About Nancy and Robert

Nancy and Robert's Story

Watch this fifteen-minute video, “Unexpected Grace,” to learn about Nancy and Robert's story.  

Nancy: I came to know Jesus at the age of four, probably by the time I was 6, 7, 8 years of age, I had this very strong unmistakable sense that my life belonged to Christ, that I was set aside, apart for His Kingdom purposes. I found this to be a very joyful way to live. My parents modeled that the will of God is good and acceptable and perfect and that God can be trusted. I knew that there was a calling on my life toward ministry. I loved, loved, loved studying and teaching the Word of God, I loved ministry.

Narrator: Every part of Nancy's life was shaped by that passion and love for Jesus. It directed her decisions and guided her friendships. And in her teens and 20s, that passion for Jesus affected Nancy's desire for romantic relationships. She wondered whether God might be calling her to serve Him as a single woman all her life.

Nancy: As I got into my 20s, I began to realize that as a single woman, there was a freedom to serve the Lord in a way that was different than would be the case if I were married. And I did feel that by God's grace, I could happily do that serving Him without the gift of marriage for the rest of my life.

Narrator: But what she didn't know was that God would one day write a very different love story in her life. For decades, Nancy faithfully and joyfully served the Lord as she reached women around the world through the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Serving as a single woman in ministry wasn't always easy. And Nancy experienced challenges and made sacrifices as she obeyed God's calling. But her years of obedience brought God's blessing. She found herself in a settled and contented season of life. 

Nancy: I'm in a groove, I'm in a fruitful place of ministry, I'm in a sweet place of my life, and never been spiritually, physically, emotionally healthier– just in a really sweet spot. 

Narrator: But unknown to Nancy, her life was about to be drastically changed. It all started with an email from Robert Wolgemuth, who was a longtime friend, her first literary agent, and a widower.

Nancy: I remember thinking, “This is interesting. Does he have something else in mind, maybe?” 

Narrator: Robert had lost his wife of 44 years to cancer, he was seeking God's will for the next season of his life. After talking with close friends and his children, he took a step toward a deeper friendship with Nancy. 

Robert: So I wrote her an email. And within minutes, she responded. I thought, “This is great!” But of course, it was, “Thank you very much for your email, somebody on my staff will be happy to review this email.”

Nancy: There were a few of these emails, and I would respond not too quickly.

Robert: My suspicion was that Nancy knew that my reaching out to her was out of the ordinary. 

Nancy: So I'm just trying to be prayerful and careful and wise, and also to be a responder to whatever the providence of God brings into my life.

Narrator: Several weeks into emailing and texting. Robert asked if Nancy would be willing to have a conversation in person.

Nancy: And I knew this to be a man of God, I'd seen his character, his integrity, his reputation, and I just felt that would not be right to say, “no” to having a conversation.

Robert: Nancy, and I sat down at this little round conference table, and I took a deep breath. And I said, “Well, here we are.” And I said, “I'm eager to have this conversation, I'd love to get to know you.” 

Nancy: And we talked about a number of things and then kind of got to the reason for his visit. 

Robert: At the end of our time, I said, “Would it be okay with you? If I would continue to correspond with you, and see where the Lord might take this.”

Nancy: First I said, “I have high respect for you. I've never heard anything negative about you.” And we know a lot of the same people. We are in a lot of the same circles, because we're both involved in publishing and ministry. 

And I said, “I need you to know that, to this point in my life, I've had a very strong sense of being set apart by the Lord to serve Him as a single woman. And if that were ever to change, before I could get into a relationship, even considering marriage, I would have to know that the Lord was redirecting my life.” 

The other thing I said was, “To this point in my life, the Lord has never awakened love in my heart toward a man. And God would have to put something in my heart that has never been there.” 

In saying that, I wasn't saying no, without asking the Lord, “Is this what you want?” Because my life verse is Luke 1:38, as Mary says to the angel, “I am the LORD’s servant may be to me, as you have said.” 

For me, in the first several weeks, following that initial meeting, the key issue was, I need to know from God's word do I even have the freedom to consider this possibility? If I could be, as far as I had known to that point, happily single. And there's some passages in Scripture that make you wonder about that. 

Well, I knew that John Piper had over the years addressed this subject and in a biblical theology of marriage and singleness and being single for the sake of God's kingdom. So I emailed his assistant, and I said, “Any chance that he could speak to this for me?” 

I gotta tell you, within a few hours, that day, I got an email back, and he put a little cover note on it, and he said, “I, of course, can't tell you what's the right thing to do on this, but read my words prayerfully and ask the Lord to speak to you.”

So within the next couple of days, as I processed that, I realized that there really was biblical freedom to consider this. That I was not obligated, if God was offering a new gift, then I wasn't obligated to keep that gift of singleness. That was huge for me. I had to know that. 

In my musings in explaining to Pastor John the situation, I said, just kind of a rhetorical question “Is perhaps He wanting to sanctify me, as a married woman in areas of my life that might not happen as a single woman?” 

I wasn't really expecting John Piper to answer that question, but he did. But he said essentially, “Singleness sanctifies,” he said, “Marriage sanctifies. As to which would sanctify more, marriage or singleness, I cannot say.” He said, “I think the answer as to which would sanctify you more marriage or singleness is whichever decision you make for the love of God.”

I began to ponder that. I've not stopped pondering it. Because I realized it framed the issue differently. This was not about the love of Robert, or the love of marriage, or the love of singleness, or the love of ministry as I know it. It was not about anything, ultimately, but the love of God. 

