Apple Pie and Other Treasures

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It was supposed to be a fun excursion to do research for my next book, but icy rain poured from the winter sky as our friends, Paul and Jacki, drove my husband and me through the Michigan countryside.  Paul is a lifelong resident of Western Michigan and knows just about every back road and fun, out-of-the-way place on the map—and a few places that aren’t on the map. “I want to show you something,” he said, as we pulled into a little town I’d never heard of. “Do you like pies?”

Of course! Who doesn’t? We drove past humble houses, down streets without traffic lights or sidewalks, and pulled into the driveway of a small, unassuming, brick home. The garage door stood open but there weren’t any cars in it, only a nice-looking riding lawn mower and the usual clutter found in most garages, hanging from hooks and heaped around the perimeter. “Who lives here?” I asked.

Paul shrugged. “I don’t know.”

We piled out of the car and dashed through the rain into the open garage. I like to think of myself as adventurous but walking into a stranger’s untended garage, uninvited, seemed odd. I expected the door leading into the house to open at any moment and for the owner to ask us what we were doing.

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Two huge, ancient-looking chest freezers stood along the rear wall of the garage. Paul opened the lid of one and asked, “What kind of pie do you like? There’s apple, cherry, blueberry, pecan . . . Ooo, and homemade apple dumplings!” A hand-lettered sign listed the prices. A battered cardboard box collected the money on the honor system. “We’ve had these pies before,” Paul said. “You just take them home and bake them. They’re delicious.”

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He explained that this was a fund-raising effort on behalf of a local church. The women gathered together every so often like an old-fashioned quilting bee and spent the day baking in the church kitchen. The finished pies were sold out of this garage. I glanced around but didn’t see any security cameras. The entire endeavor operated on trust, and had become well-known in the community and surrounding area. Everyone for miles around knew where the small, brick house was, and that the garage door would always be open. The freezers would always be filled with pies. The cardboard moneybox would be waiting.

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I felt like I’d stepped back through time into a kinder, gentler era. “I don’t believe it!” I said. “Who does this kind of thing?” Until two years ago, I lived in the Chicago area along with six million other people. This pie-selling setup would never work there. No one would ever agree to leave their garage door open all day, and their lawnmower and other household goods unguarded, with only a flimsy door leading into their home—not to mention leaving several hundred dollars-worth of pies in unlocked freezers. And with soaring energy costs, no one would ever volunteer to pay the electric bill for two huge, non-energy-efficient freezers.

So, what sort of people would ever be this generous, this trusting?

People who had faith in God and wanted to support their church. People who put serving Him ahead of their material possessions. People who trusted that even if the worst happened and thieves broke in their home, God would somehow use the situation for His glory. People who believed that their “neighbors” included strangers they’d never met who might be in need of a pie.

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I’m guessing these trusting, pie-selling homeowners will have a whole pile of treasure waiting for them in heaven.

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We chose a plumb an apple pie and put a $10 dollar bill in the money box. It turned out, Paul was right—the pie was delicious!

6 comments

  1. Paul and Jacki bought Concolor Fir Christmas trees from our farm for quite a few years, you are in good company……

  2. Also in company with Linda Prince who brought great cheer into our home each Christmas with her beautiful, carefully-trimmed trees….the same cheer and love that Lynn’s books bring into our daily lives!

  3. My daughter and I stop there frequently to get pigs-in-a-blanket and pies. Been doing it for several years now. – Marilyn

  4. Here in Lancaster County PA, the Amish do this every day but Sunday and religious holidays. It’s great to get homegrown fresh vegetables and fruits and beautiful cut flowers! My favorite 2 farms are about a mile from me. Another one I go to has the most wonderful baked goods and also milk. It’s a definite perk to living in this area. I can’t wait for Spring and Summer to arrive!

  5. I live in Toronto, Ontario, a city of about three million plus, and even here things like this exist. One unassuming house not far from my home has a large cooler on the front porch, filled with farm fresh organic eggs. Each egg box has a name written on it in black marker of the customer who ordered the week ahead. Beside the cooler is a simple wooden box with a slot on top for the payment. There’s nothing high tech here, no security camera, no large padlocks….just good people living in trust and honesty. An unexpected treasure in the middle of big city chaos…. not to mention beautiful and delicious fresh organic eggs!!!

  6. I know where that house is in Michigan as have gone by many times on the way to gospel concerts at Sandy Pines. They are on Sunday and not open that day. Will make a trip there someday just to buy pies. Have heard they are great.

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