Marketta Gregory: Picking apples

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It is surprisingly easy to fill a wagon with apples when you have three boys and a husband picking from the trees. Enjoyable, even.

It’s not like harvesting low-to-the-ground strawberries or itchy okra. The apples are beautiful and many are shoulder level, or at least they were the first time we visited an orchard to pick our own.

I think that’s why we accidentally picked more than 100 pounds of them.

Sure, I look back at the pictures now and it seems obvious that we had overdone it, but I really hadn’t noticed how heavy the load was, physically or financially, until we got to the counter to pay.

When we loaded the boys and the apples in the van, reality started to sink in. We stopped on the way home for a book on canning and if I remember correctly, some more jars. Then, the next day, we made one of the wisest decisions of our married life: We purchased an apple peeler.

I made apple pie, applesauce and cinnamon apple jelly, which we even gave as gifts that year at Christmas. And we ate a lot of apples.

Then, the next year we were more cautious when we visited the orchard because we didn’t want to overburden ourselves again. Each boy had a limit he could pick, and when that limit was reached, we stopped. If we needed more apples, we could always come back.

That simple principle worked, and I suspect it would work in lots of other cases where I get overloaded, where I add just a little here and there until my commitments and burdens are hard to carry by myself. The cases where Lysa Terkeurst, author of “The Best Yes,” says we don’t think about or admit our limitations, and “All the while the acid of overactivity eats holes in our souls.”

So often I keep piling things in the wagon without thinking about how it will weigh me down, without realizing the spiritual peace I’m giving up – because even the good things we say yes to come with a cost. But here’s to picking only the best, only the things that feed my soul, and leaving the rest.

Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who now shares her own journey of faith with readers. She lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, their three young boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. To contact Gregory, email or write to her at P.O. Box 12923, Rochester, NY 14612. You can also visit the Simply Faithful page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @MarkettaGregory.