names matter

Names are so very important. People who have not met form a first impression based on a name. We honor each other in using proper names, by getting them right. We attach endearing nicknames to those we most deeply love. Names matter.

We Americans have tremendous flexibility in naming our children — compared to laws or traditions in Iceland or Ghana, for example. It is among the first of many weighty responsibilities in parenting. Most give a lot of thought, considering what the name means, the nicknames it inspires, how it works with the last name, how it will wear through the life cycle of toddler to young adult, as a young professional, a parent, or grandparent.

I love that our chids each bear a grandparent’s first name as their middle name: David, Rae, and Lloyd. Through them, grandparents live on. They all left us too soon.

Our eldest son was named for his maternal grandfather. Finally, a namesake for Dave! (Ultimately, my dad scored two more.) Our youngest son was named for his paternal grandfather. Lloyd founded the farm on grit and determination, a good woman alongside. (He’d be proud of his grandsons, carrying on.) Our daughter was named for an adopted grandparent — because best friends share everything! Ray was a man of God, beloved by many. He filled a gap in my young motherhood, advising and encouraging as you’d hope a grandparent would. Our chids adored their next-door grampa, too.

Their first names are a mixed bag: one named after, one named in honor, one just fit. Each bore special meaning. We purchased artful calligraphy as reminders. I’d bet they still have them, tucked away in their special boxes — ice skate boxes converted for keepsakes. The best of grade school essays and artwork through high school awards and report cards landed there. (And when each left home, a special box was tucked under each arm.)

Our firstborn was named after his father. He was remarkably strong from his first breath and is like a rock in our family. Our daughter was named in honor of two childhood friends. She is gentle and kind, a gifted counselor, and in her own way like the Lord. Our youngest was named by his father; determined we’d have a second son. And he is, indeed, noble; the quintessential gentleman.

They have become as their names suggested. And they have become so much more.


So it’s rather ironic that I didn’t know the meaning of my own name, eh? I was surprised to learn that my name means peace. Recently, I’ve needed a double portion!

Have you ever experienced a chronic irritant? Something that you cannot resolve but cannot get away from? Something that dogs you for weeks … months … years, resurfacing periodically to make you all kinds of crazy? Something for which there is no defense? Yet still, in your deepest being, you know that you don’t deserve? Me, too. I’ll have some of that there peace, please.

Peace is one of God’s amazing promises and sweetest blessings. He grants peace irrespective of circumstances — peace so abundant that it doesn’t make sense! Then we know it is the peace of God.

I’ve long loved the old testament blessing of protection and peace, the Barocha. For years, this blessing followed our chids out the door on their way to school. I’d bet, if you asked them, they remember and somehow it mattered. I know it mattered to me.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

What wonderful imagery! God’s smile is like a flood of warm sunlight, enfolding us in a protective embrace. We relax immediately, our entire beings settling under his watchful gaze. His face turns as he attends to us, graciously providing for our needs. In his care, we have no worries, no concerns. We have his blessing. We have peace.

Michael Card crafted a simple, sweet lullaby of peace from the Barocha. It has a calming, quieting effect. Whenever I sing it, I am praying blessings of protection and peace upon my family and friends.

The Barocha is my January focus scripture. As we wait for our January glam-babe, the Barocha is often on my lips. May this wee one arrive soon, fully enveloped in God’s warm embrace. May she be safely kept in God’s protective care. May he know God’s sweet smile, experience his perfect peace.

And oh, I will so appreciate if I can be present to participate in the birth party! That would be a bonus blessing. ;/0 Meanwhile, we wait and pray…

Peace. My One Little Word for 2013. Peace!

~René Morley

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