Thanks to one of my most creative and generous online friends, Kathleen Foster Friesen, I can offer you a new icon for this journey we are taking together toward the launch of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

US Route 50 road sign

All the way from US-50 in Kansas! Photo by Kathleen Foster Friesen

Here’s the news on the 100 Day Challenge.

To celebrate the half-way mark, the Bird-in-Hand Restaurant added a new prize. A gift certificate for $40 at their restaurant in Leola, PA.

Jim and Elma Smucker at the Bird-in-Hand Restaurant

Jim Smucker and his mother Elma inside the Bird-in-Hand Restaurant. Mennonites in a family business.

In addition to this new prize, the lucky winner will enjoy a free night at Forgotten Seasons B & B, six free books from Herald Press, below, a collection of Pennsylvania Dutch sweet and sour foods, and now a restaurant gift certificate. The value of the gift? Priceless. But in cold cash terms it’s at least $290.

What about the books you win? Here’s a picture of Russ Eanes, publisher at Herald Press, along with the six books they are giving to the winner. I handpicked these books because of their relationship to Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World and to the story I tell there about growing up Mennonite.

Russ Eanes and six Herald Press book prizes

Russ Eanes, publisher, and six Herald Press book prizes

So, perhaps you live in Australia and can’t travel to Pennsylvania in the next year?

You still get the books and the sweets and sours shipped to you. And I’ll throw in a $100 Amazon gift certificate.

Is there an advantage to participating in the Challenge even if your number is not generated by the Showalter Random Number Generator?

Of course!

I wish you could read the 400 plus entries without breaking the confidentiality of the process. But let me assure you that I have laughed out loud and shed a tear or two as I have read them every day. When we push ourselves to go just an inch or two into unknown territory, we step out by faith into sacred space. Then all kinds of miraculous things happen.

I wrote the first draft of my memoir without knowing for sure what I most wanted to say to readers. But now I know that what I learned can apply to all lives. Blush is the metaphor. It names the thing that makes us feel stupid or ignorant or embarrassed. Blush is a synonym for naivete and innocence. I’m still working on the language for what it means to Embrace Your Blush, but, for now, here’s the elevator speech:

To embrace your blush means transforming your relationship to the parts of yourself you fear or are ashamed of. Instead of hiding from them, love them. Don’t resist; persist. Eventually you will give up the desire to be someone else and will become instead the person whom God intended all along.

My New Beginning today? I’m going to try to write a “hook” for my story. I could use some help. So any questions and comments you have about the quote above will be greatly appreciated.

What’s your New Beginning. Log it here. I’m on the other end of the page, eagerly awaiting your adventures. I want to know what part of yourself you are choosing to embrace today.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Kathleen Pooler on July 31, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Shirley, your elevator pitch sings. It reminds me that our stories go beyond ourselves and strike a universal chord. When we are connected with our purpose for telling our stories, we can believe we have a story worth telling. And your pitch tells me that BLUSH is something to embrace. Beautiful!

    • shirleyhs on July 31, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you, Kathleen. The deepest joy of telling stories is to help each other learn. You have applied the idea of embracing the blush to the process of writing itself. Yes, it works! When we find our purpose, our prose turns into poetry. Thank you for that insight.

  2. Linda Hoye on July 31, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I love your elevator speech but especially this sentence: “Eventually you will give up the desire to be someone else and will become instead the person whom God intended all along.” Grasping this is the key to fulfillment and I believe you’ve taken hold of that brass ring with enthusiasm and your own unique savoir faire! Your journey is an inspiration and I expect that Blush will be even more of an inspiration. I can’t wait to read it!

    • shirleyhs on July 31, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks, Linda. Your comment is so helpful. A memoir is about agency, but a spiritual story is about much more than our own strivings, which are often for the wrong things. It’s also about learning to let go and developing the ability to appreciate the right stuff we have been given and seeing ways to grow and give from that beginning.

      Your enthusiasm for the book means more than I can say. Thank you.

  3. Becky on July 31, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Is it too late to start?

    • shirleyhs on July 31, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      Not at all, Becky! As I said, I’ll be using a random number generator. The winning number could just as easily come after the halfway point as before. And a post written on the very last day will have the same chance as one written on the first day. Jump in! And it’s never too late to create New Beginnings in your life.

  4. Marian Beaman on August 1, 2013 at 4:18 am

    Becky’s question reminds me of the moral of the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20: So the last shall be first and the first last, a perfect paradox.

