Stomping Grounds: Part 2

In the summer of 1995, Ebay and Yahoo were founded, the conflict in the Balkan countries of Bosnia and Croatia were raging, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty, and I moved to Lansing–the capitol of Michigan.  We found our suburban home just south of the city limits, in a quiet new subdivision surrounded by fields.  The address was 6165 Lindsey Lane.  I don’t actually remember much about the whole moving experience, but I do remember how much we all loved our new house.

"The Michigan Militia"

My sister and I were scheduled to start school at Capitol City Baptist School (which was our church also) soon after we moved in.  I can remember my very first day of third grade–Mrs. Grimwood.  Everyone was brand new to me, but thankfully I was befriended quickly.  One friend from that first day ended up standing in my wedding as a groomsman, and still is a good friend.  I was baptized at Capital City Baptist Church, I began to see God leading me to the ministry, and learned what a good teacher was; in fact, all of my teachers from third to sixth grade were excellent.  I also learned to stand up for my faith–yes, even in a Christian school.  There were some who did not believe that the Bible was the Word of God, and I learned to study the Book so as to know what I believe and communicate that to others.  A strong educational foundation was instilled on me at Capital City, and without it, I do not believe I would have had the discipline and studiousness I needed in the rest of my school years.

I also made several neighborhood friends in those years on Lindsey Lane.  Jake, David, and I pretty much stuck together through thick and thin.  We would go play in the nearby woods and fields, build forts, pretend we were in the army, get chased out of other peoples property, and name any other boy thing to do: we did it.  One summer, a new subdivision was being built directly adjacent to ours, and with it, a new road.  Well they stalled on the road after grading it for several months, so what did we do?  We built our own “BMX” bike track, with jumps and all!  Every day after school we would make our track better, then ride on it and race each other.  Oh, how I wish sometimes I could go back for just one day and ride that track again!  Today, it’s filled with now decade-old (or more) houses, gardens, and swimming pools.

One day in fifth grade, a friend from school came home with me to spend the afternoon outside.  Well, boys enjoy getting dirty–and we sure did!  At a nearby pond we found out that there were plenty of tadpoles to catch.  We found a couple of nets and buckets and wandered in.  We didn’t have waders or water shoes, we just went in with jeans, a t-shirt, and shoe-less.  We caught literally thousands of tadpoles, filling up our buckets, and even a dozen or so crayfish.  The next day, we took the tadpoles to school for “show and tell!”  Oh, how Mrs. Seifert loved us!

I changed a lot when I first moved to Lansing.  One major change was my new-found love of sports, especially the Michigan State Spartans!  Every Saturday in the fall (which tended to be work outside day) we would listen to the Spartans battle it out on the football field.  Back then, Nick Saban was the coach, who since has left MSU and eventually led LSU and Alabama to national championships.  He never did that for the Spartans!  They had their good years in the 90’s–and bad ones!

Then, of course, there was Michigan State basketball.  They had a new coach in 1994–the little known long-time assistant from the backwoods of Michigan.  His name was Tom Izzo.  When I first started paying attention,the Spartans were in the middle or lower end of the pack in the Big Ten.  The dreaded Wolverines at the University of Michigan was the conference powerhouse.  Yet, I always still loved those Spartans, hoping that some day they might get better.  All of the sudden, the stars in the heavens began to line up in 1996.  What happened was the Izzo coaching method and the “Flintstones-” a group of guys from the depressed city of flint.  In ’97, they made it to the NIT.  In ’98, they lost to Dean Smith’s NC Tarheels in the sweet sixteen.  Then in ’99, the Spartans made it to the Final Four!  What they ran up against was one of the greatest teams ever assembled under Mike Krzyzewski and Duke, of which I came to despise as a Spartan fan.  They lost in the semifinals, but with plenty of hope for the next year.  The Spartans had a superb year, followed by a march to the Final Four, were they beat Wisconsin, and then Florida for the National Championship.  Tom Izzo, if he had ran for mayor of Lansing, would have won!  I followed every game intently, and yes, I am still a huge fan of those Spartans!

