October 22, 1998 – Thursday – 10:00 p.m.

I talked with Sharon tonight. Snow was in the air over Avery County this morning.  I wasn’t there to see it. October 27th was the first snowfall of my last LMC winter.  I didn’t realize how true that statement was when I wrote it nearly a year ago.

I’ve realized when I write these words in these spiral-bound books that they will never go away.  All 13 books are in my sight at this moment.  They sit on a shelf in my closet in front of me.  They are a record of nearly the past six years of my life.

I put Christmas lights up in my room this evening, and it caused me to miss the wintery feel of Banner Elk so much.  So, another day is closing.  One of the final ones for Tammie and Jose in this land.

I turned in four copies of the first draft of “Eyebrows” to the school’s team of producers yesterday.  They said I was the first of the final four to turn it in.  They seemed pleased and impressed.

And so God moves me on.  My memories fight with the present moment every day.  My heart questions why we can’t go back, but it also longs to see what is ahead.

I have no one to really talk to here.  I miss Vince and our deep talks to Counting Crows’ “August and Everything After.”  We had a ritual.  We would start with track four, “Perfect Blue Buildings,” and play it through to the end.  We would turn off the lights and stare up at his glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, most of which were placed there by Laura, and we’d talk of God, love, and beauty until the midnight hour.

I miss Dan and I pondering over the questions of life while playing “Tetris 2” on the Super Nintendo.

I miss riding in Curtis’ car and staring out the window in deep thought.  He’s always ask me what was on my mind.  I’d always tell him.  I felt listened to.

I miss Allen disagreeing with my way of thinking.  He’d ask my advice and then go do the opposite.  But somehow it still made me feel loved by him.

And I miss Charlie, the one I’ve known the longest.

But God needs me elsewhere.  His breath is blowing me forward.  So, I continue and I do this not for me, for all I want is heaven, but God asks me to wait and spend more time with his creation first.

I cannot argue with that.  So that is what I will do.

But how can I live in today when I long for the past?  How can I make new friends when all I want are my old ones?  How can I help save others from a world I can’t admit I’m in?

Why did you make me this way God?  To find comfort in asking questions and not needing the answers.  Is that what faith is?  I don’t need the answers Lord, I just need to know you are listening.

I miss you.  I miss the eyes I’ve never seen.  You comfort me more than my memories and my Teddy Bear from Tenielle.  I want to hold you instead as I fall asleep.  Be with me tonight sweet Jesus, and take me to be with you.  I want to awake in heaven, but if I’m here tomorrow, I will laugh and play in your love.

Heaven feels closer tonight.

How perfect your grace is.

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April 5, 1998 – Sunday – 7:30 p.m.

I now reside in a red chair in the last row of the waiting area for gate C36 at the Atlanta International Airport.  My 7:40 flight was cancelled, so I will not depart until 9:20 p.m.

My flight from Tampa to Atlanta was on the largest plane I’ve ever been on.  I sat one seat across from Rob, who was also at the leadership camp.  Carla, Curtis’ childhood friend who still lives in Atlanta, met up with the both of us and we had a nice little meal.  Rob went on to fly to Raleigh-Durham, and Carla and I just sat and talked about Curtis.  She eventually had to leave to go have dinner with her dad.

So, I am now in my solitude.

I tried to call Sarah from a pay phone, but she wasn’t in.

So, now I have adequate time to reflect.  The sun is setting directly to my left.  I am facing north.  Huge airplanes reside out the window, all preparing to take lovers to loved ones, or even lovers away from loved ones.

This place has grown empty.  Not too many people are around me now.

While still at the Tampa airport, I spent two hours talking with Joel and Carlee.  They were both at the camp as well.  Carlee had been on six mission trips and said the experience completely changes you.  That excited and scared me, for I simply don’t know what is to become of Sarah and I, so what if this summer really does change me?

I read an article in CCM about Margaret Becker.  She spoke of seeing life as a process, as a journey of the soul into the mystery of God.

She said, “The mystery of this love relationship, not the final destination, is the bottom line.”

The mystery is the point, the whole point.  At least I think that’s what she’s trying to say.

Another thing I learned from the article is that to be totally free is to not be burdened by tomorrow.

