I love all five of my children so much. They are the greatest blessings God has given me, along with their dad, who is my husband and best friend. One of my most precious blessings is in heaven now, and I feel the need to tell his story, beginning with why we named him Israel.
Israel was our third-born child. He was our first child to be conceived without waiting. It took us three years to get pregnant with our first, Kimberly. Two years later, it took a year to get pregnant with our second, Joseph. Joe was 9 months old and still nursing when we got pregnant with Israel. Both our first two babies and our last two babies were born two weeks after their due dates, but Izzy was born three weeks after his due date. The year he was born, Easter fell on March 26. He was born at 11:12pm, forty-five minutes before Easter morning. I remember going to the hospital around 4pm after my water broke. My doctor had been away on vacation and was coming back that day. He came in wearing his casual clothes and said that he knew I wanted him to attend my birth, but he didn’t know I wanted it bad enough to go three weeks past my due date! It was not my decision, that’s for sure! Izzy came when he wanted to come, not when I wanted him to come. After a relatively short time of laboring, it took two and a half hours of pushing, changing positions and pushing some more to get him to come out, as he was in the “sunny side up” (posterior) position. I had my first experience with squatting “Indian-style” when birthing him. It’s quite an effective birthing position! He was an absolutely beautiful baby. I know all moms think that, but he really was! I was told many, many times by many, many people that he was beautiful, beginning with my nurses! He was so blond we could hardly see his hair, eye brows and eye lashes. He was our only truly blond child. He was also our smallest boy, not necessarily in height and weight, but in bone structure. He remained our smallest boy, being 2-4 inches shorter than the other two, and weighing less than the other two by about 40-60 pounds after they were all grown. But, what he lacked in size, he made up for in personality! I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let me back up a few weeks before his birth and tell you about the strange happenings that led us to name him Israel.
I loved the name Jacob and wanted to name our firstborn child that, if our firstborn were a boy. For obvious reasons, we did not name Kimberly that. When we were expecting our second child, I felt certain that the baby would be a boy and again thought we would name him Jacob. After discovering that Jacob means “the supplanter”, we decided we couldn’t name our second child that. We also believed the Lord had spoken to our hearts that this baby was to be called Joseph, and we received confirmation of that from Dan’s mom when I was in my seventh month of pregnancy with him. When we became pregnant with our third, again Jacob was in the running for the name for this baby we felt would be another boy, along with the name Isaac. Again, we felt the name Jacob wouldn’t be best for a younger sibling, the meaning making us uncomfortable for the older sibling. So, we more or less settled on the name Isaac for our third child. As the due date approached, I began to feel like we might not have chosen the correct name for this child, but I ignored that feeling and began “practicing” the name Isaac so I would be comfortable calling this child that. Every time I would start to say “Isaac” in my mind, it would come out “Israel” instead. His due date came and passed and I really began to take note of this strange occurrence. Accompanying what seemed to be a mental blunder, I would hear the soft-spoken whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, “When you get the name right the baby will come.” Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction sometimes. This was one of those times!
I mentioned this bizarre happening to Dan and we briefly discussed naming this baby Israel. We were a little uncomfortable with naming him that, as it was such an unusual name for an American baby, and we didn’t want to invite persecution or bullying from his peers as he grew. So, we were undecided about the name, and wondered about the strange promptings from the Holy Spirit. This all began around the time of his due date, three weeks before he was born, and I continued hearing that statement – “when you get the name right the baby will come” – up until the day he was born. It reminds me now of the movie, Field of Dreams – “If you build it, they will come”!
As the days rolled by we continued with our usual daily activities of raising a four year old and an eighteen month old, and prepared for Easter Sunday. I had made Kimberly a cute little pink dress with a white pinafore over it for Easter, and Joseph had a little pair of slacks with a matching vest and tie to wear. My mom was staying with us to help when the baby came, and I made sure she knew what clothes the kids were wearing for Easter Sunday, and where their Easter baskets were hidden, just in case I was still in the hospital on Easter. But, I really didn’t think that would happen. Surely, the baby would come and I would be back home with him by then!
The morning of the twenty-first day past his due date, Dan went to an early morning prayer meeting at church. I slept in while my mom took care of the two little ones. I don’t remember specifically what happened in my heart and mind that morning, but I do remember being certain that we were supposed to name this baby Israel, and feeling a little anxious about telling Dan because I didn’t think he wanted to name him that. Dan was gone an unusually long time and I began to worry a bit, but he finally came home a little before noon. I could tell by the look on his face that something was up, so we went to the bathroom to talk. (If you are a parent and you’ve ever had your mom or mom-in-law stay with you for an extended period of time, you will understand why we went to the bathroom to talk!) Anyway, while at the prayer meeting someone was praying about something and spoke these words from Genesis 35, “God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel.” Oh, my goodness! As Dan began to tell me about this, that strange spiritual thing that occurs sometimes between two believers, the feeling that you are both holding opposite ends of a live wire that is directly connected to your hearts and minds, was happening. And, we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were being told by God Himself to name this baby Israel, which means “wrestling with the Lord / ruling with the Lord”.
After that amazing conversation between Dan and I and the Holy Spirit, we were exhausted and decided to take a nap. It was a good thing Mom was there! We laid down around 1pm, and I woke around 3pm felling a little like I might be having contractions. I wasn’t sure if they were just Braxton-Hicks or the real thing, so I sat at my desk and began doing some paper work for Dan’s business. Very soon after sitting down, my water broke and I knew they were the real thing!
Israel Thomas Adams was born at 11:12pm that day.
We got the name right and the baby came!