What’s in a Name?

I guess it’s a good thing I never had any kids. I have a really hard time coming up with names for anything. I don’t know how I would have chosen names for my own kids. And then I’m pretty sure I would have had second thoughts that I’d chosen the right names as the kids grew up.

Danny Marrian Kittens
My brother, Danny, and me with a few of our barn cats, quite a few years ago.

I named plenty of puppies and kittens when I was a kid, but as I got older, giving something a name gradually got harder. One of my biggest challenges was coming up with a name for my business consulting practice when I set up my first business in Chicago. I eventually settled on Korth Associates, Inc., although I was never happy with the name and kept trying to think of better names to change it to. When I moved to Wisconsin, I closed down the business, so I never did give it a new name.

In 1998 when Mim and I were trying to think up a name for our bed and breakfast, one of our Minneapolis friends suggested the name, “Country Comforts.” We liked that name, and have kept it, even though the business has changed from “Country Comforts Bed and Breakfast” to “Country Comforts Assisted Living.”

WW SignFive years ago when we were thinking up a name for our retreat center, one of our Chicago friends suggested that we incorporate the word “wind” to suggest the movement of the Holy Spirit. I wanted to include the word “retreat” to emphasize that we were a retreat center, but I didn’t like the word “center” – which implies something bigger and somewhat impersonal. After trying out dozens of word combinations, my piano tuner helped me settle on “Whispering Winds Retreat Haven.”

Naming my books has been a little easier than naming our businesses. My hospitality book that will become available in the next month or two has the name, Come, Lord Jesus, Be Our Guest: Adventures in Hospitality. This title makes me smile because it reminds me of the table prayer I learned in kindergarten and still say at mealtime. Something I didn’t know when I first learned the prayer is that the prayer is really about being hospitable – about welcoming Jesus to join me – and that includes anyone Jesus sends my way.

My other book, the one that’s already published, was a little harder to name. The book is a compilation of 52 blog posts I’ve written over the last couple years. As I was trying to select which posts to include and how to arrange them, it occurred to me that most of the blog posts are about listening for messages God may be trying to send me through the everyday experiences of my life. With that insight, the title formed itself rather quickly, Listening for God: 52 Reflections on Everyday Life.

I’m in the process of writing a short companion booklet to go along with the Listening for God book. I decided to write the little booklet to give away with the book to make it easy for small groups to discuss the book. The booklet could also be used individually by anyone who wants some guidance in listening for God’s messages to them in their own life experiences.

Listening GuideThe creation of this booklet led to another naming opportunity. I first called it a “Discussion Guide” but I didn’t really like that because it didn’t include the possibility of it being used for individual study. Then I called it “Study Guide” but I didn’t like that either because it sounded too academic. Then I tried “Companion Guide” but those two words are kind of redundant. Then I came up with “Listening Guide.” That’s what I’m leaning toward using. It is the most descriptive of what the booklet is about – a guide to help readers learn to listen for God’s messages. I expect to finish writing the booklet this week, which means I’ll need to settle on the title by the end of the week.

If you would like to receive this free booklet, Listening for God – A Listening Guide (or whatever its title ends up being) send me an email (MarianKorth@gmail.com) with your physical mailing address, and I’ll drop one in the mail for you. Or, you can go to my author website (www.MarianKorth.com) and request it there. (Note: I’m still testing the new request form I added to my website. If it doesn’t seem to work, please email or call me. Thanks.)

Thinking so hard about naming things brought this quote to mind, “Our creator is the same and never changes despite the names given Him by people here and in all parts of the world. Even if we gave Him no name at all, He would still be there, within us, waiting to give us good on this earth.” (George Washington Carver)

I’m thankful God doesn’t judge me based on my naming ability! God loves me “Just as I am,” regardless of what name I use when I say, “Hey, God, ….”

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