Last night was a turning point of sorts. Malaki (18 months old now) has much difficulty falling asleep on his own. Even after his lengthy bed routine, he often just stands up in bed once he’s finished his bottle, wanting to go back out and play. If we leave him to cry, he just screams more and more until he throws up. He may even be vomiting intentionally, since he knows it will bring us back to comfort him. So we’ve been forced to then bring him out to the couch while we watch something or play a video game, where he quickly falls asleep in our arms. This whole process can take up to two or more hours each night. Last night we were tired of him dictating his own sleep behavior, so we resolved to let him scream until he gave up and went to sleep. He threw up within fifteen minutes of the scream fest, so we cleaned that up and put him back in his crib. He continued to scream for thirty more minutes. At that point we decided that it’s just too hard on him, the kid is no good at soothing himself to sleep. So our new plan is to give up on trying to get him to sleep on his own, and just accept that he’s going to be a part of our evening gaming for a while. We’re fine with having him with us, the only problem is it will severely hinder our ability to have friends over after his bedtime, or have a babysitter come over and let us slip out for a few hours. Well, live and learn. We’ll see how it works tonight!
As some of you know, poor dear Malaki was born without a name. We had a girl name picked out, and the boy names narrowed down to a select few. Amanda was concerned about not being prepared with a boy name, but I reassured her that if a son did pop out, the sight of his face would strike us with inspiration, and we would instantly know what his name was destined to be.
…But that didn’t happen. So there we were, confined to our recovery room prison, unable to leave until we bestowed upon this newborn the single most important gift all parents must give their child, the gift that can be a child’s pride or shame for the rest of his life: his name. And boy, was Amanda mad at me.
But enough with the melodramatic narrative. You want to know what Kai’s name means!
The name “Malaki” started as a joke. Malaki MacAllister has such fun consonance, but we thought it too superstar-sounding to be practical. But Amanda really liked the nickname “Kai” (the Hawaiian word for “ocean”) and although we thought Kai by itself would be a little too bland, wanted something that could be shortened to that. We considered Mordecai, even Chimera. But we kept coming back to the name that just rolls off your tongue – Malaki MacAllister.
In the two days following Kai’s birth, while we were still searching for a name, my mother, grandmother, and Amanda all independently suggested the name “Ian.” It wasn’t something I was particularly attached too, but thought it interesting that it kept coming up in conversation. Additionally, my mother suggested the name Jonathan, a name she had considered for me before I was born. Another name that didn’t exactly pop out at me. I wanted something exotic, but also meaningful. My grandpa MacAllister has gathered amazing records about the genealogy and history of his family, and had sent me a huge packet of documents and charts. As baby and mommy were sleeping in the hospital one night, I was going through the Clan MacAlister information when I found the name of one of our ancestors, Eoin Dubh, from which our Gaelic clan title is derived: Mac Iain Duibh. Looking into the name Eoin further, I found that the modern-day pronunciation is “Ian” (“Owen” is also commonly used). I also found that the name is the Gaelic form of “John,” as in St. John, and means “God’s grace.” Having found a name that was beautifully spelled, exotic, significant in our family, pronounced “Ian” and meaning “John” – I knew I had found what I was looking for!
Amanda was happy with “Eoin” as well, but we both quickly agreed that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the boy’s first name – too many potential mispronunciations, one of the worst being Éowyn, the shieldmaiden of Rohan. So we decided to go with Malaki after all. Our spelling of Malaki was still up in the air, however. The traditional spelling, “Malachi,” is also the spelling of the book of the Bible (and the name of the prophet that the book is about). But mispronunciation seems likely with this name as well, and we thought the spelling with a ‘K’ was a bit safer. Also, I found that I just don’t like the letter ‘H,’ so best to get that out of the name altogether. And we even found out that “Malaki” is the Hawaiian spelling of the name Malachi. Our family cruise in the Hawaiian islands this summer was an important experience for us, so we thought that was a nice touch too. And that’s how we arrived at Malaki Eoin MacAllister.
Finally – one last tidbit. Kai’s initials are MEM. I figured I would Google the acronym and search for any hidden meaning there. My findings? Mem is the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and signifies “water.” 13 is Amanda’s lucky number, and I love swimming in the ocean! Coincidence? I’m sure it is.
