Categories
Every Thumb's Width

Seconds and Inches

Last Thursday night I was in a somewhat significant car accident. I was not injured and as far as I know neither was the other driver. But there were major consequences to the Fahrvergnügen.

God uses many things to make sure that He has our attention; traumatic crashes certainly count. Even though I avoided life-altering injury, death, or even a visit to the Emergency Room, when I replay it in my head I realize I did nothing to protect myself. Seconds and inches completely out of my control were the difference. If the crash had occurred moments earlier or later, if my head would have jerked just another inch into the driver side window, or a million other possibilities, things might be really different today.

The collision occurred as I was on my way to meet a friend to discuss the final few chapters of The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink. As my Passat was towed away the mom of the other driver saw the book and said, “That’s a good book.” Indeed.

My last few days (especially when driving) have been constantly consumed with thinking about moments and breath and providence. I’m thankful for big and small reminders to be God-conscious and I’m thankful for God’s gracious sovereignty over seconds and inches.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

Miracle Mug

In July I made one purchase at our student ministry’s World’s for Sale. I affectionately call it my miracle mug.

The glory:

The guts:

In case you’re uncertain, the caption reads: “Enjoy the miracle of each new day” to which I would add an exclamation point! Consider how many Bible stories this 10¢ cup communicates:

  • the rainbow references the flood
  • the through-way illustrates crossing of the Red Sea on dry ground
  • the clean outside and dirty inside pictures the Pharisees
  • the “each new day” line reminds one of the morning mercies of coffee

If you think about it, it’s like a wordless cup…with words. I still pinch myself each time I use it. Perhaps one of the times I’ll pinch myself so hard that the cup will fall and shatter. And be assured, that future joy is preceded by the current joy of being able to delete these pointless photos off my iPhone.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

For the First Time in 28 Years

I did not go “back to school” yesterday for the first time in 28 years. The past six years I taught one or more high school Bible classes at our Christian school and the previous 22 years I made my way through the typical course of elementary, junior high, high school, (three) colleges, and then graduate school. That is a lot of school; not necessarily a lot of education, but a lot of school, with a fair share of apprehensive and/or unenthusiastic first days to boot.

So Mo took me to dinner in order to celebrate my new freedom. I came home from church, ran almost 11 miles (in training for a marathon to be named later), got clean, and then drove down to Daniel’s Broiler on Lake Union. We had a gift card from another celebration: our five year anniversary at Grace Bible. Yes, that party was last June, meaning that it took us over 15 months before utilizing the gift, but our feast was well worth the wait and the filet mignon was as tender and flavorful as ever. The waiter even asked if I had licked my plate, which I probably haven’t done for around 28 years.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

Live or Memorex?

I’m eager to publish (what is hopefully) the last explanation behind my music video. It was posted first on February 6, and within a week (thanks to the PyroManiac) the video was viewed over 1200 times. I don’t know how many of those views were actually by different people since the [Pecadillo][4] informed us that it was not unusual for him to hear the video playing two or three times per visit to his parents’ house. Nevertheless, I know it’s been viewed by some who are beyond my normal readership since a few total strangers approached me at the Shepherds’ Conference last month singing the song.

Of course, many were concerned, and rightly so, about the condition of my Apple laptop. So on February 12 I posted the first Behind the Music explanation, namely that the Mac is in fantastic condition and fully operational.

However, in the comments some discussion arose related to the nature of the outtake at the end of the video, namely whether the fall was staged or a providentially captured blooper. Jim from OldTruth was the first to ask for another “behind the scenes” look and then a friendly disagreement ensued between he and Trinian, as Trinian graciously guessed that I was at least a “temporary” klutz while Jim concluded that it was “totally staged” since the sound effects were “too perfect.”

It has been some two months since that post. The YouTube view count currently sits at 2095. I continue to be amazed that people think it’s funny. And then last night Trinian exclaimed:

Enough stalling! I must know, was the fall staged or legit?!

Okay. The fall was 100% purposeful. In fact, I had been planning on taking this dive for almost two years. Every time I ran on my treadmill for those two years I was choreographing my moves mentally to maximize visual effect and minimize personal pain. From my perspective both were achieved with flawless execution.

This was no small feat. The filming required a one time shot. A second take (let alone a third or fourth) would have required a retake of the entire treadmill sequence, including a new set of dry clothes, being doused with more freezing water, and considerably more cleanup.

First, I set the speed of the belt two miles an hour slower than my normal pace. This gave me a sense of greater control and lowered the likelihood of hurt if something did go really wrong. Then at the pivotal moment I stepped onto the side of the deck while simultaneously bending my knee to give the appearance that I had slipped off the treadmill entirely. I had positioned a number of metallic objects a few feet away from the machine, close enough for me to knock over but far enough away that I could control the crash. Truth be told, we couldn’t have generated better sound effects in the editing room. Though we were unsure about what kind of footage we captured at the time, everything worked out smashingly. And seriously, that watering can rolling around on its edges at the very end is priceless.

