A visit with first time author and my grandma, Shirley Faith Touchstone.
Hello friends. I hope this post finds you feeling something good in your bones, little or large, as long as it’s in there somewhere. Mine are, quite frankly, bursting. And it’s got everything to do with the fact that one of the stops on my recent 5,200 mile cross-country road trip was to my Grandma Shirley’s home in Van Buren, Arkansas…Where I got to hold her book, Why Am I Still Here?
We spent a few days together talking about how excited and busy she is at 77 years young to have seen this, her first book, to publication. For anyone struggling with perseverance to stick with your dreams or anyone hurting from loss, Grandma and I hope this helps.
Grandma Shirley’s middle name is Faith and mine is Love. We were born in November; two days shy of being exactly 40 years apart. She was named after Shirley Temple and I love to drink them, and yes, we had moms who loved to style our hair with those signature curls.
We are both writers.
We share so many lovely things but as families do, we also have had to deal with tragedy together. In November 2007, she lost her son—my dad, when he was killed on his motorcycle. Six months later, we lost Grandpa when he took his own life. But we were lucky. Faith and love were there for our family and have seen us through to today—a great day to be here talking with you all about things that leave people wondering why in the world this stuff happens and what do we do afterwards?
Grandma and Grandpa
What Grandma Shirley wants to share is that knowing you’re not the only one who has had to deal with loss and the worrisome questions and doubts that stem from it helps. Her book, Why Am I Still Here?, is a collection of tragic yet triumphant stories from people like Helen, a 90-year old lady who suffered a minor stroke and had to leave her home of 60-plus years, who said to Grandma one day after church, “I don’t know why I’m still here. I’m worthless.” To which Grandma replied, “Helen, you are not worthless. You have the most beautiful smile. If you can’t do anything but smile at someone, you have brightened their day and that’s the purpose for your life right now.” There are encouraging stories showing us exactly why those of us left behind need to go on. I was honored to have contributed stories about my dad and grandpa to Grandma’s work.
Sometimes to get an answer to those worrisome questions, you have to take that leap of faith and bravely ask, “What now?”
After Dad and Grandpa died, Grandma wasn’t sure of her purpose so she asked God, “What now?” When you pose a question like this, be prepared for the answer, whether it translates into the years of hard work it takes to produce a book or simply asks you to smile kindly at another. Grandma’s has turned out to be this unexpected, amazing journey.
She’d been asked to lead a bible study for Legacy Heights, the unassisted seniors living center where she now lives, and wasn’t sure if she was up for it so soon after Grandpa’s passing. But deep down, she knew Helen’s words, “Why am I still here”, were her answer. Grandma agreed to do a one-time study program on that subject, putting together a few booklets to hand out. That was in May of 2009. By September of 2009, she had printed and given out over 500 booklets! It was at that point when she asked her good friend, Anita Dowty, for help. They knew in their hearts from seeing the response that this was supposed to be a full-fledged book. Anita and Grandma were in it together all the way and have become like sisters, celebrating the book’s release by Believers Press, a division of Bethany Press, this past week!
Grandma and Anita
I can’t think of a better example of good coming from bad.
Before our visit was over and because she has inspired me to never give up on my dream of becoming published, I asked Grandma if she had anything to share with those of us who might be struggling to stick with writing. She said, “Never give up on your passion. I’m 77 and if I can do it at this age, so can you. If you have a story to tell, stick with it.” I agree with her, because somewhere out there is the person who is meant to read it someday and be touched by what you have to say.
Grandma and I are so very happy to be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter today. To find out more about Grandma Shirley and Anita, check out their website http://whyamistillhere.net/ Why Am I Still Here? is currently available in both digital and print versions on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble and wherever fine books are sold.
43 thoughts on “Faith and Love: Why We’re Still Here”
What a wonderful story! I love the idea of “Why Am I Still Here?” and appreciate the thought that it can be something as simple as a smile. Thank you for the inspiration and your passion, Grandma Shirley, and thank you for sharing her with us, Carlene!
