What a joy it is to welcome you into our lives, dear boy! We have been eagerly awaiting your arrival, and we are rejoicing in God’s goodness and faithfulness as we finally hold you in our arms.
Son, your father and I have spent many car rides and dinner conversations discussing the name we give you today—a name that expresses both our gratitude and our desires for you—John Oliver Stanley.
Your first name, John, means “God is gracious.” As John 1:14,16 says, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…For from this fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” God has been so gracious to us, dear John. Your daddy and I have been saved by grace, our relationship has thrived on grace, and you, little one, are just another example of God’s amazing grace in our lives. We pray that one day you, too, will experience this incredible saving and sustaining grace, which is why we give you this name.
You share your middle name, Oliver, with your late Grandpa Glenn. He had a great love for God and his family, and oh, how he would have loved you! He constantly told your daddy how much he loved him, and daddy never doubted his father’s love for him. In the same way, we pray you will never doubt our love for you, but more importantly, that you will never ever doubt God’s love for you. When trials come, when darkness seems to be closing in, when temptations rage against you, know that your father in heaven loves you deeply—so much so that he gave his OWN son to die so that you might live. While we love you more than you could ever know, our love pales in comparison to God’s love towards you. As 1 John 4 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” There is no greater love, my son, because this love leads to life—a life full of joy and hope and peace.
Your last name, Stanley, is not given but inherited, and it comes with a rich legacy. What does it mean to be a Stanley? Well, you will likely have to shop in the Big and Tall section your entire life, you’ll probably receive your first guitar lesson before you take your first steps, and you may inherit what I’ll call a “unique” sense of humor.
But it also means that you are part of a rich legacy of God’s grace and mercy. When your Grandpa was young, God literally broke his prisoner chains so that his heart would be free to rise and follow Christ. He then shared the great news of the gospel with his own sons, and God was faithful to save your daddy through the testimony of his big brother, your Uncle Jeff. Since the day we found out we were pregnant with you, we have prayed without ceasing that you, too, John, would experience the same saving grace that Stanleys before you have experienced. We pray that God would call you out of darkness and into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), and when that day comes, dear son, we—and all of heaven—will rejoice!
Welcome to this world, John Oliver Stanley. We love you dearly.