Grit, Grace, + Tattoos: How God Can Create A Miracle Through The Little Things

A tattoo. Yep, just another out-of-box experience for me since turning 35.

I wanted to take a risk. I wanted out of my comfort zone. I wanted to do something a little unpredictable. My best friend and I both happened to be off on a random Tuesday and we decided to be spontaneous and go for it. I knew the placement of the tattoo on my left forearm. I knew it was going to SAY something. And I knew it was going to STAND for something. But honestly, it wasn’t until that Tuesday morning that God spoke clearly to me.

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“She laughs.”

Yessss!  It became clear.  That was it.  I felt peace and a smile was plastered on my face as Erin and I rushed to the tattoo studio, late, stuck in traffic.  (Yeah, yeah…I know, I’m always late!  I swear, I’m working on it!)

You might be asking, why “She laughs”? 

If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know the past several years have been…well, to be perfectly frank, pretty dang hellish.  I’d like to refer to it as a VERY long season of pruning.  I was stripped at every level.  Health, heartbreak, career, finances, and it felt like with each passing day, it was more loss and disappointment.  My faith was tested.  I was exhausted.  I grew discouraged.  But while I would allow the space for tears, I kept meditating on Proverbs 31:25.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, she laughs at the days to come.” 

I would keep moving forward.  Even with the faith of a mustard seed.  I made the decision to live from a posture of joy, hope, love, and faith.  I promised myself that I would laugh and smile my way through this life, trusting God’s faithfulness.  That He has me in the palm of His hand.  That He loves me so much as His beloved daughter that He has only the best planned for me in my life.  The best job for me and my skills and experiences.  A healed body.  A loving, trusting relationship with a strong man of character.  Joy and abundance.  Opportunity.  When all is stripped, there is no other way than to rebuild.  And rebuild is what I have done.  With each passing loss, I have gained.  And I will continue to gain.  No matter how badly it hurts.  And no matter how many times I get pinned down.  I will get up with style and grace.  I will smile.  And I will laugh. 

So let’s talk miracles.  I believe in miracles both big and small.  I believe they surround us everywhere; we encounter them everyday.  And even when we don’t notice them, they’re there.  Waiting for us. 

I noticed an old co-worker following the tattoo studio I went to on Instagram.  And so for whatever reason, I decided to reach out to her.  And through our conversation about tattoos, we began to catch up on life.  And she shared with me a job opening at work.  A job that sounded like a perfect fit for me.  A job that would use the education, skills, and experiences I’ve acquired over the years.  A job that would provide more stability.  A job that would allow for growth and opportunity.  And job that would provide me benefits (after having NONE for the past two years...ick). 

I applied.  I interviewed.  I got the job.  And I start on Monday.

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I reconnected with an old co-worker.  Learned about an opportunity.  Took advantage of the opportunity by acting on it.  And accepted a job offer that will redirect my path in a very positive way and help me continue the rebuilding process.  All from the crazy decision to get a tattoo on a random Tuesday. 

And I laughed. 

Alas, my big miracle!  Thank you, Jesus!  But if I’m being totally truthful, God was with me all along.  In the midst of the little things.  Preparing + refining me.  Teaching me a valuable lesson about grace.  Strengthening me.  Perfecting me.  These too, miracles within. 

Listen closely…He is with us in the ashes.  He seeks us out of hiding.  He carries us.  And He rejoices with us.  If you are in your own season of pruning right now - know that I feel for you.  My life is not perfect.  It has been messy.  I have not always made the best decisions. I have had moments when I have grown angry with God.  I have yearned for the desires of my heart.  And I have been disappointed and heartbroken.  But here I am, a warrior, here to tell you that you are too!  Look for the glimmers of beauty.  The rays of hope.  The windows of opportunity.  Miracles are here.  Waiting for you.  For the perfect time.  To change everything.  All because of Him.

Grit, grace, + tattoos, oh how I thank thee.  You’ve allowed me to witness God, the Miracle Maker in action…in the little things.  After pruning comes a great harvest.  Get ready for a season of abundance, because it’s ready for you + me.  Laughing.

xx.

