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 1, 1999 – Thursday – 7:50 a.m.

I’m at Seth’s house in Norfolk.  The guys stayed here last night.  What a wonderful family.  The father went to Lees-McRae; crazy!  And the brother-in-law went to Regent.  He and Seth’s sister pastor Living Word Church where we ministered last night.  Its amazing to see a family so united.  I pray I stay good friends with all these Master’s Commission kids after this is over.

Everybody, the guys and the girls, have started picking on Mary and I.  They say our crushes on each other are so obvious.  They’ve been giving us a hard time, but we just laugh along and enjoy it.

The thing that gets me most about Mary is her relationship and dedication to God.  She is so strong in her faith, and she feels to be so intimate and romantic with him, it even intimidates me.  She is a born leader with a romantic spirit towards life!

Tuesday night during the service at Bethel in Pungo, I just sat at the altar seeking God’s will about my career in theater and film.  After a while, a man whom I did not see, for my eyes were closed, laid his hands on my head and God spoke through him to me.  He told me he would take me beyond what I had envisioned for my future, to lean not on my own understanding, and to follow him.

I cried.  Then I took a walk in the parking lot under a full red moon and listened to the frogs.  The word gave me a new level of trust.  I feel called to do a work, but it may not be forever, it may just be for a season, and there is something else beyond that work.

July has begun.  Will I have finished my Master’s degree by this time next year?  The last 4th of July was spent with David and Colleen on a swing by windy riverbank in Colerain, NC.

I wonder if Mary and I are just two lonely Christians forced to spend a lot of time together, or is it something deeper and divine?

Will I ever have a wall with pictures of my children hanging on it?

What will happen to me when I step off the plane in Los Angeles?

I talked to Dan and Lindy the other morning.  They told me that Curtis and his girlfriend Megan are planning on getting married next August.  That sent me for a whirl.  And they said Allen and Jessica are talking about getting engaged over Christmas.  Lindy is looking into moving to Houston for a theater gig, Dan might go to Denver for YWAM, and Vince may go back to Guatemala.

Seth just came up.

Its time for breakfast.

 

June 29, 1999 – Tuesday – 6:25 a.m.

It is Allen’s birthday again!

I am in my room now.  Corey, Matt, and Seth (my Master’s Commission guys) are sleeping in the living room.  We’ve decided that it is more convenient for the guys to stay here.

So, we led a service Sunday night in Hampton and last night in Pungo.  God is doing amazing things!  We learned “Masks” all day yesterday.  The rehearsals were rough, but the performance was great!  That drama/dance is anointed!

Mary prayed for me last night during the service.  I should not lean on my own understanding when it comes to her.  But I see that she is a woman of God and a prayer warrior.  She will completely take care of whoever she marries.

Maybe it will be me.  But maybe not.

God is in control and he’ll take care of it.

God has created a wonderful home for me here in Virginia Beach over the past year.  The youth group at Parkway is so on fire for God, and I’ve crossed paths with so many amazing people!  God is pouring out his spirit on everyone.

This place may be flat, and boy do I miss the mountains, but it doesn’t matter…God is here!

June 27, 1999 – Sunday – 8:50 p.m.

It has been one year since I first moved to the Tidewater/Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

One year.

I am currently at a church in Hampton, where Master’s Commission will lead the service.  Saturday was spent in Richmond; ministering in some poorer areas.  It was bad there, but not as bad as South Africa.  This morning we were in charge of the service at Bethel in Virginia Beach.

We had pizza out in Pungo, and I drove the van pulling the trailer up here to Hampton.  The trailer kept fishtailing back and forth, which was pretty scary when driving through the tunnel.

On Friday night, we kind of had a serious conversation with all the Master’s Commission folk.  Mary is nice to me, but I don’t feel much appreciated by the others.  I met Mary’s family, who were both nice and weird.  I took a picture of their house.  I think I’m a little angry inside, because Mary is someone I want, but deep down know I can’t have.

This morning in church, I really felt the Lord speaking to me about my life, ministry, and career.  I really felt that I must continue to work in the areas of film and theater no matter what.  It is simply the craft that the Lord is asking me to put my hand to.

Doing Master’s Commission almost feels like touring with a band.  We’ve been on the road a lot and we are always eating out.  The driving is fun, but also tiring.  In one week and one day, we’ll be in a plane on our way to L.A.

God is good.  I am meeting many people I never knew were out there.

June 25, 1999 – Friday – 4:00 p.m.

Camp is over.  Everyone has left except for us.  Mary and I have talked some and I believe God has answered my question.  And I believe that is a “no” in regards to Mary.

We had a drama contest at camp and the Parkway Temple kids scored the best.  It is great to know that I’ve trained them well.

In retrospect, these have been good but weird days.  Everyone, even the girls I’ve only known for a week, quickly begin talking to me as though I’m their best girlfriend.  I don’t want to be a girlfriend; I want to be a boyfriend!  It is a curse as much as it is a blessing.

I think Sharon has the best idea.  God forgive me for being so blunt sometimes.  It is backfiring.  The bus ride is getting bumpy; hopefully I can write about the people here a little later on.

June 23, 1999 – Wednesday – 6:36 p.m.

The services here at camp are full of so much freedom.  “Ain’t no party like the Holy Ghost party ’cause the Holy Ghost party don’t stop!”

We went rock climbing today.  The challenge of it all obsesses me.  It was so much fun!

Mary is a beautiful woman of God.  If she wanted me…I’d be hers.  I’m so thankful for these three weeks to be in her presence.  She is so adventurous and so in love with Jesus. She is brilliant!  She plans to go back to Oklahoma to finish school in August.

Your will Lord.  Your will only.  Please show me what to do.  Take care of our hearts.  If this goes any further than fleeting emotion then…well God, I need a Godly wife.  Someone to share this life with.  If my prayers have anything to do with it, then I want her.

June 22, 1999 – Tuesday – 8:40 a.m.

This camp is so wonderful!  I feel so fun and free.  We’ve called our team the Corn Bread Posse!  At service last night so many people were freed from sin and addiction.  I prayed with one girl who had a demonic manifestation before being set free.  God is so good.

Mary returned this morning.  She was away briefly so she could attend her brother’s graduation.  I met a couple of her friends.

I can’t emphasize how badly I needed these days.  I’m surrounded by so much energy, joy, and love.  Jesus is inviting me to a higher level of holiness, yet all the while every night is full of laughter.

Thank you Lord for this.