Storytelling | Enneagram-ing Your Characters | Intro

Welcome to my little project. This and the posts that follow are 100% my opinion, 100% because I’m a nerd at heart, and 100% because I just wanted to do something creative. The Enneagram has become one of the most fascinating tools in my arsenal of learning to understand people better and the most sophisticated resource I’ve come across. So read ahead accordingly. It’s all just a bit of fun.

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I’ve done a bit of creative writing over the years. It’s so much harder than I thought it’d be because a) I struggle with imagination, b) writing has never been my strong suit, and c) I tend to tackle it logically, clinically, and in a somewhat formulaic manner. Learning the artistry side of writing stretches me (probably a healthy move for a 3w2 to cultivate my 4 wing a bit more). But one thing I think does help me is my ability to craft character profiles. It’s why I think this is worth considering. I think the strongest stories are the ones with characters who are consistent, who lead the story instead of react to it. So without further or do, here’s an intro as to why I think it matters.

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In storytelling, the characters we follow are representations of who we are at our very core. They go on the adventures we could only hope to have. They face the horrors we fear to face, the victories we dream to prevail over, and become the people we wonder if we’ll ever become. What makes a character great is when they suffer in a way that’s closely or distantly familiar to us, when they face loss, experience pain, confront insurmountable obstacles, face demons, confront bullies, or even endure the dispassionate natural disasters or threats i

n the world around us. It’s who they come out as on the other side that’s the big mystery, the big reveal. We hold our breath to wonder if it’s truly possible to weather the storms, to come out on the other side more or less… okay. We are scared of scars, fear trauma, and are fundamentally terrified of the unknown. Stories help us consider the possibilities and give us a chance to ask: in a similar circumstance, would I make it?

Life and death are the most fundamental realities we comprehend. And by taking our characters to the brink of life and death, we explore that basic primal reality and determine how we will live accordingly.

I say all this because stories that touch us deeply have to be at some level relatable (we may not understand what it’s like to be a Hobbit but we can understand the need to come out of comfort and move into bravery) but also believable. While the complexity of the human soul is far too sophisticated to fully catalog, a tool like the Enneagram can help make a character make sense. Not everyone is identical, we know that. We’re not creating robots and merely changing their programming. We’re crafting beings with ideals, personalities, hopes, fears, norms, pain, and at some fundamental level we understand as both writers and readers that any given character has limitations based on their make up.

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Bilbo Baggins was happy, like many of his Hobbit brethren, before being whisked away into his journey “There and Back Again.” A 9 on the Enneagram, his desire was for peace, for stability, and to more or less be left alone to live out the serenity of his nice little life. We’d expect him to get agitated or anxious when that stability was threatened (a disintegrated 6) but we also celebrate when he begins to find his own purpose and start to live into it (an integrated 3). We hope he’d make the move from sloth, laziness, or disengagement toward engagement, purpose, and productivity. That’s a character we understand, even when he acted outside that, he followed the basic philosophies of the Enneagram.

What we would have been confused to see is for him to get sidetracked by all the beautiful elf maidens and forget his quest in a brothel (more of a 7 move, maybe like Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek). Or for him to get depressed and lament “no one understands me” maybe giving up entirely that someone more qualified should probably take on the quest (much like his 4 nephew Frodo). That just isn’t Bilbo Baggins. He’s the optimist, he rallies the troops, supports the angsty Thorin Oakenshield when he loses his mind to entitlement and dark withdrawal. He’s not the character we need if he’s a dominating 8, a skittish 6, or an image-obsessed or vain 3.

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One of the biggest mistakes a storyteller can make is to craft a character that in essence betrays who they are by becoming what the story needs instead of acting as they would according to their personality and make up. Older cinema, for example, is hard to Enneagram because they were often one dimensional, reactionary, and idealist. Their journeys were mostly external. Consider Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I find her Enneagram far more difficult to define than the great supporting cast around her (the Scarecrow 5, the Tin Man 4, the Cowardly Lion 9 (who lived a lot in his disintegrated 6), the Deceitful Wizard 3). Many of these iconic characters acted according to where the story teller wanted to go instead of considering what this character needed, how they’d respond, what they’d do in the face of their fears, and who they’d ultimately become through the course of their journey.

Storytellers don’t have to sacrifice a great plot, give up an innovative concept, or forego a complex world. But they will find a great deal more depth in their finished product by considering who they’ve sent on these journeys by considering the personalities of who their characters are.

This goes for heroes/protagonists, villains, supporting characters, sages, even anti-heroes. Everyone has a motivation. Villains, especially, become far more compelling when they act according to their Enneagram. A villain might actually be “healthy” on their Enneagram but might merely have a conflicting ideal with our protagonist or even a competitive goal. More often than not, though, a villain will be operating out of their sin or disintegration and understanding their motivations, dysfunctions, and general unhealthiness can make them far more compelling, interesting, even sympathetic. Gone are the days when storytelling was compelling as merely good defeating evil. Characters who are relatable, even villains and anti-heroes, are deeper and more engaging. And those are the characters with whom we journey best.

Next post we’ll break down exactly what the Enneagram gives us/tell us and then we’ll start tackling each Enneagram type in more detail.


Homeschooled and LOVING it!

So I’m participating in Kelly Chadwick’s Creative 30 project. Everyday she’s posted a new creative assignment to get our juices flowing and thus far we’ve drawn self-portraits on post-Its (it was actually supposed to be on a napkin but I improvised), found pictures in the clouds, and done photo-stories.

(My drawing (on the right) may or may not have looked like a police-sketch of a serial killer but hey, we’re learning that the worse evil is not to try.)

One of our assignments, however, was about creative, free-flowing writing. The task was to set a timer for 15 minutes and just write until the clock ran out. The prompt was “my favorite thing about elementary school.”

