The Car Wreck

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It had been a great day.

A few weeks ago, my two oldest kids and I spent the day at Dollywood Splash Country, a nearby water park. Though both of my oldest children tend toward caution, they each took huge steps of courage by riding down the largest slide at the park–something they swore they would never do. To celebrate, we stopped at Chick-fil-a on the way home to get dinner and milkshakes.

These are the days I live for as a parent. When I get to share uninterrupted stretches of time with my children. When I watch them do things they didn’t think were possible. I love these moments.

But then, on the way home, something unpredictable happened. As I neared our house, I exited the Interstate and merged onto a curving highway. As we rounded the curve, five raccoons appeared walking across the street in single file, effectively blocking the road. I had only a split second, not enough time to make a rational decision, and I made a small instinctive jerk on the steering wheel to the left. I remember the horrible realization that I had lost control of the car. And within a second, we smashed headlong into the guardrails on the left side of the road and then bounced back to the other side where we collided with the concrete wall twice.

Raccoon sabotage.

Maybe not such a great day after all.

My car was full of smoke from my airbag, and my kids were crying out in shock and alarm. The milkshakes had exploded everywhere. As we got out of the car and moved to a safer location, we assessed our situation. We were dazed from the sudden impact, but we were okay. The car was totaled, but we were not. We were all sore, and my neck was killing me, but we were alive with hardly a scratch on us.

I don’t think I quite realized it at the moment, but it has been clear to me in retrospect that just like my kids with the slide, I was facing my own test of courage. Just as I had observed their decision to rise to the occasion, they were watching mine.

Looking back at what happened, I realize now that I could have died. My kids could have died. Any of us could have been injured in a life-altering way.

And that doesn’t make me feel afraid. Instead, it makes me even more committed to using the time I have to make a difference. I want to do my part in God’s Kingdom work here on earth.

I’m more convinced than ever before that God is doing a great thing through our Internet Campus, and I’m still praying that God will give us His favor and allow us to reach record numbers of people

Please join me in praying that God will work in a supernatural way through our Internet Campus and that we’ll see significant growth in our online attendance and new volunteers through the second half of the year.

Halloween 2015

Once again, my wife, kids, and I dressed up in new homemade Star Wars costumes that I created over the last few weeks. Like before, it was a ton of work and a ton of fun.

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From left to right: Ahsoka Tano (from the animated Clone Wars series), young Jedi, Rey (from upcoming Star Wars movie), another young Jedi, Sith Acolyte Eradicator (from a Star Wars video game that I’ve never played), and Luke Skywalker

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Dang, my costume looks tough! Fierce, even.

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And a huge dose of adorable cuteness.

For photos of our last family-wide Star Wars costume fun, go here.

For photos of my Sith Acolyte costume build, go here.

Sith Acolyte Eradicator Costume

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For several years, since I first started working on my Boba Fett costume, I’ve thought it would be fun to build a costume that would be worthy of joining the 501st. If you’re not familiar with the 501st, it’s a international volunteer Star Wars costuming organization. It’s the organization that provides characters to zoos, events, hospital visits to sick kids, and even the characters at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends.

The only problem is that the 501st are very picky about costume details, and I knew that I would have to spend several hundred dollars to finish out my Boba Fett costume. Instead, I decided to sell off the parts and use the money I made to build a new costume. The character I picked was the Sith Acolyte Eradictor from one of the Star Wars video games (that I’ve never played).

Basically, I wanted to carry a lightsaber and wear a mask. And this guy looks awesome. In fact, I think he might be able to take Boba.

Well, after many hours of work, I’ve finally completed my costume, and this afternoon we did a little photo shoot. This evening I submitted my application for the 501st. :)

I made everything except for the mask and the lightsaber. Below, I’ve posted a bunch of photos that I took during the build. As you hover over these images, you should see some notes related to each.

[update 11/2/15: My costume didn’t get 501st approval. Plan on working on an updated set of armor over the next few months.]

Thanks for checking things out! Hopefully I get some good news on my costume approval soon!

If you’re interested in seeing more things like this that I’ve built, check out the category here.

And here’s all the parts bagged up into two large suitcases for the photo shoot:

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Millennium Falcon – for the Kids

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After a bit of an intervention from my wife a few days ago, I have come to realize that I’m a bit of a project junkie. And especially if that project has to do with cosplay, prop making, Star Wars, or Lord of the Ring, I’m hooked. I mean, really. I have almost zero resistance to such urges.

Though I’m an addict, I find a huge amount of creative joy when working on projects of this sort. So when I decided to use my free time over a week to put together a Millennium Falcon cockpit playhouse for my children, I had a blast. And if my son sleeping inside of it whenever he gets a chance is any indication of how much he likes it, then I think it was well worth the effort.

