There was one thing for certain, I wanted your name to have significance. This could be because I lived in China for a number of years, and in China a name is chosen with utmost concern as to its meaning. A name is seen as charting a course for your life. While I believe there is One, and only One, who charts the course of your life, I respect the care and attention placed on naming in China. This is a tradition not just in Chinese culture, but one from the beginning of time. There was nothing arbitrary about the first names for that first man and woman, and there was nothing arbitrary about the names by which they called on the Lord. These reasons for carefully choosing the meaning of your name may sound high and lofty, but the other fact is I just simply love a good story. And I wanted your name to have a story. A story that perhaps could provide a bit of an anchor and a purpose in those future moments when you may ponder and question your identity.
When your Daddy and I found out you were a girl on Valentine’s Day, we began combing the name lists; searching for the perfect name with the perfect meaning. Since our family name is quite common, we wanted somewhat of a unique name. Not so unique that people give the polite, “Oh, what a nice name” and then mutter under their breath, “What were they thinking?”, but unique enough that you perhaps would not encounter too many people with your exact same name. And so we parsed through the lists, tossing around a few for a couple days, but not really settling on one.
I was sitting in the parking lot of Safeway, the song Holy (Wedding Day) was playing (don’t ask me why I remember this minor detail), when the name Eliana came to me. The only Eliana I had ever known was the daughter of a friend from grad school, so it seemed to fit the unique requirement. I pulled out my cell phone to look up the meaning…and I knew you were named. Of course, I needed to get your Daddy’s input as well, but I was sold. I could hardly pick up my groceries quick enough before going home to tell your Daddy.
Eliana, derived from Hebrew, means “My God has answered me.” My sweet girl, you are in many ways the culmination of the Lord answering in my life. Growing up the only thing I ever really wanted to do was to be a mother. I can remember playing in my room, shoving stuffed animals up my shirt pretending I was pregnant. When I went to college, my great dream was to find a husband, move to the suburbs and start having babies. However, (and thankfully so) the Lord had bigger dreams for me. I didn’t find a husband in college, but I did find a path that led me to China. That path was a long and winding one that I will tell you the story of another day. Suffice it to say, one year into my time in China I faced a decision. I could commit to remain there for an indeterminate amount of time, or I could return to the States. At this time friends were getting married, my sister was starting her family, and I had plans to start grad school with my best friend out in California. I knew staying in China meant the postponement and perhaps the abandonment of many dreams. With the God we serve it was surely possible I could meet my spouse in China, but not that likely. Like Abraham, I felt called to take these dreams and desires and place them on the altar…trusting in the one who commanded the sacrifice that were it for good, He could return those desires to me. And thus my one year sojourn in China morphed into six. Those years are some of the richest of my life, and taught me that there is no better place to be than on the crazy unpredictable path of following the Father’s movements.
Little did I know during this time, that the Lord was working in a very special man’s life in a far off city in Washington. He was carving out a path for your Daddy as well, and working out circumstances such that at a certain moment in time he happened to be looking for a wife through an online dating service just when I happened to join the same service as well. The story of how we came together is one for another day, but is packed full of “the Lord has answered” moments.
Your daddy and I got married up in the mountains of Leavenworth on June 16, 2012 and set about adjusting to married life. We had both agreed that we wouldn’t even broach the possibility of kids in the first year of marriage. Worldly wisdom told us that we needed to establish a strong marriage first, and that there were things to be enjoyed before we brought a little one to the mix. However, in the early fall of 2012 I was praying about what the Lord wanted me to be doing in Wenatchee. I had applied for several jobs with no result, and didn’t really know what to do with myself. The only call on my life that I felt certain about was the call to be a mother. However, this was not a direction I wanted to push your Daddy in in any way. And so I prayed. I handed it over to the Lord saying if this is your timing, then I want him to bring it up. Two days later, out of the blue driving home from Gospel community group, your daddy comes out and says, “So I’ve been thinking it might be time to start a family.” It took me a bit to wipe my jaw off the floor. And so, our man made plans got thrown out the window, and you my dear came along even faster than your Daddy and I anticipated. But once again, my God had answered me. And two weeks to the day after celebrating our first anniversary, we held you in our arms for the first time.
It is my hope and my prayer that Eliana is descriptive not just of the story of how you came to be, but also of your days to come. I hope you come to know the Lord in an intimate and personal way, and that you will also collect countless stories of the moments (both big and small) where your God answers you. Because here’s the mind boggling, astounding fact–the creator of the universe loves and treasures small, tiny, and yes even insignificant, you enough to answer in big, powerful, detailed, personal ways. May you see this fact written on the pages of your life, and may it never cease to amaze you.
And then there is Elizabeth. This name too has significance. First and foremost, it is special because it is your Aunt’s name, my big sister. You are our first daughter, just as she was the firstborn. You will be the leader and trailblazer and like it or not model for your siblings, just like your Aunt. It is my hope that you will one day have a special relationship with your siblings just like I do with your Aunt. We were pretty certain you would carry Elizabeth as your middle name, even before we chose your first, and weren’t particularly concerned about it’s meaning. However, after I looked up the meaning, it fell perfectly into place with Eliana. Elizabeth, derived from Hebrew, means God’s promise. And so my daughter, I pray that you will know this God who answers all His promises. Because you are our first, I’m sure your Daddy and I will have plenty of bumbles along the way raising you. But I have no doubt that if your identity, your confidence, and your foundation is placed with our answering, promise giving God, your story will also be filled to the brim with testimonies of your Father’s perfect faithfulness.
So thankful for the Lord’s answer in you,