Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Guest Post and Book Spotlight: Aging Gracefully with the 23rd Psalm by Dr. Sharon V. King

What inspires someone to write a book about aging? Well, how about getting older—as old as you thought “old” was when you were a kid. When I was fifteen, fifty sounded really old. When I turned fifty, fifty sounded like, maybe, middle age. Oh, how our perspectives about aging shift when we’re the ones getting older! My inspiration for my new book, Aging Gracefully with the 23rd Psalm, came from two sources: 1) my 50th birthday celebration and
2) my never-ending love for Psalm 23. Let’s start with the psalm. If I recall, I memorized it early in elementary school. Back then, we were still standing to pledge allegiance to the flag and recite Bible verses in school. Psalm 23 captured my affection because 1) it was easy to memorize and 2) although I didn’t fully understand everything the psalm talked about, my grandmother had it on a plaque in our kitchen, so I knew it must be very special.

I grew up as a church brat, with my grandfather as the assistant pastor, my father as the choir director, and my mother as the organist. If I didn’t memorize significant chunks of the Bible, I was in all kinds of trouble. When we had family prayer time on Sunday evening—a tradition with which I grew increasingly impatient as I got older because we turned off the TV, and I had to miss the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show—I could always get by with reciting Psalm 23 to show that I was giving due diligence to Bible memorization.

My second inspiration for the book—my 50th birthday—coincided with a date that made me and a lot of other people do a gut check about the brevity of life and the importance of a relationship with God—September 11, 2001. I just happened to be in Washington, DC for a birthday trip, and you know what happened there on that date. I write about that event in my book, so I won’t give it away; but, Psalm 23 reverberated through my mind and heart that day.

I would like to say I sat down and immediately penned this book; but, the truth is, I worked on it in bits and pieces and various stages of re-writes for the next several years. When I finally felt I had said what I wanted to say the way I wanted to say it, I contacted an agent to discuss my manuscript. The first thing the agent told me was that no one wanted to read another book about the Twenty-third Psalm. Ok, on to the next agent. I eventually identified a publisher who was interested in the book, but then something strange happened. I changed my mind. I read through the manuscript again and concluded that it was not “there” yet—“there” being that elusive place where writers lean back, take a deep sigh, and say, “Yes, that’s what I wanted to write. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I know this is my best effort.”

Not really knowing what I needed to do to get my book “there” but just knowing I had to do something, I let it percolate for another long stretch of time. I fiddled with this and re-wrote that; and then, just as suddenly as I decided it wasn’t ready, I decided it was. Skipping the agent process, I submitted the manuscript to three Christian publishers. One replied to my query. One is all you need! So, now, after quite a few years of writing and a lot of personal aging, I am happy to share Aging Gracefully with the 23rd Psalm with you. May it bless you somehow, some way, and at some time, as you age gracefully.

Title: Aging Gracefully with the 23rd Psalm 
Author: Dr. Sharon V. King
Release Date: February 17, 2014
Publisher: Anaiah Inspirations

Book Description:
Can we talk about getting older? With another Baby Boomer turning 60 every 7.5 seconds, the “age wave” has captured the attention of such diverse fields as financial planning, cosmetics, medicine, and—religion. How does aging affect our spirituality? Does it deepen our relationship with God, or have decades of life’s roller coaster rides left us “spiritually challenged?”

Life after 50 can be particularly challenging for women because of the personal, social, and physical changes that naturally occur as we age. A rich spiritual life can help 50+ women gain perspective about their aging process and seek God’s guidance as they encounter the changes, challenges, and opportunities of later life.

Aging Gracefully with the 23rd Psalm applies some of the best-loved verses in scripture to a reflective study of ways women can grow in grace as they grow in years. The book format provides reflections on themes of aging found in each verse of Psalm 23, such as facing forks in the road; making fresh starts; resolving past conflicts; coping with social, personal, and physical changes; navigating through emotional transitions; processing loss and grief; and end-of-life planning. Illustrations of each theme follow, using biblical examples, vignettes from the author’s personal aging journey, a Takeaway Message from each psalm verse, suggestions for group discussion topics, and a journaling exercise to help the reader write a “Prayer Memo” to the Good Shepherd of the 23rd Psalm. 

Sharon is a class of ’69 Baby Boomer, a native of Pennsylvania, and now resident of Georgia.  The daughter of church musicians, she first worked as a music teacher and then turned her interests to writing about and working with older adults. A recently retired gerontology professor, Sharon now writes inspirational books and articles for 50+ women. 

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