Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

Crazy Quilts and a Master Weaver - Revised Bible Study

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QUILT was the first Bible study I wrote for my neighborhood Bible study group. My desire was to create a simple tool that they could use on a weekly basis to personally mine nuggets of truth and treasures from God’s Word. Instead of listening to me teach every week, we began to gather and share the discoveries and insights that our personal teacher, the Holy Spirit had revealed to us.

As I was praying and waiting on God to guide me – the word “quilt” came to mind. My immediate response was “That’s crazy!” Just then the image of a cherished family heirloom came into my mind. This keepsake was my mother’s child-sized bathrobe made from her great-grandmother’s handstitched Crazy Quilt. I repeated in my mind, Crazy Quilt….and so the study began to take shape.

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The Hands and Feet of Jesus

blessings
It was eight years ago that I experienced the realness of Jesus in a way that changed me forever. One summer morning the Lord woke me, actually He jolted me out of my sleep during an incredible dream.

I dreamed I was a princess and I was running through a beautiful castle, going from room to room in awe of all the beauty of it. Then suddenly for a really brief moment I became afraid and I hid. But as quickly as the fear came, it left.  I burst out of the hiding place and there I stood looking lovelier than ever in a long, flowing dress.

I awakened suddenly with an image in my mind of me standing there looking like Cinderella with a quizzical look on my face and my heart filled with a sense of wonder. When will my Prince rescue me? Then reality hit me. Oh, it was a dream. Hmmm...What exactly is God trying to speak to me through this dream? As the day went on I received the answer so clearly.

A few hours later the telephone rang. It was my sweet friend Lisa calling after unsuccessfully trying to reach me for several weeks. Lisa was a part of a neighborhood Bible study where I cared for the children of moms who met each week during the school year. It was during the summer break and I hadn’t spoken to her in three months.

That morning over the telephone Lisa asked me how things were going in my life and I shared that we were in the midst of a trial. My husband Michael was self-employed at the time and his business had almost come to a halt. He was delivering pizza to support our family. I was a stay-at-home mom earning money by babysitting and working other small jobs on the side. We were barely scraping by. Our refrigerator was nearly empty, we had no money to buy groceries, and some of our bills were overdue. I was teetering on a fence between fear and faith, but choosing to trust the Lord.

As Lisa and I talked, I told her about the question I heard the Lord asking me the night before.  In my heart, I heard the Lord’s still, small voice. Do you really trust me? At 6:00 a.m. that morning I had written down my answer. Yes I do, I have no reason not to... Jesus has been so good to me!

I asked Lisa to pray for the Lord to guide us and to provide the jobs Michael and

I needed. Lisa’s words were soothing to my soul. "Would you like to come over to help me clean out my big freezer? I'll give you the excess food in return for helping me." She cheerfully exclaimed.

My heart leapt with excitement over Lisa's words. I felt so encouraged and thanked her over and over. She said she would be waiting for me to come over later that evening. I was excited, but I had no idea what was in store for me through the divine appointment God was orchestrating that day.

Throughout the afternoon, many thoughts were racing through my mind. Will the Lord rescue me in time?  Will He pull me under His loving wings, just as He always has? For a really brief moment I hid in fear. Fearful thoughts swirled in my head. What if He doesn’t come through for me and all our needs aren’t met? But as suddenly as the fear came—it left. It was just like the dream I had been awakened from that morning. I knew without a doubt my Prince would rescue me in His way, in His time.

For the rest of the day I let peace fill my heart. During the early evening I headed over to Lisa’s neighborhood. As I drove closer to her house, I felt this indescribable emotion coming over me. I began weeping. The emotions intensified the closer I got to Lisa’s home. I turned the corner and I saw that Lisa’s driveway was full of cars. I knew immediately that something was going on. Lisa came out of her house with a huge smile.  She exclaimed, You’re about to get your socks blessed off!

She invited me in and the room was filled with an indescribable love as I noticed other special friends were there from the Bible study group, waiting with loving arms and just the right words for me. The floodgates opened to my heart and the tears came pouring out.

I sat down with my friends and Lisa began saying, "I have watched the Lord take you to the edge so many times and it amazes me to see how much you trust Him." I was breathing in God’s amazing love and taking in their uplifting words as they each prayed for me.

I will never forget the glow on Lisa's face that day. As we walked toward the kitchen, Lisa joyfully said, "Now it's time for the surprise!" I was overcome with intense emotions as I entered the room and saw the blessing awaiting me. I had never seen so many bags of groceries on a kitchen counter in my life. I couldn’t contain the joy. The tears kept coming and coming and coming. One of them said, “There is more.”  As the tears flowed, they handed me envelopes full of money and gift cards. I could hardly believe it. But still there was more. Lisa started bringing in bags of frozen meats from her freezer.

