TATTOOS, REBELLION AND DIRTY NEEDLES

cropped-img_9433.pngWhen I was growing up tattoos were taboo and rebellious. Today, they are widely recognized as a definitive, creative way for people to express themselves and tell their stories. And depending on said tattoo they are also recognized as lame, beautiful, hideous, symbolic, impulsive and/or intriguing. I’ve heard it all. As we well know, everybody has an opinion.
Some tattoos have meaning. Others only symbolize the fact that you were barely coherent when you got yours. You know who you are…

I, for one, love a little marking every now and again. Mine are nothing elaborate or anything to write home about. I’m not trying to be hard or cool or Kat Von D over here. I’m just a wanna-be. Still, some of you hate them and are probably judging me right now. It’s ok. I still love you. Tiny pieces of any respect that my parents have for me gets chipped away with every one I get. It’s fine. We can agree to disagree. Either way, this is a terrible story so don’t leave now.

Here’s how it went down. I was out with friends on my 35th birthday. We lived in Colorado Springs at the time so downtown Denver was the place to be. I had just finished reading a book by Ann Voskamp called ONE THOUSAND GIFTS. My depiction and take-away of this writing can not do it justice so I won’t even try. Just let it be known that I was so moved by this book that I was willing to stamp my body with permanent ink to prove it. I wanted to add a tiny black string around my finger to remind me “in all things, be grateful”. So off we go. And down we go. No, literally. Underground. Downtown Denver. To Frank. Frank was a novelty. – ecsentric. Why I thought this was a good idea, I’ll never know. Frank spoke of many things – mostly shenanigans. And I listened intently as he prepared what could’ve very well been a dirty needle (I’m still not sure). I listened and listened until I could no longer hear the words that were coming out of his mouth. For you see, I could hear nothing over my sudden, intense pain comparable only to the enlightening stage of child birth. The ring of fire (but literally, the “string” of fire). I had no idea I was even pregnant, but this baby was about to come out the tip of my right ring finger. And he was a big one.

“I’m sorry, Frank. Excuse me. Do you have an anesthesiologist on hand, because I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need an epidural for this. It may only be a little ink, but sir, if I didn’t know better I’d say you’re sawing off my digit. Kindly stop lest I die.” I’m not kidding. I thought my time was up at 35 – underground – with Frank.  Don’t let me go this way, Lord. It wasn’t worth it and I’m not ready.

One very expensive trip to the ER later and the results were conclusive. Frank cut me nearly to the bone and left me with what looks nothing like a string – more like a Halloween spider that I endearingly named, Charlotte. She’s really a beautiful addition. I think I got that tattoo to remind me of something, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was (something about being grateful, maybe). Because now all I think about when I see it is FRANK. Thanks, Frank. You’re always in my heart. And on my finger (but hey, at least I still have one). And at least I’m not the only one walking around with a bad ink job. Some of you have it way worse than I do. I’ve seen the work. My condolences.

I digress.

Back to the topic at hand.

I do not claim to be a theologian on the matter of permanent body ink. I just like getting tattoos at random. To each his own.

Many people ask me about the tattoo on my right arm so let me give you a brief what-for. Besides trying to make my parents extremely proud, I wanted to get something symbolic of the valley I had just crawled my way out of. Also, after Frank, I needed redemption.

Here’s the story:
After my divorce I had to learn how to do life again. We – me and my two children – were hurting but strong. And we were headed in this new direction together.
And we were gonna make it, Lord-wiling and the creek don’t rise. I was determined. (So many other stories in here, but let’s move on).

For some reason I loved arrows (they’re all the rage) and as luck would have it, upon my studies of them, I found that they are a symbol of strength and direction.
While one arrow can be easily broken, a bundle is tougher to break. And here we were – this little bundle of weak strength. Being held tight by the arrow-maker Himself.
Figuring it out.
Forging a path.
Walking a new direction.
Together.

After lots of Pinteresting and careful consideration of where body marking #4 would actually take place,  I gave it a go on Birthday #41.
NO RAGRETS. (Please see google on the inter-webs for further explanation of this spelling).

Three “arrows” headed in the same direction.
This stupid, ridiculous, sweet, symbolic, beautiful (whatever you want to call it) piece of ink tells a part of my story. It forever and always reminds me that we are strong. I remember where I’ve been and where I’m headed. It is a constant reminder of who I am and who I’m raising my people to be. Tenacious. Tough and tender and full of grit. And God is not finished with us yet. Our story is not over.
My team of three. Making it.

Maybe I AM rebelling. Rebelling against all of the nay-sayers and the things that say I can’t do it, that I won’t make it. Rebelling against complacency – against the hurdles, the hard places, the status-quo.

I am finding as I meet new people and hear your stories, that I am not the only one walking that road. Many of us are facing or have faced circumstances we never asked for or never imagined being in – where we have to keep moving. We are all learning that even in the weak places we are still strong.

