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Family Tree

My then husband-to-be and I, we sat, desperate and broken in our pastor’s office. The warmth of the wood, leather and all those books, infused us with comfort, as did this dear man’s mere presence. Our family was in ruins. Both sets of parents divorced, relationships severed. We were hurting.



“Before the creation of the world, there was relationship . . . family,” his Liam Neeson-esque voice explained. He spoke to us the first two verses of the very first book of the Bible:


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters,” he quoted. “The Hebrew word for ‘Spirit’ in the second verse is ‘Elohim’. It is plural.”


I think our hearts gasped. He went on to explain that when family relationships are revealed as broken, it is more painful than anything else because the very image of Who God is, is broken. Family is meant to be whole.


Of course.


But our families aren’t, are they? Even if our families were full of strong-as-steel marriages, our pedigree full of Christian stalwarts, we are all broken, desperate people. It is only natural that the brokenness is transferred into relationship, right?


But it isn’t natural.


Isn’t it at the holidays that the family’s shattered shards are most searing? Isn’t it at Thanksgiving and Christmas that what should be is most revealed for what it isn’t? A family member has passed. A marriage has dissolved. A child has turned away. A family never came along.


And the pain slips in when we least expect, and we weren’t prepared and what on earth do we do with it?


I’m not here with any answers.


But I know that there is One who makes all things new. There is One who redeems. There is One who breathes and ashes swirl and beauty forms.


During those few days when we were waiting on my husband’s blood work and the doctor feared leukemia, I couldn’t help but think the worst. My mind raced into making a “plan” in case I was left raising two little girls all on my own. Being a nurse, I wasn’t too worried about finding a job that could sustain us and I had an idea of where we could live, but I was scared to death at the thought of simply being alone. How could my soul survive that? How could I live without the only man I’ve ever known? And in between my pleas and sobs, He spoke quiet.


We are never alone. Not only because Jesus promised to never forsake us, but because of Who He is . . . because of what He’s done . . . his people will always live on. His body is ever-present because He ever-present. He has made us His own. We are family. We have brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles all over the globe. And as long as this globe spins, and longer, they will always be.

“And the Sovereign LORD says: I will take a tender shoot from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. It will become a noble cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter beneath its branches. And all the trees will know that it is I, the LORD, who cuts down the tall tree and helps the short tree to grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives new life to the dead tree. I, the LORD, have spoken! I will do what I have said.” Ezekiel 17:22-24
So, as we wade through all that the holidays sometimes reveal, let us find rest in his branches. Let us nest there. Live there.
He is ours for the clinging.


May you all have had a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Tonight, I am simply thankful that my two little girls have full tummies and soft beds in which to sleep. Be with all the children who don’t have full tummies or soft beds or mothers to wrap them warm. Keep them in my heart. I . . . we . . . are so blessed. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Thanksgiving came early for us this year. We celebrated yesterday with my side of the family. We all gathered around my father’s dining room table . . .  his eight kids, minus one – away at college, plus five – two sons-in-law, one son-in-law-to-be and two granddaughters, my children. It was snug. My dad and stepmother sit at the head of the table and we all sit down to a feast. We are about ready to lift the serving spoons and literally dig into the casseroles and side dishes, when my father begins his traditional scripture reading and historical spiel about how Thanksgiving came to be. All us kids groan, but our eyes twinkle at each other. As torturous as it is to sit and smell all the wonderful food while dad talks and talks, and although we’d probably never ‘fess up to it, I think inwardly we all actually like this part of our Thanksgiving tradition. If for nothing else, it’s something we can at least tease Dad about year after year. My eyes meet my sister’s over the corn casserole.  “Isn’t he hungry?!” we silently plead. Yes, and so are we. For more than stuffing and mashed potatoes.


Later, we go around the table and share a Thanksgiving memory and/or something for which we’re thankful. Dad gets teary. We shuffle in our seats and the boys tease him about crying. But inwardly, our hearts melt a bit at seeing our father teary-eyed over being thankful for us.


My plea the last few weeks has been that I won’t take life and blessings for granted. My husband has been sick this year and we have had a couple thousand dollars worth of blood tests. At one point, the doctor even feared leukemia. It shook us to the core. It also grounded us in a way we have never felt in our six years of marriage. The chaos of life cleared and we saw more clearly what in life is truly important and what is important to us for our family. Thankfully, leukemia was ruled out, but I don’t want the clarity we felt in those scary few days to cloud over. So, what better time than the week of Thanksgiving, and the first Monday of this blog to begin a count of His blessings and a search of finding God in the everyday?


#1 blood work realigning to normal


#2 slobbery baby kisses


#3 Nyquil and sound sleep


#4 the strong arms of a husband


#5 a new haircut!


#6 a young teenage, image-conscious uncle watching Lady and the Tramp with his niece


#7 cheerios on the floor in nearly every room


#8 finding a few more tampons in the back of the cabinet (C’mon girls, I know you’ve been thankful for this at one time or another too!)


#9 a refrigerator needing cleaned out


#10 pecan chocolate chip pie


#11 the quick forgiveness of a three-year-old


#12 pumpkins all in a row