There are only two words that I can think of that can correctly describe how happy I am to make that announcement — joy and hallelujah.
Since Nov. 2008, our family had suffered through three pregnancies that ended in the loss of the babies. After going through that sadness three times, Andrea decided Joy was the perfect name if we were to have another girl. I thought it was a little common for us at first, because our other children are named Stone, Breeze and Daisy. The more I thought about the name, it became clear to me that Joy was indeed the perfect name for our newest addition.
Our little bundle of Joy’s middle name also has a story that goes along with it.
We found out that we were expecting on a Saturday night in February. When Andrea told me the news, I really had nothing to say. I couldn’t find words to express the spectrum of emotions that flowed through me at that exact point in time.
It wasn’t until halfway through the next day that I found the word that could describe those emotions.
During the music at our church that Sunday, the band played “All Creatures of Our God and King,” which is an old hymn that was redone by the David Crowder*Band. In the song, the word “alleluia,” a variant of hallelujah, is used many times.
Hallelujah is an exclamation that can be explained in many ways. Most people tend to think it is a word used to praise God, which is true. My interpretation of the word is that it comes from a deep down place and when you can’t find the words to describe your praise for God that you exclaim, “Hallelujah!”
In Hebrew, hallelujah is a request for a congregation to join in praise toward God. It can be translated as “Praise God” or “Praise Yahweh, you people.”
I pondered on the word as the song played, and I kept thinking that was exactly what I was feeling.
Our pastor was on vacation that week, and I had been asked to speak. I had planned on talking about house churches and the importance of living in community, but I was overwhelmed by my feelings and decided to share our story about the pregnancy losses and how we had dealt with those. I also dropped the news that we were expecting again, even though Andrea and I had decided not to tell anyone for a while.
After I finished speaking, I opened up the mics for anyone to speak. One person said she had always thought there would be a baby named Hallelujah at our church. Her comment planted the seed that would become Joy’s middle name.
Andrea and I talked about many middle names, and we couldn’t decide on any. We couldn’t think of anything that felt right. We kept going back to Hallelujah. We knew we’d catch some flack from the name, but we’d been through that in the past with some of our other children’s names.
We felt the birth of this beautiful baby girl was a significant occasion in our family’s overall journey. We couldn’t think of a better way to describe that journey and the beginning of her journey than Joy Hallelujah.
From the first moment I saw her little face, I knew the name was perfect. It is my hope that her name will continue to be a praise from our family to God and that her name will allow us the opportunity to tell our story and His story to as many people as we possibly can.
James Phillips is managing editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 205-221-2840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.