September 19, 2011

I met Lydia Harris in person several years ago at a writer’s conference. She reminds me that before that, we met at Kingdom Writers, an online Christian critique group. Although writing about tea is one of her favorite past-times, being a grandma surpasses even the best-brewed cup of Earl Grey. It’s no wonder then that’s she’s done such a great job on her book Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, published by AMG. I asked her to share a bit about the book and her experience with the book. Take special note of her section “Persevering.”

Writing from Real Life

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

Getting Started
About twelve years ago, I met editor Dan Penwell at the Oregon Christian Writers’ conference. I didn’t plan to write a book at that time. But when Dan looked through my notebook of clips from articles, book reviews, columns, and stories, he said, “Anyone who can get this much published could write a book.” I tucked away his encouragement and determined that someday I would.

Meanwhile, I nudged my niece, Ann Marie Stewart, to attend the Write to Publish conference in Chicago and meet Dan Penwell. She did, which led to book contracts with AMG Publishers and writing the first three Bible studies in the “Preparing My Heart” series. Both my niece and Dan Penwell encouraged me to write Bible studies for the series, so I proposed, Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting.

Accepting the Challenge
Writing a Bible study was a new genre for me. But my twelve-person prayer team and others prayed as I wrote this God-sized project. And my dear husband of 44 years (and president of my fan club) supported me throughout the writing. He picked up the slack at home by learning to use new power tools, such as the vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, and washing machine.

Setting Priorities
Through this book, I wanted to affirm grandparents in their important role, provide tools to help them become fantastic grandparents, and motivate them to be intentional about passing on a legacy of faith. At the same time, I desired to be a hands-on grandma to my four grandchildren, with another on the way.

I also wanted each day’s lesson to be fresh and exciting, not predictable. That’s why I included charts, drama, artwork, stories, resources, and creative ideas. I desired to relate to grandparents at the heart level and draw them to God. So each of the thirty lessons ends with a “grand thought” take-away and a Scripture-based prayer.

It took eighteen months from the time I signed the contract until I held a printed copy in my hand. But prior to receiving the contract, I read books on grandparenting, interviewed dozens of grandparents, and researched grandparenting in the Bible (after all, there’s no biblical book of “grandparenting” to quickly turn to). Once I began writing the study, I wrote 30 lessons in 36 weeks. During this time, the lessons were also critiqued and tested by groups of grandparents.

I was pleased to complete the study on time, which was January 31, 2010. That year our Christmas tree didn’t come down until February.

Equipping Grandparents
Besides helping readers prepare for their grandparenting role, the six weeks of lessons also include ways to pray, model godly lives, invest in grandkids’ lives, prepare for joy and tears, and make an eternal impact. Weekends include devotions that cover the same topics. You can learn more about the study and read my grandparenting blog at

Reaping Rewards
When the first books arrived at our home, my husband and I knelt by the boxes and dedicated the books to God. We saw this study as a tool in God’s hands to impact future generations.

I’ve heard from groups of grandparents in Colorado and elsewhere who have completed the study. Recently, ten grandmothers in the Seattle area invited me to attend their final Bible study brunch. They wanted to thank me and share what they learned. Between them they had 54 grandchildren!

I felt humbled to hear how God worked in their lives through the study. It made all my tears and sleepless nights while writing it worthwhile. Grandma Louise, with seven grandchildren said, “It’s hard to put into words my feelings. Your Bible study has meant so much to my husband and me. I praise God for His guidance to you, and I thank you for listening to Him.”

Grandma Cammy, with two preschool grandchildren and a husband who is a pastor, wrote me this note: “My husband and I have been so excited about and committed to the whole grandpareting thing that I didn’t think I could be any more inspired. But your book has done just that—challenging me to think intentionally and to live purposefully in this new role. And you include so many wonderful, creative ideas from so many grandparents. Thank you!”

Meanwhile, I’ve been speaking on “FANtastic Grandparenting” and other topics at conferences, churches, senior living communities, and community centers. I’m being

s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to do new things. One praying friend said, “Before long, you’ll be six feet tall!”

Praising God!
My husband and I are thrilled to see what God is doing with this book. Pre-Christian grandparents and those with other beliefs are reading it. Individuals, couples, and groups are using it. I know God will continue to touch lives and bless future generations through Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting. I felt privileged to write it. To God be the glory!

Thanks, Lydia! It’s great to see you successfully publishing on topics you love (grandparenting and tea!).

22 replies
  1. Virginia A Johnson says:

    Lydia-you are to be commended for your perseverance in finishing the manuscript for Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, getting it published and on the market. You have stayed with it despite illness, and the usual trails of life. Your achievement is a testament to God’s grace and strength to you, and His assistance as you finished what He chose for you to do.

  2. Donna Morse says:

    I am blessed to hear how your book has inspired others in their grand-parenting-time of life. Your dedication, example, and hard work encourage me. I think God is blessing His work through you.

