September 20, 1995 – Wednesday – 3:37 p.m.

I have a little time now.

Kevin called me yesterday.  He sounded fine, but as we continued to talk I noticed something about his tone.  Then he said that he told our mom that he was never going to go home again.  I asked him what happened, but he said he couldn’t tell me.  But after a minute past, he began to pour it out.  My eyes were soaked in tears by the time our conversation was over.

During most of the month of August, while I was working at McDonald’s, spending every waking moment thinking about Emily, going to Florida, and then preparing to leave for college, all of this happened.  But Marcus and Kevin did not tell me.  Anyway, John, the youth pastor at Abundant Life Christian Center was concerned for Tenielle and my brother Kevin because they were such good friends.  He was concerned because Kevin is 20-years-old and Tenielle is only 13.

However, John and Tenielle became good friends, because Tenielle, not ever having a father in her life, always opens up to her youth pastor.  Tenielle began spending a lot of time over at John’s house.  They would joke around a lot, even wrestle each other.  John is over 40-years-old. John told Kevin that he has no business being close friends with anyone under the age of 18.  And John felt Kevin and Marcus were too old to be in the youth group, so he asked them to leave.

But what is most disturbing is that Kevin took a picture of Tenielle and John wrestling and John got really upset, saying that such a picture could get him fired if it got into the wrong hands.  Kevin also told me that sometimes when it was just him and John talking, John would say things like, “my wife is getting too fat, I’m going to have to divorce her and marry Tenielle.”  Then he would say he was just kidding, but you don’t joke around about such things.

I believe John has a problem.  He is over 40 and married to a wonderful woman who bore him five beautiful children.  He is a chef, an amazing trumpet player, and a youth pastor.  Why is he risking all of that?  When we talked at Kiwanis Park on the 30th of July, he told me he envied me because of my youth.  I believe John feels like he is trapped and that Tenielle is his ticket to freedom.  But he’s thinking so irrationally!  Tenielle didn’t die for his sins!!  Doesn’t he know what he’s looking for can only be found in Jesus?  The youth group at Abundant Life has practically disappeared.  Jenna does not go because she sees John as a liar; someone who tells Kevin to stop doing something that he is doing twice as worse.

There is more however.  John went to Mom and Clay about this and they both agreed, thinking that Kevin has a problem with young girls.  My own mother went so far as to say that he might even be sexually harassing John’s two little girls.  As he told me this, I grew sick in my stomach and cried.  My whole body ached.

Kevin is at college now.  He is completely turned off to our old church and our home.  Yet as I sat there with my phone to my ear, I told him that the best days our youth group has ever known were it’s days with Jason, when he was also leading our skit group.

Kevin agreed.

I told him that was the most perfect and pure time of my life.  Everyone was one body.  We were there for each other.  I told him that even now, in everything that I do, I strive to create or find days like the ones that began three years ago.

Does Jason know what he has done?  Does he realize the impact he has made on our lives?  Does he know?  What if those days are happening now and I don’t even realize.  Because three years ago, I didn’t realize they were going on.

Oh Father God!  Heal us all.  Heal my brother.  Heal John.

Help me realize the joy of today.

I adore you Lord!  You are the Ancient of Days!  And you are the giver of all of my days.  Everything I have ever loved about my home has passed away.

You are my home Lord.

I long to abide in you.

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July 31, 1995 – Monday – 8:53 p.m.

July 1995 is almost over.

August is a few hours away.

August will be amazing.  Yesterday itself was amazing.  I went to church, went to the fellowship, went to High Falls, then wen to Aberdeen with Brad, Michael, and Kenny to eat.

The fellowship was very special.  Wayne’s dad John, the current youth pastor, wasn’t having the best day.  There is something about John, he knows, he sees.  Perhaps he is a red light like Emily and I.  We spent some time talking.  He told me his problem and what was on his mind.  And knowing this was my last Sunday, he gave me some very great words of wisdom.  Like he said last year before I left:

“I envy you.”

