The Life I Dreamed

Friday, December 17, 2010
Today is an old friend's birthday. I met him in high school (he sat two seats behind me in IPC) and we ended up having the same life dream of working in the movie industry. We even went to the same college (although we only had one or two classes together). Checking out his photos on Facebook I start seeing other faces I know, people that I went to college with. And these people and my friend are doing exactly what I have dreamed of doing all of my life. I turned and went a different direction, but they are living out my life's dream. Yet I would have it no other way.

When I was a kid (think elementary school) my brother told me that I should grow up to be a pyrotechnic engineer. "What's that?" I asked. "It is someone who is paid to blow stuff up." he replied. "Cool! I want to do that!" was my obvious reply.

But that career dream didn't stay the same long. What I soon realized is that I didn't dream of being a pyrotechnic engineer, what I dreamed of is working on special effects on movie sets. And soon after that my dreames turned from working on special effects to just working on movie sets.

All through middle school and high school I wanted to work in the movies. I dreamed most of being a director (in this industry who doesn't?), but I really didn't care what job I was doing. "My life's dream is to, someday, watch a movie and at the end see my name. I don't care where my name is, first thing after the credits start rolling or last thing before the final logo, I just want to see it there."

And so the last two years of high school and my entire college career were focused on that one goal: getting my name in the credits of a movie. Of course the idea wasn't to stop there, the idea was to (in one way of putting it) get my name sooner and sooner in the credits until one day it would end up as the first name you see when the credits start rolling. I worked long and hard on this goal, it was what I lived for.

And what would you know? Not a month after I graduated college I was on the set of a FILM! Granted, it was a small budget film that was using mostly students to work it, but it was a full blown bonafide film set.

I met a lot of amazing people while working on that film, but I already knew a lot of the people I was working with (they were students with me at UNT). And surprise surprise who shows up but my friend from two seats behind me in IPC class, who has paralleled my education career and has ended up at the same place as me. We had a great time working on that set together.

Fast forward three years: I haven't set foot on a film set since the first week of January '08, and here I sit looking at photos of my friend from high school hanging out and working on film sets with all of my college RTVF buddies.

Sure, part of me longs for the good old days with my friends, moving lights around and setting up c-stands; it was the thing I have dreamed of doing for most of my life! And yet I wouldn't trade my life with theirs for ANYTHING! The reason why comes back to that cold first week of 2008 working on my first film set:

I hated it.

The reason is simple: working on that set was the most un-creative thing I have done in my entire life. The mantra of a grip/gaffer on set is "Do exactly what you are told, and do nothing else." For those that know me well: this didn't sit well with me!

I kept looking around the set and would try to make things "better". Not that I would step out of my role as a grip/gaffer, I was just trying to be the best at what I was doing. For example if asked to bring one apple box I would bring two just in case another was needed. I would think ahead and start putting gels on windows before I was asked to. I would clean up after people, and right other people's "wrongs" (that's my OCD speaking).

It took me a few days to figure out why everyone continually yelled at me.

See, my job was not to bring an extra apple box or think ahead. In fact my job was to not think at all! "Do exactly what you are told, and do nothing else." "I don't care if we will end up putting gels on those windows, I didn't tell you to do it, so why are you doing it?"

I was lost.

I was in a world that dumbs you down, a world that doesn't want you to think for yourself, a world that demands that you eat the crumbs that have fallen off of the master's plate long before you earn the right to ever get a full bite to eat, much less the feast they advertise in the "Special Features" section of "The Matrix" DVD.

And so I entered the second week of January '08 with my dreams shattered, completely deflated, crushed. And yet I wouldn't have it any other way!

See: on the surface those two weeks were a huge sudden change for me, an absolute shock to my system. And yet they totally play into a much more subtle story, one that goes back just as far as the last story and one that would continue to this day (and beyond).

Back when I was telling everyone that I wanted to be a pyrotechnic engineer I was also telling everyone that I was a Christian. But that was a lie.

In middle school I fell into pornography. I was addicted like a drunk wants a drink. I planned my day around it, and I became very good at hiding what I was really doing on the computer all those hours.

And after every "session" I felt the guilt. I knew it was wrong. I knew what I was doing was against God's will. And yet I kept doing it.

I was living a lie. I wore Christian shirts to school to feel righteous, but would then go home and defy God with all that I was. And it wasn't just the pornography. I wasn't going to church, I didn't read my Bible, I was spiritually dead.

Sure I could quote you John 3:16 and I knew the Sunday School stories of Noah and Moses. But my heart cared more about the pleasures of this life than about God. In reality I was the worst kind of Christian there is: a Cultural Christian; one that proclaims Jesus as his Lord but never actually lives it.

The Bible uses the illustration of a fruit bearing tree. "Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." (Luke 7:17-18, NIV).

At that time in my life what fruit was I bearing? Well I wasn't reading scripture, I wasn't going to church, and I was spending all of my time watching TV and pornography. Looks like I was bearing bad fruit.

