December 29, 1996 – Sunday – 3:09 p.m.

I plan to go to High Falls youth group tonight.  Church was really good this morning; Marcus and Nana were there.  Unless I go to the New Year’s Eve service, today was the last service I will attend there for a while.

I got my pictures developed today.

When we were in New York I walked past so many people, I saw the windows of so many homes.  Who were those people?  Were they happy?  Did they know the Lord?  Was their life full of peace or fear?  And even if I ever see any of those people again, I wouldn’t know it.

There was one girl though…

On the way to the parade, Vince and I took the Long Island Railway.  The train was very crowded.  Vince and I were standing.  A family boarded and amongst the crowd I saw the face of a young woman whose expressions on her face and light in her eyes revealed that she knew more than the ones around her.  She was truly alive.  She was a red light.  Only other red lights can see the red lights around them.  I had my camera with me.  The light in the train car was dim, but snapped a picture anyway.

When I picked up my pictures today, I quickly flipped to that one and discovered that she had looked right at me and smiled.

“I do not want to walk through Heaven’s Gates, and not see your face.  And I do not want to dance beside the streams, without you with me.  Or see the angels fill the sky.  The angels sing and all creation cries, ‘Hosanna, Savior, God our Father, Creator, Oh Savior and King.’  You’ve got to be there with me.  Oh, please, you’ve got to be there with me.  Will you be there with me.” – Cindy Morgan

I’ve come across so many people.  So many eyes, so many smiles, so many frowns, so many souls, so many spirits.  I’ve grown to love them all.  Even the strangers, even my enemies, and I want them in Heaven with me.

Even you…

Yes, you.

Why are you reading this?  Why are you reading about my small little life?  Are you a relative?  A friend?  Did I give you permission?  Did you find these old journals?  Did you possibly buy this book?  Am I now dead?!

Whether I know you or not, and however you came to read these spiral bound pages, of this I am sure…I love you and I want you in Heaven with me.  It won’t be complete without you.

 

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December 28, 1996 – Saturday – 10:21 p.m.

Danny and Peter came over last night.  We played Life with Nate.  It was fun.  They are the greatest of friends.  We have a long history together.

My parents went to a funeral and came back to say they saw Jason and Christi.  They both want me to write them and Christi said I should come to her New Year’s Eve party on Tuesday.  If I remember correctly, I stopped by there last year after church on New Year’s Eve.  How fitting that the first and last minutes of 1996 would be spent with Christi.

Mom and Nate and I went shopping in Durham after I got off work.  I bought the That Thing You Do soundtrack.  Before we left for Durham though, we stopped by Aunt Sis’s house on the outskirts of Siler City.  Her place is near where we used to live when I was in elementary school.  As I walked through the front door, I realized it had been several years since I stepped foot in that house.  What a playground that area used to be for me, as well as for Danny and Peter.  We explored those woods between our houses like crazy.  Kevin and I even got lost once and Henry got so mad at us.

Wow, I’ve known Danny and Peter for 14 years.  I didn’t know it was possible to know someone for that long.

Well, three days remain.  What will 1997 bring?

December 27, 1996 – Friday – 5:11 p.m.

I called Sharon last night.  She told me that Allen and Curtis were back in town as well as Tracey and Murrell.  They were getting ready to leave for Disney World to attend a Christian convention of some sort.  I could have gone, but I needed to spend the holidays making money and not just spending it.

I also called Vince.  He’s doing good, but he is homesick for Lees-McRae; as am I.

There are only four days left in 1996.  It’s about over.

A year in which I got snowed in at my own house as desperately missed school.  I played Bearclaw as well as Polonius.  I stage managed Greater Tuna and went skiing three times.  I broke my pinky finger and had surgery on my lip.  I went to Arizona and Nevada for the first time.  I flew on an airplane, and drove through the desert.  I worked at McDonald’s and flirted with Mon Mon.  I ran the box office and the lights during summer theater.  I directed skits and plays with the kids during Vacation Bible School.  I went sledding with Murrell, drove to Boone with Laura, ushered with Dawn, talked deeply with Sherry, swung on the swings with Debbie and Jessica, and talked about the Lord with Abigail.  I went to Atlanta with Curtis, Tampa with the gang, New York with Vince, and Johnson City with Jeni.  I wrote a play. I met Josh, Timothy, and made new memories with new and old friends.  I stared out my window at the beautiful mountains.  I laughed a lot.  And even cried some.

I am happy with this year.

I spent it with people I truly love.

How could I ask for more?

December 26, 1996 – Thursday – 4:00 p.m.

