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…


and with my new childproof safety avocado slicer.



My Try at a Triathlon: 5 Unexpected Life Lessons


While enjoying lunch on a Thursday with my friend, Amy, she dropped this bombshell:

“Hey, I’m doing a triathlon this Saturday.  You should join me.”

“This Saturday?  As in day after tomorrow?”  I laughed so hard I almost choked on my cornbread. “I haven’t ridden a bike in 20 years!”

“I’ve got an extra!  And it’ll all come back to you when you hop on.   Just like, well, riding a bike!”

In a lapse of sanity, I agreed.

Now to tell John.  “Ahem.  I’m going to do a triathlon.”

“What?” He was concerned.  “How long do you plan to train?”

“A day,” I replied, trying to sound logical.

“And what’s the course?”

“1750 yard swim, 14 mile bike ride, 3.1 mile run.”  I sat down, feeling suddenly tired as I said that out loud.

He smiled, shook his head and said, “Knock yourself out, Baby.”

Actually, I was afraid I might do just that.

So what did I get from this experience besides a t-shirt and some really sore muscles?  A few life lessons.

1.  There’s power in pacing yourself.  When the gun sounded, hundreds of us charged into the lake.   The adrenalin was overpowering and I took off like a mad woman!  Halfway to the first buoy, I heard myself gasping louder than I’d ever gasped. It then occurred to me my competitive swimming days were 40 years ago.  “Oh, no!  I’m going to be one of those that has to hang on the side of the safety canoe while they haul me in!”

Instead, I switched momentarily from freestyle to breaststroke, catching a second wind. From that point forward, I swam more even strokes and reached shore, leaving a respectable number of swimmers behind me in the lake.

What’s the take away? You don’t sprint at a triathlon.  You can’t go full-throttle and finish a race of considerable length.  And in life, pacing yourself (mixing hard work with enjoyable activity, making room for quality family time, working on projects a little at a time instead of cramming at the last minute, etc.) helps you to ‘catch your breath’, better manage your to-do list and take care of yourself, making you more effective in the long run.

2.  Work smarter, not harder.  It wasn’t long before all those swimmers I’d left in the lake passed me on the bike.

www.conniecarey.comBut I’d learned a great tip from Amy during my “one day training”.  Think ahead: maximize your speed going downhill to make your next uphill easier. The natural response is to coast downhill.   But the wise biker prepares herself for the hard work of the next hill by shifting gears and pedaling hard on the downhill, gaining power and momentum while saving valuable energy for the upcoming hill.

Are there some ways you could maximize your efforts at work or home?  Maybe it’s prioritizing your tasks,  learning to say “no”, delegating other tasks to the right person, putting a stop to procrastination or simply getting more rest.  Work smarter to make your life more productive and enjoyable.

3.  Two are better than one.  Just when I thought I might have to get off my bike and push, I heard my name cheerfully shouted by Amy, gaining behind me.  (The ONLY reason I was ahead of Amy was that her bike chain had come off and she’d spent several minutes getting it back on.)   She slowed to my pace and rode the rest of the way with me, turning my laborious journey into hilarious laughter!


By the time we reached the 5K, if I’d had any money on me, I’d have gladly called a cab.  I was so DONE.  But Amy kept me going.

“Let’s run to the white post, then we’ll walk a minute.”  I didn’t think I could finish the 5K, but I could make it to the white post.  And then the blue mailbox.  And finally, the finish line!

We need our friends!  Your encouraging words might be just the refreshment your friend needs to keep on keepin’ on.

4.  You can do more than you think you can.  Believe me, I’m no star athlete.  But somehow, I made it to the finish line and lived to tell it!

What uphill challenges are facing you that seem more than you can do? Stay the course and dig deep.  You’re going to get through this, finding within you a reserve of power and resolve you didn’t know you had.

5.  Don’t quit.  You’re doing better than you think you are!  I stayed a while afterward, enjoying food and festivities, but left after a bit.  Later, my phone rang.  “You’re not going to believe this: YOU WON A TROPHY!”



Turns out I won 3rd place in my age group!

(OK, so there were only four women in the category and hey, the 4th place winner had a hard time swimming with that cast on her leg, but that’s not the point.  The point is…I WON A TROPHY!)

Remember, don’t quit, no matter how discouraged you may feel.  You’re probably doing a lot better than you think you are.

My rear end hurt for a week from that blasted bike seat.  I was stiff for days.  But I wouldn’t take anything for the experience of having tried my best and completed the task.

Great lessons for us all, whether trying a triathlon or just living life.

But hey, next time, I think I’ll train for more than a day!

What Happened at Church Today

I’m deviating from my scheduled Radical blog because I want to share with you what happened today at our church, Strong Tower Fellowship. Our worship leader had asked me to prepare our ladies to sing in worship and I chose two of my favorites, Amazing Love and The Name of the Lord (is a strong tower…strong tower…get it?)

As we finished our last minute run-thru, I said something that I’ve said many times just prior to going into worship.  I always mean it, but I’ve never gotten or even expected the response that followed.  I closed our warmup by praying something like, “Lord, we come to you as imperfect people, broken vessels that want to glorify You in our singing.  Now we bring before you any unconfessed sin, asking You to cleanse us so that we may be used by You.”

Nothing new here.  What usually (actually, always) follows is a few seconds of silence while people are given an opportunity to search their hearts and confess to the Lord anything that needs confessing.

Silently, that is.

But when I paused, immediately I heard a voice say, “Lord, forgive me for how I get so mad at people.”

Shocked, I looked up and opened my mouth to say, “That’s OK, you don’t have to say it out loud.”  But before I could get the words out, another voice confessed, “Lord, forgive me for my cussing.”

I put my head back down.  More confession.

“Lord, I need to make things right with you.”

“Jesus, I don’t trust You near enough like I wanna do.”

“God Almighty, my life doesn’t match these words I’m singing.  Help me.”

As I listened to the transparency of their prayers, it was a holy moment in da hood and this honkie thanked our gracious God for the high privilege of singing with the extraordinary ladies of Strong Tower.

Welcome to My “Covered Dish” Blog

Some blogs are incredibly focused and informative….gluten free cooking, budget-friendly travel tips, do-it-yourself home renovation, portrait photography, organic gardening and even blogs on how to write a blog, to name a few.

Oh, that I could be so focused!  However, life for me is like an old fashioned dinner on the grounds. It all looks good and I want some of everything!

Welcome to my blog! This is my place to share things I am learning about life…and the lessons are as varied as those delicious covered dishes served up on a Sunday afternoon.

Some lessons are like green beans – practical and good for you.

Some are fanciful and sweet, like that orange whipped cream stuff my aunt used to make, and others are meaty (and maybe even a little hard to chew) like a good old hunk of roast beef.

Whatever the topic, I’ll be sharing what I’m learning along the way in my ‘covered dish’ journey through life.  My hope is that you’ll be encouraged!

Thanks for joining me as we journey together.