Thursday, April 16, 2015

Author Interview: The Grace Impact by Nancy K Grace

What better way to learn about a newly published book than by visiting with the author?  Today Nancy K. Grace, author of The Grace Impact is answering questions and offering insights into her newly released book.  Welcome, Nancy.


How did The Grace Impact develop?

The idea for this book began several years ago. In 2007 I submitted some stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul and a devotional book. The stories were accepted, which encouraged me to continue my writing journey. In sharing this with my friends, I wrote a short devotional in an email and added my publishing news at the end of it. This was the first issue of GraceNotes, my email devotional. It is now offered as an opt-in newsletter on my website, http://www.nancykaygrace.com. I have continued to send GraceNotes each month since then, even through some very difficult and trying times. The Lord encouraged me to keep writing and sending GraceNotes. Eventually I hoped to have enough devotionals to compile them into a book.

In 2012 I was at a point when I was very discouraged with writing. A book project that I started, abruptly ended.  I attended a writer’s conference to hear from the Lord about my next step.  While there I pitched the idea for this book to CrossRiver Media called GraceNotes: Thirty Days of Grace.  The manuscript was accepted. As I worked on it, the publisher noticed that in the past year several book titles included the word “GraceNotes” and suggested I consider re-titling it. After praying about it and researching possible titles, I decided on The Grace Impact. The project went from being a simple devotional about God’s grace to being a book on God’s grace that happens to be a devotional. This change challenged me to go deeper in writing, researching, and showing God’s grace.

 What is the “grace impact?”

God alone is able to set into motion what I call the “grace impact”—His ability to work in and through any situation, revealing His love and forgiveness to us, thereby drawing us to Himself, ultimately through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The initial impact of God’s grace to each of us comes by accepting salvation through Jesus. It continues in us and through us as our lives are transformed by yielding more to the Lord. As we grow in faith, we share God’s grace with others. Like a drop of water released on a smooth lake, the ripples of the grace impact continue to reach outward to many.

Why did you write a book on God’s grace?

I have been captivated by grace for many years, not only be­cause “Nancy” means “grace” but also because grace has transformed me, strengthened me, and sustained me through difficult times. In The Grace Impact, I share how the Lord helped me through cancer, the death of three parents within six months, and other issues. Trusting God is more than a feeling. It is a decision made on the knowledge of God’s character and faithfulness.  Even when He seems quiet, God’s grace is ever present, sustaining us. God’s grace has carried me often, and I desire to share this hope with others.

What makes this book different from any other devotional?

Not only can it be read as a thirty-day daily devotional, but it can also be used as a Bible study guide on grace. At the end of each daily reading there is a section called “Deepening the Grace Impact.” There are additional scriptures for further study, questions for your own meditation, and a prayer. I’m working on creating a thirty-day online Bible study using The Grace Impact. Another option would be to study one chapter a week, making it a 30-week or 8-month study. I will be using the book in an online Bible study in June. If you are interested in the online study, please contact me and I will get information to you when it is available.

Where can we buy the book?

If you would like to have me come to speak to your group, I am available for meetings, banquets, or retreats.  Please visit my website at www.nancykaygrace.com for more information. (While you're there, be sure and subscribe to the Gracenotes newsletter.)

A portion of every book sale of The Grace Impact will be given to the Grace Orphan House (Siyon Social Welfare Society, http://siyonsws.com) in Aurangabad, India. It currently serves as home for thirty boys and fifteen girls who were street children. Grace Orphan House provides a loving Christian environment, education, three meals a day and a comfortable place for the children to live. Anyone who purchases the book continues spreading the grace impact.

