Getting Gone

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This was my third tattoo and one of the most difficult ones. First of all, Toby Mac sings a song called “Lose Myself” saying “I want to lose myself, lose myself to find You, I want to lose myself, lose myself to find You, I don’t care how it sounds, burn it all to the ground, Your kingdom I desire, I want to lose myself, lose myself to find You.” This song had a big impact on me because God has asked things of me that really confuse me sometimes.

Paul says in Galatians 2:20 that it is no longer us that live but Christ that lives within us. Okay. I was okay with that. So I am no longer queen on the throne of my heart, but Christ is King. Okay. So after years of knowing this and trying to give up control to Him, He said to me one day, “You need to find out who you are.” I said, “What? I thought it wasn’t me who lived anymore in this body but You.” He said, “Yes, but before you can completely give yourself to Me, you need to know what you are giving up. So find yourself.” So I did.

I read a book by Beth Moore titled “So Long, Insecurity.” It was an amazing book and helped me to realize that I had been living my life trying to please everyone else when the only One I should be trying to please is God. My life took a whole different direction.

Okay. So now I know who I am and I am loving who God made me to be. Then God said, “Okay. Now you have to give all that up to Me.” What?! It wasn’t that He was asking me to no longer do what He made me to do, He just wanted me to use my talents for His glory, but I had to find my talents first.

When I heard this song, I realized it was God telling me I needed to lose myself.

The tattoo is of the moon with clouds floating in front of it. I know, my daughter says they look like hands. One of my friend says it looks like water waves. They are clouds. Why the moon? Because the moon is just a hunk of rock. The only time it does any good is when it is reflecting the sun. Get it? And when the moon does go through its waxing and waning, it negatively impacts us here on earth. When I try to do what I want, I mess it up. When I let the light of Christ shine off me, I am doing good.

Now. It’s location. It is located on the inside bicep of my right arm. One of the most painful tattoos I’ve gotten. Why did I get it there? It wasn’t my idea. God told me if I wanted it, I had to get it there. Why? Because when we lose ourselves to God, it is a painful procedure. It isn’t fun. It hurts giving things up to God. It shouldn’t be. We should be glad to hand things over to Him. But it isn’t and it is painful. Thus the painful location of the tattoo.

Music For The Soul

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So this was my second tattoo. I wanted something that would represent my love of music. The original music staff and notes I had chosen were so intricate that the artist would have had to have made it several times larger than this one and I didn’t want it too big. This one is located on my left upper thigh, again, where very few will see it. The “aaf” stands for Always And Forever because music has always been and always will be a big part of my life.

Music speaks to me and God speaks to me through music. I cannot go one day without hearing some type of music. It is part of me, part of my soul.

This tattoo was hand drawn by Danielle who has become my tattoo artist. She truly is a wonderful artist and she has done all the rest of my body art. When you put something permanent on your body you want to make sure that it is done correctly and beautifully. She is not only a good artist but she is a wonderful person with a beautiful soul.

I think out of all of my tats, this one is the most beautiful. It is one of my favorites.

Made To Love

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I decided to post pics of my tattoos and the stories behind them not to justify them, but to give the story to those who are curious but are too embarrassed to ask. BTW…don’t ever be afraid or embarrassed to ask an inked up person about their tattoos. We love telling people about them.

This tattoo was my first one and I got it alone. I always knew that my first one I would get by myself. It is positioned on my upper right thigh where very few will see it. The tattoo place was recommended by my hair dresser located in Dallas off of Garland Road. I walked into the shop and it was dim and scary the way you would think a tattoo parlor would be. It was busy and I walked up and told the guy what I wanted. He found this beautiful font which has a soft flow to it but has a few sharp edges extending from the letters giving it a rougher look. I thought it was very much me! The owner looked at a guy standing next to me and said “How much for this?” The guy looked at it and said “$40.” The owner looked at me and asked if that was okay. I said “Sure.” We went back and he got me ready.

