“Whatever Happened to That Book You Were Going to Write?”

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that I wrote a prayer on February 15, 2020, asking for guidance and strength as I undertook a new book-writing project. I had no idea that a month later the whole country would be closed down due to a pandemic. Nor could I have guessed that serious illness would afflict our family, leaving me unable to write for several months.In the darkest time. I feared I would not be able to complete the project.

Then, in the Christmas season, came the miracle. Physical weakness, anxiety, and depression lifted, and I found my love for the book return. I am still thanking God for renewed health and strength.

Grandchildren l-r: Lydia, Owen, and Julia. They all came to Lititz to celebrate the Hershey Family Christmas we missed in 2020.

Grandchildren l-r: Lydia, Owen, and Julia. They all came to Lititz to celebrate the Hershey Family Christmas we missed in 2020.

My friend and co-author Marilyn McEntyre stood by me through all the hills and valleys of our writing project and through my personal struggles. Her steady, calm, reassuring voice on the phone every week was an anchor. Her prayers and lighted candles penetrated the many miles between us. She helped me find the courage and hope I needed not only to help my family, but also to recover myself,  to empathize more deeply with the struggles of other grandparents. 

I started writing because I was enjoying grandparenting and wanted to share ideas with other engaged and energetic grandparents on the search for fun and meaningful activities that would make good memories. I never lost that goal, but I was able in the last four months to add new chapters about pain and uncertainty and endurance, also part of every grandparent journey.

So what has happened to the book?

Two days ago, Marilyn and I submitted the almost-final copy to our editor. In the next few weeks we will have one or two more chances to make tweaks. Then the book goes to production. Then to galleys when we can make only small changes. The next stages are very exciting, and I hope to share them with you.

In the meantime, I know I am writing to many grandparents. I’d love to know what you care about most and what would make you want to read a book about grandparenting. Are you facing challenges? Have you found ways to have fun that you want to share? All contributions are welcome!

Shirley Showalter


  1. nadine block on July 17, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Long-distance grandparenting is hard. I hope you have included ideas for how to do that. I live in Ohio. Most of my grandchildren are in California and some are in Atlanta.


    • Shirley Showalter on July 17, 2021 at 11:37 am

      You are so right, Nadine. We used to be 6 hours away from one set of grandchildren and 4 from the other. Now we have one within 12 miles and the others are a 5 hour flight away. So that’s a little improvement. Did you know there is a website just for people like you? I discovered it doing my research: https://thelongdistancegrandparent.com/ Your grandchildren may be a little older than the target audience for this website, but there still might be useful ideas for you. Thanks for starting us off with a good issue that faces many families today.

      • nadine block on July 17, 2021 at 12:27 pm

        Thanks for the tip…I will check it out. And, congratulations on your new book.

      • Pamela on July 19, 2021 at 10:19 am

        How wonderful to read this, and to see your link! We have grandchildren 10 minutes away (wonderful) and three grandchildren on the other coast – a 6 hour flight. I send them letters once a week, homemade cookies every other month or so, and books. Such a long time of no-see because of the pandemic. I like Nadine’s comment.

        • Shirley Showalter on July 19, 2021 at 10:24 am

          So sorry for the long separation from your three grandchildren on the other coast. I love your second-best solution. I’m sure your grandchildren look forward to those letters and packages. Our grandson was in Northern Wisconsin for a whole month. We wrote him letters, and he is home now. Had a great time. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be checking out your latest blog post too.

  2. Phyllis Wulliman on July 17, 2021 at 11:42 am

    Congratulations on the upcoming book! Thank for sharing your gift of writing but especially some of your personal journey. Blessings!

    • Shirley Showalter on July 17, 2021 at 11:52 am

      Thank you, Phyllis. You have traveled so much of that journey with us. So grateful for you.

  3. Marian Beaman on July 17, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    I am so fortunate to witness the development of our four grandchildren: a miracle birth, mystery trips, gratitude books, 13-year birthdays, baking in our kitchen, and other moments of wonder. What strikes me now is how quickly these early years go by—in a flash—our oldest two at age seventeen, driving, and with one foot out of the door.

