The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater
Is this really happening?
I surveyed the scene around me as an observer, despite my role as the primary participant. The delicate gown of ivory lace hanging from a cupboard door whispered reality. My bridesmaids sharing a mirror to apply makeup nodded at me in confirmation. A few close friends conversing over croissant sandwiches and grapes solidified the certainty of this remarkable day. My youngest granddaughter attempted first steps on wobbling legs.
At forty-seven, starting over after two failed marriages seemed frivolous and impossible even for an optimist like me. I believed God could do incredible things, but marriage a third time? After my previous heartbreak, marriage seemed like an attempt to grasp a school girl’s dream.
Only now it wasn’t merely a dream. It was becoming a reality.
God was offering me another chance at life with my soul mate. Yet the process of getting here hadn’t been an easy one. It took faith, prayer and patience.
Even with my adventurous and hopeful spirit, I still couldn’t have conceived of the enterprise embarked on years previous to this moment. And I never imagined God would use the internet to introduce me to Brendan, my amazing man from Australia.
Yet here I stood with the sun’s descent casting fragile streams of light through the upstairs window of the church. My attendants circled me, arms outstretched to adorn me with bridal blessings before I joined my life with Brendan for the remaining years we had.
My three daughters squeezed in close. The eldest, Vici, already a wife of two years and Ashley, my youngest, the twenty-one year old “baby” flanked my soon-to-be stepdaughter, eight year old Bella. They brushed elbows with my dearest friends, all participating in the momentous evening. Tears threatened my mascara, and I breathed deeply, both to keep them from spilling over and to calm my eager heart.
All eyes closed, but I peeked again at my homemade spider orchid bouquet. Can you love flowers? Every time I visually caressed the creamy burgundy tinged petals, I thought I love my bouquet! And I thrilled at my dress and my bridesmaids’ dresses and the wonderful people taking such great care of me. This aged school girl released a contented sigh.
Closing my eyes, I forced my mind to concentrate on the words being spoken. I wanted so badly to remember as much as I could about this beautiful night of redemption and hope, the culmination of miracle upon miracle. My soul soared, my heart spilled over with love, and songs of worship played in my mind. Songs that I knew provided the background to our slideshow which entertained friends and family as they gathered downstairs in the sanctuary, preparing to celebrate with us.
In a few minutes, I would walk down the aisle on the arms of my two grown sons, Josh, the eldest and Chris, my towering younger boy, toward the man of my dreams.
Only You could have pulled this off, God.
I had been single for only a year and a half when a friend asked if I would ever consider marrying again. A longing stirred in my heart, but I wasn’t so sure. Twenty-one accumulated years of two devastating marriages made me hesitate to answer her. Something in me wanted to hope that marriage held possibility, but my wounded heart felt like it had sustained a bad sunburn still too tender to touch. Marriage was a risk I wasn’t sure I was ready to take. Again.
However, when this new friend shared her romantic, divorced-mom-of-three story, it kindled a small, warming flame of hope. Like many others, from the time I was a young girl, I dreamed of romance and a life shared with my “soul mate.” I watched hundreds of movies depicting boy-meets-girl adventures and wished they could be my life. I confess I wanted a story that would defy everyone who ever told me I was unrealistic, idealistic or a dreamer. Deep down I believed God meant us to have that kind of romance—that He created it in the first place. Wasn’t it His good plan for man not to be alone?
The flame flickered in my heart, and I wondered if maybe that could still happen for me. Some day? But it certainly would take a miracle. Being alone at that point trumped the marital distress I had previously experienced.
Voices of the Past
The day Aimee Wells dreamed of and dreaded for ten years arrived without warning.
The nautical sign of Ocean Front Properties shifted with the breeze as the front door closed, sending a brush of air to chill her, despite the warm spring day. Her routine message checking paused. A momentary sense her life was about to change wafted over her with the draft.
