What's In A Name?

The boy name we chose is Roger Nehemiah. There is a lot of thought and prayer and purpose in this name, and it's deeply meaningful to the two of us, and our families. So, we want to share with everyone the meaning behind the name of our precious little boy (who must have loved his party last night because he's been dancing in mama's tum all morning!!).

First, Roger is a family name. Jason's dad is named Roger Jay, and my dad is named Roger Dale. My dad, with most people, goes by Dale, but that is because his father (my grandfather) went by Roger. His name was actually William Roger, but since his dad was William, he used his middle name. We fell in love with the idea of honoring our family, particularly our dads, by naming our first son Roger.

Another reason to carry on the family name is that we are first generation Christians, meaning that our parents don't identify themselves as being followers of Jesus. We love and treasure our lineage and felt led by God since we first met to be instruments of redemption in our families. We take very seriously the idea of legacy, desiring that we pass onto our children, by God's grace, a deep and transforming love and awe of the great trinitarian God of the universe. We pray daily that each of our children, and now Roger Nehemiah specifically by name as he grows in the womb, will fiercely love Jesus and live and honor Him all the days of their lives and pass that legacy onto their children. Tami regularly prays through our family line to our great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren!  Our hope in Christ is also that the legacy will be retroactive, too, in that our parents, whom we love and respect very much, will meet, know, love, and live for Jesus.

One last piece about Roger is that it means "spear" (well, to be totally truthful, it means "famous spear", but the famous part wasn't why we chose it!) and "renowned spearman". The significance of that will come in after we explain the middle name, which brings us to Nehemiah. Nehemiah is a very, very precious name to us. To explain Nehemiah, we need to share with you a piece of our story.

Within a few months of marriage in 2007, we lived in the suburbs of Seattle and were in a church where we felt like we were floundering. To be sure, we were sinful and we can't blame it solely on the church. However, we both knew there was something more to the Christian life than what we were experiencing, and we craved depth and being all-consumed with the Gospel but we didn't know how to make it happen. We were surrounded by Christian culture, and we kept trying to drink deeply, but found ourselves with a growing thirst that was never sated.

Then, through a string of events, we were told about the preaching of a man named Mark Driscoll, and that he actually was the preaching pastor at a church in Seattle. We were discussing with a couple we were friends with at our church how we had been struggling with what felt like a very shallow Gospel that didn't satisfy our craving for a life-transforming Jesus. The husband said this quote of Pastor Mark's to us:

      "Soft words produce hard people; I preach hard words to produce soft people."

Those 13 words literally changed our life. When another friend two days later mentioned Pastor Mark again, we decided we needed to listen to what the man preached. We went home that Tuesday night, loaded up our iPods, and by Friday we had listened to 30 sermons between the two of us. We told you we were thirsty!

We were wrestling with whether to stay in our current church or to go to Mars Hill Church, where Mark Driscoll preached. That next Sunday, Tami was sick, so we decided to stay home from church and watch the next sermon in the Nehemiah series that Jason had been listening to. We just love how God works: it was a list of names. How many times have you just skipped over the lists of names in the Bible? But Pastor Mark pointed out that this list of names shows God's heart for legacy, that Jesus' desire is that loving and living for Him be passed on from generation to generation.

Through that sermon, God spoke clearly to us. He said, "I care about your legacy. I want you at Mars Hill, under this teaching. This is where your legacy will be forever changed, from living in rebellion against Me to a family line that adores, worships, and is filled with Me." And so we went. Since then, our lives have been completely changed. Jesus isn't just something we do; Jesus is the center of our lives. The Gospel colors everything, and we live increasingly aware of our absolute desperate need of Jesus every second of every day. Tami never would have written these words yesterday about God as Father had we not come to a church where the Gospel was planted deep in our hearts, took root, and has grown continuously.

So, then, Nehemiah is very precious to us. The name means, "comfort of the Lord; comforted by God". In the book of Nehemiah, he is a man who leads the way in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. This signifies the fact that the people of God had not been living faithfully to Him, and during this time there was a great revival of faith and God poured Himself out into His people. Even more beautiful was the point at which the wall was finished, and the Word was read aloud to the people in chapter 8. They repented of their sin, bowed their heads, and worshiped God--all because He gave them Himself. What clear picture of the Gospel, long before Jesus came!

