So many times, we remember the big moments in our relationships. The ones that were life-altering like a first date or first kiss or proposal. But author Peyton H. Roberts is our guest today, and she's talking about the magic that happened BEFORE that moment. Read on. It's super sweet.
My favorite part of any love story is found in the unexpected, sweet moments that lead to a first date. I’m fascinated by the convergence of location and circumstances that bring two lives together at just the right time for magic to swirl in and change everything.
For my husband Nick and I, that moment unfolded several months before our first date. As high school seniors finishing up college applications, momentum was shifting from our current normal at home with parents and siblings to our next big steps out into the world.
That year, Nick and I were serving as leaders in a large, social church youth group. If serving sounds like work, it didn’t feel like work, because 30 of our closest friends were along for the ride.
Finishing high school before social media and texting meant if you wanted to know what was happening, you had to show up places. Consequently, everyone came to everything. Over the course of senior year, our class of student leaders became a tight-knit group of friends. We sat together in the cafeteria, spent weekends at lake houses, and traveled in packs to sporting events and concerts.
Sometime that fall, Nick and I were paired up as substitute teachers for the tenth-grade Sunday School class. The week before, our youth director handed us a packet containing the lesson, along with instructions to go over everything before teaching.
To prepare, Nick and I met at a nearby bagel shop. In the stillness of an empty eatery on a Sunday morning, we spent the hour together looking up verses and reviewing discussion questions.
Toward the end of our meeting, our focus turned away from the lesson, toward the many changes unfolding in our lives. We shared about the colleges we hoped to attend. The shifting dynamics with friends and classmates. His path to join the Navy.
I don’t remember specifics of that conversation with Nick. What I do remember is how comfortable I felt hanging out with him—just us.
Always surrounded by a larger group, Nick and I had never paired off before. I noticed he was such a great listener, focused on what I had to say, yet also willing to open up about his life.
Everyone in our high school class knew Nick was a hard worker, a record-setting athlete, a devoted leader at church and school. Spending this hour with him, I started to sense how his reputation for perseverance and dedication to his goals was also true of his relationships.
All too soon, it was time to leave the bagel shop. Nick and I drove our separate cars to church and spent the next hour teaching sophomores. We left Sunday School and went about our busy senior-year lives.
But a spark was lit.
This week marks 20 years since Nick and I started dating. The initial timing—right before we graduated high school—seemed unfortunate then, especially considering he left town a few weeks later to start military training.
Looking back now, I can see how our relationship took hold long before our first date. Moments like the bagel shop, spring break at the lake, and all those Sundays leading small groups fueled my wish to spend more time with him.
When I figured out the feeling was mutual, the magic hit hard. Twenty years later, it’s still going.
Of course, the magic is different now. It looks more like surprising me with a clean kitchen. A heartfelt note in a birthday card. Taking the kids to school so I have more time to write.
But some things haven’t changed. There’s still no one else I’d rather leave the big group to pair off with. And my favorite part of any day is when Nick and I can have a conversation—just us.
The sparks keep lighting. The magic keeps swirling. Our story continues to unfold.
Looking back on your favorite love story, can you spot the meaningful moments before the magic?
Peyton H. Roberts, M.A., grew up writing poems and sewing dresses on the sunny Gulf Coast. Attending high school in Texas, she met her future husband Nick on a grassy church lawn. After years of dating long distance, they married at the same church and embarked on a rollercoaster journey through wartime military service.
At the University of Florida, Peyton studied global business but stacked her course load with creative writing electives. She earned a Master’s in Communication from San Diego State University and went on to lead church youth in Guam and teach college courses in Virginia.
As a military spouse, Peyton lives and writes wherever the Navy sends her family. In the DC Metro area, she was assistant editor of AMVETS’ American Veteran magazine. In San Diego, she managed communication for the American Red Cross. Two years on tropical Guam offered unforgettable opportunities to travel and blog across Asia, from diving with sharks in Palau to leading church youth to serve at an orphanage in The Philippines.
Living and serving overseas forged a passion for social impact causes, especially shining light on the dark side of the global fashion industry. Peyton enjoys hiking and going to the beach with her husband and two children in the San Francisco Bay Area where they currently call home.
Beneath the Seams (Scrivenings Press) is Peyton’s debut novel, available through Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and indie bookstores everywhere. Follow her writing journey on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads. For more heartfelt reflections on love, parenting, and military life, sign up for Peyton’s newsletter Updates from Peyt.
About Beneath the Seams:
Fashion designer Shelby Lawrence is launching her mother-daughter dresses into retail stores nationwide when she receives a photo of the girl who will change her life forever. Runa, the family's newly sponsored child, is a clever student growing up near Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Dresses are flying off the racks when a horrifying scene unfolds in Dhaka that threatens to destroy Shelby's pristine reputation. Even worse―it sends Runa's life spiraling down a terrifying path. Shelby must decide how far she's willing to go to right a tragic wrong.
Both a gripping exposé of fashion industry secrets and a heartwarming mother-daughter tale, Beneath the Seams explores love, conscience, hope, and the common threads connecting humanity.
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.