I worked on Monday.  Our family had our Christmas that night.  I thought my mom would buy me a new Bible, but she got me other little stuff instead.  I told her I wanted one, so she said we may go out and look for one.

We drove up to Virginia on early Tuesday morning.  I went over to meet up with my dad and brother.  It was good to see Kevin.  After about an hour though, I was ready to leave.  I can’t believe I’m a part of them.  They are all so blind.  But I love them nonetheless.

Christmas day came and we opened presents at both sets of grandparents.  I so much enjoy my mom’s side of the family more.  They feel like my people.  We sang and actually took time to enjoy the birth of our savior.  It was great to see my cousins Alli and Hunter.  Alli is ten and Hunter is six or seven.  I hadn’t seen them in a while.

I gave each person a picture frame as a gift.  On it I wrote a little something poetic for each person.  Alli saw the one to grandpa and started making fun of it.  I laughed with her, but quickly realized she wanted one to.  We never see her, so we don’t realize she is growing up to be a young woman and doesn’t want little girl gifts any more.  I had two picture frames left, so I wrote a poem and gave one to her.  She smiled and seemed really thankful.  We later played nerf guns and board games.  Alli was easily the highlight of my Christmas of 1996.  She was full of so much joy and thankfulness.

After we opened presents, I went for a walk to the reservoir near by.  I took some pictures and prayed.  I thought and prayed for Abigail.  In fact, I’ve prayed for her every day since I drove away from Lees-McRae on the 11th.

Oh, how I long to return.

December 22, 1996 – Sunday – 11:00 p.m.

I felt really homesick on Friday night.  McDonald’s was very difficult that day.  I just wanted to go home.  So, I called up Sharon.  Laura answered the phone.  I talked to her a little bit.  Sharon made me feel a lot better and helped me remember who I was.

Saturday was another busy day, but Omenya was there and that made it fun.  That afternoon, and went to Greensboro and saw two movies: Ransom and The English Patient.  Ransom was okay, it made me cry, but I really didn’t like it.  The English Patient however was a little dull, but one of the most beautifully photographed films I’ve ever seen.

At church this morning, a girl whom I haven’t seen in over a year and a half came and sat by me.  Her name is Nana.  We talked before the service.  She, unlike every other person from long ago, seemed to be on the right track.  It was great to see her and talk to her.

There was a Christmas gathering with Henry’s side of the family.  It was great to see everyone.  I was blessed with some clothes and a wallet.

This evening, I helped Marcus out with Children’s Church.  He is so good with kids.  That is his gift.  We had a cool conversation on the way back home.

I have so longed for heaven, and I still do, but I forgot that I can have so much of heaven right now.  Romans 5:1-2 say that grace is all around me.  Grace is unearned blessing.  It isn’t simply love, but it is a free gift and the ability to have everything from God.  The second verse says that I stand in grace right now.  Therefore, the glory of God is all around me for the taking.  Glory means character and actions.  God’s character and actions and perception on every possible thing is all around me for the taking in the spirit.

So, I ask for three things.

  1. To know all there is to know about serving my God.  Every in and out.  I long to know all the things I don’t even have the life experience or wisdom now to know that I need to know them.  I long to know God’s will and purpose.
  2. To know all there is to know about crafting stories through theater and film.
  3. To know all there is to know about being a loving husband and father.  I want to be a man of God who puts his family first.

I am not of this world.  I will live on this planet, but not in this world of sin.  I will naturally grow closer to heaven.  This is what I want.

All this.

All of it.

And by the grace of God…I will have it.

December 19, 1996 – Thursday – 6:00 p.m.

I took a nap after work.  Then I checked the answering machine.  Dawn called me to see how I was coming along with the script.  I called her back and we talked for about 30 minutes.  She had an operation on her knee because of a car wreck a while back.  She told me that she has the first act down in sign language.  Her and I are going to work great together.

She is Sarah.  I am James.  James and Sarah fall in love.  I guarantee that while she is Sarah, she will not doubt that James loves her.

We talked about other things as well.  She told me about her and Derek.  They aren’t together anymore.  I want to be a close friend and help her grow closer to God.

It’s snowing outside now, but she said Banner Elk has six inches.

I’ll be there soon.

 

December 18, 1996 – Wednesday – 10:00 p.m.

Church was so awesome tonight.  Pastor Steve is the greatest teacher.  I got a chance to visit with him after the service.  Jenna and Tenielle were there.  They hugged me like they always do.  They are leaving for New Jersey on Friday.  They haven’t been back there in six years.

Romans 5:1-2, amazing!

Oh God.

I want it all!

I want all of you!

Change my way of thinking.

I don’t have to wait for heaven.

I can have it all now!