July 9, 2000 – Sunday – 12:30 p.m.

I got home at 5:00 this morning.  I was up in Maryland returning Uncle Jeff’s truck back to him.  My roommate drove my new car up there and then we drove it back down together, but the alternator or battery or something messed up on us.  It’s a long story, but it took us one heck of a time getting back.  We were stopping and waiting.  We slept on the side of the interstate for a while.  We got stuck near Bowling Green, VA where we ate at the Chin Restaurant.  Actually it was the Chinese Inn, but so many letters were burnt out that it read ‘Chin.’

It feels like I’ve been all over Virginia and Maryland this week. Last weekend I camped out with Dan on the top of the mountain behind his house in West Virginia, then we spent the next day visiting Garrett County in Maryland.  I drove back on the 4th of July.

I also helped Kristen out with a CD-Rom she is working on.  She wanted to interview me about today’s youth since I lead 12 of them to Los Angeles nearly one year ago.

I’m sad that I didn’t get to visit Forefront Church this morning, but I was just too sleepy after our night on the highway.  Hopefully I can visit a week from today.

 

July 2, 2000 – Sunday – 8:10 a.m.

Well, at four o’clock yesterday afternoon I decided to go visit Dan in West Virginia.  I’ve never been here before.  It is a beautiful place full of lovely mountains.  My drive up was amazing.

Dan grew up in this awesome cabin-style house.  We went up to the top of the closest mountain last night and saw satellites floating high above.  The stars were so beautiful; there was no moon.

Dan told me that he and Abigail had talked about me and said that I seemed weirder since I left Lees-McRae.

I guess they’re right.

God I just want you to make me who you want me to be.

So it’s the 4th of July weekend and I’m in West Virginia.  Life is making less and less sense.  All seems to be fading away.  I guess I should stop expecting any of this to make sense.

I want adventure.  I want memories.  I want family.

What is keeping me from you God?  I give it up.  Take it from me.

June 18, 2000 – Sunday – 4:07 p.m.

The week went by fast.  Work is fun.  Dan and I play chess a lot in the evenings.  Marie returns on Tuesday.

Trey, Kristen, and Mike took me down to North Carolina to pick up my new used car.  It’s a white 1992 Chevy Cavalier.  It drives nicely.

While there we visited Clay’s parents Barbara and Clyde, but Barbara wasn’t there, only Clyde and Eric.  Funny stuff happened, so funny that it can’t be translated and explained into these pages.

We walked along the railroad tracks near my old house.  Everything was so green and the fireflies were out.  I always thought I grew up in a flat land, but after living in Virginia Beach for two years, I now see how beautiful the rolling hills of my youth were.  Thank you God for letting me spend my childhood there.  It is such a perfect and precious gift.  No doubt you put those railroad tracks there just for me to have a clear path to wander down.

I am nearly 24-years-old now God.  I see now that you have never left me.  I am overwhelmed by your patience and beauty.

Trey, Kristen, Mike, and I stopped at a Starbucks in Chapel Hill on Franklin St. on the way back.  I’m so glad I didn’t go to a big state school like UNC.  Part of me is still trying to get over Lees-McRae.  Part of me is trying to succeed here.  And part of me just wants to relax and let all the days fade away.

I can’t believe it is June.  I miss Marie and just want to have a good conversation with her.  It has been difficult to have those over the phone recently.  She doesn’t seem comfortable talking with her parents there.

Time is passing.  But I will go on.  I work.  I write.  I read.  And I wait.

I also remember.  And I try to forget.

June 10, 2000 – Saturday – 10:32 p.m.

I have just arrived back from Allen and Jessica’s wedding.  It was this morning during the  sunrise on the shores of Wildcat Lake near Lees-McRae.  My roommate Dan came with me; we rode with Justin, who is working up on the Eastern Shore this summer as a boat captain at a camp.  I was a groomsman, and it was a beautiful wedding.  It was so wonderful to see everyone, but Vince wasn’t there since he was down in Bolivia.

I even saw Sarah.  She had just returned from London and Paris.  She’s doing great!

Dan (not my roommate) and I had a great talk as we slept outside under the stars.  He and Abigail will marry on September 2nd.  Charlie and Kate’s wedding is in two weeks.