So here’s what I wrote for my assignment. It ends abruptly but that’s because my 15 minutes were up.

Elementary School:

Being homeschooled I guess I didn’t know what I was missing when kids said they went to school. In fact, just yesterday I had a conversation about “bus memories” with a friend. I never rode the bus. I woke up every morning to my dad singing through my bedroom, joyfully opening the blinds to my room letting in painfully bright rays of bubbly sunshine so I could “greet the day”… That didn’t last long… I remember having a “heart to heart” with my dad about this habit (I was literally probably ten years old). My proposal was that if he would let me set my own alarm and wake up on my own that I would absolutely promise to be at “family devotions” on time, alert and ready to participate. My offer was that as soon as I was late, even ONCE, he could resume his barbaric ritual with no complaint from me. Knowing what I know now, I think it devastated and impressed him all at once… In fact, I think he liked greeting me every morning.

Growing up in my house, my mom was borderline fanatical about health and nutrition. We had to take this nutritional supplement called “Barley Green” which was basically dehydrated grass. We’d put two spoonfuls in about 6 ounces of apple juice and Irish car bomb it until it was gone. There were eight of us in the house so my dad would line up the cups biggest to smallest (mine was always number three because it was dad’s, mom’s (even though mom was older…never understood that one)), then me, then on down the line. My cup was always green.

I was always most efficient in the mornings. My goal was to complete all my assignments before lunch…and I often met that goal. My mom is a curriculum master and we tried everything. We even did ATIA curriculum which was basically a sacrifice of praise to the conservative Christian gods. We learned basic Greek, memorized HUGE portions of scripture (I had Matthew 5 and 6 memorized by the time I was 11), and had to read all sorts of books no one’s ever heard of.

I remember standardized testing. That’s what homeschoolers have to do to get credit for passing a grade. A certified teacher can either personally evaluate your progress or you can take the state standard exams (the one thing I did learn about the world “outside” was how to use scantrons…go figure). For most of elementary school we got evaluated by Mrs. Sellers. She drove a massive station wagon you could hear coming a mile away. But she was a nice lady.

When I got to fifth grade and beyond, however, standardized testing was the social event of the season. Central Florida has a ridiculous number of homeschoolers and they’d all come from their “little houses on the prairie” to come to testing. Seriously, homeschoolers are either dropouts or children of the corn. You either wore all black gothic regalia or clothes you handmade yourself for 4-H. Somehow, me and my siblings were somewhere in the middle…basically normal…but not really…because we were still homeschooled. My little extroverted self, however, couldn’t have been happier to do multiple choice tests which I passed consistently with flying colors (except Spelling and Reading Comprehension…those always got me) only to take breaks and experience the most celebrated of all traditional traditions: recess.

Oh. My. Gosh. Did you know that kids play for FUN!? Together?! E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y.?!?

It was seriously my favorite time of year. How sad is that…or precious? I can’t decide which.

My mom liked us being able to explore extracurriculars. We did a wilderness survival class where we built shelters out of dry brush and pine needles. We learned how to survive a plane crash in the ocean by jumping in the pool with all our clothes on and inflating them with air to stay afloat longer. I got to study Greek Mythology one semester which was also when I began my obsession with comic books…(lame…I know…) Apparently ancient Greece had their own nerds because that’s all basic Greek Mythology was… Ancient heroes and villains.

I got to try music. I played recorder (like the nice kinds…that you pay money for). I played piano, learned French Horn (but that was more in middle school). Oh, and going back to ancient Greece, we did a “world fair” one year and each had to research and present a country to the co-op (there were maybe 5 or so families participating). I picked Greece. I’m still not sure what happened, but I basically did no research or preparation at all…so out of character I know. But when it came down to my presentation…I bombed…like the worse bomb ever…like the kind where people on the front row are humiliated for you. Yep. That was a memory I never wanted to bring up again…awesome.


Prophetic Names: For Your Consideration

This has been such an amazing series to walk through with you all.  Meanings are one thing, but prophetic destiny is another.  Your name is more than just a description, it’s a responsibility, it’s an identity and it’s you.

For my last post in this series, I wanted to share with you some names that I haven’t come across from any of you but that I’ve found that I really liked.  It’s funny to hear a name that sounds old or maybe even sounds funny, but woven into its meaning is something so rich!

I wanted to share with you 10 names whose meanings I like and ones whose legacies I find deeply prophetic.

Donald – Don, Donny, Donnie

“one who is the leader of nations” or “world leader”

I find this name personally inspiring because of the calling I believe I have on my own life.  I’m inspired by the idea of having a big enough anointing, a significant enough destiny, and a specific enough purpose to touch not just a person or community but the entire world.



I like the destiny wrapped up in this name.  It presumes wisdom (for how else will you take people through the journey?).  It presumes successful experiences (you must have completed your own journey to effectively take others through theirs).  It’s a name of noble purpose and responsibility.


“he who lives near the cliffs”

Maybe it’s because I’m on a “fear” kick right now, but I’m inspired by this name.  When I was in Ireland a few years ago I got to go to the Cliffs of Donagal.  They were magnificent and dangerous and majestic.  There’s something about cliffs that I find powerfully prophetic.  It’s only when we fling ourselves off the cliff that we discover if God really is trustworthy, if He is who He says He is.  This act of courage and trust changes our lives forever.  May we never venture too far away from the cliffs.

Carlton – Carl

“from the free man’s town”

I immediately thought of Fresh Prince of Bel Aire (don’t act like you didn’t too…) but when I came across this name I was struck by the meaning.  I actually tried to find names that had to do with freedom.  Many names had to do with victory, but not actually freedom.  It’s possible my line of work makes me sensitive to those in need of freedom, but if I were to prophesy a namesake over someone, Carlton (a “free man”) would be an admirable choice.

