“I’m so glad that you and your mom were able to come down for Christmas,” I say to Mike as we walk the dark, quiet streets of Rodanthe, a small beach town on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
His lips turn up into that grin that makes my belly do crazy little flips. “Me too,” he says, “it was really nice of your dad and Renee to invite us.” He wraps his strong, warm hand around mine. I feel the warmth through my whole body. “It’s amazing, how God can take the worst possible situations and use them for our good.”
Not trusting my self to speak, I squeeze his hand and smile. This is the guy who six months ago told me he didn’t believe in God. The guy who drove four hundred miles just to see me after the unthinkable happened one night on a deserted beach. The guy who found his way back to God, and helped me do the same, when I turned from Him.
We were hoping to find more homes decorated for Christmas, but most in this vacation town are empty, dark and still. The ocean winds are unseasonably warm, and I’m thankful to be out on Christmas Eve wearing jeans, a turtleneck and hooded sweatshirt. We stop to admire one of the few homes dressed up for the holidays. White lights outline the house and the sailboat sitting on a trailer in its driveway. Bing Crosby’s duet with David Bowie, Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy wafts in the salty air.
I’m overwhelmed with love for God; for Mike and his mom; and for my dad and Renee, his new wife. God brought us all together this summer—using what I thought would destroy me—to give me what I had always wanted: a warm, loving family, an amazing boyfriend who loves me unconditionally, and a few truly wonderful friends.
With so few homes decorated, we head to the beach. “You up to this?” he asks.
I smile at his concern. “Yes, absolutely… I have a sudden need to sit on the beach, feel the wind blowing in my face and through my hair.” We trudge through the sand as sea oats dance in the semi-warm breeze. I feel a fluttering across my abdomen. I stop, and press my free hand against my ever increasing girth.
“Are you okay?” Mike asks.
I sigh and look up into his dark, caring eyes. “Yeah, I think I felt the baby move.” Shame washes over me and I turn my gaze away.
He places his hands on my abdomen, fanning out his fingers. I feel God’s love in Mike’s tender smile.
We clear the dunes, and in front of us waves crash to the beach. Sparkling diamonds blanket the ink black sky. “Wow…” we say in unison.
We sit in the sand, take off our sneakers and let the cold, salty water lick our toes. He clears his throat. “You amaze me, Sara,” he says. “You’re the strongest, bravest girl I’ve ever known.”
“Thank you, but I am the farthest thing from brave. Soldiers are brave, so are firemen, and policemen. Me, I’m just stupid. He set me up and I walked right into his trap,” I say of the man who took from me what wasn’t his to take. “And any strength I have comes from God, and having your support. And dad’s and Renee’s.”
“That’s not how I see it,” he says.
We look out at the diamond studded night that goes on forever. “And the heavens declare his workmanship,” I say.
“Amen,” he says, and we both smile.
A star shoots by and I’m filled with awe. Then another. And another. It seems like God is showing off, just for us. I can almost see Him smiling. One star shines brighter than the rest, and gets brighter and bigger before our eyes.
Mike grins, looks at me. “Do you see what I see?”
I shake my head and giggle.
“I wonder if this is how the shepherds felt,” he says. He puts his arm around my shoulder and draws me close. “It’s been years since I’ve felt such peace at Christmas.”
“Me too.” The star dims a little, shrinks a little, but is still an awesome sight.
Mike stands and reaches down for my hand. “Well, we might not have found many houses decorated,” he looks up, “but this is the most spectacular display of Christmas lights I’ve ever seen.”
“Indeed.” I couldn’t agree more.
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