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What's in a Name?

My Friend Debbie     Not only is giving birth or adopting a baby a challenging process, but what about selecting a name? Doesn't that sometimes take the whole pregnancy or "waiting time" just to figure out? It can be a cause for stress and uncertainty just to have both parents agree on a name for their precious bundle of joy.

     There are many ways of getting ideas for names such as asking friends, family, co-workers, store clerks, or even the nice lady down the street. What about looking up names in baby books, on the Internet, in Parenting magazine, or from the Bible?

     Maybe you picked out all of your children's names and knew how many you were going to have . . . way before you even met your husband (like when you were a child dreaming of your future.) You know the whole "Cinderella is going to meet her Prince Charming riding on a white horse and have X number of kids."

My Friend Debbie     When we named our boys, we tried on our own to come up with names, but after the first one, we realized that if we just asked God, He would guide us to the perfect combination of the perfect names for our children. Whew! That sure took a lot of stress off. Of course, I didn't say it would happen quickly. We still had to be patient and do a little work of our own and agree that it was what God was telling both of us.

     The interesting thing is that all names have meanings, whether they come from the translation of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or another language. There are some great books that have the meanings and all the different variations of names. A lot of names are slightly changed to be more feminine or more masculine, like Christopher or Christina which stands for "Christian" or "follower of Christ." Some names have character meanings, like David which means "beloved" or Chesna which means "peaceful." Some have meanings from creation, like Holly for "holly tree" or Logan which means "meadow." Others relate to certain types of work, such as George which means "farmer" or Malika which means "industrious."

     Some parents choose names based on family members that they want to honor or loved ones who have passed on.      When repeating names in a family, some use Jr., or the II, III, or even IV like my husband, who was named for a lineage of Raymonds.

     Other families like to use the same beginning letter for the first name of each of their children as a feeling of unity and belonging. Others may choose a name based on a favorite Bible character because of what the person represented as a leader, king, or prophet. When we chose our boys' names, we knew they had special meanings and that they were ordained by God. We prayed and longed for the meaning to become the backbone for the kind of men they were created to be. Yet, it's their job to seek out God's will and to follow what they are to do with their lives.

My Friend Debbie     During our adoption procedure, we waited much longer than we did for each of our sons to be born. Adopting from China took us about two years, but now it's about three to four years! About a year before we knew who our daughter was going to be, I had the urge to search for a Chinese name with a special meaning. I had had a dream that her name was to mean "Light," "Light of the Father."

     I didn't know why at the time, since usually the adoptive parents choose an American (or other country) name as the first name and use the Chinese name chosen from the orphanage as the middle name. I researched Chinese names and I kept coming to the name of "Li Mei." The meaning of it is "beautiful plum blossom."

     Several months later we decided on the first name of Zoey, or I should say my husband and sons insisted on this name. I had been reading the book The Very Best Baby Name Book in the Whole Wide World, by Bruce Lansky over and over to find the perfect name and meaning. We couldn't settle on a name that meant "light" so we decided on Zoey which is Greek for "Life." Then we talked to the boys, and Ryan, my oldest, pointed out a Thomas Kinkade plaque we had in the kitchen with a verse that said,

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12 (NIV).

     There it was, the "light of life." The meaning matched my dream.

My Friend Debbie     Finally, when we found out our daughter's given name, I was amazed at how close it was to the Chinese name I had fallen in love with. We were told her name was "Ji Lu Mei"! Ji- stands for the surname or last name she was given like all the babies at this orphanage for either the orphanage name or the city of Ji'An. Many times Chinese orphans are named because of the place they are found, or a change in nature, personality, or other things. But we were amazed at how closely her name fit the meaning we wanted her to have.

Lu- has many meanings- light, dew, dewdrop, path, journey, green, egret, law.

Mei- means beauty, plum blossom, rose, charming, attractive.

Zoey- means Life- God gives us life.

     It all came together when we chose the name Zoey LuMei, and I could see the connection of the different meanings: "beauty and light of life" or her"beautiful journey of Life."

     No matter what names you may choose for your children, with prayer and a little effort, you can find the right meaning that will fit your family, the individual child and his or her God-given destiny. A name can be the beginning or the continuing of a great legacy. You never know what child may be brought into your life to love, nurture, and raise to become the person that God intended him or her to be.

Jiangxi Province Orphanages: http://redthreadmaps.com/jiangxi_m.html

Zoey's website: http://www.babyjellybeans.com/web/do/site/home?ID=101950

Copyright © 2008-2015 Suzanne Newton

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