December 29, 1996 – Sunday – 3:09 p.m.

I plan to go to High Falls youth group tonight.  Church was really good this morning; Marcus and Nana were there.  Unless I go to the New Year’s Eve service, today was the last service I will attend there for a while.

I got my pictures developed today.

When we were in New York I walked past so many people, I saw the windows of so many homes.  Who were those people?  Were they happy?  Did they know the Lord?  Was their life full of peace or fear?  And even if I ever see any of those people again, I wouldn’t know it.

There was one girl though…

On the way to the parade, Vince and I took the Long Island Railway.  The train was very crowded.  Vince and I were standing.  A family boarded and amongst the crowd I saw the face of a young woman whose expressions on her face and light in her eyes revealed that she knew more than the ones around her.  She was truly alive.  She was a red light.  Only other red lights can see the red lights around them.  I had my camera with me.  The light in the train car was dim, but snapped a picture anyway.

When I picked up my pictures today, I quickly flipped to that one and discovered that she had looked right at me and smiled.

“I do not want to walk through Heaven’s Gates, and not see your face.  And I do not want to dance beside the streams, without you with me.  Or see the angels fill the sky.  The angels sing and all creation cries, ‘Hosanna, Savior, God our Father, Creator, Oh Savior and King.’  You’ve got to be there with me.  Oh, please, you’ve got to be there with me.  Will you be there with me.” – Cindy Morgan

I’ve come across so many people.  So many eyes, so many smiles, so many frowns, so many souls, so many spirits.  I’ve grown to love them all.  Even the strangers, even my enemies, and I want them in Heaven with me.

Even you…

Yes, you.

Why are you reading this?  Why are you reading about my small little life?  Are you a relative?  A friend?  Did I give you permission?  Did you find these old journals?  Did you possibly buy this book?  Am I now dead?!

Whether I know you or not, and however you came to read these spiral bound pages, of this I am sure…I love you and I want you in Heaven with me.  It won’t be complete without you.

 

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December 18, 1996 – Wednesday – 10:00 p.m.

Church was so awesome tonight.  Pastor Steve is the greatest teacher.  I got a chance to visit with him after the service.  Jenna and Tenielle were there.  They hugged me like they always do.  They are leaving for New Jersey on Friday.  They haven’t been back there in six years.

Romans 5:1-2, amazing!

Oh God.

I want it all!

I want all of you!

Change my way of thinking.

I don’t have to wait for heaven.

I can have it all now!

 

December 8, 1996 -Sunday – 11:30 p.m.

The latter part of the day contained a few moments of joy.  A late breakfast was being served in the cafeteria.  Abigail sat by me.  She smiled and laughed at the things I said.  She sang at the table with Timothy.  She sounded so beautiful.  I wish I could sing beautifully so she would desire to sing with me.  Music is a huge part of my life, but I can only survive in a chorus.  I don’t sound too great on my own.

I want to live a long time on earth before heaven; if only to be around people like Abigail.

I made a snow angel in the snow as we walked back tonight.

But it seems as if I’m falling for someone else’s angel.

November 8, 1996 – Friday – 6:00 p.m.

Snow is falling now.  The first of the season.  Tonight I am going to the movies with Abigail, Ann-Marie, Ray, and Jeni.  We are going to see Romeo + Juliet.  I haven’t been to the movies in a while.  I am excited.

I wish someone would look at me and offer me a special smile; a smile so innocent that we both instantly feel the chills down our spine.  I want to share love with someone.  But for now, I’m simply seen as that great Christian friend, but nothing more.

Even if no one stands by my side, I will press forward.  I’m surrounded by simple brief moments of peace and joy, and that is all I want.  I fear they come more often than I am able to realize.

Life is passing by me.  I sure do hope I’m noticing it.  I guess that is why I’m writing in this Book of Days.  It is only for me.  I doubt anyone will ever read these words.  But it helps me remember what is really important.

Heaven is real.

And sometimes I feel like it is already here.

September 22, 1996 – Sunday – 11:15 p.m.

It has been the greatest weekend.  Rehearsal Friday night was a lot of fun.  I said my small amount of lines and walked off, yet anyone watching just laughed their butt off.

The work call on Saturday was fun; I designed the lobby display and helped put it together. It turned out pretty good.

After lunch, Tracey, Ann-Marie, and I headed for Carowinds.  Ann-Marie is really cool, she really makes me laugh.  She’s very witty.  The trip down there was great.  They rode some rides, but I went straight to the palladium.  Sharon and Bob found me; I sat with them.  We watched Susan Ashton and Geoff Moore and The Distance perform.  Then Hannah and Laura came back.  They sat with me and together we danced and jumped around to Petra and The Newsboys.

The Newsboys was the greatest concert.  It blew me away.

Everyone met at Shoney’s afterwards.  We had the best waitress in the world and did nothing but laugh the whole time.  It was the greatest evening.

I am so much in love with Jesus.  What did I ever do to deserve to be around such beautiful and kind people?  He truly has blessed me with the greatest friends.

