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WHEN GOD NAMES A CHILD

Perhaps He names every child.  I know He knits every child together in his mother’s womb and has all his days planned out. I know it is a wise parent who seeks God on the naming of a child.

And I absolutely know from Scripture and from life that there are times when He names a child. The stories fill you with awe and hope.

(I am sensitive to the fact that some, and one who has just joined us, so wish they had a baby to name. My purpose in these stories is to show you how personal God is, and I pray this will encourage you too.)

Many of you already know, my grand-daughter Lily Grace was born this Easter Sunday. We certainly didn’t anticipate an Easter birth — but God already knew, had her days planned out before she was born. He knows what she will be like, and the name He gave her fills us with hope for her future. It is also a story she will be told all of her life, a story that will whisper “You are loved, my child, by a God who has your name written on His hand, by a God who knows your name, by a God who has a plan for you to bring glory to Me.”

Big sister Miabelle holding new sister Lily Grace

Annie and David had talked about names all through the pregnancy. I had put “Lily” on a Christmas gift partly in jest. (I am always putting names on presents for future grandchildren, and my children are always laughing at me, for I have a reputation of being controlling.) They were thinking of another name, a lovely name, but didn’t have a peace about it. Annie said in February — I just don’t think that is her name.  On March 9th, when Annie was up in the night with false labor, God impressed on her heart: “Her name is Lily Grace.” When she told me, of course,  I was delighted — not just because I love the name so much, but because it is such a gift when you know God is naming a child.

Annie was overdue, so weary of being pregnant. We both hoped she would go into labor the Monday before Easter for that fit best with “our” plans. But that was not God’s plan. On Good Friday Annie called me and said, “I’m not in Labor but I need my mom.” That’s all it took, and I knew I could at least have the Easter weekend with them. Saturday night at supper Annie said, “Mom and David — would you pray this baby would come tomorrow?” The three of us prayed, asking God for that mercy. Early Easter morning, while it was still dark, Annie knew she was in labor. (I believe God put that request in Annie’s heart — but it would have happened anyhow!)

It didn’t occur to me until three hours after Lily’s birth how perfect, how providential, how personal was this name for Resurrection Day.  “You really did name her, God.” My son J. R. looked at the row upon row upon row of lilies in his church that morning, and he knew. This child was named by God.

 

Lily

David’s mother wrote: “We are overflowing with love and thankfulness for God’s gracious gift of Lily Grace born on the most glorious day of the year–the celebration of our Savior’s resurrection! I was amazed yesterday to learn from David that you had actually chosen her name way before you knew she would be born on Resurrection Sunday!”

Now we are contemplating why God named her Lily. Annie says, “I’m excited for her — that perhaps her life will be a confirmation of what Jesus said about the lilies of the field — they neither toil nor spin, for they know their heavenly Father cares for them.”

I said, “I hope her life will be a confirmation of what I see in Song of Songs. When the Shulamite maiden felt unworthy, ‘dark,’ he assured her, ‘You are a lily.’ Cleansed. Loved. We have so much trouble believing the gospel in our everyday lives — but may this child believe each day of her life that in God’s eyes she is as pure as a lily because of the power of the cross.

We don’t know why —  but we rest in the fact that God knew her before the foundation of the world, loves her, and has a plan for this child of His.

This week I’ve been in the hospital room with Annie. Her pastor and his wife, Chad and Deborah, came. They feel like family for they lived with us for a year when Annie and David were dating. They have been God’s gift of godly friendship to Annie and David. They also have a child who was named by God.

When Deborah was pregnant, they prayed diligently about the name for their son. One day Chad was in prayer and “Barnabas” came to him, but he thought, Deborah will never go for Barnabas. But, Lord, if that is his name, could you have Deborah think of it?

A few minutes later Deborah appeared at his den door and said, “I’ve been reading Acts. What would you think of Barnabas?”

I have never met a child who so fit his name. Despite his tender years, he is such an encourager! (Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”) Miabelle is so bonded to him because Barnabas is so “other-centered” and always encouraging her. He has become truly a brother to her. Oh — how she adores him! This picture made me laugh out loud for Miabelle is so smitten with her encourager.

 

Mia and Barnabas
Mia and Barnabas

 

All of his life Barnabas will know the story of his naming and God’s gifting and calling for his life.

Yesterday I was speaking at “Bloom” a wonderful women’s retreat that represented 105 churches and was so anointed with prayer that I sensed His presence, and did the women, from beginning to end. (And thanks to all of you who prayed!) They sang this song — and I knew I wanted it here.

Perhaps the most fun story I heard this week was the naming of Annie’s nursing school friend, “Hallelujah.” Here she is visiting Annie in the hospital, holding Lily Grace. Hallelujah’s parents thought her mother was pregnant with one baby, and had chosen the name “Hallie” if she were a girl. But after their baby girl was born, the doctor said, “Oh — we have another baby here!” And her mother’s immediate joyful response was “Hallelujah!”

All of her life Hallie will know how welcomed she was into this world! If she ever feared that she was too much for parents who already had an eighteen month old and a newborn, her mother’s immediate “Hallelujah” wipes that away. And they felt confident that God wanted her named that immediate shout of praise. So her sister was named Whitney, and she was named Hallelujah, but goes by Hallie.

Hallelujah and Lily Grace
Hallelujah and Lily Grace

Sunday/Monday

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. Do you have a “name” story that showed God’s mindfulness?

Monday-Friday: The Naming of John the Baptist

elizabeth_baby

3. Read Luke 1:5-20

     A. What name did Gabriel say Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son was to have?

     B. What was Zechariah’s response in verse 18 and why?

     C. What does Gabriel tell him and why?

John Piper preached his last sermon at Bethlehem Baptist on Easter Sunday. Here is a written sermon entitled: “How Not To Talk To An Angel.

4. What comments do you have on Piper’s sermon?

5. If you were Zechariah, what thoughts might you have had during these nine months when you were deaf and dumb?

6. Read Luke 1:57-66

     A. Describe the discussion about the name in verses 57-63.

     B. What happened immediately after Zechariah confirmed the name was John? Why, do you think?

      C. What reaction did the neighbors have (65-66)

7. Pondering:

      A. If a verse quickened you, stay there — and share what you see.

      B. What do you learn about God from this passage?

      C. Is there anything that is speaking personally to you?

  8.  Challenge question: Can you see any facet of the gospel in this story?

  9. Sometimes God named a child, sometimes He changed a name. Name can portray hope and blessing — or a curse. Knowing what you know now, what would you suggest to couples concerning naming their child?

  10. Sometime I may take us through Ruth, for I love the book — and every single name is fascinating. Today — just consider the names of the three women and read the first chapter. Naomi means “sweet or pleasant,” but she asked to be called “Mara.” (bitter) Ruth means “a woman companion or friend.” “Orpah” means “stiff-necked or double-minded.” Read. Pray. Reflect. Share your observations and thoughts here.

On Thursday I’ll be on Midday Connection talking about Leah — and “the expulsive power of a new affection.” http://www.moodyradio.org/middayconnection.aspx

11. We studied Leah a while back — how did the naming of her children show how God replaced her idols with Himself?

12. Share one way God has been mindful of you in the last few weeks.

Saturday

13. What’s your take-a-way and why?

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382 comments

  1. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    Love all the beautiful pictures of these beautiful children created by God! (Especially the “popsicle smiles” of Barnabas and Mia) How God answered so personally the prayers for the naming of these children.

    2. Do you have a “name” story that showed God’s mindfulness?

    I have to confess that I didn’t pray about naming my children – was just getting to know the Lord before my oldest son was born. My firstborn we named Adam, after my mom’s favorite uncle, Uncle Adam. Uncle Adam made a beautiful rocking horse, “Rocky”, which I and my 2 sisters and all the grandchildren have enjoyed, as well as a small rocking chair my mom used to rock me in, and doll furniture. I remember him vaguely – he died when I was 4. He was a wonderful, kind man…I also like to think of the name Adam being the first man God created. My 2nd son – I wanted his middle name to be David, after my brother David who was born before me and only lived one day – so I won’t meet him until I get to heaven. When I was expecting my daughter, we didn’t have a girls name picked out, so I was making a list of every letter of the alphabet and for M I wrote Melanie – my husband liked the name so that was our girl’s name. Her middle name is mine, Lynn.

    I asked my mom last night why they chose my name – she said we just liked that name! I looked up the meaning and it means “lily”.

      1. Gone with the wind is my all time favorite movie. 🙂 I need to watch it again-haven’t in a while.

    1. Susan, I love your story of your names.

  2. Thank you for praying for my son, Ryan – he has a follow-up at the doctor’s yesterday and he is much better and they will repeat a chest x-ray in 2 weeks to make sure the pneumonia is gone. He’s just still really, really tired.

