Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tattoo Story: Illustrating the Hitchhiker’s Adventure

we may add more color, but for now this is it, my new favorite
All of my tattoos serve as illustrations to some of the bigger stories of my life. I am proud of all of my tattoos and grateful that they allow me to tell those stories over and over again. This one is particularly fun, because it is so unusual a story, and so deeply personal on so many levels already shared on this blog. My husband recently gave me a print of a card he gave me as we were in between hitchhiking embryos. One baby had just died at nine weeks and we were about to transfer the second to my body. The card and print exclaim, “oh my f-ing (edited) god (little g- god so not breaking any commandments), is there anything you can’t do”. He gave it to me because he was proud of what I was doing, and what I had already done in my life. It was an amazing sentiment, and a reminder that I can do hard things, really hard things. While I know I don’t do any of those things alone, and certainly not this, I am proud of this story and so glad I have a way to continue to share it for years to come.

I am especially proud too, as a woman in a profession where I am limited by my gender, that I used my vagina to serve Jesus in a way that no man can. I know that is a strong statement, and I don’t say it to be inflammatory, I am not trying to offend. It’s sincere, I have been limited in what I am allowed to do and what churches I work at because I am a woman. My qualifications to serve Jesus professionally are limited by my anatomy, but they aren’t limited by my God. He has equipped me and empowered me to serve and it was really fun to serve in this way, a way that a man couldn’t. A way that I was choosing, a way that required a lot of strength and perseverance.A way that isn’t the traditional fundamental Christian, "a woman’s ultimate purpose is to bare children" kind of way. This kind of turned that upside down. It was empowering.

Serving Jesus is how this all started. Jesus came to love and to lay down his life for us with mercy and grace. I wanted to do that, to stretch beyond my comfort zone and follow Jesus lead. I have found time and time again, that when you do that it leads you on the best and worst of adventures, and I think this tattoo captures that beautifully.

The foundation of this tattoo is an anatomic heart. I love anatomic hearts and always have. There is something so beautiful to me about the way they look. While some may find them gory, or unattractive, this one is beautiful. I think that really symbolizes this journey. We took something ugly like cancer, and made something beautiful come out of it. The Hitchhiker couldn’t be carried by her mama, cancer robbed them of that. It was awful and hard, but then this opportunity came from it, and we all now have a bigger, richer, more beautiful family together because of it. We were united but the tragedy, and overcame the infertility part of it together as a team of two families. It’s the redemption of the ugly to the beautiful that is so present in the stories and lessons of Jesus. We see God’s grace in those stories, in the way he sees and creates beauty where other’s cannot, and I love that this tattoo captures some of that.

The heart has icicles at the bottom and smoke at the top. Those symbolize the four years that the Hitchhiker was frozen and how we helped thaw her out and give her life again. The science and miracle of it all was so amazing to me, and I wanted to capture that part of the story.

Inside the heart are bunnies. They aren’t a symbol of fertility, they are a symbol of the Hitchhiker’s family that are now a family of four. Her older brother is obsessed with bunnies, and the family has two large bunnies as pets. Whenever we saw her brother we would bring him bunnies of some sort, so it was a natural way to represent them and the way they are forever in our hearts.

The trees on top represent the adventure of it all. Like an exploration through the woods, this was an adventure. It was exciting and hard, treacherous and thrilling, and sometimes very mundane and ordinary.

The Hitchhiker’s mom said this was a beautiful illustration of how we carried their family through this process with warmth, love and strength. I feel like we all carried each other. It was such a team effort and an example of how family isn’t limited to the people you were born with or married into. I think it’s a beautiful illustration of God’s love for us, and the amazing adventures we have when we follow him.

So there you go, the story of this tattoo; an illustration of one of the coolest things my family and I will ever have the privilege of doing. I am so thankful God called me to do this crazy thing, and proud to have served in this way.  I am thankful to all of the friends and family that encouraged and helped us along throughout. This was not something I alone could ever have done. My husband was so courageous to agree to this. He sacrificed a lot to be there emotionally and physically for me. He and the kids had to accept the possibility of actually losing me, and for sure losing bits and pieces of me and what I could do as pregnancy progressed. So really his card should have said, "Oh my f-ing god is there anything we can’t do!” We as in my family and friends, the Hitchhiker’s family and ours. And we as in me and God serving together in faith, strengthened in only ways He can to do big things and bring a piece of heaven down to earth with the birth of this little girl. It was messy and hard and f-d at times, but it was even more beautiful, amazing and totally worth it!

If I can do this, you can do whatever that thing is that is nagging at you. I am not saying throw caution to the wind and just do something crazy, or stupid. While it did take a bit of crazy to actually go through with this adventure, there was a lot of research, planning, evaluating, preparation and so much more that went into it. So if adventure is calling you, get your ducks in a row, make sure your family and friends are on board, and may I suggest, you go in faith, God be with you.

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