An evergreen, colorful ornaments, twinkling lights and a star on top. Sounds like a Christmas tree, doesn’t it? Or is it more than that?
“When I look at a Christmas tree, it reminds me that nothing can ever separate me from the love of God.” So says award-winning author and speaker Casey Schutrop in her book Grandma’s Christmas Legacy: The Testimony of the Tree. The book communicates what so many people need to hear around the holidays – that in the midst of a broken world and despite all our imperfections, there’s hope.
“Christmas is a season of hope and goodwill when a dark world pauses to consider the ‘why’ of the past year and the ‘what’ of the future,” Schutrop said.
As the world continues to change with the times, she said, people are losing their true identity, never realizing or forgetting that they are not defined only by their occupations, household roles or affiliations, but as children of God.
Grandma’s Christmas Legacy takes readers back to that fundamental definition. It’s a book within a book that tells the story of a grandmother who, through a letter left to her family, explains how each part of the Christmas tree reminds us “to Whom we belong” – that we were created by and are valuable to God.
Schutrop, founder of W.O.W. Ministries International, found inspiration for the book in Proverbs 11:28: “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”
She likens the green Christmas tree to new life, the new life that came at Christ’s humble yet holy birth, and the new life experienced when we trust in Him. The plentiful branches are like the many relationships, careers, hopes and hobbies people have – imperfect but still God’s creation. Decorations represent the grace, strength and beauty Christ adorns His creation with, and the sweet fragrance reminds believers to stand out in the world, to bring others the Good News of life.
Schutrop, of Chanhassen, Minn., is familiar with the theme of the book; she experienced her own identity crisis in fifth grade when her parents divorced.
“It shook me to the very core of my being,” she said. She no longer saw a beautiful, high standing family, but one left to shame. Yet, “(God’s) arm of redemption is never too short,” and she personally witnessed how He can take a depleted life – or “tree” – ravaged by the wind and make it into a thing of beauty. Schutrop, a former architectural interior designer, is now married with three children and travels across the country, telling others about Christ through writing and motivational speaking.
With Grandma’s Christmas Legacy, Schutrop hopes to start a tradition “to bridge the generations.” The book includes a family read-along to be read while decorating a tree; it communicates the hope found in Christ and how He has a purpose for each of us.
The book also coincides, unintentionally, with My Hope with Billy Graham, a national movement to share the Gospel in your own home. Schutrop, a longtime admirer of Billy Graham, is thrilled about the outreach opportunity. Both Schutrop’s book and My Hope aim to pass on everlasting hope to the people closest to us. My Hope culminates in a national event in November 2013, and Schutrop will speak at the Billy Graham Library shortly after on Nov. 22.
Grandma’s Christmas Legacy and a corresponding family keepsake journal to capture 25 years of Christmas memories are available through Ruth’s Attic Bookstore. All proceeds go toward outreach ministry.