Apple Hill

Early in our marriage, we made our home near Sacramento. It was a great place to live. The cities surrounding the capital still have a rural feel to them.  It is such a beautiful area ~

did you know that Sacramento claims more trees per capita than any other city?

Remembering our years spent in northern California always brings a smile to my face.  Our children were born in a small local hospital.  We made friendships that remain part of our lives today.  We learned many lessons about faith and life that strengthened our marriage. And, every October we went to Apple Hill.

Apple Hill

is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills in the small El Dorado County community of Camino.  The original sixteen apple orchards that made up

Apple Hill

have grown through the years to include 55 ranches, wineries, a micro-brewery, spa and vineyards.  The various orchards offer many ways for visitors to experience the fruit of their labor ~ fresh-pressed cider, apple donuts made-to-order, apple pies, apple milk shakes, caramel apples, and the list goes on!  You can even grab a bucket and pick your own apples!

It has been almost 30 years since we moved from northern California to make our home here in the central valley.  Many years have passed since we loaded up our two small children to spend a day in the orchards. 

Last year we took a road trip back to Apple Hill with our daughter Amy and our grandchildren.  Amy was only three years old the last time she was there! How fun to see it

for the first time again

through the eyes of Kaitlyn, Kyle and Jack, and taste


the delicious treats! 

Well, it is October again.

We are finalizing our plans to travel north again to reconnect with friends and spend a weekend at Apple Hill with the whole family!  The trees will put on a grand display of fall foliage and the scent of apples will permeate the air.  Aside from the vibrant colors and edible delights that are part of Apple Hill, for me, it is a privilege to retrace my steps, to remember how things used to be, and to focus on God's faithfulness over the years of my life. 

You see, there were times in those early years of our marriage when we went to Apple Hill because it was


~ money was very scarce.  Those who walked with us then know the many ways God provided for our every need ~ money slipped anonymously into an envelope, bags of groceries delivered on our porch, and even the time the doorbell rang and we found a Christmas tree leaning against the door jam.  We may have had little in those days but we were truly blessed.

Apple Hill is a place where we were a

family of four

.  Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that someday


would not be part of this life.  But even in losing a child, God has graciously cleared a path and caused our feet to not stumble. The sights and smells of Apple Hill remind me of who I am ~

the mother of Amy and Scott.

The orchards of Apple Hill are a reminder for me of the different seasons of life.  Some seasons bring forth fruit; some seem cold and harsh.  Some provide a time of refreshing; thankfully, some usher in the promise of renewal. So I look forward to once again immersing myself in Apple Hill.  To see and feel God's faithfulness.  To remember and renew my hope in Him.

{this moment} . . .Spring

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

A Picture That's Worth A Thousand Words

Okay, so I didn't mean a


words. But this morning my friend Robin posted this photo on her Facebook profile after a recent day in the snow.  My mind immediately filled with words inspired by this tiny pine tree in the snow.








I hope this picture encourages you in the 'winters' of life ~ to know that He is able to produce in us a life that brings Him glory and draws others to His kingdom - no matter what.



does this picture say to you as you consider the new year?

Photo by Robin Manuszak 2009

No November!

For the majority of my career as a teacher ~ 20 of my 25 years, to be exact ~ I spent my days with five and six year olds.   Gotta'


kindergartners and first graders! When the calendar in the classroom changed to November, the following poem was always a part of our fall celebration.  It came to mind today as I noticed the date. 

No green grass

No blue sky

No bare feet

Going by

No birds

No bees

No fall leaves

On bare trees


Although November brings many changes to my heart and the world around me, it is a blessing and comfort to know that the God who created the changes that mark each season, holds me in His everlasting arms.

November Chill

Autumn . . . I have always loved Autumn . I suppose as a child this partiality came as I celebrated my birthday in November. But as childhood gave way to adulthood, I became aware of other reasons for my love of this season.

Autumn brings orange, red and yellow leaves which adorn the trees around us as the air begins to cool. I am ready for jeans and sweaters, scarves and gloves, and cups of hot coffee on chilly days. I even look forward to “falling back” an hour as the early darkness brings the family indoors for longer evenings together.

Autumn brings Thanksgiving which has long been my favorite holiday, with the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin; the expressions of gratitude and contentment; and our home filled with love for family and friends.

But now, Autumn brings a chill to my inner soul. I sense with every fiber of my being that my emotional world is entering a cold, dark season of grief. Just as the temperatures outside fall and the hours of sunlight decrease, my heart begins to make changes as autumn envelopes my heart.

I still enjoy the brilliant colors in the orchards around our valley. I love to wear my jeans and sweaters. But as the fall days continue to accumulate and usher in November, I recognize the hole in our family and in my heart. (Read Scott’s story)

You see, we celebrated Scott’s birthday in November, too. He would be twenty-nine this year on the 23rd. And then comes Thanksgiving, when Scott is again undeniably missing. He loved to help cook and prepare for our celebration. I remember the year HE made the pies!

November gives way to December and the traditions surround our celebration of Christmas. And, it seems that every store I enter, every radio station I tune in, is playing that song . . . “I’ll be home for Christmas . . .” and it rips at my heart.

In six short weeks after Christmas, we remember the day Scott went home to be with the Lord. And then . . . even in the midst of winter, my heart begins to feel a thaw, a warmth that again there will be a spring.

“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” I Thessalonians 4:17