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Faith, Names

In A Name – Kavannah Abigail

A few weeks ago in church the speaking pastor made a comment about how in our culture “names don’t really mean anything,” people usually just pick them because they like the sound of them – the pastor and his wife included. And I laughed to myself. By now you know that meaning is central to how we choose our children’s names, so that morning just confirmed that we’re the crazies in our world. No shame.

If you’re just joining in, you can catch up on the stories behind our older two sons’ names, Gavrel and Declan.

Long before we’d chosen either of the boys’ names, Jon and I watched some close friends walk through a hard, hard season when they lost a baby girl. They had chosen a name for their daughter taken from an old Rabbinical word that describes the constant, intentional practice and awareness of the presence of God in every aspect of life. It was a concept our friends had taken from a ministry training, and it so beautifully described how they had to fully rely on God during their loss.

Almost exactly a year later, Jon and I discovered we were pregnant with Gavrel (even if we didn’t know it was Gavrel yet). We hadn’t stumbled into our naming process yet, but very early had a name come to mind that we both loved: Kavannah – the name of our friends’ daughter. We loved the sound (it’s pronounced more like the Irish surname “Cavanaugh”), the meaning, and the legacy of faith that came with it. With our friends’ blessing and permission, we agreed that we would love to use the name if we ever had a little girl.

So we sat on the name for a few years while we had boys. Around the time we were discussing having a third baby, I had several friends who were struggling with infertility or miscarriage. I mourned with a lot of friends that year. I found myself praying one morning, “Lord, there is so much pain around me. How do I celebrate this next baby while so many are hurting?” And the reassurance in my spirit was “Celebrate! Rejoice over this baby. You have no idea the healing and joy they will bring into life.” And so we paired the middle name Abigail, meaning “the joy of her Father.”

Kavannah Abigail – the intentional awareness of the presence of the God who delights in her. She remains the only one of our children to have her name come together before she existed, but we can’t imagine her being anything else. She is as unique a little creature as her name – deep, thoughtful, content, loving, joyful, and independent. Someone in whom God is richly present. She’s pretty great.

Faith, Parenting

Parenting Prayers: Psalm 119

Recently, I’ve been asking God to give me specific verses to pray over each of my children. We already give them life verses that go along with the meanings of their names. But I’ve also been asking God what else is on his heart for each of them. As I was helping Gavrel brush his teeth and get ready for bed one night, I stood playing with his hair and watching his face in the mirror, and a verse rushed to my mind as loudly and clearly as a thunderclap.

Psalm 119:9-11:
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

So I began to pray this over him as I continued to watch him in the mirror. Later, I went back and wrote it out in the margins of my Bible so that I can remember and continue to pray it. But I also wanted to share it here, in the hopes that it empowers you in praying for your own children in line with God’s will for them.

Lord, I pray that (name) would keep his/her way pure by always guarding it according to your word; that (name) would seek you with his/her whole heart and not wander from your commandments. Teach (name) to store up your word in his/her heart, that he/she might not sin against you. 

And just for fun, Seeds Family Worship has a fun song based on this verse. It’s a great way to help you and your little ones memorize this verse as you’re praying it.

Faith, Parenting

Parenting Prayers: Ephesians 1

A few weeks ago, as I was going to bed on a Friday night, I felt Jesus whisper “Get up before your family tomorrow morning.” Anyone who knows me knows that this is a stretching directive for me – I don’t do early morning. But I opted not to argue this time around and dutifully set my alarm for early Saturday morning.

When I got up in the morning, I sat at the kitchen table with my Bible and a cup of coffee and asked God what he wanted to tell me. What am I awake early on a Saturday morning to hear? He had already been leading me through Ephesians chapter 1 slowly throughout the previous week, so I was drawn back there. I started reading where I had left off. I came to verses 17-19:

“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…”

I felt like I’d been punched in the gut and my eyes teared up. Parenting is really hard sometimes, and we had been in the midst of a particularly hard stretch. But as I read these verses, I knew this was what I wanted for my children. This was what Jesus had called me up early to show me. So I began to pray these verses over my children – copying them out and inserting each of their names as I went.

