healing generational devastations. binding up wounds. building up. claiming land in victory. standing victoriously on the battlefields of life. proclaiming freedom from bondage, from captivity. comforting those who mourn. anointing with sweet smelling oils. we are the oaks of righteousness. a planting of the Lord. we are deeply rooted. we stand firm. we share our stories of grace and healing and restoration and revival and beauty.

these are the stories from the oaks.

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me and my fresh ink. in honor of my 30th birthday. the tat is a greek style, westminster cross symbolizing the sacrifice of my Savior. His irresistible grace. grace that pursues. grace that envelopes. grace that obliterates the flesh. grace unending.

ephesians 2:1-10 | and you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. for by grace you have been saved through faith. and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

the cross signifies that grace. that BUT GOD pivot point. i was dead in trespasses and sins. i was disobedient. i carried out the passions of the flesh, the desires of body and mind. BUT GOD. His mercy and love and grace saved - and continues to save. i am a constant work. being molded. being broken and rebuilt. and through it all, BUT GOD. He is always at work. He saves and saves and saves again.

this cross reminds me not only of the sacrifice of my Savior, his work in the cross, my salvation...but of my total depravity. my flesh. my sin. it is a visual reminder that Christ has conquered death. that we are more than conquerers through Him. that He holds the power over all. all sin. all death. all flesh.

1 john 2:17 | the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

ultimately, the flesh will perish. this skin will pass away. what remains is our spirit. our works for God.

when turned to the side, that cross is an X. it reminds me of sin. the mistakes. the forbidden. the dark things. X is also the roman numeral for 10. for me, it serves as a reminder of 2010. a year of mistakes. unbalance. disorder. hurts. cruel words. confusion. mind games. broken promises. a murky time. BUT GOD. He reached in and straightened out. He showed me afresh the beauty of the cross. He seared the flesh and left behind a powerful and beautiful scar where a wound once was. He used His refiner's fire to purify, to remove the false. the filth. He cleansed. He pruned. He turned the swamp of our life into a season of joy and healing and forgiveness. He used it for good. it was the year of the Lord's Favor. we were broken. we were restored. we were strengthened and refreshed. renewed. recommitted. we were delivered. brought home.

proverbs 24:16 | for the righteous falls seven times and rises again.

this tattoo is a symbol. a reminder.

we all have reminders of the good and bad in life. these marks commemorate a shift, a fundamental change. we have pictures in frames. we receive keys to a car to show our teenage independence. we exchange wedding rings to signify a change in status and a covenant made. we have scars to show injuries and sickness and surgeries and healing. diplomas for educational achievement. stretch marks are earned, showing the metamorphosis into motherhood and signifying a change in our body and spirit. as we move into our twilight years, we wear glasses for our fading eyesight and carry canes to steady our elderly gait. we etch words and dates into gravestones. these moments and many others, these are the chapters of life. our table of contents. significant things are worth commemorating. life is worth commemorating. milestones and moments and memories.

the Bible is brimming with commemoration and symbolic actions to signify salvation and transformation. cleansing. washing white as snow. purifying with fire.  being reborn. the old dying and the new coming alive. and as i stand on the brink of a new decade of life, i want to mark the occasion. and i want to remember what has been done for me. i want a visual reminder that the flesh is passing away. that the flesh holds no power. Christ has freed me. i am victorious. i have been given beauty for ashes. gladness for mourning. i am an oak. i am strong in the Lord. i drive a stake into the ground and claim this land for Christ, i proclaim that darkness has no power here.

romans 7:15 | for i do not understand my own actions. for i do not do what i want, but i do the very thing i hate. for i know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. for i have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. for i do not do the good i want, but the evil i do not want is what i keep on doing. now if i do what i do not want, it is no longer i who do it, but sin that dwells within me. for i delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but i see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. wretched man that i am! who will deliver me from this body of death? thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

i mark the cross on my flesh to show that His cross has saved me from the power of the flesh. i am marked for Him. i belong to Him. He owns my life. He owns my heart. He owns my mind. He owns my body. He has delivered me from this body of death. thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! may this temple of flesh be used to honor Him. may my eyes be fixed on the cross.

here's to victory and realness and freedom.

Coram Deo.
xo, rachel
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if you are interested in sharing your story, send me an email {swankyanddapper@gmail.com} and we will get things going.