Her Name

I confess, I was more prepared to have a boy. Everyone, even strangers on the street, was saying I carried like I was having a boy. Of course we knew it was still a 50/50 chance either way but we started to believe maybe people were right. So a boy name was pretty much set on. Girl names however was still in the short listing process.

And then we had a girl!

Indecision ensued. For about three weeks.

During those three weeks we would repeat our short list of names aloud over our little girl and see if she responded to any in particular. For one name we got a “wtf” facial expression so that name got crossed off. Another name got no response so that was dropped too. And then we tried to see if the names rhymed with anything off-colored or if it would be easy to make fun of. (We’d want to raise her to be confident and secure in her identity that she wouldn’t care if there was some name calling anyways.) One name Skywalker liked more than I did. Another name I liked more than he. But finally…we decided on Anessa Grace.

Anessa…like Vanessa…but without the V.
We came across the name in a “familiar but unique” list of names online. It had a nice ring….and it matched our criteria. It’s a variant of Agnes which means “pure”. We thought of the verse “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Matt 5:8) and really want our daughter to recognize God and find joy in Him in everything. My sister also shared afterwards that the Hebrew meaning was “favored” or “grace”. This was neat because her middle name is Grace. We pray she will be gracious and graceful in personality…so it’s doubled in her name. And surely we can never be short on receiving or extending grace.

So far, she is living up to the gracious part in how we’re still learning and figuring so many things out as new parents. She’s been a really good baby. God is gracious! PTL!

Endearing nicknames I grew up with

Have I told you my nicknames as I grew up?
These are the best I can do in terms of literal translations:

Big Cry Baby – My Dad reminds me, more and more now, of how they didn’t go out to eat for 2-3 years because I cried so much. I was colic for the first little while. And I had a big set of lungs apparently.

Bread Head – I have corners on my head making my head a little squarish. And with my chubby baby cheeks, I looked like a square loaf of bread. So…the name stuck. Thankfully, the squarish-ness has decreased over the years.

Big Head Yan – Yan is my Chinese name. It means “Happy”…which is a little ironic considering how I was also the Big Cry Baby. Anyways. My head was big. Think of a bobble head. That was me. As my Dad would comment, I had a big head with big eyes, a big nose, big mouth, big face and big protruding ears. So endearing.

Big Lazy Yan – This nickname was given in Junior High I think. Because I was lazy. I am. Well…sometimes I’m just trying to be efficient…but I’ll totally admit to being lazy.

Big Fat Piggy – I’ve never actually been “fat”. My heaviest looking days were around age 13/14, first year university with the whole Freshman Fifteen thing and then a couple years into taking an office job where I just sit all day every day…with regular access to Tim Hortons. When I travel to hot/humid climates, I also tend to retain water…so whenever my Dad sees pictures from such vacations, he’ll comment. But, meh. I know when I’m not looking as healthy as I could be. And I mean this in the realistic sense of “healthy”…with no comparisons to what I “could” be looking if I had a personal trainer, personal chef and cosmetic procedures done.

And there you go. Yes, all nicknames were coined by my Dad. Yes it means you develop some thicker skin growing up. =) But it’s totally endearing to hear my Dad call me by these nicknames still.

Naming Dilemma

(Image not mine)

There’s a saying in Chinese…translated roughly as…”It’s not that you were born with a bad life, you were just given a bad name.” And this saying weighs on my mind as we start to consider names for our future child. There’s also Biblical examples of how an individual’s name pretty much paints the picture of what their character or life will be like. The ever popular “Jacob” means “heel grabber” and there are many biblical stories of how he tricked his elder brother into giving him the first-born birthrights, or how he found ways to become richer than his scheming uncle, or how he wrestled with the angel of the Lord for a blessing and only let go after the angel touched his hip which wrenched it out of socket. His whole identity was in grabbing after blessing. And so….we’re trying to pick a name with a good meaning…a name our child can grow into character-wise. Not just something that has a nice ring to it when paired with our surname.

And it’s hard.

I have many mommy friends who have two to three kids each. That’s a lot of names that have already been taken. It’s kind of an unspoken rule that you can’t use the same name right? I actually grew up initially disliking my name because I didn’t know anyone else who had it, but then I came to like its uniqueness. So I would like to find a name that is unique but not a complete outlier. Bible names…as nice as they are…are a bit over-used. And the Top-10’s….also overused. Then we have to deal with names that remind us of ______. Skywalker and I are learning a lot about each other’s childhoods as we talk about the bullies or jocks or brats we encountered. Another time, Skywalker suggested Anastasia…which I immediately shut down as that’s Cinderella’s ugly step-sister!! And sounds a bit like an exotic dancer name.

I like strong sounding simple names compared to delicate sounding or complex names. For example, Ava over Ophelia…or Ethan over Maximilian. And Skywalker seems to like the names I don’t like. ha ha. Also influencing my choices are articles like this and this which suggest the name of your child could make or break their career….if not categorize WHAT career they’ll likely end up with. So that Chinese saying might actually be onto something…..

