June 8, 2001 – Friday – 2:17 p.m.

Much time has passed since I’ve written. Come tomorrow, Anna and I will have been married for two weeks. The wedding was beautiful. Everyone said the communion portion of the ceremony made them cry. Abigail sang two perfect songs, Tracey played the piano, and Vince, Lindy, and Dan stood by my side.

A perfect moment.

Danny, Peter, Marcus, and my brother were there as well.

Two weeks ago this night was one of the most magical evenings I’ve ever known. We had our rehearsal dinner party at a professional banjo player’s house. He had a swimming pool that was in the shape of a banjo, and after a while they brought out their guitars. It was a might of amazing music in which everyone participated. The music went on for hours. My single life came to an end with all my friends by my side, live music in the air, and my bride-to-be constantly glancing at each other and smiling.

That evening we all walked down to the beach, only to discover a swarm of sea turtles covering the sand as they dropped their eggs in freshly dug holes. I’d never seen anything like it before. To be with all my friends and to experience something so pure and magical, wow, that evening will always be with me.

I cried after the reception because I had to say goodbye to Vince. I’m probably the first guy to cry on the way to his honeymoon.

After spending the evening in a nice hotel in downtown Jacksonville, FL, Anna and I spent a perfect week of campfire building, hot tub soaking, and endless love-making in the mountains of North Carolina, not too far from Deep Creek.

For once, I didn’t take the time to look over my timeless ledge outside of the Pizza Hut. That was my way of letting go of the land and sealing up that beautiful corner of my history with my honeymoon.

On Tuesday I met with Vince and Tim at Forefront and quit my job at Forefront. I am totally unemployed. I’m working on sending Dang! out to festivals, and we are waiting to hear where we might go next. I’ve applied for Resident Director positions in several states all across America. I even applied to be a video editor at a production company in South Dakota. We may stay here, we may leave within a month. We are both open to whatever God wants.

So this is the end. I’m sure I’ll keep journaling in some form or fashion, but I know it will change. Another story is beginning. This collection of days was about finishing high school, four years at Lees-McRae, and three years at Regent University.

I am no longer a student. I am no longer single.

I thought about writing some amazing words of wisdom, but, when it comes down to it, I don’t know a thing, and I’m very aware of that. Instead, I’ll wrap this story up with a single image, and thank my God for every good thing I’ve ever known.

May 24, 2001 – Thursday – 10:30 a.m.

Two days left. Holy cow. I’m in Florida. Vince, Allen, Jessica, Lindy, Natalie, and Tracey are here. Dan, Abigail, Chris, Ashley, and Ellen are on their way.

Vince is pretty overwhelmed. I’m glad I had my time with him on the drive up from Miami.

It’s hard to know what to write. Anna’s world just combined with Banner Elk, so this is a huge moment. Everyone just left for the beach, but I’m waiting for Anna. She is the one I love.

There is much I don’t have in this world, but I do have good friends. How could I ask for more?

I am a free man. I’m marrying a beautiful woman I love. Jesus has saved my soul, and I have good friends. Keep us all safe Lord, and may we grow old together and share the gift of life with each other for as long as we can.

I love you God.

May 19, 2001 – Saturday – 4:42 p.m.

I no longer live in Virginia Beach. All my stuff has been moved out of my apartment and into Anna’s studio apartment in downtown Norfolk. We leave tonight for Florida, and we’ll be man and wife seven days from now.

When did all this happen?

I feel as though the current stage of my journaling is coming to a final conclusion. These books have covered roughly ages 16 to 24, that time in everyone’s life when they discover what all this is truly about.

Did you go on that journey with me? I don’t even know who I am asking. Will anyone but me every read these words on paper?

Here is what I have learned. Everything changes except the love of God.

That’s it, that’s the bottom line.

Coming here to the Hampton Roads corner of Virginia was a rough transition, but I met my wife and I made a good movie. Through this entire journey, through all the smiles, the looks, the glances, the beauty; through Veronica, Jeni, Sarah, Marie, and all the crushes I have dreamed about, I want to marry and live the rest of my life with Anna.

The friends I made at Lees-McRae will most likely remain my best friends for the rest of my life. I feel I will be close to them no matter how far apart we actually are in life.

The next two weeks hold a true ending to the story of my life as a single young man. It will be difficult for me to find the time to write, but I will do my best to bring closure to everything. I’m sure I’ll continue journaling in some format, but it too will change and be different in nature. For one thing, there will be no more girls to write about, there will only be Anna.

So, I thank whoever took the time to read these journals. I wrote these past several years simply to help me realize the manner in which I was growing and changing.

And in this moment of self-reflection, here is another truth I’ve learned. My perfect moment in this world, my finest hour, the time when the thin line between heaven and earth disappeared and all stood still to be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever known was when the snow was falling on my warm body in that abandoned tree house on top of Hemlock Hill with The Secret Wedding playing softly in my ears.

I truly doubt it’ll ever get any better than that.

May 10, 2001 – Thursday – 11:23 a.m.

Last night was a miracle. It was my first film festival. Dang screened to a packed theater in downtown Norfolk, and people were laughing. They were laughing so loud I heard a few people choke on their laughter. They were also quiet, and they listened. It was my movie that was playing, it was my script, my story, and the audience loved it. I won the audience award and another award; I have two statues forever to remind me of this moment. Lindy and Eddie came up to see it, and Anna was there with me. She looked beautiful!

An editor of feature films came up to me after the award ceremony and said, “In this industry there are people who try for it, they look for it, but never find it, but then there are people who were just born with it. You, you were born with it.”

This film has been a long journey. From all its real-life inspiration to all the acting and directing classes in both theater and film; it all culminated in this project that I’ve been working on here and there for the last two years. Thank you God for allowing me to be noticed and rewarded for the work that I put into it.

