Friday, January 3, 2014

What's In A Name

I always wanted to give my child a name with meaning. Something that showed them that I took a lot of time and thought into giving them the name they would carry through this life. I didn't want to pick a name that was trendy or classic. I wanted it to be special, not just a name plucked from a baby name book. So Eden, this is the story of how you become Eden, not Brooklyn or Ellie or Jane.... but Eden.

When Mike and I were first married we figured we'd wait about a year or so to have kids. A year came and went and we still felt like we weren't ready. We still needed more time to get to know each other and ourselves on a deeper level. After three years the nagging from friends and family set in. The more people asked when we were going to have kids, the more it made me want to keep waiting. I had people I knew who would tell horror stories about motherhood. How hard nursing was, the sleep deprivation, the late night feedings that led to tears and feelings on inadequacy and a longing for their old life. I decided that I was in no hurry for that. I knew motherhood would come with its challenges, but when my little one was up crying at 3am I wanted to be able to tell myself that this was my choice, no one else's. I wanted to know that I had accomplished the goals I had set for myself before kids. That I had traveled, worked and pursued my education. I wanted to be at peace with saying goodbye to my childless self and fully embrace motherhood. I figured when that time came I would know. After being married four and a half years Mike started to get antsy. He was close to turning 30 and was ready for parenthood. I was close to finishing my masters and wanted to wait till that was done before starting a family. Still Mike felt like it was time, that we had put it off long enough. So I made it a matter of prayer. Trying to decide if Heavenly Father was ok if I wait a few more months. 

It was the first Sunday in March and I had been thinking a lot about having kids. I was getting ready for church and had the Kenneth Cope station playing on pandora radio. A song that I had never payed much attention to before came on, this time it caught my attention. It was called Eden's Garden. As I listened to it I was moved to tears. The song spoke of his daughter they named Eden. How she was born into a world with briars and thorns (sin and corruption,) how she made their home a beautiful place and was the sweetest joy of their life, and most importantly that they knew she didn't belong to them (that her spirit was a child of our Father in Heaven and that she was on loan to them in this life. I felt the spirit very strongly telling me that I had a special spirit that had been waiting patiently to come to our family and that it was time for her to join us. I also felt impressed that her name should be Eden and that she would make OUR home as beautiful as the garden of Eden and she would be the sweetest joy of our life. 

When Mike came in the room I pulled myself together and asked him what he thought of the name Eden for a girl. He said right away that he hated it....

Fast forward a few months and we are days away from finding out the gender of baby Jenson. Although I had prayed for a girl I had only allowed myself to think it was a boy. This way I wouldn't be disappointed. We had thought a little about names for both genders and I had finally convinced Mike that Eden was a good name. He liked that it meant paradise and that our daughter would make our home paradise. He also liked that Michael the arch angle helped Christ create the earth and the garden of Eden and his name was Michael. I was out to eat with my mom, brother and his girlfriend and we were talking about names. They asked why I liked Eden. I started to tell them about the song and my experience when I was completely overwhelmed by the spirit. It was reminding me that I had been given a sweet form of personal revelation back in March and not to forget what I felt. I knew then that I was having a girl and her name would be Eden.

We struggled picking out a middle name up until the day she left the hospital. I liked the middle name McKell because it took part of my name McK( McKnight, my maiden name) and part of Mike's name ell (michaEL.) Mike decided that was better as a first name and not a middle name. His parents had done something similar when naming his sister Kayleen and he wanted to do the same. His sisters don't have middle names so he thought she was fine without one. I had a middle name though and I thought she needed one, but I had no idea what. I still wanted it to have meaning. I always hated my middle name, Irene, so I wanted it to be something she would like. When they brought her down to me from the NICU the day after I had her I thought "Eden Irene" that sounds nice together. It was my middle name and also both my great grandmas middle names as well as my great aunt and cousins. It had meaning and it felt right, like it suited her. So now she was Eden Irene Jenson. So Eden, if you ever decide you don't like your name remember this, it was not a decision made lightly. It was inspired and thought over. It is special and beautiful. You are the sweetest joy of our life and your presence in our home has truly made it paradise. 

(written by Kenneth Cope)
—for Eden—
Born in the fall of ’92
On the evening of a crimson moon
Bringing paradise to all we knew
We named her Eden
It wasn’t long before her soul would wake
Nature blooming in her face
We cleared for her a garden place
And called it Eden
All for Eden
So we plant and tend
And watch her changing
Waiting on the Vine
Never trifling with the giving of our time
Then the Master of the harvest
Turns our watering into wine
Sweetest joy of our lives
Eden’s garden
Halos ’round her chestnut hair
And midnight eyes that take us there
We wonder how we ever fared
To care for Eden
Born in a land of briers and thorns
Torn by hate and drowned in war
We would feel the earth bow down and mourn
And cry for Eden
She cries for Eden
So we plant and tend
And watch her changing
Waiting on the Vine
Never trifling with the giving of our time
Then the Master of the harvest
Turns our watering into wine
Sweetest joy of our lives
Eden’s garden
An angel has come to stay with us
Play with us
Pray with us
A little child shall lead them
And though we know she won’t belong to us
She’s here to teach her song to us
Our eyes on Eden
We look to Eden
We live for Eden

Here is what Kenneth Cope had to say about this song. I think it is very moving and a lot of it Echos my own feelings. 

"Eden’s Garden is about my first-born. My wife and I had been living in the Los Angeles area for several years and had seen floods, fires, the L.A. riots, crime, drive by shootings, and more fires. Eden was born in this environment (pollution in the sky—“on the evening of a crimson moon”—also foreshadowing another moon that would be turned to blood—just before the Savior’s return) and we wanted to protect her from all of the evil. Soon after, came the Northridge earthquake, who’s epicenter (I had been told) was about 15 miles from our home…“We would feel the earth bow down and mourn, and cry for Eden” (not just sad that Eden and other children had to live “in a land of [spiritual] briers and thorns” but also in another way, crying for—longing for—that old land of Eden where God the Father and Jesus the Son had walked with Adam and Eve in the garden). But, as badly as we wanted to protect our little Eden, we realized that we could only do what we could do.

Soon we felt impressed to move to Salt Lake City, where we bought our first home. We have an apple tree in our back yard. It gives us delicious apples. But all we do is water it. We prune it a little every year, but to make the apples grow, we just water it. Meanwhile, “the Master of the harvest turns our watering into wine”, the sweet, delicious fruit. And so it is with our parenting. We can plant the seeds of faith and testimony, tend to the growing plant with care, keeping it from the scorching sun, weeding around it so it isn’t robbed of it’s needed nutrients, and watch as it grows and grows…“never trifling with the giving of our time”—that’s the most important thing we can give our children—time! But, after all we can do, it’s really the Savior, that blesses our little ones with testimony and faith and all the good things that will lead them back into His Kingdom. We must do our work, and we must let the Savior do His. “Sweetest joy of our lives!”

There’s a line in the song that says, “And though we know she won’t belong to us…” Now, this might bother some, but the truth is, she belongs to God. We provided her with a physical body but the real her—the spirit that animates that body—is God’s daughter, made in His image. He fathered her. Yes, we will love her as a daughter and friend all of our lives, with the best love that’s in us, willing to do anything for her, even die for her; but we must not forget who she really is and from whence she has really come."


  1. What a great thing to document, Kristen! I love her name and what a great story. I'm so glad she has made your home such a wonderful place.

  2. I love this. I thought I commented earlier but I guess it didn't take. Such a sweet story, she'll love it forever.