God is Present Through It All

Success doesn’t equal God’s approval; failure doesn’t denote His absence and most importantly disappointment doesn’t mean He doesn’t care.


2016 was a rough year for me. Not quite as rough as 2015 had been– the year where I entered the work force; had 0 church community and started to struggle with depression, insecurities and negative over analyzing . 2015 was one of the worst years of my life thus far and 2016 followed quite closely.

In 2016, I became more self aware of my struggles and I gradually started to take steps to come closer to God to change them. It was an arduous process. My mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical state really were at rock bottom. Depression hit me hard at times; I was overwhelmed with insecurities, jealousy and a comparative spirit. Even my physical appearance started to reflect what was going  on inside (weight gain, minimal hair growth/hair breakage and acne breakouts). I’ve provided links to some in depth blogs I’ve written about some of those struggles so I won’t go into greater detail about them, but I will say that they all pointed to the fact that I needed help.

So that’s what I constantly sought from literally anyone that would listen. Any chance I got I would send ranting essay text messages to friends complaining about my insecurities, my jealousy, my heartache, my over analyzing, and etc. One friend eventually called me out for it, rightfully so.

I was spending so much time complaining to humans when I should’ve been intentionally, wholeheartedly running to Jesus to get me through the rough season. Sometimes I would, but sometimes I would wait. I would wallow in my self-pity and allow myself to be consumed by every negative thought, feeling and emotion that was entering my mind. It sounds crazy, but there’s something satisfying about indulging in your sadness and your anger. Maybe it has to do with the sin nature and a God complex; when I analyze a situation and perceive it the way I want to then I am in control of the outcome and it feels dangerously good to be in control. Until you realize that that control is robbing your ability to connect to God and to see the truth in an area of your life that He wants to help you through and take hold of. Moving on….

So what does any of this have to do with success or failure? Well if you’re connected to me on any social media site then you know what else I accomplished in 2016: I wrote, directed, produced and funded two short films that cost me thousands of dollars and that took a lot of time, creativity and energy. And as previously noted in this blog post, I wasn’t in the best place mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, yet I was still able to create two films that I’m incredibly proud of.

I’ll say it again: Success doesn’t equal God’s approval; failure doesn’t denote His absence and most importantly disappointment doesn’t mean, He doesn’t care.

When I look at those films, I think to myself 2016 was a successful year. God blesses us with success, right? Wrong. God blesses us out of His grace and mercy, but that doesn’t always mean we’re doing the right thing. I disobeyed God and chose the world over Him, more times than I’d like to admit (and I’m sure I will still do both of those things). Just like any Father, while I know He loved me through it all, I don’t believe He was pleased with my actions and my thought life. Yet, in His grace and mercy, He provided for me and enabled me to complete those films.

I was reading John 11 yesterday and verses 21 & 22 struck a chord with me:

“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”

To provide context, Mary & Martha’s brother Lazarus has just died. Jesus had received word that Lazarus was sick a few days prior; rather than running to heal him, Jesus “abode two days still in the same place” (verse 6). (SPOILER ALERT: Jesus raised him from the dead)…

Martha’s words are what got me thinking about success & failure and how we relate the two to God’s presence in our lives. In that moment when Martha goes to Jesus, I picture a woman who’s disappointed, yes, but I also see a woman who hasn’t allowed that disappointment to change her faith and love for God. She still believes in Him. She still knows His character and she still knows that even in this dark hour, God can do something incredible.

I know I’m guilty of allowing disappointments and earthly circumstances shape my view of God’s presence in my life and also guilty of then questioning whether or not He will do something in that dark night of the soul. Logically, I know He’s sovereign, but logic goes out the door when a disappointment hits and when you’re at your lowest.

I was able to accomplish solid work in 2016, yet many other areas of my life were a mess. God was still there; I just wasn’t turning to Him enough. If I had failed to make my films, I would’ve been disappointed, but He still would’ve been there. If something “good” happens, it doesn’t mean He’s present (He’s present regardless of that outcome– not because of it) and if something “bad” happens it doesn’t mean He’s absent. It’s foolish to use earthly parameters to define God’s presence in our life. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, He’s still the same.


Fundraising Tips & Film Thoughts

I launched the fundraiser campaign for my short film, One of Too Many exactly 11 days ago, and what an 11 days it has been. This is the first time I’ve ever done a fundraiser for a film, and in these short ~2 weeks I’ve definitely learned a few things about fundraising for a creative project that I wanted to share. Note: my tips aren’t ones that’ll give you a successful campaign– because I have no clue how to do that– my tips are on how to stay sane when you aren’t having a successful campaign.

