September 22, 1997 – Monday – 7:30 p.m.

Church was great this weekend.  We had an awesome meal on Sunday night.  After church, about 12 people came over to my room.  Justin and Paul played guitar and we had a praise and worship session.  Ann-Marie, Abigail and Tracey were there as well.

Marisa called last night, as did Jeni.  Jeni was sad because Rich Mullins died in a car accident.  She’s coming down on Thursday to see Sounds Across America.

My uncle Jim from California is working in Boone.  He’s going to take me out to eat tomorrow night.

I leave for Kentucky Friday morning.  I’ll spend the weekend there in Louisville.  I’ve never been there before.

Horsemanship was so awesome today.  I rode so fast.  It’s getting darker earlier, the leaves are changing, the air is cool, and my time on that horse every week is simply magical.

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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.

September 7, 1997 – Sunday – 12:49 p.m.

Around four o’clock Friday afternoon I made my departure from the grand state of North Carolina in Sherlive’s red Nissan.  I sat alone in the back.  We drove into Tennessee while Anna, a freshman from New York, sat in the passenger’s seat.

Sherlive has quite an interesting family.  Her mother looks like her eyes are always closed.  She is constantly taking pictures and rambling.  But she is very loving.  Sherlive’s father, with his super deep voice, always begins each sentence with “when I was a boy.”  He cooked enough food for an army, but lives in yesterday.  Then, Mikayla, Sherlive’s 3-year-old adopted sister, clung to me like her long lost brother.  She’s a wonderful little girl and a great new friend.

After dinner on Friday night, we went to an Elizabethton High School football game.  Sherlive wanted to see some old friends and see the high school band, one she used to be a part of.  The game was okay, I was just kinda amazed by the whole high school scene.  I feel old.

Sherlive, Anna, and myself got into some deep conversations about life, love, and relationships.  After halftime we ended up at a coffee shop in Johnson City.  Anna is this cute little 100% Greek girl who feels more like someone’s grandmother instead of an 18-year-old, but I mean that in a cool way.

Dan met us Saturday morning to go hiking with us.  He ate breakfast with us too; a huge amount of food made by Sherlive’s dad.  We went to Blue Hold and then to Red Fork Falls, at least I think that’s what it was called.  They were really pretty places.  I took some pictures.

Sherlive is such a funny little nutcase.  She goes rock climbing in her bare feet and Dan says “Hey is Blue Hole cool?”

“No, it’s cold.” she says.

Dan looks at me funny.  “Okay, well, is it rad?”

“No, it’s blue!”

Dan and I burst out laughing.  Then, after Sherlive has been stuck on the side of the cliff for about 30 minutes, Dan just jumps up and runs towards it and scurries up it like a squirrel.  He reaches the top that Sherlive has been trying to climb to in two seconds.  Oh, Sherlive was so mad, she just screamed bloody murder.

In the middle of all the beautiful scenery, Dan and I just broke free, ran around, and laughed our butts off everywhere we went.  We stuck our heads out the window whenever we were in the car and just hooted and hollered the whole day.  If I wrote down every funny thing we said, oh, this book would be full.

Linda visited me last night.  We sort of got caught up on our Box Office talk.  And Marisa called me last night.  She said she just wanted to hear my voice.

Church was amazing this morning.  I cried.  Heaven is a guarantee.

Abigail and Ann-Marie both come to Heaton now.  Our college age group is so huge.

Friends.  What an amazing concept.  I would do anything for these people.

I would live.

I would die.

September 4, 1997 – Thursday – 10:00 a.m.

It’s been a year now since that wonderful moment when I rode in Sharon’s truck with Hannah asleep in my lap.  Vince and Laura were beginning a relationship that is nearly ruined now.

Fall auditions are over and I got the lead role in The Misanthrope.  Pretty exciting I guess.  Thanks God!

The Misanthrope may be the last show I do here at Lees-McRae.  I’m directing a one-act next semester and I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to be in the next show in the spring, but we’ll see.

While here, I’ve played a singing knight in Once Upon A Mattress, a nervous messenger in Antigone, a gay orderly in Bearclaw, a grumpy old man in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and a lovesick speech therapist in Children of a Lesser God.

The only experience I had prior to Lees-McRae was church drama.  It’s safe to say that college has taught me much.

August 10, 1997 – Sunday – 4:05 p.m.

Marisa turns 15 today.  I turn 21 in a week.

Dan has gone home.  The place feels empty.  This next week I will move to McAlister; I’ll have a smaller apartment with one less room than this one.

It just started to rain.

For the next hour and a half, I’ll exist quietly in these three rooms.  I will listen to slow and soothing music, and I will read and write.  At 5:30 p.m. I will go back to the box office to sell tickets and I’ll enjoy the show again tonight.

Jeanine will sleep in here tonight since her mom is visiting and will take her bed.

