Moira Kenley

Moira’s naming process started out very similar to Cormac’s. We started bouncing around picks from the moment I knew I was pregnant, but didn’t get serious until around 23 weeks after we had found out we were expecting a girl. We knew we wanted to continue the theme of traditional Irish names, and we found that our picks started a trend similar to what happened with Cormac. They all seemed to start with the same letter! This time, it was M.

After a few months of coming up with various options, we settled on our top three. Moira was Patrick’s favorite pick from the beginning, but I was not yet convinced — it didn’t have the meaning I was looking for. I wanted something obvious like “blessing of God” or “filled with joy” but, believe it or not, there aren’t actually many names that mean that. A name is such a significant thing to give a person and, years down the road, I want to make sure my children understand that their names were chosen for a reason! Especially considering that God knew their names long before I did.

However, Cormac’s name meaning wasn’t anything particularly special either, until he was born and I began praying over him during those late night nursing sessions and making specific requests for the man he will become. It was then that the meaning of his name became more clear to me. You can read more about that here…

When Moira was born, her name just seemed to fit. Unlike with Cormac, who remained nameless for approximately 24 hours, her big blue eyes and dark brown hair were exactly as I had imagined. And, strangely enough, it wasn’t until she was born that I realized I had been calling her Moira in my head after all.

The name Moira has a few layers of meaning and now that she has been with us for a little over 6 weeks, they are continuing to manifest. Moira is the Irish variation of the name Mary, which means “bitter”. Not so encouraging, right? The Greek word “moira” means portion or allotment, most often it is used to refer to the concept of the Fates or Fate, the pagan understanding of destiny. You can see why I wasn’t too thrilled with the meaning to start with. Nevertheless, the name took on a new meaning for me as a translation for the concept of predestination, God’s sovereign plan for our salvation — a means of grace by which He chose His children from before time began and wrote their names in the Book of Life. Destiny and fate may be humanized understandings of this concept, but a follower of the Lord will know immediately that our lot is not left to fate, blind chance or even wishful thinking.

Moira is most certainly part of God’s predestined plan and I take joy in invoking His promise for her sake: “And those whose He predestined he also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” (Romans 8:30).

But as I continued to search for more background on Moira’s name, I discovered the one reference to the Greek word “moira” in Scripture is found in Jude 1:16: “These are grubbers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouth boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.”

The Greek word “mempsimoiros” is used for malcontents — derived from ‘memphomai’ (blame, find fault) and ‘moira’ (an apportioned amount, allotment). Yikes, malcontent is definitely not a trait I want to assign to my child! But this use of the word led me to a search of the Old Testament for more references to the term “portion” or “allotment”. Although not written in Greek, the concept is parallel to many similar words used throughout the Old Testament. One in particular is Psalm 16:5:

“The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup; Thou maintainest my lot.”

I love the richness of the King James translation which uses not only the word ‘portion’ but also ‘inheritance’. What a beautiful thought; to know that, having been predestined by God’s sovereign mercy, our salvation is a gracious inheritance bought by the blood of the King of Kings. For we are “heirs to the promise” (Gal 3:29), and since Christ is the “firstborn of many” (Rom 8:29), we can lay claim to the riches of that inheritance in Him. When I use Moira’s name, this is what I think of: that the Lord has known her from before eternity, that He is her portion, has provided her inheritance, and made provisions for her salvation. And I trust that He will maintain and uphold her all her life, until she sees Him face to face. This is my hope and prayer for her.

This idea of inheritance points directly to Moira’s middle name, as well: Kenley. Although it started out as a mash-up of my father’s name (Kenneth Stanley) because I loved the idea of using a family name, especially to honor my father (who has 4 daughters… and now 1 granddaughter!), I came to discover that Kenley is a given name in its own right. It means “royal meadow” or “meadow of the King”. Psalm 15:6 goes on to say:

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

Now that, I could not have predicated. Moira Kenley means “The Lord has provided my portion, and my inheritance is in the King’s meadow.” This brings to mind an idyllic vision of a verdant garden, pleasant and peaceful, a place where one may rest in the knowledge of being cared for. Brings to mind another promise of Scripture that speaks of “a better country—a heavenly one”, a city prepared for the heirs of the King. Another beautiful promise to claim for my child. The mere speaking of her name reminds me of God’s gracious provisions not just for her, but for me and our entire family as well.

Suddenly, the twofold meaning of Moira becomes clear. Without God, we are left to a pale and hopeless estimation of our future, Fate is cruel and Destiny ends in tragedy. Apart from God, we are bitter and malcontent, just like the ungodly ones mentioned in Jude. But with Him, and in His grace, we are like Mary (remember that Moira is also the Gaelic version of Mary): imbued with His regenerating and enlightening Spirit, He makes us one with His Son so that we might find salvation in Him. We are not just heirs to the inheritance of salvation, but messengers of the Gospel as well. The double meaning of Moira’s name is a promise and a hope: though we are but human, weak and powerless, the Lord is mighty to save. He turns our weeping to laughter, and our bitterness to songs of praise. When He calls His children by name, they follow Him (John 10:3).

I could not have planned it better if I had intended to. But, then again, God is the one making the plans and, when it comes to Moira’s name, that couldn’t be more obvious. 🙂

Leave a Reply