3 Legs? 3 Hands? How to Leverage an “Oops” for Your Favor: A Secret from Oprah, Reese & Reagan

The internet has been all over the Photoshop debacle with Reese Witherspoon’s “3 legs” and Oprah’s “3 hands” on the cover shot of the 2018 Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue.

Horrors!  Reese Witherspoon appears to have 3 legs.

And Oprah clearly has 3 hands.

And I love it!

Why? Because of the great response of these two ladies. Their response highlights what I teach in my “Laugh More, Live Better” talk….Lesson number 1:  Keeping your sense of humor helps you not take yourself so seriously.  These ladies have demonstrated just that in their tweets following the onslaught of comments about the photo.

Reese: “Well…I guess everybody knows now…I have 3 legs.  I hope you can still accept me for who I am.”

Oprah: “I accept your 3d leg.  As I know you accept my 3d hand.”

Over and over, it’s been shown that one secret to likability is the ability to laugh at oneself.

At the time Ronald Reagan was elected President, one of the greatest concerns was his advanced age.  The press nipped at his heels repeatedly about this subject, raising the question over and over to the public whether he was able to lead because of his age.

It would’ve been natural to lash out.

Or be defensive.

Or angry.

Instead, he had more fun about it than anyone.  Consider the following quotes:

“My press secretary said the other day that preparing me for a press conference was like reinventing the wheel.  It’s not true.  I was around when the wheel was invented…and it was easier.”

“And I also remember something Thomas Jefferson once said.  “He stated: ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his words’…and ever since he told me that, I’ve stopped worrying.”

When Reagan dozed off at a Cabinet meeting, the Press was all over him. Commentators, with brows furrowed, asked the nation, “Is our president fit to do the job?”  Shortly afterward, Reagan led a group through on a special tour of the White House.  Passing the Cabinet Room, he paused and said with great pride, “Someday there will be a sign: ‘REAGAN SLEPT HERE'”.

The whole group laughed and had a great time.  But Reagan guffawed, slapping his legs and having the best time of all.

(One more….I can’t stop myself.)

“I heard one presidential candidate say (Gary Hart in 1984) what this country needed was a president for the nineties. I was set to run again….I thought he said a president IN his nineties.”

When the joke was on Reagan, guess who laughed the loudest?  Reagan.  And people loved him for it. That likeability helped break down walls (literally, just ask Mr. Gorbachev!) so that his message could be heard.

My words today are not about Oprah’s beliefs or Reagan’s policies.  It’s simply an observation that great people have learned the art of laughing at themselves.  You and I would do well to do the same!

Have you goofed lately?  Leverage your “oops” for your favor.  Step back and enjoy the laugh at yourself!  The result? Lowered blood pressure, increased immunity from disease, overall enjoyment in life…and likeability!

Lessons from a Loser: 3 Surprising Encouragements from Handel’s Messiah

Have you ever felt like your best days were behind you? Have you been plagued with financial or health troubles?  How about anxiety and depression?  If so, you’re in great company.  All of these hounded the great composer, George Frederick Handel.

By age 56 Handel was a washed-up “has been”. As a once-great opera composer commissioned by royalty, he enjoyed phenomenal success.  But by 1741 he was bankrupt, facing debtors’ prison, had suffered a stroke and was losing his eyesight and his reputation as a musician.  The London elite had begun calling him a “German nincompoop”.

But that was about to change.

A friend asked him to put to music lyrics about the life of Christ and the work of redemption, with all the text completely from the Bible.  With a new infusion of purpose, Handel took the challenge and secluded himself to meet it.   The meals that were brought to him were mostly untouched due to his laser focus on the task at hand. Finally, one day a servant brought his meal and found tears streaming down Handel’s cheeks.  The servant asked what was wrong and Handel replied,  “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself.”  He had just written the Hallelujah Chorus.

The 260 page work (predicted to take a year to write) was completed in only 24 days, a phenomenal feat.  275 years later, Handel’s Messiah is considered one of the most inspired works of music ever written.

At a time when it seemed it was over for Handel, God called, inspired and divinely equipped Handel to write the Messiah.

What does this mean for you and me?

