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New Year’s – Oh, The Possibilities

Well, we made it through another year and now 2018 is upon us. If you’re like me, you’re refreshed, ready for a new start—almost like a blank slate (or empty wreath) to be creative with! And like you, I find inspiration in the world around me—in nature, poetry, devotions, and songs. But I am also inspired by you!

I have received emails, comments, and notes from my customers for many years expressing how I’ve inspired them. They mean so much to me, touching my heart and my life in ways I cannot explain. They inspire me to do more, teach more, and film more to help you reach your life's goals and dreams.

I feel led today to share a few quotes from these emails to show you what a blessing these are in my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for having so much confidence in me! You give me inspiration, strength and purpose to put smiles on your faces as I encourage and teach you a hobby that has done so much for me.

Nancy, you and your wreath making videos have literally brought me back to life.  It's been so long since I've had a desire to do anything creative. Your beautiful smile and your gift of presentation are so inspiring. God Bless you as you continue to inspire others…

Thank you for your boldness and proudly proclaiming you are a Christian. What a testimony you have through your business…thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sweet spirit, ALWAYS wearing a smile and always being such a positive influence…

You have been such a blessing to me.  I have been making wreaths for years and selling them.  I feel like I have been to a wreath seminar… I have really learned a lot from you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart…

Such emails are humbling and heart-warming. I love all of you and wish you the best in the New Year. You’re truly an inspiration to me. I want to encourage all of you to make 2018 the best year ever—in your life, family, and business. Challenge yourself to think outside the box and be as creative as ever. Knock down those mental barriers that are keeping you from doing so. I know you can do it!

Blessings,

Nancy

Being Thankful In Our Weakness

You may be wondering why I'm writing about weakness when I'm the founder of a successful Internet business.

I receive so many emails from women battling chronic illness (like myself) while trying to succeed in the marketplace. Many subscribe to my Inner Circle or follow me on Facebook and enjoy my Ladybug Wreaths website while building their business.

As I shared in my Thanksgiving newsletter, I want to encourage all of you to be thankful in your weakness. As strange as that may sound, it's an integral part of success.

Most of you know my battle with fibromyalgia, brought on by undiagnosed celiac disease, and the damage it did to my body and my marriage. Subsequently, I suffered from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Did I mention low self-image, as I tried to live my life and build my business? I chronicle all of this in my book, "My Journey Through Fibromyalgia: Rumors, Ravages & The Rescue."

I knew Bible verses about being content in your circumstances like Philippians 4:12 or 1 Timothy 6:6-7, but I'd never thought about actually being thankful regardless of my circumstances. After all, I had been chronically sick for decades without a diagnosis. It was hard for me to rejoice in that.

During those years I was so ill that sometimes I was bedridden, I found many Bible verses of God's love and promises. I clung to them with every ounce of strength I had left in my body. And, of course, I prayed for healing. I fought my way out of the pit of despair through my faith and dependence on God.

After my diagnosis, I made adjustments to my lifestyle, especially my diet. I can now do things I haven't been able to do in forty years. My husband and I now share a closeness filled with love and joy, but I'm not completely well. I don't say those words often, because I have come such a long way.

So you might be wondering, "Nancy, where does the weakness come in?"

Well, unless you lived with me day in and day out, you wouldn't notice my weaknesses. I could live the rest of my life hiding my insecurities, as well as the health issues I still deal with. I've wrestled with how my weaknesses fit the model of success.

I felt that until I conquered all of my issues, I hadn't succeeded. I wouldn't have run the race successfully that God put me on this earth to run. Then one morning in church, listening to the pastor's message on weakness, I finally realized how wrong my thinking had been.

I learned it takes a strong person to expose their weakness. Our culture avoids weakness. We only want to share our success. But, and this is the exciting thing, in God's kingdom, weakness is a magnet. If we show our weakness to others, then God's work in our lives is glorified and magnified by His glory. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God said to Paul:"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Paul continues in that passage: "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Do you see? I finally did! When I am weak, I am strong. God was pruning me so I could bear fruit. Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15: 1-2).

All those years when I prayed that God would heal me…that He would remove this illness from me, it was not His will. Instead, God used my illness — my weakness — to shape me into a person He could use. I can honestly sympathize with those of you suffering with chronic illness. More than that, if I can encourage or inspire you, my weakness is worth it.

