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Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Jim told me he posted a blog about my tattoo this morning so I thought it best if I weighed in on the subject as well! I purposely haven’t read his before writing this so as to not be influenced by his thoughts on it. After all, I did get it done a month before I met him so at the time I never really considered what a “significant other” in my life would think of it. Okay, wait, let me rephrase that… ALL of my many “significant other friends” did weigh in at the time. Thus the title of my entry, “YOU’RE DOING WHAT?!” ha. Being a proudly preppy-in-high-school, conservative Christian soccer mom, I have to admit I had judged a few inked (I have learned the lingo now) folks in my day. I never even considered getting one myself. After losing Troy, however, I found myself considering a lot of things I had never dreamed of before. I guess when your life gets spiraled out into the land of the unknown, you begin to look at many things differently than before. That is exactly what happened to me last November. I was approaching the year anniversary of Troy’s death and was reflecting, even more than usual, on the arduous journey the Lord and I had been on together. Many others walked with me as well. But, to be honest, it was a lonely sojourn. Just me and Jesus wading daily through the pain. Not unlike the poem;

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you."
Mary Stevenson

Sometimes He carried me and I didn’t know it. I wondered where in the world He was. But by the time it had been a year, I knew He never left. I knew He was the only one who really understand all the nuances of my suffering and the true enormity of my pain. He had, long before me, gone through more hurt than I could have imagined. Suffering all the way to the cross. Separating Himself from His Father. Taking our sin into His sinless Being. Being tortured and killed so we would not have to spend eternity the same way. This Saviour, my God, knew deep sorrow better than me. So it became clear to me that He was the One to follow to lead me through the darkness.

Earlier in the fall, I did a Beth Moore study, “A Woman’s Heart; God’s Dwelling Place”. It is a study of the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament and a comparison of it to our relationship with Christ in New Testament living. I don’t have it right in front of me so don’t quote me on exactly the words she wrote. But one thing she talked about really stuck with me. The Ark of the Covenant was God’s promise to Old Testament Believers to be with them, to save them and to be their God. When He sent Christ to New Testament Believers He now sent Himself to be with them, to save them and to be their God in the flesh. Christ became our Ark – our promise. To Him we are forever linked to God Almighty. Beth pointed out the scripture Hebrews 6:19:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” Anchors have the unique purpose of keeping the ship from drifting too far away from the mainland and holding it safely in position. Beth painted a beautiful portrait of us being tethered to Christ. Our hope in Christ guarantees our ultimate safety. When the waves crash in and when the storms of life threaten to take us away from the mainland, our relationship with God, then there is Jesus, our anchor, keeping us steady, planted and firm.

I journaled quite a bit about drowning and sinking in water in the months after losing Troy. It just seemed to be the only analogy I could compare what I was feeling to. I was barely able to keep afloat from all the sorrow. The sadness and despair constantly threatened to pull me under. In an email I sent a few months after Troy died I wrote something like I felt chains were wrapped around my body slowly pulling me down below the water’s surface and I was just becoming too tired to fight it. I was referring to the grief engulfing my heart and the sadness weighting down my days and nights. So when I heard this scripture in the Hebrews I clung to it as a promise directly from God to me. The hope I have in Christ that He would keep me, love me, provide for and protect me was the one thing I knew for sure. I didn’t have to be hopeless because He lived in me and no matter how battered my little ship felt, He was not going to let me drift, much less sink like I felt before.

I would constantly remember this scripture in the weeks to follow and one day thought, if I ever were to get a tattoo that scripture is what I would want it to say. A constant reminder of Jesus hanging onto me and not letting me sink in my grief. The somewhat Bohemian artist side of me suddenly came alive and I began mentally sketching what this tattoo would look like. I knew I had to have the anchor, the Cross and the scripture reference. I decided to add the heart so that faith hope and love would be represented. Then after doing Internet research (like any good mom in her thirties does for anything!) I decided to go for it. Remember I came from the generation where this was an unacceptable thing to do to one’s body. To my surprise there were numerous Christian sites giving support to tasteful tattoos as a way of showing others our beliefs. I did all the comparisons of safe techniques and starting inquiring about where to go. To my surprise, again, I found I knew more Christians than I realized with tattoos! Now, I still have those (you know who you are!) that just want to find the nearest tattoo removal specialist and take me there as quickly as possible. But I have found others are becoming used to my ankle art! I can’t tell you how it encouraged me, that week of the year anniversary of Troy’s death, to look down and have a physical reminder of what my hope looked like, Christ! I have had many people ask me what it means or why I got it. I have gotten lots of opportunities to share with them how the Lord has helped me during my darkest hours and that without Him I would have had no hope. I know I would have been lost in a sea of anger, bitterness and deep drowning despair. I know it may fade on my skin with time but the very realness of our sovereign Saviour’s presence as a comfort in my pain will not fade in my memory.

1 comment:

  1. Love the tat girl! I'm glad Jim's entry had a photo - it's great and even better knowing the whole story behind it - you are amazing & I'm so happy for you & Jim - what an amazing testimony you both have and now begin your journey together! Thanks for all your posts - they are great to read and keep up with you! Hope to see you soon! Love, Aly