God is Gracious… Hope

I promised all of you that when we met our matching grant (which we did!!) I would tell you the story of our daughter’s new name.  To preface, I believe that God whispers to us the names of our children… if we are listening.  If you give your child absolutely nothing else his whole life, but you give him a name, you can point him to Christ.

If his name is connected to the Lord, then whenever he hears it, it will point him heavenward.  Names are not just meant to sound cute or beautiful, but they have meanings and they tell us stories.  They provide us an intimate connection with those who bear them, evidenced by how excited so many of you are to hear the new name of the little girl you have loved so long!

I never could have guessed what either of our new children’s names would be before we came to adopt them.  Their names were literally given to us at the time God had planned, through His Church and His gracious promptings.  So… with no further delay… we are quite pleased to announce to you the name of our oldest daughter…

Zhanna Hope

Zhanna is pronounced (Zjuh-ah-nuh).  We will call her Hope for short.  Now for her story.  When I first learned what our daughter’s birth name was (months ago actually) I didn’t like it much.  I was pretty certain that we would change it, until we heard her birth family’s story.  (P.S. – Yes we did know what her name would be by the time we wrote that post if you want to have a bit of an “I see what you did there…” moment.)  Knowing that her name was given her by a loving mother and father who lost their dear child, I was much more reluctant to take away the one remaining legacy they had given her – her name.

We also learned while we were here that Hope was indeed baptized, and that we will be able to get confirmation of that.  Taking away a child’s birth name is one thing, but the name they were baptized with?  That is something else entirely.  Knowing she would not need to be baptized once we get her home, and also knowing her family history, sealed it for me.  Her name would stay.

And anyway… we were all very much getting used to the sound of it by this point.  :)  Once I knew that this would always be a part of her identity I did what any mother would do… I looked up the meaning of it!  Well, if I wasn’t convinced before I was now.  Zhanna means “God is gracious.”  It was as if God was speaking directly to my heart, for indeed there is no more perfect, succinct way to describe our girl’s life than with these three words – God is gracious.

With that settled, all we needed was a middle name for her, which came right on time shortly thereafter.  My husband’s lovely, godly, beautiful mother sent us an email the very day we were making the monumental decision on whether or not we could accept sweet Hope’s referral.  Now, before I share with you the delightful ending, let me provide a bit of background story.

JannaMy sweet mother-in-law (and I assure you she was not alone or crazy!) never had peace about adding Hope to our adoption.  We had some very difficult conversations about it, and she prayed for months, but peace about this very needy and delayed child never came for her.  We prayed that she would find peace, and we hoped it would come.

On the eve of our decision, it was certainly not far from our minds that our parents, whom we are called to honor and obey, were not on board with us adopting this girl.  It took our peace about it and made us quite uncertain.  After meeting Juri we were already unsure if we would be able to meet his needs and her needs and the needs of the two children we already have.

As much as we loved this girl we had met, we needed to be sure.  We both felt 100% that she was ours after the visit that day.  But we were not fully at peace.  And then… we checked our email.  Jake’s mom had messaged us and told us that the night before she had been looking at our little girl’s picture for an hour and praying over it.  What she said next brought tears to my eyes and still does: “I found myself thinking, “Lord, you really are The God of Hope and somehow through the lives of these little ones, especially Jana, you are going to be demonstrating just that: “I am The God of HOPE.”

She wondered if we had thought of the name Hope for our girl.  We hadn’t, but it only took us all of ten seconds to agree that it was the perfect name for her.  God has knitted our family’s hearts together, after months of tears and prayer, in His wisdom He has mercifully given us all oneness of mind and spirit.  Not only was this name a reflection of our family’s wrestling with one another and becoming closer and stronger for it, but it is also a perfect reflection of God’s love in Hope’s life and in the life of all mankind.

I titled this post “God is Gracious… Hope” and that is the story I want to tell with our daughter’s name.  Ten years ago I began dreaming of giving a little girl a home who had none.  About the same time, Hope was conceived, and she has spent all this long time alone.  Unbeknownst to either of us, we were both waiting for the culmination of God’s gracious love, waiting separately yet also together.

There were so many delays in my ability to start the adoption process, so many snags, so many days that it seemed it would never come.  When I first saw Hope, there were so many times it seemed impossible that she would come home with us, so many detours and bumps in the road.  Yet through it all I dared to hope.  I dared to pray, to beg God to give me the desire of my heart.  For He has said that He will do this.  God is gracious… and so I dared to hope.

I cannot wait to witness and share with the world the beauty of Hope’s new life, her redemption, her new birth into our family.  And as I do I pray that most of all people would see through her story that God is gracious!  Not so we can hope for things on this Earth, for truly there will be so many who never come to their earthly homes… so many whose hurts will not cease in this life… so many for whom injustice will not be corrected.  And yet even in the midst of these realities… God is gracious, and we still dare to hope.

Our daughter’s story is a miracle unfolding, a beautiful story of redemption in which God has honored me to play a role.  But her amazing story is nothing more than a reflection, a foretaste of the greater and more glorious story being told – God’s redemption for all people, for the entire world.  For He has promised to return, and when He does all the hurts will be healed, all the injustice will be corrected, all death will be turned to life and everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved!  Because we know God is faithful and we know that He is gracious we can dare to have hope in this Truth!

To all mothers who are still waiting to bring their babies home… to the mothers who have lost their children by death or tragedy… to the mothers-at-heart who so desperately want children and have been given none… to all the sick and dying… to the depressed and anxious… to all the poor and downtrodden… to the addicted and lost… to all the broken and afraid… to all who hunger and thirst and yearn for more than what they can have in this life…

May our daughter’s story bring you one precious Truth.  God is gracious… Hope!





  1. pat cox says:

    wow, that story blew me away. Its sounds like and it seems to me you are very much like your mother in law Cindy.she is one precious Christian ladyand I think it wore off on Jake when he was looking for a precious Christian wife!looking forward to seeing a good picture of her someday and keeping up with the whole story.

  2. Roz Timm says:

    What a beautiful blessing you have been given. What special parents you are. May God lead you quickly home.

  3. Beautiful. I, like you, believe so strongly in the power of names! I think you have a great story of how Hope got hers. Here’s a blog on how our daughter got her unusual name, if you want. Hint: it has to do with Reece’s Rainbow….http://www.crystalkupper.net/and-she-will-be/

  4. Thank you so much for blogging your adoption journey! I prayed every day for Janna since I saw her picture on Reece’s Rainbow last year, and one word that always came to mind for her was ‘Hope.’ Reading this, and knowing that is what you have chosen to name her brings tears to my eyes. God is so good! I am so thankful and amazed that Janna is going to be part of a family who loves her completely and will raise her to know and trust God. Continuing to pray for you and your family through the rest of this adoption journey! xoxo

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