When I think about the church I think of the church as one great big surrogate parent sometimes. If it weren’t for the church and its role in the shaping of my life as a follower of Jesus and now a pastor I could honestly say that my life would be a whole lot different. Folks from all different walks of life who all had a love for the city and loved making a difference in the lives of God’s people. When I was a kid, these people on at least one occasion fed my family, paid some hospital bills, or even saw to it that we always had a way to get to church camp as kids. As I got older the amount of money spent on meals feeding me alone I could never repay back, but the conversations I had with these folks I still remember like yesterday.
Some of my coolest memories as kid growing up in the city was the time I spent on the boulevard. Now I know you are wondering, “why is it that the boulevard holds for me so many memories?” Well, the church happened to be about a block away from the boulevard where we lived in Hollywood. At one point as a kid our home was less than a mile from the church, a half block above the boulevard. On another occasion we lived just over a mile from the church, again both places were a short walk either way. Growing up in a city like Hollywood, your mode for transportation as a kid was to usually walk and the boulevard was the path one would usually choose. It made the walk to the church a little more enjoyable. For example skateboarding was always an experience, because the way the wheels of your skateboard felt under your feet while skateboarding always seemed to tickle your feet as you cruised down the boulevard. The city bus (formerly known as the RTD) was another enjoyable experience (if you had the change) because the joy of watching the interesting yet entertaining persons on a city bus always was a smile to anyone riding a bus, even to us kids.
One memory I have was a time in elementary school on Halloween during a costume parade. When I was an infant I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which is simply water on the brain. (Now for those of you who know me, I know this gives you a smile and I hear you saying, “no wonder he’s such a goober.”) What happens with some who are diagnosed with hydrocephalus as an infant and as children, the child’s head sometimes appears larger than the child’s body. Thankfully, doctors were able to treat it with a shunt, but of course as I grew up I got the occasional, “hey dude, you have a big head.” On this particular day at school during the Halloween parade, I decided that enough was enough with the “big head stuff.” What I remember that day was that my mother was called and the next scene was us sitting in a hamburger stand right on the boulevard minutes from our apartment. Of course food is always the best cure for a growing kid and mom saw to it that we had some one on one time which allowed for the “big head stuff” to become a thing of the past.
My next post I will continue to reflect on those memories I had growing up in the city and the small yet important role my parents had in being used by God in helping me in my faith journey. I will also share some other thoughts about life growing up in Hollywood and how this played a role in my faith as a follower of Jesus.