Someone also recently showed me an inexpensive way to tie audio to multiple buttons, so that’s probably an addition that’s happening in the near future as well. How fun!

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For a full writeup of the instructions I made and photos I took while putting the thing together, go here.

In addition, this project has been featured in several blogs, including:

comicbook-com

instructables

make

nerd-approved

technobob

Renovating Our New Church Campus

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been in the process of renovating our new location for our North Knox Campus. Though I’ve worked to design the space for our last few campus launches, this has been the largest and most in-depth project I’ve taken on.

First, a few photos that were taken before renovation began. As you can see, it really is a great campus – the lobby and worship center were in great shape already, and the kids space was very well laid out. Unfortunately, we had a limited budget, so replacing the carpet and painting all the walls in the worship center was out of the question. Most of my focus would be on the downstairs area.

I digitally mocked up the spaces to pick out hallway flooring, room colors, and hallway colors. Also, I had to redesign our giant mural files to fit the spaces. Once they were ready, I sent off mural and sign files to be fabricated and worked with our awesome general contractor to get flooring replaced and walls painted.

I’m very happy about how everything turned out – just in time for our soft opening this weekend.

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Of course, all of this happened with tons of input from people on our staff. Without feedback from Heather Burson, Mike Baker, Kandice Baker, and Josh Whitehead, I would have been toast.

Thanks to Noah Case and Chris Shumate for helping me hang signs.

Also, Heather was picking up all my slack on other projects and making sure that our billboard, mailer, tshirt, and invite card advertising were all ready to go.

A Special Birthday Video for My Wife

My wife was having dinner with a friend, and while the kids and I ate supper without her, I had an idea for a birthday video for my wife. The only problem: her birthday was the next day.

I explained the premise to my children, and once we cleaned the table, my two oldest kids began illustrating the characters, and I sat down to formulate a script. 15 minutes later, the script was finished. Ten minutes after that, the illustrations were complete. Next, we recorded the vocals on my iPhone (mostly in the utility room – lots of sound dampening clothes hanging up to block the noise of the twins). Everything was going exceptionally well – my six year old’s monster drawing was a perfect fit, my nine year old daughter nailed the script after just one read through, and the twins were contentedly coloring.

After just a few minutes, we had all the major pieces we need to pull the video together.

We took a break to play before putting the twins in bed, and afterwards I started “cutting out” each of the illustrations in Photoshop. Another break to tuck in the big kids, then I took a minute to do vocal sound effects. I wasn’t sure how the sound effects would work, but I think they add a lot of fun to the piece. I have exactly zero experience with layering sounds, but the audio came together nicely.

After that, hours of animating video in After Effects. By 5:45 am, I was ready to render the video and pick up some milk for breakfast.

I love how the project turned out – almost exactly like what I had in my mind.

But the best part was Keri and the kids’ laughter when they saw the the video later that morning.

Paper Skull Mask

Skull-head selfie.

Since I’ve been pretty useless with the kids the past two years at Halloween, dressed up like Boba Fett, my wife asked me to do something different this year. I figured I wouldn’t dress up at all until I saw this amazing paper skull mask template on one of my favorite blogs. Like the instructions say, it took about 3 hours to complete, and it’s wonderful.

I didn’t intend this to be a creepy mask, but in the dark, it’s a little terrifying. I think that I’ll probably end up making paper fox masks for Keri and I instead.

Dollhouse Project

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For my daughter’s 9th birthday, we bought her a Real Good Toys dollhouse kit. Since she enjoys projects like I do, we assembled it together, and we had a blast.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pics during the first 6-8 hours of the project – dying shingles, painting each part, gluing the walls together, and and installing some wall paper. Suffice it to say that it was a beast of a project. It took over a week to complete, but she and I were both very pleased with how things turned out.

Boba Fett Scratchbuilt Jetpack

It’s been a couple of years since I built my Boba Fett suit, but over the last few weeks I’ve been working on a jetpack. There’s a reason that I put this part off – it’s an incredibly difficult part to build from scratch. But since the unpainted resin kit costs $350, I chose to make the pack out of sintra and upholstery tubing which I managed to pick up for free. Other than that, it was just the cost of Bondo, spray paint, some wooden balls, liquid mask, and a few wooden dowels.

This was my first time to do something so elaborate, but I’m very pleased with the results.

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For a full writeup, see my full list of instructions on Instructables.

This project has been featured on:

instructables laughing-squidfashionably-geekmakeadafruittechnobob