August 4, 1999 – Wednesday – 8:15 a.m.

Yesterday was Lindy’s birthday.  We took her out to eat and to see Runaway Bride.  It was a fantastic time.  She’s 22.  We are only the same age together for two weeks every year.

I got to see Jeni last night.  We talked and caught up.  She is so busy with work and with marriage that she realize her relationship with the Lord feels very distant.  Again, it made me thankful that God was the only one on my heart at the moment.

In a little while I will leave from here and head north.  The Lord is my shepherd.  He is my guide.  My goal is to simply go away with him and see is creation.

Deep Creek last weekend brought bittersweet feelings.  I think I would like to go much less often and keep it a part of my childhood.  I did stand on my ledge and it was wonderful to pray there.

Talking to everyone about marriage is crazy.  Allen and Jessica really feel right for each other.  I’m excited for them.  Of course Dan and Abigail will probably get married next year as well.

God is keeping me young at this stage of life.  So, I leave my old college town now and prepare for the road ahead.  I am in your hands Father.  Protect me, guide me, love me.

 

August 2, 1999 – Monday – 11:00 a.m.

Much has happened in the past several days.  I am in Banner Elk, NC.  My last day on the film shoot was Friday, so Friday night I drove to Siler City, NC.  I spent the night with Peter at the Motor Lodge.  He was there with his girl Shivani and we stayed up until two in the morning, just talking.  I left early Saturday morning and went to Sylva and met up with my grandparents.  We all went to Deep Creek for the family reunion.  Everyone was there except for Nar, Kevin, and Patty.

I left Bryson City that night and drove up here to Banner Elk.  I went to Lees-McRae, but couldn’t find a soul.  I did finally find Jessi and learned that Sarah was in a show that night.  I only got to see her for about ten minutes.  Then I found out that Allen and Jessica had just returned from their road trip to Colorado, so I spent the night at Allen’s, as did Jessica.  They are getting married next summer.

We went to Banner Elk Christian Fellowship yesterday morning and there I saw Lindy and Tracey and Ashley and tons of others.  Dan was still in town saying goodbye to Abigail, who is going to Austria.  We all just freaked out when we saw each other!  We all went out to lunch, hung out all afternoon, then went out to dinner.  Everyone is working this morning, so I’m riding with Sharon to Asheville and back later today.  Vince is away on a cruise.  I miss him.

But here I am on a flat rock off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I came here early this morning with Curtis and we took some amazing pictures.

Time to go meet Sharon.

. . .

It’s now 8:20 p.m. on the same day.

Sharon and Hannah and I drove to Asheville, she just had to get an Allergy shot, so I rode along so we could chat.  While down there we went to go see Runaway Bride; a perfect movie.  I don’t know if I’ve ever left a movie theater so happy before; there is such wisdom in that film.

Sharon and I had wonderful talks all day about life and love and Jesus and forgiveness.  Oh how I love and adore that woman.  I told her about Mary and she caught me up on Laura.

Runaway Bride taught me so much and I’m so thankful that I’m single right now.  After tomorrow, which is Lindy’s birthday, I’m going to get in the car and just drive.  I’m just going to keep driving and stay in weird places and be with my Jesus.  We are going on a honeymoon, if you will.

 

September 6, 1998 – Sunday – 9:39 a.m.

It’s been three years now since Syndi and I went to Deep Creek.  That night with her, just sitting and talk in her car, still remains one of the most amazing conversations of my life.  I can in no way remember what was said, but only that it made an impression upon my soul.

Friday night’s youth service went really well, and we are having our first drama meeting on Wednesday night.  These kids are amazing.  I can’t believe God gave me this beautiful family so early after arriving to a new land.

Yesterday, Nicole and a girl named Patricia and I went up to my Grandparent’s house for lunch and to do some filming for a video project we have due.  We had such a good time. My grandparents were great hosts.

Last night I went over to Mary Jo’s and April’s since they were having a get-together.  I met some new people and we laughed the whole night.

The God that I love today is the same God who loved me and watched over me in my youth.  Even then, he knew.

