Thursday, June 23, 2016

Yes, I Got a Tattoo Today!

Today I got my first tattoo! Some of you just gasped in horror and others of you want to fist bump me and welcome me into the club. I know the drill.  Actually, I've wanted this tattoo since 2007, the year I was on Survivor China. I wanted to share my "why" before I shared the photo of how it turned out.

I will start my story with a journal entry I wrote just before we were released into the Chinese jungle on Survivor.  We were in China, but we were not playing the game yet (we had about a week or so before the game started but we were not allowed to talk or form relationships).  I wrote in my journal to pass the time and to try to remember every moment as my dream was unfolding.  This particular journal entry really touches my heart...
June 21, 2007
I’m really getting anxious to begin this adventure called Survivor! Can’t wait to get things moving. I must say I’m enjoying the quietness and peace though. I spent some time outside, overlooking the water in the lagoon today and listened to worship music. It’s so beautiful here. I feel like the dragonflies (which are everywhere!) have some significance but I can’t put my finger on it. They remind me of God’s presence and protection for some reason. It’s a strange and yet such a beautiful feeling.
Days later, after I wrote this, I had to giggle when I was placed on the Fei Long tribe, which translated in Chinese means "Flying Dragon". Sure, it could be a coincidence but I don't really believe in coincidences. After all, God is sovereign!

I noticed dragonflies reflect the sun's light beautifully. Their wings almost look like a rainbow in the sun's reflective light, which reminded me of a promise God made back in the days of Noah. I saw many of them at our camp and if you watch the China season of Survivor, you will notice several times where they got an up-close shot of a dragonfly with the camera.

A couple of weeks after I returned from China, I went to visit my sister, Marie in Minnesota. We went up to her husband's family lake house for a few days and while we were sitting in the back yard talking, I saw hundreds of dragonflies again. I told Marie about how I had seen so many in China and showed her the journal entry where I talked about how there was something about them that made me feel God's presence and protection. Just then, as I sat in the grass in the yard discussing my journal entry, a dragonfly landed on my left foot. It just sat there. I was speechless. Then, as if on cue, another one landed on my sister's left foot - in the same exact location! I'm not even kidding. We didn't move and we both held our breath as we watched them sit for about thirty seconds before they both flew off at the same time. We giggled like little school girls who had just been noticed by the good looking quarterback! In that instant we decided that one day, we would tattoo this moment on our feet as a reminder of the beauty of that moment. As if that wasn't cool enough....

I was in Nashville a few months later and Steve Brown with Key Life radio was there delivering a Keynote speech. It was a Christian Radio Broadcasters Conference. He mentioned the dragonfly and when he did, my ears perked up. He was talking about how he read a great book called Brother to a Dragonfly by Will Campbell. He said that Will compares the dragonfly to a brother in Christ. Here's what he said:

Once the dragonfly comes out of the depths and darkness of the deep waters, they are exposed to a whole new world. A waterless world where they can fly and be free! They fly around a bit but then go back and hover over the water, trying to get down to where those they love are stuck in the darkness of the deep water to tell them "Hey! You can fly too! Come out and experience this new life!"

It's like the dragonfly can't help himself. He has seen and tasted what life can be like when he emerged from the darkness, and as if by instinct he can't help but go back to tell others. I can totally relate!

Tears streamed down my face as I realized that those dragonflies in China served as a reminder to me that maybe, just maybe, God had me there because He knows I've got a desire to let people know that there is freedom in the Light. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I reflect the Son's light - just like dragonflies reflect the sun's light.
Marie is on the left - I am on the right. 

This is my heart - to reach those who are living in darkness and show them the truth of Jesus Christ and the freedom that He brings to us when we trust in Him and follow Him. "Come out! Look - there is freedom in this new life - you don't have to live in the deep darkness anymore!"

I should know, I came from deep darkness, too. But now I'm free to fly - free to soar like wings of eagles and experience the freedom in my life that I never knew was possible. Why wouldn't I want to tell others? It's like an instinct. And now, my sister and I get to share this story with everyone who asks us about our dragonfly tattoo on our left foot.  We have been deeply impacted by something and our tattoos are a beautiful invitation to others to ask us about a moment in our lives that took our breath away. And we can share the love of Christ at the same time.

That is why I got a tattoo. :) And I love it.


Melissa said...

What a beautiful story Leslie and a beautiful reminder of how our Lord is always around us reminding us to let our light shine. I have several tattoos and each one has a special meaning behind it. Just want you to know I've followed you since you were on 91.9 over in Indian Trail and enjoy your post. Thanks for all you do for the glory of our Lord. Melissa

Cheri Braddock Wheeler said...

You two are just awesome. Great share!

Leslie Nease said...

Thank you Melissa! Wow - you've been in my life for quite awhile! :) I miss those days at 91.9. So good to hear from you! And Cheri - thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog! xoxo

blkbishop112 said...

That was an awesome story. Congrats on your first Tat. I'm still clean. Did it hurt?

Leslie Nease said...

YES it hurt a lot but it only took about 15 minutes. :) It felt like bee stings over and over again on the top of my foot. Yikes! But it was worth it.

Karen Hendrickson said...

I absolutely love it!!

Kelli Phillips said...

What a wonderful story and a fabulous way to share Jesus with people who are curious about your tattoo! Love it! I have Jeremiah 29:11 on my wrist/forearm so that I'm always reminded that He has a plan for me! Welcome to the club!

Leslie Nease said...

Thanks Kelli! What a great idea! Maybe that can be my next one? :) hee hee

Anonymous said...

Still have a song I wrote based on your Survivor experience...She Cried Out:

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