God's Alive & Well
Billy Gilman (at age 11)

Welcome to my blog, updated whenever something of interest happens in my life (for the most part). Complete with pictures and video, you're sure to have a great time (although I can't promise you that). Anyway, thanks for visiting!

(pictures expandable by clicking)


Thomas Trek/Festival
October 27, 2006

A few days before my trip to Texas the Thomas family stopped by for a visit on their way down to the festival themselves. I met Michael Thomas about ... hmm ... five years ago while visiting the Voellers. My very first impression of him was, "Wow, this guy's unique." He wore an Indiana Jones type adventure hat, climbed towering light poles while David Voeller and I played tennis, and enjoyed talking late into the night about Brain Types which, at the time, he claimed to not believe in. He's pretty much the same today, though I think he now believes in Brain Types to some degree. Right, Mike? :-)

Anyway, the academy and festival were incredibly fun to attend, even if the outcome wasn't all that glorious. I met so many new people, and learned quite a bit, even if the information shared at the academy was, in my opinion, a little too "in the future" for most of those attending.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, we didn't win any awards, nor were we nominated for anything. Yes, admittedly, I was shocked, and still am to some degree. I don't know why we weren't at least nominated, and my only guess is that they felt some of the material in the movie was too controversial. I don't believe it was for technical reasons, as some of the films nominated had larger technical issues then our film. In any case, it's pointless to speculate, and I choose to focus on the bright side ... that we were accepted and that our film was shown. Remember, they gave us another chance to cut our film down because we exceeded the time limit ... they also allowed us to send them better DVDs because the ones we sent in had problems. Truly, God was good, and I am thankful.

And though we did not win any awards, so many people came up to tell us how much they enjoyed our film, and some spoke of how it touched them inwardly. I had one fellow around my age come up and tell me how he knew the script-writer must have experienced personally what took place in the film, because he had been experiencing many of the same things. Of course I told him that I had written the story, and that yes, I had been experiencing many of those particular trials.

So enough of my blabbing, and on to pictures.

Our last breakfast together. From left clockwise ... Marscel, Matthew, Mrs. Thomas, Mr. Thomas, Jeremy, Danielle, Michael, Melanie, Micaiah, and Melissa (oh and Kalea there in the corner).

Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find this picture on my memory card. Striking pose, Marscel.

Really just unbelievable. These packages arrive and inside we find ... well ... look at them. Am I that egotistical? lol ... whatever the case, a big thank you to the Flynn family for making these ... lovely ... shirts.

A closer look. By the way, six of these photos are courtesy of Michael Thomas' blog.

Now that is a shot! Michael, you are amazing ... or just really, really clever.

Kardia's shield, an Aphel's sword, and the wig of Moria. Micaiah is the epitome of Being.

In front of the official "Book of Being" sign that was kindly created by Jeremy a few months back.

Jordan Niednagel gives an in depth tour of the actual, official cave used in "The Book of Being." Funny, I had promised myself I would never go back to that dreaded place.

Ok, on to the festival. I love tall hotels, especially when you're on the 9th floor. Also love walking in late at night, and you're dressed nice, and you're wearing your little academy pass around your neck, and you feel all important, and you think other people are wondering what kind of VIP you are. Oh c'mon, don't tell me you've never entertained that idea. Oh c'mon!

Our view. Glorious San Antonio in the early morning.

Getting on the elevator ... dressed nice ... feeling important. Sorry, I'll stop that.

At the academy. Such an ornate interior after once being a stable for horses.

Kyle Drew and Nathan Daher. Kyle's a Canadian, and a very kind, deep-thinking individual. He produced "A Truth and Love for Life."

Nathaniel Sisson and Nathan have an intense discussion over quantum physics and the law of angular momentum ... or I assume it was something like that.

You knew it was coming. I had to get at least one of my infamous self-shots. That's Hans and Jason. Jason thought he was an ENFJ ... the moment I saw him, I just knew he wasn't. Had the persona of one, perhaps, but he possessed the critiquing, strategic mind of an ENTP. Nathaniel Bluedorn wanted me to Type a number of people, in fact, but I just tried to ignore him. lol, Brain Typing seems like such a scam when you have to tell someone that basically everyone there is an ENTP. C'mon, this a homeschool film festival. It's like throwing a cow carcass in the ocean and expecting dolphins to show up. No, you'll attract nothing but sharks (btw, I am in no way implying that ENTPs are sharks :-D.

Eating lunch together. So proud of Nathaniel Sisson for ordering an organic, non-carbonated glass of room-temperature unconcentrated grape juice.

The building from the outside. Isn't that pretty?

Ok, two self-shots. This is my blog. Sue me.

Fellow from "Facing The Giants" comes and speaks to us. His name escapes my mind right now for some crazy reason. I really appreciated what he had to share about motives and glorifying God.

Ok, so they ask for a volunteer to be the subject of a lesson, and immediately this kid bolts up onto the stage and sits down. He was basically the only individual in the building not wearing dress clothes and whose hair wasn't nicely parted down the side and hair-sprayed. Not Vision Forum material, if you catch my drift. Philips must have been squirming in his chair as the kid made funny faces into the camera nearly the entire time. Can't say I didn't personally enjoy it, though. :-)

Nathan and I with Ryan Eckerson and Josh Lucken, two loyal fans of Brad Steele and Kyle Shields. Nicest guys in the world. I was shocked at how many people had seen our short funny films. Kind of embarrassing, really. In any case, on Sunday I met up with Josh again at the airport who had just missed his flight. Poor guy. Trust you got home safe and sound, Josh.