I am happy! I have a husband that I adore and who adores me. We enjoy a beautiful family of children and grandchildren. We still face problems, but I see them as mere hindrances I'll live with as long as the Lord deems necessary. I no longer feel I'm running a race to make up for forty years I felt were lost. Those were important years which led me to an important purpose.

Meditate on the fact that God wants to do great work in you. Pray for comfort and for healing, yes, but also ask God how your weakness can help others. Count the blessings you do have in life, no matter how big or small. Cling to God's promises for a better tomorrow.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:3-4

With Love, Nancy

How God Has Used Me

Gratitude Because God is Using "Little Old Me"

I'm Feeling Gratitude Today 


I don’t mean to sound surprised, and I don’t mean to boast — but me?? — I have always trusted God as my savior – my Lord – involved in and orchestrating everything in my life… I grew up in what I considered an unhappy home… nothing really bad .. just unhappy, and feeling unloved.  (I do know different now, but didn’t then and couldn’t understand as a child.)

 

But, well, finally – now things are different!  The signs from God’s leading in my and my husband’s lives are bold, attention-getting, crying your eyes out, screaming to the top of your lungs, singing praises to the Lord… kinds of signs and “holy touches”!

 

Me…Nancy…Nancy Alexander from Anderson, South Carolina (a middle-sized Southern town of not much significance) — who has never gone far away from home except for a few trips to Washington, DC, when my uncle was alive, or the wonderful cruise my husband surprised me with for our 25th anniversary — the Nancy who got really sick at 28 years old when she had two little boys to take care of, who had dreams of being a GREAT Mom — a beautiful, sexy, encouraging wife to a husband who adored, cherished, and looked upon none other — one who would make a difference in this world one day by touching lives, leading others to my Lord and Savior by being the sort of Christian that others admire — traveling through and praising God for this beautiful world that we live in (or) just being the “Matriarch” of our little family — being looked up to — honored — loved — overwhelmed with the hugs and kisses and “Mom, I Love You” stuff… this was what my dreams were made of and what I wanted more than anything else in this world!

 

I have found that God definitely has plans for us, and that He certainly answers prayer.  I know that my prayers have been answered, but God and I have had to engage in many breakdowns, talks and tears (mine), about the fact that he didn’t answer my prayers and pleadings in my time, but in His time — 30 to 35 years later.  (And, by the way…it took my son, Matt, to remind me that even though it has been sooo many years…God HAS answered my prayers!)  I now can and do Praise His Name for His faithfulness, steadfastness, and love because these answers to my hopes, dreams, and pleadings have been much more than I could have ever imagined.

 

Yes, His time is certainly NOT our time and His dreams for us and for me personally came at His “right time”.  These dreams which are being answered now in my life, totally take my breath away, with faith in God…dreams eventually are answered.  These answers are maybe not the answers we expect, but can be beyond our own imaginings.  I would not be the person I am today without the many years of being pruned by God; without going through the many impossible situations with health issues, family and life.  I tried so hard for so many years; I thought I would never be freed.  But… I now know that I would not be blessed with the experience I now possess with which I can help others I come across in this world (and notice… I did say world!) – without the many years of God’s hard work in my life.

 

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go through my entire life’s story here, but I just want to tell you about a tiny little book:  “The Prayer of Jabez”, given to me by my son Matt in 1990, and how it made such an impact in my life.  I knew I was in trouble and had known for some time… life was a “chore”, life was not what I had dreamed, expected, and wanted it to be — my life was broken and filled with pain and hurt; I even knew that if I lived long enough, I would probably end up in a wheelchair.  I had come close to giving up so many times, but didn’t have the courage or strength to even do that.

 

Anyway, this tiny little book with the sweet inscription in the front from my son, Matt, led me to read it that day.  It is such a tiny book that it can be read in one day — but the words, and the meanings of those words have taken me many years to learn how they apply to my life.  This short prayer; “The Prayer of Jabez” has been prayed by me every single day of my life since I received it in 1990 — and on some days of turmoil and stress — more than once.