Teresa – Theresa, Terry, Terri, Teri, Reese, Reesa, Resa


I’ve found and even preached some consolation for ministry which is merely “planting seeds.”  What you’re usually saying is that you didn’t see much fruit but your endeavor still had value.  Planting seeds has its purpose, but the harvest is really what we all look forward to most!  I hope a woman with this namesake would find tremendous purpose in being a “harvester.”

Penelope – Penny, Nel, Nels

“weaver of dreams”

I feel like this name gets used as that name when you’re trying to think of a ridiculous name.  It’s got a funny cadence to it, yet when I saw its meaning, I gained a new level of respect.  I haven’t found a name that reflects this idea of weaving dreams.  It’s such a powerful name and admirable charge.  Our generation has forgotten how to dream.  We’re lazy and unmotivated.  We don’t know what to do or where to go or how to do it when we get there.  This name is a charge to begin dreaming again.

Gabriel – Gabe

“able bodied man” or “hero of God”

Not only is this meaning powerful (“hero of God” … really?!) but there’s also the namesake of an angel wrapped up in this name.  Gabriel was a messenger.  He was entrusted with the word of God.  He’s the one who appeared to Mary encouraging her to have faith and believe that the miraculous, the IMPOSSIBLE was about to happen.

Josiah – Joe, Si

“the Lord burns/the fire of the Lord” or “the Lord heals”

Names that have alternate meanings have actually been fairly common in my research.  However, I’ve tried to pray prophetically into how the meanings might be connected.  Here I see “cauterization” or healing by burning.  You cauterize a wound to stem the blood flow and to seal a breach.  The “fire” here I think can also mean what it did for the Biblical eight year old King in Scripture.  Josiah is one of the only kings in Israel or Judah to make a thunderous statement about righteousness.  The failures of past kings were remedied by this young man of conviction and he was blessed because of it.


“he that bruises or breaks” or “the destroyer”

So maybe there’s a trend here in these last couple names, but I’ll admit I like the power contained within them!  Gideon was a mighty warrior.  You remember the story, he puts the fleece out to get a word from God (I actually see this as doing an injustice to his faith, he wouldn’t trust God’s word to his heart and he put God to the test) and once he receives his confirmation he systematically whittles down his fighting force to the original 300 (take that Hollywood) and wins this unbelievable battle.  Gideon overcame fear, he learned to trust impossible assignments from the Lord and he went out victorious in the face of certain failure.

Issachar – Char, Issa

“reward, recompense”

The meaning of this name is okay, but taking a prophetic look at this name has had me inspired for over a decade.  In 1 Chronicles 12:32 there is a description of men from the tribe of Issachar.  They are described as “men who knew and understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”  Wow…I love this.  I’ve actually prayed this blessing over my own life.  Just like Solomon whose only request of the Lord was wisdom was an entire group of leaders who were wise, savvy and whose counsel was sound and respected.

Just because I don’t want to leave any out, here were a few other names I liked:

Ronald / Reginald – advisor to the king

Case -bringer of peace

Aiden – fiery

Rhys – fiery

Neal/Neil – champion

Riley – valiant

Next week we’ll start something new.  Stay tuned!

Prophetic Names: Inspired

Out of all the blogs I have written, this series has been by far the most inspiring and received the most overwhelming response to any I’ve previously written.  Names are used in the natural to identify us as unique from other human beings, yet they are bestowed upon us, in my opinion, by the wisdom and graciousness of the Lord.

I’ve written many of you about my belief in the descriptive and redemptive qualities of your names.  But I hold a deep conviction that names carry responsibility.  For example, many of you have names referencing royalty or nobility and that’s not just a beautiful reminder of your identity, there’s a charge wrapped up in your namesake.

I wanted to spotlight three of your names that I’ve found rich in meaning and personally inspiring.  Abby, Kayla and Mac are three anointed individuals who have made incredible contributions to our world.  Woven in their namesake is a unique charge that I believe has prophetically impacted each of their lives.

Abigail Mishael Barnett

Abigail is a beautiful name of identity.  I’ve seen variations on the actual meaning but it always comes out something like this: “the Father’s joy.”  I find the broken homes, the fatherless households, the absent parental roles and even the distorted view of our heavenly Father greatly handicapping the progression of our generation toward our destinies.  There’s no mistake, however, the Father feels joy when He considers each and every one of His children.  “Abigail” is an inspiring reminder of our Father’s perspective and of our true identities.

Mishael is both rich in meaning and rich in heritage.  In the book of Daniel, Mishael was the Hebrew name of Meshach (remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?).  It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible as these three men stand up to Nebuchadnezzar and say “the LORD will deliver us from the fiery furnace, but even if He doesn’t we still will not bow and worship your gods.”  It’s one of the most brazen statements made by any character in Scripture.  Talk about faith!  Mishael means “one who is asked for or requested.”  There isn’t space here to do justice to this concept, but deep within each of us is a longing to be accepted and wanted.  “Mishael” reminds us that we are.

Barnett refers to “land cleared by burning.”  I find this picture beautifully redemptive.  Land that is cleared by burning is basically a sacrifice made for a greater good.  You’d clear a plot of land so you could plant crops, build a house, or even to tame the overgrowth and pave the way for new growth and rebirth.  It’s a harsh, barbaric process to the environment, but the outcome can produce life a hundred fold that specifically meets the needs of those who tend it after.

Macgregor Dean Mitchell

Macgregor is a derivative of “Gregory” which means “son of the watchman.”  Many European names in particular find their best heritage in medieval times.  The watchman was a military role.  He would stand at the wall of the castle and look off into the distance.  He’s always the first to spot things because he’s looking.  The watchman is a noble role and is the one to inform us of things to come.