He started to put it face down so that everyone could read it when they saw it but the tattoo was for me so I asked him to put it facing me. I asked him how long he had been tattooing people and he said, “Well, I’ve been out of jail for six months, so six months.” Nice. In the industry, he would be called a “scratcher” because he’s just there to stab ink into you; he has no concern about how it looks or how you feel. After it was done, it was a relief simply because I had seen that tattoo in my mind for so long that it was a relief to finally see it there.

“Made To Love” is a song by Toby Mac with the words “I was made to love You, I was made to find You, I was made just for You, Made to adore You, I was made to love, and be loved by You.” That was one of the first songs of his as a solo artist that really spoke to me. I was made to love God. And I was made to be loved by God. That is my sole purpose in life. If I fulfill that, then I will remain in God’s will and will fulfill His will for me.

I get the question with anyone who inquires about my tattoos…did it hurt? Of course it hurt! You are getting stabbed thousands of times by several small needles! Of course it’s going to hurt! But for me, it is worth it.

It really is a rough job and I have often thought about having my current tattoo artist pretty it up for me, but leaving it reminds me that when I try to go it alone, things don’t turn out the way they should. We were made for relationship, even if the only relationship we have is with God. I mean, really, if that relationship is all you have, that is all you really need.

 

Not Your Job!

A few days ago I was having a casual conversation with a friend. I mentioned something about getting another tattoo and my “friend” said, “Don’t get any more tattoos.” I couldn’t believe my ears. This is someone who I thought understood who I am. I looked at my friend and said, “This is my body and I don’t answer to you.” It bothered me so much that here I am several days later still upset by it. I am not upset by what they said but simply because they said it.

I started getting tattoos a few years back and ever since I have had many, many people give me their opinion about them. Like it’s their job to tell me what I can and cannot do with the body God gave me. Unsolicited advice about something that is none of their business. I am sure they would not like it if I went up to them and told them they are stupid for NOT getting a tattoo. Or that they are irresponsible for being overweight. Or that they are raising their children wrong. And then there is the comment…”What happens to the tattoo when you are old and wrinkled?” Then my tattoo will be old and wrinkled. Do you stop fixing your hair because one day it will fall out? Do you stop driving because one day you won’t be able to drive anymore anyway?

Do you stop living just because one day you will die anyway?

I think the reason my friend’s words got to me so much is because they are my friend. Not my best friend. Not my family. Not my husband. And certainly not my God. The only people I have to answer to are my husband and God. That’s it. God has given to me this life and this body and the choices I make are mine and He is the only one that I will ultimately have to answer to.

Don’t try to put me on a guilt trip about the choices I make because that is not your job.

Love Never Fails

I have been binge watching Glee on Netflix. One of the issues addressed on the show, that I have a difficult time watching, is the bullying in the school. I was bullied in school but never said anything. It wasn’t as severe as it is in the show where I was fearful every day, but I had my fair share of people calling me names, threatening to beat me up, and making fun of me. The thing is, just as it appears in the show, I never did anything to bring on the bullying. No one who is bullied does. We just seemed to be in the wrong place at the right moment.

We, as parents, have failed our children when they are bullied and we don’t know about it. The school system has failed our children when they are bullied with no consequences for the bully. Children’s feelings and minds are so fragile that when we do not intervene they live the rest of their lives insecure or fearful. Something in them breaks and it takes a higher power to fix it.

Life is hard enough as it is without someone raining hate down on us. We think too much of ourselves and not enough of our neighbor. I am one of the worst when I go to church and pray that God helps me to love my neighbor and then I yell at another driver or don’t help the homeless or those in need. We can get so wrapped up in our own issues and problems, and sometimes just our busy lives in general, that we fail to see the problems of those around us or we are too busy to help. And when we do this, we turn our backs and let the enemy have them.

Thankfully, the characters in the show realized they were damaging those they were bullying and they stopped. Unfortunately, that rarely happens in real life. The bully grows up continuing to bully and the victim grows up continuing to feel like a victim. And they pass it onto their children thus perpetuating the vicious cycle.

