In Her Heart

For nearly all of her life I have been waiting for words. (That’s about one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five days and counting).

I can still remember the moment I knew her name. I was 7 months pregnant, and Brandon was preparing to deploy to Iraq. My friend Shannon and I were chatting after dinner in my kitchen in Heilsbronn, Germany. I told her I that I was not crazy about the name we had chosen for the baby – it just didn’t seem to fit.

Shannon insisted that I had to be excited about the name. And so we brainstormed long into the night. Shannon was the first to say the name Rhema.

And when she spoke it, I can’t explain it, but it’s like my heart remembered. I knew her. I knew that was her name. I was so excited.

The name meant “the spoken word.” Specifically, “God’s Word revealed.” At first, Brandon thought it was too sacred of a name to put on a child. But my heart was set on it, and we studied the Scriptures for anywhere the Greek word rhema (which is translated as “word”) appeared. We chose Romans 10: 8-9 as her “theme” verse: “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is LORD”, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I recited the verse to her while she was still in the womb.

Little did I know that a year prior my mother had been praying for me one night. I had been trying to conceive for a couple years. My heart was breaking because we could not get pregnant. When my mother prayed, she asked God to “speak our baby’s name.” She remembers it being a strange request, but that’s what she had felt led to pray. Just before Rhema’s birth, I told my mother her name. My mother’s face contorted as she recognized the name, and remembered the prayer she had prayed.


Autism, for us, has been about adjusting expectations. Initially after her diagnosis, I thought, so I can’t expect conversations anytime soon… I’ll settle for sentences. Then it was… o.k… how about phrases? No?… o.k., o.k… Words? Approximations? Single sounds? Instead of “I want pop”, if she just says “p-“, we are to celebrate the effort.

All along we have been hoping, praying, fighting for words. Maybe I’ve focused too much on the language part? As she gets older, I kind of get that vibe… that maybe I should let it go.

We hold on to the hope – the belief – that her name is a promise.

Every night for the past several years I have quoted Romans 10:8-9 to her as I tuck her into bed. “Rhema, the Word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart…” Every night. It’s my ritual – half the time I don’t even know if she’s listening. If Brandon or a babysitter puts her to bed, I slip into her room after she’s asleep and whisper that verse.

I’ve written the verse on her bedroom door.


Tonight as I tucked her in, I quoted the verse to her (not nearly as enthusiastic as I was 1000 days ago).

“Rhema, the Word is near you; it is in your mouth…”

I touched her lips.

“…and in your heart…”

I traced a heart on her chest.

“Har.” She whispered, echoing me. Out of the blue.

I don’t think I was dreaming. Honestly, I was tired. But I don’t think I dreamed it.


The Word is there.  It’s in her heart.

24 thoughts on “In Her Heart

  1. Ohhhh. How beautiful.

    No, you surely weren’t dreaming. That sounds like what gets called an Elvis sighting, over on my blog.

    But what you heard last night was the work of the real King. Yes, and yes. The Word is there.

  2. What a beautiful verse for Rhema.

    I’ve been meaning to ask you this for awhile – how do you pronounce Rhema? Is it “Ray-ma” or “Ree-ma”? I say it one way in my head, but I’ve been known to be wrong. 🙂

  3. Oh, friend. That is beautiful. I don’t know why it is taking so long for the words to come, but God says, his “word wll not return to him empty, but will accomplish what he desires and achieve the purpose for which he sent it.” Is. 55:11. That is what you’re also confessing when you speak that Word over Rhema.

    When you simply speak her name, you are “calling things that are not as though they are.” Rom. 4:17. Just keep planting that word. You will hear her speak, I know it, I pray for it. Rhema has a special purpose for her life. I wish I knew how it was all going to play out, but I do know that God will honor your faithfulness. Don’t give up. Keep that promise close. The seeds you’re planting will produce a harvest of joy…

  4. Beautiful! The Word of the Lord is definitely in her heart! And that is the most important thing, isn’t it?!? You have inspired me to speak a scripture verse to my children upon their bedtimes. What a lovely thing to do for them! We have always prayed with them, but this just seems something so much more. Thanks!

  5. I can’t find sufficient words.

    I keep trying. I keep balking.

    I just don’t have the words.

    I keep coming back to just one.


  6. Oh Jeneil! What a perfect first word! What a beautiful gift. It is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

    I absolutely love how you have a “theme” verse for your children! I am going to have to pray on that!

    HUGS Sweet Sister! I am rejoicing with you!

  7. Sis, the word IS in her heart. She may not always be able to express to you what is in her heart, but it’s there. Just be mindful to see all the Elvis sightings that God has in store for you. Thank you once again for reminding me of God’s blessings, especially those that we all take for granted.

    I love you all!

  8. Pingback: A Blessing on the Door « Autism In a Word

  9. Pingback: The name « Autism In a Word

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