Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I love old movies. Those classics from the 20th century where someone bursts into a song and dance. Where the boy always gets the girl. Where there’s a happily-ever-after. Betty Grable. Fred & Ginger. Judy Garland.

Sigh.

The romance. The innocence. It’s purely fluff and fantasy, but some days, it’s a nice diversion.

I’ve also seen one or two classics that are just the opposite. Real. Raw. Gritty. That’s how I’d classify the iconic movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The main character is Holly Golightly. She’s a young, beautiful, fashionista who appears to have the world by the tail. Beautiful clothing, parties, famous people, money, and men seem to be the staples of her life. Independent, self-supporting, and free, she lives life on her own terms. She answers to no one and does as she pleases. She thrives on adventure, making a point to do things she’s never done in the past for no other reasons than she’s never done it. Her favorite activity: having breakfast at Tiffany’s, the world renown jewelry store on 5th Ave in New York City.

The character of Holly Golightly, played by Audrey Hepburn, became the symbol of style, sophistication, and independence that many women hoped to achieve. As we look at the iconic photograph of her standing in front of Tiffany’s, pencil thin in the perfect little black dress and perfectly coiffed hair, most of us have sighed and whispered, “if only”. If only I looked like her. If only I had her style and sophistication. If only I had her wardrobe and money. If only I had her carefree life. Her friends. Admirers. Independence. This woman – this character – the look of Audrey Hepburn – is the woman that many women dream of being.

However, the reality is, most of us are more like Holly Golightly than we know.

Though iconic and trend-setting, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is really a story of brokenness. Holly is a deeply wounded woman, having suffered abandonment and rejection in childhood. To cope with heartache, she creates walls and hides behind those stylish sunglasses. Self-medicating with shopping and booze, she develops a new persona by moving across the country, changing her name, and pretending to be something she is not. She lives a shallow life and keeps people at arm’s length to prevent them from seeing that she is lonely, insecure, fearful, and unstable. She often experiences what she calls the ‘mean reds’, which is intense anxiety and fear. And, when overwhelmed by the mean reds, she gazes into the windows of Tiffany’s and dreams, pretends, and fantasizes, lying to herself, imagining that this is not really her life until she is able to push fear and anxiety into the background.

She’s so afraid of commitment, of loving and being loved, that she refuses to name a homeless cat that lives with her, simply calling it “Cat” because a name would make their relationship seem too real- too permanent. She fears relationships will cage her and, like a bird, she’d be trapped and unable to fly freely.

What she’s failed to realize is that all the steps she’s taken to keep herself protected and remain free have done the exact opposite. The walls she’s built, the shallow-phony persona, the care-free existence, the drinking, shopping, and lying to herself have caged her and limited her in the worst way. They have kept her heart from substance and truly experiencing real freedom.

Holly spent her life looking for help, healing, and wholeness in all the wrong places.

Doesn’t that sound like many of us?

I think every woman can identify with some of Holly’s choices. So many of us have built walls to protect our self, to keep others out, to prevent others from seeing into our wounded-ness, to hide our brokenness. We’ve utilized society’s tools of money, alcohol, pills, shopping, sex, and attention to cope with our pain. We’ve surrounded ourselves with people only to keep them at arm’s length, because we’re afraid of transparency. We live with fear and anxiety, at times being overwhelmed by them. We pretend to be something we are not, performing for acceptance and love. We lie to ourselves to help us deal with the stress of life. We’re looking for help in all the wrong places.

And, like Holly, we don’t even see it. We don’t realize we’re broken. We can’t see we aren’t free. We can’t see we aren’t whole. We think this is how life is supposed to be. That this is how it works. That this is normal.

It’s not until someone says to Holly: “You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing”, but you’re terrified somebody’s going to stick you in a cage. Well, baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.” that she realizes how wrong she’s gotten it.

The honesty of those words sinks into her heart and expose her life for the sham that it is.

Those words are very similar to what Holy Spirit whispers with love into our hearts. He gently points out the reality of our circumstances, revealing the lie that our self-declared freedom is really bondage. That our independence is actually crippling us. That our self-medication is only masking the pain and adding to the chains that bind us. That our self-created person is just a sham, hiding the beautiful creation He designed us to be.

