The sweet young homeless girl came up to us and said, “This is the best Easter I’ve ever had!” We were blessed with these precious words when our Neighborhood Bible Study served 70 children and their parents living in a homeless facility just a few miles from where we live. God took us there on Good Friday, to teach us what we are studying in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, “as His chosen people we are to clothe ourselves with compassion and kindness, and bear with each other.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but as a good teacher sometimes does, God was taking us on a field trip and allowing us to experience His teaching on a practical level, transforming our hearts and lives. And at the same time, He was loving these families in hard places through us. I love it that our Bible Study can impact not only our neighborhood, but our community as well.
Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives
At NBS2GO our main desire is to see lives changed for eternity. Lean in close and listen to Anna.
My name is Anna. And this is my story.
I became a part of the Brookcliff subdivision community after I married in April of 2003. Within days I was openly welcomed by a walking neighbor, Lilia S., who didn't hesitate to invite me to various Brookcliff activities, but I never seemed to find the time. It wasn't until May 23, 2017 when I lost my husband to a sudden heart attack that I realized what a truly open, caring, and giving neighborhood community I lived in.
“The one feature I know I need is a fenced-in backyard,” I told my realtor as we began looking for my new townhome. I thought it would surely increase my home office productivity if I could open the door, let Snickers the dog outside, and keep on working. I prayed and even visualized Snickers running around in that fenced-in backyard as I checked off item after item on my action list.
After an exhaustive real estate search, I settled on a townhome in a lovely, small community that had every feature I needed...except the fenced-in backyard. Little did I know that God had a bigger and better plan. As Snickers and I headed out of the door four times a day, I began meeting and getting to know my neighbors. Brief conversations quickly turned into learning each other’s names. Longer conversations soon turned into sharing laughs and hearing about each other’s lives and families.
“If you are more fortunate than others, it is better to build a longer table than a taller fence.”
This past week I saw a new vision of this quote up close and personal through the lives of Chip and Joanna Gaines, America’s sweethearts of HGTV’s show, Fixer Upper. My sister, her daughter, and I visited the duo and their town, Waco, Texas - now a destination of more than a million people a year. Of course, tuning into the show we see the hard work and devotion they both pour into transforming a house in shambles to a home filled with beauty. The immense amount of time and love they have given their clients and community has ripple effects throughout Waco and even central Texas. They have leveraged their influence not for themselves but for their city and community. Chip and Joanna readily encourage any visitor to frequent the natural beauty of their city and other businesses in town.
Play On! Scenes from the Film of my Life
By Nancy SamraI have come to realize God is at work in my life beyond my expectations. He is an out-of-the-box God and when I encountered Him nothing was ever the same again. When He comes to us, he calls us to a new vision, a new way, a new dream. He has no problem interrupting our ordinary lives with a call to the extraordinary. And He expects us to loosen our grip on our plans, our desires, and our dreams and take on His. And when we do, it’s like being on a crazy roller-coaster ride with Jesus beside you. Here’s my story….SCENE 1: I came to know the Lord at a neighborhood Bible study. It was held at a church near my home but it was this church’s first outreach into the community. On Wednesday mornings the only people from the church were the group leaders, assistantsand the child care workers. They had their own church women’s Bible study on Tuesday mornings.The church targeted neighborhoods around the church and put flyers in everyone’s mailbox. The free childcare definitely drew me in. I had a rambunctious child named Jim and was eager for a break!Very religious and working my way into heaven, I would have never listened to someone witness to me. God in His grace used a non-threatening Bible Study in my neighborhood on the Gospel of John to introduce me to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.Lesson Learned: A prayerful willingness to provide a nonthreatening environment to enable people to get into Scripture is all that is needed—Our amazing God can do the rest.SCENE 2: Both my husband and I had become believers and found ourselves in a new church where we were growing. Reaching out to invite people into our home