It was surreal as I listened to several of my friends saying, "This is from the Lord, Amy. He told us to do this for you." I thought of the Scripture the Lord had given to me as a promise for my life many years before.  

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3: 20

I was standing there saying through tears, "This is like being on an Extreme Grocery Makeover show!" And they weren't even finished yet. There were more blessings that had been dropped off at my friend, Kathryn’s home. As I drove to her house, the tears were still flowing. There was a huge cooler full of premium food, more money, and more bags of food for my family.

That day Lisa had contacted my Bible study friends, and the response was simply amazing. On a moment’s notice these special ladies pulled together an awesome act of God. They had been dropping off loads of groceries for my family all day long. This was so far beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of.

I wept all the way home and still had waves of emotion for the rest of the night. When I finally came down a little from the emotional high, I counted 36 bags of groceries. The food that was provided to us was the best of the best—luxuries that we had never had in our home before. And I found out I had been given enough money and gift cards to feed our family for at least eight months and enough to pay our overdue bills.

My family and I had a dancing celebration of God’s goodness to us. We stayed up late into the night praising Him with singing, dancing, and laughter. After everyone went to bed, I stayed up all night overwhelmed by the way my Prince had arrived to rescue me through the love of my friends.

My friends literally became the hands and feet of Jesus to me. Only God knows the full impact that this act of love had on my life. They were the Body of Christ in action. I would have missed one of the greatest blessings of my life had I not been connected to a local Bible study group.

As a result of experiencing this act of love, my faith grew by leaps and bounds. My life changed drastically for the better when my husband returned to college and began a new career in 2010. He has an awesome job now that enables us to be the hands of Christ to others in the way my friends were to me all those years ago. I will spend the rest of my life looking for ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who are lacking and desperately need to see His love.

 

Amy von Borstel is a wife and mother of two children. She attributes her twenty-eight year marriage and happy home to the love of her Lord. She knows the joy that comes from living a life of faith-filled prayer. She’s been a writer since she was a little girl, writing poetry and keeping journals as a way to find peace and rest in her soul. She is passionate about helping orphans and seeing people find abundance through an intimate relationship with Christ. Read her devotionals and faith stories athttp://www.liveabundantlynow.com.
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Dirt in the Silverware Drawer?


Momentarily confused, I wonder, “How in the world did dirt get in the silverware drawer?”  I wash, dry (…well, the dishwasher does), and replace the cutlery into the drawer.  The dirt is not in the plan.  I know you have wondered the same thing.  I’m not alone.  We are not talking about the crumbs that fall into the very edge of the drawer from the counter…that I get.  Deep in the dividers, it’s there…you see it.  How?  Add to this the missing socks.  I have wondered if the washer and dryer consume them.  Yes, we have dogs, one with a penchant for the smelly morsels.  Yet, when I am pretty sure I put two socks in…they both don’t always re-emerge.  After all these years, I’m just going to be thankful for the washer and dryer.  Imagining a whole day over a hot pot of boiling water, then wringing, hanging, ironing…I am completely willing to sacrifice a few woven gifts to the black holes.


Perhaps I could attribute these questionable instances to the fact that God has a sense of humor?  Think about His magnificent creation…the amazing creatures he brought into being – surely he enjoyed planning those intricate details…zebras, giraffes, sea cucumbers.  He does have a sense of humor.  He isn’t as corny as my earthly father…love you Dad; but…He loves us that much.  He is in EVERY detail of our lives.  That is hard to grasp in our finite minds, but the Word says it is true.  “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Mathew 10: 29-31

It is time to own that if we haven’t already.  He truly does desire to be in every part and parcel of our lives.  He wants to share in our victories, triumphs, pain, and sorrow.  He wants to be the first one we think of when something amazing happens and we want to pick up the phone and tell someone (face it…some things need more than 140 characters).  When we hurt, he wants to be the one we turn to.  When we see the cutest smile on our child’s face, He wants us to say to Him, “Did you see that?”  1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray continually,” infers an on-going conversation.  Chat with Him!



When something happens, who do you think of first?  This is not an admonishment…I’m only wishing to offer a suggestion.  The next time life makes you pause with a small detail…like dirt in the drawer, missing socks, a butterfly flitting right in front of you -   good or bad, funny or mundane, use that moment to think of Him.  You are not alone.  He loves you…you know?  He wants to be with you…always, in everything, and in every tiny moment.

