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 (#118)

November 10, 1970

Baron grows...After spending time with Baron, we always missed him more. But this time, after returning to Champaign, we got to enjoy another doggie, which took our minds off him.

Snoopy, a Beagle, belonged to one of my students. Jill was the daughter of old friends from Moody Church, and it was a happy coincidence that she landed in my kindergarten class.

One day her mom came to school to ask a favor. Would Nate and I be willing to keep Snoopy for a while so they could go on a family trip? We jumped at the idea, and in a few days, we had a foster puppy.

Snoopy.Snoopy made himself right at home and got us out walking multiple times every day. We were learning that we didn’t have to own a dog to get a doggie-fix every now and then.

We made another canine pal after I became friends with a teacher at my school named Barbara. She and her husband Rick lived in Danville, and we began asking them over for dinner here and there. One night when they had a power outage, they came and slept over. We used the time to plot and film a primitive home movie.

InkaWhenever Barbara and Rick came, they brought their dog Inka, much to our delight. Inka knew lots of tricks, and Nate loved moving her through her repertoire. Though our landlord didn’t allow live-in dogs, we didn’t think he’d mind a visitor now and then – and we loved having both Snoopy and Inka come over.

Nate’s studying was intensifying as the end of law school approached (January), and he had multiple papers due. Dog-walking was a nice diversion, and during Snoopy’s stay, he and Nate became good buddies. I think Nate actually enjoyed having someone to talk to while I was in Danville.

As the studying intensified, Nate would sometimes have to work well into the night. We’d have an extra-long prayer time on those days, though, just before I went to bed, asking God to give him efficiency, high quality work, and energy.

Nate's note.One morning I found a note taped to the bathroom mirror.

“Baby, thank you for the prayer last evening. I am more thankful every day that there is Unity in our marriage. I persevered until 3:30. Please wake me up at 7:00. I have to do footnotes. Love forever, Nate.”

We couldn’t wait till we were finished with school and out in the real world where paychecks would replace tuition payments and grades would be no more. And once we were settled, we might even be able to own a dog.

“Patient endurance is what you need now.” (Hebrews 10:36)

Newlywed Love (#117)

November 7-9, 1970

Nate and I were getting along great, so thankful to be married and living together.

Friends in VietnamOccasionally we’d watch the news coverage of Vietnam and grow agitated about Nate’s future with the military. Three friends overseas had actually sent us pictures, showing how radi- cally different their lives were from ours. Had Nate not joined ROTC, however, he would have been drafted and most likely located in Vietnam by now. Life in the reserves for the next few years would always be better than that.

A quick trip to the Chicago area reunited us with baby Luke as he approached his one month birthday, and also with our “baby” Baron – who wasn’t really ours anymore.

David, Baron, and Tom

When Mom broke her arm and had to wear a bulky cast for six weeks, Baron had taken up full-time residence with my brother’s friend David. Baron and David loved each other with abandon.

We still got to spend time with this special doggie, though, since Mom kindly invited him (and David) to many of our family gatherings.

 

Our two babiesBaron was keenly interested in baby Luke, and as always, he was a delight to watch. But we had fully accepted that our lives were too fluid to include a pet, especially one as time-intensive as a dog. With David, Baron now had a back yard where he could run, along with a dog-loving family that lavished attention on him. It was a good fit.

After seeing Baron and Luke, Nate and I also squeezed in a quick trip to spend 24 hours with his parents. Lois cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, since our Thanksgiving would be spent in Champaign with my side of the family.

She also gave me a wonderful gift during our visit. After watching her pull out a box of old photographs, I got my first look at Nate as a child. It was heart-warming when she said, “Would you like to take some of these home with you?”

Kindergartener

One photo completely charmed me. Little Nathan, as his family called him, was sitting on a trike at about kindergarten-age. It illustrated the get-up-and-go his parents frequently talked about in reference to his childhood.

His firm grip on the handlebars, his bright eyes and big smile, and his badly-skinned knee were indicative of a lively, determined little boy.

As soon as we got back to Champaign, I framed the photo for our bedroom wall. Looking at it brought me sweet pleasure, making me wonder if we’d ever have children of our own. And if we did, would they look like this little guy? I hoped so.

Meanwhile, I would have to be content exercising my love for children through 28 kindergarteners and baby Luke. But those opportunities were OK by me.

“Out of the mouths of babes… you [Lord] have ordained strength.” (Psalm 8:2)