Tattoos or Jesus, which one will it be?

JCP-4475I vividly remember a close family friend telling me that I was disobeying God by getting a tattoo and because of its permanence, I was in a state of constant defiance. He quoted scripture (from memory, of course) to back up his point from which the core of his unsolicited advice originated. (This was after the tattoo was already there. What was I to do about it, except put on the heavy cloak of guilt placed before me?)

I was 17 years old.

I have since added several more tattoos…and piercings to my body. This one is especially meaningful to me.Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 3.40.06 PM

For years I’ve been reading different views on this subject. It is interesting and at times crazy how defensive people can be with their written words. The ALL CAPS and number of exclamation points following the scripture references that, in their mind, confirm and validate their rightness. It leaves me wondering, “Why would I ever want what they have? How could I ever follow the God that they profess to emulate?”

As I’ve said before, “I can justify absolutely anything.” I am a Master Justifier. Maybe that is the case here. I am justifying the fact that I, a follower of Jesus, willingly marked my body.

This will cause debate. There are some of you reading now that are already irritated. That’s good. Whether you’re irritated over the thought of someone being able to love Jesus while tattooing their body, or you’re irritated over the people who are irritated…take this moment to ask yourself, “Why does this bother me so much?”

Here is what I have to remember, I am accountable to God. When I approach the throne of grace, it is not while locking arms in a group of others. It is alone. It is personal. It is intimate.

Let’s think outside of our comfort zones for a moment.

What if, every sin that you have ever committed or thought about committing was written on your body? Adultery, stealing, murder, gossip, abuse, pornography, envy, gluttony, betrayal, denial, blaspheme… Which one would you want across your face?

Things don’t have to be written in ink to leave a permanent mark. Try these labels on for size…shamed, guilty, jealous, abandoned, greedy, whore, liar, addict, alcoholic, convict, loser, hypocrite, enabler… Though not written in ink, individuals clearly wear these labels.

If God really does see past our flesh, into our hearts, what does he see? I envision Him seeing a heart covered in permanent markings.

And then Jesus came…and all of that changed. He is our Intercessor, Savior, Redeemer. He stands in the gap of all of our different perceptions and definitions of “right” and “wrong.”

God sees us through His son. His perfect son. So we no longer have to argue who is more right than wrong, or justify anything. Once we see Christ for who He is, we are given the invitation to lay down all of our judgements, isms, character defects, labels and prejudices at the foot of the cross.

No matter whether you think tattoos are “right” or “wrong,” the cross is enough. Whether you have thought about stealing from someone or have actually stolen, the cross is enough. Whether you have always seen yourself as damaged because of an image that was self inflicted or projected onto you by someone else, the cross is enough. It’s enough.

It’s about a personal relationship with the One who paid it all.

Let’s visualize ourselves removing the lenses through which we currently see everything while asking, “Father, please help me see everything, including myself, through your eyes and from your perspective. Transform my perception of others, crushing all misconceptions.”
JCP2016-7809

As you think of the person whom you consider marked up, damaged and pierced, remember, they…I, have a place to bring all imperfections and lay them down. The foot of the cross. Right there beside all the prejudices and judgements. Once there, they are all the same.

In Christ, there is no condemnation.

3 things never, ever to discuss in bed

I’ll even go so far as to say, “Keep these 3 things out of the bedroom altogether.”Messy bed

MONEY – Whether it’s bad or good information, keep it out of the bedroom.
I don’t care if you just won the lottery and want to cover the sheets with benjamins so you can roll around in it. Trust me! Don’t do it. It will start out fun and then lead to statements like these,
“Think of what we could have done with all this money 5, 10, 15 years ago…”
“Why didn’t we save more? I always said you spent too much money…”
“How much do those highlights cost again?!”
The bedroom is where the magic happens, NOT the budget!

WORK – Nothing kills a sex drive quicker than talking about your newest project at work or the girl who dresses like she’s going to a bar. Maybe she is going to a bar. Leave her alone! You’re in bed with someone who you don’t have to pick up in the bar. STOP TALKING ABOUT WORK!
The bedroom is for words you wouldn’t use anywhere else, NOT for debriefing about your coworkers.

FAMILY – This includes but is not limited to…
Your beautiful children that you love so much you could just “eat ’em up!”
Your sister’s recent vacay.
Your brother’s girlfriend and all the reasons you know it isn’t going to last.
Your aunt’s cat’s arthritis.
Your cousin’s new band and the business plan you wrote that he hasn’t asked you for.
Your mom. (Especially, your mom)
Your dad’s latest hunting story. (My man loves a good hunt, but the moment I bring up my father when we’re trying to set the mood, forget about it. Ain’t gonna happen.)
The surgery that your stepbrother’s dog is being prepped for and how much it’s going to cost.
The seating chart for the next holiday get together.
The bedroom is a reservation for two, NOT a family reunion.

