Your name will be a constant reminder of God’s peace. Not of the hurt and sorrow it took to get to you, but of the gift that God sees me.

by Natalie Leonard

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot thou has taught me to say
It is well it is well with my soul

Dear River Elizabeth,

My sweet girl.  You have a story, and you are not even here yet! But it is the story of redemption. I long to hold you and share with you how much you were wanted, how long you were prayed for, how faithful my God is;  how He brought me you. This past weekend we made the final decision on your name, and I wanted to tell you about it. But, in reality, it’s been your name all along. It just took me a little longer to realize it than your Dad.  Your name was a gift from your Daddy.

The last year was hard for me. Really hard. I wrote about it here. I spent a lot of time being really angry over the fact that I longed for a baby for four long years, became pregnant with your brother or sister, and lost him or her. The song “It is Well” by Bethel Music became an anthem for me in 2017. I had to sing it to remind myself to trust in The One who spoke the stars into the sky, and the waves and wind into existence.  I learned a lot about who God is and who I am in the midst of last year.  In the good times and bad, God doesn’t change. He is good. His promises are good. He is not changed based on how I feel (Thank goodness!!).  In the quiet peace and billowing waves, He has taught me to say it is well with my soul. I was in the thick of the waves, but I was ready for peace.

A new song was released by a local church here in Nashville the first week of September, and it spoke life to my heart.

I’m not gonna be afraid
Cause these waves are only waves…
I’m not gonna fear the storm
You are greater than its roar…

 Peace be still
You are here so it is well
Even when my eyes can’t see
I will trust the voice that speaks

Peace Be Still, The Belonging Co.

Peace. That is what I was longing for. I was tired. I was ready for the calm in the storm. I had been treading water in the waves for a long time. I needed rest.  And it came.

On September 15, in the afternoon, I found out about you. I cried, I laughed, and then I was overwhelmed with fear. I didn’t want to lose you, too.

Peace be still 

I don’t want to be afraid
Every time I face the waves…
I don’t want to be afraid
I don’t want to fear the storm
Just because I hear the roar…

 Peace be still
You are here so it is well
Even when my eyes can’t see
I will trust the voice that speaks

I sang this song on repeat for weeks. Every day. I needed the constant reminder and flooding of God’s peace over your life, and over my fears.  And just like He promises, it came. He covered me in peace. I daily had to say, “I surrender this baby to you. In joy or sadness, I will trust in You. I will praise You.”  

I will sing it is well with my soul.

Peace Like a River.

After years of waiting, I still knew God was good in the midst of it all. I learned to claim it even when I didn’t feel it. In both the sorrows and joys, I celebrate the goodness of God. Your name is a declaration of that.

Your name will be a constant reminder of God’s peace. Not of the hurt and sorrow it took to get to you, but of the gift that God sees me. He loves me, and He is the giver of peace in the midst of storms. Those things are true for you too.  He knows you, He loves you, and He will be with you all the days of your life—in the good times and the bad. He is unchanging. He is Peace.

Peace like a River.  


Your middle name is just as special to me as your first name.  I am excited to gift it to you. Both your Aunt Amy and Aunt Lindsey share your middle name.  While they are both so special to me, all four of your aunts are fiercely strong women with an unwavering love for Jesus and their families. I am blessed to call the four of them sisters, and blessed you get to experience them as your aunts. They will love you deep and wide, and will be there for you always. 

I was driving down the road one day when Jesus reminded me of another Elizabeth.  

His family.
His mom’s cousin, specifically.

Elizabeth and her husband, Zachariah were unable to conceive. They were growing old, and I can only imagine the longing that filled Elizabeth’s heart, and the pain of not having children.  Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed for a child, and God heard their prayer.  In Luke 1:20—Zachariah was told, “Every word I have spoken to you will come true on time. God’s time.”  (the Message)

God’s time.

God knew her heart, He heard her prayers.  God answered, not in her timing, but in His.  In His perfect planning, one day He decided it was time. John was on his way to prepare the way for his cousin, Jesus! Her timing, her planning, her small worldview could never have known the impact her son was going to have on the world.  From birth he had a plan, to “get the people ready for God” (Luke 1:17). Praise God that she had her baby in God’s timing and not her own.

I am claiming the same perfect timing for you, River Elizabeth—that you are coming for ‘such a time as this’. I do not know what your future holds, but I trust God’s timing over my own.  He knows you and loves you. He is good, no matter what.

In just about three months I will meet you face to face, and sing God’s praises over you.  Even in the hurt, God is so sweet

He brought me you.

Natalie Leonard is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma but has since transplanted to Nashville, Tennessee where she lives with her husband David and daughter Ella Kate. Natalie is a high school history teacher and lover of all things sparkly. After experiencing years of waiting for their next child, David and Natalie will welcome their new daughter in May of this year.

2 Comments on River

  1. Dana Kramer // March 13, 2018 at 8:35 pm // Reply

    Thank you!! So beautifully written. I too have experienced the loss of children and it is an honor to read your story. I connect with SO much of it. Please keep writing! You are an inspiration. Congratulation on your little girl. – Mayfield Moms Friend – Dana

  2. Cindy Evans // March 14, 2018 at 12:36 pm // Reply

    Beautifully written, Natalie!

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