    1. Susan,

      SO good to hear the update on Ryan. Pneumonia stinks..I hate it and yes I am sure he will be tired. Keep us updated I so hope it is gone in 2 weeks!

    2. So glad he’s getting better, Susan

  3. Just had to share this…today is my birthday! I want to take this moment to thank God for my two births! One that brought me into this world as a daughter (Rhonda Lea) to earthly parents and siblings…the second, that brought me into a relationship with my HEAVENLY FATHER…it has been the most amazing, joyous ride of my life…I love You FATHER! I can’t wait to talk to Nicodemus…he was so confused! HA! Now he knows…now he knows! 🙂

    1. A very Happy Birthday to you, Rhonda! Have fun celebrating!

    2. Happy birthday Rhonda. Hope you have a wonderful blessed day!

    3. I am CRAZY busy but HAD to get on to wish you, sweet Rhonda, a happy birthday! You are such a blessing here and a sweet fragrance of Him-what a fragrant gift you are to us in Spring!!! 🙂

    4. Happy birthday, Rhonda. I am really happy you are here. You have so much godly, humble wisdom.

    5. Happy birthday Rhonda! I hope you have been having such a blessed day. 🙂

    6. Thank you all for your birthday wishes and kind words! You are all so encouraging! I had a wonderful birthday, my dad and I went 3 hours up the road to see my nephew play college baseball. A day at the park with dad! 🙂 No peanuts and cracker jacks (tangerines, string cheese and granola HA!), although I did splurge on a burger at lunch! HA! Anyway, it was a wonderful day that I will treasure!!! Thank you all again!

    7. Hope you had a wonderful birthday, Rhonda!

  4. Off to celebrate! Catch you all later! 🙂

  5. Sunday/Monday

    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?- I love the song He Knows My Name. How I need to replay this song over and over to remind myself that God does see my tears and hears my cries. Though I may not think He is with me, I know by this song that He is ALWAYS with me. He is always guiding me and leading me thru each and every phase of my life and I need to trust in Him that I’m where he wants me to be and will be there to help me know what to do and say.
    I love Dee how you put a name on the Christmas gift for Lily and how Annie & David ended up naming her that. How funny that what you think is controlling was God’s seed being planted thru you to them. This made me chuckle. Thank you Dee to you and your family for being so open with your lives to help us along the way.

    2. Do you have a “name” story that showed God’s mindfulness? – I was not a Christian at the time I had my kids so other than not wanting a name that could be made into a nick name that’s how I decided. We had to many Johns and Joes so they got named Kyle & Justin. I looked up the meanings and not much was there to see if their personalities fit their names. Kyle has in one origin that it could be a church and handsome and Justin showed righteous, just and fair, and these do fit them except the church part for Kyle. Right now he wants nothing to do with a church but hopefully down the road and with my cries to the Lord he will get back on track with The Lord and Church.

    1. I pray that also for Kyle and for Allie too, Julie.

  6. Oh I am so behind–this may be my first in 3 yrs not to finish–but will try! First I want to say Happy Birthday Rhonda! You have been such a refreshing gift from Him this Spring–you have brought such depth, joy and wisdom here–so thankful He led you to our ‘blog family’!
    We are dealing with some pretty heavy stuff right now–went from one child to the next–I am a bit of a mess and cannot share much, but I do ask prayers for God’s miraculous healing on my child, and for wisdom. All I can say is a Dr appt Friday–please pray for accurate diagnosis.
    So thankful for all here–praying as I see needs, and as He so often brings many of you to mind.

    1. Elizabeth, I am so praying for you all. Please keep us updated and email me! Love you..

    2. Praying for you and your family that issues improve soon, elizabeth. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

      1. oh Diane, and Rebecca–thank you–oh-I am beyond overwhelmed and broken–cannot stop crying long enough to even read much, but thank you for the good reminder He has not and will never forsake me–continuing prayers for you all too

    3. Elizabeth, Thank you so much for the birthday wishes! My heart is heavy for you, especially as I hear you say…”I am a bit of mess and cannot share much”…being a woman, I know what that means! Father, please help…quieten elizabeth’s heart. We know that You are aware of every single aspect of this need and I do not hesitate to ask You to intervene for our sister. I hear the concern in her words, give wisdom and healing…lift the heaviness so that elizabeth can think clearly. Carry this load and allow her to feel Your nearness right now!

      1. Rhonda–your words touched my soul–I do believe you have a gift for prayer and compassion–thank you

    4. Elizabeth, I am so sorry your family is having problems….Please know I am praying!

    5. Will be lifting you and your family up to The Lord Elizabeth, God knows the need you have.

  7. 4. What comments do you have on Piper’s sermon?
    This sermon made me stop and think about Zechariah. Gabriel said to him, “..for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,..” Was Z. still praying for a son even though he admits they are old? Also,it seems amazing that Z. was praying for a son and this would have been a completely appropriate prayer but when he hears he will have a son, he needs more evidence. On the other hand, Mary as an unmarried teenager probably wasn’t praying for a child but when she heard she was to have one, she responded with faith. In Z’s case, the news of a child would be celebrated. In Mary’s case, she could have lost her life if Joseph rejected her. Amazing depth of faith in Mary. I was challenged by the difference between demanding too much evidence from God but also His patience with us if ask in humility because we don’t understand. Very comforting. Also, liked the difference between blameless and sinless. Sinless is impossible this side of heaven but blameless is possible as we walk each day humbly with God.

  8. 5. If you were Zechariah, what thought might you have had during these nine months when you were deaf & dumb? I was struck with the great prophecy that Gabriel made about John. Never thought about it before. I wonder if Z. spent time pondering what it all meant. “.. and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink..” make me think of Samson and the Nazirite vows. He also talks about the spirit and power of Elijah. Elijah was on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses & Jesus. Makes me want to go back and read about the life of Elijah. If I knew the prophecies like Z. probably did, I would be thinking about what it would all mean for my son.

  9. Several of you have indicated that you are behind. I certainly feel a bond with you, as I am very behind this week! I have twice tried to get going on the study, and only made it to respond to a couple of joys or concerns, and then I would get interrupted by life!!

    First I want to praise the Lord for improvement/progress that has been made in Laura dancer’s daughter Sarah’s thinking and in Susan’s son Ryan’s pneumonia. We all know that prayer works, but isn’t it a wonderful breath of fresh air to have it confirmed over and over again?!

    Also want to wish Rhonda a happy birthday — hope it is very enjoyable. I picture you out celebrating tonight with your family.

    Now, down to business!!

    3. Read Luke 1: 5-20
    A. The angel Gabriel told Zechariah that he and Elizabeth should name their son “John.” To us today, the name John seems pretty common, but considering that it meant “God is gracious,” that would seem a very appropriate name under the circumstances.

    B. Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?” Zechariah and Elizabeth were old to be having children and Elizabeth had been barren. Zechariah had a temporary lapse of faith that God can do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.

    C. Gabriel tells him that he will not be able to speak again until the baby is born.

    4. Ideas from Piper’s sermon:

    God is sovereign and with Him nothing is impossible. The way the two births (of John and Jesus) were announced by an angel and occuring to parents who did not expect a pregnancy to be possible showed that “God is uniquely at work here.”

    Luke was trying to say “respond like Mary, not like Zechariah.” We should not demand too many signs before we trust God’s promises.

    It is okay to want to understand the ways of God — the danger is having an arrogant or cynical attitude, not going too deeply into God’s mind.

    If we fall into a period of distrusting God for a time, we should not despair, just come out again blessing the Lord in the obedience of faith.

    5. If you were Zechariah, what thoughts might you have had during these nine months when you were deaf and dumb? I think I would have felt guilty and fearful. Being struck deaf and dumb is really dramatic! I would have worried that it night never go away, and I would be that way for the rest of my life. I would have been frustrated in trying to communicate — I really enjoy talking!! I am not good at playing Charades!

  10. 6. Read Luke 1:57-66

    A. Describe the discussion about the name in verses 57-63. Elizabeth was the first one to announce that the baby was to be named “John,” because Zechariah was still unable to speak at that time. The group assembled could not believe it. The father’s name was always part of the child’s name. Naming the baby John would seem almost tantamount to admitting that Zechariah wasn’t the father! So they gave Zechariah a tablet so he could write, and he wrote that the name was to be “John.” They were astounded because they knew he had not “heard” Elizabeth, as he was still deaf.

