October 18, 1997 – Saturday – 9:00 a.m.

Oh man, last night was amazing.

After lunch yesterday we all went kayaking.  Tracey and I were in the same kayak together.  Dolphins came to join us as we drifted over the water.  Pretty dang cool.

Then we had a polaroid scavenger hunt last night.  Our team got second place so we are now tied for first overall.

But during our worship service last night, Charlie preached to us on raising a standard and a banner on campus.  One person has to lead the way, but all must work together.  And for the longest time, while Charlie talked and others talked, I curled up in a fetal position and felt like I was going to throw up.  My heart pounded.  I could hear it.  It was so loud.  Forever passed and I finally spoke up and said something along the lines of:

“Um, I feel like I need to apologize to everyone.  I just now realized that I am the problem.  I only know how to a Christian by my self.  I love the big groups, but it’s hard for me and I need help.  It’s hard for me to trust you all.  It’s difficult for me to believe that you guys worship the same God I do, mainly because I think he’s all mine.  I need you guys to help me.  I can’t even look at you.  I’m sorry.”

Tears rolled down my face.  Rachel came and held me and Abigail put her hand on my knee.  After several tears, I held Abigail’s hand.  She leaned closer and I hugged her.

God did a healing inside me.

Something hard to explain.

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October 17, 1997 – Friday – 12:02 p.m.

Yesterday was a pretty amazing day.  Everyone went to the beach in the morning and just hung out there and messed around.  This retreat is going to strengthen all of our relationships.  Abigail and I aren’t at odds anymore.  Any trace of that discomfort feels forever gone.

We had a sand castle building contest yesterday.  Our team got second place.  We built Calvary.  One team built an octopus, and another built a toilet complete with a turd (a little brown stick).

I also went on a peaceful bike ride yesterday.  This is a beautiful place.

We all played miniature golf last night.  The owner was a Christian and we sang for him.  Then we played Red Rover on the beach under a full moon.

Then, I went for a walk, alone, and sang this over and over again:

“You are my hope, and your promises never fail me

And my desire, is to follow you forever

For you are good, for you are good

For you are good to me.”

I was nearly in tears.  I cannot believe how good God is to me.

Charlie used me as an example last night in our worship service, “All we need to do is show up and make a stand.”

In a little over six months I will leave to show up somewhere else.  God has used me here, but he’s mainly used LMC and Banner Elk to prepare me for the next place.  This simple little story is nearing it’s final chapter.

But what I love more than my story, are the stories of my friends.  And most of them I’ve written down.

October 16, 1997 – Thursday – 8:00 a.m.

I’m on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  I can see the Ocean from the window of this room.  We arrived here last night.  I rode with Dan, Allen and Jessica.

Charlie, Vince, Curtis, Alex, Paul, Todd, Sherlive, Rachel, Tracey, Ellen, Ann-Marie, and Abigail are here as well.  This should be a delightful weekend.

My scene with Mason and Emily went so well yesterday.  Everyone loved it.  I’m so proud of them.  My lighting design looked so good.  Other student directors kept asking me, “how did you get to have lights for your scene.”  I just told them I did it on my own and they could have as well.

We went to the beach last night.  I walked alone for a while and thought about my God.  How awesome he is and how speechless he makes me.  The ocean was calm last night, but when I went down this morning, it was roaring.

Hmmm.

October 7, 1997 – Tuesday – 7:00 p.m.

Hard to know what to think.

Or even what I’m thinking.

Nearly seven months left now.

Then a summer.

Then another life.

I try to stay alert, awake, and brave.  But when it comes down to it, I’m scared out of my mind.  I’m scared because around the winter of 1994 God used Shurby to speak an audible message to me: “You will do a great thing, not many will believe you, but don’t worry, all you have to do is show up, for you are not doing this great thing, I am.”

And that is what I’ve basically done these 3 1/2 years, I’ve just shown up.  I showed up at Lees-McRae and look what happened.  I didn’t try any harder than anyone else.  Many around me come to me with their problems.  People refer to me as their counselor.

My directing talents are being praised, but I just showed up to rehearsal like the rest of them.  Josh talked to me last night about how much of a leader I was; how much of a role model.

“The hand of God is on your life Jacob,” he said to me.

But I don’t get it.

I’m a sinner.  I fail all the time.  I judge people and I hurt people’s feelings.  I don’t pray any harder or worship any more and yet I intimidate other Christians.  They have said there is a God and Jacob connection that they don’t have.

Well I do…He’s my Savior!  He’s died for me for crying out loud.  And I’m scared to death cause the Creator of everything around me loves me and has his hand on my life.  This great thing, whatever it is, is actually coming true.  I’m not doing anything to deserve it.  And along with this life on earth, I get an eternal life too!  There’s so much grace around me, I simply don’t understand the level of mercy I see.

But God’s hand is on others too.  I know it because they are such a blessing to me.

So, I’m scared because I only have seven months to tell my friends how much I love them, and that simply isn’t enough time.

September 29, 1997 – Monday – 1:30 p.m.

A lovely day.

Yesterday was rainy, but still wonderful.  I think I prefer rain over sunshine, especially in the mountains.

