April 28, 2000 – Friday – 7:53 a.m.

April is ending.  As are many other things.  I am no longer a full-time student, and Marie and I have just come through a really difficult time.

I think the past week really traumatized me, so much so that I can hardly remember the harsh words that were spoken to me.  I feel my mind is trying to forever forget them, like a scab covering a wound and allowing new skin to grow.  I’m tempted to not write about this at all, but I should put something down in these pages.

Clearly hurt and rejected after spending a week with my friends in North Carolina, a vulnerable Marie and I visited her family.  And while they are kind in action, I didn’t have a great time these past few days in New Jersey, one, because I was sick, and two, because there just wasn’t an abundance of joy and peace, at least not when you compare it to the amount of joy and peace in all my friends in Banner Elk.  So, once we headed back to Virginia, all of that pain and defensiveness bubbled up in Marie, and she became very critical toward me and of all my friends.

She said it was unnatural and immoral of me to have as many female friends as I do.  And, as if that didn’t hurt enough, she then accused me of only being involved with the youth group at Parkway because I was sexually attracted to all the girls in the youth group.  She said that my friendship with girls like Sterling, Christin, and Kimberly was inappropriate and that I should be ashamed of myself.

Much more was said, many more stabs were taken at my heart, but I pulled off the road, got out of the car and found a distant ball park, where I sat on the bleachers and stared off into the landscapes of Delaware, trying to make sense of what had just happened with this girl I want to marry.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more hurt.  Sterling, Christin, and Kimberly and their families and I all adore each other.  We are fellow believers together.  They take care of me, I like spending time with them, and yes Christin crushed on me for a while, but nothing ever happened.  I took her to her prom and I didn’t even kiss her.  The whole reason I didn’t pursue a relationship with her was because she was too young.  I sat there alone for a long time, and eventually heard from the Lord that Marie’s accusations were false.

So, I returned to the car.  By the look on her face, it was clear she knew she was out of line.  She apologized.  We drove home.

I prayed silently as we drove, and God gave me a very clear answer that I love my friends, and the fact that many of them are women is not a sin.  What Marie said to me reveals much more about her heart and mindset than it did mine, and, after spending a week with her family, it’s clear to see that she was raised in such a negative and narrow mindset.  We both got to experience where each of us came from these past two weeks, and the fact that we both came from two different words really broke us.  She felt like she didn’t belong with my group of friends and possibly even felt like she doesn’t have as good of friends as I do, and I felt rejected by (and bored with) her family.

So there it is.  God is breaking us.  Or maybe he’s sharpening us.

Perhaps this will make us a stronger couple than we were before.  Perhaps we won’t be able to recover from this.  Time will tell.

June 2, 1999 – Wednesday – 7:50 a.m.

Monday night I wrote a script that just popped into my head.  It came so easy and almost seemed to write itself.  Maybe it should be my big project instead of Eyebrows.  

Tuesday night, or rather early this morning, I talked to Allen and Vince.  They are all back from Guatemala.  They seemed to have a good time.  After speaking with them I couldn’t go to sleep.  I missed them and my home state of North Carolina.  So, I drove down to the Outer Banks and returned just now, enough time to go to work.

Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head all remind me of the touristy mountain towns of western North Carolina, only it’s the beach instead of the mountain views that attract everyone.  I felt home as I drove through them, though I know I haven’t been there since I was a kid.

I ran around on the moonlit beach all by myself, then drove further down until there was water on both sides of me.  I almost hit a pelican, which was just sitting on the road at two in the morning.  On the way back I had some French toast at a 24-hour grill.  It was a nice five-hour, and much needed, vacation.  It gave me time to pray, to be quiet, and to enjoy my own company.

I love North Carolina so much.

To just be there this enough.

It will always be my home.  It will always be where I am from.

Thank you for this morning God; it brought more rest and peace than a full night of sleep ever could.

February 10, 1999 – Wednesday – 11:34 p.m.

I went over to Kimberly’s house Tuesday afternoon.  We went bike riding and swung on swings at the park.  We played Tetris at her house and had dinner with her family.  What a nice time!

Tonight at Discipleship, I led the first ever Parkway Temple foot washing service.  It was just our group, but it was so freeing and redeeming for everyone.  The kids appeared very humbled.

Afterwards, Mary Jo asked me to go swing dancing.  I did and had a delightful time.  I danced with other girls as well.  There is another dance happening Friday.  I hope I can go after the youth service.

God is so good and perfect.  This whole day was a blessing.  I simply wake up and live each day one day at a time.  Thank you for the peace and freedom than can only be found in you Lord.

December 20, 1998 – Sunday – 8:51 a.m.

