I think people were beginning to think that we had a name and were just keeping it a secret.

The last straw for Caleb was on Friday when he came home and told me that we needed a name for the baby soon because the girls at school were driving him crazy asking him if the baby had a name yet.

The honest truth is, we had some names we had tossed around, but really hadn’t put too much thought into it.

I would like to sound all spiritual and say that we spent hours in prayer waiting for God to give us the name.

And I wish we could say that we spent tons of time going over names and researching meanings.

We did do all of that the first time I got pregnant.

Life was so precious during that time…we were a decade younger.  A decade
‘more clueless’ of how our world was about to be rocked by dirty diapers, sleepless nights, and rearranging our lives around a crying, snotty nosed bundle of ‘joy.’

We were only 6 weeks pregnant and set out on one of those adventures that we loved to do together before kids….camp in a tent under the stars.  On the way to the campsite, we picked up one of those enormous baby name books at a bookstore (this was long before access to internet on phones where all those tools are at your fingertips).

I have etched in my memory spending hours on that trip going through every name in that book by flashlight in that cozy tent.

Most of the names we crossed out right away because of someone in our lives that had ‘ruined’ that name for us.  Some we circled to consider and toss around for the next couple of months until a name stuck.

That pregnancy ended in miscarriage as did our next two pregnancies.

I never cracked that thick baby name book open again.   Some things are a little too painful to revisit….and I choose to focus on the happy moments Joe and I had dreaming of what our baby would look like and the ‘perfect’ name  instead of pain that came later when we didn’t have the chance to see what he or she looked like or to call them by name.


I really don’t know if the lack of urgency to pick a name was some deep emotional wound, or simply the perspective we have a decade later…we really don’t need all the answers to everyone’s questions in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Have you picked out a name?
Are you planning on having more children?
Do you have a nursery?
Are you going to nurse?
What preschool are you going to put your child in?

I want to say to all the first time moms out there “Slow down.  Take a load off.  Let’s all agree to take life one day at a time.”

Back to naming this baby.

Each of us had a few names that we liked more than others.

Big brother was stuck on Farboogle.
Big sister campaigned for  Braelynn.
Daddy has voted for Molly with every pregnancy (Holly and Molly in the same family….too confusing for me)
Momma…well I was stuck.  No names rising to the top.

Then, this past week, as I was getting ready to go to work, a name we had tossed around was stuck in my head.

It all started many months ago when Brook was desperately wanting to watch a movie.  Her go to movie to get us to say yes to getting to watch a movie is “Soul Surfer.”  She loves the movie, but she is also a pretty savvy girl and knows we like the movie too and love the message of it.

After making her movie request she said…

“What about Bethany?  Like the girl in Soul Surfer.  That’s a great name.”

We all shook our head in agreement.  It was a good name.  No childhood friends, former students, or kids in our kids ministries that had ruined it for us.

But still…it wasn’t a name that we were ready to have monogrammed on baby blankets (not that I have any of my kids names monogrammed on anything…as does my sister who monograms new backpacks and lunchboxes every school year…my kids names are Sharpied on the inside of the lunchboxes …and they just may have had the same lunch boxes since kindergarten…hopefully they aren’t forever scarred by my lack of excitement about such frivolous things as monogramming)

Months passed.

We threw several more names around but still the growing child in my womb was referred to as ‘baby.’

Then it happened.

As if God monogrammed it for me on my mind.

This time of year I spend a lot of time thinking about my sweet niece Daisy.  She would have been 5 years old this fall.  If you don’t know the story you can read more about precious Daisy here.

Though I never got to even hold beautiful Daisy or buy her a cute pair of tennis shoes :)…I loved her and mourn each year along with the rest of my family.

As I was praying for my brother and sister in law who live on the other side of the world, and thinking about how painful this time of year is for them…. it occurred to me.

Daisy’s middle name was Elizabeth.  Then the name Bethany popped in my brain.

In my mind it was settled.  Bethany was her name.  I just needed to convince the rest of the family.

So, I went to the internet hoping that there was some beautiful meaning attached to it.

There is was glaring at me, “house of pain and misery.”

What a terrible meaning for a name.

You would have thought my training in Biblical languages and history would have alerted me to the etymology of this word.

Once again that degree failed me.

Of course.  “Beth” means house.  I had that on a flashcard in seminary once upon a time.

