The year before my dad died, out of the blue, he would often say to us,

“Have you ever heard this one?

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes – and ships – and sealing-wax –
Of cabbages — and kings —'”

As a family, we really did not know why he would repeat it so many times. He had been struggling with dementia for a long time, a lovely time of kindness and gentleness. But when I look back, perhaps he was sending a message that the time was coming for him to say good-bye.

So, I am saying to you, my dear staff, school families, congregation, and friends, The time has come…

This is my fifth year as principal of St. Paul’s Lutheran School. It has been a journey which brought me so much joy and purpose! I cannot tell you what this time as principal has meant to me. But, I will be turning 65 in March and I believe, the time has come…to retire. We have a daughter who has some health needs and this is the time for me to be able to take better care of her.

In 1975, we were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Forest City. The church sponsored a family from Viet Nam, a mother, father, six children with one on the way, and a sister-in-law. They became dear friends to the group of us who helped them with English, transition, etc. Our good friends, Van Auken’s, hosted a Christmas party one year that included the Vietnamese family and us sponsors. At the height of the party, Nhi, the father, gathered up his family and said it was time to go. I couldn’t believe it! It was going so well, it was the best of times. And he wanted to take the family and go? But, since that time, I have marveled at Nhi’s wisdom. When it is the best of times, it is sometimes the time to go…

It is truly the best of times at St. Paul’s Lutheran School right now. We have the best of staffs I could ever imagine. It breaks my heart to leave these good colleagues and friends. We have wonderful growth in enrollment and students who I love to the depths of my being. Our families are full of support and care for this amazing school, and our FRUIT values and culture make it such a terrific place to work, grow, learn, and belong to in every way. It is the best of times…and I must go.

There was once a farmer sitting by his tractor tinkering with the engine when a carpenter came down his lane. The carpenter asked if there were any odd jobs he could do to make a few dollars. The farmer replied hotly, “I’ll show you what you can do!!” And he led him to a muddy gully separating his farm and another one. “See that farm over there? That belongs to my younger brother. Farmed side by side for 40 years. I don’t know what started it, but now he’s not talking to me and I’m not talking to him. Yesterday he took a big bulldozer and plowed this muddy gully between our farms!! So, you can build me a wall so big that when I look over there, I won’t see his place!!” The carpenter thought and said, “I guess I see the situation. If you’d get me a posthole digger and some lumber, I’ll get to work.” The farmer got what the carpenter needed and then went to town to do some errands. When he returned, the carpenter was almost done with his masterpiece, but there was no wall. In its place was a beautifully constructed bridge and the younger brother was making his way across. When the two brothers met on the bridge, they hugged, and the younger brother said, “I can’t believe you went to all the work and expense to build this bridge after the things I said and did to you.” At that moment they heard the tools being collected and the carpenter readying to leave. They both said, “Don’t go now, we have more for you to do around here.” But the carpenter shook his head and said, “Oh, I’d love to stay, but I have to go. I have more bridges to build.”

I believe God called me to this life to build bridges. It took me some years to realize that. But I know my purpose. I must go…I have more bridges to build. Thank you St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School for letting me build here. Love here. Love you.