When I was growing up I enjoyed hearing my parents recount the story of how they chose my name. They’d remind me that my name, Krista, means “Christian – a follower of Christ.” My middle name is Grace, after my grandmother. I have many vivid memories of my grandmother praying with me, reading the Scriptures to me, and teaching me how to memorize the 100th Psalm. Still today, she encourages me to continue in the ways of the Lord. I loved knowing that my name had meaning – a meaning I wanted to live up to and fulfill.
From the beginning of our marriage, Chad and I have asked the Lord to tell us how many children to have, when to have them, and what to name them. He knows my children better than I do. He knows their purpose, their callings, their gifts and abilities. It only seemed fitting that He’d choose their names – names my children would strive to fulfill.
Each of our children love hearing the stories of how God named them. And I love telling them! Josiah was named after King Josiah. Isaac, our gift of “laughter” after a miscarriage. Ellianna, “God has answered my prayers” — my first baby girl. Rhema, God’s promise to fulfill His rhema words spoken over our lives. Adonai, God is Lord over every part of our lives. And Judah, “praise,” — I look forward to the day I can sit down with our little guy and tell him the story of his name. Judah Forrest James Dearey.
Four years ago, pregnant with our 5th child, I was reading through Genesis and a verse seemed to jump off the page. Genesis 29:35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
Let me pause this story for a minute to ask: have you ever finished God’s sentences for Him? I chuckle as I look back over my life and see how many times God began speaking to me and in my naive excitement I took off running…completing His sentences….filling in steps 2-10 when He’d only revealed step 1. Can you relate? This particular morning was no exception.
I sensed God’s presence as I read that verse and in my excitement I ran to Chad, showed him the verse, declared that surely this pregnancy MUST be a boy! And we’ll name him Judah! And I’ll never have to be pregnant again! (My 5th pregnancy had been my toughest – I’d later realize why, after delivering a whopping 10 pound baby.) And his name means “Praise!” We must be entering a season of “praise!”
I was thrilled at the thought of entering a new season of “praise.” Why? Because on that particular morning when I read that Scripture I had been spending my devotion time at a different table than usual – the dining room table of very precious, very gracious, very hospitable friends. Our family was….for lack of better terms…homeless. Through a series of events — the economy crash, poor investments, poor choices, a loss of Chad’s job, and having thousands stolen from us in an investment scandal — we lost our home, 30 acres of land, and 5 rental properties. A new season of “praise” was definitely in order.
A few days later we’d have our ultrasound and discover that once again I had gotten ahead of myself and of the Lord. I wasn’t pregnant with a boy! This wasn’t Judah! I was pregnant with A GIRL! We were shocked! Speechless.
That night as I crawled into bed (the bed of a sweet 7-year-old boy who was gracious to give up his room to our family of 6) I cried out to the Lord, “God! My goodness! Have I ever heard from you? I thought we were having a boy! Judah! Praise!! But it’s a girl?? I don’t understand. And I don’t know what to name her. God, I surrender. My flesh is tired. The thought of having more children seems like too much. But if you tell me to, I will have more after this. …But please, Lord, name our daughter…..”
In the night I had a dream. All that I remember from the dream was a bright light and beautiful voices singing “Adonai.” I woke up just enough to tell Chad, “Her name is Adonai.” He exclaimed, “That’s it!!!!”
The next morning Chad and I spent time discovering that “Adonai” was a Hebrew name used to describe God as Lord of your life, of owner of everything – giving Him total control of all. How appropriate!
We surrendered total control. God showed up and worked many miracles in that season. I wouldn’t trade our cute, spunky Addie for anything. But I was very curious how many more children would come before my Judah. I felt so strong in my heart that Judah was a mandate from heaven.
Fast forward to March of 2011. It had been two years since those homeless days. At 20 weeks pregnant with number 6, I went alone for my ultrasound and asked that the sex of the baby remain a mystery so our family could discover it together at the same time. Here is our video of the moment we found out we did indeed have our baby boy!
I had a wonderful pregnancy with Judah – a “praise” pregnancy.
On the morning of July 15, 2011 we delivered our baby Judah. We had a beautiful home water-birth after a 2-hour labor. A water-birth had been the desire of my heart. Throw in labor lasting for only 2 hours and that, in itself, was enough reason to name him “praise.”
We named our new “praise baby” Judah Forrest James. I’m not ready to finish God’s sentences on the full meaning of Judah’s name; but so far Judah’s name brings me so much faith and encouragement.
“Praise” – I praise You, God, for saving Judah’s life! I thank You that You were not the author of the pain in our lives. It’s the enemy who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy! You came to give us life! You have also promised in Your Word that You will work all things for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. Thank You for working good in our lives. Thank You for teaching us how to praise You through the trials! Praise and worship brings victory! It brings peace! It brings joy and freedom!
“Forrest” is after my great-grandfather, Pastor F.H. Toliver. Before he passed away he wrote out his life testimony in a book for our family to pass down. We’ve enjoyed reading his stories to our children of how he found the Lord, when he was baptized in the Holy Ghost,the call of God on his life, tent revivals and healing testimonies. I sometimes let my mind drift off and wonder if in those moments that Judah seemed to pass away from life here on earth to life in the eternal, did he see heaven? And if he did, did he meet Great Grandpa? Even if he didn’t, I love imagining my great grandfather peering over the banisters of heaven cheering us on as we stand in faith that Judah is healed and whole. I’m going to read Great Grandpa’s stories of faith, of preaching to the masses, of healings, and of revivals to our little Judah. Maybe Judah will continue in Great Grandpa’s steps.
“James” is our favorite book of the Bible. Specifically James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.. At the time of naming Judah we thought we had persevered through life’s hardest trials. There was no warning of the attack that was about to hit our family. What a surprise it was to continue to persevere through more trials. But I will count it as joy. And I will stand on the promise that when perseverance has finished its full work, we will find ourselves perfect and complete, lacking nothing. I love speaking that verse over Judah. In fact, it’s posted on our refrigerator as a reminder that Judah is perfect, complete, lacking nothing.
Deep down, I believe Judah has an important calling on his life. It’s no coincidence the enemy struck as he did. But we have the victory! This is just the beginning of Judah’s story. The best is yet to come.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”