Thursday, May 12, 2005

Clay County, West Virginia at the beginning of the 1900s. Something miraculous was about to occur on a unknown hillside that would affect most of our lives in a tasty way.

Flashback approximately 25 years, on a hillside of gnarled old apple trees; a hillside that was known for only producing small, bitter, misshapen fruit. According to history and legend, the farmer who owned this hillside and the surrounding area, however, was a very patient man. Over the 10 to 15 years, he experimented with one seedling variation after another... no success. Seasons came and went, the hillside beared its misshapen fruit and the farmer continued with his work - patiently. Finally, at the turn of the 19th century, one autumn saw this unlikely hillside bear the reward of this farmer's labors. From the young trees hung a heavy crop of luscious fruit, nowknown as the Golden Delicious apple.

At the turn of the century, it was the red apple that dominated the apple market. But from this autumn season on, the market found a new competitor. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the Kellogg's breakfast food company, wrote in a letter to this particular farmer, "I consider the Golden Delicious the finest apple I have ever tasted." Kellogg, an ardent health food proponent, was preparing to plant an similar orchard on his property. And the legend and proliferation of the Golden Delicious apple began.

How many stories begin with the phrase, "In the most unlikely place/time/circumstance..." You might have stories of your very own that begin with this statement or one like it, such as "I never thought it would or could happen..." This simple farmer didn't start out to set the world on fire; he just wanted to improve his own backyard. And he improved it so much - through patience and consistency - that others took notice. Soon the fruits of his labor (pardon the pun) were adopted and adapted worldwide.

I think sometimes that we collectively have a tendency to want to set the world on fire, to have the greatest impact, by working on the much grander scale - international and national efforts. Please don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong at all with these efforts. But sometimes our focus on the international and national efforts are so time-consuming, we forget about the situations that are becoming small, bitter and misshapen in our own backyard.

When people ask me, "Wasn't/Isn't it tough to put your career on hold to stay at home with your triplets?" My simple response, in the spirit of this West Virginia farmer, is always the same, "I took time off from my career so I could concentrate more fully on my life." Perhaps my sons or daughters will someday be that single domino factor that sets into a motion an effort to aid or save numerous lives. Perhaps my wife Di, in her work, will impact a life in her work that is the same future single domino factor. As I have said before on numerous occasions, and which I have to remind myself on a weekly basis, "We are not necessarily called to be successful, but we are most certainly called to be faithful."

Continue in your faithfulness in your backyard efforts. Do your job to a higher standard. Raise your children in an even more loving manner. Adore your spouse or partner to a greater level. Still help on those grander scaled efforts, but keep one eye on your backyard and don't give up this season. You will eventually see the golden delicious results of your faithfulness.

hoedl's haven
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