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.
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):
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 :)