    B.Once the couple’s obedience to the angel’s instructions had been carried out, Zechariah’s ability to hear and speak returned.

    C. What reaction did the neighbors have? They were amazed and wondered what John would be.

  11. 3. Read Luke 1:5-20
    C. What does Gabriel tell him and why?
    Because of his lack of faith, Zechariah would not be able to talk until Elizabeth gave birth. This is striking me as very interesting right now—is this how strongly God feels about our doubting Him?

  12. Request:

    A while back we were talking about parenting issues and some of you recommended various books. Dee even mentioned that she might post some of her favorites. Well, my grandsons can sometimes be “a handful” and we are looking for some help. So I am wondering …
    What would you consider the Most helpful Christian parenting book you have read? I am looking for a really good book but I do not have time to read them all.

      1. Thanks so much, Dee. I already have Dobson’s Strong Willed Child (though I never made it all the way through it.) I tend to have too many books and so little time. I don’t know the other ones so I appreciate your suggestions.

        1. Diane,

          This book was recommended to me by Ann on our blog-it is called
          Parenting is your highest calling and 8 other myths that lead us into worry and guilt. It was written by a mom of 6 who homeschooled then public schooled. It is SO Grace centered! IT really impacted me!

          Here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Your-Highest-Calling-Eight/dp/1400074207

        2. Thanks, Rebecca (and Anne).

    1. I have an additional question on this topic of parenting books. Has anybody read the Grace-based parenting books or done the video study? It sounds good, but is it worth the investment? This is the website that I got some information from: http://gracebasedparenting.com/

      1. Diane, I haven’t heard of that series but I agree with Rebecca about her book. I would definitely read that one.

  13. Faith and her husband got to Scotland fine and Maggie is with us yet. They surprised her in the hospital (she didn’t know they were coming). They will be coming home in about 9 days. Thank you sister’s so much for your prayers!

  14. 6A. Describe the discussion about the name in verses 57-63. First, the neighbors & relatives shared the joy of the birth just as Gabriel had said. On the eighth day when they came to the house, it must have been assumed he would be named after his father. But Elizabeth spoke with conviction that his name would be John. Then Zechariah confirmed that the baby was to be named John.
    B. As soon as Zechariah said his name would be John, he was able to speak and began by praising God. This time, he trusted in what God had said through Gabriel and obeyed.
    C. The neighbors were filled with awe and wondering what John was going to be because of the incredible circumstances around his birth and naming.

    Going back to Piper’s sermon: I thought it was so encouraging that even though Zechariah doubted and questioned God and even though he had to accept the consequences of this doubt, God did not change his plan. He didn’t say, “Okay, you doubt me? You must not be the right man after all”. He was gracious enough to give Zechariah a time of silence. God knew Zechariah’s heart even though he had a time of weakness. That encourages me not to beat myself up if I have my doubts or fears and have to take the consequences for them. God just wants me to think and remember who He is. But Zechariah was restored and so am I.

    1. What a wonderful insight, Jill. “even though Zechariah doubted and questioned God and even though he had to accept the consequences of this doubt, God did not change his plan. He didn’t say, ‘Okay, you doubt me? You must not be the right man after all’. He was gracious enough to give Zechariah a time of silence. God knew Zechariah’s heart even though he had a time of weakness.” That is so encouraging! Praise the Lord that he doesn’t reject us when we doubt. I’ve been doing a lot of doubting myself lately so I need to hear this.

      This reminds me of Lamentations, a book I am rediscovering as I go through my deep waters.

      “Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.'” (Lamentations 3:19-24

  15. Is there a way to get the sermon by audio? I can only find the written version.

  16. 4. What comments do you have on Piper’s sermon?
    I have barely slept the last few days and having trouble focusing—but I want to hear Him, and this is what He showed me. “Zechariah says he can’t be sure; Mary says she can’t understand.”
    I appreciate that Mary had trouble understanding. I find comfort in that being ‘ok’.
    Reminds me this quote by Charles Haddon Spurgeon “The Lord knows that sight interferes with faith, and, therefore, He does not give us a mixture of the two. We do not walk by sight and faith, but, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” To let us occasionally see, would, in fact, remove us out of the realm of faith and bring us down from the high position of Believers to the low platform of sightseers.”-
    Where I am right now-the thought of being ‘silenced’-or ‘cast off’ because of my unbelief, just makes me want to cling all the more to trusting though I cannot see. It is OK that I don’t understand, but like Mary, I still know He is good, He does not change, and none of this is punishment or because He does not care. It is just very hard. But He has not and will never leave me alone.

    1. Elizabeth, I am SO encouraged how you are clinging to God through this-I remember way back when I went through something similar-I backed away in that scary moment. But I see you clinging hard in the scary whirlwind. Reminds me of Dee’s picture with the lighthouse in the middle of a raging Ocean. He will NEVER leave you alone-and He will meet you through His body too-we love you!

  17. I apologize for not being present like I want to be. I have a good report though. I cried out to the Lord and He heard me yesterday. I feel Him pulling me out of the miry clay. I have been in a dark place for weeks and understand now a little about depression. So glad He is helping me, what would we do without the Lord? Through it all God has been very near and I praise Him for all of it – even the pain. Listened to last weeks sermon and was blessed.
    Love to you all!

    1. Oh Kim….I do understand depression…do not have but a minute to respond here and now but I will come back to your post…I ache for you friend!

    2. Kim, I too went through a season of depression. As I type this (today)I see dark clouds forming outside my window…such an accurate visual for that particular season. I love that you quoted Psalms 40…connected in my mind is the song “Jesus Lover of my Soul”…it contains the very words that you have spoken from Psalm 40. “He’s taken me from the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock and now I know”. He is the “lover of our SOUL”…I remember talking to a very wise counselor, she perceptively picked up on the fact that I was in need of some intentional help (related to depression). I pursued that path, took an evaluation test and saw a medical doctor. Through this process God met my need. I want to say here that I know, that it isn’t often that easy or simple, so my story isn’t meant to bring condemnation to anyone who has sought and struggled for many years (I was just blessed in the process). Sometimes I think there is such a stigma contained in needing this kind of help (and because of that we suffer for far too long); however, I can attest to the fact that it was the best course of action for me! I know the pain of the pit. At first, when I considered the medical path (my conditionings kicked in again), is this “spiritual” …and then I was given a very good visual in regard to this path. Sometimes we need help to get some leverage, a foothold that will allow us to see the light beyond the darkness of the pit! In receiving this advice…God brought me up out of the miry clay and has set my feet upon a rock! I say all of this (not as specific advice to you, because I do not know your situation or what path of action you have taken up to this point) but I say this because my conditionings were such that I had never really considered the ramifications of ignoring the signs…it was a humbling experience to walk that road but in reality, I realized that it wasn’t any different than a physical issue? And there is no stigma connected to dealing with physical issues…so amazing how we categorize! Thank you for allowing us into this painful place along your journey. I know that isn’t easy! My prayer for you today is this…Father…I know the pain of being in a “dark place for weeks”. I pray that You will give Kim that foothold that she needs. Give her guidance and wisdom and a heart that never stops seeking You and the help that You can supply! I believe that in her courage (bringing this forward) that You will step into that dark place with Kim. Awaken her eyes to the possibilities of hope and healing, let my testimony be an encouragement to her tonight…give her a desire to move towards You and Your provisions in this season of heaviness. We will give You the praise…

    3. Dear Kim, I’m so thankful God is pulling you out of the muck and the mire. You are so loved and I have a good feeling God will remove your headaches. Depression is no fun. Praying for you.

      1. Thank you sisters for the prayers and for the good testimony, Rhonda – wonderful advice. I feel very blessed to be here and call you friends.
        As of today the doctor wants to send me to a surgeon so I have much to pray about. I’m giving a homeopathic remedy a chance first and have total peace.

  18. 6. Read Luke 1:57-66

    7. Pondering:
    A. If a verse quickened you, stay there — and share what you see. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
    I see these words…”THEY were going to name him”, “but his MOTHER spoke up and said, “No”….this just makes me want to hug Elizabeth. Her willingness to say, “No” (even against the set cultural traditions, she was thinking eternal, she was protecting her family)…ushered in God’s grace. Her obedience is well noted!

    Also, as I consider John (and his name, “God is gracious”). I think about this radical, “perceived” wild man, out in the wilderness preaching, “REPENT for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”…I think about the message of “REPENT” in our culture today. It is equally as offensive (or puzzling) to US as it was back then;however, John (the messenger)was named “GOD IS GRACIOUS”…the call to repentance is gracious and loving! What an amazing concept…

    B. What do you learn about God from this passage? Following God and His voice is always the right thing to do (even when it doesn’t make sense)…BELIEF in God is vital and it honors Him! God is unyielding in His plan to call all men and women unto Himself (Repent)…yet on the back side of repentance is His graciousness!!!

