A Chip Off the Old Block

July 9, 2009 | 24 comments

They say I came from “good stock.”

I look at the old photographs in the guest room — black-and-white snapshots of the bearers of my DNA. Here, I see framed reflections of myself:
my nearly-black hair in Grandma Dukes;
my temper in Grandpa Taylor;
my love of words,
my fear of failure,
my soft heart,
my easily-bruised pride.

They weren’t perfect people. But they are my people. They’ve helped make me who I am — by their genetics, their guiding influence or both.

They were ordinary, hard-working men who tilled soil, went to war as boys, and came home as men. They were moms who scraped together meals from half-bare cupboards, and stored up faith needed during tough times.

Yes, when it comes to genealogy, my family tree is like a sturdy oak — reliable, hearty and rooted deeply.


My husband and I have been talking about what we pass down to our children — and what has been passed down to us. We’ve both been blessed by families with a heritage of faith and hard work.

But what about those who came from “bad stock?” Is there any hope for them?

The world says that generational influences hold irreversible sway over our lives. We’ve even got the cliches to prove it:

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“Like mother, like daughter.”
“She’s a chip off the old block.”

The message is this:
If you come from good stock, congratulations on your inheritance.
And if you come from bad stock? Tough luck, buddy.

But what if our ancestral destiny were reversible? What if we could be the one who changed things?


All of this leads me to the story of a man I know. This man came from seriously bad stock. If you look at his family tree of misfits, you’d wonder how he ever came out on top.

But he did.

Here’s his story:

If any guy had generational baggage, this was the guy. By the world’s standards, he was a loser — destined for failure well before his unmarried, teenage mother had her first labor pains.

His dysfunctional family included a prostitute and a guy who practiced witchcraft. One of his forefathers had an affair then arranged for the murder of her husband. And there were a whole string of other liars and cheaters in my friend’s bloodline.

The man I know spent much of his life homeless. Some of his friends were of questionable character. As you might imagine, he was the object of much ridicule, scorn and rejection. Some might call him ugly, though I disagree. (Maybe that’s just because I love this guy so much.)

His story ended when he was killed — execution-style — on a hill.

Maybe you know him, too.

He is proof that no family tree binds so tightly that its grip can’t be loosed by a tree on Calvary.

His name is Jesus.

And look at you: You’re a chip off the old block.

“In love, he predestined us
to be adopted as his sons
through Jesus Christ.”
Eph. 1:5

In Christ Jesus, there is no such thing as an irreversible destiny.

Photo: A lineup of my family tree, on a guest-room dresser top.

A glimpse into a few branches of Jesus’ dysfunctional family tree: Gen. 27:19; 2 Sam. 11; Joshua 2:1; 2 Chron. 33:6; Isaiah 53:2

His genealogy is found in:
Matthew 1:1-17
Luke 3:23-37

by | July 9, 2009 | 24 comments


  1. Kee

    Wow, this post really hit home.
    I'm one of those from 'bad stock,' I guess you could say. Raised by a single mother, had an abusive father in and out of my life. And I was never close to any of my grandparents. I have no idea about my genealogy. T

    Thank God that we can overcome those things and that He accepts and uses us no matter where we come from.

    Great post! You are such a beautiful writer.

  2. Just Be Real

    Jennifer, how so very real and touching…. a chip off the old block. Glad that there is a God to help us through. Thank you for sharing dear one.

  3. Ruthie Allen-Hamilton

    Amazing! first, thank you for your comment on "thisistheday!" I'm glad I found you! I will be back here often! How true this is! Christ Loves us and redeems us and we are valuable all b/c of Him – regardless of our "stock"… my passion is for people to truly know their WORTH in the light of Christ!
    You are a beautiful writer!

  4. Jennifer

    Kee, Just Be Real and Ruthie:

    So glad you stopped by this morning. Your comments enrich this discussion.

    I think one of two things can happen to us when we look back on our family tree:

    A — We can determine that we've "arrived" and sail on home, taking blessings for granted and never offering anything back toward the growth of our Tree.

