I’ve been thinking about my name  a lot for the past month, since I got the finalized copies of the book from my publisher's design team. As part of the design process, they “brand” the author’s name — which is to say, they pick a font and color and size that will be used for all future book jackets, so readers instantly recognize my name. I sat at the kitchen table this week with my housemates, looking at the mock-up covers.

“You realize what this means,” I said.  “Once the book comes out, I’ll always have to write as Sarah Thebarge, even if I get married one day.”

“You could hyphenate your name,” one of them suggested.

But the thought of hyphenating my name always makes me laugh — because it would be Sarah Thebarge-Smith, which makes me sound like a WWF wrestler.  Like Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

So from here on out, my name will stay as is, and I will be permanently branded as Sarah Thebarge.

I was thinking about branded names as my pastor was talking this morning, saying that God is familiar with our weaknesses and failings and struggles and sin — and somehow, He loves us anyway.  And, in fact, has our names carved on the palm of His hand.

I thought about Sarah Thebarge stained onto God’s hand.  I’m sure that sometimes, when I’m hurting or struggling, God tenderly places his palm on his chest, a touching reminder of a Father’s empathetic love.  And sometimes, when I screw up royally or I'm being completely ridiculous, I'll bet He smacks his hand against his forehead as the heavens echo with a cosmic, "DOH!"