Newlywed Love (#108)

October 11-14, 1970

Our J.O.Y. Sunday school class was growing. Apparently word was getting around that we had lively discussions, and curiosity was bringing people in.

Score sheetThis week Martin shook things up again with his debating. Nate was a good debater, too, having been the captain of his high school team, and I found myself keeping score — first in my head and eventually on paper.

The class was never dull, and Pastor Ralph made sure to faithfully interject Scripture. But something about the argumentative mood didn’t seem right for Sunday school. After class Nate said, “I want to talk to Ralph for a minute, OK?”

As we drove home, he told me he and Ralph had concluded that what Martin really needed was loving acceptance, not counter-arguments. Apparently he wasn’t a Christian, and Ralph was concerned he not be driven away from the church by verbal sparring. He hoped Nate and the others would work to keep things calmer. No more trying to “win.”

I felt like a bratty kid in the car when I said, “Yes, but he started it!”

Gradually, though, I came to understand the situation as Ralph (and Nate) did, and we decided to act better in class – and even pray for Martin when we thought of it. We were living and learning.

On Monday, Columbus Day, I was disappointed not to be heading back to my Danville kids, but we had the day off.  After missing Friday with poison sumac, I was looking better and wanted to explain my absence, proving it with the leftover rash. My students would love the whole story.

When Tuesday finally came and I did return, they fawned over me like I was a celebrity, each talking over the others to share their weekend stories. One little girl jumped up and down saying, “I feel good today, because mommy said I don’t have to wear an undershirt anymore!” As she was pulling her dress up to show us, we quickly moved to the next story.

pumpkin seedsOne of the boys, having had a family outing over the weekend said, “I found out what you do to pumpkin seeds.”

“What ‘s that?” I said.

“You plant a whole bunch in a little pile, and that will get you an apple tree!”

The girl next to him nodded. “I already know that,” she said, “because I did it once.”

Another boy said, “I saw where my dad works.”

“What does he do?” I said.

“The dirty work.”

My studentsI laughed, knowing the real truth was that kindergarten teachers had all the fun.

To add to the gaiety of our reunion, I’d brought Nate’s and my Super 8 movie camera to school, a wedding gift from Mary and Bevin. During recess we created a mountain of leaves, and I recorded the kids jumping and leaping into the pile.

Both the morning and afternoon groups starred in their own movie, and I told them that once it was developed, we’d get permission to show it on the big Cannon School screen.

Their great delight was also mine. Five year olds were just the best.

Jesus prayed, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth …you have hidden things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children… This is what you were pleased to do.” (Luke 10:21)

Newlywed Love (#107)

October 8-10, 1970

M and BMary’s due date, October 7, had come and gone without a baby. Though she was realistic, I wondered if something might be wrong. “Nothing to worry about,” she said. “In a week or two we’ll be holding him or her in our arms.” I decided to take her word for it, as an experienced nurse.

Meanwhile life continued for Nate and me as he poured himself into the last semester of law school and I played with 5-year-olds all day. In the month or so since school began, I’d made two new friends, Lynn and Barbara — both teachers. Once in a while we began seeing each other outside of school hours.

Lynn was a student-wife like me, living in Champaign with her new husband, and Barbara lived in Danville with hers. When our first PTA evening of the year came on October 8, Barbara invited both Lynn and I to her home after school – so we wouldn’t have to drive our 80 miles twice in one day.

The three of us put our feet up for a while and shared dinner at McDonald’s before returning to school for the long evening with parents. By the time I pulled in at home, it was almost 11:00 PM — but walking in to Nate’s hugs and kisses was the best possible end to a long day.

That night, however, I had trouble sleeping. My hands, face, and neck began to itch something fierce, and in the light of day I saw why. There were little dots everywhere, thousands of them, and each one had a white center. It was the strangest rash I’d ever seen.

Nate was concerned. “Are you allergic to anything?”

“Not that I know of,” I said.

“I think we better see a doctor,” he said. “And you probably shouldn’t go to school, since it might be contagious.”

Sumac conesI called in sick, and we headed for the Carle Clinic. The doctor took one look and said, “Have you been in the woods lately?”

“Well,” I said, “we did go to Allerton Park and there are woods there, but we didn’t really go into them.”

“Did you pick any plants while you were there?” And of course we had.

Unbeknownst to us, the sumac leaves and cones we’d collected were famous for causing rashes, and I had fooled around with them most of the day. The doctor explained. “Sumac poisoning is like poison oak or poison ivy but actually can be even worse.

The leaves, cones, roots… all of it has an oily resin on it that irritates skin. Once you touch it, anyplace else you touch with the resin still on your fingers can get ‘poisoned’ too. That’s why it’s on your face and forearms.”

More of Allerton.

He gave me a salve to coat the rash and said I should be looking better in a few days. That worked well with the long Columbus Day weekend just ahead.

Though I had to take a sick day, I felt just fine, so I talked Nate into a quick study break…

…at Allerton Park.

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health.” (3 John 1:2)

Newlywed Love (#101)

September 21-26, 1970

Each week seemed to be busier than the one before, and Thursday of this week would include the 3 hour drive to Chicago and back for Mary’s surprise baby shower. She was due in two weeks, and there was no way I was missing this fun evening. Besides, my knitted sweater and hat were ready, and I couldn’t wait to give them to her.

Nate didn’t think it was wise to drive a 300 mile round trip for a couple of hours at a party, but I just had to go. My had principal refused to give me a day off, either that day or the next, so I planned to teach and then leave straight from school.

Asleep behind the wheelThat part didn’t bother Nate, but thinking of me driving home late after a long, tiring day seemed to him like a recipe for falling asleep behind the wheel. “It’s risky,” he said.

But he knew how much I wanted to go, so the only solution was for him to go too – which he willingly offered. I tried to tell him I’d be fine, but with 4 driving accidents on my record, he didn’t like the odds.

Once I knew he’d be joining me, the plan became twice as fun. We agreed I would drive on the way while he studied; he would study during the event and then drive home.

M and MThe shower took place at a glamorous Chicago apartment in a glass-walled high-rise with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. Mary was genuinely surprised when she walked in, and we loved showering her with gifts and good wishes.

The devotional, given by a friend named Judy, described mother- hood as a privilege and children as gifts. As I listened, I day-dreamed of becoming a mother… but knew it would have to wait for some distant day.

The dinner-shower went longer than we anticipated, and when Nate and I finally pulled into our Champaign neighborhood, it was nearly 3:00 AM. In my journal I wrote, Both of us were grogged.

Just a few hours after we’d fallen into bed, I was up and off to Danville for an all-day education workshop, hard to take on 3½ hours of sleep. I dozed through much of it and was bleary when I finally got back in the car to drive the 40 miles home.

On rampAs I drove up the ramp to get on I-74, a car behind me was tailgating so close I couldn’t believe it hadn’t bumped me. Noticing two young men who loomed large in my rear view mirror, I figured they must just be in a terrible hurry.

Once we blended into traffic, I expected them to go around me, but they didn’t. They stayed tight to my rear bumper no matter which lane I changed into or what speed I drove.

On top of that, my car began making a strange noise, seeming to resist my foot on the gas pedal, and I got scared. If I had to pull over, I knew those guys would pull over right behind me.

(Conclusion tomorrow)

“He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.” (Psalm 91:11)