Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

How Would You Feel if This Showed up at Your Door?

Do you have a friend or neighbor who is feeling blue? A woman in my neighborhood Bible study, Amy, recently received some discouraging news about an adoption that she and her husband were going through. As a study, we really wanted to come around her, just love on her and give her some support. We came across the idea to make a “Blue Basket.”

We found different gifts that are blue -- the items themselves can be blue or you can wrap them in blue. They are small, personal gifts that may include a devotional with a blue cover, some blue bath salts or a CD. Another contribution could simply be a personal note. There are all sorts of things you could put into the basket. The idea is that you give your treasured friend a big basket full of goodies, notes and love. Let her know that whenever she is feeling blue, she can reach into the basket and pick out one of the presents.

Amy later told me how meaningful all of the things were that she received in the Blue Basket. She opened the included CD one day, and it was just the right music to lift her spirit. Even the simple notes made her feel loved and special. It gave her encouragement just when she needed it most.



Tara Thompson attended her first Bible Study ever in the summer of 2001, shortly after re-dedicating her life to Jesus Christ. She was hooked, and she stepped out in faith to start a Bible Study in her own neighborhood in the fall of 2005. She loves being a wife to John and mom to their three boys. With her treadmill and neighborhood tennis courts, she maintains her sanity amidst the craziness of this life, while loving every minute of it.
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86 Hits

Wipe Out: Hear Your Father's Voice

wipe out
Wipe out! It’s just part of learning to snow ski, but it’s not the hardest part of the sport. Getting up again is the biggest challenge!

We took our daughters snow skiing for the first time recently. Toward the end of the day, my husband took the girls on an intermediate run, and the younger one, 9, proceeded to wipe out over and over again. She came off the slopes feeling pretty defeated and certain that her daddy was mad at her.

Every time she wiped out, her skis popped off, and she had to get them on again. Her natural inclination was to point them downhill and try to step into them, which, of course, led to another fall. Her dad told her to arrange her skis parallel to the mountain before she stepped into them so she’d be anchored to the slope and able to reestablish her balance. He gave her the same instruction many times, but she seemed not to listen and experienced failure over and over again. “If she would’ve just listened to what I was telling her, I could have helped her,” he said.

I’d experienced something very similar myself in my ski lesson. About halfway down the same challenging slope where my daughter kept falling, I was learning to turn. I was still unsteady and concentrating hard on my form and balance when a man clipped me from behind, sending me and my poles flying. From down the mountain, I could hear my instructor, Jerry, shouting instructions to me about how to position myself so I could get up. I knew intellectually that I could trust Jerry – he was far more experienced than I in these matters, for sure – but my natural instinct was to do the exact opposite of what he was saying! Instead of listening to my trustworthy teacher, I listened to myself and tried to stand up in my own strength. My instinct was to get up like I wasn’t on skis. My instinct was to do it my own way. Can you say epic fail?

Finally, I stilled my mind, set aside my humiliation and determined to focus on my teacher’s instructions. With his help, I positioned my skis and my body the correct way. He walked his way back up the mountain to me, stuck out his hand, which I grabbed, and voila – I was on my feet again! How often do we flail around, trying to go it alone, while our Teacher’s voice is accessible to us? What He asks us to do often feels unnatural or counterintuitive, but He knows so much better than we do. When we can still our minds long enough to hear Him and reach out our hands in trust, our results can be vastly different.

Even when we're in close relationship with our Heavenly Father, it can still be difficult to hear His instructions. How much harder is it then for the woman who has not yet come to know Him? We have neighbors who are flailing about, operating on instinct. They desperately need to be introduced to the Father they can trust in the midst of the wipe out. Will you be the person who makes the introduction?

NBS2Go’s newest Acrostic Bible Study is called L.I.S.T.E.N.: Listen Intently, Follow Intentionally – Without Delay, Discussion or Doubt. Download it for free 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.
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69 Hits

Make a "Hearts for Healing" Quilt to Cover a Neighbor in Prayer

Hearts for Healing 1
The summer before last, I was asked to attend a “laying of the hands” prayer time for a sweet sister in Christ who was fighting cancer. Unfortunately, I was riding in my car on the way to a family vacation spot when I received the e-mail. The importance of this need for prayer washed over me, and I began to feel disappointed that I could not be present to lift her up. God called me to prayer in that moment and as I prayed, I imagined her sitting atop a quilt with a circle of loving friends praying healing prayers over her. I poured out prayers for healing,...“Heal her Lord, I know you can...I know you are the God of miraculous healing...You want us to live, to bring others to you...the longer we live, the more we can do...”

