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.

January 6, 1997 – Monday – 10:01 a.m.

Marcus and I drove up here to Banner Elk on the 4th.  We met Timothy and it was a fun trip.  We stopped in Boone so I could buy a new Bible.  It’s awesome.  We moved into our rooms.  Marcus and I watched Philadelphia and then went over to Sharon’s and Vince showed up right after we did.  We all stayed there until midnight.  It was great, so so great to be home.

Yesterday, the service at Heaton was awesome.  It’s clear to me now that that place is my church, that’s where I belong.  Allen and Marcus and I ate lunch with Charlie’s family.  It was nice to spend some time with him.  Charlie let me borrow A Time to Kill, and Marcus and Timothy and I watched it.  Great movie!

We had an RA meeting that night and then met the new students for the semester.  One beautiful girl introduced herself to me and then said, “Wow, you have the most beautiful eyes.”  I felt great for the rest of the evening.

Allen and Vince and I stayed up until two in the morning, just talking.

I am blessed.

I love this place and these people.

I love you God.

December 28, 1996 – Saturday – 10:21 p.m.

Danny and Peter came over last night.  We played Life with Nate.  It was fun.  They are the greatest of friends.  We have a long history together.

My parents went to a funeral and came back to say they saw Jason and Christi.  They both want me to write them and Christi said I should come to her New Year’s Eve party on Tuesday.  If I remember correctly, I stopped by there last year after church on New Year’s Eve.  How fitting that the first and last minutes of 1996 would be spent with Christi.

Mom and Nate and I went shopping in Durham after I got off work.  I bought the That Thing You Do soundtrack.  Before we left for Durham though, we stopped by Aunt Sis’s house on the outskirts of Siler City.  Her place is near where we used to live when I was in elementary school.  As I walked through the front door, I realized it had been several years since I stepped foot in that house.  What a playground that area used to be for me, as well as for Danny and Peter.  We explored those woods between our houses like crazy.  Kevin and I even got lost once and Henry got so mad at us.

Wow, I’ve known Danny and Peter for 14 years.  I didn’t know it was possible to know someone for that long.

Well, three days remain.  What will 1997 bring?

December 22, 1996 – Sunday – 11:00 p.m.

I felt really homesick on Friday night.  McDonald’s was very difficult that day.  I just wanted to go home.  So, I called up Sharon.  Laura answered the phone.  I talked to her a little bit.  Sharon made me feel a lot better and helped me remember who I was.

Saturday was another busy day, but Omenya was there and that made it fun.  That afternoon, and went to Greensboro and saw two movies: Ransom and The English Patient.  Ransom was okay, it made me cry, but I really didn’t like it.  The English Patient however was a little dull, but one of the most beautifully photographed films I’ve ever seen.

At church this morning, a girl whom I haven’t seen in over a year and a half came and sat by me.  Her name is Nana.  We talked before the service.  She, unlike every other person from long ago, seemed to be on the right track.  It was great to see her and talk to her.

There was a Christmas gathering with Henry’s side of the family.  It was great to see everyone.  I was blessed with some clothes and a wallet.

This evening, I helped Marcus out with Children’s Church.  He is so good with kids.  That is his gift.  We had a cool conversation on the way back home.

I have so longed for heaven, and I still do, but I forgot that I can have so much of heaven right now.  Romans 5:1-2 say that grace is all around me.  Grace is unearned blessing.  It isn’t simply love, but it is a free gift and the ability to have everything from God.  The second verse says that I stand in grace right now.  Therefore, the glory of God is all around me for the taking.  Glory means character and actions.  God’s character and actions and perception on every possible thing is all around me for the taking in the spirit.

So, I ask for three things.

  1. To know all there is to know about serving my God.  Every in and out.  I long to know all the things I don’t even have the life experience or wisdom now to know that I need to know them.  I long to know God’s will and purpose.
  2. To know all there is to know about crafting stories through theater and film.
  3. To know all there is to know about being a loving husband and father.  I want to be a man of God who puts his family first.

I am not of this world.  I will live on this planet, but not in this world of sin.  I will naturally grow closer to heaven.  This is what I want.

All this.

All of it.

And by the grace of God…I will have it.

December 16, 1996 – Monday – 1:00 a.m.

After my last entry, I took Nate and David to church so they could go caroling with the youth group.  Can you believe little Nate is in the youth group?

After I dropped them off, I went to fill the car up with gas.  From there, I called Tenielle.  I told her I was coming to see her and that we would go for ride.

I drove into their driveway and three guys I had never seen before were out there working on their car.  I nodded and said “hi.”  They nodded as I walked by and one said, “kick his butt David.”

I kept walking.

Once inside, I saw Jenna.  She was wearing a skimpy little top.  She looked grown up, but I knew she was still only a little girl.  Tenielle came into the living room.  There she was, it was her.  I asked her who was outside.

“Herb is Jenna’s boyfriend and David is mine,” she said.

David, I didn’t know about a David.  But all of her boyfriends are simply games, I didn’t worry about it.

We left.  We went to San Lee park and walked and talked.  She smoked in front of me and acted super weird.

“I can’t act the same way around you Jacob.”  She said.

I told her I didn’t want her to ruin her life and that I wanted her to stay close to the Lord.

She isn’t the same person, but she says I’m the same.

“Everybody changes except for Jacob!!” she shouted to the world while we were walking.

I took some pictures of her.  Good pictures.

The park was closing, so we left and went to the park where Veronica used to live.  The last time we were there Jenna was with us.  That park is near the forest that was chopped down.  That wood pile was still there.  Tenielle and I stood on it with our arms around each other as the sun went down and God painted pink on the evening sky.

We were there on January 4, 1996 and we were there on December 15, 1996.  That is how we opened and closed that part of our history.

I took her home and we smiled and said our goodbyes.

I drove down to High Falls and went to their youth meeting.  They told me about Fishnet; how I wish I could have gone.

When I got home, I called Mike’s house and found out he was working at Movie Max.  I went there to see him and then we went to Asheboro to see Jerry Maquire.  Wow.  That movie had me from beginning to end.  And it ended beautifully, “love your wife.”  I left nearly in tears.

“Everybody changes except for Jacob!!”

That can’t be true, can it?

December 11, 1996 – Wednesday – 11:30 p.m.

I am home.

One of many anyway.

It’s been a fun day.  Timothy and I had a joyful ride home.  When I got here, Nate and I went for a walk on the railroad tracks.  While down there, a train came and we got under the bridge to watch it pass.  It was cool.

People are building on the land on the other side of the tracks.  The landscape has changed.  A small reminder that nothing lasts forever.

It is warmer here, but then again I’m about 3,500 feet closer to sea level.  It feels good to be here.  I went to church tonight.  It was a very small group.  There weren’t many young people there from the past.  None at all actually.  The older people seemed glad to see me.

It’s fun to simply talk to my mom.  Nate is hilarious.  Kevin isn’t here though.  He’s in Virginia.

Thank you God for all my homes.