I talked with Josh and Jessica over the weekend.  Josh was such an inspiration to me.  He also seemed lonely.  He misses me and I miss him.  He said things are different at Lees-McRae.  He said I was able to join all the people together and he can tell a difference now that I’m not there.  I told him that he should make the effort to bring people together.  We prayed and he admitted that perhaps it was him and not the others.  He says he feels really insecure and he’s not sure the others want to be his friend.

I do miss Lees-McRae, but I know that is not where I supposed to be right now.  I know without a doubt that is was where God wanted me for the days between August 28, 1994 and May 10, 1998.

And he has set these days here at Regent aside for me now.

May 5, 1998 – Tuesday – 1:00 p.m.

Sarah and I spent some awesome time together last night.  I told her the stories of the two novels I wrote in high school.  Can you call them novels if they were never published?  Hmm.

And I called Emily today.  I hadn’t seen or spoken to my beautiful pen pal in a year.  I woke her up.  She sounded so much older and so much more experienced.  She just got back from her first year at FSU in Tallahassee.  I told her my parents are moving down close to her and she couldn’t believe it.  I asked her about her first year at school and she just sighed.

She and Brandon got back together after he beat her up.  She said they had an amazing relationship for a while, but then it fell apart because they had sex.  They both felt guilty for that, but then she got pregnant.  A month or so later, she had a miscarriage.  Brandon then felt like he was off the hook and left her.  She was alone for a semester in her apartment, dealing with all of that by herself, and I started to feel guilty because I didn’t keep in touch with her when she needed me the most.

I told Emily about Sarah and how we both read her letters together the other night.  She said she wanted to meet Sarah.  I told her I may be in Pensacola for a little while and that we have to hang out.  She agreed.

This is unbelievable.

Emily.

We can never say goodbye it seems.  She messed up, but she is forgiven.  She explained to me how she was getting her life back in order.  I want to go down with my parents just so I can spend time with her.

It’s been nearly five years now since we first met on that summer night at Deep Creek.

My how we both have changed.

July 12, 1997 – Saturday – 9:20 p.m.

We are back in Banner Elk.  After my entry last night, I feel asleep in Charlie’s newly purchased tent.  We got up early this morning and after I took a hike to Juneywhank Falls, we ate breakfast at McDonald’s, rented tubes and went tubing.  The tubing was great; the warm sun above us, the cool water below.  On the way out, I got a banana split with extra cherries.  And we ate at Pizza Hut and I stood on that ledge.

Again, it was the same picture.  And I can now move on with my life.

All that lies behind me, all those 21 years.  They are now simply a life already lived.  The majority of those days have been lived for God.  Some moments were not, they were lived for me.  All I have is this moment in front of me.

I have this desire to run out and say “hello” to every person I come across, but it is as if their own faces hold me back.

So many visits to that ancient creek and yet it never changes, only I do.

I am a little blonde haired boy changing into a smarter little blonde haired boy, wishing he knew nothing.

I think I’ve been doing this wrong.  I must have misunderstood.  I keep looking at myself. But all of these memories, all of these moments, they are nothing but a movie in my mind.  It’s like I’m tickling myself.  I use my life to create laughter in my own life.

To me it is everything, but it is nothing to others.

There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.  Ecclesiastes 1:11.

I am having fun, but what does that mean?

Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things, God will bring you to judgement.  So, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.  Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10.

I will soon return to dust and no one will ever read this book I am writing about my life.

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of a man.  Ecclesiastes 12:13.

What does God command of me?  He commands me to love him and love others.

Life is not about clothes, or movies, or brand names, or even these pages of my memory.

Life is not about money, music, or sex.

Life is not about beauty, long legs, or perfect breasts.

Life is not about me.

Life is about one thing:

Love.

Continually giving to and serving other people.

And I think I just now figured that out.

July 11, 1997 – Friday – 11:55 p.m.

I’m at Deep Creek.  Charlie got a call earlier today from Jason.  He was here the first semester of my Freshman year.  Well, he only lives 30 minutes down the road, so he met up with us and is going camping with us.

