The Right Age (a guest post by Cecil Murphey)


Cecil Murphey, known to his many friends as Cec, is an amazing eighty-five-year-old. I’ve lost count of the number of books he’s authored, co-authored, or ghost-written, but the one most of you are familiar with–at least by name–is Ninety Minutes in Heaven, which he wrote with Don Piper, who experienced the astounding visit to Heaven the book and the movie are about.

Cec isn’t selfish about sharing his talents. Years ago I had a private meeting with him at a Christian writers conference (when we were both a tad younger and I was a lot bigger), and I’m still attempting to apply his gracious advice. When I asked for his permission to share the following article, this was his response. “Roger, I’d be delighted and feel honored… ”

He meant it, too.

Enough from me. Here goes…
The Right Age

“I’m too old for that,” my 53-year-old friend said.

I regularly hear such comments from those who have hit the big zero years (50, 60, 70). Once-attractive women complain, “When women reach a certain age, men ignore them.” When I hear that, I think, So what? Do you need approving stares to be happy?

I’m tired of hearing friends cringe at the mention of aging. I have no desire to be 30 or 60 again and am grateful for the years behind me.

Just because we reach “a certain age” doesn’t mean we stop living or enjoying life. Instead, we have an opportunity to add to our lives, to explore new ideas, and take pleasurable risks.

This year I turned 85, and I’m delighted to admit it. Here are a few things I say about my age:

  • “I’ve earned every wrinkle and creak in my body.”
  • “This is the cost of living longer.”
  • “I’m happy being who I am right now.”
  • “This is exactly the right age for me.”

Getting older isn’t only a downhill slide; we can always find positives. No matter how dismal life seems, we can choose to stay positive.

For example, my faith has grown stronger and my attachment to others is deeper. I’m free to say no. The older I get, the more I know the relationships I want to maintain and those I want to let go.

Regardless of the number of my years, I’m exactly the right age to increase my joy and appreciate all the goodness of life. I relish the freedom and the joy of life instead of thinking how terrible it is to get old. I regularly say to myself, “This is the life I’ve been preparing to live. Now I’ll enjoy it.”

What about you and your age? Can you say these words below?

 

Cecil Murphey

 

Thanks to Cec for permitting me to publish this article from his most recent monthly newsletter. He has said what I so often think (or realize I should think), but he’s done it much more eloquently.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Are We Having Fun Yet?

I don’t know where the question “Are we having fun yet?” originated, but it’s a great question.

My wife and I were recently watching an episode from Madam Secretary near the end of which the older daughter passed on a complaint from one of her younger siblings. “We never do anything fun anymore.” To which Elizabeth McCord, after careful thought and against the strong advice of the Secret Service man attending her, took the whole family outside in the dark and had a great time sledding on cafeteria trays down a snowy hill.

That got me thinking. I’m a rather serious person, regardless of my quirky sense of humor. I enjoy things that are funny, but I seldom laugh aloud. When I do, you can be sure I think something isn’t just funny, but hilarious.

But “funny” isn’t the equivalent of “fun.” What is fun, and is it something I ever have? And, if not, is it something I actually miss having?

Hmm. Deep thoughts. Thoughts that aren’t fun.

I can think of hundreds of things that aren’t the least fun. Coming up with topics for my blog posts when my mind is blank falls into that category. So does smelling broccoli when it’s cooking–or any other time.

There are hundreds of other things I don’t mind doing, but wouldn’t describe as fun. Writing blog posts once I have a topic is one of them. Another is getting up at 6:30 a.m. in my retirement to help with breakfast. I’m happy to show my appreciation for my wife’s going to work while I stay home and write. But fun? Nope.

“Fun” supposedly signifies something amusing or entertaining. So my un-fun dictionary tells me.

I’m glad I went to a Casting Crowns concert last year, but it wasn’t fun. The same for the dozen or so years my parents took me to see the Richmond Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker. Truly astounding experiences, but not fun.

I enjoy playing my guitar, writing new songs, and recording them at home. Fun? Not on your life! Writing and recording are hard work.

