The Family Tree

This blog post was forming in my mind as I was vacuuming Sunday afternoon, but the thought cup filled up and began to spill over.

I had to stop and get my laptop because I am lucky if I remember things like… P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.


One of the first lines was going to be how I felt like if I continued to use Lord of the Rings references, then I would limit any readers down to maybe two people.

I love the movies.

I love all of the Christian allegories. However, there are entire scenes where I will fast forward and skip, and I’ve seen the movies….well, let’s just say less than 50 times.

The Two Towers? The whole mountain and spider incident? I only saw it ONCE. I don’t need that imagery in my life.

These are the types of the movies that can just play in the background while I am doing something else – because I need an “anchor noise” to keep me focused.

My brain activity can be like when the gumballs are falling onto Adam Sandler’s head in Bedtime Stories. I never know which one I am going to catch, so I am shoving gumballs (thoughts) into my pockets (notepad, laptop, cell phone, texts to myself, on my hand, etc.) as quickly as I can.

So, the vacuum cleaner is put away, laptop is open, and I turn on the tv.

At the top of the tv guide were BOTH The Two Towers and Return of The King! Sure, they are on TV almost as much as Harry Potter was on Freeform, but two of the movies, at the same time?

I selected Return of the King instead of the other option…because of that whole spider scene.

Upon pressing select, I was surprised, yet again, when the movie was at the very scene I was thinking about when this whole idea formed.

I was thinking about a tree…a tree that was in danger of dying, but someone was fighting for its survival.


My family tree is, uh, not normal. Not the people specifically in my house, but all the branches and roots that stretch out from me.

It has bothered me more than usual because some of the crazies have decided to come out lately and do a trial run for Dr. Phil.

Maybe my expectations have just always been too high?

Unfortunately, I cannot fast forward through those parts of life, like the uncomfortable movie scenes.

Why can’t people just love each other and occasionally disagree about football or how to make cornbread?

Speaking of cornbread, I used to love family reunions. A covered pavilion at the local state park. A creek or cool spring to wade through. Always fried chicken, corn on the cob, peas and cornbread. Watermelon. Smiles. Warmth. Heritage.

There aren’t enough people left to have one anymore.

I feel like my girls are at the end of a broken family tree.


Pippin to Gandalf:

“A tree.  There was a white tree, in a courtyard of stone. It was dead.”


Have you ever felt like your family tree was dead?

I feel that way sometimes because of what I want right now, what I’ve always wanted, and what others have.

I am fully aware this is wrong.


There isn’t anyone from my mother’s side of the family in my life and I never knew her parents.

There isn’t anyone from my paternal grandmother’s side of the family in my life (I don’t even know where they are).

There isn’t anyone from my paternal grandfather’s side of the family (this was the moonshining Simpsons from Tuscaloosa, so that would be interesting to research).

My dad has three children and his only son, my brother, died last year. The Simpson line ended with Jeremy.

My dad’s brother has one daughter, so I only have one, first cousin (there are others, but I don’t know where they are).

The other two grandchildren, besides me, do not have any children.

Morgan and Melody are the only great-grandchildren. They do not have any cousins.

What depresses me is…what does the future hold for their family gatherings? Who will be left?

Now, there are other family members, way out on other branches.

I haven’t met some of them and others were just never close to my parents. My dad had nine aunts and uncles. None of those are still living, but they all had children, which means I should have a lot of cousins.


Without causing too much embarrassment to my family, I’ll simply say that there’s been a lot of divorce. That occasionally brings drama, which like the flu, can drain the life out of you and make you avoid crowds.

I know families who seem perfect are not really as Hallmark as they appear. But, at least they have each other, right?


Back to LOTR.

At this point in the movie, Pippin’s vision says the great city of Gondor will fall, the king’s tree is surrounded by flames and the age of men will have ended.

No one yet knows if elves, dwarves, hobbits, and men can set aside their differences in order to fight for their mutual survival.

If you think about it, shouldn’t we set aside our differences in order to fight a common enemy for our eternal survival?


It’s hard writing over a number of days because I have to go back and try to make sure everything is in the same past tense or present tense (I don’t succeed).

This post began on Sunday, May 20, after a week of strange encounters with two women in my family. It looks like it is ending today, Thursday, May 24.

I can’t even remember what else I was going to say about trees or LOTR because after a month of being too busy for Otto Radio and my Love Worth Finding podcast, I decided to open the app two days ago.

After I had written most of this, the title of the next podcast in the current sermon series was…

Y’all. Come on. Do you believe in the Lord, yet?

