Monthly Archives: March 2017

This post is about Jesus (and my tattoos)

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Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:5

I know the subject of tattoos can be a very controversial subject matter. I don’t mean to offend anyone by having them or discussing them, and I understand if you might not agree with them.
But bear with me, cause I am going to explain the thought process behind a few of mine.

I have always had a sort of fascination with ink (tattoos). The way they look, the ideas they can represent, the expression of the individual. They work as conversation starters, an easy way to find something in common with someone else, even if they don’t have tattoos. They give me a way to share my story without having to say it. And I just really enjoy having them. The tattoos I describe here are not the first tattoos I got, nor are they the only ones, but they are the most recent.

This past Monday, I went to St. Louis to get some more ink work done on my arm. Prior to this trip, I had already gotten a world map around my left upper arm, and then a person parachuting down over the map (on my shoulder).

I got the globe design in early 2016 shortly after I returned from my trip to Manila, Philippines, which was a very eye-opening experience.  The world map represents my love for travel and serves as a reminder for me that beyond my little bubble and my own self – there is a whole world that needs to know and love Jesus too.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

The parachute was done a couple of weeks after I went skydiving for the first time last summer. It was absolutely amazing(!!!), and if I could do it at least once a week, I would without hesitation. Being able to see the world (or at least part of it), floating around the clouds, the wind in your face and hair — there’s nothing like it. Being able to fly (even just for a couple of minutes) is exhilarating, breath-taking and 110% more than worth it.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Earlier this week, I was reading 1st John 4-5, and there’s a section in chapter 5 where John talks about loving God and following his commands. You can’t have one without the other, they go hand in hand. When we love God, we also must love others and none of this can happen without believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God – the only Saviour of the world. These thoughts and some thoughts that I had shared in a previous blog post were the basis for the ‘inspiration’ of the newest additions to my arm.

To fill the space between/around the parachute and the earth tattoos, there were added: 3 mountains, pine trees and a lamppost.

The three mountains are toward the inner part of my arm, and they represent several things to me. The largest of the three mountains is in the middle, and on the top of that mountain is a cross. The mountain represents Everest, the top of the world, or the Summit of my hopes and dreams. Jesus has already conquered them all. And by believing in him, I can conquer them too.

This is love for God: to obey his commands.
And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.
This is the victory
that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Who is is that overcomes the world?
Only the one that believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:3-5

The pine trees remind me of 2 things: Alaska and Isaiah 55. The pine forests on the Alaskan coast were my favorite thing about my brief trip there. They smell so good, the air is so clean & fresh, and they are just so beautiful. And as God promises in Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst
into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn-bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”

Isaiah 55:9-13

On one side of the parachute (on the outer part of my arm) there is a lit-up lamppost in the midst of the pines. This also represents 2 things: Narnia (my favorite book series) and the lamp that lights my path (God’s Word, the Bible).

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

 

Most people don’t ever want to sit and talk about (or listen to) the meanings or thoughts behind the ink, but I think that can be one of the easiest ways to get to know the person that has them. That doesn’t mean that every single tattoo has some deep meaningful purpose though, cause honestly some of mine are there just cause I like them. And if you’ve made it this far through my post and still disagree with my decision(s) to get tattoos, that’s ok by me; I just hope it gave you an idea of the whys behind the ink. I love them and I’m never going to regret them.

My Trek towards Holiness

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If I could write out the story of my life from the past 10 years or so onward, it would be a repeating trend of me trying to find or make my own path, my own decisions and then always, always eventually making my way back to the foot of the cross of Jesus.

So many times I tried – to chart my own course, to blaze my own trail that would lead me to my ‘Summit’ – my happiness, the things I really want in life, like peace (with myself and with God) and a meaningful existence.

And so many times I found myself broken, hurting, unsatisfied, crying out to the God who saves me time and time again.

My trek towards Holiness started around age 8 or 9, when I first decided to ask Jesus into my heart. Although I don’t doubt my childlike sincerity, I didn’t really start following Christ until I was in high school. At some point along the way, I decided life wasn’t worth living, that following God was pointless. I chose to turn my back on the Truth I grew up knowing and learning, like giving up the basic skills and trainings when you get to a tough spot in mountaineering. Why would you do that? But one summer God got a hold of my stubborn heart and told me, “I have a purpose and a plan for your life.” And I believed him.

Right up until the struggle got real again, this time a couple of years after college. I knowingly, and willfully said, “Adios” to the Creator of my soul and decided I knew what was best for my life, or at the very least could figure it out on my own. I made wrong decisions. I hurt myself and others on my downhill slide to nowhere. I kept on choosing what I knew wasn’t God’s best for my life and fooled myself into thinking I could still make my life worth it, that I could obtain my goal.

In the past few months, there have been some snow slide events that made the ice field I was already on even more unstable.Yet I still decided that I could meander what was left of the route I had been traveling. When the avalanche of last weekend happened, I was forced to stop and re-evaluate. My world was shaken – because what I thought could never overtake me – had manifested itself and hit me out of nowhere.

The realization of what hit me is that I can’t keep living this way – for myself. I can’t keep buying into the lie that my inadequacies and shortcomings are the only way to make it to the summit. I can’t get myself there and I can’t pretend that my decisions in the present will not affect my future.

I have to make a change somewhere.

So this isn’t me saying that I’m somehow good, or that life is great (cause it’s not). At this point I don’t even have a noteworthy view. I’m not spelling out the changes that will have to be made in my life in the immediate future (although I’m working on an ‘action plan’), and I’m not claiming to have had an “aha” moment where suddenly my life is drastically different.

But what I am doing is realizing that I cannot continue my life trek towards Holiness unless I look continually to my holy, perfect and loving Guide. I cannot understand the mountain, or the proper techniques for combating temptations, such as succumbing to the cold or the terrain that looks stable, without studying and consulting the Guidebook for direction. I cannot go another step without Prayer, which should be like breathing in bottled oxygen – it’s a necessity for a weak heart such as my own.

So that’s where I’m starting my Trek. On a new path. With a hurting heart that needs the Healer, and the courage of a novice who is learning once more to trust wholeheartedly in the One who directs my steps.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:5-9

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
1 John 3:1-3

*as a side note, I’ve been reading a bunch in the past couple weeks about the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster, so if you notice references to mountain climbing, that’s kinda why*