What’s in a Name?


“…our names are part of our wholeness. To be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love.” – Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

My name is Melissa, that honey-bee moniker laid upon me on the day of my birth. Over the 36 years of my life, though, I have been gifted with other names. As a child, my family and friends called me “Missy”. In high school, my friends fell to calling me by my last (maiden) name, for reasons that I have hitherto forgotten. When I entered college, the friends I met there named me “Mel” out of amusement for my last name: Gibson, and that particular name has stuck over the subsequent decade and a half. Almost everyone calls me “Mel” now.

While that is my most frequently-used nickname, it is still precious to me because those who utter it love me, and I know it, what’s more. It is an intimacy, an outward expression of their love and care for me. There is a vast difference between those who call me “Mel” and those who call me “Melissa”.

There are more names with which I have been gifted that are precious to me. My best girl friends call me “wifey”, as we are close and beloved of each other, having been friends for a decade or longer. We are also also wives and mothers of small children who support and love on each other and each other’s children. We belong to each other.

A particular dear friend, Erin, calls me her “Sam” after Samwise Gamgee in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, which I count amongst my highest honors. I call her my Bosslady, stemming all the way back to college and her sweet, loving, faithful mentoring those almost-twenty years ago.

My husband calls me “Issya”, a derivative of my name that only we two know the origin of. That name ushers from no one’s lips but his, making it infinitely precious. He also calls me “Helpmeet”, as we are partners in this life together.

When our daughter was first learning to talk, she dubbed me “Mumum”, which made me so happy to hear it babbled from her chubby, smiling face. Even now, when she says “Mama” instead of the more-usual “Mommy”, I am thrown back to her earlier years all over again.

These names, these gifts, represent intentional acts of relationship by dear ones–especially in this, my second act of life. They are an almost tangible way of knowing that I am welcome in their lives and loved by them.

“What’s in a name?” I believe that a truly given name (or nickname)  has an intimacy wrapped up in, an acknowledgement, a place, and a whisper of love. Thank you, dear ones, for my names. Thank you for how you love me.

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Those Amazing Moments…


One Thing…

 A few amazing and splendid things have happened since the beginning of the year. Firstly, I had a realization about my writing. I am not reaching for ‘astonishing’. I am not reaching for the bestseller list. However, I have realized of late that what I do want for my writing, my goal, my calling for this gift I have had since childhood is for it to mean something. I want my writing to be of value and good to someone. I want it to be encouraging, edifying, challenging, comforting, welcoming. I want my writing to speak God’s love to those who read it, to challenge them to keep going, keep trying, keep staying, keep loving. This is my goal.

I literally realized as I wrote that last sentence: this is my dream.

Friends, I cannot tell you the last time I had a dream. A dream to work for, a dream to reach for. Over the past decade when I have been asked what my dreams are, I have felt appallingly empty. I have had no words, no answer, no dream to speak of. And it made my heart ache; it made me cry, to be dreamless. I do not want big things; I do not want a huge, ostentatious house, to be famous, to top a bestseller list, or to speak to large crowds. Truthfully? I have accomplished many of the dreams that others might have. I have a solid job, health insurance, a strong relationship, a loving family, a healthy child, a home of my own, and enough money to cover our bills, our needs, and many of our wants, too. Are things perfect? No. Are they good? Yes. So, with all that, what else could I possibly dream for, reach for?

But, as I think about it, the more and more I realize that this is a dream. A new one! Like dear Flynn Rider (Eugene Fitzherbert to his friends), I needed to find a new dream, and…I guess I have. I do not necessarily know what comes next (sharing this post, I suppose), but the thought of having a dream is and feels nothing short of amazing.

            I’ve got a dream!

And Another Thing!

The second splendid thing was a moment of affirmation, one that meant—and still means—a great deal. On a recent Saturday, I wrote a post of thank-you’s on my personal Facebook page to my dear ones. A little while later, my phone pinged with a notification: my dad had commented on my post. Here is what he wrote:

Thank you too, for being yourself, true to openness and willingness to share such a ministry of helping others to feel that they are important, cared about, loved and have someone to lift them up. You are also willing to share their pain and climb down to where they are to keep them comfortable with your encouragement.

I really cannot describe to you just how deeply this affirmation touched my soul, particularly as it came from my dad, who has been in ministry in some way, shape, or form throughout my entire life. This is my life’s purpose and work: love. I really do believe that God put me here to do my best to love, deeply and well, those whom God has put in my path and life. Some may stay, some may leave, and some may just be passing through, but nevertheless, I am going to do my best to offer love to them all.

Encouragement is one of my spiritual gifts, without a doubt, but I learned it at my mother’s knee. She used to buy me little calendars for my study carrel (office) at school and she would write encouraging, loving little notes on them. When I went off to college, she sent prayer boxes with me (little containers with Scripture verses or prayers on them) and she would write notes on the back side of them. She never misses a birthday, anniversary, or holiday; her beautifully-chosen, loving cards come without fail. I keep many of them and re-read them when I need a heart-lift. With such inspiration and teaching, how could I ever doubt what my purpose on this mortal coil is?

