MCL founder and longtime publisher/editor Marilyn Tinnin is keeping busy in retirement. She has released a book, “MaeMae’s Grandmother Book: Life Lessons for Our Grandchildren (Big People Too),” containing plenty of real-life wisdom and a foreword by Robert St. John. Visit Marilyn at Lemuria Books on August 3 and the Mississippi Book Festival on August 17.
MCL: Why was this book No. 1 on your bucket list?
Marilyn Tinnin: Because I find that I am passionate about the culture that we’re leaving to our children. The world I grew up in was very different than the world my grandchildren are growing up in. I want them to think intentionally about certain things, like truth, and gratitude, and your attitude, your motivations and your relationships.
MCL: Now how many grandchildren do you have?
Marilyn: I have 13.
MCL: That’s so fun!
Marilyn: Well, they are. They really are fun.
MCL: And what’s the age range?
Marilyn: Ages 3 to 14.
MCL: So who is the book’s primary audience?
Marilyn: Like it says on the cover, it’s life lessons for grandchildren and big people too. I’m thinking my 14-year-old grandchildren — it will resonate with them. Because I think some of the things in there are probably things they’ll notice in their own lives, because they have to do with relationships. But also I think if adults will read these things, it will open their eyes to the world we live in. With all the social media and celebrity culture, (there are) just some very basic things that maybe aren’t being pointed out to our grandchildren.
I’ve never done anything that I felt so driven to do, even in all the years I (ran Mississippi Christian Living) — and I felt very purposeful in that! I just felt like it was so important to get (this book) on paper and get it to my grandchildren, even though most of them won’t read it for years, probably. But I’m hoping their parents will read it and be intentional about pointing those things out to them.
MCL: You told me this book would be partly taken from some of your MCL editor’s letters. Is that how you wound up doing it?
Marilyn: Yeah, a lot of the material was material I already had, and then I expanded on that. Every chapter begins with a Bible verse and a quote — everything from Winnie the Pooh to Winston Churchill, which tells you something about (what I like to read). (laughs)
In the middle of illustrating these different (lessons), like for instance things like “Pay attention” and “Find your calling” and “Get a dog,” I use a lot of life stories from people I’ve interviewed over the years, along with some Bible stories and personal stories. I wouldn’t call it a memoir by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some personal stories that (my grandkids) don’t know that might one day mean something to them.
MCL: Can you give me an example?
Marilyn: One of the hardest lessons I ever learned was when Charles and I got married and we were trying to sell our houses and buy a house together, and the Great Recession happened. Nothing was looking up. We were struggling with (our respective businesses), and we were trying to go back and forth between my house and his house, and somebody was always living out of a suitcase. It was really difficult because there was no end in sight. I learned in that time (that) there are ways you can be content when you’re in the middle of (a trial). I want my grandchildren to know that, because goodness knows what’s around the corner.
MCL: What’s the story behind “Get a dog”?
Marilyn: We had two Pembroke Welsh corgis for about 12 years. I watched them go from being puppies, where they were playful … to, by the time they passed away, were old men with arthritis. And it made me realize the gravity, the shortness of life. The changes dance around us all the time, but they happen so gradually that we don’t realize how fast life is moving. And then when you have to give up a pet, you realize you’ve watched that whole life go by.
The Bible tells us our lives are a mist or a vapor. But we tend to think we’ll be here forever, and we put off doing important things. And I think a dog magnifies that whole concept for me. Those dogs impacted our lives, and they loved us, and I think they lived life to the max. Well, we all want to do that.