Saturday, May 30, 2015

What's In a Name

When I found out I was pregnant, the search began for the perfect name. Names are so important. They create a first impression, a legacy. And so, Roy and I tossed around a million possibilities, even bought one of those baby name books that, most likely, every parent bought back in the day. (Now, of course, one can just use the Internet.) Originally, I wanted to name our first girl Michal, after David's wife in the Bible. I always thought that was such a cool name, and for several months, we considered Michal Raquel for our firstborn. We didn't know if she was a boy or girl so, we chose Chasey Lane if we were blessed with a boy.

When Roy and I were dating, we were walking through the cemetery one time with my grandma who had gone to visit my grandpa's grave. We noticed a fairly new gravesite not too far away that was decked out with a toy train, a cowboy hat, and a variety of other toys and memorabilia, placed just so. Clearly it was the grave of a child, and Roy and I immediately walked over for a closer look. A large headstone displayed the name Chasey Lane for all the world to see. Grandma proceeded to tell us that it was the grave of a little boy who, at the age of 7, was kicked in the head by a horse as he was out in the corral with his daddy. Ever since that day, I was hooked on that name.

As the due date for our firstborn got closer, I began to fret about the name Michal. This was back in 1991 when original names were just beginning to hit mainstream. Michal seemed far-fetched. What if kids teased her that she had a boy's name? What if she never wanted to tell people her name because she was ashamed?

And so, as the birth loomed, we quickly began another search for another name and hit upon Ciara. It was, in my opinion, the perfect name--angelic and elegant and original...and beautiful. Certainly not a name that had weird rhyming possibilities or negative connotations. And honestly, the name Ciara fit her perfectly. Born a tiny little cherub, it wrapped around her like a crown.

Names create a picture in one's head, give birth to a first impression. One time, when we lived in California, I taught a girl named Sagittarius. She was only 12 years old--a large girl with a big smile who sat in the back row and sucked her thumb. I've often wondered what happened to her.

We are all known, obviously, by our names. But we're also known for something.

When I was a little girl, I loved going to my Grandma Nick's because, oh my word, could she bake a pie. Banana cream pie and chocolate cream pie and pumpkin pie and cherry pie...Clearly she had a sweet tooth because bottles of Coke could always be found on the front porch and a package of Snickers in the freezer.

My grandpa on my mom's side loved horses. Every summer as a little girl we loaded up for Denver where we would stay with my grandparents for a few days and attend the races as Grandpa always had a horse that he was training. I spent many days walking in front of the barns and checking out the horses lazily chewing straw in their stalls, stopping just long enough to eye me curiously.

People are known for a variety of things. Some are known for their ability to paint landscapes, large and sweeping; others for their ability to create magic from dirt, nursing plants to grow and bloom; others for their ability to fix things that, to the naked eye, appear beyond repair; others to cook delectable sauces that have simmered for hours on the stove...

The list, of course, continues.

But then, there is this reality:

Some people are known for bitterness that oozes from every pore. Some people leave us drenched with negativity. And really, life has probably dealt them a few swift blows. Or maybe their god is exacting, wielding a rod of judgment. Or maybe they hate themselves; and truly--if we can't be kind to ourselves, we surely can't be kind to others.

But my point is this:

How do I want people to react when they hear my name? What do I want to be known for?

That Vonda? My word! She is so angry and bitter about everything!

When we choose to step out into the world, there is one thing I know to be true: people will make assumptions. They will assume things about who I am, about what I believe, about what I stand for, about how I parent. And those assumptions? I can't really control them. I can't control what people say or think about me or my family.

Sometimes that reality makes me panic a bit, holding my kids close and closing the door to a world outside where kids can be mean and adults can be meaner.

But the truth is this: It all comes down to what I can control--

I can choose whether or not the words and actions of others leave me bitter and angry. I can choose to move forward with my life and focus on the beauty, on the wide open sky, on the shimmering sunlight, on those whom I know are my true friends.

I can choose what I stand for.

As for me and my house?

We stand for open arms.

We stand for kindness.


  1. I kinda like your house! And your name!!!

  2. what a treat to find a new post! see i do read

  3. I am so thankful to live in a house and be part of a family that stands for kindness. Makes life so much easier on everyone.

  4. That Vonda? She is warm and generous and feisty and loving.....


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