Naming Our Children

One of my favorite things to ask new parents is why or how they chose their child’s name. I love hearing those stories. Speaking a name over our children has been something Betony and I have taken very seriously (and with some fear, too) and I’m always excited to share with friends and family how our girls’ names came to be. I feel like it not only tells the roots of their story, but so much of ours as well.

(Alongside asking why we give our children their names it’s good to also ask what meaning do you find in your own name? Why were your parents drawn to it? Is there someone’s legacy you are embodying? A biblical story? A piece of nature that holds a memory? It’s good to ask our parents such questions.)

So, shared here are some reasons why we’ve chosen these names for our girls. Actually, choosing Beatrice, Hattie, and Lucy’s names came from a collection of several reasons, that and they just “felt right”. I’d like to share pieces of those reasons here, for each child.


The name Beatrice means “She who brings happiness, blessed”. When it comes to our children never have Betony and I felt such completion and blessing.

The name Beatrice also means “Voyager”, which since this little one has been to Iceland and back already we thought was appropriate.

And the “beatitudes” share a common root-word with Beatrice (again, meaning blessed). This poetry from a sermon of Jesus’ is all about how God is with the broken, hurt, and empty who are giving themselves to the world. (See Matthew 5). It’s a beautiful passage.

Elaine is the name of Betony’s mother. She’s been a wonderful presence of calm and peace for us and our family. We’re excited to honor her with the name-sake.

Dianne is my mother’s name. Along with my wife (and children) I consider her one of the most important people in my life. She’s strong, resilient, and non-stop-busy loving us and her family.

One Christmas I was reading Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit to Lucy while Debussy’s Claire Du Lune was playing. The wonderful memory has stayed with me as a father.

Shortening the middle names to E. D. and you get my father’s name. We’re planning on “Edie” (EE-dee) being her family nickname.


Betony’s grandfather, Harold “Hal” Snyder, was a wonderful man who passed away a few summers ago. He was a big-band drummer, a humanitarian, and an etoro prowizje kryptowaluty banker (Rad!). Harriet is not the true “feminine” version of Harold, but in our minds… sure it is.

Betony grew up on an apple orchard. It was a magnificent and magical place to be a child.

One of my favorite verses is from Psalm 1: 3-4, referring to a person planted by streams of righteousness:

“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—

whatever they do prospers.”

And this picture of a tree firmly planted giving life-bearing fruit to the world around them- this has been one of the best pictures I’ve held to for my life.

In thinking of strong females in history, Betony and I thought of Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe immediately.

“Harriet! Harr-i-et! Hard-hearted harbinger of hagass! Beautiful, bemuse-ed, bellicose butcher.” -Mike Myers, So I Married an Axe Murderer… greatest 90′s comedy, ever!

“Harriet” means “home-maker”. If you’ve experienced the food and hospitality Betony gives, you can feel that value of ours in your soul.

Lastly, “Hattie” is a beautiful word to say aloud.


My grandmother, Beulah Arnold, was a progressive, compassionate woman who’s nickname (from my grandfather) was “Lucy”.

Betony had a “Peanuts” shirt that said “Lucy” on the back when we first met.

Lucy, translated in latin, means “light”.

One out of every 15 or so people who meet Lucy quickly sing, “Lucy in the sky with diamonds!”. I wanted that to be the response in meeting my daughter: immediate song!

“O Israel, trust in the Lord!” is the chorus of a Waterdeep song that Betony loves.

Jacob “wrestles with God” and is renamed Israel. I speak this over my daughter: faith is not easy, it is something you will always wrestle with. And sometimes come away with a limp.

The Shape of Branches

Would any of you be interested in doing an online art show together? Read this and hear where I’m going with the “theme”. Then let’s make some art together!

The Shape of Branches

I haven’t fully unpacked this idea yet, but I wanted to share it’s  beginnings here. For years I’ve loved that you can find  the shape of branches in so many places. I’ve wanted to do an art show  with this idea or an album or something like that.  Here’s a short list below of things in life that seem to follow the branches pattern:

Trees, root systems, rivers, canyons, blood vessels, highways, genealogies, art & music genre developments, conversations, religions (Christian denominations), the Milky-way galaxy, evolution, nervous systems…

I find it fascinating that in the branches pattern there is always a tracing back to a source, a beginning. You see it all over: What started jazz? Go back further to ragtime and New Orleans music earlier. Major arteries have been identified in our bodies. Years are spent trying to find the “source” of various rivers.

Wrapped up in the branches pattern for me is the  mystery of God. What started this that started that that started this… All the way back to a true source  Like I said, it’s just the beginning of an exploration. I don’t know what will branch out from here.

Almanac Essay: Finish Lines

Below is a page from our May Almanac. I’ve found the idea of finish lines to be really helpful in my life, navigating how to view the ending of work on certain projects and how letting those things go helps me to enjoy leisure and family more. I hope these ideas bring good provision to your month.

It is good and healthy to recognize our need for finish lines. In the “go, go, go” life when we hit an ending point it’s good to catch our breath, and recognize the prize of our efforts. (One of my favorite writings on this comes from author Bill Hybels.) Here’s what I mean:

Your day has a finish line. Traditionally, for most people, when evening comes it’s time to take your mind off of the fields of vocation and turn it towards places of family, friends, and rest. There’s a moment in the evening when I myself try to put things away and enjoy the fruits of my efforts. That often looks like a dinner with my wife and my girls.

Every week has a finish line too. In religious traditions, it’s called a sabbath. It’s a whole week of work finding closure in a day off. This day off breaks up the week into a great rhythm. Without it it we’d be in the monotony of work and the lack of variation would mean a dissipation of joy (no matter how much you love your job!) And this day reminds you your vocation is not your full identity. You are more than what you do.

Lastly, every year should have a finish line. In traveling through the four seasons, it’s important to intentionally allocate time for vacation. Nothing refreshes the mind and restores the soul like unplugging from the everyday rhythms and leaving your city. These breaks can be expensive, but even on the tightest budget, getting out of town can do wonders.