At about the age of five, my father graduated from seminary and we moved to Rapid City, South Dakota. My father was to pioneer a church there called Calvary Chapel. During the transition, we stayed a few weeks with my grandparents in Hay Springs, Nebraska. My mom gave birth to my brother Patrick while there. We lived in a small white house for a short time. I remember having a piñata for my birthday party. When my parents couldn’t afford living there anymore we moved into a seedy motel for about six months. My father would hold church services in our living room every Sunday, even if no one showed up but my family. My father did many odd jobs trying to keep the food on the table.
We eventually received a housing grant and were able to move into a ranch style home on the North Side of Rapid called Mall Ridge. Mall Ridge was surrounded by the Black Hills. It was supposed to be the “dangerous side” of town. It was true that you would hear of drive by shootings and gang activity. One of my childhood friends ended up choosing to join a gang eventually with his cousins. My parents would let us run free or wild, whichever term you prefer. We would hike up in the mountains, go to the bike track (which is now houses), build forts in the housing debris, and play in and around “the pond” which I found out later was the sewer (Yuck!). We caught all sort of critters, which tended to escape in our house. I ended up with two more little brothers, Brett and Aaron. Aaron is ten years younger than me.
My father ended up holding church in many unusual places over the years. The memory of these amuses me, even to this day. We held church in the Civic Center, The Knights of Columbus (we held Sunday School in the women’s bathroom and the men’s locker room), an old police officer’s bar and dance hall (my favorite because it sat on seven acres of the Black Hills), and eventually the Elk’s Theater (one of those dollar fifty movie theaters right smack dab in the middle of downtown). Many people came and went through our church as it is an Air Force town. My dad considered it almost like sending out missionaries around the world.
Being a minister’s kid is tough work. I was a pretty good kid, although I have made tons of bad decisions in my lifetime. Being a tomboy, I would continuously sport around scabbed up knees and missing teeth. I hung around with mostly boys. Being a tomboy I HATED dresses (I still do to this day). What really bothered me though was that, being the pastor’s kid, I had to set an “example” for all the other kids. Do you realize how much pressure that is? The story of my life, “You are the pastor’s kid you have to be an example for my child.” I wanted to look at them and say, “They were the ones who started it; I was just following along. Why don’t you yell at your own kid and not me? I am not perfect. I am a kid!” Of course, I never did say anything because I was a good kid and would never mouth off to anyone. Maybe that is why I have a difficult time discussing how I feel with people and how I ended up so introverted. I was forced into silence by my father’s position. I wasn’t allowed the luxury of showing my true feelings.
Remember this please! We are only human too.