Newlywed Love (#91)

August 24-29, 1970


Cannon SchoolAlthough the new school year in Danville didn’t start for another week, Cannon School was unlocked for staff to come and prepare their rooms. I couldn’t wait to see where I would be teaching, and wanted to meet the other faculty members.

The evening before I drove to school, my old carpool buddy Linda called. “Can you come over tonight?” she said. “Ron’s traveling, and it would be nice to catch up.”

We spent 3 hours together sharing news of the summer and talking about all the changes ahead for both of us. Linda would be teaching at a new school, too, and our third friend Judy had already moved to New York City. At the end of the evening, we promised to stay current with each other.

The next morning I was back on route 74, heading for my new school on the other side of town from last year’s McKinley. The Fiat was piled high with teaching supplies, and I couldn’t wait to get set up.

Mr. AtkinsonFirst I checked in with the principal, Mr. Atkinson, who walked me to my “garden level” kindergarten room – in the half-basement. It was huge! And I loved it immediately. There was even a piano to accompany our singing times.

Mr. Atkinson told me my enrollment would be about 15 per class, morning and afternoon. Compared to my first teaching job in Chicago with nearly 50 children in one room, this would be a cake walk.

Across the hall another kindergarten teacher was setting up, too, so I introduced myself and learned of her many years of experience. “Come over any time if you have questions or problems. I’ll be happy to help.”

My kdg roomBy mid-afternoon everything was ready for “my” children, who I would be meeting the next week. Knowing that kindergarten would be the first school experience for most of them, I set out toys, books, and puzzles, hoping to win them over with a fun start. Despite all that, I knew some would be in tears anyway, so I stashed a little back-up in my desk: candy.

That night I went to bed early, wanting to be fresh for orientation meetings starting the next day. At the district-wide event, I ran into several people I knew from McKinley School, and met most of the Cannon teachers. It was a plus that many of them were young and full of energy.

At the end of the week, Nate and I had arrived at our 9-month anniversary, and he gave me a very creative gift – a willingness to join me for the final get-ready day. He wanted to meet the principal and those I would be working with, and to see the room I’d been raving about.

PreparationsI was overjoyed about his interest in my job and loved being near him all of that day. Watching him play silly games with the kindergarten toys was pure entertainment.

We celebrated our anniversary by going out to dinner at Mr. Steak. Nate asked for my thoughts about starting a new teaching year and assured me that one day it would be him supporting me instead of the way it was now.

But I didn’t mind and was genuinely happy to be teaching kindergarten again. Even better than that was knowing I’d get to spend another year living with the one I loved more than anyone else in the world.

“Hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

Newlywed Love (#90)

August 20-21, 1970


SURPRISELynn was adorable at her bridal shower. We caught her completely off guard, which met the highest expectations for our surprise party.

She loved our entertainment, the “This is your Life” tape complete with tales of her past and a few surprise guests. Mom had pulled out her best dishes and silver, and Lynn’s bridesmaids had shared in her work.

GiftsLynn unwrapped a mountain of goodies, and the whole event was pure pleasure. The only negative, mine alone, was having had to leave Nate… again. With the newspaper route and his difficult law school class, that had been our only choice.

The 24-hour separation was difficult, and I looked forward to the upcoming school year with its regular routine. My hope was that the second year in our Champaign “nest” would be as blessed as the first.

A year earlier in August of 1969, our apartment had looked far different. Footsteps and voices had echoed in the empty space, and stale paint had covered the walls. We’d done the work of transforming it from a drab place to a warm home, and now the whole space reflected the happy relationship unfolding inside.

As I drove the familiar route from Wilmette to Champaign knowing Nate was waiting for me, I was filled with a sense of contentment. There wasn’t one thing I would change about our lives together.

Nate greeted me with a long-stemmed red rose. “I missed you so much,” he said, handing me the pretty flower and nuzzling my neck. The feeling was definitely mutual.

Just arrivingWe still had one more special event before summer officially ended – a visit from Florida friends Carole and Reggie. Carole and I had much in common. We met at Wheaton College and both ended up teaching school in Chicago. Her city apartment had been near mine back then, and we both attended the singles ministry at Moody Church. Our two romances had heated up simultaneously, and both couples married in the fall of 1969.