There are 11 days left in this year.  I am trying to think of a way to let whoever ends up reading this to truly grasp the beauty and wonder of what is happening here.  I cannot believe God is using me in the way he is.  In less than five months, God has allowed me to see how my simple presence and laughter is changing people’s lives.  I am making a difference, as I assume everybody is, but I somehow get to see it.

Love never fails.

David sent me a card saying his life had never been so interesting until I came into it.  God is using me to minister into so many girls’ lives here.  Somehow God leads me into a group of girls and they don’t stop being themselves.  They don’t seem to change from a “girl” into a “girl that is now around a guy.”  I’m seeing things many guys never get to see.

Our Christmas show is all God.  I showed up and wrote and directed it, but I really can’t take any of the credit.  The kids gave me a card last night, and, for some of them, it seems I am changing their entire perspective on life.  They are waking up and seeing the beauty around them they have never seen before.  God is using me to wake people up and help them find their freedom.

Yet, I don’t feel like I do anything but be me.

And it isn’t difficult to be me.  I remember when it used to be insanely difficult to be me, perhaps I wasn’t entirely sure of who I was back then.

My card was full of phrases like, “Never stop being you,” or “Thanks for being you.”

What an honor!  What a joy!  What a gift!

I am being thanked for doing the only thing I know how to do: be me.

And here is another day to laugh, to smile my crooked smile, and love those around me.

God is beautiful!

December 19, 1998 – Saturday – 11:30 p.m.

Today was perfect day.

I spent the morning and early afternoon with Christin’s extended family, which include Sterling’s family since they are cousins.  It was so wonderful.  I even got Christmas presents, nice clothes from Christin and Sterling and Christin’s mom.  It’s just insane how much God has blessed me here.  It just feels like he’s watching over me so closely.

The show went perfectly over at Harvest Assembly tonight.  So many people appeared to be touched by it and by God.  The response to the show has been incredible.  People are crying, people are shaken.  Oh God, what are you doing?

The youth group had its Christmas Party tonight.  Kimberly bought me a hat!  There was so much laughter, so many smiles, I’m just endlessly surrounded by love and beauty.  How can one arrive in a new land and fall in love with so many so quickly?

I’ve been overtaken by true peace.  I know who I am and I know my Jesus.  Can it ever get any better than this?

August 14, 1998 – Friday – 3:00 p.m.

I have the day off and I am sitting alone facing the Atlantic Ocean.  I have discovered the beach for locals, it’s called Sandbridge, and no longer venture to the tourist trap that is Virginia Beach actual.  It is a beautiful day.  The waves are too powerful and no one is allowed in the water.  I just went for a walk and my steps joined in harmony with the crashing waves and the snapping bubbles of the surf.  I sang praises to my Lord and felt my Jesus with me.

The past two days of work were nice, and David and I visited Cindy’s on Wednesday night and enjoyed some yummy pizza.  Oh, and yesterday I called Lindy, and the two of us had the best conversation in the world.

I miss her.

I want her to come and see me.

So, here I am.  I will turn 22 after this weekend, I’ve experienced the beginnings of wonderful new friendships, and I’m facing a body of water that touches Africa, a land from which I have just returned.  And I’m about to start film school!

David has complimented me many times on how well I fit in with all the different groups of people.  Yet, he also says that when I blend in, I do it without changing who I am.

Wow, 19 pelican just flew over my head, all in a straight line.  Perhaps one day I can blend in with them and fly away.

But it is nice to have this sand, this earth, while I can.  I’ll be able to fly some day, but it is not now.  Now, I have the joy of sitting in complete peace with myself.  I can’t believe the world is full of so much beauty and so much love.

I love you God.

I love you.

February 13, 1998 – Friday – 6:00 p.m.

I got a call from Elinor at Regent University yesterday.  I’ve been accepted!  Thank you God!

I bought Sarah a funny Valentine’s Day card, plus three roses, and I put them in her room tonight while she was at a Highlanders’ Performance.  I hope she likes it.

The past couple of days have been relaxing and peaceful.  Rehearsals have been easy and last night we had our costume parade.  I had to stand in front of the whole cast and crew, under the bright stage lights, with nothing but a sheet around my waist.

After the rehearsal I went to Sarah’s room, and she just looked at me from across the room.

“What?” I asked.

“Well…you have a nice body, skinny boy.”  And she looked at me in such a way, and gave me a grin in such a way, that said, “Why didn’t you tell me you were so sexy underneath your clothes.”

I was obviously surprised.  I just view myself as a tall, skinny, lanky, awkward dude.

“Really?” I offered back.  “No one’s ever told me that before.”