I researched a little more and found some other meanings that were a little easier to swallow.
“daughter of The Lord”–I don’t follow how they get the meaning but its a great meaning if it is true.  Sounds like someone making up their own meaning to make the meaning of the name more ‘meaningful’

“House of figs/dates”–Not a fan of figs or dates…but l would like to live in a house of figs and dates more than I would like living in a house of pain and misery.”

Then as if God once again stepped in and assured me that this was the name of our daughter it occurred to me….

I want more than anything for my children to be a safe haven for those in pain and misery.

When all the world rejects the poor, the diseased, the addicted, the person with the past….

My deepest desire for my children is for them to be a place these people can find hope, grace, and love….

Sort of a home, a safe haven for those in misery and pain.


Then there was the dreaded middle name.

That name that usually only is significant for one of two reason.
1.  For parents to use when they want their child to know they mean business.
2.  For a teacher to use when you have two kids in your class that have the same name…story of my life…Holly Hicks did not have a middle name.  My middle name was Ann…so everyone who knew me from age 5 to 18 think my intended name was HollyAnn.    It really was something our moms and teachers started calling me because Holly Hicks And Holly Higle were attached at the hip from ages 6 to age 12.

I had a middle name picked out for a long, long time.  One I wanted to use but always got vetoed by sweet Joe.

Don.  Boy or girl.  Dawn.

Joe too was attached to his middle name growing up.  Anyone who knew him in his childhood knew him as Joe Don.  His friends and family back home only know him as Joe Don.

In college, he began simply calling himself Joe and so because we met when he was in his later twenties I only got to know him as Joe.

Joe Don and Holly Ann…sounds sweet and very southern….pass the sweet tea.

I always liked his middle name, but it was not natural for me to call him Joe Don because that is not what I first got to know him as.

In the past few years the name Don has taken on a whole new significance to my family.

A few years ago we said goodbye to a dear cousin of mine, Don.  Don was always someone I admired.  He and his wife Sharon were always a couple I looked up to as an example of a marriage that I hoped to have someday.

My Joe reminds me a lot of my cousin Don.   Both men of integrity, grace, and compassion, and humbleness…characteristics I pray all my children will have.

So to me… Dawn was the perfect middle name to give our little girl.

I had my case prepared to argue my name choice and I would take it to the breakfast table when everyone woke up and cross my fingers.

Bethany Dawn.

We sat down to breakfast and I explained my name selection.

Who knew it would be so easy?

We took a vote by thumb.  Caleb was the temporary hold out…still thinking we might give in to Farboogle.

As simply, and yet as miraculously as that….

Our sweet daughter has a name.

We began a discussion of name spelling.  We all agreed that Don should be the Dawn version.

The kids were sold when I told them that it was cousin Don’s daughter’s middle name, April Dawn.  Cousin April is one of their favorite people in the entire world.

Bethany morphed into Bethanny.

Two n’s like Brooklynn and cousin Ashlynn.  “Ann” like my middle name.

Destined for a life of never finding a souvenir with her correct name spelling and always having to correct people when they just put one ‘n.’

Oh how we are all so excited to meet our

Bethanny Dawn Buxton

Now…{wipes head in relief} that one is checked off the list of million things I hope to get done before Bethanny arrives in 9 or so weeks.

Four thumbs up fro Bethanny.  A bent thumb from the one who was holding out for farboogle.

Four thumbs up for Bethanny. A bent thumb from the one who was holding out for Farboogle.

The kids were thrilled to finally have a name to share with family.

The kids were thrilled to finally have a name to share with family.

One of the bazillion teams Holly Hicks and Holly Higle were on together, thus my childhood as Holly Ann.

One of the bazillion teams Holly Hicks and Holly Higle were on together, thus my childhood as Holly Ann.

The kids proudly wearing their "The Dash" shirts at their jog-a-thon in memory of Cousin Don.

The kids proudly wearing their “The Dash” shirts at their jog-a-thon in memory of Cousin Don.


The kids love their “cousin” April Dawn

This was the phrase Don, who was a football coach, always asked his players.  Your life is represented by the dash.  My prayer is that all my kids will make a difference in this world during the "The Dash" God has given them.

This was the phrase Don, who was a football coach, always asked his players. Your life is represented by the dash on your tombstone. My prayer is that all my kids will make a difference in this world during “The Dash” God has given them here on earth.  .  . just as Donald Keith Hendrix did with his.