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Family Trees & Olive Branches: Creating a Culture of Grace in Your Family

by Christina Hergenrader

Item #: 124519 / 2017 / Paperback / 198 Pages


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Families are equal parts blood, duty, history, fights, and future. Families are beautiful, complicated, and infuriating. Pastors' doors revolve with families looking for healing from one another. Siblings hold grudges for years. Parents stop speaking to their kids. People want to escape their families and fix them, celebrate them, and never speak to them again.

But what can break our generational curses? What can shine bright light into our dark hearts? What can change everything - even our ugliest family feuds?

God's grace and His forgiveness.

Family Trees and Olive Branches points readers to the authority and comfort of Scripture as they seek to repair and improve their family relationships.

Inspired by Matthew 18:22, Family Trees and Olive Branches is a conversation about grace, the oil that unsticks fighting families. No matter how black the sheep of your family is, how hurtful your parents can be, or how long it has been since you've spoken to your brother, God's answer to family fallouts is always grace.

In this book, readers will look at the different types of olive branches in the Bible with the purpose of opening their hearts and minds to spiritual transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit. Each chapter offers lessons of forgiveness, tips on reflecting God's grace in our toughest relationships, journal and prayer prompts, and discussion starters. 

What people are saying:

“Will give you comfort and encouragement in the midst of your own family struggles.”
—Alice Rosenhagen, Bible study leader

“Does not shy away from the tough topics and instead draws the reader into God’s gracious will.”
—April Ramsey

“Christina tackles the very complex subject of relational family drama, with respect, wit, and self-deprecation.”
—Janet Mueller, M.A., L.P.C., Christian Therapist

“A beautiful, in-depth study of how God works through every family to bring us closer to the center of His will.”
—Rebekah House, counselor for families and children

“If you desire to create new life, mend broken relationships, train your children, honor your parents, and bring Glory to God through your family, Family Trees and Olive Branches is an instrumental book.”
—Melissa Brignac

“Incredible! In Family Trees and Olive Branches, we learn that we can give our families what God first gave us: His unending grace in Christ! It can permeate our family relationships, enabling us to see one another as God sees us, through the love and the lens of His Son, our Savior. Christina Hergenrader has crafted a grace-rich resource for today's families, filled with real-life stories that will resonate with every reader, along with wisdom and discernment for a Christ-like response in each unique family situation. Likening family to a tree, with its deep roots and many branches and buds, Christina shares, "the roots of your tree always influence the buds that are developing now". Encouragement and hope flow across the pages of this book, along with practical steps to creating a culture and legacy of grace in our families. "49 Olive Branches" are found in the final session, hands-on ideas and tools for families' use in building and nurturing a culture of grace. (I love the title of one portion: "Fertilize the Seeds of Faith - Root Your Family in the Holy Ground of God's Word and Love!") Christina writes with conversational warmth and gentle humor, encouraging us to love one another well, as our heavenly Father loves us and transforms us, by His grace. I cannot wait to share this outstanding resource with my own family, with the families I meet in my ministry travels, and with several friends who are raising godly families of their own (all by God's grace!). I found myself giggling at times, and at others, swallowing a lump in my throat as I received comfort, hope, and renewed zeal for the relationships in my own extended family. By God's grace in Christ, every family can work to restore what may be broken; they're able to connect deeply, mend wounds, and love with abandon! This resource is perfect for individual, family, or small-group study. Thank you for this family treasure, Christina!”
—Deb Burma, author

“Reading Family Trees and Olive Branches has caused me to rethink not only my relationship with my parents and sister, but also for the first time I'm thinking about what I'm teaching my own kids about family, about how we give grace to those people who are closest in our lives. I've never read a book that touches on this subject quite like it. I love the stories, the insight, and how everything always comes back to God's "radical and ridiculous grace for all" (Section 2, pg 48). I think this book is a fantastic read for anyone who wants to see how God sees families and how we as His children can follow his example in loving our families despite our differences.”

“In the book, Family Trees and Olive Branches, the focus is on families and grace. Looking at the families in the Bible and seeing their victories and victims was most insightful as Christina looked at those various stories from different perspectives. We, too, all come from families and our stories are from very different perspectives. Family Trees and Olive Branches gives us a new look at what our direction, hope, and future can be as we learn about the blessings of God's abundant grace in our lives.”
—Virginia Krinke Buehring, Retired Christian Educator

"Family Trees and Olive Branches is an excellent book that has inspired me to take a deeper look at the culture of grace within my own family. The real life stories that Hergenrader provides, give a sense of hope that God's grace can abound, even in the darkest of situations. This book reminds me the importance of teaching my children how to bring glory to God through the ways in which our family extends grace to one another.”

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Customer Reviews

Family Trees & Olive Branches: Creating a Culture of Grace in Your Family

by Christina Hergenrader

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For Families in any Season

Whether your family tree is flowering with the new growth of spring or is weathering the storms of winter with bare branches, this book is for you. In her signature conversational style, Christina relates real-life examples of families who have experienced God’s abundant grace, despite past hurts and grievances, to witness the joy of new life sprouting from seemingly dead branches. This book will fill you with hope as Christina illustrates what it means to build a culture of grace, because God isn’t finished with your family’s story.

Deep Insight into Family

Reading Family Trees and Olive Branches has caused me to rethink not only my relationship with my parents and sister, but also for the first time I'm thinking about what I'm teaching my own kids about family, about how we give grace to those people who are closest in our lives. I've never read a book that touches on this subject quite like it. I love the stories, the insight, and how everything always comes back to God's "radical and ridiculous grace for all" (Section 2, pg 48). I think this book is a fantastic read for anyone who wants to see how God sees families and how we as His children can follow his example in loving our families despite our differences.


