What's in a Name?

Naming my children was far more difficult than I imagined it would be. As an adolescent I had already picked out my future children's names: Jack Daniels Gallup and Robert Lee Gallup (I may have been a bit of a redneck). Well, as I matured, those names lost the gravitas they held in my 16 year-old imagination. When we began to decide what to name our first child, I realized I needed a greater criteria than just what sounded cool.

Mary Grace was almost Mary Hannah. Yet my mother-in-law kindly informed me that that name was just short of terrible and sounded like Linda-Susan. Being the stubborn man that I am, it took quite a while to actually even listen to this critique. Hannah and Mary were both names we adored, yet in an effort to perserve the southerness of a girl born in Colorado, she had to have a double (southern) name and these two were oil and water.

Yet like revelation sometimes does, Mary Grace came to us in a flash. We knew we had the right name. Hannah means grace in Hebrew afterall. But more than the asctetic of the name was its meaning that captivated us. Mary means bitter in Hebrew, not exactly a wonderful legacy, but made beautiful in that right in the midst of our collective bitterness a savior was born: grace through pain. In her name, Mary Grace Rose Gallup, is a hertiage of women of faith in our family: Grace, my great-grandmother; Mary, three different grandmothers; Rose, my mother and wife.

Her name does not only honor these women but it provides hope for Mary Grace herself. The Apostle Paul wrote to his friend Timothy these encouraging words: "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." Apparently, faith is not as individualistic as we so often make it but is something inherited, shared especially in community.

This inherited faith is proven in that Mary Grace's life is even possible. Their courage to love both God and neighbor defined these women and paved the way for us to be the family we are today. It is our hope that Mary Grace will grow into the inheritance of her name. 

I will soon share the story and meaning behind Nehemiah Copeland's name.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Beginning Again

At 10 AM on July 29th in Little Rock, AR Nehemiah Copeland Gallup made his glorious debut. As he exhaled his first breath in the form of a cry, all our worlds were to be forever changed. In the coming hours and days my calling to be a Daddy was renewed with a fresh vigor. Nehemiah joined his big sister, Mary Grace Rose, as Michala and my's children (an honored distinction for sure).

This blog is my feeble attempt to share our experience with you, to process this blessed vocation of parenthood with my friends and family. Even in this first week of being a family of four, I've come to realize the completely different life this is from being a family of three. Unlike Mary Grace's first days, I'm home for all this and it is beautiful. This is my daddy blog.

I hope in the coming days to share the humor of my soon-to-be three year old, the beauty of innocence, the weight of responsibility, the folly of my perceived maturity, and the joy of life. Until then, pictures!

His first bath with Sissy

Mary Grace at two weeks