April 28, 2000 – Friday – 7:53 a.m.

April is ending.  As are many other things.  I am no longer a full-time student, and Marie and I have just come through a really difficult time.

I think the past week really traumatized me, so much so that I can hardly remember the harsh words that were spoken to me.  I feel my mind is trying to forever forget them, like a scab covering a wound and allowing new skin to grow.  I’m tempted to not write about this at all, but I should put something down in these pages.

Clearly hurt and rejected after spending a week with my friends in North Carolina, a vulnerable Marie and I visited her family.  And while they are kind in action, I didn’t have a great time these past few days in New Jersey, one, because I was sick, and two, because there just wasn’t an abundance of joy and peace, at least not when you compare it to the amount of joy and peace in all my friends in Banner Elk.  So, once we headed back to Virginia, all of that pain and defensiveness bubbled up in Marie, and she became very critical toward me and of all my friends.

She said it was unnatural and immoral of me to have as many female friends as I do.  And, as if that didn’t hurt enough, she then accused me of only being involved with the youth group at Parkway because I was sexually attracted to all the girls in the youth group.  She said that my friendship with girls like Sterling, Christin, and Kimberly was inappropriate and that I should be ashamed of myself.

Much more was said, many more stabs were taken at my heart, but I pulled off the road, got out of the car and found a distant ball park, where I sat on the bleachers and stared off into the landscapes of Delaware, trying to make sense of what had just happened with this girl I want to marry.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more hurt.  Sterling, Christin, and Kimberly and their families and I all adore each other.  We are fellow believers together.  They take care of me, I like spending time with them, and yes Christin crushed on me for a while, but nothing ever happened.  I took her to her prom and I didn’t even kiss her.  The whole reason I didn’t pursue a relationship with her was because she was too young.  I sat there alone for a long time, and eventually heard from the Lord that Marie’s accusations were false.

So, I returned to the car.  By the look on her face, it was clear she knew she was out of line.  She apologized.  We drove home.

I prayed silently as we drove, and God gave me a very clear answer that I love my friends, and the fact that many of them are women is not a sin.  What Marie said to me reveals much more about her heart and mindset than it did mine, and, after spending a week with her family, it’s clear to see that she was raised in such a negative and narrow mindset.  We both got to experience where each of us came from these past two weeks, and the fact that we both came from two different words really broke us.  She felt like she didn’t belong with my group of friends and possibly even felt like she doesn’t have as good of friends as I do, and I felt rejected by (and bored with) her family.

So there it is.  God is breaking us.  Or maybe he’s sharpening us.

Perhaps this will make us a stronger couple than we were before.  Perhaps we won’t be able to recover from this.  Time will tell.

April 22, 2000 – Saturday – 8:04 a.m.

Turns out I have an ear infection.  Bummer.

Everyone is still upstairs.  I don’t know what the plans are for the day, but I hope we go out and do something.

In a month’s time I’ll slowly be on my way to New Mexico.  How crazy this is!  I’m $4,000 in debt on my credit cards because of Dang!, I have to start paying back my school loans in November, and I’m riding off to New Mexico.

God, my life is in your hands.  You know my needs, and I know you are my provider.

Marie is doing wonderfully.  I love and adore her more deeply with each passing day.  I see her college graduation picture on the piano in front of me now.

April 21, 2000 – Friday – 8:05 a.m.

I’m in Metuchen, New Jersey again.  And my recent days have been a learning experience.  On the 15th Marie and I drove to Banner Elk.  We visited Tracey’s and Lindy’s first.  Everyone heard we were there and then almost suddenly their living room was full of nearly 20 dear friends wanting to see me.   That was a bit overwhelming for Marie since most of them were girls.  Sarah even showed up and hugged me tightly.

Saturday night we saw Hamlet on campus.  What a wonderful production!  It had one of the most ambitious sets I’ve ever seen on that stage.  On Sunday morning we went to Banner Elk Christian Fellowship, then to hike on Grandfather Mountain, then to visit Leslie and her family, and then to visit Heaton, then to visit Sharon and her girls, and it was just a huge day.  And when I say “we,” I don’t mean Marie and I, I mean everyone, all my dear friends.  Needless to say, Marie got placed aside a bit.  I tried to get her to join in on the fun, but she didn’t.

