Nothing like interview questions to give a person pause and see one's own life in a new perspective. My friend is taking a survey for an article she intends to write about the lives of people in their eighties. She asked me to participate. I'm the one who benefited from the introspection! So I thought it might be shareable as a blog post. Here it is—for what it's worth—from my vantage point of eighty-eight years.
I have had many diversified highlights over the long years. One major one would be the ten-plus trips into Communist China with my late husband Ted to meet and encourage the Chinese Christians there and listen to their riveting stories of standing true to their faith under persecution. An awesome privilege! Also the time I spoke to 10,000 people at an all night prayer meeting in a church in Korea after a trip to China to report how God was answering their prayers for their brothers and sisters in China.
How important to you is having a social life?
I'm happy and comfortable “in my own skin” and with my “alone time.” I'm never lonely. But I also find great delight in the company of my many friends. I try to balance the two. I don't isolate myself, although I spend most of every day at the computer on my writing. It's at my computer where I'm also in constant touch with friends all over the country and the world, many of whom I've never met but with whom I am bonded in spirit. We know each other well and pray for one another. Well, I confess that I probably don't spend enough time “smelling the roses” and in leisure pursuits—but I guess there will be plenty of time for that in heaven!
What accomplishment are you the most proud of?
One thing would be the writing and publishing of my own and my husband's autobiographies as a legacy for our posterity and beyond, and continuing to write sequels of my spiritual autobiography. Also that I've chronicled the stories of Christians in China for publication. And other books I've published to help people through specific adversities of life. Of course, pride in the lives of my four sons, ten grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren—so far.
Many of us feel younger than our actual age…with that in mind what age do you feel you are?
Probably age 50 most of the time—except the first hour in the morning when I drag around stiffly and feel like I'm about 125!
What in your life has changed in the last ten years?
Noticeable diminishing of my strength and energy although I'm determined not to let that deter me from my lifetime call from God to serve Him. Inside and outside parts of my mortal “earth suit” seem to be giving out! More creaks and groans result in the increased number of medical appointments on my calendar! And I no longer drive hundreds of miles alone across the country for speaking engagements, take overseas treks to China's Great Wall or to Europe to trace my parental heritage. I take "virtual journeys" courtesy of Google Maps. I believe in taking full advantage of all the new electronic technologies. I'm so thankful for them because they have enabled me to be more prolific in writing and publishing widely and keeping in touch with my friends instantly.
Over the years have you developed a slogan or a creed that has helped you through difficulty and to deal with disappointments?
As a lung cancer surgery survivor of twenty-three years, it has to be: “Celebrate each day of life as a loving gift from God.” With gratitude to God, I take one day at a time and try to live fully in the present moment.
What sage advice would you pass along to some people in their 50s or 60s who feels that life isn't turning out the way they had hoped?
Life is too short to indulge in pity parties. Besides, no one wants to accept your invitation to come. Move on from your past and determine to live positively and fruitfully for the rest of the way. Live with gusto and purpose as if today was the last day of your life. At the same time, live as if you still had a long lifetime ahead. Change what you still can; Accept what you can't change; pray for God to give you wisdom to know the difference.
What brings you the most joy or what is your favorite thing to do?
I delight to engage in the creative process with whatever gifts God has given me. After I get an initial inspiration or idea, it means that I must work hard and long to skillfully craft a piece of writing whether a blog post or a book or an email, or a poem into a masterpiece that would please God. Since what I write is expressly for Him, I want Him to say, “It is good!”
What is the greatest life lesson you've learned that has helped you navigate life?
Throughout my life I've recognized that under the great sovereign plan of God for my life, He has still given me free will to make choices and to live out the consequences with His help. It's not possible to live this long without some less than perfect choices. I lean into Philippians 3:12-14: To forget what is behind and press on to what lies ahead. I have tried not to look at my life's cup as half-empty, nor even as half-full, but as overflowing with the generous blessings of God. I try to keep seeking for and following the unique purpose of God for my life at whatever season of life I am in. Then to do obediently and joyfully what I perceive to be the will of God for me.
QUESTION: Whatever your age or season of life, how would you answer these survey questions??