A Day to Remember

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January 29, 1966, was a long time ago! For me, it’s a day to remember.

At 5:00 p.m. that day Terry and I stood before the altar at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Austin and pledged to one another our faithfulness “… to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death parts us, according to God’s holy will.”

That was 52 years ago! And although many things that happened more than a half century ago have been lost in the maze of my seemingly totally stuffed gray matter, other recollections are quite clear. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Our wedding day was preceded by our wedding rehearsal the night before. Friday afternoon, January 28, I drove from my nearly completed graduate school semester classes at Texas A&M in College Station to Austin for the rehearsal at St. Paul. All went well and was followed by the rehearsal dinner hosted by my mother and father at the Villa Capri Hotel.
  • After kissing Terry goodbye on her front porch at midnight, I drove the 100 miles back to College Station, getting to bed shortly after 1:00 a.m. Saturday. At 7:00 a.m. I arrived in class to take my final final exam … in Biochemistry. Both because of our wedding and my decision to leave grad school to go to the seminary, neither my heart nor my head really gave a rip about that exam.
  • After concluding those last few moments at my alma mater I packed my few worldly goods in my ’57 Chevy, turned in the key to my dorm room, and drove back to Austin in time to hang around the hotel with my parents, three sisters, and other family members.
  • The wedding began promptly at 5:00 p.m. The officiant was the sainted Rev. Dr. Albert F. Jesse, who had hired me in August 1964 to teach the fourth grade at St. Paul. My entire preparation for that memorable year was a B.S. degree in Animal Science. Go figure! Mid-August, the date I was hired, was only two weeks prior to the beginning of school. I had a pulse and was willing to work for $200 per month. I was his man!
  • After the wedding service and ceremony, our reception was held at the Villa Capri Hotel. I remember the beautiful wedding cake. I recall Terry and I posing for a photo, both with a piece of said cake in hand, lovingly feeding it to each other. What I failed to see, discovered only when asked en route to our honeymoon destination by my new bride, was the groom’s cake. I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about! Never saw it! Haven’t yet lived it down!
  • We arrived at the Stagecoach Inn in Salado, a short 48 mile drive north of Austin. It was late and we were newlyweds, so we chose not to do any midnight sightseeing. Money was tight in those days. One night in the hotel cost 10% of my monthly salary. We stayed two nights … 20% of my monthly salary. After a semester of grad school, the bank account was not quite non-existent but was far from flush. I think we ate in the restaurant only once. Another 10% of my monthly salary!
  • Monday morning we packed the car and headed back to Terry’s parents’ home in Austin to pick up her clothes, other belongings, and our wedding gifts, and headed to our first home in Houston, arriving late Monday afternoon. The apartment on Bellefontaine in southwest Houston cost $75 per month, half of which was payable every two weeks.
  • The next day, Tuesday morning, I started my second teaching job, also in the fourth grade, at Pilgrim Lutheran School in Houston. Angie Bielefeldt was on maternity leave that semester and I needed a job prior to moving to Springfield, Ill. to enter the seminary, so it all worked out just fine. Terry worked with my father at Rice Food Market those four months in anticipation of the move to the seminary in June.

Lots of water has gone under the bridge since those days. Neither Terry nor I could possibly have had any clue whatsoever about what the Lord had in store for us. Perhaps in the weeks ahead I’ll be moved to share some of those stories as well.

In the meantime, I thank God for his priceless gift of a beautiful wife who became an awesome mother, an incredible grandmother, a gracious hostess, an excellent cook, a friend and mentor to many women including countless pastors’ wives, a tireless companion on many weekend trips for preaching engagements across the country, a fearless travel companion on many international trips to the mission fields and partner church locations around the world, including numerous third world countries where she was the only woman in the entourage, and a woman who loves to give of herself to people she meets … friends, family, and strangers alike.

Happy 52nd Anniversary, dear Terry! I love you more than words can express and thank God for you every day!

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Wisdom from Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown

Today marks the end of eight consecutive years of weekly Perspectives articles. I don’t recall having missed a single week of these articles. That’s not intended to be braggadocios, just factual.

Frankly, every year at this time I ask myself whether I should keep writing. Just about the time I’m inclined to stop, I bump into or hear from someone who expresses heartfelt appreciation for an article he or she just read. That’s usually enough to keep me going. Time will tell.

