Newlywed Love (#119)

November 13-15, 1970

Nate continued to leave notes for me, many of them thank you’s. I loved him for writing them and got a kick out of his hiding places.

One note was stuck in the steering wheel of my car, another under my pillow. Notes were taped to the bathroom mirror, the front door, and the kitchen sink. Once he bought me an Eskimo pie and attached his note to it in the freezer: “Happy Wednesday!” he wrote. Occasionally I’d find a message among the frozen vegetables.

Another noteNate thanked me for cleaning the apartment, folding his undershirts, and making breakfast.

Of all the notes he left, though, my favorite was his simple “I love you,” something he had said consistently from the beginning of our then-one-sided relationship. Even when I hadn’t loved him, he’d written of his love for me.

He did many other things that spoke love to me. He opened doors, whether it was at the apartment, in a store, a church, someone else’s home, or anyplace – including the car. Even if it meant standing in the rain, he always took care of me first.

Bearing burdensHe brushed every new snowfall off my car and always carried boxes or bags for me, even if they weren’t heavy. He pulled out every chair for me, never seating himself before I was settled – even when it was just the two of us in our apartment. And at the dinner table, he never helped himself to any of the food before offering the serving bowls to me.

When we took our evening strolls around the neighborhood, he faithfully walked on the curb side, the old-fashioned, gentlemanly way to shield a lady from harm. I marveled at how seamlessly he changed sides if we went around a corner or across the street, almost like a smooth dance.

Ice waterAny time he got a glass of water or a Pepsi for himself, he’d ask if I wanted one, too, and then would prepare them both. And he never sent me off to work without giving several delicious kisses. When I returned, he had a bunch more ready for me.

On cold days he made a cozy fire before I came in from work, knowing this would warm me inside and outside. As we talked on a blanket in front of it, he was careful not to interrupt me and always focused on my face when I talked.

Even when we were in a group, he kindly introduced me and spent time talking to me as well as others. By his consistent example in these ways, he let me see what life looked like when one person put another ahead of himself. His actions assured me of his devotion.

I love you.As I watched him, it seemed like he didn’t have to work very hard at doing these things, which amazed me. Rather, they flowed naturally from what he was feeling. Nate was committed to me and to making our marriage the best it could be. And he deserved full credit for its success.

I knew not all young wives were thus blessed, and I was deeply grateful – both to Nate and to God… the One who had brought us together.

“I have not stopped thanking God for you.” (Ephesians 1:16)

Newlywed Love (#116)

November 4-6, 1970

DadWhen I called Dad to tell him I was thinking about a masters degree at Northwestern, he was pleased. As an alum, he loved the idea of me attending his alma mater.

“I’ll go over there tomorrow to pick up an application,” he said, “and will mail it to you.”

Dad had earned two degrees from Northwestern, both in engineering. He told the story of how he had graduated #2 in the class of 1922 but berated himself for not having been #1. He remembered #1’s name and mentioned how he was the guy who always got to carry the flag in the alumni parade .

A youthful DadBeing #2 was highly impressive to me, since I’d been way down in the ranks of my own class. Dad’s advice for doing well in college was interesting. “Don’t take notes in class. Just commit to listening well. Then view every exam as an opportunity to show the professor how much you’ve learned.”

But Dad and I were very different. Maybe that’s why we got along so well and why I was very attached to him. Through all the ups and down of my life, he’d always been in my corner. Success or failure, compliance or rebellion didn’t matter as much as my being his daughter – and I never once doubted his love.

When the Northwestern application arrived in Champaign, it was full of difficult questions requiring lengthy essay answers. After writing my name and address, I stalled, not sure I should even proceed.

Northwestern UniversityBut Nate urged me on, one question at a time. Then he edited my responses by eliminating half of the babble I’d used to pad my answers.

It took several days, but my application and I finished on a positive note with the question, “Have any of your family members attended North- western?” I was thankful I had three names to put down: Dad, my Uncle Edward (Dad’s brother), and my Uncle Jack (Mom’s brother).

Nate and I walked to the mailbox together to send off the application. “If I get in,” I said, “I wonder if I can even do the work. If I don’t get in, maybe that’ll be a good thing.”

He challenged me to stay positive. “I’m sure you’ll get in.”

Back at the apartment Cathy came over, toting our chilled chocolate candy – which was ready to be wrapped. We’d done our best to find appropriate boxes, though some had been used for other things.

Chocolates on the ironing boardBut when we lined them all up on my pull-down ironing board, it was a sight to behold. We sealed the boxes and divided them up between us with our goal of homemade Christmas gifts now in view. And we’d spent very little money.

As Nate and I got ready for bed that night I said, “You know what? I think making chocolates and candles is probably more up my alley than studying in grad school.”

But I shouldn’t have even said it, since I knew how he would respond. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’re gonna love it.”

“I will show you the most excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 2:31)

Newlywed Love (#104)

October 1-2, 1970

Indian Summer was over, and the first frost had blanketed Champaign. We were delighted to be using our fireplace again and often ate dinner in front of it.

Fireside dinnerBoth of us were glad we hadn’t succumbed to the summertime temptation to move. I had wanted to exchange our fireplace for Country Fair’s swimming pool, but now their pool was closed after just 3 months – and we would get to enjoy cozy fires for the next 6 months.

We continued our evening walks (dressed in jackets and shoes now) while talking about the many decisions we would soon have to make. When our lease ran out in August of 1971, we’d be moving… but where? Which city? What address? And would Nate be a civilian, or would the Army own him? If the Army, where would he be stationed? Which state? Or… the worst question mark of all… would he be sent to Vietnam?

If he wasn’t on active duty, might he be working at a law job? And just to be prepared for this possibility, when should he take the Bar Exam? Would he pass it on the first try? And if not, where would he work before being able to re-take the exam? And where would I be working? Without certification and with provisional openings now eliminated, what would I be doing?

UncertaintyNate and I would lie awake in bed long into the night pondering these questions. But no matter how we guessed what might happen, not one question had a firm answer. The process was exhausting, and though we knew God would eventually replace every question mark with a period, the not-knowing was wearing.

Finally, we decided the best approach would be to dwell on whatever had been decided – the things without question marks.

Our faith in Christ came first and was strong. We were being spiritually nourished at our church and enjoyed a mentor-type relationship with Pastor Ralph and his wife Lottie. We had supportive, loving families on both sides and a bright future. And with friends galore, our calendar was full of happy get-togethers.

As we talked quietly in the safety and comfort of each other’s arms, we counted our marriage as one of the very best things without a question mark. Our newlywed year was almost over, and through the months we had become more and more attached, never bored or frustrated. Actually, there were many days when we just couldn’t get enough of each other.

TogethernessBoth of us felt free to be ourselves with no need to play any relationship games, which made for a stress-free marriage and a happy home. Though the list of questions loomed large and sometimes seemed to threaten, as we drifted off to sleep their influence almost always faded — having given way to the rock-solid affirmations that didn’t have any question marks at all — and never would.

“You have been called to live in freedom… Use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)