How Letting Something Go Gives You Something Better

My friend Jayne recently discovered a spot on her leg.  What began as a spot was discovered to be a rare, aggressive cancer and within weeks she heard the doctor say, “The leg needs to go.”  Our town’s premier wedding planner was stunned at the news.  Jayne is a vivacious, positive thinking trooper, but this was a devastating blow.  The doctor admonished her, saying, “You will die if you don’t have the leg removed.  And soon.  Now don’t you be stubborn about this.”  “Stubborn?!” she exclaimed in her beautiful, way southern drawl. “I’ve got livin’ to do!  Set the date!”

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My friend David tells the story of having his second leg amputated.  Due to diabetes complications, the first had been removed years earlier.  Then the fevers came and the second leg burned hot with infection.  There was much more David wanted to do in life. But in his thinking, to be completely without legs and stuck in a wheelchair would make him an invalid…of little use to God or others.

So for seven years, he held on to his second leg.  Then sitting in a fast food drive-through line one day, David came to a place of surrender…a place of letting go.  “I was exhausted from recurring fevers caused by the infected leg”, he explains.  The encounter with God he had was undeniable.  He heard God ask,”Why are you holding on to a seven-year anchor?”  Suddenly he wasn’t afraid.  Immediately he made the phone call to set up the surgery.

Sometimes we need to let go of something so we can move to the next good thing. 

Maybe your spouse has left and you never thought you’d be here, starting over.  Maybe budget cuts at your company have caused you to lose your job.  Maybe a dear loved one has died and your life is suddenly far different than you imagined it would be.

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I don’t know what you’re facing, friend, but it seems to me in each of life’s storms, there is a common denominator…something we need to let go of.  And though our circumstances may be different from one another, the thing we need to let go of is the same. What is it? Control.

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As you relinquish your sweaty death grip on your circumstances, something beautiful begins to happen.  You are freed from the burden of trying to be God!  You realize that God is doing something in your storm…something you may not fully understand.  And you begin to sense that He’s at work for a good purpose in your life – and in the lives of others. It may not be the way you wanted your prayer answered, but there’s real comfort when you remember that His great love for you was settled on the cross.  And because of that great love, He’s working for His glory and your ultimate good.
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It was a Wednesday night at choir practice.  Hearts were heavy with the knowledge that David had lost his second leg that morning.  As the choir director, I asked, “Has anyone spoken with David today?”  A hand went up. “How is he?”  I’ll never forget the sagging shoulders, the downcast expressions as I scanned the room.  Everyone there loved David. The choir member replied, “He’s busy deciding how tall he wants to be.”

A gasp…then a collective hilarious belly laugh from everyone in the choir.

The evening of Jayne’s surgery, I dialed her number with a heavy heart.  “How are you, friend?” My beautiful, spunky, life-loving friend’s response? “I’m cancer-free! I traded my broken-down leg for LIFE, and before you know it, I’ll have a new, state of the art leg!” If I was stunned at the news of Jayne’s leg amputation, I was even more stunned at her victorious insight. Turns out the wedding director has a very important wedding coming up…that of her niece…and she is NOT going to miss it!

David and Jayne are two people that recognized it was time to let something go so they could move forward into something better. As David and Jayne each live life in their own bright, winsome ways, people walk away with this thought: “If someone with that kind of devastating loss can find hilarious joy in this life, maybe joy is possible for me, too.” They are making an impact for great encouragement in the lives of all who come in contact with them.

When David and Jayne relinquished control, they each lost a leg.  But they gained LIFE. And ministries that reach all kinds of people in all types of situations.

David and Jayne

David Duncan and Jayne Smith

I’d love to hear from you: What are you holding on to that God may want to exchange for something bigger?

Copyright 2016. Connie Carey is the author of “Falling UP”, a resource for grief and loss. You can reach her at http://www.conniecarey.com.

7 Ways God Works in Your Difficult Times

If you live in the South, you are enjoying the beauty of the Crepe Myrtle tree as its long branches are beginning to sprout.  This time of year, it seems to grow by the day and by June, the weight of it’s flowering blooms will drape elegantly while reveling in the full sun and heat of summer in the south.