He went on to tell me how he wished he would have pushed himself so much harder through college.  He told me to do it now.

“Do it all now.”

Really, only two or three pages have been turned in my very huge Book of Days.

His story is currently in the middle.  And I get the sense he’s not content with his life.

As I was about to leave, Marcus and 13-year-old Chris were just playing around and trying to throw each other to the ground.  I said to John, “You see that boy, he is going to be my age one day and you’re going to mean a lot to him.  Right now, all he is concerned about is throwing people on the ground, but when he is my age, he will want to lift them up, and that’s going to be because of you.”

John looked at me deeply and said, “Hug me before I cry.”

He held my body so tight.  And every fiber of he being seemed to scream out “PLEASE!!”

Please what?  I thought.

But I knew.

“Please, do it all now.”  He obviously has regrets and he doesn’t want me to.

Two or three pages.

Is that all?

Are nine books really just two or three pages?

My adventure is just beginning.

July 24, 1995 – Monday – 4:08 p.m.

Last night was my last Sunday night at church.  I will be away all of the other Sunday nights.  I have been a part of that youth group for six years.  The youth group itself began with a guy named Mike.  I was there at the ripe age of 13.  I have gone through all of the youth pastors:  Mike, Mark, Hank, Pastor Steve, Jason, Pastor Steve again, Shurby.  Shurby doesn’t do it anymore now either.

My greatest days were those with Jason.  He still inspires me even though he is not around.  But when he was here, I was 16-years-old and wanting to soak up anything I could that dealt with theater and drama.  Jason taught me so much.

But those wonderful days have faded away, just like all the rest.

These days, I strive to grow closer to God and closer to Emily.  I also was to succeed at everything I attempt during my time at Lees-McRae College.  Which reminds me…while at Fishnet ’95, Jonathan, one of the guys we met, told me about a film school in Virginia Beach.  Then the next day, while I was talking to one of the speakers, he mentioned the same film school, named Regent University that is sort of associated with CNN, a Christian cable network.  Anyway, since two people at Fishnet, on two back-to-back days, encouraged me to check out this film school, well, I think the Lord is trying to tell me something.

I will look into it.

Last night, on the way back from church, Marcus and I about got hit by a car.  So, we followed the car a little ways through Goldston.  Then another truck was following us.  Then finally, after the first car was long gone, we pulled over and the truck behind us stopped, got out and approached us.  It turned out, the drivers of the truck were the parents of the girl in the car we were following and they thought we were stalking her.  Evidently, she’s been having a lot of guys stalk her recently.  I thought it was a funny little misunderstanding, but Marcus got really shook up by the father accusing us.

Everything is okay; we all apologized.

I think I’m going to go to a MXPX concert tonight with Kevin and Marcus.  They are a Christian group that sounds like Greenday.  Hopefully I’ll have fun.

Ten more days until August 4th.

I got a letter from Emily a few days ago with a little hand-drawn map of how to get to her house.  In it was a little card that said this:

“Jacob,

It’s hard to believe you are coming here.  I may not let you leave.  My prince may never return.  I don’t want to lose you.

I’ve been doing really good lately.  I’m just so happy for no reason at all.  Nothing can bring me down from this natural, beautiful high I’m on.  I can’t wait to share it with you!  My anticipation burns inside me.  I can’t hide my smile.

I love you.

Emily”

I was right, on the directions I noticed a bridge I had to cross.

June 11, 1995 – Sunday – 11:30 p.m.

Today was a unique day.  First of all, my parents weren’t here at all this weekend.  Henry, mom, and Nate went to Washington, D.C. to see Patty.  Se, with out them things can get a little crazy.  I woke up to find a pile of crap in our bathtub.  It seems our three-legged-cat left a deposit of stinking, digested, 9-Lives Dinner & Lunch Entree in our tub.  It stunk up the whole house.  It took Kevin and I about 40 minutes to get it out.  I almost threw up.  It was so gross.

