Heidi and I (and sometimes James, when we remind him of it) are anticipating a family adventure next month as we drive up to Cincinnati for the 2017 Noah Conference, partly because we’ll see Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter again, but also because of all the great folks that will be at the main conference event! We really enjoyed this event last year, and were extremely encouraged by the speakers that we heard. And we’re pretty sure that James will be able to soak in more this year, especially at the Ark, where we are looking forward to showing him all the exhibits and the biggest boat he’s ever seen. (Boats and fishing are some of his top interests right now, but he’s never considered anything on this scale!)
Registration includes tickets to the Ark Encounter on August 10th, and 2 full days at the conference held at a nearby church on the 11th and 12th. There will be messages from Kevin Swanson, Ken Ham, Scott Brown, Emeal Zwayne, Israel Wayne, and lots of others. I’ll be on a panel with my brothers talking about some of the lessons we’ve learned from the last few years of running T-Rex Arms, and Heidi will be on a panel about cross-generational faithfulness.
We are looking forward to a time of encouragement and fellowship, and an opportunity to meet new friends and catch up with old ones. And don’t miss out on the the free Saturday night pizza party to wrap up the event!
A few months ago, we were asked to write an article for CHEC’s homeschooling magazine about how we were homeschooled. We have, of course, talked a lot about how we were raised, the ways we want to imitate our parents, the things things we would like to do differently, and the many differences that we see between our two families. However, when we sat down to condense all those conversations into this short article, we were a little surprised by how many identical conclusions our respective parents came to, and how many of them we want to stick to.
When Heidi and I were born, our respective parents began to pray about how we should be educated. When they choose to teach us at home, it wasn’t for lack of options; Isaac’s parents lived in Washington D.C. suburbs completely surrounded by private schools, and Heidi’s father was actually teaching at a well-respected Christian school in Ohio.
And even in those early days of home education, there were various co-ops and pre-packaged curricula that they could have used, ways of moving a “regular” education from classroom to home without any other major changes. These would have been easier, faster, and in many ways cheaper than how our parents ended up teaching us. But they wanted to give us educations that were completely different in their focus, not just their location.
To do so was hard, time-consuming, and expensive in many ways. We’ve watched our parents change careers, take massive pay cuts, and move across the country (or around the world) just so they could teach us diligently and according to their understanding of Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:7). Today, they would say that it was all worth it, and so would we. Their efforts have perfectly prepared us for where we are today, and what we are doing.
So, I’ve mentioned earlier about my work with our CNC machine, and a few tools that make that work a little easier, but I haven’t every really described that the work actually entails. Last week I made short video for T-Rex Arms’ Youtube channel showing what that looks like, and most of the steps involved.
That video describes making a specific holster for handguns using the Inforce APL weapon light, but the process is the same for every holster that we make on the machine. First, a precise 3D model is constructed of whatever weapon or light we are making a holster for. Then we adjust the dimensions of that model ever so slightly to give ourselves the right friction and retention and mounting hardware that the holster needs. This adjusted model is carved out of a high density plastic, and then we can vacuum form hot Kydex directly onto this mold.
When the kydex cools, it gets slapped onto a second mold that is still bolted to the CNC machine, and a special endmill drills all the holes and cuts the kydex into the finished shape. As I mentioned in the video, each of these steps takes a couple of tries, but it doesn’t take too long for very precise, very identical holsters to made very quickly.
This week, many of our senators and representatives are doing their best to pass a large, unnecessary, expensive, and unpopular tax bill, mostly as a favor to our Governor. As usual, Republicans who ran on promises of lower taxes are finding themselves pushing a large tax increase that will damage their constituents. Watching how they respond to this difficulty is very educational, and we should be watching closely when this bill reaches the House floor tonight.
Rather than oppose the bill, which was proposed by Governor Haslam and will add a substantial tax to all gasoline and diesel fuel sold in this state, many have engaged in all kinds of misdirection, chicanery, and nonsense to disguise the bill’s true purpose and intent. For example, last week the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee renamed the bill “The 2017 Tax Cut Act” even though it is the literal, exact, complete opposite of a tax cut.
The bill’s supporters have added and retracted various amendments at strategic times as it sped through its various committees, violated congressional procedure to expedite its passage, and done everything possible to force Republican support. At one point, for example, it contained a small property tax cut for some military veterans, until the CVA demanded that politicians stop using vets to guilt other reps into taxing non-vets.
The events surround this bill are so shady that the kindest and most complimentary thing that can be said about it is that it is completely and totally superfluous. After all, this is a bill to raise taxes when our state is enjoying a $2 Billion surplus, and it’s raising the tax to build roads when Tennessee is ranked second (or third, or fourth, depending on the study) in the nation on our road quality and infrastructure. Of course, some have argued that our $2 Billion surplus was collected for other things, and Tennessee is “too honest” a state to just reallocate that money as we see fit. This sounds like a good and noble argument… until you think about it.
