Monday, September 30, 2013

I wear my scars on my sleeves

A facebook friend commented on something recently that "I wear my scars on my sleeves like a warrior through battle".  When I read that, it just really stuck with felt so personally accurate - metaphorically and literally.  Little did she know that I had just put two more tattoos on my other arm.  I know that some conservatives out there might groan at the thought - "oh no, what is Jenny doing?!".  And, that's fine.  I used to actually be in that crowd...I used to be judgmental and poo-pood tattoos.  I used to think they were so tacky and conveyed the wrong kind of message.  Now I roll my eyes.  Now I don't care what anyone thinks.  My personal choice to permanently mark my body with art, that shares a message about who I am is something I am proud of.  My recent additions over the past year have been for my girls, mainly Vienne, of course (I shared about my last tattoo for Vienne here).  Every single day, I wear something that reminds me of Vienne....anything to keep her as near as possible...whether it be my locket with her photo or my cross necklace that carries a bit of her ashes or earrings with her name etched in them or the colors blue and green.  But all of these things can pass away or be lost.  My body art will stay with me forever, in this life.  I am forever marked with reminders of my Girl.  I am forever branded with reminders of the difficult life that has been forced upon me.  These marks, these brandings are my scars.  Scars that represent the deepest of wounds.  Scars that also remind me that this body is temporary and when I finally get to leave this place to be reunited with my Vienne, my body will be renewed and I will no longer need these brandings.  So, I wear my scars on my sleeves...until that day comes.

Here is one of the tattoos - it is a sentimental one.  One which has a difficult story that comes with it.  But, I needed to wear it in a place where I can read it each and every day.  So, it had to be in a visible place to all.

It says "Vindicate me, my God" with Vienne's star that she drew when she was 14 months old.  
The passage comes from Psalm 43, vs 1.  Psalm 43 is the chapter I was reading that horrific the exact same time that Vienne was directly above me, in the tub, taking her last breath.  I have shared about this passage here.  Vindicate means "clear (someone) of blame or guilt" or "to set free".  Heavy, I know.  When dwelling on this, I also found it interesting and meaningful that the passage starts with the letter V - which is what we always called Vienne, for short.  I turned the V into a heart to remind myself that I am not supposed to blame myself, but rather it was her heart that took her life.  It's a powerful piece of work, for sure.  But I need this reminder.  Daily.

Something else I wanted to add about this scripture that I was reading at that time...
I recently found it interesting that it be in chapter 43, for one of my all-time favorite verses that I have used more that ANY other verse in the Bible (for myself and to encourage others) is found a few book over, in Isaiah 43.  Isaiah 43:  1- 4.  I used to read and reread this passage whenever I felt burdened, overwhelmed, sad, or just in a tough place.  Now, I look at this passage and {right now} I scowl.  
It says (and I always would interject my name or a friend's name in spots)~

But now, this is what the Lord says ~
he who created you, O [Daughter],
he who formed you, O [Jenny]:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, 
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, you God,
the Holy One of Israel, you Savior;
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, 
and because I love you.

Welll.....I don't have much insight or eloquence for that right now.  Oh, believe me, I know what could be said.  But, for now, I still feel "set ablaze"...I still feel swept over with drowning water.  But, I know I am not.  I am still living, still much as I wish I weren't sometimes.  But I am.  So, yay.  
This actually reminds me of a blog post that was shared with me today, titled "Confronting the lie:  God won't give you more than you can handle."  It's a good read...especially for those who have not gone through something tragic yet.  I especially appreciate when he says:  It is easy to spout trite Christian platitudes designed to make people feel better with bumper-sticker theology.  But insipid axioms do little in the face of the actual brokenness of the world.  It is more courageous to ask the hard questions of God and wait for him to answer than it is to find hope on the side of a coffee mug.  Asking those questions requires courage because, in the end, it is very likely they will not be answered. 