Good Morning Pintip Mermaid, thank you for appreciating Grandma with me 🙂 Smiles Rock 🙂
Hello Pintip, I am happy that you liked the “Why Am I Still Here? title. I was so amazed when I started asking other why they felt they were still here. The reaction went from never thought about it before while others told me they had been wondering that for a long time.
I loved being interviewed by my grand daughter. I am so proud of Carlene. She rocks also.
Please notice that I mis spelled my last name (I guess I need to practice more on my new computer. I keep making mistakes… Please forgive me…Grandma Shirley
As always, you astound me. What a wonderfully inspiring post. Now I know where you get your spirit, generosity of spirit and loving nature! I think the mermaids need to adopt Grandma Shirley. It’s just not fair not to share her with us. (That’s a lot of nots.)
Talk about making lemonade from a bunch of lemons! Your grandma is so inspiring. That type of survival leaves me astounded. To not only survive after such heavy losses, but then to go on and follow your dream and make something more of your life for yourself and others! Wow.
I’m sure she made that woman’s life better by just her words. And it’s so true. Somedays a smile may be all that you can manage or a smile received may be all that you need.
I agree with you, Carlene. Smiles Rock! And so do you and Grandma Shirley!
Hugs and fishy kisses!
Hello Kim Mermaid 🙂
Thank you so much! Knowing Grandma the way I do, I can say her faith is absolutely unshakable. I can’t begin to explain how soothing it is to sit and talk with someone like that–I am so happy to share her with you all! It’s official Grandma–you’re a mermaid for life 🙂
Kimberly, Thank you for your sweet comments. I think I would love to be adopted by all of you. The comments from all the Mermaids brought tears to my eves. Needless to say I love Carlene and she made the story sound special.
You both are so gifted, beautiful and you inspiring. Grandma Shirley needs to be a mermaid!
Thank you, Anna 🙂 Not only that but Grandma looks amazing in ocean colors…I think she’s already a mermaid deep down where it counts 🙂
Hi Anna, I love you my dear daughter in law. Thanks for your touching comments.
I agree, Grandma Shirley should be a mermaid. 🙂 This was such a wonderful story. Faith and love, really that is all you need. Congrats on publication Grandma Shirley and Anita!
Good afternoon Miss Avery Mermaid xoxo
Thank you for swimming over and saying hello! xoxo
Hi Avery, I have a great grand daugher Avery… Love that name. Thinking about Faith and Love… I feel that God must have had a hand in our names many years ago. I love the 2 names together. I am honored that you all want me to be a Grandma Mermaid.
*hugs Carlene and Grandma Shirley* Our lives are so much more wonderful for knowing both of you. I’m excited and proud about this book! Much love and many congratulations!!
Thank you so much, Alethea Mermaid! Your words touch our hearts 🙂 xoxo
Hi Alethea, Hugs to you also. My life has been blessed by reading all your comments.
What a wonderful reminder that life is what we make of it! Thanks for sharing. Your grandmother is an inspiration. My grandmother wrote a book as well and while it’s never been published, I have the original hand-written copy. She also wrote poetry.
Your grandmother is such an inspiration to perseverance for writers. The writer’s life is a struggle at times and I do wonder…why am I doing this? Then along comes someone like your grandmother who inspires and reminds me.
Hi Jean and thank you so much for saying hello and sharing with us. What a treasure to have your grandmother’s hand-written copy of her book! I’m sure she has touched you the same way Grandma Shirley has me. So happy to have been a help in reminding you just how important your own writing is and always will be 🙂
Oh Jean, You should encourage your grand mother to get her story published or maybe you could get it published. There are so many stories that need to be told that we never hear unless we tell others. (I mention this in my book about my parents.) I do agree with Carlene that it is a blessing to have a hand-written copy.
Grandmas are special. Both of mine went through a lot of hardship, but survived it.
Hi Mary Jo, you know they really are so very special. For me, seeing someone survive something so hard let’s me know I can do it too. Thank you so much for stopping by. 🙂
Hi Mary Jo, I am so happy to hear that you won my book “Why Am I Still Here? I pray that you will be as blessed reading it as we have in putting the book togethrer.
