When I was little I use to always play with action figures. Looking back, it seems like everyday there was a new situation that came up and Batman had to go save the day or my G.I.Joes had to go save the president. I had tons of action figures to play with. I had army guys, marvel characters, dc character, pretty much any kind of action figure I had. Now that I am older, I realized that I never really stopped making up situations for my action figures. Creating a story to tell, filming the story with actors, and editing all of the footage to make a story come to life is just like playing action figures. I would make up the stories in my head, pick which toys to use, and then play. Up to this point in my life I have been creative in many different avenues like drawing, photography, and cinematography.

When I was in elementary school going into middle school I loved to draw. Back then, drawing for me was how I could express myself. It was how I could get all of the thoughts and dreams I had inside of me out. I loved art class in both elementary school and in middle school. Learning different artists didn’t really excite me back then, it was more about learning new techniques and styles of drawing.

As I transitioned into middle school, my parents bought a Mac and I soon discovered iMovie. In sixth and seventh grade, I was editing on iMovie probably fifty percent of the time. I loved learning the software on my own without anyone having to teach me. I had found a new avenue to vent and use all the creative ideas I had inside of me. Soon I bought a handycam and a green screen and I was on my way. I learned how to use a green screen and also taught myself how to use puppets.

As I transitioned into my early years of high school, everything began coming full circle. I went back to my roots of drawing pictures, I created some videos for classes at school, and I even started taking pictures. I realized that I really enjoyed the similarities that video and photographs share. At the time, I was a starter for my school’s baseball team which meant I had little if any time to do creative things.

The summer going into my Junior year of high school, I spent the whole summer praying about what God wanted to do in and through me. Towards the end of the summer, I knew without a shadow of a doubt what I needed to do. I called my baseball coach and met with him and explained that I wanted to be able to take a film class at school. That year was one of the best years that I can remember. So much growth came out of that decision spiritually and creatively.

Over my high school career I have: won first place in a talent show with a video, been apart of the filming and editing of The Bulldog Nation, have filmed a total of three videos for Bible class (one being a documentary), had a lead role in two musicals at school, started varsity baseball, designed three homecoming dance logos, designed two t shirt designs, won a basketball picture competition in photography class, been the producer of most of the Bulldog Nations this year, and I have acted on screen as well as come up with several of the ideas and logos for the Bulldog Nation.

In everything I do, I know that I will never be perfect. As a Christian though, Jesus set the example of how we should live our lives. So as I continue to grow in my walk with God and in cinematography, I will work unto God in everything I do. I know that God will always reward me for the hard work that I put into using and growing my gift, and so how I use my gift and talent is my gift to God.I put into using and growing my gift, and so how I use my gift and talent is my gift to God.

When I was in elementary school I got bullied from first to 5th grade. I was the chubby kid that tried to be nice to everyone, was an only child, and never had any girls like me except one who freaked me out. Now that I look back on my childhood I’m actually very sad. I had a very emotional childhood, and somethings that for years I tried to brush over, whether I like it or not, scared me.

Kids would make fun of me, call me fat names, hurt me physically, and other things. Growing up the way I did, I understood good and bad from a really early age. I had this concept of: ‘if you do the right thing you will be good and successful and if you do the wrong thing you are bad and won’t be successful’ implanted in my brain subconsciously from when I was really little. Because of this mindset with the combination of everything that I had heard from my parents and at church, I never fought back when I got bullied. I can’t remember one time where I ever fought back. Many of the ways that I got bullied was all solely a mental thing. I’ll explain.

Growing up, I didn’t like/understand why kids needed to be mean. It was almost like a utopian mindset. I always thought that there was no need to be mean or judge mental because it fell in the ‘bad/mean’ category and so it confused me why kids would be mean if they knew that it would not lead to good. So every time that I would get picked on, it was almost amplified because 1. I didn’t understand why they would do it and 2. I never retaliated I just took it.

At home and at my grandma’s house I had a lot of time just with myself. I would think a lot. Most of the games or toys I played with all had a different storylines along with them that I had created up on my own. Keeping this in mind, I use to dream and pretend a lot. Looking back, sometimes I think that I use to view life like a tv show. I use to watch tv sooooo much. It was bad. But yeah, it was almost like I had seen so many different tv shows and I saw that the successful people in the shows 1. Won a battle or 2. Got the girl. I was a chubby kid who never won the battles I always turned the other cheek, and the one girl that I had a crush on for like five straight years never like me back.

