February 26, 2001 – Monday – 6:12 p.m.

The second month of the year is nearly over. I don’t know how it happened. Just a few days ago I was 16-years-old, and I thought it would be cool to keep a journal. Now I am 24, and I’m so busy with school, work, and wedding-planning that I often forget I have a journal.

So much is in transition at the moment. I’m finishing up my first short films, and, in so doing, I’m finishing up graduate school. From kindergarten until now, I’ve been in school just a few months shy of 20 years. I’m marrying a beautiful blonde-haired girl from Florida; the girl I’ve been dreaming about and praying for this entire time. Everything between this moment and the night I began writing feels like pure story.

I see I was never on my own. God’s been there the entire time. He’s the true author.

February 19, 2001 – Monday – 2:09 p.m.

Yesterday proved interesting. Sarah called me, yes, my old Sarah. I thought for sure she knew I was engaged, but she had no idea. Her boyfriend dumped her three weeks ago. She was calling me to get back in touch, to see if anything remained from our previous relationship, but when she heard me tell her of my lovely Anna, she instantly started crying.

What a moment. We talked a bit, but eventually said our goodbyes.

As I move closer to my wedding date, I find it harder and harder to write in my journal. Perhaps because I give my heart and soul to a beautiful woman now, and I no longer put it down on paper for all to read.

Perhaps the only thing left to say is “Thank you God for your mercy and grace.”

February 15, 2001 – Thursday – 6:15 p.m.

It’s already mid-February. Can the second month of the year already be half over?

In 100 days I will marry the love of my life. The more I say that number, the more I realize it is a very short amount of time.

My heart has been burdened recently. I was asked to put together a little drama for church, but, once I finalized the script, much confusion set in. I work in a world that exists somewhere between the church and entertainment, between the sacred and the secular. I feel as if sometimes art has to prostitute itself out to the church in order for the church to make its points. It weakens both the art and the message. I feel I’m stuck in the middle, often questioning where I stand.

God, I often wonder why you called me to this field. There’s no security in this profession. I’ve seen the vicious circle of it all, the constant chasing after, the constant self-promotion, the constant selling, but I want none of that. I just want to tell the stories you’ve placed in me. Do I have to sell them God? Couldn’t I just make them for the two of us to enjoy together? Why does money have to be an issue?

There has to be a better way.

Please show it to me God.

February 12, 2001 – Monday – 7:00 p.m.

I’m sitting in my new home. I do not live here fully yet, but my heart is here. Ann and I will live in this studio apartment in early June after we return from our honeymoon. I wonder how long we’ll stay.

My brother Nate turns 16 today. How crazy! I was only 8-years-old when he was born.

My family has gone through a lot recently. I don’t think I’ve written about it at all. Henry went through some sort of mental illness spell, but he is beginning to come around. Mom called me on her new cell phone tonight. Nate got on the call and said that she got so into reading the instructions about it that she forgot she was running a bath and ended up flooding the bathroom.

My small group had a fantastic time swing dancing the other night. I enjoy them so much. I’m glad Anna and I go there together; our love has become worship to God. All we seem to do is praise Him for what he placed in the other that we’ll benefit from. I am amazed every day.

I’ve never known a love like this. All this time, through all these journals, from Veronica to Marie, it was Anna all along.

I feel stupid.

I feel human.

But I am forgiven, and I am loved.

So much time has passed since I began these journals. I tried to seek after God, I tried to find a good woman, and I tried to become a filmmaker. I also tried to be a good friend and neighbor to all those around me. Overall, I think I did okay. I just showed up and let God do His thing. I’ve traveled everywhere from California to South Africa, and this whole time my future wife was in Florida.

In the end, all these journals told the story of how God brought me to Anna.

February 6, 2001 – Tuesday – 7:58 a.m.

One hundred nine days remain.

Spring want so desperately to begin here in Virginia, but winter is standing firm. It is going to be a busy spring. I’ve got two films to finish, wrap up my thesis, graduate from graduate school, get married, go on my honeymoon, and those are just the big events. There are so many little videos I need to complete between now and then, plus I’m still working in the bookstore and planning the wedding.

