MARSHALL, TEXAS: When asked to define hope, Nancy Fessler, an adjunct instructor at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, said, “Hope is the feeling that all is going to be OK, even though situations might be difficult at the time.”
Mrs. Nancy, who is married with two daughters and five grandchildren, can attest to the affirmation that things can be difficult and will end up OK. At age 69, she has had to overcome many hurdles in her life. “I believe in the grace that Jesus freely gave, and I accept that,” Mrs. Nancy told The Murphy Gazette recently.
A day before her birthday, she said, “I overcame a divorce.”
Mrs. Nancy stated, “I had been married, and had two daughters when I was told he wanted a divorce. One of my daughters was eight, and the other was four. I was totally taken by surprise.”
Though it was hard, she knew because of her hope in God that she would survive. “There were days that I did not want to get out of bed, but I knew I had my daughters to care for. There were times when I had to look for loose coins for lunch money, and had to find other jobs for extra money.”
She said, “Had my parents known, they would have gladly helped … but I wanted to try to do it. My church family helped, my biological family helped, my friends and students did.”
“I think being a divorced mom of two helped me become more empathetic,” Mrs. Nancy said. “When one of the young ladies in our church cried during services because of her going through a divorce, I counseled with her. I am a Stephen Minister and helped others going through divorces.”
Stephen Ministers are laypeople – Christian men and women – trained to provide one-to-one care to people experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, relocation or separation due to military deployment. (Click here for more information.)
She said, “When parents would send their children to school and there was no lunch money, I knew what is was like and I had a job.”
She met her current husband a year after her divorce. “We married two years after my divorce. The girls’ father abandoned them, and Ray took them as his own. I believe our faith in God has made our marriage a good one.”
Teaching was something that came naturally for Mrs. Nancy. “My father was a professor at Texas A&M, and teaching was just a part of my life … so I chose it because I saw the rewards he received in helping his students.”
She teaches the first education course an education major takes at ETBU. “I teach three days a week, and supervise two student teachers,” Mrs. Nancy added. She also taught English as a Second Language(ESL) courses at Panola College in Carthage.
Mrs. Nancy continued, “I help at the church when I can and when I am needed. I gave up teaching ESL at night for Panola because I wanted to spend time with my husband, Ray.”
An avid reader, she enjoys a variety of books. “I really like to read Grisham, Cornwell and I am starting Brokaw’s book with responses to ‘The Greatest Generation.’”
“I enjoy traveling, but the most enjoyment is seeing my daughters’ successful careers and being able to spend time with my grandchildren,” she stated.
When asked for a piece of encouragement advice for others in need, be it from divorce, job loss or other such needs, Mrs. Nancy said, “You will survive. Have faith.”