What’s in a name?

Don’t you just love it when you meet an acquaintance you haven’t seen in some time and they remember your name?  Isn’t it a blessing to hear your name mentioned in prayer?  There is something that is so life-affirming and encouraging when people use our names in conversation.  We all love to know and be known.  It’s part of the human psyche.  Our name is a primary source of our sense of self.  It is our identification, one of the things that help to establish our unique existence – even if someone else shares that name.

One of the custodians at our church will often greet me when I walk in by singing the chorus to Dolly Parton’s hit song “Jolene” – you know the song about the red-headed hussy who steals other women’s husbands.  Part of the chorus goes, “Don’t take my man just because you can.”  Oh my, that is not at all what I want people to associate with my name.  I can’t tell you how many times I have walked on stage and suddenly this song will blare from the amps.  The only song ever written with my name in it and it is about that kind of woman.  If Dolly was going to use my name in her song, I don’t know why she couldn’t have sung about a godly short lady who loved to talk about Jesus…..but I digress.

Like you, I am known by a lot of different names in addition to the name my parents gave me at birth.  I’m known as mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother.  These names come from my relationships with people I love. I cherish them and am honored to be identified with them.  I’m known as a speaker, a youth leader, and to some degree, a writer.  These names come from my passion and my calling.  The identity they give me fills me with gratitude and delight.  But there is one name that has had the most profound effect on shaping my identity for over 42 years – that name is the name of “Mrs. David DeHeer.”  How I love being known as David’s wife.  I am deeply honored, grateful, and blessed to have been known as David’s spouse.  I continue to carry that name proudly.  These are just a few of the names that are my identity.  They help people to know me and open doors for me to know people.  I love my names.

But the name that I love above all names is that I, Jolene Marie DeHeer, am Abba’s child.  I am God’s treasured possession.  I am His chosen one.  I am His minister of reconciliation.  I am His ambassador.  I am His righteousness.  I have been adopted into the family of God.  I am His little girl.  I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  I am a disciple of Jesus.  Oh, how I love carrying the family name of Christ as part of my identity, because you see, I, Jolene DeHeer am first and foremost a CHRISTian!!  I’m a child of the King!

How about you?  What are the names that define you?  How do you like people to refer to you?  Do people know you mostly by your given biological name, relationships, or abilities?  Or are you known by your connection with God through His Son by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  I invite you to join me in daily celebrating our spiritual heritage and let the whole world know WE ARE CHILDREN OF THE KING!!

I John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!”


Valentine’s Day Celebration

Today is Valentine’s Day.  I’m sure this is no surprise to anyone.  Jewelry stores, florists, candy companies, and especially Hallmark have taken great pains to remind you that they are there to help you express your love to your loved ones.  I have to be honest with you – I have been dreading this day.  It is the first (one of many firsts) Valentine’s Day without my beloved husband David.  I expected to be sad and I am somewhat sad because I miss him so much.  I expected to be lonely, but I’m not.  I’m no longer part of a couple, but I am not alone.

One regret that bothered David before he died is that he would be leaving me alone. I promised him that I wouldn’t be alone because my Abba would always be with me and that He would surround me with loving friends and a caring church family…and He has!  These godly, caring, loving people have showered me with gifts, candy, cards, email and facebook messages, and phone calls and text messages.  Each one has reminded me of how lavish, abundant, and extensive is the love of God which flows through them straight to my heart.  Not only am I not alone, I am loved and I am humbled and profoundly grateful.

As wonderful as it is to receive the love of friends and family, the real celebration for me is rejoicing in the love of my Father.  I pray that whether you are in a relationship, single, widowed, or divorced, that you will be able to find comfort, peace and joy in the loving arms of your Heavenly Father.

Oh, one more thought.  This may not make sense to some of you, but this morning when I was praying, I was greatly comforted by the thought that on this Valentine’s Day, David is experiencing the fullness of God’s love for him.  David gave so much love while he was here on earth and now he is basking in the glory of God’s all-encompassing love.  That is also something to celebrate with thanksgiving.

So, dear friends, let’s all celebrate those people God puts in our lives that enable us to experience His love.  Cherish those tokens of love you receive this Valentine’s Day, but even more, cherish the relationships they represent.  And above all, never EVER forget how much God loves you!!  There is joy in the midst of grief (John 16:20)!