Kelly CrestWhat defines you? Do you have a personal motto that sums up your life? Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” He was obviously thinking about the dark days of the past. But what about the bright days of the past? I have also heard people talk about generational curses. But what about generational blessings?

Could it be that there is hidden information in our personal past history, that has the potential to empower us to live for Christ in the future.

There’s a lot to be learned about ourselves through our ancestors. Who we look like, who we may have been named after and why, or how our own passions were actually the same passions of our forefathers. I’ve been surprised and enlightened, and yes empowered in spirit, by information I’ve learned about my ancestors and my own personal history.

I’ve always been intrigued by names. Perhaps this is because of my own name and the revelation that came when I discovered I had more than one name given to me at birth. I am adopted, the name given to me by my wonderful adoptive parents was Charlana Marie. When I was 32, my mom encouraged me to get information on my natural parents. To our surprise, I had another name at birth, the name my birth mom gave me was Elizabeth Ann. Wow! It threw me for a loop at first. In a moment I felt like I lost my identity, but as I settled down I felt encouraged to research the names, origins, and meanings of each. Again surprised, I realized I was given the same name by both adoptive and natural parents; Charlana is actually Charles and Anna put together, Ann meaning “grace,” then Ann again was my middle name from my birth mom. It really settled my heart, when I learned what Elizabeth means “God is my oath” or “Fullness of God.”

This was such a blessing for me because I was a little confused about these two names and I remember asking the Lord “who am I?” Am I, Charlana Marie, or am I Elizabeth Ann? Well after discovering the meanings of the names I thought of the similarities of the meanings and felt in my heart, I’ve always been who God said I was and it didn’t matter how many names I was given. The coolest part is the fact that my life really is a true reflection of the meanings of my names, a gracious person who is given totally to the Lord.

Elizabeth Ann Blankenship

Elizabeth Ann Blankenship

Taking this one step beyond the first names, I’ve discovered some really amazing things about my natural mom, Katherine Blankenship Bowery. Through the help of a cousin, I learned that I was named after my great-grandmother Elizabeth Ann Blankenship. It was particularly sweet to find a picture of her on ancestry.com. It warms my heart to see her, and to know that I was given this special family name by my mother who obviously loved her grandmother.

As I researched the family name “Blankenship,” I learned that back in the 1600s and prior families had what was known as a family motto on their homes and family crests. The Blankenship motto was “God defends the Right.” This was very revealing to me, as I have always been a person who was not afraid to defend what was right according to God, defend the defenseless. This was a generational blessing for me because a piece of the puzzle was fit together perfectly. Truly roots run deep and the passion in the hearts of our ancestors carries on to those who will come after them.

Now I’m intrigued, so I research the Kelly family for a motto. It was “God is a Strong Tower to Me,” which was on the family crest dating back to the 14th and 15th century.

Mottos were considered to be a battle cry or declaration of the family. Think of that! It’s like a banner that declares who your family is and who your family serves. A very powerful proclamation!

Recently, I learned that in my mother’s grandmother’s lineage documented back into the 700s had a family crest with the motto “je mourrai pour ceux que j’aime” meaning, “I die for those I love!” I shake my head again even as I type it. Could it be that there are so many secret blessings wrapped up in our lineage? I don’t give much of my time to researching genealogies, but what little I have learned has been a confirmation of who I am and what I was created for… I die for those I love… Christ! And, there’s no greater gift to give than laying ones life down for his brother.” What treasure, what depth of understanding can we gain from learning about our past. Our history! We think of history as the grandiose events of valor and fortitude, but those people willing to do such courageous things are probably in your family history.

There is much in a name. And, much to learn from our ancestors. It’s been a wonderful for me to discover generational blessings. And I’m grateful for those who have paved the way for me to live this life I’ve been given.

Graciousness is knowing how to do what’s best for every person at any given time. Graciousness is loving those past and pouring that same love into those present. Graciousness is a champion of good and right, and lovely and pure, and of a good report. Oh there’s so much to learn and so much more to live… May we live it all in God’s immeasurable love!

So what’s your family motto? If you search it out and find none, then start one. Be the one who make declaration of your home and your family. And, let graciousness abound toward all who you encounter there.