But each February I marvel as gardeners take to these beautiful trees with saws and clippers, cutting back the statuesque tree down to a hat rack.  The first time I noticed this process, I thought, “They’ve killed these trees.  They’ve been cut back too much and they’ll never come back.”

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But, I was wrong.  In April, little sprouts began to appear.  In May, they were coming forth and by June, their blooms were in glorious splendor, whether white, purple or hot pink.

Crepe Myrtle

In fact, the trees that were not trimmed are never as brilliant the following summer, looking spindly and with smaller blossoms.

Are you facing a time of pruning in your life?  Does it feel like God is too severe in His dealings with you?  I’ve certainly been there.  There have been seasons in my life when the trials I was facing caused me to say to God, “Look, I promise.  This is NOT making me more patient.  Or kind.  Or long-suffering.  I am becoming a WORSE person, not better! Don’t you see how terribly I’m holding up under this trouble?  Please. Stop. Now.”

But somehow, by His grace, He brought me through those unwelcome situations and later, I WAS stronger, more resilient, and eventually, even more joyful.

Can you see the goodness of God in the ways He makes His presence known to you in what seems to be a severe pruning in your life?  Here are a few examples:

  1. A scripture that you’ve read many times suddenly springs to life with new meaning.
  2. The kindness of a friend.
  3. Interesting circumstances you know were meant just for you that bring comfort.
  4. Gratitude for simple moments of joy that perhaps you didn’t recognize before.
  5. The new compassion you feel for others who are experiencing a hard time.
  6. Finding yourself reaching out to others during their difficulty.
  7. The platform you now have to bring comfort to others who are enduring a similar hardship.

Be on the lookout for God in every detail of your life, especially the difficult times.  He’s there – working for your good.

And like the Crepe Myrtle, it won’t be long before you’re blooming forth with new growth, a reflection of the Master Gardener’s loving skill and wisdom so that you can be a benefit to others and a reflection of His glory.

Copyright 2016. Connie Carey delivers fun, content-rich messages that lift your spirit and bring the house down! She is the author of “Falling UP”, a resource for grief and loss.  You can reach her at www.conniecarey.com.

Laugh More to Stress Less

The pressures of life and work can pull us down.  Of all the tools to combat depression, stress and negativity, remembering your sense of humor is one of the best and most fun.  Why? Because there is healing power in humor.  In fact, medical science tells us that people who laugh regularly are 40% less likely to have a heart attack than those who don’t laugh regularly.  It triggers the right side of the brain, fostering creativity. It activates natural tranquilizers, boosts your immune system, reduces blood pressure and relieves tension.

But you’ve got to be on the lookout for the humorous side of life.  When I speak on this topic, people say to me, “Connie, funny things just happen to you.  But they don’t happen to me.”  I beg to differ!  I believe hilarious things happen to ALL of us.  But we have to be willing to adjust our lenses and look for the funny in life.

For instance, isn’t it interesting how the slight misspelling of a word changes the whole meaning?
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I sure hope my nephews don’t feel the need for any of that stuff.

How about this menu at a local restaurant in my town.

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Either that’s an unfortunate misspelling, or that dressing is really high in fiber.

Or how about this pic I snapped from a lunch menu in Los Vegas?

IMG_3905Dear Los Vegas Restaurant:

Please rethink the title of your burger.

 Sincerely,

the City of Vidalia, GA

When we find humor in unexpected places, it lightens our day and helps us manage stress.  Recently, my housework took an unexpected turn for the worse.

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I texted my husband this pic with a note:  “Dear Husband, The good news:  I vacuumed the house!  The bad news:  Charging your phone may be difficult.”  It eased the frustration of the moment.  The more you practice laughing at life….the annoyances and frustrations…the more resilient, happy and healthy you’ll be.

I’ve decided, it takes a lot to push me too far, to make me angry or upset.  I’ve learned that there is great benefit in seeing, benefitting from and even appreciating the bizarre and annoying things of life. Harnessing laughter is a great skill to manage stress.

