Tattoo #10 – Ship with Stars and Clouds

Location on Body: Chest


Mark Treas Inspired Art


Shop: Mother’s Tattoo in Covington, KY

Time it Took: 8 hours? Who knows? Can’t remember

Cost: $450…I think

This last year was a strange year for our family. We spent 8 out of 12 months doing (for the most part) unplanned travelling. It started with God telling us to go to Portland (where we were for almost 5 months) and ended with us in Cincinnati for about 2 months.  During that time we noticed some things change about our family.

  • We became more and more detached to our house. We lived out of a suitcase and packed light. The question of where  we “lived” took on a level of complication. Every time we would come home from traveling we would fill garbage cans full of things we once considered essential or beneficial to our lives.
  • We depended more and more on faith. Picking up your family of 6 to head to a city with your job, mortgage, and their education up in the air does not fall in the “common sense” category. The more we traveled in obedience in the direction we felt Jesus was leading us the more and more we found stability in faith and the less secure things like income, houses, and other temporal systems became.
  • We became more of a family. When we first set out for Portland by biggest fear was that we would be compromising the benefits of stability that you hear a family needs.  I was prepared to pull the plug the second I felt like our family goals were being threatened. So of course it came as a surprise when the relationships within our family took on more strength and energy than we had ever seen.

The Meaning

In the Old Testament the Jews are commanded to celebrate the festival of booths, or Sukkot. It is to remind them of their 40 years wandering in the desert and how faithful God was in providing for his people. They celebrate this festival by building a “booth” and living in it for a week. The only real commandment is that the roof is to be made of organic material so they can view the stars and remember God’s faithfulness. Living in a temporary dwelling place for a week reminds them how temporary this earth is and that God alone is eternal.


The orignal art. The final had fewer stars.


As we looked back upon this year these were the lessons that we had learned in our travels. That was the inspiration behind this tattoo.

The Ship: Is a temporary dwelling place. It is not stable and is propelled by the wind. I wanted the ships sails full because in our life the Holy Spirit had propelled us in energy and direction.

The Stars: are the roof that God provided for his people in the desert. They serve as a reminder on our connectedness to Him.

The Banner: Has “Crawford”, our family name written on it. This last year was very formative for our family in becoming less and less secure in external things but more and more secure in eternal things.

The Clouds: are awesome looking.

The Process

I had sent Brian (who also did my sides and leg) the art the day before. I had not seen any of it until the day of when I showed up to the shop.


Ink and Sharpie Stencil


We got started around 4pm and went for about 8 hours.  It was the most painful tattoo I’ve ever had. I took more breaks than all the other tattoos combined. I guess when most people get their chest done they do it in multiple sessions and now I know why.

The very center of my chest was insane and felt like I was getting a root canal in my sternum.

I’ve made this helpful pain chart to illustrate where it hurt the most.


Those are real tears.


That night and the next day I felt sick mostly because I think my nervous system was shot. It hurt going down stairs for about 3 days because my chest was bruised and I never realized how much things bounce. Now I know how girls feel. I was extremely happy with Brian who was very patient and nailed the art and concept that I wanted. I tipped him a lot but it was worth more. The next night Kami and I took him and his wife out to pizza. It’s kind of weird having my chest tattooed now. I feel like one of those guys. Oh well, I’ve resigned to the fact that there’s labels attached to the art.

At the time of writing this it’s been almost 6 months since getting it and I can still feel the pain.

Here’s some pictures of the process.

Almost done with the outline. This (as it turns out) was the easy part.

Every second I was thinking would be the last one.

That means I was wrong about 25,000 times.

This is what it looks like right after he finished. It felt like I had been poked with a needle in the chest hundreds of thousands of times for 8 hours. ..oh wait.

This is what it looks like 6 months later fully healed. AHOY!

Regretability Scale : 0 out of 10


5 thoughts

  1. This is a bit off topic, but are you all still located in Portland, OR?

    I am asking because both my husband and I were long distance backpackers before our son was born and now that he is 6 we are beginning again. I wondered, if you were still in Portland, if we could get together for coffee (or whatever) and discuss your Wonderland venture or any thoughts you had about taking kids with you while you pack for a long ways.

    We are doing the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail (80 miles) here in a couple weeks and I was beginning to plan when someone sent me your link.

    1. (sent via email)
      Thanks for the comment. We are not in Portland now. Actually our family is spending this month in Jerusalem. Would love to help out any way we can though. Send me your phone number and I can call you or you can ask me any questions you want via email or this blog post. We actually did the Wonderland again this last summer. I haven’t posted any video yet but you can see the pictures on our FB page.
      Ben Crawford

  2. I’m slow and I just got here now. Fantastic! Ben, you continue to inspire me with the quality and intensity with which you live life. There are times when I find myself somewhat down-trodden by the people that inhabit this earth….then people like you remind me that hope is real and alive. Happy New Year!

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