Be patient. In the first 12 hours of the campaign not a single person donated. Definitely not the outcome I anticipated, but I stayed cool; “You’ve got this, God” I chanted to myself in the bathroom at work. A little more time passed and finally the first donation came in! It was from an ‘anonymous’ donor…  I opened IndieGoGo’s e-mail with the details of the donation and I learned that the ‘anonymous’ donor was someone I liked to call Mom… Yeah I shouldn’t have to explain the mix of emotions I was feeling at that point… Patience. Patience is needed because every person and every campaign won’t instantly raise thousands or even hundreds of dollars. It takes time and sometimes hard work to raise anything.

Be Thankful. For every penny that people do give and for every share, like or comment. No one has to give or do anything nice for your campaign. You are begging people for money or for a social media promotion. These things make people uncomfortable. We see it everyday in the subways and on the streets; someone begs for money and 95% of the population will walk by this person without so much as a second glance. When you start a fundraiser campaign, you have officially become that street beggar– not quite literally. You really have to learn to appreciate and thank those people that take the time to give; to share your campaign and to offer words of advice. Which brings me to the next point.

Be willing to ask anyone. A wise woman once gave me great advice:”The worst I can say is, ‘no;’ you never know until you ask.” Asking people for money is hard. It sometimes feels embarrassing, which is why at first it’s easiest to reach out to people that you are really close to– best friends, family, etc. or to people that you automatically assume will donate because of any number of other reasons. You soon start to realize that you’re limiting your options by thinking like this. Ask everyone for help. The worst anyone can ever say is no and people can surprise you. I’ve reached out to people I haven’t spoken to in months & some even years, and yet still these people generously opened their wallets for the film.

Let out your emotions. I’m a crier. I am probably one of the most sensitive, emotional people you will ever meet so when something bad happens, I cry. Day 1 of the fundraiser, I told myself “You can cry, wallow in self pity and contemplating quitting for five minutes a day, but that’s it.” Naturally, I broke my rule a few times and wallowed a bit more frequently than I should’ve. The point of this rule is for me to be honest and vulnerable with myself so that I can continue to lead my cast and crew with strength. I’ve gone the route of bottling things up before and it has never ended pretty. But the key part with this portion was for me to let my emotions out to God. I didn’t just declare my fears and doubts to myself. I prayed about them and wrote them in my journal and released them to God. He didn’t magically make them go away, but when I brought them to Him, He gave me clarity and peace of mind, which gave me the strength to continue to work on the film and to try to raise the funds.

Be prepared to fail. A lot of my disappointment from the first day of the campaign came because I expected the campaign to be an immediate success. I expected an overflowing amount of funds to come to the film. So you can see why I felt a bit distraught every time I glanced over at my cell phone, praying for an IndieGoGo notification. When I saw that the campaign was doing poorly I realized I needed to decide how far I was willing to go for this film; how much would I sacrifice for it. The answer came simply: everything. I am literally willing and preparing to go into debt to make this project. So if the fundraiser fails, I will still do everything in my power to tell this story.

To tell you the truth, I’ve been so wrapped up in pre-production plans for the film that I’d temporarily forgotten why I’ve spent the past three months trying to create this project. Last night, I was reminded of why. I read an article about a survivor from the Columbine shooting. The woman is crippled and now in her thirties. She recounted the day the shooting happened and she talked about the constant physical pain she is in because of bullets that hit her that day. I teared up as I read her story. My heart ached as I remembered the pain and fear the victims of mass shootings and people that haven’t even been victims, now feel. Why do I think I can make a difference? Why do I think I should tell this story? Why do I think I can write a mini series that can heal wounds and change lives? This string of questions raced through my mind last night. The short answer to all of them is I can’t. I can’t do any of these things because I am inadequate and far too ignorant to grasp the depth of the pain that people are feeling. But that doesn’t mean, I shouldn’t try. So that is precisely what I’m doing- trying. Trying to tell a story that will bring some measure of peace and healing into people’s lives. I’m a lucky one. In spite of the violence and horrible things that have been happening in the world, I’m still able to believe in the spiritual– to believe in a Good God that loves me and that brings me peace. I know that everyone isn’t able to do that; it’s hard for a lot of people to believe that God can exist when we live in a world full of mass shootings, bombings, and other tragedies. I can’t make you believe, but I can try to impart to you the peace and hope that I feel.

