November 29, 1998 – Sunday – 10:40 p.m.

“Fall is walking us into a cold December wind.”

Oh, but my heart has never been warmer.  I spent the day with Sterling and Christen, though it felt like Jesus was there with us the whole time.  We went out to eat and then decorated Christen’s Christmas tree.  Sterling and I went shopping and then the three of us went to see Kathy Troccoli in concert.  Sterling and Christen were able to get her autograph.  The whole day was just filled with priceless memories.  It felt as though we never stopped laughing.  Even spilling strawberry cheesecake all over my pants was delightful, and Sterling and I have this little game where we look at each other and then run and stand in a place we’ve never stood before, then make a pose.

Life is unbelievably grand.  Jesus gives me a constant smile, and the fact that my smile is slightly crooked just blesses me all the more!

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November 28, 1998 – Saturday – 11:38 p.m.

Never have I ever…well, that’s not true…I’ve experienced many perfect days, well more than I deserve, but today was uniquely perfect, insanely perfect, unfairly perfect.

Yesterday was spent with my two good friends; that afternoon we visit Drew, who lives about an hour away in the country.  We went squirrel hunting.  It was nice I guess, both only Drew was skilled enough to kill two squirrels.  Vince and Allen and I had no idea what we were doing.

I left the mountain town of Lynchburg this morning at 10:00.  The drive was peaceful and beautiful, filled with prayer and song for nearly four hours.  I took a shower when I arrived here to my apartment.  Then Tracey arrived, my beautiful friend whom I’ve known for over four years now.  We drove to Sandbridge and saw the sun set over the backwaters near the ocean.  The multitude of colors were absolutely stunning.  So pink, yet so blue, with such still water; I’m convinced God is in control.

Tracey and I drove back towards Norfolk and talked of life and love like old friends tend to do.  It was so good to have her near me.  She is the sight and the smell of my earliest days at Lees-McRae.  She was one of the faces that filled my days after I left home.  After pulling into downtown Norfolk, we ended up at a really expensive restaurant near the Scope.  We didn’t have much money, but we made the best of it, pretending like we were rich people.

Before the show started, we took the elevator to the highest level of the lobby and watched a display of fireworks erupting over the waterfront.  The city was celebrating the upcoming holidays.  Pleasure filled my eyes.  I was already moved by the sunset, but the sparkling fireworks over the Chesapeake Bay took me to a new level.

And then we watched Riverdance.

Every moment was perfect.  I was not alone.  During an instrumental piece it felt as though my life had come to another eternal instant.  I was perfectly content.  All that I had done in life to bring me to that moment felt like pure peace.

A friend, a sunset, a lovely dinner, fireworks, Riverdance, and a thankful heart–such good things.  And they can all be summed up with one word: Jesus.

 

October 22, 1998 – Thursday – 10:00 p.m.

I talked with Sharon tonight. Snow was in the air over Avery County this morning.  I wasn’t there to see it. October 27th was the first snowfall of my last LMC winter.  I didn’t realize how true that statement was when I wrote it nearly a year ago.

I’ve realized when I write these words in these spiral-bound books that they will never go away.  All 13 books are in my sight at this moment.  They sit on a shelf in my closet in front of me.  They are a record of nearly the past six years of my life.

I put Christmas lights up in my room this evening, and it caused me to miss the wintery feel of Banner Elk so much.  So, another day is closing.  One of the final ones for Tammie and Jose in this land.

I turned in four copies of the first draft of “Eyebrows” to the school’s team of producers yesterday.  They said I was the first of the final four to turn it in.  They seemed pleased and impressed.

And so God moves me on.  My memories fight with the present moment every day.  My heart questions why we can’t go back, but it also longs to see what is ahead.

I have no one to really talk to here.  I miss Vince and our deep talks to Counting Crows’ “August and Everything After.”  We had a ritual.  We would start with track four, “Perfect Blue Buildings,” and play it through to the end.  We would turn off the lights and stare up at his glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, most of which were placed there by Laura, and we’d talk of God, love, and beauty until the midnight hour.

I miss Dan and I pondering over the questions of life while playing “Tetris 2” on the Super Nintendo.

I miss riding in Curtis’ car and staring out the window in deep thought.  He’s always ask me what was on my mind.  I’d always tell him.  I felt listened to.

I miss Allen disagreeing with my way of thinking.  He’d ask my advice and then go do the opposite.  But somehow it still made me feel loved by him.

And I miss Charlie, the one I’ve known the longest.

But God needs me elsewhere.  His breath is blowing me forward.  So, I continue and I do this not for me, for all I want is heaven, but God asks me to wait and spend more time with his creation first.

I cannot argue with that.  So that is what I will do.

