Sneak Peak

Here is a sneak peak from the chapter talking about worship in “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo”. I hope you like it, and I hope it inspires you to share my work.

As I’ve been thinking about worship, both individual worship and communal, corporate worship, I’ve had several epiphanies (I just like that word).
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.
Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 The Message.
I used to think that these verses meant that I had to dress in socially awkward ways to please God, (you know, long skirts and dresses and those awful culottes only) that I had to have a neat and clean and perfect appearance, only have one set of piercings (ear lobe only, the rest is ungodly ya know), never get a tattoo, and people who had tattoos were supposed to be ashamed of them (because, you know, they can totally just get rid of them), and dress in approved clothing, being careful of styles and appearances. However, I recently began thinking of these verses in relation to individual, personal worship. 
The Bible says elsewhere that God basically handcrafted us (well, that’s my paraphrase of Psalm 139:13-16 at any rate). Things that are handcrafted are unique; no two of them are the same. And that’s how it is with us. What this means is that I am the only me that will ever live. God handcrafted me, I’m authentically me and I’m an original. (I hear you all saying “praise God!” Ha). I am supposed to honor God with my body, and worship him with my body. The way I express this worship is going to be different to how other people express worship. I’m moving beyond the definition of worship as simply being participating in a praise and worship service at church on Sunday. It’s great that I participate and worship in those, but worship is so much more than that.
God is a creative God, and he has bestowed upon the human race many creative expressions with which to worship him. Some worship God by dancing, some by singing, some by playing instruments, some by writing songs, some by writing plays, some by writing novels, some by drawing, some by gardening, etc. God has also given us our own unique tastes and our own unique styles. He’s a creative God, and he’s given us a gift in giving us so many ways of expressing ourselves and making sense of him and ourselves through art and creativity. 

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The Girl With the Grace Tattoo

I am so happy to finally be announcing a book project that I have been working on for a while now. I had to cut back working on it while I finished off my degree, but now that I am done and have a lot of time before honors starts, I have the time to finish. After much consideration, I have decided to self-publish the book and do my own marketing and promotion. My book is titled: “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo: A young woman’s journey from fundamentalism to Jesus”.

I am trying to crowd fund the book which means getting people who believe in this project to donate some money towards the publishing costs. There are 55 days left in my campaign and I have three supporters already. I am so excited to finally be working on this project.

An endorsement from a current supporter: “I read a little from your blog and it was captivating. It was hard to find a stopping point to put the kids to bed. I’m not a reader so I didn’t think I would enjoy it but I did! A lot!” ~ Kourtney.

Please check out the book on Pubslush (there is a sample chapter on the website) and consider donating to make this book a reality. My inspirations for this book are Donald Miller and Rachel Held Evans, and I’d like to think I am similar to Donald Miller in style but the truth is we all have our own style. This book is going to be a fascinating read, you don’t want to miss out on contributing to this project!

The Girl With the Grace Tattoo

Book Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

I found Impulse by Ellen Hopkins on the shelf at Goodwill just the other day, for twenty cents. I had had her books highly recommended to me, so I was excited to get it dig in. Ellen Hopkins is a genius, a very talented author. This novel, just like her others, are written as a series of short poems. The book is very real, this one is about three almost of adult age teens who are in a psychiatric hospital after trying to commit suicide. The story tells of their inner demons and secrets. It is not a Christian book, however Hopkins does talk about God in the book, the poems show the struggle the teens have and the thoughts they have about whether they believe in God. The thoughts and questions the teens have about God are relevant to today’s teens. The book does not resolve with anybody finding God, but I feel that the themes raised are good starting points for conversation. God is not looked down on in a hostile manner, it is just honest dialogue.

I do like that Impulse wasn’t one of those ‘and they lived happily ever after’ fairytale books. No, this book is far more realistic than that. The story pretty much ends with a climax that won’t be resolved any time soon, it ends with love, with friendship, and with death. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of her books, and it appears that the question about God and his character comes up in several of her books, and I’m anxiously anticipating reading my next book by her.

