February 19, 2001 – Monday – 2:09 p.m.

Yesterday proved interesting. Sarah called me, yes, my old Sarah. I thought for sure she knew I was engaged, but she had no idea. Her boyfriend dumped her three weeks ago. She was calling me to get back in touch, to see if anything remained from our previous relationship, but when she heard me tell her of my lovely Anna, she instantly started crying.

What a moment. We talked a bit, but eventually said our goodbyes.

As I move closer to my wedding date, I find it harder and harder to write in my journal. Perhaps because I give my heart and soul to a beautiful woman now, and I no longer put it down on paper for all to read.

Perhaps the only thing left to say is “Thank you God for your mercy and grace.”

October 15, 2000 – Sunday – 8:26 p.m.

It has been a week since I have written. We are now in the middle of the tenth month, what an amazing time! It feels like much has happened.

I just returned from visiting Jean, one of the employees from Acoustic Works. I feel so safe talking with her about love and relationships because she is married. We had dinner and played with Katie, the adorable little girl she was babysitting. Katie seemed to enjoy the way I would make my hair tickle her forehead; she has such a beautiful smile.

This past weekend were our shooting days for The Accuser. I directed a fantastic cast and crew on Ft. Wool, which is an island in the middle of Hampton Roads. Jeremy played his role so well that he banged his head open and cut up his leg. He’s okay though. I can’t wait to see the dailies!

I feel so at home when I’m directing a film. It puts me and all my thoughts, hopes, memories, and feelings together in such a way that everything of who I am, and who God has made me to be, completely makes sense.

This past week I also wrote a letter to Sarah. It is difficult to describe what came over me, but I told her that I loved her fully and unconditionally for who she is, and that she is one of the few people in the world whom I love in such a way. I can explain my love for others away, but I cannot explain my love for Sarah away. It simply exists, it is there, I cannot deny it, and it blesses my soul so much.

Also this past week I picked up a rat for The Accuser shoot. It takes place in a dungeon, so I thought a rat would add some atmosphere. The crew named her Rosie, and I decided to keep her. She is in her cage in my room now.

This coming Thursday kicks off the college-age small group that I will be leading. I’m so excited. I want God to show up. I want him to change us and this whole area.

Thanks for a great week God, you are so good!

September 30, 2000 – Saturday – 11:03 a.m.

We are leaving the Breaks Interstate Park that sits on the border of Virginia and Kentucky. I’m in the van with Mark, Susan from Ireland, and Lisa. Mark agreed to let me play the Legend of the Fall soundtrack since it fits in perfectly with the fall colors that have begun creeping in on the mountain sides.

The past three days have been wonderful. Some many from the church came: Ron, John, Roger, Amy, Ginger, Holly, Kevin (my small group leader), and Kristen, who was in Dang!. Kevin asked Kristen to marry him at Breaks Interstate Park two nights ago.

At the Mountain Mission School, we painted, did yard work, some landscaping, etc. It was fun and rewarding work, and the kids were so thankful we were there. The best part though was simply getting to know everyone on our team.

I performed my velociraptor impression for the kids countless times, and the little 7-year-old girl named Vanessa became my little buddy. She cried when it was time for us to leave.

The past few days were full of endless laughter, and now I have this perfect drive through the mountains with one of the greatest soundtracks ever recorded.

I just realized it was the last day of the month. Wow, I loved this month of this year. I didn’t write much, for I was living life to the fullest. What a wonderful month of friends and filmmaking! Dan and Abigail were married, but that first weekend of the month was about so much more for me. I awoke on the first day of the month in Sharon’s house and got to have breakfast with a family that truly knows how to love each other. I also was able to spend a little time with Mason and Maresa. Then, Sarah and I shared a nice walk. I hugged a pregnant Jeni goodbye very close to the place we first kissed nearly six years ago.

After that beautiful Labor Day weekend, I quit my first ever salary job and started making videos every day for Forefront. That church is a gift from God. It helped bring me to this corner of Virginia, where I was able to bless many girls from Ethiopia.

It’s great to feel tired for the sake of others. I’m worn out, but I gave all that was in me. There is no greater joy.

Okay, I’m going to stop writing now. The world outside is too beautiful, the music is too good, the company is too sweet.

I let go of September of the year 2000. You were a perfect month. Welcome October.

September 22, 2000 – Friday – 3:30 p.m.

Many days have passed since my last journal entry. Let me try to sum up what has happened.

I began working at Forefront, so I’ve been around many of the staff: Rolon, Kevin, Chris, Matt, Christi, and sometimes Vince and Joe.

While on a location scout for ‘The Accuser,’ a five-minute short film the university is paying for, I got in a car accident because the dudes in the back told me to take an immediate left, and I did, right into a fish truck that was coming up behind me. I have a nice huge dent on the left side, but no one was hurt.

I’ve been swamped with production both at Regent and for Forefront. I’ve got two 16mm films in the works now, as well as two more videos I just finished editing this morning.

That’s mainly why I haven’t written, I just been making movies. It’s been freeing to just be running around shooting a quick Forefront video, prepping a movie with an actual budget, or editing quietly on the iMac the church gave me.

Dan is completely depressed over Theresa. He was convinced God told him she was to be his future wife, but he definitely shouldn’t have told her that. He is now questioning if God exists at all.

Sarah wrote me a lovely letter, but I’ve been busy with film-making that I haven’t give it much thought. After getting my pictures from Dan and Abigail’s wedding, I discovered a perfect picture of the two of us.

I’m sure if I hadn’t been so busy I’d try to pursue her again, so I really thankful I have been busy.

This evening I’ll be selling nachos at a local air show. The band Train is performing. They have a song called ‘Meet Virginia’ that comes on the radio all time. I sing it at the top of lungs while driving around town.

On Wednesday morning I’ll be leaving for Grundy, VA. It is eight hours away.

In two months I’ll be in Mexico for the first time.

Can the year be ending so soon?

Christi, on the Forefront staff, is a beautiful, single, 24-year-old, Children’s Ministry Director. I’m trying not to dwell on that fact too much.

We had lunch together a few days ago. She’s fun, but is lacking encouragement.

I have shown the latest cut of Dang! to an experienced filmmaker in the area. He says he’s never seen a more perfect student film.

Thank you God for what you are doing.

May I continue to serve you.

I love you so.

September 3, 2000 – Sunday – 3:16 p.m.

Yesterday’s wedding was very beautiful and extremely centered on Christ. It was an absolutely perfect day that cannot be summarized in words.

I did get to see Jeni though. She is seven months pregnant.

So now I sit in Dan and Abigail’s new home as I listen to the Seven Stranger’s first CD, By Duck Tape and Faith. Seven Stranger’s is the band formed by Tracey, Abigail, Paul, and a few others.

My time in Banner Elk has come and gone. I grow more thankful of that fact every time I visit. I’m glad God moved me on beyond this place. If I lingered here too long, I’d just get stuck.

This place simply isn’t for me anymore. But it does bless my soul to come back. I pray the same thing happens to Virginia Beach.

I went to Heaton Christian Church this morning. It was wonderful, but I went on my own, without any friends. Curtis and Megan have already left for Atlanta.

Sarah and I never went for our second walk. Instead all the guys built a bonfire, but we got rained on.

Now my whole life is ahead of me. I don’t think I want to get married for quite a while. I often wonder if God designed me to go it alone.

So, send me out God. Thank you for a weekend of renewal.

September 1, 2000 – Friday – 4:00 p.m.

I left after work last night and arrived here just before midnight.  So, ‘August and everything after’ actually begins here in Banner Elk.  Perfect.

Curtis and Megan and I stayed here in Dan’s new place.  I’m here now, just chillin’ and listening to Caedmon’s Call.

Mason and Marisa are back up here for school.  I went to visit Mason after Dan, Curtis, Allen and I went to Johnson City, TN to pick up our Tuxedos.  It was a fun little trip down the mountain.  I do love my friends.

While in Mason’s room I called Sarah, yes my old Sarah.  She came over and we found the time to go for a walk before she had to be in Highlanders.

The things we both said were beautiful.  She apologized.  I apologized.  We talked about rainbows.  I felt my heart beating loudly inside me.  I haven’t felt that in a very long time.  My eyes never left her as she performed during Highlanders.  Oh God, don’t let me get too weird while I’m here for this wedding.  You are changing Sarah, and I don’t want to get in the way.

The morning was spent with Dan’s family in a cottage near a place where I used to walk. I feel reborn.  I feel different.  I feel changed.  Thank you Jesus for this new beginning and may we do it again tomorrow.

Be with Sarah.  If it is your will, allow us to go for another walk again tonight.

Thank you for this weekend Jesus.  I love your forgiveness and salvation.

August 4, 2000 – Friday – 11:45 a.m.

I’m sitting on a slanted picnic table in a park near the Library and Community Center of Sterling, Virginia.  I left at 7:30 this morning to drive up here, because someone associated with a sister company of Acoustic Works is going to train me on Dreamweaver.

My meeting isn’t until 1:00 p.m., but I left early just to spend some time alone in a new town.  Three kids are playing loudly on the playground near me.  I’m glad they are happy.

I received Dan and Abigail’s wedding invitation in the mail.  It makes me both happy and sad.  Only Vince and I have yet to get married, and he is in Bolivia.

After Dan and Abigail’s wedding, I wonder if I should stop visiting Banner Elk.  I can so easily get stuck in the past.  It may be better for me to not see that land for a while.

. . .

I’ve sat here in silence for a while now.  I fear I have a broken heart.  I feel Jeni, Sarah, Emily, and Marie have each broken it in their own slight way.  But most of all, I feel I have broken it as well.

An older woman just brought two little blonde girls down to the playground, but then she turned around and walked away after she saw three Black kids playing on it.  And now the two white girls are sad and asking a bunch of questions.  They don’t understand why they can’t play.

Such a sight makes me so thankful I grew up with Marcus, Danny, and Peter.  And that I even had a Black youth pastor for a while.

Life seems to get harder as I grow older.  As a child, I would have never noticed the subtle racism I just experienced.

Jesus, you are my savior.  Am I living fully in your salvation?  Am I accepting all your mercy and forgiveness?  All I want is you.

When it comes down to it, I just want that treehouse covered in snow with the Braveheart soundtrack in my ear.  I want you all around me like that.

Can I have that everyday?

I just realized this is my second time in Sterling, VA.  The first time was with Rachel’s mom when she brought me up to Chrysalis in 1997.  In fact, that was exactly three years ago, for I remember it was in early August.

Is there any love left in me?

It feels like I’m losing all my friends.  I can never have Banner Elk and Lees-McRae again, so I should stop looking and waiting for it.

Do you still have a plan for me God?

Thank you for the leaf that just floated down and sat next to me.  I want more quiet moments alone with you.

Please don’t send me a girl if she’ll only distract me from you, or if I’ll distract her from you as well.  Too many hearts have been bruised.  I want to give all of my heart to you.

May 10, 2000 – Wednesday – 10:00 a.m.

Two years ago today I graduated from Lees-McRae!

I’m preparing to go to my second interview with Acoustic Works.  The first one went pretty well.  Then I’m going with Marie to the Regent Film Festival tonight.  I do love her dearly.  I read back on my time with Sarah and it hurt my heart to realize I was once so blind.  Thank you God for my salvation.

I don’t know who may be reading all these spiral-bound pondering, but I sure hope you are able to read it all.  Life can’t be summed up by one person in one day.  It is a process and we are all ever-changing.

Thank you for your forgiveness God.

The New Mexico trip has been cancelled.  Since my car broke down, I just need to work and save money.  So Dan isn’t going either, for it would be weird for him and Theresa to be out on the road alone.

Marie leaves on Saturday.  We won’t see each other for five weeks.

Oh, perfect Marie.

May I be worthy of her.

April 21, 2000 – Friday – 8:05 a.m.

I’m in Metuchen, New Jersey again.  And my recent days have been a learning experience.  On the 15th Marie and I drove to Banner Elk.  We visited Tracey’s and Lindy’s first.  Everyone heard we were there and then almost suddenly their living room was full of nearly 20 dear friends wanting to see me.   That was a bit overwhelming for Marie since most of them were girls.  Sarah even showed up and hugged me tightly.

Saturday night we saw Hamlet on campus.  What a wonderful production!  It had one of the most ambitious sets I’ve ever seen on that stage.  On Sunday morning we went to Banner Elk Christian Fellowship, then to hike on Grandfather Mountain, then to visit Leslie and her family, and then to visit Heaton, then to visit Sharon and her girls, and it was just a huge day.  And when I say “we,” I don’t mean Marie and I, I mean everyone, all my dear friends.  Needless to say, Marie got placed aside a bit.  I tried to get her to join in on the fun, but she didn’t.

We talked that evening, and she cried.  She cried because she felt so lonely.  She felt there was this huge world that she had to compete with.  And the next three days passed in that same fashion.  One of those days we drove with Sharon down to Asheville, and we realized that this world of Lees-McRae had already been defined for me.  I knew this place without Marie.  It felt natural for me to cling to them while in this land, for I had no memory of ever clinging to Marie in these mountains.

Marie’s world is three family-members.

Mine is 25 friends.

I never realized how unique my college experience was until I saw it overwhelm another soul.

I still got to see everyone and get caught up.  Curtis and Megan came down.  It was so weird to see them married.  Dan was there for two days, then he left to go snorkeling in the Florida Keys.  Vince is leaving on the 8th of May for Bolivia.  Allen is marrying Jessica in June.  Abigail and Tracey’s band is doing wonderful in the area.  Ann-Marie is moving down to Florida after graduation to work in a repertory theater.  Charlie and Kate are getting married on June 24th.

It was the last time Dan, Allen, Vince, Curtis, and myself would be together for at least the next two years.  And who knows… maybe forever.

Marie and I learned much about ourselves during our five days in Banner Elk.  We left on Thursday to drive up here to New Jersey.  We took the Blue Ridge Parkway until Roanoke and looked at that city a bit.  Then we took the Skyline Drive to Front Royal.

The drive through Shenandoah was beautiful and misty.  Then we drove through parts of Pennsylvania that I’ve never seen before.  I came down with a horrible head cold during the drive, and so here I am super sick in New Jersey.  I think they want to take me to their family doctor.

February 26, 2000 – Saturday – 10:14 a.m.

Life has recently been spent in rehearsal, class, work, and with Marie.  We had our most favorite special “friend day” yesterday on a little peer out at Munden Point Park.  It is a perfect place of reflecting light, green trees, and blue sky.  We were barefoot little kids playing in life-giving water and spitting on mosquitoes.  A perfect day, an eternal instant, we wanted to spend our entire lives there.

Sarah emailed me this past week.  I emailed her back and let her know that I did not want to continue to keep in touch, that it was not fair to Marie.

I spoke with Tracey this morning.  Charlie was punched in the face and knocked out cold by a resident.  He felt the school didn’t support him, so he quit his Residence Life job and left Lees-McRae.  He’s staying with his parents, but they don’t want him there.  Kate moved down to Franklin, NC with her parents who recently moved there.

Dan is back in Colorado.

Tracey and Abigail’s Seven Strangers band is making a demo tape.  Everything is supposedly going really well for that little band.

Vince and Natalie have spent the past two weeks in New York with Vince’s dad.

And Lindy is trying to get certified in aerobics.

The Regent community, or rather our small group of Communication School acquaintances, are beginning to put two and two together when it comes to Marie and I.  Many guys have asked Marie if she is seeing someone because she has this “certain glow.”

She tells them yes.

I think it is funny.

I applied for an office manager job for a children’s theater company in Norfolk.  I pray God blesses me with it.

Children are playing outside my window now.  It’s very clear that March begins in four days.  The sounds are in the air.

I apologized to Marie last night for kissing Jeni and Sarah.  I told her I wished I had waited for her alone.  I regret the words and phrases I have written in past journals about other girls, thinking and believing I wanted to spend my life with them, thinking and believing I loved them so deeply.

Forgive me God.  I wish I could erase those pages from my journal.

I love you Jesus.  Thank you for this redemption.  I place my past and my sin before you.  You are holy and beautiful.