S is for Sarah

S is for SarahS is for Sarah


Sarah Irene… together these lovely names mean peaceful princess. And they are a perfect description of my precious second daughter, Sarah Irene. Often children’s names are chosen because they sound pleasant or are popular at the moment. But Sarah Irene’s names were chosen for very special reasons.


Irene was the name of Sarah’s grand-mother, who had passed away just five years before Sarah was born. Sarah’s daddy, Lionel, missed his dear mom, and desired that our new baby daughter should bear her name. I never had the opportunity to meet Lionel’s mom, but I have been told about her by many people, both family and friends. All agree that not only was she attractive, as her pictures remind us, but also she was gentle and kind on the one hand, and also very strong, both physically and in character. She went through some great sorrows in her life, including losing her husband when she was pregnant with her tenth child, but she carried on, and I can see how she passed on that strength of character, natural beauty, and kindness, to her children. I also see it reflected in her grand-daughter, Sarah Irene, passed down through Lionel.


Sarah was the name I chose for our second little girl. After our first daughter was born, my husband had directed me to take her to church each Sunday, so that she might come to know the Lord. And along the way, I myself came into a personal relationship with Jesus! But although Lionel wanted his children to be Christians, he backed off from it himself. As a new Christian, I longed for my husband to also be united into the family of God, and sometimes I pushed him so hard about it, that he became very angry with me, so that I was becoming afraid of him. One day, shortly after I realized I was pregnant with our second child, I was praying, crying out to the Lord to bring my husband to Himself. And it was then that He gave me a wonderful promise: “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior… the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God… Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Peter 3:1-5). I realized that in trying to force my husband to become what I wanted him to be, I was actually turning him away from God. I prayed and asked God to forgive me, and to give me a gentle and quiet spirit, which I most definitely did not have up until that time! And I told the Lord that if He would change my spirit, so that He could work freely in Lionel’s life without my interfering attempts to change him, that I would name this baby Sarah, as a reminder of God’s promise to me.


Months went by and finally Sarah Irene made her royal entry, just 24 days overdue! My husband had still not given his heart to the Lord, but I knew that God had gently but surely been starting to change my spirit as the promise of scripture had described. Trusting in God to complete His work, I named our baby Sarah Irene, our little peaceful princess. And sure enough, not too much later her daddy gave his life to Jesus, a wonderful fulfillment of God’s promise.


Now it very quickly became apparent that Sarah Irene herself was a “peaceful princess.” She was a very contented baby, and almost never cried. All she wanted was a dry bottom, a full tummy, and lots of hugs. In fact, she was so quiet and peaceful, that people gave her the nickname, “little mouse,” because instead of crying she’d just make little squeaking sounds! Of course, there were odd moments when she’d surprise us and become “the mouse that roared,” but those were rare. As Sarah Irene grew, our pretty little princess quickly developed a desire to dress herself, and she always chose the most feminine clothes she could find. In fact, she would find a floor-length, frilly, princess-lined dress that she loved, and she’d wear it for every kind of activity and occasion, until it practically fell apart, even though she had plenty of other clothes. In fact, one of her primary school teachers was concerned that we were poverty-stricken, and generously offered to help us obtain a wider variety of clothes for Sarah!


Our family grew quickly, until we had six children, eight years old and under. Sometimes things could become pretty harried, and family members, including mommy, could become quite flustered and upset. But every time that happened, Sarah would quietly and gently move into the situation, giving a gentle hug, or climbing quietly into one’s lap, and waves of peace would just seem to emanate from her. Her school teachers, Sunday School teachers, babysitters, and Girl Guide leaders loved her, and told me often what a wonderful role model she was to the other children, and how, despite her quiet, peaceful nature, she was also a leader. In fact, like the princess she was, she had a natural self-assurance that allowed her to take the lead role in a school play that included students from kindergarten to grade six, though she was only in second grade!


Of course, princesses normally have lots of ladies-in-waiting to serve them. Poor Sarah. She was a princess in that way, too, needing to have people to wait upon her. Despite her lovely, peaceful, gentle nature, what a mess she could make! The house would be all tidied up, and then Sarah would joyfully, flamboyantly, sail in the door. A shoe would fly in one direction, coat in another, treasures picked up along the way in yet other directions. She’d dance through the house, and in just moments, it would look like a tornado had passed through! Yet her school teachers always commented how neatly she kept her desk. “Sarah,” I cried out in dismay one day, as she sailed in and the usual tornado struck, “How can you be so neat at school and so messy at home?” Sarah looked up at me sweetly, gave me one of her peace-inducing hugs, and proclaimed, “Well, mommy, I only have a teeny bit of neat inside of me, and by the time school is over it’s all used up!” “Well, why don’t you be neat at home and messy at school?” I suggested. “Oh, mommy,” she laughed, “You love me, and you’ll forgive me. But I’m not so sure about my teacher!” Of course my heart melted, and Princess Sarah’s chief lady-in-waiting tidied up after her once again, though I did try hard to teach her to tidy up after herself, realizing that not every one in her future might recognize her princess status.


Over the years Sarah developed quite a talent for drama, art, and creative writing. And many, many of her stories, dramatizations, and drawings have centered around once-upon-a-time, far-away-and-long-ago, princess-like themes. Sarah has also become a very talented hair-dresser, turning many other folks into princesses – and princes – with simple snips of her scissors! Today, of course, having graduated from high school, and entered the world of post-secondary education, and daily work, Sarah the princess has discovered that even princesses sometimes have to live within the mundane “real” world, and at various times in her life has had to face the sad reality that not every one has her gentle spirit. But Sarah Irene’s peaceful princess nature remains, and along with it is developing the strength of character that turns princesses into queens.


Norma Hill


Date: May 18,2007


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