The Uncovered Heart of Lady Tatoo

“Bronze Susan”
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

Six women and two men. Two of the women are in wheelchairs. One is pushing a shopping cart while struggling to push her wheelchair at the same time.

The other one of the two women in wheelchairs finishes up with her shopping and makes for the exit, her older daughter (presumably) beside her. I notice tattoos cover the younger woman’s legs, her left shoulder, her right arm, the back of her neck.

As the line of shopping traffic increases just inside the store, everyone intent on getting out the exit first, all come to a standstill caused by the lone woman in the wheelchair, trying to get out through the exit door.

No one acts. No one reacts. Except one woman.

Everyone is annoyed with having to wait to get through the exit door and some have switched to using the entry doorway instead of the exit (which only serves to annoy those who are entering through the proper door clearly marked ‘ENTER’).

And as we wait, it happens.

The realization.

I could have helped that woman. I could have held the door for her, helped to push her grocery cart. Something. But I do nothing except watch. I watch the one woman who, in front of two empty-handed men, motions to her mother (presumably) to stay and wait as pushes their cart aside while holding the exit door open with one hand and pulls the other woman in a wheelchair’s grocery cart out the door behind her.

And as she pushes the cart to the handicapped vehicle’s space in the first row out the door, she carries on a brief conversation with the woman in the wheelchair before going back to get her mother and their cart which she had left inside the exit door.

And I watch her go, this younger woman with tattoos that cover her legs, her left shoulder, her right arm, and the back of her neck. And I think to myself, she may have covered herself with black ink, but she was the only one who left her heart uncovered that day.

A Few Gems for Mother’s Day

Tell them and they’ll forget.
Teach them and they may remember.
Involve them and they will learn.
~Benjamin Franklin

Falling for Leaves

Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of a first child… There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name the moment.
~Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

They may forget what you said,
but they will never forget how you made them feel.

~Carol Buchner

I’m beginning to perceive motherhood as a long, slow letting go, of which birth is just the first step.
~ Sandra Steingraber, Having Faith

Hugs can do great amounts of good,
especially for children.

~Princess Diana, Princess of Wales

A person’s a person, no matter how small.
~Dr. Seuss

Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.
~Wess Stafford

Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.
~Lady Bird Johnson

Children are great imitators.
So give them something great to imitate.


There should be no yelling in the home unless there is a fire.

If you have a child, your duty of the moment
may be to change a dirty diaper.

So you do it.

But you don’t just change that diaper,
you change it to the best of your ability,
with great love for both God and that child.

And it must be done,
because the duty of the moment
is the duty of God.

~Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Choose your words wisely,
for it easier to build up a child than to repair an adult.


Children are not people to be molded
but little people to be unfolded.


Let children be little for they only stay that way for a very short while.

Children are not a distraction from more important work.
They are the most important work.

~John Trainer, MD

His little hands stole my heart…
and his little feet ran away with it.


Every child is gifted.
They just unwrap their packages at different times.


‘Sometimes’, said Pooh,
’the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.’
~A.A. Milne

I adore his smile
I cherish his hugs

Being a mother is not about what you gave up to have a child,
but what you’ve gained from having one.

~Sunny Gupta

A person soon learns how little he knows
when a child begins to ask quesitons.

~Richard L. Evans

Never let a problem to be solved
become more important than a person to be loved.

~Thomas S Monson
There is no way to be a perfect mother,
but there are a million ways to be a good one.


How you speak to your child will become their inner voice. ~Unknown

I never pulled over the car just to stare at horses.
I never was willing to give someone else my last bite.
I never planned on handling someone else’s boogers
and I never listened to a song 50 times in a row.
I never found rocks in my dryer or had the power to heal
a wound with my kiss… until you.

A tired boy

A Reading, A Response, A Renewing

Pink Lady Photo by S. Woodbridge, 2017

‘Cry loudly’, He says to me, ‘and do not hold back; raise your voice like a trumpet and tell my children of their sin.’ (Isaiah 58:1)

‘Lord’, I answer, ‘they’re not going to like that and, they’re not going to like me.’

‘Your point?’ He responds. Exactly. I knew He’d say that.