RD training begins on Monday and I will also check everyone out of Tennessee Dorm between Monday and Wednesday.

Children of Eden ends tomorrow.  Lindy and I began with three full ticket racks and now we are nearly empty.  Everyone has loved this show.

My final year of college is so close.  How different it will be.  My rounds will now include seven buildings instead of just two hallways.  I will tackle directing and horseback riding.

So my simple and relaxing summer will soon end and I will never live in these walls again.  What have these walls seen?  Jeni and I kissing.  Dan and I wondering.  Charlie crying over Kate.  And me watching Sherlive as she slept.

The summer of 1997.

Nothing ever stays the same.

Charlie and I went to see Conspiracy Theory last night.  I enjoyed it.  I helped Charlie in Junior Worship this morning and ate with Tracey and her family plus Lindy and Ann-Marie at the Banner Elk Cafe.

It’s difficult for me to remember who I was before Lees-McRae.  I almost feel like my senior year will be the last year of my life.  Leaving this place seems close to death.

But surely there are no real goodbyes among Christians.

It’s 4:45 p.m.

Am I still living in my youth?  Or are those days gone?

4:47 p.m.

And so…well…

Weird, huh?

 

July 29, 1997 – Tuesday – 10:30 p.m.

Tuesday.  Two days without Sherlive, but my thoughts have been filled with her.

I washed clothes this morning.  Worked, or rather laughed, with Lindy in the box office and then came back and washed dishes.  I read my Bible and a Max Lucado story this evening, then Dan, Vince, Charlie and I went to a nearby pastor’s house.  Dan had brought some chemical or something back from West Virginia and he wanted to make something called a potato gun.  He said the chemical was illegal in all the other states except for West Virginia.  But we didn’t have any potatoes, so the idea was to borrow some from this pastor with a nice garden.  Once we entered his house, his wife asked us if we wanted some dinner.  We said, “No, but we would like some vegetables from your garden.”  And they were more than happy to give us some.

They didn’t have any potatoes, but they had tons of zucchini they wanted to part with.  So, with our hands full of more zucchini than we could ever eat, we drove to the football field on campus and Dan got out this pipe and I don’t really understand what happened, but they stuffed one end with a zucchini, and the other end was full of this chemical, a bit of water and then Dan was holding a flame at the bottom.  Nothing was happening and we were all saying he was full of crap, but all of a sudden…BOOM!!!

We had just shot a zucchini halfway across Banner Elk!  It was a super loud explosion.  Dogs started barking all over town, lights were coming on in all the houses, and I’ve never been so scared in my life so I just immediately started running across the field to hide somewhere; I was sure the cops were coming to take us away for life.

But I had totally forgot that Dan had given me his keys for some reason and I had stranded them there since I ran off.  Luckily Dan had a spare key under his car in a magnet box, but it took them forever to retrieve it.

We finally met up and they kept making fun of how fast I ran away.  I guess it was pretty funny, but I was seriously terrified at the time.  I’ve already been arrested once in this town for trespassing.

. . .

I talked to Rachel tonight and I leave for Chrysalis Thursday morning.

While in the box office today, I called the church and asked for the number of a family that lives in TN, hoping they would have a phone book for that region.  They did and I asked them to look up Denny, Sherlive’s dad’s name.  They found it and I now have her phone number.  I haven’t called her yet, but I might if she doesn’t show up for church tomorrow night.

I see Sherlive and I getting close, but this is her freshman year and my senior year.  I’m kinda scared.

Truth:

This is not my home.

Sherlive is not mine.

She is God’s, as am I.

God comes first.

Otherwise, nothing else will work.

Heaven is in the end.

Heaven is a secret.

A secret allowed to be told.

I must tell that secret.

Secrets are secrets because they are true.

. . .

July is ending.

The month of change awaits.

Change is hiding under my bed.

Awaiting to take me in the night.

I will change rooms, age, and class.

Voices, eyes, smiles, they are killing me.

I fight, live, and die for them all.

They come and haunt me.

I feel Sherlive understands this loving pain.

And that is what burns inside of me.

I no longer know what to write.  I can’t write all of my thoughts for some of them are secrets.  Secrets like heaven and they too don’t have words.

July 23, 1997 – Wednesday – 11:40 a.m.

Jeanine, a girl down the hall, came and watched Wayne’s World with Dan and Allen and I last night.  She has just graduated from high school and is here to be summer nanny to a younger girl in the show.  She really has nothing to do.  I invited her to church tonight.  Hopefully she’ll come.

Marisa came and talked to me late last night.  We talked about Christianity.  She seem to listen more to me this time.  I pray that God finds a home in her heart.

A week from tomorrow I’ll be leaving for Chrysalis in Virginia.  I don’t know how I’m getting there though.  God will take care of it, I’m sure.

I love you Lord!