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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

But I Have Tattoos

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Cor 5:17

I remembered the swing as soon as I saw it. I remembered sitting by the lake with Belle and my Bible talking and listening to God. The last time I was there, Bob was with us. I let the sweet memories rush through me. I couldn’t wait for my morning devotion time. I was at my favorite campground, James Island in Charleston, South Carolina.

Morning finally arrived and Belle and I headed to “our” swing. We hadn’t been there 5 minutes when Jeanette walked up. Jeannette had left the semi she was camping in to wander down by the lake for a smoke. I noticed the tattoos right away. Identifying tattoos and guessing why people have them has become kind of a hobby. Some are drug or mood-altering tattoos – mushrooms are especially popular right now. Then there are religious, gang, Satan, prison, zombie, vampire, theme, relationship, and Wicca – to name just a few. The theme tattoos can be categorized as well – music, nature, politics… Some choose one category and others mix and match to turn their body into a canvas portraying who they are and what matters to them. I suspected Jeannette’s were prison tattoos and I was right.

Jeanette’s face had the leathered look of someone who worked outdoors and sure enough, she was currently a ranch hand from Nebraska.

“Is she a Sheep Dog?” Jeanette asked about Belle.

“She is,” I said.

“May I take a picture for my daughter? She loves Shelties. I’m traveling with Rottweilers but I hate them.”

When Belle sees a camera, she knows just what to do. She delighted Jeanette by sitting and cocking her head at the camera. Jeanette knelt and hugged Belle.

“If you hate Rottweiler’s, why are you traveling with them?”

“They belong to a friend. That is her semi over there. We are staying in it. I came because I wanted to see Charleston.”

“Do you go to church in Nebraska?”

“My daughter has been trying to get me to go to church. I’ve tried a few where I live but I have tattoos. They don’t want me. I like my daughter’s church but it is too far to drive every week.”

I knew it. I knew this was her moment to meet Jesus. I could feel it. Her daughter was praying for her and trying to get her into church. Jeanette was seeking something – trying to keep her life on track.

“I’m sorry they rejected your tattoos,” I said. “A church is supposed to love you like Christ loves you. What about eternity?” I asked. “Do you know where you will spend eternity?”

“I hope heaven,” she said, hanging her head low. “But I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been in trouble.”

“You’ve been to prison,” I confirmed. “I can tell from your tattoos.”

“Yes,” she said, sighing. “I’m working on a ranch now. My daughter is helping me. I’m trying to live right.”

She didn’t know it yet but her entire destiny was about to change. Her daughter’s prayers were about to be answered. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly that I could hardly get the words out as I quoted scripture and invited her to meet Jesus. Without hesitation, Jeanette agreed to pray.

“I can feel it,” she said when she finished praying. “I can feel it!” Her eyes flooded with tears and her hands were shaking.

“That is the Holy Spirit,” I said. “My pastor preached a sermon on Sunday talking about getting on the team and getting out of the huddle. You are now on Team Jesus. Getting out of the huddle and onto the field will be up to you. Somewhere, there is church who will celebrate what has just happened to you. Christ sees you as holy and pure. Find a church who loves you. Get involved, baptized, and begin reading your Bible. Call your daughter and tell her what happened to you.”

When I called Bob to report in, he said dryly, “Typical morning for my wife – alone in the woods with a cigarette smoking, tattooed, ex-con.” He and I both knew that was no longer Jeanette’s identify. She is a new creature in Christ, who makes all things new.

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