  3. Sylvia Stewart says:

    Thank you, Lydia, for persevering. You’ve written a valuable book — one that will touch many lives — old ones and young ones! May God bless Preparing My Heart for Granparenting — and you.

  4. Tami Meier says:

    Lydia is one of the sweetest ladies I know. Her grand parenting book has been such a blessing to those who have become an unexpected grand parent. Lydia’s book has helped these new grandparents to mentally and spiritually prepare for the new little life that on its way. Thanks, Lydia for bringing God’s hope to not only those who rejoice, but also to those who are hurting. Blessings to you and your new book!

  5. Jeanetta Chrystie says:

    The 10 grandmothers with 54 grandchildren, who invited you to join them for their final Bible study brunch, is only one example of how MANY lives this grandparenting Bible study book will impact – because Lydia was faithful and completed the task God put on her heart. Now, as she continues to market and support the book through speaking, God continues to bless more lives as the word spreads. I know we are being more “intentional” about our interactions with our grandchildren, and nieces and nephews too! Thank you, and bless you for your faithfulness.

  6. Joan McClenny says:

    I think every child needs a grandparent like Lydia!!! I have a feeling there’ll be many more grandparents like her through the influence of Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting! May God bring much fruit from the seeds you’ve so diligently planted!

  7. Momma Mindy says:

    I thought after being raised in a large family and raising six kids of my own I would easily be a wonderful Gramma. I was wrong. It’s a bit more challenging than I thought to be a spiritual, inspirational and deliberate grandparent. Lydia’s Bible study is cheering me on and giving me great insight and ideas and spiritual encouragement. I’m so thankful she published this study while my grandkids are still young!

  8. Lydia Harris says:

    Thanks to all of you who cheer me on by letting me know the book is blessing others. Today I met a first-time grandma at the Y who was excited to know it’s available. As others help me spread the word, I know it will reach grandparents young and old who need fun, faith-filled ideas and encouragement to pass on a godly legacy. To God be the glory!

    Grandma Tea

  9. Mary Ann Henning says:

    I am so blessed to have Lydia Harris and her husband, Milt, as neighbors. Together they are grandparents extraordinaire!!! Lydia is so creative and both are loving, generous with their time, and devote followers of a life centered on God. I know that Lydia put in many late night hours working on her book…. not only does her “light so shine that people may know her Father who is in heaven”, but during those 18 months that she wrote and rewrote her book her workroom light was the lone light in the neighborhood!

  10. Cherrie Herrin-Michehl says:

    Lydia lives out her passion through her writing and her love of her grandchildren. Anyone who has contact with children will glean loads of ideas to make interaction fun and intentional in pointing them to the cross. Although I don’t have grandchildren, I have greatly enjoyed hearing of Lydia’s inspirational ways of relationg to children and making interaction fun.

  11. Gloria Penwell says:

    Lydia, Danny was so proud of you and your book. He loved being a grandparent, and he felt your book was important.

  12. Lydia Harris says:

    I’m so grateful for all who have encouraged me and still do. Writing a book is not something you do without the support and prayers of many others. Gloria, I so wanted Dan to see the finished product. But I knew he had something far better awaiting him. He was a great cheerleader for writers, as well as a devoted grandfather and godly example.

    Mary Ann, I guess I took Proverbs 31:18 literally about my candle not going out at night.

    To each of you you helped along the way and now left affirming comments, I say, “Thank you!”

  13. Laura Bradford says:

    Lydia is such a blessing–a true cheer leader. And she’s off the charts when it comes to creativity. She’s always offering fresh insights to keep me encouraged as a fellow writer. But she’s also quick to pray, knowing we primarily need the insights of our heavenly encourager. Lydia’s grand-parenting book reflects her personality, filled with creativity and encouragement, even for folks like me who are newbies at grand-parenting.

  14. Janalyn Voigt says:

    Lydia, you’re a great role model of faithfulness. Thanks for the many times you’ve encouraged me. You’ve chosen a worthy subject for your book. Best wishes on your continued success.

  15. Mary Hampton says:

    Thanks for the profile on Lydia, Nick.

    Lydia, I still remember our first conversation at the OCW summer conference years ago. What started with a shared love of tea and words has become an enduring friendship that means so much to me (although we don’t have the opportunities to share it that we once did). It’s been such a privilege to follow your publishing journey. I love picking up tea magazines or even my kids’ “Clubhouse Jr.” and seeing your name on an article. And I’ve recommended your grandparenting book to more people than I can count.

    You are such an example of how God can use someone when they are faithful to take the opportunities He puts in their path.

    Continued blessings, friend.


  16. Lydia Harris says:

    Laura, Janalyn, and Mary,

    I’m thankful God brought us together at writing groups and conferences. I’m glad we can support and encourage each other through prayer, friendship, and sometimes writing input. You’re a blessing.

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