Tuesday, July 19, 2011


People often ask us about the names of our children and how we chose them. Each of their names have special meaning, which is really a whole story in itself. But lately, I've been thinking not about the names we choose, but the names we inherit.

Almost two weeks ago, I traveled with Schaeffer to CA for 5 days to attend my grandfather's memorial. His name was Harry Loewenberg, and he was my dad's biological father, who I only met after my father died. The story goes that Harry left my grandma with two boys, ages 3 (my dad) and 1. They lived in foster care until my grandma got back on her feet. She married Ted Kelly, who adopted both boys, and that's how my dark skinned dad with Italian-Portuguese-Spanish blood in his veins, came to be a Kelly.  

It's easy to dismiss a man's character as despicable when he leaves his wife with two young kids for another woman.  It gets a little fuzzy when he remains married to that same woman for 65 years and I'm standing at a memorial where the character trait described most is Harry's unfailing love and affection for his wife. And yet his son Terry, my half uncle that I'd never met before, shared about about he didn't have much of a relationship with his father, even though he grew up in the same home. He didn't hear, "I love you," or receive time and affection from the man brought them into the world, and in those ways, his story and my Dad's are really not so different. The sad truth is that Harry himself was not originally a Loewenberg, but born as a Delvico and then, through some series of tragedies landed in an orphanage, grew up fighting to defend himself, and then eventually adopted to inherit his new name.

What is my real name? I could have been Melissa Loewenberg. Or Melissa Delvico.  Or, if my husband's family story was not peppered with it's own tragedy, Melissa Phillips, or Melissa Pendarvis. There's so much about the events and brokenness in their family that I wish I could understand.  I wonder about how traces of these decisions affect our family, even now.  In what ways am I wounded, blind, broken, gifted, strengthened, or equipped because of my family's heritage? How does God get glory in all of this?
"...To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it." (Rev 2:17)

C.S. Lewis has some interesting thoughts on the matter.
“…God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it. …The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.
 Lewis continues:
“What can be more a man’s own than this new name which even in eternity remains a secret between God and him? And what shall we take this secrecy to mean? Surely, that each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some one aspect of the Divine beauty than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently?”

I don't have to understand all the pieces to this story. But I can search and participate, on this earth, for ways to glorify God with all the parts and names, all the brokenness and beauty.  And even when I can't see how it all works together, trust that God is a redeemer, and He is good.