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The Decision of a Lifetime

When a mother has trouble naming her newborn, she turns to God for help.

The Decision of a Lifetime

I was just four months pregnant when I wrote “Solomon” on the blackboard in our kitchen and my husband, Tony, and I agreed it would be the name for our first baby, a boy. Easy, right? There was never any doubt.

We knew our second baby would also be a boy, but naming him was a different story. A tower of baby-name books collected on my nightstand. Instead of reading novels, I spent nights poring over names, their origins and definitions, repeating certain ones out loud.

“I love the name Henry…and Cyrus too,” I told Tony, “but I’m not sure either of them would be right for our son.”

Cyrus was the Persian king in the Bible referred to as “the anointed” and the baby books said Henry meant “ruler of the home,” which is what any baby becomes.

“There were a lot of famous Henrys,” Tony said. “Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry the eighth…”

“I don’t know about Henry the eighth…” I said. A name is a decision of a lifetime.

We assembled a crib and I filled the dresser with onesies and sleepers. Friends gave me a shower and asked me what the name of this boy was going to be. “I don’t know,” I said. We’d been so sure about Solomon, the fount of wisdom, but this time I was baffled.

“That’s so unlike you,” my mom observed. “You always make up your mind so quickly.”

I packed my bags for the hospital and put my favorite baby-name book in the zippered pocket, ready for in­spiration—and the baby—to come at any time. The morning I was in labor Mom rushed over to babysit and Tony drove me to the hospital. My doctor greeted me with a big smile.

“It’s baby day!” she announced. “What’s his name going to be? I like to welcome a baby into the world by name.”

“I really have no idea,” I told her.

Our son was born healthy and beautiful—and nameless. I examined his pouty lips and strong chin, his dark curly hair. He was perfect. Overwhelmed with love, I said, “Henry? Are you a Henry? Or Cyrus? Are you Cyrus?”

“I love both names,” Tony said. “They’re both great.”

Or maybe something else?

The night nurse knocked on the door with a stack of papers in her hand.

“Ready to name baby?” she asked as she walked in.

I shook my head. Exhausted, I took one last look at the much-thumbed baby-name book and put it down in despair. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I decide? Why did this responsibility suddenly seem so impossible?

In the morning, with light coming through the blinds, I looked over at my beautiful brand-new little boy fast asleep in his crib and I realized there was one other source I hadn’t looked to yet.

My son woke up and began to cry. I picked him up and he quieted. “God,” I prayed, “you can help me find the perfect name for this beautiful, new baby boy. Please, I need some kind of sign.” Then I turned on the TV to the morning news.

“Next up,” the newscaster said, “Henry Hudson, the incredible man and his amazing journey…”

I looked down at my baby and knew I had my answer. “Hi, Henry,” I said. It was exactly who he was, right from the Source.   

Read excerpts from our new Daily Guideposts: The First Year of Motherhood, and get your copy here.

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