2 Months Update

The meaning of my Baby’s name

The Quick Update

Welcome to the month 2 update! It has been 9 weeks since our baby girl joined us on this side of the earth. She is an absolute Joy and just keeps getting chunkier and cuter. At 2 months she now is starting to learn how those little fingers work. Her head control is awesome, she can pretty much hold it up on her own. She has become much more vocal. We are starting to get a little bit of sleep! She recognizes mommy and daddy and is starting to laugh and smile more. She is bringing new life into our entire family!


The Story of Her Name “Sanai”

I figured this post would be a great way to share the meaning behind her name Sanai and how we chose this name for our daughter. 


I remember as soon as I found out the baby would be a girl I was daunted by the task of naming her. After all, this would be her name FOREVER! Jamal and I brought up some names we liked and, as any parent knows, every name you bring up reminds your spouse of someone crazy. All the biblical names were taken up by friends and family. We wanted her to be unique but not so unique that no one could spell or pronounce her name. I know many people who prayed and really felt like God dropped the right name into their lives. I did, but nothing was “sticking” and we were still unsure what this girl’s name would be.


While her name was uncertain her life was not. Here is the background surrounding her life. In October of 2019, I had woken up early feeling “off” so I ran to the Giant on that Sunday Morning on a hunch and took a pregnancy test. I thought for sure I was crazy. Nervously I waited for that little negative but to my absolute SHOCK, it was positive! I was over the moon and Jamal was in shock lol. I took multiple tests immediately after and they were negative. I didn’t think much of it since I read false positives were rare and that drinking a lot of water can dilute a test if it’s too early. I told a few friends and family who were so excited! Fast forward one week and the joy quickly turned to dread when I found myself sitting in the ER with a dr. telling me I am not pregnant due to either a false positive or an early miscarriage. I was devastated. Even though it was unexpected I deeply wanted to take the journey of meeting our first child. I was embarrassed because I “should” have waited to share the news, I “shouldn’t” have gotten my hopes up. I “shouldn’t” be upset because other people had it worse. None of those “should or shouldn’t” are true. I don’t believe anyone should feel ashamed for being excited about new life or compare what happened to them to other people like the sadness Olympics. October was a rough time. I transitioned out of a job, felt lonely in my experience, and wondered why this had to happen to me. A few days after visiting the hospital I also tested positive for COVID-19 and had to quarantine alone for 10 days. So I was sitting at home, sick, unsure about my future income, and feeling the loss of a child I had never met. I was reminded of this bible verse 2 Corinthians 4:8-10;


“We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”


In what I would consider the pit of my life I never felt abandoned. The song I sang over and over and over was “Here Again” Sung by Rheva Henry. My favorite lyrics were:


Can’t go back to the beginning

Can’t control what tomorrow will bring

But I know here in the middle

Is the place where You promise to be


I especially repeated the bridge to myself as well.


Not for a minute

Was I forsaken

The Lord is in this place

The Lord is in this place

Come Holy Spirit

Dry bones awaken

The Lord is in this place

The Lord is in this place

Not for a minute

Was I forsaken

The Lord is in this place

The Lord is in this place

Come Holy Spirit

Dry bones awaken

The Lord is in this place

The Lord is in this place


I didn’t know in my brain but I knew in my spirit that God works right in the pit. In my blog about how I started Bethany J. Photography, I talked about finding joy in the midst of pain. I have always found it ironic that my name is Bethany Joy, yet I’m not always the most joyful. I am a bit of a realist. I like seeing all the ways I could be hurt so that I can protect myself. I prefer to be surprised by things going well than disappointed by things going bad. This was one of those situations where I couldn’t protect myself. I couldn’t pretend to be ok. There were no distractions. I had to sit in my “pit” and since there was no more going down, I looked up. God was right there with me. I didn’t have words or emotions. Just tears. I read and prayed these verses:


PSALM 27:1,4-6,13-14


The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?


One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.


I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.


Despite my situation, I prayed and declared that I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living! Peace and joy started to peek in. I wanted to stay sad but it was as if God was reminding me that it was after Jesus had been dead for 3 days that he did His biggest miracle.