Slipping the office phone back into its place, she stared at a growing silhouette now eclipsing the sun which streaked through paned windows.
The apparition towered over the edge of her pristine, mahogany desk. The dusky green of his eyes flashed in her mind before she looked.
It couldn’t be.
She drew in a shaky breath when she realized she’d stopped. Her heart pounded in her ears.
“Aimee?” It spoke. The room tilted.
She lifted her gaze, catching the familiar dark jeans and casual olive T-shirt before looking him in the eyes.
His piercing stare held her like a magnet. Monday morning office bustle became a swarm of bees around her head. Her surroundings heightened in clarity and became the trailer of a movie she viewed outside herself. An agent with a sheaf of papers hustled past her desk. The aroma of coffee lingered. Sun bounced off the dove gray front wall and shown on papers spread out like a pieced quilt over the rich brown of a nearby desk.
The room spun. If she had been standing she was sure her knees would have given out. She remembered the first time he had gazed across the room at her fifteen years earlier. In those days, she had expected to be dazzled by his attention, but now? She was a grown woman in control of her life.
But electricity coursed through her now as it had then.
Except now there was something else.
A black hole threatened to swallow her, spinning her out of control, sucking her into its depths.
“Chase.” His name escaped with the second breath she had been holding. Her neck strained as she looked up at him. He seemed taller than she remembered.
“It’s been a long time, Aimee.”
She fought to draw in a breath. The reception area blurred.
Scenes assaulted her mind. The fatal curve on Highway 101 came into view. Her parents’ mangled sedan smeared with blood. Her mind frantically attempted to piece together something tangible, real, normal. Where was Chase? She needed him. She called. Why wouldn’t he answer? She couldn’t remember.
“Aimee?” Her name echoed from far away.
“Aimee! Look at me. Please.” A different voice.
Aimee dragged her gaze to Liz’s blurry face. She stared hard to bring her friend into focus.
Maybe it was all a dream.
“Come with me. Let’s go to the conference room. Come on.” Liz pulled Aimee up and guided her by the elbow.
“Can someone get the phones, please?” Liz begged of the three other agents on the floor.
In the enclosed office, a round mahogany table centered the room. Aimee dropped onto one of the four straight back chairs circling the table.
“Here, drink this.” Liz handed her a cup.
She sipped the chilled water and fought against the visions contending for attention in her mind. Calla lilies replaced the auto wreckage. Caskets lowered into the ground. Unanswered messages she left Chase replayed in her head.
“Liz! He was here. Standing in front of my desk. Just now. Did I imagine it?” Aimee whipped her head around to look through the conference room window.
“No, you didn’t. He’s here. Pacing in the reception area.” Liz tossed a glance over her shoulder and nodded.
“I don’t understand. What’s he doing here?”
“I don’t know. When I walked in and saw you, I knew something had triggered you again. I didn’t even realize who he was until I grabbed you. I thought you were going to faint.”
“It feels like it happened only yesterday.” Aimee expelled the choked whisper.
“I know, sweetheart. I’m sorry.” Her serious, dark eyes showed compassion for her friend.
“I thought I was over it. But then everything rushes back so unexpectedly.” Aimee tried to explain what she didn’t understand herself.
“It’s okay, Aimee. We’ll sit here where it’s quiet for a little while. I’m so sorry.”
A shiver shook her slender frame. She drew in a breath to steady herself and looked at Liz.
“I’ll be okay. Really.” She took another sip of water.
“I wonder where he came from. All these years, I never heard a thing. Not even from his parents. I mean, I know they never liked me, but given the circumstances, I’d have thought they’d have told me something.”
“Well, you know what I think about that.” Liz snorted with uncharacteristic disdain. “I never trusted Mr. Thomas.”
Aimee shook her head, trying to clear the remnants of memories.
“I don’t know what to think. I wonder what he wants? I’ve made a new life for myself and the kids now. And it doesn’t include either of the men I once believed in.”
