The summer Nolan and I married we spent in Langdon. He worked with his brother Jim doing concrete and brick work while we lived in Jim’s old trailer house out by the golf course. There are some fun stories about that place that I might write up sometime, but for those of you who know Jim, well, you can just imagine!
At one point in the summer Nolan and I drove out to western North Dakota to the church’s camp called Mt. Carmel. Nolan showed me around while he checked out some things for work that was to be done there that summer. I knew this camp was special to Nolan and as we walked around I felt, for the first time, the real impact of what being a pastor’s wife would mean. Just as many pastors had impacted his life at this camp, many other pastors and wives had impacted mine at church camps I’d attended. Now we were the ones who would be making that impact.
I sat down near a fire pit while Nolan continued his own tour of the place. I thought of Vi Nussbaum, Becky Smith, Joy Habeggar, and many of the other pastors’ wives whom I’d known. I thought of Julia and Grandma Ewert, pastors’ wives in Nolan’s family. And I thought of one who was an embarrassment to her husband and fervently prayed I would avoid those kinds of mistakes. It was comforting to know I knew only one like her and hoped that the example set me by the others would win out. (Since my mouth often goes into gear without my brain, it was/is a real concern.)
I prayed as I sat there that God would give me the knowledge and ability to be a good wife to Nolan, a good pastor’s wife to whatever congregation we would end up in, and a good example to our own daughters someday. I desperately wanted to be a woman of God. (And still do.)
At that time I began my search of Scripture and reading books written by Christian women I respected. Elisabeth Elliot has been a favorite speaker/author of mine since jr. high, so I read again her books on living a godly life. She has been the one woman I would always go back to for counsel. In high school I had written her a letter to tell her how much her books and tapes had meant to me. I received a personal letter in return! I still have it and treasure it. She is still one of my spiritual mentors (It was a great surprise to me when I started studying the Catholic faith to find that her brother, Dr. Thomas Howard, is also a convert to the Catholic faith. His book Evangelical Is Not Enough, was very meaningful to me as he gave a name to some things I struggled with but hadn’t been able to define.)
In the fall, Nolan and I returned to college. Studies and graduation, then finding full-time work occupied much of my time. I was satisfied that I was on the right track, so I was content. Not until Emily was born did I start to question if I’d really delved deep enough into the subject.