Tag Archive: tattoo


Christmas is coming!

For different people that means different things.

i like to start referring to myself as ‘The Grinch’ as Christmas approaches, but it’s not entirely true. Continue reading

paintat So a lot of people without tattoos ask the question, ‘Just how painful is it?’

The reason they don’t know is that it is a very tough question to answer. But i will give it a shot.

Also it is important to know that where you get your tattoo makes a difference – while inside of the arm has some degree of pain to it, i can quite imagine it is not as bad as the guy i heard who got his eyeball [not even kidding] tattooed or the guy who got his, well, let’s just say some places are more painful than others.



The best way i can describe it is as a series of moments of discomfort [for the most part] interrupted by dots of pain. The kind of pain one would get from jabbing a needle into the inside of one’s arm [if you had a tattoo like mine]. So there for a second then gone. Then back. And there again. Now back to discomfort.

Or to put it another way: Irritating, irritating, irritating, sore, sore, sore, irritating, irritating, sore, irritating, irritating, irritating, irritating, sore, irritating…

Christina used two different kinds of needles on me – the first was the outline and the second was more for shading. i definitely enjoyed the second one a lot more.

During the first 5 to 15 minutes of the tattoo process [which was about an hour or just less than] i was in ‘Never again! What was i thinking?’ mode, but then you get used to it and during the last 15 minutes i was starting to plan my next tattoo with a vengeance.


The part i was, and am, most scared of though is the next couple of weeks, waiting for it to heal. Washing it four times a day with lukewarm soapy water and trying to navigate the different advice from everyone else who has had a tattoo, while just trying to stick to what my tattoo lady told me.

And hoping i don’t get to the itchy part – have been having nightmares where i completely scratch off the scabbing that is meant to happen as the tattoo heals. Woergh!

But, in the four days that have passed since then, it has mostly been a dull throbbing or sensitivity. So comes and goes a little. Definitely not huge pain but a little sting’y.


Getting a tattoo was definitely not as sore as i possibly imagined and probably not anything near to childbirth [yes, people with tattoos and children?] but it was not for the absolutely faint of heart.

The pain and irritation is probably not worth it for a whim, but definitely is for something more meaningful…

I took a LONG time [years] in getting mine and largely because i could not settle on the right idea but i would definitely advise that as the biggest thing – don’t get it if you’re not absolutely satisfied with the design. Don’t settle for a bad tattoo. It is with you for life, or at least until you can afford good laser surgery.

But a good one? One with deep meaning and significance to you? i am all for that.


[To return to the beginning and the question of is it okay for a Christ follower to get a tattoo, click here]

Following on from the previous post asking if it is okay for a follower of Jesus to get a tattoo, i thought i would share the story behind my tattoo:


For the longest time i thought it was going to be tennis ball sized and on my left shoulder. Then quite recently, when i started seriously thinking about it [has been on and off thought for at least five years] i realised that the only time that would be seen would be when i wore a vest or took my shirt off. And since i don’t take my shirt off all that often, that seemed like a bit of a waste. Inspired by my wife, tbV’s tat on her left wrist, i started to think that something on my arm where people could see it [but where i could cover it up if necessary] might be a better idea.


The main reason i did not get a tattoo years ago, was that i could never figure out exactly what the design was going to be.

i mentioned in the previous post how, the time i felt i got permission from God to get a tattoo, the phrase ‘Seek first His Kingdom’ from Matthew 6.33 was in my head and so i always thought it would be that. It was very much a being marked for Jesus verse and would leave not too much doubt about the meaning of my tat.

i even started a Facebook group a while back and invited artistic friends of mine to submit ideas and drawings, but not enough people took that up and the ones that did were pretty awful [sorry, but they were!]

i spent a lot of time at different intervals searching around on Uncle Google, trying to see if he had any ideas, but mostly got ideas of things i didn’t want anywhere near my body, than things that i did.

Last year when i turned 40 i was given a bunch of money from some really great friends and i decided to put it towards my tattoo and so for a year i have had the inclination and now the opportunity and all i needed was the actual tattoo.

And then Val beat me to it while we were in Americaland, and while i was super happy for her getting a really great tattoo that she was happy with, i felt no closer to having something i was happy with.

Apart from the phrase, it was always going to be likely that i had something F.I.S.H. themed as my nickname is Fish which stands for Faithful In Serving Him and so i started to think that might be a viable option. i have always liked the Christian fish symbol, or Icthus, which represented the words for Jesus, Christ, God, Son, Saviour and so played around with ideas on that:


i had also played around with the idea of the crown of thorns [which Jesus was made to wear on the cross as a form of mocking Him claiming to be the King of the Jews] and the idea of using nails to make the fish symbol which i had seen and liked before:

