Nanny

This picture cracks me up. Judah is obviously so done with the picture taking party. The look on Nanny’s face says she is too. But Mom and I remain determined to get just one more before we end the photo shoot.

These days it’s one of my favorites. Nanny went to be with Jesus on Monday, quietly and gently. Like the Lord came softly into her room, said it was time to go, took her by the hand and she was gone before anyone realized it. In Heaven her Lord welcomed her to Rest. Then, at the front of the line were her husband and her daughter Bronwyn. And after them, so many others. People she had missed for many years and was anxious to see again. I love to think of her meeting our twins and her granddaughter, Samantha, who died years ago. Can there be anything so joyous as the reunions that take place in Heaven?

As news of her death has spread, my dad has received emails from friends around the world, expressing condolences, recounting memory after memory and bearing witness to the wonderful legacy Nanny is leaving behind for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. And nearly every email and story centers around her hospitality and the openness of the home she and Papa kept for years and years. They hosted countless numbers of missionaries, pastors, college and seminary students, friends, strangers, the poor, the rich. Their home was a rotating bed and breakfast (and lunch and dinner) for so many years, living right on the seminary campus and welcoming anyone and everyone for a meal, a place to stay, a home for the holidays.

Papa had the vision for that way of life, but Nanny was the one that made it possible. She was at home all the time. Her life was cooking, cleaning, changing sheets, doing laundry and, of course, raising four children. She was the hub of their home, the warmth of it, the energy for it. Without her it wouldn’t have worked. And people from all over the world benefited and are now bearing witness to the powerful influence her hospitality had in their lives.

I wonder how many of her guests knew that she ironed her sheets every single time before making the bed again. (Did you get that? Ironed the sheets!) Or that her beautiful furniture was gathered meticulously from their travels, every piece carefully selected. Or that her spread at the table and her wonderful meals came from a strict code of ethics regarding manners, table etiquette and meal hospitality. (No label on the table!)

I loved nearly every meal that she made (nearly). But my favorite was lunch. She was not a PB&J kind of girl. Her lunch spread (just for herself!) would include toast, a delicious wedge of cheese, a side of pickles and olives, some salad dish and of course, a cup of tea. Sharing these lunches made me feel like a queen. Still today when I make myself a plate for lunch I find myself putting a little extra effort into it, thinking of Nanny. “It’s just what you do, honey!”

She practiced her hospitality as an art and a science and she devoted her entire life to it. Her whole ministry was her home and that ministry stretched across the country, to Europe, India, Australia and China. This legacy is more precious to me than words and will remain in my heart the perfect example of what good can be accomplished by a lowly housewife. I add my voice to all those who are rising up and calling her blessed.

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13 Responses to Nanny

  1. Jeannette says:

    Oh Bry, this is beautiful. *wiping tears*
    Reminds me of Mrs Belz a bit. Same generation. “It’s just what you *do*.” love it. And what a precious art–such simple things of beauty in hospitality. That God would bless even these frail lilies.
    Sorry I’m writing in fragments. Love you. God be with you as you remember, mourn, and rejoice your grandmother.

  2. Erika says:

    Thanks Bryonie! That was lovely, and she really was one of the loveliest ladies out there.

  3. Tracey says:

    Beautiful! And it only took you serving my kids dinner once for them to latch on to your “No labels on the table” rule!

  4. What a comfort to know that she is with the Lord. “What a day of rejoicing that will be/When we all see Jesus/We’ll sing and shout the victory!” I thank the Lord for her influence in your life and that of your family.

  5. FawnMichellePowerf@yahoo.com says:

    Oh, Bryonie! I I read that blog hungerly, and with delight. Thank you for sharing these special memories and thoughts with the world. I loved ALL that you wrote, but especially “She practiced her hospitality as an art and a science and she devoted her entire life to it.” What a perfectly appropriate summary. I’m honored to know you, as I was her.

