Monday, May 10, 2010

Reshaping My Family Tree by T. Suzanne Eller

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John 15:4 (NIV)

The manager at Atwoods just might think I'm a stalker. I'm the one in the Red Durango driving slowly by the garden section every time I'm in town. I've already selected two hardy trees on the Atwood lot, and I can tell you exactly where I'm going to plant them when it's time.

Spring. Just breathing that word makes me happy. Flowers. Birds singing. Digging happily in the dirt. Yesterday I knelt to admire the dark shoots on my Knock Out rose bushes, and the green buds on my perennials.

But there is a tree that used to cause me pain. The branches of my family tree bent under the weight of addiction, of phys ical and verbal abuse, of parenting patterns that didn't work but that were handed down from generation to generation like bad apples.

When I became a mom, I determined that my family tree had to grow in another direction. I had nothing to cling to in the natural. My parenting knowledge was based on a broken childhood filled with chaos.

That's when faith was grafted in.

I prayed as I walked my colicky baby girl. I asked for strength when I was mentally exhausted from piles of laundry, from nursing, and from encouraging and disciplining three little ones. I closed myself in my bedroom, getting alone with God when I had a fight with my teen, admitting that, "Sometimes I don't have a clue, God." Faith didn't make me a perfect parent, but it did give me hope that I could be the mom I wanted to be.

Motherhood was often challenging, but it was also an immense blessing.

Today I'm still a mom, though my role has changed. I have two sons-in-law and a daughter -in-law I love like crazy. And now little Elle is on the way. My first grandchild will be born in July, and Gramma can't wait to hold her in my arms.

Even as I write this, I fight tears because I can clearly see how Jesus answered a young mom's prayers.

Maybe, like mine, your family tree is crooked and gnarled with disease. You don't have to do it alone. Grafting in faith is simply inviting Jesus into the process. Faith plants seeds of hope. It prunes away parenting patterns and legacies that caused injury and harm to you, so that you can give your children something greater.

And greatest of all, new branches sprout, taking you and your family in a new direction entirely.

Dear Jesus, I invite You into my family tree. Where there is brokenness, may You be the Healer. Where there is disease, may You prune so that new life can begin. Come alongside me as a mom. Let me see the beauty of these children You have placed in my heart and in my life. Thank you for walking with me every day.

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