    You are the consummate researcher, so I’ll share these “grandmotherly” scriptures I’ve tucked away on my prayer card: Proverbs 17:6, Isaiah 44:3, Isaiah 54:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 91:10. Psalm 102:18. Psalm 103:17, Psalm 128:6, Acts 2:39

    Blessings on this labor of love, and on the collaboration that is making its publication possible. I’m so very proud of you!

    • Marian Beaman on July 17, 2021 at 12:54 pm

      One more thing about your recent experience: Nothing in God’s economy ever goes to waste. No doubt your struggles, though you would not choose to endure them, have enriched and deepened your story.

      • Shirley Showalter on July 18, 2021 at 12:24 pm

        Thank for this thought too, Marian. I agree with you about God’s economy and like the way you expressed it. Some people say “everything happens for a reason” which I don’t agree with and like even less after reading Kate Bowler’s book of the same title with the subtitle: “And Other Lies i’ve Loved. I am committed to doing my part in God’s economy by continuing to search for the learning in this experience. I thought often in the last year of Jacob’s wrestling with the angel, saying “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

    • Shirley Showalter on July 18, 2021 at 12:17 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing these verses from your prayer card, Marian. And for sharing the stories about all the meaningful memories you have made with your four. I will be adding those verses to my collection and offer you this one, perhaps the only time the word grandmother appears in the Bible?? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lois_(biblical_figure)#:~:text=Her%20only%20biblical%20mention%20is,may%20have%20been%20kinsfolk%20of

      Thank you for the blessing. As you know, there is still much work to do, even after the book goes to production.

  4. Marlena Fiol on July 17, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    Shirley, I cherish what you have shared in this post. And that your journey has inspired you to write about the FULL experience of grand parenting, not just the fun or light or beautiful.
    Can’t wait to read the book!
    Much love,

    • Shirley Showalter on July 18, 2021 at 12:35 pm

      Thank you, Marlena. You are one of my teachers in the art of struggling with the angels until you find a blessing. Thank you so much for the love and encouragement. It will help carry me through the next stage of the process.

  5. Carol Warner on July 17, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    One of our grandchildren is autistic. It would be of interest to me to read other grandparents’ experiences with special needs children.

    • Shirley Showalter on July 18, 2021 at 12:38 pm

      Carol, thank you for sharing this fact and this interest. We did indeed include a chapter on the subject of special needs. I hope you will find it helpful.

  6. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on July 17, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    So happy that you are past that dark valley of depression and illness, Shirley, and am looking forward to your next book. Wishing you much joy and inspiration on this project!
    We just spent a week at a cottage with four of our grandchildren and their families and it was such a refreshing change after Covid isolation. Unfortunately, much to everyone’s disappointment, the four grandchildren in Ontario could not join us because interprovincial Covid restrictions are still in place. I am writing my memoir from birth to age 12 for my grandchildren and emailing the chapters to them as I write them. I did a book reading at the cottage for them of my first few chapters. One granddaughter, who is especially keen, and a story writer as well, is printing the pages as I send them and keeping them in a ring binder. She designed the cover herself. I wrote the pages by hand (printing as the younger grandchildren never learned cursive writing in school!). I also drew a few pictures. It was therapy for me!
    Are you familiar with Elsie Rempel’s book “Please Pass the Faith: The Art of Spiritual Grand-parenting”?

    • Shirley Showalter on July 18, 2021 at 2:55 pm

      Thank you for reminding me of the Elsie Rempel book. I did indeed find it, but I never bought my own copy. I have rectified that now.

      Glad you were able to enjoy good vacation time with part of your family while missing the rest. I hope it soon becomes possible to cross the border easily again. Seeing Canada by train, maybe as part of a book tour, is definitely on my list of things I hope for in the next year.

  7. susan scott on July 18, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    I’m not yet a grandparent Shirley but I WILL BE in January next year. So for my husband and myself it will be a new experience and journey, one I know that my friends who are grandparents so enjoy. Many of them live far away from their grandchildren. It was a great sadness for my sister when her daughter went to live abroad, not that long ago, with the two dear boys. And the pandemic has of course put paid to international travel – unless one can bear the 10 day isolation when arriving at destination. As a few of my friends have done. Such exciting news for final edits Shirley! Glad the depression lifted.