Life is fun.

Anna and I spend most of our time discussing our future together. We’ve talked of moving to so many places, everywhere from North Carolina to Montana. Who knows where we will end up, but I sure like discussing my future with her.

I’m so excited to marry her. I love her more than I thought possible. In 109 days I will die and be reborn. She is not my savior, but God will change me on that day.

Vince is trying his best to come up from Bolivia. I miss all my Lees-McRae friends. I’m so thankful for that season of my life.

Four year there, ’94-’98, and nearly three years here, ’98-01.

In 11 days I will be 24 and a half years old.

January 30, 2001 – Tuesday – 8:00 p.m.

I know that I have hardly written anything this entire month of January, and now it is over. This has been my first full month of engagement to Anna and it’s been a busy one. I remember when I used to write in my journal twice a day. Is this what marriage means? I have less time to just be me?

One hundred and sixteen days remain.

Life has been full of video work, bookstore work, and wedding work. Anna continues to grow more interesting to me each day. She is the love of my life.

I’ve been working on my invitation list. After 24 years of life, I do supposed I’ve made some good friends along the way. Some sad news has happened with them however. Megan has left Curtis. It is a long story, but it’s all Megan. She used Chris to just get away from her parents and then she left him. And, Lindy fear she might be manic-depressive since that has run through her family.

Among other things Anna and I will take a trip to Florida in one month, and I also believe we will attend an Engagement Encounter weekend in Asheville, NC in April.

I’ve only really known Anna for three months now. It’s only four months until we get married.

Seven months.

Then a lifetime.

Thank you for this adventure God.

January 13, 2001 – Saturday – 4:00 p.m.

Has it already been a week since I last wrote? I talked to Danny this morning for the first time in three years. He is going to come to the wedding, as his Peter. How exciting! Danny really seems to have changed, but we all do, he’s been a great friend since I was six, so it’ll be so nice to have him at the wedding. He is living the ‘young professional’ life as a computer engineer in Silicon Valley. I’m proud of him.

Anna and I have been engaged for two weeks now. Only nineteen weeks remain.

We are together, and all else seems to be fading away.

January 6, 2001 – Saturday – 10:00 a.m.

It has been a week since I asked Anna to marry me. What a beautiful week; people have been freaking out. Everyone is blessing us like crazy and are so happy for us. Some are super surprised, for they didn’t even know we knew each other.

We are planning our wedding together and I’m planning the honeymoon. It will be beautiful. We decided May 26th in her hometown would be a bit easier than July 7th. That’s four and a half months away.

Anna is going to have her good friend Steve in her bridal party and I’m going to have Lindy as one of my “groomsmen.” How cool! Hopefully, Vince will be able to come up from Bolivia and be my best man.

I just love this stuff. I love planning my life with Anna. She is perfection. God saved the best for last.

So, I will be a husband before I turn 25-years-old. All these years, her name was always Anna. It was never Veronica, never Ryan, never Jeni, never Emily, never Sarah, never Marie, nor any other girl. It was always Anna, and she turns 23 in 19 days.

January 1, 2001 – Monday – 8:15 p.m.

Two nights ago, on December 30th, I asked Anna to marry me.

She said ‘yes.’

I hid the ring in an empty container of her favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. I had filled it with small weights and stored it in the fridge to make it look and feel like a cold container full of ice-cream. She opened it and stopped breathing. She wasn’t expecting it so soon. I cried. What a wonderful little story.

I am changing.

Every day I am losing a little bit more of me.

We are planning a July 7th wedding. Over the next six months I will slowly move my stuff into her studio apartment in the historic Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk. I’m sure I’ll give or throw away many items I’ll no longer need.

I can’t believe what is happening. I’m marrying an amazing woman, a good, Godly woman. So many of my single-person perspectives just have no meaning any more.

So it is 2001.

When the ball dropped in New York, I was kissing Anna in Virginia Beach.