I love the way you weaved in all the similarities between the two of you. I think anyone feeling low over loss or tragedy will be lifted up by reading the book, Why Am I Still Here, and I want to recognize here how thankful our family is that she is surrounded by such loving and supportive friends.
Hi Aunt Terry! That feeling of thankfulness for all of Grandma’s supportive friends really struck me during our trip. Everyone there loves her so much and it really helps knowing that! Anita is a true gem 🙂
Hi Terry, I was pleased also that Carlene picked up on the similarities between us. I believe that Carlene will be successful some day. Iit is wonderful to have supportive friends and family.
Congrats on being published, Shirley!
And thank you for sharing your wonderful story. The next time I hit a hurdle in my road to publication I will fondly think of you. And then I will pick myself back up, put a smile on my face, and get the job done!
When’s the next book coming out? ;0)
Hello, Tamra, and thank you so much for stopping by today. I think Grandma would say there’s just no reason not to pick yourself up…each and every time. I’ll have to ask her about the future plans on a second book. I did just hear today that she is having her first book signing!
Hi Tamra, Carlene is right to say “pick up yourself” also let God help you through the hard times.The smile on your face is beautiful. I see that in your picture. Not sure about another book. I am still trying to believe this one is real.
Yay for Carlene-Mermaid and Grandma-Mermaid! I just got my Kindle Fire (my first e-reader) today and Grandma’s book may just be my very first purchase. Congrats on the book and inspiring so many people!
That is so cool Kerri Mermaid! Thank you for being so inspirable!
Hi Kerri, How exciting. Hope you enjoy the book. I have looked at Kindle Fire but for now I am so busy I doubt that I will have much time to read.. Enjoy
Awww, thank you so much Diana Mermaid! Miss Dolley sounds like a true gem and I LOVE her frankness! Grandma Shirley also decided to do this on her own because she wanted to get it out to people now rather than later. Big hugs back to you 🙂
Hi Carlene. I loved the interview that you had with your grandma Shirley. I especially loved how you mentioned your names “Faith” and “Love” in part of the interview. Sweet! Thank you for promoting our book. Who knows, perhaps you will be working for a magazine doing interviews one of these days?? I wish you well. Love and blessings, Anita
Hi Anita! Yay, so glad you were able to leave a comment! Thank you so much for being Grandma’s other half in this journey and such a wonderful friend to her.
Oh, that interviewing gig sounds pretty enticing, especially if it’s music based! I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Love and blessings back to you!
I would like to congratulate Mary Jo Burke for being the lucky commenter who won a copy of Grandma Shirley’s book! Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and said hello. Grandma and Anita tried leaving a comment for you all but the computers weren’t cooperating so I’ll just say how incredibly honored and awestruck they are at all of your responses and support. Blessings to all xoxoxo
Yay! I finally figured out how to leave a comment …WOW …Carlene that was such a wonderful commentary!! I am so impressed with all 3 of you 🙂 How eloquently you express yourselves ,,,and I have my copy of the book now, so better go read it! thank you thank you
Hi Aunt Kathy! Yeah, sometimes that mysterious commenting troublemaker shows up and makes it difficult–happens to us all 🙂 So glad you enjoyed the post and that you have your very own copy. I loved both yours and Aunt Terry’s contributions too. Love you
Hi Carlene, I am sorry it took me this long to respond. Thanks to each one of you and to my dear Carlene for her wonderful interview. Hope everyone had a chance to read the comments. Love, Grandma Shirley
Oh Grandma, you have no idea how much it means that you were our guest and we love you!
Hi Kathy, Hope you enjoy the book. Love you, Mom (Grandma Shirley)
Hi Diana, I agree about Carlene’s smile. I know she brings joy to me.
I would love to meet Miss Dolley. She sounds delightful. My friend Anita and I hope to schedule some speaking engagements as well as promoting out book. We were very happy with self publishing our book.
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