Blessings and Meanings in Names

by Dawn Oaks on November 7, 2016 · 0 comments

With each pregnancy, my husband and I chose our children’s names with purpose; for us, carrying meaning was critically important.  This should be an indication of the intrigue and excitement with which I approached the opportunity to review the Name Meaning products from CrossTimber.  Our family received a free Personalized Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse. The challenge with this review was in deciding what name to have included on our personalized plaque.

Finding Meaning in a Name

As our children have grown, we have shared with them what we knew of the meaning of their names and why we chose each.  Our boys have Biblical first names and we could therefore do searches in the Hebrew for their meaning.  Our second oldest, Michaela, was given the female version of Michael, which means One Who is Like the Lord.  Our oldest daughter, however, is named after my mother.  Her given name is Rucia.  We had no idea what the true roots of this name were when we named her.

My mother passed away when I was a young teen.  Her legacy has lived on decade after decade because of her beautiful character and the way she touched lives in a special way.  It was this essence of who my mother was that drove us to select it as our first-born’s birth name as well. And selfishly for me, it was a way of keeping my mother alive into future generations hoping that the stories that we share of who she was would continue on to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.



Pure and Compassionate: Beautiful Friend; Bringer of Light and Truth


WOW, WOW, and WOW…. I honestly have no other word.  To see these words associated with the very meaning of my mom’s name was like closing my eyes and soaking in an embodiment of who she was.  It is literally bringing tears to my eyes to even read those words as I type this post.

We strove to find meaningful names for our children with a hope of who they would become.  I never considered the meaning of my mom’s name, but my hope for our oldest was that she would encompass the character I saw in my mother.  To find in hindsight that who my mother grew to be was in actuality the very meaning of her name was an incredible blessing!

This review that started out as a nice, sentimental gift became so much more.  It came to signify a confirmation of a life lived well and a name so rightly chosen for a woman who was filled with the best of intentions and integrity; compassionate; an incredible friend to many, and a true bearer of Light and Truth as she shared her passion for her Savior and Lord. It was like having a piece of her back.  So much so that I am seriously considering hanging this plaque above my desk as a reminder of who my mom was and providing inspiration to me on days when it is hard to be compassionate, one of integrity, a loyal friend, and someone ready to point others to the True Light and Truth that makes the rest of life worth living.

The Rest of the Story

Parenting can be one of the biggest blessings in life, but it can also be hard.  When our children were small, I used to joke that as soon as I figured our children out they had the nerve to change.  Little did I know how the challenges in parenting would change as our children grew into young adults.  Young adults who would need to wrestle with life and test their own beliefs and convictions before settling into who they were.  You see, I would guess that my mom was not always the person that this plaque exemplifies.  I know that I am not who I was years ago as a teen and young adult.  Life has a way of changing and defining us over the years.

What does that have to do with a plaque.  As a parent, I have come to realize that the value that I see in a name is more like a prayer uttered in hope of who my children will someday work out their convictions and beliefs to be and not a guarantee of who they will become.  Who they will become is between them and God, but in bestowing a name upon my children with meaning I convey to them a heritage of hope of character of what holds significance to me as their mother.  A legacy from my heart to the words that they will scribe each time they place their signature on a document of importance.  Each time it pops up on their college paperwork, their driver’s license, their marriage certificates, and maybe someday their children.

So, I share with you the meanings of each of their names asking that you join me in praying that as they grow they will learn a little bit more about their mother’s heart as they see the meaning and significance in their names that were so specially selected for each of them at the time that their dad and I met them for the first time face to face.

Rucia – Pure and Compassionate: Beautiful Friend; Bringer of Light and Truth

Michaela – One Who is Like God: One of Exaltation and Praise

Zechariah – Yahweh has Remembered You: One Aware of God’s Presence

Joshua – Yahweh, Our Salvation: One with Messages of Truth


There are not enough positive words to give meaning to that name as well.  What a company!  When considering how to use the credit we were given for a Personalized Name Plaque, I had the opportunity to chat with John, the owner of CrossTimber.  His passion for finding the meaning in names and the heritage and significance of them is evident throughout each dialogue and conversation with him.  He shared with me not just the meaning of the my mother’s name, but shared the meaning behind each of our children’s names as well as my own.  I think I forgot to even share with him my husband’s name or I am sure he would have joyfully researched it as well.

Once I determined which name(s) to focus on, it was fun going through the website in picking out the background for the plaque and considering other options, such as an upgrade in the frame or other types of products that would have the same name meaning on them. The ordering process was easy and seamless.  You really can’t find customer service better than what I experienced in working with John at CrossTimber.

