September 14, 1997 – Sunday – 1:00 p.m.

A Sunday afternoon.  Amy Grant is playing on my new stereo.  It is a warm day.  God is at work as usual.  Eddie and Natalie, two Performing Arts students, whom I thought were beyond reach, are now coming to church on a regular basis.  Two new Freshmen named Justin and Sarah have started coming as well.

A girl accepted the Lord and was baptized this morning in the river behind the church.  I watched the baptism with little Hannah.  She’s the sweetest little friend.  Jessica stood nearby.  She stood beautifully in her hiking boots and autumn outfit, her dark hair swirling down her back like million roller coasters.  She stood just high enough to peer over the chicken-wire fence, which protected the children from falling down the bluff to the river below.  And Shawna was with us today.  She showed us pictures of her backyard in New Mexico.  Amazing!

I think things are getting back to normal for Abigail and I.  At least I hope so.

I went to visit Tracey the other night.  She was in her bathrobe getting ready for bed.  We talked a little and she said that she didn’t see me around as much any more.

“Well,” I said, “That’s why I came down to see you.”

So weird to see her in that room without Jeni.

I called Jeni on her 21st birthday.  She said is was great to hear my voice.  She told me that Tracey, Ann-Marie, and Abigail all thought Sherlive and I were dating.  I told her that I did want that at one time, but instead Sherlive is my dear friend, who really seems to understand the way I see the world, and that in and of itself is a treasure.

Emily and I haven’t written or communicated since that time we shared the same time and place under the boardwalk in May.

Marisa and I still write though.  We also email each other.  I wonder if email will take over and keep people from writing handwritten letters.  I hope not.  Emily’s letters wouldn’t have changed my life if they were just typed letters on a screen.  I saw love in her handwriting.  Marisa and I actually just got off the phone.  We laughed back and forth.  She is so funny.  She says she’s coming up in three weeks.  I told her so many little details about my life recently.  Things I haven’t even shared with the guys.  I do miss her so much.  It’s so weird how this rebellious little 15-year-old brat turned out to be the sweetest girl in the world to me.  I told her when she arrived that I would hug her and never let go.

She screamed “Yes!”

A bunch of performing arts students are saying that Lindy and I would make a cute couple, but I’m actually starting to wonder if Lees-McRae holds the one for me.  It feels as though Lees-McRae is simply preparing me for the one God has for me.  But, to be fair, I guess everything that happens in my life from this point on will have happened because of Lees-McRae.

I miss Jonathan.  I miss Marcus, Danny, and Peter.  I miss Ryan, Amy, Christi, Cheryl, Jenna, and Tenielle.  I miss Veronica, her family and all the families from Sanford.  I miss my family, Nate, Mom, Henry, and Kevin.  I miss Alison’s smiles and Renee’s eyes.  I miss Mike’s laughter and Wynne, Grant, and Mark.  I miss Tim.  I miss Syndi.  I miss Pastor Steve and Shurby and Jason.  I miss my old room on the 2nd floor of McAlister.  I miss the railroad tracks.  I miss Tony and Lisa, Dana and Bradley, Lisa and Kenny.  I miss Kristin and Fishnet and Deep Creek.  I miss the shoes I can no longer wear, the pants I’ve grown out of, and the trees that have fallen down.  I miss Andrea.  I miss West Germany.  I miss that hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  I miss the comfort of my mother’s womb.

I miss touching Abigail’s face.  I miss Jeni’s lips.  I miss the stars above Tracey’s house.  I miss Ann-Marie’s laugh.  I miss Ben’s grin.  I miss Vince’s Jim Carrey quotes.  I miss Curtis singing country songs in his car.  I miss Allen’s farts.  I miss Sharon driving “our” truck.  I miss Jessica hiking beside me in the woods.  I miss Charlie and Kate together.

I miss Lees-McRae College.

I even miss Regent University and it is in the future.

I miss my wife.

I miss my children.

I miss my dead parents, now in heaven.

I miss earth.  I miss life.

But I’m here now and I’m thankful.

This side of heaven is simply me missing everything that I won’t have time to miss, when I’m face to face with Jesus.

