August 20, 1999 – Friday – 1:30 p.m.

I feel haunted by every moment.  Memories of these days here in Virginia Beach have already begun to linger in my mind and heart.  It seems I live every moment knowing it will never be again.  I do believe that true love lasts forever.  Veronica, Jeni, Emily, Sarah, these loves did not last forever.  Who they are now is not the person I once knew.  I’m sure I too have changed.

The summer is slowly closing, and I wish I could be back in the arms of Mary.  I wish I could sit above the city of dreams and overlook L.A.  I wish I could wake up once more under the thin slice of the Vermont moon.

I am missing days I haven’t even entered.

Oh to be 22 again.  To have just returned from Africa, to be working with the beautiful Dawn, to be sitting in class talking about movies, to be directing fifteen teens in a Christmas show.

I visited eleven new states while I was 22.

I miss the wife I have yet to meet.  Forgive me for looking for you in others’ hearts.

I want to sleep in the arms of the one who knows me.

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August 9, 1999 – Monday – 6:57 p.m.

Time sure is moving itself along, isn’t it?

Church was great yesterday.  I so adore Pastor Trueblood’s sermons.  He is gifted and anointed.  Brandon and Jason hung out with me before we went to the final Master’s Commission service.  It was great to see everyone.  God definitely showed up at that service.  What a joy it is to know the Lord.

It was so nice to see Mary.  She came with a friend sho was staying at the beach.  So, after the service, we went to our spot over at Fort Henry.  That wonderful little overlook with a lighthouse on one side and a sparkling bridge on the other.

We stayed there for about an hour and simply held each other.  Through what Mary shared, God has used me to bring an amazing amount of healing to her heart and mind.  Thank you for using me God.  She wrote me a letter that contained quotes from other authors:

“To be touched tells man that he is loved.  To touch tells man that he is a lover.  Touching is therefore being.”

Thank you Lord for my ability to touch others.

 

August 8, 1999 – Sunday – 8:43 a.m.

I got home yesterday around one in the afternoon.  The ten hour drive from Vermont was a completely wonderful thing.  In fact part of me still feels like I’m there under that early morning star-filled sky.  It was nearly as vast as the sky I saw over Africa a year ago.

About 30 minutes after I got home, I got a call from Dayton asking if I was able to go to one final Master’s Commission service.  The service will be later on today, right down the street at Centerville Fellowship.  It’s been about three weeks since I’ve last saw everyone.

Last night I hung out over at Kimberly’s and then met up Sterling and family at Upton’s.  They went home, and I went to see The Blair Witch Project.  I had heard the whole thing was made up, but that didn’t keep me from being scared.  My knees were knocking against each other.  The theater was packed and some people clearly believed all the marketing and thought it was really found footage.  I saw a group of girls so terrified they ended up sitting in the same seat holding each other.  It was pretty cool.

Mary called me last night and we talked for about three hours.  She’s so funny.  She’s so weird.  I’m glad we’re good friends.  I’m glad me being myself seems to bless her.

Throughout our conversation I kept talking about Lindy since I had just recently seen her and her parents.  I was just talking about what a wonderful friendship we had, and then after a while Mary said, “Jacob, you’re in love with her!”

Uh…

I just kept talking.  Part of me was thinking “Duh! Like I don’t know that.”  But the other part of me was thinking, “Are you crazy, she’s like my sister!”

But this isn’t a new thought.  I’ve always battled those two thoughts.  Lindy is my friend, one of the best I’ve ever known.  We seem to never run out of things to tell each other.  Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up next to someone and have everything in the world to talk about?  What a beautiful miracle that would be.

 

July 14, 1999 – Wednesday – 3:14 p.m.

It is the 14th of July in 1999 and what a day it has been so far.  God has out done himself this time to communicate something to me.  My, how I love and adore him.  Why does he take so much time to teach me about life and love?  Why does he concern himself with me so much?

There is a story I need to tell, one I should write in here, but it is a long one.  The Lord has taught me an amazing lesson in faith and love and grace through Mary.

She came and sat next to me for the rest of the plane ride into Norfolk.  She laid her head in my lap.  I played with her hair.  She rubbed my fingers against her lips.  And we talked.  We talked about how everyone had gotten so worldly after Santa Monica and how she seemed to have more faults than I had realized.  She said I had to accept her for the way she was.  I told her there must be something wrong with that attitude; that it just didn’t seem right, that it focused more on serving the self than it did honoring and respecting those we were in close relationship with.  After I said that, she let her guard down, and we actually got to have a lovely talk again.  She got off the plane in Richmond and I had a good feeling about our relationship; that it just might hold promise for the future.

