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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)

TITLE: Denim and Lace
By Jan Ackerson


“I have to go now.” Tom whispers the words, his lips brushing my hair. “I love you.” To my ears, the phrase is a benediction.

He gathers his jacket, keys, and cell phone, then pauses at the door. When I look up to meet his eyes, he says it again. “I love you, Cara.” I nod and study the patterns on the carpet. Tom’s footsteps fade into the night.

I am left alone on the couch, hugging my knees and willing the pounding of my heart to cease. After a few moments, when I rest my face in my hands, I find that my cheeks radiate heat despite the chilly apartment.

Oh, Lord, this is so hard!

When my conflicted heart has stopped its racing, I walk into the dining room, now strewn with silk flowers, votive candles, and tulle—the oddments that presently define my life. In two weeks, I will stand beside Tom—my prince, my beloved—and together we will offer our lives to God.

Two weeks! Father, why do we have to wait? I know You’ve blessed our commitment to each other...and Lord, I love him so much…we’ve waited almost a year. Isn’t that enough?

I do not wait for God’s familiar voice; instead, I heed my feet, which have developed an urgent need to pace. Sighing, I make a listless effort to organize the cluttered room. Gathering an armful of red roses and white lace—my misguided effort at attempting to create a centerpiece—I enter the spare room, dropping the items on the daybed. The roses have begun to wither, their scent a mixture of perfume and decay. A smear of red has stained one lacy remnant.

Turning away from the soiled fabric, I snatch up the phone and press seven familiar numbers. “Tom…come back.”

“Sweetheart, is everything all right?”

“Just come back. I…I need you here.”

Silence fills the distance between us, and I know that Tom is praying for strength. Oh, Tom…

“Cara, I’m going home. I love you.”

I cradle the phone, swallowing hard, and once again survey the odds and ends on the table. A folded paper catches my eye—I open it and read the vows that Tom wrote for me just a few hours ago.

“…And I will take you as my bride forever, truly, I will take you as my bride in righteousness…” The rest of the words blur, and my knees weaken. There is an itching in my spirit. It will not go away, I know, until I have taken this longing to the feet of my Redeemer.

I fall face down on my bed and weep—with repentance for my moments of impatience and petulance, with thankfulness that God has led me to this strong and righteous man, with joy that Tom’s strength is enough for both of us.

After several minutes, my spirit soothed, I stand and open the closet doors. My veil hangs there, next to a frothy white gown. I lift it gently and secure the combs to my disheveled hair. Although I am wearing faded jeans and a fraying sweatshirt, as I draw the veil over my face, I feel—for the first time—like a bride.

Scripture quoted is from Hosea 2:19, BBE

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This article has been read 1738 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 04/27/06
Excellent! I think the use of the present tense has made the whole thing very immediate and makes you feel what your character feels.
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/27/06
Excellent entry!
Helen Paynter04/27/06
This is really beautiful - took me back 14 years to the weeks before my wedding. Loved it.
dub W04/27/06
I liked the present tense until the last paragraph - the shift blew me away. Good job otherwise.
Kirralie Smith04/27/06
The end left a lump in my throat, well done. I love to hear the voice of purity and righteousness! You shared transparently of the struggle that many face but rarely admit to, thank you.
Maxx .04/27/06
Very very good. This really was a great scene and the characters were 100% believeable, as were the reactions. The emotion was tight as well. Really very little to pick at ... maybe a couple of words choice preferences, but really nothing ... an award worthy entry!
Anita Neuman04/28/06
I'm looking for things to pick at, too, and I'm coming up empty-handed (empty-keyboarded?). This is a very clean, tight piece - and realistic and moving as well! Great job!
Lynda Schultz 04/28/06
This is excellent, well-written, engaging and with a wonderful message. And I was interested to note (though it may reflect a personal prejudice), it was the woman who first felt the temptation, not the man - a little Adam and Eve here?
Purity Snowe04/28/06
I know so many people who fall to this temptation. Or others who fell long before and figure that it doesn't matter anymore since they already gave themselves away. So, this was touching. It IS possible to be chaste anew even if one has already sinned. But I ramble! Perfect writing and one of my favorites so far!
Suzanne R04/29/06
I love the way this finishes, with the denim and lace - a perfect ending and a perfect title.

Well done!
Alexandra Wilkin04/30/06
Well done - from start to finish an tight, well drawn piece of writing brought to life with real characters and struggles that so many can relate to. God bless.
Alexandra Wilkin04/30/06
Well done - from start to finish an tight, well drawn piece of writing brought to life with real characters and struggles that so many can relate to. God bless.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/30/06
The Author of this delightful entry has made my day; I didn't believe there was a soul left in the world that believed in this type of love. Thank you for showing me how wrong I've been not to believe that the younger generation DOES think of such things as purity and righteousness in this day and age. Nicely done.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/01/06
Great message and well written. Most of us can identify with the feelings of the characters at one point or another.
Debbie OConnor05/01/06
I remember feeling that way! Engagement was maddening. Well done!
Pat Guy 05/01/06
It figures this one is yours - it's perfect! :) From beginning to end!
Jean Elizabeth 05/01/06
Wonderful story! You have captured how wonderful love can be when living for the Lord! Great job.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/02/06
A very passionate piece, exceptionally and creatively written. A Christian bridal magazine would snatch this up. Superb!
Linda Watson Owen05/02/06
Superb indeed!!! I love the skillful imagery in the details. Masterful is the word! I hope this finds many hearts through many publications.
Virginia Gorg05/04/06
I can relate as I went through those types of emotions during my engagement. But it was worth every second of waiting! Thanks for writing this.
Helen Paynter05/04/06
congratulations Jan - guessed this was you!