The name of our firstborn was essentially chosen for him before Pete and I were even married. Pete had two things he was adamant about during our engagement: that we should buy Fiestaware dishes, and name our first son after his favorite book character.
But when I became pregnant with our second child, the name books were pulled out repeatedly, almost nightly, as I pored over all the different options and meanings. The meaning of a name is probably more important to me than the sound of the name (although I had to draw the line at names like Galochka. It means “God redeems,” which is awesome…. But I can’t call my sweet baby girl Galochka.)
So when I came across the name Rayna, which had the meaning, “The song of the Lord,” I was sold. Despite some pushback from a few family members, we gave our baby girl this unusual name with confidence that God would sing His song through her life.
I don’t think I spent a lot of time picturing what she would be like ahead of time, but if I did I probably envisioned a girl like a brunette version of Anne of Green Gables (the book character, not the TV character). God would sing a song of joy and creativity and accomplishment and richness through her. The song would be beautifully orchestral, like what would play at the end of a feel-good movie.
When Rayna was just a few months old we began to realize her life was taking a different trajectory from other children’s. Her development was much slower in all areas, and eventually specialists began to point out some unique physical characteristics that she had. Then medical concerns surfaced, along with educational challenges.
I wish I could say I embraced all of this with joy and thanksgiving, but I didn’t. There was a whole lot of resistance, questioning, confusion, and frustration on my part. Much of my effort was put into trying to “fix” her, or getting her “caught up.” Time after time I found myself embarrassed and saddened when mothers at the playground pointed out that she was acting so much younger than their children of the same age, or when Rayna couldn’t keep up with the rest of the gymnastics, dance, or even Sunday School class.
But Rayna has never been saddened or embarrassed by what she cannot do, and approaches life with joy and eagerness. All of the visits with specialists, tutors, therapists, and technicians are all just great adventures for her; she doesn’t think anything about that is odd.
So, slowly, slowly I have heard more and more of the strains of the song God is singing. It is not a song of accomplishment – how could I ever have thought it would be?? But it is one about His faithfulness. He has healed over and over, provided over and over, and brought joy over and over, and all of that is seen and heard so vividly in her life.
Five years ago some wonderful friends in our church chose to name their new daughter Rayna as well. Rayna Faith, so beautiful. As that Rayna has grown, she is, of course, a completely different person from our Rayna, and yet there has been some overlap in their stories.
Recently, she suddenly had a medical crisis that was all too familiar to us, as our Rayna has gone through the exact same thing.
Rayna Faith’s mom and I talked recently about this and how weird it is that both Rayna’s have some challenges. Surely this is not random. I hesitate to ever presume what God could be doing, but it seems to me that God is singing His song through these girls – and it’s a song we’ve needed to hear twice.
There are many songs that could be sung “of the Lord.” We know there are songs of joy and triumph mentioned in the Old Testament; there are skilled songs, and songs that just burst forth. The common theme in them all, though, seems to be exalting God, declaring His greatness.
In the weaknesses or challenges of our Raynas, we have had to call out to the Lord for strength, and the more we’ve had to lean on Him, the bigger He has become to us.
Last week at church little Rayna Faith came up to our bigger Rayna Blythe and I heard them say, “Hi Rayna!” “Hi Rayna!” to each other. All I could think was, “From one song to another.” It reminded me of this passage:
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.” -Psalm 42:7-8
I often think, too, of Zephaniah 3:17, which is, probably not coincidentally at all, a favorite verse of Rayna Faith’s mom as well:
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
He is rejoicing over all of us with singing – and I think He uses our Raynas, our precious Songs of the Lord, to remind us of that.
p.s. Incidentally, the only time the full phrase “song of the Lord” is mentioned in the Bible is in 2 Chronicles 29:17, when the song of the Lord is played during a formal offering. Maybe this is what we are supposed to be remembering to do – continuing to offer up ourselves and our daughters for whatever the Lord wants to do in us all.
|This is our neighbor and friend, Claire, who recently|
had a "Rayna Cooking Club" day with both Raynas!