Well, Sterling, Christin, Brandon, and Jason from the youth group picked me up at the airport.  I went to church that night and felt the Lord.  I worked on Monday and then spent the night at Jason’s house along with Brandon.  We had a great time.

Tuesday night, the Master’s Commission group came and we did a service at Parkway.  I attended and afterwards Sterling and Rebekah and I went to see Tarzan.

While at church, Mary and I talked a little sweet to each other and last night, before midnight, she called me from Erica’s house in Norfolk.  We talked until two this morning.  And… I just learned a lot about her past and who she is now and how no one else really knows her because they put her up on a pedestal.  I suppose I am guilty of that as well.

Mary’s mother left her when she was nine months old.  She grew up around her father and brother, which she said made her more cold-hearted.   She said her mother wasn’t an affectionate person and didn’t start seeing her again until she was 9-years-old.  She told me stories about sexual abuse from a family member and that she grew up in the church, but didn’t experience true salvation until she was 14.  But, in both high school and college, things went too far with some different boyfriends, and these experiences broke her completely.

When she confessed all this to me, my throat turned into a rock and my body began to shake.  I did have high expectations of who she was, or who I wanted her to be I guess.  I was disappointed in myself for setting such a high standard and for doing to her what everyone else has done: putting her up on an insanely high pedestal.  Our conversation got a bit funny and awkward and then the cordless phone she was on lost power and we got cut off.  We didn’t get to say goodbye.  I just went to sleep nearly in tears.

I went to work this morning and found myself playing our conversation over and over in my head.  After work, when I was running some errands, I felt the Lord say, “Go to Parkway.”  I did and the Master’s Commission team was there getting ready to leave for North Carolina.  I had no idea they were going to be there, so long story short…Mary and I got a chance to talk.

I was the first guy to come along since she broke things off with the previous guy and rededicated her life to God.  I was the testing ground of a newly healed and wanting-to-trust heart.  Through her story I have learned that there is not a perfect girl out there, but that we are all in the process of being made perfect through the love and grace of Jesus.

Mary and I have both been redeemed.  As has everyone else.

I do not understand it, I only accept it.

July 11, 1999 – Sunday – 10:10 p.m.

The events of the past four days seem very distant and foggy.  We’ve had plane trouble, so we are still at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.  Needless to say, things have been crazy.  Let me try to recap.

I did see Brandon and Sara and their little Madison at Disneyland.  Mary spent a little time with us.  It was so good to see them.  We took a break from the park in the middle of the day and I went with Brandon back to his hotel room.  Little Madison and I played together there.  We had so much fun!  She’s the cutest little girl.

Disney was a good time, and Mary and I were able to have some alone time there as well.  I saw the Fanstamic show that night.  It was really neat; such imagination!

Thursday we went about an hour east of L.A. to Fontana and spent the day with this youth church out there.  They treated us so kindly.  During that time Mary and I had a chance to talk, and we really opened up to each other, which may not have been a good thing.  I can hardly remember what was said now, but it was a sweet and precious time.

However, she has been acting really funny the past few days.  She’s been acting really selfish and her conversation used to be really Godly, but now it has been totally petty and pointless.  I’m not sure what happened, but when yesterday came, I was so ready to go home.

We went to Santa Monica and there the whole group just stopped acting like a group of Christians doing ministry and started acting really worldly; especially Mary.  I hated it.

After sunset we went to the observatory near the Hollywood Sign.  I needed to get away from everyone, so I slipped away and found a trail down to the left.  I sat there, finally alone and sang to my Jesus.  All of the man-made lights below me were beautiful.  I saw the entirety of the L.A. skyline and the surrounding areas and there the Lord and I had a special time above those 13 million people.  There were even fireworks off in the distance.

I thought about who I was and what I was supposed to do.  I thought about how Mary was perfect for me on some days and totally wrong for me on other days.  I thought about the homeless woman I saw try to kill herself by laying down in front of an on-coming train.  And I thought about how natural it felt to be in L.A.  Finally, I thought about how thankful I was that I’d soon be leaving.

Last night, before we left the observatory, we had a time of reflection where everyone went around and said goodbye to me and shared their feelings about me.  I’m leaving the team when we land in Norfolk, but they have another couple of weeks together.  They all said very sweet things, things I’ve heard others say about me before.  The greatest compliment though was that I not only taught them the Masks drama, but that the example of my life revealed to each member of the team the mask that each of them was hiding behind.  They told me that I have a wisdom unlike any they’ve ever encountered.

I shared with them how hard it was to strip my soul bare for every new group of people, but that doing so also continually helps me and keeps me open; though sometimes it feels like it nearly destroys me.

. . .

