"Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone."
~ Romans 12:18
I remember my childhood fondly, growing up close to Amish farmland. Summers were lazy and fun—riding bikes with my sister, visiting with cousins, playing volleyball and Ping-Pong, picking sweet corn with my dad and sister, and harvesting oodles of tomatoes, berries, potatoes, and squash. The homegrown produce that made its way to Mother’s kitchen table was delicious, and my father’s beaming face was priceless as we sat down to say the mealtime blessing.
We always spent the Fourth of July with extended family and/or our church family. Kinfolk came together to share the fruits of their gardening labor in the form of casseroles and delicious desserts. (My mother loved making strawberry-rhubarb pie to share nearly every Fourth. The recipe is found on pg. 143 in The Beverly Lewis Amish Heritage Cookbook.)
Sharing with and caring for loved ones, extending empathy and encouragement, discussing plans for future get-togethers, enjoying time together while rejoicing in God’s goodness . . . these precious things still linger in my mind all these years later. As I look back on those idyllic summers, life seemed far less complicated, but of course, I was a young girl without family responsibilities and writing deadlines, though I was already secretly writing on my own! (And I did pick a lot of potato bugs and dig up dandelions for Dad, too, so it wasn’t all fun and games!).
Aside from the close relationships back in Lancaster County, the peace I experienced during my childhood summers is what I now cherish most in this busy phase of my life. A refrain from an old hymn we used to sing in my father’s church comes to mind as I reminisce with you today. “Oh, the peace that Jesus gives never dies: it always lives. Like the music of a psalm, like a glad, eternal calm, is the peace that Jesus gives. Is the peace that Jesus gives.” (Lyrics by Haldor Lillenas, 1885-1959).
Have a peaceful and happy Fourth of July . . . and all summer long!
1) I’m looking forward to the launch of my next novel, The Orchard, this September and enjoying promoting it, too. And writing my fall 2023 novel—set in beloved Hickory Hollow—is going well. The Heirloom features Ella Mae Zook, the Wise Woman you may recall from other books, and her Indiana Amish niece, Clara Bender. I can't wait for you to meet them and the rest of he cast of characters!
2) My sister, Barbara, and I have created two more unique cards for summer: In honor of our mother's birthday. "Birdhouse" is available to order now at www.amishcheer.com. "Watermelon" card will be available on July fifth.
Thanks very much for your enthusiasm for our Amish-themed card lines, friends, as well as for my novels. You are the best!