Fast forward to November and I am feeling off again. I can’t pinpoint why and again on a hunch I go grab a few pregnancy tests. I wasn’t hopeful I tried to hold myself down and not get excited. I take 2 tests and they are positive. I shrug it off and figure I will wait a week and test again fully expecting a negative. I start getting giddy despite my best efforts! I am nervous and prayerful day after day, and to my shock, I test positive AGAIN a week later! I was so excited! By God’s grace, he turned my mourning into Joy! I went from feeling sad and lost, to feeling hopeful and thankful. Each week I thanked God just for the joy of carrying this baby as far as I could. Any woman who has experienced pregnancy or loss knows that miscarriage can happen in the first trimester. I was hopeful but afraid that this would be my story. So I thanked God for each week because life is precious. Each life matters not because of how perfect it is but because of how sacred it is. God orchestrates our purpose from the beginning and even when we don’t understand when things go wrong I know we must honor and celebrate what He has created. So I did.



39 weeks pregnant photo by Rebekah Bruff


It was after the first trimester that I prayed and over the course of a few months felt like God was leading me that my daughter’s name would involve a “Sweet Song of Victory.” This was so specific that I couldn’t find any names that even came close. I didn’t have more than that and I just kept praying and going about in life knowing eventually we would get the name. One morning I decided to read the songs of victory in the bible. I read some in Exodus when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. and I had spent a lot of time in Psalms. Still nothing!


One Sunday morning, my pastor was reading a verse out of Zepheniah. It struck me as an unusual name and just for fun, I started playing with it to make it sound more feminine. I started with Zeniah, then Zennia, and then Zinnia. It turned out that Zinnia was a flower symbolizing goodness and friendship. Eh. It didn’t sit right with me or Jamal. So I kept playing.


Zinnia became Sinnia and Sennia which reminded me of the actor Sanaa Lanthan. You can see where this is going right? I didn’t want to name my baby after an actor and remembered a neighbor with a twist on the name and that is how I got “Sanai”, which means beautiful, radiant, work of art. Jamal and I liked it but chewed on it. You would think the first time we agreed, we immediately laughed and hugged and started calling her Sanai, but we are thinkers so we chewed on it for a long while. I was especially perplexed because, here was a name I LOVED, but it didn’t have anything to do with the “Sweet Song of Victory” that God had said. Or did it?


Remember I said I was reading songs of victory for names in the bible? After liking the name Sanai I was looking for confirmation that this was THEE name. And one day I was reading about Deborah and when I read the following verses it was like fireworks went off in my brain! It was called


The Victory Song of Deborah and Barak

Judges 5:3-6,31

Listen, you kings! Open your ears, you princes! I will sing a song to the Lord. I will make music to the Lord God of Israel. O Lord, when you went out from Seir when you marched from the country of Edom, the earth quaked, the sky poured, the clouds burst, and the mountains shook in the presence of the Lord God of Sinai, in the presence of the Lord God of Israel.


and its final verse reads:


May all your enemies die like that, O Lord.

But may those who love the Lord

be like the sun when it rises in all its brightness.


There was my confirmation! Mt.Sanai in the bible was the place God revealed himself to Moses, showing His glory, which shone so bright that Moses hid his face when coming back down to the people. God also gave Moses the 10 commandments on Mt.Sanai. It was like God was giving me a little nod. I Genuinely was so surprised to find such a similar name in the bible.


So to me, Sanai is a name about radiance and revelation. I made her first middle name Joy because I wanted her to have a “J” middle name like my husband and me. I also wanted to share the special middle name with her and it represented Joy in the painful times of life and the Joy in the victory of life. Finally, Jamal wanted her to have a name meaning “God revealed.” The name Neriah means “God is my Lamp” or “God is my revelation.” Her name means: Radiant (Sanai) Joyful(Joy) Revelation of God (Neriah)


I wanted her to have some other meaning behind her name so here are some fun facts about her name Sani Joy Neriah Steele.

  1. She has 4 names like her dad

  2. Also, like her dad, she has one Arabic and one Hebrew name.

  3. We all have a “J” middle name.

  4. She has the same middle name as me!

Every time I look at my baby girl I am reminded of that Psalm that says “I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” and I always, always tear up thinking about how every day I am so blessed to hold the goodness of God in my arms. God is good and faithful He is when everything goes the way we want it too and He is even more so when our hearts break. I pray that you are encouraged to know that your life is not just a series of coincidences and accidents. There is a purpose for you and hope always! The reason I can always find Joy is that I know that Jesus is alive and this means there is always hope of freedom, forgiveness, and new life!






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