Our Child-Naming Philosophy

July 2, 2008 at 1:37 am 43 comments

Yesterday I got an email asking me where we got the name Orison. Believe me, it’s not the first time we’ve been asked this question.

In Minnesota, the land of the “Minnesota Nice,” the conversation usually goes a little something like this:

Minnesotan: Orison… [long pause]… is that …[long pause]… a family name?

Me [in my head]: No, but it is now.

What I actually say is: “It’s a word that means ‘prayer.’ An older English word that means ‘prayer.’ You can find it in books like Paradise Lost or Hamlet.”

Truth be told, Abraham found it while reading the dictionary. He used to do that a lot more than he does now.

We decided that we’d like our children to have names that are actual English words that have significant meaning. Some examples that are more common are names like Faith, Hope, etc. You get the picture. Abraham loves the English language, and he would really like to stick with this for all our children. I probably wouldn’t have had such a defined schema for child-naming on my own, but I’m excited about it, too.

So it was helpful that my favorite girl name of all time, the one that I had planned on using for a daughter since I could remember wanting to have children, worked for our second child:

She was born into the arms of Jesus, so that means that her name is true.

And we have some ideas for any more kids that come, Lord willing, but we’re not telling.

We never do.


Entry filed under: Family, Felicity, Orison.

Surprised by (Malted Milk Ball) Joy These are few of my favorite things…

43 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kellie  |  July 2, 2008 at 3:49 am

    Molly- I’ll be excited to hear the next little Piper’s name. We have already named our baby- and we tell- we always do! Neither of us are good at keeping secrets! Do I have you curious now?

  • 2. Crystal  |  July 2, 2008 at 5:18 am

    I think it is so fun that you guys have a defined way to choose names. Plus it makes the task a bit easier. I like the fun of not telling, but when we found out our second child wouldn’t survive, we did tell his name because I felt like it would help everyone to feel more connected to him. This time I wanted a secret, but I couldn’t keep our now 5-year-old out of the fun. He was soooo good at keeping it a secret until he went up against a curious and relentless Nana. It was still mostly a secret, though, and he had fun announcing it at the hospital when the doctor brought the baby out.

  • 3. Susan  |  July 2, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Love it! (Of course, that is in my book that I have called “things you always wanted to ask the Pipers, but were too afraid to ask,” LOL)

    We never tell either. NEVER. Nobody gets to know before the baby is here. 😉

  • 4. Summer  |  July 2, 2008 at 7:06 am

    How Unique and Beautiful!

    frequent reader here coming in out of lurkdom to say hello and to finally leave a comment…LOL. Blessings to your family!!!

  • 5. Myrddin  |  July 2, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Ha, ha!

    With an Anna and Emily and an Elanor (named after a flower in the Lord of the Rings but whom we call Nora) we had a long break from the Minnesota nice response with Dietrich.

    But now with Charis. Wowswers.

    At least with Dietrich people could say, “Oh, is that after Dietrich Bonhoeffer?”

    With Charis I just have to give them the blog post on her name

  • 6. Myrddin  |  July 2, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Which is here:


  • 7. Andrea Bindewald  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:08 am

    I love that you guys have come up with a way to name your kids! I love that you keep the name a secret. We do that to. If we are able, we will tell people if we are having a boy or girl, but we keep the name a secret. You have to have something for people to look forward to on the big day!

  • 8. Rob Hulson  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Ha! I never thought of that, and Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare play, and Kenneth Branagh’s version is one of my favorite movies of all time.

    “Nymph, in they *orisons* be all my sins remembered.”

  • 9. My Twenty Cents Keeps Moving  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I have a daughter named Reed, and I get that “family name question” alot, too. (She is named after a teacher I had– Mr. Reeder. My husband suggested the name for a boy when I was pregnant and it just stuck. And it suits her.)

    Truth be told, Reed is an avid reader, and I wish I had named my other children “Clean House” and “Do Dishes.”


  • 10. amandaginn  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Leslie, your comment cracks me up. It also gives me a few new names to consider for our first child, on the way in less than two months.

    Molly, we aren’t telling anyone our names either. It’s making both the soon-to-be grandmothers a little crazy, but they won’t have to wait much longer!

  • 11. jamsco  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:37 am

    We once knew a couple who told us the name much before the child was born, and some time later we couldn’t remember if the child had actually been born or if we just thought he had because we knew his name.

  • 12. jamsco  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:50 am

    And I’m pretty sure that I was one of those Minnesotans who asked that question.

    But (and we learned this with our kid naming) uniqueness provokes questions. That’s good!

  • 13. Ben Mordecai  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:55 am

    “She was born into the arms of Jesus, so that means that her name is true.”

    What a beautiful description.

  • 14. Paul Peterson  |  July 2, 2008 at 9:30 am

    A beautiful thing about living in Minnesota with a name like Orison is that you fit in with all the Andersons, Bensons, Carlsons, Eriksons, Gustafsons, Johnsons, Larsons, Nelsons, Olsons, Petersons…

  • 15. carissa  |  July 2, 2008 at 9:46 am

    how cool. and i like the idea of meaningful names in our native language rather than a foreign one.

  • 16. Bruce Sabin  |  July 2, 2008 at 9:59 am

    When my wife was pregnant and we were discussing names, I came up with Sophia Dei, which would be Latin for “widsom of God.” My wife came up with the name we ended up choosing, Charlotte Moon–the name of the famous missionary better known by her nickname Lottie. I knew friends and family would wonder how we came up with Moon for a middle name, so I sent out announcements with a letter that can also be read on my website:

  • 17. Tiffany  |  July 2, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I love your names! And the meanings…

    Jeneva gets called Geneva a lot. It’s jen-i-vah: means Purity.

    Jude….well, there are too many Beatles fans out there. Hey Jude. No, that is NOT why we chose it. 🙂

  • 18. Adrienne  |  July 2, 2008 at 11:27 am

    That is sooooo neat! Thanks for sharing. I’ll admit to having wondered, but I never thought to ask!

  • 19. modernista  |  July 2, 2008 at 11:27 am

    i love how you’re picking names that you love and not caring what other people think. i have a unique name, and when i was younger i didn’t like it because it made me a little different from the “kellys” in my class, now i wouldn’t have it any other way!

  • 20. Rachel  |  July 2, 2008 at 11:30 am

    can’t wait to hear future names… it’s a fun mystery to anticipate!!

  • 21. Lindsay  |  July 2, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Felicity is one of my favorite names as well. It is very beautiful. I’ve never heard Orison before, but I think it’s very cool!

  • 22. J. Evans  |  July 2, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I love Orison, Felicity – names that have meaning, not trendy which is a plus.

  • 23. Ronnica  |  July 2, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    I had wondered what his name meant. If I have children, I will want them to have names with significance as well.

  • 24. Carol  |  July 2, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    In graduate school I took a women’s studies course and in it each person was asked why they were given their name. I was shocked that well over half the women in the class were named for TV actors or characters!

  • 25. Tyler K.  |  July 2, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Tyler is a great name too. It means, “One who lays tiles” (at least that’s what my seventh grade teacher told me… and broke my heart).

  • 26. Stacey  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    I wanted to name Maxwell “Oliver” but Dana would only go with it for a middle name.

    Orison will ALWAYS be “Horison” to Maxwell hehehehe.

    Griffin was almost Grayson….then we saw a movie with a little girl named Griffin and they called her Griff and so that made up our mind….even though he is not a girl hehehehe.

    Benjamin was always Benjamin right from the start.

    Benjamin Eugene (family middle name)
    Maxwell Oliver
    Griffin Alexander

  • 27. ViewPacific  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    I love your approach. We kept our children’s names secret, too. It wasn’t easy, though, because we also had very persistent grandmothers. We kept them busy, though, with decoy names. Roscoe was my favorite for a boy and Veeberschnitzel of course for a girl. They thought we were serious, well at least for a few days.

  • 28. RaJen  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    today, 07.02.08, I found your blog from the front page of WordPress because the sentence shown was whether or not Orison was a family name and that’s a question I’ve gotten a lot lately (not about your Orison, but about the names of our 11 week old boy/girl twins) so I was curious to know more.

    And then I got to reading more. And then about Felicity and how she was “born into the arms of Jesus”. And I cried. Which got me to thinking of my boss with whom I had lunch with today and had a chance to ask him about how he was doing since his dad died two weeks ago. I wanted him to know that I cared and that it wasn’t forgotten. Because work environments have a way of sterilizing things.

    And then I read about your faith. And it moved me. Because I, too, am faithful. Though some would disagree because I am also gay. And how can one be gay and a Christian. But God created me and loves me and no one can take that away.

    So I’m glad to have discovered you and I think I’ll keep reading. Peace and Blessings. Rachel

  • 29. madamsassypants  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Wandered in from the front page. I love your naming scheme. The English language is so wonderful. Lovely to hear you all found such wonderful names in the common language.
    I would like to be able to invite you into my diary, but this one here is private. Sorry. I promise not to be a nasty stalker, though.

  • 30. Shannon Archer  |  July 2, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    I am so glad that someone with a unique name commented that they wouldn’t have it any other way now that they are older…let’s hope my daughter, Tyndale, ends up feeling the same way!

  • 31. jennifertobler  |  July 3, 2008 at 7:48 am

    saw your blog on the front page of wordpress. we are waiting (any day now!) for our first child to be born. i’m not good at keeping secrets, so we never even attempted to hide the name. we chose Charlotte Elizabeth because it is a family name. Charlotte was my great grandmother, and most of the women in our family have Elizabeth somewhere in their name. before we picked the name as “the one”, we looked up the meaning. Charlotte Elizabeth means “warrior princess” … which is absolutely wonderful! if you’ve ever read the book Captivating by Stasi Eldredge, you’d understand! thanks for sharing!