By the end of the process, I felt like the actual plaque will be cherished, but the blessings I received went much further beyond this.  It touches on the legacy I bestowed on my children through their names in the things that I hold dear to my heart and hope that they will always remember me by as well.

Thank you, John, for a fantastic experience that will carry meaning in our family for what I hope are generations to come.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

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Building Foreign Language into our School Day

by Dawn Oaks on October 27, 2016 · 0 comments


So many students are really resistant to fulfilling the high school graduation requirement for foreign language studies.  For this reason, I was thrilled to be a part of the Homeschool Review Crew‘s review of Middlebury Interactive Language‘s Middle School Chinese I.  My hope was that in getting a jumpstart on foreign language while still in middle school that it would be a much smoother transition in high school.  We have not done foreign language consistently in our homeschool.  Our son that reviewed this program was also part of our review of Middlebury’s Elementary Chinese I program.  So when given this second chance a few years later, he actually was thrilled. I think we are moving in the right direction….

What We Received:

For this review, our family received a user account for one student to use the Middle School Chinese I course.  This course is designed to be completed within a semester so we therefore were given a 6 month subscription.  Included in the subscription is the course content and the parent dashboard.

Our son used this course primarily on our family computer.  However, there is an app that can be downloaded on mobile devices for use on the go.  We did download the app on to our iPad for days when our family had more technology needs than could be accomodated by our one computer.  The software was fully functional on both devices.  Our son could also pick up right where he left off since this is an online resource.

How We Used This:

This is a curriculum that is truly done independently by the student.  Our son knew how to log into his account and it would take him directly to where he left off.  At times, he would click on the Table of Contents in the left sidebar, just because he is the type of kid that is always asking, “How much more?”  He does not mind doing the work, but likes to visually see his progress.

Each lesson took approximately 30-45 minutes to complete, which I felt was extremely reasonable at the Middle School level.  He found he could concentrate better and hear better if using headphones with a built-in mic.  I think this really did help him in blocking out background noise.  This was critical in that the program incorporates lessons which reinforce reading, writing, and speaking the language.  The Chinese program has an extra layer due to the nature of the language.  Traditional written Chinese has characters and symbols that are not like our alphabet.  Josh did learn to read the traditional Chinese as well as select the properly written words for sentences and in response to listening exercises.  For the written part of the language study, the program does have the alphabet based translation of the traditional symbols.  This enabled him to be able to type the words out as well.

In addition to the academic study of the language, its syntax, and speaking of it, our son was also introduced to the culture of China as it was embedded into the lessons. I honestly think this was his favorite part of the program.

So What Did We Think…

Middlebury Interactive Languages gets two thumbs up. The first for the learning that I saw happening and the second for creating a genuine interest in our son in foreign language studies.  Having a parent dashboard definitely allows the parent to know exactly what has been completed and the level of mastery that the student has accomplished.  Our son also knew how he was doing as each screen of work that he accomplished was graded before he moved on.  He did have the opportunity to redo lessons to help build mastery.  Like math, foreign language does build on itself so mastery is very important. Most of the time, I actually did not even go into the dashboard as our son was excited to share what he was learning.  He knew that he was acquiring mastery of a new language; there was no question.

Life presents itself with enough battles.  Finding a foreign language program that my son will do without a battle almost makes it a winner on that fact alone.  He not only recognized that he was learning to speak and read Chinese, but was excited about it.  He is a child that likes to look toward the future and had already put the pieces together in realizing that this was paving the way to easier and more successful foreign language studies in high school.

We have thoroughly enjoyed this review and will be continuing on with Middlebury Interactive Languages.  It seems to be such a good fit for our son that I would see us continuing to extend our subscription through his high school years.  Chinese is not the only foreign language to choose from.  Middlebury also offers courses in Spanish, French, and German.  These are offered at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels with multiple courses at each level.  Additionally, there are course offerings for AP French and Spanish.

If you are interested in a different grade level or language, please be sure to check out the other reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

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Our Homeschool Year in Review 2015 – 2016

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Check out Math – the LearnBop Way

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Traditional Logic from Memoria Press ~ A Product Review

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Saturday Happenings on the Farm

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So many times friends are intrigued about life on the farm.  Today’s happenings include trimming and weeding our little blackberry and raspberry orchard.  Phase 2 of this project is bringing in materials to start building raised beds around them.  This will eventually be filled with wonderful organic black platinum mulch supplied by the wonderful ladies […]

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