We believe that God is the only one who brings comfort after the damage done by sin. Whether it is the pain we cause when we sin or the pain caused by sin against us, Jesus forgives us, enables us to forgive others, cleanses us, heals us, restores us to a more abundant life. This comes through God's Word, which the Bible regularly refers to as a sword.

We pray that our son, our Roger Nehemiah, would grow into a godly man who is daily comforted by God as he repents of sin and as he cries out to God to comfort him in the pain of sin against him. We pray that, in turn, he would be a bold man who would speak freely of the grace he has received and as a result comfort others with the truth of the Father God who loves them, the Jesus who died for them, and the Spirit who will fill them if they receive the Father's gift of the Son, crucified for their sin.

This, we pray, will come from our son being a man who loves and is totally immersed in God's Word. As we said, Roger means spear and not sword, but there's a great section that speaks about swords and spears together in Nehemiah 4:13& 14 (emphasis and add-ons our own):

So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I [Nehemiah] stationed the people by their clans [Families! Legacy!], with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."

Oh how we love this! Nehemiah is a strong leader, and he leads God's people in worshiping the Lord and fighting the good fight of the faith for their family to be able to keep worshiping Jesus! This is literal fighting, but Ephesians 6 tells us that today our fight is not with weapons fashioned by human hands because it's not against flesh and blood. Instead, the fight is spiritual, against "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places". There is a real enemy, but Jesus fights for those who belong to Him and empowers His own to also fight and see God's kingdom advance!

So, we pray our son would be powerful spear in this fight, a pillar of redemption in our family lineage who follows Jesus, because Jesus leads the fight ahead of Him. We pray our Roger Nehemiah Hagglund would love and live the Gospel, leading his family (including as a protector and defender of his younger siblings, as well as his own wife and children someday!) and others around him to be repentant, humble, worshipers of the living God.

We love our sweet baby boy and are committed to doing the labor (building the wall) of raising him to become the man we pray God would have him be. It started first when we each surrendered to our lives to Christ, continued three years ago when we trusted Jesus and came to Mars Hill, and it persists every day as we rely on the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, lead us to repentance, and live in the hope of the glory of God. Our desire is that we would become less so that He can become infinitely more, because we know He is a good God and we delight in His glory!

We are so excited to meet our little boy, on or around March 3, 2011!

PS: As a fun aside, we are excited for whatever occupation the Lord leads our son to, but Tami really hopes he's a football player and Jason in particular hopes he's a big dude, an offensive lineman ala Michael Oher in The Blind Side. As promised, his first purchased article of clothing is already a little man's Seahawks 12th man jersey!

He'll probably be tall, with his daddy being 6'5" and his uncles on both sides being nearly 6'4", so we'll see what God does with that :)


  1. how beautiful! I love everything the name means to you guys and how both names together kind of complete a little a circle .. . or perhaps more accurately the two names bend together to begin to for a circle but of course that circle will never be complete, it'll just expand into more and more!

  2. Beautiful! So excited for you guys, and so thankful that Roger will have God-seeking, Christ-worshiping parents to train him up and teach him about Jesus. Thanks for sharing the meaning of the name - I love it. I love picking names with meaning and I love when other people do too!

    Only one downside to having a boy: you may find yourself itching to use your girl name, now that you have it picked out! I can't wait until we get to bestow the name-that-would-have-been-Abraham's-if-he-was-a-girl on a little daughter someday.

  3. Darla - :)

    Jamie - I feel you about the girl name! I made a card, similar to the one pictured for Rog, that is so cute and it made me really excited for a girl. I sort of hope our next one is another boy, since we're hoping they're about 18 months apart, and then two girls, but we'll see what the Lord wills :)

    But, yes, I so love our first daughter's name and am excited to share it when we know she's coming into the world!

  4. Tami,
    I so enjoyed hearing your history. Your path in faith is wonderful. Love the names you picked for your baby boy and the story that goes with them. Thank you for sharing.
    God bless, Rose Dahlvang

  5. 18 months apart!?! You are a braver woman than me! Why so close-- so they can be close/playmates or another reason? Of course, mine will be almost four years apart, so I may be insane to be going back into the baby stage!

  6. Well, I'd like to have four biologically and, in my perfect world, would have one in 2012, 2014, and 2016 so I could be done right around when I turn 35. That's the hope :) I also would love for my first two to be close-ish together, though, regardless of whether it works out that way. I kind of hope for another boy next so that then they would be brothers fairly close in age. But, really, I'll be happy with however it all turns out :)