Beautiful blessings,

Rebecca

Rebecca is a wife of nearly 20 years, a mother of two teen boys, a 120 pound Golden, and little bit of a Lhasa Poo. Years ago, God placed Rebecca into the role of Editor for an online magazine, nurtured a love of writing and photography, and then delivered her to NBS2GO at its inception. While her nose is always in a book, she tries to keep her eyes on Him.
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10 Neighborhood Christmas Outreach Ideas


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Top 5 Benefits of Hosting



 
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Housewarming Gift Ideas


Here's a fun idea for you and your neighbors!

Plan ahead by dropping your friends a note with the idea and a list of things that can go into the jars.  Schedule a date, (at your regularly scheduled NBS would be perfect!)  Gather the supplies and get creative!

You can make several at a time and have them on hand for the new neighbors when they move in - and even for those that are moving out...


 

Some items for the jars could be :  measuring tape, mini hammer,  picture hangers, 6-in-1 screwdriver set, 2 extension cords (white and brown which would blend better on their wood floors or white walls), line level, or kitchen towels. You could even paint the lids with chalk board paint! Add a bow and, TA DA... Blessings abound.

What would you fill the jars with?
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No One Ever Prayed for Me


I grew up in rural Ohio, with the most gorgeous farmland in America.   Directions were given by cornfields, not by roads.  Houses were spread out by miles of fields. My school was 12 miles from my house; milk and bread were too.  I walked uphill in the snow....okay, just kidding...about the uphill thing.

Besides rote prayers with my parents, I don't think anyone prayed for me.  I don't ever remember someone asking me if I had any prayer requests.  In the rural church we attended, my Catechism teacher never opened and closed with prayer.  Did anyone ever pray for me by name?  Maybe your story is similar to mine?

I think praying for someone is one of the greatest privileges we have as Christians and it is one of the most loving things we can do.  Sometimes I wonder if some of my neighbors were like me and have never been prayed for.  Has anyone taken the time to pray for them?  Has their name ever been spoken before the throne of God?

Lord, I come before your throne and say the names Becky, Dawn, Brad, (you get the idea).  Show Your love to them today.  Bring the Gospel to their homes.  Bless their work.  Protect them and their children.

How about your neighbors?  Who is praying for them?

A simple prayer....might change their life....might change their eternity!
--
Joan
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Blessing Bags


Blessing bags are a great service project to prepare together within your NBS.  One blessing bag is kept by each person.  In the future, whenever an NBS member sees someone in need during day-to-day commutes or in travels, they may bless the individual (or family) with the bag.  This is a neat answer to those we see holding signs, asking for money or help.

The goal is for each of member to leave with at least one bag.  Following is a list of supplies.  Divide the chosen items amongst your members.  Have each person bring the appropriate number of items.  For example, 10 bars of soap if there are 10 members in the study.  Many of these items can be purchased at a dollar or discount store.  With each person remitting their items, then assemble the bags so that every bag contains one of each item on the list.  Simple!

Gallon size Ziplock bags
Items to go in the bags, such as:

  • Chap Stick

  • Packages of tissues

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Comb

  • Soap

  • Trail mix

  • Granola bars

  • Crackers

  • Pack of gum

  • Band aids

  • Mouthwash

  • Coins (could be used to make a phone call, or purchase a food item)

  • Hand wipes

  • You could also put in a warm pair of socks, and maybe a Starbucks gift card

  • Small Bible

  • Bible verses on paper or cards



Do you have nay thing to add to this list? have you participated in this service project before? Tell us about it!

 

“From the Lord comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people."   Psalm 3:8 NIV

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Jan's Story: My Heart Began to Heal


Following the tragic loss of one of my children in 1992, I was invited by a neighbor to attend Debbie McGoldrick’s NBS. Through understanding God’s presence and purpose in trials and receiving the encouragement and love of neighbors, my heart began to heal. I know personally the power of NBS to change lives and grow women in their faith journey. I began an NBS when I moved to a new neighborhood in 1998, and I am passionate about making NBS available to women at all stages of life. Whether they are exploring the Bible for the first time or desiring to grow in their faith, women love to meet in the comfort of a neighbor’s home to study and discover together God’s life-transforming Word.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 NIV

To watch Jan tell her story in her own words; click here:  Jan's Story

 

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Unexpected Blessings... Amy's Story


Unexpected Blessings
Amy von Borstel

I could've never dreamed of the blessings that would come from my involvement in a neighborhood Bible study. I hadn't planned to be a part of a Bible study group. I got involved in a roundabout way.

It all started when my boss approached me at my job, saying, "Amy, would you be interested in being the babysitter for the neighborhood Bible study where I attend?"