    C. Is there anything that is speaking personally to you? I just keep seeing the word “No” (spoken by Elizabeth)…some times it is so easy to take the compliant road. This story is reminding me that there is an appropriate time for “NO” (that is something that is contrary to my conditionings)! I thank God for allowing us to see Elizabeth’s response in this situation because as a woman (knowing that God approved of this)it is a great relief (hers was not a “no” to be belligerent but a “no” to be obedient and protected), this is even more poignant to me especially because she was a woman (being the weaker vessel)in a patriarchial society.

    8. Challenge question: Can you see any facet of the gospel in this story? Absolutely…John 3:16…For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever BELIEVETH in Him shall not perish but have eternal life!! The idea of BELIEF is essential to the gospel!

    9. Sometimes God named a child, sometimes He changed a name. Name can portray hope and blessing — or a curse. Knowing what you know now, what would you suggest to couples concerning naming their child? I would say be thoughtful and prayerful. There is obviously a lot of vision in the process. Children are a gift and thus consulting the GIVER is a great idea! Names are obviously very important to God…He took a lot of time giving us insight into the meaning of names. He speaks through names…seek Him…give that gift (of thoughtful consideration and pondering) to your child!

    1. Rhonda, your answers are so thoughtful and helpful. I especially appreciate 7C when you point out that there is an appropriate time for women to say, NO. That can be SO hard for us.

      “This story is reminding me that there is an appropriate time for “NO” (that is something that is contrary to my conditionings)! I thank God for allowing us to see Elizabeth’s response in this situation because as a woman (knowing that God approved of this)it is a great relief (hers was not a “no” to be belligerent but a “no” to be obedient and protected), this is even more poignant to me especially because she was a woman (being the weaker vessel)in a patriarchial society.”

    2. Rhonda, love your comments and that you are here with us as you are a radiant light in our window!

      1. Thank you Joyce, you are a “sister” birthed in the form of a BARNABAS (an encourager through and through)…I love to read your short, poignant blessings, what a gift to us all! You make me smile!

      2. Yes, I agree.

    3. Rhonda, You reminded me of when Elizabeth met Mary and John leaped in her womb, and her rejoicing with Mary upon first sight. It seems Elizabeth trusted God throughout-matches the meaning of her name! 🙂

  19. 7. Pondering:

    A. If a verse quickened you, stay there — and share what you see.
    Verses 8-10 caused me to ponder and to be quickened. “Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of the incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.”

    I am thinking “What a God-incidence!” What are the chances that all of those things would come together at the same time? Next to nil! It just happened at that particular period that there were too many priests — about 20,000+ priests — too many to serve in the temple at one time. So they were divided into groups (divisions) and were scheduled to serve by these divisions. Lots were cast to decide which priest would have the privilege of burning incense in the Holy Place in the temple, and one day the lot fell to Zechariah. AND when he was burning the incense, there was a large number of people outside PRAYING. We all know great things happen with prayer. And then the angel appeared!! God was choreographing the events of history to prepare the way for Jesus to come to earth. I think that is awesome!!

    B. What do you learn about God from this passage? That God is the master choreographer of the universe — he has a plan — even when we cannot see it at first.

    C. Is there anything that is speaking personally to you? It just strengthens my conviction that God is sovereign, is in charge, is all-knowing, can do ANYTHING, and is worthy of my trust!

    1. Deanna,

      So loved this post how you see His sovereignty in how He moved everything into place-how He is worthy of trust! 🙂

  20. 9. Sometimes God named a child, sometimes He changed a name. Name can portray hope and blessing — or a curse. Knowing what you know now, what would you suggest to couples concerning naming their child?

    I would seek God as you are considering a name and wait. He is sovereign and even if you find a name you seem to stick on but don’t sense clear direction yet, trust Him.

  21. So none of the “Lauras” have chimed in about the name….anyone know about Laura Marie? Haven’t seen her here in awhile.

    Laura means “laurel wreath.” I already knew that, but wondered if there was something else. The laurel wreath was given to Olympians for their victories. It is a symbol of winning or being victorious. I guess you could say we (Lauras) are victorious in the end? That doesn’t make me feel too good; it seems like it is all about me (idolatry) and not Him.

    Funny story about my name. My parents couldn’t decide on what to name me so I went home from the hospital with no name! My siblings called me “pebbles” after the “Flintstones” character for awhile. My dad loved the south (he was from the Midwest) and wanted to name me “magnolia” (?!) but my mom said “no way!” I guess they decided on some movie stars’ name? Not very God oriented here!

      1. This is good Dee! I actually danced to a hymn called “A Cloud of Witnesses” when I first learned liturgical dance. I think it was one of my first pieces to choreograph 🙂

    1. Laura-Dancer, How your parents picked your name is a great example of His sovereignty. 🙂

    2. Well, the laurel wreath was a crown. i was reminded about the 24 elders in Revelation 4 who cast their crowns before the throne in worship, which led to thinking of Paul telling us that everything that he used to consider worthwhile, he now considered worthless compared to the value of knowing Jesus (Philippians 3).

  22. 10. Sometime I may take us through Ruth, for I love the book — and every single name is fascinating. Today — just consider the names of the three women and read the first chapter. Naomi means “sweet or pleasant,” but she asked to be called “Mara.” (bitter) Ruth means “a woman companion or friend.” “Orpah” means “stiff-necked or double-minded.” Read. Pray. Reflect. Share your observations and thoughts here.

    Ruth was sincere the first time she told Naomi she wanted to go with her, whereas I think Orpah may have initially had feelings she wanted to go with Naomi-but deep down she really didn’t-she ran to the arms of her idols and of comfort. Amazing how their names truly reflect them. Amazing how I can relate with each of them!!

    I was thinking Ruth is a beautiful example of Love, God’s love which is sacrificial Love-which is fitting for her name for she is a godly companion and friend to Naomi. I don’t think she wanted to go with Naomi because of a comfort idol-it was the opposite-she loved God and Naomi and would sacrifice her comfort-everything, even willing to be seen as ‘less than’ and ridiculed by the people in the land of Judah. This is the Gospel-This is His love for us and the sacrificial love He wants us to have for others.

    Naomi-In her grief looks like she backed away from God-yet even though she did He moved in Ruth to be by her side-to care for her, and ultimately God rescued Naomi. His love-Amazing!
    I also saw with Naomi a contrast to Job who also was afflicted but worse. Job lost everything but didn’t back away from God. Yet I see a consistent NEVER changing God of Grace and mercy who pours out His compassion on both Job and Naomi in their grief and in their different responses to their circumstances.

  23. 10. Sometime I may take us through Ruth, for I love the book — and every single name is fascinating. Today — just consider the names of the three women and read the first chapter. Naomi means “sweet or pleasant,” but she asked to be called “Mara.” (bitter) Ruth means “a woman companion or friend.” “Orpah” means “stiff-necked or double-minded.” Read. Pray. Reflect. Share your observations and thoughts here.

    My first observation is Elimelek and his family set out to be in Moab for “a few years”…in actuality it turned out to be 10 years. Upon his death…Naomi decides to return home. I see a lot of weeping in these scenes…(a lot of grief…)

    Vs. 9 – Then she (Naomi) kissed them goodbye and they (Ruth or Orpah) wept aloud
    Vs. 14 – At this they (all three) wept aloud again

    At first I hear both of the girls (Ruth and Orpah) saying “we will go with you”
    Vs. 10 – “We will go back with you to your people.”

    Then Naomi rebuttals with “why would you come with me”? And she begins to express the absurdity. When I read it…it really does sound absurd…especially in their culture! She did love these girls and wanted them to be able to go on with their lives. Her arguments were…

    “I am too old…”

    “If I were to have sons today would you wait?”

    “Would you remain unmarried?”

    Her questions to Ruth and Orpah were revealing their assumed fate if they should choose to return to Judah with Naomi. I have been in situations before that seemed (absurd) and in the process of moving in faith, I too have received a line of questioning likened unto that above…boy, it can put a damper on things in a hurry and test your faith like nothing else (Naomi was a seasoned woman and she has some valid questions for them)!

    The girls were definitely aware of the possible EMPTINESS of this choice!

    After this conversation Orpah (double minded) said goodbye!! Ruth (woman companion, friend) CLUNG to her!

    Even after this scene…Naomi was STILL trying to persuade Ruth, “look at Orpah (she is going home)…go with her”

    Ruth (woman companion, friend) loved Naomi (Pleasant)…DO NOT URGE ME TO LEAVE YOU!

