I seldom post about my kids, though they do get mentioned on my blog from time to time. A couple years ago, I had a post celebrating my then five-year-old daughter which reflected on how much I liked who she was becoming. Parenting is hard work because you don’t actually know who you are parenting. To welcome a child into this world, to nurture her, to hold out hope, is to encounter a stranger and discover who God is forming her into. This is true of my older daughter, Ember who is always a blaze. And it is true of her sister Iona.
Names are important and my wife and I thought long and hard on what to name each of our girls. We settled on the name Ember for our first child because we wanted to name our daughter something fiery and strong. Iona we named after trolling through an entire list of girls names (from one of those baby name websites). We loved the nuances of the name. The Island of Iona sits off the western coast of Scotland. From here St. Columba spearheaded the conversion of Scotland and Northumbria. It remained a center of learning and monastic life impacting the Christianization of much of Northern Europe. Today the modern day community of Iona is an eccumenical center of Christian spirituality. The irony that we named our daughter Iona while living on Iona Drive in Vancouver, Canada was slow to dawn on us.
Somehow the names each reflect the personalities of our daughters. Ember is buoyant, at home in her own skin and highly social. She is like an unquenchable flame. Iona is quieter and much, much shyer. But her timidity belies a quiet strength. She is firm in who she is, knows what she wants and is slow to admit defeat. She doesn’t ‘go along’ with everything and is comfortable asserting herself with those she knows (and quietly ignores those she doesn’t). I would be lying if I didn’t tell you how aggravating this can be as a parent. But I am also grateful for it. She will not be easily swayed by her peers. She has a sense of self and I like who she is.
A discovery I made in the last couple of years is just how much fun she is. Ember was a goofy baby who spoke a mile a minute to anyone who would listen, enjoying the confused looks on people’s faces. Iona spoke fewer but deliberate words, pronounced carefully and with a serious expression. But she has become a daughter full of good humor that laughs easily (sometimes maniacally), jokes constantly and loves life. She is a joy and I find her joy infectious.
My daughter is only five. I do not know what the future holds. I long for her to grow in strength, in wisdom, in joy and in faith. I want her to know and walk with God and I pray each night for her becoming. My dad and mom used to pray over me each night, that I would become a man of God. I pray for each of my daughters that they would be come women of God and that they would love God and love others. But I believe the genesis of who my kids are becoming is in them now. They are fearfully and wonderfully made with gifts and quirks, interests and idiosyncrasies. So Iona, I can’t wait to see who you become, but boy do I love who you are!