It’s at this point that He reveals that Jesus stands ready and willing to set us free from the cage that imprisons us and the chains that bind us. He stands ready but waiting on us to respond. Will we let the Truth of His words impact us, sinking deep into our heart and the revelation wash over us? Will we come clean and confess we’ve had it all wrong and we don’t know what we’re doing? Will we accept His invitation to freedom and let Him tear down the walls and unravel the fake persona to reveal our true identity? Will we let Him do all the magnificent things He’s planned for us so that we can truly soar, and become the woman He created us to be?

Or, will we let the fear of transparency and pain of authenticity stifle us and keep us imprisoned in the cage that holds us back and limits us? Will we live in the chains that weigh us down and produce fear and anxiety? Will we stay bound by a false identity, trapped behind prison walls we built?

The “wow” in the story of Holly Golightly is not in the clothes or lifestyle. It’s not the supposed care-free life and glamour. It’s that in the end, (at least in the movie) she chose love. She chose to let love in. It’s that she realized her life had no value without love. None of the things she had could give her what authentic relationship could give her.

If you really want to be like the iconic Holly Golightly – let go of those things that bind you, restrain and cage you in and choose LOVE (1John 4:8). Choose to let Abba Father in and allow Him to heal your brokenness and give you beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and garments of praise in exchange for the cloak of heaviness, despair, and anxiety you wear (Isaiah 61:3). It is only in Him that you can experience the care-free life (1Peter 5:7) of true adventure and live the life you were always meant to live – one that is fulfilled and content (John 10:10).

 

 

*taken from a message shared at a women’s event.

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And, that’s a wrap!

Well, 2017 is coming to a close. And, let me tell you, it’s been an incredible year. One for the record books. Unbelievable. Amazing. Overwhelming. Wonderful. Blessed.

We started the year in full planning mode for a February wedding. We gave our daughter Danielle to the love of her life, Dylan Oakey, on February 24th. It’s a love story to make your heart swoon. Their wedding was such a beautiful representation of who they are: unique, inspirational and fun!

The next week, our oldest daughter Gabrielle, had the fourth of six surgeries to repair the retina in both eyes. She discovered both retinas had detached in late 2016 and multiple surgeries would be required to regain vision. In addition to those six surgeries, she also had multiple laser procedures as the pressure in each eye sky-rocketed painfully (and dangerously) high. As a family, we spent the year helping her hero of a husband, Scott, take care of her and their toddler Josiah. It has been a very long and intensive journey to regain her sight, and we look forward with hope to the end of January 2018 when she should be able to function independently as her sight steadily improves.

At the end of March, my husband Bill became ill with unexplainable symptoms. It started with perpetual dizziness and went downhill from there. The symptoms seemed to mimic an episode of a thyroid storm he experienced in 2010 where everything went haywire. But, even though the symptoms were eerily similar, there were differences that left everyone – including doctors – scratching their heads. We have gallon-size ziplock bags that holds the dozens and dozens of medicines prescribed to him.  And, after a MRI, CAT scan, x-rays, heart tests, balance and equilibrium testing, a sleep study, countless blood draws, multiple visits to the ER, endless appointments with his regular doctor, several visits with a homeopathic doctor, a visit to an ENT and neurologist, no one had any answers for us.

In the midst of all this, Danielle suffered a miscarriage at seven weeks. She was due January 1st.  And within 10 days of her miscarriage, found herself pregnant again. She is currently pregnant with grandson number two. Judah Beckett is due one day after their 1st anniversary, February 25th.

Because Bill is still struggling with his health, someone suggested that we do mold testing in the parsonage we live in. So, the week of Thanksgiving, a company came into the parsonage and did air quality testing. The test results revealed that the parsonage – our home – was full of toxic levels of mold and formaldehyde and we needed to immediately evacuate. We were stunned. We suspected there might be “something” to deal with, but never imagined it was toxic. Never dreamed we’d have to leave. Immediately.