She also said, “I’m so tired of trying to define a love affair with words.  Our language is not up to the task.  So why are we even trying?  Let’s just talk about whatever glimpse of passion that each moment is, and let’s just hope to God that within that huge ocean, He’ll take a droplet out that makes sense to everybody…”

It’ll take me my whole life to drink that ocean, perhaps even to consume that droplet.

“God must have a great sense of humor.  He delights in contradictions.  The weak really are the strong.  The last shall be first.  The meek shall inherit the earth.  The list goes on and on.  One needs only to accept God’s absolute control to find absolute freedom.  To accept the poverty of our humanness is to enjoy the riches found therein.”

The sun has set, for only an orange haze remains at the horizon.

I’ve been selfish with my life.  See, I called it mine.  I’ve been selfish with His life.  Every step I have is because of Him.  Every joy of life is because of Him.

Sarah is because of Him.

Oh God, I want you and nothing else.

June 19, 1997 – Thursday – 11:37 p.m.

Vacation Bible School has both begun and ended since my last entry.  I was in charge of the dramatic elements.  I wrote a play and played the main character.  It went well.  The kids seemed to love it.  This evening Vince and I went over to Sharon’s.  Hannah and I played a lot of games.  Simple fun!

Four years ago on this historic day, I was saying goodbye to Emily at Deep Creek near Bryson City, NC.  There are some things in life that can’t be explained.  Emily is one of them.  She is my life’s great mystery.

February 12, 1995 – Sunday – 11:59 p.m.

Nate was born ten years ago today.  Happy birthday little brother.

Today was 100% wonderful.  After getting ready for church I ate breakfast down in the cafeteria.  Richard was down there, but he left and then Jeni came.  She sat at the same table and we said a little bit to each other.  I had to go because I was going to church with Charlie and Steven.

Church was wonderful.  I am starting to enjoy hymns now.  We never sang them at my old church.

Laura was there.  We said nothing to each other.  Her hair was curled and she was wearing white.  Jeni noticed me looking at her.

After church Charlie and Dan and I went to eat at the school cafeteria and then we went to see Steven off.  He headed back to Savannah, Georgia.  I’m sure I will see him again.  He’s a funny guy and one of Charlie’s best friends.  The night we all went sledding was a wonderful night.

After Steven left, Charlie and Dan and I went to this girl’s house in Elk Park.  Her name is Molly.  She goes to Heaton and the youth group.  She is 15-years-old.  We went over there to watch videos of beach trips the youth group took two to three years ago.

I had a lot of fun.  Molly’s boyfriend was there and we played Rook.  Molly plays the piano and she showed me some of her music.  She is a nice girl and she is also interested in the skit group/drama ministry thing we hope to begin.  We talked about it some.

We stayed there all afternoon; until church that night.  This church is so wonderful.  Just simple mountain people loving God and loving people.

Laura was there as well.  She looked at me twice.  I looked at her dozens of times.

As before, we said nothing to each other.

Isn’t that great!  There is a mystery here.  And I hope the answer is not discovered for a very long time.

After the evening service Charlie and Dan and I, plus Jason, Carolina, Molly and her boyfriend and Crystal and Clifton went to Peggy’s, this country restaurant place.

Caroline is a girl from church and Crystal and Clifton are brother and sister.  They go to Heaton and are greatly interested in the skit group.  Crystal wants to be either an actor or a director.  She does theater in high school.

The two of us talked for a while.  We had a lot of fun.  Everyone there loves to laugh.

After we left from there Crystal and Clifton invited whoever wanted to to come over to their house and watch a movie.

Only Dan and I went.  Dan is from Oregon.  He goes to Emmanuel College in Johnson City, Tennessee.  We get along great.

At their house we watched Batman Returns.

Crystal and Clifton are really great.  Clifton is a freshman in high school and Crystal is a junior.  She is a pretty girl.

They want me to come back over again sometime.

It has begun.  I realize now that it was hard for me.  Back home, I had Ryan, Amy, Cheryl, Christi, Jenna, and Tenielle as close friends.  Here, I only had Jeni as a close friend.

I need this youth group.  I need a lot of close friends.  I need new memories.  I need this church.

What happened today could not have happened if I were still with Jeni.

Although I have been me, I am becoming more of me everyday.

I thank you Lord.

This is the new beginning of so many new stories.  Some will end in four years.  Some will end before that.  And some will never end.

Just like many from Sanford and Siler City, they will never end.