Yet I am not the same today, so what changed? Well I wish that I could say that some bright light knocked some sense into me, or even that there was one passionate night of prayer at youth camp. But it was nothing exciting as that. In fact it is downright boring: After (quite randomly) deciding to give up pornography in college I began a slow U-turn, changing from someone in love with self into someone in love with God. I love the term "repent" and the imagery it brings to mind. The word literally means to turn 180 degrees and go in the opposite direction. I now live a repentant life: I have turned away from my sin and I am going in the other direction.

And smack dab in the middle of this U-turn was January 1st 2008, the best/worst week of my life, working my dream job as those same dreams came crashing down around me.

If the Devil were in charge of me them there is no telling what would have happened to me after that. Gone back to pornography? Probably. Fallen in with the wrong crowd? Maybe. Become so depressed that there would be no light at the end of the tunnel? Most definitely.

But God wouldn't have that! In fact I am convinced that God saw this coming! See, four years before my dreams vanished like cupcakes at a children's party my brother somehow convinced me to start helping out with sound at a small country church. (Nowadays I think he did it because he didn't care about why I was going to church, as long as I was there.)

Over the next four years that little charity act by my brother became a full blown passion in my life. I became head of the AV team at one of the fastest growing Methodist churches in America (not a little country church any more, is it?), and I was also volunteering at the largest church in Denton at their night and college services.

So while the Devil was ready to tear me down by ripping away my life's dream, God revealed that he had already built a different foundation for me to step onto, a passion that to this day is still the focus of my life.

I eat and breathe church media. My day revolves around it. The only reason I am running a small business on the side is that the church can't pay me full time wages (which makes sense because it isn't a full time position). If it doesn't involve church media, family, or a way to pay the rent at the end of the month, chances are I am probably not doing it (which may just explain why I am still single... but I digress!).

And I blame (PRAISE!) God for all of this! I believe that He was working through my brother in 2003 when he convinced me to help out at the church. And I believe that He continued to work through me so that when my dreams shattered one cold week in January 2008 He could reveal to me that my true passion in life made my old dreams look like a faded black and white TV set.

Fast forward three years. I sit here tonight looking at photos of my high school friend. He has continued down the path that I once dreamed of, working on film sets with all of my old college RTVF buddies.

And I (thank God!) would have it no other way.


PS: To read about my addiction to pornography, read this post.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Tonight was an amazing night! For the first time I got to see a DCI show LIVE! It was a great show and I had a fun time hanging out with my roommate.

And I took photos. Lots of photos.

OK, not lots of photos like my brother would take lots of photos, but in the four hours we were in the stadium I took 113 photos and 12 videos. So I am creating a post on my much neglected blog to share many of those photos and videos with you. So here we go!

NOTE: I recently purchased my first iPhone and I haven't had a chance to compare my old point-and-shoot (a DCS-1050 from Norcent) to the iPhone 4 camera. So the below photos are a mixture of both iPhone photos and point-and-shoot photos. The site that I am using to host the photos (PhotoBucket) is compressing the images, so you won't get a full comparison between the two cameras, but you will still be able to notice the difference. I just wanted to point this out to explain why some photos look different.

NOTE 2: Click on photos to see a much larger version (though, as stated above, it is still not the original photo).

Vigilantes - Denton, TX
The show started off with a small local corps.

Music City - Nashville, TN
Another small corps, but not local.

Forte - Grand Prairie, TX
Another small corps, this time local again. (Trust me, the commentary gets better later.)

Velvet Knights - Pasadena, CA
The Velvet Knights were a BLAST to watch, probably the band that had the most fun on field tonight. They were dancing and being super creative, all while wearing bright red Converse shoes.

Revolution - San Antonio, TX
The first band of decent size, Revolution was fun to watch.

Crossmen - San Antonio, TX
The first "World Class" corps, the Crossmen were a great watch.

(taken via camera, for comparison)

(taken via iPhone, for comparison)

Madison Scouts - Madison, WI
I enjoy watching the Madison Scouts, if only because I was a Boy Scout once! Great team to watch!

Blue Stars - La Crosse, WI
My roommate and I agree: the Blue Stars were the most fun to watch all night long! Their theme was based on Houdini, and they made great use of the theme. For example, for the first few minutes all of the color guard are in straight jackets, yet they still find ways to twirl their flags while "struggling" to get free. Very well done!

Carolina Crown - Ft. Mill, SC
I had never heard of the Carolina Crown before, but they were an amazing corps. Very well executed!

(panorama via AutoStitch for iPhone)

The Cadets - Allentown, PA
Coming into this competition I had a bias: I am a huge fan of The Cadets. This year's theme was "Toy Soldier", and they pulled if off very well.

The Cavaliers - Rosemont, IL
The Cavaliers are the home town favorites, and they didn't disappoint! It wasn't a huge surprise when they won best of show. They deserved it!

