What’s in a Name?

Have you ever had to name something? Perhaps you’ve created a beautiful piece of art and it’s being prepared for gallery presentation; it needs a “name” to go on that little card. A title to say what it is about and why. Great artists and photographers always name their work. I once read a book about a girl who names all of the homes she moves into… both big and small. It gives the place significance. I guess it is more fun to live in “The Corner Cottage” than apartment #2 on Route One next to the old oak tree. Anyone name their car? “Lemons” in my case. Of course, if you are a parent, you’ve had to name your offspring. Were you like us and had a book with baby names, meanings and origins? You made a list of boy and girl names and tried out the short forms and how a first and middle name flowed together off the tip of the tongue. Did you look at initials? That kid is going to be stuck with his or her name forever… it better be good. Worthy of a monogramed towel hanging in the bathroom. Or maybe you chose a family name, passed down for generations, honoring a loved one. Oh, and never the name of that third grade kid who was a “weirdo”… I know a “blank” and can’t call my baby that!

Photo: Days with Grey

Our youngest acquired a new batch of pet rats this week. Yes, rats. That is a topic for another time and place. We are talking about naming things, here. Anyhow… Our rats have always been named after plants and flowers, so picking names can be quite fun. God’s garden gives us plenty of choices… and we’ve had fun attaching traits and characteristics to their names. I’m sure we will be posting on social media this week… so check them out later, if you are interested!

So, what’s in a name? In grade school I did a whole project on that quote from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliette”. I got a pretty good mark, too. I guess I have been musing about such things for a while. As you know, words and their meanings are captivating to me, so names naturally fall into that category. Special “words” if you may. I tried searching “How many names does God have?” and didn’t get very accurate results. The short answer? “Lots”. God has lots of names. Each significant based on certain traits and characteristics. I guess that’s what makes it so special. Our Heavenly Father could be so many things for so many people: Father, Comforter, Protector, Creator, King… the list goes on and on. Listen to people pray… it’s a good hint about how they view God. How do they address Him when they speak to Him? There is a good list (here), although I don’t think even 950 names are exhaustive. But it is a significant start, if you may be interested in further study. Certainly fascinating.

Our little brains can’t begin to comprehend all the attributes of God, let alone name them. Names are really only a snapshot of something. And God is much much bigger than our tiny understanding of the person we call “God”. Would you agree? Or do you find it easy to label Him? Perhaps based on your needs, you know that God is definitely your “Abba” or your “protector”. Either way, Holy and awesome truly are His name. (Psalm 111). And no matter what your name is, He cares for you and loves you. And that’s the bottom line. Be blessed, my friends!

10 000 Fireflies

Have you ever seen a firefly? Unfortunately, the light pollution in our city makes the nostalgic experience rare and far between most summer nights. Recently, however, I was out walking the dog in a back field out in the country, where the city lights were significantly dimmed enough for me to catch a glimpse of a few lightening bugs calling to each other. I wouldn’t have paid too much attention, normally, but the quiet of the evening and the fact that our chocolate lab is almost invisible in the dark, made me consciously scan the bush edge for unsuspecting creatures or beady eyes staring back at me from the shadows. I smiled to myself as I watched for awhile and then proceeded to ask the dog if he noticed them too? Yes, out loud. Don’t judge me as I talk to the dog, okay?

Photo by: Cathy Kiefer

Being the good scientist that I am, I thought the little beetles might be interesting to learn about… not everyday you see glowing butts as a way to catch the love of your life’s attention, is it? There are about 2 000 species of fireflies — and not all can use bioluminescence. The “glow” is produced to lure a mate and can be green, orange or yellow coloured. It is created by the combination of oxygen, calcium, ATP and an enzyme called luciferase. Luciferase is derived from the (get this!) Latin word for lucifer…meaning “light bearer” and has been a very important chemical in science for detecting all sorts of things in cells and living creatures. It is apparently very efficient — nearly 100% of the energy produced in the chemical reaction produces light.