You can follow Nancy on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest,

While you are waiting for your copy to arrive, check back here for my posts about my favorite lessons from The Grace Impact.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Grace Impact

Last August, when our youngest child moved to New Mexico, and I was feeling lost and unsure of my next step, I was inspired by an article in Gracenotes, the newsletter of Nancy K. Grace.  In that article, Nancy was discussing "mid-points":
In the past month I've been diligently editing the manuscript for my first book, The Grace Impact. I made it half way through when I came upon a delay. I had a choice--to let it derail me or to press through, remembering the greater vision of the completed book.
 That's how I felt.  I was at a midpoint and, honestly, I was letting it derail me.  
One of the challenges of the mid-way point of a project is pressing on to finish in spite of the setbacks of tiredness, lack of motivation, or loss of vision for the completed project.
That sentence was the catalyst to the blog series "Life Under Construction", which chronicles my efforts to press-on.  I wrote:
I realize 53 is most likely not the "mid-way" point of my life, but I am feeling a decided tiredness and loss of vision for both the blog and life.  So both are getting an overhaul.  Not just a face lift - although that is part of the plan (figuratively for me and literally for the blog) - but a true remodel; tear away those things that are not necessary for the next chapter and start fresh with only those things which ad value and beauty to my "second half."
Nancy did press on and complete the editing and publication of her manuscript. I was thrilled to get an advance copy and the opportunity to introduce you all to Nancy.  

About fifteen years ago, we lived in Beloit, Kansas, where Nancy and her husband, Rick, pastored the church we attended.  The Graces left Beloit shortly after we did and are now in Arkansas.  You can read all about Nancy's achievements as a gifted musician, speaker, and author on her website; but the memories of Nancy that stick in my mind are of her role as teacher.  I attended several Bible studies that Nancy led and the lessons learned still come to mind frequently, even through the fog that is my memory after fifty.  Her insight, humor and ability to make whatever we were studying "real" inspired me to look deeper into God's word.  


The Grace Impact contains that same impactful teaching.  It is a collection of the "best of" Nancy's writing from her GraceNotes newsletter; thirty devotional readings, centered around 2 Corinthians 9:8 and the theme of - what else? - grace!  

Come back on Thursday, April 16th, for an interview with the author, along with information on where you can get your own copy of the The Grace Impact.  Over the next few weeks I will be sharing on a few of my favorite lessons from the book and how they touched me.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  (2 Cor. 9:8)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Life Under Construction: Finding Balance

"There's no such thing as a free lunch."  The origin of that common phrase is contested, but the veracity of the thought is not.  Dave, who has a degree in economics, calls that statement "all the theories of economics, simplified into one truth."  Everything costs someone something.  Even if it appears to be free to you, it is not free to the person who gave it to you.  

On a more personal level, even if we don't care about what it costs someone else, there is still a price to every choice - the "opportunity cost".  Everything we gain in life comes with a price - every choice we make costs us the "could haves".  When I order a corn dog, it costs me the opportunity to have a hamburger.  When I build a house on the beach, it costs me the view from the mountaintop.  Everything is a trade-off in some way.  

Google the phrase "finding balance" and you will get pages and pages of advice to help you balance your money, time, health, lifestyle, relationships and career, but they all boil down to give and take.  What are you willing to give up to have something else?

The dictionary defines balance as

  1. An even distribution of weight, enabling something to remain upright and steady. 
  2. A condition in which different elements are in the correct proportions.
  3. Keep or put something in a steady position so that it does not fall.
  4. To offset or compare the value of one thing with another.
That pretty much sums up life.  We weigh the benefits of each area against the costs until we find the combination that keeps us steady.  My job provides money which allows me to pay for "extras", such as books, hobby supplies, or travel; but at what cost?  I can afford a plane ticket to see my daughters in New Mexico, but I don't have enough vacation leave from my job to make the trip.  Spending my free time reading or sewing makes me happier than scrubbing floors or folding laundry, but it costs me the peace and convenience of an orderly home.  

The purchase of our own business has added a new element that needs to be balanced. I now have bookkeeping and clerical jobs for the construction company, as well as a full-time job and the usual responsibilities at home. There are more duties I would like to assume for our business, but not while working full-time.  We can adjust the budget to live without my income, but we would also give up the benefits.  When we went to Florida a few weeks ago, one of my goals was to spend some quiet time on the beach evaluating options and setting priorities - finding balance. It seemed so simple while we were there.  But in truth, balance is incredibly easy to find when other people are preparing your meals and cleaning up your messes.  It didn't translate well back to real life.