That One Time…

Last year in February I went on a retreat with my church that spoke to me about fear. What I never really reflected on was the prophetic word I received after I was prayed for. The woman that spoke the word to me said she felt God was telling her to tell me that I have to stop saying that things are too good to be true (she didn’t know, but this is absolutely something I always do) and that I have to believe that there are certain passions and desires in me because God put them there and I have to trust that He can open and shut any door laid before me. It is that one time that I reflect on fondly as I continue on my present path.

When I graduated from college in December I had a finite idea of what my next step would be. Unlike most college seniors, I didn’t spend my time networking, applying for jobs and going on interviews. I spent my last few weeks desperately trying to put together one final short film project; petitioning administrative staff to allow me to drop a class I didn’t need to graduate; trying to not fail said class when I wasn’t allowed to drop it; and picking up as many extra shifts at my job to milk the benefits of employment as long as I could. Work, future, and the “real world” were the last things on my mind.

When January arrived I was officially a member of the “real world” and I still had no idea what I wanted to do next in life. I’ve always had my abstract goal to make films that effect people in a way that surpasses the natural– a way that gets them to think more earnestly about life, death and the decisions they make everyday. How exactly I would do that has always been a mystery to me. I’ve always loved writing stories and screenwriting has always been a passion of mine. However, I believe the bar for writers should be set very high; they should be well read and have a mastery of words and grammar and I didn’t quite meet these standards. So calling myself a writer always seemed quite daunting. Plus, I’ve always known that writing does not pay the bills because the chances of selling a script are few and far between. So for a good amount of time I strayed away from the path of a writer; I did everything I could while in college to learn about the production side of film.

In spite of my dismal outlook on screenwriting, my love for it still pushed me to take two more screenwriting courses in my last semester at school (screenwriting 2 & writing episode drama)– the latter was a last minute decision that I only got into thanks to COM’s efficient use of Twitter. I took these classes while being the cinematographer in another production course. All of these courses deepened my passion for filmmaking as a whole. They provided me with the skills and experience that made me finally realize what I want to do when I graduate– become a cinematographer!

I sought as much as advice as I could about the steps one should take to become a cinematographer. I did this while commencing my hunt for employment.  In spite of the many places I applied to I received only one call back/interview for an unpaid internship that I didn’t get. Nonetheless, my quest for work and a deeper understanding of cinematography made perfect sense and I didn’t want to give up on either one until after two things happened.

Thing 1: while getting advice about being a cinematographer from a woman I used to intern for she made a good point that I had long since forgotten: She mentioned to me that she assumed I had always wanted to be a storyteller because I like writing. However, she did remind me that I’ll always be the writer and I basically will then just need a day job. Rationally, that made perfect sense, but something in me felt like writing shouldn’t just be what I do on the side– at least not during that time period.

Thing 2 (The MOST random thing): I had just finished watching a new episode of Arrow and the social media addict in me wanted to see what people were saying about the episode on Twitter. Somehow, I stumbled upon the Twitter account of one of the writers for the show. I read the person’s bio and saw that they were a graduate of the Warner Brothers Writer’s Workshop. I recalled my professor for writing episode drama, mentioning the workshops and the fact that she did one of them; though, I’m ashamed to admit that when she mentioned them I never thought twice about them. Now, for some reason I was very intrigued by them. I researched as much information on them as I could. I found out that there are a number of them out there, many of which had deadlines in May and 8 spots for the thousands of eager writers that would apply. I found such odds to be both terrifying and exhilarating. So I made the boldest and quite possibly stupidest decision of my life: I decided I was going to be one of those thousands of applicants and I would do so by foregoing my job search to write two solid scripts to enter while reading more, writing more and watching more TV (prior to this my favorite TV show was Pretty Little Liars and I was only following two other TV shows in other words my television knowledge was wanting).

So while I embarked on this journey of being a writer, I continued to look for part time work at film studios. Yet, as I looked at each job description I realized working in any sort of film company would seriously hinder the time I have to write and I didn’t want to just settle for writing on the side. It hit me that this is quite possibly the one time in my life when I can write without worrying about bills or other responsibilities since I’m still living at home with that lovely loan grace period. So I temporarily shut the door on finding film/tv work of any kind.

But the greed in me wouldn’t subside that easily. I wanted a job– any job. I hated not making money so I started to search for part and full time jobs close to home that wouldn’t be as demanding as film work. I kid you not… I did not receive even ONE response from a business and I was applying for jobs that HS students could do. I understand that the job market is pretty bad, but something in me felt that that wasn’t why I wasn’t getting work. It seemed in my gut like it was happening because this wasn’t a season where God wanted me to work. It felt like this was a season where I was to augment my comprehension of TV and improve my writing. I became more comfortable with this season as the days went by, but that comfort rarely lasted.