  1. It’s not over until God says it’s over.  If we are breathing, there is work for us to do. The Bible tells us we are His workmanship, created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  Our part is to ask God, “What do You want me to do? Please use me.”  I believe God will answer that prayer. He inspires and equips us for the work to which He calls us.
  2. God is always working for His glory and our good. Even in the seasons of suffering, God is at work.  When Handel was at his lowest, God knew the monumental work and blessing He was preparing for Handel.  The same is true for you and me!  Jeremiah 29:11 assures us that He knows what He’s doing in our lives and His plans are good. All. The. Time.
  3. Remember to humble yourself and trust Him in your circumstances.  1 Peter 5:7 reminds us that He will lift us up in due time, because He cares for us. God can turn your story around in a heartbeat if He chooses.  Consider the same royalty that commissioned Handel, then fired him.  During the first performance of the Messiah in London, King George stood for the Hallelujah Chorus.  No one knows why for sure. Maybe he was caught up in the majesty of the moment, maybe he mistook it for the national anthem or maybe he just needed to stretch his legs, but when the king stood, the entire audience rose to their feet!  This didn’t hurt Handel’s reputation one little bit.  In fact, it restored him overnight.  Ever since, it’s been a tradition to stand during the Hallelujah Chorus!  I’ll say it again: God can use people and circumstances to turn your situation around in a heartbeat.

As you soak your mind in these truths, may they bring you “good tidings of great joy” this season.  He shall reign forever and ever.  Hallelujah!

 

Crazy, Untrue Ad Will Make You Think!

I ran across this ad from the 1950s for Winston cigarettes.

Check out the advice this sage mom-to-be gives other expectant women of her day:

  “People are always telling me that smoking causes low birth weight.  Talk about a win-win-win!  An easy labor, a slim baby and the Full Flavor of Winstons!”

“Winston.  When you’re smoking for two.”

What were they thinking????

But then I got to wondering about my ways of thinking that may be just as dangerous. And it occurs to me that if I struggle with thinking things that aren’t true, maybe you do, too.

Since we know our thoughts lead to our actions, we want to build our thoughts on truth. Not hunches, myths or feelings.  On truth.

Here’s what I mean.

Consider these five depressing, self-defeating lies…and replace them with their corresponding, life-giving, true thoughts instead.

Lie: “I can’t go on.”                                                                                                    Truth: Christ, dwelling in me, can victoriously meet whatever lies ahead and I will give Him praise when He does.  (1 Peter 1: 6-7)

Lie: “This problem is going to destroy me and I may lose my faith.”                  Truth: My faith may seem to be fading out of sight…but not out of God’s sight. My faith is not dependent on my holding onto God, but rather God holding onto me, and He is not about to let go! (John 10:28)

Lie: “I am so alone.”                                                                                                 Truth: Christ dwells in me. I am loved, accepted, a new creation. He will never leave me or forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, Matthew 28:20)

Lie:  “I’ll never be able to do this.”                                                                          Truth: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Lie: “There is no hope.”                                                                                            Truth: My hope is in Him.  I will allow Him to handle each struggle as only He can. (1 Peter 1: 3,4)

Sometimes people tell me, “Connie, I can’t help my feelings.”  True.  We can’t help our feelings.  But we CAN help what we think about.  And what we choose to think about directly impacts our feelings.

Our thoughts directly affect our actions.  And our actions determine, to a large part, our quality of life. That’s why it’s critical to run our thoughts, not through hunches and feelings and old, untrustworthy ways of thinking, but rather through the truth of God’s Word.

Trendy thinking comes and goes.  But God’s truths are timeless.  Remember and use them to keep your mind healthy!

(And if you’re pregnant, you might want to check out some slightly more reliable information on how to have a healthy baby!)

Warmly,

Connie

By the way, check out my Christmas Specials, now through December 19th! Both of my CDs and my book are each on sale for $12.95 each.  Buy any 3…get one of your choice FREE.  Free shipping for purchase of 6 or more items.

 

 

 

Lessons From a One Handed Piano Player

Have you ever needed help, but didn’t know it?

I had a close call recently that taught me a few lessons I hope may be of help to you next time you wonder about God’s interest and activity in your life.

The Thursday evening before Memorial Day, I was slicing an avocado.  After several unsuccessful tries of removing the stubborn pit, I unwisely (but with great enthusiasm!) stabbed the pit with a steak knife while holding the avocado half in my left hand.  (Did I mention I’m a pianist who happens to be left handed?) The pit split and the knife went into my hand at the base of my ring finger.  Please, no judgement. Believe me, I know better than anyone else how foolish my actions were!

Off John and I went to the emergency room.  Some 17 stitches later, we were done.

I have colorful pics, but will spare you the details.  Instead, here is this cool avocado slicer I received as a consolation prize.

I limped through the Sunday music at the keyboard and on Monday was playing a Memorial Day concert.  I mentioned to my friend that my finger was numb and that I wondered how long it would be before the feeling came back.