Spartan "Flint-stones"

Many other life memories happened on Lindsey Lane: we adopted my little brother and sister from Romania, I was introduced to Fairhaven Baptist College, and I surrendered my life to God and the ministry of the Gospel.  I learned a strong work ethic from my parents in Lansing ( I imagine they thought I was hopeless back then!  Lots of regrets of what I should have done right…!).  The attack on September 11 happened one Tuesday morning while I was in the middle of Bible class (I was home-schooled at the time–from 7th-12th grade to be exact), when my mom told me to turn on the TV.  The first plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center, and the second one crashed seconds after turning on the news.  I watched the towers collapse, heard about the heroes on Flight 93, and was filled with a spirit of justice against those who did this.  My dad told me that this would probably be the only time in my life where I would look up on a clear, blue day and not see streaks from a jet.  Fear filled the air.  We went to Burger King that night, and I can clearly remember the solemness on the few faces that were there.  My parents can remember when Martin Luther King was assassinated, Reagan was shot, the Challenger crashed, and the Berlin Wall fell.  I will be able to tell my kids where I was when the terrorists attacked our country on September 11.

In 2001 we moved to the other side of Lansing, in the middle of nowhere with and address in Grand Ledge.  By then, we began attending Community Baptist Church of Lansing.  Most of my friends were at church by then, and those that were in the neighborhood had moved away recently as well.  I was ready to move, but looking back now, I still have those little sentimental memories of childhood on the south-side of Lansing.  Here’s a few more just for my parents: Jenna and Jordan with the ducklings, Rich’s Country Store, stabbing myself in the toe with a garden hoe, having to be shown the right way to mow the lawn a million times, the maximum security kennel and fence for the dogs–that they still managed to escape from, white fur from our dog Levi on the dark green carpet in my room…just to name a few.

Next I get to tell you all of our house in the wilderness on Royston Road!

P.S.–  I have very few pictures from Lansing.  Most of those would be in the possession of my parents!

Stomping Grounds: Part 1

We all have those places where we grew up, that we can look back on, and be a little sentimental about.  I can count about five in my life (so far!).  If I counted the homes I have lived in, I think that would be seven.  For the first one of those I was just a baby, and for the second, I have only a few vague memories of.  Okay…here it goes.  I have a serious confession to make: I was born in the South!  And no, I am not proud of that!  My birthplace was in Paducah, Kentucky.  Again, I have zero memories of it.  My father’s job had transferred him there not too long before I was born, and we lived there until I was 18 months old, I think.  At that time, my dad’s job transferred him yet again; and this time “up north.”  On to the Great Lakes we went!

Before my family moved to the great state of Michigan, we had no roots there at all.  No connection to people there.  It’s amazing how much that one job transfer paved the way for the rest of my life.

Saginaw, Michigan would be my hometown for the next seven years of my life.  I really did like Saginaw.  It was a good size city, but definitely not too big either.  At first, we lived in a duplex about fifteen minutes north of town, in Freeland.  The only memories I have of there are not all that great–I fell off of railing I was climbing up, and I couldn’t play on my swing for a while because the Tittabawassee River had just flooded into our backyard.  Not much more than a few years did we live there when we got our first house on Dale Road, Saginaw, Michigan.

Aerial View

Our good old house in the “Township” (Saginaw Township, to be exact).  It was a nice bi-level home in a quaint neighborhood–less that a mile away from the city limits.  I have plenty of memories from there: the list would last forever!  It was in this house that I accepted Jesus as my Saviour as an eight-year-old.  I can remember my dad taking my sister and I on bike rides constantly.  It was such a treat for us to ride to one of the nearby 7-11 convenience stores and grab a little candy!  The really big treat was riding to McDonald’s, getting a Happy Meal, and playing in the Playplace.  It seems like we rode our bikes everywhere!

We also had an in-ground pool at our house.  Before we moved there, my dad was planning on filling in the pool, fearing for our safety.  Then, I think he thought of how fun it would be, and figured that he would just teach us how to swim instead.  So, soon after moving in, we were taught how to swim the old-fashioned way: just throw the kid in the shallow end until they figure out they can float and paddle!  So there I was as at four years, and my sister at two, already “masters” at swimming.

