Book Review: Stories of Sheer Pure Grace

When Nancy Nelson first mentioned writing a book called Stories of Sheer Pure Grace, I tried to picture what those words might describe. When I saw the book’s cover, a colorful, abstract painting donated by Makota Fujimura, founder of the International Arts Movement, I wondered how it illustrated the title.

Art is personal to every observer, but as I studied Fujimura’s painting more carefully, it seemed to me to represent both heaven and earth, connected by bright waterfalls (grace?) pouring from God’s limitless reservoirs into the realm of humanity. His grace brings light and beauty into the darkness below.   fullsizeoutput_4158

As I read this book, I rejoiced, wept, felt myself being stretched in many areas of my spiritual life. God’s grace toward us bumbling humans is truly sheer and pure, freely poured out on those who seek it. It’s not esoteric or unreachable. It’s absolute, and as Nancy says, surrounds our very souls like a thin, transparent garment, waiting for us to invite it into our lives.

The fifty stories in this book carry the reader along through Nancy’s life as a young believer to the influential leader she is today. Through the stories we learn that God is the Ultimate Match Maker, the Dream Giver, the God Who Answers Prayer…and he’s even PRAZABLE. We watch God at work in her family. We watch him develop Washington State’s Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center into a place of miracles. Through the prayers of his people, God has opened many avenues of ministry to marginalized groups, including inner-city children, Angel Tree children who have a parent in prison, and people with disabilities. We see God transform the summer campgrounds into the world-renowned Lights of Christmas and stand in awe as hurting hearts meet God there.

Through these stories we see God’s sheer, pure grace weaving together his overarching purposes for one woman’s life with events, time, people, and places into a beautiful, ever-expanding tapestry. Knowing that he longs to do that for every one of us is one of the take-aways of the book.

Nancy Nelson and her husband Stan have been on the staff of Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center, near Stanwood, Washington for nearly forty years. Nancy served for twenty years as the Development Director in charge of raising resources for the camp and is now the Director of Donor Relations at Warm Beach Camp. She is also on the faculty for the Murdock Trust’s Essentials of Development Program.

Stories of Sheer Pure Grace, by Nancy L. Nelson, is available through Amazon Books.

All profits from sales will go toward the Special Friends program at Warm Beach Camp for people with disabilities.



Someone is Watching

The Rainbow Bridge at LaConner, WA

One Sunday afternoon, Hank and I drove north to LaConner for lunch. LaConner is a happy little town, set where farmland and rocky hills meet along a salt-water channel. Most days it’s crowded with visitors wandering in and out of the unique shops along the main street. Our favorite restaurant is popular, with more tables squeezed in than there is really room for. Because of customers at both adjoining tables, we sat side-by-side, facing the big window that separated us from the passersby. That was fine with us, because we could easily hear each other.

With the restaurant activities out of view (and out of mind) behind us, we enjoyed the time together. After we’d shared a wonderful caramel-nut roll like my mother used to make, our waiter wiped away the crumbs and set a slip of paper down between us. “The couple behind you left this,” he said. “They also wanted me to tell you they paid for your lunch.”

Amazed, we turned around, but the couple had gone. The note said:

My husband and I so enjoyed
seeing the sweetness you have for
each other. We have been married
13 years and God has blessed us with
each other. We can only pray we are
you one day, enjoying each others company,
talking, laughing with each other
when we get to be the same age.
Have a blessed day.
Thank you for your open kindness
to each other.

What a reminder that we aren’t invisible. Even when we’re unaware of those around us, people are watching. Our actions can bless and inspire, especially when we let God’s love inform what we do, say, and think.

If you were the couple watching us, we want you to know you also blessed us, not only with your kind words and deeds, but also in reminding us that we should be about our Father’s business in every detail of daily life.

Heart’s Gold, a Story of Monte Cristo Ghost Town


h 01 entrance to monte
Monte Cristo in the 1890s, showing the end of the line for the Everett & Monte Cristo Railroad

In 1987, the Everett & Monte Cristo Railroad deposits Melinda Mcrea at the end of the line, a rough little mining town high in Washington’s North Cascade Mountains. Monte Cristo’s jumble of unpainted board buildings crowd a tilted triangle of land. Rugged peaks pierce the sky. From their heights echo the blasting of tunnels.

Optimistically, early prospectors named the area after the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo in a popular book by Alexander Dumas. Their town is doomed to struggle from the start by its wild, remote location, the ill-chosen route of the railroad, a poorly-timed recession, and most of all by the vagaries of weather as wild and untamed as the location.

But Monte Cristo refuses to give up. Each spring, crews repair the flood-damaged railroad and mining goes on. Hopes for a bonanza are still high in 1897, although a country-wide depression is devastating Everett, the town planned by Rockefeller and other Eastern financiers to become the center of a burgeoning West Coast empire. The ore from Monte Cristo is  part of their plans.

Melinda unwillingly postpones her dream of education in order to help support her family. She becomes involved in the life of the town while filling in as temporary schoolteacher.

Despite her vow to never marry a miner, she finds herself attracted to Cornish mine captain Quin Chenoweth, the uncle of her young friend Evan. When Evan and other boys get lost in the depths of a mine, she helps Quin search for them. Labor discord leads to an “accident” that nearly kills Quin and his crew, causing her to realize the depth of her feelings for him.

Then autumn rains bring a deluge that once more destroys the railroad. When the Eastern financiers decide to recoup their investments, upheaval for the citizens of Monte Cristo is complete. Is Monte Cristo finished? And how will Melinda solve the conflict between her dreams and her love for Quin?

Heart’s Gold is Book One of Monte Cristo Memories, the true story of Monte Cristo. Melinda, Quin and the other characters exist only in the author’s and reader’s imaginations, but they represent the real people who experienced the story.

Heart’s Gold by Joan Rawlins Husby is now available on