The Great Romance

I met my husband in post-war Kosovo. He was helping rebuild widows’ houses devastated by the recent war between the Albanians and Serbs, and I was serving as an English tutor for teenagers in a tiny, two-bit town sitting right on the border between Serbia and the Kosova province.

These were lofty job assignments given essentially to kids — a 22-year-old guy enjoying life out of a duffle bag, and me, a 23-year-old testing the waters of life cross-cultural. My question for the year — is this what I want to do the rest of my life?

We met on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and over the span of a few months, we became fast friends. It wasn’t hard, living in a country sparse with young, single English speakers living remotely without regular lighting, running water, or, God-forbid — Internet access. You cling to each other as comrades, understanding both life back in the homeland and your present-day experiences.

I secretly wanted to marry Kyle the moment I met him. But I never told him this.

About a year after I met him, I was due to pick up my parents from the train station in nearby Macedonia, the bordering country with enough infrastructure to stomach a train schedule. It was a four-hour bus ride from the capital of Kosova to Skopje, where Mom and Dad would be at about 10 p.m.

I can live in a lot of challenging environments. I was used to hearing gunfire from my kitchen window, and knew to watch out for land mines.

But I was nervous about going to Skopje by myself. I had to cross an international border, sit on a bus by myself as an English-speaking 20-something female, enter a country where I didn’t know the language or have the currency, and navigate my way from the bus stop to the train station (of which I didn’t know the location). In the dark.

For safety, I asked Kyle to accompany me. He couldn’t.

Disappointed, I boarded the bus in Kosova and endured the sweaty, bumpy journey solo. I brought a banana and some stale M&Ms, just in case we never stopped or, more commonly, broke down en route.

Four hours later, and I arrived in pitch-dark Skopje, armed with a sketchy map and decent walking shoes. I knew to look straight ahead and ignore the cacophony of offers from men waiting as the bus unloaded. “Hotel! Very cheap!” “Money exhange! Sprechen sie Deutsch?” “Taxi! You need a ride?”

Ignore, ignore, ignore. Look straight ahead.

I barely walked ten steps when I noticed a man following me. He was fast, so I picked up my pace. He sped up, matching mine. His shadow loomed directly behind me, in the dark of the cobblestone streets.

“Oh, pretty American!” he said in a thick accent I couldn’t place. “Pretty American girl! Where you going?”

My heart palpitated. I stared straight ahead. I walked faster.

The stranger could outpace me, though, and he moved to my side, mimicking my gait. He was desperate for my attention.

“Pretty American girl! Where you going? Need help?” I vigorously shook my head and forced out a firm, “No.” But the man wouldn’t let up.

I looked over at his feet, breaking my straight-ahead stare. I recognized those shoes.

I nervously glanced up to meet his gaze.

It was Kyle.

“What are you doing here?” I asked in disbelief. “I thought you couldn’t come.”

Turns out he finished his work early and raced to the bus station in Kosova. He missed the noon boarding by minutes and watched my bus leave without him. So he hailed a taxi and told the driver to follow the bus.

A drive that long, crossing a border, was not cheap. But Kyle spent the money anyway. He arrived before me, and waited at the foreign bus stop, in the dark, for me to arrive.

Kyle met me in Macedonia and guided me to the train station. He met my parents, found us all a cheap hostel, and used his few Macedonian denar to buy us all a sub-par meal at McDonald’s. And then he accompanied us all back the next morning back to Kosova.

It is one of the most romantic things he’s ever done. I knew then that he was marriage material. We did, about a year later.

But really, how much more harrowing is all of our journeys to eternity? How much more romantic and jealous is God’s love for us? And how much infinitely, extravagantly more are His lengths that He’ll traverse to get us to safety?

As romantic as Kyle’s heroic rescue, it pales to God’s rescue of our souls. He swoops in and brings us home via the cross. And it’s devastatingly romantic.

If your journey is fraught with danger, where all you know to do is look straight ahead and put your feet one in front of the other, listen for that voice. Indeed, there is a voice following you. “Pretty girl. Where are you going?” Listen for it, and take up His offer to lead. He’ll be your hedge of protection.

God loves you. And he’ll chase you to get your attention.

What’s your journey?

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  1. 1

    I love how Kyle used a fake accent. :) LOL! Thank goodness you couldn’t outrun him.

    And thank God we can’t outrun Him!

    • 2

      Kyle uses fake accents all over the world. It’s quite comical, actually, but he says the taxi drivers and store vendors understand him better than if he spoke pure English (when he doesn’t know the local language, of course). It sounds like he’s making fun of them, but he’s really not — he’s speaking English the way they hear and understand it best. :)

      • 3

        I lived in India, and I am married to an NRI, my husband gets frustrated when I speak English with an Indian accent, but it almost turns on as a default from living over there- funny! Great story.

  2. 4
    Maureen says:

    That’s a beautiful picture of God’s passionate pursuit of us – and soooo romantic! Loved it! Thank you!