I worked at a children's gymnastics facility and loved children. So I excitedly wrote down the name and telephone number of the leader of the study, and got in touch with her within a few days.

I'll never forget the first conversation I had with the leader, Laurie. When we talked I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice. She began telling me how they had prayed for God to send a new children's caregiver to the study.

With excitement, Laurie said, "Our previous babysitter was named Amy. She was a compassionate and caring lady. We've been praying for God to send us another "Amy" and He literally sent us another Amy!" We chuckled together as she said, "God has a sense of humor, doesn't He?"

When we walk close with God, there are no coincidences. He divinely plans each detail in our lives. I knew in that moment that God had orchestrated for me to be a part of this Bible study group. But I had no way of foreseeing all the incredible ways God would lavish His love on me through this group of women. They became the community that I needed to be a part of while I was going through some very challenging trials in my life.

While the ladies were having their Bible study time, I was in another area caring for the children of the moms that were attending the meetings. I got to know the moms very well through sharing and talking each week. They encouraged me, prayed for me, and grew to be my cherished friends. I was a part of that group for seven years. The fruit of those years is still growing in my life today. Women's Bible study groups cultivate long-lasting, true friendships and help us grow strong in our faith.

God works in mysterious ways. He amazes me in the way He weaves things together in our lives. I would encourage any woman who's considering attending or hosting a Bible study to dive in wholeheartedly. I know from experience that you'll look back one day and be amazed at all the awesome blessings that came out of your commitment to begin studying the Bible with your neighbors.

 

Bio: Amy von Borstel is a wife, homeschooling mom, and Christian writer. She is living her dream of being home with her family. She loves to write the stories of God’s faithfulness in her life and has a passion for helping the orphans of the world.

 

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Blessed to be a Blessing

Aunt Donna

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Blessed for my Faithfulness

Blessed For my Faithfulness


You may be asking…so why would I continue to lead a study if only one or two women are coming?  Isn’t that a waste of my time?  Good question!  After all, you are busy, right?  You could be doing other things.  You could be making a bigger impact somewhere else.  Maybe your church could use you to teach a class or organize a mission.  Maybe your pastor needs your advice on sermons or church discipline or what is going on in the children’s programs.  Maybe … well, you get the point.   So, why indeed would you continue to lead for only a few?

May I suggest that your faithfulness with a few, may lead to God’s biggest blessings for you?  That is what happened to me…I began leading an evening study in my neighborhood.   We met in our clubhouse, around a small table, just the three of us!  Occasionally, there were four of us; once even five.  But, most weeks it was just us three: Betsy, Mary, and me.   And we studied and prayed together and loved each other through that season.  But, that wasn’t the big blessing; that was just the byproduct of being in the Word together.   The big blessing came later, when I could no longer meet in the evenings because of my children’s various sports schedules.

I did not want to leave Betsy and Mary without an evening study to plug into, so I began looking for one for them!  (No, I didn’t tell them I was doing this.)  I found one in a nearby neighborhood, and in doing so, I met a woman who would later introduce me to the Pastor of an orphanage that I have come to adopt!  Yes, I have adopted an orphanage...  Crazy, right?   Well, not if you know our God.  He had told me years earlier that that was what I was to do—adopt an orphanage—which is another story for another day.  The point here is that if I had not continued to lead just the two, and had I not come to love them and feel obligated towards them, I would not have gone looking for another study in another neighborhood,  and I would not have met this particular woman at this particular time, and I would not have found my orphanage.   Of course, God could have hooked us up another way, but He chose to bless my faithfulness by leading me to them this way.   And, in leading me to them this way, I can rest in the assurance that this is God’s call and purpose for me, and that is the biggest blessing in the world!

So, will He give you a whole orphanage full of children to love?  Probably not.  He has something else in store for you!  Maybe something bigger!  And, it may just be the Bible study group you have always dreamed about---one like mine, filled with wonderful, women who love the Lord and each other.   Because if you are faithful with a few, He will put you in charge of many.

Lisa
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What is NBS2GO?

NBS2GO = Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO - nbs2go.com is simply the packaging of ideas, resources, and inspiration to equip believers to launch and multiply Bible study groups.


What's the big deal about a Bible study group?

Like a one-room schoolhouse, a Bible study group brings together a wide range of seekers and Christ-followers to study, discuss, and encourage one another toward life application of God’s Word. This blending of spiritual maturity levels creates a dynamic, life-transforming community. Friendships are formed, and group members are equipped to minister to others where they do life. Life transformation and multiplication!

NLT Scripture references on nbs2go.com and in publications, unless otherwise noted.

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