Young Love (#118)

November 20-21, 1969

Very soon my apartment was going to become our official first home as a married couple. Although Nate and I had accumulated several cast-off furniture items, most of the space remained empty. After 4 bridal showers, we had lots of china, crystal, and silver but no place to put it. For the most part, it was still in boxes.

IMG_5339My long-term friend Lynn offered to come and help make things home-ier for us. She and I had met at Moody Church when we were both in junior high school, when her parents had come to run the music ministry.

Lynn and I clicked right away, but our homes were separated by two suburbs – which meant we didn’t see each other during the week. Since phoning friends was frowned upon, we did most of our talking in the back rows during Sunday school and church.

IMG_5343When the weekends came, we pleaded for sleep-overs until our mothers finally chose a gas station half-way between our two homes where we made the girl-transfers. Our friendship grew quickly after that. (Left: pea-shooting at cars.)

We tried cigarettes together, had our first taste of alcohol together, dated brothers together, and snuck out of our homes during the night together. We got into trouble at camp together, dyed our hair orange together, hosted parties together when our parents were out of town…. and also taught Sunday school together. Our shared history was rich.

Lynn was full of artistic ideas. Over the years she taught me to knit sweaters, sometimes with such complicated patterns we’d be using five different colored yarns at once. She could also sew up a storm and taught me to make simple skirts and jumpers. Lynn was a whiz in the kitchen, too, and showed me how to make teriyaki chicken, among other things.

I knew that if she put her creative touches on our apartment, it would take on the warmth it lacked.

FullSizeRender(3)When she arrived, she’d brought a gizmo that made flowers out of yarn or string, and went to work using our 3 colors: orange, yellow, and kiwi green. Nate and I both loved the results. She also showed me how to arrange books and knick-knacks on our shelves in artistic ways and even initiated washing windows and hanging curtains.

Lynn was going to be one of my bridesmaids and was doing more than her fair share by sewing 3 of the gowns. But she was a pro at multi-tasking and was managing well, despite a full school schedule and a job. I was appreciative beyond words.

IMG_5344Our time working at the apartment was full of laughter and love – two old friends who had been through a decade of adventures together that had moved them from middle school to marriage. (Lynn’s wedding would be the following year.)

All this reminded me of how much I’d missed girl-time with her and other buddies back home. But stepping into marriage meant stepping out of that old life. Walking down the aisle was saying yes to radical change in every area. Was I ready?

As Nate and I stood holding hands while waving goodbye to one of my dearest friends, I had the feeling everything was going to turn out just fine.

“If anything is excellent or praiseworthy…. think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Young Love (#117)

November 18-19, 1969

As Nate and I were in Champaign happily crossing off one more calendar square each night, Mom was in Wilmette wishing each square would last longer. Her kitchen was still unfinished, and new furniture hadn’t yet been delivered. The day before Thanksgiving, quite a crowd of people would be arriving to use her house as their home base – myself among them.

Brother TomIn addition to a handful of relatives and bridesmaids, my brother (right) would be coming home from his east coast college, too, and all of those arrivals were only a week away. That’s when Mom did something uncharacteristic of her. She began putting some heavy heat on her workmen and the furniture stores, as well as the men constructing built-in cabinets in her living room. And she terminated their coffee breaks — no more of her home made cinnamon rolls for any of them.

A couple of friends dropped by for a visit, and she put them to work. A few days later a happy note appeared in her diary. “All kinds of workmen here today! Furniture delivery, too!” Her pressure had produced, and just as she’d optimistically predicted those many weeks back, everything would be done before the wedding.

Down in Champaign, we received a last letter from Aunt Joyce, who was wrapping up her pre-wedding correspondence to us:

From Aunt JoyceI’ll always cherish the memory of your taking time to write me about so many interesting and delightful happenings in these your final days of Miss Margaret Johnson.

This new chapter you are entering is even better than the last, and opens the way to even greater, deeper, and more exciting chapters, each one a joy with the promise of even more to come as you and Nate commit yourself to Him and He does all the work! Our only effort is surrender!

She concluded with this:

I think about you so often and discuss you with the Lord also. And I hope I’ve remembered to answer all your questions and write about all the really important things – like I love you!

Our fireplaceAs the November days shortened and temperatures dropped, Nate and I sat on the floor in front of our apartment fireplace and counted blessings. It wasn’t hard to see how fortunate we were, especially having two supportive families who loved us.

Wrapped snugly under the same blanket, looking into the dancing flames, we felt delightfully warmed, both inside and out. It was the perfect time to pray together, asking God to show us how to give back to those who’d given so much to us. We also asked Him to teach us how to love each other as much as our families loved us.

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you…. Write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3)

Young Love (#116)

November 17, 1969

Our school days were busy and went by fast as Nate and I moved through the last full week before a short Thanksgiving week – which would culminate in our wedding!

Although my heart wasn’t always in my classroom work, I loved recess – the perfect time to get rid of all the excess energy I seemed to have. Sometimes I found myself running around like a first-grader, happy to race the kids in games of “Red Rover Come Over” and “Steal the Bacon.”

Merry-go-roundThen one day we had a playground crisis that could have ended in the death of one of my first graders. Our playground had an old merry-go-round that was popular with all the children. On that day, after the girls had all scrambled on board, the boys got the merry-go-round spinning at full speed.

The kids were all squealing with delight when suddenly a little girl’s dress somehow got caught in the center wheel of the merry-go-round. With each revolution the fabric pulled tighter around her neck, and none of the other children noticed.

FullSizeRender(6)Linda’s class and mine shared playground time, and as she and I stood chatting, the merry-go-round wasn’t in her line of vision…. but it was in mine. As it continued to spin, the little girl’s air supply was being cut off tighter and tighter. In a few seconds she was going to be unconscious – and possibly choke to death.

As my brain finally kicked in and I realized what was happening, I bolted toward the merry-go-round yelling for the boys to stop pushing. Together we wrenched the heavy thing to a stop, and I jumped on. With one hand I grabbed the little girl out of the middle of the merry-go-round while yanking her dress up and off the center wheel with the other hand.

She took in a giant gulp of air…. and the crisis was over.

Even though she rallied quickly, I kept a close eye on her throughout the afternoon. She seemed no worse for wear, and gradually the red marks around her neck faded. I wondered if I should mention the incident to her mother —  but knew that if I did tell her, she would worry endlessly about her daughter’s safety after that.

By 3:00, I had decided to let it go by. And if this sweet little girl ever described all the merry-go-round excitement to her parents, I never heard about it.

Back at our apartment when I told Nate the story, he cautioned me to be more vigilant. And in an effort to make me take him seriously, he mentioned the possibility of law suits – as any good law student would.

But I had already learned my lesson.

“Be ready to do whatever is good.” (Titus 3:1)