Young Love (#119)

November 22-23, 1969

The weekend arrived, and Nate stepped into the apartment bright and early. “A week from now we’ll be hitched!” he said, picking me up and spinning me around. It was a moment of pure joy.

After packing up his VW, we headed back across the familiar route to Wilmette, hoping to tie up a few loose ends. For one, my gown hadn’t arrived at the bridal shop, and I wanted to find out why.

For another, we hadn’t decided what the 7 bridesmaids would wear on their heads. It was too late to order anything, but Mom thought we could fabricate something out of sewing scraps. I figured the girls could go topless (just their heads, of course), but Mom nixed that idea. “It’s a formal wedding,” she said. “Their heads need something on them.”

Avacado.When we walked into Mom and Dad’s house, we couldn’t believe the transformation. Their kitchen was completely put together, with something we’d never seen before: avocado appliances. And Mom had chosen a stove with, of all things, a glass top. Amazing. She had a double oven built right into the wall and a four-foot square fixture of fluorescent light on the ceiling. The whole thing looked like something out of the Jetsons!


In the corner she’d had her carpenter build a bench that sat along the south and west walls with storage underneath, “….so we can sit lots of bottoms around the table,” she said.

IMG_5329The living room had been carpeted in dusty blue and topped with several pieces of new furniture. Draperies would be delivered on Monday. The built-in cabinets (with lights) expanded the dining space and made Mom’s Sunday dishes look very pretty. “You two will be getting the old china cabinet,” she told us. We were delighted to know we’d finally have storage for our sweaters, shirts, and socks.

Mom was in her glory, tidying up and putting her well-worn pots and pans into new kitchen cabinets. Dad reported that the new sound system at Moody Church had been completed, an eight-month project. It had made a successful debut’ the Sunday before, lifting a heavy load from his shoulders.

The schedule for our wedding week was flapping on the new refrigerator door and included daily runs to the airport to shuttle incoming guests. By Wednesday, relatives from California and New York would all be on hand, and that’s when the real fun would begin.

IMG_5356Mom was especially eager for her son’s return from the east coast that same day.





As Nate and I drove back to Champaign on Sunday evening, my wedding gown was in transit to the bridal shop (we hoped), and we’d decided to put ribbon bows on the bridesmaids’ heads. It seemed every item had been checked off the list, and as we drove the 3 hours home, a feeling of deep contentment settled over both of us. A song by the Carpenters came on the radio: “We’ve only just begun.”

I turned to Nate and said, “Hey. Let’s make this our song,OK? ”

His response surprised me. “Actually, I have a better one.”

“You do?”

“It’s, You Make Me So Very Happy.” And he grinned.


“Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live.” (Ruth 1:16)

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)