The festival plays again tomorrow night, and I graduate on Saturday. I graduated from Lees-McRae College three years this morning, and it is sixteen days until Anna and I marry. Life is very full at the moment.

But I know that I can’t live forever in last night’s glory and honor. It too will fade. More life is ahead. I’m marrying a beautiful woman. I’m honeymooning in my favorite land. I’m turning 25 in a few months.

And no matter what, heaven awaits.

April 30, 2001 – Monday – 3:50 p.m.

It is the last day of April. All the trees are full of green. I forgot how beautiful that was.

Tomorrow begins a month of complete and total change. Part of me will die. Part of me will be reborn.

The last half of this month contained some highs and lows. The weekend in Banner Elk with Anna was delightful. Everyone really seemed to enjoy her! On the other side, things have really turned sour at Forefront, and I am ready and eager to no longer work there. Anna and I feel spiritually dried up, for each sermon seems to focus more about being a cool and hip message on simply needing God. We just need something deeper.

I am applying for Resident Director jobs all over the country since I have some experience in that area. I pray something happens soon. I just want to run away with Anna and start over again in a brand new place.

I’ve been here for three very long years.

I was in Banner Elk for four extremely short years.

April 18, 2001 – Wednesday – 7:46 p.m.

I went to a funeral today. It was my job to video it. Her name was Megan. She was 16-years-old. We went to church together at Forefront, but I did not know her. I did know her dad, and this was simply tragic. She died in a single car accident as she headed home.

I take Anna to Banner Elk tomorrow. We will return on Sunday. Only Lindy, Dan, and Tracey will be there, but we’ll have a good time nonetheless.

The next month holds a great deal. It is the beginning and ending of everything. It feels like life is dying every day.

Heaven must be something grand, for down here I am losing myself down here in my everydayness. From what the scriptures tell me, there are no days in heaven. That is what I long for; just Jesus and I for eternity.

I miss you Jesus.

I am waiting for you.

April 10, 2001 – Tuesday – 4:00 p.m.

I just got off the phone with Lindy, easily one of the best friends I’ll ever have. I feel like my insides are going to explode. Everything is coming to the most amazing ending, and an entire universe is beginning.

The week of the wedding is going to be full of complete emotional ecstasy. There is much history and so many stories that will collide together for the moment Anna and I join our lives together. I will pick Vince up from the Miami airport, then we will drive up the coast for four hours after not seeing each other for over a year. Nearly all of Lees-McRae and Banner Elk, NC is dying to see him, and he will be there in when they all arrive on Thursday for the wedding on Saturday. Over 15 Lees-McRae friends are making the 11 hour trip south. Marcus is coming, as well as Danny and Peter, they are all bringing friends along.

Abigail is going to sing. Tracey is going to play piano. Vince, Lindy, and Dan will be standing next to me. I’ll share the weekend with all my friends, then drive away with Anna.

Anna just showed up. Gotta go!

March 30, 2001 – Friday – 11:06 a.m.

The past month has been full of much life, love, sorrow, and even death. My grandmother, my dad’s mom, passed away on Monday night at 8:30 p.m.

Anna and I went to see her in the hospital before our trip to Florida, but even then she was like a vegetable. She had leukemia. My grandpa is now alone, and everyone is deciding what to do with him.

He is nearly 80. My grandma was 72.

The funeral was yesterday, and my brother brought a rather annoying girl to it. Anna had to work, so she couldn’t come.

I quit my bookstore job this morning. April simply contains too much, and something had to go. I’ve got the church videos to produce, I’ve got to finish up two films, and I’m graduating.

Anna and I marry in about eight weeks. I’ll pick Vince up from the Miami International airport on the 21st of May. I haven’t seen him in a year.

I saw a bald eagle out in the wild a couple of days ago in West Point, VA. It got me thinking about the new beginning that is right around the corner. Very soon, my best friends will all be in one place, and the love of my life will be presented to me. I’ll then drive away to have to my honeymoon with Anna in a land that fills my soul, the mountains of North Carolina.

I love you Lord.

March 17, 2001 – Saturday – 3:09 p.m.

So much has happened. I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve never known faster days.

Anna and I went to Florida over our spring break. Even that seems like forever ago. We had a wonderful time, and I met many amazing people who influenced Anna’s life.

We visited Tallahassee, Melbourne, West Palm Beach, and all the places in between. We solidified many of our wedding plans with her home church there. We will marry ten weeks from today!

This past week I’ve tried to catch up on film and video work. Anna and I also tried to square away our studio apartment; you know, buying bookshelves and stuff. I’m slowing moving my stuff over there.

In fact, I’m here in the apartment right now. She’s off on a film shoot.

I talked to Vince over the phone, and he is coming for the wedding. He will arrive in Miami a week before. I believe all of our Banner Elk friends will be there to spend the week with him.

Today, on this St. Patrick’s Day, I took the time to walk around West Ghent here in Norfolk, VA. Everything I saw became instantly beautiful. This is my neighborhood now. I’ve never lived in such an urban area before.

February 26, 2001 – Monday – 6:12 p.m.

The second month of the year is nearly over. I don’t know how it happened. Just a few days ago I was 16-years-old, and I thought it would be cool to keep a journal. Now I am 24, and I’m so busy with school, work, and wedding-planning that I often forget I have a journal.

So much is in transition at the moment. I’m finishing up my first short films, and, in so doing, I’m finishing up graduate school. From kindergarten until now, I’ve been in school just a few months shy of 20 years. I’m marrying a beautiful blonde-haired girl from Florida; the girl I’ve been dreaming about and praying for this entire time. Everything between this moment and the night I began writing feels like pure story.

I see I was never on my own. God’s been there the entire time. He’s the true author.