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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.