Penelope: What’s in a Name?

Whats in a NameBaby names are kind of a big deal.

Some parents know their children’s names from the time they are tweens, planning their weddings and families and personal fairy tales.  Some keep the baby name a secret until they are born.  Others pick a name for its meaning or the way it sounds or to match the first letter of every other person in the family.  People pray for months over their child’s name.  Others consult mediums and specialists who supernaturally help them decide on the right name.  And some people (I’ve known a few) don’t even name their children until after they are born.  They just don’t know who they are yet!

Choosing a baby name has been an important part of life since… well… probably since humans have started naming their children.  And there is (almost) always a good reason or story behind the big choosing of the name.

For us, the name was everything.  Not because we wanted it to be, but simply because we believed we knew her name before she was ever even conceived.  With all our hearts we believe God had prepared this girl with this name for this family at this moment in history…  not at all in a Jesus kind of way, just in a God-has-a-plan-for-your-life kind of way.  The Bible assures us,

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

All of that to say, our journey towards parenthood began with a simple name.

The name of a character on the hit TV show LOST to be exact, but from there it became so much more!

I began to research the name Penelope, which means duck, or weaver.  Exciting stuff, huh?

But as I began to read the story behind the Greek name I began to see why God would want us to name her that.  Because while yes, it does carry on the Greek heritage of my husband’s mother, and yes, it does sound good with our last name, it also represents a character trait that we desire for her more than anything.


In short, here’s the story:

In Greek mythology, Penelope was the wife of Odysseus who waited for him to
return to her for twenty years [after the Trojan war]. She avoided remarriage by claiming she would not
remarry until she had completed her father-in-law’s funeral shroud; every night,
she unraveled part of the shroud so that the project would take a very long
time. In literature, her name has become synonymous with faithfulness. (

As I read this story (and briefly recalled my freshman English class) I thought deeply about what this name would mean for its bearer.  Namely, our little name-bearer.

In a world where faithfulness is a fading art, we pray for her to live a life marked by it.  Faithfulness to her family, no matter the circumstances.  Faithfulness to one spouse.  Faithfulness to herself and who God created her to be.  Faithfulness to her commitments.  And above all else, Faithfulness to God.

No matter what the world throws at her, we pray for her to be strong.  To stand firm in her faith and her convictions.  To serve others deeply and faithfully no matter the circumstances.  And to be faithfully committed to her First Love- no matter what.

So now our little Penelope is three years old.  And while I can’t guarantee that I’ve seen faithfulness growing in her life, per say, I have seen the roots of it.  I have seen strength.  And perseverance.  And a dynamic character… firm in her three-year-old convictions.  She amazes us each day with her love & sweetness.  With her joy in life.  With her excitement for learning and trying new things.  And even, gulp, with her fearlessness!

I cannot even imagine what the future will hold for this little one.  I don’t know what challenges she will face and what adventures she will live.

But through it all I will continually and faithfully pray that she grows into her name

in every way.


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