My mom taught me not to brag… but today is meant to celebrate her life… so I want to brag on her a bit!
I am not sure if all of you are aware of her ministry. It started about 40 years ago as she began to wonder, “What does it mean to love God? And how do we do that in a practical way?” It started as a word study and became The Way of Agape — a study that has transformed lives all over the world. This book has sold over 400,000 copies and now is available in Spanish, DVDs, and leader’s guides with all sorts of resources for small groups. It didn’t stop there, she went on to wonder, “What does it mean to renew your mind?” (Be Ye Transformed) She found and taught a practical way of taking every thought captive; giving your emotions to God and letting Him work through you! She continued to write about what God was teaching her through the trials in her life. She went on to author Faith in the Night Seasons (how to have unshakable faith despite circumstances), Private Worship, Reflections of His Image, Kingdom Power and Glory, and Hope Against Hope, which talked about what God was showing her through struggle with cancer. These are “heftier” in-depth studies and have sold over 750,000 copies. She also wrote some “Plain and Simple” smaller books. My personal favorite, which I think should be required in all pre-marital counseling, is Why Should I be the First to Change? I don’t have time to do them all justice, so in a quick review: The Key (how to let go and let God), Against the Tide (getting beyond ourselves), The Choice (Hypocrisy or real Christianity), Never Give Up (the fruit of Long-suffering), Tomorrow May Be Too Late (Discovering our Destiny — which was written after the sudden death of my brother). These practical how-to books that are written from her personal experiences have sold over 300,000 copies. So basically my mom has sold over 1 million books!! But here is what she would want you to hear: writing was not her natural gifting. She got a C in English. At her high school reunion, her English teacher was shocked that my mom had become an author (she would have been the “least likely to…”). My mom was able to do all this because she was pursuing God and she was willing and obedient to do what He called her to do.
These studies took off and she ended up teaching conferences all over the world: U.S. and Canada, U.K., China, New Zealand, Australia and even Tasmania are just the ones I remember! Unlike my dad, she was not a natural born speaker. She sought the Lord in every detail and would prepare for weeks before a conference. She had a nervous tick, her nose would run every time she got on stage or in front of a camera. So she always had a piece of Kleenex tucked in her sleeve. Speaking was not her gifting, but she saw it as an opportunity to help others. She loved encouraging others.
She started her ministry, The King’s Highway, to encourage Christians in how to practically walk out their faith. Giving Christians the tools to be real, to love others with God’s unconditional love, to renew your mind, to have unshakable faith… all to change lives! She has followers all over the world, and not just women, there are a ton of men that write about how her books have changed their lives and have saved their marriage.
My mom was the most amazing lady. One quality that stands out to everyone who meets her is how other centered she was. She genuinely cared about everyone she met and would ask them about their lives … even in her final days, the Hospice nurses talked about how they have never had a patient who, despite their own pain and suffering, would ask them about their day and how they are doing. There was no “Nancy”… it was all Jesus, everyone that met her saw Jesus.
She bore this horrible cancer like a saint, never complaining or blaming someone else, just carrying her burden and seeking Jesus. She wrote her last book Hope Against Hope to encourage others who are on the same journey of suffering. Even after that book was published, she continued to write, what she called The Last Chapter. She worked on it tirelessly. At one point the tumor pushed one eye out of alignment and she started seeing double, so we patched one eye and she continued to work. As her sight gave out, we got her bigger and bigger magnifying glasses. She continued to write up until that last week as “she wanted to encourage others that there is an eternal purpose in all of this suffering. Our strength comes when we view our circumstances through a Heavenly perspective. That God has a purpose for every detail of our lives.” She spent most of her life writing what the Lord was teaching her through her trials. She wrote to encourage others! Would you spend your final months, weeks, days writing? I can’t say confidently that I would… maybe for my kids… I don’t like my answer for that.. but my mom did, she wrote for the glory of God!
Now, don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t perfect. She has written quite a bit about her errors and attempts to fix things. She was very real. She didn’t attempt to cover up her inadequacies, but would publicly share and laugh at some of her most embarrassing moments. There is one example that comes to mind that still embarrasses me today. She often told it at her seminars or I wouldn’t dare share it now. At one point, my parents were having some marriage difficulties so my mom read all she could about how to fix her marriage. She tried the advice that one magazine promoted and met my dad at the door in nothing but Saran Wrap! That was my mom, all in, doing whatever it would take! The Saran Wrap wasn’t the answer, but she shares the story and guides others to what God showed her did work — His unconditional Love. She was genuine and real about her emotions. She led by example. Here is what I did, here is what I learned from my mistake, and here is what God showed me would have been the right way to handle it. She found all of life to be a teaching tool, to deepen her relationship with God… trailblazing a path for others to follow!
And I KNOW that she is with our Lord Jesus Christ right now. This is a celebration of her life, which she dedicated to the Glory of God, and I am confident that she is dancing in Heaven right now! She is not there in that casket, that is the vessel her soul used while she was here on earth. She boldly finished her race well and she is encouraging us to follow, to put our faith in things eternal…
In Hope Against Hope, she wrote: “Be encouraged. There is hope. God is a real and personal God. He is faithful and He loves us, even though at the moment we might not see it nor our circumstances show it. Be assured, God knows our every need and is working ‘all things together for our good.’ He is a God who can be known and seen even in the darkest of times… That’s our hope! That’s the ‘anchor of our soul.’”
I also found this paragraph in her Last Chapter manuscript. She first quotes Charles Spurgeon who said, “Hope is like a star, not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, but only to be discovered in the night of adversity.” My mom continued “I certainly have found this to be true in my own life this past year. Hope is like a golden cord connecting me to heaven. The more I cling to this cord, the more I will allow the Lord to bear the weight of my burdens and the more I draw closer to him.”
She reached her goal. She is with Jesus now.