‘They seek Me day after day and get excited about knowing My will as children who have done good and remembered My ways. They ask Me for guidance and they enjoy My presence.’ He was silent, then continued…

‘But’, He began and I knew this truth was going to sting, ‘then they say, ‘God, look, we’ve fasted for you and you didn’t even notice. We gave up the chocolate cookies, the cokes, the chips, the BBQ chicken for a whole day and it seems like You didn’t even notice.’

Again the pause. I wonder if He does that for effect because plainly, it’s very effective.

‘On the day you fast’, He said, ‘you get what you want – and yet, you treat others as if you’re better than they are. You fast to bring peace and yet you hold anger in your heart. You don’t fast so that I’ll hear you. Do you think this is what I want, for you to humble yourself for one day? Do you think a fast is only about bowing your head and going through rituals? Do you think this fast, as you call it, is what I desire?’

Silence captured every tongue and stillness pervaded. I was on my knees, head bowed not out of habit or in participation of a ritual, but in sorrow, in repentance.

His words were gentle as He knelt in front of me, lifted my chin and spoke.

‘Beloved, the fast I desire – a fast that will cleanse – is one where chains of injustice are broken. Prejudice. Bias. Discrimination. Bigotry. Favoritism. These things I detest.’

I knelt there, speechless at the words he spoke. And tenderness. Tears filled my eyes and rolled down the length of my cheeks and onto the floor. How could He even look at me? It was then I realized that these words were not spoken and preserved for someone other than me. But the words He tenderly spoke, without condemnation or anger, were words of truth and I could not ignore or deny them.

Prejudice. A word I try to ignore, deny, and justify that I have every right to feel to my core. But, doesn’t it go against what God is asking me to give up? His fast requires giving up unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes. And, He showed, this can be favoritism. Discrimination and prejudice don’t necessarily come in the form of unfavorable opinions or feelings, but can be demonstrated by giving my favor to one and not necessarily the other.

I praised God that there is no separation of differences toward His children. We are created equal even if we appear different to each other.

I was ready to move on. To get on with something else.

He wasn’t.

‘Now let me show you what I mean about exploitation in the workplace,’ He spoke. I was ready. Or so I thought.

We turned on my computer. I opened up an email from a mission organization. It dealt with bringing Christians globally into an awareness of a concerted pandemic: sex tourism, otherwise known as global sex trade slavery. And, it is children who are caught in this fast growing disease. In Cambodia alone, where the world’s poorest people live, children are sold for $50-$800 to satisfy the sinful lusts of others. My heart sank. This was only a fraction of what was going on all around the world.

It is phenomenal. It is overwhelming.

‘Oh God!’ I cry out. I never ask why but I can’t help wondering… WHY? These children are trying to survive. These children are INNOCENT.

And in the tears I remember the why… Because we are all sinners. Every single, last one of us. Oh God, I pray. Come soon… I just don’t know what else to say and so, I just pray…

And then, as I go to shut off my computer, I realize there is evidence to fast, once again. People in China carry on with life as normal as they pass by a newborn baby girl, dumped in the gutter of a busy street early one workday – because she is a girl. And it goes on, each and every day, as our computer screens are filled with the same exploitation of life occurring here in our homes as women cry out through false promises made and plaster on painted smiles hoping no one will notice that their happily ever afters have turned into nightmares. Come we do, as a nation addicted and running toward the lies of pornography. There is no favoritism in this disease – it afflicts young and old, male and female alike and because we don’t talk about, we don’t get well.

If we fast for the cause of God’s desires, we cannot stand, with head bowed, spreading sackcloth and ashes… No, we fall to our knees, we fall on our face and literally cry out for the lost souls in need of redemption from slavery of every sort. From exploitation of every kind.

I pray Natalie Grant’s song for the children:
‘Lord, may they know your love and to know that you have promised to hold them. May they know what it means to be held when the sacred is torn from their life and they survive. May they know they survive because it is You that is holding them. Hold them tight Lord. Love them, keep Your promise to them and hold them tight.’

‘Free the oppressed.’

I am still on my knees. I am drained and empty. My head raises and still He is there.

