December 26, 1994 – Monday – 7:40 a.m.

It is the 26th of December in the year 1994.

Did you hear me?

December 26, 1994.

I have been alive on this earth for 18 years, four months, nine days, two hours, and 40 minutes.

That’s a long time.

But then again…what is time?

I feel empty.

Arms.  My arms.  They hurt.  They ache.

And I know why.  They are not holding the one I love.

Jeni.

Just writing her name gives me the chills.

She called last night around 11 o’clock.  We talked four hours.

She is in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I am in Lanexa, Virginia.

For the summer of 1995 it looks like I will be where she is now.  She wants me to go home with her and find a job in Cincinnati. Then maybe just visit my family in North Carolina around the 4th of July.

Do you remember when Jenna and I bought Grey Poupon on the 4th of July?

So many smiles, so many moments of laughter, not just from Jenna, but from every person I’ve encountered; every person I’ve spent at least a few fleeting moments with these past 18 years.  Yet I’m sure there are some I have forgotten.

Is my past truly behind me?

Will I allow myself to spend a summer in Cincinnati?  Will my heart?  Will my arms?  Will my eyes?

What is there in Sanford?

What is there to hold in Sanford?

What is there to look upon in Sanford?

Today, Dad and I went to see two movies:  Star Trek: Generations and Forrest Gump.  Star Trek was cool, but will there ever be another movie as amazing as Forrest Gump?

As I left the theater I looked at the different human beings around me.  Some had tears in their eyes.  Some were holding the hand of a loved one.  That certain individual had found that other person they were created to love.

What an adventure!

What a discovery!

What a miracle!

The miracle of another human being.  How Jeni and I ever came to know each other is beyond me.

Beyond me.

There is much beyond me.

But my savior, very close to me, has taught me to love and value another one of his beautiful creations.

Time does not exist.  Days may pass.  Years may pass.  But my past will grow.  My collections will grow.  My love for Jeni will grow.

The end will draw close, but it will not be over.

And in the meantime, I will enjoy my time here on earth.

I will enjoy my time with Jeni.

I will enjoy Lees-McRae College.

I will enjoy the summer of 1995.

I will enjoy the future.

For surely the best days of my life are not the ones you’ve already read about, but the ones I have yet to write.

September 26, 1994 – Monday – 2:30 p.m.

I am changing.

I can feel it.

My brother just called me.  He and Tenielle aren’t “together anymore.”  He hates his college life.  He says there is nothing there for him.

My college life is wonderful.  I owe it all to Jesus.  I’ll pray for him.  He and Marcus are getting along well.

He said he went to a fellowship service at Abundant Life yesterday.  He told everyone about Jeni.  He told me he couldn’t believe it, that his little brother would ever actually have a girlfriend.  He said she seemed sweet.

I got a card today from a girl named Lori.  I don’t know a Lori, but as I read it I learned she is a friend of Cheryl’s, but she lives in Ohio, not North Carolina.  I don’t know her though.  She wants me to write her back.

Kristen also wrote me.  She is okay.  It was great seeing her this past weekend.

Anyway, as I talked to Kevin today, I realized what was important to me.

Right now, all I see is me growing in my relationship with God and with Jeni, focusing on my studies of theater, making the best of my years here at Lees-McRae, and getting into a film school.

I have so many people I am suppose to keep in touch with, but truthfully I don’t really want to worry about it.

Forgive me Sanford, but Banner Elk is where I am now.

January 15, 1994 – Saturday – 10:30 p.m.

Today is January 15, 1994 and today would go under the category of “One of the Best Days of My Life.”  It wasn’t exactly what happened that made it a good day, but it was more about what I learned.

The only way to begin is with last night, which also ties in with today.

After work, I went to Mr. Gatti’s; mom dropped me off.  Jenna, Tenielle, Shar, and Sunny showed up a few minutes later.  Shar and I split a pizza.  Then Scott showed up and he had a few slices.  Later, Jenna, Tenielle, Shar, Sunny and I played a game.  It’s too difficult to describe here, but we had a blast.

While we were playing, Ryan came in with a friend.  They sat at a table across the room and then a guy sat with them.  For about 45 minutes I didn’t say a word to her, then I excused myself from the game for a moment and went over to her table and said, “I just wanted to say ‘hey’ so you couldn’t accuse me of being stuck up later.”  I smiled.  She smiled back and said, “Oh Jacob,” and I left and went back and sat with the four girls.

Four.

It hit me.  Something was different.  All the other times I went to Mr. Gatti’s it was always with Ryan, Amy, Cheryl, and Christi.

Now, I was with Jenna, Tenielle, Sunny, and Shar.  Retrospect hit me and all the girls noticed something was wrong and kept begging me to tell them what I was thinking.  Jenna and Tenielle mostly.

The five of us joked about everything.  I never did tell them though until later.  The evening was great fun, but then we had to leave.  Sunny’s parents came to pick them up and they said that they needed a ride tomorrow to the door to door ministry shindig.  I offered to pick them up.  Sunny’s mom gave me directions.

