Thursday, August 28, 2008

What's in a name?

Anthony and I have always tried to be really thoughtful as we have named our children.

Adele...of noble birth...we love the idea of her always remembering that she is the daughter of a King

Elise...consecrated (sacred) to I hope she seeks to live a life with that in her heart and mind

Lucy...light-bearer...she already brings so much light into our lives, but we pray that she will truly bring Light to others as she grows

Each of their middle names was that of an amazing woman in the Bible...Elizabeth, Rebekah, and Abigail.

Nathan has been no different. We chose this name five years ago when we found out we were pregnant with Adele. His name means "gift of God" and we always knew that that was what are son would be. Nathan was also a great prophet in the Bible. It's a strong and meaningful name to us. We are so thankful that we are now going to be able to use it.

For his middle name we have wanted to give him a name from the country that has given him to us. God is the ultimate Giver, but we are thankful to Rwanda for the role they have played in helping us grow our family. I asked Chantal recently about a name that I had seen in an email when Nathan (Daniel to her) was brought to her. They had named him Daniel Irakoze and it was the Irakoze that I was curious about. "It means, Thank You God." she told me. I immediately knew that that was to be his name. Thank You for Your gift to us God, that's how I'm translating his name...Nathan Irakoze Dummermuth. I love it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another Shade of Beauty.

Last night, Anthony and I took the girls to meet their preschool teachers. Anthony took Adele to her new class and I took Elise to the same class Adele was in last year. It was a time for the kids to get to explore their class a bit and little Elise loved every moment of it. It didn't take long for me to notice her gravitate to a certain little doll. It was the only black doll in the class and that was the only one she seemed to want to play with. She told me all about how cute she thought it was and just played with her until it was time to go.

When I got into the car to drive home with the girls, this was the conversation that I heard...

Adele: So, what did you play with in the class?
Elise: A babydoll.
Adele: Which one? The pink one?
Elise: No, the brown one.

I've been thinking a lot about color lately. I'm not so nieve to think that Nathan's color will be a non-issue for us all and so I have always tried to be thoughtful about how we will address it. The girls are already so aware of it and are constantly pointing out "brown" people "like baby Nathan". It's not something that we can ignore, and the more I have thought about it, the more I have realized that I don't want it to be ignored.

Colorblind. It's something you hear said in talks of race relations. Maybe you have even caught yourself saying that you think you are color blind. It sounds nice. Politically correct. Well, I've decided I hate this phrase. I've decided that I think it is just horribly against God's design. I guess I have come to really love the idea that God took the time to create a beautiful rainbow amongst His people and I truly believe that it will continue into eternity.

So, what will that mean for us as a diverse family? How will we bring Nathan up in regards to color, especially in the very white, suburban Kansas area that we live in?

One thing that we will always make clear to him is that we wanted to have a diverse family. We have wanted to look different. We wanted our family to more closely reflect God's family. We see the addition of his color to add beauty and depth to ours. And that is how we will bring him up...not to be embarrassed by the difference or even ignore it, but be thankful that he can bring another shade of beauty into the picture.

I sometimes wonder what issues we will face because of color. Maybe lots, maybe none...but we want to be thoughtful about this. We don't want to ignore it or overemphasize it. It's just going to be another one of those dances in life for us. And I'm ready to kick up my heals.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life changing books.

On Sunday I had the immense pleasure of meeting the author of one of my absolute favorite books, Andi Ashworth. I feel as though Andi's book, Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring, is one of the top five books that has impacted the way I have handled my life...or in the case of my most recent two, how I hope to handle my life.

Now, I'm not mentioning the Bible in my top five although I truly feel it has been the most constant impact in my life. And that isn't even a Sunday school answer, it is absolute truth. I guess I'm just saying that it belongs on a list of its own. No offense to the authors of these books, but they just don't belong in the same class as the Great Book. And I think they'd all be okay with me saying that.

