Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our 8th Wedding Anniversary

(This was actually typed ahead of time and scheduled to be published today.)

We are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary today. Not one of the "round" numbers like 5, 10, or 20 years but I think my husband deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for every year of putting up with me. Not only does he do that, but every single day he also very convincingly makes me feel like the best wife, most wonderful mother, and most beautiful woman that ever walked the face of this earth. So I married someone with poor taste, but other than that, I can say he really is perfect in every other way. Well, almost every other way... :) Thank you, honey, for being so wonderful! I love you more than I can say.

Several readers of my blog have asked how we met, so I thought I would share our crazy, wonderful, romantic story on this occasion.

I first met my husband in downtown Munich, Germany in the fall of 1999 on my way from college to work. He was in the street handing out gospel tracts and talking to people. The particular tract he was handing out had a soccer player on the front, so I thought he was trying to sign people up for a soccer team. While I was not a fan of soccer at all, I did feel bad about throwing the paper in the trash right there in front of him, so instead I handed it back and told him I wasn't interested in soccer. For some reason, even though I had never heard him speak yet, I talked to him in English rather than German. Maybe he looked American, or maybe I was trying to act like I was a tourist as to not seem as rude. He told me the tract was not about soccer, and invited me to the Baptist church that he was helping out. As is turned out, he had spent the last 3 months traveling from one missionary in Europe to the next, staying with each of them for 1-2 weeks and helping with various projects as well as going soul-winning. I was not interested in going to church at all, but I did think he was a handsome young man, so we talked for a few minutes. He asked for my phone number (I guess so he could call and bug me about church some more) which I gave him. I was disappointed to find out he was only 18 years old, 2 years younger than me, which in my mind automatically categorized him as a "baby" and definitely not "dating material". I had guessed he was several years older than me.

He did call a couple of times that week to invite me to church, and I even ran into him downtown another day, but I neither showed up for church not gave much more thought to him. He asked me for my e-mail address so we could stay in touch since he was about to fly back to the States, and I gave it to him.

For the next 10 months, we casually exchanged a handful of letters and e-mails. He sent me a Bible for Christmas 1999 which I thought made a nice decoration on my book shelf, but I never cared to read any of it. He also repeatedly invited me to come to California and stay at his parents' house (he still lived at home) for New Year's, but I declined because I wasn't sure what to think of this friendly, handsome, but doubtlessly fanatical guy who was too young to consider dating anyway.

Finally, he did talk me into coming to visit in the summer of 2000. I flew into San Francisco on a Friday afternoon, July 28th, 2000. The drive from there to his parents' house in Sacramento is usually a good 2 hours, but with Friday night traffic it took us close to 6 hours. He spent the entire time trying to convert me on his crazy, fanatical beliefs but he was so likable I didn't mind at all. By the time we got to the house it was very late, and I was extremely tired, but he insisted on showing me his collection of Bibles. His entire book shelf had nothing but Bibles (all KJV, mind you), which he told me was in case they would try to burn him at the stake, at least they had enough Bibles to use as the fuel. I was getting a little worried at this point. :)

We spent Saturday at a Six Flags theme park, and it was a great day. Steve spent hours trying to show me verses from the Bible that prove that all is takes to go to heaven is believing on Jesus. It's not that I didn't agree that the Bible did in fact say that, it's just that I had no faith that the Bible was actually true. I was raised Catholic and had been taught my whole life that the Bible is not really serious in anything it says.

Sunday we went to church in the morning and evening, and spent the time in between at the river. Going to church certainly made me wonder whether the Bible was in fact true because I loved the preaching (very refreshing after all those boring Catholic masses), all the people there seemed so genuinely happy, and all the kids were nicer than any I had ever met before. Funnily, the fact that the Bible advocates spanking was one of the main reason I thought it couldn't possibly be God's word, yet all these kids (who were horribly mistreated by being spanked) were happy and obviously loved their parents very much. A lady in the church spoke with me after the evening service, again showing me verses on how salvation is all by grace through faith and has nothing to do with living a good life or keeping the commandments. I told her I knew that's what the Bible said, but that I just wasn't sure the Bible really was true. But that night when I was back in the guest room and all by myself I started reading the Bible that Steve had sent me for Christmas (which I brought with me on the trip), and I started to get scared that it really WAS true. So I finally prayed and asked God to save me.

