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.