 

I began many years ago praying this prayer for me – myself first – to be healed; then, later on I changed the names, and prayed for Steve, my husband, and second my sons, Matt and Andy.  So every single night I pray this prayer four times.  As I lay my head down on my pillow, I began these prayers.  I could not sleep unless I did.  I used to pray them silently, until I realized that Satan cannot hear our thoughts, only our spoken words…so I started praying them aloud — I wanted him to know the strength of my trust in God.

 

The Prayer as I have prayed it:  “And Jabez called upon the God of Israel; Oh that You would bless me indeed.  That You would enlarge my territory, and that your hand would be with me; and you would keep me from evil so that I might not cause pain.”

(or) 1 Chronicles 4:10

“Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that Thou would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast (territory), and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!”  And God granted him that which he requested.”

 

I knew these were powerful words.  I read the book several times, but when I would get to two specific phrases each time, I would find myself thinking… (how in the world would this ever apply to me…?).  That didn’t stop me, though, and I kept right on praying.

 

The first phrase that I just could not understand was “That You would enlarge my territory”, and the second was “And keep me from evil so that I might not cause pain”.  God has now revealed to me exactly what each of these phrases means.  Each statement has changed my life in such amazing ways;  both for the good – but one involving anticipation and excitement, and the other – well, let’s just say the other caused a great deal of pain.  But just for now, I want to talk about the first one — the one which brought unbelievable hope, praises, joy and excitement to my mundane life.

 

Each time I would stop and think.  Here I am… a woman with a finally diagnosed disease of fibromyalgia — and eventually celiac disease.  How in the world could God enlarge my territory?  For a while I could hardly ride in a car for 30 minutes.  A few times through the years when fibromyalgia released its terrible grip on my body and my soul for a short while, I could go a few places;  like Atlanta on several buying trips for a business I kept holding onto; or…there was that one time when I was able to go on a cruise that my husband surprised me with; and a couple of times through the years when I was able to make the 5 hour trip to Myrtle beach.

 

But, “enlarge my territory”!?…

Well, this is where I certainly did God an injustice!  I did not trust Him like His word commands us to do.  But, can you see how I would question; how could He enlarge “my” territory when I can hardly ride in the car for more than 30 minutes…I couldn’t even go up a flight of stairs.  I could never visit all of the states in the United states as many people do (and I would love to do), and I certainly could not (even if the funds were available), fly to other countries.  To me, for many years, that was what “enlarge my territory” meant – to be able to spread the word of God far and wide to all the ends of the earth.

 

Then, a couple of years ago, I picked up this little book again.  It had been lying on my bedside table for years just for the comfort it gave me to see it there.  As I picked up this book and started reading again, I flipped over to the chapter where it was talking about expanding my territory.  As I flipped through the pages, reading quickly, my heart started to flutter a little – I felt something in the pit of my stomach….I HAD BEEN WRONG!  Here they were talking about this applying to our everyday lives.  To people we come in contact with everyday. To businesses which needed God’s help to grow and expand…but in His direction only.

 

So, that night as I began to pray, I began to envision in my mind that – YES – God can expand my territory.  To my friends, my neighbors, and my business selling wreaths on the Internet.  Then, every night thereafter, I had those thoughts in my mind as I spoke the words aloud – instead of the negative and distrustful thoughts and words of doubt clouded with a little hope that had always hung around in the back of my mind.

 

And now where do I begin?  How do I tell you the miraculous ways that God has enlarged my territory?  Well, my business is flourishing, but not in the way you might think — in monitory terms — although I have started to finally make a little money instead of just having a fun hobby that I excelled in and cost us a fortune!  Oh, but God is so good, his dreams for us are more incredible than ours could ever be!

 

My husband, Steve and I have just written a book for and about my business.  It is a book on how to do what I do — how to start an Internet business when you know nothing about the Internet — and yes… a list of every supplier that I buy from, and what I buy from each.  This is something that NO business owner EVER DOES!!  These suppliers and vendors are searched out and tested for many years.  In writing and selling this book, I am creating my own competition!

 

DO YOU SEE???? DO YOU SEE the point I am trying to get across here?  God’s plan for me was not to become a successful Internet Entrepreneur merely making and selling wreaths.  His plan was not for me to just become a success filming how-to videos on wreath design (although that’s a part of my life and business).