Encore - by The Cavaliers

(panorama via to Photoshop)


Final Scores - World Class
91.85 The Cavaliers
90.05 Carolina Crown
89.25 The Cadets
87.2 Blue Stars
83.0 Madison Scouts
77.1 Crossmen

Final Scores - Open Class
79.85 Revolution
74.65 Forte
73.8 Music City
72.6 Velvet Knights

Special thanks to:
Luke, my coworker, who let me off tonight. Super Thanks!
PhotoBucket for hosting the photos
YouTube for hosting the videos
A Better Finder Attributes for helping me to fix the 42 minute lag from one of my cameras.


Quote of the day

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Quote of the day: "This is America, we focus on what we want to. That's our right. That's what freedom is. Some people are all about education, some people could give a crap. Some people care about disease and ending malaria, some people want to put socks on troops, some people want to eat donuts, some people want to eat cookies. It's a choice; it's a freedom; it's America!" ~OhDoctah (AKA Owen JJ Stone) on This Week in Tech

Words of Guilt

Saturday, March 06, 2010
"Words of Guilt" by Matthew Kelling

Words fill the screen,
pages and pages,
words forever.

He reads the words,
filled with awe,
wonder, excitement.

He is transfixed by the words,
he reads them as they scroll by,
on and on, page after page.

The words give meaning to his life,
define him, console him
in the most pleasant of ways.

He has to stop,
but the words cry out for him to continue,
he feels the guilt,
but the rapture he feels doesn't care,
deep down he knows,
but up above the thoughts are pushed aside.

The words keep scrolling,
faster, faster,
the beat of his heart keeps time,
faster, faster.

Suddenly he stops!
not because there are no more words to read
(oh there are so many more),
but because the deed is done.

Now the guilt pours in,
it drowns him,
buckets of guilt,
shame, pain.

Is this who he is?
Defined by such words,
and nothing else?

"What have I done?"
"The promises I have broken..."
"The pain I have caused..."


"Why, God, why?"
"Make me stop!"
"This was the last time!"


"Unworthy as I am,
how could you ever forgive me?"
" I forgiven?"

His soul cries out for the crimes he committed,
but deep down inside
he knows he will commit again.


Why does mankind lust? Is it because of some deep primal urge brought on since the beginning of time? Is it culture and media pressing their agenda onto us? Is it our wicked flesh getting the better of us? Is it demons attacking us while we are defenseless?

Regardless of the reason, I know I am forgiven.

Will I commit again? I hope not, but there is a chance. One thing I know is that there are no words of lust, no pictures of cute girls, no videos of obscene acts that could ever separate me from the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Amen.

~Matthew Kelling

"Rockin Songs"

Thursday, March 04, 2010
Here is my (old) iTunes playlist that I have always worked out to. I am now creating a new playlist as this one is a bit old and needs refreshing. Clicking on a song will open the playlist in iTunes, once there you can preview all of the songs.


Family Religion

Friday, January 15, 2010
Our family has never engaged in religion together.

Don't get me wrong. Probably every person I am related to is a Christian (of one denomination or another). We all grew up Christian and we share the same beliefs.

But when we come together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, or just to hang out, we mostly leave our religion at the door. It is not that we start cussing and telling dirty jokes, we just don't bring our faith into our relationships. We never bring the entire extended family to one church on Sunday, we don't worship together, we don't engage in religious discussions (with a few notable exceptions), and outside of praying before each meal we never engage in pray together.

Fast forward to Christmas 2009. Over 20 relatives are packed into my grandmother's house for Christmas brunch, white elephant gifts, and the main gift exchange. After the last "scheduled event" (the Christmas staple of everyone opening their presents) one of the family members spoke up saying that she had a prayer request. Everyone listened as she spoke about a specific problem that she was going through in her life, and she finished by asking that we keep her in our prayers. We all agreed that we would.

There was an awkward silence, and everyone turned back to their favorite gift from that morning; but my aunt had a different idea. "Well, we are all here, can we pray for you right now?"

Of course the Family-Member-In-Need said yes, and we all gathered around her and laid hands on her. Someone started a prayer and we in turn each added to the prayer. We didn't only pray for the one specific need, we also prayed for guidance in all of our lives, protection for family as they travel, and blessings on an out-of-state relative who had a child due in a few days. It was a beautiful moment in time when we all lifted our hearts and focused on God.

Out of all of the Christmases that I have had with my amazing relatives, out of all of the Easters and Thanksgivings and casual moments and cruises, the games we played, the late nights we spent talking, and the quiet times we shared; out of all of the times I have spent with family, this single moment is my favorite: When we got on our knees and laid hands on a loved one for God's protection, guidance, and healing.

I continue to pray that this is the last family member that needs this type of prayer, but I also pray that this is only the first of many times that we as a family join together in prayer to and worship of our amazing God.