Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting By Lydia E. Harris  

Posted by: Lynnette Bonner in , ,
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“Some day I’m going to write a book,” I joked with my children.

“About what?” my daughter asked, raising her eyebrows.

“I don’t know. Something from my life. God will show me.”

Years later, with the children out of the nest and time to fill, I sensed God’s nudge. “It’s time to write, Lydia.”

Now? Start something new in my fifties? Doubts surfaced, and I feared rejection. I had no formal training to write for publication. With a degree in home economics, I crafted casseroles, not stories!

After arguing with God and wondering if I had heard right, I finally accepted His call to write and began to equip myself. I joined critique groups and writers’ organizations. I read books and magazines on writing. I took a correspondence course and attended writers’ conferences.

At my first conference, the director suggested, “Start with book reviews, devotionals, or Sunday school take-home papers.” I followed her advice and began with book reviews. Writing reviews honed my skills, forced me to write tight, and gave me the perk of free books. I reslanted many of my reviews and sold them as reprints. In eighteen months, I accumulated over 100 bylines.

Soon, I branched out and wrote devotionals for a Mennonite quarterly. I also started writing a tea column, “A Cup of Tea with Lydia,” featured in The Country Register. To my delight, the column picked up steam and now reaches nearly three-quarters of a million readers in the U.S. and Canada.

I also contributed stories and articles to 15 books, including: The Write Start; For Better, For Worse; Stories for the Kindred Heart; The Power of Prayer; All is Calm, All is Bright; Christmas Wonderland; Blessed Among Women; Guideposts Extraordinary Answers to Prayer, and others.

I sensed God’s affirmation as I ventured into each new writing genre. He confirmed many times that it’s never too late to begin writing.

From the start, writers’ conferences proved essential for growth and networking with authors, editors, publishers, and agents. Each conference provided new friendships and writing opportunities. But conferences were expensive. To defray costs, I applied to teach. I’ve taught workshops on how to break into print with book reviews, how to write columns, how to get started as a writer, how to write during adversity, and others. My favorite class, “Empower Your Writing Through Prayer,” emphasizes that prayer needs to be the backbone of our writing. Although we can write words, only God can touch hearts through our words.

In 2002, I faced an unexpected crisis—a diagnosis of incurable cancer. Did this mean I was through writing? With ongoing health challenges and numerous medical appointments, I often didn’t feel like continuing. But God provided strength to write tea columns, devotionals, and a book proposal, one day at a time. I also marketed numerous reprints. To my surprise, I won a writing contest for the most submissions in a year. Writing distracted me from my illness and gave me a sense of accomplishment when I felt too sick to leave home. God’s faithfulness and comfort during trials inspired me to write articles and devotionals for others facing serious illnesses. And He continues to sustain my life.

But what about my desire to write a book? Psalm 37:4 (NIV), my lifetime verse says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I determined to focus on my responsibility: to delight myself in the Lord, knowing God would give me the desires of my heart—in His time.

After a dozen years of writing, it was God’s time for me to write a book. Spring 2009, I signed a contract with AMG Publishers for Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting: For Grandparents at Any Stage of the Journey. I had already spent months researching the topic in the Bible and other books and had interviewed dozens of grandparents. Writing a Bible study was a new genre for me, but I claimed Joshua 1:9 to “be strong and courageous” and moved forward. I knew writing this Bible study was a God-sized project and enlisted weekly prayer support. In 36 weeks, I wrote 30 Bible study lessons, and groups of grandparents tested the lessons as I completed them. I submitted the manuscript on schedule, and nine months later, or about 18 months after I signed the contract, my book was released.

When the boxes of books arrived, my husband and I knelt beside them and dedicated them to God, asking Him to bless future generations through them. Then we took our grandkids to breakfast and celebrated with them. It seemed appropriate that during the time I wrote Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, we also welcomed our fifth grandchild.

I thank God for His help from the beginning to the end and see this hands-on guidebook as a tool in His hands. I’m excited that it presents biblical wisdom, practical ideas, and stories and quotes from experienced grandparents. It affirms grandparents in their important role and encourages them to join their grandkids’ fan club. The book can be ordered through bookstores or online at Christianbook.com and amazon.com. For more information, visit my Web site: PreparingMyHeart.net.

After my children left home about twenty years ago, I prayed that my life would count for something more. Although initially I hesitated to write for publication, now I feel privileged to partner with God and touch lives through writing. I'm eager to offer God my loaves and fishes and watch him multiply them to feed thousands of readers. During this empty-nest, retirement, grandparenting season of life, God has honored my desire and surprised me with something more—writing for Him.