I am nothing.

Before this glorious One, I am absolutely nothing. And still He stays.

I have nothing. And yet again, he commands.

‘Free the oppressed,’ He repeats.

‘Oh Father,’ I cry, tears streaming down my face, eyes clouded so thick from a river of tears I cannot even see.

‘I am no one. I am nothing.’

‘Free the oppressed.’

‘How?’ I cry.

How can I, being me, free the oppressed and what does that mean to a righteous, merciful God?

The oppressed: those who are discouraged, beaten down, overwhelmed. How can I do that? I am nothing.

‘Not you,’ he says, ‘but Me through you.’

Have you ever felt so inadequate, wondering how you will accomplish the task before you, only to have someone say, ‘Here. Take this tool. It is all you need.’?

That was what that moment was all about. He is the tool, His spirit in us. I cannot free the oppressed but His spirit can work miracles through me if I am usable.

‘God’, I offer with gratitude, ‘Use me.’

Free the oppressed. Those weighted down with grief, those burdened in body and in spirit.

But how?

With love, gentleness, mercy. How did Jesus do this? He touched the untouchable, took time for them, loved them.

The bleeding woman. Oppressed with a lifelong illness, she touched His robe and he stopped, turned around and gave her love and she was healed.

The man with leprosy. Jesus stopped, touched the untouchable and loved him. The man was healed.

The woman was at the well and He stopped, extended forgiveness towards the scandalous, healed and loved.

Free the oppressed. It takes stopping your feet, noticing and not to continue walking by. It takes compassion and having a heart to see them freed. Because we have been freed. It takes forgiveness. Perhaps that is why He also desires for us to cancel the debts of others. He knows that forgiveness – the ultimate cancellation of a debt – frees the soul, renews the spirit. Both to offer and to receive.

‘Lord, I want to free those who are oppressed and I realize that there may be some who I have oppressed by not canceling debts, holding grudges, harboring bitterness. Oh Lord, forgive me, not as I forgive but teach me to forgive, as you forgive.’

My heart is raw. My eyes are swollen. And still there is more…

‘Beloved, my fast is to share with the poor – bring them home and feed them.’

Oh, there are a thousand reasons not to do that. There is only one reason to do it. He desires my all. That is all. And so, as I pray for an open heart, an opportunity for obedience, I confess fear. And in my fear, the God who promised, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you and with me all things are possible,’ reassures me of His truths.

‘Give to the poor – food, clothing, shelter.’

And then, ‘Be available to your family. Be accessible, ready to serve, committed to them and not everything else.’

He had started out striking at the core of my heart and here he was, back at the same place. Be available to my family. How I wish I had been convicted by that truth years ago. How important that truth, that command. Not a suggestion but a command.

Be there – accessible in such a way they can get to me in need, in want. Ready to serve them. God said that, not me. Committed to them, their causes, their desires and not everything else that screams for my attention.

Be available. I once heard said that the quality of time spent with your child comes from the quantity of time we invest in them. In retrospect, I gave much quantity, but I could have given so much more.

We get caught up listening to the world: ‘You need time for you’ or, ‘You deserve that’. We deserve nothing. I have never, ever read in God’s word that we deserve anything, except maybe for death because we are sinners from the start. We deserve nothing but have been given everything. And so, when God says, ‘Be available,’ I stop and think what availability looks like.

I consider that when I’m interrupted from doing something that I deem of utmost importance, I should not think of it as an interruption but an opportunity. An opportunity to be like Him… loving, devoted, listening, concerned.

I consider that when I’m complaining, I am not representing a godly character but one that shouts ‘ME, ME, ME’.

I consider that when I’m angry, many times it is a result of hurt and forgiveness that needs to be dealt with and bridges that need to be repaired.

I consider that when I feel lonely and distant from members of my family, perhaps it is I who have built the walls, or have at least helped make them higher. Either way, it needs to be me that at least helps tear them down.

Available. Yes Lord, I want to be available.

‘Now listen,’ he begins, sitting now before me and taking my hands in His with an air of excitement. ‘Your light will break out of you like the beginning of a new day as the sun comes over the mountain tops!’

