December. It is my plan to post a story, remembrance and/or poem once a week for 25 weeks leading to the big date.
So, here we were, a newly married couple living in a TINY apartment on campus at the Southern Baptist Seminary. This was a four room apartment. The kitchen was little more than a hallway between the door and the living room, with just a bit of counter space.
The living room was the largest room, maybe about 10 x 16' with enough room for a couch, a table and a small Christmas tree at Christmas time (but not much else). The bathroom was just functional with a toilet, shower, sink and just enough room for one person to maneuver between these. The bedroom was just that: a room with a bed filling it up, nearly wall to wall.
We took this apartment, which was basically a one person apartment, in order to save on money, of which we had none. I was working a 40 hour minimum wage job and, although Donna was busy with her seminary classes, she held some part time jobs while in school. On top of that, there was the one summer where I decided to become "self-unemployed" (as I aptly called it) and did lawncare. (I came up with this GREAT name for the business - Lawn Order, like Law n' Order, but with "Lawn," great, right?? - but beyond that, I was a pretty ineffective businessman.)
We were dirt poor and happy as a pair of loons.
Our major concerns during those first years were getting through school, arranging more opportunities for my Christian band to play, staying faithful to the church and being madly in love. I had some concerns because the Seminary, in those days, had a reputation for being too "liberal" which, in Baptist parlance at the time, meant basically that they were pretty traditional and conservative but thought maybe - just maybe - it would be okay for women to preach and otherwise be ministers.
For my part, I didn't much trust education. I thought that if you weren't reading the Bible and REAL Christian writers (CS Lewis, Corrie Ten Boom, Jonathan Edwards, Chuck Swindoll, etc), that you were opening up your mind to possible corruption. Seriously. I just didn't see much great advantage in going to school and I saw a lot of risks.
Of course, I trusted Donna to be discerning and not learn any "bad" education, only the "good" stuff. Still, it was a concern. After all, sometimes couples grow apart and develop different interests, priorities, beliefs, even! What if that happened??
As it turned out, we grew together, for the most part. We remained pretty traditional during those first few seminary years, but it was traditional with a deep concern for the poor, for children, for the disabled, for peacemaking. Donna had some desire to be a missionary of some sort, but I was pretty dedicated to doing ministry through my band and we weren't sure how that would work out.
It was in those first few years that we started talking some about living in Christian community. Some in my band were interested in having some sort of Christian retreat/camp setting where we kids and youth could come and we could have concerts and other ministries in that setting. It is a theme which has recurred in various forms throughout our life together.