  6. Walter and Carole Gienapp says:

    We come from the St.Louis days when Covenant College was as young as your Grandparents. They were our mentors, our critics (with love) our friends and our spiritual parents away from home. Yes, although in college, we were very young and needed counsel and guidance. My husband was a relatively new Christian and Dr. Rayburn had much influence on his call to the ministry. I traveled on three choir tours with Dr. Rayburn. He and Mrs. Rayburn graciously picked me up for choir practice more than once because I had no way to get there with my husband working. By this time he was a seminary student. I could go on and on. They just mean so much to us. I so admired “Nanny,” with her dignity and poise. We both are so pleased that God saw fit to use them in our lives. We grieve with you. God bless your family as you remember her during the special days ahead. Our prayers are with you.

  7. erin says:

    I wish I could have gotten to know her better, but the few times I got to spend with her, her wits, spunk, and sweetness won my affections. I remember her telling she was going to wear yellow to my winter wedding weather I liked it or not. I like a gal that beats to her own drum… she was unique and I admired her even from the little bit I got to know her. She is a shining example of how she loved others and glorified God through her gifts and talents… she will be missed.

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss, Bryonie. It feels like the end of an era when we lose our grandmothers. At least in my case, it was my first adulthood brush with the loss of a loved one (both died within a month of each other), and I had a sense that the loss went far deeper than what it seemed. It was a way of life that was gone forever; a link with my past that was broken; and a store of wisdom and humor that was lost. You expressed it so well when you described how your nanny did things with such grace and beauty.

    Although I don’t know if I will see my grandmas in heaven, I am so thankful for your reminder of the reunions that await us in heaven some day with all those that have gone before.

    By the way, I knew your grandmother when I was a little girl at Covenant R. P. (as we called it then). I didn’t know her personally at the time (it was many years later that I met her again), but I always thought she was so gracious and elegant. Love and blessings, Susan

    • bryoniemoon says:

      Thanks for finding me, Susan. You say it so well – the loss of a connection with a previous generation, previous way of life. I am feeling that keenly these days.

  9. Amy Hartin says:

    Well, I’ll say it, I WISH SHE WASN’T GONE! I know that’s terribly selfish and I know she’s with so many loved ones and meeting Hannah and Ebenezer but my Sundays will be slightly solemn and my drive to evening service quite lonely :’-(
    I’ll miss turning on Mercy Me or David Crowder or just the Christian radio station on the drive to church and her saying, “What is THAT?” I’d reply that it was a Christian band or Christian music and she’d always say “That’s music? GOOD NIGHT!” And we’d both chuckle
    I admit, sometimes i’d play something “crazy” just to hear her reaction 🙂 She was awesome!
    Also, she used to search in her purse on the way to church saying, “Have you seen my ripstick” 🙂
    I will ALWAYS cherish the nearly 3 yrs of memories I have of having her all to myself for that hr and a half every Sunday, well, pr’t near every Sunday!
    A short time ago, when she was in the hospital, I visited her and I told her that I loved her and she replied that she loved me too. I said, do you really love me or are you just saying that 😉 she said, “No, I really do love you” then I said, “do you know who I am?” And she said, “Of course I do, you’re my granddaughter Bryonie.” I was flattered but angry…JUST KIDDING! Of course the whole “do you know who I am” bit didn’t happen-lol 😉 she really loved me.
    She was cool, she told it like it was and she loved me 🙂 well, she loved a lot of people but she also loved me and I loved her!
    Missing Mrs. Rayburn,
    Amy Hartin

  10. Amy Hartin says:

    Also, I’ll miss pulling up to church in THE worst looking car but with THE MOST DIGNIFIED woman in the passenger seat. What a sight that must have been! 😀 How kind of her to ride with me. Super cool she was, super cool! Ok, I’m done commenting now on your blog now Bry 😉

  11. Kristin says:

    I’m a little late in reading this, but I wanted to extend my condolences to you, Bryonie, and to say what a lovely testimony this is! A life beautifully lived, and inspiring!

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