What’s in a name?

This one will be fun and you will learn a bit of family history:

Google the meaning of your name and talk about how it fits or doesn’t fit you.

You can’t just Google my name. It was made up. As you’ve seen at the bottom of each post, my name is Jonnelle. I’ve seen “Janelle” or “Jenelle” or “Jennelle” but never another Jonnelle. This doesn’t mean we aren’t out there and that we shouldn’t all join up in a support group for people with unusual names that couldn’t get the keychain at a theme park gift shop.

I am named after my dad, John. John means “God is gracious” – something that really didn’t apply to my dad a whole lot of the time. I think he was the best dad he could have been given how he grew up and how he lived. But that doesn’t make him a great dad. My brother and I have said on occasion that we are very grateful that God has broken the chains that bind and created a new path and new legacies for the future that rest in Him.

My dad wanted to name me John – after all I was supposed to be a boy. My mom said “No” and added “nelle” to make it more feminine. Nelle is a variant of Helen, meaning “torch.”

When I was 8 years old, I begged my mom to let me change it to “Christine.” No idea why I picked that name but I know at 8 years old, I hated “Jonnelle”. In a world of Jennifers, Melissas, and Careys/Carries, it was hard.

Back to the meaning. My dad was probably named after his dad (also John.) And a relative up in Wisconsin has put together a fairly extensive family history on ancestry.com and reviewing it, John and its variants are very popular in my family. Also know what little family history that I do, grace isn’t a big part of it.

There was Walter (“ruler of the army”), who was a drunk, philandering bastard who abused his kids. His father, Robert (“bright”), wrote the kids (8 of them!) from his first family out of his will, cut them off and abandoned them (3 were under the age of 12 when the left, the youngest – a year old), and charged them usurious rates from his bank when they tried to save the family farm as adults.

Both my dad and grandpa were “be faithful to one woman”-ly challenged. My nana (Frances – “Frenchman”) stayed with my grandpa. My mom (Sandra – variant of “Alexander” – to help man) didn’t stay with my dad.

But God is indeed gracious. He met me at my lowest point (which I talked about a few days ago) and gave me love, peace and grace. I was able to be there for my mom in her final months before He called her home. My brother, whose first name is William (another popular family name – “to helm, protect”) but goes by Eric (the name I picked out for him when I announced to my parents that they were expecting before they knew they were expecting… “ruler”), told me that one of the biggest influence on his coming to Christ was how God changed me. Now he’s married to a lovely, Godly woman and they have a beautiful daughter who will (hopefully and we pray) never know the pain of a divorced family or abuse.

He is Gracious in that he met me and a new legacy began. While I am learning to show grace to others, I am thankful for all the grace He has given to me.



  1. Virtual Assistant Lux · October 13, 2013

    beautiful name, dear.

    • Jonnelle · October 14, 2013

      Thank you 🙂

  2. Jen · October 14, 2013

    That is beautiful. And despite the personal foibles of those in your family—God HAS been gracious to you and your brother, who are, it appears, inheriting the promise of all those “John”s in your tree!

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