Down a winding road, nestled back in the woods, is a wooden house with a green roof and a stone chimney. Surrounding the house are hostas, lilies, daisies, tall trees, and butterfly bushes. On the porch is a rickety old swing, a long, green picnic table, and numerous rocking chairs. This is my “home”. This is the house my Nana and Poppy built and has served as the Waycaster gathering place for years.
Every year, this home stands witness to birthday celebrations for each family member. While alive, my Nana made it a priority to create an atmosphere of celebration specific to the individual. She prepared the Birthday boy/girl’s favorite meal and birthday cake for everyone to enjoy. Prior to the meal, a card was passed to each family member to sign. These cards were often tailored to fit the situations with crossed out words and added sayings to any extra cards my Nana Pat had laying around. She was creative and resourceful. Whether others pitched in to help with the celebration or gifts, my Nana always made it a priority to model and include others in on how to offer whatever gift they could offer. She modeled in words, physical gifts, cooking, and intentionality. While so many people desire credit for their work and intentionality, she avoided recognition and only sought for everyone to partner together in showering love on the Birthday Guest of Honor.
Along with birthday celebrations, were the famous Waycaster holiday gatherings. Each Christmas Eve my family piled into the living room, sitting on the hearth, piano bench, couches, chairs, and floor. My Nana’s request was that each year we read the Christmas story out of Luke in the Bible. Typically, a different person read each year. My Nana beamed as we all focused in on the real relevance of the holiday. Although she spent hours preparing a delicious meal and thoughtfully hand-picking gifts for everyone, this was her most treasured moment of our time together. No matter how many times we have heard the passage read, how many little hands were excited to tear into gifts, or how tired or hard the year had been, she ensured we set our visions on Him.
This home was my favorite in the backdrop of the mundane, though. I spent many mornings and afternoons at my Nana and Poppy’s since my Nana drove my brother, cousin, and I to school. As we got older, we rode the bus home from school. As the large, yellow school bus slowed, I could see my Nana’s golden Buick peeking out from the trees. I would walk quickly to her car, ride up the long, winding driveway, and finally find rest once inside the cool, wooden house. Each afternoon was the same. My Nana offered an afternoon snack and we worked on our homework. As we sat at the dining room table or kitchen bar, my Nana began preparing Supper, but was always willing to lend a hand. After finishing our homework, we were allowed to play outside or stay inside and watch one TV show. The boys typically went outside, but I enjoyed watching Gilmore Girls and joining my Nana in the kitchen during commercial breaks.
The Waycaster Home holds many memories of my life. It is a place that I cherish and long to be. I realize now that I am older, however, that it is not the house itself, or the people who I adore within it. The home that I love, is the atmosphere that my Nana and Poppy so carefully built to share love, comfort, joy, and safety. The home they built is something that can be recreated in each of our families, and it is something that can withstand time. The Waycaster Home is a beautiful portrait pointing to the home we have in God. He desires to love us intimately, provide comfort and peace, hide riches of deep joy within Himself, and an everlasting sense of safety in His faithfulness. My Nana realized this and made it her life’s goal to create a home that constantly pointed any who stepped into it, toward God.
Today, in honor of my Nana, I will thoughtfully prepare a meal for someone in my home. I will take the time to listen, rather than speak. I will clean up messes with grace and a heart of service. I will delight in the Lord and invite others to sit with me at His feet. Today, in the honor of my Nana, I will build a home.
Above: The long, winding driveway to my Nana’s. Funny Story — One time I tried to drive my mom’s car (before I was licensed) and backed her Jeep Liberty into a tree. Everyone ran out into the yard screaming and waving their arms. Luckily, it was only minor damage, and I learned my lesson.
Above: My Nana’s backyard garden. She loved to watch birds and butterflies in that garden. We actually spread her ashes there. 🙂
Above: One of my favorite meals — Ham, Potato Salad, and Green Beans. My Nana would make this for my birthday or whenever I would visit home during college. My Daddy and Mama carry on the tradition now.