 "The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.  The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.  You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." (Psalm 145:13‭-‬16)

 

Get Ready...

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Jesus.

I’ve uttered His name on my lips more times than I can count over the past few years as I’ve walked through dark valleys and stood high on mountaintops.  I feel a great warmth cover my body and tears flood my eyes at the power of His Great Name.  Even a whisper, “Jesus”, and everything changes. 

My prayer list is growing.  I keep adding to the list family members, friends, acquaintances, people and situations that don’t even know I exist.  I don’t mention this to boast of my prayer life, but because the apparent brokenness in this world is becoming more and more evident as I talk with people new and old and begin to ask questions.  Or when I see the divisiveness, tragedy, loss, and suffering that permeates the news outlets.  Or when I see behind the smiling faces on social media the perfectionism, insecurity, call for attention, materialism and anxiety that consumes so many.  Or the struggling relationships and broken marriages.  Or the need to cover deep wounds with a Band-Aid of alcohol, drugs, and sex. 

Before I truly came to know Jesus, I remember a constant yearning for something more.  I was a perfectionist rattled with worry.  A wallflower hoping no one would notice me.  Insecure and scared to show my true self.  Afraid of judgement.  And health problems began to mount up as the conflict inside me grew and grew.  And that constant yearning for more in this life -- I’ve found that it is a common thread that we all share, whether we realize it or not.  That yearning exists because we are separate from our Father, our Creator, our Forever Home.  But today there is Good News.  Because of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, we have a free gift and invitation to close that gap and yearn no more.  The Author of all creation lives amongst us, in Spirit form, and wants to fill us with His love, hope, joy, and peace.  He wants to erase your blemished past by extending His mercy and grace to forgive you.  He wants to give you new life – an eternal life.  He wants you.  You.

Jesus doesn’t mean an easy life; we were never promised a life of ease.  We are told that we will encounter challenges in many forms.  But now we don’t have to go through them alone.  God is the Author of every circumstance, and He is growing and maturing us, preparing us for the next great chapter in His Book.   

As a coming clean, I have written before of some of the challenges I’ve faced in years prior – health challenges, financial fears after I was laid off, infertility concerns.  But what I haven’t mentioned over the past year (if you’ve noticed I’ve been pretty quiet) is my pending divorce, adjusting to life on my own, working long and often draining hours, and having to heal some of the brokenness in my soul as a result.   Heartbreak was there.  Stress was there. Fear was there.  Fatigue was there.  But yet, somehow, through it all, I have not crumbled.  I’ve stood strong and firm.  I have put my trust in Jesus, held His Hand, and allowed Him to continue transforming me from the inside-out.  I am forgiven.  I am healed.  I am confident.  I am bold.  I am courageous.  I am tough as nails.  I am resilient.  I am true to my God.  I am loved.  I am worthy.  I am valuable.  I am beautiful.  I am smart.  I am sexy.  I am better, wiser, and more mature than ever before because I have walked through valleys to now stand high on the peaks of mountaintops.

I never realized how capable I was.  But it hasn't been out of my own accord; it’s through the strength and supernatural power that only God can provide.  My feet are firmly planted in His Word.  I am equipped with the armor of God so that no fiery dart can pierce me.  I have His love as glue to piece me back together when I feel myself breaking apart.  I have His grace when I make a mistake or fall victim to sin.  And I have Jesus; my Rescuer, my Redeemer, my Healer, my Lover, my Restorer, my Wisdom, my Father. 

And so, Jesus is on my lips...

To break every chain.                                                                                                                                                  To change everything.                                                                                                                                           To silence the waves.                                                                                                                                                  Jesus. Jesus.                                                                                                                                                    

And I am holding steady.                                                                                                                                                And I am ready.                                                                                                                                                  Because He's about to what I am not expecting...

...And I look forward with anticipation; with joy and with peace.  For He is ALWAYS good.  And His plans, ALWAYS perfect. 

