Newlywed Love (#30)

February 9, 1970

Nate and I were fast becoming good friends with Linda and Judy, along with their husbands. All of us were in our first year of marriage, making similar adjustments to each other and our new roles. Linda’s husband Ron was a salesman who traveled with his job, needing to stay out-of-town one or two nights a week.

Rip does tricksLinda missed him on those nights, so we often asked her to join us for dinner – primitive that it was. Sometimes she brought her dog Rip, who entertained us with a repertoire of tricks.

Linda didn’t drive, so when she came for dinner, Nate picked her up at the Country Fair Apartments and brought her over, driving her home afterwards. One night, after another deep snowfall, the roads hadn’t been plowed, and Nate was taking her home. As they turned into her complex, he didn’t see one of the large white rocks edging the driveway, and he drove up and over it.

Linda with RipHis VW got tightly stuck, refusing to move forward or back. So, using his bare hands (for lack of gloves), he kneeled in a snow bank and worked to dig away the packed snow from around the rock. Then he battled the heavy rock itself, eventually wrenching it out from under the car just enough so the car could move.

Linda cheered him through the long, cold process and felt bad about the whole thing, but of course it wasn’t her fault. In a report to me afterwards, she bubbled over with praise for Nate’s gallant good deed on her behalf. “He’s my unsung hero!” she said.

Cathy and JohnAs we stockpiled experiences together, our friendships were deepening with the carpool couples and also with others. About this time our friends Cathy and John got married, adding to our group of newlywed pals. John and Nate were in law classes together while both Cathy and I worked to support our men. It helped all of us to know that others were in our same boat.

In addition to these, we were making new friends at Champaign’s First Baptist Church.

Pastor Ralph Nast and his wife Lottie taught the young married group, and a dozen couples gathered every Sunday morning before the church service to study what Scripture had to say to them, many of whom were newlyweds like us.

First Baptist Church

Pastor Ralph skillfully guided our discussions as we grappled with some of life’s prickly problems. And we learned that virtually every question we asked was answered in the Bible. It turned out to be a time of rapid spiritual growth for all of us.

Most of us recognized that this was a unique time in our lives, because we were in the midst of making some of the most significant, far-reaching decisions we would ever make. We’d all made two big ones, deciding to get married and to whom, but other important choices lay just ahead. Many in the group were also deciding yes or no to Jesus Christ.

Hashing things out with friends turned out to be a big help. And Pastor Ralph taught us that Jesus was offering to be a friend to all of us – a friend whose advice should always be carefully considered, because it would be superior to guidance from any other source.

Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Newlywed Love (#26)

January 29, 1970

RosesNate did something on our 2nd month anniversary that was completely unexpected. He bought me a dozen long-stemmed red roses! This was over-the-top generosity, since our finances were so lean, and I was astounded. He explained:

“I’ll never get over that I found you. I don’t deserve you, and yet here you are – married to me. All the roses in town couldn’t express my love for you.”

Nate's cardI heard his words, but as always had trouble believing I could possibly mean that much to him. My thinking was just the opposite – that I didn’t deserve him. And I certainly hadn’t done anything to merit a dozen roses or the “love forever” he pledged on the card.

But Nate’s love didn’t originate in my being worthy to receive it or performing well. It was just based on me…. self-focused, flawed me.

He was one of a kind. He listened carefully whenever I talked. He made no effort to sway my decisions or change my opinions. And he never criticized my many mistakes. Instead he spoke encouragement and heaped praise on me for even the small things, like doing the dishes.

Though I felt I didn’t deserve such devotion, it sure felt good to receive it. And it let me be me, without having to pretend about anything.

2nd anniversary card, frontAs I stood holding my gorgeous roses, I felt sheepish giving Nate my modest anniversary gift. It was a contemporary card that said, “We’ve got what it takes to have a Happy Anniversary…. each other.” (right) I had taped a picture of myself inside and written a note, thanking him for all the help he gave me around the apartment (below).

2nd anniversary cardAs I handed it to him, I apologized for such a minimal gift. He opened it, studied it, and said, “I couldn’t have wanted anything more. You’re giving me you! And in a pretty butterscotch dress.”

He took the roses from me and set them down so he could deliver some Happy Anniversary hugs and kisses. And as always, he had made everything turn out just right.

“A man’s ways are in full view of the Lord.” (Proverbs 5:21)

Newlywed Love (#25)

January 26, 1970

BlizzardAfter Dad and I purchased the black Mustang, I couldn’t wait to drive it back to Champaign to show Nate our classy new wheels. Heavy snow made the 156 miles time-intensive and nerve-racking. But there was no way to contact Nate as I traveled along, so I just kept going, one mile at a time. Knowing he was waiting for me made it all worth it.

As I pulled up in front of our apartment building, Nate must have been anxiously looking out the window, because he came running down the steps and outside to greet me. He didn’t care nearly as much about the car as he did about me, worried for my welfare in the storm. It was gratifying to watch relief wash over him as he put his arms around me.

“I was so upset,” he said, “that something might have happened to you!” Covering my face and neck with kisses he whispered, “I could never live without you.”

I still didn’t understand why he loved me so much, but at that moment I didn’t need a reason. I accepted his loving care and was sure I could never feel more cherished than I did right then.

Snowy MustangOnce we stopped hugging in the middle of the street, he stood back to admire the Mustang – and was pleased. We both climbed in, and he pulled it around to the back alley where there was space to park. “You and your dad did well,” he said.

Upstairs, we made some coffee and shared the details of our weekend apart. He had some interesting tales from his first shifts at H & R Block, and I gave him the details of how Dad and I found the car. “If anything goes wrong during the first month,” I said, “we can bring it back, and they’ll fix it.”

Coffee mug.Nate made a fire, and the two of us sat on a blanket in front of it for a long time, sipping coffee and feeling thankful to be “in touch” again. We agreed there was nothing like a separation to make us appreciate being together. I told him how glad I’d been as I struggled through the snow to know it was him waiting for me at the other end. And he told me how thankful he was that he was the one I was eager to come home to.

It was a golden moment for a newlywed couple closing in on their 2nd month anniversary. All was right with the world.

“I am content just to have you safely back again…” (2 Samuel 19:30)