Now, if you find yourself wanting/needing to talk about one of these things, get up, go sit at the kitchen table or on the sofa and talk about it there. Better yet, wait until tomorrow. Chances are things will be a lot clearer and you’ll be in a better mood.

This is a decade worth of wisdom that you don’t even have to thank me for. Just stop bringing baggage into your bed. It’s much easier to move around that way.

You’re thinking, “It can’t be that simple?” It is. It’s that simple. Everything else can wait until your next therapy session.

I know there are like a bazillion other no-no’s for that fragile time before (whatever your code word is for sex) happens. Go ahead, tell us in the comments what you’ve learned never to talk about in the bedroom…

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Is that a baby in your belly?

My youngest, who is 4 and very curious, walked up to me and asked, “Mama, do you have a baby in your tummy.”

My insecurity screamed inside as I rationalized the fact that my “pooch” apparently resembles more of a baby belly?! If I had walked away at that moment I would have scrutinized my body for the remainder of the evening.

Some of you are thinking, “You care that much about what a 4-year-old says?!

The answer is…”Yes…sometimes…depending on what kind of mood I’m in.” That’s not the point!

I didn’t walk away, I answered him, “No, Darling. Mommy does not have a baby in my tummy. Do I look like I have a baby in my tummy?”

To which he replied, “I was just checkin’! Miss Jill has a baby in her belly.”

“Yes, Darling. I know she does. Do you want me to have a baby in my belly?”

“No.” he exclaimed, “I want a cat with green eyes.”

“Well that’s good!” I said. “Because I’m done having babies!”

Though this was a funny exchange between my preschooler and me it was also an opportunity for me to learn. It made me think of all the times I have had conversations with people when one word or phrase they used would send me spinning into assumptions instead of listening and seeking to understand.

Our children can teach us so much. If you don’t have children of your own, find some and listen to their conversations. What my son reaffirmed today is that God knew what he was doing when he gave me 1 mouth and 2 ears. I need to listen twice as much as I speak.

Pardon me while I compare my insides to your outsides

© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012

While shooting pictures yesterday for something unrelated to birds on a wire, I turned around and saw this site that had to be captured. It goes right along with how I have been thinking and feeling. It was as if it was placed there just for me and all I had to do was look up.

I laughed while thinking, “I wonder if this bird ever looks around and thinks, ‘Why don’t I look like they do?'” You have to admit, he kind of stands out. Do you think he sees his uniqueness as a blessing?

My temperament is one that craves relationships and interaction with many different people. I invest heavily in the lives of those I love and enjoy doing so. However, when I am experiencing inward turmoil I want to retreat and be quite. Lately, while going through certain stress I have been unable to withdraw which forces me to interact with others when I am out of sorts. This can be disconcerting.

In the past couple of weeks I have found myself looking around and thinking, “How does she do that?!

“How does she work full-time, grocery shop during the week, run her children back and forth from soccer practice, gymnastics and piano, keep her house clean, volunteer at her church, serve on the PTA and have dinner waiting when her significant other returns from work? And what about doctors appointments in between and the unexpected illness?”

So tell me ladies, are you one of these women? If so, are you really doing everything that it appears you’re doing? Do you have hidden super powers? Are you saying affirmations in the mirror multiple times throughout the day to keep up the pace?

Most days, I feel more like this chick…
I can relate to the white bird on the wire. Sometimes I feel that my uniqueness is a gift and adds to my awesomeness. Other times I see it as a hindrance and something to be overcome. Here is what I know about feelings, they are constantly changing. Feelings in and of themselves are not to be trusted. So I must rely on truth, grace and the love that I know to be unchanging.

What are your thoughts? Am I way off base or do you know exactly where I am coming from on this?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong

 

© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012

Is it just me or is this a contradiction?

© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012

6 kids + 1 beach ball x multiple water guns + 1 inflatable sun +
1 teenage girl – back-up = Wrong

© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012

Um, not sure what to say about this one.
Maybe you should see the next one for scale…

© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012

If ever attending a party here and someone offers to “show you out”
go the other way.

Want to see more interpretations of this week’s challenge? Click here

 

Butt Prints in the Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen.
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
Those prints are large and round and neat,
But Lord, they are too big for feet.

My child, He said in somber tones,
For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.

You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you, on your butt.

Because in life, there comes a time,
When men must fight and men must climb.
When men must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand.

~ Author Unknown ~

Hopefully this does not offend any of you. I read this years ago and it made me laugh. When I came across it again today and felt guilty for laughing it reminded me of how serious we “Christians” can be. Laughter is good. We don’t always have to find offense in everything.

If anyone happens to know the author, please leave it in the comments section.