September 28, 1997 – Sunday – 1:40 a.m.

I’m in my room again.  The drives to Louisville and back were as much fun as any time we spent there.

I have grown accustomed to my new apartment.  It is now my place, my room, but I couldn’t call it my home.  Lees-McRae is my home, and this is simply my room.

After I got back from Kentucky, I went down to Cannon lobby and discovered that a lot of people were down there singing praises to our God!  Abigail had some friends up and Tracey’s family was there.  I joined in and it was a wonderful time of song.  Abigail’s face was a huge and constant smile.  I could see in her eyes how special those two people were to her.  She was amazingly happy and that happiness had nothing to do with me.  That’s probably how it will always be and how it should always be.

Jeni is going to Banner Elk Christian Fellowship tomorrow.  She is excited about seeing David, I think something nice happened between them while I was gone.

I saw an unbelievable Kentucky sunset a few hours ago.  It really was an amazing drive home.  Dr. and Mrs. Martin told Charlie and I the story of how they met, it was just a couple of days into their Freshmen year of college.

I was reading a little bit out of my older Books of Days.  I read about Jenna and Tenielle and about lost keys and alphabets.  How crazy and different I seemed back them.  But that was me then and it isn’t me now.

It made me realize that very soon all of these girls here at Lees-McRae will simply be stories in My Book of Days.  But they haven’t completely faded from my heart into the pages of my journal just yet.  I still remember Jeni’s long, soft legs and the curves of Abigail’s face.  I still dream of Jessica’s hair, Ann-Marie’s smile, and Ellen’s laugh.  These girls mean more to me than I ever let them know.

Then there are the new girls like Sarah and Sherlive, whose college experience will continue on without me.  Every night I go to bed so thankful, so thankful for an extra day with these beautiful women and my fantastic guy friends.  They are bringing me closer to God.  God is loving me through them.

Lees-McRae is passing and I know I’ll be able to let it go.  These people here are everything to me.  When we reach the other side, I’m sure one of the first things I’ll do is look for them.

I have been here simply to love

To witness and experience joy and fun

Soon I’ll leave calmly like a dove

The way night does when day is done.

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September 14, 1997 – Sunday – 1:00 p.m.

A Sunday afternoon.  Amy Grant is playing on my new stereo.  It is a warm day.  God is at work as usual.  Eddie and Natalie, two Performing Arts students, whom I thought were beyond reach, are now coming to church on a regular basis.  Two new Freshmen named Justin and Sarah have started coming as well.

A girl accepted the Lord and was baptized this morning in the river behind the church.  I watched the baptism with little Hannah.  She’s the sweetest little friend.  Jessica stood nearby.  She stood beautifully in her hiking boots and autumn outfit, her dark hair swirling down her back like million roller coasters.  She stood just high enough to peer over the chicken-wire fence, which protected the children from falling down the bluff to the river below.  And Shawna was with us today.  She showed us pictures of her backyard in New Mexico.  Amazing!

I think things are getting back to normal for Abigail and I.  At least I hope so.

I went to visit Tracey the other night.  She was in her bathrobe getting ready for bed.  We talked a little and she said that she didn’t see me around as much any more.

“Well,” I said, “That’s why I came down to see you.”

So weird to see her in that room without Jeni.

I called Jeni on her 21st birthday.  She said is was great to hear my voice.  She told me that Tracey, Ann-Marie, and Abigail all thought Sherlive and I were dating.  I told her that I did want that at one time, but instead Sherlive is my dear friend, who really seems to understand the way I see the world, and that in and of itself is a treasure.

Emily and I haven’t written or communicated since that time we shared the same time and place under the boardwalk in May.

Marisa and I still write though.  We also email each other.  I wonder if email will take over and keep people from writing handwritten letters.  I hope not.  Emily’s letters wouldn’t have changed my life if they were just typed letters on a screen.  I saw love in her handwriting.  Marisa and I actually just got off the phone.  We laughed back and forth.  She is so funny.  She says she’s coming up in three weeks.  I told her so many little details about my life recently.  Things I haven’t even shared with the guys.  I do miss her so much.  It’s so weird how this rebellious little 15-year-old brat turned out to be the sweetest girl in the world to me.  I told her when she arrived that I would hug her and never let go.

She screamed “Yes!”

A bunch of performing arts students are saying that Lindy and I would make a cute couple, but I’m actually starting to wonder if Lees-McRae holds the one for me.  It feels as though Lees-McRae is simply preparing me for the one God has for me.  But, to be fair, I guess everything that happens in my life from this point on will have happened because of Lees-McRae.

