December 17, 1995 – Sunday – 1:52 p.m.

For the third morning in a row, I woke up in this wonderful house.  Church was really fun as usual.  A lot of people complemented me on the performance of Christmas Comes to Long Star Gulch last night.  Not only did I direct, but I played the lead as well.

During the service, I sat in front of Melissa.  She seemed down and lonely. There is a part of the service in which people greet one another.  I turned around and hugged Melissa and said, “Vince wanted me to tell you Merry Christmas.”  Her face it up and a breath of teary, joyful relief burst from her body.  She smiled.  She seemed so beautiful and innocent.  I’ve never seen Melissa that way before.

Perhaps I am helping these two souls.  And perhaps at the same time, I am, unknowingly, helping myself.

Lees-McRae College has taken me many places.  Heaton, Cincinnati, Albany, and now…Lone Star Gulch.

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December 16, 1995 – Saturday – 11:30 p.m.

Our opening night was tonight.

Our last performance is tomorrow night.

The show went really well.  The place was packed and everyone complemented me.

We had rehearsal this morning and then I went with Sharon, Hannah, and Megan to Boone where we went shopping, ate lunch, and saw Toy Story.  I had the greatest time.  Sharon is really nice and she tells me all the time how wonderful a Christian I am and how much I mean to her and other people.  Hannah and Megan were so much fun.  Just two little 10-year-olds without a care in the world.

Afterwards, when I came back here and had dinner with Crystal and Leslie, we went to the show and had a wonderful time performing.  When the show was over, Crystal and Leslie and I played cards up here in Clifton’s room.  They were goofing around and simply being free.  It amazed me.

I mean look at today.

Me, a lanky little boy who grew up in a crossroads called Mt. Vernon Springs, came to this mountain community knowing nothing nor anyone.

And now, in a year and a half’s time, I have found a home.

I feel very comfortable in this house.  I feel so comfortable over at Sharon’s house, and Marty and Stan’s house.

A whole church who backed me up to help me create a marvelous little show.

Before the show started tonight, I recognized about ten people who helped me with this production.  At the end, Pastor Jim said that I mentioned a lot of people but I forgot to mention myself.  So, he did it for me and everyone clapped.

I have come so far.

My mother, stepfather, and Nate come tomorrow.  Kevin cannot make it.  He has an appointment with Pastor Steve about Tenielle, John, and himself.  I talked to him today.

So, about 24 hours from now, I will travel away to a new and different world.  I pray that the Lord use me there to heal some broken hearts.  I can’t wait to see Mike and try to find Jonathan.

A new and old adventure awaits.

March 19, 1995 – Sunday – 10:30 p.m.

I am back in my room at Lees-McRae College.

My first ever college spring break is over.

Let’s talk about Saturday first.  I worked from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  I had never worked a Saturday morning before.  It was rough.  I ran the front counter and served every kind of person imaginable, including a person who complained because I accidentally touched the top of her cup, a guy who couldn’t speak and could only point and mumble inarticulate words that I couldn’t understand to save my life, and one of the prettiest girls I have ever seen.

The whole time I looked forward to going over to Jenna and Tenielle’s.  After I got off work, I took a shower and then arrived at their house around 3:30 p.m.  The little sleep-over party was continuing.  The guys didn’t sleep over though.  One guy named Moises had come over earlier that morning.  He is a Hispanic guy, really dark and handsome.  Tenielle likes him.  I can tell.

Other girls left and it was just myself, Jenna, Tenielle, Sunny, and a friend of their’s named Brandy.  Brandy is a beautiful 14-year-old girl.  We both got along with each other.  Hopefully I will see her again in the future.

We messed around for a while, then we decided to go to the skating ranch.

I had called Christi while I was there, just to see if she was going to be home that day.  She was, so I told her I was going to come and see her later in the evening.  I also wanted to borrow the roller blades.  So, I took the four girls to Wal-Mart because they didn’t want to go with me.  Then I drove over to Christi’s and she was out on the porch with her mom and dad.  They were scraping old paint off of the front door so they could repaint it.

A few minutes after I arrived, Hank and Patti went in and it was just Christi and I.  We talked for 30 minutes.  I can’t remember exactly what we talked about, but we generally talked about the past, the future, her brothers, our friends, and ourselves.  I got the roller blades and told her that I would be back tonight to drop them off.

So, I picked up the girls; they were happy to see me.  We soon learned, once we got to the skating ranch, that each of us was a dollar short, so we went back to Jenna and Tenielle’s house.  We ate ice cream, played Nintendo, and talked.  Some boy kept calling Jenna, so I got on the phone and said, “This is the operator, deposit 50 cents or hang up in three minutes!”

He hung up.  We all got a good laugh.  Sunny had to leave, so for the last hour, it was just myself, plus Jenna and Tenielle and Brandy.

They are so wonderful!  We always have the greatest time together.  Nothing can separate us.  Not even a three and a half hour drive.

At 9:45 p.m., I gave them all hugs and said a short goodbye, thinking I would see them again in the morning.

