Hope Wears a Tattoo

hands - palms outstretchedHe was a large, muscular man and when he sat down in the bus, the leather seat expelled air. I peeked at him around the pages of the book I was reading as my writer brain started inventing a character sketch.

He’s a construction worker by day, a bartender by night and his feet hurt. It feels really good to sit down for a change. Or … he’s a pastor on his way to the inner city church he serves. The dirty T-shirt is a cover up and helps him relate to the young people in his congregation. Or … he’s an undercover spy and just wants me to think he’s a normal guy.

But then he crossed one leg and I discovered he was far from a normal guy. Tattooed on one leg was the image of a little girl with her name inked above her sweet face, “Kelsey Jane, beloved daughter.”

What kind of guy loves his daughter so much he tattoos her picture on his massive leg? Was she one of those tragic little ones that cancer took away? Her image on his leg was a memorial to her short life?

He saw me staring and before I could disappear behind the pages of my book, he answered my question with vulnerability, “I’m divorced and I don’t get to see her very often. This way, I’m always carrying her with me.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat and said, “That’s the greatest tattoo I’ve ever seen.”

He tipped his Royals baseball cap to me, then turned away. I returned to my book – both of us in our own worlds as people do on mass transit.

I almost wanted to find the nearest tattoo parlor and ask for a picture of my son emblazoned near my heart. Almost.

But I couldn’t forget the image and the question it posed, What kind of guy loves his daughter so much he tattoos her picture on his leg?

Then I remembered another guy who does the same thing – not on his leg, but on his hand – on the tender palm area where he can see it every time he reaches out to help someone.

Almighty God is the one who says, “See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm…” (Isaiah 49:16).

God Himself cares so much about each of us he has tattooed us on the palms of his powerful hands.

In the original Talmud, the meaning of this tattoo or engraving was of an unbreakable bond, of a love so intense it was comparable to a mother’s love that could never ever forget her child. The Hebrew word also included the provision of God’s care, reaching out to protect his children from harm.

As God’s children, we can depend on that mother love, that unbreakable bond, that caring and loving provision. Always.

I often think about the guy on the bus and hope he’s having some quality time with his daughter. Usually, I remember him when I’m going through a rough patch and need some encouragement.

The tattoo of Kelsey Jane makes me smile, while the visual of my image tattooed on the palm of God’s hand fills me with hope.

©2016 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

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Hope Respects the Alzheimer’s Patient

The blog post for this week was already written, edited and almost scheduled.Alz lady - nurse

Then I had second thoughts.

It was a post about my mother and shared one of the family secrets she told me years ago. I felt it was a great post, and I hoped it would interest my followers as well as give them insights into the life of my mother.

But somehow – I couldn’t post it.

Mom is an extrovert but she has also been a rather private person, hiding her secrets in a sacred soul place. That’s what women in her demographic learned to do.

Never would she have shared her life via social media nor would she want me to do that by proxy for her. I understand. Further, I respect that piece of her personality and choose to keep aspects of her life – and ultimately my family’s life – private.

I know some of the secrets because I snooped in her hope chest years ago and read the beautiful love letters my parents wrote to each other.

Other secrets were told to me by caring and not-so-caring relatives while my instincts picked up on some of the more private stories. When I asked Mom to explain these missing pieces of history, she pursed her lips and changed the subject.

Off limits – even though I am family.


So just because I am a writer, that does not give me license to share with the world all about my mother’s life.


I will say simply that she lived life well. She raised three children and loved her husband with all her heart. She served as a nurse, made sure each of us checked out books from the library each week and inspected our ears after bath time.

And because I respect her and the life she lived, I will keep her secrets in that sacred place of my own soul – a pact between us that no one else needs to know.

I love you, Mom.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G Books http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/1624/gallery/fiction/

Finding Hope in Pink Slippers

Amy Bovaird suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa, a progressive vision disorder. Yet she is the primary caregiver for her aging mother. Below is an example of how Amy finds hope in her daily adventures – even in a pair of pink slippers.

“Make sure you don’t drop my hearing aids,” my mother warned, as she did every morning. I’ve never once dropped them.

As a capable vision-impaired person, I rolled my eyes and feigned a pleasant tone. “Don’t worry. I won’t.”

Mom seemed impatient, maybe because her wrist hurt. After a fall down the stairs, she was scheduled for more X-rays.

I fumbled in the dim kitchen and tried to make hot tea to suit Mom. She insisted I pour exactly one cup of water into the kettle. Because it wasn’t a whistling tea kettle, my mother made it a competition between us as to who could see the steam rise first.

If she noticed it, she urgently alerted me. “The tea water’s boiling away! Hurry up, turn it off.” This time, thankfully, I saw the steam first.

Later, we moved to the bedroom so I could help Mom dress. After I snagged Mom’s cast in the sleeve of her robe, I tried to wrestle it free without hurting her.

When I lifted her long underwear shirt off, her head got stuck in the neck opening. “Hey! That’s my head, you know.”   

“Sorry, I couldn’t see. If you’re going to be mean, I’m not going to help you.”

“You’re the mean one.”

“I didn’t ask for this job, but this is what I have to do,” I mumbled, proceeding to help her dress.

Pink Slippers - Amy BLater that day, I said, “Here Mom, let’s take your shoes off and change into your slippers.” I bent over to remove her slippers.

She pointed to her left foot. “Look! You put one on backwards.”

“Are you kidding me?”

She laughed. “See for yourself!”

I noticed the dainty pink bow in the back of the slipper and laughed, too. How could I have missed that pretty pink bow? It reminded me of the finishing touch on a gift.

That’s when it hit me: with my poor vision and the stress of caregiving, I’d missed out on seeing Mom as a gift.

Too many times, we develop frustration toward the challenges God allows in our lives without realizing these are like speed bumps to slow us down and appreciate what He’s given us.

I needed to turn that slipper around in order to see the bow. Just like I needed to turn my feelings around in order to see that my beautiful mother was one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. 

Amy Bovaird

Amy L. Bovaird guest posts on my blog today. She is a specialist in second language acquisition. Amy’s career has taken her to Latin America, South East Asia and the Middle East. Because she suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa, a progressive vision disorder, Amy’s stories highlight her determination to see the world, even though for her, it may be just a little out of focus. You can read more of Amy’s adventures at www.amyboaird.com.