    • Shirley Showalter on July 18, 2021 at 3:01 pm

      Thank you, Susan, for this wonderful news. You actually are one of the readers Marilyn and I had in mind as we wrote the book — the grandmother-to-be and the grandmother who cares about young children. We speak especially to the years up to age thirteen, although increased age does not descrease the love and devotion grandmas feel.

      Your sister with the faraway grandchildren may find some solace and good ideas in the website above, copied here: https://thelongdistancegrandparent.com/

      Thanks too for the personal note. Your empathy travels far.

      • susan scott on July 19, 2021 at 1:09 pm

        Thank you for the link Shirley which I’ve forwarded on to a few including my sister. A good friend who is in isolation at the airport hotel in London until Saturday when she can be with her sons and grandchildren, what’s apped me to say she’s subscribed! Her name is Nicki. A very dear friend from Johannesburg.

  8. Laurie Buchanan on July 19, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    Shirley — submitting an almost final copy is huge. Congratulations on the forward momentum. Before you know it, the book will be on the shelves. Woohoo!

    • Shirley Showalter on July 19, 2021 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks, Laurie. You should know. You have done this often now. But you never take any of the stages for granted, right?

      • Laurie Buchanan on July 19, 2021 at 9:19 pm

        Shirley — Right. Each stage (no matter how big or small) is vital to the “birthing” process.

  9. Vicky Kirkton on July 20, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    All my grandchildren live close. I have done many different things over the years. Because there are ten I wanted to find a way to spend one on one time with them. Several years ago I took them school shopping one at a time. I would pick them up at their house and take them to a store and they would pick out clothes for school trying to stay within a set amount. I would them let them pick where they wanted to eat and would take them out to eat before going home. Last year was very different because of COVID. We would pick out several items and then go home and try them on and I would take back what didn’t fit. We did drive thru meals last year. This I have four granddaughters in college and all working different jobs, I changed it up a bit and met them for lunch and gave them their shopping money.

    • nadine block on July 20, 2021 at 12:57 pm

      All great ideas. Thanks.

    • Shirley Showalter on July 20, 2021 at 2:14 pm

      Vickyy , grandmother extraordinaire! Ten grandchildren, but all of them special. I think rituals are a great way to both have events to look forward to but also give you the chance to listen and converse with one at a time. These shopping trips/meals out will always be remembered. My hunch is that they will carry into more generations. As we say in the book, we are now training grandparents two generations from now! Thanks for offering this great idea to the readers here, Vicky.

  10. Melodie M Davis on July 22, 2021 at 9:11 am

    Nice to see the update! I was wondering … from time to time … how it was going. Having just returned from our brood of 13 being together 4 nights and parts of 4 days, I feel newly rewarded (is that the word) for the time we’ve invested in our children and grandchildren, who all seemed to enjoy our getaway to a Deep Creek Lake cabin in western Maryland. Connecting with our grandchildren and children is one of my most favorite (and natural) things, it feels.

    • Shirley Showalter on July 22, 2021 at 9:44 am

      I know you have an interest in grandparenting, Melodie. It’s easy to see from the many pictures of family life you share on your blog. Thirteen is a big brood! am sure you have plans for how to make these whole family vacations memorable experiences. Deep Creek looks beautiful. We drove through it many times on our way to and from Pittsburgh.

      Is rewarded the right word? It’s fine with me! Another way to think of it for us farm girls is reaping the harvest, not just of two generations of loving attention, but of all who have gone before us also.

  11. Judith Valente on July 24, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    Congratulations Shirley! So glad the book is coming out and you were able to complete the project despite the setbacks you describe. Someone sent me a collection of poems about grandparenting. If you email me your mailing address I will try to remember to send it to you.All the best!

    • Shirley Showalter on July 24, 2021 at 6:53 pm

      How good to see you here, Judith. I will definitely take you up on that offer!

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