When I got to Christi’s, they were watching The Client.  Two older guys were in the living room with Christi and Hank.  Christi introduced me to them and I took a seat.  Once the movie was over, the guys said goodbye and left.  I was 11 o’clock, so I figured I would do the same.  I stood up and Hank said, “Where are you going?” and he pushed me back down in the chair.  And then he left!

Christi asked if I had fun skating and I told her we didn’t go and why.  She asked about how I know Jenna and Tenielle and also how old they were.  She had known them two years ago, but I had never met them then.  I told her about how wonderful our friendship is.  Then we started talking about movies and college.  She talked about her brothers some more.  I told her about myself and the way I thought.  She told me that I was scaring her because she thought and did things the exact same way I did.  She told me about some of her views.  We talked about the past and the churches we attend now.  I told her that her dad had once encouraged me to ask her out.  She was shocked.  We then talked about the jobs we had had in the past.  I told her about Charlie and she told me about how her and Ryan used to be and how they are now; not as close it seems.

All in all, we talked about change.  That one constant element that floods our lives:  change.

After what felt like only a few brief moments, I asked her what time it was.  She said, “1:20 a.m.”

I got home at 2:00 in the morning.  In fact it was this morning.

Earlier today at church, I talked to Marcus and Cheryl a little bit.  I said a few words to Pastor Steve.  And I waited patiently for Jenna and Tenielle to show up, but they never did.  When I got back to the house I called them and they said they simply didn’t wake up in time.  So I said my goodbyes, but with Jenna and Tenielle, I am always certain that I will see them again.

Henry, Mom, and Nate brought me here and we all went to church together at Heaton tonight.  It was nice to see Charlie and Dan and Clifton and Molly and Crystal and everybody else.

After my parents left, Charlie and Dan and I watched an old Andy Griffith movie called, No Time for Sergeants.

And now I am in my room.

Saturday, March 18th, 1995 was a wonderful day!

Christi and I are so much alike, but as I talked to her for over two hours last night I didn’t think of her as someone I liked, but instead I thought of her as a friend I needed.

But all of this I know I will appreciate more in two years.

March 18th, 1995 will do what all the days do.  It will fade away out of my reality and into my memory.

Everything fades away.

Fades away….

February 20, 1995 – Monday – 4:17 p.m.

Hi!  Last night at church, I became a member.  Everyone came up and shook my hand and hugged me.  Crystal was there; she hugged me.  But Laura and her family were not there.  People I didn’t know hugged me.  They welcomed me.  Strangers talked to me like I was their best friend.

New stories begin almost every day.  We all ate at Peggy’s again last night, Charlie, Molly, Jason, Caroline, Shawn, Dan and myself.

When I got home I called my house and left mom and Henry a message, “Hi guys, this is your son Jacob.  I called to tell you that I became a member of Heaton Christian Church tonight.  Things are really good and I want to thank you for bring me up in a Christian home.  I love you both.”

I’ve been thinking about this summer.  I don’t want to go to summer school, but I want to try and stay in this area, simply because of my church.  I called mom today and told her that.  She said whatever I wanted was okay.  She also said thank you for the message and that Henry had tears in his eyes.

I read the second section of my 6th Book of Days yesterday and today.  Those warm summer evenings.  Fishnet.  Deep Creek.  If only I had known.

But I know now.

And that is good enough.

February 19, 1995 – Sunday – 3:30 p.m.

Church was wonderful this morning.  Laura’s family wasn’t there, so I didn’t get to see her.  Crystal wasn’t there either.  I borrowed Richard’s car to get there.  It felt good to drive again.  Now it takes me five minutes to get to church; back home it took me twenty-five.

After church, I ran lights for A Piece of My Heart and then came here to my room.  The show opens Tuesday.  It’s a good show and I’m glad I could help out.

Michelle, a girl here at school, asked me if Jeni and I would ever get back together.

“I don’t want that to happen,” I said.

And I don’t.  I don’t want her anymore.  Deep down inside me I wish she would go back to Cincinnati to be with her mother and just finish up school there.  I am not going to be her husband.  I don’t want to be.  However, I’m still thankful for her and I’m sure that I will appreciate her more in the future.  I pray that she find love, Lord.

Yesterday I did homework all day.  I did stop to watch a movie called The Seventh Sign that came on TV.  Demi Moore starred in it.  I thought it was pretty awesome!

That evening I decided to go for another walk with my Lord.

We walked along Elk River.  It was a nice night.  There was a small breeze out.  On our way back we stopped at the bridge and we stayed there for a while.

I told Him some stuff.  He told me some stuff.  I laughed.  He laughed.

I sang to Him.  He listened and smiled.

We had fun.

Then I said, “Lord, this has been one of the greatest nights of my life.  This cool winter air.  This beautiful waterfall and light mist that blows up in the air.  The sound of the rushing water and You next to me.  I’m so happy.  I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.  I could stay this way forever.”

“You can,” He said.

I smiled.  A huge smile.

These years will pass.  One by one.  But I’ll never lose my smile.  It’s the smile my Jesus gave me.

