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.

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.

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.

Trying to Lose Weight? Three things to avoid eating at all costs.

Call it a conspiracy of the food industry, if you will, but these three items are rarely discussed when it comes to weight loss. If you’re trying to manage your weight, here are three things you need to avoid eating in order to sustain a healthy diet.

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Item One: Jacks

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Believe it or not, these tasty morsels can actually wreck a diet that is otherwise going well. Like chips and other snack foods, it’s hard to just eat one or two. Once you open a box, most people will impulsively finish the whole thing. Don’t put yourself in a losing situation.

 

Item Two: Drano

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During any diet plan, there are often times you’ll begin to feel intensely thirsty and dehydrated. While your first instinct may be to dig around under the sink for this sweet libation, repeated studies have shown that the effects of this beverage are actually hazardous to your health. Don’t listen to your thirst – grab a tall glass of water instead.

 

Item Three: Razor Blades

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Contrary to common belief, razor blades are not actually considered a whole food. Though they may be low on calories, most health experts agree that razor blades are highly processed and may be the easiest way to wreck your diet.

By avoiding these three items, you’ll be well on your way to a heathy and fulfilling food plan that will enable you to achieve your weight loss dreams.

My Visit to Israel (Part 6)

This is the sixth part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.

The morning of our fifth day was started early so that we could get to the Garden Tomb, one possible location of Jesus’ tomb, before the rest of the public would arrive and make our video shoot impossible.

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Up the path to the entrance to the Garden.

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Inside the Garden. The entrance to the tomb is in the middle of the screen above.

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Inside the tomb.

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Video of setting up for a shoot at the Garden Tomb.

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From the garden, we also had a view of the area that could be the location of the crucifixion – Golgotha.

Leaving the Garden Tomb, Chad Funk and myself split off from the rest of the group to visit the City of David, the oldest part of the city, and in particular Hezekiah’s tunnel.

King Hezekiah built this aqueduct, channeling water into the city, in preparation for an Assyrian attack after he refused to pay tribute. Biblical mention >>

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Here I am, with a GoPro harness strapped to my chest. This was one of the things on my wish list for the trip, and I was fired up that we were able to make it work.

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Standing in the area that many believe to be the ruins of David’s palace.

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Another view of the palace ruins.

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My Visit to Israel (Part 3)

This is the third part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.

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Our third day in Israel began as we awoke in the beautiful small town of Efrat, the home of the Old Testament characters Ruth and Boaz. Biblical mentions of Ephrath >>

Every entrance door post in Israel, including each of our hotel room doors, had a mezuzah (pictured below – excellent Wikipedia article). These were sometimes ornate and occasionally modern, like above. These fixtures each contain a piece of paper with the passage of Deuteronomy hand copied onto it by a scribe. The Jews believe this fulfills the requirement of the Old Testament teaching to write the words of the Scriptures on your doorposts. As far as I could tell, there was no way to open up the container to read the Scriptures inside.

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Breakfast was at a local cafe. The food was absolutely amazing, and our host for the morning, Rabbi Shmuel Bowman made these mornings in Efrat a favorite part of my trip.

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Rabbi Shmuel accompanied us on our drive to Jerusalem.

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The next few photos are on the grounds of the Jerusalem Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

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One of the box cars used to transport Jews during the Holocaust.

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