The simple blessing called “Home”

Oh hey, blog.  I’m sure you’re feeling totally neglected, but don’t worry.  I haven’t forgotten you.  I’ve just been busy these last 2.5 weeks hanging out with family and friends, spending in the kitchen with my favorite ladies, going for walks in the glorious sunshine, and whatnot.  But now I’m back, and it’s time to attempt a recap of the aforementioned massive trip home in the form of a bulleted list of favorite memories!

Charlie was able to schedule himself for seven days off in a row.  We headed up to his parents’ home in Dadeville for several days, where we were also able to visit friends in Auburn and Birmingham.  Then, my parents met us in Auburn and I went home with them while Charlie headed back to Florida to work.  I got to Ocean Springs on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and Charlie worked six days straight before joining us for a few days.  Being relatively close to home is the reason we came to Florida.  After so much time with our families, we certainly feel blessed that the Lord worked this out!

Favorite Memories from Family/Friend Extravaganza 2012

Dadeville – It was awesome to be with Charlie’s family!  They moved up their Thanksgiving meal for us, and it was so nice to all be together.  The weather at the lake was gorgeous, and we went up to the Smith fire tower one afternoon.  The walk up was pretty steep, but seeing the lake’s fall colors from above was definitely worth it.

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Charlie’s mom and I had one afternoon to ourselves, and she told me tons of old family stories I’d never heard.  Being so far away this past year has given me a new appreciation for our families, and I loved learning more about our relatives on Charlie’s side.  I also loved getting in the kitchen with Sheila one morning to make lemon ice box pies!  A neighbor had given them some huge lemons, and we went on a spontaneous run to the store for condensed milk and graham cracker crumbs.  It’s not like we needed any more food, but hey – any excuse to get in the kitchen with family!

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Friends – We were blessed to see a lot of friends during our time at home.  We went to Auburn one Sunday, where we had the chance to visit with a lot of families we loved during our time working at and attending AUMC.  It hit us during that visit that it had been a year since we’d been with people who had known us for more than a few weeks.  We stood in the parking lot after MYF was over, and it was just hard to leave.  We were so ready to go last September, and I know the Lord was certainly calling us to travel nurse.  But again, all this traveling – as wonderful as it is – has also made me greatly appreciate the deep community we’ve known before.  We had dinner with two good friends in Birmingham the next night, and sitting down with people who know us, really know us, was just a breath of fresh air.  I’m so glad we have another year of great adventures to look forward to all over the country, but I’m also excited for the coming day when we have a permanent community again.  (and I’m sure six months into that, I’ll be itching to explore somewhere new!)

Ocean Springs – I’m old enough now to realize what a unique blessing it was to get to spend 12 days in my hometown with my parents and grandmother.  Not many people my age have that chance, and I soaked up every minute of it!  On my first night, my dad and I went for a long bike ride through the seashore park near sunset.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do with him since he loves it so much, and it was priceless.  I loved being in the kitchen with my mom as we whipped up the least-stressful Thanksgiving meal ever!  It seriously seemed as if everything was done by 9:30 that morning and we just got to visit.  My grandmother brought her best pecan pie in recent memory and we were practically fighting over the last slices!  She then led the way as all the girls braved the Black Friday madness.  Dad was smart to stay home and get some work done!

The rest of our time was spent just doing the things you do on the coast – visiting pottery showrooms, seeing the new exhibit at the Walter Anderson museum, having girls’ lunches in the cute downtowns, going for morning beach drives just after sunrise to see the birds, stopping for Tato-Nut on the way home, walking along the beach just after it rains, etc.

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We used to only be able to visit Ocean Springs for quick weekend trips, so I really savored this longer visit.  When Charlie finally came, we celebrated his return with more seafood, another pie, and a hysterical accidental karaoke night.

One of the most priceless memories from Ocean Springs was the time I got to spend with my grandmother.  We stayed up for an hour one night after my parents went to bed, and she told me all about her life as a girl, her parents, meeting my grandfather, and what it was like to work for Western Union during the war.  I learned so much from her, and I feel so blessed to still have grandmothers who can pass on little pieces of themselves.  One thing she gave me on this trip was her banana pudding recipe.

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One night when Charlie was home, Momer sat at the kitchen table and called out the directions to me at the stove.  She walked over to make sure all my stirring was actually getting us somewhere and approved of the final result when it came out of the oven with a lightly browned meringue.  She said she used to make it all the time for the kids, and I know I’ll be making it for our children one day.  I can’t wait to watch them dig into their little bowls as I tell them how their great-grandmother taught me this recipe one Thanksgiving.  She gave me her pecan pie recipe years ago, but I know it will never be as good unless it come in a tin pie plate covered in saran-wrap that’s taped to the bottom and then tied up in a white grocery bag.  Only then could it be hers.

I feel so blessed to be close enough to have these visits.  It won’t be long before we head back west and can’t come home when we want.  The past few weeks has been a fun time of looking back, but also getting a peek of what’s ahead.  Someday we’ll move home again.  Someday we’ll be part of another community again where we share Bible studies, Sunday lunches, Saturday football marathons, double date nights, etc.  And my prayer is that I don’t lose the heightened appreciation for these simple connections we call “home.”  I love traveling, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to explore new places.  But there is nothing quite as sweet, as comforting, as wonderful as home.

See more pictures here.

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