The Family Stump {Real Hope for a Tree} {Advent}

When you open up God’s love letter to us, the Bible, do you know what you find?  You find the family tree of Jesus.  You find the stories that trace the branches of Jesus’ family…And you go all the way back to the very beginning – our beginning.  And when you’re tracing that family tree of Jesus, guess what you find?  People who were big cheaters, bad liars, weaselly sneakers, battling brothers, fighting families, and all the beaten up and brokenhearted.  (Ever know any families like that?)

...And things got so rotten that his [Jesus] family tree looked more like the stump of a tree cut right off.  But…right out of this stump. This budding branch – this green shoot of new hope, new starts, new freedom for the whole family – was Jesus!  from Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

I read this introduction and the book’s first entry on Sunday.  Nothing jumped out at me.  I loved the thought of starting this new tradition with my children, so I focused on them – on their hearts knowing Jesus and his lineage better.  On making memories. On spending intentional time together.

But, when my son, Owen, read these words aloud last night, I held my breath.  Suddenly, we weren’t a mother, daughter, and son squished together on our sofa starting a new tradition, learning about Jesus.

We were…are… a broken family.

We were…are… the stump.

Stump Dec 1

And my head takes this and runs with it:  Stumps aren’t beautiful like trees. Stumps announce rather loudly – the rest of me is missing.  Cut down, blown over, hauled away, and changed forever.

Who wants to be the stump? My heart laments as I listen to my children read.  I wanted to be the tree!  I remind God – again.

And my Hannah reads…When their family tree crashed to the ground, it crushed all of their hearts.  The stump – and all of their days – felt utterly hopeless.  Like their hearts had been cut right out of them.  

And my thoughts continue..Yes, yes it did.  Thanks for the reminder (or not).

And her words continue…Out of the stump of every family tree – comes the shoot of Jesus’ forever-love.  Jesus would go to impossible lengths to rescue you.


I know – He is saying – change your perspective, Sarah.  It’s ok to be the stump. It’s a chance to be new – to grow again.

From stump to tree to cross…the redemption story.

God doesn’t cut off all the big cheaters, bad liars, weaselly sneakers, battling brothers, fighting families, and brokenhearted from His family tree – He makes families just like these perfectly His!  He adopts all the messy and broken and imperfect people into His tree and His story and His heart, and He gives us His family name…

Cheaters, liars, sneakers, brokenhearted…any of that sound familiar?  Yes. I bet so.  It does to me.

But, did you read the rest?  He doesn’t cut them off.  Does NOT.  He makes them HIS.  He adopts the messy, the broken, the imperfect – just as they are – even the ones you don’t like – into HIS tree, His story, giving them His family name.

Really?  {I know this.  But something suddenly sounds different.}

Right when I decide to quiet myself and my family – stump and all.  Right when I decide I don’t have to be all or do all or understand all. Right when I decide I am tired, and I no longer can or want to keep up with whatever or whomever I am trying so dang hard to keep up with.

Right when I decide He is enough. This Christmas and forever. (Although I am SURE He will need to remind me.)

Right THEN, He speaks….

Jesus comes right to your Christmas tree and looks at your family and says, “I am your Rescuer, and I will set you free from all the brokenness and sinfulness and sadness. I’ll be the Gift, and I’ll take you.”

He sets me free from all brokenness, sinfulness, sadness. He is the Gift, my Rescuer. In fact, He finished that work two thousand years ago on a cross.

Who knew when I picked up this book  – when I decided that this Christmas needed to be different – that a mom living on a farm in Canada had written the words I’d need to hear long before those words landed in my hands.

Who knew I was white-knuckling hope.  Holding on with all I had, choosing to believe that He is a God of His promises even though I felt left and forsaken.

Who knew I would leave the church for a season, rejecting what the “church” had become to and for me.

Who knew that the marriage I fought for, the stuff I collected, and the image I crafted would pass away.

Who knew that a stump could transform into a tree once again.

He did. My Creator knew all along.

And He has known all along what you need, where you are, what it will take, and where to find you.

As our family grows from stump to tree again,  I am sure there will be pruning – some branches cut that I think need to  grow.  Still…

We will be a tree again.  We will.

For the Bible tells me so.

**from excerpts from Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp


  1. What I see and hear when I look or listen to you is beauty. Praise God that He takes what seems hopeless and brings growth, the shoot, the green, the beauty. You are deeply rooted, deeply planted. Love ya sista.

    • I love that…the shoot, the green, the beauty. I am reminded that while plants are growing…just a few shoots here and there…they dont seem like much. And the TIME it takes for them to get from seed to fruit bearing seems sooooo long. But. Each part of the growing is essential. Skip a step and stunt growth – or there’s not growth at all. I always struggle with the waiting, but perhaps it’s not waiting at all – just small, incremental growth that I can’t readily see. Lots of food for thought! Love you too, sista;) And thanks for the words to ponder!

  2. LOVE your writings! Speaks to many……love you too!!

  3. We are a stump, too. And yet we’re growing. Thank you for sharing these words today and may your children embrace the promise!

  4. Beautiful heart, you are so wise. Thank you for sharing what God has revealed to you. 🙂

Leave a Reply