  • 32. Jane Swanson  |  July 3, 2008 at 8:22 am

    As a “plain jane”, I love your unique names for your children.
    As an older mom and grandmom, I have to smile about all the comments about keeping the “name” secret. In my day (big sigh, to have to actually say that, even tho’ my youngest is 9) we didn’t know the sex and so we shared the name!

  • 33. JenR  |  July 3, 2008 at 11:42 am

    I am due with our first baby tomorrow, and so this topic is of interest to me as well. We did not find out the sex and we are not telling our names, so we are doubly driving others crazy!!! I have found that fake names are an excellent diversion and stop 90% of name questions. Our fake names are Bo Duke (so our son will grow up to be a PSU linebacker, but will also bully children for their lunch money and have a rat tail growing up) and Egberdina Marquetta, which is, unfortunately, a family name!

    Our naming philosophy is a Biblical name for the first name and family name for the middle. Plus, I am not fond of names that have a common diminutative form (ie: Jennifer = Jenny) b/c I hated being called Jenny growing up. And the diminutative form sticks with certain relatives. We really like names that are no longer common but easily recognizable and pronounceable.

  • 34. Betsy O  |  July 3, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    One of my favorite names is Moriah Joy. MJ!


  • 35. Melissa  |  July 5, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    We have a son named Christian Walker, so his name means to walk and follow Christ. We call him Walker. Then our 2nd son is named Asa Gray. You would not believe the people that think Asa is a girl name. We chose it because it is a biblical name (king in OT that was favored by God), it means physician, and it was one of my minister’s names growing up. Funny – he has to go to the doctor ALOT. Anyway, love your names and may God bless your family with many more names (or however many you want.)

  • 36. marley howards  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:47 am

    Hey, we all have the right to choose the names we want. And I think it has a nice ring to it, quite unique actually.

  • 37. Courtney  |  July 9, 2008 at 9:10 am

    I really enjoyed this post. I love the names you have chosen. We are expecting #3 right now so there has been much name talk going on. I am slightly anal and our first two both have vowel names so part of my wants to continue the trend, but oh the stress of starting and following through on such things.
    My husband’s two cents….” I want an Abraham. John Piper has an Abraham, I want one too.”
    LOL! Silly man.

  • 38. Barbara  |  July 14, 2008 at 5:30 am

    (first time reader)

    We too are always careful about the meanings of our children’s names. Our second born is Josephine Marguerite. Josephine is “He Shall Add” like Biblical Joseph. Marguerite is a family name which I wanted to pass down, but it wasn’t until later that I clued in that Marguerite means “Bitterness” giving my wee girl the name “He Shall Add Bitterness”…. As it turns out the Lord did have a lot of difficult, bitter days for us to endure the year she was born, but it was a bit sour point for poor Josie when she found out the meaning of her name. We’ve tried a bit harder to be more careful since with our other children…

  • 39. A quick trip around the links at Between the Trees  |  July 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    […] Piper has a cool post about her and Abraham’s child-naming […]

  • 40. Chris  |  July 15, 2008 at 5:38 am

    Some names have beautiful meanings and some names are just beautiful.

    I actually liked Malachi before I cared much about meanings. I heard it in a Civil War movie called the Blue and the Gray. It was popular at that time.

    When we were expecting him, we had about seven boy names–some biblical, some not. Now I love the sound and the meaning: Malachi David, beloved messenger of the Lord. I say it a lot and pray that he will be that, wherever the Lord takes him in life.

    Our daughter was going to be Renee Elise (after me and a close friend), but one day Bill came home with an article by Jamie Buckingham about Elijah being fed by the ravens at the brook Cherith. So we revised her name to Cherith Renee (after the brook and me). Sometimes he wishes we had chosen Cherith Brooke. When people ask about her name, I love to tell the story behind it.

  • 41. Carrie  |  July 17, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    WOW what a beautiful thought…”intense happiness” how true that she NEVER had to endure a day on the fallen world? Sad for all of us who didn’t get to meet her, play with her, help her with her chore and homework…but the happiness and glory she is in…

  • 42. Jessica  |  July 30, 2008 at 10:43 am

    My husband and I don’t have any kids yet but we are looking forward to naming our kids after theologians like Owen, Calvin, Clive Justice (CS Lewis first name plus a J name so we can call him CJ) and maybe even a little Piper :). For those theologians that wouldn’t fit as names for kids were thinking a dog named Knox. We’ll see what the Lord does though.

  • 43. Naming Our New Son « The Responsible Puppet  |  November 20, 2008 at 12:38 am

    […] 2. I like the Piper’s naming convention. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

We're the Pipers!

Sponsor a Child!

Sponsor a Child with Compassion!

On Browsing and Commenting

You may be a stranger,
but you're not a stalker.


What the Tweet?!?

%d bloggers like this: