Here we are at 32 Weeks:

No big changes to report…but I’ve decided to open up our discussion about names. My husband and I have a long list of boy names we love…most of which come from the Bible, are unique but not weird, and mean something significant both etymologically and because of the biblical character they would be named after. (Josiah, for example, means “Yahweh (the LORD) is my fortress” and was the name of one of the best kings of Judah, see 2 Kings 22). Girl names are much more difficult for us. The criteria that make boy names great just don’t really work for girl names: there aren’t an abundance of great female Bible characters. Many of the female Bible names that do exist have names that have become quite common and already “taken” among our friends and family (Sara(h), Rachel, Deborah, Elizabeth, Hannah, etc.). Or the character is a nasty one you don’t want to name your daughter after: like Athaliah or Jezebel/Isabel. Or they are a bit too unique (like Hadassah..the Hebrew name for Queen Esther) and my husband shoots ’em down right away. We would still really like for our daughters name to have significant meaning–this is a value/tradition that you see throughout the Bible that we really like.

So without further ado, here are our top 10 names (in no particular order):

1. Annabelle Jean

  • Anna is a variation of Hannah which comes from the Hebrew root “hnn” and means grace. b’ is a Hebrew preposition which generally means “in,” “with,” or “by means of” and El is God. So, in Hebrew, Annabelle would mean “Grace in God.” Belle also means beauty in French.
  • You will notice that “Jean” is the middle name paired with most of our names. This is my mom’s name and my middle name, and I really just like it. It can be broken down in Hebrew into two parts: Je is the shortened form of “Yahweh” (Js and Ys are interchangeable when transliterating from Hebrew); As before, an comes from the Hebrew root “hnn” and means grace. So it means “Yahweh (LORD) of Grace.”
  • I like both the nicknames Anna and Belle a lot (but Rodney doesn’t really like Belle, it sounds too Disney Princess for him…I have not reminded him that it is also popular right now because of Twilight).
  • Initials would be AJK, the same as me 🙂

2. Lily/Lilian/Lilyan/Lilyanne Jean

  • Lily means what it says in English: lily. We like that it can (kind of) be found in the Bible, in Matthew 6, when Jesus illustrates that we should not worry or be anxious about anything–because we can see how God takes care of the lilies of the field. Lily seems like such a little girl name, that we were thinking Lilian/Lilyan/Lilyanne would be more appropriate as she grows up…but I’m not really satisfied with any ways to spell it. The an/anne would again come from the Hebrew “hnn” meaning “grace.”
  • If we spelled it Lilyan or Lilyanne, would people pronounce it Lil Yan or Lily Anne or Lilian…is there any other way to spell Lilian with that pronunciation?
  • Again, we would probably use Jean as the middle name: this is my mom’s name, my middle name, and means “LORD of Grace” (see above).
  • Lily seems like it is really popular right now: in the top 10 on some name lists. This isn’t a big deal…but I’d kind of rather not have my daughter have to go by Lily K all her like because there is another kid in her class with the same name.
  • Initials would be LJK.

3. Sydney Mae

  • We didn’t know before Josiah was born whether we were having a boy or a girl. Sydney Mae was the top girl name on our list at that time.
  • This time, we would probably use Jean as the middle name: again, this is my mom’s name, my middle name, and means “LORD of Grace” (see above).
  • Big mark against this name: it means “wide island” in Old English. I can’t really dissect any Hebrew meaning out of it, and my limited knowledge of Greek only gives me “iron, yes” or perhaps “certain as iron” which is really not much better than wide island.
  • We both like the nickname Syd.
  • Initials would be SJK.

4. Jael Jean

  • This name was my dad’s suggestion, kind of fun.
  • Jael was a character in the Bible, and her story is in Judges 4-5. Although she is regarded as a heroine, her story is kind of dark and gory: she stuck a tent stake through a man’s skull while he slept.
  • Definition sites say that Jael means “wild gazelle” or “mountain goat” in Hebrew. However, I think another (better) Hebrew meaning can be identified: Ja is a shortened form of Yahweh (Js and Ys are interchangeable when transliterating from Hebrew) and el is a shortened form of Elohim (God). These are the same word parts found in the name Elijah (God is Yahweh) and so Jael would mean “Yahweh is God.”
  • How would you pronounce this name if you saw it? I pronounce it J-L (with slightly more accent on the L)…is she in danger of being called jail? Although this name is not new or weird for me (I have known a few Jaels in my life) I am not sure everyone is so familiar with it?
  • Again, we would probably use Jean as the middle name: my mom’s name, my middle name, and means “LORD of Grace” (see above).
  • Initials: JJK.