Last year, I created a poster for the annual Remembering WWII event. The 2016 event had an Air Force theme, and I went with an Art-Deco design that had a kind of “Golden Age of Flight” feel to it, like some of the posters from early in the war. This year’s event centers on the Marine Corps, and there is no more visually iconic moment in Marine Corps history than the Iwo Jima flag-raising on February 23 of 1945.
I painted a version of the famous Rosenthal photo, with just a few alterations; opening up the flag, shortening the flagpole, and increasing the height of Mount Suribachi. The painting style should also be more reminiscent of some of the illustrators of the late 40s, but I didn’t really have time to copy anyone specific, unfortunately. The end result does look like fast oil illustrations of the day, though, especially when placed in a poster layout that is much more like the later War Department posters from 1945:
Joe Rosenthal’s famous photo is actually of the second flag raising. Marines had planted a smaller flag when they captured the mountain earlier that morning, but the larger second flag was visible from the beach and greatly improved morale. Despite the fact that the island of Iwo Jima is only four miles long, it took five days of hard fighting to reach its 500-ft high summit. Even after Marines captured the mountain, the battle raged for another 20 days, claiming the lives of three of the six flag raisers.
2016 was full of the many blessings, much laughter and joy, numerous lessons learned and trials endured, many friendships and relationships deepened, and through it all we have seen the loving, kind, and gracious hand of the our Lord guiding and sustaining us day by day. We look forward to 2017 with great joy and expectation of the work and sanctification that the Lord has in store for us.
That they should put their confidence in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep His commandments.
– Psalm 78:7
Although James has been a large part of our last two thankfulness posts, we thought we’d let him get in on the action and record all the things that James is thankful for. He’s one of the most enthusiastically cheerful and happy babies I’ve ever known, and his zeal for life is evident in a lot of these shots. He’s a very social baby and loves to be with people, especially his two favorite people in the world: Mommy and Daddy.
This very beloved sheepskin from Uncle Chad and Aunt Becky is indispensable. As soon as he catches a glimpse of it, he immediately lets out a long “oooohhh”, and a huge grin spreads across his face while he pops his thumb into his mouth.
Last week Isaac walked through a typical day in our lives, and recounted the many things we have to be grateful for in our every day life. In keeping with this theme, I decided to show you a somewhat less typical day that shows a different part of our lives: Sundays.
Sunday mornings usually start with Isaac and James wrestling on the bed while I make breakfast. I love hearing James shrieking in delight from the other room, and getting to watch Isaac as a daddy fills my heart with joy. I’m really not sure who enjoys these morning romps the most – Isaac or James!
I’m also very grateful to the Lord for giving me such a kind, caring, and gentle man to be my husband, and the father of my child. His care for our little family, and his diligence to provide both physical and spiritual sustenance is another great blessing for which I am very thankful!
Speaking of physical sustenance, Isaac has taken on the job of grinding our coffee beans fresh every morning, and of course James has to get in on the action too. I’m so thankful for how much James wants to be with us, and do everything we are doing. It’s also a very sober reminder of how much he watches and imitates everything we do. And while it may be a bit cliche, coffee is certainly on my list of things to thank the Lord for this year!
This fall, Heidi and I have been reading some books by James Herriot. His memoirs look at the life of a country veterinarian in northern England, during the 1930s and 40s. This is a fascinating but difficult time, before the discovery of antibiotics, and before British farming was really mechanized. However, what really stands out about his books is his tremendous attitude of joyfulness and thankfullness. Despite the incredibly hard work and often harsh weather, Herriot is overflowing with gratitude for the opportunities that he was given, the wonders that God has created, and the blessings that he received, great or small.
I have been convicted by how ungrateful I can be when my life is so much more comfortable than a country vet’s, and so much better than I deserve. For the next couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, Heidi and I are trying to be more diligent about marking our blessings and thanking God for them. Because I don’t have James Herriot’s incredible grasp of the English language or storytelling ability, I’m going to rely on pictures to describe a day in my life.
This is who I get to see first, every day:
…and this is who I get to see second:
Those two pictures alone prove that I am indescribably, unfathomably, unbelievably blessed. But there’s more. So much more:
Ever since Heidi and I made our gospel map, we’ve been really excited to see all the places that it has gone. We’ve shipped it all over the world, the video has been watched millions of times on various social media platforms, and now it’s going to be (briefly) on display in a museum! GISMO NYC is a forum for folks in the geographic information systems industry, and this weekend they have an event at the Queens Museum where our Gospel Map will be included, both in print and animated forms.
It looks like a really neat free event with some great speakers, so if you happen to be in New York this weekend, you can stop by to look in on new mapping techniques and various maps, including ours. If you aren’t able to make it, you can always get the print version of our map from The Western Conservatory, and watch the animated version here:
I really enjoy seeing how other designers are using maps to communicate information, or converting other types of data into maps, and I wish I were going to be there. Also, I just realized that we finished that project over two years ago. I’ve been mostly busy with product design and CNC projects lately, and I find that I am itching to make some new maps or build some new data visualizations. Anyone have any ideas?