Nathan means "gift from God." My parents named him that because he was a "surprise," a baby they hadn't been expecting. Over the years, I've often commented about how grateful I am that God surprised our family with Nate.
There are many reasons I am thankful for this youngest brother of mine. For one, our family would be incredibly boring without him. Let's face it - Joel and I are both pretty standard, play-by-the-rules, overachiever types. Sure, we both like to laugh and can be funny from time to time, but Nate has that special spark (what an old man in the K-Mart parking lot was probably referring to when he said, "That kid has a lot of juice!"). He's the one who brings out the silly in the rest of us and has often made us laugh until we cried - like with his "pillow dance" on our family road trip out West and his "Circle Up" interpretive dance on a rainy beach day. What a gift those memories and laughs and countless others like them have been to our family.
Nate is not only full of life and humor, but he ia also the one in the family with the strongest artistic genes. He's the kid who basically taught himself to play the piano and the guitar, who takes beautiful photographs, and who can decorate a space with the best of them. He's a pretty amazing writer too. Some of my fondest family memories involve Nate at the guitar and the rest of us joining him (with far less rhythm and pitch) in singing worship songs.
Another thing I love about Nate is that he has good taste, and he knows what is "in" before most people catch on. This means he is not only fun to shop with, but also that he is the one who has introduced me to some of my favorite music (everything from John Mayer to Joshua Radin to Glen Hansard).
When I think of Nate and his impact on my life and on our family, the word "richness" comes to mind. Before him, we were a family, and this was a good thing. But in His abundance, God wanted to give us more - more life, more color, more beauty, more music, and more energy. He wanted to give us Nate. And I am so, so glad that He did.