But how can I live in today when I long for the past?  How can I make new friends when all I want are my old ones?  How can I help save others from a world I can’t admit I’m in?

Why did you make me this way God?  To find comfort in asking questions and not needing the answers.  Is that what faith is?  I don’t need the answers Lord, I just need to know you are listening.

I miss you.  I miss the eyes I’ve never seen.  You comfort me more than my memories and my Teddy Bear from Tenielle.  I want to hold you instead as I fall asleep.  Be with me tonight sweet Jesus, and take me to be with you.  I want to awake in heaven, but if I’m here tomorrow, I will laugh and play in your love.

Heaven feels closer tonight.

How perfect your grace is.

October 10, 1998 – Saturday – 12:30 a.m.

It’s past midnight.  Memories haunt me.  Faces, smells, and touches.  I am missing Lees-McRae.

Hard to believe it has already come and gone.

I talked to Tracey tonight.  And for the first time since she has returned to Lees-McRae, I tried to call Sarah.  I woke up her roommate instead and Sarah wasn’t there.  Elizabeth said she would have her call me.  It is Homecoming weekend there.  I’m afraid tonight I may lie awake waiting for her to call, but I know she never will, just like she never did so many nights that I waited in McAllister Dorm.

I fear God has created me to just drop me into a place for a season, then I’m off to somewhere else.

We live to communicate, but most of that is just us asking questions.

I can’t get to sleep right now.  I’m wondering what God is up to.

Why is he so good to me?  Why does he like to blow the wind through my hair?  Why am I constantly studying the shapes, angles, and beauty of every girl’s eyebrows?

Look where I am now.  This is one heck of a ride, but the ending is all that matters.

Words are losing their value.

All except these three:

Jesus loves me.

September 29, 1998 – Tuesday – 11:41 p.m.

Sunday after church I went to Portsmouth to my Professor’s house for a New Student Party.  It was great getting to know the people here a bit better.  There are so many new names I have yet to write down in here.

On Monday I was stopped by three or four students who thought my film pitch was the best and most original and hoped it was chosen to be made.  I hope so too!

Please God!

Nevertheless, I’m pitching another one this Friday.

Today was a perfect day.  God showed up and moved in the Divinity Chapel.  God is so good.  It’s hard to explain all that is happening, but I’m going to let God teach me how to make movies, not the world.

You know, I think sometimes I forget that He created me and he knows truths about me that I don’t even know.

I’m getting to know the youth at church with each passing day.  So many stories are occurring between all of us.  I belong in this new place as well as my previous place.  What an amazing gift!

I go now to sleep in the peace of Jesus.

August 12, 1998 – Wednesday – 1:10 a.m.

The 11th of August was an amazing day!  I woke up, went for a prayer walk around the campus, and read and studied my Bible until I went to work at the bookstore, where I trained with David.  I went to see Saving Private Ryan, and then went to a girl named Cindy’s house and helped her move.  I came back to my apartment and had an awesome prayer time with Matt, my roommate and two other students named Jeff and Jason.  God showed up, cleansed my heart, and I felt forgiven and fantastic!

Saving Private Ryan was beyond fantastic!

“Earn this.”

Jesus died for me, but no matter what I do, I can never do enough to earn this grace he has freely given me.  It is his to give, not mine to earn.  For some odd reason, I have found favor with him.

And he just told me that I was already worth dying for.

So, he is definitely worth living for.

August 1, 1998 – Saturday – 10:00 a.m.

It’s August!  I think today was the day my parents were moving to Florida.

We are leaving Swaziland today.  I’ve really enjoyed it.  The mountains are huge, there are monkeys everywhere, and cows roam the streets like dogs.  I guess they don’t believe in the idea of fenced in pastures.

On Thursday, John and Paul and I went for a walk in the wilderness.  We found tons of waterfalls.  Yesterday, we went to a church service at a little hut with no electricity.  It was about half the size of this bus.  It made me appreciate so much.  I’ve been in huge churches with so much modern technology, but the praise and worship was in no way pleasing to the Lord.  But last night, these African Christians sang their heart out to God.  They had nothing, but they gave everything.

After the service, the guys went out to eat at a place called Spurs.  It was super yummy!  Our waitress’ name was Alice and as I sat there, I realized how strange it all was.  I was in Mbabane, Swaziland, eating with a West Virginian who plays drums for Acquire the Fire, an Alabaman who is related to Gomer Pyle, a college student from Arizona, a 13-year-old from Texas, an Italian from New Jersey, and a Michigan kid.  And each of them knew nothing about the previous 21 years of my life.  Yet, none of it mattered, for we had Jesus in common.

I have only five days left.

I wonder if I’ll ever come here again.