Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beautiful Girlhood & The Little Boy Down The Road

ONE OF THE SWEETEST ASPECTS OF BEING A MOTHER is seeing your daughters imitate you as they play with their dolls and toys. When a girl plays with a doll, she is preparing to be a mommy. Her first role model is her own mother, and her first opportunity at role-playing is with her dolls. With this in mind, we offer four beautiful 18” dolls and a precious 15” baby doll, from the Beautiful Girlhood Collection for your girls to cherish for years to come and then pass on to their own daughters someday.

In addition to our dolls, the Beautiful Girlhood Collection features a full lineup of thirteen historical doll dress costumes, an expanded lineup of quality doll accessories and furniture, wicker carriages, heirloom tea service, patriotic costume dresses, fun kitchen items, handwork kits and crafts, instruments, book collections, and much more — each certain to delight the hearts of little girls everywhere.
For six days only, enjoy 20% off all in-stock products from the Beautiful Girlhood Collection. In addition to enjoying the last week of free shipping (specialty items not included) you can take advantage of our special giveaway offer.

Every purchase of $125 of merchandise or more will include a free 3-volume hardback set of our Young Ladies Classics Collection. This illustrated series includes Heidi, Black Beauty, and A Little Princess, all beautiful stories that have withstood the test of time, providing hours of delight for readers young and old alike. Take advantage of this special and save on the Beautiful Girlhood Collection products today. Offer ends at midnight on Saturday, November 22, 2008 (CST).

What’s in a Name? Maybe More than You Realize

Your parents give you many things, but one of the most important is your name. You begin and end your life with it. It is the one moniker that you carry with you all the time, wherever you go. It never leaves you.

In fact, the gift of your name is so significant that, long after you are dead and buried, your name will continue to be used by others when they are talking about you. If you happen to be a famous person like Noah or Alexander the Great, that could mean thousands of years. At the beginning of your life, your name is a form of identification, a term of endearment, and sometimes a window into the priorities of your parents at the time of your birth. As you mature, so does the value and meaning of your name. As people get to know you better, your name becomes more than simply a word for identification, but the verbal personification of what you are as a man or a woman. This is why “a good name is more valuable than great riches.” It is why one of the most precious inheritances a parent can leave for his children is a good name. By the end of your life, your name has become synonymous with who you are, or at least what others perceive about your life work and your character.

Your name is likely to become one of the most widely used proper nouns in your vocabulary and the vocabulary of those close to you. Over the course of your lifetime, you will probably hear someone call you by your name between two and four million times, depending on factors like where you live, your profession, your involvement in church and community, and the number of people in your family. So get used to it.

And that is just the amount of times you will hear yourself addressed by name. This does not include the potential tens of millions of times that others will use your name to talk or write about you when you are not with them. Some names appear better suited for certain individuals than do others, but in a universe ruled by the sovereign God of the Scripture, we can be assured that no name is ever given to an individual which does not carry with it some providential implications for that person’s life.

In twenty-first-century America, there are many factors which influence a parent’s decision about what to name their child, including personal preferences, whim, and status. There is even a trend for some parents to select names that provide a perceived competitive edge in the professional world.

There are parents who check Social Security number data to avoid names that are overly trendy. The Wall Street Journal reported that some parents living in a market-driven society and feeling intense pressure to give their children names that will help them in the work force actually hire professional baby-naming consultants to help them to “brand” their children. These consultants employ mathematical formulas and data search engines to determine whether or not a particular name has positive or negative associations. These experts also evaluate names based on their ethnic origins, phonetic elements, and popularity.

Sometimes the difference between true vision, on the one hand, and genuine foolishness, on the other, is clearly a matter of perspective or divergent worldview. In other cases, foolishness should be pretty self-evident. Consider the 2008 example of a New Zealand couple who lost temporary custody of their nine-year-old daughter for naming her “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.” The naming of his son and daughter Dweezil and Moon Unit, respectively, by celebrity rock musician Frank Zappa never raised custodial issues, but certainly caused the general public to scratch their heads.

Marketing strategies? Competitive edge? Obvious foolishness? Does any of this make sense to the Christian parent?

I don’t think so. But neither does it make sense to me that parents should pick a name based purely on whim. John is a fine name, and so is Mary, but giving them to a child for no reason other than that you can’t think of another name will do little to inspire your child in the future. Both are excellent names are rich in meaning, history, and profound biblical significance. How much better to name a child for one of these reasons?

My thesis is this: The naming of a child is one of the most important decisions you will make on behalf of your son or daughter, so be deliberate. Make an “epistemologically self-conscious” choice. Be biblical. Consider your reasons and motivation for the name.

Make sure they are consistent with Scripture. Be prepared to carefully articulate your reasons to others. Consider also the message this name is sending to your child and the world with which he or she will spend the rest of his or her life interacting. When picking names, it is fine to consider sound, meter, popularity, ethnic background, meaning, association, and family history, but, in the final analysis, you should use his name to motivate your child and encourage him to persevere before the Lord. This means selecting names with the understanding that the day will come when you are prepared to give a meaningful, biblical explanation for the name of your child.

The above is just a portion of the chapter “The Coming of Mahershalalhashbaz,” from the book The Little Boy Down the Road: Short Stories and Essays on the Beauty of Family Life. To read more, download the rest of the chapter available here.

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