Monday, May 26, 2014

The Name

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For the longest time, I didn't like my name. I didn't want to be different or unique. I just wanted to fit in. And with a name like mine, it took forever for people to remember it and even longer for them to spell it right. I got so tired of correcting the butchering of my name, I eventually learned to respond to all the variations of ways of saying it wrong.

Then, one day, out of desperation, I prayed that the Lord would help me like my name. A name matters. It helps define who you are. 

It wasn't long after that I Googled my own name:


I clicked "search" and was blown away by what I found.

There are other Chandas who have the same problem as me. Here are some of their comments:

"I love my name. Now. As an adult. As a child, I HATED my name. Mostly I hated the spelling and wanted to change the spelling to Shanda. I do have people call me Chandra A LOT. I don't know how that "r" gets in there. And I have to explain how to pronounce it quite often. I use Chanda, like chandelier. That works for most people."
"I love my name, but NOONE EVER pronounces it correctly...It is always annoying that noone can ever pronounce it or spell it. they always put in an "R" or make it sound like shonda."

It was good to know there were other Chandas out there, who had to tell people to think of "chandelier" or who didn't like their name, either. Now for the meaning of my name.

One site said:

fierce, hot, passionate.

The only thing hot was my face from the sudden impact of embarrassment. I can on occassion be a bit zealous when I believe there is some sort of injustice in the world, but I don't really think that definition fits me. Most of my friends and family would stifle a laugh if I told them that's what my name means.

Another site said:

From the Sanskrit candra meaning ‘pleasant’,‘shining’, ‘moon’.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press




I liked that meaning better. And the moon is a reflection of a greater source of light. The sun.

That made my heart happy. The moon is like a picture of those who follow Christ. He is the source of light, love, and truth and we reflect Him to the world.

Names are important not only to ourselves, but to others. When you hear a person's name, you automatically connect it to a face, a person, a character.

It is the same with God.

God did not tell us His name until the crescendo leading up to the birth of Christ.

Before Christ came, to be able to call God by His name was something foreign, even frightening for the Jews. He was Lord. Adonai. Elohim. YHWH. The Great I Am. But, I Am who?

Through the days, years, centuries, millenia, from Abraham on, the name of God was a mystery.

Then Christ came into the world. He came to His own (the Jews), but His own did not receive Him (John 1:9,10).

He claimed to be God's own Son. Equating Himself with God. Those who didn't believe Him called Him blasphemer.

To be called a blasphemer was punishable by death. And, that's just what they did. They killed Him on a cross. They did not want this Someone who claimed He was God to even live. Someone with a name. That would make His name, God's name. It was beyond comprehension.

But, to take that leap of faith. To take the plunge into the kingdom of God changes everything. And it's all in a name. The name of Christ Jesus. 

The only One who lived and died and lived again.

And when we put our trust in Him, He gives us a new name.

Child of God.

That is by far the favorite name given to me.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. JOHN 1:12,13

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Becoming a Woman of Excellence

Nonna Cina. She was my gentle grandmother from Italy. A lady of simple elegance with a wealth of wisdom and heart-felt compassion. I could only hope to one day be as loving, as gracious as Nonna.

It is assumed that some women are just born with an innate goodness. I thought Nonna was like that. But, Scripture teaches all people are born sinners (Romans 3:23). Nonna wasn't born good. Nobody is. And, I didn't know this at the time, but Nonna became a woman of excellence through trusting the Lord in her struggles and hardships.

Nonna didn't waste words. She said those things that stick with you through the years. And, her gifts were the same. Knowing I liked to draw, she once gave me some old pictures from a dated calendar. Each had a picture of a child and a little saying to go along with it. I was a teenager at the time, but I held onto them through the years. 

It's amazing, but I believe each child from those pictures is a beautiful reflection of my own children's personalities and the things I hope for them. Nonna never got to meet any of my children, but in a way, the pictures were a blessing for them from her. I have the four of them framed in my children's room. To remind them of the truth. To remind myself.

The year 1998 was one of those pivotal times in my life. It was the year my Nonna died.

I was twenty. Billy and I loved going over to Grandpa and Nonna’s house for dinner on Sundays. 

Nonna served us spaghetti smothered in authentic Italian marinara sauce, followed by steaming hot cups of espresso. Grandpa Ernie, a baker, served us cake topped with whipped cream frosting for dessert. Billy liked to put some of his frosting in the espresso to cool it, making it bittersweet. 

Not only did Grandpa and Nonna feed our stomachs, they also fed our souls. They encouraged us to follow Jesus and to love others the way that He loved us.

