THE THREE APPLES
The old apple tree stood in the orchard with the other trees, and all summer long it had stretched out its branches wide to catch the rain and the sun to make its apples grow round and ripe. Now it was fall, and on the old apple tree were three great apples as yellow as gold and larger than any other apples in the whole orchard. The apple tree stretched and reached as far as it could, until the branch on which the three gold apples grew hung over the orchard wall. There were the three great apples, waiting for some one to pick them, and as the wind blew through the leaves of the apple tree it seemed to sing:
“Here in the orchard are apples three,
Who uses one well shall a treasure see.”
And one morning Gerald came down the lane that passed by the orchard wall. He looked longingly at the three gold apples, wishing, wishing that he might have one. Just then the wind sang its song again in the leaves of the apple tree and, plump, down to the ground, right at Gerald’s feet, fell one of the three gold apples.
He picked it up and turned it round and round in his hands. How sweet it smelled, and how mellow and juicy it was! Gerald could think of nothing so good to do with such a beautiful ripe apple as to eat it. He put it to his mouth and took a great bite of it, then another bite, and another. Soon there was nothing left of the apple but the core, which Gerald threw away. He smacked his lips and went on his way, but the wind in the apple trees sang, sorrowfully, after him:
“Here in the orchard are apples two,
But gone is the treasure that fell for you.”
And after a while Hilda came down the lane that passed by the orchard wall. She looked up at the two beautiful gold apples that hung on the branch of the old apple tree, and she listened to the wind as it sang in the branches to her:
“Here in the orchard are apples two,
A treasure they hold for a child like you.”
Then the wind blew harder and, plump, an apple fell in the lane right in front of Hilda.
She picked it up joyfully. She had never seen so large and so golden an apple. She held it carefully in her clasped hands and thought what a pity it would be to eat it, because then it would be gone.
“I will keep this gold apple always,” Hilda said, and she wrapped it up in the clean handkerchief that was in her pocket. Then Hilda went home, and there she laid away in a drawer the gold apple that the old apple tree had given her, closing the drawer tightly. The apple lay inside, in the dark, and all wrapped up, for many days, until it spoiled. And when Hilda next went down the lane and past the orchard, the wind in the apple tree sang to her:
“Only one apple where once there were two,
Gone is the treasure I gave to you.”
Last of all, Rudolph went down the lane one fine fall morning when the sun was shining warm and the wind was out. There, hanging over the orchard wall, he saw just one great gold apple that seemed to him the most beautiful apple that he had ever seen. As he stood looking up at it, the wind in the apple tree sang to him, and it said:
“Round and gold on the apple tree,
A wonderful treasure, hanging, see!”
Then the wind blew harder, and down fell the last gold apple of the three into Rudolph’s waiting hands.
He held it a long time and looked at it as Gerald and Hilda had, thinking how good it would be to eat, and how pretty it would be to look at if he were to save it. Then he decided not to do either of these things. He took his jack-knife out of his pocket and cut the gold apple in half, straight across, and exactly in the middle between the blossom and the stem.
Oh, the surprise that waited for Rudolph inside the apple! There was a star, and in each point of the star lay a small black seed. Rudolph carefully took out all the seeds and climbed over the orchard wall, holding them in his hand. The earth in the orchard was still soft, for the frost had not yet come. Rudolph made holes in the earth and in each hole he dropped an apple seed. Then he covered up the seeds and climbed back over the wall to eat his apple, and then go on his way.
But as Rudolph walked down the lane, the orchard wind followed him, singing to him from every tree and bush,
“A planted seed is a treasure won.
The work of the apple is now well done.”
A TRUE HEARTWARMING STORY
In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone.
The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.
Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.
If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.
I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck.
The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, eleven at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.
I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.
That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel. When I got home in the mornings, I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money– fully half of what I averaged every night.
As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home. One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered.
I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.
When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box, it was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous turkey for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. I could not believe my eye’s!
As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.
Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December morning. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….
THIS WEEK’S THREE FAVORITE PHOTOS PRETTY IN PINK
Reach out to someone in need this week!
Let others see Jesus in you this week!
Be His light in the darkness this week!
Have a Blessed Week!
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