Happy Birthday, Jovanie~Marie!

What does Jovan mean?

(Hebrew) Yahweh is gracious, Yahweh is merciful.

This is very, very true.

jovan photo shoot

What does Jovan mean to us?

You are such a great daughter-in-law.  I mean, that sounds so legal, when really, when Rocky stood in the piercing rays of the setting sun that September evening and took you as his wife, we really, truly received you as a new daughter.  We are so pleased he made that choice 7+ years ago and as seasons and time pass, our gratefulness increases.

jovan and family

For you are the woman who sees our son and loves him, truly loves him.  You are his home and his rest, his peace and his joy.  You are gracious and you are mercy.  You live up to your name so well.

jovan and bailey

And you are the woman who has given us the three darling granddaughters, oh what joy they bring, each unique, so sweet.  And aren’t they beautiful like their mommy?  Averi Jadyn, firstborn, so wise and all-knowing, Amelie Belle with her engaging orneriness; and this gentle, most-contented baby-of-the-year, Bailey Sophia?

jovans daughters

And so, life is busy for your beautiful family.  And this has been a year of growth (new baby, expanding ministry opportunities), and of heart-breaking loss and surprise (being flooded out of your home and all the equipment and the studio, gone).  But wow- in everything, in EVERYTHING – watching you and Rocky deciding to give thanks and seeing the faithfulness of God just explode towards you in restoration and generosity.  The hard times are like a purifying fire, they’ll reveal what you’re really made of.  And it is delighting us to see, you and Rock are growing, shining, getting stronger and smarter and better and the graciousness and mercy is lighting the sky.  I wouldn’t wish bad things on you, but I am very proud of how you are handling them.

The revelation~I am SO blessed!

Remember that day in church a few years back, Jovan?  They were doing that sermon series on the Book of Ruth and while I had always enjoyed the story, that day a whole new piece of it just exploded into the atmosphere of my heart.  I realized I was the  Naomi and you were the Ruth and that I had indeed been a daughter-in-law who was better to me than seven sons (the seven brothers Rocky never got, haha) would have been…even though I always thought I wanted 8 sons for some strange reason.  Haha. 

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!  He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” The Bible, Ruth 4.14-15 niv

jovan and rocky

That sermon and that scripture passage just made me cry with gratitude!  True for Naomi.  True for me, too!

When Rocky was growing up and getting cuter by the minute, I was so surprised at all the girls who tried to catch his eye.  I started thanking God that I only had one son, because I could totally see the potential for disaster if I’d have had to bring more girls into this highly strong-woman’ed family.  But honestly, I wouldn’t mind having lots of daughter-in-laws if they were all just like you.

Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family… Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”  The Bible, Ruth 4.11-12 niv

I wish all mother-and-daughter-in-laws had the chance to love and be loved like you and I have.  Wouldn’t the world be a much happier and lovelier place?  I know our family is blessed because of you, and you have brought so much to the familia…

jovan and jeanie

So, to put words together to celebrate your birth on that Halloween night twenty-something years ago is to thank God for His faithfulness, for His mercies that are new every morning, for the graciousness He showed us in sending you to us.

A blessing for each year:

jovan blessing

Totally wishing you an amazing year ~ Your adoring m-i-l**

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Jovanie~Marie!

  1. Oh man you always know what to say! My heart is so full . My life is so good. Thank you for being the mom in love that you are! You make it sooo easy to love and adore you! Thank you for this post! You bless me more then I could possibly describe! I love you and am so so very honored to be a Rhoades!!!!

  2. Jov, this is post is SO right on about you! You are an amazing mother, a committed sister, a sweet prankster, and a wealth of deep knowledge and grace. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – filling the only vacant sister slot in our family was always going to be a hard thing and you’ve done that with grace and gentleness. You’ve stood with us even when we overwhelm you with opinions and chosen to love if we’ve ever unwittingly offended you and I KNOW we’ve given opportunities for that ;) Too many women wouldn’t have been strong enough to walk into such a tight knit family and determine to be one of us, but you have always done that with grace. And I hope that you never doubt for a second how loved you are as our sister. You have blessed our lives and brought a whole different perspective into our family and it makes us each better. So thank you for loving us, thank you for loving my brother so completely and thank you for providing us with three beautiful and charming little girls that we get to dote on and admire for their exiquisite beauty and funny personalities. I love you, sis. Happy late birthday!

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