On Monday, we again went to fun places all day, and Steve was still "badgering" me about getting saved. I didn't want to tell him about the night before because I knew he would never date an unbeliever and I didn't want to seem like I was pretending just to get a date with him. Yes, by this point, I really didn't care about his age any more, I just thought he was the nicest, funniest, smartest and best looking guy I had ever seen. I finally did tell him that I had prayed and asked God to save me the night before, to which he replied something along the lines of "Good, then we can finally start dating!" Until this point, I had no idea that he even liked me other than being concerned about me getting saved.

We spent the next several days going to fun places during the day, but of course always returning in the evening to spend the night at his parents' house. Although he did not have the exact same standards as he does now, he wouldn't have been caught dead with a girl out overnight. By the end of the week, we knew we wanted to get married, and thought we would do so in January of 2001 after I finished the fall semester back home in Munich.

Then, on August 12th late at night, we thought why wait until January when we could get married right away. That way, Steve could come visit me in Munich between then and January and stay at my apartment in Munich. Sunday, August 13th was the last day before I was going to fly back home to Munich. We went to church in the morning, and the sermon was based on the following passage in Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10
Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

We took this as further affirmation that getting married right then and there was a good idea since childhood and youth are vanity, and this was as good a time to grow up as any other! We drove up to Reno, Nevada (about 2 hours away) where anyone can get married on the spot if they can provide some kind of photo I.D. We went to "Chapel of the Bells" and asked for the fastest possible ceremony, and that's just what we got - it took about 60 seconds to exchange the vows! On the way back to Sacramento, we got held up by a raging forest fire and got back just in time for the evening church service. Since we had not told any of his family about us eloping, we spent our wedding night in separate bedrooms. Early the next morning I got on a plane back home to Munich.

We had gone from strangers to being married in 10 months, after only 2 weeks of dating.

At this point, our plan was still for me to finish my semester and then move to California. We weren't planning on telling any of our relatives about us getting married until we had planned things out a little more. My in-laws found out by accident a week later when a letter arrived at their house from the Reno County Clerk addressed to me, but with their last name. They opened the letter, which was informing me that my certified marriage certificate was now ready to be ordered... :) I don't think my poor mother-in-law took to that very well, and I can certainly see her point. My husband was glad that he had just moved out a few days earlier (part of getting everything ready and set up for our new household before breaking the news to them) so by the time they saw him they had a chance to recover from the surprise a little. A few days after that my husband found a good job that would enable him to support our new little family, and he called me in Germany asking that I not go back to college that semester but rather move to the States right away. I happily obliged and three weeks after we got married, in early September of 2000, I was back in California, this time for good. Who wouldn't have traded going to college and work during another cold, dreary winter alone in Munich for living with a wonderful husband in sunny California, with all my days free to play and do nothing except getting used to living in a different country?!?

We have lived on one income (my husband's, that is) our entire marriage, and did not have much money when we first got married. But it was blissful because we were newlyweds, and in early January, just months after getting married, I became pregnant with Solomon.

Other than getting saved, marrying my husband was the best decision I ever made. Our four (soon five) children have been the crowning glory of our marriage. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't change one thing!

5 comments:

  1. Happy Anniversary! :) That's such a great story. Thanks for sharing. You two truly make an extraordinary couple.

    May the Lord continue to bless all of you!

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  2. That was a beautiful Love story! Happy Anniversary!!

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  3. AWWW that is a great story! Very romantic! Thanx so much for sharing that with us. Happy Anniversary!

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  4. What an interesting story! God certainly writes everyone's love story in unique ways!

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  5. Hi,

    I was just wondering, I've never met a German Zsuzsanna, but it's a rather common name in Hungary--it's the middle name of my daughter as well. Where did your parents get this unique-to-Hungarian spelling for your name?

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