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Living a wonderful life

By Ann Mann

It’s a Wonderful Life. The iconic movie of the same name was on last week, and it got me thinking. What does it mean to live a wonderful life? Especially at this time of year, the time when we celebrate the birth of the Savior.

I was enjoying time with friends at a Christmas party when the answer came to me. Living a wonderful life means waking up every morning amazed. Dr. Lee and Leesa Woodall were talking about memorable firsts. Leesa remembered the first time she enjoyed coffee. She was 40-years-old. A reminder we are never too old to discover something new.

Her husband, Lee remembers the first time he tasted a Triscuit. It was at an engagement party someone had thrown for the young couple. Growing up, the only cracker Lee had tasted was the basic saltine. Then someone served him something new. Now he loves Triscuits!

These may seem like trivial discoveries. Even so, they are remarkable because they are memorable. Both Leesa and Lee were open to amazement. Life is richer when we open ourselves up to the joy that waits for us every day. All we have to do is notice.

This year has been hard for me. Moving to a new town. Starting a new job. And then losing my husband, my partner in life and ministry. And yet I recognize this is still a wonderful life. In some of the darkest days of my life, I have experienced such love, and comfort, and even joy.

When I was asking permission on using Leesa and Lee’s experience in this article, Lee shared a quote from the woman who helped preserve the Florida everglades, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. She said, “I believe that life should be lived so vividly and so intensely that thoughts of another life, or of a longer life, are not necessary.”

Waking up every day amazed by God’s grace. This is the key to living a wonderful life. Each day is a gift. We are only promised this moment, so let us not take it for granted. In the midst of grief and sadness, there can also be joy, if we but look for it.

My beloved is gone. But I am still very much alive. As I continue in this life and ministry God has called me to, I am constantly amazed. How wonderful to watch some of our youth lead our responsive reading during worship. Another young man is learning to usher. And after church, some of our children willingly came along with their parents to sing Christmas carols at Sunny Grove Assisted Living.

Each day is an opportunity to live what we believe. When we love God with all of our heart, and soul, and might (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matthew 22:37), we have everything we need to live a wonderful live.

The love Jesus is talking about, the love he stands for, the love he died for, is the kind of love that is patient , and kind and persistent, no matter the obstacles we face. Our amazement grows as we intentionally love, serve and welcome others.

This is what it means to live a wonderful life. (Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is

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