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When Chasing Success Doesn’t Satisfy

“I was brought up to adore God,” says Tree of her Jewish heritage. “I was taught to pray every night, to thank him for the blessings that we had.  I would go to synagogue with my father, and hold his hand. Our home was filled with joy.”
 
Tree was 16 when her father suffered a massive, fatal heart attack. “There was a tremendous shift,” she recalls. “It went to tremendous sorrow. I remember on the day of the funeral looking out and wondering how people were going on with their lives so joyfully when we were on the way to burying my daddy,” Tree says. “My mother, who had been so strong all those years caring for him and for us, was so filled with sorrow that she turned to me and she said, ‘I need you to take care of me.’”

To honor her mother’s request, Tree, a high achieving student, graduated from high school and went straight to work to support her mother. “That was something that I had a hard time with because I gave up going to college in order to do that,” she says. Tree eventually married and had three children. When her husband became abusive, she had only one option. “When I walked out the door, I had my three children, their clothing, and my clothes,” she says. “I left to protect myself and my children.

Starting over was something Tree had learned from her grandparents, Jewish immigrants who fled Russia to escape persecution. “When they got here, they started from scratch, and yet all of their children were successful and it was something that we were taught: you are going to be successful.’”

Tree continued the family legacy and poured herself into her work. “It was important for me to do better every year.  I think part of that was because I did not go to college, and therefore I was going to be a success, and business was the way that I was going to do that. “

Around the same time, Tree was invited to a Christian church. “I always considered Jesus to be a rabbi and when I'd see a movie that was about Jesus, I would cry, and when I was in my 40s and for the first time I saw Jesus--not suffering, but loving.”

Tree married again, but tragedy struck once more when her second husband died suddenly. “I was devastated,” she remembers. “That took me a long time to get over.”

In 2009, at age 70, Tree retired and built her dream home in Texas. Her daughter, who also lived in Texas, had recently come to know Jesus and invited her to a church conference. “We were asked to forgive anyone against whom we had any feelings of resentment or anger.  It was during that time that I realized that all those years I had been carrying this disappointment that my mother did not want me to go to college and that I had missed that opportunity,” Tree recalls. “So I actually, verbally, forgave my mother, and that, I believe, was the turning point for me because it cleared my mind, my heart, and my soul, and my spirit.”

Later, one of the conference leaders offered communion. “He said, ‘Tree, you don't have to take communion if you don't want to,’” Tree remembers. “And I said, ‘No, I do want to. It's very important to me.’ For the first time I saw Jesus with his arms outspread, and I knew that he was welcoming me, and this was my opportunity to say, "Yes, I accept you as my Savior,” Tree says

She gave her life to Christ, started attending church, and read the New Testament for the first time. “When I finally took that step and said ‘yes,’ my life changed totally,” she says. “The love that I had for people was so much greater because of the love that He has for me: so kind, so gracious.”

Today Tree is married again and she and her husband Jack, writing under the pen name ‘Track Johnson,” are the authors of Winds of Eternity: The Angel Chronicles. “It's a very reverent description going back to the first five chapters of Genesis as seen through the eyes of the angels who watched God create our earth,” Tree says.

Tree still honors the rich traditions of the Judaism of her youth, as she follows a Jewish messiah. “Going to synagogue, enjoying the tradition, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Purim…all of those things come together to make me a better Jew while I am also a Christian,” she says. ”I am more of a Jew now than I ever was when I was only Jewish. What the Lord has given to me is a peace that literally passes understanding. That is what I have received from Jesus. It's phenomenal. It's joy.”

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