Names Matter

by | Sep 24, 2012 | Life & Faith | 10 comments

 Goodnight Moon   -              By: Margaret Wise Brown                   Illustrated By: Clement Hurd
“Nana, do you have any kids?”

I am wedged on the couch between Abigail, 4 1/2 and Paul Silas, 2 1/2.
We are reading a bedtime story. ‘Goodnight Moon’, no doubt; it is always ‘Goodnight Moon.’

“Well, Abi, I have two kids. One is your Auntie Leah and the other is your Papa.”

“Oh.” (Maybe she wanted to know if there was anyone else in the house to play with besides her Grandpa and I…)

I could tell by the sound of her voice  she had absolutely no idea what I just said.
Paul, of course, was oblivious; he is after all, only 2-ish.

(l to r) Hanan, Peter, Abigail and Paul

My son Aaron will be 36 today.  He actually has 5 children (four of whom are pictured above.)
When I was pregnant with him back in the day, ultrasounds were unheard of and doctors only ordered them if complications were suspected.  So knowing a baby’s sex ahead of time was out of the question.
At any rate, we were hoping for a boy–I wanted to name him after my husband’s father Paul.  So when he was born it was ‘Aaron Paul.’
I don’t recall that I spent any amount of time seeking God in fervent prayer about it.
It just came to me. (or so I thought).

Three years later we were blessed with a girl.  While I was pregnant, the name ‘Leah Michelle’ just sort of dropped into my heart. There was no ‘thus saith the Lord about it’; I just liked the way the names went together.

Aaron, Leah and their father, comparing Smartphones

As I watch the way my children have grown into their names to become who they are it is astonishing to me. Even though we weren’t intently purposeful about the process it is clear God had them in mind long before we ever did. Both of them match their biblical counterparts perfectly.

Aaron and his lovely wife Courtney’s 5 children are, in birth order: 
Hanan–from the Hebrew ‘to entreat grace’. Hanan was one of David’s mighty men.
                  (yep, that’s Hanan. 9 1/2 years old.  Gracious and strong)
Peter–the Rock.  Stubborn, impulsive, strong.  (You remember Peter?)
                  (Fits this Peter to a ‘T.’)
Abigail–‘the Father’s joy’ from the Hebrew (and she is!)
               Her middle name is Sophia–(Greek)’wisdom’.  She is very smart….truly.
Paul–from the Greek ‘Lucanus’–‘little’. Small but mighty, like the Apostle Paul.
                   (well, he is now. He is also a clown and a charmer and wonderful with   
                   strangers…yes, that sounds like a Paul to me.)
Luke….well, Luke is only 10 months old, so time will tell how he grows into his name.
My concordance says, ‘Greek, a Christian.’ Luke’s middle name is Ezra, for the prophet who encouraged the Jewish people to return to God. Yes God, may it be so of this Luke Ezra.

So–named on purpose, becoming who they are, who the Father had in mind.  I can see God’s hand on my grandchildren, my children and even on me.

My given name is Joanna.  Growing up it was my ‘in trouble’ name–“Joanna Lee!”–as I recall.

Abigail and Paul ‘dancing’ with their Nana and Grandpa

I was never able to ask my mother who I was named after; she died when I was young and raising my own children.  She lived 5 hours away and my conversations with her were few and far between.

I became a Christian when I was 19 and it wasn’t until I was forty years old and my mother had been gone several years that I saw my name in the Bible. I was reading the book of Luke and there it was. Twice.

Joanna ‘Whom Jehovah has graciously given.’ The wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee (Luke 8:3). She was one of the women who ministered to our Lord, and to whom he appeared after his resurrection Luke 24:10).

I was amazed.  Joanna was one of Jesus’ followers.  So was I.

After all these years it was clear God had His hand on me from the very beginning, naming me even though my own mother didn’t know why. 

He knew me from the start, knew I would be one of His kids.

I’m so glad I heard Him calling my name.


  1. so lovely…thanks, Jody…you are blessed and so are your kids and grandchildren 🙂

  2. Ah, Jo. This is lovely…from the dancing to the remembering to the revealing. And to think that He still has another name for each one of us, one only He knows, and by which He will eventually call us home. Yes.

  3. This just brings tears to my eyes. And you, friend, give so graciously in return.

  4. ah, Kip, I was hoping you'd read this 🙂 Thanks for adding to the memories.
    Our children are our joy and crown and grandchildren–well, there is no word in English that can say 'happy' adequately when they are born.

    My grandchildren have not tasted my beef stew – yet. I'll have to make it for them sometime.

    God bless you and your family over on the other side of the world.

  5. Hi Nana Jody!
    I remember well the day in Kerman, as you had just returned from the doctor´s, and had the confirmation that you were with child. You were very quiet and solemn. I and a few others who happened to be standing by, just asked that we all step over to the little chapel (at God´s Army), and thank God. You were happy, and tearful; thinking of this new life within you. I was also with the team in New Orleans when Aaron arrived. (About the same time that Wesley Swarthout also made the scene.). My oldesr daughter just got married, and as they have a lot of plans, I may have to wait a while yet to have grandchildren, but I can´t wait for the privelege of reading or telling bedtime stories to them! My own kids thrived on my stories! Your gradchildren are your heritage, and your crown. All God´s blessings to you!
    In Him,

    P.S. Have your grandkids ever tasted your beef stew?

  6. Precious, Jody (Joanna)! Yes, you are blessed, you and Bill are blessed, and your children and grandchildren through you are blessed!

    I love the picture of you and Bill dancing with your grandchildren – keeper.


  7. Thank you, Glenda. You're very sweet. Yes, we are blessed and they are beautiful.

  8. What a beautiful family you have, Jody.


  9. Precious words mom, I never really knew the stories of all our names, even yours! Call me soon…we need to catch up, I love you!


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