Faith, Names, Parenting

In a Name

If you know me, you know that my kids have weird names. Even if you don’t know me, well… my kids have weird names. When people meet us for the first time and we introduce everyone, we get a lot of “wows” or “those are really interesting names.” Inevitably, someone always asks,

“Where did you come up with those?”

It is both one of my favorite and least favorite questions. I love to tell the stories behind my kids’ names, but the stranger in the grocery store probably doesn’t want the full download. So my easy, fast answer is “we choose them based on their meanings,” which is both true and yet oversimplified.

So, for inquiring minds who want to know, here’s just how we came to our particular naming method.

When we announced that we were expecting our first baby, the crowds went wild – everyone we knew was so excited. We have an incredible community that loves to pray powerfully for each other, so people were pretty quick to start asking “Can I pray for your baby?” The first time was incredible as phrases like “a mighty worshiper of God,” “a gifted prophet to the nations,” and “declaring the Word of the Lord from the mountaintop” came out through my friend’s prayers.

But over and over again through the next several months, the phrases “worshiper” and “prophet” repeated themselves – to the tune of a dozen or more individual people praying at different times and in different places. Finally, Jon and I looked at each other and said “Maybe we should take this seriously.”

We’d been looking at baby names, trying to find some that we liked. The meaning of a name was important to us, but not our starting point. As we began to take note of the repeated patterns of people’s prayers, we decided to try something crazy. What if we started with the meaning? What if we took what we believed God was saying about this child and who he/she was, and picked a name to reflect that? And so we began our search.

Let me tell you, it adds an interesting layer of challenge to choosing a name. Searching for a specific meaning narrows your options very quickly. Sometimes it leads you to some unusual names – which, thankfully, we like. But since then, we’ve always started in prayer over each child. We ask “God, who is this person you’ve created? Who and what have you called them to be? How do you want us to speak into them and their life and legacy?” When we feel like we have a consensus through prayer, we dig in to find a name that reflects that.

I always loved that this would give us a chance as parents to speak legacy, calling, and greatness into our children’s lives. But an unexpected benefit has been how often we get to share our own hearts with others – often strangers or unbelievers. A candidly curious response to a name can very quickly open deep conversations about what it important and meaningful to us. It’s a very different process than most people take, and we acknowledge that.

We trust that God knows and loves these kiddos even more than we do and has a lot to say about who they are. We’re just following his lead, and that seems to be working out pretty well so far.

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