“High school was a rough place for me. I was trying to determine who I could be, and being ridiculed for who I was. We had a week-of-prayer speaker come in who spent his entire allotted time at the pulpit targeting people just like me: people who believed in fairy tales, people who loved Disney movies, people who loved fiction. I spent the rest of that school year trying to convince people I wasn’t some Satanist or Jesus-hater because I occasionally liked to watch some Lilo and Stitch or Lady and The Tramp.
My freshman year of college I applied for the Disney College Program. I went to a character performer audition in Chicago. I was offered a position with the company and was given a room to board at Disney World, on-site in Bay Lake, Florida. I spent weeks trying to juggle the emotions that came with people being proud of me and people being disgusted. In the end, I resigned my position in the name of my beliefs. Through every step of the process I was assured that one of my two days off could be Saturday. That was not the case. But I healed from that blow by starting my own ministry in Lincoln, Nebraska in which I would gather friends and volunteers and dress up as princes and princesses to hand out balloons, coloring pages, and love to the children of the community.
Stories have always been a big part of my life. I intake all forms of story: cinematic, written, theatrical. I even write my own stories. Of those, my favorite stories have always been fiction. Justification finally came for me when I read the book ‘Shaped by Stories’ by Marshall Gregory, and every argument I ever had regarding the incredible power of fiction was summed up perfectly. I believe stories are what make the world go round and keep us learning and growing as human beings. We have always been storytellers, from the time God breathed life into Adam.
Some of the greatest storytellers to me that had lasting impacts my life were people like Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, any authors that helped write the American Girl series, Walt Disney, and Jesus. His examples of love found in the tattered pages of the gospels is how I choose to live my life, and I follow the stories of fiction He set forth for me. I can’t turn my back on everything I have learned from the stories that shaped me. I will continue to use them to guide me and live a life of purpose I believe He layed out for me.”