What about writing “The End” on my work-in-progress? I know I’ll have to go back through it, editing and revising it sometimes more than a dozen times. That’s a pleasant challenge, but not fun.

How about vacations? Depending on where we go and what we do there, there are enjoyable moments. But fun? Not for more than a few minutes at a time.

If you’re starting to think I’m a little weird, join the crowd. I can’t help wondering about myself. What’s wrong with me that I can’t “have fun” more easily and more often?

I don’t have an answer to that. But the good thing is I enjoy and appreciate life in general. Every day is a gift from God, and my sincere desire is to try to live the way He wants me to. I’m rarely depressed, and I’m constantly thankful for the multitude of blessings He’s given me–and continues to give me.

Maybe “fun” isn’t something I need much of to lead a meaningful life. I’m satisfied with who I am and where I am and what I’m doing. That’s more important to me than “having fun.”

What about you? Are you having fun yet, or are you more of a serious person like me? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Ultimate Significance

The Rolling Stones “can’t get no satisfaction” and Bob Dylan wants to have a “satisfied mind” when he dies. Why do I get the impression Dylan and the Stones are pursuing different goals–probably very different ones?

What is satisfaction, anyhow? Is it what the WordWeb dictionary I’m using defines as “the contentment one feels when one has fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation”? And is satisfaction a realistic goal?

Perhaps I’m being unfair. Maybe even a tad judgmental. But it seems to me that whatever the Rolling Stones are hoping to get satisfaction from is apt to be very temporary in nature. A person may eat until he’s satisfied, but he’s still going to get hungry again. No need to elaborate.

At least Dylan’s goal is to be satisfied when he enters eternity. Whatever gives him final contentment must be of an eternal nature. Since “Satisfied Mind” is on one of Dylan’s Christian albums–yes, he wrote and recorded at least three of them–I hope he’s talking about satisfaction with the way he’s lived and his confidence in where he’s going at death. Definitely not temporal.

But what about significance? That’s what this post is supposed to be about.

Significance means importance; that’s the definition I’m using here, anyhow. Contentment and importance are not one and the same, and neither are significance and satisfaction. Those two words are not only not synonyms, they’re almost antonyms.

Time to get personal. I get contentment from a number of things. Having a wonderful wife. A comfortable–but modest–home. Food and clothes. A decent camera and good musical instruments. I have everything I need and  plenty of things I don’t need.

But the contentment those things provide isn’t enough.

Could it be I “can’t get no satisfaction,” either? I’m extremely thankful for all of the blessings God has provided, but do they fulfill my real goal–my desire to be important? Or at least to do something so important it will continue doing good for years after my death.

Five thousand people bought Found in Translation. Twenty-five hundred bought Lost in Dreams. I’m proud of those figures, because I want to believe at least that many people read those books and were both entertained and blessed by them. That did more than make me content. It made me feel important. Or at least that I’d done something important.

Ah, but what about The Devil and Pastor Gus? It’s been out exactly one year. I don’t have the total sales figures, but it seems likely that only a hundred copies have been sold. Perhaps fewer. And this was the novel I’d considered my legacy for future generations. I felt it had the strongest message of anything I’ve ever written–and probably will ever write. In short, that it would be my most important novel.

No matter how much the people who’ve read The Devil and Pastor Gus rave about it–it currently has a 4.4 star rating on Amazon–I’m not content. I wonder whether my best effort to accomplish something truly important has fallen flat on its face.

I could get depressed about this if I allowed myself to. But the truth of one of my original songs keeps coming to mind:

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s helping me in ways I can’t see.
God understands all my problems;
He knows my best efforts are not enough to solve them.

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s renewing my faded hopes and dreams.
He always provides the things He knows I need.

I believe God’s holding me in His hands;
He’s shaping me according to plan.
Despite my fears and confusion,
He knows He provides the only real solution.

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s drawing from His limitless means.
He always provides the things He knows I need.

Maybe it’s time to let faith take over. What’s most significant ultimately is not what’s important to me, but what’s important to God. And He doesn’t have to do it my way. Or on my timetable. What a mess my life would be in if He’d done everything the way I thought they should be done!

