It might be God trying to get your attention
New life one of following His
path for Bruce and Terrie Lerum
Well it might be in the church house
Or it might be on the street
Somehow or another
every soul has got to meet
It might look like a plan
or a coalition
or it might be God trying to get your attention
‹ Keb Mo
It's like that Keb Mo song: "It might be God trying to get your attention."
God had been trying to get the attention of former Cottonwood resident Bruce Lerum for years. He had his ear. He certainly had his heart. He just didn't have his full attention.
God's message had been a constant throughout Lerum's life. When he assisted with a worship service or even preached a sermon at Cottonwood's Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, the message was reinforced: "You should have been a pastor" or "Bruce, you missed your calling."
Today, the former furniture store owner and Cottonwood community and business leader is following God's call. He's a student at Luther Seminary in Lauderdale, Minn.
"We now live in an apartment for the first time in our married life of 28 years," says Bruce. "The 600-square-foot apartment we live in now is smaller than our garage we had in Cottonwood. We have learned to live without a dishwasher ... and the laundry room is in another building. Quarters are collectors items; $1.25 a load."
It's a dramatically different life from the one to which they were accustomed. They had spent their entire married life in Cottonwood. For many years, Terrie's dad, Ron Moen, was Cottonwood's mayor. Her mother, Dar, still lives here. Their daughter, Stacy, lives in Rimrock; son Bryan lives in Phoenix. They were the owners of Village Furniture for 23 of the 26 years they lived in Cottonwood.
For many years Terrie was a key player in the organization of the Cottonwood Christmas Parade and it was a Cottonwood tradition for Bruce to lead the community in Christmas carols at the Civic Center shortly after the lighting of the city Christmas tree. Bruce served a term on the school board. They were as close as you could find to a legitimate Mr. & Mrs. Cottonwood.
That's one of the reasons God kept having a hard time getting Bruce's attention.
Terrie says the couple often discussed plans for Bruce to go into the ministry.
"But we always managed to avoid it by somehow turning a deaf ear to God and rationalizing that we were doing God's work in other ways than we would be doing in full-time church work," Terrie explained. "The problem with that thinking is that it was what we wanted, not what God wanted."
Terrie and Bruce can even pinpoint the day they made the decision for Bruce to enter the ministry. It was Jan. 23, 2003, after a conversation they had with some friends after lunch.
"In the ensuing days we had told our employees of the decision, but that we did not know the timetable nor the method," said Terrie.
There were the details: "Should we hire a manager for the store, sell it, or close it," said. Bruce. "We had employees that had been with us for many years. It was very difficult to decide how to transition this with so many peoples lives involved."
Then, God finally got Bruce's full attention. It began with a telephone call at 3 a.m., March 18, 2003. A video store in the Viotti Village Shopping Plaza had been torched by an arsonist. The fire had spread to Village Furniture.
The Lerums' decision had been made for them.
"The saying goes," said Bruce, "when God closes one door, he opens a window. He not only opened the window, but drew an arrow for us that was pointing to the window Š We were in a dilemma as to how we should proceed with the call to ministry. The fire was God's way of helping us see through that indecision."
Now that God has his full attention, Bruce's days usually begin with an 8 a.m. seminary class. He walks about 10 minutes to campus, up hill, both ways, during the winter months in five feet of snow. He has a different schedule each day, some days ending at noon and some at 6:30 p.m. When he's not in class, Bruce can typically be found in his cramped 6- by 9-foot study space reading and writing.
"It's still larger than the closet that Martin Luther studied in," he said.
Bruce just finished his second year of classes at Luther Seminary and is looking forward to a one-year internship at Victory Lutheran Church in Mesa, back home in Arizona. Then Bruce will receive a "call" to serve at a church somewhere.
Bruce says that as dramatic the lifestyle change has been for him, it's even more pronounced for Terrie. She works in the office of Home Instead Senior Care, a non-medical in-home senior care company in nearby Maplewood and ‹ no surprise to those who know her ‹ doing some volunteer work for Hennepin County with a program called "Gifts for Seniors."
"Through the fire," said Bruce, "uprooting from the Verde Valley and leaving family, coming up on moving for the fifth time in three years, and experiencing a major change of lifestyle, Terrie is the one who has been the most courageous as she also accepts God's call for me to go into the ministry.
"After having been out of the workforce for many years, she has become the bread winner, working at jobs that were not her first choice of what she would like to do, but being blessed by God to have some wonderful co-workers. The sacrifice has been hers. Though she puts up a strong front, Terrie is the one who has had the larger challenge to withstand the struggles of this change in our life."
In an ideal world, Bruce says he and Terrie would one day return to Cottonwood where he would be the pastor of a church here. He doesn't, however, think that is likely to happen, but he does say he and Terrie would like to retire in the Verde Valley.
Until then, Bruce and Terrie are content to go where God leads them. "We know that the new path that God has for our life is the right one for us Š What is really humbling and fascinating is to look at the road that God has taken us on to get to where we are today."
It was just God trying to get Bruce's attention.