Jeni came over and we talked.  Dan and Allen were here and we began talking about relationships.  Then Jeni said to Dan, as though I wasn’t there, “I could never see myself dating Jacob again, mainly because his spiritual relationship with God is so much further along than mine.”

That statement surprised me greatly.  After Dan and Allen left, Jeni and I talked about it.  She said that Abigail and Tracey feel the same way; I somehow make them feel inferior.  “But I don’t do anything!” I told Jeni.  “I’m just me, I don’t think or even try to act like I’m better.  In fact, I’m the lowest of the low.”

She said that maybe it was just their own spiritual insecurity.  She said it was the hardest thing in the world for each of them since they all love me so much.

I didn’t understand.  They love me, but don’t want to pursue anything further with me because I make them feel less close to God?

Then Jeni confessed that over the summer when she stayed with me, she went into my room and read my journal.  She immediately started crying, fearing I would hate her.  She said she opened it up to May 7th, 1997, I believe.  And well, you should flip back and read it for this to make sense, but she said that reading that nearly killed her and she wished she had never read it.

I explained what that entry meant to me and I forgave her.

Then she told me that she told Abigail once, “No matter who Jacob marries, she will never be worthy enough.  He is wonderful.”

There it is.  Because I love God, girls are turned away.  I guess following Jesus does cost something.

But all that was yesterday and I woke up today with a smile on my face.

Speaking of girls, Sherlive is completely confused and foggy about life.  She is asking questions that shouldn’t be asked.  I used to think she had it all together, but she is in the ozone.  I spent three hours talking with her last night.  I asked her to lay her head in my lap so I could just pet her hair and pray for her.  She never seemed to relax.

Dan told me later on, “Jacob it’s going to be terrible next year.”

“Why?”

“Who’s going to be here to take care of us?”

September 28, 1997 – Sunday – 1:40 a.m.

I’m in my room again.  The drives to Louisville and back were as much fun as any time we spent there.

I have grown accustomed to my new apartment.  It is now my place, my room, but I couldn’t call it my home.  Lees-McRae is my home, and this is simply my room.

After I got back from Kentucky, I went down to Cannon lobby and discovered that a lot of people were down there singing praises to our God!  Abigail had some friends up and Tracey’s family was there.  I joined in and it was a wonderful time of song.  Abigail’s face was a huge and constant smile.  I could see in her eyes how special those two people were to her.  She was amazingly happy and that happiness had nothing to do with me.  That’s probably how it will always be and how it should always be.

Jeni is going to Banner Elk Christian Fellowship tomorrow.  She is excited about seeing David, I think something nice happened between them while I was gone.

I saw an unbelievable Kentucky sunset a few hours ago.  It really was an amazing drive home.  Dr. and Mrs. Martin told Charlie and I the story of how they met, it was just a couple of days into their Freshmen year of college.

I was reading a little bit out of my older Books of Days.  I read about Jenna and Tenielle and about lost keys and alphabets.  How crazy and different I seemed back them.  But that was me then and it isn’t me now.

It made me realize that very soon all of these girls here at Lees-McRae will simply be stories in My Book of Days.  But they haven’t completely faded from my heart into the pages of my journal just yet.  I still remember Jeni’s long, soft legs and the curves of Abigail’s face.  I still dream of Jessica’s hair, Ann-Marie’s smile, and Ellen’s laugh.  These girls mean more to me than I ever let them know.

Then there are the new girls like Sarah and Sherlive, whose college experience will continue on without me.  Every night I go to bed so thankful, so thankful for an extra day with these beautiful women and my fantastic guy friends.  They are bringing me closer to God.  God is loving me through them.

Lees-McRae is passing and I know I’ll be able to let it go.  These people here are everything to me.  When we reach the other side, I’m sure one of the first things I’ll do is look for them.

I have been here simply to love

To witness and experience joy and fun

Soon I’ll leave calmly like a dove

The way night does when day is done.

September 26, 1997 – Friday – 10:00 a.m.

I will leave for Kentucky in less than an hour.

Yesterday was an amazing day.  I spoke to Doc about Regent University, that I was applying, etc.  She said there was a guy in Boone who had graduated from there and that since she had a lot of pull with CITA (Christians in Theater Arts), her recommendation alone would guarantee my acceptance.  I’ve been wanting to attend Regent since the summer after my Freshman year, when I first learned about it at Fishnet.  Yesterday God just reassured me that he is the one calling me to attend there.

Also, Jeni was here yesterday.  It was so good to see her.  Last night after Bible study, all the guys and all the girls came to hang out in my room.  We talked for a while and then in the middle of all of the conversation, Abigail said something, something amazing.  We were talking about some joke I had told and she said, “You’re a funny guy Jacob.  I appreciate your humor and I appreciate you.”  And then she kinda stared at me.

In that moment I felt like our friendship was completely restored.

I got a letter from Marisa today and in it she said, “I’m sorry it’s your last year, but the Lord has called you elsewhere.”

And Sarah wrote me a letter as well.  She said, “Jacob, I want you to know that even though I haven’t known you very long, I love you.”

I am so loved here, and yet I’m leaving.

I don’t know whether to smile or to cry.