The solution? Love. Love to the bully to let them know they are not alone in the problems they are facing and someone loves them. Love to the victim to let them know they are not alone and they are loved and wanted.

There is an old song by dc Talk called “We All Want To Be Loved.” Later Toby Mac, one of the members of dc Talk, sang a song called “Made To Love.” I don’t think it is a coincidence that at one time he sang a song talking about how much everyone wants to be loved and then he sings a song years later that says we are made to love and be loved.

God is truly in control.

God Without Compassion

Some friends and I are studying the book of Isaiah. Today’s reading was from chapter 27. It says in verse 11 “Therefore their Maker will not have compassion on them. And their Creator will not be gracious to them.” Read that again…”their Maker will not have compassion on them…will not be gracious to them.” Can you imagine? I mean even when we don’t acknowledge God He still cares for us. Even those in the world who openly reject Him, He still loves. Who are these people that God does not have compassion for or holds back His grace from?

Those who follow and worship false gods (Rev. 13:8,14). Why would God choose to withhold compassion and grace from those who are deceived? Because they have had ample opportunity to listen and follow Jesus. Whether these people are those before the Second Coming of Christ or after, depending upon how you believe, these followers of the Beast will have the Creator against them. God is not happy with those who lead others astray (Luke 17:2), and that is what followers and worshipers do, they encourage others to do the same. So they are encouraging others to worship false gods, to turn way from the one truly living God, and they are proud of it.

Imagine yourself as God. And your children are your children that you brought forth and love. And one of your children commits murder. But not only that but encourages another of your children to commit murder. And they are proud of it. Yes, you still love both children just as God loves everyone, but you have to put a stop to it. And God does exactly that.

Scripture says God is just and if He is holding back His compassion and grace…it is for a very good reason. I just don’t want to be on the negative side of that equation.

The Gospel In A Word…

I just finished watching a movie on Netflix called “Finger of God.” It was about a guy who heard about some people receiving miraculous signs at their church. Signs of gold, gems, and manna being delivered into the hands of the believers. Out of nowhere. At least, nowhere on earth. The gems given to the people were examined by gemologists and they are flawless and couldn’t even be identified. Gold dust was found being sprinkled on people out of nowhere and manna appeared in bibles.

In another part of the movie, the narrator went to Zimbabwe and found a woman who was using the orphaned children to heal the people in the country. She said children believe fully that God can heal. It is adults that knock that belief out of them. She prayed with them but the orphan children laid their hands on the people and they are healed. Blind people given sight, deaf people given their hearing, crippled people made to walk, and even the dead were given their lives back.

One of the men being interviewed who was a missionary in China said the people didn’t fight about politics, or the government, or petty things. All they wanted to do was to spread the Gospel. That is all.

America is a great nation, but we have lost our way. We tend to not be able to see the forest for the trees. It took me forever to understand that phrase – Can’t see the forest for the trees. Imagine the Gospel is the forest and each tree is every belief of every person. Do you get it? We are so concerned about every tiny thing everyone believes that we forget that the whole thing is about the Gospel of Christ. The greatest command of love the Lord your God with all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. And the second command to love your neighbor as yourself.

So what if you want instruments in your church! So what if you want to worship for five hours! So what if you don’t have a bus ministry! So what if we don’t agree on every tiny thing! So what! We have made our love conditional. We only give it to those who we want to or who agrees with us. This is a shameful thing and we will be judged by these actions.

We get so wrapped up in what we think God is telling us that we are becoming like the Israelites so long ago…”every man did what was right in his own eyes”…Judges 17:6

What Is Happening?

One of my “friends” on FB shared a news feed about some guy who refused to help someone on the side of the road simply because they didn’t share the same political views as him. The guy said that God was telling them not to help the person. I’m sorry, but I really think that voice he heard and misinterpreted as God’s was really Satan’s. In John 10:27, Jesus said His sheep hear His voice and follow Him.