for Bible study was a foreign concept to me. However, the church was asking people to volunteer their homes and invite people from the neighborhood to attend two meetings where the pastor would do a walk thru of the Old and New Testament. They would provide the invitations and we just filled in the date, time and our address. My husband insisted we sign up for one of the slots.One evening we had just settled the kids down when the doorbell rang. It was a couple from churchdropping off our set of invitations. Instead of just taking the invitations from them, my husband invited them in. I excused myself to go into the kitchen, put on some coffee, and come up with something to serve. To appreciate this, you have to understand my Middle Eastern background and that culture's attitude toward hospitality. I had not been to the store that week and the cupboard was bare. I stood in the pantry desperately praying, "Dear God, a raisin, a graham cracker, a marshmallow--please let me come up with something to serve." Words will never convey the desperation I felt as I begged God for a miracle.Just then the doorbell rang again. There stood a friend of mine with a warm apple pie. She told me she was going to bring it the next day as a thank you but then decided to bring it while it was still warm. Definitely a miracle and answer to my prayer.The next morning, as I was once again profusely thanking God for that pie, He said to me. "Pay attention. I won't be doing this again. I understood your need last night but this is not a true need. Hospitality comes from the heart not the hands. You can make anyone feel welcome in your home regardless of whether you serve food or not."Lesson learned: Hospitality is not from our hands; it’s from the heart. Making people feel warm and welcomed does not require food. A necessary lesson because when the meetings were over some of the couples wanted to continue meeting for Bible study and George offered our home. I agreed because I did not have to prepare refreshments! Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!Grateful for you,Joan Parsonsfor the NBS2go team
I know it may sound backwards, but from a perfectionist child’s point of view, being told it is OK to mess up, show emotion and not care what her friends think, is telling her she is wrong to be herself, even if that is not your intention. Acceptance is the missing element in shifting perfectionism from an anxiety-ridden malady to a gift of excellence. Once she knows it’s OK to be the way she is (no matter what that is), she can naturally start to relax about it.Isn’t it true that we do long for perfection? And yet we’re faced every day with the fact that nothing and no one is perfect. In fact, we live in a broken world. People can be stunningly cruel, whether with words or by the sword. There is stridency, criminality, heartlessness and darkness surrounding us. Even Christians (since they are, in fact, human beings!) are sinful, doing and saying the wrong things, responding in less-than-perfect ways, sometimes in the worst ways possible. This conflict between longing for perfection and facing the realities of imperfection leads to a kind of suffering in our souls.Scripture says this:
For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us—bodies that will never be sick again and will never die. Romans 8:22-25We long for perfect. For the perfect response. For the perfect action. For the perfect love.And it was delivered to us right in the midst of our imperfect, broken and messy world on Christmas Day in the form of Emmanuel, “God with us.” He was (and is!) perfect. His every response while he walked on the earth was perfect. He never sinned. He never made the wrong choice, although He was provoked, ridiculed, betrayed and tempted. I believe He planted this yearning for perfection in our hearts because it’s a yearning for HIM. It’s a yearning for Heaven, where He has prepared a place – a perfect place -- for each one of us who accepts His gift.As we enter a new year, notice the next time you feel that deep yearning for perfection in your nation, your neighborhood, your home, your parenting or marriage. Try honoring it instead of telling yourself that you’re wrong to experience it.Recognize it as an awareness of our need for Christ. It’s true the yearning will not be met here on earth, but we are promised that a day is coming when we will experience perfection – fully and totally, in the presence of God Almighty.Maybe someone you know needs to hear this today. At NBS2GO, we are grateful for the freedom and opportunity to share Jesus with others in our homes, neighborhoods and during the business of living our daily lives.Merry Christmas!Find more Fresh Stories here!Erica Rountree is a freelance writer and the communications director at Action Ministries Inc. She lives and works in Marietta, Georgia, where she’s a member of a neighborhood Bible study and mama to two girls who constantly outsmart her and drive her to drink sweet tea.
