May 19, 1998 – Tuesday – 11:44 p.m.

I left at a little after 7:00 p.m. tonight to go to a Bible study.  It was amazing.  They prayed for me.  God said the money for my trip will come in and I will be surprised.  They anointed my feet for travel.  And through someone there, God told me to keep my head up because he was going to use my handsome features.  I asked God to speak to me tonight and he sure did.  He said I would live a long life serving him.

What a joy!  Thank you Jesus.

After the Bible study, I went to visit Christi.  She was the only one home, but all her brothers are supposed to come home this weekend.  Christi looked so beautiful.  She was so thin and tanned.  I told her about South Africa and she got so excited for me.

And then she told me she was getting married in November.  Can you believe that?  This past Sunday was the year anniversary of her accident. However, she is not marrying the guy who was her boyfriend at the time who was in the car with her.

I listened to Christi talk the whole night.  She seems to be doing really well with Jesus.  She said Cheryl is dating a great Christian guy and Jason is getting married in July.  However, she had no news of Ryan or Amy.

Andy has a graduation party Sunday, and I hope I can bring Sarah to it.

Life is amazing.  God is good to all my friends.  He is doing everything.  I just get to show up and enjoy it.

Inseparable friends.

Christi said she was talking with her dad about me today.  We also talked about the old skit group.  I’ve grown so much since those days.

I am home.  Lees-McRae was a beautiful season; a season I am deeply in love with.  Thanks to that time, I now have a collection that spans the continent.

Bless Sarah tonight Lord.  May she sleep in your perfect peace.

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May 11, 1998 – Monday – 6:30 p.m.

I am here at my home in Siler City.  Graduation was nothing short of amazing.  Sarah was so beautiful.  We cried at our goodbyes.  It is very hard for me to believe that those four years of college are over.

Marcus and I rode home together.  We stopped to go to a new church he is attending in Greensboro and then we ate at IHOP.

The house is a bit empty, for mom and Henry recently had a yard sale.

My Teen-Mania missions trip acceptance package was here when I arrived.  I’m a little behind schedule, but I’m still definitely going to go.  I’m trusting God wants me in South Africa, so he will send me there.

In 15 days I will go to Virginia Beach and no telling what will happen there.

I miss Sarah.

I miss the guys.

There’s no way I can describe how amazing my final two days were on campus.  Sarah and I held tightly to each other each night, for we have no idea what the future holds for us.

I love her.

December 21, 1997 – Sunday – 9:00 p.m.

Kevin and I plus Danny and Peter went to see the new James Bond flick on Friday night.  We’ve known each other 15 years now.  I find that amazing.

On Saturday Nate and I took a walk up to Ore Hill.  I wanted to see my old playground and also just to get outside (it is so much warmer down here in the lowlands).  But my playground had been destroyed.  The whole forest had been clear cut.  The trees were gone and a barren land laid before my eyes.  Where a few trees were still standing, half of them had been uprooted anyway thanks to the hurricane that came through a year or so ago.

Everything was different, but I still knew how to get to the top.  I could feel my way through that hill even though my original tree markers were gone.  We reached the top and found the caves.  Time had changed them a little, but they were still there.  It was difficult to go back the way we came, so Nate and I walked on and decided to return back to the main road by way of the old pine tree nursery, where I once stayed out in an old deer stand late one night, staring at the stars.  Whew, that has to be four or five years ago now.

And to my surprise, it wasn’t a nursery anymore, but a beautiful pine forest.  It towered over us and the smell of pine filled the air.  It was breathtaking.

It turns out to be true.  Things do grow.  Everything changes.  Trees will fall.  Trees will grow.  Enough said.

I talked to Sarah over the phone that night.  She sounded beautiful.  We made plans for Monday.  She gave me directions to her house.  I love her.  I love her.

. . .

Church was nice this morning.  We had a family gathering at Henry’s parents; there was good food and nice presents.

And this evening I went to High Falls to visit Dana, Tony, Lisa, and Kristen, my old Fishnet buddies.  Poor Kristen seems bored with life.  She wants so badly to have something to be excited about, but has no one to get excited with.  We have made plans to go horseback riding on Tuesday.  I hope we do.

Marcus and I hung out some more and I talked to Mike again.  I have forgotten how many friends I have here.  Thank you Lord for all I have.  It has all come from you.

Including my beautiful new tree, Sarah.

November 9, 1997 – Sunday – 1:00 p.m.

Friday morning at 5:00 a.m. I awoke and began my weekend.  I left before 6:00 and ate breakfast at McDonald’s in Marion.  I had 30 minutes to kill before my interview at the Radisson in Asheville at 8:30 a.m.

But it was then that I discovered we got the days mixed up and that my interview wasn’t until tomorrow (Saturday).  So, I had 24 hours, a full tank of gas, and a prayer for God to take me somewhere.

He took me home.

After spending three hours headed east on I-40, I ended up in Sanford, NC.  I surprised my mom at work, and visited Pastor Steve at his barn.  He told me about how his horses have brought him closer to the love of God.  I can understand that.

Then, God took me to a house I haven’t been to in well over a year.  I drove down that long dirt driveway and there I saw a young blonde girl carrying a baby.  I pulled up to the house, ran out and greeted her at the door with a hug.

Nearly a month ago, Jenna gave birth to 10 pound Michael Joshua.  She will marry goateed Herb in December.  I met him.  Nice guy, but he couldn’t look me in the eye.

Tenielle freaked out when she saw me.  She still smokes and says she is trying some modeling stuff.

It was great spending time with those girls.  I love them so much and its hard to believe I have known them for nearly four years now.