Every time I heard that someone I knew accepted a job or got into grad school, doubt, jealousy and fear crept inside of me. I really couldn’t tell if I was delusional or if I was actually doing what God wanted me to do. I took a risk, hoping it was the latter and decided I would not look for work until I finished both scripts for the workshops. It’s funny, the more I began to work on the scripts and study TV shows, the more I realized that this is absolutely like a full time job. Not only that, but it is the BEST job because the more I did it the more I realized how intense my passion for it was. I am so captivated by television shows now and even more enraptured by writing televisions scripts that I now know that THIS is what I long to do for a living. If you flashback to an old blog of mine prior to graduation I did not have a dream job.

My scripts are still under construction and April is more than halfway over, meaning that those deadlines, along with the end of my student loan grace period are coming soon. Today I started to go into panic mode again as I began to fear for my future. I wanted to just apply to every single job and do everything to find one NOW. But I don’t like to do things out of panic because I know that that panic is always the product of me relying on myself, my plans and my merits while ignoring the God that loves me. I prayed to The Lord to direct me and to speak to me. Before I connected with God I was washing dishes and in the process, the song “God of the Impossible” by Everfound came into my head. When I finally had my time with The Lord I made sure to listen to it and I am glad I did.

Here I am, Lord send me | I won’t look back cause I was made | To be a part of the impossible | You’re God of the impossible | Here I am, Lord send me | I won’t back down cause I believe | You are the God of the impossible | You’re God of the impossible | Here I am, send me!

This song’s lyrics overwhelmed me with emotions as the question formed in my head “Do I believe God is The God of the impossible?” That answer absolutely was a YES!!!! So my decision stood; I was and am going to hold off on looking for work until after I have, the best possible, most engaging, marketable drafts of my scripts. No, this decisions doesn’t come with the reassurance that I’ll be one of the eight people in a writer’s workshop nor does it stand with the promise that I’ll find a job immediately when I start searching again. I believe in my heart that it comes with the guarantee that God will be faithful to me because I’ve relinquished control of my life to Him and that that means that He will lead me to an impossible place that I would’ve never foreseen. In all honesty, He has already done that during these past four months; He has birthed in me a hunger to read, an improvement in my writing skills, a forgiveness for those who have hurt me, an independent spirit, a more humble spirit and a trust in Him that I haven’t had in years. These past few months have exceeded my expectations of what I would learn upon graduating from college and I thank God for that because I know this was a part of His plan for my life. So regardless of the rejections that are in store for me when I begin my job hunt once more, I will joyously praise Him because I know He’s the God of the impossible and every door that closes or opens before me is one that is bringing me to where He wants me to be.

Three Lessons Three Summers Have Taught Me

Summer ends in approximately 2 weeks and I have no clue what to do with myself. Kidding, but not. Up to this point, every other summer preceding a semester at Boston University has been spent with tears, excitement, curiosity and nerves. That’s because I’ve spent every other summer with no concrete idea of whether or not I would actually be able to return to school.

I applied to BU knowing that I couldn’t afford it and I decided to attend the school, still knowing I couldn’t afford it. I made this decision because I wanted to challenge God. I realized that if He wanted me at BU, He would make the way. I told Him this in prayer; asking Him to provide for me in miraculous ways that would bring His name glory and year after year for the past 3 years, He has. And now for the first summer in the past 3 years, I’m able to say, classes start in 2.5 weeks and all is settled for me to return– a shocking, much appreciated blessing from above. I’m also now able to sit and reflect on what God has taught me since I prayed that prayer.

1) He doesn’t work how we tell Him to.

My biggest struggle: analyzing things to death and then drawing a conclusion that seems most fitting to me. Naturally, I’ve spent each year fantasizing about the perfect way for God to work things out for me to return to BU. Even more naturally, He has ignored me. I don’t have a problem trusting in God. I have crazy faith in Him to do anything. It’s people I have problems with. I tend to think the worst of them and try to do anything and everything on my own and/or with His help. So each year when I prayed for Him to miraculously sort my finances, He said no. I didn’t need to learn to believe in Him. I needed to learn to believe in people. Year after year He provided the right circumstances and people in my life to make it possible for me to return to school. And when I say the “right circumstances” and the “right people” I mean He has provided beyond stressful situations and unexpected people in order to really challenge me and alter my perspectives.

2) The Lord is faithful to finish what He began.