    Then I see 4 words that jump off the page…Ruth’s whole life plays out before her eyes at this moment and she states…

    I will…GO…STAY…DIE…BE BURIED! (She had made a choice)

    RUTH WAS DETERMINED TO GO…don’t you love the determination of women (especially in light of the call of God!) I think that is a beautiful gift that God has given us…a resolute spirit!

    Naomi finally stopped URGING!

    All of this is interesting to me because Ruth knew the possible EMPTINESS of the life she was choosing and moved forward in faith, believing in this God that she had just come to know. Naomi wanted to be renamed as “bitter” BECAUSE of EMPTINESS (it had, had the opposite effect on her). Vs. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back EMPTY. What a contrast…Emptiness (at certain points of life is inevitable, but our response is paramount…these two women have completely different responses)! Ruth moves into the emptiness in faith…Naomi sees her emptiness and wants to be called BITTER (I know there was a lot of grief contained in her words and I have much compassion for her in that but I still think the difference is noteworthy)…

    At this point I think of Philippians 4:12 -13 – I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

    1. Such depth of insight in this sharing, Rhonda. You have incredible gifts of writing. Ruth (the book and the character) is one of my favorites. She showed such devotion and courage. Her faith in God turned a time of weeping into a time of joy. And the Philippians verses fit perfectly.

      1. Thank you Diane…I love the book of Ruth too!!! All the unexpected turns and twists amidst an amazing love story, God knows how to write and tell a story for sure!! 🙂

  24. 11. We studied Leah a while back — how did the naming of her children show how God replaced her idols with Himself?

    – Reuben, meaning see a son (It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely now my husband will love me)

    – Simeon, which means hearing (Because the Lord heard, that I am not chosen, he gave me this one too)

    – Levi, meaning joined (Now at last my husband will become attached to me, meaning to join, because I have borne him three sons)

    – Judah, meaning praise, or literally He will be praised, or let Him be praised (This time I will praise the Lord).

    Through each child, I see a progression. Sanctification/Transformation is taking place in this woman, the idol of approval (the love/approval of a husband) was replaced as she turned her focus to God (His approval was all that mattered). In the thanksgiving her load is lightened and her praises flow freely! She was FREE “to be” what a gift!

    12. Share one way God has been mindful of you in the last few weeks. He has given me this community!!! So sweet….

  25. Just checking in, I want to thank all of you for your support, this place is a respite in a weary world for me.
    I was praying for you last week Dee, you must have been exhausted after welcoming a baby, 2 year old sitting and then jetting off to a speaking engagement, yet you thought about me, I don’t really have adequate words for how that touches me, but thank you.
    I have been reading and praying for you all, there seems to be so many who are having a tough time right now.
    Elizabeth, I can see your pain in what you share and what you don’t, you are on my heart right now, I know God is for you. Praying for wisdom, peace and patience for you, and for every detail to be just as God would have it to be.
    Rebecca, you come with a prayer request and bless us all with your praise, as I have said before, you remind me of one of those bees returning to the hive to share information about where to find flowers laden with pollen. Your enthusiasm spills over to us time & again.
    Dawn, I appreciate your understanding of me. How neat that your son will be going to MBI! your other son and his twins, this may be just what he needs to make him realize he needs to follow Christ.
    Diane and Krista, Praying still for Jeffs heart, jobs for Krista and Joel, and for protection of the little ones hearts and minds through this rough time. As a mom I can imagine how heavy all of this weighs on you Diane.
    Laura Dancer, your post about Sarah was so good to read, it is wonderful to see you growing in grace and peace before us!
    Joyce, praying for your back and praising that the kids made it in time to see Maggie, also that this time will draw your daughter closer to the Lord.
    Kim, praying your natural methods will be whats needed and no surgery will be required,and for your spirit to be at rest
    Laure, I think most of us can relate to the relational idolatry thing here on the blog, so glad you shared this with us, my two cents is that you come to see Christ, to be pointed to Him, and if you feel something else driving you, confess it and ask for God to supply the power needed for the change.
    Susan, glad to know Ryan is on the mend
    Happy Belated Birthday to Rhonda!
    Rhonda, Laure, Jill Deanna, Mellany, you are all such wonderful new additions here, I hope Ididn’t leave anyone out, forgive me if I did, my head is still pretty fuzzy from this cold.

    1. Thanks for checking in and praying for us all, Chris. God’s Spirit is so sweet upon you. And, dare I say it here, happy birthday!

    2. Oh Chris, it is so good to hear from you! I am sorry that you have had such a bout with sickness! I am assuming that it is your birthday too? If so, happy birthday friend!! You have been missed and I look forward to having you reconnect with us all…thank you for all the encouraging words!!!

  26. Thank you all for the prayers–I have a “strange” peace although the situation hasn’t gone away and I did hear the news from the Dr today that I was dreading hearing for my child. But a wise friend reminded me a diagnosis does not define my child, and I have such an other-worldly love for this child, and that is all that matters–I see Jesus in him–so much so, and there is great peace in that. It will be a journey–but one day at a time. The Lord reminded me last night the one thing I can ALWAYS be assured of is His presence–and–this is what struck me–the BLESSINGS that come from His presence–the peace, the eternal perspective, the joy.

    This Keller quote is profound and true:
    “It’s the grief that makes you go to your resources. It makes you go to your roots as a Christian. It makes you go to the gospel. It makes you look at what Jesus has done for you. That’s what it does. The grief pushes you toward the joy, and it enhances the joy. The joy kicks on like a heat furnace and overwhelms the grief, but it’s there. I’ll go so far as to say if you get into grief, if you get into a time of trouble, and you have no tears and you have no problem and you say, ‘I’m just praising God,’ that is thought control. That’s brainwashing. That’s the way the cults operate. That’s some kind of psychological control.
    It’s not supernatural. It’s not the way the gospel works. Don’t you see? The second principle is that a Christian is both happier and sadder at the same time. The gospel makes you a far more sensitive person, a far more feeling person, but at the same time a person who is feeling because you’re more hopeful than anybody else, a person who is able to sense and see the grief because you have a joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

    We are leaving for a church family retreat in the mountains in a few hours, so I will officially not finish my lesson online, but plan to in the car! So thankful for EACH of you and the part of the beautiful orchestra here you each play–what a GIFT.

    1. Have a great retreat, elizabeth. I will continue to pray for you as you deal with your family issues. It is so amazing and wonderful that God has given you such peace in your situation, peace that passes understanding. Praise the Lord!

      You encourage me so in sharing “the one thing I can ALWAYS be assured of is His presence–and–this is what struck me–the BLESSINGS that come from His presence–the peace, the eternal perspective, the joy.”

    2. By the way, I love your orchestra imagery – so true, so vivid.

      1. Thank you for your prayers and care Diane. I just came across this and thought of you too “God will take you where you never intended to go in order to produce in you what you couldn’t achieve on your own.”-Paul David Tripp
        Your steadfast faith inspires me more than you can imagine.

      2. I agree the “orchestra imagery” is fantastic!!! My imagination just goes wild with the visual…thank you!

    3. “We are leaving for a church family retreat in the mountains in a few hours…” These words jumped out at me Elizabeth….I think about Jesus retreating to the mountains to pray…I wish you a very restful and peaceful and prayerful time. I can hear that your heart is heavy…we all need those times of refreshment and I ask the Father to give that to you and your family this weekend! Lord, You so often went away to a quiet place to pray…I believe that Elizabeth is in need of some emotional rest and replenishment. I ask that You would bring that to her especially while she is dealing with the news of this unexpected diagnosis. Give her mountain air and with it a restored soul…bring healing to this situation both internal and external…we will give You all the praise! Be safe and rest in His love and care!

      1. Rhonda,just read this in the car on my iPad and shared it with my husband–you truly blessed me, thank you

        1. I just have to share this with you (especially in light of your child’s diagnosis). My mom shared this with me yesterday, it goes along with this discussion in regard to babies and children and it is absolutely adorable. Innocent and sweet to the core! I hope it makes you smile and I hope the simplicity will sink into your heart, especially this weekend while you are away! Receive it like the little girl you are in His eyes!

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLPp4gXUY3o

        2. Rhonda, what a great video. I’ve just sent it onto alot of folks in my contact list. I love those old hymns.

        3. I just thought it was the sweetest thing! Hearing that little voice singing, “God will take care of you”. I agree the simplicity of the tune and those words have a lullaby feel to them…simple and to the point and so comforting all at the same time!