Every day, you and I will encounter both good…and bad.  Let the bad go…and celebrate the good.  If you do, you’ll find that you may

SLEEP BETTER

GET MORE DONE

HAVE MORE ENERGY

MAKE BETTER DECISIONS

BE MORE CREATIVE

It might even get your health premiums down!  The old saying is true:  “Laughter IS the best medicine.”  And it’s free…and has no side effects!

Know someone who needs to laugh a little today?  Pass this post along!  Remember, laugh more, stress less!

 

 

 

7 Steps to Reach Your Goals (from an 87 Year Old Mountain Climbing Grandma)

May I just tell you how much I appreciate your hanging out with me on my blog and joining me for Life Lessons & Laughter this past year?!  As we begin the new year, I thought I’d feature the post you liked the most (based on views, comments, likes and shares) from the past 12 months.  By a landslide, it was the post about my mom’s mountain climb and her tips for reaching your goals. I can’t think of a better post for New Year’s Day.  And if something inspires you, makes you smile or helps you get through the day, pass it along!  I’ll bet there’s someone in your world who is thirsty for encouragement.

https://conniecarey.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/seven-steps-to-reach-your-goals-from-an-87-year-old-mountain-climbing-grandma/

 

Four Tips to go from “Out of Whack” to “Back on Track” After the Holidays

I hope you had a wonderful, blessed holiday season!

walk-along-railroad-tracksI love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but confess with all the heavy food, rainy weather, being off-schedule and out of the habit of exercise, I’ve felt a bit out of whack.  My usual (somewhat) healthy routine has been DERAILED. Bleh. Well, today, I’m sharing with you what I’m doing to get back on track before the new year.

  1. Get moving.  I’m treating myself to a walk every day this week and it feels FANTASTIC.  Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, I still get in a walk at the local mall.  I’ve also ordered a new work-out DVD.  My current ones have gotten a little stale and maybe my body has plateaued with the repetition, so a new one is on it’s way, just to shake it up a little.  Also, my fitness tracker died on December 1, so I got a new one.  I use the Jawbone UP.  It’s amazing how motivational it can be to watch my steps add up during the day.
  2. Throw out the holiday junk food.  Throw it away, give it away or take it to the office.  Healthy choices are so much easier when I eliminate the temptation by getting it out of the house.
  3. Drink that water. Water helps with weight loss, energizes muscles, helps keep skin looking good and helps rid the body of toxins.   (Wow. I think I’ll have a glass right now!)
  4. Make this delicious Detox Soup.  This is my go-to soup!  I love making a big pot and enjoying it for lunch throughout the following week.  It’s practically calorie free (except for whatever meat you may choose to add), full of nutrients and so easy to pull out of the fridge for a quick meal.

Delicious Detox Soup – Ingredients: 1/2 head of cabbage, 1 cup celery, 1 cup diced onion, 1 cup sliced carrots, 1 sliced green pepper, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, few shakes of black pepper, 4 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

Instructions:  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add celery, onion, bell pepper and carrots and saute until slightly tender.

Delicious Detox SoupThen add garlic and chicken or vegetable broth.  Add tomatoes and cabbage and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook until cabbage is tender.  (By the way, the monogrammed tile was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law.  I love it!)

Connie's Delicious Detox Soup

Stir in oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. I usually use fresh basil and oregano from my garden, but this time of year, the basil is done.  This paste works just fine.

Connie's Delicious Detox Soup

Connie's Delicious Detox Soup

 

 

Add a few tablespoons of Bragg’s Liquid Amino to desired taste.  It’s a natural soy sauce alternative containing 16 amino acids, which fight fat and build muscle.

Adjust seasoning to taste. Add roasted chicken or lean ground beef, if you like.

Connie's Delicious Detox Soup

Above all,  SKIP THE GUILT.  Instead, start the new year fresh with these four tips and enjoy a healthier, more energetic you!

Blending music and humor, 2014 Georgia Author of the Year Connie Carey inspires her audiences to view their challenges from a renewed perspective. Her book, Falling UP, offers healing, hope and a touch of humor for hard times. For booking info, visit www.conniecarey.com.