Lydia has kindly offered to donate a copy of her book to one of today's commenters. In the comments below simply answer the question: How did a grandparent impact your life? Or, if you're a grandparent, share a favorite grand-parenting memory or experience.
One week from today we'll draw from the names and announce the winner! You can use the social media gadget at the top of the post to share this article with your friends so they can enter too.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 16, 2011 and is filed under , , . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .

25 comments

Thank you for hosting, me, Lynette.

I'm pleased to give away one of my books. It makes a great gift for Grandparent's Day in September, a grandmother at a baby shower, or for yourself. I've been told anyone with children can benefit from it. I look forward to your comments about grandparents or grandparenting.

Blessings,

Lydia Harris (a.k.a. Grandma Tea)

Lydia Harris offers fun ideas about how to nuture strong relationships with your grandchildren while building lasting memories. She also shows readers how to pray for their granchildren and to share with them your faith in Jesus.Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting has a spot on my bookshelf. Thanks Lydia, for showing me how to be a better grandparent.
Kathleen
ww.kathleenkohler.com

Thanks, Kathleen. We just had a fun weekend of making memories with four of our grandkids. It's precious to invest in their lives and cheer them on as members of their FAN club.

Thanks for sharing your grandparenting stories with me while I wrote the book.

Happy grandparenting!

Lydia (Grandma Tea)

Thanks for dropping by to visit and share your story today, Lydia. I know your book has touched many hearts.

Hi Kathleen! :)

Lydia's book is not just for grandparents. Her creative innovative ideas for how to interact with grandchildren applies to anyone with children, whether mother, grandmother or aunt. From yummy, easy-to-do recipes to creative suprises to solid biblical teaching, Lydia covers it all in ways anyone can learn from. Her focus is first God, then how to strengthen the family unit, something we all need to be reminded of in our time-challenged society. Lydia's book was birthed in prayer and I know God has a large audience for it. God bless you, sweet friend, and those who use your book to create warm, loving memories that will last long after grandmas have gone to heaven. Gail

My Grandma brought stability and love to my sisters and I after our parents went through a divorce.
Her large garden which we learned to weed quite well was such a joy to work in. Her love through music, dance, homemade lefse and green Kool-Aid in her favorite white pitcher were just a few ways she brought calm in the midst of a storm.

Though I'm not a grandmother yet, I've read Lydia's book in anticipation of becoming one. I especially love her heartwarming anecdotes and stories about grandparenting. Her writing is honest, inspiring, and full of wisdom.
I'm looking forward to Lydia's next book!

Nancy

Gail, Becky, and Nancy, thanks for dropping in.

Don't for get to leave your email address if you would like to be entered in the drawing, everyone. We can't send you the book if we can't contact you. :)

Thanks for your comments. I love hearing how grandparents have impacted lives. My book affirms grandparents in their important role. And I pray it helps others become intentional grandparents who share their faith.

Although my grandparents lived on another continent and I never met them, I saw what a godly influence my parents had on their grandchildren, including my children.

Grandparenting is a privilege, and I'm grateful to have grandchildren to love.

Grandma Tea

WE grew up knowing our grandparents were special! We didn't get to see them often but I'm pretty sure they prayed for each of us. One set of grandparents were missionaries to the Navajo's for a time and I often wish I could sit and visit with them about their experiences. Grampa Glen was a gentle, humble man. On the other side my grandfather died early so my Grandma raised 7 children on her own - she was expecting number 7 when he died. At her funeral someone said they never heard her say anything bad about anyone! That comment has made me evaluate my speech on several occasions! What a great example!

Dawn
dawnylou52@yahoo.com

Dawn,
Your grandparents left you a wonderful heritage. And their legacy continues through your life.

Thanks for sharing,

Lydia

I've always thought of grandparenting as a kind of graduate school for moms ;)

One of my grandmas had a gift for hospitality of the heart, and her warm welcome to everyone served as an example to all of her grandchildren.

Blessings to you!

Holly, I like your idea of grandparenting being graduate school for moms. Yes, we continue to learn.

I'm so glad your grandma modeled hospitality. What a gift to you and all her grandchildren! My book includes a section on hospitality titled, "Welcome to Grandma's House." Our grandkids will remember our welcoming hearts and homes long after we're in heaven.

Thanks to all for stopping by (Gail, Becky, Nancy, Dawn, Holly, Kathleen, Dawn, and Lynette).