I began to think and say, what will the love of God press me to do? 

“Lord, I love you. What does that look like? And how do I live that out? In the course of this journey?”

Narrator: With that foundation, Nancy and Robert began a friendship for the purpose of seeking God's will for their future. They started getting to know each other through a long-distance courtship.

Nancy: We texted, we emailed. And let me say we texted a lot. And he would say, “How can you write Texas law on your phone?” I could write a book on my phone. 

Early on in this process, I started reading some of his books. At the same time he was reading some of my writing, there was lots to appreciate, lots to admire. But I'll tell you, this was all very new to me. 

I think to most people, this can sound a little strange. But if you think of how many years I had served the Lord as a single woman with a sense of having been gifted for that. This was something of a seismic shift. An earthquake taking place in my heart.

Narrator: One Sunday, Nancy was at her home church, she was worshiping the Lord, praying about this relationship with Robert, and considering the possibility of marriage. In that moment, some deep heart attitudes came to the surface.

Nancy: If it had been there before, I'd never realized it. And that was that as much as I thought marriage was a great plan, God's plan for most people, I had this kind of buried sense that for me to be married would be settling for less than God's best. 

And as this came to my conscious thinking, I’m going, “I need to deal with this.”

Narrator: Nancy found freedom from God's word to accept the possibility of marriage. But she began to wonder, “Is it possible the gift of singleness could become an idol in my heart?”

Nancy: During this service, I wrestled with this in my head. And I began to realize it as if the Lord were saying to me, “You have spent your life loving to tell people the gospel story, the old, old story of Jesus and His love. And you've used marriage as a picture of this. It is the greatest earthly picture of the heavenly redemption story of God pursuing a bride for His Son, the Son coming to earth, choosing a bride drawing her to Himself, wooing her, winning our hearts, us giving our love and our hearts to Him and saying, “Yes, Lord, I love you, I want to be yours.” That's the story of redemption and marriage pictures it so beautifully.” 

And I've told this with great joy and enthusiasm, and, and warmth. 

And as if the Lord were saying to me, “You've told this story for decades, as a single woman, what if for a season of your life, I wanted you to tell this same story, but do it as a married woman? It illustrated in a different way out of your own life than what you've ever been able to do before? Would that be a lesser calling?”

And in that moment, I was able to see with greater clarity and with joy that if this is what the Lord had for me, then this would be the highest possible calling. And that sense of the Holy Spirit moving inside and saying, “I'm taking you to a different place now.”

Narrator: For Nancy, following the Lord's will was essential before getting swept up in romantic feelings. But as His will was becoming clear, God began to awaken love and Nancy's heart. As she saw Robert’s character and his love for Christ.

Nancy: The really sweet things for me were as we began to really know each other. I was growing to love this man. And probably the number one quality that captured my heart was seeing this man's affection for Christ, for prayer, for the Word of God. 

I'm thinking, “This man reminds me of Jesus.” 

Now saying, “Here is a man who knows God, who wants to know Him better, who loves Him.” 

And his example was creating in me a greater hunger and thirst to know God in a deeper, richer, more intimate way than I've ever known Him. And I was saying, “This is the kind of man I could trust, to lead our lives, to lead our relationship, to lead me spiritually.”

Narrator: Nancy's heart was in a new place of surrender, of saying, “yes” to the Lord. And, “yes” to Robert’s love. Here's what she recorded in her journal during this season.

Nancy: Am I prepared for all of this and more for the unknowns? For the relinquishment of life as I have known and loved it? Am I ready to say yes to all of that? Less than three months ago, I could not have said yes, not close to it. Notwithstanding my deep respect for Robert. But my heart has changed, and desires have changed. 

I love this man. His love has captured my heart. And for the love of God, I am willing and ready to say, “yes” to him to pledge my love, which I have not yet declared in those words, and to promise to enter into the covenant of marriage with him in due time. 

Am I prepared for all the unknowns and adjustments? Not by a longshot. But I am prepared by God's grace, to return the love this man has lavished on me, to commit myself to him as my earthly head, and to trust the Lord to show us how to live out that love and commitment. Come what may in the future.

Robert: On Saturday morning, May 2, I knelt in front of her, she was sitting on her couch, and I had written a two-page letter. And so I read it to her and that letter and finished with, “So I would like to know, will you marry me?”

Nancy: And I knew that I knew. I said, “Yes, I will.”

 And then for the first time said those words that he'd been waiting to hear and I'd been waiting to say, “I love you with all my heart.”

Robert: In the presence of God who these witnesses, I, Robert, take you, Nancy, to be my wife,

Nancy: I, Nancy, take you, Robert, to be my husband. I joyfully and gratefully receive you as God's gracious gift. 

Robert: I promise to love you, cherish you, and to shepherd you as Christ loves, cherishes, and shepherds his church.

Nancy: I promise to respect you and to reverence you and to submit to you in everything as my earthly head as the church reverences, respects, and submits to Christ 

Robert: I promise to give myself for you, as Christ laid down his life for us.

Nancy: As your helper, I will love, comfort, and support you and will serve the Lord by your side. 

Robert: I promise to wash you with the Word so as to present you holy and blameless before the Lord.

Nancy: With sincerity of heart

Robert: And dependency on the grace of God

Nancy: And the power of the Holy Spirit 

Robert: I pledge to you my tenderness

Nancy: My faithfulness

Robert: My friendship

Nancy: My affection

Robert: And my love 

Nancy: As long as we both shall live.