Dean means “from the valley.”  Valleys are places you build cities.  They’re lush and have life.  They’re a stark contrast to your first name because you’d never build a city that needed defending in a valley.  It’s home.  It’s the life you protect.

Mitchell comes from “Michael” which is the only name I’ve ever come across that means a question: “who is like God?”  I hope when you hear your name you hear a question: “who is like God, Mac?”  I hope you scream from the inside “ME!  I AM!” because that’s your namesake and your identity.

Kayla Dawnn House

Kayla is a fascinating name to me.  It means “keeper of the keys.”  In everyday terms, this was probably a job title and the name was meant to describe the person whose responsibility it was to lock up each night.  However, Scripture talks about the keys to the kingdom. When I think of this name prophetically, there’s something so special to having the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  There’s a stewardship of the portals and paths, there’s an understanding (a deep one) of each unique environment that connects people with the Spirit of God (so how people connect to the kingdom) and there’s a responsibility to get people ushered toward the doors There’s an incredible ministry calling wrapped up in this name.

Dawnn means “awakening” (which is one of my favorite concepts).  Both in a personal sense, being “awakened” is critical to each of our personal development.  But the responsibility to wake up a generation is a noble, admirable charge!  We scream from the rooftops to shake people out of apathy and into movement!  It’s time to wake up!

House is a family name meaning “owner of the manor.”  With so many surnames referring to roles within the house (Butler or Cook for example) the owner is a special role, and it’s a role of leadership.  Stewardship is woven deeply within the roots of this whole name and it inspires me!


I write this post because I want to charge each of you to consider names you may pass on to children you may raise.  Choose well for it might change the course of history to do so!

In my next post, which will be my last for now on this series, I have some recommendations for you.  There are some names I’ve come across that I’ve not received requests for that you all should consider.

Prophetic Families: The Hindes

Four years ago Michael Hindes and I sat across a table from one another and sized each other up.  Four years later, I’m proud to call him one of the most significant voices in my life and one of the most inspiring leaders I’ve ever had the privilege to follow.  When I thought about featuring families, I wanted to dive into the Hindes family and see what I would find.  I was originally only going to do Michael and Kathy but their three sons were too good to pass up.


I loved this surname when I looked into it because of the contrast with the family’s first names (especially the men).  Hindes means “one who was a domestic servant.”  With the incredible leadership anointing on this family, their name is a beautiful note of humility.  I’m reminded of Matthew 23:11 that says he who is greatest among you should be the servant of all.  What an incredibly apropos reminder for those called into leadership.  The humility and sobriety wrapped up in this meaning is a challenge to the rest of us.

Michael Roy

Michael is one of my favorite names I’ve researched.  It’s the only name I’ve come across whose meaning is in the form of a question.  Micheal means “who is like God?”  I’m reminded of Isaiah 6 where the Lord asks “whom shall I send?” and Isaiah replies “here am I, send me!”  When hearing the name Michael, you should hear the heartbeat of the question “who is like God?”  and be compelled to answer “ME!  I AM!”  Michael has his own prophetic story of his name.  For years Michael went by the nickname “Mickey.”  To make a long story short, through a process of deliverance and healing, Michael received this word: “‘Mickey’ is a mouse in Orlando, ‘Michael’ is captain of the Lord’s angelic army!”

Roy is interesting and has the basic meaning “red-headed.”  But an alternate definition is “king.”  I think the mantle of leadership is clear here as is the accompanying charge.  What a wonderful balance to have “king” and “servant” wrapped up in the same namesake.

Kathleen Ann Barthel

Kathleen is a variant of the name “Catherine” which means “pure.”  The innocence and holiness that comes with this name is one that Kathy has lived up well.  Those that know Kathy well would agree that there’s a regal quality to her persona and identity.  It’s a reputation all would stand and applaud.

Ann is a fairly common middle name, probably the most popular I’ve researched to date.  The name means “gracious” and “favor.”  It’s not a bad name to be so popular!  If Kathy is anything other than “pure” is that she is “gracious.”  My personal interactions with Kathy are marked by her consistently one-upping herself in her graciousness.  “Favor” isn’t too far from the truth either.

Barthel is Kathy’s maiden name.  It took me a little while but I eventually came across an etymological description.  Barthel means “son of the one who owns many furrows.”  Basically, “one who owns many plots of land.”  There’s a wealth, prosperity and abundance wrapped up in this surname.

Nicholas Barthel

Nicholas is a good name as I have a brother with this name as well.  Nicholas means “victorious” (as do its many variations: Nichole, Nick, Nicolette, etc.).  I believe “victorious” is a wonderfully redemptive meaning.  In Nick’s story, I’ve heard and seen a road traveled of questions, fears, and struggles.  The constant reminder of “victory” and victory that’s already been won is not only a testament to Nick’s character, but to the work of the spirit of God in his life.  Those who have had to fight for victory understand it with a sobriety some of us will never understand.  The charge associated with this name is this: lead others to victory and claim it alongside them.  There’s a clear picture of why Nick has been called to the ministry wrapped up in his name.

Jason Michael

Jason means “healer.”  The work of restoration is a noble endeavor but one that takes time.  Sometimes healing has to be chosen.  Have you ever noticed the relationship between morale and health?  Stress can kill you, joy can save you.  I say this not from a “be happy” standpoint, but for the battle that sometimes wholeness requires.  Jason as a mythological figure is best known for being the leader of the Argonauts.  He was a mighty warrior (and Jason’s middle name “Michael” as reflective of the captain of the angelic army supports this).

Wade Michael

Wade as a word means what you think it means: “to go knee deep through water.”  However, as a first name, Wade means “to cross water.”  Think of the parting of the Red (Reed) Sea or the parting of the Jordan in scripture.  It was a magnificent act of God and books have been written on the process.  Parting the waters, and “crossing” them denotes a journey.  Just like all the names of the Hindes’ sons, there’s a road to walk written within their names.

