Devotional 3/19/2020

We knew in advance that both of our children were going to be girls.  This gave us a good long time to figure out their names.  Felix and I are not known for quick decisive thoughts on things like this, so we needed all the time we could get. 

With Belle we went several rounds but it was not too long before it was apparent we both loved the name Isabelle.  The only hangout? It was my dog's name.  However, I told Felix I did not know any person who was as good as my dog so it seemed like a good strong name to me (But I won't go so far as to say I named Belle after a dog...). And after that it was simple. Ann is my mother's middle name and Isabelle Ann just flows and so we were set with time to spare!  

But Amanda.  Oh that was another story.  We knew Amanda's gender very early because of additional testing that had been recommended (for geriatric moms like me!).  So we had over 30 weeks to pick a name.  We felt she should have some acknowledgment of my mother-in-law, Maria Esther, since Belle shared a name with my mom.  But oh we went round and round..  At one point I just start saying it could not start with certain letters just so the potential name pool shrank.  I cut out P, S, and G.  And we went on and on.  

And a huge part of the issue was that I felt I already knew her name.  I am not generally a very intuitive person who knows things before they happen.  But in my bones, I knew her name was Amanda Maria.  Not that it should be, but it already was.  But when I said the name to Felix in week 11 of the pregnancy, he did not like it.  And when I rebrought it up week after week, day after day.  Finally I let it drop assuming I had lost.  Part of me thought I was going to be the one filling out the birth certificate so I could name her whatever I wanted, but I did genuinely want us both to be happy. 

After a month of me not mentioning, Felix says to me what about Amanda.  To which I was thrilled!  He said that he had come round on it and liked it now.  But...but... he wanted the middle name to be Esther.  Amanda Esther.  Blah.  I do not like it.  AND her name was Amanda Maria.  But all relationships take compromise and so I said okay.  Though I did keep mentioning how bad it sounded but by then I'm 38 week pregnant so the hormone talking was often overlooked by Felix.  

So we went to the hospital on Aug 7, set to name her Amanda Esther.  And I did not love it, it was not her name.  But I thought it will just have to do.  Then an hour or so into the day, Felix looks at me and says let's name her Amanda Maria.  He said he realized it was important to me and if I said her name was Amanda Maria then that was what it was.  

I won't lie- I like to win an argument or have my way.  All of us do.  But this was one of the rare times it was not about it.  Her name being Amanda Maria was something written in the connection between us.  I cannot explain it and I do not need to.  But when Felix agreed, I did not feel victory but rather relief.  Relief that she would not have the name that was not hers.  It was right and I knew it beyond what knowledge, experience or anything else could tell me. 

There are not many things I know in this life that I can not attribute directly to some learning.  I know algebra because Ms Weaver in 9th grade was fair but hard and I wanted her respect.  I know Christian children songs because my Aunt Mary Ann drilled them into us on Saturday mornings.  If I think hard enough most of my knowledge can be attributed to someone, some need or some situation.  

And this is true of my knowledge of God- I know God better through scripture, music, others' experiences, teachings and more.   But there is something beyond that.  Like I knew Amanda's name in my heart, I know God's love and presence in my soul.  I make a living partially by being able to articulate things about God and God's will and ways.  But I do not have adequate words to describe what I am talking about.  When I take away everything that I know, when I set aside all my learning and readings, when I look deep inside myself, what I find is an inexpressible feeling of the presence of God and of God's grace.  It is written on my soul. It is like a humming in my ears, that is always there softly saying 'I am here, you are loved, and here is my voice."  

I do not think that I am actually unique in this way (I am very unique in other ways, most of which embarrass my mom).  I as I said am not particularly intuitive and I cannot claim any amazing dramatic encounter directly with the Divine.  But I think that inside each of us, there is the quiet humming of our knowledge, not learned but simply known, of God and who God is.  To hear it though we need to shut down all the noise and sometimes even the learning that we have on top of it.  Right now, there is alot of stuff coming at all of us.  Changes to our lives, worries, stress, figuring out how to work remotely (or do sermons on line!).  And we have alot we do not know.  The amount we do not know alone is overwhelming.  But we know God.  Deep in our souls, in the whispers of our hearts, in the humming of our beings, we know God.  

I invite you to again today turn to the Psalms. Turn to Psalm 62 and read it slowly focusing on verses 5-9 in particular.  Reflect on how you know, you just know, that God is your rock and salvation and your trust in God is never misplaced.  Slow yourself down and dig into yourself and what you know in the fiber of your being about God.  

Then let us repeat together Psalm 46 verse 1: "God says, 'Be still and know that I am God'"  Take a breath in and on the release say or think God says be still and know that I am God.  Do this ten times, slowing your breathing and focusing on being still and knowing God.  From there, stay in God's presence, listen and talk.  

I do not know alot, but here is what I know in my heart of hearts- God is with us.  God loves you, me and all.  God calls us to love others and ourselves.  God is God and God is good.  

Today, whenever you start to get frazzled or when you get to task driven, I invite you to pause and breathe saying 'Be still and know that I am God.' Let what you know in your soul speak louder today than any other knowledge or voice.  Be still and know that I am God. 


Love and Peace,