Have you been to one of those “gender reveal” parties recently? They seem to be popping up on social media almost daily. Couples use pink or blue props, usually bursting forth in an array clever surprises to make known the sex of their unborn child. Pink smoke. Blue confetti. People can be so creative. I think the best one I’ve seen so far is a domino-drop effect of household items (cards, balls, legos, funnels) that went literally throughout every room in their house before coming to a stop in the kitchen where the last drop of the “domino” caused pink water to flow into a pitcher. Ahh, a girl. Congratulations.
I think these parties are great fun and full of excitement over a new life. And a new life should be celebrated. Every newborn baby is a miracle. A tiny wonder.
Recently we welcomed our 5th grandchild into the world. Our own little miracle. There was not a gender reveal party for this little one. We received a phone call, an excited voice saying, ‘we’re having a girl!’. The party for this baby came about 3 weeks after her birth — a Naming Ceremony. That’s right, a party where this little girl was blessed with 5 names. Not all the names appear on her birth certificate, but all 5 names were picked carefully by family members to honor, bless and speak prophecy over this long-awaited child.
What’s in a name?
In Scripture, names of God Himself are mini portraits of who He is:
Elohim means the Creator.
El Elyon means the God Most High.
El Roi means the God Who Sees.
El Shaddai means the All-Sufficient One.
There are many more names for God — all beautifully descriptive. Adonai…. Jehovah… the names are endless and worthy of our research, bringing comfort and hope.
Jesus’ very name, in Hebrew, Yeshua, means to rescue, to deliver. The very purpose of His incarnation is revealed in His name.
Evidently God considers a person’s name important. In fact, many times in Scripture, God changes a person’s name. We see those name changes when something new has happened (or will happen) in someone’s life. Abram was changed to Abraham, meaning father of multitudes. He would become the first patriarch of the Jewish people. Simon, a disciple of Christ, was given the name of Peter, meaning Rock. Christ said Peter would be the cornerstone of the New Church. There are many more name changes recorded for us in the Bible, all weaving a remarkable, divine story.
In the book of Revelation, it says Believers are given a new name. As I’m typing this, I can hear the popular hymn in my head, “There’s a new name written down in glory, and it’s mine…. oh yes, it’s mine.” God gives each of us not only a new heart, but a new name, known only to Him.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17
Even now, in our culture, a woman typically takes the name of her husband at marriage — a change, a sign that something new has happened.
Names are usually chosen casually and are basically labels to distinguish one person from another. We often don’t give much thought to the meaning of the name. We choose names because we like the sound of them, or we know someone with that particular name whom we admire. For instance, names like John Wayne or Martin Luther carry a certain meaning based on historical figures. We often choose the trendy and popular names. And it’s interesting how names circle back around. Our great-grandparents’ names are popular now. Will this generation of parents’ names like Judy, Brenda, Steve, and Dennis be popular once again — maybe with our own great-grandchildren? Connie is a cute name, don’t you think?
And to be honest, we did the trendy, fun names for our own girls. We liked the way the first and middle names rolled off our tongues. And seriously, when the name Gochenaur is tacked on the end, the first names need to be light and friendly. I mean, our children were already going to be spelling out their last name each and every time as they grew up. We don’t even wait to be asked to spell, we just say “Gochenaur, G-o-ch-en-aur” — like the spelled out version is all part of the name.
We didn’t put a lot of thought into the meaning of their names.
The meaning of names, however, had actually been on my mind long before we were asked to choose a name for this new baby. I believe that children often “grow into their names”, and with that in mind, a couple of years ago, I had prints made for our 4 grandchildren. I researched their names and found the best possible meaning for each of their first and middle names. I had them printed and framed. I want them to see their names, and know the meaning behind each one. I want them to be inspired and encouraged to “grow into their name”.
What names do you choose for someone else’s child?
This new granddaughter of ours is American and Nigerian descent. Her daddy lived in Nigeria until he was about 17 years old. A Naming Ceremony is traditional to his culture. In Nigeria, names are chosen by the parents and grandparents, and they understand the importance of the meaning of the names given to their children.
And seriously, when there is an actual Naming Ceremony, you pause and think. You take the honor seriously. You weigh each and every name.
So what’s in a name?
Aletheia Oluwatumininu Promise Lydia Eliana Mobolade.
That, indeed, is the name of our sweet little granddaughter. It’s a mouthful, but I’ve finally conquered it all. That first middle name tricked me up for awhile, but it’s really pretty easy once you break down the syllables. And this post would not be complete if I didn’t share the meaning behind each and every name. So here we go…
Aletheia means literally to not forget, to remember the process, the journey, the truth. This name was chosen by Yemi and Abbey.
Oluwatumininu is her Nigerian great-grandmother’s name. Oluwa means God and Tumininu means comforted. Aletheia has two older siblings who never made it to their mommy’s and daddy’s arms. They are in heaven. God has comforted Yemi and Abbey with the arrival of Aletheia. This name was chosen by Yemi’s parents.
Promise. In her heart, Abbey felt secure that she would one day have a baby. Several weeks before Aletheia was born, Abbey chose the name, Promise, remembering what God had impressed upon her months before.
Lydia is one of the names chosen by Jon and me. Lydia is the name of Aletheia’s great great grandmother on Jon’s side of the family. Lydia Walters was a sweet, godly woman who loved her family dearly. We chose this name to represent Abbey’s family heritage. Lydia represents all the parents and grandparents in her family who have prayed for their children and raised them well.
Eliana is also a name chosen by Jon and me. We first looked at Ana, which means ‘full of grace’. Then we also found Elli (derived from Eli), which means ‘devoted to God’. When you put the two parts together, the meaning transforms to ‘God has answered’. Full of grace, devoted to God, and God has answered. We loved everything about that girl’s story.
And yes! God has answered.
What’s in a name? Hope, comfort, promise, family heritage, and answered prayers.
For this child we have prayed….
And for those of you who are curious…. this baby will be called, Aletheia (pronouned Uh-lay-thee-uh) and/or Tumi. That whole amazing long name, and we get call her Tumi. I love that. Makes you kind of wonder what God’s nickname for us will be, right? #aletheiatumi