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Christmas and Family Trees

The yearly trek is about to happen on the Ohnemus farm. It goes like this every year; I drop hints about good looking trees I find along the ditches or game paths, and I tuck some fluorescent survey flagging into my pocket to mark the perfect tree. Once identified and flagged, the adventure starts. David, the woodsman, claims his role to cut and drag it... and deliver it to the living room. Once, the perfect tree blew out of the pickup truck; resulting in only 1/2 a tree that looked really nice against the wall, and used fewer ornaments. Another year, I pressure washed the brown mud-clad spruce after it rolled in the ditch. Spruce indigenous to Iowa tend to be brown anyway.

Similarly, our family trees can be brown and misshapen. They are scarred, with branches missing and prickly bits protruding. We may have branches torn apart by infidelity, drug addiction, divorce, untimely death and unforgiveness. At Christmas, even the broken family tree gets decorated. Dressed up with gifts in hand, like my tattered tree looks beautiful backed up against a wall and fully lit up, we gather. Alternately, the branches that are broken, gather in other living rooms to light up. Good news prevails however, that the broken and sometimes discarded branches can be grafted into a tree. The "Tree of Life". Christmas is about relationships, and connectedness to the tree of life, from which all other life flows.

Jesus offers that life. He came from a family tree of misshaped riffraff and unlikely roots. Yet God in His sovereignty had a plan to use all the bad for good, all the tragic and sad circumstances to grow the root of Jesse into our living Hope. Your Christmas and Family tree may not look the way you want it this year, but because Christmas is about Jesus, we look at his family tree, and to the tree He died on and rejoice that He is the Giver of Eternal Life and the fixer of family trees.

On our front yard I've built a swing that strategically has painted on it's seat the words "FORGIVE". I need to be reminded, and sometimes take a swing and talk to God about it. "I love you and forgive you no matter what" will be the most priceless and life-giving word gift you can offer this Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Mary Lynne

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