welcome baby ainsleigh juniper / peace + joy / the meaning behind her name

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ainsleigh Juniper

May 3rd, 2017 / 8:56am
7lbs 4 oz / 20.5 inches long

(pronounced ains-lee)

It was last Spring sometime - months before I was pregnant - maybe months before we had even considered adding another little babe to our crew - that I found myself flipping through the Bible at church. Seems like an ordinary place to do that of course - but since we've been going through the book of John verse by verse, my mind sometimes leads me down a wandering path of another part of the Bible instead. This won't surprise the people who know me well - my brain is rather squirrelly by nature and won't stay put on one thing for too long. I often have to explain my "brain trains" to people and how I went from talking about one topic to another so seemingly out of the blue when to me it makes perfect sense why I'd be talking about all the benefits of bike trailers when we had just been talking about how much Aiden loves trains just seconds before. 

There are a few tried and true passages I flip to when my mind begins to wander - for me, flipping to them and reading them slowly and deliberately is like easing onto a comfy couch, covered in your favorite soft blanket with a cup of coffee, curled up nice and warm on a cold winter day. (I am currently writing this post now in the end of April, as I watch a snow storm rage and whip with the blustering wind - remind me why don't we live in Hawaii again?) I soak these familiar passages in - these favorites of mine - because they remind me of who I am - of Whose I am - when I feel uncertain about the world around me. But on this particular day I found myself flipping through the pages of the Bible, looking - for nothing in particular, but looking for something unfamiliar as well. One of my favorite places to land in is Isaiah (Aiden's life verses are in Isaiah 43), so maybe that's why I found myself in the book of Isaiah that day, but honestly I couldn't tell you - I don't remember. That's another thing - along with my squirrelly brain I have a terrible memory unless it has something to do with Aiden and what we were doing and what he was wearing on any particular day. But there I was, steeped into Isaiah 55 - and the words on the page kept jumping out and repeating themselves to me. 

Peace and joy. Peace and joy. 
Peace. and. Joy. 

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace. 

I was completely lost in the presence of my own thoughts - it was like breathing out a deep sigh on that comfy couch on that cold winter day - but here I was, sitting in the green ivy patterned chairs at church - and these words just sat right there with me.

Peace and Joy.

I read through the rest of the passage and deep within my soul I knew it was the perfect set of verses for our next child - the one I wasn't even pregnant with at the time yet - but I also knew deep in my heart that the passage was only going to be meant for our next child if she was a girl. This seemed unlikely. I'll keep it simple and say that Jason comes from one of those families that a news outlet could almost start writing about because up until very recently no one in an entire generation of men on his dad's side of the family had had a daughter. And Jason's family is big - real big. Sixty-some-first-cousins big. So without going back to 7th grade biology, let's just say that while the passage was perfect, and while the feeling of it being for a daughter was nice - I let the idea pass with brevity - knowing that I had always felt like I would be a mom to mostly (if not all) boys. * (*which is fine because I LOVE being a boy mom, but I've always hoped for a girl too!)

But week after week, as the seasons changed from the cool, windy days of Spring to the heat of Summer - the passage kept calling me back its pages.

Peace and joy. Peace and joy. Peace and joy.

I don't know if you're a spiritual person and if you are, I don't know if you've ever had a banner spoken over you, but it's a beautiful thing. The banner over me is Adventure - and I know right now that the wonderful sister in Christ who spoke that banner over me is smiling away reading this, knowing that I'm living out my calling as a wife and a mother and adventuring one day at a time through life. Let it be known that for a long period of my life I had been so bound by fear that the word "adventure" being spoken over me caused me to laugh - out loud - the same way Sarah laughed when God told her she would have a baby in old age - (Genesis 18:9-15). But here I am - a living testament to God's strength coursing through me in the times that I am weak. And now these words - peace and joy - they echo through my soul like the calling out of someone's name in an empty school building. These beautiful words are the banner over my baby's life.

The mountains and hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

On August 29th, 2016, I took an at home pregnancy test and quickly discovered our family would be growing. I took Aiden shopping later that day, and started getting stocked up on little diapers (there was a really good sale going you guys) which is also how Aiden and I surprised Jason with the baby news when he got home from work that evening. (Enter Aiden stage left with pack of newborn diapers and pregnancy test.) The idea returned to me - this baby could be a girl - and I knew the pull to that passage that had left its imprint on my heart for months already could have more meaning than just my mind wandering on Sundays. But still, there was no way to know yet if the baby was a boy or a girl - so I didn't add too much weight to the thought.