 

HIS plan for me was to reach ladies (far and wide — “expanding my territory”), ladies who are and were just like me.  They are trapped in bodies that are weak and sick.  They have fibromyalgia or other health issues which have gone undiagnosed for many, many years….just like mine.  No one understands, maybe they have not found a Doctor yet who even believes they are “truly” sick.  They need hope, they need joy…they need a reason to get out of bed every morning…they need God’s help and inspiration.

 

I am so humbled… I am so overwhelmed… I am so overjoyed that God is using “me” to help these women!  In the last 11 days that my book has been for sale, we have sold over 50 copies!  I am receiving so many emails, it is not humanly possible to answer them all, from women all over the world who are desperate.  They are where I was so many years ago!  God is leading me to help them in ways that I cannot yet begin to fathom!  I could let this totally consume me, but I have peace and trust in God now that I know what “He” is doing, and is doing so well!  I am only along for the ride – along with my faithful, loving husband, and a renewed marriage – and we are open to do whatever God’s will is for us!  We finally KNOW FOR SURE that “His will” cannot be matched by any earthly designs.

 

So…. “enlarge my territory”!?…

Okay…. get this…. in the last two weeks, I have had people on my website from over “Thirty-Five” countries!  I have several “big” Internet Marketers” waiting for me to set my book up for Affiliate Sales so that they can sell it.  They believe in me…and my gift — my talent and they say my story has touched them deeply!

 

So…don’t tell me that God cannot enlarge your territory because he did just that to me — Nancy Alexander — from Anderson, South Carolina!

Smokey Mountains

View Over Unending Mountains
Fill my Heart and Soul!

We took advantage of a long Labor Day Weekend to spend time together as a family — all eleven of us!  It was awesome waking up each morning to the sun rising over the Smokey Mountains.  There wasn't another house in sight as we were awed by the view God created just for us to enjoy!

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

— Psalm 47:10 —

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Sunday morning, I went out on the screened porch.  Overwhelming feelings of His power and majesty engulfed me as I stared out at the expanse of these overwhelming mountain ranges.

As I read in His word, I found this verse and devotional in Psalms. When a specific verse, or even a page touches my soul as it did this day, I get out my Bible markers and pens just to make sure to remember this day always! Later, as I flip through, memories of joy and content come flooding back into my life – memories of family and of our special time together.  I remember that God reached into my soul and spoke to me – just as if He were sitting right beside me on that porch.  
 

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"Here the soul may learn something of what rest is, as day after day one opens one's heart to let the sweet influence of nature's sabbath enter and reign. There is but a faint type of what we may find in Christ.

In the pressure of the greatest responsibilities, in the worry of the smallest cares, in the perplexities of life's moments of crises, we may have rest in the security of God's will.  Learn to live in this rest.  In the calmness of spirit it will give your sould will reflect, as in a mirror, the beauty of the Lord; and the tumult of men's lives will be calmed in your presence, as your tumults have been calmed in His presence." — Hannah Whitall Smith —

 

My Strength is Made Perfect in Weakness

A Verse I've Come to Embrace

My strength is made perfect in weakness. –2 Corinthians 12:9

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Through the years of my struggles to overcome fibromyalgia and celiac disease, weakness would overtake me at many different times. I's grip would hit with such force at times that I could hardly hold my head up. Don't confuse this to the pain – the depression – and the anxiety.  No… it was different.

Most would call this chronic fatigue. Yes, I have been diagnosed with that too, at times when the overwhelm of it all would grasp my very being.

After being sick for close to 4 decades, it was only in the last 8 years that I finally began to see and believe that "my own strength is definitely made perfect in His weakeness."

Almost all of us suffer some sort of health issue, or physical limitation. It could have been something you were born with just as I was, or maybe hit with later in life.

As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, it was a thorn in his flesh which kept him humble. He wanted it removed just as any of us do. His answer from God was: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

God uses us to accomplish His will for our lives
Through our imperfections – our weaknesses…

This forces us to reach toward Him in our weakest hours. That is the only way we will grow close enough to God to fulfill His will for our lives.

I have now found my strength in Him more times that I can count. I have found His will for my life only through my weakest times.