Those Darn Apples and Trees

By Reba Phelps

My mother was polite to a fault. Everyone who met her immediately felt a genuine warmth that radiated from within. She was so soft spoken and well liked. Being her daughter, I often heard people say, “Your mother is so sweet, I cannot imagine her ever getting mad or yelling.” I took great pride in correcting people every single time I was faced with this mistruth.

The lady was from Zwolle. She knew how to get her point across. Even though she was a preacher’s wife she had an arsenal of four letters words that she was not afraid to use. Legend has it these words were handed down from her Granny Crnkovic who mainly raised her when her mother died at the age of eight.

Sometimes four-letter words are habit. Sometimes they are handed down to us in our DNA.

When my oldest daughter was three years old I was dropping her off at Sunday School. As soon as she walked in the doors of this holy place of worship she expressed her displeasure by saying a four letter word that rhymes with “sit.”

Being mortified but quick on my feet I said, “That’s right, pick a chair and sit.” She wasn’t having it though. She repeated her four letter version 10 more times so every Sunday School worker within earshot could hear her. The more she said it the more plain it became that she was using profanity. My face turned a few shades of red as I exited the room with my tail tucked between my legs. I am surprised they let the little cussing spawn of Satan stay in the room.

I guess they saw that she clearly needed Jesus and let her stay.

When I picked my apple up after church the Sunday School teachers were still laughing while I politely lied and said, “I have no idea where she heard that.”

I was well aware where she heard it. I was well aware where I had heard it for the first time and my mother was well aware of who taught her the fine skill of trash talk. The passing down of expletives to our children may be deemed one of the most minor infractions when we consider all of what could have been passed down. It is an absolutely scary thought when we notice that our children mirror our behavior.

There is nothing more embarrassing than when our apples act like the tree they fell from.

When you consider all of the truths that lie behind the old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” I thank God that there is still time to make sure that my tree is in optimal mental and spiritual health. Though one of my apples have been picked and with lots of prayer and parenting she has control over her potty mouth. So far she seems to be a good apple. I have one apple left who is still in the growing phase and I pray daily that she becomes a shiny and healthy apple.

There is nothing that we can do to change the tree we are picked from. However, once we fall from that tree we are ultimately responsible for ourselves and our own actions. We can use our bad tree as a crutch for our bad behavior or we can learn from the past and move ahead towards the perfect plan God has for us. We can hopefully provide a better tree for our apple’s future. I have heard from many of my mother’s friends, relatives and church members that I resemble her, act like her and now write like her. To the public, the legacy my mother left behind was a legacy of poise, grace, professionalism, and directness when needed and how to run a household in plenty and in want. The legacy she left behind for her children and grandchildren was a life full of love for Christ, knowledge of the Bible, hard work, and dedication to making sure her apples behaved.

I am very proud of my tree and very blessed because of its root system.

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”

Mathew 7:17-18


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