On the drive back to Burleson, Billy and I were talking about what originally inspired my tattoo. We don’t remember exactly when it happened; it was more of a process. For so long it was just a concept in my mind, then, as I was taken through more life experiences, more details were necessary. While in college at Texas State University I predominantly studied human anatomy and became astonished with the handiwork of God in His creation. The more I learned about the connections in the body and how it is all controlled by the neurological system, down to the movement of your little toe, the more amazed I became. Then physical therapy school took it to another level, as we were required to dissect human cadavers in the lab. I can’t even explain how mind-boggling the human body is…so complex with each nerve, muscle, joint, artery having its own specific and essential purpose. It is beyond me. And it leads me to worship the one true God. In addition to my love for the beauty of the human body, my understanding of the gospel developed and bloomed into something much more tangible as the Holy Spirit taught me through our pastor and friend, Jason Bollinger of River Stone Community Church. Around 2009 John Mark McMillan released the song “Skeleton Bones” which put more life behind my tattoo, and I loved it.
Why a tattoo? My reason for getting a tattoo is to have a public and permanent explanation of our sole purpose in life. That purpose is to bring our God and Father glory because of how He has redeemed our lives through Jesus. It will be a constant reminder to me of what my life on Earth should be about: telling people about Jesus and teaching them how to be His disciples while constantly being sanctified and transformed to be more like Him myself. If you are curious about what scripture says about tattoos, you can read about it here.
I guess it would be easiest if I broke down the tattoo for you piece by piece.
Skeleton: Knox’s middle name is Ezekiel because of the passage of scripture called The Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37. In it God leads Ezekiel into valley filled with bones and asks Ezekiel if they can live, to which Ezekiel replies “O Lord God, you know”. God then says, “I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” We love this picture of the gospel because it shows that we are truly spiritually dead before God breathes life into us in the form of the Holy Spirit. We would also experience everlasting death, eternal separation from God, without the gift of Christ’s sacrifice, which allows our sin to be forgiven. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:22-23 Also, the skeleton represents our flesh; our human sin-nature that causes us to act in opposition to God’s law and never choose Him on our own. It is also a reminder that we were made from dust and will return to dust in our physical bodies on this Earth. Life is temporary, and that is something I want to be reminded of on a daily basis. “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.” Isaiah 26:19
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13 We only truly live because of HE who breathed life into us.
Skeleton’s Posture: I love, love, LOVE the posture of the skeleton. I wanted it to represent complete surrender, joy, and breaking free from the bondage of sin. I believe God draws us to himself through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is not in our own power. Our nature is to not go towards him because of our flesh. But when we experience the peace that surpasses understanding, unconditional love, and grace that comes through the Holy Spirit, we can’t help but surrender our control, desires, and entire life to him. He is irresistible. Our desire for money is surrendered because we no longer have to put our trust in it to be taken care of. Our control over our life is surrendered because He is all-knowing, all-powerful and wants what is best for his children. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Flowers: I wanted the flowers to represent spiritual and physical life. The spiritual life breathed into me by God and the gift of new life through conceiving children.
Cactus Flowers: I chose cactus flowers because they are a symbol of maternal love. Because the cactus is a plant that can endure harsh conditions (such as the valley of the dry bones) and also thrive, its flowers are symbolic of a mother’s unconditional love. Cacti conserve water, their stems expand into green succulent structures containing the chlorophyll necessary for life and growth, while the spines defend and protect. I think this describes mothers wonderfully. And heck, it is the official state plant of TEXAS!!
Placement of Flowers: The flower at the foundation of the skeleton represents where I came from, both physically and spiritually. Physically I came from my mother, but I was knit together by God. “Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” Psalm 22:9-10 The small, budding cactus flower that is coming from the skeleton’s stomach represents the first time I was pregnant which ended in miscarriage 3 months before getting pregnant with Knox. The big, beautiful flower coming from my heart represents my baby boy, Knox.
That’s it! See why I needed to write a blog to explain it all? It represents so much! Our family’s purpose in life, my own personal faith, my experience as a mother; and I like to think of it as my “little” piece of San Marcos that will be with me always.