Marcus took us all to church, but Jonathan had to work, so we dropped him off at Subway.  Church was great.  Pastor Steve talked about becoming a man of God.  It inspired me greatly.  It’s time to begin.  Cheryl was there and she gave me a letter.  She apologized and said that we both have changed, not for better or for worse, but that people grow and people change.  She said that she loved me and she can still see that am I still me, despite however the past year of college grew me as a person.

That letter meant the world to me.  I’m sorry Cheryl.  She also let me borrow her copy of The Lion King.  Kevin went over to the Neals.  Marcus had to work, so the only people here at the house was A.D. and I.  We watched the movie.  I enjoyed it just as much as the other five times I had seen it.  Afterwards, A.D. and I played water guns inside the house and soaked each other as well as everything else that got caught in the crossfire.  We cleaned it all up and then picked Marcus up around 4 o’clock.  We went to pick Jonathan up from work, then the four of us went to Wal-Mart and played Hide & Go Seek.  We had a blast.  But looking around for each other made us look like shoplifters, and some of the staff were looking as us pretty nastily, so we left.  I bought some boxers, just to show that we weren’t trying to steal anything.

It had been raining all afternoon, so we went to Kiwanis park and played in the rain and the mud.  The four of us took off our socks and shoes and waded around in the flooding trails.  We all had a good laugh.

We returned to church that night.  Youth group was rough.  There were some very spiritually immature young kids acting up.  There were moments when I would look over at Tenielle.  Man, I miss her.  So, after the service, I asked her if I could talk to her. She nodded and we went into a room and I said, “Tenielle, I miss you and I love you and I’m sorry.  Please hug me.”

She smiled and hugged me.  I was happy.  I told her that it was so hard to be myself when I am living between two worlds.

I leave my home to go back home in 63 days.

I tried to call Emily when I got home, but she was babysitting at another house.  Those lucky kids!

Deep Creek, Fishnet, and Crestview are coming.  I will soon see Emily smile.  But before that I need to find my own smile and I can only find that in God.  In his presence.  In his house.

Sanford.

Siler City.

Crestview.

Banner Elk.

Heaven.

May 28, 1995 – Sunday – 11:55 p.m.

It has been a wonderful day!

The fellowship was cancelled due to rain, so I just came home after church this morning.  Jenna and Tenielle were there as always and they were wonderful.  It is so good to be here with them.  I am watching them grow up!

Jonathan and I went to High Falls, to go to the youth group there.  Lisa showed up, but holy cow, she got married!  Her husband wasn’t with her though.  We talked about the people we graduated with and what they were doing.  We’ve all gone our separate ways.  Thank you Jesus!

It was good to see the old gang.  We had a great talk and I can’t wait to attend Fishnet with them.  It will be wonderful!

We left early so that we could be at church on time.  Jonathan and I had a good time driving this evening.  He is a great friend.

Church tonight was awesome!  Shurby preached.  He prayed for Jonathan and Jonathan got set free, again!  I prayed in the spirit so hard behind him.  Then I began to cry and I couldn’t stop.

Jonathan.  Such a precious life.  Help me help him Lord.

After the evening service, he and I went to Christi’s house.  She was home with her dad.  The four of us had the greatest time.  She had the skit group video.  We watched it.  It was so beautiful.

Christi; she always seems to pop up and then that weird feeling returns.  Thank you Lord for this little mystery.

May 22, 1995 – Monday – 8:35 p.m.

Some things have happened.  Let’s begin with Friday:

Jonathan came home from work.  It was Friday night and neither one of us wanted to stay home.  We drove to Sanford hoping to find someone to hang out with.  First we went to Christi’s, but only her mom was home.  No one was home at Ryan and Amy’s house so we went to Cheryl’s.  She was home.  Her and Adrienne were going to do something, so we tagged along.  We went to Cary, near Raleigh and ate out at the mall and walked around.  I joked around a little bit and it seemed to upset Cheryl.  She is not the same Cheryl.  Perhaps I am not the same Jacob, either.  But I very much feel like me.