I saw pictures of Jenna pregnant; she was so huge.  I wonder if she realizes what has happened to her.  If she knows she is now and always will be a mother.  Can a 16-year-old truly know such a thing?

As I listened to the conversations between them in that trailer, I became insanely aware of their incorrect grammar, their double negatives, and their generally poor word choices.  It hit me so suddenly, these two girls who have taught me so much about how to love unconditionally, they are what many would call “Trailer Trash.”  The next pay check and getting cigarettes is all the seemed to be on their minds.  I truly saw how valuable college was to me.  Lees-McRae saved me, but I’m still in Jenna and Tenielle’s debt.  They taught me more than they’ll ever know.

I ate dinner with Mom and Nate.  She showed me some videotapes from the Brownsville Revival down in Florida and I cried watching them.

I went to walk and pray on the railroad tracks and asked God to let me into his presence. That evening was similar to Valentine’s Day of 1993.  I fell to the ground and cried and laughed in all of God’s glory.  It was a wonderful time.

I left at four in the morning to get back to Asheville in time.  I talked a lot about God during my scholarship interview, but I didn’t get the award.  It doesn’t matter, it felt like all of that was orchestrated, so I would need to borrow a car, so I could spending a few hours back home and realize all that God has done for me.  There were so many hours driving this weekend in solitude that are more valuable to me than a scholarship.  I had so much fun.  I saw the sun rise twice in a row.

I spent time with Abigail and Lindy last night.  We rented some movies.  Abigail laid next to me for nearly four hours and I touched her hair and head.

For my birthday I was given Life on the Edge by Dr. James Dobson.  In it he writes about the steps to true intimacy and stresses how these steps should be taken in order and at a very slow pace:

Eye to Body

Eye to Eye

Voice to Voice

Hand to Hand

Hand to Shoulder

Hand to Waist

Face to Face (Hugging/Kissing)

Hand to Face

-MARRIAGE-

Hand to Body

Mouth to Breast

Touching below the Waist

Sexual Intercourse

Wow!  Did you notice step eight?  He writes, “Surprisingly, touching a person’s face and hair in a romantic way is more intimate than kissing and hugging.”

According to Dr. Dobson, Abigail and I skipped four major steps.  Oh well, these days, it’s the one thing I truly look forward to.  Her face has become familiar to me.  I know it so well, and even now, I miss it.

I miss her.

Oh Jacob, how funny you are.

September 20, 1997 – Saturday – 11:00 p.m.

I’m back home in Banner Elk.  Charlie and I stopped by my house in Mt. Vernon Springs.  I saw Nate, Marcus, and Peter.  We all went out to eat.  Peter is doing well; he just came home for the weekend.  Marcus seems to be himself, he’s losing his hair though.  But I guess that happens.

The house looked kinda different.  I felt distant, but also at home.  Hmm.  Memories flooded my mind, but that always happens.

Tons of people have come into my room right now.  It’s hard to write.  Since I’m the only one with an actual living room, it seems to be the hang out spot these days.  I’m gonna have to start getting up early just to have time to myself.

July 11, 1997 – Friday – 11:55 p.m.

I’m at Deep Creek.  Charlie got a call earlier today from Jason.  He was here the first semester of my Freshman year.  Well, he only lives 30 minutes down the road, so he met up with us and is going camping with us.

We set up camp, then drove to Cherokee and did some Go-Kart racing and played miniature golf.  We also drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway and told scary stories.

But on the way back, Allen bought some little cigars and he and Vince have been smoking.  Well, I guess they say they are only puffing on them, but I’m not sure of the difference.  Perhaps I’m weird, but it makes me uncomfortable.  I left and went on a walk.  When I came back, they wanted to go for a walk.  I was angry with them because of the cigars and for the fact that they peed on the ground and not in the restroom.  I’ve been coming here for several years and I know beautiful young girls like Emily walk around on this holy ground in their bare feet.  I couldn’t believe they would pee on the ground a few feet from the restroom.  Who does that?

While on my walk, I was flooded with memories.  Although it’s only been four years since I came here with Danny, Peter, Marcus, and Kevin, they are the ones who fit this place the best.  My dear friends I’m with now don’t know the unspoken rules of this place.  They don’t know how it’s supposed to work or how it’s supposed to feel.

While walking, I remembered precious moments with Syndi and Emily.  I even remembered the days with Brandon and all he did was flirt with every girl he saw.  Jonathan came with me once.  Then all the family reunions I’ve had here.

But I think I had the most fun with Syndi.  This land will always be tied to those precious days of us walking hand in hand in these woods.

These guys here now simply don’t belong.  They have no idea.  They don’t know what each mountain tree and rock means to me.  This place is my home; as much as any other place in the world.

May 6, 1997 – Tuesday – 4:00 p.m.

I’m in Siler City.  Mom picked me up on Monday afternoon.  We went hiking together on Rendezvous Mountain on the way back.

The house has changed.  Things just look different.  I visited Peter last night; we went to see Breakdown in Asheboro.  It was a fun movie.

Today, I showered, lifted weights, washed clothes, sun bathed, read, ran, and watched Lost in Yonkers.  It very much felt like a vacation day.  It is relaxing here; I like it.

I’m getting taller though, I banged my head on something I’ve never run into before.  I have to keep ducking just to walk through my own house.

Growing.

Changing.

I guess that’s a good sign.

I’ve learned that Pastor Steve’s mother passed away and that Cheryl is now very, very skinny, she’s died her hair blonde, and she has a boyfriend.  I doubt I’ll see her.

It seems the people and the place and myself have all changed.