Monday, December 1, 2008

What's in a name?

I'm too tired to plunge as deep as the Shakespeare passage that I pulled my title from tonight, but I keep talking to people (wonderful family people, mostly) who are interested in the origins and meanings of my kids' names. SO, I thought I'd share. Here they are, in the order of their birth:

Olivia Anne

Olivia -- We didn't name Olivia until two days after she was born, just before we left the hospital. After jostling around Zion, Elizabeth, and Olivia, we chose the name that seemed to suit our beautiful daughter. A name that, with its nod to the Olive tree and (by extension) branch, symbolizes peace, hope, and victory. Also, I was drawn to the name's "Ya" sounding suffix -- the same "from God" sound affixed to the names of the prophets. If my daughter's life was to embody prophesy, I wanted it laden with hope, peace, and victory -- messages, also, that still spill from Jesus's time on the Mount of Olives. So many layers to that one, no?

Anne -- Another biblical reference (Anne is a modification of Hannah -- Two great Hannah's came immediately to mind -- Samuel's mother, whose mother-prayer got answered, and Hannah the prophetess, who immediately recognized Jesus as the Messiah in the New Testament). More specific to Olivia, though, Anne draws upon the middle names of her grandmother (my awesome mom) and her magnificent Aunt Katie -- and later, though we didn't know it at the time, she would bear the middle name of her inimitable Aunt Valerie. THIS is profoundly good company to be among! We chose to spell it with an "E" because -- well -- because of Anne of Green Gables.

Josiah John

Josiah -- Josh actually picked this name. He liked its singularity and its consonance with his own first name. Josiah was also one of the few good kings recorded in Israel's Old Testament history -- taking the throne at the age of 8 and revolutionizing his failing people by turning everyone's eyes back toward the law. Not a bad heritage, eh? (Note, please, the "ya" suffix on this one, too -- an emergent pattern? perhaps.)

John -- John is my Dad's name. If you could only meet my father, then you would need no further explanation. If you know him, then you are wondering why I even needed to explain this much.

Girum Samuel

Girum -- Girum means "Amazing" and "Surprising" in Amharic (the national language of Ethiopia). Birhanu (the triplets' birth father) chose this name because he identified the birth of triplets (a first in his region) as both amazing and surprising!

Samuel -- Samuel is my paternal Grandfather's middle name. He bore a quiet integritiy and patient wisdom that I hope will translate into similar gifts for my own children. He is well worth being named after!

Tarikwa Rebekah/Rebecca/Rebekah/Rebecca --

Tarikwa -- Tarikwa means "This is her story" in Amharic. Like Girum, Tarikwa's name reflects her father's astonishment at the miracle of the triplets' birth, an event that impressed him as integral to the life story of this little girl. So much love is inscribed in her still short story already!

Rebecca/Rebekah -- Can you tell that we still haven't settled on the spelling for this one yet? Tarikwa gets her middle name, first, because of my little sister, Karen Rebecca, whose impact upon my life could never be measured or recounted in words. Also a person well worth being named for! I also have two wonderful aunts named Rebecca, whose love for this little girl will always be a part of our family's fabric. But how to spell it? I really like the biblical transliteration of the Hebrew Rebekah -- I like the way it looks with the name Tarikwa. "Tarikwa," however, is spelled a number of different ways on our paperwork, and I conjoined this Rebekah spelling to a different Tarikua spelling --- with the "kwa" ending, I'm not sure which spelling flows best. ......hmmmmmm....

Taye Stephen/Steven/Stephen/Steven

Taye -- Taye means "He has been witnessed," or, as one Ethiopian friend explained, "His life is an event so important that it cannot help but be witnessed." Again, Birhanu gave Taye this name because of the overwhelming miracle of his childrens' birth. His beauty and joyful spirit certainly bear out all the significance ascribed to his lovely name!

Stephen/Steven -- We struggle with spellings, don't we? Steven reflects the names of Josh's wonderful father and the middle name of his amazing big brother. The love and the spirit of these important people have helped my husband to become the fantastic father and man that he is, and the same love that nourished my husband continues to encourage all of us -- every day. A wonderful name with a wonderful if we could only settle on a spelling:)

(I think we have to solidify the spellings this week -- the kids' green cards are in, and we are preparing to file all of the stateside paperwork to confirm their citizenship and change their names).

Here's a fact about the babies' names that we didn't know until we met Birhanu -- Their names, in the order of their birth, form a grammatically correct sentence in Amharic. "Girum Tarik(ua) Taye" means "I have witnessed the most amazing story" or "An amazing story has been witnessed here (by me)."

Interestingly, on the day we received their referral, while we were still months from knowing about the sentence their names actually formed, Olivia and I worked all of the kids' names into a family sentence that we walked around saying for the entire "referral week": "I have witnessed the most amazing story of hope, peace, victory, and a boy king!"

What a great first sentence in the story of our lives together!


Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know that you all had worked out that sentence before you went to ET! Too cool!
Do you realize it could be "I have witnessed the most amazing story of hope, peace, and victory through Yahweh's support"?

As to spellings, I think Rebekah looks best with Tarikwa. And I also prefer Stephen probably because I don't like Steve and I think the Steven spelling goes there too easily.

missy said...

I found your blog through Val who I know through Crusade at Ball State. We are on the wait list for a girl from Ethiopia. I am so thrilled to find your blog and will stay up WAY too late catching up on the amazing story you have witnessed through all these dear ones lives! So fun to find you!

M and M said...

What a beautiful and tender tale you tell of the naming of all of your children. Names are so important - and so integral - to identity. Thank you for sharing a bit of your stories. Reading them felt like "home" in a really profound way. Thank you.

Cindi Clark said...

How wonderful it has been for me to come to know and love Josh, whose first and middle names mean "God is salvation...noble, well-born" and since long before she was have loved Amy, whose names mean "beloved...chosen of God...God's promise."

And now...I am so blessed to be a witness to the amazing story of hope, peace, victory, and a boy king that is only beginning to unfold. What a wonderful life I be a part of this story!