Friday, June 5, 2009

Eliana's Name

The story behind Eliana’s name, like the story of her life, goes back to a time well before she was born. It begins with our first pregnancy, in 2003. I was in my last year of college at Drake University earning a degree in Music Education and Flute Performance. It was the fall semester and I was doing my student teaching. Mark and I had been married for a little over three years, and were greatly looking forward to having children, but planned to wait until we were out of college. I began having those now familiar symptoms, and one day decided to take a pregnancy test. It confirmed what I had already suspected—I was pregnant!! It was the best surprise of my life, I could hardly believe it was happening. Finishing out the year of college was not a concern. I knew it would be harder, but I could do it. This is what I had looked forward to my whole life, since I was a little girl playing with dolls and helping with my mom’s day-care. When I told Mark he was so surprised, it sent his world spinning, but in the best way imaginable.

It had only been two weeks when I began to bleed, and soon miscarried our first child before we had even heard a heartbeat. This was a very difficult loss for us. We continued to trust God with our lives, but also had worries. We were given no explanation of what went wrong, what if it was something likely to repeat in future pregnancies? What if we were never able to have a healthy baby?

I felt like I was already a mother, from the moment I found out we had conceived. Now what was I going to do, finish out the year of college, and then get a job? Or would we change our plans entirely and try for another baby? As it turned out, we didn’t have to make that decision. On my birthday, January 10th, 2004 I made a wish, to be pregnant within the year. I soon found out that I already was! God had answered our prayer and our hearts cry before we had really begun to ask him.

Soon after finding out, I also began to have symptoms of a threatened miscarriage. I was prescribed a progesterone supplement in hopes of preventing another loss. I continued to have spotting until week 9 of the pregnancy. Throughout this time I was very fearful, and in constant prayer that God would allow me to carry this baby to term and have a healthy outcome. It was during this time that I came across the name Eliana through an on-line namebook. The meaning is “My God has answered” with the spiritual connotation “fulfilled promised.” The name was beautiful, and as soon as I read the meaning, the words brought an immediate sense of comfort, peace, and encouragement from God that I could trust Him to answer our prayers and fulfill His promises. I shared it with Mark and we fell in love with the name, and added it to a list we were keeping of names for boys and girls. We chose to be surprised about the gender, and I later gave birth to our first son in September. He was healthy and perfect and everything we had dreamed of. An answer to prayer and a fulfilled promise.

Over two years later we were expecting our second child. During the early months, we again thought of Eliana for a girl’s name, but found out we were having a boy. We had a completely routine, healthy pregnancy and gave birth to our second son in January of 2007. He was another miracle from God, whose name means “God has heard” and “Seeker of the Truth.”

It wasn’t long before I began praying about our third baby, that God would lead in the timing of the next pregnancy and bring us a healthy baby according to his will. I have always felt that ultimately gender is a non-issue, because just to hold your healthy baby in your arms is such a miracle and a gift. This time, however, I began adding in short silent prayers for a baby girl. I didn’t pray it very often, and rarely mentioned it, but I had a deep desire within my heart that the next baby would be a girl…and God Answered.

Once we found out she was a girl, we thought again of the name Eliana Grace, of the answered prayer of a healthy baby girl, and the “fulfilled promise” of new life. We didn’t know all the other meanings it would take on. We now think of God’s promise of eternal life for those who trust in Him, the fulfilled promise that Eliana is now safely cradled in the arms of Jesus, and the future promise that we will join her in His presence someday, free of all suffering, sadness, and pain. We also think of His promises to bear our sorrows, comfort us, and give us peace.

In the midst of this deep sadness, He has already answered the cries of our hearts by granting us peace like a river, Grace upon Grace, and the fulfilled promise of His presence, His comfort, and His Love beyond measure. The name Grace means "God's Grace." We cling to the promise that God will not give us more than we can handle, and He will provide us with the Grace to withstand whatever comes our way. We don't know why He chose to answer our prayers in this way, but as we continue to wade through these dark waters, we know that we can rest in His arms, just as we know Eliana is right now.

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