Much to the surprise of others, I really like tattoos. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer I knew I was headed down the tattoo road. I desired a permanent keepsake of how our family’s faith and God’s grace carried us through that difficult experience. Then, after we adopted our son, I became increasingly aware that more tattoos were in the making. I craved a visual reminder that God is capable of transforming devastating circumstances into delightful experiences.
Spoiler alert: Tattoos last forever! Once you’re inked there’s no going back. Thankfully, I had no reservations. I knew exactly what I wanted engraved on my body… God’s Word.
If you’ve attended church then you are likely familiar with the “life verse” concept. A life verse is a part of Scripture that speaks to you in a special and personal way. It defines you, fills you with joy and encouragement, and guides your decisions. It’s something you cling to during difficult circumstances. It emphasis the fact that God’s promises are never void.
There are several Bible verses that regularly come to my mind, but there are two specific ones that have made a permanent impact on my adult spiritual walk. It’s these two life verses that have secured their place in my heart and (*wink*) on my skin.
The tattoo on my left arms says “Saved by Grace through Faith” to represent Ephesians 2:8-9.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Faith and grace. Two words that paint a stunning picture. We need the faith. God offers the grace. As Dave was going through cancer it was our faith that kept us focused and God’s grace that gave us hope. They work together in a balance of perfect harmony.
But faith and grace have another significant meaning in my life. When it came to choosing names for our daughters, my husband and I struggled. In the end, we agreed on Isabella Faith and Abigail Grace. We love how faith and grace transform their names into something special. A constant reminder of the foundation they are being raised on.
Every time I look down and read “Saved by Grace through Faith” I see God’s undeserved blessings staring back at me. The health of my husband. The gift of my two beautiful daughters. It is what has carried, and continues to carry, me through difficult moments.
The tattoo on my right arm says “Beauty from Ashes” in reference to Isaiah 61:3a.
“…To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
With Dave’s cancer diagnosis also came the reality that we could no longer have biological children. While we were thankful for the girls, our family still felt incomplete. The realization was devastating. After an awful lot of tears and prayer, Dave and I came to the conclusion that, when the time came to add children to our home, we would do so by the means of adoption. On April 4, 2017, in a courtroom surrounded by people we love, we welcomed our son, Aidan, into the family. Aidan is evidence that God can take the ashes of heartbreaking situations, like a cancer diagnosis, and turn it into something beautiful.
I was once again reminded of this passage in Isaiah when we were forced to say an early “goodbye” to my father-in-law. This time, however, I understood it from a different perspective. We will forever mourn him. We will forever miss his presence. But, there is hope in Jesus and, for my father-in-law, heaven replaced his ashes with a crown, turned his mourning into joy, and stripped away his despair and filled him with praise. Heaven is the greatest comfort of all.
The entire chapter of Isaiah 61 is meant to offer comfort to the people of Israel, who were experiencing severe pain and suffering because of their disobedience, and to remind them that God is merciful. I don’t usually like to isolate a single verse like this because I worry about using it out of context, but I can’t help it.
I love the hope God is providing here. It is encouraging to read “Beauty from Ashes” and know that it represents my amazing son and, even more importantly, the joy that comes from spending eternity with Jesus.
I would love to know how you’ve engraved your life verse on your heart! What verse, or set of verses, breathes life to you?
If you do not have a life verse then New Heights Church has a great resource for you to check out!
(If you happen to be looking for a great design artist, my good friend Sarah at Sohl Design did an amazing job on both of mine. She’s talented and she loves Jesus! Now that’s a win-win.)