Charlie’s ordination service was this morning.  I cried.  It was such a blessing.  He has been the such an awesome friend and leader to myself and the others here in McAlister.

I met with my small group today.  Abigail had rehearsal, so she couldn’t come, but Jessica and Shawna and I had a great study.  I can see that this is helping all of us grow.

You’ve given me so much God.  I don’t know how to thank you.

I’m surrounded by amazing friends and together we are surrounded by you.

How can heaven be any different?

July 30, 1996 – Tuesday – 11:15 p.m.

Yesterday was peaceful.

Today was relaxing.

This evening I went to the forum program here on campus to hear the Junaluska Singers.  They were beautiful in sight and sound.  They even sang songs from Les Miz.

Only one day left in July.

Then it will fade away.

I love God.

I love Jesus.

We’ve gone on walks together the past three nights.  Life is great because Jesus lives in my heart.  I am forgiven.  I am free.

I will simply live life for God and look forward to heaven.

I’m sure a small part of heaven is already here with me now.

December 30, 1995 – Saturday – 5:00 p.m.

Last night was interesting.  Scott and I went to Asheboro.  He wanted to see Toy Story, so I saw it again for the third time.  It was still funny and magical.

After the movie, we just drove around from Asheboro to Pittsboro to Sanford to Siler City.  We had a good talk.  Scott has been through a lot since I last saw him.  He has gotten himself into some weird relationships, but he is good now and seeing a decent girl.  He has a steady job, is getting his own place, and now wants to get married.

I guess it’s the next logical step, but it made me appreciate the fact that I was going to college.  I want a steady job and I want to get married, but I could tell that Scott’s mind hadn’t grown, his worldview hadn’t expanded, he had just surrounded himself with other people who weren’t going to college and it felt like they weren’t really benefitting each other.

This morning was really difficult.  I am so used to waking up in my own room with no one there to get in the way and everything working smoothly.  Everything went so wrong this morning and I got really homesick and angry.

My own mother, rather than saying she understood what I was going through and trying to empathize with me, just said that if I acted that way when I was married that I wouldn’t be married for long.

I asked her why she always has to bring marriage up with me.  Just because she got divorced didn’t mead I would.  I told her that who I am now, the angry person that I am, the frustrations, the sadness; it’s not me.  I can’t be me in this house.  I was me when I was on that stage at Heaton Christian Church surrounded by all of those children in Lone Star Gulch.  I can be me in Banner Elk, because there I feel loved and I love and it feels like home and I feel a beating heart in my chest!

Home is where the heart is.

I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I was in tears.  I grabbed the rollerblades that Vince let me borrow and I drove to Sanford.  I rollerbladed at Kiwanis, listened to my new Enya tape and tried to remember me.  I even read all of the journal entries in this section that I wrote while at home in Banner Elk.

I’m doing a lot better now.

As I was driving back, I realized that 1995 was over.  I don’t have my other journals with me, so I will just have to depend on my memory for this.

In 1993 you read about a 17-year-old loving a youth group that would eventually fall apart by the time 1994 arrived.  I got a job at McDonald’s, I dreamed Winter Dreams, I met Emily, and just before the year ended I met Jenna and Tenielle.

In 1994 I wrote to Emily while adoring and being adored by my new friends Jenna and Tenielle.  I went to Deep Creek with Jonathan.  I went to Fishnet.  I said goodbye as a storm blew me away to a world I began to love.

I was taken to Cincinnati.

In fact, I was in Cincinnati when 1995 began.  But I threw Cincinnati away and Emily and I wrote and fell in love with each other’s written words.  A summer of McDonald’s, water gun fights, movies, Fishnet, and Crestview came and went as well as my heart.  A wonderful semester began with my birthday, new friends, and Antigone.  Others saw me as talented.  My pen pal came back to me, and now I dream of a beautiful girl and a beautiful cottage while saying goodbye to the waterfall as it flows back to Florida.

And then the snow came, and the Christmas play, but I had to say goodbye and grew horribly homesick the first day I was away.

. . .

And so 1996 is just over a  day away.  I try to find a single phrase to sum up 1995, but I can’t.

All is said and done.  The unspoken words cannot be taken back.  I will not try to forget.  I will not try to remember.

Is it really just a little planet.?

Do I have any control?

Are my smiles and frowns really mine?

I often wonder if I’m really on this little planet.  If this is really my face.  It’s as if I was in heaven, at home, and the Lord came up to me and said, “I’m sorry Jacob, but it’s your time.  You have to go down to earth.  You have to have a body, and you have to try and survive down.  It won’t take long, just a little while.  And don’t worry, I’ll help you until it’s time to return.”

It’s like I was handed a mask and told I wasn’t able to take it off.  Only God can do that.

Do people see the mask, or do they see me?

What do I see?

I don’t know, and I’ll drive myself crazy trying to figure it out.  All I know is that I’m on my way home; not only to Banner Elk, but to Heaven.

And I have only one wish, just one thing I pray…

That I remember only the good days, that I remember all of the best days.  That I forget the pain, the shame and that I only remember the joys, only the love.

Only the love, as I walk on the roads under heaven.