Fast forward a few months, and I am saying this prayer for another friend before she has brain surgery. As I prayed for her, the quilt vision came to me again, and I knew the quilt held some type of significance. As my friend healed from the brain surgery, I wanted her to be wrapped in healing and loving prayers. The quilt was a tangible way to make these prayers come to life for her. A quilting and prayer fellowship of friends and women just wanting to help sprang together in her honor and an amazing “Hearts for Healing” quilt was created. Soon after, the person who inspired the original quilt and other friends in need of prayer received quilts, too.

If your NBS group knows of someone who needs an extra dose of love, whether they are struggling with an illness, divorce, a financial setback, or any of life’s challenges, the “Hearts for Healing” quilt is a wonderful way to share your prayers and love. A quilt may seem like a difficult project to tackle, but if someone in your group, or community can sew, all your members need to do is pray for the person in need with a little heart in their hand; stitch it on to a 5x5 square, and they are done! The hearts do not have to be expertly stitched on the squares. A simple “in and out” stitch or whip stitch can be used. A rough edge around the heart creates character, so no need to know how to applique’ either.

The sweet “Hearts for Healing” quilt is more than just fabric and thread. It represents God’s love working through us and through our prayers. “...And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:14-15). “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). Prayer is the divine weapon given to us by our maker and wielded in power by our faith.

If a “Hearts for Healing” quilt seems like an impossible task, “Hearts for Healing” pillow instructions are offered as well. Or, instead of a quilt or pillow, just get together and pray for the person in need. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16). So start praying!

For instructions on how to create and assemble a pillow, see the links below or visit:

Hearts for Healing Quilt Instructions

Hearts for Healing Pillow Instructions
JoAnn has been a servant of the Lord for over 35 years, at a young age heeding the call of His words, “For by Grace you have been saved through Faith. And this is not your doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) “Social Worker,” and “Legal Administrator” are former titles she left behind years ago to embrace the title she really longed for, “Mom.” The mother of two God-fearing boys and the wife of “the best person she knows,” JoAnn’s life is a testament of God’s grace and His insurmountable love. When she is not leading a Bible Study and sharing fellowship with friends, she is volunteering at school, writing, or making something with her hands. A transplant from Louisiana, she’s a Southern girl who loves calling Georgia home.


“Hearts for Healing” quilts are lovingly created by JoAnn Stensrud. Permission granted to use this idea to bless neighbors, friends and family. “Hearts for Healing” quilt concept copyrighted and may not be recreated for sale. Pillow kits may be purchased: http://www.etsy.com/shop/prettyi


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93 Hits

It All Started With Mr. Hatch

Joan blog
Quite a few years ago, when my children were little, we discovered a lovely book called Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch.

“Mr. Hatch is a lonely man who ‘keeps to himself.’

Continue reading
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49 Hits

Grasshoppers or Giants

What kind of glasses are you wearing? Have you ever experienced a movie wearing 3-D glasses? How those crazy plastic glasses make such a visual and experiential difference, I will never know. But they do!

In Numbers 13 and 14, twelve scouts were chosen to spy out the Promised Land. After 40 days and 500 miles, they brought Moses a full report. I bet you did not know that all 12 wore glasses? Ten of the scouts wore 3-D glasses, but the other two wore God glasses. It’s pretty amazing, both groups saw the same movie, so to speak, but felt and experienced something totally different, based on the glasses they chose to wear. Both groups saw a magnificent land. Those wearing the 3-Dglasses were overwhelmed by the size and number of people they saw living in massive fortified cities. The report: We cannot and will not go into the land, because we are powerless and few. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, in fact, that’s what we looked like to them!  Numbers 13:27-33; 14:36 [paraphrased] Caleb and Joshua, wearing their God glasses, gave an opposite report: God will bring us safely into His Promised Land! Let’s go in and take it! We can certainly conquer it, because the Lord will go with us! We don’t need to be afraid of them! Numbers 13:30; 14:6-9 [paraphrased]

When I wear 3-D glasses [Discouragement, Despair and Defeat], I tend to see and experience life as a grasshopper. When I choose to put on my God glasses, [by focusing on, believing in ...God’s character and His promises], I have the ability to see and experience life like a giant. What is your present situation? What are you reporting to others? Is what you see and experience a grasshopper’s or a giant’s perspective? Choose your glasses wisely.  Invite someone to exchange their 3-D glasses for God glasses today!

Numbers 13 & 14; Psalm 54; John 9:35-41

As Always, From my Heart,



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70 Hits
1 Comment

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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