My name


Anonymous – [uh-non-uh-muhs] – adjective
1. without any name acknowledged
2. of unknown name, whose name is withheld


The teachers at Rhema’s after-school therapy center have some new plans for Rhema. One of the goals is to teach her to identify and name her family members. Her teacher asked me to bring in pictures of each of us that could be added to her PECS book. They plan to start off by teaching her to point to the picture of a family member when prompted. Eventually she will be prompted to verbally identify each family member.

I was so excited! I was thrilled by the thought of Rhema learning to identify us by name.

At home, I rushed around with a sense of urgency trying to find 3 separate photos – one of Brandon, one of me, one of Hope. I never print photos anymore. They’re all on my computer. But I did manage to find decent pictures of Brandon and Hope that we could laminate and put in Rhema’s PECS book. However, I could not find one of me…

And then, KAPOW!

It hit me like a ton of bricks. My almost-6-year old has to be taught our names, taught who we are. Sure she knows us. But she fails to acknowledge us; she does not address us or call us by name. Memories filled my head of a therapist asking repeatedly, “Rhema, where’s Mommy?” And my daughter unable to understand the question or even respond with a glance in my direction.

I try very hard not to let these things get to me. As JoyMama so wonderfully wrote, I choose to focus on her strengths and gains – she is growing, laughing, running, playing and even speaking words. She is happy and she knows she is loved. But some days, out of no where, the reality of her current development knocks me off my feet.

I went to the bathroom to wash my face. Looking in the mirror I saw a tired woman who needs to dye away the gray, go shopping, and lose 10 pounds (at least). I’m a mess, I thought. And someone has to teach my little girl my name through a darn picture!

My name, my name…

God, really? After all the mothering I’ve done, all that we have been through, it comes down to this? She has to be trained and coached and prompted to name me???

I feel so…. anonymous.

I realized that the chorus to a beautiful old hymn was floating through my head:
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.

Later I looked up the Bible passage (Isaiah 54:16) on which the hymn is based. A lamenting Zion complains, ‘The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me.’  But God says, I could never forget you! “Behold, I have graven thee on the palm of my hands.”  Another version says, “How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?”

A commentary I read stated that it was common practice among the Jews at that time to make marks on their hands or arms by punctures on the skin, with some sort of sign or representation of the city or temple, to show their affection and zeal for it.


This morning I wrote my name on Rhema’s hand before sending her off to school. And I wrote her name on mine. But it didn’t come close to the image of God engraving us on his hands.

Peter Wade writes, “We are not chalked on God’s hands, nor painted on; we are graven. If we were chalked or painted on His hands, He could wash His hands of us. If we are graven on His hands, however, as a sculptor engraves a name in granite, then we are literally on His hands forever.”

What amazing, illimitable love.

Rhema knows my name. And her father’s name and sister’s name. Of course, she knows. But I’m slowly realizing that my worth is not in the name – what I am called or even if I’m called at all. Mess that I am, God knows and remembers me. Therein rests my value.

“I have graven thee… The name is there, but that is not all: “I have graven thee.” See the fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there.” – Charles Spurgeon


Note: Last week Elaine felt the need to send a book to me, and I received it in the mail yesterday. No joke. It’s called Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole.

31 thoughts on “My name

  1. Rhema is being taught to communicate your names and to classify you all as family. She may not know that the word to represent you is mommy, but she knows the way you make her feel, the warmth and comfort and security you offer. How you are always there waiting for her. That she will know forever.

  2. so God decided to make rhema a little different… a little atypical. that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know your name or who her mommy is. of course she does. i know i don’t understand how you feel, but i have no doubt that you, brandon, and hope mean the world to her. sometimes it would probably be better if we would all shut our mouths a little more… also just had this thought… was reading about tongues in 1 cor this morning… God can understand every language of the world, of course. but He also gave us a special language to communicate with Him that even we don’t necessarily understand. hm… a little atypical.

  3. What a precious post, Jeneil. I love that you “engraved” Rhema’s palms with your name … and yours with hers.

    As I read, my heart was drawn to the chorus of the song, “He Knows My Name”: “He knows my name; He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls, and He hears me when I call.”


