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 (#15)

December 29, 1969

During this golden time of togetherness without any traveling or visitors (or even classes), Nate and I moved through our days as if in a dream – a shared dream that had come true. We couldn’t get enough of each other and frequently found ourselves back in the comfort of our “new” bed, just wanting to hold onto each other and murmur sweet words.

M and NAs we came to December 29 and our first month anniversary, we agreed that our every expectation of marriage so far had been met and surpassed. We knew life probably couldn’t continue indefinitely on that idyllic level, but as long as it did, we planned to relish every minute.

Despite our financial struggles, we decided our anniversary called for a dinner out. We went one step above McDonald’s to a restaurant called Lum’s that had a similar menu. At least at Lum’s we didn’t have to eat in the car. But we drew the line at purchasing gifts — too expensive.

Nate told me he thought we could borrow $100 from the University of Illinois to get us over our financial hump… the equivalent of about $650 today. We prayed about it, hoping we were doing the right thing. Behind our borrowing was the hope that once Nate graduated from law school, he could earn enough in his first job to dispose of the debt.

Both sets of parents also offered to match the university funds, partly because they wanted us to pay a carpet layer to put down the donated (used) carpeting they had shipped to us. They assured us they wouldn’t need the money back any time soon.

If Nate could find a decent part-time job in January, we figured we could chip away at our debts — along with paying our regular bills – while he was still in law school.

Borrowing

Meanwhile, we never doubted God was taking care of us and made a point to ask him for guidance in every decision. And as we nervously made plans to borrow this “pile” of money, it was good to see that Nate credited the Lord as being the One who put together the rescue from our immediate dilemma.

Borrowing.

“Blessed is he whose help…. is in the Lord his God.” (Psalm 146:5)

Newlywed Love (#13)

December 27, 1969

Mother-in-law LoisSpending Christmas with my in-laws and then Nate’s was a good plan. Although we’d had mild opposition from both sets of parents about setting our wedding date months previously, there had never been any resistance about who each of us had chosen to marry.

I felt complete acceptance from the Nymans (right, with Nate’s mother; below, Nate with his father), and Nate knew he was welcomed by the Johnsons.

 

Nate and red jacketThis cheerful approval was quite different, at least on my side, from what I’d experienced while dating my non-Christian boyfriend. Although Mom and Dad had always been kind to him when he was in their home, privately it was another story.

 

Dad, especially, had been concerned about the possibility of me committing to a partnership that would be “unequally yoked,” as the Bible put it in the King James Version. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Both parents and nearly everyone else in my circle of friends had seen clearly that this boyfriend and I were not unified in our core beliefs, the important values that would control all the opinions and decisions of the future…. for both of us. Even Mary and Bervin, always encouraging, had advised us to break up.

During those 18 months of dating, Dad would often wait up for me when I came in from a date, even when I arrived home at 2:30 or 3:00 AM. When I saw the light upstairs, I knew he would be waiting in my room with a frown and a lecture.

Often these tense conversations included the warning that if I committed to this boy, I would be unhappy long-term. And to back up his arguments, Dad would often leave pamphlets and articles in my room about the difficulty of marriage between a believer and a non-believer.

I felt terrible guilt about causing Mom and Dad such angst as I continued to date this boy, but hadn’t been enough to stop me. It was only the arrival of another girl that became God’s way of convicting me to leave him.

Now, though, after having married a man my parents respected and would have chosen for me themselves, everything was different. Being with my family was marked by easy acceptance. And it included light…. and laughter.

Nate’s and my relationship made them glad, which then nourished both of us. And since I’d known the opposite reality, my satisfaction during our Christmas visit was considerable.

Passing out gifts(Right, Mom distributes presents)

All of us exchanged simple gifts while we were together, but the most valuable one Nate and I received was the love and acceptance of both sets of in-laws – a gift that would matter on every holiday to follow, throughout the years.

“Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)