August 3, 1997 – Sunday – 11:30 p.m.

I sit in Rachel’s house in Sterling, VA.  Chrysalis is over.

P.C. was my roommate for the weekend and he kinda reminded me of Vince.  A wonderful person with a wonderful life ahead of him.  He has a problem with his left arm.  A part of his upper bone is hollow and he has gone through several surgeries to fix it and has a huge scar because of it.  They’ve had to take bone out of his leg to try and fix it and because of this he can’t join the Navy like he’s always wanted to.  This was a hard time for him in his life, but he met a girl on the Internet named Lisa.  They began to email each other.  Then they wrote to each other.  Then they called each other.  And then they visited each other.  She’s in Iowa and he’s in Virginia.  They are now boyfriend and girlfriend and they will start school together out in Boulder, Colorado.  They’ll be freshman together.  After he showed me her picture, I was amazed.  She was so beautiful.  I didn’t know girls that pretty talked on computers.

Sean, always seated in a wheelchair, was never seen without a smile on his face.  Kay is soon to donate a kidney to her brother.  Colleen, a beautiful 25-year-old, who lost her little brother to a rare disease when she was 15.  Then she bore her own son as teenager, but then the father left them both.  She said the death of her brother tore her from God, but the eyes of her baby brought her back to him.

After hearing her talk of her brother, I wrote her a poem:

I said hello

I say goodbye

I saw you live

And now you die

But death is life

And life is love

Love is God

Eternal from above

So I’ll see you soon

There’s no need to cry

I too am changing

And to you I’ll fly

I found out later that the poem made her cry.  When I said goodbye to her today, she hugged me so tight.  Her lips said nothing, but her eyes shouted a desperate “thank you.”

And there was Vanny, who tried to commit suicide twice before, but now only smiles as bright as the sun.

And that was just a few.  There were so many stories full of death and tragedy.  But I don’t have those stories.  My tragedies are Bs on papers and mixed emotions.  I still have my family, my virginity, my sanity, my life, my legs, my health.

But there is one tragic story in my life.  I discovered this weekend that I am capable of so much more love.  I’ve been keeping it inside and only sharing it with a select few.  Now it’s time to give it to the world.

I spoke up at the gathering and told the group that each one of them was beautiful and I thanked God for allowing me to add their eyes and names to my collection.  Some came to me and said I seemed very Christlike.  They said they saw Jesus in me.  If so, then perhaps I am beginning to live a Christian life.

Rachel told me that others told her I seemed very creative.  People are so good to me.  God is so good to me.  So, here I am God.  I’m ready.  I don’t know everything, but I know you.

Here I am.

I’ve shown up.

 

August 3, 1997 – Sunday – 7:30 a.m.

A Sunday morning.  I am on a deck in Maryland overlooking Maryland, Virginia, and parts of Pennsylvania.  The sun is peaking over a long narrow cloud; shining on me like a spotlight.  Saturday has passed.  An amazing day.  We talked.  We learned.  We sang.  We loved.  And even today, we still love.

There was a talent show.  Our skit won the “Most Uplifting Award.”  Our award was a bra, so funny.  There was also a beauty contest.  My group dressed me up as a girl and I won that too.

God brought me up here to show me his love and to teach me how to love my family and friends.  I thought of Jonathan and how he isn’t able to go back to college.  He sure could use a bag of letters like I received yesterday.

Everyone is up and around on this deck now.  Time to live in the love of others.

August 1, 1997 – Friday – 11:45 p.m.

The month of change has begun on the right foot.  I am in Maryland at Chrysalis.  Rachel is here.  I have a roommate named P.C.; we talked forever last night.  The drive up here was fun, Rachel had a friend of hers drive me up most of the way.  The Virginia Blue Ridge mountains were so beautiful.

On Wednesday night Sherlive came to church and afterwards we went to see Air Force One.  We had a good time.  I hope I can see her again soon.  I told P.C. about her.

But the most amazing thing was that today each caterpillar (that’s what they call us here at Chrysalis) received a bag full of letters.  They were letters from people I didn’t know, they were just general supporters of Chrysalis, but there were also letters from even dear people I do know.  I have a letter from Rachel, Ellen, Tracey, Lindy, Paul, my mom and dad, Nate, Sharon, Jeni, and Marisa.

Love is all around me.  People are so nice here.  I only pray that I can be as nice.

Jeni said in her letter that if my movies and stories in anyway reflect what is in my heart, then I would be in my success.  God loves me so much.  I just praise and love and thank him.  The weekend is so amazing so far, but it’s just getting started.  Words cannot express how happy I feel.  Is this what heaven will be like?

July 25, 1997 – Friday – 1:00 p.m.

Another student orientation is today.  So many wonderful new freshmen.  So many eyes.  So many smiles.  So many stories.  So many girls.

And I have only one year with them.  Not even that really.  Really only nine months.

I will leave and they will enjoy life on my playground.

They will know my name and my face, for I will walk through their hallways of homes as I make my RD rounds.  Oh how I long to make each one happy, to make sure each one knows Christ as his or her savior and friend.  I want to tell each nervous parent that I will take care of their son or daughter.  I want to love each and every one of them.

