From Belfast with Love

1:02 AM

Since getting engaged, many of you have been asking for the story of how I met Nathan. How on earth did two people from such entirely different backgrounds end up in a relationship in the first place? As no truly delightful story is ever concise, I've decided to write it in bits. This then is part one of  "From Belfast with Love."

It was a typical Thursday student lunch in Belfast. I'd only just begun working as an intern at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, and was still struggling to get into the routine of things. Peeking out the doors of the church, my eyes took in the hundreds of university students lined up outside, eagerly anticipating a free hot dog and soup. After spending an entire morning setting up tables to feed those teeming masses, I found myself already exhausted. There wasn't enough coffee on earth to survive such a day. As the doors opened and the madness began, I recalled the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and wondered if He felt this bombarded and stressed. 


Just then, a Northern Irish student with big blue eyes sidled up to me, attempting to make conversation. I quickly recognized him as the energetic head of the Students' Union at Queens University. Inwardly I sighed. He was just another popular student in the rat race of college life. After a passably polite chat, I made my way towards a table with one lone student staring thoughtfully at the brown sauce pooling greasily on their plate. The popular kid would survive just fine on his own in the social wilds. 

As the local celebrity approached what was clearly the "cool kids table," it was apparent he was the most well known person in the room. 

"Yeooowww!!!" The guys yelled to greet him. 

I rolled my eyes. "Ugh. The popular people."

Fall turned to spring and the days of student lunches came and went. My dealings with the infamous Nathan Anderson were few. In the course of a year I did manage to make out a few of his more brazen character traits.  He was bold and confident, with a particularly annoying penchant for standing on my freshly washed tables and bellowing across the room about some event or another. 

                                                    Never trust a man with a megaphone

He was, however, kind as well. One particular Thursday I found myself in one of the dullest conversations of my life with a post-grad scientist studying at Queens. Out of nowhere, Nathan appeared and joined the conversation. Overjoyed by the opportunity to slip away, I excused myself, not noticing the smile on his face fade as I glibly walked away from my near mental death experience. 

At the end of the year I answered the call to Germany, and the person of Nathan Anderson slipped into vague memory as one of the many faces in Northern Ireland I'd most likely never see again. 

7 years and many an adventure later, I sat in a hospital in Wyoming awaiting the results of my grandmother's heart surgery. Staring nervously at my phone, I saw a message pop up from that same Northern Irishman letting me know that he was praying for me and my family. I smiled, thanking God for the encouragement from such a distant, unlikely source. 

A few months passed and suddenly my grandfather died. Once again, I found myself reading words of hope sent from this practical stranger, a world away. Did he take the time to reach out to all the friends on his Facebook who were going through a hard time? How was I to know I'd caught his eye all those years ago, and that he still remembered that American girl who'd worked at Fisherwick?

In December, I made a long planned trip back to Germany. While visiting friends, I prayed over the land, asking God if I was meant to go back. Surely now, after all this time, He'd call me back to Europe. I'd waited so long! Sitting on a high wall just below the castle on the hill, I looked down over the city of Wurzburg, waiting on His answer. I expected a rush of clarity and vision like I'd had that first time I beheld that city so many years before. To my utter sadness and surprise,instead of a 'Go' I felt my Lord say a distinct, 'No.' 

I returned to America in defeat, my plans completely blown out of the water and years of hopes seemingly dashed. It was a new season,a new era, time to move on...but to what? After surrendering my dreams of returning to Europe, God opened up the door for me to teach at a music school. It wasn't my dream, but it definitely felt right. In the midst of all the transition, I found myself noticing Nathan Anderson on Facebook. It was clear he was doing well with his life. I even found myself praying that someone like him would ask me out someday. 

In early March I received another email from the Nirishman. This time, he was asking me out on a date.  By that time, I had forgotten my heartfelt prayer to the heavens and became instantly stressed by the mere idea. 

"Oh, great," I thought. "Now I have to tell this guy no. There is no way I'm going back to Northern Ireland! Freezing cold winters, endless rain, slugs in your shoes in the morning. Uh uh. Ain't nobody got time for that!" 

Suddenly a good friend's advice came to mind. "If he isn't an ax-murderer, give him a chance." 

Well, at least if he was an ax murderer, he was one that lived thousands of miles away and would have to get his ax through U.S. customs. Hesitantly, I responded to his invitation to coffee, asking how exactly he thought this was going to work out. 

"Trust me. I have a cunning plan!" He responded. 

"Great," I thought. "This random European is going to show up at my doorstep, in some big, romantic gesture and expect me to tour him around California."

 After much cajoling, I was relieved to find that the plan had nothing to do with international travel. All he wanted was to send me an espresso maker and coffee. Once it came, we could do a coffee date over skype.  Charmed by the thoughtfulness and intrigued by the promise of free coffee, I agreed. 

It was a first date unlike any other. Nathan showed up in a button up shirt and tie while I rocked up with a severe head cold and 100 degree fever. A girl's gotta be hot in at least one respect...

Having forewarned him of my somewhat delirious state, I expected the date would be a short one. From the start we did everything wrong. From politics to religion, we covered just about every topic that should be avoided on a first date. Two hours later, I found myself incredibly intrigued by the man and reluctant to hang up. For the first time, I began to hope that just maybe I'd get to speak with him again. 

Looking up at me with a hopeful grin, he asked for a second date and my heart did a leap. Who could resist such a man? He was brilliant, charming, handsome, and cheeky in that particularly Northern Irish way.  His accent alone would have made an even more stalwart American female melt. 

"Well, why not?" I reasoned to myself. "What could be the harm in another long distance chat?"

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  1. Aw, I can't wait for part 2.I just love how God works out His will for our lives with so much love.

  2. What an amazing story! I love how God works! This is such a cliff hanger. Im so excited to hear the rest of how you too became engaged! I will be keeping you both in prayer for your marriage to come. 😁


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