July 24, 1995 – Monday – 4:08 p.m.

Last night was my last Sunday night at church.  I will be away all of the other Sunday nights.  I have been a part of that youth group for six years.  The youth group itself began with a guy named Mike.  I was there at the ripe age of 13.  I have gone through all of the youth pastors:  Mike, Mark, Hank, Pastor Steve, Jason, Pastor Steve again, Shurby.  Shurby doesn’t do it anymore now either.

My greatest days were those with Jason.  He still inspires me even though he is not around.  But when he was here, I was 16-years-old and wanting to soak up anything I could that dealt with theater and drama.  Jason taught me so much.

But those wonderful days have faded away, just like all the rest.

These days, I strive to grow closer to God and closer to Emily.  I also was to succeed at everything I attempt during my time at Lees-McRae College.  Which reminds me…while at Fishnet ’95, Jonathan, one of the guys we met, told me about a film school in Virginia Beach.  Then the next day, while I was talking to one of the speakers, he mentioned the same film school, named Regent University that is sort of associated with CNN, a Christian cable network.  Anyway, since two people at Fishnet, on two back-to-back days, encouraged me to check out this film school, well, I think the Lord is trying to tell me something.

I will look into it.

Last night, on the way back from church, Marcus and I about got hit by a car.  So, we followed the car a little ways through Goldston.  Then another truck was following us.  Then finally, after the first car was long gone, we pulled over and the truck behind us stopped, got out and approached us.  It turned out, the drivers of the truck were the parents of the girl in the car we were following and they thought we were stalking her.  Evidently, she’s been having a lot of guys stalk her recently.  I thought it was a funny little misunderstanding, but Marcus got really shook up by the father accusing us.

Everything is okay; we all apologized.

I think I’m going to go to a MXPX concert tonight with Kevin and Marcus.  They are a Christian group that sounds like Greenday.  Hopefully I’ll have fun.

Ten more days until August 4th.

I got a letter from Emily a few days ago with a little hand-drawn map of how to get to her house.  In it was a little card that said this:

“Jacob,

It’s hard to believe you are coming here.  I may not let you leave.  My prince may never return.  I don’t want to lose you.

I’ve been doing really good lately.  I’m just so happy for no reason at all.  Nothing can bring me down from this natural, beautiful high I’m on.  I can’t wait to share it with you!  My anticipation burns inside me.  I can’t hide my smile.

I love you.

Emily”

I was right, on the directions I noticed a bridge I had to cross.

July 16, 1995 – Sunday – 11:06 p.m.

I’m back home from Fishnet.

Friday was a good day.  I went to most of the programs and heard many great speakers like Winkie Pratney and Josh McDowell.  Steve Camp was in concert that night.

We met two guys in their early 20s.  They were from North Carolina and their names were James and Jonathan.  They fit right in with us and we had so many laughs.

Then Saturday came!  Another great day!  Rebecca St. James sang that night.  I got her autograph for Kevin on a huge poster.

I let it all go that night.  I ran and jumped around on that Virginian hillside cathedral.  I shouted Hallelujah so loud!  I sang so many songs.  I smiled at the Lord and felt him smiling at me.

That night, last night, would be my last night for a while at Fishnet.  And I realized that, sadly.  But so many new and different things occurred after the service on that wonderful night.  We got a visit from a woman named Rhonda with two small children named Skinard, age 6, and Andrew, age 4.  They came over because lightning was in the sky and the wind was all of a sudden on a move.

Skinard fell asleep while we were all sharing what Fishnet meant to us.  Then he woke up crying.  His stomach hurt.  It turns out that he hadn’t used the bathroom in the past four days because he was scared to use the Port-O-Let.

Well, the wind blew harder and we had to take the tarp down.  I was trapped under it with the two kids.  They were scared and crying.  Everyone was outside and trying to hold the tarp down.  Skinard got so scared from the wind and the thunder that he finally relaxed his bowels and let the poop flow.

There I was, under a blue tarp with white lightning all around, holding two extremely tanned kids, one whose white butt was now covered with smelly brown crap.  A colorful evening.

I tried my best to comfort those two scared kids while their mom took down their tent so they could leave that night and return to their safe and warm Richmond home.  I tried to tell the kids some funny stories and jokes, but they just really wanted me to pray.  After I finished one prayer, Andrew immediately asked me to pray again.  I stayed with them for 30 minutes before their mom returned and ran them down to her packed car.