        4. Rhonda that is sooooo cute!!!

    4. Thanks Elizabeth for your post. The quote from Keller is wonderful. I’ll be praying for you & your family this weekend.

    5. Elizabeth, praying for you and your family. I was going to ask how the friday appt. went. Love you.

  27. The Tim Keller quote that Elizabeth gave earlier today, I also received in an email. I was so impressed with it that I listened to the sermon from which the quote came. The sermon is called “How to Handle Trouble” and is very good. It is based on 1 Peter 1 about how if we have troubles it is because we need them to help us grow.

    I am so impressed, I can’t resist giving a synopsis:

    In a nut shell, Suffering and glory are inextricably bound together; Jesus Christ is our example. He came to glory through suffering. Servants, you are not above your master

    Christianity has a far more hopeful view of suffering than other religions or western secular culture. His wounds speak to our wounds – a power to deal with our own wounds. There is an intimacy, a sense in which God is ours and we are His.

    1. You can’t face suffering without doctrine. This is what is going to get you through, these great truths in which you rejoice. You use it. Look at these wonderful things, savor them, look at what he is doing for you.

    2. The gospel makes you are far more feeling person, troubledness of life along with joy. “In these you greatly rejoice though for a while you have had to suffer trouble” rejoicing but troubled – they are BOTH happening now. Rejoicing now AND you are deeply troubled.

    Jesus had a perfect relationship with his Father, uninterrupted peace during his life but he was weeping all the time. The more perfect you are, the more holy you are, the more you will see the brokenness around you. When the gospel gets into your heart and you see that you are utterly and completely accepted and that you are totally loved, that gives you the emotionally freedom to finally admit a lot of sin in your life. Until you have that kind of hope, you live in denial. It is impossible for people to admit how really, really wicked they are because they have no solution for it.

    3. The trials happen because, not just the world is a bad place. if you have troubles, you need them
    John Newton: “Everything is necessary that he sends. Nothing can be necessary that he withholds.”

    Your Father is letting it into your life in ways to teach you the things in life that you need to learn.

    I loved this quote! Elisabeth Eliot says, “We bow in willingness to take the cup the Father gave Him, a cup so immensely more bitter than the one He gives us, ever. Shall we refuse the cup He gives us or shall we grasp it with both hands as it were, realizing it holds what is most needed for our spiritual wholeness? Ours has really been sweetened at the lip of sweet Jesus. We drink it by trustful acceptance and God will transform it for His glory. Thus our very suffering may become the substance of sacrifice – a love offering of God, and a sacrifice of praise – and our ambition may be changed as radically as Paul’s who said, “all I care for is to know Christ, to experience the power of His resurrection and to share His sufferings in growing conformity with His death.”

    You are going to have hard times in your life. You can accept what Jesus says, “I took the real cup. I will be with you. These little cups are for your good. Drink it with me. I will be with you. There is a purpose and there is a meaning behind it all. It will only be for a while.” Trust Him.

    1. oh Diane–how God uses you in my life! As I am crying just reading your notes, I have to run but am going to download this now to listen on our drive–God’s amazing timing! Thank you for sharing!

    2. I’m guessing this is what you emailed to me, Mom? I haven’t listened to it yet, but I will. Sounds really good!

      1. Actually, Krista, that was a John Piper sermon called “Thank God for the Mercies of Christ” I sent you the link to. Keller’s one is not free. They are both good sermons, but Keller’s sermon has more expository depth on Scripture and Piper’s more reflective on his life. I don’t usually listen to two sermons in a week, but God knew I needed these ones this week.

        1. Oh okay.

    3. Diane, I love this quote…”We drink it by trustful acceptance and God will transform it for His glory”…I remember (when I was child) drinking an old purple colored liquid medicine. Cannot remember the name; however, my reaction has not been forgotten! I was a terrible medicine taker (sensory overload)! HA! Just thinking through that analogy…the quote above is much the same. The healing came through the bitter cup…needful, necessary but still bitter! It was about “trustful acceptance” otherwise why would we have put it to our lips? Such richness to consider…thank you!

  28. Like alot of us this week, I am really behind. Thankfully nothing wrong in life. Just not access to the computer. Also, I’ve been struck with this entire passage. One I’ve known all my life but never dug into it.
    7B. What do you learn about God from this passage? I’ve learned that He wants me to truly be surrendered to Him and his will. To not focus on what I see or understand. To trust that he has a plan and it is the best.
    7C. Is there anything that is speaking personally to you? You bet. Since I’m fairly new, I’m just starting to share my life’s journey with you all. Part of this journey is (as you may have guessed) is my relationship with my parents. What complicates it is that my oldest brother, Dave, was born with brain injury and also struggles with mental illness issues. He is 57 and still lives with my parents (who are 87 and 89). Long story short, no plans have been made for Dave’s future in the event he outlives our parents. And there is no reason that he shouldn’t – he is in good physical health. For decades, I’ve tried to work with my folks, have us all make arrangements for Dave’s future. But they are unable or unwilling to do so. That’s where my sin and idols come in. I was (and can be) so afraid of the unknown about this situation that I tried to control and demand and guilt my parents to do what they can’t seem to do. My fear and frustration and hurt would grow and my anger grew as well. But a few years ago, when I finally thought I was losing my mind, God did step in and showed me to let it go, forgive and trust that He will take care of Dave and me and my parents but I have to let Him do it. I felt like Zechariah, “How shall I know this”? I would ask God, “How is this all going to work out”. And He says to me, “Just trust me. I have a plan that will be to my glory”. So nothing and yet everything has changed. There are still no plans but now I’m not angry. When I do feel fear creeping in, God calms me down. And I have no illusions that this will be easy. But I know that God will helps us all when the time is right.
    8. Challenge question: Can you see any facet of the gospel in this story?
    I’m not sure I’m understanding this correctly but here is what I see. The gospel – good news – is that we are separated from God because of our sin. When we repent and trust Him, we are freed from sin’s grasp. Zachariah was separated from everyone because of being deaf and unable to speak. Very isolating. But when he trusted God and His plan and confessed, “His name is John”, he was freed from his silence and was able to praise God.

    1. Jill, I love your testimony concerning your parents and your brother. To come to the point where you say, “So nothing and yet everything has changed” is so PROFOUND!!! Your trust in God is so evident in that statement. FAITH with feet on! 🙂 Knowing that God cares about each and every single one of you (in this situation) is a great reminder that He is able (not a sparrow falls without His notice) and He comforts. So glad that we have a HEAVENLY Father to sort out all the loose ends created by (this) our humanity. Thank you again for modeling humility, trust, and BELIEF (in a very difficult situation)!!!

    2. Jill, this is a wonderful testimony. You say, “I would ask God, “How is this all going to work out”. And He says to me, “Just trust me. I have a plan that will be to my glory”. So nothing and yet everything has changed. There are still no plans but now I’m not angry.”

      I am dealing with a situation that also is so frustrating because I cannot FIX it. I HAVE to trust God, or drive myself into a nervous breakdown or worse. You say,”when I finally thought I was losing my mind, God did step in and showed me to let it go, forgive and trust that He will take care of Dave and me and my parents but I have to let Him do it.” That is exactly what God is teaching me. I have to “let it go” and “let Him do it”; to trust that He will take care of the persons involved. Not that I should not participate as God shows me, but I must continually refocus my trust in the Lord, and rest in Him. It is an issue where I have to continually ask myself “Do you trust God or not?”

      Recently God has shown me that I cannot be like the disciples who, after Christ’s crucifixion, hid in their rooms with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, but I must be like the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection, when Jesus explained to them the Scriptures concerning the significance of His life, crucifixion, and resurrection, and who were given the Holy Spirit’s power, the power of the Resurrection. I have to live in His POWER, not in fear of the present or the future.

      “Life is hard, but God is good.” (John Piper) This pain is temporary and for my good, so that I might walk before Him in holiness and surrender. This pain is necessary for me and for those involved, to bring them to Him. If that is not the case, if suffering is, as our western culture sees it, an “absolute unmitigated curse” (Keller sermon, How to Handle Trouble), then the only answer is living in denial, anger, or physical or emotional suicide, because life is hopeless.

      Praise God, life is not hopeless, though “The mercies of God are hidden and hard to see while they are happening. There is a merciful purpose from Him in it all. He does not willingly afflict, he does not delight in it. If we trust him, there are mercies hidden there from Him.” (John Piper, Thank God for the Mercies of Christ sermon, based on Lamentations 3)

      Praise God, there is hope. I cast my life on Him.