    – or –

    B — We can get buried in the shadow of our Famiy Tree and determine that there's no possible way out.

    I've seen both happen. How about you?

  5. Arianne

    Very good! Thanks for the reminder that we are loved no matter where we come from by the most important being, our creator!

    Blessings to you,

  6. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    Powerful! I love knowing I'm HIS adopted daughter.

    I've been thinking on this topic a good deal lately.

    I love coming here!
    ~ Wendy

  7. Get Real Girl

    Thank you so much for this post. Last night I was just thinking to myself. What habits good and bad am I passing on to my kids? Thankfully the most important thing they are starting to grasp is that God is powerful and Jesus lives in their hearts.

  8. Deb

    My pastor did a sermon on this topic a while back … I'm proud to be a chip off the old block!

  9. Mama D.

    The tears started to fall much before the dysfunctional person was revealed..I won't miss a post of yours..Your writing talents(among many others) will ALWAYS amaze me..

  10. Jennifer

    Hey Mama D. (Everyone, meet my mom, Mama D.) …

    I'm blessed to be a chip off the God Block, and the chip off of YOUR block, Mom!! 😉

  11. Stacy

    Thank you for this post. I have been fighting against the self-imposed labels of shame due to a lineage of "bad stock". Thank you for the reminder of Who I TRULY belong to.

    God Bless!

  12. christy rose

    "No family tree binds so tightly that it can't be loosed by the tree on Calvary." What a great saying to quote. We are chips off the old block aren't we? Thank you Jesus! This was wonderful Jennifer!

  13. Chris Godfredsen

    I love it! When we know the Truth, the Truth will set us free. Free from the baggage of not being able to measure up or get out from under our family trees.

    This is a message I needed to read today.

    Praising God for you and your ability to bring things to light – God's penchant for using you to pierce my heart in an area that needs piercing!

    Grace and peace!

  14. Chris Godfredsen

    I love it! When we know the Truth, the Truth will set us free. Free from the baggage of not being able to measure up or get out from under our family trees.

    This is a message I needed to read today.

    Praising God for you and your ability to bring things to light – God's penchant for using you to pierce my heart in an area that needs piercing!

    Grace and peace!

  15. Beth E.

    This post reminds me of this verse of scripture:

    "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

    What a wonderful God!

  16. Kristi L

    I have a friend that is struggling with having come from a dysfunctional family. I'm going to share this post with her ~ please pray it touches her and that her tree branch will grow & grow in God's love. (Mama D has a right to be proud Jen ~ you have a gift:)

  17. Tabitha@ichoosebliss

    This was simply phenomenal! I will be reading the recommended chapters from the bible.

    Thank You!!

  18. Julie

    You did it again! Beautiful. Thanks you so much for your insight, Jennifer!

    I was fortunate to come from "good stock" but I hope to never take that for granted. So many people live in darkness thinking that this is the way things always were and that is the way they will always be. We have a choice..to follow Him and be changed or to stay stuck.

    I pray that everyone who is blessed enough to read your post will tuck your words into there heart and realize that with God anything and everything is possible.

    Thanks again…I just love your work!

  19. Laura

    You had me from the very beginning…

    How many times have I struggled with my childhood memories, only to arrive at this very place? Thank you, Jennifer, for giving word to this age-old struggle.

    And thank you for your kind comments on my last post. Losing someone, their love-sending…it never fails to move me.

  20. lynnrush

    Wow is right. Holy moly. Nicely written. Thank you for this.

  21. Amy Deardon

    Thank you for such a thoughtful post. Wow

  22. Cindy Bultema

    Wow ~ what a gifted writer you are! What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!!!!
    In Him,
    Cindy 🙂

  23. Prairie Chick

    sweet truth and beauty. In love He predestined. That has been the theme verse for this lil' prairie chick who comes from some of the worst stock imaginable. He is in the business of redeeming, re-shaping and restoring. I thank God every day that I came from bad stock because it means that I am all the more aware and thankful of the great act of redemption and restoration He is achieving in me.

  24. Chrissy

    good post! sure makes me step back and wonder who I've been judging wrongly, who might need another chance.


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