Is my child prophetic?

In the thirty-fifth week of her pregnancy, my wife had some complications. She was ordered to bed for the rest of the pregnancy, and obviously we were worried. I prepared to give a blessing with fasting, seclusion and prayer. The resulting was an outpouring of spiritual gifts that left us all breathless. It gave my wife a tremendous boost of hope and faith.

Just after this, as we all stood around the bed blinking, one of my two year old sons said, very clearly, ‘The baby is a girl. Her name is Emma.’

OK. So on one hand, we had asked the boys to speculate on the sex of the baby repeatedly, as a sort of parlor game. And he had certainly understood that we were talking about and praying about the baby.

On the other hand, something miraculous had just happened. After beginning the blessing in English, I just started doing it in Finnish, well beyond my actual language abilities. I was aware of what I was saying, but the vocabulary just slipped in…kind of like when I sing a hymn in Finnish and I know the lyrics in English and I’m just sounding out the Finnish words. I am a rational person who tends to dismiss miracles, but this was something very real. So that’s the context.

Also, we couldn’t figure out where he’d heard the name Emma. It is a common Finnish name, but we can’t think of anyone he’s ever met named Emma, or anyone on TV or in a book.

But back to the first hand: why would God care what we named our kid? It is true that we struggle to find names that will work in both English and Finnish, and so maybe it was a revelation to help us solve that problem? My wife developed a hell of a theory that our daughter would play a pivotal role in the second coming and she is named in scripture not yet revealed. Not bad. (Remember, she spent five weeks in bed.)
The baby is a boy. We call him Edward. I have to say I’m relieved. I don’t think I could have lived with a kid for the next 16 years with the suspicion that he has a direct line to God.


  1. Nick Literski says:

    Do you really wonder where a two year old child who attends the LDS church might hear of the name, “Emma?”

  2. I think the Lord absolutely cares what you name your children. It’s obviously got to fit the GA name mold: Edward Norbertson or Edward Norbertson. And the has to be respectful and nondescript. No “X Edward Norbertson” for you…

  3. It seems names are important.

  4. prophet is to false prophet
    prophetic is to ??

  5. Wow, my comment in #2 got hashed by HTML (it’s been a long day). Here’s what I intended to say:

    I think the Lord absolutely cares what you name your children. It’s obviously got to fit the GA name mold: Edward *Initial* Norbertson or *Initial* Edward Norbertson. And the initial has to be respectful and nondescript. No “X Edward Norbertson” for you…

  6. When I was pregnant with our third, my husband was sure it was a girl. He was right with the genders on the previous two. Then one afternoon he took a nap and had a dream that his dead grandfather told him we’d have a boy, and we were to name him Elijah. The dream was very specific about both spelling and pronounciation.

    A few weeks later we had an ultrasound—it was a boy. We didn’t give Elijah a middle name. It’s odd, having someone else name your kid. (Someone who isn’t alive.)

    Funny thing was, before the dream, if it was a boy, we’d planned on naming him after my husband’s grandpa.

    There’s another similar story in my husband’s family, but it’s not mine to tell. Except I will say this—it was his grandma this time, and she wanted the baby named after herself.

  7. I know that #2 named herself. Her name is very unusual and it clearly impressed itself to my mind and my husbands at the same time and I just knew it was hers and I had no right to change it.

    she did turn out to be a girl, we followed through, and knowing her now, I know more surely that she would do such a thing. Her willful self-determination is unmatched :)

  8. Me, too, Chrissy, Sarah was Sarah before she was born. Everybody said she’d be a boy, but I felt her spirit often for a couple of years before she was born and I knew she was a girl and I would name her Sarah. It’s not unusual, but it was her name.

    Maybe there’s an Emma coming to you, Norbert, or maybe somebody in your ward had a girl named Emma?

  9. Emma is a really popular baby name right now, at least in the U.S. My best friend’s nephew did something very similar–referred to the baby in the womb as Emma before his parents knew the sex. And lo and behold, my friend now has a little niece named Emma. Maybe there is supposed to be an army of Emmas who do something special in the events leading up to the 2nd Coming. “We are like an army of Emmas, we have been named in the womb…” (sing to “Armies of Helaman”). All joking aside, I’m not trying to say that your son didn’t have some sort of spiritual prompting to say that.

  10. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    But back to the first hand: why would God care what we named our kid?

