The Stories of my Shark, Selah, and Plus Sign Tattoos


You know I love tattoos. You should also know I don't get tattoos without first sitting on the idea for MONTHS (or a year, or more!) and then writing out the reasoning behind them to make sure I love telling the story and really want it as a part of me permanently. For my birthday this year, I knew I wanted to celebrate by finally getting a few tattoos I've long wished for, and I'm so excited they're finally on my body!

ps-- these pictures are FRESH so they're a little raised and red right now, but you KNOW I'll instagram the heck out of them all once they're healed!

Here are the stories behind my three newest tattoos:

Shark Fin Tattoo:


If you don't already know I love sharks, I'll be shocked. It's no secret sharks are my favorite animal and my love for them/obsession for them runs deep. This tattoo is the most playful and fun of my collection, and I love having one that makes me smile every time I see it!

You might think having a tattoo that represents your favorite animal is silly or stupid, but hear me out.

Here's what this tattoo says to me:

This tattoo is a reminder to be playful and fun, that not everything has to be so weighty and serious all the time. This tattoo is a reminder that I have done and can do and will do scary things, like that time I went cage diving with sharks and nearly panicked because breathing through the scuba gear and regulator hose was so freaky. This tattoo is a reminder that while we might think the things that linger under the surface are terrifying, they might actually not be out to harm us after all. This tattoo is a reminder that little things can be signs pointing to big things (like a fin above the water signals a shark below) and that we must be alert, awake, and aware to avoid real danger. This tattoo is a reminder that there is more to be discovered if we go below the surface and dive deep. This tattoo is a reminder that everything (and everyone) matters in the ecosystem of life-- without sharks and the vital role they play in our oceans, humans wouldn't survive. This tattoo is a reminder to live intentionally to protect all living things around me (hence why I'm vegan and often support conservation and animal protection causes!), and to work hard to live my life with as minimal negative affect on other creatures and this planet as possible.This tattoo is a reminder that we need to keep moving to stay alive-- we, like sharks, can't and shouldn't stay stuck or complacent if we want to keep growing and thriving... we have to keep going. 

Sure, I like to joke that sharks are my spirit animal because they often travel alone, are independent, like the dark and the deep, and can be scary at times (haha!), but this tattoo actually means so much more to me than that.

Selah Tattoo:


Selah was my word of the year in 2015, and it has stuck with me unlike anything else. (You can read all the posts about selah from that year here.) My favorite definition of selah is pause and praise. Amen. It's the word you'll find at the end of many psalms, the word inviting us to take a moment in our worship to be still in God's presence and just soak it all up. It's beautiful.

Selah is a reminder to me to take moments throughout my day to pause and praise Him, to be still and know that He is God, to rest in His presence and soak up His goodness.

Selah invites me into sabbath moments. Selah invites me into shalom. Selah invites me into surrender, solitude, stillness.

I wrote this prayer in 2015 when I was just starting to explore all that the word selah meant to me, and I love these words just as much three years later:

Abba-- may today bring selah. May this day be about pausing and bringing you praise. May I be still, be silent, be at peace. May I rest in Your presence and let all chaos settle before You. May I breathe in Your grace and breathe out Your praise. May I reflect on all You've done, putting aside all my to-dos. May You be at my center. May You be at the core. May You be at the forefront and in the spotlight. May all my strivings cease. May You be Christ alone, May You be my Cornerstone. May You be Lord of all. May You invade, disrupt, bring to the light, unsettle, and stir up in me the places where idols reign and You have been replaced by my pride and humanity. May I end today looking more like You in a way that is lasting. May silence be a practice I carry with me. May stillness refresh what is weary within me. May Your goodness overcome all my wretchedness. May You come. Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come, flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by Your presence, Lord. Selah.

Plus Sign Tattoo:


This is my tiniest tattoo, and one that's been particularly on my mind and heart lately.

To me, this plus sign signifies a few things: that there is always more, that I want to add to this world, and that life is about learning to live well in the tension between something + something else.

There is always more.

C.S. Lewis has a popular quote about how there are far greater things ahead than any we leave behind, and it's so true. Never have I been let down or abandoned by God-- He always has more for me than I can even dare to dream up or imagine for myself. There is more beauty to be seen, more joy to experience, more life to be lived, more freedom to be found, more connection to be created, more depth to be explored, more grace to be received and given... There is always so, so much more.

I want to add to the world.

I got this one on my right wrist, because I'm right-handed and wanted this to help remind me to let the work I do, the words I write, the people whose hands I shake, etc, bring more goodness to the world. I want to get to the end of my life and see that I had some impact for the better. I want to be amplifying others, adding to the beauty of creation and the created, lifting things and people to a higher place, etc. I want to add to all that is good and lovely and noble, not take any of that away.

Life is lived in the tension between two things.

This has been such a theme of my life in the last few years-- learning to live in tension. I listened to an On Being podcast with Brene Brown recently that summed this whole idea up so well. She talked about how we have to learn to hold this tension. That we are both tough + tender. Brave + afraid. That we embody grit + grace. That we can be excited + scared.

I want to live in this tension well. To live well in the now + the not yet. To be both gracious + grace-full. To be strong + soft. To love well + let love in. It's all a work in progress. It's all a beautiful push + pull, yin + yang, settling + striving.

There ya have it!

For more tattoo stories, here's my olive branch, my Greek beloved, and my Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design,. There's also an arrow on the side of my foot that I didn't write a post about!

Thank you, as always, to Ashly at River City Tattoo for continuing to bring my ideas to life in such an amazing way. I've gotten all of my tattoos at River City and absolutely love it, and Ashly has inked all of them but my very first (which Adam did!). If you're in RVA and looking for a recommendation, she's mine, every time!