I am writing this post from New York City. For the last four days we have been exploring the place that we called home in 2011-2012, traveling with friends from Goshen, Indiana. One of the highlights was returning to Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship where I preached a sermon called “Loving Our Children’s Children.”

I was rather rusty in the pulpit. I hadn’t preached a sermon for at least seven years. The last one was about story telling. This one about grandparenting.

I shared my insecurity, and friends came to my rescue. About thirty people jumped on the question I put out on FB: “what is the greatest gift you can give to grandchildren?” Others offered to pray for me as I prepared. I was guided by Lady Wisdom herself, the speaker in the sermon text, Proverbs 8, who describes what it was like to be at the side of the Creator before there were oceans and mountains. Lady Wisdom was present there in that room of 20 people (four of them children)  sitting in a circle, singing in four part harmony, and sharing each other’s burdens and joys. And she was having fun!

Lydia and Trixie Laughing at New Yorker Cartoons

Granddaughter Lydia and her second cousin Trixie Laughing at New Yorker Cartoons. They were taking a final fling before the beginning of the new school year.

Julia and Owen playing with apples on the first day of school.

Grandchildren Julia and Owen playing with apples on the first day of school.

I often make discoveries while I am preparing to preach, and last Sunday was no exception. I had not seen the connection before between the Wisdom Literature I love in the Bible and the calling to teach our children’s children. And I found the missing link I was searching for: the connection between teaching and playing. Lady Wisdom is the great teacher in this regard. I won’t preach the whole sermon here. 🙂 But if you ask, I might be able to bring it to your church sometime.

Three other opportunities to connect

I will be talking about passing along faith and values, building a spiritual legacy, in two more settings this fall and winter. On November 4 I will teach a course for the Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning on Leaving a Spiritual Legacy. If you live near Lancaster, PA, you can sign up here.

I will also be an “adjunct faculty” member for an upcoming course taught by Linda and Richard Eyre called Grandparenting101. I am quite excited about this class and have signed up as a member. The Eyers have been amassing an incredible library of good information on how children learn values, and I hope to take my own grandparenting to the next level of wisdom with their help. I’d love to have some of you join me and share what you learn here. If you sign up here soon, you will have a chance to participate in an orientation session, access special resources online, and take the class one module for every month for the next six months.

Also, on September 11, Grandparents Day, I will be doing a Zoom webinar on ten themes in The Mindful Grandparent with the GaGa Sisterhood founded by Donne Davis, a previous guest on this blog. You can sign up to join here.

News Brief:

Evidently, I am a Mennonite Mom Blogger. This blog landed on the #1 space in this list of other Mennonite Mom blogs compiled by Feedspot. It’s an honor to be mentioned, and I am glad to be in the company of other bloggers I myself enjoy reading. I also use Feedspot to locate grandparenting podcasts.

Now, if you have come back from following all those links, 🙂 I’d love your opinion. What connection do you see between passing on a legacy of faith and engaging in play with our children and grandchildren?

Shirley Showalter


  1. susan scott on August 31, 2022 at 5:59 am

    Hello Shirley! What an exciting journey to look forward to! You’ve been a grandmother for a while already so you’ve had practice. You’ll be a winner in the pulpit. But more especially, you’ve ‘taught’ by example, the example of you being you. What a joy it is to be a grandmother. My baby grandson Sam is the dearest little baby. He smiles a great deal, to all and sundry, but when he smiles directly at me my heart soars. We (I) realise more and more the responsibility of grand-parenting and what a privilege it is to be a grandparent. If we underpin everything about values with unconditional love we’re on to a winning streak. Good luck on your journey Shirley. I’ve been awol a long while but am happy to say hello here.

    • Shirley Showalter on August 31, 2022 at 7:46 am

      Susan, how good to hear from you — and to know that you have sweet baby Sam in your life. You have so much wisdom to share with that baby — and you will find ways that he naturally seeks — play — to reinforce the good values you have tested and want to share. Yes, unconditional love is the rock-solid base for a good life, including the example of deeply-held beliefs.

      I love that looking into the eyes connection. It seems almost mystical to me. It can continue into the later years, especially in a cozy, cuddly time like bedtime.

      I need to go find you online again. Sorry we lost touch.

  2. Marian Beaman on August 31, 2022 at 6:24 am

    I love your text here—and the theme of sacred texts. My, you are a busy woman.

    Knee-deep into a revised draft of my second memoir, I’m in busy-ness too. I will definitely sign up for the ZOOM webinar you mention. Thank you. And congratulations on all your accomplishments, Shirley.

    My most recent “play” with grandsons: yesterday sending them two haikus and today, recipes for a college student who likes to cook with his three mates.

    • Shirley Showalter on August 31, 2022 at 7:50 am

      Ha! Busy indeed, but good busy most of the time. As I know you are too. I love the fact that you are in frequent contact with your handsome young men and women, the ones you have played with all their lives. You have changed modes of communication and subject matter, but they know your love is never changing. That will teach them more about your faith even than your beautiful words. Thanks, Marian, for your generous words.

  3. Melodie on August 31, 2022 at 7:24 am

    I do worry about the spiritual legacy and feel it is very important for the future. We do our best to connect with the grandchildren and to live out our faith, and in the end I believe they will make their own choices, but having good and positive relationships with them is the key.
    Interesting to hear that you had not preached in 7 years! Blessings in your activities coming up.

