Young Love (#113)

November 14, 1969

Young people in their 20’s are living through the most exhilarating decade their lives will ever know. Some are graduating from college, traveling the world, choosing careers, entering the military. Others are getting married, having babies, buying homes, adapting to community life. Spiritual commitments are often made (or unmade) during this decade, and 20-somethings literally pass from childhood to adulthood.

20-somethingsNate and I were no exception. We never ran out of stimulating things to talk about.

Where should he apply for his first lawyer-job? Should we live in a big city? A suburb? A small town? Should we move to his home town? To mine? To a new part of the country? Where should I work? Or should I go back to school? Should we have children? If so, how many?

We were euphoric as we talked about our options. Life had no restrictions, and it seemed we could do anything we wanted. But this belief in unlimited choices, though typical of our age group, had its dangers. In our case it turned out to be too much gazing at the un-decided’s while ignoring one of the decided’s.

3.40It was Friday evening, and Nate and I enjoyed a glass of wine celebrating the many happy decisions ahead of us. Before we knew it, it was 2:00 AM – and then past 3:00. We began to rationalize how practical it would be for Nate to stay in the apartment till breakfast, only a few hours away.

Though we had a rule against him spending the night, most of the night had already passed. Besides, we’d stuck with our decision to remain sexually pure through lots of tempting moments. So we decided he could stay – promising each other we’d “be good.”

But that’s the thing about temptation. The devil whispers a mix of truth and lies into our ears, and before long we’ve stepped over a line we were determined not to cross.

With our inhibitions down because of the wine, our hugging and kissing started to get out of hand. Nate began whispering, “I probably shouldn’t stay.” I responded, “You probably should go.” But neither of us had the will power to pull apart. That’s when something very strange happened.

God has promised to provide an escape hatch when we’re having trouble resisting temptation, and on that Friday, Nate and I were having trouble. Right then, God delivered.

Out of nowhere I heard a car door slam down on the street, and a vivid picture popped into my muzzy mind: Mom…. arriving for a surprise visit.

Logic would say, “Impossible! It’s after 3:00 AM!” But Mom had pulled some pretty crazy stunts in her time. I sat bolt upright and said, “Quick! Grab your shoes and run for the back door! I think Mom’s here!”

“What?” he said in his confusion as he rolled off the Murphy bed and did what I asked. When I heard the back door close behind him, I knew he was headed for his car and his rented room.

I lay there quietly in the dark, waiting to hear Mom’s tap on the front door…. but it never came.

CerealIn a few hours, Nate returned for breakfast. Both of us agreed we’d had a close call – and were thankful for God’s odd but effective “way of escape.” Feeling humbled, we again determined to save our first sex for our wedding night – only 15 days away.

“There’s a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” (Ecclesiastes 3:5)

Young Love (#112)

November 10-13, 1969

As the school year moved toward Thanksgiving break, I was pleased at how well my little six-year-olds were learning. Linda (the 2nd grade teacher) and I talked about what they would need to know before entering her class the following year, and I finally felt confident I could get them there.

My friendships with Linda and Judy were deepening, and we began doing a few things socially, away from school. We shared several dinners and included our guys, so they were getting to know each other, too.

The RobinettesThe 4th grade teacher at our school, Mrs. Robinette, was like a teaching mentor to all three of us with her many years of experience. But she was a friend, too. She and her husband lived on a farm, and she often shared her home-grown produce with us – fresh veggies and eggs.

One Sunday, she and her husband invited all of us McKinley teachers and spouses to their home for dinner.

After a delicious meal, Judy sat down at the upright piano and began playing hymns she seemed to know well.

Upright pianoLinda walked over and started singing the words, and then Judy added an alto part. I joined in too, trying to put my notes between theirs. This amateur trio probably sang well beyond the enjoyment of the others, but Linda, Judy, and I had discovered a faith-link between us. All three loved the Lord and had had experience with him. Finding this out meant something special to each of us.

For the most part, our school days went well. We’d adjusted to the 80-mile round trip commute, and the teaching staff felt like family. There was one day, however, that Judy, Linda, and I wished would never have happened.

It was time for a teacher training afternoon, and the students were sent home before lunch. All the teachers in the district were then supposed to report to in-service meetings for the rest of the day.