Eventually, with my 41st birthday approaching, and having not gotten my tattoo done in Americaland, i decided i just needed to do something. So i put a call out on Facebook and a friend of mine suggested a friend, and found me an email address and i emailed her and arranged a meeting. i arrived for the meeting and the shop’s name was ‘The Devil’s Rejects’, which is a little bit of an off-putting name for a follower of Jesus, until i realised that as a follower of Jesus, that pretty much does qualify me as a devil’s reject and so how appropriate. i had emailed Christina some of my vague ideas and so felt pretty dumb when i sat in front of her and she asked me if i had any more and i said, “No, not really.” But as we chatted i moved from the idea of a picture of a fish to simply the letters of F.I.S.H. [one of my motivations was a conversation starter in terms of being able to share about my faith] and we spoke a bit about the kind of lettering i had imagined and even though we didn’t progress very far, by the time i left, i felt like i had some ideas to work with. My Facebook community suggested a place to hunt down some fonts and i discovered a few i thought might work and i sent her the idea for just the word F.I.S.H. and also my idea to have some crown of thorns type lines around the word as kind of edgy border. A day or two later, Christina sent me two potential designs. The first one pretty much fell into what i had asked for/suggested but was completely nothing like i was looking for. The second one in some ways was also not what i had been thinking at all, and yet it instantly dived off the page and into my heart and became exactly what i wanted. She had decided to go with the fish shape which i had given up on and i absolutely loved [and love] the design she came up with which kinda used the crown of thorns imagery i had sent her to create the shape of the fish. The writing was perfect and apart from moving the words ‘Faithful In Serving Him’ [which i had told her later i would like in cursive] from inside the fish to below the fish so it would be more legible and then lining it up with the curve of the fish, it was almost perfect. tatdesign i scheduled an appointment for a few days later [to give me time to do a blood donation which i have missed for three years while in Americaland, cos, you know, African blood!] and every day i would open up the email with the design and just be in love with it all over again. i think one of my biggest fears was that i would get to the point of getting a tattoo done being okay with it and not absolutely stoked. Settling is one of my biggest fears. But having wanted this for so long and spent so long trying to figure out what i wanted and never being quite happy with what i came up with, it just felt like it would never come together. But every day, a few times a day, i would open up the email and smile and be in love all over again. I had found my tattoo. And i was 95% happy with it. Loved loved loved the whole thing, but was a little nervous about the ‘i’. i had asked for it to be a small ‘i’ as opposed to the capitals of the F, S and H. This has significant meaning as one of my favourite verses in the bible is John 3.30 where John the Baptist is talking and says about Jesus, ‘i must become smaller, He must become bigger.’ This is the main reason i always write my ‘i’s as small and always capitalise the He and Him when referring to God. Just a simple tradition i have in place to honour God and remind myself that it is all about Him.


So when i sat down in front of Christina for the tattooing to happen, i explained to her i didn’t want to derail the process or freak her out as we were about to begin [i imagine rule #1 of Getting a Tattoo done is ‘Don’t piss off your Tattoo Artist!’] but the smallness of the ‘i’ was the only thing stopping it from being absolutely perfect. She immediately suggested a solution and BOOM! Game on. i cannot recommend Christina Andrianatos enough [she is so good she even tattoos herself sometimes – and she would even improve your Spongebob Squarepants tattoo if you asked her to] – so gracious and patient when she had to deal with this clueless guy trying to figure out the tattoo – and then great in communicating back and forth until we had something i was happy with – completely gentle and reassuring throughout the whole process – answering questions and completely professional in every aspect. After all, when she was done with me, i had one of these: 2015Tat Exactly! How hot is THAT??? So super happy, worth the wait and can’t wait for it to be fully healed up so that i am ready to go.

[For the answer to the question, ‘Just how painful is getting a tattoo?, click here]


hey Brett “Fish” [well, this is a little awkward, cos that’s me, why are you writing to yourself weirdo?]

as the end of the year approaches at pace, i thort i’d i’d just drop in [okay, you’re being weird again, you do know this is still you writing, right?] and share some quick thoughts [wait, quick? okay, maybe this isn’t you] and comments so you can end 2014 well.

[1] Don’t stuff your face. 

i know you get excited when you see favourite food types that you don’t normally have and somehow internally feel like you have to eat as much of everything as you can because you may never ever see that food again, but STOPPIT, remember the vow of never gourging yourself ever again [and how often you’ve broken it] – rather slow down and just get a taste of everything and go for appreciation and celebration over preparing yourself for the winter hibernation  [you are not a bear, my friend.] Also, post-Christmas meal bloatedness is not attractive to you or anyone else and it feels horrible, so really, just slow down and go for quality over quantity.



[2] Don’t hate outwardly on the carols.

We get it, you don’t like Christmas carols [okay so now we’re talking to onesself in the royal we? you’re kinda starting to scare me now] but it’s okay that other people do. So keep your unappreciativeness on the inside so that those who do enjoy them don’t have to feel bad for playing them when they do. There will be an end to the madness. After December 25th i think it’s only fair that they are banned til next year August again.



[3] Christmas on strangers.

Let’s be honest, most of the people you know and love have more than enough stuff and the ability to get more of what they don’t have or want, so don’t let them be your focus [and maybe you can do a little better in 2015 to have some more people in your life who don’t, yeah?] but look out for the opportunities to encourage, spoil and treat those who might be less well off. Good job on finally buying a copy of the Big Issue you’ve been threatening to for months, but now let’s see how you can get a little more lavish on car guards and petrol attendants and others who cross your path. And intentionally look out for a person or a family in and around your life who might just be needing a special boost. God and people have been so generous to you this past year and so really it is the least we can ask for you to be more of the same. Give intentionally.