February 12, 1995 – Sunday – 11:59 p.m.

Nate was born ten years ago today.  Happy birthday little brother.

Today was 100% wonderful.  After getting ready for church I ate breakfast down in the cafeteria.  Richard was down there, but he left and then Jeni came.  She sat at the same table and we said a little bit to each other.  I had to go because I was going to church with Charlie and Steven.

Church was wonderful.  I am starting to enjoy hymns now.  We never sang them at my old church.

Laura was there.  We said nothing to each other.  Her hair was curled and she was wearing white.  Jeni noticed me looking at her.

After church Charlie and Dan and I went to eat at the school cafeteria and then we went to see Steven off.  He headed back to Savannah, Georgia.  I’m sure I will see him again.  He’s a funny guy and one of Charlie’s best friends.  The night we all went sledding was a wonderful night.

After Steven left, Charlie and Dan and I went to this girl’s house in Elk Park.  Her name is Molly.  She goes to Heaton and the youth group.  She is 15-years-old.  We went over there to watch videos of beach trips the youth group took two to three years ago.

I had a lot of fun.  Molly’s boyfriend was there and we played Rook.  Molly plays the piano and she showed me some of her music.  She is a nice girl and she is also interested in the skit group/drama ministry thing we hope to begin.  We talked about it some.

We stayed there all afternoon; until church that night.  This church is so wonderful.  Just simple mountain people loving God and loving people.

Laura was there as well.  She looked at me twice.  I looked at her dozens of times.

As before, we said nothing to each other.

Isn’t that great!  There is a mystery here.  And I hope the answer is not discovered for a very long time.

After the evening service Charlie and Dan and I, plus Jason, Carolina, Molly and her boyfriend and Crystal and Clifton went to Peggy’s, this country restaurant place.

Caroline is a girl from church and Crystal and Clifton are brother and sister.  They go to Heaton and are greatly interested in the skit group.  Crystal wants to be either an actor or a director.  She does theater in high school.

The two of us talked for a while.  We had a lot of fun.  Everyone there loves to laugh.

After we left from there Crystal and Clifton invited whoever wanted to to come over to their house and watch a movie.

Only Dan and I went.  Dan is from Oregon.  He goes to Emmanuel College in Johnson City, Tennessee.  We get along great.

At their house we watched Batman Returns.

Crystal and Clifton are really great.  Clifton is a freshman in high school and Crystal is a junior.  She is a pretty girl.

They want me to come back over again sometime.

It has begun.  I realize now that it was hard for me.  Back home, I had Ryan, Amy, Cheryl, Christi, Jenna, and Tenielle as close friends.  Here, I only had Jeni as a close friend.

I need this youth group.  I need a lot of close friends.  I need new memories.  I need this church.

What happened today could not have happened if I were still with Jeni.

Although I have been me, I am becoming more of me everyday.

I thank you Lord.

This is the new beginning of so many new stories.  Some will end in four years.  Some will end before that.  And some will never end.

Just like many from Sanford and Siler City, they will never end.

February 1, 1995 – Wednesday – 1:00 p.m.

By the time February is over I will have made a huge decision.

At 12:30 p.m. today, Charlie went to a meeting with Heaton’s new pastor: Jim.  One main subject they were going to talk about was a drama ministry.  Charlie had me in mind.  This is what he said, “I’m pretty sure they want to pay you Jacob, and they will supply money for music, props, costumes, etc.

What Jason did for Abundant Life Christian Center, I might do Heaton Christian Church.

I can feel it.  I want to do this.  I have so many ideas of my own.

But there is one thing that bothers me.

The summer of ’95 in Ohio; that has been what Jeni and I have been looking forward to for so long.  Yet, now I may not even see her.

If I begin a skit group and it goes well for a few months, but then suddenly leave…I can’t do that!  It was done to me when Jason left us to return to college and it almost killed me.

I just checked my voice mail messages.  Jeni left me two.  She was hurt.  At lunch Charlie asked me about the summer and Jeni was sitting right next to me.  I saw the look on her face.

In her message her voice was shaky.  She said that she had to go home to be with her mom.  Jeni’s parents don’t love each other anymore.  Her mom is really hurting deep down inside.  Both her father and mother are good people, but not a good couple.  She needs to be there for Paige too.  I can’t ask her to stay here.

Then she said that she needed me to be there for her.

What am I to do?

I want both, but I want Jeni more.

I can’t do what I want to do though.  Not this time.  I have to be where God wants me to be.

If I did stay, I’m sure that Jeni could come down once a month.

I just don’t know.  It’s impossible to have both, but what I want is both.

I can bring people to the Lord through drama and story.  I can slowly save the world one person at a time.

Could I do that if I went to Cincinnati and worked some random job, just to be there for Jeni?

Jason, please tell me what to do?

What if it doesn’t work out though?  Then everything will be okay and I’ll be in Cincinnati.  But Charlie said there was a pretty good chance that it would work out.

Father God, where do you want me?  There is a wonderful summer just a few months away…what do you want me to accomplish?

Help me Jesus.  Please, help me.