5. Melody Mae

  • Melody means what it means: a song.
  • This is one name that we probably wouldn’t pair with Jean. Melody Mae just sounds pretty together, don’t you think? Our daughter will most likely be born in May, and we could spell it this way to sort of represent that…but we both like the old-fashioned spelling of the name Mae more. The month of May is named for the Roman earth goddess, which isn’t real cool. But the name Mae is sometimes considered a short form of Mary, which we might do better to emphasize?
  • We both like the nickname “Mel”…but it seems kind of tomboyish (doesn’t it?) and may not fit our little girl? “Miss Mel” works, too, though, and is the opposite of tomboyish.
  • Initials: MMK

6. Gabrielle Amber

  • Gabrielle means “heroine of God” in Hebrew (notice the same el word part noted above which means God).
  • This is another name we have paired with a middle name other than Jean. Amber is my sister’s name and Rodney suggested using Gabrielle and/or Annabelle (I didn’t note it above with Annabelle as this would make her intials “aak!”…but it isn’t really off the table there either). Amber is a golden brown gem that comes from a natural tree resin, which is pretty.
  • I have mixed feelings about the nickname Gabby: I have a good friend from college named Gabby (one of my bridesmaids)…as far as I associate the name with her, I really like it…otherwise, I might think it described someone who “gabs” (talks/gossips) a lot. Rodney really likes the nickname…just because.
  • Initials: GAK (Is that really any better than AAK…maybe not?)

7. Naomi Jean

  • Naomi is a Bible character, the mother-in-law of Ruth in the book of Ruth. She appears to be a wise and loving woman, although she is really just a peripheral character in the story of Ruth.
  • Naomi means “pleasant” in Hebrew.
  • Again, we would probably use Jean as the middle name: my mom’s name, my middle name, and means “LORD of Grace” (see above).
  • Perhaps a nickname would be “Mimi.”? I like it.
  • Initials: NJK

8. Selah Mae /Saelah Mae

  • Selah is a musical term found throughout the Psalms. You will see it transliterated (into selah) rather than translated (into an English word) in your English Bibles, because scholars aren’t really sure what it means. At the popular level, it has been suggested that it means “pause” or “reflect”…while it does seem to appear at times where this response is appropriate, this isn’t a musical term and probably isn’t what the word actually meant: however, it may mean “musical interlude” or “coda” or “decrescendo” or something like that which would set the mood for those listening to pause and reflect. At any rate, it is a pretty word found in several significant and meaningful places in the Psalms.
  • This is another name that we probably wouldn’t pair with Jean, as Selah Mae just sounds really pretty together.
  • I don’t really know what a shortened nickname for Selah would be, but I feel like I would probably actually call her Selah Mae (as in use both names) because is has such a cute ring to it.
  • This is another name that may have pronunciation complications: how would YOU pronounce it? SAY-lah is how we say it. Spelling it Saelah may be one way to emphasize the long a sound in the first syllable…and I really like the ae combination…but that isn’t how it is spelled in the Bible, so I am torn.
  • Initials: SMK

9. Rebekah Jean

  • Rebekah is a Bible character, Isaac’s wife and the mother of Jacob and Esau in the book of Genesis. I wrote a blog post on our other blog about her, which you can find here.
  • Rebekah means “to tie” or “to bind” in Hebrew.
  • I have a cousin named Rebekah. But for some reason–unlike Sara(h), Rachel, Deborah, Elizabeth, Hannah, and others that are “taken”–this one keeps coming up when we talk about names. To be fair, I do have a very big family: my dad is one of 16 and my mom one of 5. On my dad’s side alone, I have 40 some cousins, several of whom have their own kids…and a vast majority of us happen to be female. It is not at all ridiculous to think that some names will be “recycled”…but if we name our daughter Rebekah we will be the first to do so.
  • Again, we would probably use Jean as the middle name: my mom’s name, my middle name, and means “LORD of Grace” (see above).
  • Initials: RJK

10. Sophia Jean

  • Sophia is Greek for “wisdom” (think the word “philosophy” which means “love of wisdom”). This is cool because it appears directly in the New Testament (written in Greek) when speaking of wisdom, but also sort of in the Old Testament: in the Old Testament period, wisdom (especially that wisdom which flowed from God) was often thought to be personified as a woman: Lady Wisdom.
  • Again, we would probably use Jean as the middle name: my mom’s name, my middle name, and means “LORD of Grace” (see above).
  • Like Lily, Sophia seems like it is really popular right now: some lists online even put it as THE NUMBER ONE name for girls in the past decade. As I have said before, I’d kind of rather not my daughter have the same name as other friends and classmates throughout her life. (But I can’t really cross it off the list for this reason because we don’t know the names of her classmates…this could happen for any of the names we choose.)
  • Initials: SJK

So there you have it…the top ten names on our list right now. I’d LOVE to know what you think. Are there any bad nicknames or associations we are forgetting/missing? What are your favorites? Any others that you think fit our criteria and we should consider? My goal is to narrow it down to a TOP 5 list in the next couple of weeks.

DISCLAIMER: In the end, of course, the decision will be made between Rodney and I…no hurt feelings if we don’t heed your advice/suggestions, please. She’ll be easy to love no matter what her name is 🙂


  1. Grammy Sammy says:

    I vote for Melodie Jean Keim and call her Mimi. Melody Mae is ok.
    2nd choice: Rebekah Jean and call her Becca.

