Life as a preacher's kid is the only one I've known. My memories are (for the most part) sweet. Some things stand out in my mind more than others.
Dad pastored Hargis Baptist Church in Montgomery, Louisiana, from 1973 - 1978. We moved to Alexandria in 1978 and lived there until 1986, and Dad pastored Community Baptist Church. In 1986, we moved out to Calcasieu where he pastored New Hope Baptist Church.
I do not remember much about living in Montgomery. I remember that it was very exciting when the new church building was going up. I remember the Tommy Drewitt family singing there. I remember some sweet people loving on our family.
I have lots of memories of Community. The church was a few miles away from England Air Force Base and because families stationed there were so far away from their own families, the church became their family in the truest sense of the word. I thought all churches were like that. Dad taught me how to drive, going around the outer edge of a cotton field next to our house and also practicing in the church parking lot (when no one else was there). I also remember him shooting baskets with me in the parking lot there. As I got taller, I think he thought he may have a ball player on his hands. It didn't take many times going to shoot for him to realize that was a futile thought. My uncoordination revealed itself rapidly. (But I am not bitter. At. All.)
When I was in 8th grade, we moved to Calcasieu. Tommy and Kelli had both moved out, so I was without them. As a 13 year old girl, I thought life was over - moving from the city to the country. I think I was mad for about a year. And I have no doubt that anyone who knew me then can attest to the fact that I was not a pleasant person to be around. The summer between my 9th and 10th grades, I went to Alabama to work at a camp called The Vineyard. To say that summer changed my life would be an understatement. I went for one primary reason - to get away from being the preacher's daughter. In my mind, I had the most terrible life. After all, my dad had time for everyone. Except me. (Again, I want to reiterate, this was in my mind.) My friend and fellow-staffer, Ron, called me out on this. And that made me so mad at the moment. Looking back on that later, I saw that Ron was a true friend, willing to risk making me mad to tell me the truth. About half way through the summer, Dudley Hall was the camp speaker, and God used him to get my attention. That was the first time I felt like God was holding up a billboard just for me. And it said, "Let go. Let go of the anger and resentment you feel toward your dad." This was HUGE for me. That was also the summer I met Chanda Heaton (Clark). I had never spent time with someone my age before, who had such a personal walk with Christ. That was life-changing for me. I went home with a different attitude. I went home with a new understanding and love for The Word. And my relationship with Daddy became much sweeter. Perfect? No. Enjoyable? Yes. And I know my mother must've been so thankful for the smart-mouthed, know-it-all, brash 14 year old girl to be left in Alabama.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night, to find extra kids at our house. Dad had gotten a call from a couple in the midst of marital struggles, and gone to their house, then brought the kids back to our house to sleep, where it was quiet and safe. Then, gone back to the house to help the man and wife work through whatever was going on. This happened more than once. Sometimes they stayed for the night, sometimes longer.
When I was a senior in high school, Dad and Mom prayed with me every Monday morning before school, about where I would go to college, and my future.
I titled this post "Preacher's Kid" but maybe I should've called it "Tom Smith's Kid." I remember wanting to do something one time that my folks said no to, and I commented, "Well, if Daddy wasn't the preacher I could do it." And my mother quickly told me, that the beliefs he had were not because he was a preacher, but because he was a follower of Christ. I have never forgotten that.
Just after we moved to Jefferson City (2003), I ran into a couple who had been at Community Baptist in the early 80's, and Dad had done their wedding. The man told me that Dad had taught him about ministry and serving others in just one afternoon. This guy's father-in-law had died and my dad was asked to the funeral. After the funeral was over, men in the family got shovels out to bury the casket because the family didn't have the money to pay the burial company to do it. Dad took off his suit coat, laid it with his Bible nearby on the ground, grabbed a shovel and helped dig the grave. This man told me that Dad's actions clearly showed him what ministry is.
At times, I felt like others looked at my life through a microscope. And that was hard. On the other hand, knowing that God has used my dad/my parents to work in so many people's lives - that is a feeling that is indescribable and humbling. They have lived a life of surrender to the call of Christ on their lives. What a legacy.