I miss Jonathan.  I miss Marcus, Danny, and Peter.  I miss Ryan, Amy, Christi, Cheryl, Jenna, and Tenielle.  I miss Veronica, her family and all the families from Sanford.  I miss my family, Nate, Mom, Henry, and Kevin.  I miss Alison’s smiles and Renee’s eyes.  I miss Mike’s laughter and Wynne, Grant, and Mark.  I miss Tim.  I miss Syndi.  I miss Pastor Steve and Shurby and Jason.  I miss my old room on the 2nd floor of McAlister.  I miss the railroad tracks.  I miss Tony and Lisa, Dana and Bradley, Lisa and Kenny.  I miss Kristin and Fishnet and Deep Creek.  I miss the shoes I can no longer wear, the pants I’ve grown out of, and the trees that have fallen down.  I miss Andrea.  I miss West Germany.  I miss that hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  I miss the comfort of my mother’s womb.

I miss touching Abigail’s face.  I miss Jeni’s lips.  I miss the stars above Tracey’s house.  I miss Ann-Marie’s laugh.  I miss Ben’s grin.  I miss Vince’s Jim Carrey quotes.  I miss Curtis singing country songs in his car.  I miss Allen’s farts.  I miss Sharon driving “our” truck.  I miss Jessica hiking beside me in the woods.  I miss Charlie and Kate together.

I miss Lees-McRae College.

I even miss Regent University and it is in the future.

I miss my wife.

I miss my children.

I miss my dead parents, now in heaven.

I miss earth.  I miss life.

But I’m here now and I’m thankful.

This side of heaven is simply me missing everything that I won’t have time to miss, when I’m face to face with Jesus.

August 27, 1997 – Wednesday – 2:00 p.m.

I finally bought my new Book of Days, but it’s kinda flimsy.  I hope it doesn’t fall apart on me.

Classes started today!

Things are good.  I was duty Monday night and I already wrote up some people for alcohol.  Sherlive and I rode to the parkway last night and did some star gazing.  We had fun.  We acted like kids and played little games, like dodging the car headlight beams.

This morning Vince and I ate breakfast with Amber and Monica, plus two new transfer students named Amanda and Shay.  Vince is amazed at me for some reason.  He calls me at the J-Dog because of how easily I get along with so many different beautiful girls.

He and Laura are having problems again.

I got a letter from Jeanine today.  She told me that she misses us all and she believes she is in love with Allen.  I think I’ll call her tonight.

Jessica is back.  She is overwhelmed with school work and her new RA job.  It’s great to have her back!

I’m excited about this new year, about the new Christians, and the new soon-to-be Christians.

I give my senior year to you God!

August 17, 1997 – Sunday – 2:00 p.m.

I have turned 21-years-old.  For me, the summer ends today.  RD training is over.  RA training is beginning.  I have moved to the McAlister RD apartment.  I have unpacked.  All I need to do now is decorate my walls.

Over the past week, I have had three different letters written to me from three different girls:

“Jacob, I just wanted to thank you for being my friend and welcoming me so kindly.  Without you I would have spent these past three weeks all alone in my room.  You are a very sweet guy and I’m going to miss you.  I wish I could stay longer.  Time sure does fly!  I wish this summer didn’t have to end, but I guess all good things have to end eventually.  I will always remember these three weeks as the highlight of my summer.  Thank you for giving me a chance to become your friend.  You will never be forgotten!  Love, Jeanine”

“Hey Jacob, that’s really cool about your deer encounter.  I want to go up there and meet it.  Yes, I’m going to accept the RA job.  I’m already thinking about what programs I want to do.  Did I tell you about my wedding?  No, it’s not anytime soon, I don’t have a guy, I just decided where I want it to be.  Cannonball Mesa!  It’s this cool place out in the middle of nowhere.  I rode out on my bike to the end of the mesa and looked out at the landscape.  The wind was blowing.  I’m going to get married there when the sun rises to symbolize new beginnings and it will be beautiful.  Guess what??  I was thinking today and I decided to rewrite my rules of dating.  I decided it was unrealistic to say that I would only date a guy I would marry because I don’t know what kind of guy I want to marry.  Also, I’ve only been involved with two guys in my life and neither of them had any kind of respect for me.  I don’t even know what a good relationship is.  Love, Jessica”