What happened next was nothing but divine intervention.

He said, “You need to see a hand surgeon.  My son works for a hand surgeon and he will call you within the hour.”

A hand surgeon?  I just needed a few stitches, I thought.  Besides, the ER didn’t mention any need for follow up.

After talking with me, his son said he thought I may have severed the nerve.  He got an appointment for me and by Wednesday, the surgeon confirmed it and I underwent surgery the same day to have it sewn back together.  Who knew that was even possible?

I learned there is a window of time before the nerve begins to retract, making the surgery more complicated, involving nerve grafts from the back of the leg or even from a cadaver, if necessary.

Why am I telling you this story?  Because there are times in our lives that God takes over for us when we don’t even know to ask Him.  Maybe you need to know that today.

Three things I want to share with you:

  1. God is going to get you where you need to be.  I needed surgery quickly and didn’t know it.  Maybe you’re in the throws of a big decision, trying to make the right choice, maybe a little concerned about missing God’s will.  The saying is wise: “Do your best and forget the rest.”  He will find you.  Even in your seemingly wrong choices, He will intervene and cause you to be where you need to be, put you in the right place at the right time.
  2. Your set backs are for His set upsHe will cause your pain, your disappointments  to be used for your good and His glory.  How?  I don’t know.  But we have wonderful examples of those who had terrible setbacks and God used that very thing to work for great outcomes.  Joseph would never have become second to Pharaoh and saved his family and people without first being betrayed by his brothers.
  3. Let his working in your life refresh you with gratitude.  Sometimes almost losing something (or losing something for a while and then getting it back) is like a gigantic reset button.                                                                                            After surgery, I wore a cast from the tip of my fingers to my elbow.  Then I graduated to a smaller cast for another couple of weeks.                                             When I got out of the cast, I could hardly move my left hand due to atrophy and swelling.         A few weeks and several therapy sessions later, I was playing the piano for an event.  I began to play the song “Give Thanks” and suddenly the song I’d played a million times was fresh with new meaning.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to praise God through making music.  The result of my avocado debacle has been a fresh infusion of joy over the miracle of surgery and the body’s ability to heal, the beauty of music and the privilege of making it.  What close call have you had when you didn’t even know to ask God for help?  Ask Him to show you his involvement and activity in your life…and let it fill you with gratitude.

By the way, National Avocado Day was yesterday!

To celebrate,  I think I’ll go slice up a juicy one…

carefully…

and with my new childproof safety avocado slicer.

 

 

Letter From an Old Soldier

Happy Fourth of July!  I hope you’re enjoying time off with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s freedom.

With that in mind, I’d like to share with you a note my husband received today from a fellow soldier and friend from Vietnam days.

“As each year’s Fourth arrives, I am again reminded of the privilege I enjoyed to serve in our Army with you guys.  Band concerts, fireworks and other celebratory events are appreciated, but being fortunate enough to experience serving in our Army and treasuring the honor of knowing and serving with y’all tops any other Fourth considerations, far and away.  Yes, America and her freedoms are the true foundation of understanding the Fourth, but serving in our Army gives it the special meaning for me.”

These guys know a thing or two about freedom.  In September, 1966, John led the Tiger Force and two platoons of B Co. in a raid on a North Vietnamese prison camp high in the mountains west of Tuy Hoa.  They freed 27 South Vietnamese prisoners, one of whom weighed less than 80 lbs. and didn’t survive the descent down the mountain.  Here are four of the freed prisoners.  No one on that mission will ever forget it. The prisoners were so overjoyed with their freedom they couldn’t keep quiet during the night, even though silence was critical in avoiding the North Vietnamese.

I will never fully understand the bonds of brotherhood forged in the jungles of Vietnam.

(Not ever dreaming of a reunion 50 years later!)

Tiger Force Reunion 2016.

I will never know the extent of the sacrifices made, the fears that were faced and for some death itself.  But I have listened to the stories of these men.  Some stories have made me laugh, like the time my husband wrote to the Schlitz Beer Company.

“To Whom it May Concern:

Your advertisement says

‘When you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of beer!’

Gentlemen, The Tiger Force is out of beer.”

A few months later, a palette of approximately 50 cases of Schlitz beer arrived at their 101st Airborne base camp.

My husband John on the right.

Other stories have caused me to choke back tears.  I have stood quietly beside my husband at the Wall as his fingers traced the names of friends and he told me about each one.

On this day, I am particularly grateful for all those in every branch of service who have defended our country’s freedom.  May we be quick to listen to their stories, to give honor, and, most of all, to say “thank you”.