I learned so much this weekend.  It was very freeing to be around my friends, but it hurt Dan (my roommate) in perhaps the same way it hurt Marie.  On the drive back he confessed that he wished he hadn’t come along, for seeing me with my college buddies made him feel like he didn’t really have any good friends at all.

I thought everyone had a college experience similar to my own, but perhaps I was one of the lucky ones.

May 3, 2000 – Wednesday – 12:05 p.m.

I’m not in my room, I’m under a pine tree on Lake James Drive near Regent University.  I rode my bike here.  It is nice to get away from my room.

I’ve been reading Henderson The Rain King and have enjoyed it immensely.

Vince leaves the country in five days.  I’ve tried to call him, but he wasn’t home.  I’m now at the point of my life where I am no longer a full-time student, and, to be honest, I don’t know what to do with myself.  I’m trying to be patient.  I’m trying to wait on God.  I’m trying to get a job, but I don’t think I’m doing it very well.  I feel like I’m losing my identity.

Marie and I, well, it is obvious that our relationship is changing form.  God please have your way with us and melt all my insecurities away.  I have grown to not like who I am these days.  I have this opportunity to spend three weeks on the road with Dan and Theresa, and I think that would be good for me, but I feel like I should be trying to find a job though.  That pressure is mainly coming from Marie and her family.

For the first time in my life, I’ve met a mother who doesn’t like me.  After Marie’s mom spent more time with me, she thinks I’m the wrong one for Marie and she has told her as much.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that.  I’ve left my church to attend church with Marie, and Marie’s church just doesn’t believe the same things, spiritually speaking, that I do.

I feel as though I’m losing myself who I am.

I want to be with Marie.  I love her so much.  I guess all the differences and the road blocks scare me.  I’m just waiting to see what God is going to do.

I want to start working on more films, but I have this huge debt hanging over my head, so I feel I must put my focus on that.

An old married couple just rode by on their bikes.  Will I ever become that?

This is a nice little grove in the trees; similar to Emily’s crying place in Crestview, but that  has since been torn down to make way for suburban sprawl.

Perhaps I should put all my efforts toward doing video work on the mission field.  That way I can travel the world.

I want to drive out west and spend many days thinking and writing in my journal.

I miss writing in my journal.

I’m going to ride my bike around some more.

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.

April 22, 2000 – Saturday – 8:04 a.m.

Turns out I have an ear infection.  Bummer.

Everyone is still upstairs.  I don’t know what the plans are for the day, but I hope we go out and do something.

In a month’s time I’ll slowly be on my way to New Mexico.  How crazy this is!  I’m $4,000 in debt on my credit cards because of Dang!, I have to start paying back my school loans in November, and I’m riding off to New Mexico.

God, my life is in your hands.  You know my needs, and I know you are my provider.

Marie is doing wonderfully.  I love and adore her more deeply with each passing day.  I see her college graduation picture on the piano in front of me now.

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.

April 10, 2000 – Monday – 7:47 a.m.

I’m back in Virginia Beach now.  The weekend and the wedding was so great.  I’m getting to know Marie’s family better and I believe they really like me.  I can see future holidays being spent in their adorable home.  I’m seeing their strengths and their weaknesses, but overall the weekend brought Marie and I closer together.  I’m thankful for that.

It snowed up there yesterday.

After the wedding we had dinner at a Bob Evans in West Chester, PA with Marie’s friends Aimee and Simon.  Simon is from England.  We really hit it off.

It was so nice to make two new friends in a brand new town in a state I’ve only passed through before.

This Saturday on the 15th, Marie and I are going to Banner Elk.  I can’t wait for her to meet my friends!  How exciting!

God is blessing me like crazy through this beautiful woman.

Thank you sweet Jesus.

April 7, 2000 – Friday – 9:09 p.m.

I’m horrible at journal writing these days.

Right now though, I am in Metuchen, New Jersey.  I’m in Marie’s childhood home.  We had a wonderful dinner, and earlier I met some of Marie’s friends from when she was a teacher.

Looking back, I hardly know what has happened over the past week and a half.  I’ll try to slow down soon enough and really write.

But for now, Marie’s room is so adorable.  This entire house looks like the inside of a miniature doll’s house.  I always heard New Jersey was the armpit of America.  I never knew it could be so sweet.