Newlywed Love (#122)

November 27, 1970

Journal about breakfastAfter a happy Thanks- giving Day, Nate and I started our 1st anniversary celebration-weekend with a bang – by sleeping until 12:30. Then together we made a big breakfast and set the table with silver, crystal, and our wedding china. With candles burning, we sat opposite each other in the center of the fully-extended table (which we’d needed for Thanksgiving) and talked about our marriage.

It was fun reminiscing about our wedding day. We laughed hard remembering our wild get-away from the church with John at the wheel, Nate changing out of his tux in a ladies room, and our mad dash into O’Hare airport – and out again.

Holding hands.We recounted each of the four days we had at the Drake Hotel as honeymooners and then went through the year recalling highlights. As we held hands across the breakfast table, Nate prayed a beautiful prayer of gratitude for all that had happened during this first year, and dedicated our marriage to God for the duration.

After doing the dishes, we got dressed up fancy and headed to Lincoln Square, the local mall, to look at Christmas decorations and buy each other an anniversary gift.

Cookie jarAlthough we’d received anniversary checks from both sets of parents and also Bervin and Mary, generally our finances were still tight. So we settled on a low-budget gift that would benefit both of us: a cookie jar in the shape of a big orange. I promised to fill it later with Nate’s favorite – frosted sugar cookies.

(This was our second cookie jar, but we were using the first one for candy.)

Although our actual anniversary wouldn’t come till Sunday, we splurged with dinner out (pizza) and a movie, figuring it would be appropriate to spend some of our gift-money on celebrating.

Back at home we made a fire and talked about what kind of Christmas tree we’d get the next day – shopping for it together. We talked about the previous year when Nate had surprised me with a tree (below), and I had burst into tears.

First treeAt the time I couldn’t believe he’d “cut me out” of that family tradition, and he couldn’t believe I hadn’t appreciated what he’d done for me.

As we remembered back to our first clash, we were thankful to have reached our 1st anniversary without too many more of those painful misunderstandings.

The day ended amorously — in each other’s arms, feeling warm, secure, and very happy.

“There is a time… for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:8)

Newlywed Love (#117)

November 7-9, 1970

Nate and I were getting along great, so thankful to be married and living together.

Friends in VietnamOccasionally we’d watch the news coverage of Vietnam and grow agitated about Nate’s future with the military. Three friends overseas had actually sent us pictures, showing how radi- cally different their lives were from ours. Had Nate not joined ROTC, however, he would have been drafted and most likely located in Vietnam by now. Life in the reserves for the next few years would always be better than that.

A quick trip to the Chicago area reunited us with baby Luke as he approached his one month birthday, and also with our “baby” Baron – who wasn’t really ours anymore.

David, Baron, and Tom

When Mom broke her arm and had to wear a bulky cast for six weeks, Baron had taken up full-time residence with my brother’s friend David. Baron and David loved each other with abandon.

We still got to spend time with this special doggie, though, since Mom kindly invited him (and David) to many of our family gatherings.

 

Our two babiesBaron was keenly interested in baby Luke, and as always, he was a delight to watch. But we had fully accepted that our lives were too fluid to include a pet, especially one as time-intensive as a dog. With David, Baron now had a back yard where he could run, along with a dog-loving family that lavished attention on him. It was a good fit.

After seeing Baron and Luke, Nate and I also squeezed in a quick trip to spend 24 hours with his parents. Lois cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, since our Thanksgiving would be spent in Champaign with my side of the family.

She also gave me a wonderful gift during our visit. After watching her pull out a box of old photographs, I got my first look at Nate as a child. It was heart-warming when she said, “Would you like to take some of these home with you?”

Kindergartener

One photo completely charmed me. Little Nathan, as his family called him, was sitting on a trike at about kindergarten-age. It illustrated the get-up-and-go his parents frequently talked about in reference to his childhood.

His firm grip on the handlebars, his bright eyes and big smile, and his badly-skinned knee were indicative of a lively, determined little boy.

As soon as we got back to Champaign, I framed the photo for our bedroom wall. Looking at it brought me sweet pleasure, making me wonder if we’d ever have children of our own. And if we did, would they look like this little guy? I hoped so.

Meanwhile, I would have to be content exercising my love for children through 28 kindergarteners and baby Luke. But those opportunities were OK by me.

“Out of the mouths of babes… you [Lord] have ordained strength.” (Psalm 8:2)

Newlywed Love (#115)

November 2-3, 1970

As we moved into the month of November, Nate and I were closing in on our first anniversary. After 11 months of marriage, neither of us could imagine living without each other. And we talked about how life would seem empty if that ever happened.

I loved many things about my husband that I’d learned during our first year together, but one of my favorites was his willingness to talk to me. Whether it was a report on my day with the kindergarteners or a discussion of more serious matters, he was all-in on every conversation.

Through the year I’d thought about our marriage a great deal and had figured out what Nate needed most from me, recording it in my journal:

My role

I was learning from Nate’s sterling example of building me up and hoped to build him up the same way. He never tired of encouraging me and found creative ways to do so. For instance, he had established a tradition of buying one rose for me every Friday afternoon, knowing I would arrive home tired after a busy week. Each rose (a different color every time) was garnished with a fern or a sprig of wild flowers and put in a vase — with a loving note propped against it.

Love note from Nate

Contemp. card

I enjoyed the flowers but much more so the notes. He put creativity and thought into each one, and they served to bind us tightly together week after week.

Following his example, I began writing love notes, too, using contemporary cards. It was fun finding places to hide them around the apartment where I knew he’d find them while I was at school.

 

 

 

Contemporary card with love

One evening as we sat in front of a fire with a Carpenters album playing on the stereo, Nate asked if I loved teaching kindergarten in Danville as much as I’d loved it in Chicago.

I thought for a minute and then said yes, following that with a list of reasons. But as I talked, a fresh truth came to me. Though I loved my job and would have done it for free, during our first year of marriage a major shift had occurred. From the journal:

I love it as much as before… but the most exciting part of my day now comes when I turn my key in the 3rd floor apartment door on Healey street and that handsome blonde person is there to grab and kiss!

My love for teaching had been pre-empted by my love for Nate.

As delightful as my students were, they had been demoted. And as good as it was to be teaching them, life was even better when I was with Nate.

As I put that change into words for him, his responsive smile told me I’d inadvertently done what he had so often done for me. I’d built him up. And it felt good to both of us.

“A word in season, how good it is.” (Ecclesiastes 10:12)