The Surprising Reason We Had Five Kids And Named Them As We Did
The Surprising Reason We Had Five Kids And Named Them As We Did
Christmastime is the celebration of the gift of a Child. For a decade now, it is also a time when Julie and I are reminded that every child is a gift from God. In our case that’s five kids.
Five reasons for Julie and I to celebrate.
In this blog I want to share why we had five, and why we named them like we did.
If you’re a parent or grandparent, my hope is that this post will illicit a similar sense of wonder about the existence and uniqueness of each of your progeny.
But first a heads-up, especially to those who don’t believe in God. Or to those who, like me back in the day, believe there is a God but that he only watches from a distance. Unlike my other posts which focus on the principles and practicalities of parenting, this one gives you a view under the bonnet of Julie and my lives – where you will find not only a deep belief in God, but also a real life-changing, direction-altering experience of him.
Before you write me off as a nutjob, read on and you’ll see what I mean.
As I said, in our case, this is especially evident in the story of having five kids, and how we named them.
Naming Our Kids
I keep an acronym in my head so that I can rattle off all five names in a second…
That’s Eli, Fynn, Ivy, Charlie and Sam.
There’s functionality in their names – they are easy off the tongue. But there’s a deeper story behind all of these names.
As we annually go over the Christmas story with our kids, we get to the part where God tells Mary in daytime, then Joseph in a dream, to name their boy Jesus.
We then take the opportunity to momentarily step out of the Christmas story into the Williams story. We tell our kids that God is the kind of God who still can speak to people, and God had also helped us name them.
First, we tell Eli:
Before mommy was pregnant, one morning daddy woke up and told her that he had a dream in which he was holding a little baby, and felt for the first time what it is like to love a child as his own. Mommy then said, “No way. As you woke me up, I was also having a dream. We had a little boy. Someone asked when he was born and I said July. Then they asked his name, and I said Eli.” Now, lately there are a lot of Eli’s around, but at that time we knew of no one who was called by your name. Guess what? You were born the following year on July 28th, and there was no discussion about what to name you.
As Eli stares off into the distance in wonder, we turn to Fynn:
Mommy was 7 months pregnant with you, and we were in a holiday town where we visited a church. A lady we didn’t know came up to us and said, “Pardon me for doing this, but as I looked at your tummy, I believe God spoke to me and said that your child would be a warrior for justice, a natural leader with a fierce desire to protect the weak and vulnerable.” Then a month later, another lady called Karyn, who also seems to have this gift of getting messages from God, contacted us to say something similar: “That little boy is going to a world-shaker.” So we looked up names that mean world-shaker and warrior and found ‘Finley’ – which we shortened to Fynn. And guess the first person whose world you shook? Eli’s. You arrived, by natural birth, on Eli’s second birthday!
At this stage Ivy Harper asks, ‘What about me?’
We were 8 and a half months pregnant with you sitting at a beach front coffee shop on our date morning, saying how lucky Eli and Fynn were to have a spiritual story behind their names, and wondering what to call you. Mommy then said, “I wish we could just bump into Karyn and ask her if she has a message.” Then you won’t believe it, but less than a minute later, guess who came to our table and said hi? Karyn! What are the chances? She said, “I am so glad I’ve bumped into you – I hear you are having a daughter and I have prayed about her life’s purpose. God gave me one word – “Seraphim.” So we looked that up. The Seraphim are the luckiest of the angels in the Bible. They are beautiful and made of blazing fire. They circle around God’s throne singing songs about the God who makes everything new. We decided not to call you that, so we looked for names that carried those ideas and landed on Ivy Harper. Ivy means evernew or evergreen. Harper carries the idea of music. As for your beauty and fieriness, they speak for themselves.
Lastly, we talk to the wide-eyed twins:
Charlie and Sam, would you believe that this same lady Karyn prayed about you guys when you were both super-squeezed in mom’s tummy. She said that one of you will be like fire, and the other like water, and one of them will have blonde hair. So we named the first to come out Charlie Cooper – Cooper means a coppersmith, who uses fire in their craft. And the other, blondest child we’ve had, we called Samuel Jordan – Jordan is the name of a famous river in the Bible.
At this point, the older kids laugh, because of all my children the two furthest apart on the personality spectrum are these two. One is high-energy, super-extroverted and easily heated. The other is cool and chilled, deeply reflective and introverted. They’re almost perfectly described by fire and water.
But that’s not the only reason they giggle. We named them wrong! Anyone who is exposed to them for an hour will tell you that Sam is fire, and Charlie is water. Of course, we don’t admit this error. Rather, we explain to them that we purposely wanted them to carry a bit of the other with them their whole life through.
So now you know how we named them.
But even more magical is how we came to have five (outside of the obvious fact that I can’t keep my wife’s hands off my body)…
Having Five Kids
When Julie and I married we had envisioned ourselves with 2 or 3 kids one day.
At the 5 year mark in our marriage, we started trying. A year later, we’d had no luck. Then Julie went for a long walk during a holiday and came back, face lit up. She said she’d been calling out to God that we could have a kid, and he whispered to her that not only would she have one, but we’d have four!
The promise started to materialize quickly. A few months later, we had the dream about Eli. Then we fell pregnant, but had a early miscarriage. Horrible.
We didn’t have long to mourn, because we soon fell pregnant with Eli.
Then two years later, with Fynn.
Then Ivy two years after that.
We nearly stopped there. Almost a year into Ivy’s life, I asked Julie when we should try for the fourth. She put her foot down and announced we were done. “But you said that God said we were going to have four?”
I’ll never forget her reply: “I don’t think it was God who spoke to me, because God would never be so cruel as to give us another child.”
I chortle now, but at the time she had a point! With three kids under the age of four, we were properly drowning – physically, emotionally. And financially – we’d gone from DINK (double income no kids) to SINC (single income new costs).
However, I couldn’t shake this idea that we were meant to have four, so a few months later I asked again. Brave women she is, she said that I had 2 months to try but then I needed to get the snip.
We fell pregnant that evening. (I know because when you have that many kids that young, you can remember the few times you have sex.)
Soon after a two-stripe pregnancy test, Julie had a dream that it was twins. We nervously chuckled but didn’t realize this was one her special dreams. Imagine how crazy that would be, we commented, and didn’t give it another thought.
At 7 weeks, I was at home when Julie returned from the scan, and cried out from the doorway, “Terran!” I ran through. She looked like she’d seen a ghost. “We’re not going to have a child,” she said. My heart dropped.
“We’re going to have … two!”
I stopped breathing. The room, and the whole world with it, started to spin, anticlockwise as I recall.
Dazed, I stumbled outside. I needed to comfort Julie, but first I needed some air.
And some perspective, some sanity.
How on earth were we going to cope?
As I leant on the pool fence, I desperately prayed, “God, I thought you said four! What’s going on here? If you could just re-assure me now, maybe say something stablizing to me, I’d be so grateful.”
My request was granted moments later. Something happened to me like what had happened to Julie and Karyn when they say God spoke to them.
In the midst of my swirling thoughts, out the blue, a single word entered my consciousness. The word had a seeming life and power of its own. It calmed me, and helped me to celebrate like I should. Though only a still small whisper, it came with quadraphonic potency …
Also published on Medium.