In September, shortly after learning about this new pregnancy, Jason went on a hunting trip in Oregon where his brother's family lives. I stayed at home with Aiden for the first week he was gone, and then Aiden and I flew out to be with them in Oregon for a three day weekend before returning back home. Sadly, shortly into our drive back home, I learned that my Grandma wasn't doing so well and she only had a matter of time left. I've written some about this in previous posts, and thankfully we had been able to say our goodbyes to her during our visit to California earlier that Summer. She ended up going home to be with Jesus the following morning. Let me tell you, being 100 miles into a 1,600 mile drive home and dealing with grief is quite something. You can't even distract yourself with much else other than your memories and thinking. Thinking about everything and nothing in particular at all, all at once. 

By the time we got home, I was almost physically aching with the need to see pictures of my grandma from my childhood - to read letters from her. To be surrounded by anything that was of her, to be draped under a cocoon of quilts that she had lovingly put every stitch into. After what felt like hours of frantic searching, I finally found the small box, tucked away high up on a shelf in our closet filled with cards, photos, and memories. At the bottom of the box was a long sheet of paper - typed on a typewriter - dated from Christmas 1982. No, I wasn't even alive at the time, but here it was - a letter sent to all of my grandma's loved ones summing up her year. She talked about her children, her new life as a grandma, of entering new life stages and having the free time to do more of what she enjoys.  At the end of the letter she closed with,

"The most important thing that I have learned is that when one of life's doors is closed to you, there is always another waiting to be opened with even more joy than I had dreamed possible. May your New Year be filled with this peace and joy. Love Marieta" 

There it was. Those two words stared up at me from her letter written over thirty years ago - peace and joy. A hot chill shot through my whole body. The tears began to fall down my cheeks steady and hard. One stray drop landed on the letter - which I quickly but carefully wiped away as I let it bring me back to the present.  On that emotional September day that we walked through our front door - after countless tears had been shed as we traveled across the country - I knew without a doubt in my mind that this baby I had just learned I was having was a girl. I can't explain this incredible sense of just knowing other than to say it was a God thing. It was Gods simple yet profound and comforting message to me that everything was going to be okay - even amidst this new and heavy loss I was experiencing.


In early December we went in for the routine 20 week anatomy ultrasound. On Christmas Day as a sort of a "Christmas gift" for Jason and I, we opened the envelope with the gender results inside:

"Congratulations! It's a girl."


The name Ainsleigh has been one that I have adored for years - before Jason and I were even more than "just friends" I had my heart set on it. Yes, we went through the entire baby name book anyway, but just like I had been set on Aiden's name, her name was a done deal before we started looking. For her middle name I wanted to honor that passage which had repeated itself to me time and time again in a deep and meaningful way - the same way we did with Aiden's middle name and his life verses. I know God has placed these particular passages on my heart for for a reason - both Aiden's and Ainsleigh's. In this way, I believe Ainsleigh's life verses also honors my grandma and her life - the peace beyond comprehending that God gave me throughout my grieving process, and the joy my grandma always carried with her in her heart - and the small part my grandma played in it all, as He moved me like a gentle rocking ocean wave from mourning to rejoicing.

Instead of the thornbush will come up the Juniper.

 - A I N S L E I G H   J U N I P E R -

For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    shall break forth into singing before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will come up the juniper,
    and instead of the briers the myrtle shall grow.
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
    an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.
For as the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth,
making it bud and flourish,
so is My word that goes out from My mouth:
    It will not return to Me empty,
but it shall accomplish what I please
    and it shall prosper in the purpose for which I sent it. 

Isaiah 55:12-13, 10-11


  1. She is beautiful! What size is she wearing? Again I will need your address!

    1. That is so sweet of you, thank you! (: Well, she's my little chunky baby! (: She's already almost growing out of 3 month clothes! So 6 months is what she will be in soon (: I will send you a message with our address (:

  2. This is absolutely precious! I love how you've taken something that could just be so necessary and casual, and intentionally made it a blessing that will follow your children for the rest of their lives. They will rise up and call you blessed! ❤️

    1. Thank you! That is so kind 💛 I take naming babies crazy seriously so the meaning behind their names has always been super intentional and I hope that that will be special to them as they get older and understand the sentiment behind them 💛

  3. Wow, how pretty!! Too much cute and loving baby.

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