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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)

TITLE: It Happened in Providence
By Cheri Hardaway


“Thank you, Father, for revealing your love to Kristy, our new sister in Christ. Thank you for saving her baby. Guide her steps in the coming months,” Joshua prayed into their little circle on the sidewalk.

Behind him, a door scraped open. In his peripheral vision, a dark head moved toward them. He caught John’s eye: You got this?

John nodded.

She’d entered the Planned Parenthood in Providence a couple hours earlier – alone. Josh had been speaking with a young woman and wasn’t able to catch the girl with soot black hair.

She approached their little huddle. Her hair lay limp, lifeless on her damp forehead. She kept her eyes cast down.

Encouraged by Kristy’s decision, Josh broke away to intercept her path. When she raised her gaze, time stood still. Her dark eyes – almost black – were hollow and empty, accentuated by dark circles, the kind acquired through long, sleepless nights. Her face was ashen in contrast.

“What?” she clipped, annoyed that Josh blocked her escape.

“My name—”

“Leave me alone!” she spat, roughly shouldering past, leaving him to stare after her.

She’d silenced his mouth, but his heart cried out. Others might have seen malice in her actions, but he saw only pain in her tortured eyes. The hostility masked fragility.

Over the following months, the girl with soot black hair was Josh’s constant companion. Her hunched frame relentlessly inhabited his thoughts. Those hollow eyes haunted his dreams — if he managed to sleep at all. Mostly he lay awake, laboring over her in prayer, though he didn’t even know her name.

He didn’t know her name, but he knew her heart. Somehow, in those brief seconds on the sidewalk, a connection had been made, one unlike any he’d ever known before.

His prayers for her were punctuated with petitions for himself.

Father, what does all this mean? Why does this anonymous stranger with her soot black hair and empty eyes haunt my heart?

A glimmer of understanding came one day as Joshua was reading the book of Hosea. God had asked Hosea to marry Gomer, a woman of less than reputable morals.

Father, I’ve been your child for most of my twenty-two years. I’ve never even dated, waiting instead for you to bring me to my bride. Could it be...?

I assumed my wife would come from a background like mine. Yet you’ve pierced my heart. I cannot get her out of my mind. I don’t even know her name.

If she’s the one, how do I find her? And she probably doesn’t know you...

An uncanny peace stole over Joshua as he bared heart and soul before the Lord. He didn’t have to understand everything to trust God. He chose, instead, to surrender his need to know all the answers; he chose to walk by faith.

Three years had passed. Joshua, now living in Sacramento, was in church when he caught sight of a young woman with soot black hair. Could it be?

He decided to find out. Her eyes, full of life, smiled into his, as he introduced himself.

“Hi. I don’t believe I’ve seen you here before. My name is Joshua.”

“Hi, Joshua,” she said warmly. “My name is Grace.”

“Is it possible we’ve met before?” He had to ask, though he already knew. Her eyes were no longer hollow or empty, but they were unmistakable.

Later that evening, Grace shared how she had relived the horror of her abortion, again and again, in the months following their sidewalk encounter. The only peace she’d known during that time was the kindness she’d glimpsed in Josh’s eyes. Her own eyes reflected only self-hatred when she looked in the mirror.

She’d remembered seeing a church’s name on his tee-shirt, and she’d sought refuge there one night, while trying to flee her nightmares. The pastor found her and led her to Christ. She’d been healing and walking with Him since then.

Often her thoughts had drifted to that day back in Rhode Island, those few seconds on that sidewalk. She knew that had been the beginning of her new life.


Grace’s hair gleamed in the sunshine. Her eyes sparkled as her dad placed her hand in the crook of Josh’s arm, there on the sidewalk in front of the church. The pastor waited at the top of the steps. Together they walked, all four, into the sanctuary and down the center aisle, between the guests gathered on both sides. And all of heaven smiled.

