My Story: What’s in a Name?

As I begin to add pieces to this blog, I’ve been debating what might be interesting to a reader. I settled on simple bits I’ve written. Here’s a little piece of my story. If you’d like a peek into the long term project I’ll be working on, here’s a teeny tiny one…

“White Wave”

My name is Jennifer.

Somewhere along the way an elementary teacher divvied out a homework assignment I’m sure she thought would be fun. “Find out what your name means,” she said.

I’ve always been a thinker. I can’t say the thoughts were sound or brilliant, but I could be more comfortable in my head than my heart. When words, relational skills, or athletic abilities failed, I often retreated to my happy place between the ears. I already knew things were identified by their names. Names described and defined. When I first heard the assignment, I took it seriously and even considered that it could shed light on who I might be in some deep, revealing way. Always interested in learning new things, I couldn’t wait to find out my name’s meaning!

When I completed the assignment sans Internet, the rudimentary resource at my fingertips (a book—with pages) offered “a form of Guinevere; of Welsh origin, meaning “white wave.” That’s all I knew. I vaguely recall other students had sweet, wonderful, or powerful meanings that conveyed joy and honor and bestowed all kinds of blessing. Missing the greater possibilities in my own name, I was just “all wet” as far as I was concerned. Except for Peter and Craig (both stuck with “rock”), I couldn’t think of anything more lackluster. Maybe the guy whose name meant “black water” was equally disappointed. I’ll never know. I suppose I internalized the whole thing and, at the time, likely muddled the limitations of meaning, the source of significance, and my identity.

When I named my children, I was careful to sift through meanings on those baby name websites before I settled on an option. (Yes, I might be known for overthinking a bit.) I’ve thought a lot about names, especially as they appear in the Scriptures, a name’s meaning had rich significance and was descriptive of character and identity. If you ever take a close look, you’ll find even our infinite God has revealed his character and identity to all of us through many different names appearing in the Bible. Do you know any of them? The Hebrew names of God make a beautiful and precious announcement to the world.

Have you ever thought about the significance of a name? Do you know what your own name means? Have you noticed any interesting connection between your name and your identity? I’d love to hear your thoughts…




How Your Story Might Begin…

Here’s a little something that may encourage you in your pursuit of the art you were created for, friend. Whether it’s crafting an image, a story, or your own story—if you’re going to create works of significance, you’ll need to be courageous. And you may just have to “borrow a little brave” from your circle.

What? You don’t have a circle?

You need a tribe, a circle!

It all began on a Saturday in spring that year. A bold Craftsman home dominated the corner lot in early spring. Soon the trees would leaf out, and she’d peek out from the foliage and seem almost dainty. In a matter of weeks no one would be able to tell just how much house filled the yard.
We gathered in the cozy front room, a mix of chairs and Amish-made furniture. Plaster walls, warm wood, and brick fireplace made the perfect, comfortable backdrop. Each week we got to know each other better—likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, writing dreams and aspirations. The friends made in the room became some of my closest simply because they listened to my heart (often dripping all over my pages), and they responded. Each month the circle might grow or shrink, but the magic happened every time. The encouragement and energy flowed easily, and I felt more ready to lean into my stories, attempt to string just a few more vulnerable words together, and maybe even do something crazy—think about sharing it with others!
I’d found my tribe. These women believed words were powerful, and they weren’t afraid to use them. Many of them believed the words they put on the page could be precious and beautiful and useful in the lives of others. Those of us who weren’t quite convinced had to borrow a little brave from the ones who were. The borrowing was easy, and the lending was free.
At the beginning I was a charred lump of coal just a little distance from the others, but coals are funny things. They hold heat long after the flames have died away. The temperature range is wide and visible for hours. Some coals are red-hot, pulsing with high heat; some give way to the cooler, darker char a little at a time. The slightest breath of a draft should cool the pile, and maybe it does eventually, but not without causing a stir or reigniting a flame. Waves of heat and color ripple over the surface of the embers. One hot coal sparks and excites the others nearby. Are we all captivated by every campfire or fireplace?
Eventually the temperature in the little Craftsman front room climbed, and everyone began to search for that “thing” they’d been created for. We talked about the art each of us was born to make. Then we looked for the unique pieces of art hidden deep in our souls waiting to be shaped and crafted.
And so I began to remember…

Memories are little puffs of cloud vapor, easily blown with the winds,
shapeshifting from moment to moment.
Opaque with significance. Elusive in their misty recollections

I hope you enjoy this piece.  Now, find your tribe! Get your circle!


A Dedication of Sorts…

Here begins the journey of a thousand miles, each step yet to be taken. I have no idea where the steps will lead—I have no detailed map—but I grant that each one will be inspired and directed by the One who has ordered them all, the Author of every story.

I will write unashamed. I will write with integrity. The words will be purposeful and significant. More importantly, they will honor God to the best of my ability.

Anything good I attribute to the One who wrote into the pages of my life…the strokes of His pen changed everything!