The three of us really didn’t want to go, so we concocted a better plan. Thinking we wouldn’t me missed, we ditched the afternoon and headed home early. But Principal Scarce had had his eye out for us and wasn’t fooled.

Principal's officeThe next day, when he called us to his office, we knew we’d been caught. Instead of a trio of hymn-singers, we had morphed into a trio of truants.

Mr. Scarce patiently listened to our side of the story, but between the three of us, we couldn’t come up with even one good excuse. His only choice was to dock our paychecks – a big disappointment, and an even bigger embarrassment. Thankfully he didn’t withdraw the permission he’d given me for 3 days off after Thanksgiving. Had he taken that away, Nate and I wouldn’t have been able to have a honeymoon.

All of us felt bad about our immature choice to skip the meetings and vowed to do better, throwing ourselves into the day-to-day work of teaching. But each evening I forgot all about McKinley School and switched into wedding mode, especially enjoying Nate’s and my favorite part of the day – crossing off one more square on our countdown calendar.

By the end of the week, there were only 12 squares left when my students could rightfully call me Miss Johnson.

“….forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13

Young Love (#111)

November 6-9, 1969

After my unexpected breakdown was behind us, it was as if we were beginning afresh. I felt weightless, and though I didn’t need further confirmation that Nate and I were doing the right thing, it came anyway.

In the mailbox was a letter from Mom. It warmed me to read how particularly happy she was about her future son-in-law:

Dear Daughter – this you’ll always be. Hallelujah! You are enriching our lives by giving us a son-in-law. And this is the only route grandchildren can arrive. Wouldn’t you agree that God is blessing us “above all we can ask or think” this Nov. 29?

From MomShe went on to say the invitations had all been mailed that day (interesting timing after our yesterday), and final arrangements had been made on the flowers and music. A 5-piece string group was ready to play, and Mom had copied and sent sheet music to the 7 bridesmaids so they could begin practicing.

Ring bearer's pillowOur friend Anna had made a delicate satin and pearl pillow with our initials on it for the ring bearer to carry. Someone else had crafted a beautiful garter of blue lace and pearls, and my 3 former apartment-mates had agreed to hostess the reception along with 2 second cousins and a college pal. The 6 of them were also willing to sew their own floor-length skirts out of the velvet left over from bridesmaids’ gowns. I loved knowing everyone would match.

Enthusiasm from California continued to come to our mailbox, and Aunt Joyce wrote a meaty response to the unusual way we came into our bedroom furniture:

How absolutely and only like our Heavenly Father to care for you and Nate, His children, with bedroom furniture and all. He says, “If we cast our bread on the waters, He will return it,” and we learn from experience that not only does He return the bread, but it comes back all buttered and jammed.

 Then she wrote:

I love hearing about Nate. And “Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Nyman” sounds pretty good!

4th showerEverything was falling together, and one more bridal shower was scheduled for the weekend, this one in Nate’s home town. We left Champaign on Friday, anxious to reconnect with his parents. All the table-talk was of the wedding, and Nate’s mother showed me the gown she’d had made for the occasion – a deep chestnut-colored, floor-length velvet skirt with sparkling gold top. Completely elegant.

FullSizeRender(2)On Saturday at the shower I met several of Nate’s close relatives, including one first cousin who had recently married, too. (Above, right, with Nate’s mother [pouring], and his aunt.) His mother’s dearest friends were all there, and the event was beautifully ap- pointed with silver and crystal. Guests had gone together on a group gift, purchasing 5 pieces of our registered sterling flatware – no small ticket item.

Gorgeous handwritingThe senior Nymans would be hosting our wedding rehearsal dinner at a club near Moody Church, close enough for us to walk after rehearsing. Nate’s father, who had a gorgeous script, had hand-written invitations for each family attending – more than 50 people, including the parents of the 4 former kindergartners who would be participating in the wedding. It would be a party unto itself, and we were grateful Nate’s folks were willing.

As Nate and I arrived back in Champaign that Sunday evening, we counted only 20 days until we would be Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Nyman. And Aunt Joyce had been right….

That sounded pretty good!

“May he grant your heart’s desires.” (Psalm 20:4)