Introducing Lydia Harris

Today it’s my pleasure to feature Lydia Harris, author of Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting. I’m going to be a first-time grammie in a couple of weeks (or sooner!) so of course I need to brush up on my skills. Welcome, Lydia!

How did you get started writing?
“Some day I’m going to write a book,” I would jokingly tell my kids. Then in December 1996, with grown kids and an empty nest, God nudged me to write.

A writer from my church invited me to attend the Northwest Christian Writers’ Association, and I became a member. I also attended a local writers’ conference and joined a critique group. Soon I began submitting short pieces for publication.
Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
I began by writing book reviews, personal-experience stories, and devotionals. Within 18 months, I had accumulated over 100 bylines. I also started writing a regular column, “A Cup of Tea with Lydia,” published in the Country Register papers in the United States and Canada. As a home economist with a heart for hospitality, writing this column suited me to a TEA. And I became known as “Grandma Tea.” More than a decade later, I still write the tea column, now with a readership of nearly 3/4 million.
Short pieces helped me hone my craft, follow writers’ guidelines, and meet editors’ deadlines. These pieces were like sprints. After several years, I worked on book ideas and submitted proposals. My first ones were not accepted, so I kept writing short pieces. These helped me establish relationships with editors and build a platform. They also prepared me to write a book, which is like a marathon and requires endurance.

Why did you choose grandparents as your focus?

I’m a grandmother of five and love my grandchildren. Also, I know grandparenting is a significant calling. I wrote Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting 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.
Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting combines my passion for grandparenting and my calling to write. My book is a Bible study for new and experienced grandparents, but it’s not your typical study. Although full of Scripture, it also contains practical and creative ideas to share fun and faith with grandkids. I interviewed dozens of grandparents, and the book includes their stories and quotes as well as my twelve years of hands-on grandparenting.
What’s one of your favorite ways to prepare one’s heart for grandparenting?
Prayer is one of the most important ways to prepare our hearts. It also makes a huge impact on our grandkids no matter what their ages. Our grandchildren never outgrow their need for prayer. My book includes effective prayer tools, ideas to teach grandchildren to pray, and help to pass on an excitement for prayer. One grandmother who completed this study wrote me, “I have learned most of all the importance of praying daily for my grandchildren.”
I’m going to become a grandmother for the first time in November. It’s a boy, and since I have three sons of my own, it feels familiar. Do you have any advice for a first-timer like me?
Congratulations! I know you’re excited about becoming a grandmother. And you should be. You have a lot to look forward to!
A good place to begin is to pray for him, even now before his birth. Then if you live near your grandson, spend as much time with him as possible. Work that out with his parents.
When we expected our first grandchild, I told my daughter I’d like to see my grandson once a week if possible. We lived 45 minutes apart, and for several years I was seriously ill. But we made it a priority to invest in our grandkids’ lives. We still do. Now that they are older and one is in middle school, it takes more effort. With their busy school schedules, we try to see the ones who live father once or twice a month.
For those grandkids who are younger and live closer, we often see them weekly. Also, twice a month I meet with my eight-year-old granddaughter for spiritual mentoring. And whenever possible, we attend our grandkids’ events or invite them to our home. I plan cousins’ days for all five of the grandkids to get together and sometimes have them come for sleepovers.
I would advise any grandparent: As much as possible, make time for your grandchildren and pray for them. Also, pray for and encourage their parents.
Could you share one of your favorite “gramma” moments?
Recently, we took care of our 15-month-old granddaughter on a Saturday while the other grandparents took the two older siblings to the zoo. This gave the parents time to themselves. When we drove up to bring our little gal home, the other grandparents had just arrived with their two charges. Our eight-year-old granddaughter saw us drive up, skipped down the driveway towards us and shouted, “It’s a party! Both sets of grandparents are here!” We couldn’t have received a nicer compliment.

 What’s next for your writing?

Right now my main focus in life and writing is grandparenting, and I have several books in mind for grandparents. Since I’m a home economist and have been writing recipes for Focus on the Family kids’ magazines for several years, I’m working on a cookbook for grandparents. I’m also speaking to church and community groups two or three times a month to help publicize my grandparenting Bible study.
Besides that, I’ve written parts of two other books and hope they will be published in God’s timing. One is a Christmas tea book and another is a book of devotions for those who are seriously ill. I also have ideas for Bible studies.
Where can we get a copy of Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting?
You can request my book through bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, Lifeway, and Family Christian Stores, or order them online at Christianbook.com and amazon.com. You can also go to “store” on my Web site to find additional sites to purchase them online.
Linda, thanks so much for inviting me to be your guest. I think you’ll love being a grandmother! Please e-mail me a picture of your new arrival. And please stop by my grandparenting blog, which I update weekly www.PreparingMyHeart.net.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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