Carole had a gorgeous singing voice and often soloed in church and at weddings. Now they were driving from Florida to (of all places) Danville, Illinois, for her to sing at another wedding. We were thrilled when they said they could spend a night with us.

HemmingWithin a couple of hours of my arrival back from Wilmette, they and we were settled around our dining table sharing stories of married life and love. After dinner, Carole worked on hemming the dress she would wear at the wedding, and the boys adjourned for sleep. She and I talked well into the night, almost till morning — 4:00 AM! Close friends never run out of things to say.

Not long after breakfast, though, Nate and I were giving and getting goodbye hugs on the street in front of our building — yet another farewell.

Saying goodbyeAfter waving them off, we sat on the porch steps in the morning sunshine talking about the multiple changes of the previous year, acknowledging there were more to come. We and most of our friends were in a phase of life that required continual change and included lots of goodbyes.

As we climbed back up the stairs hand-in-hand, we wondered aloud how long that phase was going to last.
“If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter… he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.” (Psalm 91:9, 11)

Newlywed Love (#90)

August 17-19, 1970


LynnMy friend Lynn’s bridesmaids and I were planning a bridal shower for her, and my Mom, the tireless entertainer, was delighted to host it at her house. Since we’d waited so long to get organized, invitations had to be made by phone. Nevertheless, we’d gotten an enthusiastic response — and planned to make it a surprise party!

We bridesmaids were putting together a “This is Your Life” presentation on cassette tape, and my part was doing the only thing that could be done from hundreds of miles away: writing the script. It was my favorite kind of job.

Meanwhile, Nate’s parents were on the way to our apartment to celebrate their firstborn’s birthday. I was nervous about making all the meals during their visit, since Lois was such an excellent cook. Although I’d spent time with Nate’s folks on multiple occasions, I still felt I needed to win their approval. My dear husband insisted they already approved, but I wasn’t so sure.

Nate’s brother Ken couldn’t come due to work conflicts, a disappointment to both of us. On the positive side, though, Ken had told us he’d been accepted at the U. of Illinois for the fall semester, so we’d be getting to see much more of him in the near future.

Happy birthdayThe birthday party for just the 4 of us was a quiet but meaningful celebration, and Nate ended up with 3 cakes – the one I made, the one Lois brought, and the one our downstairs neighbors (Fred and Alice) sent up.

This elderly couple had loaned us the saw to dismantle our first Christmas tree, and though we weren’t together often, we took time to enjoy them whenever any of us crossed paths. Nate and I were flattered by their thoughtful gesture. Sadly, neither was able to climb the steps to join our little party.

Nate opened his few gifts, and turning 25 ended up to be the magic number for phenomenal birthday presents… first the Fiat, and then, from Nate’s folks, the rest of our registered china. In 1969 the protocol was to register a china pattern that wedding guests would give plate-by-plate, bowl-by-bowl, cup-by-cup.

When we counted up after the wedding, we had a generous assortment of dishes but very few complete place settings.

Reading of their giftThis birthday gift, to both of us, would fill in the blanks – and give us 12 of everything: dinner plates, salad plates, bread plates, berry bowls, etc.

Nate read the card about their plan and then handed it to me. Both of us were flabbergasted… and elated! We had anticipated many years going by before being able to afford the rest of the set.

Our two days with Lois and Willard passed happily as we explored the local shopping mall together, took in a movie (The Sundance Kid), and gave rides in the Fiat.

Fiat rides.Neither of us was sure what Lois and Willard thought of our “tiny foreign car,” as they called it, but they didn’t criticize. Nate did say his mother gripped the dashboard with both hands the entire time they were out driving —  much like someone on a frightening roller coaster at an amusement park.


They departed after our second dinner together, and Nate immediately dug into his books while I went to work on Lynn’s shower. We were expecting over 30 guests (the very next day), and there was much to do.

“God says… giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me.” (Psalm 50:22)