They left.  I went with Scott to his house and Kevin picked me up from there later.

We went home and soon, morning came.

We picked up Marcus, like we do every Saturday morning, (unless he’s staying the night), and we drove to Sanford.  Cheryl showed up at Band Practice.  I was supposed to leave at 10:00 a.m. to get Jenna, Tenielle, Sunny, and Shar.  I didn’t leave until 10:30 a.m. since Kevin and Marcus took the car to get something to eat.

Well, I’ve never been in that part of Lee County before and I got lost.  When I finally found their house, I discovered that they somehow conjured up another ride and had already left because they didn’t think I was coming.  Well, I drove back and when I arrived at the church, I saw Tenielle running out to explain everything.  Jenna and Shar followed.  Sunny didn’t come.

We all had a good laugh.  We then went in and prayed for a while and then head out into the city to spread the Word.

Dear God…I saw poverty today like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  And I complain when the hot water in the shower runs out.  It made me thankful.

Very thankful.

A few people got saved, one baptized in the spirit.  A wonderful, wonderful, time.  There is nothing like sharing the gospel.  I love it.

We all ate pizza back at the church and had a service.  I took the three girls back and we had a wonderful conversation.  I told them what I was thinking about in terms of Ryan and the other girls I used to spend a lot of time with.  They were thankful I was with them.  I wish I could live through that conversation again.  There was more laughter and joy in that short drive than I’m most experience in a week.

I took Shar to her house and Jenna and Tenielle to theirs.  They live in a trailer park.  The trailer itself isn’t that bad.  When we got there, Jenna gave me a letter she had written to me the night before.  And their mom gave me $3 for gas money…I accepted.

We said our goodbye’s and I left.  While I drove off, I saw Jenna come outside in the bitter cold and wave goodbye.  I waved back and drove on.  In the rearview mirror, I saw her standing there waiting until she couldn’t see my car anymore, then I’m assuming she went back inside.

I smiled.

When I got back to the church, the skit group met and we got stuff cleared away.

Then myself, Kevin, Marcus, Cheryl, and Sherry and her sister all went bowling.  I won and then the three girls left while I watched Kevin and Marcus play a game in the arcade.  While there, I saw so many people acting “worldly.”  Praise God I’m a Christian.  I can be myself and take off my mask.  Everyone always seems to be performing for everyone else; trying to get attention; simply being too loud.  It’s like I’m the only one who is aware of who I am.

We went home, and I read Jenna’s letter.  I’ll try to write in here later.

The reason today was so wonderful was because it was so simple.

Right now I’m going to call Brandon; Mom said he called earlier.

And I’m going to end this wonderful day by talking to my wonderful friend who moved across America more than a year ago.

December 4, 1993 – Saturday – 7:35 p.m.

It’s Saturday, and today the youth group went out on a door to door ministry thing.  It was awesome!  I prayed for a lot of people and planted a lot of seed.

I was the leader of a group.  Nana, Trish, and Misty were with me.

By the way, Trish and Marcus aren’t dating or anything.  Trish goes with some guy named Brian.  He comes to youth group and seems pretty cool.  Something about the way Marcus talked about himself and Trish, I just assumed they were a couple.

Yesterday, I worked, and it was just okay.  But on Thursday, everything did work out.  I went to see The Sound of Music with Ryan, Amy, and Cheryl.  It was awesome!  Christi did perfect.  She played Liesl.  Below you see a newspaper picture of one of the rehearsals.  Yep, Christi kissing the guy who played Rolf.

Image

After the play, the four of us, me, Cheryl, Ryan and Amy, went backstage to see Christi.  I talked to her some.  It had been a long time since I had seen her.  Last time I saw her was Nov. 7.  It’s been almost a month.  She said she misses church so much and that she wishes her parents would go back.  She didn’t know how good it was until she was gone.

Right before I left, she gave me a big hug and told me how much she misses me.

I like Christi, but in a different way than I like Ryan.

With Ryan, it’s like I enjoy her company, she’s always happy, she is so beautiful, so sweet, and she makes me feel so good.  She likes the same things I like, etc., etc.

But with Christi, I…I just want to hold her.  Just hold her and tell her that I am there with her and that I will bring her happiness and everything will be alright.  

After the play, I drove by her house just to look at it.  She wasn’t there; she was still at the theater.  I’ve grown up with her since she was 11.

I know her.

I miss her.

I need her.

I’ve shared so many great times with her.  

She has made me laugh so many times before.  

We’ve talked about so many things.  

Christi and I are both leaving Sanford in 1994.  I don’t live in Sanford, but that is where my heart lives.  And home is where the heart is.

Christi will be with me for a while.  I will keep in touch.

I will never forget back on Mother’s Day of this year, May 8th, when her brother Jason said to her, “But Christi one day you’re going to meet the man of your dreams, the one God has set apart for you, and you’re going to fall in love with him and you’re going to spend the rest of your life with him.”

Why do I remember that so vividly?