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?”


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)

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 (#115)

November 2-3, 1970

As we moved into the month of November, Nate and I were closing in on our first anniversary. After 11 months of marriage, neither of us could imagine living without each other. And we talked about how life would seem empty if that ever happened.

I loved many things about my husband that I’d learned during our first year together, but one of my favorites was his willingness to talk to me. Whether it was a report on my day with the kindergarteners or a discussion of more serious matters, he was all-in on every conversation.

Through the year I’d thought about our marriage a great deal and had figured out what Nate needed most from me, recording it in my journal:

My role

I was learning from Nate’s sterling example of building me up and hoped to build him up the same way. He never tired of encouraging me and found creative ways to do so. For instance, he had established a tradition of buying one rose for me every Friday afternoon, knowing I would arrive home tired after a busy week. Each rose (a different color every time) was garnished with a fern or a sprig of wild flowers and put in a vase — with a loving note propped against it.

Love note from Nate

Contemp. card

I enjoyed the flowers but much more so the notes. He put creativity and thought into each one, and they served to bind us tightly together week after week.

Following his example, I began writing love notes, too, using contemporary cards. It was fun finding places to hide them around the apartment where I knew he’d find them while I was at school.




Contemporary card with love

One evening as we sat in front of a fire with a Carpenters album playing on the stereo, Nate asked if I loved teaching kindergarten in Danville as much as I’d loved it in Chicago.

I thought for a minute and then said yes, following that with a list of reasons. But as I talked, a fresh truth came to me. Though I loved my job and would have done it for free, during our first year of marriage a major shift had occurred. From the journal:

I love it as much as before… but the most exciting part of my day now comes when I turn my key in the 3rd floor apartment door on Healey street and that handsome blonde person is there to grab and kiss!

My love for teaching had been pre-empted by my love for Nate.

As delightful as my students were, they had been demoted. And as good as it was to be teaching them, life was even better when I was with Nate.

As I put that change into words for him, his responsive smile told me I’d inadvertently done what he had so often done for me. I’d built him up. And it felt good to both of us.

“A word in season, how good it is.” (Ecclesiastes 10:12)