Monday, June 27, 2011

25 Years Ago - Part 2

I said tomorrow and it's been well over a week, maybe two. Sorry friends.

Before I move on, I think I need to describe what kind of child I was. I didn't do that in my last posting. If Nellie Olesen from Little House on the Prairie and Anne from Anne of Green Gables, somehow morphed into the same person - it would be this person:

I was mean and a know-it-all but I also had a sweet side and an imagination that knew no limits.

Moving on.

We were sworn to secrecy when we returned to Columbus. I don't know how I kept my mouth shut other than the thought of the punishment I would receive if I did tell.

I don't remember too much about those few months before we moved to Tennessee.

I've always liked change. When we pulled up to our new mansion (split foyer, early 1970's style) I was in love. I didn't have a parking lot to ride my bike around but I did have a backyard with no fence to separate me from the front yard. And the oh, the front yard was huge and our driveway was so long (and by long I mean it fit more than two cars) and we were allowed to ride on the street! I also had my own room which had two, yes two windows. We joined a neighborhood recreational club (and by club I mean a pool).

And just like that, a soon to be fourth grader, was transformed into a suburban middle class American child.

I have debated in my mind about whether to go into detail about what my life was like after we moved to Tennessee. You see, it suddenly became like everyone else's life. I had a great group of friends at church and school. I spent my summers riding my bike, swimming and hanging out with friends. I was a terrible sister to all my siblings. I wanted to be a cheerleader like it was nobody's business. I wanted everyone to like me. I had a love/hate relationship with being a pastor's daughter.

But I think what I want to zero in on is my blindness. Let me clarify, my spiritual blindness. I had done the "asked Jesus in my heart" thing when I was five and like most children who grow up in a Christian home, I played the part very well. When I was a preteen, I matured enough to know that if I stopped pitchin' fits (and oh could I pitch em) and accepted what my parents said, I would not get grounded and in turn be given more freedom. Some kids figure this out way early but my strong will seemed to win out over rationale and common sense until puberty.

By my teenage years, I was doing pretty well playing the part. I was in a Bible study group with some kids after school and we had to do our quiet time. I remember trying and failing. Wanting to want to have a desire to read the Bible but just not getting it. And always feeling condemned by God because I forgot. I was on the youth council (which was a group of teens who got to go on retreats with the leaders and "plan" stuff - it was awesome). I went to youth camp and we'd all cry and talk about how great God was and promise never to sin again. And I think I "rededicated" my life about 734 times.

I think this type of life looked the same for a lot of teens growing up in the 90s. And by my junior year, I was done. I was over it. I wanted out of my small suburban town. Out of my fishbowl life. But I couldn't because I was still in high school.

I won't get into all I did in high school. It was stupid. I wish I got highs from studying and excelling in classes but I didn't. I remember my dad telling me I was the smartest out of all his children (sorry Aaron, you may be a doctor but I obviously got the brains) but that I was the least motivated to use my smarts (he probably only told me that thinking that would motivate my "well I'll show him" will, but it didn't work.)

By college I was a bonafide drifter. Well a college drifter. I went in and out of college. At one point I dropped out and became a waitress. Oh and not just any waitress, I wore barn dress, apron, and tennis shoes. I was what they call classy.

And by the ripe ol' age of 21 years old, I got burned out on the world. Thank you Jesus for my A.D.D. cause I got bored quicker than most do! So guess what I did? I got saved! Nope, just kidding I didn't. I actually started straightening my life out. Got back in school and did really well, started getting involved in church, met and started hanging out with some people from church. My life really seemed to be going well. But something was missing. I blamed it on the fact that I was jaded and my new church friends weren't. But through a series of events, nothing life shattering just honest people telling their stories and knowledgeable people teaching Truth from God's Word I realized that I didn't have a relationship with Jesus. I wasn't truly a Christian. I was just a girl who was raised by a mom and dad that loved Jesus and taught their children about Him, hoping one day they would follow Him.

That's when I became a Christian. When God chose to save me. It didn't matter that I was a bible drill champ. That I said a prayer when I was five. That I acted like a good Christian for years and picked myself up after being in the depths of a pit. God chose to save me when things were good. When I had fixed everything. Everything but my heart.

I don't waste my time wondering if I had come to God years earlier how things would be different (don't get me wrong I went through a time when I did). This is how He intended it. And since I've been changed by God, I've been a very good legalist on one side of the pendulum and on the other (yes legalism exists on both sides of Christianity). I keep thinking I have reached the middle where I'm balanced but my ever-loving God then shows me where I need fixin' next. He's so good that way.

Thankful for this journey. Thankful you're here too.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

25 Years Ago - Part 1

I didn't know this was going to be such a long post so I've split it up into several posts. I love writing about things I haven't thought of in years.

25 years ago next month a tan and brown conversion van came into a small town in Tennessee filled with seven people. They had came from Ohio. A husband with Jim Bob Duggar hair, a wife with Michelle Duggar qualities and their five children who were nothing like the Duggar children. Nothing. Okay, enough with the Duggars.

I was in that van. I was eight years old and maybe the biggest brat that ever walked the planet (sometimes I think God is being gracious by not allowing me to have offspring, other times I realize He's bigger than that and my babies are going to be my babies no matter where they come from - and Lord please help me!).

I grew up for the first eight years of my life in Columbus, OH minus the first couple of years living in southern Ohio. My daddy is a preacher. Has been since before I was born.

I have very vivid memories of Columbus. We lived in the little parsonage that was in the back of the church. The church parking lot was our giant bike riding playground. We'd hang out on top of the dumpster (I can still smell that sour stench) and talk with our friends.

We lived in a bad part of Columbus but I didn't know it (Oprah says if you didn't know you were poor then you were po' - and lemme tell ya - we were po'). I didn't know our neighbors were drug dealers. I just knew we couldn't go over and we couldn't play in the front yard (my mom feared there would be a drive by shootings). Some nights my brother and I would sit on the back steps of our house and watch red, blue, and white lights flash in the sky. It took a few times to realize it was police cars next door. We couldn't buy ice cream from the ice cream truck because of fear of drugs in the snow cone (at least that's the story I got, it might have been a ploy to get me to quit asking for a snow cone, not sure yet).

I had the all American childhood, it was just in the hood not the burbs. And I loved it. I loved that the kids came to our backyard and played kickball. I loved riding my cousin's hand-me-down banana seat bike from the seventies around the church's lot.

I loved that I could run over and see my dad whenever I wanted. And that sometimes at night, when people would break into the church (seemed to happen all the time) I could get up and watch the helicopters fly around over our house with my mom while she waited for dad to come back home safely.

When I was eight my dad sat me and my older brother down and told us we were going to my cousins wedding in Tennessee but that while we were there, dad was going to preach at a church in the town next to where he grew up in Knoxville. I didn't know what all that meant but I did know that if we moved, I would be close to my grandparents, aunt and uncle, and cousins and that was the BEST idea ever. It would be like Christmas every day.

I remember the Sunday we visited the church. It was pink, the sanctuary that is. Pepto Bismol pink. I knew we were on display so I tried to act mature. I guess as a pastor's kid you always know you're on display. You grow up having most people critique your every move good or bad. It's a right some members of a church feel they have.

My dad was asked to come and be their pastor. The church was First Baptist Church of Powell. And little did I know, our lives were about to change.

More tomorrow.