What’s in a Name?

A good name is to be more desired than great riches. ~ Proverbs 22:1

Elise's first Easter
Lauren Elise

 “John. Wake up,” I poked my husband who was lying in bed beside me.

“Huh?” he groggily half-turned toward me.

“I think I’ve got the perfect girl name for our baby.”

I was eight months pregnant and lying in bed reading the Baby Name Personality Survey book. John and I hadn’t been able to settle on a full name for a baby girl. We agreed Lauren was good, but wasn’t sure what went well with it. Because we didn’t want to know the sex of our baby beforehand, we needed both girl and boy names.

“Ok. What is it?”

“Elise. It means gift from God and the survey book says the first impression people have when they hear it is of a beautiful girl. I think it’s perfect, don’t you?”

John smiled as he rolled toward me. “I like that. It’s pretty.”

“I think so, too,” I said, happily, as I rubbed my basketball-sized belly. “I asked the baby if it liked the name Elise and it immediately did a complete somersault. I think that was a yes!”

“I guess we have our girl name, then. Lauren Elise” John said, grinning.

“But should we call her Lauren or Elise?” I asked.

“We’ll know when we see her. IF it’s a girl.” Satisfied with the name, he rolled over and went back to sleep. Setting the book on my nightstand, the musical sounds of Beethoven’s Fur Elise danced in my head as I drifted off.

We’d tried getting pregnant for two years before we were blessed with the positive results of a pregnancy test. This child was fulfilling so many of the hopes and dreams we’d longed for and that simple name described exactly how we felt.

When she finally arrived—ten days late—Lauren Elise was a dark-haired, black-eyed beauty. But when we looked at her, the choice of what to call her wasn’t obvious. We debated back and forth a few minutes and decided that Elise would be the more uncommon name. We wanted her name to be unique. Elise it was.

Me nine months pregnant

Exactly three years later, I became pregnant with our second child. Once again we’d struggled through 14 months of infertility before finally receiving the news of a positive result. We again decided not to learn the sex of the baby. It was so much fun finding out in the delivery room.

We had a girl name chosen, but struggled with a boy’s name this time. We both liked Jacob, and I like my husband’s name, John, so we decided on John Jacob. That is until I told Pam, a friend from church, what we’d decided for a boy’s name. (I know, you’re already laughing.)

“John Jacob Jinglehymer Schmidt. His name is my name, too!” Pam started singing out loud to everyone around us.

“Is that a real song?” I asked.

“You’ve never heard that before?” she asked, laughing.”We’ve sung it for years with our preschoolers.”

Apparently I was the only one on the planet who hadn’t heard it. Back to square one. I didn’t want my son’s name to be a silly nursery rhyme.

Jacob Owen
Jacob Owen

We still agreed on Jacob as a boy’s name. But I wanted our son to be named after his father. John’s middle name is Owen and I’d never been particularly fond of it. John was named after his grandfather, Mentone Owen, so at least it did have family roots.

When our son was born, we named him Jacob Owen. Owen has a good, sturdy meaning: young warrior. My son has always been strong, especially for his small size, so it’s fitting. I’d tried to find the meaning of the name Jacob, but the only definition that ever came up was supplanter. I had no idea what that meant (this was before the days of Google). Since it was a good Biblical name, we decided to go with it anyway.

Elise and Jacob. You can tell Jacob's up to something!
Elise and Jacob. You can tell Jacob’s up to something!

Later on I discovered the meaning of his name—trickster or deceiver. Oh no: not exactly what I wanted my son to be known for. But he’s lived up to his name as far as trickster goes. He is witty and funny and loves playing practical jokes on people. He brings so much laughter into our home. Jacob was the perfect name.


Elise today
Elise today
Jacob today
Jacob today

Choosing a name for a child is a huge responsibility. Our names reflect an image of who we are, how our parents feel about us, or a family heritage. Oftentimes, as in our experience with Jacob, it even describes a character trait. When we hear a name, we usually imagine what that person looks like or may even have a preconceived notion of what type of person they are.


In Biblical times, names were the very essence of who a person was. If names weren’t important, God wouldn’t have changed Abram’s name (exalted father)  to Abraham (father of many). He also changed Abraham’s wife’s name from Sarai (princess) to Sarah (princess of many). This re-naming affirmed God’s promise to them that they would have children.

Later in scripture, Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, changed his youngest son’s name from Ben-Oni (son of my sorrows) to Benjamin (this son is strength). Benjamin’s mother, Rachel, named him before she died in childbirth. Jacob didn’t want Benjamin saddled with a name that brought sorrow.

I could go on with examples of how important names are in scripture, most notably the name of Jesus (savior), given to Joseph by an angel before Jesus’ birth.

Names are important. If you are expecting a child soon, remember their name is a gift. Don’t take it lightly. Your child will have to carry that name the rest of his or her life. Put much thought into what your hopes are for them. Look up the meanings of names. Show your child how much you love them by the name you choose. Then, one day when they’re old enough, tell them why you chose that special name for them. A distinctive name is a wonderful way to speak blessings into your child’s life.

Do you have a special story you’d like to share about deciding on your child’s name? Share it in the comments below. I’d love to hear it!

2 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?”

  1. I love this, Carol, especially your big belly! Your children are beautiful (and handsome) and you should be very proud. You chose WELL and they look like they’ve lived up to their names.

    Mine? Scott — the wanderer. Sarah — the princess. So far, so good!
    It was great catching up with you at Allume.

    • Thanks for sharing your children’s names and meanings, Susan. And thanks for noticing my big belly! 🙂 I’m so glad we got to catch up at Allume. I appreciate your stopping by!

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