The beloved Duggar family lines up to receive their graduation certificates. Such a nice family. Jim Bob, the dad, came up to me at the festival and said hello because he had recognized my last name. Apparently he's heard about us through the Voellers. Anyway, if I look as great as he does at his age (and considering so many children), I'll be in hog heaven.

Eating out with the guys at Whataburger. Man, that place is ... not ... fantastic. Let's just say I've had better. In the background, John Moore debates calvinism/arminianism with Rob Tull. Good gravy, guys, please talk about ANYTHING else. That's one subject I've exhausted one too many times. Oh, and in the foreground is Colton Davie and Nathaniel Bluedorn, definitely the quietist ones in the group. You just patiently, quietly wait until one of them graces you with some pearl of wisdom.

Onto the river walk with the Daher family. Here Kyle and Brad exchange photographs.

The ladies pose together.

So this jerk brushes past my shoulder as we head down to the river ... and just before I deliver him his own personal knuckle sandwich, a familiar face turns and faces me. David Voeller! A most pleasant surprise. "Come," I tell him. "Join us on our 12-minute river excursion aboard a most seaworthy craft." "Yea," he replies. "By your leave, I shall."

These guys were awesome.

Cruising over to register for the festival.

I was really cold for some reason at lunch, so David kindly lent me his nice leather jacket. Man, not only was it comfortable, but I looked incredibly snazzy in it *cough*. Dave, get me one for my birthday, k?

Looking for an engaging speaker? This is Kevin Swanson, one of the festival judges. The guy gets a full workout after giving a single lecture. A fun character to say the least.

Eating dinner with the entire "Film Google Group" clan. The club's really growing.

Waiting for the next film while Hans and Nathan look over the schedule.

Kalea pleasantly slumbers in Jamesy's arms. Must have been a boring movie.

Now we're talking. Good food, people everywhere, and her own multi-colored table.

Final dinner on the river walk before the ceremonies. Jeremy must have had the camera on some ultra widescreen setting.

Momma and momma Daher.

At the ceremonies, with good friends we were blessed to meet days prior. I haven't cut my hair (save the sides) for almost 4 months now, and it's doing new and funny things that I'm not used to. Example, that little squiggly. I didn't do that, ok? Just leave me alone.

And the final photograph of the trip. Nathan and I pose, with the star cast of "The Oath" sitting behind us. Many compliments could be given about the film, but what most impressed me was the acting. Very, very well done, and I later found out many of them held some type of acting degree. As I said in a former blog entry, my hope was for a fully-acted film to finally win the grand prize, and this year one definitely did. A hearty congratulations to Richard Ramsey and his crew.

Anyway, I got home to gray skies and cold weather ... my dear kitty having just passed away and, of course, the weight of a poor festival showing on my shoulders, when the next day I get an email from Michael Thomas with the below picture attached.

What can I say? A huge smile quickly graced my face. You guys are the best. Thank you for bringing me such joy in the midst of such unjoyful circumstances. I am so grateful, and deeply in your debt.

Thanks for stopping by.


I'll Miss You, Girl
October 23, 2006

I asked my mom not to tell me anything about my cat till after my trip to Texas, as I didn't think I could handle it in the midst of everything going on. Sunday I flew home with dad, and while in Dallas, I just couldn't wait any longer. I felt I was prepared for whatever the answer, and asked him if she was dead. He said yes. Some emotion filled me, but I still felt grounded ... but within seconds I realized that I couldn't see because of the tears welling in my eyes. I was forced to lock myself in an airport restroom and silently weep.

There comes a point where you just have to stop crying, and move on. It's just a cat, I keep telling myself. She was just an animal.

But she was my best friend. I remember nights, even not long ago, when I would cry after a hard day and bury my face in her fur. She would purr as if she knew what was going on. There are countless other stories where she seemed so human to me. But I know she wasn't. But I know she cared.

We didn't win any awards at the festival (pictures later), and although that was hard, her death has been far more difficult for me. In a way it has helped to distract me from the disappointment I would otherwise be feeling about our film, and I suppose that is a blessing. The last 36 hours have been tough, but as this songs says, God's alive and well, and that's the greatest comfort in the world.

It's been a wonderful 17 years growing up together. I'll miss you, girl.


October 14 , 2006

Leave tomorrow for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, where our film is to be seen and judged. Should be a really enjoyable time and I very much look forward to meeting new people and learning a lot at the Academy.

Today has been one of the hardest days of my life as I watch our 17-year old cat, Pookie, slowly wane. She's weak and is having a hard time getting around. It wrenches my heart. I can't remember the last time I've cried this much.

I don't expect anyone to fully understand, and yet those of you who have experienced the passing of a close pet can sympathize with me. We brought her home back in 1989 when I was 7 years old, and for her to just suddenly not be around anymore will just be a shock to me. I know it's just an animal, but after 17 years an animal becomes so much more than that, especially if you grew up with it ... really is the same as losing a best friend. The countless nights she slept at my feet, the games played together with balls and string, the laughs as she tried to attack my finger under blankets ... God inherently gave us a love for animals, even to those who try their best to suppress it.

If she passes, I suppose it will be easier for me if it happens while I'm gone. Maybe she'll get better, though, and live another year or two. At this point ... I just don't know. Below are two pictures Jeremy made for me not long ago.

Thanks for your prayers, and may you all have a blessed week.