The rest of us piled into the van so we wouldn’t get struck by lightning.  The storm passed and some went to sleep in their tents, but others, like myself, slept in the van.

Morning came and we sadly packed everything up and left one of the most wonderful places on this planet.

Now, let me take the time here to continue the story of some of these individuals.

Lisa and I got along pretty well.  She is my high school buddy; one of the two or three that lasted.  There was a moment where Lisa and I hugged, our cheeks pressed tightly together, and I became very thankful for this girl whom I’ve known for the past five years.  You are a special friend to me, Lisa.

Kristen, my new-found-Fishnet-friend, my Forrest Gump-puke-attack-helper, and my dear friend for life, grew more this Fishnet.  She tries so hard to do what is right.  She is a good wife.  She has a good husband.  Her husband calls me her boyfriend.  She doesn’t understand though that life is a collection.  She loves Fishnet and wishes it would never end.  I am her buddy.  In her words, she would point to me and say, “Dag, I love that mug!”

Dana and I grew closer.  She is a very funny person and I hope that we can see each other more at school this next year.  Bradley, Dana’s brother, will be a freshman at ASU in the fall.  He wants me to come see him.

While at Fishnet, Bradley came up with some small poems I thought were hilarious.  I’ll write them in here to amuse myself later:

Wind blow

Wind blow

Sally Smith

And Joe Blow

What do you know?

Not much

Why?

Belly button

Belly button

That’s what I’ve been huntin’

I found it in my tummy

So now I feel like a dummy

I searched all my life

And it caused me so much strife

Oh my

Why?

He’s a funny guy and I’m proud to call him my friend.

Tony and Leslie, as well as Jonathan and James are some of the most unique individuals I know.  These past five days were the greatest and they helped make them that way.

Thank you everyone.

There were two others with me at Fishnet, but I’ll explain them to you in a minute.

Kevin picked me up from High Falls and I gave him the Rebecca St. James autographed poster.  He seemed to like it.  He actually hasn’t said much to me.

I came home to my Visa bill and a clean bathroom, but I prefer the dirty ones at Fishnet.  Jonathan is not here.  He has moved out.

Veronica and her family were at church tonight.  She doesn’t like my haircut and she let me know that.  I talked to her mom for the longest time tonight.  After youth group, there was a party for Pastor Steve and Nancy’s 15th wedding anniversary.

Shirley is the greatest.  She loves her family so much yet she is so concerned with my life; the way I wish my own mom would be.  I told her that it is sad that my home church feels like a different world.  In my world I only have two special faithful friends.  And they are not Jenna and Tenielle.  Of course, they will always be great, but Jenna only sees Sam these days and Tenielle, well, she is just too young to know.

Shirley said she was sorry that I was lonely and to keep my chin up.  I sure have missed Shirley this past year.

Veronica has grown up in body.  She was holding Jasmine and when she handed her to me, her breast ran down my hand.  That part of her sure has grown as fast as puppies grow.  And it hit me.  This little girl is less than a year younger than Emily when I first met her.  Emily has seen a different slice of life than Veronica has.  In talking to Veronica I discovered her maturity has grown as fast as rocks grow, which is to say not much at all.

I told Shirley that all of my true friends were not of this world.  These two friends are not of this world, but they were with me at Fishnet.

The first one’s name is Emily.  She seemed to be constantly with me.  It really felt like I could see her and talk to her.  And I did.  I whispered little things to her.  Every time I thought of her, a smile filled my face.

The second and greater one’s name is Jesus.  Not only did I talk to him, but I worshipped, praised, and adored him.  I told him so many things.  I was smiling every minute.

So there it is.

Fishnet is gone, but with me.

Deep Creek may not even happen after all, at least not this year.

And an eclipse will occur in 17 days.

I showed Emily’s “big smile” picture to Nate earlier today.  He said, “Wow, she’s beautiful.”

“Yeah Nate.  She is.” I replied.

“I mean really beautiful.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Then he said, “She looks like you.”

I laughed, but he repeated himself and was serious.

I looked at her picture again and saw it in a way, but I also didn’t see it.  Then I remembered that saying that I’ve heard people say my entire life, “People, especially couples, who spend a lot of time together, begin looking like each other.”