    “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’ ” (Exodus 33:17)

    “Those who know Your Name will trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10)

    “Give thanks to the LORD, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done.” (Psalm 105:1)

    “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of His hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in His cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and the name of His Son? Tell me if you know!” (Proverbs 30:4)

    ” ‘I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.’ ” (Isaiah 45:3)

    ” ‘I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to My Name. You did not renounce your faith in Me …’ ” (Revelation 2:13)

    “… ‘To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.’ ” (Revelation 2:17)

    ” ‘I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My Word and have not denied My Name.’ ” (Revelation 3:8)


    PS-I love that Elaine was led to send you Anonymous. How cool is the Lord?! 😀

  4. Beautiful, Jeneil. I am so thankful for how the Lord lifts our eyes from our present and difficult circumstances and graces us with fresh vision of who He is and who we are in light of that. He so often does this right in the midst of the toughest moments. Thank you for faithfully and beautifully sharing your stories with us. And for reminding me today where my value rests, too.

  5. Jeneil,
    You never fail to give food for thought! How I miss the days of those concrete object lessons making scripture come alive to our kids. Have you read The Kissing Hand, a picture book?

    • I had never heard of The Kissing Hand before. Since you and Pixie both mentioned it, I’ll have to get it. Although I see it’s about raccoons, and Hope and I are mad at the raccoon who keeps getting in our garbage can!

  6. Lovely, lovely post. I immediately thought of the Kissing Hand, I just saw it in the scholastic book order last night and it was on the list the Roc’s teacher recommended. The Roc loves that book.

    For a long time the Roc didn’t call my name. He was over 4 before he said it, though he knew who I was. It was the sweetest word when it finally came out. I hope that happens for you soon.

    ps: I’ve got a little blog award for you over at my blog!

  7. Chalk up another reader who thought of The Kissing Hand!

    What a lovely lesson to share with us. Thank you so much. (And for the shout-out.)

    Personally, I’m trying to work on embracing even the gray-hair thing! Like so many other parts of my life, some days it’s easier than others.

  8. I get goosebumps sometimes when I read how God speaks to you. Thank you for sharing it. It is so encouraging.

    The Kissing Hand is wonderful. My fearless daughter suddenly became afraid when she started kindergarten. We read The Kissing Hand almost every night and kissed each other’s palms every morning before she got out of the car. I think it helped her. I know it helped me.

  9. You think you’re a mess? I wrote the book. What song of joy illuminates my heart this night, knowing that I cannot be wash from my Savior’s hands. I am engraved there, alongside you, which means those are some mighty big hands for some might big messes.


  10. What a powerful post.

    I have had to do the exact same thing with sweet Jack … the picture thing, that is. And you’re right .. the weirdest most random things knock me down sometimes.

    You are not alone. After reading this, I am comforted to know I’m not either.

  11. I, too, remember what it was like when Nigel could not call me by name. How I ached to hear a simple “mom” from him! But, as you said, “my worth is not in the name.” Just keep reminding yourself that! We would all do well to keep that in mind. And that was such a wonderful, visual thing to do on your hands. Beautiful! I just love it.

  12. I love the visual of this post. I read it yesterday, and still keep seeing the image of your hands.

    I think our girls see and know us in ways we can’t understand. Names are so significant to us. They seem irrelevant to Grayson. She uses mine, very seemingly out of obligation, but if she’s not focused she’ll say to me, “Good night Daddy”, and the boys names are interchangeable to her most of the time. But I know she knows us and feels us, just in her 6th sense kind of way.

    So I think you are right on and you said it so well, as it pertains to our girls and to our God –

    “my worth is not in the name – what I am called or even if I’m called at all.”

    Love you.

  13. For sure, she knows you… She knows your face and the things you do for her and she knows your love and she knows you are her mama, even if she doesn’t have the words for it. What are words, really, anyway?

  14. This is great. I know a mom and dad who actually got the hebrew letters of their daughters’ names tatooed on their wrists. To always remind them to pray for them. What a beautiful image of our Father–and the permanence of our mark on him.

    I love these words you’ve shared. Praying for you guys!

  15. Pingback: Say my name, say my name « Autism In a Word

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