Finding Joy in a Name

After reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts recently, I became enthralled with the idea of naming things. The discipline appealed to my writing sensibilities and, like many, I began my own thankfulness journal. But that practice soon evolved into a different way of naming altogether.

banner for the kitchen

When a friend recently gave birth to her second child, her experience was similar to my own daughter’s birth and I couldn’t help but reflect on that experience. Avery was born in a whirlwind – she wasn’t breathing, she was unresponsive, and the umbilical cord was wrapped taut around her little neck. Thanks to an amazing nurse and stellar NICU team, 17 months later she is the picture of a healthy little girl. But I’ve seen firsthand the heartbreak that comes from those same circumstances going in an entirely different direction. Another friend’s son died just days before his due date from similar complications. It was devastating. My heart broke for his family and wondered why God allows what He allows, but through the grief all I could think of was  that it could have been Avery. My mind kept returning to two things: Avery and grace. Avery is grace; she is God’s constant reminder of His goodness and grace in my life.

After discovering the “name” for what Avery communicates about God’s love for me, I was eager to decipher Jackson’s as well. So many words came to mind, but although they were each true in their own way, they did not imprint the way grace had for Avery. The more I thought about my precious son, the more in awe I was of the journey we’ve been on together thus far. My firstborn. The first heartbeat. The first kick . The first cry. The first smile. The first “mama.” The first step… and suddenly I knew: Jackson is wonder

The people in my life are gifts and blessings to me in and of themselves. And I never could have imagined they could mean more to me than they already do. But since realizing that the people I love have also proved to be representations of God’s character and His love for me, I’m constantly trying to unearth the name for everyone around me… it brings me joy; knowing that there is so much depth of meaning in all the relationships He has blessed me with in life.

For Mother’s Day this year my husband bought me this necklace: 

The small, hammered circle bears our initials (j&b), and two hammered rectangles have our kids’ names. 

But my favorite part of this gift will always the backs – where the words wonder and grace are inscribed.

Beth Brunett lives with her family in Idyllwild, CA. Thank you, Beth, for joining us at Joy in the Small Things!


  1. Love the THANKFUL banner you made for Beth, Jill…AND her touching article on Finding Joy in a Name! Powerful!