We set up camp, then drove to Cherokee and did some Go-Kart racing and played miniature golf.  We also drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway and told scary stories.

But on the way back, Allen bought some little cigars and he and Vince have been smoking.  Well, I guess they say they are only puffing on them, but I’m not sure of the difference.  Perhaps I’m weird, but it makes me uncomfortable.  I left and went on a walk.  When I came back, they wanted to go for a walk.  I was angry with them because of the cigars and for the fact that they peed on the ground and not in the restroom.  I’ve been coming here for several years and I know beautiful young girls like Emily walk around on this holy ground in their bare feet.  I couldn’t believe they would pee on the ground a few feet from the restroom.  Who does that?

While on my walk, I was flooded with memories.  Although it’s only been four years since I came here with Danny, Peter, Marcus, and Kevin, they are the ones who fit this place the best.  My dear friends I’m with now don’t know the unspoken rules of this place.  They don’t know how it’s supposed to work or how it’s supposed to feel.

While walking, I remembered precious moments with Syndi and Emily.  I even remembered the days with Brandon and all he did was flirt with every girl he saw.  Jonathan came with me once.  Then all the family reunions I’ve had here.

But I think I had the most fun with Syndi.  This land will always be tied to those precious days of us walking hand in hand in these woods.

These guys here now simply don’t belong.  They have no idea.  They don’t know what each mountain tree and rock means to me.  This place is my home; as much as any other place in the world.

July 11, 1997 – Friday – 8:00 a.m.

We leave today at 2:00 p.m. to spend 24 hours at Deep Creek near Bryson City, NC.  I just read about my last Deep Creek trip two years ago with Syndi.  We sure knew how to have fun.  I was her “hubby” for that trip.  Each time I visit, I stand above that never-changing scene next to the Pizza Hut in town.  And there I seem to let everything go.  I say goodbye to the previous year and I feel good about leaving it behind in my Book of Days.

Three years ago on this date I was arrived in Deep Creek.  I thought I was there to say goodbye and I did in a way, but I said goodbye to the Deep Creek of the past.  Now I go with a different group of people and with different friends.

Because, I am different.

Lees-McRae and Banner Elk are now a part of me and they have changed me.  This is who I am.  And I have to let it go at the small cliff near Pizza Hut, cause I have to move away in less than 10 months.

I fear my youth is leaving me.  I watched Citizen Kane yesterday.  His childhood was stolen from him.

“Deep Creek” may very well be my “Rosebud.”

August 30, 1996 – Friday – 8:10 a.m.

Two days of August remain.

I called Laura last night.  She had a good day.  We ended up talking about the Lord again.  She told me about some people she’d been witnessing to at school.  I told her about the people I talk to here about the Lord, so it seems we have become prayer partners.  We made a list of different names and promised to pray for the salvation of each and agree together.

I told her about Deep Creek.  Labor day is my last chance to go this year.  Hopefully, Vince, Dan, myself, and her family will try to go then.  That would be so great.

I told her about Pizza Hut and the never-changing view.

Laura is so wonderful.

My mouth gets dry when I talk to her.  My face turns red.  I’ve never known such beauty.  She’ll be 17 in November.  She was born in 1979.  Only three years younger than me.

God, please let your will happen in this matter.  Please let Deep Creek happen.  Please let Laura and I grow closer together.  She brings out the best in me.  I see you in her eyes God. She was created in the likeness of you.

You are my first love God.

Can she be the second?

September 8, 1995 – Friday – 12:35 a.m.

After rehearsal tonight, I went over to Syndi’s.  She wanted to move her room around some.  I helped her.  I even called Jenna and Tenielle while over there.  They are well.

Syndi and I played on her bed and talked for about an hour.  For a few minutes, she held my hand.  In the midst of everything, she asked me why I said I trusted her.  She was referring to this past Sunday night as we sat in the car at the park near Deep Creek, when I said I trusted her.  Tonight she asked why.

I said, “Because I do, don’t you trust me?”

