my future tattoo

I have wanted a tattoo for a long time. It's taken awhile for me to settle on what I want and what would have the most meaning to me, but I finally settled on it. True, I won't be getting in until my 25th birthday in June 2012, but I've excited enough that I'm sharing now.

I want a phoenix on my ankle. "Why the phoenix?" with the Hebrew text "Beauty from Ashes" somehow weaved around it (I haven't decided how this looks yet. If you have any idea, comment here on how I should weave it in!) I hear you ask. Well, that's what this blog post is about, my dear friend!

It's about the legend of the phoenix. I doubt that anyone is a stranger to the story. Simply put, a Phoenix is about "beauty from ashes."

Which brings me to my second point: my faith. I'm not all "Yay Jesus!" and in your face about my faith, but I certainly don't make it a secret that I pray, that I hope, that I have faith, and that I worship Yahweh. One of my favorite passages is found in Isaiah 61:1-3 (New Living)

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Therefore, the text "Beauty for Ashes" seems fitting, and fits well with the phoenix theme. And I hate how English tattoos look personally, so since the OT was written in Hebrew it seems fitting.

And lastly, it's a dorky nod to Harry Potter. Harry Potter was a comfort item to me. When I was upset, when I was stressed, I'd bury myself in the Harry Potter books or the Harry Potter DVDs. And since they were such a huge support/comfort, having a tribute is important.

And now, you ask? Location? Either on the inside of the outside of my left ankle. The left side of my body has had the most health problems, and since it's about the symbolism of overcoming it seems perfectly fitting.

For I have overcome a lot. I've overcome seemingly impossible odds with family issues, health issues, mental issues...the list goes on and on. And I think something to symbolize what all I've overcome is very, very important!


this is love.

I think that sometimes as Christians, we forget to love. Sure, we know that "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." But do we often really act on these things? On a purely theological level, we know what love is. It's not selfish. It's kind, gentle, and not self seeking. We know what it is. But do we truly love? Do we know what it means do love? If love is patient and kind, then why do we sometimes act out of our selfish desires? One thing anyone who knows me knows is that I am fiercely protective of those I love, almost to a fault. If anyone hurts or messes with someone I love deeply, there will be hell to pay and quite frankly, it won't be all that pretty. But love. Love conquers all things, and love heals broken hearts. So why then, do we act out in hate? Why do we act out in anger, when that's not what love is? I think sometimes (and I am not guiltless of this) that we try to cover up hurting other people by slapping on the name of love on it. We call other people out on their sins, saying that we're doing it "in the name of love." Yet what we're looking for is an excuse to hurt, to tear down, to wound. If we mask it in the name of love, then we have justification for our actions, which may or may not be the right intent.

Now, I am not, not by any means, trying to say or imply that this is the heart of everyone who speaks out against something that doesn't sit right with them. I think that there are times when people do have the right intent, and that there is a time to call people out in love. But, at time same time, I think we need to thoroughly explore our own heart. Are we just acting out in love, or are we trying to mime our own hurts?

As evident in my previous post, I adore TWLOHA. They speak out about love, and loving those who are hurting. To show them love, and give them hope.

How can we love and give hope, if we mask our own pain in the name of love and just use it as ammunition to further hurt people? We need to learn, in order to be "lovers bold in broken places" that love isn't something just to be used as an excuse to hurt other people, but instead something used to edify and lift up.


love is the movement.

I went to a To Write Love On Her Arms event with my friends A&A. I got my usual godawful hiccups right in the middle and people everywhere were looking at me.

And the key message of TWLOHA on her arms is "You are not alone." And I would like to repeat that to each of you. You are not alone. You are not alone. If you cut. If you've ever cradled the pills in your hand, daring yourself the courage to swallow. If you've ever had an eating disorder. If you've been abused. Your story is important, and you are not alone.

And the thing is - even if you don't see hope now, I can assure you that you most likely will sometime in the future. I think that something we so often struggle with as hurting people is the fact we feel alone and no one else could understand our pain. And even though we all have our own unique stories we all share common elements of our unique stories. The one thing we need to learn (and I certainly need to learn myself) is that it is OK to be real and vulnerable with people. Part of the reason we often aren't is we are afraid we still won't be loved, but yet what we do not realize is that by not allowing ourselves to open up and show our hearts we aren't allowing ourselves to be truly loved.

As Christians, we often like life to have a happy ending and be all neatly tied up with a bow. We want life to have a happy ending, but sometimes it doesn't. And that is what makes our stories beautiful, unique, stirring, valuable, and important. I often don't tell my story because it doesn't fit with usual Christian wants and desires, and it doesn't have a happy ending. In fact, it's still tainted and laced with pain and it's a mess. But the thing is until I tell it, until I let it be known, I cannot begin to heal. And until I allow people to walk with me in my pain, I cannot finally learn to break free.

Here she stands today,
in her brilliant shining way
stronger than her pain,
in her brilliant shining way
Fully alive, more than most
Ready to smile and love life
Fully alive, and she knows
How to believe in future


It's my Dad's birthday. I don't even know how old he is today. And I must say, I don't really give a rip. I'm too lazy to do the math.

But it's a reminder that I'm fatherless, and it sucks.


Your Story Is Important

This week in chapel, the theme was Your Story Is Important. Which I agree. Everyone has an important story. From the drug dealer turned Christian overnight, to the one raised in a Christian home goody two shoes, to the abused little girl, they all have important stores and they mattered. But what bothered me in chapel is that all the stories had a happy ending.

I missed Thursday, so maybe Thursday's story didn't have a happy ending. But it still bothers me that all the stories told more or less had a happy ending and that was "God working through it." The thing is, not all stories have a happy ending. Not all things in life wind up working out just right. And the thing is, God is still working through it. God is still working and glorious, magnificent and holy, even if all the ends aren't perfectly tied together. God is still God, and the stories are still important.

So why, then, are the stories of those still struggling left untold? Why are their stories shoved aside? Does no one want to hear the real, raw stories of pain and anguish? Don't they get it? God doesn't always give happy endings. He's not J. K. Rowling, who tortured her characters but in the end they all wound up all mushy and conquering and stuff. But that's not life. That's not how life works, but it seems that at times it's how Christians depict it. It bothers me. It bothers me to the core. But what can we done until those who are still struggling have the courage to step out and share their stores?


we are all innocent

"Oh, Gina's losing faith in what she knows
Hates her music, hates all of her clothes
Thinks of surgery and a new nose,
Every calorie's a war
While she wishes she were a dancer
And that she never heard of cancer
She wishes God would give her some answers
And make her feel beautiful."
- Innocent by Our Lady Peace