Reshaping My Family Tree
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 physical 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.

Related Resources:
The Mom I Want to Be: Rising above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future by T. Suzanne Eller

Visit Suzie’s blog for a chance to win an autographed copy of her books

Building the Christian Family You Never Had: A Practical Guide for Pioneer Parents by Mary E. DeMuth

Read on for more encouragement with Raising a Godly Generation

Application Steps:
Growing tips for your child:
• Water: Encourage with sincere praise.
• Shape: Love the child always while addressing the behavior with calm, consistency, and reasonable consequences.
• Prune: Be honest about unhealthy parenting patterns that affected you as a child that continue on in your home. Replace unhealthy patterns with those that produce stability.
• Harvest: Look beyond the now (feelings) to the end result. Your child is a work in progress. Consistency will produce fruit.

"If our kids see us humbly committing each new day to Jesus, they'll learn that He truly loves and cares about every detail of our lives. That's humility." Susie Larson, author of Growing Grateful Kids.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (NIV)

Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (NIV)

© 2010 T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Carla Layton said...

Is there a website similar to yours that has a daily devotional for families/children? I have two sons: eight and twelve years old. My husband & I have done several devotional books with them, but I would love to find a website similar to yours for them. Thanks for any input!

Blogger Robin said...

Great devotional

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks...this addresses some of the worries I have had over the years...seeming to fail miserably with my kids because of family patterns...feeling like I (and my husband) had ruined our kids.

Now I must trust, be still and know that God is God...

Thank you for your encouragement!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How wonderful and helpful this devo. I will use it to pray for my children and their spouses. O Lord, help us as we prune our family tree.

Anonymous Jen said...

Hi, Susie! Thanks for this great post. I always love gardening analogies, and I haven't read one for families/children in a while. It really spoke to my heart, and refreshed my spirit!

Blogger Kelsie said...

Thank you for this devotion. I have struggled with patience with my two little boys, and I've come to realize that the more I admit the need for God's strength, the better the outcome! My best parenting advice is to admit, like you said, that you don't have a clue. Trust Christ fully.

Blogger Goat Gal said...

Oh the times that I have seen the angry frustrated ways of my mother rear their ugly heads in my own parenting and the fear that causes me. Thank you for this.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God so used your blog today to provide peace to my heart after a meltdown with Him during my daily God time. Thank you!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate to your story I too am working each and every day to be the best mom that I can be. I want my children to lead healthy, happy lives and to know Christ as a loving influence versus one of condemnation. So yes, I can relate to your devotional.

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