Meet the Author: Shirley Leonard
[I don’t know how many years I’ve known this lovely lady nor where we met, but Shirley and I go back a long way. Perhaps it was at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference where our paths first crossed. Wherever and whenever it was, I’m glad that it happened. I’m proud to call Shirley a friend.]
Hopelessly in love with the guy she married 45 years ago, Shirley Leonard has just experienced a new kind of love affair: her first book. The title, With Each Passing Moment: Help and Hope for Caregivers, comes from a line in an old hymn. Those lyrics helped her survive her long-distance-caregiving years as she juggled roles as pastor’s wife, mom, and daughter. She loves to share the lessons she learned in those years with others who are on that road now.
Shirley grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York and met Richard Leonard, aka “the Rev,” at LycomingCollege. Together they’ve served in five different appointments with a total of 16 churches in Pennsylvania. Deeply involved in nursing home ministry for much of that time, she began keeping journals sometime in the 1970s. Journaling became a “sanity saver” for her, and today the journaling entries she’s collected serve as a resource for her writing.
Her personal caregiving experience began with her father’s stroke in 1990 and his subsequent cancer diagnosis. Soon after, her mother developed both emphysema and clinical depression. The round trip from the parsonage in PA to her parents’ home in NY was six hours, which she made every other week for almost five years. Meanwhile, she did her best to juggle responsibilities as a wife and mother of three, as well as serving as pastor’s wife to two congregations.
Writing a book about what she learned during that time was part of her healing process once her parents were both gone. It took 20 rejections and almost 17 years to find the right publisher, but today she’s grateful for God’s timing. Sonfire Media of GalaxVA, published the book on Mother’s Day 2012. In just the few months that it’s been out, many people have expressed that they felt the book was meant just for them for this particular time in their lives.
You might be surprised to know that when she’s not writing or snuggling a grandchild or great-grandchild, she’s usually helping her sweetheart with a project at their “farm.” It’s actually a farmette to where they’ve retired. The place has 15 acres of Christmas trees, the only farm crop these days, but Shirley has lots of lawn and outbuildings to groom. She’s pretty good with most of the tools and loves the change of pace from sitting behind a computer.
Visit Shirley at: