June 8, 1997 – Sunday – 5:23 p.m.

Yeah baby!  The weekend was so great!  I am a Promise Keeper!!  A stadium of 60,000 Christian men singing praises to one God!  A night spent in a beautiful Victorian Bed & Breakfast!  Charlie, Vince, and Allen right next to me, plus new friends I made from the trip!  Whew, walls were torn down.

Redemption!  I am free at last!

I will live in purity.  I will read, pray, and fellowship!  I am alive in Christ!!

When I returned home I read chapter 17 from Max Lucado’s God Came NearEternal Instants.  You know, the moments so perfect that the whole universe stands still to notice.  I can think of many right now, and I’ve only been alive for a little over 20 years.

Sitting in the treehouse on Hemlock Hill on a snowy night listening to Braveheart.

Crystal rubbing my neck at the drive-in in Tennessee.

Talking to Emily under the boardwalk in Ft. Walton Beach.

Touching Abigail’s face in McAlister room 206 on Lees-McRae’s campus.

Kissing Jeni in Cincinnati, Ohio while listening to The Wedding Song by Kenny G.

Playing underneath the full moon with Dan and Allen on the back side of Grandfather Mountain.

Holding a curled up Tenielle on her bathroom floor.

Performing “The Mask Skit” at Abundant Life Christian Center.

Eating Wheat Thins and slowly falling asleep next to Jessica under God’s open starry sky.

Playing water guns with Jonathan, Mike, Marcus, and Kevin.

Tubing down Deep Creek with Danny and Peter.

Holding Syndi under the waterfall.

Passing a car in the turning lane with Jonathan.

Helping a lost boy find his mother at Fishnet.

Playing Myst with Vince in New York.

Helping Ryan in and out of the corner tree.

Standing next to the Grand Canyon with Brandon.

Graduating high school and seeing Renee smile at me.

Signing my way through Children of A Lesser God.

Singing with 60,000 men in Knoxville.

And that eternal instant right before I fall asleep each night, when I reflect on the beauty of each amazing day!

Oh wait, and how could I forget, perhaps the most perfect moment of all, riding back from Tennessee with Sharon as Hannah fell asleep in my lap.

May 9, 1997 – Friday – 10:00 a.m.

On Wednesday I had a dentist appointment.  I’m gonna get four wisdom teeth removed on the 19th of this month.  Mom and I went shopping for some clothes for me.

Church was that night.  Pastor Steve seemed so happy to see me.  The church was full of strangers.  I’ve been away a long time.

Yesterday, I went to pick Kevin up in Fayetteville.  We drove around to look at cars; he needs to get one before he goes to Richmond.

That night we met up with Danny and Peter.  The four of us went Asheboro to see Liar, Liar.  We spent about an hour at the Golden Waffle eating and sipping on hot chocolate.  We’ve known each other for 15 years now.

Fifteen years.

Wow!

I’m concerned for them though.  They don’t know the Lord and come from a Hindu background.  They went to church with us when they were really little, and I remember Danny accepting Jesus at a Royal Rangers meeting, but now that they are in their 20s, it doesn’t seem like they believe anything.  Make yourself real to them God.  Use me.

Curtis just called me.  I’m flying out of Raleigh tonight.  I’ll meet him in Atlanta, then we’ll drive down to Florida in the morning.

For the first time, it is becoming difficult to call and visit old friends.  Marcus has come by to visit.  He is himself and wonderful, but it’s hard to go see Jenna and Tenielle.  I’m not sure that I want to see Jenna pregnant.  I would rather just thank God for my past and then move on into the future.  But I also know me, and I’m sure I’ll see them before I go away for another six months.

Another semester has faded into the past and I’d like to write down my most favorite moments from it.  These are not in any particular order of importance or value, they are all the same.

First, it was the moment right after our final Children of a Lesser God performance when I realized what I had accomplished.

Second, touching Abigail’s face.

Third, seeing the sparkling jellyfish at the Florida Aquarium.

Fourth, walking alone with the geese during the sunset in Ahoskie.

Fifth, sleeping out under the stars with Jessica.

And finally, those countless times when Vince, Dan, Allen, Curtis, and myself would lay around and talk about life, love, and other mysteries.  I may not meet my wife at Lees-McRae, but I already know I’ve found friends that will last a lifetime.

March 23, 1997 – Sunday – 4:15 p.m.

Three years ago on this evening, I was sitting in Abundant Life Christian Center.  Jenna was sitting to the lift of me and I drew a picture of her foot in my Book of Days.  Jenna is now 17 and today I talked with her and her sister on the phone.

May 10, 1997.

October 1, 1997.

The first date is when Jenna will marry a young man named Herb.  The second date is when she will give birth to her first baby.

Jenna is now three months pregnant.

Jenna.

U & I.

The Female Bird.

Jenna.

The girl who always hugged me.  My sister and wonderful friend.  She had sex with a guy I’ve never even met, but I didn’t hear this from Jenna, no I heard it from Tenielle, who just recently got over pneumonia.  She said she cried for five days straight when she found out.

Well, there it is.

Oceans still move.

Waves still crash.

I tried to give advice and speak life to Tenielle, but she basically told me to shut up.  “You haven’t been here Jacob!  You don’t know!  You have no idea.”

And she was right.

I have been here and I know nothing of their life now.  To me, Jenna is still 14.  Tenielle is still 12.  And that ancient girl Veronica will never be anything other than 11.