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August 2, 1993 – Monday – 1:22 p.m.

Let’s start from the very beginning, shall we?

Saturday morning, I got up and Mom told me that if I mowed the grass she would give me some money to go to the movies.  So, I did.  That’s what I practically did all day.  Then later on Jonathan, Danny, Peter, Marcus, Kevin, and myself went to Asheboro.

Only Danny and I went to see a movie.  We saw Robin Hood: Men in Tights.  It was so stupid that you couldn’t help but laugh.  Then afterwards we went to eat at Burger King.

I rode with Jonathan and he lost his hat out the window, but he got it back.  Kevin and Marcus were mooning us from Danny’s car on the way home.  They call Marcus “THE BLACK HOLE,” and Kevin “THE FULL MOON.”

I would never moon anybody.  That’s just disgusting.

We stayed at Danny and Peter’s until about midnight.  Jonathan left early.  We basically just talked about funny stuff from our past.  Then I went out to the lobby and read some magazines.

At work there’s a teenage girl with short blonde hair and a pretty smile.  She just graduated from high school.  Her name is Tina.  She works mostly when I do and I talked to her a little bit.

She has a little girl named Ashley.  She just learned how to walk.  Tina’s not married.

She asked me the other night if I was at the motor lodge the other day.  The motor lodge is where Danny and Peter live.  Their father owns and runs it.

I said, “no, but Kevin probably was.”

She said that she saw the white car there.  She has told me stuff before about the motor lodge.  I just figured she lived across the street.

While I was looking through some magazines I saw a girl with blonde hair walk into the lobby.  She had on a McDonald’s uniform and held a wad of cash in her hand.  With the other hand she was supporting a mixed little girl on her skinny waist.

The little girl was Ashley, her daughter.

I was shocked to see her, especially that late at night.  I greeted her and asked if I could hold Ashley.  She let me.

I asked, “What are you doing here?”

She said, “I live here.”

Those words were like a dagger in me.

“How long?”

“Since December.”  She had come into the lobby to pay her month rent.  I can’t remember how much.

I talked to her a little bit.  She said she would be leaving for college soon and that she was just working weekends now.  She just bought a car.  She “sort of” lives with her boyfriend, but she is making it.

I don’t know her past, but she’s okay now.  My heart goes out to her.  Living in a motel room with her daughter and living off of a McDonald’s paycheck.

How did she end up there?  I probably will never know.

Sunday comes after a few hours of sleep.  Amy calls and tells me she is sick, so I had to cover for her in children’s church.  Ryan was sick too.  They weren’t at church.

But Christi was.

I asked her to come into children’s church because I would need her help.  She said she would.  I talked to her some more and while we were on stage, right before singing started, she told me she recorded CATS for me and while in Rocky Mount last weekend she met a guy.

Stunned and heartbroken as I was, I said, “Really?”

Then she said, “No, I’m just kidding.”

Strange thing to say.  A woman thing, I guess.

I don’t understand.

In children’s church I did an object lesson and part of it was I had to squirt Christi with a water gun.  I did and she got all wet.  Then one of the leaders made me get in the chair and I got squirted and Gloria poured a cup of water on my head.

Christi laughed.

I walked by her and patted her on the head.  Then I went to sit in the back of the room.

Shirley was in there and I told her I got a letter from Tammy.  They are going to visit her on Friday.  In the letter Tammy told me she wanted to come back.  I asked Shirley if she would accept her.

She doubted it.

Then Christi came and thumped me on my hand.  I reached over to pinch her, but she moved.  I tried two more times, but failed.  Then I got her on her leg, but her jeans were too tight.

Children’s church was over and after church  I stopped by her house to pick up my CATS tapes.  She wasn’t there, only Andy.

Ryan wasn’t there in the morning, and shocking to myself, I didn’t really miss her.  Ryan was at the evening service yesterday, but Christi wasn’t.  I missed Christi, but it was nice to talk to Ryan.

Christi’s dad, Hank, is the pastor at a church in Rocky Mount.  They are moving up there during Christi’s junior year.  She will be a sophomore in high school this year.

I’ll be in college somewhere then.