In the meantime, this week I thought I’d share some wisdom from our friend Charlie Brown:

  • Life isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be lived. Sometimes happy, other times rough. But with every up and down you learn lessons that make you strong.
  • As we grow up we realize it is less important to have lots of friends and more important to have real ones.
  • The smile on my face doesn’t mean my life is perfect. It means I appreciate what I have and what I have been blessed with. I choose to be happy.
  • There are moments in life when you miss someone so much you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real.
  • The less you respond to rude, critical, argumentative people, the more peaceful your life will become.
  • I don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like me. I’m too busy loving the people who love me.
  • A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.
  • Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good stuff.
  • You may feel lost and alone but God knows exactly where you are and he has a plan for your life.

Lost Words from Our Childhood

childhoodGod willing, this Sunday will be Terry’s and my 51st wedding anniversary. I thank God for this wonderful woman whom I dearly love! She has been and continues to be a huge blessing to me, our children, our grandchildren and lots of people, many of whom she has never even met!

We were married on my 23rd birthday. Remembering our anniversary is not a problem. Agreeing on which event we should celebrate on January 29 is a challenge. I say anniversary. Terry says birthday. Although both a bit strong-willed, we usually come up with a workable solution!

Both of us are also chronologically mature enough to recall words and phrases used in our childhood but mostly absent from the vocabulary of our children and grandchildren. Here are some that came to my attention not long ago:

  • Heavens to Murgatroyd! (Spell check didn’t even recognize the word!)
  • Let’s get in the old Jalopy and go to town.
  • Don’t touch that dial!
  • Be sure to make a carbon copy!
  • You sound like a broken record!
  • Put on your best bib and tucker!
  • Straighten up and fly right!
  • Heavens to Betsy! Gee Whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy Moley!
  • Oh, my aching back!
  • Kilroy was here, but he’s long gone!
  • Pshaw! The milkman did it!
  • Go ahead! It’s your nickel!
  • Knee high to a grasshopper.
  • Well, Fiddlesticks! Don’t take any wooden nickels!

There are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has little liver pills! Those of us past the midpoint of the chronological arc remember at least some of these words and phrases that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It’s one of the profound realities of aging experienced by every generation.

We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China! Gone are the days of beehives, pageboys, spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and pedal pushers.  Shucks, I don’t even remember some of those things.

Well, I hope you’re Hunky Dory after you read this article. See ya’ later, alligator! After while, crocodile! God bless your day!

A New Language

Text MessageIt’s hard to believe that today’s edition of Perspectives concludes the sixth year of these weekly articles. I don’t mind admitting that the deadline is sometimes a bit daunting and that topics of interest sometimes come more readily to mind than at other times. Feel free to send suggestions.

In addition, in a world of sound bites, brevity is important. Often I find it difficult to address complex topics with only a few words. When Perspectives first began, my St. Louis LCMS International Center staff insisted that I restrict these articles to two paragraphs. LOL! For a while I did pretty well at that. Not so much lately. However, beginning today and at least for a few weeks, I’ll make an effort to be brief. But don’t expect miracles!

Today’s article comes, with permission, from a devotion presented at this summer’s Florida-Georgia District LCMS Convention by Rev. Brian Kneser, convention chaplain. It’s not feasible to include here all the comments Pastor Kneser included in his devotion, but I think you’ll get the point from the information he projected on the screen in simple PowerPoint format.

Psalm 89:1: “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”

A New Language: Text Messaging

  • LOL – Laughing out loud!
  • LOLH – Laughing out loud hysterically!
  • LSHMBH – Laughing so hard my belly hurts!
  • ROFL – Rolling on floor laughing!
  • T+ – Think positive!
  • 2G2BT – Too good to be true!
  • 10Q – Thank you!
  • 143 – I love you! (check the number of letters in each word)
  • 1432 – I love you too!
  • If Jesus texted, what would he say?
  • IFYP – I feel your pain.
  • IKYS – I know your sin.
  • 143 – I love you!
  • ISLY – I still love you!
  • IWALU – I will always love you!
  • RYB & PTL – Read your Bible and praise the Lord!
  • EMB – Engaged in the Master’s Business (convention theme)
  • MGBU – May God bless you!
  • AMEN – Amen!

Birthdays and Anniversaries

Birthday CakeBefore getting started with that topic, here’s an update regarding the health and development of my two little grand nieces, Emma and Anna Collins in Evansville, Ind. Both are continuing to gain health and strength, on and off the respirator, weighing in at two pounds each. God be praised! Mother Amanda is recovering from her infection. On the other hand, father Jesse was admitted to the hospital earlier this week with extremely high blood sugar and was diagnosed with diabetes. Please continue to keep this family in your prayers.

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary and my birthday. Having both on the same day has enabled me never to forget our anniversary! I also have never forgotten Terry’s birthday. It falls on the same date (but obviously not the same year) as my mother Elda’s birthday—April 10.