  3. 5

    This was exciting to read and the most exciting part was at the end. Indeed God wants our attention and once we figure that out and start setting our eyes on Him the real ride begins!

    Thank you for sharing, pretty girl!

  4. 6

    Tsh,

    One of my favorite stories of all time! Beautiful, romantic, and the parallels you make at the end to God’s fierce love are perfect.

    Gosh, I’d like to have time to hear more of your stories…….

    xo

  5. 7

    Just beautiful, Tsh! Gave me chills.

  6. 8

    Oh, what a beautiful story. The comparison to God’s love brings it all home.

  7. 9

    So romantic :) I’m with everyone else, please share more stories!

  8. 10

    “God loves you. And he’ll chase you to get your attention.” And now I have a big lump in my throat.

    Thank you for sharing this, Tsh! wow!

  9. 11
    Michele says:

    That is a beautiful story! and I love how you incorporate God’s love for us in it. Great message :-)

  10. 12

    Such a lovely tale.

    Our main journey is our 7 children–training them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He is SO Faithful to show us the light for every step. But, even after 24 years of parenting, we must still depend on Him for every breath. And what He is growing them all into is Glorious!!! :)

  11. 13

    I think I might have had to give a playful slap to him for scaring me like that! ha ha! ;) What a beautiful picture of God’s love! Thank you for sharing!

  12. 14

    how romantic and sweet (and a bit scary at the same time)

  13. 15

    Tsh, I love, love, love your story!! It made me want to cry as I thought of those things God does when we’ve given up and think perhaps He won’t show this time. Beautiful. And as a TCK myself, I understand on another level as well. Blessings!

  14. 16

    This is divine, every single word.

  15. 17

    Tsh,
    Reading your stories, it is amazing how much our families are alike. How you met your husband, the places you have lived and worked in….. truly surprising.
    When I met my husband it was also ‘love at first sight’ and I knew right away that we would marry. 20 years later and here we are living now in the US with two kids hoping to move again back to Europe.
    Funny how life happens!

  16. 18
    Stephanie says:

    Such a sweet story :) and I love the ending

  17. 19

    beautiful!

  18. 20
    Tiffany says:

    Beautiful story, Tsh!

  19. 21
    Beth Williams says:

    Beautiful and romantic – especially at the end where you mention God chasing after us! Loved it!!

  20. 22

    Such a poignant picture of God’s deep & enduring love for us. I’m in love with Jesus & He’s in love with me!

  21. 23

    What a sweet story. Although a small country, Macedonia is a great place-it’s where my husband and I also met. :)

  22. 25

    TELL US MORE!!!

    Man I’m so eager for book 2 — and hope it includes more awesome personal stuff! So did you get married a year after that or did you both *realize* you wanted to get married a year after that? I couldn’t tell by the wording of “I knew then that he was marriage material. We did, about a year later.”

    • 26

      Oh yes, the next book will for sure include more personal, memoir-style stuff. The next next book will most definitely have personal stories. That’s the plan, anyway. :)

      The incident described in this post happened in October 2001. We were married in Austin, Texas in November 2002.

  23. 27

    Oh so sweet :)

  24. 28
    Marilyn Holeman says:

    Awesome story–great conclusion. Thanks for sharing!

  25. 29

    I am really enjoying learning more about you, Tsh! Your blog and your book have already made a real difference in my life. Thank you for your work and for sharing yourself with us.

  26. 30

    I just love hearing real life love stories. You told yours so well! :)

    ~h

  27. 31
    Kandice says:

    Thank you! This post (for me) was that voice calling behind me. I didn’t want to look at it out of anger and fear. Now my eyes are welled up with tears after getting to the end and recognizing the “shoes” and then the face of the One who Loves me most reminding me that He is with me on my presently very scary journey.
    Thank you!

  28. 32
    Nilüfer Talu says:

    very beautiful story… my neigbours, my dear oxenreiders…

  29. 34

    Oh, Tsh. What a story! I love how you brought it home at the end…true romance, indeed!

  30. 35

    That is SO sweet. I have been going through a difficult trial this evening and this post just lifted my spirits and my eyes unto the God of my life!

  31. 36

    Mmm. This was good for me to read this morning. What a reminder- “Christ swoops in and carries us home via the cross.” May that be the romance I am fully satisfied in, even when another comes along.

  32. 37
    Ruthanne (Seattle) says:

    This is lovely. Thank you for sharing. Great story and even greater illustration!

  33. 38

    Tsh, I love this story so much. Yes, he was most definitely marriage material. “He’s 6’2″ and I sleep with him” has popped into my mind unexpectedly all weekend, and made me giggle. :-)

  34. 39

    Such a romantic story! Sounds like something my husband would’ve done! You were right to snatch him up!
    Bernice
    Does having less stuff make life easier?

