(republished on 5/17 as a request from Mike)
When Erin was in middle school, she came to me one Saturday morning and said, “Mommy, I love you more than words can describe. There is no word in the English language that means, ‘I love you higher than the sky, like, I love you to infinity.’ Let’s make up a word that means infinity love, OK?”
So I said, “That’s beautiful, honey. I’d love to have our special word. Let’s pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to give us a word that means ‘Love higher than the sky’. So we prayed and Erin said, “Now what?”
“Well, expect Him to answer us. There’s a scripture verse that says to pray/ask expectantly. After we pray, then we’ll just trust that He’ll give us that word. So, pay attention to words that pop into your head, and when you get something that you think is from God, share it out loud with me. I’ll do the same thing.”
So, over the next several hours, when we’d have something pop into our head that clearly wasn’t English, like kadeeba, we’d speak it out loud , and we’d weigh it. “Kadeeba doesn’t sound loving, Mom,” she said. Then, she’d get a word like hassahn, and I’d say, “Well, that’s better than kadeeba, but I don’t feel that love that you describe. We spoke out a few more words that came to us and then around noon, Erin says, “How about this one, Mommy: ‘holma.’ ” As she said it, my heart seemed to melt. “Oh, Erin, I love it. Say it again, and as you’re saying it, put your heart into it.” So, she looked me square in the eyes, and with a softness and love that came from her heart, she said, “Holma, Mommy. Holma.”
We both got teary eyed, and we agreed that that would be our special word to each other. We thanked God, and went about our day. That was in 1996. Over the next 7 years, every time she had to leave me to go to her dad’s for the weekend, the last thing she’d say was, “Holma Mommy.” Sometimes at night, when I tucked her in bed, she’d say it. Or, I’d say it when I really felt so dear and close to her. It truly was our special word.
In the fall of 2003, Erin was attending college in North Carolina and I was a mother-baby nurse in Ohio. Now, more than ever, saying the word Holma made it feel like there was no distance between us.
One night while I was at work, I called Erin with the surprise of her life. “Are you sitting down?”
“Who died, Mommy?”
“No one. Just listen. I’m taking care of a couple who are from Africa and Persia, and they asked me to pronounce several Persian girls’ names for them. They wanted to name their baby a name that Americans could pronounce correctly. They gave me 6 potential names, and explained that in their town, it’s the custom to pick the name of their baby using the first letter of a relative who had recently died. All six names started with the letter, ‘J’. They all had meanings too. The third name was Jilpa, which means in Persia, ‘Giver of life.’
After I’d pronounced all six, they asked me which one sounded the best. I told them I liked Jilpa for two reasons; I liked the meaning, and it sounded like a beautiful word that my daughter and I say to each other, ‘Holma.’
The mom said “Oh, our word meaning ‘higher than the sky, like it stretches to infinity.’ ”
“What????” I said. And I spelled it out, “H..O..L..M..A.?”
“Yes”, she said, “that is the correct spelling.” I nearly fell over. I told the mom about our special word, and how God had picked it out for us 7 years ago!! How awesome is that?”
And on the other end of the phone, Erin said, “No way!” and I said, “Way!!” I could almost hear the tears well up in Erin’s eyes. We were both blown away! She proceeded to gather all her friends into her room to tell them the story, and then the next day, came an email to me and every other person that Erin knows or has known, relaying the story. To this day, I have told this God story to as many people as I know. And it will go on for infinity…….