By becoming parents, we sign on for a million and one unique tasks, some exhilarating, others exhausting. One job that’s an early must for every parent is to name the new baby. Although demanding decisions await, this first duty is a pleasure.
Some parents eagerly name their children after others they love, in a gesture of honor and respect. The hope is that the admired one, the one having a character so strong he/she is worthy of a namesake, will develop an influential relationship with the child.
Often baby names are chosen to link one family member with another as a tribute to the older person. This would include a “junior” or a “I, II, or III.”
Other new moms and dads are all about the meanings of names. This was particularly true in biblical days when parents believed children would live up (or down) to their names. The scriptural Jabez, for example, became famous because he sidestepped this principle. His name meant “borne in pain.” In the only Bible reference to this man, he asked God to keep him from causing pain to others.
I remember our Linnea asking us, as a little girl, what her name meant. Sadly, we didn’t have a good answer. She was named Linnea because we had several other Linneas in the family, and we loved this Swedish name. When we looked it up after the fact, we learned it meant “lime tree,” not particularly noteworthy. (We did redeem ourselves somewhat by discovering a tiny pink flower named “Linnea”.)
The only way the name game can be spoiled is if mommy and daddy can’t agree. When this happens, experts say, “Let the father name the baby, because it’ll bond them together. The mother has been bonding for nine months.”
Nate and I dipped into each of the above methods of naming our seven. While growing up, our kids would say we made an effort to choose the weirdest names we could find. Nate and I chose them all from a Swedish calendar because of our shared Scandinavian heritage and knew their names would grow on them, which they did.
Yesterday I received the glorious call from Hans and Katy announcing the double birth of their not-so-little twins in Manchester, England. There is no greater use of a phone than to communicate the news of new life! When they called a second time to reveal the names, it was nearly as great a thrill. By knowing the names, I began to know the grandbabies. A first step was to write “Evelyn” and “Thomas” on my prayer list, scratching out the anonymous “Baby Girl” and “Baby Boy” written there to this date.
When Hans told me Evelyn’s name, he said, “…after the one and only Grandma J,” my mom. Well put. Evelyn’s middle name, Sarah, is after two remarkable women who share it: Katy’s mum and then Katy herself, as a middle name. The first half of little Evelyn’s name means “giver of life,” and the second half means “beautiful.” As the first daughter in a family of three children, she will give a special kind of life to this Nyman household. Her second name describes exactly how: as a “princess”!
Thomas means, appropriately, “twin”, and he is named after two first-rate role models: my brother Tom and Hans himself, as a middle name. The twin’s middle name, Nathan, means “gift of God” and honors Hans’ father, who passed away five months ago. God took… and he gave. All four of these names are rich with significance and will prompt meaningful conversations with the twins in future years.
Nicholas, their not-much- older brother at 15 months, bears a name linked to two uncles, Katy’s brother Nicholas and Hans’ brother Klaus, whose name is derived from the Swedish spelling of Niklaus. And his middle name, Carl, is shared with my dad, the patriarch of our side of the family. By the way, Nicholas means “mighty in battle” and Carl tells why: because he is “the strong one.” With the twins entering little Nick’s world, he’ll need both might and strength!
My prayer for all three children is that they’ll hear God’s tender call. He’s known their names since before time began and loves them with an everlasting love.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” (Isaiah 43:1)