A Life Lived Beautifully: Nancy Ray

July 1, 2016  - By Guest Author

I first met Nancy when I was in middle school. Her sister was my youth pastor’s wife and invited her to our church to come speak at a youth event. I remember hearing her passion for the Lord and photography and longing to have that same kind of fervor in life! Nancy has inspired countless women to live with intention, pursue the dreams God places in our hearts, and to be faithful with what He gives. She truly lives life beautifully for the glory of God, and I know you will be blessed by her today!


Introduce yourself like we are having a cup of coffee together. 🙂 What kind of coffee/tea would you drink?

If I were meeting you in an actual coffee shop right now, I’d give you a big smile and a big hug because that’s way better than shaking hands! I’m Nancy Ray, born and raised in North Carolina. I love Jesus, my husband Will (we met in middle school!), my beautiful daughter Milly who is almost 1, my great dane Winston, running, blogging, taking beautiful photographs, spending time with my team, and small business. I’d order a one pump vanilla latte in a real mug because it tastes better that way. 

What is your definition of a “life lived beautifully”?

A life lived beautifully is a life lived in obedience to the Lord, no matter what that looks like to you. I believe the Lord still speaks to us in very real ways, and if you are following His voice on a hard path or an easy path, THAT is a life lived beautifully.

When did you start following Jesus?

I was 11 years old when I went to Camp Oak Hill and heard the gospel in a new way. I had been told my entire life that Jesus died for me, I was raised in church, and my parents share the gospel with me. While I knew Jesus died for me, I thought that just going off and dying for me was not very loving! The last night at camp, I heard a verse that changed everything: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Romans 6:23. I realized for the first time that I was the one that was supposed to die. He loved me so much that He died in my place, even though He was perfect and He didn’t have to. I remember sitting in a circle with all the other campers, and I couldn’t stop crying because of His love. I laid in bed, crying myself to sleep, because of how overwhelmed I was that He loved me that much. On June 22, 1998, as I fell asleep with tears in my eyes, I told Jesus I would follow him completely, forever. He’s been my Savior, my Lord, and my Best Friend ever since.

What are some verses you constantly cling to and bring life to your soul?

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73: 25-26

“His nearness is my good.” Psalm 73:28

“God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” Psalm 46:5

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God” Isaiah 43:1-3

How do you integrate sharing the Gospel with creativity?

I look for the gospel in what I capture through my photography. The Lord is in so much of what surrounds us, but we are often too busy to stop and see Him. He is in the small moments, He’s in the emotions that run high on a wedding day, He’s in the changes of the weather, He’s in the vibrant colors of springtime, He’s so very present in the room when I’m capturing a birth, He’s in the creativity and businesses of my friends in this industry, He’s in the soft touch of a grandparent’s loving hand, He’s everywhere. Often times people tell us they cry when they see our photos. My prayer is that when people are actually moved to tears, they know it has to do more with a beautiful God than a beautiful photo.

When my relationship with Jesus is the center of everything I do, I am full of joy. I have complete peace. I do my best work.  I delight in talking with Him throughout my day.  I work from a grounded place. I trust in His ability to provide and not my own ability to check off tasks. I am inspired. I do everything – my marriage, my quality family time, my work, my rest – out of love for Him. It’s like living with a constant taste of heaven on my lips. I can’t imagine a life without Him.

How did God direct you to start the Nancy Ray Shop?

One morning I woke up, and I knew the Lord was telling me to write. I had been praying and reading Scripture, but I had so many thoughts firing through my mind that I grabbed my journal and pen and started drafting the “Nancy Ray Shop.” I literally felt like it was the Holy Spirit guiding me as I wrote. It was a blank page with two columns: one for life and one for business. The Lord started reminding me of so many significant and valuable lessons, experiences and knowledge He’s given me throughout the years, and I knew it was time to share them. 

What is the vision behind the Nancy Ray Shop?

The Nancy Ray Shop exists to inspire and educate others with practical information needed to take hold of the life and businesses we want. 

What life lessons are you learning in owning a small business as well as being a new mama? 

The idea of completing all of your tasks on any given day is an illusion. This is a hard lesson for a Type A business owner mama like myself. But guess what? It’s not worth stressing over. There will always be things left undone, always. It’s actually the sign of a healthy growing business and a healthy growing family: things are constantly changing and needing attention! I’m the kind of person that needs closure at the end of the day, but I’m learning this very important lesson: stopping work and leaving a job unfinished is really not that big of a deal. It’s not! I can show up the next morning and pick up where I left off. It IS a big deal if I’m so consumed with work that I miss quality time with my girl because I can’t “turn off work mode.” I’m learning to make my peace with “turning it off” and treating our family time as sacred, protecting it fiercely, and managing my work hours more effectively. 

What are some books you are currently reading?

168 Hours, The Road to Character, Wild and Free

If you could tell every woman reading this blog one thing God has laid on your heart, what would it be?

Write it down. When God speaks to you, write it down. When He’s faithful, write it down. When scripture means something to you, write it down. I’m going to be honest: I wrote down everything God was speaking to me about the Nancy Ray Shop, and I believed it with all my heart. But as time went on, I began to doubt. I doubted myself, I doubted His word, I doubted where I was going, I thought the whole thing was stupid. We are a forgetful people! Two days before the shop I was seriously considering calling the whole thing off. I was in a puddle of tears the morning it launched. But when I opened my journal back up and began to pray over it, I was reminded: HE gave this to me. He inspired this idea and called me to go and do. The voice of self doubt is not the voice of a loving Father. He’s telling us as His kids: “Yes! I made you for GOOD works! Go and do!” He loves it when we try and fail and try and succeed because we tried! Just like learning to a bike, He’s a good Father, and He’s cheering us on the whole way. When He speaks, listen. Then be sure to write down what He said so you don’t forget!

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  1. Love this post and sweet Nancy Ray’s heart! She is such a a bright light in my life, always pointing me back to the Lord by sharing her heart!

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