Copyright 2007

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This article has been read 1413 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie OConnor04/26/07
I love this beautiful story about a couple joined by God. In a simply story you were able to convey the way God moves mountains behind the scenes for those of us who will wait and trust in Him. Simply excellent from beginning to end.
Lynda Schultz 04/26/07
A lovely story - bittersweet, but with a ending that is more than simply satisfying. Good job.
Julie Arduini04/26/07
What a lovely, lovely piece of work here. The title is perfect, I love the character names. I thought Grace's characterization, especially in Providence were exceptional, her soot black hair, her eyes cast low...Sadly my hometown is the literal founding place of Planned Parenthood. This was a beautiful story.
Catrina Bradley 04/26/07
Captivating! I love this: She’d silenced his mouth, but his heart cried out. Others might have seen malice in her actions, but he saw only pain in her tortured eyes. I'm also motivated to get a t-shirt with my church name on it. :) I'm so glad Josh waited on God to bring him his bride. His timing is perfect. This romance gave me goosebumps. Great job!
Linda Germain 04/26/07
This was so well done. I especially like that you did not have him stop her, to preach, then marry her to save the child or something. That would have reeked of pity. This was more realistic and hopeful as they begin a life forgiven, more evenly yoked, and best of all, built on THE rock!
Karen Deikun04/27/07
WOW! It's all I can say. The ending was beautiful and much different than where I thought it was going. A great example of God taking ashes and emptiness, mixing in a divinely appointed moment, and bringing forth new life. You've also layered in the way God works in a trusting and obedient life. Many messages in this little gem.
Donna Powers 04/27/07
I loved this sweet and simple story, and definitely found myself saying "awwww" as I read the ending. Such a lovely love story. Great job!
Marilee Alvey04/27/07
I read this story holding my breath, rushing to get to the end of it and find out about her. I, too, hoped they wouldn't be unequally yoked. God says not to do it. I know that it can be such a struggle....so I breathed a sigh of relief fo find that she'd become a believer, one of many who come to their Father for comfort out of devastation of their lives.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/28/07
An exceptionally well told story!
Jan Ackerson 04/30/07
Amazing, how God works through circumstances. This is powerful.

Personal preference--I'd find other ways of expressing "soot black hair"--the repetition seemed a bit much.

I love the theme of grace and redemption...very beautiful.
Betty Castleberry04/30/07
This is touching. I don't believe in coincidences, and I think you illustrated that here. God always has a plan. Well done.
Tabiatha Tallent04/30/07
Beautiful. That's about all I can say right now. Great job.
Sara Harricharan 05/01/07
Beautiful! I especially like the reference to "Gomer" I've always felt sorry for her. You did a great job with discriptions and especially the note with "Soot black hair". Wonderful writing, friend! ^_^
Myrna Noyes05/01/07
Very touching story with a good message that even the briefest encounters we have with someone might be life-changing--for both of us! :)
Jacquelyn Horne05/01/07
This is a sad, but oh-so-true story in many cases. Of course most do not have this happy ending. God knows what he's doing. When God wants two people together, his will prevails in the end.

I love to see young women accepted in spite of their failures. It seems unbalanced that young men almost never feel the shame and degradation in these tragic circumstances.

It was heartwarming to see Josh's love went beyond condemnation. He is truly a romantic hero in my opinion.
Rita Garcia05/02/07
A story from your heart to the readers, the message gently woven, like a ribbon through lace. Wonderful!
Bryan Coomes05/02/07
A great story with a greater message. A wonderful example of not only the mystery and power of God, in control and working all things according to the counsel of His will, but an excellent demonstration of the one living a life of faith while separated unto God and content to wait for His will to be done. Great Job!
Joanne Sher 05/02/07
I love, especially, the end of this. Just lovely.
Loren T. Lowery05/02/07
This beautiful story confirms a personal belief that some people (by God's design) are simply meant to be together. A few years and other "things" may get in the way but as it says in Habakkuk 2:3 “Though it tarries, wait earnestly... for it will surely come.”
Pat Guy 05/02/07
Stranger things have happened in God's design and all things are possible with Him. You portrayed all this in 750 words (or less) along with romance woven through out - well done - well written.
James Wood05/08/07
A piece of true brilliance. Your story is like a real person - it has a body which is seen and heard, and a soul which, while not seen, is felt.

This story is the creation of God given gifts. I look forward to reading your continued works, and may the Lord inspire you in your efforts.