You can read more about Michael, his ministry and his family at: Michael Hindes’ Blog and The Gathering.

I’m going to begin to land the plane on this series of blogs.  Next week I want to focus on names I’ve found particularly inspiring that you’ve sent me and names I’ve researched that I really like.

This will be the last blog I’ll advertise to accept names into the pool.  I’ve been steadily going through the names you’ve sent me and I’m down to about 40 to go.  Don’t think that I won’t get to it because I’m making good time and it’s no bother to me to add your name to the list!

Leave a comment if you want me to pray into it: full legal name, no commentary.

Prophetic Families: The Helsers

A couple years ago, I had the incredible privilege of starting a journey with people I call friends: Jonathan David and Melissa Helser.  Jonathan and Melissa run a school of worship in North Carolina and are anointed, talented, gifted and passionate worshippers.  If you have never heard their music, you should look up Jonathan David Helser’s material, it’s literally changed my life.

The Helser family inspires me in another way, however.  They understand the idea of prophetic names incredibly well and have proven it through the names they’ve given their children.  I literally laughed out loud as I researched their names because of how appropriate and well given they are.


Let’s start with the Helser surname.  It took me a while to track this down, but I finally found a reference through some alternate spellings for the name “Helser.”  If you read my “Trees” blog, you’ll know I’m particularly intrigued by names that reference nature.  Helser means “from the hazel tree.”  So of course I did some research into the hazel tree.  For you coffee buffs who like “a shot of hazelnut” into your beverage of choice, this is where it comes from.  The hazel tree is beautiful and colorful and produces desirable fruit.  Mythology has played a big role in the hazeltree/hazelnut’s fame.  The hazelnut was believed to bestow incredible wisdom.  In Grimm’s fairy tales, the hazel tree’s branches were protection against snakes.

Jonathan David

Jonathan means “Jehovah has given.”  David means “beloved.”

How can you not see the identity of a man, a worshipper, who has taken a peek behind the curtain and knows himself to be given of “Jehovah” and beloved above all.  It’s a life changing epiphany.   As with many names we’ve researched, there is a charge that can come with names.  I dare you to listen to one of Jonathan and Melissa’s songs and not hear a rhythmic undertone of “you are a gift” and “you are loved.”  Jonathan, you are using your voice to promote important things.  Consider too the beauty of the names together.  Jonathan and David understood relationship in a way rarely seen in scripture.  It wasn’t about romance, it was about intimacy.  Maybe this is a good time to recommend the Helser song “Intimacy.”

Melissa Francine Phillips

Mel, your name literally made me laugh out loud.  It’s so wonderfully appropriate! 

Melissa actually means “bee.”  I can’t tell you how many prophetic analogies I could give on that alone.  Bees propagate life.  They create honey by processing the pieces of life they collect and turn it into something useful, sweet and digestible.  They live in community and protect those important to themselves.  They have a language that requires MOVEMENT and SOUND!  

Francine means “free.”  Can you believe it?!  Out of everything you could have been named, you, the preeminent advocate for freedom (except maybe for Allison Johnston LOL) have a namesake that you’ve cherished and turned into your destiny.

Phillips is your maiden name.  It means “lover of horses.”  Philip of Macedon was the most famous bearer of the name, he was the father of Alexander the great.  Horses are majestic animals.  Some are unbreakable, some are tamable for our practical use some are for our enjoyment, and some are precious to our hearts.  I see this as the ability to see and enjoy a magnificent gift through a prism of perspectives and layers of depth.

Cadence Zion

Ok folks, here’s where we get into some good stuff.  Johnny and Mel have embraced the idea of prophetic names in an extreme sense.  Their firstborn son has some juice on his life for sure.  Cadence means “a rhythm, a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.”  In several dictionaries I researched, a cadence is the rhythm that signals the close of a passage of music.  Cadence is something drummers set in a marching band, the pace which is set that others follow.  Talk about an anointing!

Zion means “a sign” and I loved the poetic etymological breakdown in once place that said: “the world to come.” Zion is used throughout Scripture as the place we all want to be.  Zion is the place where God’s spirit rests; it’s the place of promise and the place we hope for.  Zion is a symbol of days both now and then when the presence of God moves.

Haven Jerusalem

Haven means “a safe refuge.”  I love this name.  It’s a place of retreat but not of forgetfulness.  You don’t escape into a haven, you find it when you need it.  In fact, Scripture often refers to havens as provided of the Lord.  God Himself is a “safe refuge” for us.  I find this name both descriptive and destiny-related.  What a beautiful charge to be a haven for others and to help God’s children find in their Father, a haven unfounded on earth.

Jerusalem means “a place of peace” and by other translations: “vision of peace.”  Jerusalem is the holy promise.  There’s a physical Jerusalem but there’s also a figurative Jerusalem.  Knowing the Helser family as I do, this name is not a longing of better days to come, but an invitation of the spirit and kingdom of God into the present.  It’s a beautiful name and a prophetic charge to us all.

If you want to learn more about the ministry of the Helsers, you can read more about their ministry and worship at A Place for the Heart.

My next post will feature another important family to my heart and the way they are living out their prophetic names.  I know many of you will be interested to hear more about these special people.

If you want me to pray into your name, leave a comment (full legal name, no commentary) and I’ll get back to you.  Be sure to “LIKE” the post if you did!

Prophetic Names: Legacies

I’m super excited for next week’s Prophetic Names.  I have some special families I will be spotlighting who not only understand prophetic names but who are walking in those names in beautiful, inspiring ways!

This week’s second post, however, I wanted to take a look at the names we receive that we inherited, not ones we were given.  Surnames (last names) have not actually been around that long.  They were brought in functionally (from the European side of things) only a few hundred years ago.  Many names were locational in nature (“the family who lived near the meadow”), occupational (“the family who bakes bread”), or sometimes meant nothing more than family line (“son of John”).

