December 30, 1999 – Thursday – 1:30 p.m.

It is nearing closing time for the 1990s.  Well, for the 1900s, for that matter.  Wow, and even for the 1000s.

I’m listening to the nine compilation tapes I’ve made since 1993.  I’m simply celebrating and saying goodbye to the decade in which I came of age and learned who I was.

Seven years ago I was thinking about Veronica while Marie was finishing her first semester at Easter College.  That seems unbelievable to me.

Part of me regrets being so childish at the age of 16, but I am now 23, and it seems there is nothing wrong with staying a child just a little while longer.

Six years ago I was dreaming about Emily.

Five years ago I was realizing that life was changing and that the past never again could be.

Four years ago I was remembering only the love of the mid-90s.

Three years ago I was visiting old friends in High Falls, NC and then slept through the final hours of 1996, missing Christi’s birthday party.

Two years ago I was contemplating over Sarah.

And last year I was sitting in a small RV, reflecting back on a year of transition.

In between each of those years, I wrote out my hearts and thoughts in these pages.  I often wonder if through that process I am creating a trap for myself.  Am I forging memories that I’ll never be able to escape from?

No matter.  As I look back on 1999, every action I took lead me to Marie, and she is all I want now.

The emotion of the past is losing its value in its battle with the present.

Moments in my younger years that would have taken up pages of journaling are hardly mentioned now.  I want to focus more now on my identity in Christ.  Hopefully, that change will take place.

There is a day and I half left in the ’90s.  Thank you Lord for these years.  Thank you for Chatham Central, Abundant Life, Lees-McRae, Heaton, Regent, and Parkway.  Thank you for North Carolina.

Thank you for forgiving me for all of my mistakes.  Thank you for redeeming me.  Thank you for my faith.  I see now that I do not own anything here.  Everything belongs to you.  Help me to move forward in all that you have prepared and to not live in this decade any longer.

Thank you for both the old and the new.

August 20, 1999 – Friday – 1:30 p.m.

I feel haunted by every moment.  Memories of these days here in Virginia Beach have already begun to linger in my mind and heart.  It seems I live every moment knowing it will never be again.  I do believe that true love lasts forever.  Veronica, Jeni, Emily, Sarah, these loves did not last forever.  Who they are now is not the person I once knew.  I’m sure I too have changed.

The summer is slowly closing, and I wish I could be back in the arms of Mary.  I wish I could sit above the city of dreams and overlook L.A.  I wish I could wake up once more under the thin slice of the Vermont moon.

I am missing days I haven’t even entered.

Oh to be 22 again.  To have just returned from Africa, to be working with the beautiful Dawn, to be sitting in class talking about movies, to be directing fifteen teens in a Christmas show.

I visited eleven new states while I was 22.

I miss the wife I have yet to meet.  Forgive me for looking for you in others’ hearts.

I want to sleep in the arms of the one who knows me.

April 12, 1998 – Sunday – 10:12 p.m.

I’ve been working on my Titanic paper all weekend.  It is really good, possibly better than my first draft that sunk into the Atlantic.  I’m excited about sharing it during my Omega presentation.

Sarah left Friday morning to go home.  I miss her.  Today I went into her room to bring my paper up on her computer to work on it since my word processor no longer works.  As an RD I have a master key to everyone’s room on campus, but she said I could be in her room without her there.  And, well, I kinda did a bad thing.  I found her journal and I read some of it.  She hasn’t written anything since February, but it helped me understand where she was coming from.  I do love her so much.  Most of her entries about me were simply her amazement that I could love her as much as I did.  She stood in awe of our relationship because there were no lies and no games.  She also wrote how she was afraid that I was very sexual, for it appears she wished we were going further physically than we have been.  I think perhaps Wednesday night may have proved her wrong, of course there was no sex, but…oh Sarah is simply amazing!  I now wish I hadn’t read that part, for I want so desperately to stay pure until marriage.  I fear this new knowledge may give me permission to let my hands wander.  Oh, what if Sarah and I tried this whole life together.  How much fun would that be.

Oh God, be with us.  Help us.  Bless us.

Reading her journal was such a blessing because it show me how God was using me to bless her life just like he was using her life to bless mine.

I think we really do make a lasting impact on those we are with, for I talked to Shirley, Veronica’s mom, yesterday.  Everyone seems to be doing fine.  Veronica wasn’t there for me to talk with her, but her mom did say that she was telling her current boyfriend about me and what a positive force I was in her life.

Every moment matters.

December 7, 1997 – Sunday – 11:00 a.m.

I am on duty, so I couldn’t go to church this morning.  I slept in on this morning and basically just abided in the Lord’s presence and thought about Him and my life.

My how things have changed.

Over the past five years my thoughts have changed from Veronica to Ryan to Christi to Jenna to Tenielle to Jeni to Christi to Syndi to Laura to Abigail to Jessica to Sherlive to Abigail and now to Sarah.

I called Marcus yesterday.  We had a great talk and I told him about Sarah.  He was amazed.

Sarah and I were at the basketball game together yesterday.  We talked about some pretty deep stuff last night.  She has so many stories inside her.  Some sad, some happy, some romantic, some hilarious.  And she is slowly telling all of them to me.

Our relationship is not a “boyfriend/girlfriend” relationship.  It is a “God has allowed us to share our existence together for a short while” relationship.

I am happy and very content.

I don’t see the other girls as much these days.  But like I said, “things change.”

Dan, Allen, Vince, Curtis, and Justin are the greatest guys in the world.  I’m living a wonderful life, and I’m living it for God.  Thank you for my salvation Lord!  Thank you for my life in you!  You are all that matters.