“True. I don’t know anyone who has worked as hard and been as devoted to taking care of her family as you have. Of course, you have had some help. A boss who’s been flexible with your parenting schedule. And Dorothy to sit with the kids and love them like your mom would have. I don’t think you literally running into her was simply a coincidence.”
“I know. You’re right. I’m sure God made all those things fall into place so “coincidentally.” It’s just that I still don’t understand why he would take so much from me. I mean I followed him. Did all the right things. Then in a moment everything changed.”
Aimee pushed away the engulfing sorrow that threatened.
“I can’t dwell on it anymore. It’s gone. Done. Past is past and there’s no reason to talk about it,” she stated with more resolve than she felt.
“Besides, whatever’s up with Chase, I’m sure it has nothing to do with me. He probably put me out of his mind as soon as he left town. Maybe his parents were right. What did he need with a naïve, youngster still in school?”
Liz watched Aimee’s face and listened.
“I guess that’s why he’s still here, watching you through the window like you’re in labor. Aimee, I was there, remember? I saw what you two had together. You’re drawing conclusions because you don’t know the whole picture. I get it. But I also know you. There’s still a broken hearted girl in that big girl body. You can’t fool me. I’m not pushing, but remember, I love you enough to tell you the truth.”
“Thanks, Liz. How would I have survived without you? No one could have a better friend.”
“Same goes.” Liz embraced Aimee with a squeeze of affection.
Aimee started to open the conference door, but turned back.
“What do I say to him? Especially now that I practically fainted at his feet.”
“Well, I guess you could start with ‘hello.’”
“Thanks. Some help you are.” Aimee rolled her eyes. She doubted it would be that easy.
While the women sorted through the past in the conference room, Chase paced the small reception area. A myriad of emotions warred within. He glanced again where Aimee and Liz conversed. If he leaned out around the wall he could glimpse the long, red-gold silk at the back of her head. With a huff, he launched his pace across the closed in space. He didn’t want to appear too entranced. After all, Aimee was a married woman now.
That thought alone brought a rush of anger. And questions.
When had she moved back to town? Where was her husband? Who was he?
He looked over again and concern for her overtook his anger. He wasn’t sure what had happened in that moment after he said her name. Her face drained to white. Shock registered in her eyes.
He was equally astonished to find her at the desk when he came looking for information on the property. A property he felt compelled to look at and buy. It didn’t make sense. Which meant God must be in this crazy situation. He hadn’t planned on buying a house. And he wasn’t an impulsive person by nature. But when he saw the sign, he couldn’t seem to put off the sense that he was to pursue it.
Lord, what are you doing?
Chase sat down for a moment, picked up a Homes and Land magazine then stood again and resumed his stride to Aimee’s desk area. He peeked at her cleared desk which held only a few message slips, a desk phone, incoming basket and a photo. A school age boy and girl smiled at him. Clearly they were Aimee’s children. The girl’s hair and blue-green eyes duplicated her mother’s. Tender longing fought with irrational ire at the idea of her having children with another man. But he did notice no picture of hubby graced her space.
He went to the window and gazed at a palm tree being teased by the ocean breeze. The past ten years without Aimee had begun as torturous, and finally settled into sad resignation. Running into her had always teased his thoughts like the breeze toyed with the palm, tempting him to dwell on his loss and longing for her. But now, she was within touching distance.
And he didn’t know what to do.
Rachel’s Son – Coming Soon
A journey of broken faith.
When Roman soldiers, searching for the prophesied Messiah, slaughter Rachel’s only son, the tragedy devastates her and destroys her expectant hope of a Savior.
Rachel’s bitterness grows when she can’t conceive again and new tragedy strikes. If God cared, how could he let this happen?
Then a stranger comes to town. Some say he is the Messiah. Curiosity draws her, but when she sets out to challenge him, she’s surprised by what she finds. Will she be able to forgive the Forgiver?