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.

 

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June 12, 1999 – Saturday – 4:51 p.m.

I feel like crying…crying because I don’t have best friend here.  At the moment, I feel so very much alone, very misunderstood, and I never feel like I can fully relax into the friendships I have here.

I talked to Justin, Abigail, Tracey, and Sarah the other night.  They sounded so good.  Sarah and I are all healed and that completely amazes me.  But these dear people are all far away.  Justin is in town, but at camp.  I leave in a week, so I won’t get to see him.

I’ll soon be around a new group of people.  Before I even depart, I guy I don’t know from Richmond is staying with me for a week while he helps out on a film shoot.

Oh Jesus…what is going on?

How am I doing?

I feel life has become so different and I don’t want it to be.  Is it my perspective or are things really changing?  Am I still young?  What do you want me to do?  Where have all my simple joys gone?  I am missing them so.  Why all this stress?  Life didn’t use to be this way.

Mom called me the other night.  She and Henry are having problems in their marriage.  They say they’re spiritual attacks because of their involvement with the Brownsville Revival and they are going to counseling.  I hope they’re still good.

There is a family reunion happening at Deep Creek, but I can’t go due to the film shoot.

Change.  I both love and hate it.

March 13, 1999 – Saturday – 9:01 p.m.

Closing time for another book has come.  Nearly nine months of my life have been written down in these bound pages.  This 14th Book of Days began as Sarah and I ended.  I’ve been to Texas, New York, South Africa, Swaziland, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Virginia during the days of this book.  And now I relax on a bed in my grandparent’s house in Lenexa, VA.

My aunt Patty just left to go back to D.C.  My brother just left to return to Richmond.  Nate is on the couch, and Mom and Henry are upstairs.

And life is beautiful.

It is good to be here; to be around family.  This was the first time my immediate family has been together since my graduation.  Yet we were all in this one house tonight because of one man, my grandfather.  My aunt Patty sung a song she wrote about him today and it ended with the lyric, “I learned a lot from my daddy.  Most of all, this is what I learned: work hard to provide, live a decent life, marriage is for a lifetime, raise your young’uns well, and always say ‘I love you.'”

I am proud to call him my grandfather.

My mother talked to me tonight about my dad, and how he would call her ugly and tell her that he would think of other women from magazine covers when having sex with her.

How cruel, but I forgive him.

God is my father, and always has been.

I will learn from Him.

Although I am from a family, it seems like such a meaningless thing compared to the relationship between myself and Jesus.  The whole worth of my being depends on a bloodstained hand.  I see from where I have come, and what a beautiful story it is, but I must never stop writing.  I one day will be like my grandfather and perhaps give hope to my grandson as he begins his own journey.  Nevertheless, the work of my hand and mind, the provision that will come from that, the marriage between my future wife and I, and my relationship with my future children is nothing compared to Jesus and me.

I am 22.

Twenty-two.

I have learned many things, but only one do I hold my life to.

Only one.

And that is that Jesus loves me.

Jesus loves me.

And he loves all his little children as equally as he loves me.

February 13, 1999 – Saturday – 10:43 p.m.

I began writing in these books nearly six years ago for a reason of which I am not really sure.  I only remember beginning them.  When I search myself for the most honest answer, all I can say is that I did it for myself.  Not for the person I was then, but for the person I knew I would become after reading about the time and place which formed me….and to read about it in my own hand.

And thus far, it has all brought me to this day, this hour, this minute.

I have just returned from a True Love Waits rally in Williamsburg, VA, a town I’ve spent many hours in over the years, for it is where we would go when I visited my dad’s side of the family in my earlier days.  My brother Kevin was there.  He’s 24 and looks nothing like it.  He handed me Christmas presents from people I didn’t see since I went chasing after my long lost pen pal, my family of old, and the revival everyone’s been talking about.

I drove one of two Parkway Temple vans to our destination and back tonight.  I used to be one of the kids always riding in the van, but now I’m the one driving it.

Our team performed Masks tonight.  This short vignette is very dear to my heart and has been in existence for nearly as long as these journals.  And I see now what these writings have done for me.  They help me examine my thoughts and feelings and help me remove all the false masks that try to cling to me each day.

There is no doubt that these entries have tremendously aided in forming who I am today.

For today, I am a free man.

And yesterday, on the 12th day of the 2nd month of 1999, I think I met her.

I left youth group a little early last night to attend the swing dance at Regent University.  During one dance where all the girls lined up on one side and the guys on the other, I walked towards a girl and met her in the middle.  There, we found ourselves; my arm around her back, our hands in each other’s, her hand on my shoulder.

We moved to the music.

“What’s your name?”

“Amy, yours?”

“Jacob.  Nice to meet you.”

January 4, 1999 – Monday – 11:25 p.m.

The first flight was delayed, but I arrived safely and Christin and her mom were waiting patiently to pick me up.  Christin handed me a card as well as a bouquet of sharpened pencils, it was a reference to You’ve Got Mail.  It was nice.

I came home to a tone of messages.  I called Lindy and she said she is coming to visit on Thursday through Saturday.  I can’t wait to see her.  I’m sure we will have the best time in the world.

Earlier today at the Pensacola airport I watched the most amazing family of four.  I saw such a display of love.  I cried inside as I watched them and prayed that God would let me have that someday.