Have you ever asked yourself what you would do with your life if money were no object? If someone challenged you to “better where you live,” how would you go about it? A squeal was heard through out my house. What to my wondering eyes should appear? Two VIP tickets to be with Chip and Joanna Gaines for the late October weekend known as “Silobration.” I quickly called my sister. Thister is what I call her, especially when excited. “Thister, do you want to go meet Chip and Joanna?” More squeals heard throughout another house. “Are you serious? Of course I do!” Thister exclaimed. Waco, Texas, here we come! Chip and Joanna are the stars of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” If you’ve ever watched “Fixer Upper,” you not only admire the Gaines’ hard work and creativity, you fall in love with the couple themselves. They are crazy-talented, hilarious, respectful of one another, lovers of their family, compassionate toward others, mindful of their city and God-honoring. And Silobration? Years ago, Joanna kept a notebook filled with her dreams and desires. One of her dreams was opening a retail store of home goods reflecting her personal and unique style. When Chip learned about the notebook, he asked her to tell him one of her dreams. Then, in typical Chip fashion, he encouraged her to go for it! “Let’s do this,” he said. Together, they have checked off project after project one by one. Silobration was the celebration of opening a large-scale retail store in the iconic silos that define downtown Waco, the couple’s current hometown. The silos project was about investing in their Texas town and the people who live there. Chip and Joanna have bought “stock” in loving where they live and living where they love. They aren’t looking to move to a better spot. They are bettering the spot where they live! My sister flew from Ohio. I flew from Georgia (with an expired driver’s license…but this is another long story…have I ever told you that I pride myself in being super organized…never). We landed in Dallas. And drove to Waco. Lots of giggling. Lots of stories. No time restraints. Eating out. It was a girl’s weekend for sure. The Silobration evening was filled with excitement and fun. Chip “repelled” down the silos for a grand entrance to formally welcome the 2,000+ guests to the property and to introduce the band, Johnnyswim. Twinkling lights, picnic tables, lawn games, pottery demonstrations, food trucks, music, the bubbly personalities of their staff and the Magnolia Market store made the night an amazing experience! “We’ve always given credit and glory to God,” Chip said. “This is a testament to hard work, dedication, family and faith.” Joanna added, “With God and a man like Chip, I knew I had the wind in my sails to accomplish something much bigger than I even dreamed.” Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, has said, “What would happen if you left a city? Would the impact be noticed? Have you made the kind of difference that if you moved away, it could actually be recognized?” There is no doubt that what Chip and Joanna dreamed of many years ago is impacting their city. Their hearts are huge and generous towards others. They have deep roots of compassion and kindness. Their faith in God is shown as they “work with all their heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.” Most of us will never have large financial resources, but we do have the resource of time and God’s heart to develop relationships and initiate friendships with the people who live right next door. Share a meal, plant flowers, offer babysitting, give a ride, sit with a widow, the list can go on and on. Perhaps the Lord was creative enough to place you exactly where He wanted, to love those who need His love. Maybe all we need to do is ask Him how He wants us to do that. Maybe He could give us the perfect way to “better where we live” and to love where we live. So I am pondering this question, if I left my neighborhood or city or workplace, would it be noticed? What impact am I making? How about you? Drop us a note to let us know how you are investing in your city or neighborhood. We would love to hear from you. Or at least tell me a story of “someone” you knew who let her driver's license expire! Find more fresh stories here. Joan, lover of McDonald’s cokes, is happiest when her home is filled with her husband and four children. She reports that her two college-aged boys come home whenever she offers to cook steak. Her only claim to fame is the week she got every piece of clothing laundered and matched all 126 socks. She had a dream when she was in college that Jesus returned to gather up the Christians to go to Heaven. Except one of her roommates asked her why she never told her about God. She woke from the dream with a lifelong desire to share with others the amazing news of God’s love and forgiveness.