“Jacob, let me start by saying I love you and end it with thanking you for helping me find my missing part and as we speak it’s being filled with God’s love.  I am so thankful for your awesome friendship and how much you have helped me realize that God is a major part of my life and he will help me through everything!  If it wasn’t for your love and willingness to help, I would never have been so close to the Lord and Jesus.  Thank you so much!  I love you with all my heart and really appreciate everything that you have helped me with this summer.  Thanks for everything.  This has been the best summer of my life and it wouldn’t be complete without you and the wonderful Lord.  Jacob, I feel so much better now that I’ve found him.  I am almost going to cry because I feel so free, just like you and your eagles.  I’m going to miss you so much.  Please write me all the time and send me e-mail too.  I know I will write you all the time!  When the summer comes again, I hope you will be here and definitely Thanksgiving because I’m coming up then.  I can’t wait to see you if you’ll be up here.  If I don’t get to see you over the summer, please keep writing and give me your address to where you are and I will always write to you…my future husband!  Thanks for our perfect friendship!  Please keep in touch.  Happy 21st birthday!  Love, Marisa.”

Jeanine has gone back to Concord.

Jessica will be here a week from Tuesday.

Marisa left for Florida today.

Take care of them Lord.

August 9, 1997 – Saturday – 9:30 a.m.

Children of Eden opened Thursday night.  It was so amazing!  Sherlive was able to see it with me last night.  She even dressed up.  Wow!  She is simply beautiful.  I had so much fun being around her and laughing with her.

She says she is looking forward to coming to school.  I pray we slowly become best friends.  She has such a baby face.  Her cheeks rise up so beautifully when she smiles.  I want to make her smile.  I’ve done it a few times already.

And each time was an eternal instant.

July 27, 1997 – Sunday – 8:10 a.m.

I met her two weeks ago this evening.  Sherlive is a miracle and blessing from God.  She came to visit me while I worked in the box office on Saturday.  Lindy wasn’t there yesterday, so it was only Sherlive and I.  We played cards and talked about the Lord.  I told her some things on my mind, deeper thoughts; I let her in a little.  We talked so long. She is so much fun.  She is a snowboarder, but she thinks chick flicks are awesome.  She listens to the same music I do.

She came for the orientation on Friday and Saturday and needed a place to stay the night instead of driving back to Tennessee; she wanted to go to church with me this morning.  Dan is in West Virginia so I offered to let her sleep here.  She is asleep now in Dan’s bed.

We talked about her last night and how her life is a miracle.  They were in a car accident in Kentucky, a very serious car accident, when she was seven.  The doctors basically waited for her to die.  But here she is now.  She has a stuttering problem because of that accident.  Her jaw was shattered and her face and forehead cut open, but God kept her alive.

And he brought her here.

She is so beautiful and so in love with God.

July 26, 1997 – Saturday – 10:00 a.m.

Today is Rebecca St. James’ birthday.  She is 20-years-old.

Orientation is not quite over.  How exciting this age is.  How exciting these days are.  To join together with four hundred people your own age, and to live in such a small, personal space with those individuals and their eyes who are striving and longing for that same goal.

My Lees-McRae College story has only one year left.  I can only tell my story as I experienced it.  I can tell no one else’s.  And after this year, that story will be complete; well, at least the story of my official time as a student will be complete.  Then, I will begin a new story in a new place and there I will join with other eyes who are seeking the same goal.

And after that, I do not believe this type of life will ever happen again.  Well, maybe in an old folks home.  Wouldn’t it be great if Dan, Allen, Vince, and Curtis and I all ended up in the same old folks home several decades from now!

But as for today, I feel as though Lees-McRae is mine.  I feel as though Banner Elk is mine.    I feel is it my job to love and care for the people here.

Jeanine went home for the weekend, so Kristina, the little 11-year-old girl Jeanine is here to look after, was alone.  After Forever Plaid last night, which I watched with Sherlive, Kristina, plus tons of other people like Marisa, her brother Mason, Ann-Marie, Tracey, etc., all just played around in the lobby.  Around one o’clock in the morning, everyone left except for Kristina.  I don’t think she wanted to be alone.  So, I told her I’d stay with her.  I slept in her room on Jeanine’s bed.  We fell asleep while watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

I awoke this morning to see Kristina sound asleep.  Another set of eyes.  Another name.  Another soul.  Just a little girl, like Veronica, like Jenna, like Tenielle, and like Hannah.  Perhaps God has brought so many young girls into my life to teach me that every woman I will ever meet…well, part of her will always be that little girl; that little girl that just wants to be loved and protected and reminded that she isn’t alone.