Prophetically, however, there are some incredible family names that I’ve prayed into.  We don’t look as often into our family names, yet these might be the most insightful of all.

Caroline Hall Crawford

Crawford has ended up being one of my favorite surnames to research.  The etymology comes from “craw” and “ford” which comes out to “crow’s pass.”  When a reference to a person, it means “one who comes through the crow’s pass.”  Okay, follow me through this.  I did some research on crows.  First, they are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet.  They can make literally thousands of unique noises even copycatting other bird’s calls (they’re voices are deceptive).  Second, birds in scripture have often been seen as representative of demonic activity.  Third, crows in a host of cultural histories have a strong mythological representation (the “Morrigan” was the goddess of death and war and used the crow as her symbol).  Now look at the name’s meaning: “through the crow’s pass.”  This is literally Psalms 23, “even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”  Caroline, this name is so deep.  The prophetic truth wrapped up in this is somewhat sobering: you are the one walking through the path of the crows, which is dark and intense.  But look at the definition: “one who comes through.”  Your name is a prophetic word: you come through it.

I believe that your first and middle names are a beautiful match to this surname.  Your middle name Hall means “of the manor.”  I think that there’s a before and after meaning here.  You come “from the house” but you’ve also returned to it.  Christ said “I go to prepare a place.”

Caroline is a gift of the Lord as you walk through this journey: “song of happiness.

Braedon Edwin Tabor

Tabor was inspiring to me as well.  It took some digging, but I found this etymology: “a military drummer.”  At first, it seems like another simple meaning, but for those of you who know Braedon (and Andi) this is such a beautifully apropos name.  I went and did a little historical research about military drummers (we really only use them ceremonially nowadays).  Drummers had a few different roles: 1) the drum cadences provided a steady marching pace, 2) the rhythms were used to elevate troop morale, 3) in some armies, drums also assisted in combat by keeping cadence for the timing of firing and loading.  Braedon, you’re a drummer.  You and your family are charged with keeping a cadence for the rest of us.  You are there to lift spirits and to keep us fighting in synchronization.

Braedon means “from the wide valley or broad hillside” which I find inspiringly artistic.  I picture people picnicking, rolling down the hill, laughing … just like a painting.  Edwin means “one who is rich in friendships.”  You are an intentional, caring friend and “rich” is the perfect way to describe the relationships you have with those close to you.

Emily Diane Tuttle

Tuttle means “a look out from a hill to spot the approaching enemy.”  I loved this name when I looked into it because of the very specific nature of the family charge.  This meaning paints the picture of a fortress built on a hill (sound familiar?  Matthew 5 “a city on a hill cannot be hidden”) and the role of the “Tuttles” was to look out.  Unlike some meanings that talk more about a linear journey, this name talks about a 360-degree observation.  The position on a hill gives you an excellent vantage point in the distance.  Prophetically, I see this meaning as the role of one who sees danger coming a long way off from the vantage point of seeing the future and the past (360 degrees).  It’s a calling as much as an anointing.

Emily means “industrious” or “hard worker.”  Diane is a derivative of Diana, which means “divine” (a beautiful name of identity).

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Leave your name if you want me to pray into the prophetic richness behind it.

Prophetic Names: Ethnic Backgrounds

Up until now, many of the names I’ve posted are strongly European in origin and ancestry. Honestly, they’re pretty easy to find and research online. Smith, Johnson, Cook, all those simple names that aren’t too obscure (although some of you have me stumped, still looking into a few).

But some names aren’t European. Some of you come from families and places that aren’t European in ancestry and European’s don’t have the edge on strong namesakes. I wanted to dive into some names from other cultures to give you a comparison. These required me to go to some different web sites to say the least, but I’ve found some beautiful, powerful meanings that were inspiring to look into.

Adora Pei Yee Soon

Soon – Pei Yee was born and raised in Malaysia, however her namesake it Chinese in origin. Chinese names begin, unlike European names, with the surname first. It actually makes much more sense organizationally. You identify the family the individual is associated with before you determine which member in the family you refer to. In China, (correct me if I’m wrong), you’d actually be addressed as “Soon Pei Yee” yes? “Soon” has a variety of pinyin (English characters put to Mandarin pronunciations) spellings. When I finally found the etymology, however, “Soon” means “those who don’t yield to power.” Wow. This was one of my absolute favorite findings. This is the name of a revolutionary. For any of you who know Pei Yee, she’s one of the fiercest intercessors I’ve ever met. It’s your legacy and destiny to stand strong and firm. It’s a beautiful, powerful name!

Adora – It’s not uncommon for Malay people to have a European or “Christian” name. Adora means “beloved” in the same way that “David” means “beloved.” Adora comes from the word “adore.” Pei Yee, you are loved and adored by your heavenly Father. When you hear your name, you should be hearing “I love you” direct from the heartbeat of God.

Pei Yee – This name means “upholding friendship” or “loyal.” It’s a strong trait and a highly prized virtue. This can be a description of who you are or can be a reminder of how to prioritize and value your relationships. Be known as a woman who is loyal and “upholds friendships.”

Cinthia Flores

Cinthia – I loved this name! Cinthia is from a family of names that mean “the moon.” As I prayed into this, the word “reflection” came to mind. The moon reflects the light of the sun from a different angle and perspective every single night. It doesn’t generate the light; it reflects it. The moon doesn’t draw attention to itself, it’s only seen because of its willingness to reflect. In a prophetic sense, when you hear your name, you should hear the reminder: “Cindy, reflect ME.” Consider that you’re a mirror. To reflect accurately, you have to know intimately.