When I was in fifth grade, I was told that I was changing schools. When I found this out, it wrecked my world. At the time, Regent had been the only life I had known. What I didn’t know at the time was that prayers that I had prayed about bullies were being answered. The summer after I switched schools I went out to the summer camp New Life Ranch. When I got there I was in a cabin with the majority of the kids that I had gone to elementary with, including all of the boys that had bullied me in the past.

I looked at the situation with as much optimism as possible and didn’t let it bother me. Towards the end of the week I had a crush on a girl who I never spoke with, I had just imagined myself speaking with her and her being nice. One of the boys went up to the girl when I wasn’t around and pointed me out to the girl and asked her if she knew me. Then they said something else to her probably about me liking her. (Whatever it was it seemed colossal in the eyes of a fifth grader) Hearing this, it was like a shot to the heart times a hundred. Knowing that the girl I had liked for five years never liked me at school, and now this random girl at a summer camp doesn’t, but knows I like her. My mind was going crazy, I emotionally broke down. I was done, the boys meant nothing to me now.

We were about to go inside for a final chapel service whenever all of this happened. I was going to just wipe my face hold my breath and walk in so I didn’t make a seen. My camp counselor saw that something was wrong with me and so he took me to this gazebo right next to the chapel and asked me what was wrong. I told him what the boys had done, and then he shared his heart with me. He told me that he had had problems with liking girls who didn’t like him either. After listening to me vent and then sharing with me what had happened to him very briefly, he told me to stay close to God. He said that if you keep God number one it’s as if the girls are on the outside of the gazebo and you are talking to God on the inside of the gazebo. Instead of being stuck in the gazebo trying to attract/get the attention of girls just randomly, when you pray and talk to God about a girl, if you have a peace about it He will allow you to walk out of the gazebo and pursue the girl. I know this is really rough and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I don’t remember all of what he said.

After we left the gazebo, we went into the chapel and he took me to the very front in front of everyone. We sat down on the ground while they were singing praise and worship. There were no seats, everyone was sitting on the ground. During like the second or third song we both just set back on the floor and for the first time ever I raised my hands to worship God. I had never done that, I had only seen people do it thinking they were wanting attention. I didn’t want attention, I wanted to thank God for helping me. This was a moment that I knew that God was real and that He loved me.

Sophomore year was a very rough year for me. My priorities were messed up, I was in an unhealthy relationship, the feeling of emptiness echoed through my brain, and no one knew. Those that did know, had no idea how to help me. At school, pain was covered up with a fraudulent smile. Tears were wiped away, while the excuse of ‘allergies’ took their place. Thoughts ate up my imaginations night and day. The only reason that I made it out of that mental funk, was because: God showed me out at Dry Gulch U.S.A. that life is not about me, it is about Him and how I can use all that He has given me to ultimately bring Him honor and praise.

Signing up to be a Christian camp counselor for the whole summer out at Dry Gulch, I had left Tulsa open minded, single, and with no expectations. As we arrived at Dry Gulch, I was greeted and shown where I would stay the first week. Right from the start I saw a lot of people I knew, but also a lot that I did not know. Meeting people and becoming closer with others was what orientation week was all about. The real challenge began when actual campers started coming. My first session of campers was a handful.

“Is this how every week is?” I asked Zack my co counselor.

“No,” he responded, “ you will not have a bunk of children that crazy the rest of the summer.”

“Oh good.” I replied as thoughts of yelling and screaming children left my head.

“Actually, you experienced two years of counseling in one week.” Zack added.

As the weeks went on I became more and more comfortable with being a counselor, and realized that Zack was right.

One Saturday night, a group of the guy counselors stayed up until three in the morning talking and telling stories. During that night I had one of the most powerful conversations of my life with two other counselors. Michael, Jonathan, and I all shared how we had gotten hurt in a relationship, and shared the effects that came with it. The thoughts of, “Your worthless” or “No one likes you” and all the pain that I had allowed in my life, permanently started drifting away. God was healing me out at this camp, and I began to realize it. What made me thank Him even more was, the theme of summer camp that year was ‘Loved.’ “The verse this week is Ephesians 3:19,” I would tell my campers, “Know the love of Jesus so you can be filled with the life and power that comes from God.”

As the end of the summer came around, I felt as if a miracle had just taken place. The friendships made, the moments, the salvations, and all the memories seemed too good to be true. I had come to camp broken and in need of fixing, by the end of camp I had been fixed and in even more ways than I could have imagined. It started with a prayer to God asking Him to help and change me. The summer wrapped up with me receiving the ‘best new counselor’ award out at Dry Gulch, and also a totally refreshed Jacob Marrs. Going back to school I knew that: God loves me, and as long as I focus on His love I can be filled with life and power to do His will. I will never forget that summer, because it thankfully changed my life.

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