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.”

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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.

September 13, 1998 – Sunday – 8:39 a.m.

Today is my mother’s birthday.  She turns 45.  I just called her.  She has a job working for the city, and Henry is going to class and working part-time at the local Wal-Mart.  I’m sure this would make no sense to the world.  Henry had a great job as a detective at UNC and now he is pushing carts.  But they are not of this world and he is where God wants him to be.

Nate is now in 8th grade.  I switched schools in 6th grade and that was rough, I’m sure switching in 8th grade is even more difficult.

Mom says they will stay down there for Thanksgiving.  She wants us to come down, but I’ve already made plans, so I can’t.

Yesterday after work I auditioned for a sci-fi film being produced independently by some Regent students.  It is something they hope to sell and turn into a series.  Call backs are next Wednesday; we’ll see.  The audition was so much fun.  I do love this stuff.

Yesterday I saw two movies, Rounders and Simon Birch.  They were both fantastic!  Sitting behind me in the theater was a huge group of guy friends and it made me miss Vince, Dan, Allen, Curtis, Justin, Charlie, and Josh so much.  I just miss laughing with them and letting the world fade away.

 

August 18, 1998 – Tuesday – 8:37 a.m.

I had the best birthday in the world!

Church on Sunday went very well.  I went to Parkway Temple and I think I’m going to stick with it.  I’m going to call the youth pastor this week to talk about the skit group.

Yesterday, for my 22nd birthday, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to drive to Sandbridge and watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.  I took some pictures and had an excellent time alone with God.  A policeman came and told me I parked in the wrong spot.  He wondered why I was out there so early, so I told him it was my birthday and that I just moved here and didn’t really know anyone so I had to celebrate somehow.

I registered for my classes yesterday, and I met with my advisor to plan out my schedule for the next two years.  I should be finished with all my courses by the summer of 2000.  Only two years; that’s crazy!

I went to a cookout yesterday at a family’s house with a pool.  They have four kids from 14 to 5: Jessica, Jonathan, Jeremy, and Jenna.  Jenna, the 5-year-old and I had the best time!  She had some cool toys and loved to show them off.  To my surprise, all the folks at the cookout had a cake for me for my birthday; they prayed for me and everything.  I met most of them last Monday when I went to a prayer meeting at Christian’s house.  Christian and his family are from Germany.  Anyway, everyone didn’t want me to spend my birthday alone, so they planned this cookout for me.  I almost didn’t go because I thought I should stay home and wait for my mom to call.  Funny thing is, my mom never called.  I think she’s totally forgotten my birthday.

Oh well, God is already giving me a new family, no matter where I find myself.

Thank you God!

August 10, 1998 – Monday – 5:45 p.m.

I only have one week left to be 21.

Today was great!  I had some training at the bookstore and then all the employees there went to the beach for a cookout.  I had the best time.  It was myself, Matt, David, and new people I met today: Steven, Dawn, Sarah, Jenny, Channing, Donna, Katy, Aaron, and Amy.

Great people; not all of them go to Regent, but they all love the Lord!

David and I played in the waves and talked about South Africa and it made me miss the place even more.  Matt had really dug deep in to community while I was away.  He has been going to prayer meetings and such.  I’ve been invited to one tonight.

I found out my mom and family are not in Florida yet.  They are in Atlanta.  The RV broke down.  I haven’t talked to them yet.  I haven’t talked to anyone from my old world yet.  I’m afraid to I think.  I’m afraid it will seem like they are all in slow motion and that I’m moving forward so quickly that we’ll be out of reach of each other.

Thank you God for this job.  Thank you for this place.  You are so good to me.  I love living with you and for you.  You have always placed me in a family of believers, no matter where you have called me.  Please speak to me tonight at this meeting.