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 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 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 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.

February 15, 2001 – Thursday – 6:15 p.m.

It’s already mid-February. Can the second month of the year already be half over?

In 100 days I will marry the love of my life. The more I say that number, the more I realize it is a very short amount of time.

My heart has been burdened recently. I was asked to put together a little drama for church, but, once I finalized the script, much confusion set in. I work in a world that exists somewhere between the church and entertainment, between the sacred and the secular. I feel as if sometimes art has to prostitute itself out to the church in order for the church to make its points. It weakens both the art and the message. I feel I’m stuck in the middle, often questioning where I stand.

God, I often wonder why you called me to this field. There’s no security in this profession. I’ve seen the vicious circle of it all, the constant chasing after, the constant self-promotion, the constant selling, but I want none of that. I just want to tell the stories you’ve placed in me. Do I have to sell them God? Couldn’t I just make them for the two of us to enjoy together? Why does money have to be an issue?

There has to be a better way.

Please show it to me God.

February 6, 2001 – Tuesday – 7:58 a.m.

One hundred nine days remain.

Spring want so desperately to begin here in Virginia, but winter is standing firm. It is going to be a busy spring. I’ve got two films to finish, wrap up my thesis, graduate from graduate school, get married, go on my honeymoon, and those are just the big events. There are so many little videos I need to complete between now and then, plus I’m still working in the bookstore and planning the wedding.

Life is fun.

Anna and I spend most of our time discussing our future together. We’ve talked of moving to so many places, everywhere from North Carolina to Montana. Who knows where we will end up, but I sure like discussing my future with her.

I’m so excited to marry her. I love her more than I thought possible. In 109 days I will die and be reborn. She is not my savior, but God will change me on that day.

Vince is trying his best to come up from Bolivia. I miss all my Lees-McRae friends. I’m so thankful for that season of my life.

Four year there, ’94-’98, and nearly three years here, ’98-01.

In 11 days I will be 24 and a half years old.

January 30, 2001 – Tuesday – 8:00 p.m.

I know that I have hardly written anything this entire month of January, and now it is over. This has been my first full month of engagement to Anna and it’s been a busy one. I remember when I used to write in my journal twice a day. Is this what marriage means? I have less time to just be me?

One hundred and sixteen days remain.

Life has been full of video work, bookstore work, and wedding work. Anna continues to grow more interesting to me each day. She is the love of my life.

I’ve been working on my invitation list. After 24 years of life, I do supposed I’ve made some good friends along the way. Some sad news has happened with them however. Megan has left Curtis. It is a long story, but it’s all Megan. She used Chris to just get away from her parents and then she left him. And, Lindy fear she might be manic-depressive since that has run through her family.

Among other things Anna and I will take a trip to Florida in one month, and I also believe we will attend an Engagement Encounter weekend in Asheville, NC in April.

I’ve only really known Anna for three months now. It’s only four months until we get married.

Seven months.

Then a lifetime.

Thank you for this adventure God.

January 1, 2001 – Monday – 8:15 p.m.

Two nights ago, on December 30th, I asked Anna to marry me.

She said ‘yes.’

I hid the ring in an empty container of her favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. I had filled it with small weights and stored it in the fridge to make it look and feel like a cold container full of ice-cream. She opened it and stopped breathing. She wasn’t expecting it so soon. I cried. What a wonderful little story.

I am changing.

Every day I am losing a little bit more of me.

We are planning a July 7th wedding. Over the next six months I will slowly move my stuff into her studio apartment in the historic Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk. I’m sure I’ll give or throw away many items I’ll no longer need.

I can’t believe what is happening. I’m marrying an amazing woman, a good, Godly woman. So many of my single-person perspectives just have no meaning any more.

So it is 2001.

When the ball dropped in New York, I was kissing Anna in Virginia Beach.

December 27, 2000 – Wednesday – 10:44 a.m.

The day before Anna met my mom, we talked about marriage. God had been speaking to each of us individually about marriage for about two weeks. We were half expecting my mom to talk us out of it, but she did the opposite. She prayed for us and felt we were right for each other; that our union was God’s will. My mom was a blessing to us both.

Anna flew down to Florida for Christmas, and we agreed to look at rings together when she returned.

During Christmas, Kevin and I talked a great deal about our upbringing. Much was covered; some painful, but all good. It was so weird to see Nate as a full-fledged teenager.

There are five days left in the year.

2001 will be a jewel.