Her story: When this story published, Nancy Jones Schafer was heading home from Washington, DC. Her husband, Ed Schafer, had completed his term as Secretary of Agriculture and Nancy was looking forward to some quiet time.
IW: Did you get that quiet time, or jump into something else right away?
NJS: Since Ed served as the Secretary of Agriculture during President Bush’s last 15 months in office, we had the incredible privilege of being included in myriad ‘wrap up’ events that took place. In addition to Ed’s responsibilities as Secretary, we attended countless programs, ceremonies, and White House receptions, lunches and dinners. Most every day was filled from early morning to late night. And then the moment Barack Obama took the oath of office, the responsibilities ended!
Knowing it would be a huge transition to step out of that flury of activity, I planned a road trip for us. We left 2 days after the Presidential Inauguration and traveled through 13 states – several of which I had never visited. (My goal is to visit all 50 states and after this trip, I only have two left – Missouri and Kansas.) We studied the history of the Civil War, visited state capitol buildings and Governor’s mansions and mostly enjoyed unscheduled leisure travel.
When we returned to Washington DC, we took some time to visit a few significant sites we hadn’t yet seen before moving back to North Dakota. We returned to our Fargo home just in time to sandbag for the 2009 flood!
Life has been full since our return, but one of the most fun and unique opportunities I have had is to play several public performances on Lawrence Welk’s accordion!
IW: You live a life of service. What ways have you found to continue being a servant leader?
NJS: I am so grateful for the opportunities I am continually given to serve. In addition to the excitement and challenge of sitting on three corporate boards of directors, I do motivational speaking. We still mentor some of the Lost Boys from Sudan who have settled in the Fargo-Moorhead community. Shortly after leaving Washington DC, I was elected to serve on the board of iKeepSafe – a non-profit organization with world-wide programs aimed at educating parents and children about internet safety. I am humbled to serve on the board of directors for the Police Officers Jail Chaplains Association. POJCA is a non-profit organization with a life-changing ministry to the inmates at the Cass County Jail. Our mission is to lead them to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ so when they are released they are better equipped to build new productive lives. And, I continue to be involved in the ministries of Campus Crusade for Christ, Young Life, and PULSE – a young adult ministry.
IW: What are some of the biggest adjustments you made transitioning from such a public life?
NJS: I consider it a blessing and a calling that a significant portion of our lives will always include interacting with the public. It is rare for either of us to go somewhere and not be approached with comments or conversation. We usually allow extra time for something like grocery shopping because people feel comfortable to come up and visit.
There continue to be many requests made of me, and the biggest challenge is determining how full I dare to pack my schedule so I still have time for my elderly mother and our nine grandchildren!
IW: What is the best advice you can give to women?
NJS: My favorite quote says it all!
IW: Who inspires you and why?
NJS: My husband, Ed, is forever an inspiration to me – not only for his remarkable God-given abilities, but most especially for his thoughtful, tireless and selfless efforts to continually use them to help others.
My mothers, Clarice and Sheila – for their insatiable zest for life, for the love, joy and Christ-like spirit they exude from within, and for their extraordinary ability to find the positive of every situation.
BOOK: “The Lemon Tree” by Sandy Tolan
Also, I am currently reading the Chronological Study Bible and find it intriguing to explore God’s word in historical order and fascinating to learning more about the cultures and people of Biblical times and the connections between Biblical history and world events.
MOVIE: John Adams
QUOTE: It’s not how much you accomplish in life that really counts,
but how much you give to others.
It’s not how high you build your dreams that makes a difference,
but how high your Faith can climb.
It’s not how many goals you reach,
but how many lives you touch.
It’s not who you know that matters,
but who you are inside.
Believe in the impossible,
hold on to the incredible,
and live each day to its fullest potential.
You can make a difference in the world.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan