I am a tattoo fan.
I like looking at pictures of interesting tattoos, I like getting tattoos, and I like coming up with complex tattoos that have a deeper meaning than they display.
I have only three though, the most recent being my kids’ names on my calf that I got on Sunday.
I have a philosophy behind tattoos that I think might anger a few people, but here goes:
I’m not going to put anything on my body that I wouldn’t be able to stand before the Lord and at least try to defend. That’s been my rule of thumb for all three tattoos, and I’ve had imaginary conversations with Jesus before getting each of them.
“Okay Jesus, this one is of each of my brothers, and I know it’s got cards, but it’s a play on words see, four of a kind, Sloats. That’s it, it’s family, I think You think family is pretty important, not more important than You, but still pretty important, so I just want You to know that that’s why I got this thing.”
“Travis, shut up for a second.”
“Have you accepted my gift of salvation?”
“You’re in. Come on.”
Now let’s move past this digression and get on to the show, which is my tattoos and their meaning.
|Tattoo Number One
Art by Brad Sloat, Ink work done by Spaded and Jaded
This is the tattoo I was referencing in my hypothetical conversation with the Lord. It’s a riff on the four of a kind hand in poker, and since there are four Sloat brothers, we thought it would work, and I think it does. Here’s the thing though. We came up with this tattoo while we were in Florida in 2008. Three of us were old enough to get tattoos, and we had Brad come up with the drawing. He did really well I think.
But here’s the kicker (heh). All of us swore we would get the tattoo. “Yeah Travis, we’ll get it. Let’s all get it, it’ll be awesome.” Josh was like fourteen at the time, and he was pressuring mom to sign for him to get it, like that could even happen, but we were in Florida and just assumed U.S. Law was no good there.
So we get back to Oklahoma, and I got mine done. I think it looks good. I love what it stands for.
Do me a favor the next time you see one of my brothers and ask them to show you this tattoo. Just do it. Just ask.
|Tattoo Number Two (and my breast, sorry)
Art by Thomas Blackshear II, Ink work by Squiggy at Just Another Hole
This tattoo really has a special meaning for me.
It’s of a painting called “Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear II. The painting depicts Christ holding a man who is holding a hammer and a nail, which is obviously a representation of man putting Christ on the cross.
Underneath, I added the words, “The Beauty of Grace is that it Makes Life not Fair.” These are lyrics from Relient K, in their song “Be My Escape.”
I love that quote, and there is a story behind the image as well. You see, I first saw that painting in Mardell’s in Tulsa. I walked in to the store, was browsing through something or other, and I saw this painting. To date, it is the only work of art to make me cry upon first sight. I broke down. What it represents is powerful.
I’ve screwed up a lot. More than I care to admit. More than I will admit. And that image, to me as a Christian, is the allegorical equivalent of driving the nails into my Savior. And to see that He loves me enough to hold me as I do that…it’s incredible.
|Tattoo Number Three
Art by my children, Ink work by Caleb at Black Gold
Like I mentioned above, I got my third tattoo this past Sunday at Black Gold in Tulsa. I’d like to say this, out of all my tattoos, this one hurt the most. I’m almost positive there’s a metaphor there, as in my children hurt me the most because they’re at ages where they make me want to scream. But it seriously felt like Caleb was sawing my leg off. He kept saying things like, “Just breathe, we’ll get through this…”
My initial idea was to have my children draw the tattoo. Then Aven handed me a drawing of four playing cards with the kids’ names on them, and I knew I was asking them to do too much. Keeli wanted me to get “Okay Mustangs” and Jeremiah 29:11. That’s a heck of a combination.
So after a bit of deliberation, I decided to create my own design and get their names in it. Then I thought, “What the heck, let’s just get their names in their own handwriting.” Well, as you can see, with Aven and Akeeli that was fine. Drake on the other hand, well I guess he writes in Hebrew.
You can’t tell in the picture, but I also asked them what color of ink they wanted it done in. Aven picked black, Keeli was blue, and Drake said purple. Surrounding their names is the scripture reference Jeremiah 29:11, which was my dad’s favorite bible verse and says this: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”
I love that verse. I love that my children are obviously part of God’s dynamic plan for my life. I struggle daily to keep my cool with them, and to treat them the way that they need to be treated. I get angry more often than not, I think because I hold them to too high a standard. I need to work on that.
However, I love them. They are a permanent part of my life now. And if the Lord asks me to defend any of my tattoos, I think I’ll have an argument. Not that I’ll argue with the Lord. I wouldn’t dare.
Love you guys.
From “The Walk,” a blog I wrote about two years ago.
“There are lots of walks that people make in their lifetime. Some are important, some are not. Some of those walks are tougher than others, and some seem like they take forever, because you know you can’t wait to have what’s at the end. Some are painful, some are joyous. Some are profitable, some will end with you losing everything.”
Today I want to talk to you about another walk I recently made.
I am convinced that there is a serenity that comes from floating in the ocean that cannot be achieved by doing anything else. Maybe it’s because I live in a landlocked state, or maybe it’s just something that I feel. Regardless, our story begins with me, floating in the ocean, and listening.
My family was with me as I peacefully reflected on thoughts of life, the Universe, and everything. Aven was splashing around with Jennie, and Keeli and The Missus were floating as well, but I could tell they were involved in a deep discussion. They passed within earshot, and through a lull in the breakers, I overheard my wife telling our daughter about Jesus.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Keeli has been asking questions about the Lord’s Supper and baptism quite frequently, and we’ve been doing our best to answer those questions without using the phrase, “You have to be a Christian first.” You see, I don’t want our children to think that they need salvation simply so they can eat crackers on the last Sunday of the month or take a dip in the baptistery. I want them to know they need salvation for the right reasons.
I paddled closer for a listen, and then I realized that I needed to be praying for the whole situation. It wasn’t too much longer before The Missus said, “Well, let’s go get your daddy and we’ll go have a talk.” Then she looked at me and said, “Travis?”
“I’ve been listening,” was my reply. “Do we need to go up to the condo?”
And so began The Walk.
I walked through the water, praying feverishly. “Lord, give me wisdom. Lord, please give me wisdom. Lord, please don’t let me screw this up.”
My toes hit the beach, and then the powder-fine white sand. My wife and our daughter in tow, and still I prayed. “Lord, it’s been way too long since I’ve lead someone to salvation, or even used words to witness to someone face to face. Please give me the words she can understand.”
The sand turned to wood, signaling the closeness of our destination. Just a few more steps. Likewise, my prayers turned as well, to thanks. “Thank you God, for a wife who can effectively minister to our children. Thank you for Jennie and her family, who have been stoic Christian examples in the turmoil of their lives. Thank you for this gift that You’ve given us that I have the privilege of sharing with our daughter.”
And then we were there. We walked through the door, and I grabbed my Bible and told The Missus to give me a minute to myself so I could prepare for this. She nodded, and I walked out on the balcony, hit my knees, and repeated everything I’d prayed in the last five minutes.
On June 28th, 2003, a door opened, and my bride to be walked through, radiant, beautiful, and a gift from God.
On May 20th, 2011, a door opened, and our children jumped out and ran to meet us, radiant, beautiful, and gifts from God.
On May 25th, 2012, another door opened, and my wife and daughter walked through, radiant, beautiful, and absolutely gifts from God.
They sat beside me, and I started asking Keeli questions about her knowledge of salvation. I made it two sentences in, and I started crying. Keeli, the ever-empathetic child, started crying as well. It took a few minutes, but I finally explained to her that I wasn’t sad at all, I was happy, and very proud.
In the end, we joined hands and prayed together as a family, and our beautiful daughter accepted Christ as her Savior. I promised her we’d talk to our pastor about baptism, which is something we’re going to do this Sunday. I fully plan to be the one to baptize her, and I fully plan on being the biggest blubbering mess in the world whenever I do it.
And so The Road continues, and so do The Walks. For our daughter, this walk has consisted of being a baby born to a twelve year old kid, a six year walk through hell on earth, the life changing event of being given to new parents, and now securing a spot with Jesus in eternity.
I’ll never understand why they went through what they did, and I’ll never understand why we’ve gone through what we have. All I do understand is that the Lord has a Plan, and it’s a plan for good, and not evil. A plan to give us hope, and a future.
And this little family He’s given me is the best Plan I could have ever asked for.
|We are His.|