We won't hold the drawing until May 23, so please encourage others to stop by and enter to win a copy of "Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting."

Enjoying graduate school,
Grandma Tea

My grandmother, or tutu as I called her, had a profound impact on my life. She raised me alongside my mother and cared for my sisters and me when my father chose to step out of the picture. Tutu taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to. She also blessed me with incredible recipes for German cheesecake and apple pie, along with a taste for potato pancakes and red cabbage. Her humor, confidence and wisdom live on in my memory, as the Lord took her home three years ago. Her fight with emphysema was a long and brutal battle, but she clung to her hope in the Lord and exemplified rich faith and perseverance to our family. Tutu, thank you for being an amazing teacher, a "grand" mom and a constant presence in my life during some of the roughest times--for you and for me.

I can think of no one better than Lydia to write a book on being a grandparent, and I so look forward to reading it.
My grandfathers died when I was quite young, but I was blessed by two godly grandmothers. Even though we lived in different states, they influenced my life by teaching me Psalm 23 and the joy of the Lord. They both loved to sing the old hymns, and I still do today.
My first grandchild, Michelle, was born last July, and how I love that precious baby! I pray to be a sweet influence for Jesus in her life. And I plan on having lots of fun with her--like making cookies and having tea parties!

Dear Judy and One Girl,

What precious memories you've shared. Thank you. It brings tears to my eyes to realize what an impact grandparents have on future generations. Our lives spill over on people we won't even meet on earth. May those who come behind us find us faithful.

Today my husband and I are going to hear a famous drummer: our 12-year-old grandson. He may not realize it yet, but we're some of his biggest fans. Thank you, God, for GRANDchildren. And thank you for grandparents that have impacted us.

Grandma Tea

When I was 7 my parents moved our family to Canada and far away from their families. While my dad's parents made no effort to build relationships with their grandkids (and so we never really knew them), my mom's parents, despite their tight budget, made every effort to stay connected to us. They never failed to send us something in the mail for Christmas, often homemade preserves and, just for me, black olives, which were very expensive back in the day. Even though we only saw them twice in 10 years we knew they adored us and we adored them in return. My grandpa would call and talk to us every month and we each had 5 minutes to talk (budget!!) but I looked forward to asking for his advice or telling him the latest drama in my life because he always listened carefully and never preached, nagged or made me feel silly--and he always said just the right thing. Now that I have children I am blessed with a mother-in-law who does the same things for her grandchildren but I have an added bonus--she always tells me what a great job we are doing and points out the great qualities they have. Most importantly, she delights in my children (who are her 12th and 13th grandchildren) and they literally bask in her love when she calls or we visit. What a gift I've been given, to not only have experienced perfect grandparenting as a child but to see my children having the same experience. I'm looking forward to getting this Bible study and passing it on to my friends who are just starting the grandparenting journey as well as to my own children's grandparents. Thank you for listening to God's call and for obeying.

I guess I should have included my email address in my comment...it's toylady@hotmail.com

Kellie,

What an encouraging and and inspiring post! You are indeed twice blessed--with wonderful grandparents and now with wonderful grandparents for your kids.

Thanks for sharing my book with others. I pray it will give grandparents tools to pray for their grandkids, model a godly life, and pass on a strong legacy of faith.

Blessings,
Grandma Tea

We have a winner! Thanks to everyone for dropping by and sharing your wonderful grandparent's stories.

The winner of Lydia's book is Judy!

Congrats, Judy. We'll be contacting you to get you your free copy of the book!

Thanks to all of you who stopped by and left comments.

Congratulations to our winner, Judy in Quincy, California! I met Judy at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference years ago. If you're a writer, you know conferences are a great place to make friends.

Lord, use this grandparenting book to bless Judy and other grandparents in exceeding abundant ways. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Happy grandparenting!

Love,
Grandma Tea

What a powerful story! You're an inspiration to the rest of us to keep on keeping on in the face of overwhelming odds. Your book is beautiful, and I hope it reaches out to touch many hearts.

Thanks for dropping by, Katie!

Hi Lydia,
So glad you sent me a note after finding my "Sweet Tea" blog, as that has allowed me to find your blog. I signed on to FOLLOW, hope you'll have another Post soon. I love being a grandmother (YaYa) to 3 beautiful granddolls. Guess what the granddolls call their Granddad" YoYo.
We are YaYa and YoYo to them! LOL

Lydia,
You are such an amazing woman, and I am greatly blessed to know you in person. Thanks for your wonderful story!

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