Have you ever thought about that? If our light is going to break out of us, it’s already there, just waiting to burst forth! I got so excited, I squeezed His hands and smiled.

‘And, your recovery will speedily bring forth.’

My recovery? Healing. From what? Sin.

Recovery, healing from sin will come. The sin of neglect, ignorance, deliberateness. Inflicted upon me, upon others by me.

And my righteousness will go before me. A righteousness not of my own, but His in me. The glory of the Lord will be my rear guard. I am protected by the very presence of God.

Then I will call and He will answer me. You see, God cannot reside where there is sin and there is sin in fasting for selfishness and wrong motives. There is sin in prejudice and injustice and overlooking the sin issues of this world. There is sin in keeping to myself what will free the souls of others. There is sin in choosing to harbor bitterness and refusing to offer forgiveness.

But, when I willfully choose to do as He has asked of me – to fast on His terms (as a friend put it), to purge myself from injustice of every sort, at the least to pray for those who have been exploited, to free the oppressed with the Good News of Jesus Christ, offering forgiveness where debts once piled high – then I will call, I will cry out and He will say, ‘Here I am’, just as He is now before me.

‘Your light will rise in the darkness and your gloom will become like the sun as it shines brightly, in all it’s glory. I will continually guide you and satisfy your thirst in your dry places and give you strength in your weariness. You will be like a watered garden, green, always growing and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail, always flowing, ready to give, always fresh and replenished continually. Your children will rebuild what has been ruined and broken and you will be remembered as the one who repaired what had been broken, the restorer.’

I was silent. Holding tight onto His hands, I thought, ‘Me?’

No, not me. Him in me.

‘I’ll be for you, Lord. You lead.’

And with that, He smiled.

Partially Removed: The Death of A Nation


The following excerpt was from a story, posted in The Sun, September 30, 2008:

This tiny deer was delivered by Caesarean section… [he] is so small he can fit in an adult’s hand …

Orphaned… at just six inches tall …weighing just over a pound…now in an incubator in the intensive care unit at Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire. …We brought him out and got him breathing and then he went into an incubator on oxygen. …now being fed by a tube.’  …Staff are optimistic …[he] will make a full recovery…

The picture catches your eye and you ooh and aah.  In fact, a few comments relating to this piece came into the editor of The Sun as follows:

“Aww Bless him!! I will keep the little fellow in my prayers tonight.”

“What a gorgeous little deer! I wish him well, he’s so cute.”

“This story is so touching that it crosses the Atlantic to come to the US. It makes me think of the Gandhi quote ,‘You can judge a nation by how it treats it’s animals’”

Everyone loves a good story.  Just not those we would rather just push away.  Here is a ‘similar’ story:

A breech delivery was made yesterday afternoon where the infant was born breech, yet alive and gasping for breath, but lost his fight for life just three hours later.


A picture accompanies the sad news.  When we see the picture of this little one, our comments may sound similar to that of the preemie deer:

““Aww, bless him!!  The little fellow’s family is in my prayers tonight.”

“What a gorgeous little baby! I wish his family well.  He was so cute.”

“This story is so heartbreaking that it crossed the Atlantic to come to the US. It makes me think of the quote, ‘You can judge a nation by how it responds to the death of its babies – its future generation.”

However – that is not what happens.  Instead, while the baby is still born – breech – that is where the stories differ besides the fact it is human versus fawn.  It is then that the baby, still alive, born feet first and kicking, and obviously healthy in every aspect, is only partially removed from the womb.

Partially removed: part of the fetus is left in the womb (the head)while part of it has been delivered (feet first, then torso, then arms).

Fetus:  a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth.  Up until the eighth week, the developing offspring is called an embryo.  (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

Embryo: the developing human individual from the time of implantation to the end of the eighth week after conception. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

The baby is still alive and legally has not been born yet (hasn’t taken his first breath).  Ninety-percent of the birth is complete but his head, although having left the womb and passed through the cervix, is still in the vagina.  It is here, after the partial breech birth of the baby, that the attending ‘physician’ inserts a sharp object (usually a pair of surgical scissors) into the back of the fetus’ head, at the base of the neck.  The scissors are then opened up to make a larger hole where a vacuum tube is then inserted through to the brain.  The developing human individual’s (or fetus’) brains are then extracted.  At this point, the head contracts, allowing for easier removal.    This procedure is known as a partial-birth abortion.

