It’s Still a Wonderful Life

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”

                                                                                                       Madeleine L’Engle

Belated birthday thoughts

On turning 65, because Medicare is now in my picture, it feels as if I have crossed the threshold to old age.

Own the number, I tell myself. It’s just a number. Go through this portal (door) or be done!

Since I’m still here, God is not finished with me. Yet. Time to reflect on lessons I have learned.

Carol_First grade_PS

First grade, Ventura, CA––The girl on the front row with arms crossed is me. Unlike everyone who put their hands in their laps, I may or may not have followed instructions. A contrarian.

“Life is the best teacher.”

I have accumulated lots of information and a good deal of knowledge in the 65 years I have inhabited planet earth. By formal education, a lot. By experience, a lot more. From my mistakes and the mistakes of others, most of what actually shapes and influences my everyday life.

I pay attention to the consequences other people experience as if my life depends on it. Because sometimes it does.

In part, what motivates me to teach, to speak and to write is believing other people can learn from my mistakes as well.

Only sometimes, I must confess, I hear myself (in one of those ongoing head-conversations) take a didactic tone, lecture mode, a moral imperative mote-and-beam viewpoint. I try to remind myself, “Back off. Don’t pander advice you yourself won’t have to live with. Life is the best teacher.”

And then I remember the person who first spoke those words to me. She was right, because life is the best teacher.

Life has taught me that mistakes have value often beyond getting so-called right answers. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Red pencil marks on tests and papers got my attention. The stuff I already knew didn’t need correction.

“Fail often and fail early,” one of the Pixar creators says.

Failing early allows for faster course correction, and if there is one thing I have learned, life requires constant course correction. No straight-arrow path through life.

The only way to avoid making mistakes is to do nothing. Know nothing. Risk nothing.

Life itself involves risk. The risk of pain. Heartache. Misunderstanding. Rejection. Loss.

But to know love, joy and the how much more that God has in store makes risks worth taking.

A perennial Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life debuted in 1946––years before I was born.

The first time I saw this movie in 1971, the timing was perfect. I believe that movie saved my life. The story got my attention at a time when I questioned whether my life mattered to anyone. Wouldn’t it have been better if I had never been born?

As George Bailey came to see, one life touches so many others, making a difference in those people’s lives.

Circles inside circles:  touching, intersecting, overlapping this colorful miracle called life.

Just think, if any significant person in your life had never been born, imagine how different your life would be.

People do make a difference in my story and I make a difference in theirs. And so do you.

Today, I have purposed in my heart not to lament the passing of time or the number of birthdays past or take for granted even a single day.

Only God knows when the circle of each life is complete, for he alone knows the plans and purposes for each and every person he creates.

He is the Author and Director. I am a character in his story.

However long my story continues-–whatever size my completed circle––turning another year older bids me acknowledge God’s goodness.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

I repeat this truth to myself. Often. Frequently.


11 grandchildren. “I can’t hardly realize it!” All these lives are directly related to me.


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One thought on “It’s Still a Wonderful Life

  • January 15, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    If only I could express truths as beautifully as you ! Still, I had a “giggle” (as you probably knew I would). C.S. Lewis said, “what you see depends on where you are standing and what your experiences are…” I thought 60 and 70 were my significant years and that 65 was only in between—smile. Having you in my life and the opportunity to “glean” from your wisdom & experiences is such a blessing to me and I can only hope & encourage others to “read on” and be blessed as well. Many of my own potential for mistakes have been lessened because of your “teachings” that have come through such a valuable friendship. Love you.


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