Flores – The Spanish word “Flores” means “flowers” in English. What I love most is your full name put together: the moon and the flowers. Both are incredibly beautiful. Flowers are beautiful and draw attention to themselves because they are the conduits of life. Think about bees who come to flowers to collect pollen only to go to other flowers to give it away. Without flowers, we’d need another way to propagate life. I see an incredibly artistic prophetic word here, a colorful, beautiful, expression.

Sara Jane Choe

Sara – I love the name Sara because of its connection to royalty. Sara means “princess” which is not only a position of authority, but it’s a common term of endearment from a father to a daughter. When you hear your name, do you hear “princess”?

Jane – This name means “gracious,” “merciful,” and “gift from God.” There are a host of good solid truths wrapped up in this name. I believe that there’s a reminder here of the character of God. When names like this are given, I believe they’re given as the charge to advocate for this perspective of God. Are you the proclaimer that God is “gracious?” Do you recognize the need for God’s “mercy” and our willingness to accept it? Are you sensitive when people don’t realize that they are a “gift” from the Father?

Choe – This Korean name has a variety of English spellings. It means “governor who oversees the land and mountain.” I can’t tell you how many analogies I got from looking into this. First, the responsibility of leadership. There’s a strong stewardship charge wrapped up in this name. Second, the mountain is an interesting place. You don’t often build a metropolis on the mountain. People come to the mountain to get symbolically closer to God. I believe, especially for you Sara, that there’s a charge to usher people into the places where God is close.

I’m still researching slowly but surely into your names and hope to respond to you if you’ve left a comment. If you want to add your name, just leave a comment (full, legal name, no commentary) and your e-mail!

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Prophetic Names: Trees

Before you read, if you’ve read this series and kept up with it, why not FOLLOW the blog?  (see the left menu)  It’ll be a great way for me to stay in touch with you and keep you updated on new posts here.

I’m loving the themes that come out of this research.  There are some pretty common names and some pretty common meanings, but prophetically two names can have different connotations depending on the individual.  That’s what makes names so beautiful.  They’re uniquely and perfectly: YOU.

I’ve noticed a trend that I wanted to dig a little deeper into.  Some names that I’ve come across have references to trees.  I might do a series on all the names that mean “person who lives near” or “dweller by” because those show up a lot too.  But some names are actually taken from not just trees, but very specific trees.  These are ones you’d notice, that people would study, and that have particularly defining traits.

So I did some research into the botanical descriptors of some of these trees and prayed into what I found and…whoa…it’s some rich stuff.  As we study names, we can’t just take “from the Ash tree” at face value.  There’s some prophetic purpose for that tree.  Let me show you what I mean.

Ashley Nicole Musick

Ashley is somewhat simple: “from the Ash Tree”.  (Thought you’d like to hear that “ash” could also be translated from its etymology as “spear”).  Many names have something to do with locations and strategic landmarks.  The “Ash Tree” was probably a place that people recognized and knew that a certain family or individual lived there. The wood of the Ash tree is both strong and elastic.  People choose to use Ash on purpose for a variety of things.  In fact, they specifically noted in some articles I read that Ash is used to make musical instruments.  It was interesting to hear this comment though: you don’t use Ash wood on outdoor furniture because being left outside will corrode away and rot the wood.  The Ash is used on the inside, for precious things, useful things, in the places where people live and under a rooftop and covering.  You are a woman who thrive under covering, who finds life by being included and valued…and you are.

Lindsey Meghan Heston

Lindsey comes from “the linden tree near the water.”  It’s a beautiful picture and may be just that, but I wanted to look into why the linden tree is important.  The linden has a strong (yet flexible) trunk, heart-shaped leaves, it grows rapidly in rich soil and can grow incredibly old.  Where do I even begin!? Strong, secure foundation, the “heart” and passion are visible and keep reproducing, the environment has a lot to do with its health, and it’s meant for longevity.  The wood of the linden was used in making Viking shields but also for sculptures.  Here’s the part I liked best though: linden is used medicinally against restlessness, headaches and hysteria.  It’s soothing, at its DNA it’s meant to bring peace (it’s the tree “near the water”…kind of like Psalms 23, “He leads me beside quiet waters”).  Quite the charge eh?  There’s a vulnerability to the linden, it’s actually incredibly susceptible to insect attacks but at the same time, makes excellent honey when near beehives.  It’s resilient and makes the best of its weaknesses.  It’s an unabashed, beautiful tree.

Lauren Anne Williamson

Lauren means “from the place of the laurel trees.”  Laurels have been used throughout history in a variety of ways, but some of the most notable include the Greeks and Romans who used them as crowns to victors of various games (like the Olympics).  There are sayings that use “laurel” as way to talk proverbially about patience or a reflection on the past.  The laurel itself however, is a beautiful tree.  Its flowers are pretty but are highly defensive.  The laurel has a protection mechanism in its beauty; the flowers are poisonous.  But get this: the flowers are poisonous so as to prevent inbreeding.  The flowers force the insects and pollen to go out instead of re-pollinating familiar areas or even itself.  It’s healthier when this happens.  The laurel thrives in humid environments, which I found intriguing.  If you’ve ever been in places of high humidity, you can’t help but notice the presence of the water in the air.  Think of this spiritually, are you one who thrives when the spirit is thick?

Robert Ellery Riggs Jr

Ellery was surprisingly easy to find (I’d never heard the name before).  It comes from the “Elder tree” where we get “elderberries” (and for your Harry Potter buffs, the “elder wand”).  I did some research into the elder tree and came out with some interesting notes.  The berries and flowers are used in a variety of ways.  Elderberries are used in jams and syrups.  They’re incredibly sweet and nutritious.  The stalks, however, are poisonous and are used in the manufacture of cyanide.  The stalks protect the plant and the fruit it produces so the plant can produce more fruit.  The fruit is freely given and taken away but the foundation is firm, strong and guarded.  The nutritious and poisonous live side by side.  It takes maturity to know the uses and best management of both.