“Family Trees & Olive Branches” is an insightful exploration of family dynamics. The author does a fantastic job in helping you explore where you are now, how the past is woven into your relationships and how we can move into the future through God’s grace and prayerful exploration. The book is gentle truth that can open eyes to forgiveness and reconciliation. Thank you, Christina, for your ability to lovingly refocus God’s desires within our family relationships and how, through his grace, we can improve our connections now, forging healthier “branches”/connections in our future!


I was so encouraged after reading this book! I feel inspired and equipped to take the necessary steps of restoration and forgiveness in my family. I absolutely love the way Christiana Hergenrader walks beside the reader, sharing truth gently and lovingly explaining God's beautiful design for our families. This is a book that I will keep and continue to reference as I strive to walk out a Godly culture of His Grace in my most important relationships!

1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not
Grace and Love Abound

“Family Trees and Olive Branches” is an honest walk through the trials, conflicts, and joys of family life. It encourages readers to think, not only of each single family unit, but also of the generations of families that lace together the story of each individual. Read the family stories woven together by the author, and on the lines provided, tell the story of your family, the ups and downs, the years of trial, the moments of hope, and the fulfillment of promises made and kept. In these pages, a beautiful, life changing story of grace unfolds. This book will lead you to prayerfully consider the circumstances of your own family, that God’s grace may flow from the page into the lives of those you love.

Charlie Brown Family Tree

On the surface, my family tree doesn’t remotely resemble a James Avery charm. It’s pruned by divorce with entire sections dead from frostbite. Hergenrader’s, Family Trees and Olive Branches might be the perfect gift – a sort of 'peace offering' this Christmas season?! The book showed me that pointing fingers and placing the blame on others for the family’s legacy is actually my fault. Instead, I can act as a fertilizer for my family’s growth by spreading grace and forgiveness on the soil of our everyday lives. This book is riddled with illustrative tree analogies, which show of the author’s God given talents. But my favorites are the river references taken from section 6: “Indulging a person with poor boundaries isn’t an honest relationship. You are an active part of letting them wash over a place where there should be a natural turn in their tide. …don’t be afraid to be the natural boundary in someone else’s life. Trust that God will provide what your family member needs on the deepest levels. You can love and pray for her, but if what she’s asking you to take on is within her circle of responsibility… When you redefine your boundaries, you help to create a culture of grace in your family. When each person is responsible for his or her own choices, the family can all function as individuals. This naturally helps to remove the hurt feelings and resentments that come with poor boundaries.” Epiphany! In my case, I’ve been trying to showcase my family like it’s in a Fifth Avenue window display; instead of accepting it for the Charlie Brown tree that it is. I’ve been trying to ‘shine up’ it’s individuals by “helping them”. My “help” shortchanges God. This book reminds me to ‘leave room for God’, and extend my family the same grace and forgiveness He has given me through the cross. My connection to God will give me strength to trust Him to divinely nurture my family tree as He sees fit. Thank you, Christina Hergenrader!

0 people found this comment helpful, 1 did not
A grace-filled book

Christina does a beautiful job of showing ways to build up a culture of grace in our families, but don't be fooled - the advice which she lovingly offers can be applied to so many different relationships! She uses examples from real life (both her own and others) plus Scripture, and gives some hands-on guidance of ways to grow in grace. This book is beautifully written and is thought-provoking, yet also easy to read.

0 people found this comment helpful, 1 did not
Family Friends

I am the youngest daughter in a family of four. We are small but also filled with bitter arguments, slammed doors, and silly fights. As a young adult it has been a struggle to find my place in the world while still being my parents baby daughter. I feel like I've had a glimpse into Christina's family, which has given me a glimpse into a family filled with joy and grace. I recommend this book to not just parents, but young adults too! Thank you for a beautiful and cozy read!

Culture of Grace

Another must read from Christina Hergenrader! Whether you feel you have the perfect family (let's be honest there are no perfect families) or struggling with major family issues, or anything in between, this book is for you! It reminded me that love and grace are such important parts of my relationships and culture. God gives us grace every day yet I see how we all struggle with remembering to share that grace with others. The stories in this book gave excellent examples and I enjoyed how the stories referenced back to the bible. The questions throughout the book brought the book to a personal level. It helped me express my feelings and will give me something to share with my children to strengthen their culture. The book ends with a toolbox of practical ideas for busy families. It is very possible the reason we don't work on grace in our relationships, and the culture of our families, is because we don't know where to start. This book gave me 49 tips on how to build a culture of grace in my family, as well as other relationships. Buy and read this book you won't be disappointed! You will gain so much insight about your family and how a culture of grace will keep you rooted in love.

Family of Grace

Christina Hergenrader has done it again! Created a “guide book” for families and our lives of grace together. I love the open and honest stories she shares that normalizes the craziness we call dysfunctional families into families saved by grace. This book hits home-a playbook for individuals or couples raising the next generation trying to “do better” than the past or at least trying to get it right. I love her step-by-step guide that provides clear examples of how to create a culture of grace within our own family. It is truly by Grace that God loves us and forgives us. My favorite quote from the book aligns with a saying that my mother taught me from an early age “Don’t worry about tomorrow for God is already there.” And Hergenrader shared a similar statement that puts this mama’s mind at ease. “God already knows what lessons your descendants will need. He will take perfect care of them too.” Thank you Tina for blessing us with your words and God’s light to our path! This is a must read for all families striving to create a culture of grace!

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