My disclaimer is that this is a list of books over the years that have greatly impacted my life, so for a couple of them I have not read them in a long time and so don't remember exact content and am unsure as to how I would feel about them now...

Okay, so in chronological order from oldest to most recent...

Surprised by the Power of the Spirit: Discovering How God Speaks and Heals Today by Jack Deere

I always grew up in relatively conservative churches when it came to the Holy Spirit. And by "conservative" I mean that they only made mention of the Spirit in reference to the trinity. Then, I went to KU and joined Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. This is an Assembly of God ministry that was definitely much more charismatic then anything I had ever experienced. I heard people pray tongues, saw them slain in the spirit...all sorts of what I grew up thinking was "crazy" stuff. I'm not the kind of person who lets people decide what I should think though, so I quickly began researching things about the Holy Spirit. What I found quickly was that almost all books that talked about the "crazy" stuff were written by people who had grown up in those types of churches, not by someone who had grown up the way I had and then came to discover so much more about who the Holy Spirit is and can be in our lives. Then I found this book, written by a former Dallas Seminary professor and I found a way to marry my past to my present experiences. Over the years I think I have come to find the label of "conservative charismatic" to best describe me. = )

Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship by Joshua Harris

When I was in college, I loved this book. I knew that I had no desire to do dating the way the people around me did. I just couldn't understand why people wasted so much of each other's time aimlessly dating for years only to break up. So, I started thinking more and more about courtship. I had been single my whole life and just didn't want to be with anyone who I didn't truly think was a possibility for marriage. Enter Anthony. Anthony had known that that was how I felt and so the first day that we talked about entering into a relationship with each other we talked about pursuing this with thought of seeing if God would lead us toward marriage. And that conversation continued through our relationship and within just over a month he had asked my dad's permission to marry me and we began planning for our life together. I have to say that I still think that this is the way to go. "Purposeful dating" is what I like to call it. I'm still amazed as to how many people (especially as all my friends are getting older) are casual about their relationships. I just don't think that it is the way that God intended things to be. It's confusing and without purpose and I've seen too many girls heartbroken over this.

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God by Dallas Willard

In the spring of 2002, I went to Focus on the Family to study in their semester long institute. It was a challenging couple of months, emotionally (Anthony and I had just gotten engaged a couple days before I left) and spiritually. I read so many books during my time there, but this book stood head and shoulders above the rest. I think one of the reasons I loved this book so much was because Larry Burtoft taught the class that read this book and he is probably my favorite teacher...ever. This book was so incredibly thought provoking. I love how it caused me to begin to think more deeply about scripture and the implications that it has on the way we live our lives. But I think the greatest impact it had on me was in introducing the idea that salvation isn't just about our ticket into heaven, but that it is saving us from a life bogged down by sin today. It just carried so much freedom and yet so much responsibility with it. It's a book I think that I should take the time to read every few years...perhaps I'll pick it up again soon.

Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring by Andi Ashworth

So, I love this book. As I read it last fall, I constantly found myself going, "Anthony, listen to this. It's as if she looked into my heart and wrote what she found on this page." Andi just has this incredible way of reminding me of the care and beauty and creativity of God and that we were created in His image to bear those characteristics also. I love to create and I feel as though when I do, I grow to have a deeper understanding as to who God is as the Creator. I love to find the beauty in things and I am in awe as to how much beauty God has created for us to behold. And so much of my life is about caring for others and I am learning to do that from a deeper love, that I am finding has been planted by God within me, then I have ever known before. If I can find my copy of this book, I am definitely going to read it again. And if I can't find it, I'm going to borrow my mom's copy. = )

Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace by Miroslav Volf

I read this book in a small group this summer. It was a tough read and I was a bit disappointed that a number of the people in my group didn't push through it because I thought it was incredible. I could write a ton on it, but I will try to not go too long. Basically I feel as though the whole point of it was emphasizing the importance of acknowledging who God is. Acknowledging that there is nothing that we can offer back to God for all He has given and does and will give to us, because everything we have we have because of Him and He lacks nothing, so what can we really offer Him anyway? So in turn, all that we have been given has been given to us so that we can give to others. I found this all to be so freeing. To know that I don't have to try and find a way to convince God that saving me was a worthwhile decision, or to convince myself of that, lifts such a burden off my shoulders. I can just freely recieve all that He offers and enjoy giving to others that which He has abundantly given to me. There was also a large part of the book all about forgiveness and it also just blew my mind, but maybe I'll save some of my thoughts on it for another time. All I can say is pick this book up! Fight through the difficulty of the text and embrace the deep, profound thought of it.

My final thought...if you actually read all that I am so thankful for thoughtful people and the way that God has gifted so many with a medium of expressing things like writing. So many words, through books, conversations, even my own writing have touched my soul. I think that that is one of the reasons God has spoken to us through His written word, why He choose that format. I am just continually amazed how someone else's words can capture every emotion, thought, hope, prayer that I have ever had. Even words written thousands of years ago continue to live on...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Birthday!

I'm posting this with just a few minutes to spare...

Happy Birthday to two of my favorite people in the whole world. My sweet grandma (whom my girls call Great Marty) turned 85 today! And the love of my life turned the big 30! Love you Anthony!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Theology of a Four-Year Old.

Tonight I read the girls the story in the Bible where Jesus turns water into wine. At the end of the story, I asked them if they could perform that same miracle and when they said no, I asked them why Jesus could. I loved the answer that Adele gave me...

Because God came down from heaven and He did miracles and He died on the cross and rose again and He didn't stay dead and I don't know what else to say...Oh, and He could turn my pictures [as she points to her artwork hanging on the wall] into dresses. God can do amazing things.

My response?

Adele, all of that is so true and I'm sure that He could turn your pictures into dresses, although I'm not sure why He would.

I have a feeling that I am going to learn more just from living life with these little ones then I will ever be able to teach them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A little glimpse.

It's amazing how God sometimes brings things to us, how He helps prepare us for a major change in our life...

I'm starting to wonder a lot about what life will be like with a boy in this house. We are just so girly here. So much of our world right now revolves around princesses and dress up. And now that Lucy is a bit older, she is really starting to play with the other girls. Today they all went up in Adele and Elise's room and played for a while, just the three of them. We've developed a rhythm, a way we do life...

This fall, I will be sending two to preschool and hopefully before too long we will be adding our sweet boy to the mix at home. We are going to have cars and balls. I'll go from having three girls at home with me this summer, to a boy and a girl. And since Nate isn't an infant, we'll be going straight into it. I just am starting to really wonder what it will be like.

And so here is where God has given us a little taste of what is to Luke Schultz.

Luke is the son of a dear friends of ours, Nick and Leslie. He is three days older than Lucy, although he was due a week later. Don't even get me started about how fun it was to visit Leslie in the hospital and have the nurses all say to me, "You look about to pop. When are you do?" "Umm, 12 days ago." Yeah, that was fun.

Anyway, Luke started out a few ounces smaller than Lu, but has been as much as 10lbs. heavier in the last 17 months! He is all boy. Loves balls and cars and wrestling. I've been watching him the last few weeks on Tuesdays for Leslie and am so thankful for it. Luke has given us a little glimpse into what life might be like for us when Nathan arrives. I've changed a boy diaper, learned I need some different bibs (sorry about the pink polka dots Luke)...and the girls have had a chance to see a bit of what life with a brother will be like. I feel as though it was something we needed.

I think that I wonder the most about how Lucy will do with all of this. It's definitely going to change her world. And while we have been able to really prepare the others, and they are SO excited, with Lucy, she's still so little. Well, God knows what we need and he knows what all my sweet children need. All four of them. This is going to be an interesting journey for sure.