Yet not all fireflies can boast such (pardon the pun) glowing reviews…some are deceivers. Some use their light to attract prey. The unsuspecting love seeker gets all caught up in the show and gets eaten for its efforts. Some fireflies will actually “steal” other flies from spider’s webs! Packaged lunch to go! Wanna hear the cool word for that behaviour? “Kleptoparasitism.” Researchers still don’t know how the burglars get on and off the webs without getting caught themselves….

Isn’t science fascinating?! But more than that, I think God uses these real life examples to teach us more than cool vocabulary words. So many life lessons are observed by watching the world around us. Is it co-incidence that the most efficient light is named after Lucifer? How attractive he is … and how easily he ensnares us into following him! The little blips of temptation can easily go unnoticed until they catch our eye and distract us into mesmerizing patterns, drawing us deeper and deeper into the darkness — only to devour us later. You need a lot of “darkness” to see the tiny blips of fireflies … surrounding yourself with light will drown them out. In fact, our light pollution is creating a decline in the numbers of fireflies … they can’t reproduce if they can’t find mates. Do you see the lesson here?

The band Owl City has a bubbly little tune called 10 000 Fireflies. (Find it here). It draws us to the nostalgic side of watching fireflies and believing in the “magic” of our childhood dreams. Obviously, life isn’t as easy as our childhood wishes… and frequently we spend sleepless nights worrying about things that are often out of our control. May you be encouraged this week that there is someone who does care about you and your dreams. He’s not “magical” or flashy… He’s simply the God who loves you. And me. The One who created 10 000 fireflies… and the God who made me notice one, so I can tell you the story of how it made me smile on a summer’s evening (and talk to the dog out loud.)

“Your Focus Needs more Focus”

I was in charge of walking the dog this week. Not a big deal, he’s pretty good about walks now. There was a time, though… a time when that puppy of ours was a bundle of energy and was distracted by every person, stray dog, fluttering bird or swaying blade of grass. He’s older now and a little less distracted… but the odd time he loses focus. Just like the rest of us. Or as the next generation of karate kid training says “your focus needs more focus”. Love Jackie Chan.

Which had me musing this week. Focus. What are we really focused on? The center point. The hub. The nucleus of your world. Focus. The clarity in the situation. The distinct, well defined, finger-pointing “thing” that makes it, well, “it”. Some of us have a goal for a time. Raise our kids well. Focus on a career that will lead us to financial stability. Finish college. Buy a house. Many of my readers will note that I have had a #wordoftheyear for the first time in 2021. I chose it to bring a little focus into my life for the next 365 days. (You can read about it here).

FOCUS

Our physical bodies are often something we focus on as well. How many workouts target one or two “problem areas”. Buns of steel, anyone? Or calming ourselves down by focusing on our breathing, or pulse, or making each step deliberate. It helps keep us under “control”. The control is needed to keep us from going off on tangents, wild goose chases or as a friend puts it…rabbit trails. Alice got into a lot of trouble following a rabbit.

Clarity. Good clarity comes from the right focus. My glasses help me see clearly. Microscopes and telescopes bring clarity to objects our eyes simply cannot see without help. It brings a fuzzy, undefined image into something we can recognize and understand. And often learn from or learn more about with study.

So why focus on focus? It is a strong contender in our ability to keep going. It goes hand and hand with hope. When we lose focus, we easily become distracted… and then the journey is no longer enjoyable. Like our puppy walks. When we had to correct, refocus, pull on the leash and speak harshly to the pup… nobody enjoyed the outing. Sure, truth be told, all of us need a little distraction now and then to break the monotony of tunnel vision. Maybe breaks are even necessary. Yet, focus brings us back to the point.

The beginning of Hebrews 12 reminds us to not only to stay focused on the end goal, but shows us how Jesus was our perfect example of this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT

His love for us. Our weak faith. Our focus on the finish line before us. What about you, my friend? Does your focus need more focus? Are you pulling in all directions? I know I struggle with this all too often. May you be encouraged to “focus” along with me in the next few days, and set our eyes on the finish line, as we enjoy our walk together.