Jun 19

Introducing Joanna Grace

Well, she’s not quite here…yet. But somehow I don’t think I will have time to put up this post after her birth! For our baby shower, I was asked to write about how and why we chose Joanna Grace as the name for our fourth daughter. I enjoyed thinking and writing about the process so much that I wanted to share it. Here is what I said at the shower:

We chose the name “Joanna Grace” after much careful thought and prayer. Because all three of our older children have Biblical names, we felt we needed to continue that tradition so this baby would not feel “left out.” I did some brainstorming, research, and polled many of my friends, and made a list of every female name I could think of that had its roots in the Bible–either the name of a person or place in the Bible, or a Biblical character trait. I ended up with a list about 4 1/2 pages long, that listed each name, its Biblical reference, and its meaning.

I prefer names that are not overly popular, but not too uncommon, either. Growing up with the name “Audra,” I ran into many people who didn’t know how to pronounce my name and had never heard the name before. While I grew to love my name and its uniqueness as I got older, I have to admit there were times as a child when I wished I were “Jennifer.” I’m guessing that that experience has probably influenced my preference for names that are easily recognizable.

Out of my list of names, there were a few that appealed to us the most. Some of them were Bethany, which is the name of a city that is frequently referred to in the Gospels; Anna, who is a prophetess who recognized Jesus when his parents presented Him at the Temple (Luke 2:21-38); and Abigail, who became King David’s wife in 1 Samuel.

But overall, I was most drawn to Joanna. Before I even knew that Joanna was a person in the Bible, I liked the name. I remember putting her name into www.biblegateway.com, just on the chance she was there.  I couldn’t see myself choosing a name that wasn’t in the Bible, given the reasons I already mentioned, but I just really liked Joanna. I was thrilled to find that she IS in the Bible! And more than that, she was a wonderful woman of faith. Joanna is only mentioned in two verses: Luke 8:3, and Luke 24:10. In Luke 8, we learn that Joanna was one of many women who were healed by Jesus and then traveled with Jesus and helped support Him during his ministry. (The name’s meaning, “God is gracious,” makes perfect sense, as she experienced His healing power and then dedicated herself to His service.) Even more awesome, in Luke 24, we learn that Joanna was one of the women who went to the tomb on Easter morning, only to find that the stone was rolled away and Jesus had risen! What an awesome woman and role model for our daughter.

Although I loved the name Joanna from day one, Tim was a little more cautious. He was concerned that it was too uncommon. I proceeded with another Facebook poll. This time, I asked all my friends who knew anyone named Joanna to please comment so on Tim’s page. We both got many responses! And, after more time and prayer, we agreed that it is the right name for our daughter.

We chose the name “Grace” for different reasons. I originally intended to use “Grace” as Sarah’s middle name. But during my pregnancy with Sarah, I realized that Grace did not describe her personality as well as “Joy.” And so we decided on Sarah Joy, which fits her perfectly. With Joanna, I have felt from an early time in this pregnancy that she is a little quieter and more introspective than, perhaps, her next two oldest sisters. Even in the womb, she is not as active, and generally speaking, I have a great sense of peace and calmness surrounding this pregnancy, her birth, and her as a person. Because of this I felt “Joanna Grace” was the best description of who she is.

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