One of the questions we get a lot is, "Where did you get the name Ayla?" I usually don't have time to tell the full story (and let's face it...not everyone wants to hear a long response to what they thought was a simple question). In short, one of the little Filipino girls from our very first choir was named Ayla. She went by "Sugar," so nobody called her Ayla. I just thought it was a pretty name the first time I heard it, and Sugar was a very sweet (no pun intended) girl!
We had not picked out a name when we started the process last September, and we really weren't in a hurry. We had a few names "in the hat" (one of which was Ayla), but thought we might just wait until we got our referral to see what our little girl's Chinese name was before we settled on one. But, God is SO in the details. He confirmed her name before we ever saw her face. And so, here is the best part of the story that I often don't get to share...
I guess it was about a year ago, give or take. We had been in the adoption process for a few months, and I was thinking about how much I liked the name Ayla. So I decided to see if I could find out what it meant. The meaning of a name is important to me, so as I typed those 4 letters into the Google search bar, I just knew it was going to mean something amazing- like "beauty for ashes," or "spring". I could practically hear the drumroll as the search results came up and I clicked on the first one...and then I saw it...the moment I was waiting for...the name Ayla means..."oak tree". Suddenly the drumroll turned to crashing cymbals (it felt like the scene from "Christmas Vacation" when Clark Griswold plugs in his 25 thousand twinkle lights, but none of them work). Oak tree? Really, that's it? I quickly hit the back button to see if it might mean something better on a different site. Nope. Still oak tree. Oh well, it's still a cute name. We'll just put it back "in the hat".
Now fast forward a few months. We really hadn't given much more thought to a name, but I was painting in the new baby room, which made me think a lot about the little girl whose room it would be. I was thinking about names; trying to come up with something with a special meaning. And then I got to thinking, "there is something about an oak tree in the Bible...or maybe it's just a tree..." Suddenly, it hit me! I knew exactly where it was...I ran to my dresser and pulled out a t-shirt that has part of Isaiah 61 on it. Guess what passage that is? The one that talks about beauty for ashes! I could not believe it! Just look...
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God! To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." Isaiah 61:1-3
No. Way. I was so giddy, I could hardly wait for Steven to get home from work so I could tell him about the sweet moment God and I had! Needless to say, we had a name. I have mentioned before that the adoption process is full of mountains and valleys. That day was definitely one of the mountaintops! What a sweet reminder that God is in control and involved in the details of our lives. God continues to use these mountaintop experiences to sustain us when we go through the valleys. He reminds us that He's faithful. We have a history with Him and can trust that He is there through all of it.
I couldn't have thought up a sweeter meaning for our little girl's name. Of course it has deep meaning because of what God has brought us through, but when I think of Ayla's story, I love the picture it paints. Every single adoption is the result of a previous tragedy that left that child helpless apart from the intervention of someone else. For Ayla, it was being abandoned when she was just three weeks old. For all of us, our sin made us spiritual orphans... helplessly separated from God in our sin. But God intervened when He sent Jesus to pay the price of our adoption into His family. God delights in giving beauty for ashes because it sets the stage for His glory to be displayed. And so our prayer is that God will draw our little "oak tree" to Himself, that she may be "a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."