In reality, I spend 53 of the available 168 hours each week preparing for, traveling to and doing my job.  Subtract another 49 hours/week for sleep and I have 66 hours in each week to balance the "need to's" and the "want to's".

I know this is nothing new to any of you.  We all face the same challenges to find balance. In fact, it's not even a new topic for this blog.  Mainly, this is me talking out loud to work it out in my head.


I can hire someone to help with either the cleaning or the yard work.  It's a financial splurge that we can afford as long as I continue to work.  If I quit my job, I could handle the cleaning and yard work, plus the new business responsibilities, but would have less disposable income for hobbies and travel.  However, not working outside the home would cut the expenses of office wardrobe, gas and mileage, and eating out.  Everything seems to be tipping precariously at the moment as I struggle for that balancing point.

Free lunch anyone?




Monday, April 6, 2015

Inspiration on Monday: Painting

Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity is hosting a new creative "link up" called Inspiration on Monday -
a forum to share things that we’ve created and things that we are doing to help inspire others. Posts about projects in progress, finished projects, tutorials, and how-tos are all welcome. Feel free to share recipes, crafts, lifestyle, organizing, and DIY tips, and any other idea that can spark inspiration.
In search of an idea for a topic to post, I began to ponder what inspires me, and the answer was obvious - not what , so much as who inspires me - my daughter, Amanda.  

I have completed one week of a four week art class taught be a local high school art instructor.  During her opening lesson, she discussed how many people label themselves as "not artsy" so they never try; but most of her students, when given the supplies, the guidance, and the freedom to experiment, find that they can create art.  

I was one of those people for many years.  I loved needlework, but I followed a pattern and detailed instructions.  I wasn't creative.  I didn't try many other crafts, and certainly never anything that required "artistic talent". When Amanda tried painting a few years ago, I was amazed at her talent.  Watching and encouraging her painting and other crafts inspired me!  She taught me that being "artistic" isn't always something you're born with - it can be learned and nurtured.  Most artistic people are simply those who have given themselves the freedom to create - without pretending or apologizing.  

Last August, she took me to a "Cork and Canvas" guided painting party, and I was hooked.

Since then I have branched into watercolors, and am even trying sketching in the art class I mentioned.  There is nothing more relaxing in this world than creating something just for myself.  It doesn't have to meet anyone else's approval or conform to anyone's idea of "art".  It just has to please me.   In fact, sometimes even I don't find the finished product all that pleasing, but the process always is.

To inspire you to stop labeling yourself and loose your inner artist, here are a few of my favorite creations:






For every painting that I like, there are a handful that go in the trash or get painted over, and a few more that are put in the "passable" file.  But regardless of the outcome, the process makes me smile.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vacation Reading List

"Vacation reading list" usually refers to the books I pack to read in the car, on the plane,in a motel room or on the beach.  But this time, I came home from vacation with a list of "must reads".

I took a cruise with Amelia River Cruises on the rivers surrounding Amelia Island, Florida.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it. The Captain of our sight-seeing boat told a string of fascinating stories about each sight that we passed.  I was so curious about the mysterious Cumberland Island, that I ordered this book as soon as I returned to our hotel room:

Cumberland Island: Strong Women, Wild Horses by Charles Seabrook.

For centuries, Cumberland Island, which is located off the southeastern Georgia coast, has captured the imagination of visitors and inhabitants. In this book, Charles Seabrook uses circling narratives about generations of strong women who have called Cumberland Island their home to explain why this island seems to invoke strong emotions in all who come here.
From the days of Caty Greene, the widow of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Green, to Zabette, the slave mistress of Cumberland's largest landholder before the Civil War, to Lucy Carnegie, the widow of Thomas Carnegie (Andrew's younger brother), to Carol Ruckdeschel, a naturalist once profiled in the New Yorker, and Janet "Gogo" Ferguson, who played an integral role in the planning of Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s secret wedding on the island, we watch as these women strive to protect the island they love.
Our cruise was delayed due to foggy weather and then delayed a second time due to a mechanical problem.  While we waited, a slightly eccentric employee of the cruise entertained us with stories - some believable and some not.  One of the more believable (and fascinating) was about the people of his homeland - Newfoundland.  That led to book number 2 on my Barnes and Noble order:  The Day the World Came to Town

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.
For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."
The Day the World Came to Town is a positively heartwarming account of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities and the unexpected guests who were welcomed with exemplary kindness.