So, I’m in the air now, flying far above both land and clouds.  I don’t know about Mary and I, except that I will try to keep in touch through email.  I’m looking forward to getting some things together and organized for the next year of school.  I hope to visit some Lees-McRae friends during the first couple of weeks in August.

Thank you for these days sweet Jesus.  Thank you for molding me and for fixing me.

And thank you Mary.  I will remember L.A.

July 7, 1999 – Wednesday – 7:40 a.m.

Everyone else is getting ready.  We will leave for Disneyland soon and hopefully I’ll get to see Brandon and Sara and little Madison today at 1:00 p.m.  Yesterday, after working in a soup kitchen, and a rummage shop, we went to the 3rd street promenade down on Santa Monica Blvd.  It was so crazy.  The richest people.  The poorest people.  Complete chaos.  We performed Masks, but the CD player messed up, so it was a disaster.  Oh well.

Mary is sitting in front of me right now, eating Honey Nut Cheerios.  Throughout each day we find the smallest ways to touch each other and show our affection.  I can’t believe I’m going to leave her soon.  It hasn’t truly hit me yet.

Man, life is crazy.  I’m in L.A., surrounded by 13 million people who don’t know me.  I’ve got four days left here.  I’m sure I’ll spend time here again, that much is clear to me.  But the true question on my mind is…will my beautiful Mary be with me?

 

July 5, 1999 – Monday – 10:40 a.m.

This has been the greatest of all mornings.

I sit now in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport in Texas.  I was here nearly a year ago.  I sure didn’t know then that I’d be back.  The rest of the team is in the air right now, on their way to L.A.  I, because I’m an adult, was forced to take a later flight since the other one was over booked.

So, I’m alone now, and that is a good thing.  I need this time to write.

We had an outreach in Chesapeake on Saturday and afterwards the team went to see Tarzan at the movies.  I sat next to Mary.  Our elbows rested on the same arm rest and touched.  And around the middle of the movie, we discovered that we could touch each other’s fingers through the cup holder without any of the team seeing.

It was awesome.

After the show everyone went to my apartment and some of the girls and Corey cooked for everyone.  Mary and I got a chance to talk again.  We wanted to make sure that we weren’t just using each other for a little summer fling.  We hold each other in the highest respect.  The night ended in a crazy conversation about our most embarrassing moments.  Everyone was laughing so hard. A dozen or more teens were in my apartment having the time of their life and not even realizing it.  It was priceless.

July 4th was the next morning and we ministered at a small church in Toano, which is the same town my grandparents live in.  I went to visit both sets.  I even saw my dad, who didn’t look well at all.  He’s gotten insanely fat.  He also told me that Kevin got in another accident last night.

I hurriedly returned to my Master’s Commission gang, fully aware that I’d rather spend time with them than my own father.  We decided to take the super long and scenic route back to Chesapeake, which involved a ferry ride.  That evening, Meagan and Mary and I went to Meagan’s beautiful country home out in Pungo.  The three of us drove to Sandbridge and spend the final hours of the last 4th of July of the 1900s playing in the deep dark waves of the Altantic Ocean.  An airplane made amazing glow-in-the-dark smoke trails in the star-filled sky above.  The night was perfect, but soon midnight came and the day that I am now breathing in began.

We left Sandbridge around one in the morning.  Meagan drove, Mary sat in front of me, and she would reach back and we would hold and touch each other’s hands.  We got to the house and showered all the salt and sand off of us.  Meagan went to bed and then, for about two hours, I held and touched the most amazing girl alive.

Mary and I spent the early hours of this morning realizing this would be the only chance we had to touch each other.  So, we cautiously spoke into each other’s hearts while guarding them at the same time.  We did not sleep.  It was the most precious few hours of my history.  How beautiful was its purity!  Her soft skin.  Her eyebrows.  Her neck.  Her back.  Her ears.  Her hair.  Oh, and she wanted to shave my face, so I let her.  And then I shaved her legs.  How weird and crazy we are!

I want her so bad, but I’ll only be around her for another week, and in the busy town of L.A. at that.  Our conversation this morning was so precious.  We were no longer two team leaders, but we were man and woman, stopping the world for a few brief hours, so we could acknowledge the value in each other.  Thank you for this morning God.  Use it for your glory!

Now she flies over New Mexico, while I sit in Texas.  Why do goodbyes take place?  Why do I have to part from this girl?  If coming to Virginia Beach did anything for me, it introduced me to Mary, and that makes everything worth it!

Above that though, God has used her to do a healing in me.  My faith in Christian women has grown strong again.  She and I are no accident.  We are no mishap.  This is divine.  I’m not saying she is the one, I’m just saying she has been divinely appointed to me for this brief time, as I have been to her.

Sweet Jesus, you never let me go.  You are my desire.  You bring such good things into my life.  Thank you!