My mother’s teachings, the affirmations of family, friends, ministers, dear ones, and now this timely one from my Da’…sometimes that is what a soul needs. What God knew my soul needed: affirmation that I am indeed doing what I am supposed to be doing. In that, God has given me a dream, a desire, a goal, and the confirmation that, yes, I am to step forward into it, whatever that mean. Just the next step, though.

When the Storm Forms


January 19, 2019 – Hope*Writers Prompt: Brainstorm           

Sometimes, a bolt of lightning strikes my brain (Well, that must hurt!) and it starts a hiss. That hiss grows into a rumble like distant thunder. I like that rumble. That rumble is fun. That rumble is twitchy. That rumble is smile-inducing because it means there’s something new to explore. A new idea to pick apart so as to see how it works, and then put it back together again in a way that is accessible. A new character with stories being born in their mouth and limbs every second: stories to live, stories to tell. A new world that blinks at me from behind its caul, begging me to be gentle in my examinations and explorations of its workings and people. That rumble means (hopefully) an oncoming storm of newness, the arrival of a new something to write about, to dive into, to disappear within for a while. It’s the shelter into which I duck as the storm finally breaks.

**Postscript: extra points if you caught the quote in the first paragraph and can tell me what film it is from. ^_^

Photo from vunature.com – Sky Nature Electricity Landscapes Night Cities Lightning Storm Light Skyscapes Beautiful Photos

Living Drafts


Draft

January 16, 2019 – Hope*Writers Prompts

            Drafting a piece of writing can be so difficult: figuring out some way to get those ideas out of your mind and down onto paper or a screen…somehow. Eventually, though, they do end up there, and then begins the task of tearing that painstaking draft apart and putting it back together again. That is what I love about drafts: the puzzling out and reconstituting of them, sometimes as something very different than what I started out with. I create something and then I blast my beloved creation apart, muck about with the pieces several dozen times, and then, eventually, end up with something that resembles a final draft. It may be a refined, elegant version of the original or it may end up looking nothing like the writing I began with, completely different proverbial eyes staring back at me from the computer screen.

            As a friend once reminded me, rather wisely: life is not being a great writer but a great re­-writer. Writing and life are about being able to to see where we have learned, grown, and changed, edit, revise our worldview as necessary, and life our lives accordingly. So, in more way than one, we are all living drafts every single day, always being revised into something new and exciting. Perhaps someday, new eyes will stare back at our Maker than those with which we began.

Morning Whispers


January 15, 2019 – Hope*Writers Prompts

When I wake on my own and the house is quiet, my dear ones still asleep, that is the softest, brightest feeling. There is that Christmas Morning anticipation fluttering from the sheer joy that I might be able to get up, get my coffee, and sit in the silence. Just sit and sip before the bustle of the day begins. A morning silent enough to hear the sun whisper as it rises.

Words Upon Words


January 14, 2019 – Hope*Writers Prompts

 I love words. I think you have figured that out about me by now. But there is something that I deeply dislike: saying words without a point. I don’t like babbling, and I feel exceedingly embarrassed when I think I am babbling pointlessly. I don’t think that I have ever wanted to be famous for my words, but I do know–or rather, have come to realize–that I want my words to mean something. I want them to be meaningful to someone in some way for some reason, whether that reason is encouragement, an inspiration to be and/or make the world around them better, to see others in a dearer light, or to extend that dear light to themselves. All I know that I am desperate for my words to mean Something.

Josephine March is my favorite novel character, and, inLittle Women, Jo longed for a life beyond her beloved Orchard House, a life that was astonishing. I am not reaching for astonishing, honestly. I am not entirely sure I could handle astonishing. I am not reaching for the book deals, the speaking engagements, etc., though I dearly do love rejoicing in and with those who have flown to those amazing, inspiring heights. I just have this craving, deep down in the belly of my soul, for what I write and say to have meaning, to fall on hearts and minds and sink in somehow for the better.

The Work of Christmas is for Me, Too.


As this new year begins, this is me. Full disclosure: total bathroom selfie. No glasses, no makeup, hair undone, no filters. Just me.

As 2019 begins, I am considering the work of Christmas, that work that began on Christmas Day and continues on from there. The work of love. One of the things that I am going to be working on is loving myself. I know very well what I have been struggling with, one of the chief things being building more rest into my everyday life. Not just waiting for spring, summer, or Christmas breaks to actually try to rest in that admittedly limited space but acknowledging my need for it as I go along throughout my normal days and weeks.

The work of Christmas needs to begin with me, as much as it needs to involve others. As a dear friend reminded me, I need to love myself and give myself as much grace and permission as I give others.

So here I am, just me, and I am going to work on loving myself better.