    I seem to recall in the stories of John the Baptist and Jesus that the names were spelled out from the beginning. Granted, they had pretty specific missions, but it’s still a precedent. Or maybe it’s not so much that God cares what you name the baby but that the spirit coming into your family already knows what name they want.

    Dang that’d be handy. *lol*

  11. Nick Literski says:

    Or maybe, just maybe, he heard of Emma SMITH at church?

  12. All bet you have a Emma in your future. These little souls are so close to the Lord.

    A few years before we adopted my older daughter who was 3-4 years old came into our room in the middle of the night with mad hot tears running down her face. She woke me up first. The conversation went like this: “Mama where is my sister? Go get my sister!”

    “Honey, Mama’s baby making machine is old and tired and I can’t have anymore babies.”

    “My sister is not a baby, She is a big girl like me!”

    “Go wake your Dad and complain to him.”

    Fast forward six years. HongMei joins our family three years old, a spit fire and all Benson albiet Chinese style.

  13. Nah, Nick. That’s too easy.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    My first thought was Jane Austen, but it’s doubtful a two-year old would pick it up from that. Anyway, I really enjoyed this one, even if I was rooting for a little Emma.

  15. The Elusive Creature doesn’t understand the following sentence:

    “I don’t think I could have lived with a kid for the next 16 years with the suspicion that he has a direct line to God.”

    You mean you wouldn’t want to have to discipline a prophet in his teens?

    Second thought: If your child goes to primary in Church, he has surely heard the name Emma.

    So if your next baby is a girl, are you going to name her Emma?

  16. Wow. So many great naming stories. I was the skeptic in this story, and ‘ll share these with my wife. (Although if I mention the words ‘next child’ at this point, I might get a dirty nappy thrown at me.)

    Nick: Good theory, but my sons are two. It’s unlikely they learned about Emma Smith in nursery, and the only listening they do in sac mtg is for the amens, so they can shout in response. They can name two religious figures, Jesus (who likes lambs, has something to do with sunbeams and has a beard like daddy) and Noah.

  17. With our daughter (first kid) we had a name picked out early on. It has always felt right for her. Interestingly we had a different middle name picked out. Then when I was about five months pregnant we both felt a strong urge to change the middle name to something else. No idea why yet. May or may not have been a spiritual prompting. I have in-laws who are Hawaiian and take naming very seriously. Their children all have long names that are very meaningful such as “the mountain that stands tall in storms”. I think that’s cool.

  18. Interesting thread. We’re expecting a son around the New Year and have been trying to come up with his full name. The first name we’re set on, even though it’s unusual and started as a joke. I wish we could have some inspiration for the middle name though, or even to know that our child won’t grow up with a complex from his first name. When we tell our boy his name, I just don’t want him to raise a tiny eyebrow and think “you idiots, I’m supposed to have a respectable name, like Michael or Daniel. Did you not get the inspiration memo?”

  19. When my sister was pregnant with her latest child, her 4 yr old boy said that the new baby girl’s name should be “Willow” (no, he’s never seen that movie). When the baby was born, she and her husband promtly named the baby “Sarah,” which kinda bugged me. Maybe he does have a direct line to God, right? I told her I will be calling her daughter “Willow.” I think it’s beautiful, and it was chosen by inspiration.

  20. My mother knew since she was very young she would have two boys. The first would be named ‘Travis’, my name, the second would be ‘Kevin’, my brothers name. As implied, it happened. Her Patriarchal Blessing supported her knowledge as well.

  21. My cousin’s 4 year old also told her parents what her upcoming baby brother should be named. She said “Tinky Winky.”

    The boy was born and his name is Joshua. For some reason, sometimes children may not really be inspired and just utter whatever name they have in mind.

  22. berzerkcarrottop says:

    Not name prophecy/inspiration but still prophecy I believe:

    It was a few days before I was due with my 2nd child. I realized I hadn’t felt her move at all that day (it had been a busy day so I figured I just hadn’t noticed). So I drank a bunch of cold water and laid down on the couch. No movement. I pushed on several spots on my belly – no movement. This went on for 2 hours – drinking and poking – with no luck. On one of my many trips from the bathroom I ran in to my 3 year old. He looked at me and said, “Baby Sister is coming tomorrow.” Yeah, right, I thought. Shortly after midnight, my contractions started, and Baby Sister was born just before 5AM.