If you feel lost, I want you to know that He knows exactly where to find you.  You can’t run from Him, and you cannot hide.  He is constantly seeking you. 

So he told them this parable:  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost’.  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:3-7)

Wherever you are today, no matter your past, He knows you, He loves you, and He wants to rejoice over you.  He's ready to carry you on His shoulders to bring you Home.  So I pose you this same question from John 11:25-26...Do you believe this?  Then let today be the day.  Open your heart.  Let the power of Jesus fill you.  Put His name on your lips. Come home and be set free. 

May His love shine upon you this Easter Sunday.         

xx.                                                                        

Set Free on Good Friday

I haven’t posted on the blog for a while, so I can’t think of a better day than Good Friday to share the message of being set free! 

It is so easy for us to carry on with our everyday lives today, just like every other day.  TGIF, right?  So, I find it incredibly important for all of us to slow down and reflect on what is so good about Good Friday, when an innocent man was arrested, tortured, and died on the cross.  And maybe that’s why I’m writing this, to spend my own time in meditation processing the meaning behind this very day. 

I find it amazing that Jesus, a man of the flesh, stands quiet when Pilate asks “Do you not hear how many things they have testified against you?” (Matthew 27:13-14).  How many of us when we come under attack immediately jump to defend ourselves?  We feel hurt, betrayed, and we seek justice!  And yet, Jesus…he just stands there quietly.  We know that Jesus was scared, because when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was in such agony that “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44), a condition known as hematidrosis which is a very rare condition when the tiny capillaries in the sweat glands burst from significant emotional stress.  And yet, He still accepts this fate from his Father.  He puts his trust in Him, and Him alone.  He isn’t looking for acceptance from the world.  He knows that the only acceptance He needs, is from God.   

Think about that.  What an example of faith knowing the amount of suffering he is about to face.  Wow.

This morning I stumbled upon a Facebook video talking about Barabbas.  The video sent chills throughout my body.  Pilate asks the crowd “Whom do you want me to release for you:  Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17).  Barabbas was a bad man – selfish, a thief, a criminal, and a murderer.  And, Jesus…well, he was a healer!  And yet, this crowd chooses to accept the murderer over an unblemished man!  And when Barabbas is unchained, with no gratitude for Jesus, the one that truly sets him free, he walks away without hesitation as the crowd continues to mock Jesus and call for his death.  Barabbas and the crowd are symbolic here, don’t we see it?  They represent me.  And they represent YOU. 

We can be so ignorant of our sin.  “I’m a good person.”  “I haven’t killed anyone.”  But you see, sin goes much deeper than that.  Do we deny Jesus such as Peter?  Are we quick to judge others, yet reluctant to admit our own failures?  Are we boastful and full of pride?  Do we have a sharp tongue?  Do we chase after the things of this world such as sex, money, fame, and power?  Maybe we look at others with envy?  We live selfishly?  Or maybe we even put spending time with God last a long list of things to do.  Let me tell you, I am just as guilty as Barabbas.  And I fail – Every.  Single.  Day. 

But Jesus, knowing he himself is innocent, and knowing just how guilty Barabbas is, let him walk free.  Because he loves him.  And he loves US! 

My heart breaks for Jesus.  When I reflect on The Passion, I weep knowing just how guilty I am.  And I know in my heart just how much I don’t deserve the free gift Jesus is extending to me.  But the last words he utters before giving up His spirit are “It is finished.”  My favorite words ever spoken.  As my pastor recently addressed – sin, suffering, satan, and salvation – all of them are finished forever and for always, because Jesus has already won.  He has conquered it all, for us.  And so, as I sit here writing and reflecting, I accept this gift of salvation out of love and gratitude for The One that gave up his life so that I could live. 

The chains are broken, and I am set free.  Without ever looking back at the person I was, I am forever transformed. 

If you have not yet accepted Jesus, all you have to do is open your heart, put your faith in Him, and ask Him for forgiveness.  He will wash you clean, and you will be made anew. 

If I can help you, or pray for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at lauren@laurentarr.com. 

May His peace be with you. 

xx