Our heads were spinning. There was talk of losing everything we owned. Of walking away from everything with just the clothes on our back. There was talk of being able to remediate some things but not everything. It would take several days before the final test results would reveal that we could keep some things, but the majority of our belongings – 30 years of marriage and family – would have to be discarded.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so overwhelmed. I can’t explain to you the myriad of emotions we felt. It was like experiencing a flood or a fire – except we could choose to keep some items. The guilt of throwing away items that looked perfectly fine. The shame of owning “too much”. The pressure to immediately find a place to live – to purchase a house of our own. During the holidays. The uncertainty of what all this would end up looking like. The inability to help and support Scott and Gabe, as she had surgery number six the same week we found out this news.

The shock of realizing that Bill’s illness was connected to mold and formaldehyde toxicity. That Stefan and I were also experiencing symptoms of mold and formaldehyde toxicity, we just had not realized it because they were different than Bill’s. That once out of the house it may take us months to recover.

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(I had pics of the girls, so I had to show you Stefan too)

But with all that (and these are 2017’s highlights, because details or listing more challenges would have made this post entirely too long) 2017 was not a year of difficulties, heartache, problems or despair. It was not a year of fear, anxiety or stress – though, it certainly contained all of that. Instead, 2017 was a year of promise. Of possibilities. Of opportunities. Of hope. Of joy. Of faithfulness.

I can say that because I have chosen to see it that way. I have chosen to look at Jesus. I have chosen to see the blessings. I have chosen to focus on His goodness to us. His faithfulness to us. His provision for us.

I can say that because I have chosen to let those situations anchor my soul in Him. I refused to let myself become angry, bitter, frustrated, disappointed, resentful, discouraged or depressed. I refused to ask “why?” I was determined to be driven further into His arms, where I knew I could find safety and rest. Where there was hope.

I can say that, because I have chosen to be thankful in all circumstances (1Thessalonians 5:18) for every everything (Ephesians 5:20). Am I thankful in this moment, when I am “homeless”? When I am sick? Am I thankful for mold and formaldehyde? For detached retinas and miscarriages? Yes. Yes, I am, because those painful, difficult and stressful situations, gave me the opportunity to encounter God in a way that I may not have otherwise. I had the opportunity to see an aspect of His greatness that I may not have seen. Those circumstances opened doors for miracles. To see the impossible come to life. To experience heaven on earth. They gave me opportunities to learn and discover Him. To grow and mature in faith and Truth. To lean in and trust. To be even more dependent on Him. They provided an opportunity for the supernatural to become a reality for me.

NOTE: let me be clear, those things are NOT from God. None of it. God is good and only does good. Every situation I’ve mentioned above were strategies of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy. But, in His faithfulness, Abba took the situations the enemy intended to destroy us with and worked them together for our good (Genesis 50:20). In His kindness to us, He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He is giving us beauty for ashes and joy for our sorrow (Isaiah 61:3). We leave 2017 blessed and enriched, instead of destroyed.

And, while the events of 2017 came as a complete shock to us, they did not catch Abba off guard. He was not surprised. Instead, He was prepared. He was waiting on us as we stepped into each moment, with precisely what we needed. Whether we needed peace, strength, endurance, help, courage, grace, wisdom, encouragement, comfort, assurances, financial or material supplies, or anything else, He was there with an abundant supply. We saw God be everything He promised to be. Not once did He leave us hanging. Not once did He fail us. Not once was He late. Not once did we have to fend for ourselves. Not once did we have to fix it. Not once were we alone. His faithful goodness was astounding.

Yes, it’s been an incredible year. One for the record books. Unbelievable. Amazing. Overwhelming. Wonderful. Blessed. I would not want to do it again, but I would not trade it for anything.

James 1:2-4 (TPT) My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

 

 

December 5, 2017

tuesday-text-v2

Thought to share: I know it feels like a mess. I know it looks wrecked. Unrepairable. Beyond fixing. But those are lies. Nothing is so dead that I can’t breathe life into it. Nothing is so ruined that I can’t give you beauty for those ashes. Nothing is beyond MY ability to restore. Give it to ME. Let ME own it and watch what I give you in return, for  I make all things new.

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT) To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for His own glory.

Isaiah 43:19 (NLT) For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Revelation 21:5 (NLT) And the One sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then He said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”