I found a letter from Sarah in my mailbox.  She asked me to pray for her and she thanked me for letting her love me.  The letter was nice, but…well…I guess it’s never too late.

Amy, a teammate from South Africa, also wrote me from France.  She sent beautiful pictures.  It was great to hear from her.

 

December 29, 1998 – Tuesday – 9:30 a.m.

It is nearing the end of the year.  I rest in Milton, Florida, USA, and these days force me to look back.

Nineteen Hundred Ninety-Eight.

Thoughts of Sarah, as well as saying goodbye to Lees-McRae, took up the first six months. I still long for that place, but I’m secretly and silently afraid to go back to visit, for I fear I might ruin it’s impact on my life and my heart.

There was a month of transition in the middle of this year through which I visited Texas and South Africa, with brief stops in New York and Miami.  Those were such perfect days.  I wish I could go back and stay in them a little longer, for they were simply too short.

Virginia Beach, Regent University, and Parkway Temple all immediately fell into my lap and my heart.  It seemed as though my collection grew overnight, and now it is the only home I long for.

I am enjoying my time off here, but my parents’ marriage, my stepfather’s need to explain everything, and my mother’s non-displays-of-affection towards her husband and myself still shock and hurt me.  I simply do not understand.  I stay silent.

Emily said she would call yesterday.  She did not.  She reminds me of Sarah.

I just want to do it right.  I want a true and simple love.

The tiny smile of Christin is all I need.

Since my first semester of graduate school is over, it is time to pick the most cherished moments of that time.  There are only two, and I was fully aware they were perfect moments while they were happening.

The first was on November 28, 1998, the Saturday evening I spent with Tracey.  It was the moment during Riverdance in which a gentlemen played a beautiful bagpipe sort of instrument and the entire world stopped.  The music brought peace to the entirety of my days and perfect love to my heart.  I had an old friend by my side and even older memories in my mind.  I had just seen Vince and Allen, a beautiful sunset, and fantastic fireworks.

Perfection.

The next one took place during the early morning hours of December 13, 1998.  My Heart Will Go On played over the credits of Titanic.  Sterling was asleep on one side of me, and Christin was asleep on the other.  Her beautiful face was on my chest and my fingers were in her hair.

Perfection.

And so, a few days of this year remain.

Can 1999 be so close?

What is happening to this world?

Jesus, you are my shelter.

You are all I seek.

Please guide me.

 

September 20, 1998 – Sunday – 8:28 p.m.

My life has gone on a crazy ride recently.  To begin, my Communication Theory class blew my mind.  God is definitely using this class to deal with the way I think and see the world.  Perhaps I’ll go into detail with that later.

I worked Wednesday afternoon and that night we had drama practice.  It went okay, but these kids really have no idea of how to do this thing, but I guess it’s my job to teach them.  Nevertheless, we all had fun.

Sometimes at Regent I feel like I just don’t fit in.  There is a Law School and a Theology School and I feel like some of those students in their suits walk by and judge me and my duck-taped sandals.

I worked all day Friday, it was a bit rough.  I just wasn’t happy with all that was around me.  But once I got off work, all that changed.

Dawn, a coworker, needed a ride home.  She’s insanely beautiful and a lot of fun, she actually reminds me Emily.  Well, I was taking her home and she wanted to stop and get some pepperoni rolls at a nearby bakery, so we did.  We ate there together and talked and it was just simple fun.  I shared a meal with an insanely beautiful girl and sometimes that is all a man needs to make it through the week.  We drove to her house, and I was just being me, you know the one that often feels like he doesn’t fit in at Regent, and she was just cracking up a storm, telling me I was the funniest thing in the world.

Thank you Dawn!  You saved my life that day.

Then, I went back to Regent to watch some of the student films that were being screened.  I saw three and they were all pretty good.  Then I left to go watch One True Thing at the Regal Cinemas.  That movie changed my whole perspective.

One day, my own mom is going to start dying.  I love her so much and that day is many years away, but still, we will all die one day.  And the movie taught me that I have so much here in Virginia Beach to love and care about.

I haven’t been doing that well enough.

I cried the entire way home from the movie.  I just a big baby in the car.  I didn’t like who I was and I wanted to change.  I asked God to forgive me.

I arrived home, slept, and got up early yesterday morning and left with some members of the youth group to go to King’s Dominion.  I spent most of the day with our leaders Tammy and Jose, as well as Kimberly and Lauren.  Kim is 15 and Laura is 13 and we eventually split off and it was just Kimberly and Lauren and me.  And I had the best day with those two.

I just loved whatever was around me.  Kim and Lauren and I talked the entire day.  I was a 22-year-old graduate student who got to feel 14 again.  God was giving me a gift and I was reminded of who I was and what I’m called to.  God knows me better than I know myself.

Kimberley reminded me a lot of Ryan, my first crush, and Kimberley said I make everything so much fun that she wants to do everything with me now, even shopping.  Lauren was an absolute sweetheart and I now have two dear new friends.

What a lovely thing that is, a friend.

One True Thing revealed to me how I had needlessly complicated my life.  I’d forgotten about the simple sounds, simply joys, simple tastes, and simple smiles of the good life.

On Saturday, September 19, 1998, I became young again.