So I went home to NC last week. Ahhh. I must admit, I have grown to truly love the “wild west”! I love the cool mornings and evenings that living in the mountains provides. I enjoy watching how the sun sets behind Pikes Peak. I love living the “organic” life (we eat mostly grease where I’m from:)). I look forward to hikes, walks, and park days with the family (who in the world wants to do all that in NC where you can almost eat – not breathe – the air?!). But, Friends, I love “home”!

Every time I go back to NC several things are a must. One, I will stop at the Bar-B-Q Shack and get a NC BBQ sandwich – there is nothing anywhere like it! I will also enjoy fries and hush-puppies and sweeeeeet tea with this meal! Next, I will enjoy grits! For those of you who do not know what they are, I am truly sorry! For those of you who have had someone make “yucky grits” (aka grits without a tablespoon or more of butter per/bowl), again, so sorry! I also get back to my roots a little; after all, I am also a G.R.I.T.S (a Girl Raised In The South)! So, I must start to talk in my original language (not everyone can tawlk like a southern belle – not a type-o) – yes, we are our own culture! I usually go to the closest farmer’s market with my Memaw, walk around her lush, colorful yard, and enjoy a gravy biscuit too! I listen to country music, sweat way too much, drink too much pepsi and cheerwine (a cherry-soda like drink), and eat bologna sandwiches! I think back to wonderful meals my Grandma made when she was alive: collard-greens, butter-beans, fried chicken, fried okra, fried squash, fried potatoes, fried fat-back, and mayonnaise biscuits (told you we love our grease in the south…it re-hydrates our bodies after losing all that sweat from being outside – hehe).

Going home also includes a good amount of time with my BFF Hannah. This time was extra special because she just had Noah Thomas; so, Aunt Ana got to hold a baby boy…it’s been awhile since I’ve done that.:( I went down there with every intent on spoiling her, Thomas, and Noah, but in very Hannah Vinson form, she spoiled me! We laughed, a lot! We goofed off. Poor Thomas didn’t have Nathan to talk to during this time, so he got to put Noah to sleep instead. Hehe! You can tell we are both Mama’s now, though, cause we went to bed before midnight and were up before we wanted to be! We joke, we talk “God”, we say things like “Hallelujah”, “Yes, Lord” and “Dork News At 6 O’Clock”. I miss her more than I can express, but she will always be my kindred spirit – and we are quite spirited!

Atleast one day out of the time I’m in NC there will be a family day. Now, this is always loud, big, and full of jokes (let’s not talk appropriate or inappropriate…in the south they seem to all mesh together). Our little Hannah had her first family gathering. She sat outside in the green grass, surrounded by lots of faces she’s never seen before, bathing in her own sweat, and letting me know how she felt about it every-so-often. I must admit sometimes when my whole family gets together I want to scream out of fright too, so I can’t imagine how a 7 month old would feel:) We are a lively bunch, but it’s so much fun!

My time in NC this time was topped off with a sweet, simple visit with my old youth minister and his wife Deb. They are, you could say, my “God-parents”. They helped raise me in the things of God and were the ones who told me I would be in ministry. (They left out a lot of explaining where that was concerned!) I sat there and chatted, for the first time, as fellow minister to fellow minister. It was filled with memories; sharing of heart-ache, faith, love, loss, harsh realities, “God-thangs”, wisdom, friendship, tears, prayers, and blessings. It was a “treasure”; one I know I will get to take all the way through eternity!

I don’t always agree with my family or those from my “home”, but they have loved me. They have loved me with real-ness, raw-ness, and sincerity. Sometimes I find it easier in them than I do in The Church, or in me for that matter. They do everything BIG: love, hate, talk, act. They were my beginning. I haven’t always understood why nor have I always been thankful. But, today, I am. It’s good to have roots, and I know I have strong ones. (We grow ’em good and strong in the South!) I pray that my “roots” will be with me always…forever…for all eternity. That is my prayer for them; it is the hope that keeps me faithful in my prayers. I want to have a Southern family gathering in heaven…maybe minus the heat and some of the jokes:) I think God wants it too!