    Is there a connection between this passage and the hook you need for Blush? I don’t know, but I do know there is comfort in this parable for late bloomers, embracers of encore careers, and more. Ever inspiring, leading my example–that’s you, Shirley. Thank you!

  5. shirleyhs on August 1, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Thanks, Marian. I love the question, “is it too late to start?” also. It’s never too late, and the truth almost always comes in the form of a paradox. At least in the parables.

    Thanks for your kind words. And yes, a whole life of New Beginnings is a life of adventure. It’s also service. One of the many things I had to learn was how to combine my natural inclination to lead with the biblical and church mandate to serve. I keep stumbling until I learn that the best way to lead is to serve. Still learning that one.

    I meant to put this reference on your own blog, but since I have your attention here, I recommend this book. You are have the chance to make your blog your book. A much more efficient way to write and build a platform than the one I chose. Think about it!

    • Marian Beaman on August 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

      Thank you for the reference. Your leadership and service are intertwined, Shirley. Looking at it from a distance, it’s plain as day. I am so blessed to meet you — and your writer friends — online.

  6. Susan G. Weidener on August 1, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Good luck with this, Shirley. As you know the Women’s Writing Circle is based in Chester County, which neighbors Lancaster County. Bird-in-Hand is a favorite and I’m sure one of our writers would love to win the prize. I will post this on our Women’s Writing Circle Facebook page.

  7. shirleyhs on August 1, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Thanks, Susan. I’d love for one of your circle to win the prize. So glad you’ve already discovered Bird-in-Hand, and I look forward to doing a guest post for you soon! So exciting to see paths converging online. I appreciate your sharing of the contest.

  8. Kathleen Friesen on August 1, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Thank you for your generous comments on the photo. As you craft your elevator speech, I am reminded of a quote that has stuck with me from your friend, Richard Gilbert, “The self, flowing through craft, produces art.”

    I clearly hear in your current speech what it means for others to embrace their “Blush.” Like Linda I resonate strongly with the last sentence. But, it feels generic. I’m left wondering where your “self” lives in the current version? Would you consider using a first person pronoun somewhere in the phrases that will invite a personal connection to the passionate spirit, love, and craft of your story?

    • shirleyhs on August 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Kathleen, thanks so much for pointing me back to Richard’s wonderful post. I needed to reread that one.

      And I love your question about where my current self resides in that short description. I will need to ponder that question. It goes back to the paradox that the route to the universal goes through the particular. Hmmm.

      Thank you so much for your long presence on this journey. You’ve made me want to be a better writer, and I always sensed that you believed I could be. What a gift. I hope to live up to your expectations in the book.

  9. Kathleen Friesen on August 1, 2013 at 10:51 am

    P.S. I dug up the link to the quote, found in Richard’s post, “Between self and story.”

    With warm wishes as you continue the journey …

  10. Carol Bodensteiner on August 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I like your elevator speech, Shirley. It really does give your personal story universal appeal. I love Bird In Hand. With you and the Women’s Writing Circle in PA – in addition to my niece and her family – I’m developing an overwhelming need to go east!

    • shirleyhs on August 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Carol, please let me know when you make travel plans. I’d love to guide you to some of my favorite spots. Who knows, maybe we could even meet in person. I’d love that!

      Thanks. And some day I will re-visit Iowa also. 🙂

  11. ShirleyK on August 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I don’t know that God intended anything. But there can indeed be laughter and wholeness in owning up to one’s own oddities and failures. I doubt that this sort of relief comes to the young.

  12. shirleyhs on August 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Well, it’s hard to know what God intends, isn’t it, Shirley? Good point.

    What I’m talking about, however, is the feeling of rightness, completion, comfort, that comes from feeling our lives are congruent, authentic. My daughter Kate was my teacher in this regard. When she was very little, I asked why she insisted that I should be the one to read her bedtime story rather than her father.

    “That’s just the way God made me, mommy.”

    Thanks for the interesting question. You illustrate the challenge of reaching across age groups and all kinds of language, from explicitly Christian to generically spiritual to skeptical. Such fun! 🙂

  13. Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living on August 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Shirley, I might be completely off base here, but I decided to shorten your elevator speech and make it more direct. If I’ve missed the essence of your speech, please forgive me. I just think shorter is easier to grasp.

    “To embrace your blush means accepting your innocence and knowing that you will transform over time. One day you will blossom and unfold in the person God intended all along.”

    I’m late in catching up with my e-mails. Sorry.

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