  35. 40

    Beautiful, WONderful reminder of how He pursues me! Chasing me down, in the darkness of my fears, fervent despite my ignoring retreat… How good is His love, how passionate, how romantic, my Jesus!
    No better analogy, as we celebrate the gift of His sacrificial love.
    Thanks, Tsh –
    Teri

  36. 41

    Oh my! I loved this story. Thanks so much for sharing.

  37. 42

    This is an absolutely beautiful story, especially right in time for Easter- the ultimate testament of Divine Love!

  38. 43

    Isn’t it amazing what a man in love will do for the woman he loves?

    I praise God for rescuing me!

  39. 44
    Stephanie says:

    Hey, I know the other girl in the first photo, funny how small of a world it is.

  40. 45

    I can see why you fell in love with him! Thanks for sharing your love story and bringing it back to God’s pursuit of us. I picked “Journey” as my word of the year back in January since God has me on quite an interesting & complicated one right now-living in two states…

  41. 46
    Stacey Gibson says:

    Oh Tsh, I loved this story. We were just in Skopje today for a dr. visit. That drive makes me cranky nearly every time but knowing it used to take 4 hrs from Prn makes me less so. LOVE the pics at the top. Some of my MOST favorite people.

  42. 47

    Thank you. Putting one foot in front of the other. :)

  43. 48

    Wow! What an amazing love story….yours and Kyle’s AND ours and God’s!

    Thanks SO much for your precious insight!

  44. 49

    So wonderful, Tsh. Such an amazing story and lesson.

  45. 50

    That was very romantic indeed. I have a story of my own too, I’m not ready to tell it to anyone yet though, for it’s a Highly Exquisite Piece of Art in “The Making.”(very emotional) I might still have more than other people; It’s those other people though that I truly hold high.

  46. 51

    I love your story, and how you compared it to God’s love for us. Thank you.

  47. 52

    What a beautiful comparison of how much God loves us! Truly He does stand beside us and guide and protect us! WOW!

  48. 53

    This was such a sweet story. I always enjoy reading/hearing stories about how people meet.

  49. 54
    Maricarmen Hernandez says:

    Dear Tsh,
    What a great story! But the most important part is the underlying message, it brought tears to my eyes. Really, God is indeed looking for us at all times, His voice following us, “Pretty girl. Where are you going?” Thanks a lot Tsh, for your message.

  50. 55

    I loved this. Oh if we knew His jealous pursuit of us and what we mean to Him. Wow, still sobbing, what a wonderful picture the Lord has given of His love through the gift of marriage. Thank you for sharing. :-)

  51. 56

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Tsh. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story of how you met your husband. Thank you for your blog I am just NOW discovering (I am not quite sure how I have not come across it sooner :/ )
    Finally, thank you for your expressing your love for GOD and how wonderous HE is!

    Your mention of the cross really helped me remember (I especially needed to read this today) I have already been delivered and rescued from any adversity I have been through, am going through and will go through.

    You’re awesome and I love your blogs thus far!

  52. 57

    Wow, I was a fervent reader of your blog Simple Mom after the birth of my youngest daughter now almost 4 years old. At the time I was a stay at home mom an your candid and simple approach made you a invaluable resource of advice and encouragement. Then I got a job and stopped following you. For reasons I can’t comprehend I was inclined to click on your latest e-mail and I checked your about that had changed since the last time I read it. And like it normally it occurs on the web I fell on the rabbit hole that is the Internet until I came to read about your love story. Beautiful. What is more you wrote this about two years ago to the date and I have been wrestling with exactly the same subject: the pursuit of Love and His pursuit. And this I’ll take as confirmation of a post I’ve been meaning to write but lacked the courage to do so (I’ll link to it later). You are an amazing writer and for some reason until now I realized a woman of God. I just needed to share my thoughts.

  53. 58

    Wow, I was a fervent reader of your blog Simple Mom after the birth of my youngest daughter now almost 4 years old. At the time I was a stay at home mom an your candid and simple approach made you a invaluable resource of advice and encouragement. Then I got a job and stopped following you. For reasons I can’t comprehend I was inclined to click on your latest e-mail and I checked your about that had changed since the last time I read it. And like it normally it occurs on the web I fell on the rabbit hole that is the Internet until I came to read about your love story. Beautiful. What is more you wrote this about two years ago to the date and I have been wrestling with exactly the same subject: the pursuit of Love and His pursuit. And this I’ll take as confirmation of a post I’ve been meaning to write but lacked the courage to do so (I’ll link to it later). You are an amazing writer and for some reason until now I realized a woman of God.

  54. 59

    Here, I did it. My love story with the one who created me and the people who brought me to Him. Thank you again for sharing so boldly your voice.

    http://journeytoamor.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/his-pursuit-part-3/

Trackbacks

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  3. […] out of college, naturally. I eventually moved overseas, and it’s a good thing I did, because that’s where I met Kyle. But even there, I’d reminisce about the next step—coming home, getting married. I loved […]

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