    OR Amber Jean and call her Penny!!!!!!!!! Hahahahahaha. Then you have all the bases covered! Just kidding.

  2. Kaylee says:

    First and foremost, I am super impressed by the thought that has gone into picking your children’s names! 🙂 I think they are all great, but if I had to pick a top 5 it would be the following:
    – Naomi Jean
    – Gabrielle Amber (or Jean)
    – Sophia Jean (or Mae)
    – Sydney Mae
    – Annabelle Jean

    Hope that helps. 🙂

  3. Abby B says:

    Love: Sydney Mae (It’s a great name, and the meaning won’t be nearly as well know. It’s unusual, so it won’t be common, but everyone who knows anything about geography should have no problems pronouncing it. Just think: Family trip for future! Also adore nickname Syd)

    Love: Melody Mae (Beautiful, describing an aspect of worship to God, love nickname Mel—not tomboyish, since everyone will ask what it’s short for)

    Love: Selah Mae (wow, I’m picking all the Mae’s; love also it’s uniqueness and representation of worship; agree pronunciation could be a little tricky, but that’s the new norm I realized teaching Sunday School)

    Love: Sophia Jean (love the sound, love the meaning, pretty pretty name)

    Like: Annabelle Jean (very nice all the way around, only reason it’s not higher in preference is that it’s not as unusual as the others, oh and Bella is still more common than Belle)

    I love Lily, but don’t really care for any parings: makes me think of Lilith from Cheers, Fraiser—a very uptight, unforgiving, cold woman. Lily, however, is a beautiful, pure flower, something Christ was commenting on.

    Jael: I agree, gonna kinda be hard to pronounce for most people. Definitely a brave woman, bringing down the nation’s enemy. Also, easy nickname: JJ

    Gabrielle, Naomi, Rebekah: all very pretty, but I guess I usually prefer the more unique names.

    Good list to choose from! I hope you enjoy the decision process, and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

  4. Katie Schroeder says:

    Hey Alisha and Rodney,

    How fun! Thanks for sharing with us!

    All great choices- my top picks are Sophia, LillyAnne, and Sydney, though I love Gabrielle and Selah too.

    Keep us posted as your narrow down the list!

  5. Alisha says:

    Thanks to everyone for your comments! It is fun to hear your thoughts! I can’t say it is really making the decision easier though…probably only more difficult.

  6. MOM says:

    I LOVE Grammy Sammy’s suggestion! Amber Jean (call her Penny) WHAT A HOOT!

    I kind of hate to give my favorite – because it is actually one that doesn’t use Jean – so don’t want to be shooting myself in the foot here – but I absolutely love the sound of Saelah Mae. And I would also agree – go with Saelah Mae – no nickname.

  7. Aunt Amber says:

    I love many of these names. I am going to be ecstatic to have a niece with any of the titles given in your list!

    I agree with Mom that Saelah Mae is super cute. I do wonder if you start calling Josiah “Siah” if it will be confusing saying “Siah and Saelah” at the same time…

    Other favorites: Annabelle Amber (or Jean), Rebekah Jean, and Sophia Jean.

  8. Alisha says:

    I decided to post a few comments I have received verbally or through email so they are all in one place as we try to narrow this down…

    -Patty likes Sofia and Annabelle
    -Laquisha likes Selah and Sydney
    -Grammy Sammy also suggested that we consider Mariah Jean as Mariah and Josiah sound cute together.
    -Dad brought up Olinda’s Rebekah and thinks there are lots of good options without repeating a name in the Nabity clan yet.

  9. Darbi Harms says:

    Hi guys,

    You have picked some beautiful names. I must say I’m a bit partial to “Mae” as that is Kaylee’s middle name. I think its a lovely name. My fav of the choices above is “Sydney Mae”.

  10. Natalie Hill says:

    It is so fun to remember brainstorming names back in the Admissions office together! So my vote this time is for either Naomi because that is just a cool name and on top of that i LOVE Mimi! My second choice would be Annabelle because it’s southern and adorable. Can’t wait to hear what y’all choose!

  11. Jane H. says:

    Just wanted to mention that the spelling “Rebecca” is also Biblical, and is an even older Biblical spelling than “Rebekah.” The ancient Latin Vulgate version of the Bible from the 4th Century A.D. was the Bible that was used for centuries. The Latin Vulgate uses the spelling Rebecca exclusively. Centuries later, when the Bible was translated into English in the year 1611, the spelling was changed to Rebekah for the Old Testament, but the spelling Rebecca was retained in the New Testament (see Romans 9:10).

  12. Alisha says:

    Thanks for the great information about the name Rebecca! I suppose rather than “Biblical” I should have said “Hebrew” spelling: much of my Biblical studies have centered around the Hebrew language…and “Rebekah” is the standard was to transliterate the Hebrew name directly from Hebrew to English. As you said, the spelling Rebecca is the result of a few translations: Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English. At any rate, both spellings are beautiful…and you are very correct to say BOTH are Biblical, too 🙂 Thanks for chiming in!

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