Our phones CANNOT be that smart. These are prescheduled sermons, through a third party app, from a man (a great one) who passed away many years ago. Also, they are in a certain order. I checked.

I could not wait to hear this.


Key verse:

Hebrews 11:20 – By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau for things to come.

(But it was a hard road to get there.)

Genesis 25:24-3

Instead of a great champion of faith as he is described in Hebrews, there was once a time when Isaac was on the path to being a failure of a father… leading a dysfunctional family.

Isaac. Abraham’s Isaac.

Isaac (dad) favored the eldest Esau, and Rebecca (mom) favored the youngest, Jacob.

#favoritism #siblingrivalry

Dr. Rogers’ message went on to describe each family member (at the time) as something like this:

▪️A sensual father (Isaac) – he had been a spiritual man, but in his old age had become a carnal man. His senses took priority over sensibility as he was deceived by his smell, taste and touch…all because he asked Esau to kill some venison and make him a “savory stew.”

▪️A scheming mother (Rebecca) – she manipulates her husband and helps Jacob deceive his father. She ends up losing the very son she is trying to protect because he ends up running away from Esau and she never sees him again.

▪️A shady son (Jacob) – a deceiver; whose name means to supplant. Following the advice of his mother, he disguises himself and tricks his father into giving him Esau’s blessing.

▪️A sorry brother (Esau) – the twin brother of Jacob who traded his birthright just because he was so hungry he was “about to die.” He didn’t really care about the spiritual heritage he would carry as the eldest. He just wanted the position, title and possessions that came with it.

The birthright Jacob was seeking was the blessing of Abraham, everything God had promised to him.

God already knew Esau did not have a heart after Him to carry on this lineage.

God took this dysfunctional family and from it built the family tree for His only Son, but first He had to deal with Jacob.

Later in Genesis 32, Jacob has long since fled from Esau, travelled to his uncle’s house, worked for him and married Leah and Rachael.

The time came that Esau and Jacob are to meet…Esau is headed Jacob’s way. Jacob is loading up gifts and flocks and anything he can do to find favor with Esau.

However, during the night, he was alone and a man (angel, possibly the Lord Himself) began to wrestle with him…until daybreak.

I am pretty sure this heavenly being could have taken Jacob, but Jacob had to be broken.

He ended up broken both spiritually, with contrite humility, and physically. From that day forward he walked with a limp and leaned on a cane. #learningtolean

I encourage you to go read these chapters for the full story of this family, because I can tell I am not doing justice as a storyteller.

The Lord restored Jacob. His name no longer meant “deceiver,” but Israel meant “prince.”

Over and over God can mold any type of clay into what He desires, taking the sin that has defined us and changing it into a testimony that transforms us.

This has to be wrapped up. I can’t go on and on about the whole old testament. 😂 From here:

  • Isaac had Jacob.
  • Jacob had Judah (and his brothers).
  • Judah was the father of Perez by Tamar (an even more dysfunctional situation).

Skipping a few lines you can look up in Matthew 1… from the line of Judah came:

Jesse, who was the father of David, the king, and from this line came Mary and Joseph.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother, Mary, had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.” 

Matthew 1:18

  • There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David;
  • fourteen generations from David to Israel’s deportation to Babylon;
  • and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah (Matthew 1:17).

No matter what happens in this world, no matter how families may fail and unravel…man’s failure cannot nullify God’s sovereignty.


Will there ever be a point to this post? I would imagine there might be a lot of revisions in the near future, as the Lord continues to reveal to me His vision for my family.

His vision. That’s the point.

If I try to plot and scheme like Rebecca, or be fooled like Isaac, then I’m leading my family into a state of dysfunction.

The lineage my children carry forward does not have to be a reflection of previous generations from certain grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. They will have to make that choice though, because I cannot make it for them. Their will is as free as mine.

I hope they learn to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), and will not let roots of bitterness spring up, causing trouble for them (Hebrews 12:15).

We are building and protecting a family line, but it’s not necessarily the one I’ve been worried about.

The family we join as Christians brings a stronger bond than even a biological gene. How amazing…the Spirit of God within us is greater than he who is in the world.

When war (or family drama) is on your doorstep, you don’t run around like a lunatic. You don’t cower to evil. You stand firm. You fight, if necessary.

Know the real enemy, and don’t let that enemy use your family as a tactic for distraction, division or destruction.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus 
Look full in His wonderful face 
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim 
In the light of His glory and grace

Until we see The Return of the King…


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