‘Led to the same place, to pray the same prayer’ ... and find love

Tri-City Herald (Sunday) - - Depth - BY LUCY LUGINBILL llug­in­[email protected]­i­ty­her­ald.com Lucy Luginbill is a syn­di­cated Tri-City Her­ald colum­nist, re­li­gion edi­tor and ca­reer pub­lic tele­vi­sion pro­ducer and host. Her pop­u­lar Light Notes col­umn re­flects in­spi­ra­tional and faith-fo­cused sto­ries. She’s

It plays like a Hall­mark movie. Guy meets in­de­pen­dent woman, un­ex­plained co­in­ci­dences, love blooms, and then a hap­pily ever af­ter. It’s what ardent view­ers – al­ways tis­sues in hand – love about these ro­man­tic films.

Hall­mark Chan­nel lovers, this col­umn is for you. A true-to-life story – mi­nus the snow­ball fight.

It be­gins in warm, sunny Cal­i­for­nia, the set­ting and ma­te­rial of a Hall­mark writer’s dream.

Two lonely hearts, miles apart, find love through “God­winks” – co­in­ci­dences that feel heaven sent.

Meet Janine Tartaglia, a pe­tite brunette re­porter for a Los An­ge­les tele­vi­sion net­work. Back in the day, she cov­ered fires closeup, crime in bleak neighborhoods, stood in the midst of mobs and stared death in the face.

The 30-some­thing – our hero­ine, of sorts – even held the world’s at­ten­tion when Ira­nian-held hostages re­turned home, her rivet­ing live re­port broad­cast­ing for al­most an hour.

This KNBC re­porter epit­o­mized suc­cess, a rec­og­nized TV per­son­al­ity. And like a Hall­mark movie’s lead­ing lady, she felt a rest­less­ness with her life’s story.

Be­cause as ex­cit­ing as work­ing in me­dia was for her, the young woman felt a nudge to fol­low her heart.

“I spent 12 years of my life in­ter­view­ing peo­ple and then walk­ing away and hav­ing to deal with a dead­line. It al­ways felt un­fin­ished, like some­thing was un­done,” said Janine as she re­flected on why she made a life-chang­ing de­ci­sion.

Daily re­port­ing from the Bur­bank stu­dio felt like an un­fin­ished script, one where she never had time to com­fort the hurt­ing, to dry a weep­ing mother’s tears crib-side, to hold the hands of a fam­ily, their home ly­ing in ashes.

With­out a back­ward glance at great rat­ings, this de­ter­mined woman lis­tened to her church min­istry call­ing, be­came a sought-af­ter speaker and an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Point Loma Nazarene Uni­ver­sity.

But in time, the scene was filled with a bit of angst. True love was miss­ing.

“I had plenty of peo­ple who wanted me to meet their nephew or their brother,” Janine said with a smile as she rem­i­nisced about help­ful friends. “Peo­ple were re­ally get­ting on my case. Like ‘Janine, he’s breath­ing, he’s a Chris­tian. What are you look­ing for?’”

That very line may have prompted her trip from Los An­ge­les to Cam­bria, Calif., for a short stay at the Fire­side Inn. There she walked Moon­stone Beach, com­mit­ting to prayer and fast­ing for two days.

“I’m Ital­ian and I let it out be­fore God. ‘I don’t want just a hus­band, I want the one you’ve se­lected for me,’” the new­bie pas­tor had said, re­mem­ber­ing how she asked not only for the love of her life but some­one who would love peo­ple, too.

Janine re­turned to Los An­ge­les, at peace, as if the prayer had been an­swered, she said. And that’s when the “God­winks” be­gan ... for some­one else.

A wid­ower liv­ing in Bak­ers­field, Calif., feels com­pelled dur­ing his prayer time – a “God­wink” – to book a va­ca­tion alone on the coast, a dis­tance of more than 140 miles from his town.

The ju­nior high school teacher is lonely and re­flec­tive about the fu­ture, his heart ready to let some­one in. But how would he know “the one”?

Af­ter a quiet and prayer­ful stay at a ho­tel with an ocean view, Ed Met­calf re­turns home ... and to an­other “God­wink”.

“Then God brought my name to his mind,” Janine said about this next “God­wink,” re­call­ing how she didn’t know this guy, only a brief in­tro­duc­tion when his gospel quar­tet sang at her Pasadena church a few years ear­lier.

“And then out of nowhere a friend of his from Fresno – a cou­ple of hours north of Bak­ers­field – called and said, ‘This is re­ally weird, Ed, but Janine Tartaglia is a sin­gle woman of God that I know and I felt like I needed to tell you that name.’”

One by one the “God­winks” added up for this wid­owed fa­ther of two, enough to con­tact Janine. But on their first date there was even one more “wink” for good mea­sure.

“He opens this prayer jour­nal – what kind of man has a prayer jour­nal on a date – and at the top of the page he has writ­ten Fire­side Inn, Cam­bria,” Janine said, her voice filled with emo­tion at the mem­ory of learn­ing that Ed had been at the same quaint ho­tel shortly af­ter she had left.

“We find out that the two of us had been led to the same place, to walk the same beach, to pray the same prayer, for some­one who would love God and have a gen­uine love – not for just each other – but for peo­ple.”

Cue the “Wed­ding March” and pass a tis­sue, please. Like the Hall­mark Chan­nel, it seems the Creator of this love story is into happy end­ings, too.

Cour­tesy of Ed and Janine Met­calf

A se­ries of “God­winks” led Ed Met­calf and Janine Tartaglia to each other.

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