The summer before my freshman year was spent with a lot of fasting. The Friday before classes began towards the end of my fast, I felt this sense of peace and calm; it felt like His promise that He would pave the way for me to go to BU. Unfortunately, the next 2 summers, I forgot about that promise… I saw doors close in such discouraging ways that I found myself having a hard time believing that I really would make it to another year at school. Each year I prayed and longed for a sure sign that I would return to school. Each time I prayed I heard nothing from Him. He was silent because He had already spoken to me and made His promise in August 2011. So even when circumstances changed and things looked more bleak in August 2012 and 2013, His promise hadn’t. His promises are faithful and regardless of what adversities arise, He will finish what He began.

3) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28

This is a bible verse I’ve known for most of my life, but I can honestly I never really believed or understood it until BU. The very circumstances that discouraged me and made me question whether or not I would return to school each year were the very circumstances He used to challenge me and exercise my faith. Without each obstacle, I wouldn’t have really understood the incredible ways that He works and can use other people in our lives to carry out those works.

Essentially, over the past three summers I’ve learned that my God is beyond awesome and so are His plans and the people He has placed in my life.

Well, I guess I’m quite the bit bipolar today

This post will probably make me seem bipolar since it ultimately contradicts my previous post for today, but I still feel I have to share to properly share my journey with those that are reading.

I’m scared. I have faith in my God to do the impossible, but I’m still scared. I wanna go back to BU so badly, and the Doubting Thomas in me that creeps every so often makes me think what if that doesn’t happen? If it doesn’t, I’ll know it wasn’t God’s plan for my life for this year. Even if I’ll know that it wasn’t His plan, it’ll still hurt. I guess these doubts are my own fault for looking at the circumstances with my natural eyes. Nonetheless, in my current weakness, I know that God will make me strong for whatever is to come.

Daytime Edition

I haven’t blogged in a while so this is an extra-not-so-special daytime edition of my rambles.

It’s Thursday and the new semester for my school starts on Tuesday and I’m expecting to move in on Sunday. The only problem is I don’t know where I’ll be moving into. I feel like the Israelites. God brought me out of the struggle I was in when I was previously unable to settle my past due balances. Now I’m in the desert, but not alone. One obstacle at a time, He has reminded me of His goodness and generosity by opening doors that I didn’t think would be opened. So in spite of the fact that I have very limited time to see how everything will work out, I’m still believing that it will work out. I’m still believing that I will set foot on that campus as a student with a place to live for the 2013/2014 school year. And I believe this because I’m a flawed, doubting, sinful human that is loved so greatly by an over generous God that makes the impossible possible.

What astounds me most about our generous God is the way that He works in everyone’s life in a different way according to His will for each person’s life. He gives us exactly what we need for whatever season of life we are in; and exactly what we need can be bitter or sweet. So, why do I believe that God is going to give me something sweet by allowing me to attend BU again by the start of next week? Well, because I think it’s a part of His plan for my life. I also think so because of reasons that I cannot understand. Sometimes we don’t understand the answers or explanations for why  good or bad things happen in life or for why we think said good or bad things will happen. That’s where faith comes in. Where we believe in what we cannot see and do not know, trusting that something incredible and miraculous will happen.

today I will blindly follow You

“If there’s a road I should walk help me find it; if I need to be still give me peace for the moment.” — these lyrics in the Sidewalk Prophets song “Help Me Find it” have described my current predicament in the past few months all too well.

Two years ago, before I started my freshman year at Boston University, I decided I wanted to make my pathway there a faith walk. The bible is packed with stories that reveal just how faithful God is when we ignore human reasoning and wholeheartedly put our trust in Him, so that’s what I’ve been doing semester after semester at BU. Ignoring my circumstances, and financial struggles in order to allow my God to wow me, and those around me with His awesome ability to perform miracles great and small.

The aforementioned song “Help Me Find It” resonates with me because its lyrics portray exactly how I’ve been feeling throughout this faith walk. My God is good and faithful, but I’m a human and I’m scared. I trust Him, and know that He has the best plans for me. Though it’s scary not knowing what those plans are. At times I have a faith high where I know He won’t let me down; where I know I’ll be back at BU in the fall. At other times, I still know He won’t let me down; the difference with the latter knowledge is the fact that that truth about HIm means that any path, BU, or not BU He prepares for me for the fall is the best path. I have faith in my God, but it’s a constant struggle when I don’t know where He’s taking me. When I question whether or not He wants me to blindly continue to follow, or if He wants me to take an action in another direction. It’s an up and down roller coaster with my mind.

Today, I’m choosing to blindly continue to follow. I’m choosing to have faith, and to believe that my God knows what’s best for me– even when I don’t.