I’m in the process of trying to reply to all of your comments.  This has been so rewarding, thank you for sharing your names with me.  If you still want to throw your name in for prophetic consideration, just leave a comment (full legal name, no commentary).

“Like” this on your Facebook (see below), I want to make this series available to anyone who’d benefit from some prophetic insight.

Prophetic Names: the Nobility

Continuing on with some research, and having my middle name “Patrick” falling into this category, I wanted to feature some names that stand out for their connection to royalty.  These names mean “of the nobility” in most cases and I believe carry a mantle of leadership, governance and identity.  If you’ve never read The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson it’d be worth your time to pick it up.  It’s a great read on our identity as princes and princesses in the Kingdom.

Allison Leigh Johnston

I think it’s remarkable how accurately your entire name describes who you are and the things that are important to you!

Allison –  Allison has a couple meanings that pop up somewhat interchangeably.  The first is “of the nobility” (hence the inclusion in this post).  If anyone promotes living as royalty, living in abundance and promoting an identity of nobility, it’s Allison.  Another meaning came up, and that was “honesty and truth.”  As the poster child for and the preeminent advocate for “feedback” there’s probably no greater namesake you could wish for.  Notice the beauty of the two meanings walking hand in hand.  The nobility which is rooted in honesty and truth.

Leigh – This was by far the most frequent women’s middle name that came up in the comments from the blog.  As with “Allison”, “Leigh” came up with two definitions.  It literally means “meadow” or “in the meadow” but another meaning that came up in multiple locations was: “healer.”  For those that are interested, check out Allison’s blog at … her tagline is “raising the dead.”  Sounds like “healer” is deeply rooted.  The “meadow” side of things was interesting as well.  A meadow is technically a plot of fertile land near water.  The reason you usually envision cows or horses in a “meadow” is because it’s where the best, most nutritious grass grows.  It’s a place that’s fed, that’s lush, that’s perpetually supplied and provides.  A meadow is not a place of barrenness, it’s a place of life.

Johnston – The “-ton” ending for a lot of names is exactly what it sounds like “town.”  So Johnston is literally “John’s town.”  Clearly the etymology is locational in nature.  I looked one step deeper and did some research into “John” and it means “Yahweh is gracious.”  How awesome to have a piece of God’s name included in yours.  Think about grace today Allison.  Johnston speaks to the grace and graciousness of Abba.  It’s your family name and your legacy.  Yahweh. Is. Gracious.

Amanda Janell King

I wanted an example of nobility shown in a surname.  Having “King” as a last name seems to be as good a place as any.  So let’s look.

Amanda -This blew me away.  Amanda means “worthy of love.”  It’s one of the few names I’ve come across that validates an identity this way.  It’s not about what you do, or what you’re supposed to do or even who you are, it’s about your value.  Your name affirms the way God created you: worthy of love.  As with all names, you can see this as descriptive (something you feel strongly about that seems to characterize you) but it can also be redemptive (it may be the reminder that despite your past or experiences with love, God still feels this way about you: you are worthy of love).  One other perspective though, is that it can be the thing you notice and are called to speak into others.  You may notice the absence of this value in others, the doubt and the question and it may be your charge to remind people: you are worthy of love.

Janell – This is another name that has a God component to it.  Janell is a derivative of “Jane” which means “Jehovah has been gracious, He has shown favor.”  Beautiful isn’t it.  Differentiated with “Allison”, Jane and Janell have more to do with the past.  This is the track record.  Jehovah HAS shown favor.  Your testimony is a gift.  Your story is a tool and a basis for a faith for the future.

King – In doing some research for “King” as a surname, it wasn’t actually defined as a last name for somebody.  It wasn’t “His Royal Highness, John King.”  It actually came as a nickname for someone who played the role of a king in a drama.  It also was used as kind of a “King of the mountain” or one who one the right to be on top, a winner.  Regardless, there’s a nobility about this name and it’s a family name, not just an individual name.  “King” can be descriptive or redemptive, as always, it’s your choice.

Ezekiel Richard Jacobs

This will be an interesting analysis given that little Zeke is not even a year old.  However, I love the strength behind this name.  Way to go Corey and Laura!

Ezekiel – Literally means, “strength of God.”  Look out world, when this little guy walks into his destiny, he does so with a namesake that commands power.  We all have big hopes, but an even stronger faith to believe that this boy will be a man who razes strongholds, obliterates disease and sickness, withstands incredible onslaughts from the enemy and stands firm in the storms.

Richard – You guys remember the story of Robin Hood right?  King Richard was off fighting the crusades when Robin Hood had to care for the people of Nottingham in his absence.  Yet Richard was a hero.  When he returned he set things right and re-took command of his land.  Richard means “strong, powerful ruler.”  I think our little guy is destined for leadership.

Jacobs – Jacobs and “James” share a common root.  You remember the story of Jacob in scripture.  He was the “supplanter”.  If you go back and read my description of my own name “James” you’ll see a more thorough description.  Suffice it to say, we’re taking back the land from the enemy and declaring it (for the entire family) for the kingdom of heaven!

There are several others of you who have names that reflect royalty.

Sara Jane Choe, Sara Marie Hooper Williams, Ryan Nathaniel Doles- Sara means “princess”, Ryan means “little king”

Caitlin Alise Parker, Patricia Margaret McClure, Heidi Marie Tobe -Alise, Patricia and Heidi all mean “of the nobility”

Stephanie Dianne Pridgen (et al), Emily Diane Tuttle – Diane means “divine” and Stephanie means “crowned one”

I’m in the process of trying to respond to all of your requests.  I’ll still pray into the names you submit.  Just leave a comment, full legal name, no commentary and I’ll look into it.

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