I bought a tape on my Discover card and we came home.  Jonathan saw an old gas sign by the dumpster and we went and picked it up.  He and I had more fun unscrewing that sign from it’s post so we could fit it into his car than we did walking around a strange mall with Cheryl and Adrienne.

I worked Saturday morning.  That night, Kevin and A.D. and I went to see a movie in Asheboro.  We saw Die Hard with a Vengeance.  It was pretty funny and full of action, but I hate all of that cussing.

Church was wonderful on Sunday.  It was great to hear Pastor Steve preach.  After church, Jonathan and I went to a girl’s house named Faith.  Mandy and Dana met us there.  We all decided to go to Jordan Lake.  I know while we were at the beach, I thought Mandy was ugly, but seeing her yesterday, well, she seemed quite attractive.  I guess I do see what Jonathan sees in her.  They appear to be doing great!

We picked up Faith’s boyfriend Chris on our way to the lake.  Overall it was a good time and it’s good to know that those girls will be around to hang out more often.  Thank you for them Lord.

Jonathan met Mandy at Myrtle Beach in October of ’94.  Dana is single like me.  We get along okay.  They showed us the pictures from the beach; they looked great!

Jonathan and I returned in time to go to church that night.  I went into the youth group just to see the old gang, but it isn’t the same group of people anymore.  I wonder if there is anything more fleeting than a church youth group.

And today, Monday, I went to work.  I had a great time.  Mike was there and we joked around the whole time.  Time flew by, and it’s great to know that I get paid to have fun.  Thank you Lord for my job.

And I came home to find a letter in the mailbox from Emily.  It was short and sweet.  She gave me a little heart to put into my wallet to remind me that someone loves me.  I’m sure that someone is her.

Mike came over and he and I plus Jonathan and Nate played water guns outside.

Big kids.  That’s all we are.

I wish I could see Emily.

I wish I could hold her.

I wish.

March 8, 1995 – Wednesday – 2:10 p.m.

Another day.

Last night I got a call from Jeni.

“Hey, can I come up and study with you?” she asked in a happy voice.

It turns out she was in the lobby, so I let her come up.  The first thing she said was, “I just want you to know that I’m here and I’m your friend and I’m sorry about what happened at lunch.”

We studied.  We studied different subjects, but still, we studied.  And we talked.  We’re okay.  She wrote me an email message earlier today, simply wishing me luck and fun over spring break.  I replied with a simple, “thanks.”

My mom tells me that she won’t be able to pick me up until eight o’clock tomorrow night.  So, I talked with Richard and he says that he can take me as far as Greensboro.  I called mom today, but she is making me stay at the Red Carpet Inn in Greensboro since she can’t come and get me.

The Red Carpet Inn is owned by some relatives of Danny and Peter.  Mom would pick me up about three hours after I arrive there.  I don’t want to do that, but she is making me.

On top of that, I asked Charlie if I could go to the youth services tonight, but he said that some people in the church were making a big deal about me being there.  I’m college age and the groups are for high school and middle school.  He told me it would be better if I didn’t go and just waited until the skit group got started.

It really hurt.  Something was placed in my hands and then snatched away.

Why God?  Why these faces?  Why such love in this place?

Since there is so much love, why can’t a tiny bit of it be given to me?

When I woke up it was raining.  Then the rain turned into a thunder storm.  It began to thunder and lightning.  Then it grew colder and the rain turned to sleet, but it was still lightning.  As it grew colder, the sleet turned to snow and the lightning stopped.

Now, as I look outside, all I see is the freezing white snow on top of the dead grass.

There is no lightning in the air.

But there is Emily’s letter on the dresser beside me.  Oh, how I wish a storm would blow me away to Crestview, Florida.

I think about you all the time Emily.