At the end, the author states that he expectantly waits for God to do something through his struggles.  I don't know if I have reached that point yet.  I am still a bit cynical about all that.  I still seem to cynically bank on the question that "God had to allow my daughter to die so that He could ultimately be glorified in the end??".  It just doesn't rest well with me yet.  Everything that He allows is ultimately for His glory...right?  Well, right now in my narrow-mindedness, all I see is how self-righteous and self-serving that seems.  I feel like a pawn.  I know that's not true...but I still battle with those nagging thoughts that wander in.  (disclaimer - these are still rhetorical questions.  I am not comfortable receiving Biblical insight from anyone, but my pastor or counselor.  But prayers are always welcomed and appreciated)

As for the other tattoo, well I really needed one for my Ivy girl ~

My tattoo artist designed this for me.  I wanted Ivy's name to be scripted into lovely, delicate and simple ivy vines.  I love how it turned out.  If you can't read it, it says:  Ivy Lynnae.

So, there you have it.  I'm all "tatted" up!  Who woulda thunk?


  1. Dear Jenny,
    I'm always so moved by your posts. You are so open and honest with your thoughts and feelings. I know there are no words to ease your pain, but I wanted you to know that I continue to follow your blog and feel blessed that you have been so open about sharing your journey. You are a wonderful momma and beautiful soul. Please know that my thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and your sweet family. Terry

    1. Wow, thank you Terry. This always means so much to hear.

  2. Wow. Am blown away, especially by the "Vindicate me" art. Very beautiful and powerful. Who would have thunk is right? Well I for one admire you for asking the tough God questions, it seems to me your internal compass still seems to direct you to at least try to refocus on Him. And that says a lot. Much love, Lisa

    1. well, thank you dear friend.

      yes...that internal compass....hhmmmm....

  3. After reading your post I had to go and read the blog you quoted from. It's one I know I'll be returning to. I so appreciate it when pastors (well, anyone, but especially pastors) are willing to live in and articulate the tension between faith and...well, I don't know what...despair? not knowing? Anyway, thank you, as always, for sharing your story.

    P.S. I think your tattoos are beautiful - in appearance and in meaning. I wasn't always a tattoo fan, but I know some amazing ladies who have gotten them lately. The tattoos, along with the people who wear them, make beautiful, profound statements.

    1. Thank you, Mary Alice. I have come to really believe the same about most tattoos - I love the profound stories they can share...if they are done with intention and thought and purpose.

  4. Your new tattoos are amazing. Love you friend, praying so often for you.

  5. Those are beautiful Friend. I must have met you post-judgmental-tattoo-girl. :) I love the delicacy of each, just like both your girls. Tattoos are a personal story and yes, they are a way to display your emotional scars...and great joys. Thank you for sharing. I recently got one on my right forearm, similar in placement to V's tree of life. Looking forward to gushing over eachother's body art. Impromptu visit soon.

    1. Oh I can't wait to see yours, Erin!! I think you mentioned getting one when I was visiting. Look forward to seeing you hopefully soon...xo

  6. I think your tattoo's are beautiful, it's a beautiful tribute to both of your girls. I hope you aren't tortured with guilt, you have nothing to feel guilty for. Your love for your sweet Vienne is strong!

    This is my favorite hymn, just wanted to share it with you!

    Thank you for sharing your story and your beautiful daughters life with us:)

    1. Thank you for these sweet words, it truly means so much. And, thank you for the sharing your favorite hymn. I will tuck this aside and listen to it when I have the appropriate moment to give it full attention.

  7. I think your tat's are perfect!!


  8. Love you! Love your heart and openness. The tattoos are perfect! You rock them! (I hope you didn't pass out- smiling remembering your first!) all my love! Becky beryl

  9. Jenny, I love that scripture, so symbolic and so interesting that you were reading that. Not a coincidence at all. God is aware of you, he is aware of us all. I often feel deserted and alone, but I try to think this as often as possible. Thinking of you my friend. and I love your tattoos! We all have to do what will get us through our days until we see our sweet children again, no judgement here, just love for you.

  10. I love you, my daughter....and every bit of your creative beauty in honor and remembrance of our Vienne.