I have a chance here, to either brag on my friend and author Elizabeth Oates or publically put her on blast for meddling in my business with her new book, Mending Broken Branches: When God Reclaims Your Dysfunctional Family Tree.
Last month in our NL I wrote about breaking chains here at Jesus Said Love, you can read how that plays out in our work often times here . And while I’m not a strategic planner, (I haven’t yet mastered the 12-month newsletter content calendar plan) God is most definitely one of order. He knew about my friend’s new book, that it would land in my lap just after I had written about breaking family strongholds, and that you would be reading this now.
So what I need to tell you is this: before I write one word of review, open up your Amazon and order Mending Broken Branches NOW; because this book is about to start flying off of shelves and be on backorder if it’s not already. You’ve been wanting a book club, a Bible Study for your Sunday School, your women’s group, your marriage class for 2018 so here it is. For those of us who are friends with Elizabeth currently, say your goodbyes to quick text responses for a bit because she’s about to be very busy. So busy, I don’t know how she’s going to continue teaching her 5:30 a.m. yoga classes. I think Kathy Lee may be getting ahold of her copy soon and need Elizabeth on her show, if this is the case, I will be headed there as her assistant. I’m not kidding, this is no Jenn Hatmaker style exageration. What Elizabeth has landed on is gold; it is timely, and will gain a national ear.
I’ve known Elizabeth for years off and on, we have lunched together, yoga’d together (she is SUCH an amazing instructor), I have read her books, seen her invest in our Waco community, eaten at her home, we’ve shared a hotel room and attended conferences together. She’s a thinker and a doer. She’s a planner and a fighter. She’s feisty yet humble. She loves Jesus and knows rejection. I have a hard time with people who act like they’re not limping, and from the outside… Elizabeth looks annoyingly perfect. But wait until she opens her mouth… then she’ll put you at ease. What I know is that while the title of her book is pretty self-explanatory, what is unseen is the grit and gut work Elizabeth has had to do behind closed doors. No one but Jesus has held the many tears that must have been shed while writing this, surrendering this, braving the thoughts that swirled around in her mind to release this work into the world.
One morning after her early morning class (I have a push/pull thing with 5:30 a.m.), in the midst of publishing Mending Broken Branches, she confessed. The publisher was postponing the release...again...this was a game of waiting and surrender and it had Elizabeth in a raw and tender place. What I saw in her eyes, in her tears, and in her words were proof that this book was birthed from an authentic place - and THAT, is where Jesus produces good fruit. I knew then, that this book wasn’t another goal-laden achievement, it wasn’t based on her talent or her seminary degree, this book was an offering to the Lord.
So let me tell you a bit about the book now that you’ve already ordered it (seriously, if you’re a one click Amazon person then what are you waiting on?). The goal of MBB as Elizabeth states is to grieve your past, equip you for the present, and help you build a healthy future. Sounds simplistic? Well, we’re talking generational dysfunction here so, no. However, the gift of Mending Broken Branches is that while Elizabeth dives into depression, trauma, addiction, sexual abuse, divorce, forgiveness, reconciliation, and some seriously heavy topics, she has made it manageable. This is like the Cliff Notes (I’m old school) version of counseling and hard core research on many of these topics. She has pulled from some incredible sources and even provided multiple charts and appendix’s for application. The type A people, the doers and the feeling repressed, can now get on board. Elizabeth’s words rope around your hand and heart like a shepherd toward green pasture.
Some of you haven’t eaten good green grass in decades or drank from a crystal clear stream your entire life. You’ve been stuck in your unforgiveness and dysfunctional coping mechanisms like a stray dog living off of urban trash and polluted gutter run-off. That’s not what you were made for, but it’s all you know. You’re the dog that bites your kids heads off when they jump on your lap full of joy. You’re the friend who talks more about other people’s information than your own because even though you’re 30, you still aren’t sure who you are and what you have to offer this world. You’re far more than the information you retain. You’re the coworker who is perpetually Eeyore, bringing depression and anxiety to bear on all those around you because you don’t understand how much you’re actually worth and won’t step a foot in a counselor’s office. You’re drowning in wine and margaritas, spending and lust, social media, pride, and greed. You keep telling yourself to move forward while working your way backward. You’re stuck. You’re not where you want to be. You’ve continued to behave like a child because you weren’t loved up into adulthood. You don’t have close girlfriends. You observe others vulnerability, but lack language to contribute yourself. You are scared to be honest, because being honest means pain, and pain means grief and grief takes time… and who’s got time right now?
Truth is - we all do. I remember Ann Voskamp saying that the only way we stop time is by entering eternity, which is the present. You carve it out. You choose this day. This is necessary work, because you are truly God’s living and breathing masterpiece, the temple of the Spirit, the only way this broken world can see Jesus today with skin on. Elizabeth is vulnerable with her anger toward God, resentment and unforgiveness towards others, her minimization of her own trauma, and is shameless in recounting her losses. It is evident, she has done some deep soul work and has gifted us with its fruit. And while she meddles, her writing is “full of grace and seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). She is confident in the power of Christ and the comfort of the Spirit.
One of the hardest parts of any type of recovery work is getting a handle around it. People, Elizabeth has given you handles! You don’t have to learn to ride the unicycle of recovery anymore. It’s not so deep and philosophical that your head is spinning and your heart is clueless. You’ve got a good sturdy bike here to ride into recovery. Mending Broken Branches is a beautiful start toward your healthy future and it’s for everyone, because we all have broken branches… even Jesus.