My sister wrote to me late one night about a difficult discussion she had with someone at college. This person was a former Christian, and he was arguing that there is no way to know that the Bible is truly inspired by God. As this is a topic I’ve struggled with myself, I felt that my response was worth sharing.
I think that’s one of the most challenging (and scariest) aspects of our faith – apologetics. Having faith in God is a personal and intimate thing that we can’t always explain well in words, and exposing that to someone who is critical of it can be very crushing. Also, I don’t think the types of churches we were raised in do a good job of preparing us for that sort of defense.
Different people of faith believe for different reasons, and the reason you believe may not hold any water for the person you’re talking to. For example, some people are more logical, and have faith because there is good evidence that the events of the Bible took place, and that Christianity makes sense as a whole (in terms of the purpose for our lives, among other things). Others believe because of events they’ve experienced or emotions they’ve felt (often times the Spirit working through them).
It sounds like the person you talked to is more interested in the logical side of things. He’s right, there’s no way to know for sure that the Bible is God’s word. But like I said before, there is lots of corroborating evidence to back up the events in the Bible, ESPECIALLY those surrounding Jesus. Also, another point that I find particularly convincing is the fact that pretty much all of Jesus’ early followers were persecuted and executed. None of these guys would have committed their lives to spreading the Gospel if they weren’t totally convicted. And we do know historically that these guys died for the Gospel. Now sure, people die all the time in the name of Islam or other religions, but those people don’t claim to have met God directly; they’re simply convinced by others that they will receive rewards in heaven. But the apostles saw Jesus do amazing things in front of them, THEN died to tell other people about it.
Now personally, all this evidence can be convincing, while still not being life-changing. There has to be a reason for me to care about any God at all, before I ponder what God or religion I believe to be right. Romans 2:14-15 says that all people, even nonbelievers, have the law [a way of living right with God] imprinted on their hearts. This is felt in the conscience, in compassion and love and respect. I really believe that people are made to seek understanding of a higher power and a higher meaning. If we were all just evolutionary biological entities, then how do emotions, love (the feeling, not the response to it), the search for meaning in life – how do these further enable us to perform our biological functions – to survive and reproduce and evolve? The screenwriter who was giving a talk yesterday said that Richard Dawkins, a famous “atheistic evangelist,” once said, “The Universe doesn’t owe you any meaning.” This makes a lot of sense from an atheistic point of view, but if that’s the case, then why does EVERY human being seek to find a meaning? Wouldn’t we have evolved without that supposedly fruitless impulse to search for the answer to life, the universe, and everything?
When Googling that topic I found this page: http://www.asktheatheists.com/questions/636-if-there-isnt-a-god-why-do-i-feel-as-though-life-has-meaning This page makes me very sad. Most of the atheists’ responses end up saying, “I’d rather make my own meaning than have a god tell me what to do.” The things they mention that can be their own meaning, educating people, understand things, inventing things, these are all such small aspects of the greater meaning God gives us – to exist in a meaningful relationship with Him and other people and creation. None of the stuff they mention matters in and of itself. Who cares if you invent something in a godless world? You might get a little respect for a while, then you die, and it doesn’t matter anymore. The reason that this page makes me so sad is that these atheists don’t have convincing reasons for not believing in God – they just have a resistance to obeying a demanding god that doesn’t exist in the first place!
So, I hope this is a little helpful and encouraging. Don’t feel bad if you weren’t able to think of good points during your discussion – I find it very hard to defend myself in a discussion setting without much time to think. If you want to read more of what I think, you could check out my “Why I Believe” page on my blog. It probably duplicates some of the points I discussed here.
So our Olympus waterproof camera got flooded when we were in Hawaii this summer. Well, I sent the camera in for them to check out as soon as we got home. Shortly thereafter, I received back a brand-new camera! I was worried that the leak might have been my fault (oops), but they didn’t ask any questions or anything, just sent me a replacement at no cost. It might have helped my case that I just had the camera serviced and the seals replaced by Olympus a few months prior (they recommend doing that annually). So anyway, Olympus makes me happy!