    • Shirley Showalter on August 31, 2022 at 7:56 am

      Melodie, I think we who grew up memorizing texts in the Bible are familiar with the stern commandments to “tell the children” in the books of the Law. It can feel like a heavy duty. That’s why the Wisdom literature means so much to me. It keeps the commandments but lightens the atmosphere. And gives us aid.in the form of Lady Wisdom and Jesus, both of whom set examples of play and kindness. “Let the children come to me.”

      That’s what you have been doing and saying with that energetic pack of grandchildren. You can trust the love you have given, are giving, and will give.

  4. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on August 31, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    I love your discoveries and sermonizing with Lady Wisdom.

    I am fortunate to be living full time with my grandson (now 3) along with my husband and daughter and to feel every day the way play allows all 4 of us to get along and to communicate. I love hearing my grandson singing as he eats his breakfast just now and I hope I/we can keep finding the way and choosing to play through all the growing pains ahead.

    • Shirley Showalter on August 31, 2022 at 9:14 pm

      Thank you, Dolores! It’s hard to believe that your grandson is three already. We are getting ready to welcome our daughter and now five-year-old Lydia to a long weekend while our SIL attends a Lotus concert. We are grateful for good communication and for the chance to be part of a three-generation team.

      I love hearing children singing too. Lady Wisdom must have planted the seeds.

  5. Donne DAvis on September 4, 2022 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Shirley, thank you for mentioning your upcoming presentation to our GaGa Sisterhood. I’m excited to share you with our GaGa grandmas. This morning on my weekly Zoom session with my 8-year old granddaughter, she chose to read me a book about the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a harvest festival of thanksgiving. I explained to her that the Jewish tradition is to build a sukkah or hut where you can eat a meal outdoors. Since she does not practice Judaism, it’s an opportunity for me to share some of the religious traditions I’ve practiced in my life. When we finished the book, she gave me my weekly art lesson. Today we drew self-portraits and laughed over how hard it is to draw a nose. I love our weekly conversations because they strengthen the bond between us and create memories to cherish.

    • Shirley Showalter on September 5, 2022 at 2:20 pm


      It’s wonderful to share our traditions with our grandchildren and their families, even when we all may be on slightly different paths. We don’t have to have uniformity to have deeply spiritual values and connections. And we can learn from each other. I recently connect with a Jewish woman from Philadelphia who has written a gorgeous book on Amish women. She is a model of deeply engaging a religious group that ordinarily stays away from the mainstream. I am so glad you and your 8-year-old granddaughter talk once a week. I have another way of connecting long distance that I will describe on our Zoom call — soon!

  6. Jennifer Delanty on September 7, 2022 at 10:31 am

    Hi Shirley, thank you for your cogent and always compelling posts. Your season of exploration for maximizing your grandparenting role has prompted me to share your blog with friends and family who have been likewise blessed. Thank you for posing the question of connection between play and faith legacy. My father is the best example I can think for my response. He always took the time to connect and play with my children when they were very young, getting down on the floor and wrestling with them. As they grew up, he engaged with each of my children on topics of mutual interest: railroads, music, blackberry picking and the University of Oregon Ducks. At his 70th birthday party, my younger daughter sang him a lullaby his mother had sung to her children, bringing everyone to tears. My older daughter played “Abide with Me,” his favorite hymn, and we all sang along. Over the years he took train trips with my eldest son, attended the entire “Ring Cycle” of Wagner’s opera with my younger daughter, and regularly made 3-hour trips from his Vancouver, WA home to Seattle for a multitude of athletic, music, theater and other performances of his grandchildren. As a teenager, one of my children was in a hateful mood about everybody and I asked her if there is anyone she actually likes. Without missing a beat, she replied, “Grandpa.” As they entered the tumultuous decade of the 20’s, his emotional support, gentle guidance, secure hugs, and sense of humor helped them navigate that topsy-turvy terrain. Your question helped me realize that Dad’s connection to my children began with play, and as they grew up, he was able to meet each of them right where they were in their maturation process, finding common points of interest like Latin and Emerson’s oeuvre. Attending his church and ours over the years showed them he was also on a spiritual path. On the day Dad died, my children surrounded him and sang a Greek dirge as well as “O Sanctissima,” his favorite Christmas hymn, in Latin. They held his hands and feet in the emergency room as they wept and thanked him for his steadfast, loving presence. We were on holy ground together as he passed to eternity. Dad had five other grandchildren in addition to my four, and I’ve only shared here what he gave to mine. It all began with play, and ended with the Holy Spirit holding us all together for his transition. It was an enormous comfort to me to witness how very much my children loved him, too. Thank you, Shirley, for your generous scholarship and invitation to engage. May God continue to bless and sustain you and your family!

    • Shirley Showalter on September 7, 2022 at 12:43 pm

      Oh Jennifer, thank you so much for making your father’s spiritual legacy come alive in these words on the world wide web. This is the kind of life we should all aspire to. It’s in the great tradition of Lady Wisdom herself, since O Sanctissima is a hymn to her form in the Virgin Mary. Have you heard this version? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18E_DZxgiDE. I am writing through tears and listening to this song on my headphones, seeing you and your children holding hands and feet. Your children and their cousins are so blessed to carry with them all his love and their memories of his homecoming to eternity.

      May God continue to bless and sustain you and your family too.

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