And we are still moving – together.

I’m grateful to walk the road with you. And I’m also excited to announce that…drumroll please… these three arrows are the newest addition to our I AIN’T DOIN IT merchandise line. In just a few short days you guys will be able to wear your story. I cry…

What do these arrows symbolize for you? Where are YOU headed? What are you standing up for? What corners are you turning? Who are you being strong for? What are you “not doing” anymore? What new way are you taking and what new movement are you pioneering? Whatever it is, may The Lord keep you steady and may you come out on the other side stronger and better for it.
I hope you love this new addition as much as I do.  And I hope it will encourage you to be bold and tell others about your journey. Somebody needs to see you being strong and owning it.

I can’t wait to hear your story!
Wear it well, family.

175 thoughts on “TATTOOS, REBELLION AND DIRTY NEEDLES”

  1. I also am a single mom, divorced for 11 years, two adult boys, I am a 53 year old single woman, lol boy it is tough! Wanting a relationship yet don’t want to give up my freedom of singleness! Your stories are spot in with my life. Here is a snippet of a post I journaled …….Last January I took a took a leap of faith and moved to Georgia.
    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have grown emotionally, and spiritually!
    I thank God everyday for all the people He has put in my life here❤ to help me grow…to overcome fears…to set goals…to believe in myself…to become financially stable…..to grow closer to God.
    I could take the time to list all these people, but I am pretty sure you know who you are!❤❤
    I came here a very scared woman, not knowing where or what God brought me here for, but over time He reveals pieces to me daily❤
    I miss my family and friends back in Michigan terribly but I know God’s plans are higher than mine.

    A verse God gave me this morning…..
    Romans 8: 28
    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose

    I trust in Him❤ moment by moment​
    I am excited to continue to see where He takes me, my arms wide open to His plan for my life

    thank you for sharing your life so freely ❤️ our stories altho painful may help others!

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  2. Heather

    You are such a joy to my life. I’m so thankful I somehow stumbled upon you on Facebook!! I just started a blog and wrote tonight about my husbands upcoming deployment and how sad I am. You are one thing that I know I can log on your page and laugh my butt off at your videos. Thank you!! I LOVE your tattoo and the meaning behind it. Encouraged me to look ahead and behind. Keep my eyes focused on Jesus! Thank you again. I just love you and hope someday I can see you in person!! God bless you!! ❤️

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  3. God has blessed you with the power to move people. I love your arrows. Your post made me laugh … Yes I have horrible rebellion tattoos …. Yes they were to spurn the eye of my very stern Navy father … Who I totally adore … Now in adult life .. I have also been judged in not so kindly ways having ink .. The looks in the stores like you may be robbing the joint.. To the point I stated to the Lady… if I can afford a tattoo, I can afford a gallon of milk. My last divorce tattoo is on my lower backside…one I wish I would have thought out almost as much as I should have thought the marriage ( rebounds are never good). A tramp stamp with a pentagram to remind me how much like Satan he was …. Yea should have thought that out more …. I can see myself at the pearly gates now … Trying to explain that one … Just a note to let you know I adore tour blogs and vids 🌷

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  4. Durning times of happiness and on some of my darkest days ….. Music is my source of strength. So I got my first tattoo and it is a music note. Music 🎵 brings happiness in the darkest of nights and music 🎵 Is a reminder that sure as the sun sets today… Glory to GOD it will rise again tomorrow. And I love all kinds of music, I don’t put limitations on that. But when I see my tattoo I am reminded that what can wash away my sin…… nothing but the blood of Jesus 🎶. Amen
    Love Lee

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  5. I to have always LOVED arrows and have always wanted a tattoo of them along with a compass showing direction, strength, and adventure! I love your story talking about strength in numbers because without people around and the support from others it is tough to go on in this world alone.
    With a diagnosis of PCOS and Endometriosis, it has been a rough road, my husband and I have been trying for a baby for 4+ years now.With 2 failed IUI’s and mountains of medicals bills and debt, we have decided to give it another shot. As we embark on our new journey through IVF! That’s where WE are heading to fulfill our dream of being parents!
    Standing up for those who suffer every day with this horrific disease that doctors don’t know enough about, promoting strength in numbers.
    I’m being strong for those little eggs I have inside me that they may one day become the most precious thing I have ever had in my life. It’s hard to believe you can LOVE something so much and have never met them or felt them.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

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  6. Oh Heather. I wish there was enough space here to tell my story. I just had ‘Be Still’ put on the inside of my right wrist. A reminder to stop and listen to God as my marriage is falling apart after 28 years and I havent loved myself or who I have become. Oh God has directed me on this as I dove into His word and a deeper relationship with Him. I’m no longer looking for others to make ME happy other than my Heavenly Father. I have a new direction. I need some arrows as my reminder next! You encourage me so much. 😍

