Learning from Wise Lutheran Sages

The first day of 5th grade and daycare.

Because I am a pastor – I spend a fair bit of my life with wise women and men of faith. Lutheran sages generously share their wisdom with me. I have the honor of learning from others (or at least the opportunity to learn if I am willing . . .) And Lutherans are wise. They know many – many things about a vast array of topics. And I get to learn from them. I love this about being a pastor. I love learning and listening and growing and expanding my mind. It truly is an intriguing blessing.

Jim Gronbeck taught me how to be a pastor. He was my internship supervisor. I thank Jim for his patience and his willingness to listen to such bad sermons (mine – not his). I followed Jim almost everywhere for 12 months like a puppy or a piece of stubborn lint. I learned and learned and learned. And I fell in love with being a pastor!

I have learned how to make authentic Norwegian krumkake. Not once but twice. First Monica and Marlene taught me how to make these delightful – crispy – heavenly – sweet – cookies of great joy while we lived in Minnesota.   And then Yvonne and Jim Kuhens gave me a refresher course during our years in Wabash.   And they also gifted me with an entire tin of these delicious delights to take home with me. (Jim and Yvonne were truly some of the most generous folks I have ever been blessed to know.)

Susan Tjornham taught me standing up to mean people is incredibly important. She taught me having some steel in my spine is a good thing. She taught me that Christian (woman/daughter) doesn’t mean doormat. I needed this lesson. I really – really needed this lesson. It took me years (decades) to fully absorb her lessons – but I think I finally understand what she meant. She saw what I could not see . . . what I wasn’t ready to see . . . She was very wise indeed.

Peggy Zimmerman has almost taught me to crochet. I can kinda – sorta – almost crochet. Crocheting and I are working on our relationship . . . my relationship with Peggy is great (I hope)!

Marilyn Mills and Pat Markley keep offering to teach me to use Excel spreadsheets (so does Cheryl) – but I just run in the other direction.   I can be wily when I want to be!

Lutherans know things. Lutherans know important things. And Lutherans are often very willing to share these important things they know.

I remember being offered wisdom from Lutheran sages when Jack was still very tiny and brand new to this world. Back when Jason and I were beyond exhausted – because Jack honestly believed sleep was for other babies. I was so exhausted I was actually walking into walls and falling asleep mid-conversation. We were just so tired it hurt some days.

(And yes – I know all about how much newborns are supposed to sleep.   My oldest son did not sleep.   Jack still sleeps far less than is typical of other folks his age. My teenager doesn’t sleep until noon on Saturday. My teen is up by 6:00 am on Saturday and Sunday – ON HIS OWN! My oldest believes and has always believed that sleep is boring and a waste of life . . . See – I told you . . . Jack needs less sleep than average.)

I am not bitter. I love our boy with all of my being and would not change anything about him.

Anyway – I would talk to wise Lutherans and they would gaze lovingly and longingly at my precious baby boy and say things like – “Oh Pastor Kerri – treasure these days. They are just going to fly by.”

Or they might say – “They are only tiny for such a short time.”

Or “Oh how I miss those baby years.”

Or “You are just so very – very blessed. I bet you and Jason just spend all of your time thanking Jesus for this little sweetie!”

And I would stand there in my sleep deprived state with baby barf on my clergy shirt – dreaming of 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep and think – “You have got to be kidding me!?! This kid is going to kill me! Treasure these years. I just want to survive these years! I doubt I will ever become so addled that I will be able to treasure barf – sleep deprivation – diapers – and crying (both Jack’s and mine). And these days are NOT flying by. They are dragging – slowly – excruciatingly slowly. Did I mention – I think Jack is trying to kill me?!?”

But the thing is – these wise Lutheran sages were right after all.   Time did fly by . . . Time zipped and zoomed right by me and before I knew it our beloved boy was starting kindergarten.

Preschool graduation day

Jack went from an 8 pound 10 ounce newborn to a 6 year old kindergartener standing on our front porch in the blink of an eye. Whoosh – went those years . . . And I realized the wise Lutheran sages were right. Time does go so very – very quickly (but it might be because you are too tired to notice the passage of time!?!)

Our baby was gone and a boy stood in front of me . . . wearing glasses and an adorable school uniform.

That first day of kindergarten was special and terrifying for both Jack and me. As always Jason was completely and utterly unflappable. (I so want to be more like Jason when I grow up!)

Ready for his big adventure . . .

Jack’s backpack looked huge and so did his sweet brown eyes.   He smiled bravely – and so did I!

I remember thinking I wouldn’t be emotional about kindergarten.   Jack had been going to school and daycare for years. (I had always declared I didn’t get a Master’s of Divinity to stay home. And so I didn’t stay home. My choice – no judgment if you did the exact opposite!)

But as I stood in the parking lot of Saint Bernard’s Elementary School in Wabash, Indiana and Jack got into line with his kindergarten class and walked away from me – the tears began to flow down my cheeks in a steady stream. And I heard all of the Lutheran sages saying – “it goes so quickly Pastor . . . it just goes so quickly . . .”

Jack was off to learn to read and do math and write stories and make new friends and have all sorts of exciting adventures. I was thrilled and terrified and proud and petrified and I also knew that it would be okay. Jack didn’t go alone. God walked with him. And I wasn’t standing alone either – because God was with me too. AND I had all of those wise Lutheran sages whispering in my ear. Whispering wisdom and encouragement and love and blessings . . .

I did vow that day to remember that it does go so very – very quickly. It does go by with a whoosh and a zoom . . .

Looking just a little bit lost . . .

Jason and I have tried to live our lives at a different pace. We try to continue to savor life as often as we are able. To stop and enjoy the everyday “good stuff.”   To appreciate our blessings. To delight. To give thanks. To pause and listen and observe.   To simply enjoy our sons for who they are in this moment – messy messes and loud noises and big appetites and all.

Because life has continued to go so very quickly. (Except for those months when we added another newborn into the mix. Newborns always slow down time . . . This seems to be their superpower!)

And today – well – today – our oldest son – started his senior year of high school.

He was thrilled with this picture taking business!

Today a man walked out our front door and into the world . . . and I tried really hard to be brave and not to cry – but well I am me . . .

This year Jack will study things I can barely understand or may never really understand at all. But the truly awesome thing is – Jack is learning to be a Lutheran sage himself.   Jack teaches me things now. I learn new and amazing things from my boy.

I know a new sage. He is wise and patient and kind and generous. He is a delight and I am so thankful I know him.

Lutheran sages . . . oh how I give thanks for their wisdom and the blessings they bring into my life! For the things that they teach me and joy that they share.

Our boy has grown up. And another wise Lutheran sage stands in front of me. I know that I am blessed and thankful. So very – very thankful.

Who are the wise people in your life? Who do you learn from? Who blesses you and helps you? For whom do you give thanks?

Have you taken the time to listen and learn lately? Have you tried hearing from someone new?

Our Lord sends all sorts of wonderful people into our lives.   People who bring gifts – talents – wisdom – and blessings to share.

I encourage you to take a long lingering moment to appreciate someone special. To listen and learn. Life is too short to stop learning and growing . . .

You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.

In Christ –

Pastor Kerri



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