[4] Stock Take 2014

This has been a bit of a crazy year of transition, which you are still in the middle of [i mean, that should be ‘we’ right? cos you’re still writing to yourself, which is still kinda creepy. JUST SAYING. Also notice how when anyone says, ‘Just saying’, they’re usually not? Ooh, that’s good, you should tweet that one.] and it has been crazy busy since returning from Americaland, so make some time [and do it with that Val girl, she’s pretty hot!] to sit down and look back and write some lists of people and things you are grateful for, of lessons you’ve learnt, of things you don’t want to repeat and maybe finish up with some goals and ideas for 2015. And you know she likes beaches and beautiful things so do it near a beach or a beautiful thing. [She won’t mind if cocktails are included].



[5] Date your wife. 

tbV has worked really hard, especially these last few weeks and so make the few days she gets off really special. You know what she likes [and it’s not sitting at home playing tower defence on your tablet, well she does like that but not as the thing, more as the thing after the thing] and so throw in a little bit of dating and spoilingment and help her finish the year much refreshed and feeling loved. She is a good one that lady.



[6] And finally, just get that flippin tattoo already. 

Quit whining about not having just the right design and flippin make a plan and get it done. You have birthday money saved up from almost a year ago and so you really just need to get on with it and do it now. Seriously. This is beyond sad.

Oh, but do try and avoid some of these:

another short psalm but a lot in it, although the part i want to pick up on is the last line:

‘You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.’ [vs.7-8]

this is quite a tricky one and i won’t go deeply into specifics, but i see this line as a warning for us who call ourselves Christ followers to be very mindful of the call to be set apart and holy [which means set apart, to be distinct] and to heed the command in romans 12 to ‘not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds’ because that way we will be able to discern what God’s will is and we always need to remember that it is God’s will that we are seeking, not the will of society or the context we find ourselves in, or what feels comfortable or even fair to us… we are part of a story that is all about God and we are merely walk on players with cameo roles and for some reason He has invited us to have roles of significance in this story about Him.

‘when what is vile is honored by the human race’
– just because society starts accepting something should not automatically mean that it is right in the eyes of God [and this covers a multitude of topics] – matthew 7 is a passage which strongly seems to indicate that the minority is more likely to be right than the majority and so if you look around and everyone looks pretty much like you, then maybe you have to get worried, or to action or something [unless you just happen to hang out with a crazy above action crowd]

however, having said all that i am deeply reminded that too often the church has been known for what and how much they are against and while that is important at times and to various degrees, it is and should always be more important what we are about and for. which ultimately is Love, in its various forms and guises. the tattoo of the church – we should be known/marked by the love we have for each other [John 13.35]

and then that phrase – the words of the LORD are flawless [vs.6a] which kinda speaks for itself…

so this teacher of the law comes up to Jesus and says, “So what is the most important command in the law?”

it’s a trick question and yet Jesus floors the gang of them by summing up the whole law as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength. and love your neighbour as yourself.” [paraphrase, Matthew 22.37-38]

and since then, christians through the years have been well known for hating gay people, and people who have abortions, and the Catholics, and people who drink and do drugs, and those who live together, and black people, and people who run sex shops and so on…

is it just me, or are you thinking that maybe that’s not EXACTLY what Jesus was going for?

in fact, in John 13.34-35 He repeats the command/expectation/inspiration/mission when He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”


how is it possible that for the most part it often seems as if christians are known for what they are against, rather than what they are for? we placard, we burn down, we email petition, we march, we ban, we exclude, we look down upon and we gossip, among other things, against all the evil sin that surrounds us in the world (and retreat once more to the safety of the church bubble we have created)

and yet the mark of a Christian, our tattoo as it were, is meant to be love. be known by the love you have for each other. in fact, before we even get to the rest of the world, that’s where we stumble isn’t it? cos we can’t even love ourselves? because we all belong to different demonisations, sorry ‘denominations’, and let me tell you why my church is better than your church, or why you have it wrong, or how you should be doing baptism or communion or singing or dancing or not dancing or whatever…

[at this point i glance over my shoulder and see Jesus fashioning a whip together]

fortunately though, Jesus doesn’t give up on us. and fortunately Love, true sacrificial life-transforming redemptive love is contagious. in Corinthians it concludes the love-is-a-choice list with ‘Love never fails’ – it makes mistakes, it gets it wrong sometimes, it messes up horribly… but it never fails. and that is exciting!

so it can begin with you. and me. let’s commit to being known by the love we have one for another. for those we disagree with. for those who do things we don’t understand or even find downright offensive. for those who sin and don’t even seem to notice and care.  for those who do church differently from us. let’s wear the tattoo of God’s love. let’s be salt and light. let’s be ambassadors, and a fresh fragrance and aroma of Christ.

let’s be followers of Jesus (and not just christians!)

after all, wasn’t it Him who, while suffering a torturous agonising death, called out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”




[Love never fails!]

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