Are Emily and I already becoming one?

And how will we look as we begin to spend more time with Jesus?

July 12, 1995 – Wednesday – 3:15 p.m.

We are at Fishnet!  Everything is set up.  I have already bought a T-shirt.  I am waiting for something to happen.

I’m here with Kristen, Amanda, Lisa, Andrew, Phil, Dana, Brad, Mike, Kim, Tony and Leslie.

Eleven people!  Fishnet ’95 has begun.

We have the same campsite as last year.  In a way it seems like nothing has changed.  But I have been to a whole new world since I was here last year.

Well…here we go…

June 21, 1995 – Wednesday – 10:35 p.m.

I was about an hour late to work today, but it turned out okay.

I have mapped out the rest of my summer.  I’ll write it in here.  Let’s see if it goes as planned:

I will work the next couple of weeks every day except for Tuesdays and Sundays.  Then on July 12th, I’ll leave for Fishnet ’95.  I will return on the 16th, leaving for Deep Creek on the 17th.  We will come back on the 22nd, a Saturday, in time for church on the following day.  From the 24th of July until the 3rd of August, I’ll work every day except for Sunday.  And on the weekend of August 4th, I plan to visit Emily in Florida.  I’m not sure when I’ll return, but I spend the remainder of that time getting ready for my sophomore year at Lees-McRae College.

Fifty-four days remain until I return to my world.  I pray that this is the last summer I spend here.  The Lord is preparing my heart to return to Banner Elk.  I learned so much at church tonight.

Philippians 3:13 says, “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”

The past needs to be forgotten.

Only now and the future exist.

I went for a walk on the railroad tracks after church tonight.  There was lightening in the air, lightning bugs all around, and light in my heart.

You are changing me Lord!

June 19, 1995 – Monday – 4:55 p.m.

It has been exactly two years since the night Emily and I first met.  On that night I had no idea that all of the tiny little things that have happened between us would have happened.

Fishnet is in 3 1/2 weeks.

Our Deep Creek plans are changing so Marcus is able to come.

As of right now, I do not know how I am getting to Florida.  Money is tight.  I just pray something will happen and the Lord provides a way.  Thank you for that Lord.

It has been almost three months since the night I first called Emily back on March 26th.  That seems so long ago.

In about 55 days I will return to my world at Lees-McRae.  My Freshman year took me so many places.  Last year I was just a student.  This year, I am a student, a Resident Assistant, the Performing Arts Videographer, the FCA vice-president, the student postman, and the Artistic Director of Drama at Heaton Christian Church.

New people will cross my path.  I am sure I will visit other places far away.  Last year took me from Cincinnati, Ohio to Albany, Georgia.

What will this next year bring me?

Where will it take me?

Who will be added to my collection?

July 18, 1994 – Monday – 10:45 a.m.

I was sick yesterday so I didn’t go to church. But last night I did go to High Falls. We played volleyball and watched the video from Fishnet. Kenny brought me home and on the way, he stopped by his church. He used to live in a trailer, but the guy who let him stay there said that he had to move out because he was going to begin renting it to someone else. So, Kenny keeps most of his stuff in his car and sleeps in the attic of his church. He is like a homeless person, yet he lends me money and doesn’t want me to pay him back.

Every soul has their story.

Well, he spent the night here because Thursday night he heard a noise and thought someone else was in the church. He later found a broken window that appeared broken from the inside. He took a shower here and told me how lucky I am and he said that no one knew more about him than me.
Whew!
Kristen is coming to pick me up around 3:30 p.m. and we are all going down to Aberdeen to see Forrest Gump. I know very little about this movie. I hope I will enjoy it.
I’m out of here in 40 days!

July 15, 1994 – Friday – 9:30 a.m.

Last night was pretty good. When we went to Pizza Hut the youth group went too. I stood out on the ledge afterwards and watched the river flow down. I thought of the last summer and fall. I thought of how Ryan was so important to me. I thought of the winter and Jenna and Tenielle. I thought of the spring and Jenna and Tenielle. But really, I just thought of how much I grew up.

What did I do with that year?

The best thing that happened to me in that year was Fishnet ’94. Fishnet made me remember and it showed me how easy it was to meet new people and get so close to them in such a short amount of time.