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  7. I to have always LOVED arrows and have always wanted a tattoo of them along with a compass showing direction, strength, and adventure! I love your story talking about strength in numbers because without people around and the support from others it is tough to go on in this world alone. No tattoos of my own as of yet but I plan on getting one when the time is right!
    With a diagnosis of PCOS and Endometriosis, it has been a rough road, my husband and I have been trying for a baby for 4+ years now.With 2 failed IUI’s and mountains of medicals bills and debt, we have decided to give it another shot. As we embark on our new journey through IVF! That’s where WE are heading to fulfill our dream of being parents!
    Standing up for those who suffer every day with this horrific disease that doctors don’t know enough about, promoting strength in numbers.
    I’m being strong for those little eggs I have inside me that they may one day become the most precious thing I have ever had in my life. It’s hard to believe you can LOVE something so much and have never met them or felt them.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    Like

  8. I’ve been married 22 years, since I was 17. Yes, I’ll be the big 4-0 this year. I have 6 children, 2 with special needs. I’ve been a SAHM for over 20 years. I have gotten the courage to leave my abusive husband and file for divorce. I have no job, friends, family , education, or income. I have no idea how the kids and I will make it but I know we can no longer endure the abuse. I have looked for help everywhere and have been turned down but know I must keep going because my kids deserve better. Love you and your message.

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  9. For years, I talked about getting a tattoo. And, of course, being from the Bible Belt and the daughter of a preacher, I had many opinions about my idea. Those opinions ranged from “it’s a sin” to “tattoos on women are trashy” (that last one was made by my husband at the time, thank the Lord I call him my ex now). Anyway, it took me years to decide on what I would be able to live with for the rest of my life but I finally found one. My dearest, bestest friend passed away at the age of 31 from cervical cancer. I wasn’t prepared for the grief that I went through losing her so quickly and at such a young age. My idea for my first tattoo was for her, a butterfly with a cervical cancer ribbon for the body. We all know the symbolism of a butterfly so I won’t go into that. Before I got the courage to get my tattoo, my niece was diagnosed with Hoskin’s Lymphoma at the age of 14. I won’t lie I was scared, terrified to lose another precious soul in my life, especially one I helped raise. A few months went by and my niece went thru chemo and came through to the survivors side of cancer (Praise the Lord). My tattoo changed, just by color only, instead of the cervical cancer ribbon I chose the Hoskin’s lymphoma ribbon. So, I headed out to the tattoo place several months after her treatment ended to give the guy my idea, only to be told he couldn’t do what I wanted…as small as I wanted. So it changed again, this time by size! I originally wanted a 3×3 butterfly taking flight off my shoulder (cute idea right)! I now have a 5×6 butterfly in the center of my back between my shoulder blades! It’s beautiful though and I love it! My second tattoo runs down my left side, from my rib cage down past my waist. I got that one as a “divorce tattoo”. I, too, wanted a symbol of my strength and determination to stand on my own two feet with 3 kids in tow, but again I had no idea what that would be. I finally decided my kids would be part of this tattoo. I have the music and words to “you are my sunshine” on my side. I sang this song to all 3 of my babies getting them to sleep when they were little! I do want more, possible even a few others can see without me being half naked, but the pain from my last one hasn’t been forgotten yet!

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  10. I don’t know if you wanna hear my whole story so I will start with when I got sick. Back in 2009 I was a happy active mom with my three children 6, 4 & 3 years old. I moved into this one apartment and was there for no more then 6 months.. while I was there I noticed I was having a hard time breathing as the days went on. Well one night it was so bad I went to the ER.. (don’t remember what they said) .. well after spending a year in and out of the Drs and not knowing what was going on with myself.. Finally they sent me up north and had to have a lung biopsy. When the test came back they told me I have PLCH.. (pulmonary langerhands cells histiocytosis) it is a type of lung disease.. in 2011 I moved again and I started feeling better. I was able to do fun stuff with my kids again and wasn’t having a hard time breathing. Well back in December 2015 I quit smoking and ended up getting pneumonia. I ending up in the hospital for a few days… After I got home I was never the same. It was one of they worst Christmas’s in my entire life. When I got home I was put on oxygen. Then is August of 2015 I was again hospitalized with pneumonia.. To this day I have to be on oxygen when I feel I need it.. I am on three different inhalers.. Day after day I wish I could do all the fun stuff I use to be able to do with my kids.. so my story is so long..

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  11. After stage 3/4ish cancer with 4 kids underfoot (3, 6, 11, 13) i was tired of lookig at port and hip scars that represented death and “no choice in the matter” so got a scar pf my own choosig that represented victory-even over death at 40 (of a cross of course)

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  12. Heather, I took my two girls and my mom to see you in Lawrenceburg, TN today. I had read your blogs and seen your videos, but did not know some of your history. It opened my eyes. The way you told your story touched me. I wont go into depth, but i firmly believe that ones journey can always help another. Thank you. And that voice???? AMAZING!!!!

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