Some of the best days were fall afternoons and evenings.  There was an awesome apple orchard that wasn’t too far away where we could get fresh cider and cake donuts.  Unfortunately now, that same orchard has been so commercialized that it is but a shadow of its former self.  Currently there’s a golf resort, huge gift shop, and hotel.  This is what it is today.  Oh well!  I still like the simple cider mill and rows of apple trees.

Saginaw is a city of contrasts separated by the wide Saginaw River.  It started as the lumber capital of the state, and midway through the last century, began to see a severe downward spiral.  The eastern side of the river became a crime-ridden slum, while the west side tried to maintain its identity as much as possible.  It’s probably still like that today, and even worse.  When I lived there in the early 90’s, there was still some of the automotive industry; now there is virtually none.  The city is still shrinking.

Of course, I didn’t know about any of that as a kid.  I just knew that I loved to get a donut from “Dawn Donuts” on a weekend morning.  At that time of my life, I didn’t appreciate good food yet.  My top restaurants were still McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Chuck-e-Cheese’s.  I do remember, though, Guido’s Pizza.  The funny thing is, I hated it because it was so thick!  Pizza was supposed to be thin!  Little did I know that it would be the first taste of my now favorite “Chicago Style” pizza.

I started school in Saginaw at Plainfield Elementary.  I think that I fit right into school.  I liked the friends, playing on the playground, and yes: learning.  There I learned some of the public school stupidity.  In gym class, we learned to square-dance for a whole three months.  In reading, we got to learn all about Frog and Toad’s “feelings.”  My second grade teacher taught us all how great President Clinton was.  In second grade, soon after we started going to church, the teacher held up a small box for all of us to see.  In it, she said, was the most important person in the world!  We all were in awe of what might be in there.  She asked for guesses on who it was.  I was the first one to raise my hand, and of course, being a new Christian, I knew that God was the most important person in the world; so I said who I thought was in the box: “God!”  “No,” the teacher said.  “He isn’t real.”  Another few kids guessed incorrectly as well after me, until the teacher finally answered the question herself.  She opened up the box, and in it was a mirror.  “Who is in that mirror?,” she asked.  “You are.  You are the most important person in the world.”  That, my friends, is the fundamentally flawed philosophy of public schools and the world today.

Thankfully, just a month into my second-grade year, my parents enrolled me in the Christian school that was administered by our church.  There I learned cursive writing and real phonics for the first time.  I am eternally grateful that my parents took me out of the government school system at such a young age, and that I was able to have a well-rounded, God-centered education the rest of the way up.

At church, for the first time I was introduced to things like AWANA, missions, cantatas, and progressive dinners.  This post isn’t necessarily a testimony, so I will just save that for another time.  I had and excellent second-grade teacher, and a lot of good friends at that church and school.  On the contrary, one of my friends was home schooled.  To me, it was one of the craziest things I had ever heard of!  “For real,” I thought.  “Your mom teaches you???  You get to be done at lunchtime!”  I didn’t know that it would be me in the same situation several years from then.

We moved away from Saginaw when I was eight, and yes, I missed it and didn’t want to move at first.  However, I still visited my dad every other weekend there until I was sixteen; so I guess I kind of lived there until then.  Saginaw will always be a part of me.  I learned so much there, have a multitude of memories, and will always call it one of my homes.

Fall is Coming!

Here in York county, the slightest hints of fall are starting to appear.  The trees haven’t quite shown any color or shed any leaves yet; and I think we still have a few warm days left; but we can tell that it’s on the way.  All of this change of seasons remind me of my home state of Michigan.  It’s hard to explain in words the autumn season in the Great Lakes State.  Here are a few things I remember about fall in Michigan: listening to a Michigan State football game on 1240 AM on a Saturday afternoon, the smell of your neighbor’s burning leaves, 50 degree temperatures around the clock, and of course going to the local apple orchard for a gallon of cider and a dozen homemade donuts.

I think that Michigan has some of the best tourism commercials.  I remember going to college in the Chicago area and hearing these on the radio.  I think this one explains the fall in Michigan perfectly: