The view of the fields from inside the old, old mill

Our niece Valerie, the youngest of my mother’s grandchildren, married her sweetheart Nate yesterday. The whole family labored for months to restore an old mill to a usable space, mow the grass, pump out the overflow from the creek, pick the flowers for centerpieces, put up and take down chairs, tent, and then get dressed up to party.

It was quite a party, a dream come true for my niece and a joy for the rest of us who delighted in her vision and its fruition.

For me, it was also a return to the land of my childhood. The fields were so lush and green, the farms well-trimmed and adorned with geraniums, petunias, and hydrangeas in full bloom.

The corn was more than “knee high by the fourth of July.” In some places it was fully grown. It’s been a great growing season, says my nephew Andy, now the chief farmer in the family business.

The location of the wedding was about four miles from the place where I grew up. Here’s how my farm family looked in 1965:

Our only family photo, 1965

And here’s how we looked yesterday. Daddy died in 1980. The rest of us are 48 years older.

June 29, 2013, the Hershey family. Mother and her children.

Out of the five Hersheys who grew up on a farm, one of us, my sister Sue, Valerie’s mother, continues to farm.

The wedding celebrated farming as a way of life, a calling to live faithfully. The sign on this church as we drove home to Virginia, said it well.

Sign on our way home. A reminder of traditional Mennonite values.

Grandson Owen helped me make this icon at the wedding.

My New Beginning today is to pack my bags for the fourth location in less than a week: next up, the Mennonite Church USA Convention in Phoenix.

Grandson Owen helped me make the icon for the 100 Day Challenge. Can you tell?

What is your New Beginning? I need to go see what you have been up to! Log in here.




Shirley Showalter


  1. Carolyn Snader Hess on June 30, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I saw your family picture on Facebook and couldn’t resist taking a peek at your blog. Since I grew up attending Lititz Mennonite Church (my husband still does), and you are including some of my sister’s experiences in your new book, I will be looking for your book once it is published.

    • shirleyhs on June 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Hi, Carolyn. Good to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment. I really appreciate it. I hope you can come to the launch at LMC Sept. 19. That would be awesome.

  2. Barbara Sue Bollinger on July 1, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Thanks for the blog and for sharing about and in our special day!! It was indeed Valerie’s dream wedding. You portrayed our life well.

  3. Barbara Sue Bollinger on July 1, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Love the picture of the cornfield through the mill opening!

  4. Sue Bollinger on July 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

    It was nice to speak with you briefly at the reception. Your thoughts reflect my own, about faith, family and farming, and returning to the land of my childhood/early adult life.

    • shirleyhs on July 1, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Thanks, Sue. Our family had a wonderful time. Today’s blog will focus on dancing. Come back again!

      I think you look better on the 2013 family picture than on the 1965 one. 🙂

      So glad you enjoyed these words. They come from a deep place of love and respect.

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