Wednesday, May 19, 2010


“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
-William Shakespeare

Although I usually do not disagree with one of the greatest writers in history (because I live with my wife- the English major), this time I will disagree with William. Give me a moment to explain. I want to share with you the amazing story of how Tedi got his name-
Tedros James Henderson.
It is a story that goes back almost 300 years. My father’s family traces its ancestry back to England and immigrated to America well before the Revolutionary War. The Henderson’s are a loyal, strong and proud clan. In many ways, I fit right in with the Hendersons. I, too, am proud of my heritage and fiercely loyal to my family and friends. I am sure I look like most of them though taller and broader than most Henderson men (they rarely topped 5’8’’) with a bit of Irish (temper) mixed in thanks to my mother’s family- the Mulloy’s. Despite all of this, there are certain ways in which I feel detached from this Henderson heritage. These men were all excellent with their hands and could fix anything. I do well to put gas in my car and change a light bulb! I did not serve in the military. Henderson men proudly served their country. In fact, a Henderson male has fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and WWII. The thing that constantly binds me to these men is that name: Henderson. It goes even deeper than our last name. You see, my family has not been creative with its given names. Denise, my sister-in-law, did some researching and discovered that every firstborn Henderson male since at least 1740 has been named either James or William (or in my Dad’s case, both). The last four generations have been named William Franklin, James Thomas, James William, and James Thomas II (me). It makes me feel good that I was chosen to carry on a name that many proud and accomplished men have taken before me.

When Natalie and I received the referral for Tedi, I was a proponent of completely changing his name. I know you are thinking that I must be the biggest idiot in the world for considering this. I could never be described as boring and I looked forward to giving my child an exciting and cool name. I also wanted to change his African name because I did not want him to be “that kid” whose name no teacher can pronounce until December. I mean, he is already going to get some weird looks being dropped off by the weird white guy. Natalie, as she is usually right about these things, was adamant that he should be named Tedros James. My thinking changed when I did an internet search and discovered that Tedros is Amharic (Ethiopia’s primary language) for “Gift from God.” After my heart started beating again, we did not have the name change conversation again!

I am so proud that Tedi will carry on the legacy of the Henderson name. He has received this name in a rather untraditional manner but it makes for a great story. I am sure that James Madison Henderson (born in 1818) did not think that this generation of Henderson would be born in southern Ethiopia with a completely different set of DNA. I hope to teach Tedi that he was chosen to be in our family and that he more than measures up with his birthright. I hope that by choosing this name it will tangibly prove to Tedi that he is loved and always wanted. His name is special and 300 years in the making. Heck, I think I will end up trying to be half the man he already is. He has experienced a lot of sadness, loss, hurt, and abandonment in his three short years on this Earth. Yet he still manages to flash the most beautiful eyes and smile I have ever seen. I’m proud to share my name with this young boy, my son.

And isn’t the story of Tedi’s name an analogy of our relationship with Jesus? Please do not think that I am trying to compare Natalie and I to Jesus. Work with me here. We have all experienced hurt and sadness, yet Jesus still loves us unconditionally. He even invites us to share in His birthright- to be children of God. There is nothing that any of us could ever offer Him, yet He loves us so deeply. Tedi’s name will also be a constant reminder of the immense love that his Heavenly Father has for him.

John 15:16- You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you…”
Doesn't he look like a Henderson!!!!!!

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