Jesus hugged me at Fishnet.

But after Fishnet comes Jenna and Tenielle. When I thought no one else cared and no one else needed me, they showed me that they did. I love them both very much, and I want to watch them grow up.

But, well, you know…

After Pizza Hut we went over to the youth group’s campsite and played cards with those girls and met some new people. They had a service that night. Jonathan and I stayed to watch and listen.

The speaker is an Assemblies of God evangelist. He has heard of Pastor Steve.  Everyone was in a loving mood, and well, I was a part of it.  At this moment three girls that we met are here at our campsite.  We’re getting ready to go tubing together.

 

July 11, 1994 – Monday – 9:15 a.m.

I’m at Deep Creek.  So much has happened since I last wrote in my journal while at Fishnet.

My heart is aching now.  What am I doing here at Deep Creek?

First of all, we left from Fishnet late Sunday morning.  Hannah and I sat in the same seat.  We both slept, we were very close.  I miss her.  She is very sweet.

When we got to High Falls Church, we all said our goodbyes.  The way I lived from the 6th to the 10th of July…I could live that way forever.  But when I got to my church that night, I talked to Jenna about how much fun I had.  She hugged me so many times that night.

I then discovered that Scott had a motorcycle accident and he can’t go to Deep Creek with us.  He’s okay, just some scratches.  So this morning, at 2:00 a.m. Jonathan and I left.  And here we are now.  He has been sick, so he’s asleep.

It’s raining and well…I feel like crying.

Hannah!  Kristen!  Lisa!  Jenna!  Tenielle!  What am I doing here?  I should be near you!

But I am here until Friday.  Just Jonathan and I.

We leave Saturday morning.

I’m used to being here at Deep Creek with Kevin, Marcus, Danny, and Peter.  Where are they now?

I want to go back to Fishnet so bad.

God, please give me joy during this time.

July 9, 1994 – Saturday – 11:52 p.m.

This is my last journal entry for Fishnet.

Today I bumped into a little boy, he had lost his mom.  I helped them find each other and when they did they held onto each other and cried deeply.

As I walked back from their reunion, happy as I could be, I was in the midst of the crowd, and the band on the stage started playing, everyone in the crowd stood up and started clapping.  I know it sounds weird, but it felt like they were clapping for me.  I felt something stir in me and God said, “This is you.”

Later in the afternoon, a huge storm came up.  The tarp fell down and everyone was under it holding it down to keep it from flying away.  I, myself, videotaped the whole ordeal with Lisa’s video camera.

But what we didn’t know while we were under that tarp was that a huge funnel cloud formed above the hillside and almost touched ground.  But before it did, it seemed like something just picked it up and sent it on its way.

Later in the evening, the sky was filled with a double rainbow.  It was beautiful.  God has shown me who I am and he has made a promise to me.

July 9, 1994 – Saturday – 6:30 a.m.

Yesterday I went to The Fish Bowl again, and the same thing happened to me, except stronger.  God touched me.  Jesus touched me.  I reached out to him and he reached in.  I’ve never been so close to God than…right now.  But through all of the joy and excitement, meeting new people, getting to know them, remembering who I am in Christ; in the midst of all that, only one thing seems wrong, one thing that is not right: Jenna and Tenielle aren’t here to experience it with me.

Today is our last day here.  The time has flown by.  I could live like this forever, but Jenna and Tenielle would have to be up here with me.

Yesterday, I did some crazy stuff with Kristin, Dana, and Hannah.  I’ve known Dana a while now.  She will be a Junior at Appalachian State University in Boone while I’m a Freshman at Lees-McRae in Banner Elk, only 17 miles away.  Kristen and I get along okay and Hannah and I are good friends.  Both of them want to come to my church since I told them how awesome our Praise and Worship was.

Steve Camp performed last night.  That was great!  He’s Kenny’s favorite singer.

James Robinson preached and boy was he good.  He said something about Hollywood and how we should pray for them, but he didn’t condemn all the good movies that had been made.  He even said a new movie called Forrest Gump was a movie that all Christians should see.  Hopefully I’ll see it soon.  I walked up to him afterwards and told him thank you for such a good word.

I’ve taken some pictures up here.  I can’t wait to get them developed.

Deep Creek is right around the corner.  I wonder if I’ll have as much fun as I’m having here at Fishnet?