    Somehow I thought this meant they would share some special bond. At this point, that doesn’t seem to be true, but one can always hope, right?

  23. Can somebody please help me? I mean this question in all sincerity: Can you help me reconcile the fact that we have a God who does not intervene to protect children from hellishly cruel abuse with the idea that God cares enough about a child’s name so as to intervene and give parents a preferred name for their child?

  24. Steve Evans says:

    Andrew, I cannot help you. Life goes on, regardless, and God exists, regardless. I do not believe that the cruelty of mankind is an indicator of how God acts. But your question is one of the most notably difficult questions in the history of religion. So, take comfort that the greatest theologians, prophets and scholars are asking the same thing.

  25. Well said, Steve.

  26. Thanks Steve. I’ve appreciated your insights in the past and do here as well. I agree that only mankind is to blame for its cruelty. And I agree mankind’s cruelty is not an indication of how God acts. However, I think the fact that God allows mankind’s cruelty to exist, i.e., the fact that he chooses not to intervene in those serious human affairs, might tell us something about the extent to which He truly intervenes in our affairs.

    Many people see God intervening in the most trivial, minute details of their life. However, when I see God choosing not to intervene in serious matters, it makes it difficult for me to understand why he would intervene in little matters. For example, it is difficult to see how a God who does not intervene in serious matters such as kidnapping, torture, molestation, rape, and murder DOES intervene to help us score well on a spelling test, win a football game, name our children, determine what hymn is sung at the right time in General Conference (see Elder Bednar’s “Tender Mercies of the Lord” talk), or bless our refreshments to nourish and strenthen our bodies.

    I know my rephrased question is still as unanswerable as the first, but I feel like I’ve at least articulated my puzzlement more clearly.

  27. Hey Andrew.

    I started reading this thread because I’ve had the name of my daughter since I was about nine years old… she isn’t here yet, but may be by the end of next year. But that’s all another story.

    When I was at university I wasn’t a Christian. I could not, for the life of me, understand how my best friends mother forgave the man who had murdered her daughter and buried her under the floor boards of her living room.

    But Rachel’s Mum was as upset for him as she was for her daughter… even as time went on she became more upset for him. She knew, absolutely, that Rachel was in heaven. She was petrified that the rapist and murderer who throttled her daughter would have to spend eternity in hell.

    Whether the murderer has truly repented yet or not I do not know. But I do know that despite his despicable and horrendous behaviour to my best friend at sixth form, which I couldn’t forgive him for, Rachel’s Mum did forgive him. Because she believed absolutely that God is in control. In a different case, Maddy McCann may have been murdered, and we humans may never discover her fate. But if she was killed, then God knows it, and she is safe now in heaven, while her murderer will be judged.

    We should learn to look at the events of time, no matter how horrendous, in terms of eternity, not the next seventy years or so. Someone does know every detail of our lives, and nothing will escape His judgement.

  28. Maybe God is constantly calling the Holy Ghost into his office and wondering why the HG is confusing the issue by whispering names into our ears when God has a strict Prime Directive policy of non-interference or something or other…. :)

    Hey, the multi-personality nature/contradiction of it all sure does support the trinity being 3 seperate individuals :)

    I hear the HG also hides God’s stapler… hope I’m not blaspheming…

  29. Thank you for those interesting stories.

    Before my wife got pregnant with our third child, I was alone in the room, doing stuff at the computer. Suddenly I saw a girl – maybe 8-10 years old in the corner of my eye. When I turned my head, there was none. This happened a few more times, until my wife got pregnant a few days later and never reoccured since. We had the impression, that she was to inform us to do our homework, and “pick her up”. During all the pregnancy, I knew it would be a girl. We named her Victoria Elisabeth.

    As I am writing this, I notice, that her name fits well to the story. She was victorious – she won. Never thought of it this way.

    This didn’t happen with the other three children. Either she didn’t want to wait any longer, or I had to have a special experience, or she has a special work to do some time in her life and needed a well timed birth. No idea.

  30. @23, Andrew

    Righteous people are entitled to revelation. Revelation is an allowed form of “intervention” because it doesn’t take away agency or the consequences thereof. That’s my take, anyway. It still doesn’t change the fact that it’s sad to see the consequences of agency when the evil deeds of one person directly impact the innocent. No matter how much evil there is in the world, the righteous will always have special spiritual experiences like the impressions talked about in these comments.