And then I kissed her.

Our relationship has grown so much.  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you God.  Thank you Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth has become a really awesome friend.  We’ve begun to share our hearts with one another.  Thank you for her too Lord.

Life and love are all about giving.  It’s as simple as that.  Give all that you have.  Hold nothing for yourself.

When you live for yourself, you become lonely and cold.  Give your life away to everyone around you, and you will find yourself never lacking in joy and peace.

I guess this means I’ll have to give Lees-McRae away as well.

And in order to keep Sarah, I’ll have to give her away too.

 

October 31, 1997 – Friday – 4:11 p.m.

October is ending.

And my life is beginning.

“Masks” is a beautiful piece.  So many tell me it is their favorite dance of the show.  They even like it better than what X-Factor, our professional dance company, does.  But I think it is only great because I covered it in prayer.

I hugged Abigail after the show last night.  She is so soft.  She held my hand and I held hers.  We both looked into each other’s eyes and said “thank you.”

We had Bible Study after the show, but due to Charlie’s shout out with Kate, and a lot of girls overheard it, he decided to let me lead.  He didn’t even show up.  We praised the Lord for so long last night and I gave a simple message about knowing truth.  Emily was there; that’s Emily from my scene with Mason, not “my” true Emily from Crestview.  She cried.  She will belong to the Lord very soon.  Jesus can change anyone and everyone.

Abigail gave a testimony about how she has finally come to peace with her life and she looked at me the whole time.  We shared so many smiles last night.

We have spent a small amount of time together each day and we seem to grow closer.  I undoubtedly go to sleep the happiest man in the world every night.  We sat next to each other during lunch.  Her uncovered knee touched mine and it took her a few seconds before she pulled away.

I believe her parents are coming tomorrow.  I wonder if they’ll see me any differently.  Perhaps she as shared with her mom the small things that have happened between us.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps it is all in my head; like last time.

Jeni called me last night.  She said she has been thinking about me a lot recently.  She seemed sad and even cried over the phone.  I told her about the 27 people at Bible Study and how everything has been forgiven and set free between everyone.

So now, it is only appropriate that I thank my Jesus.  He has given me this peace.  He has given me Abigail’s smile again, so if it that smile goes away, it won’t break my heart completely.  Through her smile, he has shown me a grace that is way more than I deserve.

I’ve never been so in love with Jesus.  He gives me my dance in the shower.  He gives me my minutes in each hour.  This peace is indescribable.  I wear no mask.  I’m surrounded by his love.

I want nothing but to worship you Lord.

Spring worship unto thee.

May 25, 1997 – Sunday – 3:40 p.m.

We discovered on Thursday night that there were preview screenings of The Lost World at 10:00 p.m., so Marcus, Mike, and I went.  It was a pretty intense movie, but the projection was slightly out of focus, which annoyed me greatly.

I’m now in my apartment in Tennessee Dorm at Lees-McRae.  This place is so nice.  I have three full size rooms to myself, plus my own bathroom.  Quite a step up from by single room and community shower from my last three years.  And outside these beautiful rooms is an amazing summer mountain landscape.

Mom and I went to a Black church service on Friday night.  We left on Saturday morning.  Allen and I went out with his mom and grandmother last night.  His grandmother is 100% Italian, partially deaf, but totally sweet and hilarious.

Church was so nice this morning.  I’m surrounded by wonderful people.  And we went to Stan and Marty’s house for lunch.  So yummy.

I heard that Josh recovered from his surgery.  I miss him.  Vince is in Wilson at his sister’s graduation.  I miss him too.

I have found the most beautiful, peaceful, friendly, and relaxing place on earth.  It is a step below heaven.  And I’m going to leave it in a year.  I must be crazy!

 

November 8, 1996 – Friday – 6:00 p.m.

Snow is falling now.  The first of the season.  Tonight I am going to the movies with Abigail, Ann-Marie, Ray, and Jeni.  We are going to see Romeo + Juliet.  I haven’t been to the movies in a while.  I am excited.

I wish someone would look at me and offer me a special smile; a smile so innocent that we both instantly feel the chills down our spine.  I want to share love with someone.  But for now, I’m simply seen as that great Christian friend, but nothing more.

Even if no one stands by my side, I will press forward.  I’m surrounded by simple brief moments of peace and joy, and that is all I want.  I fear they come more often than I am able to realize.

Life is passing by me.  I sure do hope I’m noticing it.  I guess that is why I’m writing in this Book of Days.  It is only for me.  I doubt anyone will ever read these words.  But it helps me remember what is really important.

Heaven is real.

And sometimes I feel like it is already here.