I finished these prayers (seven times over) as my first little ones were appearing downstairs and set it aside to begin the day. Later that evening, long after I had moved on to other things, Jon showed me a text from someone who had been praying for us. It included these same verses being prayed over our children. It was such a sweet confirmation that I’d heard correctly.

Two weeks later, in church, the sermon included the same passage, with instructions and specific encouragement to pray these verses over others in our lives. It seems that Jesus is stressing their importance to me. So I want to share them with you now, in the form I prayed them over my children. I hope this blesses you and gives you a concrete way to pray Scripture over your own children and family.

God of our Lord Jesus Christ, glorious Father, I ask you to give (name) the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that he/she may know you better. I pray also that the eyes of his/her heart may be enlightened in order that (name) may know the hope to which you have called him/her, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and your incomparable power for he/she who believes. Amen.

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.


When my body fails.

Like many people, I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my weight throughout my life. Over time I have been every size from a four, up to a fourteen – and back again. More than once. Some changes have been positive and empowering, others frustrating and defeating.

And then I encountered postpartum anxiety. The constant panic attack, fight-or-flight, roller coaster feeling made me sick to my stomach all the time. Some days I barely felt like I could get out of bed, and eating was definitely the last thing I wanted to do. The pounds started melting off. This is supposed to be everyone’s ideal, right? Except the pounds didn’t stop melting off. People constantly made comments about how great I was looking, but I began to feel out of place in my own body.

Today, I am smaller than I have ever been in my adult life. I weigh twenty pounds less than I did on my wedding day. I haven’t yet wrapped my mind around buying smaller sizes, and I still don’t really feel like myself. My anxiety is better overall, but still a work in progress. The weight loss has slowed, but not totally stopped.

Through it all, though, there has been grace. Even though I feel like my body is failing in a lot of ways, it continues to do what is most important. My nursing baby continues to to grow and develop without needing to supplement at all. I can still lift each of my children (and, let’s be honest, restrain them sometimes). I can still climb trees and carry car seats. Even in my brokenness, God has been good to sustain me. I’m thankful for that grace.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ~Psalm 73:26


“Have you ever thought about blogging?”

Years ago, I started a blog as a personal creative outlet. Then I moved across the country and it became a way for friends and family to follow along. Next, it made the change to motherhood with me and I wrote about my kids and mothering.

But all along the way, I tried too hard to be what I thought a “ministry blogger,” “mommy blogger,” or “homemaker blogger” was supposed to be. I lost myself, and being lost burned me out. I realized that the blog just no longer fit into my personal mission or purpose. It wasn’t driving anything meaningful, but it was taking up time and mental space. And so I let it go. I had other outlets to pour into.

About a year ago, I watched the door close on fourteen years of youth ministry. One by one, my gifts and abilities were rendered obsolete in that context and I became a body taking up space in the room each week. I wrestled and prayed, cried and cried out, and finally accepted that God was drawing me away from something I had loved for so long. I grieved that loss hard.

So now what? I love to encourage people. I love to tell stories. I love to connect with others. And most of all, I love helping others understand just how deeply God loves them and wants to use them. Many years ago, I believe God told me “I created you to reveal My words to other people.” But suddenly I found myself without an outlet for that purpose. I felt like God was positioning me for something new, but I didn’t have a clear picture of it yet.

“Have you thought about putting some of these thoughts on your blog?” Jon asked me one night while we talked about life and ministry. I brushed it off. The blog was so disorganized and out-of-date, it just wasn’t the right place.

“You know, the church blog is always looking for contributors. I think you have some ideas that would work well there,” a friend told me. Jon pointed out, “Most speakers get started by writing first.” My life is so drastically different than it used to be, I thought, there’s no way I could find the time and energy to do it well.

“Katie, have you ever considered blogging? This is the kind of thing I would love to read.” A trusted mentor asked the question over dinner one night. “You know, I’ve been thinking about suggesting that you take up blogging again,” my best friend admitted a couple days later, “but I’ve been hesitant to bring it up knowing how busy you’ve been.”

Ok, Jesus. I can take a two-by-four to the head.

“I think it’s time to resurrect the blog,” I told Jon. “Yeah,” he answered, “I think you’re right.” I’ve been resisting. I’ve brushed it aside and made excuses. But if this is the next step God has for me, then I will take it. Lord, help me.