Thanks again to the Intern and to my wife for help to make the video, and thanks to all of you for watching it…and still coming back to the Void.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

Behind the Music

Last Monday I posted a couple videos here at the Void. The clip of Phil tubing is growing in popularity with over 200 views. But somehow in just one week, Water has been viewed 1,245+ times.

It spent over 24 hours on the PyroManiacs bulletin board and was later given the monicker of “world-famous.” The comments there ranged from “everything about it is just wrong”, “ouch” and “painful,” to one person calling me their “hero” and another nominating me for a Dove Award. One commenter even suggested an idea for a future video: “I would like him to do a ‘you are like fire’ song (he could wear a protective suit) or something with ‘I’m stumbling over the rock’ kind of lyrics.” Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.

Here at the Void some responded emotionally, one suggested that lip-syncing would have been enough, and one accused me of ruining another perfectly good song (which begs the question, Are the originals of Flower in the Rain and Water “perfectly good”?). Still others seemed to care far more about the condition of my computer than that I was being doused with cold water in little clothing on a January day in Washington. So for all of you more sympathetic to the PowerBook’s plight, let us go behind the music.

First, I’m typing this post from the machine in question and it is working just fine. Some thought I was using my old Titanium G4. I was not. My Apple friends would have quickly spotted the difference between that and my current laptop so I knew I couldn’t use a stunt-computer.

Second, I was not trying to fry my primary work machine in order to upgrade. Though Spurgeon may have thrown bricks through inferior windows in order to expedite their replacement, I had no similar motivation (though come to think of it, I would throw bricks at Windows machines). Besides, I am only halfway through our church’s three year cycle of computer replacement, so if I destroyed my computer I would have worked with a destroyed computer for quite a while. In addition, mine is the ministry video editing computer and we needed that for the snow retreat the following week. It would have been a very poor time to impair its abilities.

Third, okay, I was not actually expecting that much water to hit my desk. I more so envisioned the water running down the front and back of me, onto my chair, and then onto the floor with only a minimal amount spilling onto my desk. In fact, we covered the bottom shelf of my books with a plastic tarp to protect them from any splash. But I failed to consider that I was sitting too close to my desk, leaving the path of least resistance as the top of my desk.

Fourth, the keyboard to my desktop PC (used only for entering grades for my Bible class) was absolutely soaked. When the Intern and I turned it over I estimate maybe a cup of water drained out. Not to fear, however, because CTRL-ALT-DEL still works and those are the only three keys you need on a PC anyway.

Finally, I have done some stupid things in my life (as the video itself demonstrates). But I am not that stupid. If you look closely at the bottom left of the screen near the edge of my laptop you will notice a piece of light blue fabric that does not move when my shirtsleeve moves. That piece of fabric is a blanket, folded in thirds to approximate the width of the computer. The blanket ran from my lap, covered the keyboard, and shielded more than half of the screen. Though a few drops did hit the display causing the screen to shake, very little water actually touched the PowerBook. As soon as the segment was filmed I picked up the computer so that all the water on my desk wouldn’t seep into the bottom.

So the only thing damaged in the video was my credibility, not my Mac. I hope everyone will be able sleep tonight.

UPDATE [4:06PM April 19]: Get the final answer to the treadmill fall.

Categories
Enjoying the Process

There Is Nothing to See Here – Part Duet

The 07SR is over. Audio from Phil’s sessions and hundreds of photos will be online soon. In the meantime, here are a couple videos to keep people of the Void entertained.

Some of you remember my duet with Jaci Velasquez of Flower in the Rain from last year’s Snow Retreat. Rather than a live performance for this year’s talent show I opted to film an actual music video. So with the help of the Intern (as videographer and producer) and my wife (as bucket operator) I offer you my newest duet with Kristy Starling, Water.

Perhaps inspired by my video, the PyroManiac opted to perform on the tubing hill the next afternoon. The video is approximately 30 seconds long and provides irrefutable evidence for a future Phil Phun Phact. (For an explanation of the audio see below.)

The voice behind “son of a gun” and “why didn’t anyone tell me the moron was coming down” is none other than one28 staff leader, Jesse Martin. But contrary to what the film first suggests, Jesse was not referring rudely to our retreat speaker. Jesse, the Intern, and Ben Hanson were standing in Tubing Run #2; Jesse taking photographs and Micah filming video. Shortly after Phil departed down Tubing Run #1 a student launched himself down Run #2. Ben saw the runaway tube at the last moment and removed Micah from harm’s way, hence the jumpy video. Jesse’s providence was not so blessed. The second tube took him out at his knees and his are the feet that fly into view. So Jesse’s terms of endearment were for the kamikaze student and not for Phil after all.

If YouTube is not your thing you can download the Water Quicktime file and/or the Tubing Quicktime file.

UPDATE [4:07PM February 12]: Go Behind the Music.

UPDATE [4:45PM April 19]: See even more Behind the Music.