Jesus

Sometimes when I am struggling, memories of my past and who I was come flooding back to me. It makes me feel bad about myself, but that is because I am letting the devil decide who I am. It is the devil that tells me that I am a liar, a thief, worthless, stupid, a mistake and many other things I am not going to share. Often it is easy to listen to him and let him define me, but I realize that the devil is the father of lies, and that there is no truth in him. I often forget that when I am tempted to take on my old identity.

When Jesus came into my life, he washed my sins away, took them away as far as the east is from the west, which means that he has no intention of bringing them back up again and that he doesn’t see me for who I was. The thing is, Jesus changed my entire identity, and he says that I am not defined by the lies I told or the things I stole. He says that I am precious, smart, and intentionally created.

So when those old temptations and those old accusations come knocking, usually when life gets tough, I need to remind myself and the devil that he does not define me. He also has never done one worthwhile thing in my life while Jesus has done everything. I am a different person now, and the reason that I am different is Jesus. It’s all about him.

Healing Steps

Sometimes, God allows situations to arise that seem small and insignificant at the time but that end up being very healing. There was a time several years ago when the content of this blog was much different than it is today. One of my main topics was modesty, except it was an extreme mixture of Independent Baptist and Holiness Pentecostal. I didn’t cut my hair, or trim it, and I could write a three page article on why God meant for women to never cut their hair, much less dye it. In the last two years I have dyed my hair purple, had it cut into a mohawk, had it really short, and I have done a lot of things to it. Perhaps I went a little crazy once I realized what freedom I had, and I think I am settling down some and when my hair gets longer I am going to put purple highlights in it. Or keep wearing my wig with the purple highlights.

I would advocate for the wearing of frumpy clothes, long shapeless skirts and dresses, although part of why this was so easy to embrace was that I was a size 22 at the time. Again, once I realized that Christ had made me free, I might have gone a little crazy. In fact when I officially left fundamentalism, I was still strictly skirts/dresses only and expected to stay that way. However, after only about three weeks at my church, I realized I was free to wear other things. I remember arriving at the church with my husband to talk with the pastor, and it was the first time in years that I had worn a pair of jeans, and I felt awkward and felt like everyone was looking at me. Since that time I have gone on to wear shorts and all kinds of skirts and tops I could never wear before. In fact I have to admit that I went too far the other way and wore some things that were immodest. God has been working on me about that lately.

Instead of writing articles about how women shouldn’t wear makeup, I sell Avon, and I use Avon. I really enjoy it too. Apart from writing articles here and for some Independent Baptist publications, I also felt the need to share my “knowledge” and remember almost trolling certain blogs and websites. I had been passionate about it, after all it was one of the only ways for a fundamentalist woman to measure her spirituality. I had in the past also lost friends over the issue because I was so rigid and legalistic.

Anyway, I attended an amazing ladies event this weekend (check out Total Woman U, they put on an amazing event twice a year and I have had the privilege of attending five of their events now). These ladies are amazingly talented and most important they love the Lord. I believe that after every event I have been to, I have written a blog post about the weekend because it has been so good. The conference was awesome as usual, but this time around, it was something else that touched me most. One of the speakers this weekend was an author whose book I had had for a few years now, and whose blog was about fashion and faith and therefore was a blog that I had trolled. I knew who she was, but she did not yet know who I was. I actually hadn’t really thought that much about it, and I certainly hadn’t planned to tell her who I was. However, I had been at the event for about fifteen minutes when I felt God prompting me to go and tell her who I was.

Me: “but she won’t want to hear from me”.
God: “yes, she does want to hear from you”.
Me: “I bet she won’t even remember any of that”.
God: “she remembers, now go talk to her”.

So I did, I approached her and asked her if she had remembered a person who trolled her blog with some hyper modesty stuff. She said that yes, she remembered, even remembered her name. When I told her that it was me, she was really excited and gave me a huge hug. Then she looked at me (I was wearing a short-ish dress with leggings and had my nose ring in and my hair was cut) and she asked me “what happened to you”? And, nearly in tears, I said “Jesus! I found Jesus!” It was a really big deal to me to have her react with such excitement, and it was huge for me to even tell her who I was, and after doing what God asked me to do by revealing myself, the experience was very healing.

There were many other great things about the weekend, but this was the most profound thing to me and it was something that I really needed and God allowed it to be a healing step.