But we’re not….not with getting a shortlist of names we both like. I guess good thing we’ve still got five months (aaahh!!).

Christ’s resurrection: What difference has it made? Part 2

Looking honestly into myself, I feel Hope and Relief when I consider Christ’s resurrection from death. But the main question is still

What difference does Christ’s resurrection make in your life?

And I mean regular day-to-day life.

I think I am a fairly hopeful person. Quietly optimistic. My INTJ personality is one that looks for possibilities beyond the obvious and it lends itself to having strong faith. But I confess the times I get short-sighted, not wanting to take a step unless I can see the whole path. It’s the struggle to have everything under control, under MY control. I want to grow more in this area…of living by faith. To the world, it may look kind of crazy at times, unwise even. Or it may look like I have good intuition or luck when it does work out by God’s provision. Looking back into my own life, I can see these moments. But can anyone else see this Hope or see God at work in my life?

As for relief of not having to try to save myself. It’s really about not having to try to be good enough as defined by values around me. Or even by what God demands of us – to be perfect. Christ lived the perfect life, and I somehow, get to appropriate it as my own. All the while allowing God to transform me from the inside so that I actually become more like Christ. It’s pretty amazing to consider. It might be hard to differentiate how this transformation is going from year to year, but from five years ago until now, I think I’m more compassionate, more gracious, slower to judge and maybe a little more patient. =) Praise God!

Not having to find approval from the world also comes out in me not caring as much what people might think of my status in life. I don’t want to be defined by anything the world tries to define people by. Sometimes it’s a struggle. I was talking to Dahn about this…how our nationalities and job titles and socio-economic statuses are all just labels humans give each other. I don’t fit any of them entirely and frankly don’t want to fit. I don’t want to be known as a “middle class” “married” “female” “Chinese Canadian” “Christian”….I just want to be known as someone who’s Christ-like. (And I have a looooooong way to go.) As Dahn put it “My identity is CHRIST and my citizenship is HEAVEN.”  The more I live like I believe that, the more peace and relief I’ll have of not having to try to fit into this world. Because fitting into this world isn’t going to make me a better person; being transformed into Christ’s likeness will. Again, I’m relieved it’s not dependent on my trying or conforming to be more like Christ, but rather, allowing God to transform me from within. I just have to get out of His way. Which brings up another question, is Christ more and more apparent in me?

Day-to-day differences going forward….

I hope I am kinder and more compassionate…
I hope I am more gracious and slower to make assumptions…
I hope I live more boldly, unafraid of what the world might think of me…
…and unfettered by trying to amass worldly security for myself…
I hope my life is vibrant, as evidence of the abundant Life Jesus promised…
I hope I am more generous, with my time and finances…
I hope others can see Christ’s love through me…

Changing My Name

Knew I would do it once I married.
I wanted to do it.
I was looking forward to doing it.
But wasn’t quite as prepared for the emotional aspect of actually doing so. Names, I find, are powerful. I loved the idea of being joined under one name. A similar sentiment to how a spiritual family is united under Christ’s name. There is a sense of unity, harmony and security too as each family member bears the name of the one who’ll protect them. Incidently, God has set the role of the husband and father as the main protector over his household. The husband holds the primary responsibility to God for the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of his family. (Not that the wife has no responsibility, but I believe the husband is designated to hold the primary role.)

So…after the wedding, we applied to get marriage certificates. We requested two wallet sized certificates as that’ll be the easiest way to carry them to each place that I need my name changed at.

First stop, at a registry to change my driver’s license. All other places will require photo ID so this was the natural first stop. While at the registry, I changed my name on my car registration and the Health Care card. Then I hit up the bank. Which meant I needed a new set of cheques as well. At this point I started to feel a little nostalgic as I’ve held an account in my name nearly all my life…I almost didn’t recognize my account or my cheques seeing my married name on it. Car insurance came next, then my place of employment and of course, Revenue Canada. Slowly, I contacted the cell phone company, charitable organizations, doctors and dentist…etc. (I left the passport though…will do it when I have to renew since it costs as much as a new passport…and I had just renewed mine before the wedding.)

With each name change, I felt a little…unraveled. Little threads of me that has been pulled out and into the past as I get woven into the present and future with Skywalker.

It’s not as though I’m losing myself or anything…but I acknowledge that I MUST let go of certain areas of myself in order for Skywalker and I to build something TOGETHER. It’s not as though Skywalker “has it easier” in building a marriage either…he now carries the burden (and joy!) of protecting and providing for those who carry his name…just as Christ does for His bride the Church. Certainly no walk in the park!

Ultimately, marriage is more than the “on paper” joining of two people held together by some common interests. If common interests were to ever change (and they always do) then what’s left to hold the marriage together? Of course having the same surname isn’t the glue in a marriage either. But it’s a way for me to show I’m committed to building a new life with my husband. And the more ways we can show this commitment to each other throughout time, in tangible ways or not, the stronger, I hope, our marriage will be.

Did/would you change your name? Why or why not?