This apple has come a long way.
This morning it glowed in the sunshine like a giant ruby. My husband brought it home after he’d been to visit his mom. She lives with his sister in the old house that has been in the family for five generations.
It’s where my husband grew up. When his widowed mom moved to an apartment, we lived there with our two young kids. Other family members have occupied the house through the years. Now full circle, his mom is back there with his sister’s family.
Let’s go back to the 1980’s when we lived there..
The house sits on a huge yard at the edge of town. There were flower beds of iris planted by the old timers. Plenty of raspberry bushes grew thick behind the garage. A big old cottonwood tree held a treehouse. The yard of green grass was thick and lush. With a sturdy clothesline, a fire pit and plenty of room for the kids to play, it was the perfect place for us.
Something was missing though. The old apple trees from my husband’s childhood had been chopped down. Gone. The apple tree at my childhood home was the focal point of the backyard for my family. There was nothing in the world like the sauces, crisps and pies my mom made from those apples. For my sister’s graduation open house we filled the house with fragrant pink blossoms. I climbed that tree countless times. An apple tree has so much to offer. I was determined on having one in my life again.
My husband and I were living paycheck to paycheck back in the 80’s. There was never money for the extras like apple saplings from the green house. That is until the year I found Haralson saplings on sale. We talked it over and decided to just do it. After all, it was an investment. In a few years it would pay off by not spending money on store apples.
We planted two saplings in the same area the trees had once been. I watched over them like a mother bear. The mower never got close to them, neither did the kids. I read up on how to care for them and followed the advice to the letter. I checked on my orchard everyday. During the Minnesota winters I’d look out the window and hope they’d survive. They did. Each year they grew taller. Soon they bloomed and even produced a few tiny apples. I dreamed of the day they would be full sized and dropping to the ground. Soon I’d have apple blossoms in the springs, tree climbing in the summers, fresh fruit in the falls and enough apples to slice and freeze for Christmas pies. Someday…
But life doesn’t always go as planned. In a few days we went from never thinking or even wanting to uproot, to being on our way to move far, far way from everything and everybody we knew. My husband attended a youth minister’s meeting and had a conversation with someone who was doing youth work overseas. All of a sudden we had the opportunity to work in youth ministry in Germany with American teens living on a US Army Post with their parents who were serving in the military. Long story very short, we moved to Germany. Another family member moved in the house. Good bye little apple trees. You’re out of my hands now. It wasn’t easy to leave our cozy life, but God had a door open and we knew we should go through.
We lived in Germany for three amazing years that I cherish. Yet in a distant land away from family and friends, it could get real tough at times. High highs and low lows. It was an incredible journey for our family. Being civilian workers with the Army was an honor. We’re grateful to have worked with the US teens living far from their homeland. The chance to travel around Europe was more then I thought I’d ever get to do. We experienced living in a small Bavarian village and our kids learned to speak German. It was an adventure of a lifetime.
When we returned to the states we never again would live close to my apple trees. Last I heard just one tree remained and it didn’t produce anything to speak of.
Now, fast forward to last week. My husband went to visit his mom and sister. Homemade applesauce was slow cooking on the stovetop. The apples were from, you guessed it, the surviving tree of the two I’d planted twenty plus years ago. It hung heavy with big apples this year. His sister thoughtfully sent a few home for me.
When my husband handed me the red beauties, my eyes filled with tears while in a few seconds flat, my brain played the past twenty years of my life; our move to Germany to California to Minnesota, the losses, the gains. It was as if God was saying, “Here, I thought you’d like these. I didn’t forget about your dream.” From a fragile sapling came these picture perfect apples. The project that had once consumed me and was ended in a forced abandonment, was now complete. They made it! I made it! A long time and many miles apart but now hand in hand.
The three apples sat in a pretty bowl for a few days. Just looking at them gave me joy. I ate one. The next day I made a single serving of applesauce. I have one left for another comforting bowl of warm sauce to go with gingerbread.
The satisfaction of holding one of these apples is equal to the flavor of it’s fruit. To me, this single apple is worth more than an entire orchard.
Sometimes the small and simple will jolt us with a friendly reminder of how far we’ve come. We see that even though things didn’t go as we’d planned, in the end we wouldn’t change what we’ve learned or experienced or became because of the un-planned. We have a loving God who knows what’s best for each of us. What’s important is to remember that you are loved and your dreams matter not just to you, but to your Creator. His plans for you may be bigger than your dreams. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, be the glory..”