      1. Diane, praying for you to rest in his arms in trust, with this situation your facing.

    3. Jill, that is so comforting and hits me right where i live. My son has severe autism and is about to graduate high school. That’s certificate, not diploma, graduation. i’m taking those steps to assure his future – and they are not easy, even after you get past the idea of shouldn’t – and i know it could well come to nothing, the world being as it is.
      BUT GOD IS IN CONTROL. My son’s future, or yours or mine, does not depend on paperwork or income. God works all things to the good for those who love Him & are called according to His purpose.
      Thank you for sharing with us!

  29. My take aways….

    Names are important!!! God used them all throughout scripture to speak and convey His heart in the situation. I want to be more aware of this and pay attention to that detail as I read and study. I saw a lot of contrasting human responses in the scriptural study this week. God giving two sides of the equation (for our viewing and gleaning). Faith and belief is always woven into the purposes of God’s ultimate plan. Not seeing, yet BELIEVING is very important to Him. I want to be a woman of FAITH! Also, the encouragement to look at our names and allow God to speak into that has been very helpful to me. God’s providence in that process is often mind boggling! All the stories you all have shared this week are evidence of that fact! He is so personally involved in our lives (even in the womb)! I think “Lily Grace” has already had an eternal impact on this world and she hasn’t yet “done a thing” other than BE! WOW, what an amazing God we have! A good and rich week indeed!

  30. As this week concludes I pray that I will be able to reconnect with all of you. I have read and pondered the study but have not felt engaged. I am still in the fog of my dear sister-in-law’s death. I am very thankful for the way her passing went and the blessing of her life. I am left with peace and sadness. It took a while for the direction of the study to take hold. I had not thought about naming and how it can show God’s love or intention or trust or blessing. Because of adoption some of my children came with names which we changed and one we kept the biological name. Add into the mix bio kids with “only one” name and it can become quite a mix. I never looked on naming from a spiritual point of view.
    I listened to Dee on Midday Connection on Thursday where she reminded me of the story of Leah and naming her sons. That really struck a cord: reminding me of the need to praise God in all things. Add the reminder of Zechariah’s need to trust God in all things, even the naming of his son, so I find my week’s take away is sensitizing me to praise and trust God in all things!

    1. Dear Lord,
      Please be with Sarahsal as she walks through the grief of losing her sister-in-law and carry her when she cannot walk anymore…I like to think also of her leaning heavily upon You with Your strong arm around her, comforting, encouraging, whispering hope to her. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    2. Missed you Sarahsal…I’m so sorry about your loss and will be praying for you.

    3. Sarahsal, so sorry for your loss! Lord, You are acquainted with grief and sorrow…because of this fact, I can ask You to comfort Sarahsal and her family from that place of understanding. I thank You that she has been willing to take the time (away) for the necessary grieving. I pray that she will be kind to herself in the process. I ask that You will help her to walk out the days and months ahead with the assurance of Your hope and the support of Your strong arm.

  31. I am hopelessly behind this week – haven’t even gotten to the study. I have been in an emotional tailspin since Wednesday…
    My mom is finishing up testing for dementia and in a couple of weeks my parents will meet with the neurologist to go over all the results. Their home was for sale for a couple of years but didn’t sell, then off the market, then my dad listen with another realtor about 2 months ago. A young couple came through on Tues.; Wed. night my parents called me with “The house is sold”. I barely held it together on the phone; when I hung up I broke down and sobbed like a baby. It’s not just the house…it’s everything it represents…

    My parents have lived there for almost 49 yrs., since I was 6 weeks old. I grew up there and lived at home until I married. In my heart it has always been “home”. I think of all the memories and the time my own children spent there…I’ve spent every Christmas of my life there. I’m starting to cry again typing this…
    I have many fears and worries – I worry about my mom leaving her familiar surroundings, that it may make her condition worse…I know this represents my parents nearing the end of their lives (they are 85 &86)…they aren’t sure where they are going to move except closer to me and my sisters as we all live in the same area and are minutes from each other, so I know that will be a good thing to have them closer. But my mom is already feeling overwhelmed and I know this is going to be hard for both of them to leave their home, even though they know it is time.

    I feel a little like what Jill posted, “How is this all going to work out?” and being so afraid of the unknown, and for me also losing what is so familiar, comforting, and safe.
    Diane’s post was very helpful too, as she wrote about how God lets hard things into our lives to teach us what we need to learn. I guess I need to learn how to be more mature, to let go of the safe anchor that my parents and my childhood home represent to me. When I was growing up, especially in junior and high school, I was never in the popular group and always felt like I didn’t fit in, so home, for me, was my safe refuge from the world…my home and my dog and the woods where I loved to spend most of my time…

    I’ve been reading about Abraham this week and how after 75 years God told him to leave his home, his town, his relatives, and follow Him to a new place – and he went. When God had blessed him 25 years later with a son, Isaac, God asked him to lay Isaac on the altar – I believe to see if Abraham loved God, the Giver, or the gift, Isaac, better. I’ve really been praying for peace and for God to work everything out – to help my dad make the decision where they should live and to show me how to help them, and to help me let go of my idols of comfort and security in having things just the way they always have been, because they can’t be forever; I know that. Maybe this is what God needs me to learn – I’m married and have my own family but a part of me has never let go from my original family-mainly my parents. I want to be strong but I feel so weak and emotionally fragile and I haven’t felt well physically, either.

    Sorry to go on and on…it is somehow helpful to write out what I’m feeling and I’m thankful I can share it here in a safe place.

    1. Sweet Susan, my heart aches for you. I can hear the pain and tears in your words. So sorry that you need to go through this.

      Perhaps the John Piper sermon that I quoted from earlier might be a comfort to you. It was preached in 2000 after a trip home when he reflected on his aging parents and the home he grew up in and how God had kept him and guided him over the years. Perhaps his words of hope and trust will comfort you.

      Piper asks “Is life just an accumulation of endings? Closings of chapters?” Piper felt a sort of rebellion against that. He suggests that feeling is a testimony of God because you were made for “something else”. You weren’t made for endings. Piper reminds us that there is a Biblical remedy for remorse and fears and it is Jesus. Salvation is “the joy of our lives” as all else changes. “It is the treasure of your life.”

      Here is the link:
      http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/thank-god-for-the-mercies-of-christ#/listen/full

      1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Diane – I’ve got the sermon downloaded and plan to listen tonight!

      2. I listened to this Diane…so many mysterious things to be thankful for! Thank you for the suggestion!

    2. Susan, I’m so sorry your going through all these changes in your life. None of it is easy. I’ve been through the same things…dad died, mom died..selling her home..”My home” (dad built), since birth. It’s going to be sold at auction and if not sold, torn down. It’s all so much. The only comfort is running to Jesus’s arms, knowing my real home is with him, for all eternity. This is not our home. Praying for you. Love you.

      1. Joyce,
        You are such a comfort…I really mean it. I know you’ve been through so much, and I remember you talking about the home your dad built. I see you persevering in hope, and it helps me want to do the same. You are such a special lady.

    3. Susan, I hear a pain filled change of life ringing out loud and clear in your words. This particular pain is so deep….please know that your emotional fragility (regarding this issue) is seen and acknowledged. Home is one of those words that contains a lot of depth…Lord, comfort Susan right now…give her grace through this seasonal change. Allow her to be able to embrace the sweetness of “home” while at the same time…embracing this new season with Your supernatural support and strength. What a difficult balancing act…help her God…help her!

  32. I am sorry that I ended up not participating to the fullest this week. I was going along well, and then I just sort of fell off of the wagon and got left behind! I did accomplish a few good things: I finished reading Keller’s The Prodigal God, and I did listen to Dee on Midday Connection. So I was soaking up some very good stuff, even if my output was not so great.

    However, as I came on the blog tonight, I just happened to notice that no one has posted on the blog for almost 12 hours. I guess I’m not the only one having a strange week. I have noted with dismay the various life stories of many who are on this blog, and my heart goes out to all of you. I am not presently having any crises, just little problems…so far! My cleaning lady called off on me this week, and I had to clean my house myself — I haven’t had to do that for about a year. I tried to do it all in one day, and nearly did myself in!! I also had a difficult project I was working on with less than stellar success. It involved visiting 9 high school guidance counselors, and I couldn’t even get some of them to return my calls (much less set up an appointment!) Since I have to fill out reports on these visits, my approval idol reared its ugly head again (I’m sure someone wonders why I haven’t sent all my reports in! I’m not looking very competent here!!:)

    My take-away for the week? Whether we have a gripping crisis or just the aggravations of life — I am convinced that God will use them all to make us stronger and help us to grow! He will never abandon us — EVER!

    1. “He will never abandon us — EVER!”…so true Deanna, so true!