May 7, 1997 – Wednesday – 9:20 a.m.

Okay, let’s be honest.  I’m 20-years-old.  I am single.  I am not married.  I’ve only had two “so-called” girlfriends: Veronica and Jeni.  I’m not even sure Veronica counts (I kissed her once on the hand and once on the cheek), but our relationship felt more in God’s will than my relationship with Jeni.  Jeni and I never had sex, but my hands touched nearly every inch of her bare skin.

In this day and age, sex is everywhere.  My body longs to be intimate and sensual.  I fight it every day.  Nude women seem to fill up magazines and billboards.  It’s so hard to quench my desires.  I thank God that he hasn’t provided another girlfriend for me these past two years; I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

I have dreamed in this journal of my other half, my other self, or the other side of me.  I see now, that doesn’t exist.  I’ve learned that I alone have a purpose.  Two halves never make a whole; only a whole person in Christ and another whole person in Christ will make two people wholly each other in marriage.

I am me and Jesus has made me whole.  In Him, I am pure.  If God longs to place me in a relationship, then it will be done in his timing.  Love is too strong and it will kill me if I try to force it into being.  I must let love grow on its own.

April 13, 1997 – Sunday – 1:45 p.m.

I ran sound for the Dance Concert Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  It was one of the best concerts I’ve seen here.  Saturday morning, I called my brother Kevin.  We talked for over an hour.  The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful brother.  I love him to death.

I also called Veronica.  She lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  She is 15-years-old and in the 10th grade.  She still plans to be a doctor.  She sounded wonderful.  She even talked about the Lord.  Her heart is in the right place.

I talked to little Jasmine and to Sherry and Shirley.  She invited me to come and stay sometime.  Perhaps I’ll fly out there for Fall Break.  She told me Veronica was so amazingly beautiful.

I miss the innocence of those days.  I want to be pure.  To be innocent.

Saturday night I thought about calling up Jessica and going for a walk.  But I thought I should be alone.  So I began to walk towards Hemlock Hill in my solitude when I heard a tiny and beautiful “hello.”

It was Jessica.  We walked together as the sun set down behind the mountains.  I spent sometime in her room after the walk.  We ate popcorn and talked.  Abigail came in with her mom.  When she saw me she said, “It’s Jacob!” like she used to before I scared her away.  It was great to hear my name in her voice again.  We will be fine.

Everyone’s parents were here for the weekend to see the concert.  They were staying in the Pinnacle Inn.  I visited with them.  Ann-Marie’s, Abigail’s, and Tracey’s parents were all there.

The Water Gun Assassination Game is set up and all the sealed envelopes with everyone’s first assignment are under everyone’s door.  The game will start tomorrow.  I’m excited to see how it starts out.

I love you Lord.

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.

August 2, 1996 – Friday – 8:45 p.m.

I just did the most amazing thing.  I called Veronica.  Remember her?  In a month and half she turns 15-years-old.  She sounded older.  I didn’t recognize her voice.  She sounded beautiful.  They live in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  She told me it was really weird that I called her because she had just written me a letter two days ago, but hadn’t mailed it yet.  We had a fun conversation.  We laughed.  I talked to the rest of the family as well.  They are all doing great.

Then, Shirley asked me if I had any romantic relationships.  I told her no, then she went on and on about how beautiful and mature Veronica had become.  Shirley has gotten a job and works late, so Veronica cooks for the whole family and has become really good at it.

It was a great moment, simply to hear her voice again.

December 24, 1995 – 8:16 p.m. – Sunday

I’m at my dad’s parent’s house; in the same room I was for Thanksgiving.  I am bored and lonely.  So, I took out my wallet and took out all the pictures and began looking at them one by one.  I very rarely ever clean my wallet out, so there were a lot of old pictures of people from long ago.

I will list the people on those pictures, some names will appear more than once.  As you read each one (they should be familiar to you if you have read these Books of Days) think about the times we’ve had together.

Jenna and Tenielle

Jeni

Christi

Vicky and Jonathan

Jenna

Tenielle

Emily

Veronica

Kate and Jonathan

Brandon

Amy

Tammy and Sherry

Nana

Misty

Tenielle

Ryan, Cheryl, Christi, and Amy

Jenna

Nate

Sherry

Lisa

Tammy

Haley

Tim and Tammy

Veronica

So many names.  A full page.

I bought a camera this summer.  It cost me $170.  I take a lot of pictures.  I usually get a roll of 36 and take pictures over months.  I’m almost through with a roll of 36.

Every time I take a picture, it is like I’m illustrating my own story.  Some pictures go in my Books of Days; others go in my photo albums.  Only one picture listed on the other side of this page came from Lees-McRae: Jeni.

All of the others are from my ancient world of Siler City and Sanford.

What about the names from Banner Elk?  How long would that list of pictures be if I had them?

Charlie

Kate

Vince

Dan

Allen

Jeff

Mike

Curtis

Derek

Tracey

Sharon, Bob, Melissa, Laura, Hannah

Leslie, Doug, Crystal, Clifton

Marty & Stan

Rachel

Becky

Rebecca

Suzanne

Pat, Gary, Meredith, Caroline, Megan

I could fill up this page with tons of other names.  I spent a whole year with some of these people, yet when Christmas comes around they are no where around me, and I feel like I’m surrounded by strangers.

It is as if the joys of Christmas come when I am with them and December 25th is no where to be found.

I remember when Christmas Eve meant a night of excitement and sleeplessness.  Now tonight; there is nothing.

Last night, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life.  I’ve seen it dozens of times, but while watching it last night, I cried for the first time.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel incomplete.  I feel sad, lonely, and confused because I cannot find the other side of me.