January 29, 1966 was a Saturday. Our wedding took place at 5:00 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Austin, the congregation in which Terry was baptized. She went to St. Paul Lutheran School and was also confirmed there, making it the obvious choice for our wedding venue.

Terry and I met during the year I taught at St. Paul. Her little brother was in my fourth grade class. One begins to comprehend the rapidity with which time passes when one realizes that the students in his fourth grade class of the 1964-65 school year are now 59 years old!

Our wedding rehearsal was Friday, January 28. That afternoon I had driven to Austin from College Station, where I was in graduate school at Texas A&M. After the rehearsal dinner, I kissed Terry good night at midnight, drove back to College Station, and got to bed at 2:30 a.m.

Saturday morning I woke up in time for a 7:00 a.m. biochemistry final exam, which I barely passed, and drove back to Austin for our afternoon wedding. Pastor Albert Jesse’s wedding sermon, based on John 2:2, was titled: “They invited Jesus to the wedding.” Indeed, we had!

After a beautiful reception at which I never even noticed the groom’s cake, we drove 60 miles north to Salado for our honeymoon. It was 12 degrees that night, quite unusual for central Texas, even in January. We spent two nights at the historic Stagecoach Inn, at $20 per night. On a parochial teacher’s salary of $200 per month, we couldn’t afford to stay very long.

Monday afternoon we returned to Austin to pick up everything we owned. Then we drove to Houston for the first night in our $75 per month one bedroom apartment. Tuesday morning I began a semester of teaching the fourth grade at Pilgrim Lutheran School in Houston for a young teacher on maternity leave that semester. Terry worked a temporary job to help us save money for our move to Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Ill. that summer.

Most of the rest of our story is history, some of which is still being written. How thankful I am for the privilege of being married to a beautiful, loving, patient, forgiving woman for what is rapidly approaching half a century! We are blessed beyond measure and thank God for his grace!

Remembering birthdays and anniversaries is very important. Doing so communicates to those whose special occasion is being celebrated that they are loved, honored and respected. A person’s birthday is a very real reminder of the intrinsic value of life itself. Isaiah writes: “Before I was born the Lord called me. From my birth he has made mention of my name.” Is. 49:1

A Very Special Tribute

Flower 1This edition of Perspectives concludes the fourth year of these weekly articles. Frankly, sometimes it’s a challenge to decide what topic to address and to do so with a reasonable degree of quality prior to the all too quickly arriving deadline of 5:00 a.m. each Thursday.

From time to time I think perhaps I should give this endeavor a temporary or permanent rest. Occasionally a few readers will complain and criticize. (By the way, if you don’t like what I write, feel free to delete or unsubscribe.) But then a bunch of readers will reply to an article they particularly appreciate and I get flooded with requests to keep on writing.

Since that’s happened often in recent weeks, I’ve decided to proceed with the fifth year of weekly articles. I have a fun one in mind for next week, so stay tuned. Invite your friends to subscribe or send them to jerrykieschnick.wordpress.com. Also feel free to suggest topics about which you’d like to hear my perspective. While I can’t promise to get to all of them, I’d appreciate your suggestions.

Much more significant than the end of Volume IV of these articles, today marks the 48th anniversary of the day I asked for Terry’s hand and heart in marriage. I remember that moment like it was yesterday, which is why it’s so hard to imagine it was almost a half century ago! When I tell people we’ve been married over 47 years, Terry quickly adds, “We married when I was just a child!” Actually, she is a few years younger than I, and always will be! Funny how that works!

It’s impossible to express how sincerely I thank God for Terry and how deeply indebted I am to this very special lady. She has been incredibly loving, forgiving, supportive and encouraging to me and the rest of our family. She has also tolerated, sometimes patiently and sometimes not, the interruptions, headaches and heartaches that have accompanied the variety of callings in which we have been involved together during the 43 years of our ministry in the LCMS.

There have been many such challenges, especially during our nine years in St. Louis. In lots of ways those were very meaningful and fulfilling years. In other ways they were quite difficult. I could say much more about the tough times, but I’ll save that for another time and place.

Even in times of trial and tribulation, Terry’s love for Christ, firmly established early in her life and lovingly nurtured during childhood, especially by her maternal grandmother, Blanche Gruesen, is as strong as it ever was. That love motivates her to encourage and pray regularly and fervently for family and friends. Her encouragement is frequently expressed in the form of hand written notes and cards, which she often writes early in the morning or late at night, endearing her to many.

So, my dear Terry, this is a very special tribute to you! You are loved and respected by many, especially all of us who are blessed to be part of your family! May our gracious Lord continue to hold you in the palm of his hand!

With all my love,
Jerry Kieschnick with Blog Background