    2. Deanna, I love how you spotted an idol and yet you are seeing how trials are our friends and applying the Gospel-‘He will never abandon us-ever’..Reminds me of Diane’s passage God had her put on Dee’s new post this morning-His steadfast love endures forever, his mercies never cease-great is His Faithfulness-He is our Hope!

  33. I would love to join your on line Bible study on Idol Lies.

  34. Hello! Now that i’ve read through the responses on this post, and jumped in some, i want to leave my own comments.
    You are such a caring group of ladies. There are so many of you, i would find it overwhelming to be a true part of such a big group, but i can tell you all know and love each other. It’s beautiful. i appreciate your honesty in this public forum.
    2. Do you have a “name” story that showed God’s mindfulness?
    My husband doesn’t believe you can name a baby until you’ve seen him. When we were expecting our firstborn, i had a list of like 5 pages of girls’ names, which of course he would not discuss, and TWO boys’ names that i liked.
    i say my husband wouldn’t discuss names. That isn’t strictly true: he could definitely say what would not be acceptable: no family names, because you can never name for each family equally (i rather think we could’ve), this one doesn’t sound right, the rhythm of that one is wrong, the meaning of this one is terrible (usually i caught those, though i still can’t understand the difficulty with Jasper).
    i’d wanted 3 girls. God gave me 2 boys.
    When the firstborn arrived, my husband looked at him and definitively chose one of the two that i liked. A week later, we had a middle name with the appropriate rhythm.
    Two years later, we were expecting the child we now know as our second son. And i no longer liked that other boy name on my list.
    While we didn’t know the gender of the first until he popped out, the second showed all during the ultrasound.
    In that moment i knew his name. At the time, i thought he named himself, but now i know God named him.
    i had to hold firm to actually give him the name. No one liked the choice, but i believed it had to be this name & no other. Eventually my husband said, Fine, but you get no say about the middle name.
    Ok. Turns out we NEVER use either middle name. Not even when angry.
    i don’t usually use my kids’ names online, to preserve their privacy, but here, since it’s relevant, i will share that God named my son Malcolm. He is the soon-to-be graduate to whom i referred above, who has severe autism. His name means “Disciple of Columba.” Columba was a was an Irish abbot and missionary credited with spreading Christianity in present-day Scotland. One name book suggested “lifelong learner” as an application for the name, and so it will truly be.
    i already know he loves Jesus and has a tender heart.

  35. Yes I do have a story to tell.  My name is Dionna and everyone calls me Dee.  I have two boys when I was pregnant with my son Montrell I knew that was going to be his name.  I was going to name him after the men in my life, his dad and my two brothers.  But four years later I was having another baby and I wasn’t for sure what I was going to name the baby.  I didn’t know if I was going to have a girl or a boy.  I really wanted a girl cause I already had a son.  So when I was about 3 or 4 months pregnant I was thinking about names.  I was like if its a girl I’m going to name her after me and her name was going to be Meonna but what was the boy’s name going to be.  That’s when God said name him Malachi.  I said while I was fallen to sleep Malachi that’s a nice name.  Right after I was in a deep sleep and woke up telling everyone I was having a boy and God said name him Malachi.  This was before the sonogram and everyone thought I was making it up and they bet that it was going to be  a girl.  I took the bet cause I knew I didn’t come up with the name because I never heard the name before.  When I told my husband the name he told me that Malachi was in the bible.  I started to read Malachi and I know that my son Has an important part in Gods plan because he is God’s messenger.  I fell so bless that God named my son.  And so glad that I’m not the only one.  Thank you for sharing your stories with the world.  It gave me a chance to tell you and the world about my son Malachi.  God has big plans for him its amazing that a child that couldn’t speak until he was 2 can now speak in front of a large crowd and bring them to tears.  My friends and family say that he’s either going to be a preacher or a dancer because he has it.  Whatever it is he has it and it, only comes from God.  Thank you

  36. I had to name my son within 24 hours of birth. I had a handful of names picked out but didn’t feel “right” with any of them. The pressure was on! I ended a name! I prayed and prayed and was told a name, Benjamin. It wasn’t even a name on my “radar”. But I felt such peace and a gentle force, like, my child, you WILL name him that as I have chosen his name for you. And so I obeyed. 🙂 

  37. I truly believe God named my daughter not knowing if i was ever going to be able to concieve. I worked as an driving instructor. The year must have been 2005. I was teaching a female teen driver, as i was filing out her driving papers, her name struck me, it was Marcella. I told her she had such a beautiful name and that if God ever gave me a daughter, Marcella would be her name. The student was so happy. After struggling with infertility for many years I became pregnant in 2007 and I chose not to find out the gender of the baby. In 2008 I gave birth to a beautiful girl named…..Marcella. I truly believe God sent me the student with that name to tell me hold on Vera you will be blest with a child and her name will be Marcella. I never even once thought of choosing a different name. And now at 9yrs old she is truly a beautiful inside and out, kind, thoughtful child. Thank you God for this beautiful gift you came me.

  38. Hi… My name is Emily. I recently had a sweet baby girl who was an incredible answer to prayer. I was torn between two different names  my whole pregnancy… One which I have liked for years and one which was newer but I thought I felt the Lord drawing me to it.  We went with the newer choice and I have often wrestled with whether I made the right choice… I have often wished I could go back and name her the name that I loved for so many years… That was the name that I had always pictured my little girl as being called.  But the worst part is living in regret… I want to trust that God had a reason for us naming her the way we did…  and I do like her name… It’s just weird because I asked him for peace regarding a name and I just don’t have peace.  Is it possible to name your child wrong? How do I let go of such a strange, persistent regret?

  39. I have three girls. However my eldest God named her Joanna. It was the most beautiful dream I ever had. He named her in a dream. I felt pure unconditional love. Perfect love had I an enemy I would hug them the love I felt. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt she was a girl. My other daughters have beautiful God fearing names.however the experience with my first is nothing earthly. I’m now pregnant and looking for baby names. The Lord told me something hence the reason I stumbled on this page. And I’m glad I did because this song just confirms even more I LOVE that song. I played it on my belly just now. ” God Knows’. Blessings to you and yours. Thanks for this page.

  40. Hi everyone,

    Myself Wilson M. From India.I was searching for baby girl names in Google for my  cousin.

    Birth of the baby was premature and she is currently in observation under ventilation.Condition is better than earlier.Lungs and brain haven’t formed well.She is undergoing treatment.So iIrequest all of you to pray for her and suggest a better meaningful name for the girl.

  41. I have 3 sons and I’m pregnant with my fourth boy. I have been in love with researching names, their meanings and origins since I was 12. With my other children my husband and I prayerfully chose names that reflected what we want them to remember about God and who they are in Christ. We had all 3 names picked out before I was pregnant with my first. I know that God was a part of their naming. In fact He even switched two of the boys names around.

    But this time when I found out I was having a fourth boy I didn’t have a name picked out. I thought maybe this time perhaps I’d have a girl but God has different plans. I felt really lost at first because through out my times of prayer through the years many times God has promised me daughters. And I was shocked to find myself struggling to find contentment in His plan.

    Then God named him. He told me that the baby’s name is Joseph which means ” He will add. He will bring increase”. At first I ruminated over it. I rebelled a little bit in my mind thinking okay but I could call him by his middle name, right? And I heard a very emphatic,   “no” from God. He said I was to call him by the name Joseph. That pretty much confirmed for me that this was God telling me this. Then I started to feel at peace with His will. Just knowing that God has more to add to our family and to the world through this child has calmed my spirit. We don’t know the middle name yet but we are asking God through prayer what is it that He wants to increase with this child.

    Joseph is very different from the other boys names and nothing my husband or I were likely to have chosen ourselves. But as I feel purpose and guidance from God grow In become more attached to the name. He’s not just Joseph when he is eventually born. He is Joseph right now. Adding so much to my life.

  42. At nearly 46 years old I just came to realize I was named by God.  My mother used to tell me the story of desperately wanting a daughter.  She had 4 sons and was pregnant with her last child.  Her sisters and mother told her to pray for a daughter, but my mother couldn’t do it thinking she was asking far too much from God. So her family prayed for her.  My naming doesn’t have a great story just something she heard on the radio and liked. My middle name has even less story behind it.  One would think if desperately wanting a daughter the name would be locked in your heart well ahead of time.  I was asked recently about how I got named and told the rather bland story of how my mom heard it in the radio and liked it.  Recently in reading about how God named people it dawned on me the meaning of my names: Shauna (Gift from God) Colleen (girl).  I’ve held this so close to my heart ever since this realization – God answers prayers, knows the dreams of the heart and created me to be a gift.