What happened to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18)? And what happened to the Samaritan who showed mercy to his injured enemy (Luke 10:36-37)? Okay. I know that to expect light from darkness will leave us sorely disappointed, but shouldn’t we expect light from light? Shouldn’t we expect for Christians to act like Christ? The last time I read the bible Jesus didn’t turn His back on those seeking His help. The ones He did chide were the hypocrites in the church!

Don’t get me wrong. I have a difficult time doing for those who are rude to me or cut me off in traffic or who cheat the system so I have to pay more in taxes. But if someone needs help, I don’t care if they have a sticker on their car or a tattoo that says “I hate Christians”, I’m still going to help them! Do you know why? Because they are the ones who need the most help! They are the ones we were told to witness to!

Jesus said it best…”By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”…John 13:35

Motivation!

During my creative outpouring while on our cruise, I was listening to Daniel play the guitar and sing songs. I had my head down during most of his session because of all the words that came pouring out of me onto the notepad. As I was writing, he sang a song about being someone’s support and being there for the girl. I found out later the song was “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain. It is a beautiful song. Just as he was singing it I was writing a scene about my characters and how the singer was comforting the main character. I couldn’t help but laugh while I was writing because the song was perfect.

Since being home, I have been listening to Daniel’s song sessions and have been looking up all the songs he was singing so I can listen to them while completing my revision of the book. It truly was an amazing experience because his artistic outlet was helping me with mine.

So many times we surround ourselves with those who either zap our energy or who make us doubt our abilities or who just simply do not believe in what we are doing. My challenge to you is to surround yourself with those who believe in you, who have the same goals, or if they are family and you just can’t get away from them, then remind yourself that you can do it. Every time they say you can’t, tell yourself ten times that you can!

I used to get discouraged very easily and I didn’t try because I was listening to those who told me I couldn’t. When I stopped listening to them and started putting myself out there, I found that there were more people who wanted to see me succeed than there were those who didn’t. But it took me fighting through all the din of discouragement to get into the clear sounds of those who really love me.

Do you have a dream? Is it something you have been dreaming since you were little? Then reach for it! Don’t let others rob you of your dreams! Don’t let them take from you what God gave to you!

Inspiration!

My husband and I just got back from an anniversary cruise. Even with me getting sick it was one of the best cruises we have been on. Normally we look at the scheduled events and try to make the ones we want to go to. This time we decided we would not worry about the scheduled events and just do what we want to do. Relax, eat, and drink.

So after I got over the staying-in-bed-with-fever part of the sickness, we found a guitar player on board the ship that we really enjoyed listening to. He was young, about late 20′s maybe early 30′s. We found him in the lobby and listened then found him in one of the band rooms the next night to listen to him again. He asked us, because we were the only ones in the room, what we wanted to hear. I told him anything by Maroon 5. So out of all of their songs he sings “She Will Be Loved” which is one of my favorites. As he was singing I started thinking about the music video and our cruise. I suddenly got this great idea for a book. Before he even finished the song I had the first couple of lines in my head. I had to get back to the room to start writing.

I spent every spare moment the next two days hunched over a journal with my pens and ink refills. I didn’t bring my iPad with the keyboard so I wrote out the general story. I spent my days in the red lighted room where he sang the Maroon 5 song and the evenings writing while he played. It was the most fun I had writing!

I finished ninety percent of the story while on board the ship and the rest the day we got home. It took me a total of four days to write the story. It is the fastest I have ever written a complete story. All by hand. I didn’t want to mess up the flow so I finished by hand after we got home.

One of the other things that makes this book so amazing for me is that it is the first book I have written strictly about relationships. Normally my books have some overlying tone of murder or medicine or monsters. But this one was all about the relationship between Holly, the protagonist, her husband, and Daniel, the guitar player. I have been wanting to write a relationship based book but didn’t think I could do it. I know it was only the circumstances, the location, and the talent God gave me that allowed me to produce it.

If you are unsure about new experiences, do it. Experience is the fodder for creativity.