While visiting Fernandina Beach, the town near our resort, I stopped in a book store to look for a book on the history of Amelia Island.  The clerk said that Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach by Roger Moore and Ron Kurtz, is their best seller.  So, I picked up an autographed copy.

I struck up a conversation with a lady browsing the table of new best sellers.  She recommended "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins - "Once you start it you won't put it down until you're done."  Of course I had to buy it after that endorsement. 


Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
 And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?  Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
I also picked up a copy of Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell, for Dave.  
This richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Now all I need is another vacation so I have time to  read them all.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunrise

Our accommodations on this trip are about 80 yards from the ocean.  Down the hall, through the lobby, past the pools  and along the boardwalk - - - there it is.  Since we are so close, one of my goals is to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic.  The first morning was overcast, but I sat on the beach and watched the gray sky lighten as the sun came up behind the clouds.  


On day two, I checked the weather before heading to the beach:
  • Weather for Jacksonville, Florida at 7:00 a.m.:  Dense fog advisory, 87% humidity, 68 degrees.
  • Weather for Salem, Nebraska at 7:00 a.m.:  Dense fog advisory, 91% humidity, 24 degrees.
All things considered, Florida was the winner - but I still didn't get to watch the sunrise. Instead, I sat by the fire pit on the patio, sheltered from the drizzling mist and again watched the black sky fade to gray and listened to the waves crashing on the shore.



Day 3:  The conference we are attending hosted "beach Olympics" Saturday morning, starting just after sunrise.  We went down a little early to check the sunrise status. As you can tell from the picture of Dave trying to save my pitiful attempts at Bocce ball and keep us in the tournament, it was still foggy and overcast.  No problem - 2 more chances.


Day 4:  Dave had an 8:00 reservation to go hang gliding, so we called a cab for 7:20.  While Dave waited for the cab, I faithfully made my morning trek to the beach, even though I knew I wasn't going to see the sunrise through the clouds.  At least I could say I tried.  Sure enough - no visibility.  In fact, Dave's hang gliding ride was postponed for an hour while we waited in the pilot's office, listening to the airport station announce the latest visibility and weather information.  When the clouds parted, they took off.  The ride was cut a few minutes short because the clouds and fog began to close in again.

Powered hang gliding with Hang Glide USA
Tomorrow is Day 5 - my final chance to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic - at least for this trip.  The weather forecast says cloudy and rainy, so I'm not optimistic, but these quiet mornings on the beach, or by the fire in view of the beach, have been a blessing.  There is much to be learned by taking time to be still and listen.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Beach Baby Takes A Ferry

Thursday night was the highlight of the trip - and I say this with confidence even though it was only the second day of six day trip.  My uncle and his family have lived in Jacksonville for more than sixty years and I have never been to visit them.  The rest of my dad's family remained in Kansas so it has always been easier for the Florida branch to come north and see everyone at once.  It was fun to turn the tables and visit their home turf.  

My uncle, his son and son's wife picked us up at our hotel, drove us south along the coast, and we took a ferry across the St. John River, where we had a seafood feast at Singleton's Seafood Shack.  Look it up - it has been featured on The Food Network's Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives.  And a dive it is . . .  
Singleton's Seafood Shack
But it's hard to get fresher than having the fishing boats dock at the back door.


And the view's not bad.




Dave, Tami, Uncle Willis, Cousin Darrell and his wife, Bertha
I guess we should have snapped one less picture.  The ferry behind us in this shot is preparing to make the final crossing for the evening.  We arrived two minutes too late.  Our return to our motel required driving farther south to a bridge, going inland, then back north to our hotel.  Just between us, the longer drive gave us more time for conversation with family we rarely get to see, so I didn't mind.