And she shook her head “no.”  She said, “I’ve built up a wall Jacob.  I can’t.”  Yet she trusts Eric, a drug-addict, and not me, a Christian.  I didn’t understand, but I realized that she simply does not know.

She doesn’t see me.  She doesn’t need me.  She holds my hand, but she doesn’t notice I am there.

September 4, 1995 – Monday – 3:40 p.m.

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Four very special days are coming to a close.  Syndi and I returned from our weekend away about 20 minutes ago.  I just got finished unpacking my clothes.  This entry will probably not be in chronological order, but nonetheless I spent almost every second of the past four days with beautiful Syndi.  We went to Deep Creek with my parents.  We went tubing.  She wore her bathing suit.  We took hikes.  We went and saw three amazing waterfalls together.  I took tons of pictures.  We drove to Cherokee, played miniature golf, rode go-carts, and I spent a lot of money I didn’t really have.  We ate at Pizza Hut and we looked out over that never-changing scene.  She held my hand while we hiked, and whenever we sat down to rest, she would put her head on my shoulder and I would put my arm around her.  We would hold hands while tubing down the creek.  We would make jokes and laugh.

In short, I roamed the playground of my youth, the place I visited every summer for the past decade, with a gorgeous tall redhead who clung so close to my side.  Syndi and I were inseparable.  And everywhere we drove we listened to the same song over and over because she had the single stuck in her cassette player and couldn’t get it out.  So any time in the future, when I hear The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) I’ll think of Syndi and our perfect weekend in the Smoky Mountains.

A really funny moment was when Syndi and I were simply hanging out at the campsite after we had finished tubing.  She was still in her bathing suit.  We were just sitting next to each other on our tubes, and I don’t know, but I guess I yawned or something and my grandpa asked what was wrong.  I said, “I don’t know, I guess I’m just bored.”  He turned around and mumbled, “Son, how can you be bored with something like that sitting right next to you?”  He didn’t mean for Syndi and I to hear that, but we sure did.  We had a good laugh.  But it is a blessing to be seen with such a beautiful woman.  Especially one who spent nearly the whole weekend in a bikini.

So much more happened, but last night as we were coming back from Pizza Hut, we turned to go to the recreation park.  I pulled the car up a hill and turned it around so we could face the sunset.  And there began one of the most interesting conversations I have ever known.  She wanted to know why I do the things I do.  By this she was referring to my Christianity.  And with our hands holding each others and my head on her shoulder, I told her how much I love Jesus and why.  I almost cried trying to explain it.  She held my hand tighter as I continued to talk.  And with my head in her lap and her fingers running through my hair, she told me so many things.  She told me little childhood stories and things in her past.  A life so different from my own.  She told me about Eric, her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, whom she can’t seem to let go of.  He is a drug-addict, and admits it.  And Syndi basically referred to her alcohol as her own god.  Yet, throughout our differences in conversation and beliefs our bodies got closer.  My lips ran across the back of her neck.  And, at one point, I eventually fell asleep with my head in her lap.

Earlier that day, we decided we both needed to take a shower, but the only way to take one is to pay for it at the laundromat.  So, I was in the men’s shower and she was in the woman’s shower.  Syndi finished before me and when she walked to the car, she said a woman came up to her and said, “Your husband sure does take a long time in that shower, doesn’t he.”  She said she didn’t have the heart to correct her, and for a few times that night, Syndi called me “her hubby.”

I asked her why she was with me this weekend and why she spent so much time with me?  Why she seems so concerned with my life?

She said she found me interesting.

Normally, Syndi is not the kind of person I would hang around and she said the same about me.  However, this non-Christian, this “person-of-the-world”, is on my mind 24/7.

For the past few years while at Deep Creek, I secretly hoped to meet a special girl.  And I did.  I met Emily.  This year however, I brought one with me.

I am not any better than Syndi.  She is not any better than me.  Jesus died for her just like he died for me.  She is a child of God who is simply lost.

And I am a child of God, who in the long run, will probably lose her.