Why should I fret about feeling important here on earth, anyhow? I’m much more desirous of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when I arrive in Heaven.

What do you think? Are you satisfied? Do you feel significant? How about sharing a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Happy to Be Me

At sixty-eight, I’m finally learning not just to be satisfied with the way God made me, but to be happy about it. He’s the Master and I’m the clay. He wouldn’t have let me turn out to be anything less than He’d intended—not as long as I was trying to follow His will. Of course, He had to keep smushing me together and remolding me during the process to make sure I turned out right.

Sure, I’d love to have been better looking. And to have had more hair. I couldn’t even have a Beatle-ish hair style in high school when the Fab Four first came to the United States to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show; my hair just didn’t grow prolifically in the right places. For that matter, what if He’d given me a body that stayed permanently trim—no matter how much food I ate or what kind.

And a lot more energy. When friends at a summer job nicknamed me Flash, it wasn’t because I was serving as the staff photographer. I was slow then, and I haven’t gotten any faster. “Hurry” isn’t in my dictionary.

Okay. Those things weren’t in God’s plan for me. But how could I miss something I’ve never had?

What if He’d led me to the perfect vocation right after college instead of taking me through six-plus years of teaching junior high English, ten years of helping economically disadvantaged folks find appropriate federally funded training, and almost nineteen years of computer programming?

Of course, I’d thought the programming was the vocation He’d been leading me to all along. Only when I was downsized unexpectedly did I realize I’d grown weary of keeping up with the changes in information technology. But He knew that would happen.

That downsizing led to a temporary at-home job, and when that ended it led to a part-time job at Target for three years. And it was during that time that I had both the time and the inclination to write my first novel. The first of eleven so far.

What? Did God have that in mind the whole time?

I believe He did. Looking back on various parts of my life—and the characteristics that make me me—I can see His hand placing those puzzle pieces on the board. They’re making more sense than ever. And I’m starting to appreciate the fact that I’m the me I am.

What about you? Do you like being who you are? What would you change if you could, and why do you think that would be important? Have you finished becoming the person God wants you to be? Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My latest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Tentative-Front-Cover

Best regards,
Roger

 

“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”–Or Can I?

“I can’t get no satisfaction…”

I couldn’t remember the rest of the words to that Rolling Stones song when I started writing this post, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. That song has always bothered me–musically, lyrically, and theologically. Or should I say it’s “left me dissatisfied”?

Practically everyone in the Western world strives for success and satisfaction. It’s human nature, and those two things seem to go hand-in-hand. People want to succeed–in their jobs and in their marriages. In athletics and in rearing successful children. In practically anything and everything.

And along with that often comes the quest for more money, more power, more recognition. More whatever.

And all to make them feel satisfied. To fill that empty spot inside that makes them feel important. To keep them from feeling like they’re no better than–no different from–everyone else.

At sixty-eight I’ve decided that being “no better than” others isn’t all that terrible. I’ve had my successes and I’ve had my failures, including some I still struggle with.  Yet I’m satisfied overall.

I’m reminded of something I read in a Ted Decker book. One character claimed that he was God’s favorite person. Then he pointed out that the person he was talking to was God’s favorite, too. His point was that God loves everyone equally, no matter how good or bad they are, no matter how successful or unsuccessful–as the world views success.

Sure, I’d love for my books to sell millions of copies. Earning an appreciable amount of money from those sales would be nice. And how thrilled I’d be if some well-known musician discovered one of my songs and made it famous. But I’m satisfied without those things ever happening.

You see, my satisfaction isn’t based on success. If it were, I’d probably be the one singing, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

My satisfaction doesn’t come from comparing myself with others, but with knowing how worthwhile I am in God’s sight. Yes, I want to please Him. I want Him to be proud of me. But He loves me all He can just because I’m me. Not because of the feeble best I can ever do. What more could I ask for?

I finally gave in to my curiosity, by the way. I put my seldom-played Rolling Stones CD in the stereo and listened to “Satisfaction.” The only words I could understand were the refrain. I’m satisfied that my dislike of that song is well founded.

What are your thoughts about success, satisfaction, and/or the Rolling Stones? Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE  if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger