15 November 2008

Names and Reasons

We are often asked why we've chosen the names we have for our children; there are many things we consider when picking a name. Richelle likes names that are at least a little unusual. Tim doesn't. We've selected names because we like the way they sound, their meaning has special significance to us, and often because of our family heritage. And, with every child (except for Brendan, because we didn't know the mission field on which we would be serving when he was born), we've purposely chosen names that sound nice in both English and French. And soon, we'll be making public the name we've chosen for our little one that we are anticipating meeting in person in the near future. So, I thought it might be fun to go through and share a little about why we have picked the names we have...


Brendan's name is of Irish, Gaelic or German origin. It has several possible meanings (including "stinky hair" and we love to tease him about that), but the meaning that we found initially and that we so liked is “Dweller by the Light.” From his birth, it has been our prayer that Brendan would dwell close to Jesus, the Light of the world. His middle name, Stewart, is of English origin, it is Richelle's maiden name and means “Guardian of the House.” Again, as we pray for our son and his future, we pray that someday, he will be a godly guardian, or leader of the family God has planned for him. One famous Brendan, St. Brendan the Navigator (or the Voyager, or the Bold), was an Irish missionary who some believe was the first to sail across the Atlantic to spread the Gospel message, possibly even the very first to find America. Brendan isn't sure, but thinks that perhaps God would have him serve as a missionary some day. It would thrill our hearts to see Brendan using the talents God has given him, either in music or translation ministry.


Rebekah's name is a Hebrew name, meaning "Captivating," "Knotted Cord," or "To Tie or Ensnare." We are first introduced to Rebekah in the Bible as a captivating and brave young woman with a generous servant's heart, willing to haul water for camels and gutsy enough to leave her home to marry the man God had for her, sight unseen. It is a delight to watch the Holy Spirit developing some of these same traits in our Rebekah. Joy, Rebekah's middle name, means just what it sounds like: “Rejoicing,” whether you look at either its French or English origin. Anyone in the delivery room who heard her Grandma Betty's squeal of joy and delight as we called her to let her know of the birth of her first granddaughter would agree that Joy was the perfect middle name for Rebekah. And our eldest daughter, who loves to laugh, continues to bring joy to our hearts as we see her growing heart for serving people. Our prayer is that her heart is completely captivated by her Lord, that God will use this for His glory and to draw others to Himself, to continue to see God grow the qualities of generousity and service in her heart, and for her to have the diligence and the tenderness to use those qualities to love, bless and encourage others.


We receive more compliments on Nadia's name than on any other. Nadia is a name of Russian origin and means "Hope." A friend in our church died tragically just days before Nadia arrived, and while we had already decided upon her name, it made the name seem even more appropriate. Because of Christ, we do have an eternal hope. After the fact, we found out that Nadia is a popular name in Islamic and many African countries. In Arabic, it means "Tender, or Delicate." Nadia's soft heart, especially towards her younger siblings, is readily evident. It is also a commonly chosen name in the tribal language of many of our friends and neighbors... so much so that we are often named by them as Nadia's mama or Nadia's daddy. Monique is of French or Latin origin and means "Wise Counsellor." While only time will tell whether this is a part of who she becomes, she is certainly our most diligent child in finishing her homework and in reminding her little sisters to complete theirs. It is our prayer that Nadia never forgets the reason for her hope, and that by the testimony of her life and her words, she wisely counsels other to seek that same source of eternal hope.


We really thought Nadia's arrival had completed our family, and did not expect any further children. We were quite surprised when we did get pregnant again, and then devastated when Richelle miscarried and we lost that baby. God used that time to show us that He is the one who blesses a family with children, and as parents it is our job to welcome those He chooses to loan us, for however long He gives them to us. We were so excited when not long after, we realized that He was blessing us again... another baby was on the way. Anna is also a Hebrew name, a derivative of Hannah. Hannah's story in the Bible has always touched our hearts. She pleaded with the Lord of a child and the Lord demonstrated His grace and favor by granting that request. The name Anna means "God has Favored Me," or "Grace." Cossette is the English spelling of a French name that means "Victorious." After a long and difficult 5 day labor with her, it was a great moment of victory to finally hold our almost 10 lb baby in our arms. We are so thankful for the gift of our Anna, and pray often that God will give her the victory as she faces difficulties, struggles, trials and temptations in this life.


Victoria's name came about in a bit of a different way. Brendan was terribly excited when we told the kids we were expecting another baby... unknown to us, he'd been praying for a baby brother. After ultrasound confirmation of another little girl, he was terribly sad and disappointed. Thus, we decide that Brendan would help us in choosing the name for his new little sister. We picked out 5 first names and 5 middle names that we liked (it took FOREVER!), and that we felt went together well, regardless of the combination. Then, after she was born, we let Brendan pick from among those names to construct and name our then newest family member. He chose Victoria Rose. Victoria comes from the Latin and means "Victorious Conqueror." Little Tori, both super sweet and outstandingly ornery has conquered all of our hearts. Rose refers, of course, to the flower - one of Richelle's favorites, and is a symbol of Love and Beauty. Both Victoria and Rose are also family names from Richelle's side. It cannot be coincidence that of all of our children, she clearly looks like a Stewart. We pray daily for our spirited little conqueror - that the Holy Spirit will mold her nature into one that is victorious in the gentle love she demonstrates to others and in the beauty of a heart like her Savior's. She is the only one of our children who more commonly goes by her nickname, Tori. But, when you ask her to introduce herself, she will proudly tell you that her name is Victoria Rose Wright.


Finally! Here was the answer to Brendan's prayer for a little brother. And, he is the best anniversary present ever... arriving on our 10th wedding anniversary. Richelle never dreamed her joking reply to the question of what we'd do in Niamey for our 10th anniversary (She replied something to the effect of, "Knowing my luck, I'll be in labor and delivery, having a baby...") would be prophetic - she wasn't even pregnant at the time! His name was actually one that Richelle had picked out and had been planning to use since she was a young teenager. At that time, she was asked to sketch the birth announcement for a friend who had named their baby Jonathan David, and fell in love with the name and its meaning then. The fact that both names are family names from Tim's side of the family seemed to make it a perfect choice. Both names are of Hebrew origin: Jonathan means "Jehovah has Given," and Brendan most definitely agreed, for he was no longer the only boy child in the family! David means "Beloved, or Friend." When you consider the Biblical examples of these two men, our prayers for Jonathan are that he is a faithful friend, closer than a brother, like the example of Jonathan; even more importantly, we pray with our whole heart that he becomes a man after God's own heart, just like King David.


Elsie Mae is a combination family name. Elsie was her paternal great-grandmother on the Wright side of the family; Mae is her maternal great-grandmother on the Stewart side. But we also appreciate the beautiful meanings of this compound first name: Elsie means "My God is Bountiful" and is of Scottish origin. Mae is an alternative spelling of May - the beginning of spring which brings "New Life and Growth." God has been so bountiful in giving us this affectionate child with the most enchanting and delightful smile. Maybe we are getting more sentimental as parents or we are just learning to enjoy our children more, but how do you express the magnitude of joy there is in participating with the Lord in the shaping and development of an eternal soul? We pray regularly for her new life in Christ and then subsequent spiritual growth... not to mention the daily physical and emotional growth in which we presently delight. Her middle name, Brianne, comes from Gaelic roots, meaning "Noble, Strong, Virtuous, and She Ascends." What a a beautiful list of characteristics that we pray the Holy Spirit will someday grow in our current (but not for too much longer) baby of the family.

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