On May 3, 1994 I wrote:  “My Book of Days will never cease.  I will write until the Lord comes back.  And when I read this stuff when I’m 80, I wonder what I will think.  Will I cry?  Will I know Jenna and Tenielle then?  Christi and Ryan were once important to me and I hardly know them now.  Why do I still mention their names?  Why does Veronica suddenly pop into my head sometimes whenever I’m driving down the road alone?  Is this going to happen the rest of my life?  Or will I forget?”

I don’t need to wait until I’m 80.  Here I am at 20, nearly in tears.

Jenna, no matter what happens, I will still love you and long to hug you.

February 27, 1997 – Thursday – 10:00 a.m.

Today is Curtis’ 21st birthday!

On Tuesday, Jessica and I went for a long hike to the top of a nearby mountain.  We had a good time.  She’s so delightful to spend time with and has such a bright future ahead of her.

Last night, or rather all of yesterday, Abigail…well she…she has become a very dear friend.  We continue to grow closer.  Last night Jeni and she and I prayed again together.  Abigail rested her head on my knee and ran her thumb up and down my fingers as she held my hand.

She has me.

I wonder if she knows it.

Four years ago, I was questioning love.  Veronica was on my mind.  And in reality, I had no idea.

Four years.

Veronica, Ryan, Christi, Jenna, Tenielle, Jeni, Emily, Syndi, Laura, Abigail…

These are the girls who have taught me the most.

Not only have I touched her face, but she tells me that I have touched her heart.  She is not another Ryan or Christi, she is simply my Abigail.  This list will continue to grow and no name will ever disappear.  I want our goodbye to be painful.  I want this to hurt.  I need this to hurt.

I need to share my heart.

December 18, 1996 – Wednesday – 10:00 p.m.

Church was so awesome tonight.  Pastor Steve is the greatest teacher.  I got a chance to visit with him after the service.  Jenna and Tenielle were there.  They hugged me like they always do.  They are leaving for New Jersey on Friday.  They haven’t been back there in six years.

Romans 5:1-2, amazing!

Oh God.

I want it all!

I want all of you!

Change my way of thinking.

I don’t have to wait for heaven.

I can have it all now!

 

December 16, 1996 – Monday – 1:00 a.m.

After my last entry, I took Nate and David to church so they could go caroling with the youth group.  Can you believe little Nate is in the youth group?

After I dropped them off, I went to fill the car up with gas.  From there, I called Tenielle.  I told her I was coming to see her and that we would go for ride.

I drove into their driveway and three guys I had never seen before were out there working on their car.  I nodded and said “hi.”  They nodded as I walked by and one said, “kick his butt David.”

I kept walking.

Once inside, I saw Jenna.  She was wearing a skimpy little top.  She looked grown up, but I knew she was still only a little girl.  Tenielle came into the living room.  There she was, it was her.  I asked her who was outside.

“Herb is Jenna’s boyfriend and David is mine,” she said.

David, I didn’t know about a David.  But all of her boyfriends are simply games, I didn’t worry about it.

We left.  We went to San Lee park and walked and talked.  She smoked in front of me and acted super weird.

“I can’t act the same way around you Jacob.”  She said.

I told her I didn’t want her to ruin her life and that I wanted her to stay close to the Lord.

She isn’t the same person, but she says I’m the same.

“Everybody changes except for Jacob!!” she shouted to the world while we were walking.

I took some pictures of her.  Good pictures.

The park was closing, so we left and went to the park where Veronica used to live.  The last time we were there Jenna was with us.  That park is near the forest that was chopped down.  That wood pile was still there.  Tenielle and I stood on it with our arms around each other as the sun went down and God painted pink on the evening sky.

We were there on January 4, 1996 and we were there on December 15, 1996.  That is how we opened and closed that part of our history.

I took her home and we smiled and said our goodbyes.

I drove down to High Falls and went to their youth meeting.  They told me about Fishnet; how I wish I could have gone.

When I got home, I called Mike’s house and found out he was working at Movie Max.  I went there to see him and then we went to Asheboro to see Jerry Maquire.  Wow.  That movie had me from beginning to end.  And it ended beautifully, “love your wife.”  I left nearly in tears.

“Everybody changes except for Jacob!!”

That can’t be true, can it?

December 5, 1996 – Thursday – 11:20 p.m.

I am nearing the end of my final week of classes.  The last day is tomorrow.  All my class work and final exams have been finished except for three projects.  I leave on Wednesday.  Timothy is going to take me home.  He lives in Randleman, so hopefully we will meet over the break and hang out.

I called Tenielle tonight.  She is waiting for me to return.  She told me that Cheryl doesn’t come to church anymore.  She still smokes, so that’s a bummer, but I can’t wait to hold her.  I told her I was scared about coming home.  I feel like a stranger to that world.

“You’re not a stranger to me.” she said.

Come this Sunday, I will have known Tenielle for three years.  She is 15-years-old.  She has seen too much for such a young girl.

I’ve been stage managing the Christmas show the past couple of nights.  It’s kinda fun; in fact really fun.

It snowed tonight.  The ground is covered.  Christmas time has come again.  I will spend it with family in Virginia.  I can’t believe 1997 is creeping up behind us.

Where suddenly have I gone?

Am I the same person I was when I first met Tenielle?  Am I the same person I was last year?

All the performing arts students make candle light wishes in front of the audience at the end of the show.  I wonder what I’ll wish for…