Words of My Life: Heritage

Friday is my birthday—the official ending of my Jubilee year celebration of 50 years in ministry and 70 years of life. I’m not quite through with the Words of My Life, so there will be a few morei in the next few weeks.


If you ask my children about their heritage, they will say, “On my father’s side we are Swedish (with a little Scottish for the Douglass name) and on my mother’s side we are Texan.

We celebrate those heritages! My husband is grateful for the once a year recognition of his Scandinavian roots with Swedish pancakes and lingonberries every Christmas morning. I make a great split pea soup—a favorite in Sweden—and the fruit soup that provided good fruits in the long, cold winters.We haven’t come to any Scottish celebration yet.

But Texas—that’s another story. We celebrate it all year long in my Texas room, complete with Texas flags, bluebonnets, Longhorns, maps and a saddle. All the grandkids have their picture taken on the saddle.

My pride in my Texas heritage goes way back—on my mother’s side we helped settle the state. William Stanhope Taylor, my great-great grandfather, arrived in Texas with Stephen F. Austin and played a role in the Revolution.

Our family has a letter describing his role in the Battle of San Jacinto, recounting especially chasing after Santa Anna, discovering him dressed as a simple soldier, capturing the General and bringing him back to General Sam Houston.

On my father’s side my great-great grandfather arrived in the early days of Dallas, coming from Mississippi after the War Between the States. Again, the family helped settle that great city I grew up in. My great-great grandparents apparently attended different churches as they helped start two churches that still exist in Dallas: First Baptist and All Saints Episcopal.But my heritage goes back farther than Texas. My predominant European heritage is Irish, from both my mother and father. My Downs maiden name came from Isle of Man, between England and Ireland. It was originally Gaelic—or Irish, then settled by Vikings, conquered by the English and by the Scottish. It is now part of the British Commonwealth.

My mother’s maiden name, Looney, was first found in Ireland’ County Tyrone. I still have much history to discover with the Looneys. The rest of my mother’s heritage was English, with names like Field and Taylor. And my father’s father married a Pennsylvania girl with German background.

I love learning about all the diversity of my heritage, though it is clearly northern European. And Texan. JI try to keep our family heritage alive by telling the stories and bringing memories alive. When my daughter Michelle was in fifth grade they were studying heritage and were to dress like someone from a family background and bring a food from that culture to share. Michelle dressed as St Lucia, the bearer of light, for a traditional Swedish Christmas celebration and brought fruit soup to share.

But of course there is the greatest heritage of all to discover and learn: the fact that I am a daughter of God, adopted into His family, inheriting all the history and rights of Jesus the Son of God.

And as much as I celebrate other heritages, this is the one the matters the most. What I have received in this family I share with as many others as I can. It’s a family everyone can freely join—and would surely want to if they understood all that it means to belong to God Himself.

What about you? What is your heritage?

C 2015 Judy Douglass