We talked that evening, and she cried.  She cried because she felt so lonely.  She felt there was this huge world that she had to compete with.  And the next three days passed in that same fashion.  One of those days we drove with Sharon down to Asheville, and we realized that this world of Lees-McRae had already been defined for me.  I knew this place without Marie.  It felt natural for me to cling to them while in this land, for I had no memory of ever clinging to Marie in these mountains.

Marie’s world is three family-members.

Mine is 25 friends.

I never realized how unique my college experience was until I saw it overwhelm another soul.

I still got to see everyone and get caught up.  Curtis and Megan came down.  It was so weird to see them married.  Dan was there for two days, then he left to go snorkeling in the Florida Keys.  Vince is leaving on the 8th of May for Bolivia.  Allen is marrying Jessica in June.  Abigail and Tracey’s band is doing wonderful in the area.  Ann-Marie is moving down to Florida after graduation to work in a repertory theater.  Charlie and Kate are getting married on June 24th.

It was the last time Dan, Allen, Vince, Curtis, and myself would be together for at least the next two years.  And who knows… maybe forever.

Marie and I learned much about ourselves during our five days in Banner Elk.  We left on Thursday to drive up here to New Jersey.  We took the Blue Ridge Parkway until Roanoke and looked at that city a bit.  Then we took the Skyline Drive to Front Royal.

The drive through Shenandoah was beautiful and misty.  Then we drove through parts of Pennsylvania that I’ve never seen before.  I came down with a horrible head cold during the drive, and so here I am super sick in New Jersey.  I think they want to take me to their family doctor.

April 12, 2000 – Wednesday – 11:00 a.m.

It’s nearly the middle of April.  In a little over a month’s time, I will embark out across the country and be back in Virginia Beach exactly two months from today.

It is nice not having to work for a season.  But I’m also looking forward to that time in the near future when God will allow me to serve the community and actually make some money.

Trey and I completed our first rough cut of Dang! last night.  We’re going to go tweak it tonight.  I can’t wait!

Marie is doing fine.  We have only a week and a half of classes left.  Life is moving too fast.

God is molding her and I into mates for life.  I love and adore how he is changing me.

The Accuser is having problems when it comes to locations.  Please provide for us God.  I’m waiting on you.

So, it is the fourth month of the year 2000.  Nineteen years of nonstop education is ending for me.  My life is changing and has changed.  I want to be a husband, father, and lover.  I want to help set people free and encourage them to be themselves.  I want to delight in my creator’s eye.

Here we go…

April 10, 2000 – Monday – 7:47 a.m.

I’m back in Virginia Beach now.  The weekend and the wedding was so great.  I’m getting to know Marie’s family better and I believe they really like me.  I can see future holidays being spent in their adorable home.  I’m seeing their strengths and their weaknesses, but overall the weekend brought Marie and I closer together.  I’m thankful for that.

It snowed up there yesterday.

After the wedding we had dinner at a Bob Evans in West Chester, PA with Marie’s friends Aimee and Simon.  Simon is from England.  We really hit it off.

It was so nice to make two new friends in a brand new town in a state I’ve only passed through before.

This Saturday on the 15th, Marie and I are going to Banner Elk.  I can’t wait for her to meet my friends!  How exciting!

God is blessing me like crazy through this beautiful woman.

Thank you sweet Jesus.

April 7, 2000 – Friday – 9:09 p.m.

I’m horrible at journal writing these days.

Right now though, I am in Metuchen, New Jersey.  I’m in Marie’s childhood home.  We had a wonderful dinner, and earlier I met some of Marie’s friends from when she was a teacher.

Looking back, I hardly know what has happened over the past week and a half.  I’ll try to slow down soon enough and really write.

But for now, Marie’s room is so adorable.  This entire house looks like the inside of a miniature doll’s house.  I always heard New Jersey was the armpit of America.  I never knew it could be so sweet.