Though she has a similar name to the television legal journalist “Nancy Grace”, this story highlights Nancy Kay Grace. One speaks on law; the other speaks on God’s grace.
God’s grace has been Nancy’s refuge in the midst of many hardships: monthly out-of-state visits to dying parents, funerals of three parents, cancer diagnosis, and brokenness in ministry. Any of these things is challenging, but one on top of the other is life-changing. Her story is of bold faith – the quiet firm conviction of God’s promises in frightening times.
In her teenage years, Nancy was anything but bold. Trapped in low self-esteem, she was drowning in insecurity and issues related to an alcoholic father. Through a visiting choir in her church, she found complete acceptance in Christ.
Nancy now faces new situations with security and trust. Her desire is to encourage women not to shrink from difficult situations, but to live boldly in good times and bad. Her message has been tested and proven.
JBU: How did God prepare you for the mountain of challenges in 2009?
NANCY: A few years earlier, God nudged me to step out of my comfort zone and become a hospice volunteer. I visited patients, played the piano, and led a writing group on coping with grief. I became aware of a heavenly perspective on life, and realized death was not to be feared. In 2009 I drew from the experience to deal with the deaths of our parents. During our time of grief, God refreshed us through the joyous weddings of two of our children (though I had to keep straight whether I was the mother of the groom or the mother of the bride).
JBU: What did you learn about God’s grace in your tongue cancer diagnosis?
NANCY: Many questions flooded my mind. The night of the diagnosis, I went to my piano to play and pray. As I released my fears to the Lord, He gave peace that I would be in His will no matter the outcome. Since then, I have had four biopsies and, with each one, drawn upon His peace. The second diagnosis was six years after the initial one. The week after my mother died, I noticed another sore on my tongue that didn’t look or feel right. Initially the doctor didn’t think it was cancerous, but went ahead with a complete biopsy anyway. It was cancerous. That night, I had a praise concert at the piano for God’s sovereignty, and then packed to go to my mother-in-law’s funeral. She had a stroke on the day of my surgery and died a few days later. Faithfully, God sustained us through those two weeks of cancer and two funerals.
JBU: What did you learn of God’s grace in the trying ministry situations?
NANCY: Early in our marriage we had an idealistic concept of ministry—people would be eager to accept the Lord and grow in faith. After a while we saw the reality—the church is made up of imperfect people. We became disillusioned. I wondered why Christian people would treat others in such unchristian ways. I had to ask God for help to forgive those who hurt us. God’s grace is the salve that heals ministry wounds and removes barriers caused by bitterness. I learned I can’t hold my husband responsible for my response to situations. It is critical to spend time with the Lord one-on-one.
JBU: Even though your recent trip to Africa was to encourage others, how were you changed?
NANCY: It was definitely out of my comfort zone but God was on the other side waiting to teach me deeper trust. In one day, we heard six different languages, traveled hours into the bush, stopping for elephants to cross the road, so we could meet the churches. Though life is hard with lack of reliable roads, water, electricity and food, I was humbled by their contentment and joy in the Lord. They are willing to share the gospel with other tribes at great personal cost. While sitting in a mud and dung hut, one pastor’s wife asked us, “Why wouldn’t you want to live here? We have all we need—we grow our food, make our houses, we have family and church. Oh, we need one thing—matches—so we can build a fire to cook!” The questions they asked us dealt with marriage, children, discipleship, and why the church isn’t growing faster. Very similar concerns to what we have on our side of the world! It was humbling to step inside their churches made of twigs or baked bricks and see their spiritual dedication. One woman, a new believer, walks miles to the church each week while her unbelieving husband waits outside to beat her. Yet, she continues to come. In all the believers, I saw contentment, joy, hardship, poverty, and unswerving bold faith.
JBU: What opportunities do you look forward to?
NANCY: My cancer prognosis is good and I hope to continue to use my tongue to proclaim what God has done. Rick and I want to co-author a book on ministry marriage, and I would like to continue to write and speak to women, encouraging them to have bold faith in tough times.
Nancy is a Contributing Author in the Following Books:
- The One Year Life Verse Devotional
- Refined by Fire: Defining Moments of Phenomenal Women
- Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating Brothers and Sisters
- Chicken Soup for the Father and Son Soul
- Favorite Scripture verse/passage: Psalm 138:3
- Favorite song: Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me) by Casting Crowns
- Your hobby: playing the piano and writing
- One fun thing you like to do with your husband: hiking
To Contact Nancy:
- www.nancykaygrace.com (sign up here to receive Nancy’s email devotional “Grace Notes)