Deb Custer lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband Michael. She serves on the Anchor board and co-hosts the Richmond Beach/Edmonds Anchor Gathering.
She was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and grew up on a lovely farm in Greenacres, Washington along with her three sisters and brother.
Deb has lived in seven different cities since 1989. God has drawn her over and over no matter where she lives to serve Him by encouraging women in their walk with Jesus.
THE SUN, THE RAIN, AND THE APPLE SEED
“Oh the Lord’s been good to me, and so I thank the Lord for giving me, the things I need the sun, and the rain, and the apple seed. Oh, the Lord’s been good to me.”
Reaching for the ripe apples, my siblings and I could hear our mother Joy singing the words from Rosemary Benet’s beloved “Johnny Appleseed.” Indeed, our little hearts felt the Lord had been good to us. We had been walking through the apple orchard all summer long watching for signs that the apples were finally ready for picking.
Me and my siblings. Top row: Janna, myself, Susan. Bottom row: Kim, Jim
Our father Walt and our mother purchased the 88-acre farm in Greenacres, Washington in 1953. There were acres of land on which to run and play. We had horses to care for, cows in the fields, ornamental pheasants, and beautiful peacocks, and chickens for eggs. Our father would come home from a long day at the law office and instantly be refreshed by the open fields, gardens, and orchards. The orchard was extra special, for it drew us to itself.
We would walk, talk, and examine the fruit to see if it was beginning to soften, and we’d pull hard to get unripe apples off the tree. When we bit into the apples, they were hard, tart, and bitter. Finding that the apples were so bitter, we would resolve to wait until they were ripe.
After what seemed like an eternity, the leaves began to change color, signaling the beginning of autumn. The autumn delivered on all our expectations after waiting through the long, hot eastern Washington summer. Even as little children we saw the spiritual lessons. The summer heat and rain brought forth the loveliness that captivated our hearts. Finally, the apples were ready. Now ripe, the round apples were easy to bite into and sweet to the taste. God had done His beautiful work. We were full of gratitude for this long-awaited blessing.
As with the orchard, our lives were similar. Our parents and grandparents poured love and prayers over us. Thus, we experienced growth through rain and sunshine. We desired to know more about our Caregiver, who made the apples so lovely through the tenderness of His care. This maturing brought the hues, subtle tints, and gave the apples a loveliness all their own. Just like the maturing of the apples, God, through His grace, mercy, and love drew us to Himself.
We wanted to know more about God, who used the tempering seasons, rain, glorious sunshine, and the kisses of the evening dew to mature His fruit. As we grew closer to Him, we would experience tempering seasons too, trials, testing, and windy blasts. These seasons would cause us to desire the quiet mornings the orchard brought, the quiet communing with our Creator. As we grew, this communing meant cultivating habits of prayer and time in His Word, not to win His favor but to know and love Him more.
As we grew, this communing meant cultivating habits of prayer and time in His Word, not to win His favor but to know and love Him more.
Today looking out at another fall—I am experiencing another beautiful autumn all these years later. The beauty of the autumn leaves brings me back to praising and thanking Him for His continued grace, faithfulness, and love.
Now grown, we pray for our children and grandchildren, just as our parents and grandparents prayed for us. We pray that God will continue His tender care as He cultivates in them an appetite for His Word, for prayer, to be with His people, and to delight in praising and serving Him. And as I pray for my children and grandchildren, I am often taken back to the memory of the orchard. There, I can hear my mom singing, “I wake up every day, as joyful as can be. Because I know that with His care, my apple trees, they will still be there. The Lord’s been good to me.”
In this autumn season, may you also experience the Lord’s goodness.