Afterward however, there is no “What a cute little baby he was”.  Instead, he is left on a metal tray, wrapped, at best, in a cotton cloth or blanket, waiting to be taken to the morgue in the basement or to be thrown in with the soiled linen debris.  So, is this fetus – this human that was in the process of development (according to Webster) – in fact, a person or a piece of garbage?  Some take these fetuses to the morgue, constituting a human being, while others throw it out with the trash.

If a human being, wouldn’t this procedure, or any procedure that takes a human life, whether fully developed or not (who defines ‘fully developed’?), be considered murder? If so, wouldn’t it seem that many of these ‘cases’ be considered as pre-meditated?

Since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, over 43 million abortions have been performed in the United States alone.  In the span of 35 years, we have, as a country, aborted on average, over 3,500 babies a day.  That is over 700 babies per state on a daily basis.

There are many who refuse to believe or who haven’t been educated in the practice of partial-birth abortions.  There are many who don’t want to believe or be educated in the subject of any kind of abortion.  There are even doctors who refuse to believe that the fetus/embryo/developing human feels pain during an abortion.

When interviewed, a retired nurse stated that the doctor she assisted twice in an early-trimester and the other being a late-trimester abortion, insisted that the fetus felt nothing.  A sonogram was used and in both procedures, when the baby was injected, its arms stretched out wide open, as babies do when frightened or in pain.

Mona Charen appeared on national television earlier last month, siting Barack Obama’s stand on partial-birth abortion.  In her statements, she was attacked with having lack of evidence that such practices occur here in our country, as doctors themselves have not come forward to back up such accusations of babies who were aborted, actually surviving and then being killed outside the womb to complete the procedure.  According to Bill Lile, a licensed gynecologist, legally life is considered when the baby takes its first breath.

In response to her discussion regarding partial-birth abortion, Charen asked her readers to please write in and comment if they had first hand knowledge of partial-birth abortions where the infant survived.  In the overwhelming responses she received, the following was included:
I am a pediatrician. When I was a pediatric resident on a neonatal intensive care rotation, we were routinely called to … resuscitate infants. In one instance I was called to pronounce a baby dead who had been born an hour earlier after a failed abortion. We were not called to resuscitate the baby immediately after the delivery, as the intent was abortion. … I write to attest that babies are sometimes born alive after abortion and then put aside to die.

In an interview with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, Obama was asked, “At what point does a baby get human rights? His response was, “Answering that question specifically is above my pay-grade.”

It seems obvious there is a deliberate aversion toward the topic, if possible, at every level, every ‘pay-grade’, even those, sadly enough, seeking presidential office of the United States.
One should not stand in judgment of another, whether they agree with their choices or not.  It is true that we all live in a free country.  We all have certain rights, one being freedom of choice.  While we should not stand in judgment, we do have a responsibility (and right) to educate those that truly don’t understand (not necessarily those who do and choose not to agree).  It is extremely important to understand what one is choosing to oppose or stand for.  It’s important to understand that if there are those who are not yet fully developed, then we have a responsibility to protect them, to speak for them, just as we would a premature fawn still in its mother’s womb.  It is disheartening to think that we might care more for the young of the wild than we do for our own.

‘You can judge a nation by how it responds to the death of it’s babies – its future generation.”

“Barack Obama Flip-Flopping on Abortion From Promoting to Hiding His Record”, Steven Ertelt
“Background on Abortion”, On the Issues – Abortion Legislation Editor, October 7, 2008
Dr. Bill Lyle, OB/GYN, God’s Miracle of Life,
“Barack Obama on the Issues”, First Presidential Debate, 9/26/08
The Sun, Sarah Nelson, September 30, 2008.  Photographs by Jeff Moore, The Sun, September 30, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama Defends Partial-birth Abortion, Associated Content, Donna Hope, October 24, 2006

Deniers of Obama, Mara Charen, September 26, 2008