Last night Jeanine and I went for a walk through the cool mountain night.  We get along well.

Dan has gone away for the weekend.  Not to my surprise, Vince and Laura have gotten back together.  My mom and Nate may come up on Sunday.

A month from today, all of these new stories and eyes will be here at the same time.

This should be a fun year; ’97-’98.  My senior year in college.

I’m nearly 21 years old.

Where suddenly have I gone?

July 16, 1997 – Wednesday – 10:45 a.m.

Monday night was amazing.  Rebecca St. James puts on a wonderful concert!  There was an altar call during the concert and I went up.  I needed for God to break me and recreate me.  It’s time for me to grow to the next level.

Last night I was asked to drive some Alumni up to the top of Beech Mountain.  We met a tour guide up there and toured around the old Land of Oz.  There was a museum there with actual costumes and props from the movie.  We got to walk through the life size replica of Dorothy’s house, and we followed the yellow brick road.  Everything was just beautiful and amazing!  Realizing I was in a magical land in a small town that sits higher than any other town in the Eastern United States, I left the group and walked ahead on my own.

After I turned a corner I stopped and looked around since I was totally alone.  And there I saw what I thought was a statue of a deer.  Only the statue turned and looked at me, so I quickly realized it was a real deer.  I expected her to immediately run away, but instead she just bent down to eat some grass.

I took a step closer, still expecting her to run, but she didn’t.  She lifted up her head from the grass and looked me in the eyes.  I took a few more steps closer and then the deer walked closer to me.  She was so beautiful.

After a few more steps we were right in front of each other.  I knelt down and she took a step closer and sniffed my cheek and my mouth.

No fear.

Nothing.

She saw me for who I was and touched her nose to my face, then softly licked my cheek.

It was a taste of heaven.

No fear or hate.

Only love.

Love.

On this Wednesday morning a thunder storm is brewing over Banner Elk.  I can hear the thunder rolling now.  The skies are darkening.

The wind has caught up with this flower and broken it.

I am dying, only to be raised.

The wind will soon blow my petals to another land and there I will grow again.

But one thing is clear, God wanted me here in this land and in this time.  He brought me to these mountains to kiss me.  May your name forever be praised!

July 12, 1997 – Saturday – 9:20 p.m.

We are back in Banner Elk.  After my entry last night, I feel asleep in Charlie’s newly purchased tent.  We got up early this morning and after I took a hike to Juneywhank Falls, we ate breakfast at McDonald’s, rented tubes and went tubing.  The tubing was great; the warm sun above us, the cool water below.  On the way out, I got a banana split with extra cherries.  And we ate at Pizza Hut and I stood on that ledge.

Again, it was the same picture.  And I can now move on with my life.

All that lies behind me, all those 21 years.  They are now simply a life already lived.  The majority of those days have been lived for God.  Some moments were not, they were lived for me.  All I have is this moment in front of me.

I have this desire to run out and say “hello” to every person I come across, but it is as if their own faces hold me back.

So many visits to that ancient creek and yet it never changes, only I do.

I am a little blonde haired boy changing into a smarter little blonde haired boy, wishing he knew nothing.

I think I’ve been doing this wrong.  I must have misunderstood.  I keep looking at myself. But all of these memories, all of these moments, they are nothing but a movie in my mind.  It’s like I’m tickling myself.  I use my life to create laughter in my own life.

To me it is everything, but it is nothing to others.

There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.  Ecclesiastes 1:11.

I am having fun, but what does that mean?

Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things, God will bring you to judgement.  So, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.  Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10.

I will soon return to dust and no one will ever read this book I am writing about my life.

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of a man.  Ecclesiastes 12:13.

What does God command of me?  He commands me to love him and love others.

Life is not about clothes, or movies, or brand names, or even these pages of my memory.

Life is not about money, music, or sex.

Life is not about beauty, long legs, or perfect breasts.

Life is not about me.

Life is about one thing:

Love.

Continually giving to and serving other people.

And I think I just now figured that out.

June 2, 1997 – Monday – 1:25 a.m.

It’s early in the morning.  What an evening!  June 1, 1997.

After the evening service, Crystal, Clifton’s sister, invited me to go to a drive-in movie with her down the mountain near the Tennessee state line.  We saw Volcano, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

I had never been to a drive-in before.  We laid out on sleeping bags, on our stomachs, which caused my neck to hurt really bad.  Crystal gave me a massage as the credits rolled.  Then she ran her fingers through my hair.

We went to Wal-Mart and played with toys until it closed at midnight.

I had a good time and we talked pretty deeply.  She says she is away from God.  She doesn’t even consider herself a Christian anymore.  She told me about a lot of things that happened when she went away to college in Asheville.  She said she lost her innocence.  I wonder if that means she isn’t a virgin anymore.  I didn’t condemn her.  I was just there and I listened.

We came back to my room and listened to some Rebecca St. James and Cindy Morgan.  She said she couldn’t do it.  She couldn’t give herself back to God.

I prayed with her.  And I hugged her goodbye at her car door.

Then she said, “I never should have grown up and gone off to college.”

Oh God.

Help her.

Help me.

All I know is that you love us.  There is evil in the world, but you still love everyone.  I want nothing but your love.