Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sophia Mary, the Name Story

When it comes to naming each of our children, we are thoughtful, prayerful and deliberate. We've also discovered along the way that their names are all but revealed to us - some in more profound ways than others, but each in a way that makes it clear that this child is to be named this.

When it came to naming baby #6, we were completely stumped. Often we've had a name, or at least a top few, in the first months of pregnancy. With this one, nothing seemed to fit, so we put it off until after my 20 week ultrasound. At least then we could eliminate 50% of the possibilities.

Early in the pregnancy I had a dream of a brunette baby girl. Though pregnancy dreams are often strange and meaningless (like the ones where I'm holding the baby before tucking him/her back inside for the remainder of the pregnancy) this one made me wonder. The night before our 20 week ultrasound I had another dream of a brunette baby girl. We found out that morning that we were indeed having a girl! 

(The brunette piece was noteworthy because of our 5 children, we have 3 redheads, 1 blond and 1 brunette, and our brunette was praying for another brunette.) 

For a couple months after, we thought we had settled on a name, but as the weeks went by, I felt less peaceful about it. It was a beautiful name, a beautiful saint even, but it didn't seem quite right. 

Somewhere along the way, we settled on Mary as a middle name. If we didn't already have a Marianne, it likely would've been in the running for a first name, but even with Marianne going by "Annie" we thought it would get confusing. Mary would be her middle name. But the first name...

Around 7 or 8 months, I took my regular much-needed afternoon nap. When I woke up from my nap, I was fairly certain I knew what our baby girl's name would be:

I dreamed that we were taking our annual MI Lorien vacation. It was a Marian Holy Day of Obligation, and I found myself in the back of the nearby Polish church where we attended Mass, last year. I was alone, and able to have a wonderful peaceful prayer time. I was then joined by the daughters of a family that we'd known growing up, a family of 3 girls. The youngest, whom I babysat on occasion, was named Annie. I always loved her name and it, in part, inspired giving our Annie her nickname. 

But in my dream there were 4 girls. The youngest, a brunette girl around age 4, came over to me and I happily said, "I know you! You're Annie!" and even as I said it, I thought, "No, that's not right, Annie was the youngest of 3." And the little girl in front me laughed and, pointing at the next youngest, said, "That's Annie. I'm Sophie!" ....and even then, in my dream, I knew exactly who that was; that was my daughter.

(Mark has since asked, multiple times, "Did she say Sophia or Sophie?" - and I honestly don't remember. I love the nickname Sophie, and the formal name Sophia, so whether she said one or the other doesn't matter to me - it got the point across.)

When I woke from my dream, I was still flooded with the peace that I'd felt in my dream. It was the peace of a great nap, combined with a wonderful prayer time, and the joy of being fairly certain I had just met my daughter: Sophia Mary.

But why Sophia Mary? I knew Sophia is a fairly popular name, and there is a St. Sophia with a rather apocryphal-sounding story, but it didn't seem enough to inspire a name. So I thought beyond the saints, to the meaning. Sophia means "wisdom" and suddenly the title "Mary, Seat of Wisdom" came at me like a flood. Yes. Her middle name would be Mary, and Wisdom is a Christological name. Mary, who held Wisdom itself in her lap. Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Sophia Mary.

I excitedly sent off a message to Mark that I thought I had a name, wondering what on earth his opinion would be, having spent months coming up empty. The name, the dream, the meaning, it struck all the right notes for both of us, and we both fell madly in love with the nickname Sophie. Our littlest lady's name was settled. 

Friday, February 10, 2017


A dear friend of mine has taught me the importance of margins. It's a tricky concept really. Margins too wide = selfish laziness. Margins too narrow = unsustainable. I tend to swing from one extreme to another, often in reaction to where I've just found myself. Burnout, retreat, burnout, retreat, etc.

A part of the reason we put our oldest two in school this year was to provide me some much-needed margin. As the year has progressed, I've found my brain working again in ways that are exciting but also raise red flags that scream "Warning! Margins narrowing ahead!"

There are difficult questions of priority that I face, having been refreshed by this season, and knowing I am entering a season of significantly narrower margins. A new baby, the how/who/where of the next school year, concerns about our kids' activities that I feel need addressing, a new service opportunity alongside Mark...

All of those practical items vie for my energy and attention, while lingering in the shadows of my consciousness is the realization that I've neglected the fostering of kindred spirits. Years of little or no margin meant that I didn't seek them out, or attend to those I had. Anything that required more of me was too much. It was simply my reality: close friendships were a perk my energy bank couldn't afford. You might say I spent unwisely. I wouldn't disagree.  

 As I live through these remaining months of wider margin, I look ahead and wonder how best to use my resources. What are my goals and how can I count the cost before I set about building the tower, to be sure that I have what it takes to complete the tasks I begin?

I'm excited about what's ahead. I look forward to snuggling a newborn, to maybe again being the teacher of my children, to serving along with Mark, and to spending myself on others in friendship.  ...and somehow doing it all within margins that keep life sustainable.