Then Nonna developed a cough that wouldn’t go away. After some tests were done, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. The diagnosis didn’t seem to make any sense. She never smoked, ate home-grown vegetables, and had an overall healthy lifestyle. 

She went to the hospital for more tests and a prognosis.  It turned out that the lung cancer was terminal, and she only had a few weeks to live.

As I was visiting her at the hospital, I noticed a book lying next to her bed. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom.

“You can have it,” she said, handing it to me. 

Another gift. "Thank you." 

Soft grey curls framed the eyes of someone who was filled with peace. She had no fear of death. She was fully confident that her Savior would take care of her.

It was hard seeing Nonna fade away. Nothing medically could be done for her. Each Sunday, she went to church and wheeled her oxygen tank down the aisle to her pew, until she no longer had the strength. 

While confined to her bed, my dad came to visit her and played his guitar while singing her favorite hymns.  

Six weeks after her diagnosis, she was gone.

As I read through The Hiding Place, I felt comforted.  How could a story about suffering in a concentration camp help me?  

It was because God was there. 

He showed up and took care of Corrie and her sister Betsy in miraculous ways. And He has done the same for me.

Years later, after having a child born with a condition incompatible with life, I picked it up and read it again. I sensed once again how God is faithful amidst great suffering. 

When it seems all hope is lost, God is there to lift us up.  

He empowers us to forgive those who have hurt us and helps us to reach out to them with His love.


After Nonna died, Grandpa Ernie went through all of her things and came across her journal.

“I thought you might like to read this,” he said and handed it to me.  It was small and had a rainbow printed on the front. 

Nonna gave gifts even after she went to be with the Lord. What a legacy.

Reading the journal from cover to cover, I got to know my Nonna’s great love for Jesus.  On one page, she wrote the old adage, 

The heart would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.” 

I now know what she meant.  Though I have shed many tears in my grief, the light of God’s love has been pouring into my broken heart. Like a prism, the love of Christ transformed my tears, filling me with a rainbow of hope.

If I ever hope to become a woman of excellence like Nonna, then there is one place that I need to be. 

At the feet of Jesus.

I know that's where she is right now.   

Lord God, is it possible that Your Word will enter all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my mind?  You are my Great Comforter.  You give to me rest and peace.  I love you Lord, O Jesus, my Savior.  To You, I pray for holiness, and humility, to fill me with Your innocence and goodness.  To those who are obedient, Your grace is sufficient. –Nonna Cina

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Gifts: A Toast of Four Truths

I've always found that it is more blessed to give than to receive. And there is no greater joy than when I see my children walk in truth (3 John 1:4)

So I lift up this mother's day, a toast of truth to my children. With a cup of unconditional love.

Four Truths

I want them to know by heart.


First. To my Bright Girl. I raise a toast of Courage.

The courage to come to us with whatever, no matter what. Without shame, but love. We'll be her support with the strength God provides. More than that...

{May she always know God is our refuge and strength.}

He is always there for her (Psalm 46:1, Romans 8:31) through every battle, every storm, and she can come to Him with everything. Every. Single. Thing.


A second toast is to my Little Man. The toast of Peace.

There's a lot in this world that threatens to steal our peace. Especially for a little guy struggling with the sensory issues that come with autism. The world is a big and scary place sometimes, but his Daddy and Mommy are here for him always. To give a reassuring hug. A kiss on the cheeks and hands.

May he know that His Father in heaven loves Him more than that and

{God's love is stronger than anything this world's got.}

May he rest in the love of our Lord and be at peace.


A third toast is to our tender-hearted Sunshine Girl. Who never wants to hurt any living thing. I raise to her a toast of grace. 

In this world it's so hard to be good and kind. Loving and forgiving. People can be hurtful and sometimes friends can turn into frienemies.

{Thanks be to God, He loves us no matter what.}

"We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). And His love is always there. Christ is our Savior forevermore. He is the truest most faithful friend, and we can always go to Him. Always. He can help us to heal, and extend to others the grace He's given to us.


The fourth toast. To my Little Bit. Who is learning more and more that God loves her and sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14).

I raise a toast of Hope.

Jesus is the Light and there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5).

Whenever she is afraid, when it seems like all hope is lost, may she know God is gonna work it out for good.

{He always knows what He's doing. He has a plan and His plan is good.}

Courage, Peace, Grace, and Hope.

These are the things I ask for my children. And, my Father in heaven is there for them. He always has been and always will be. I need not worry. I trust in Him with these truths for myself and for my children, pointing them to the way, the truth, the life. In our Savior Jesus Christ.