Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

"How many times can I tell her no?"

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“Oh man, another one of these things,” she thinks to herself, as she pulls the red envelope out of her mailbox. “How many ways can I say no?” She takes the stack of mail inside and plops it all down on the kitchen table. The little red envelope, with her name written on the front in her neighbor’s neat cursive handwriting, is the only remotely interesting piece of mail she’s received today in a big stack of boring bills and advertisements. She sits down and sighs. “What’s she invited me to this time?” Inside the envelope, a cheerful pink and white card invites her to a Valentine’s Day tea given by the neighborhood Bible study. She smiles. She’s been receiving invitations like this for two solid years, and she’s running out of excuses. Her neighbor is a great gal – their sons are the same age and love playing together. But this Bible study stuff is not for her. Of course, this is just a tea party. It would be fun to meet some of the ladies in the neighborhood. How dangerous could it be?
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A Dangerous Valentine's Day Tea Party: Laurie's Story

Laurie and 2 girls pic
“Oh man, another one of these things,” she thinks to herself, as she pulls the red envelope out of her mailbox. “How many ways can I say no?” She takes the stack of mail inside and plops it all down on the kitchen table. The little red envelope, with her name written on the front in her neighbor’s neat cursive handwriting, is the only remotely interesting piece of mail she’s received today in a big stack of boring bills and advertisements. She sits down and sighs. “What’s she invited me to this time?” Inside the envelope, a cheerful pink and white card invites her to a Valentine’s Day tea given by the neighborhood Bible study. She smiles. She’s been receiving invitations like this for two solid years, and she’s running out of excuses. Her neighbor is a great gal – their sons are the same age and love playing together. But this Bible study stuff is not for her. Of course, this is just a tea party. It would be fun to meet some of the ladies in the neighborhood. How dangerous could it be?






Little did I know it at the time, but that Valentine’s Day tea was extremely dangerous for me. It turned my whole life upside down! And not just mine, but the lives of my husband, my children, and even my 66-year-old father.

The tea was a starting point – the tiny spark that lit a raging fire within me.

When I finally said yes, I was pleasantly surprised that the gals at the neighborhood Bible study were regular women, just like me. No one wore long dresses or shouted Scripture at me. During the tea, I heard a five-minute teaching on God’s grace. It was exactly the simple message my tired, hungry heart longed to hear – that there was a God in Heaven who loved me, not for how well I could behave or how many good works I could accomplish, but just for ME.

Several years after the fateful tea, I was encouraged to start a neighborhood Bible study of my own. Much to my surprise, I began reaching my neighbors in the same way I was reached.

Touching women through my neighborhood Bible study was the source of amazing joy to me, but the real shocker occurred when God touched my father’s heart.

Dad was a military man, an alpha dog and hard to the core. Dad was not a believer and had fallen away from the church years before. But, as he witnessed a softening in our home – the effect of grace – he became interested in the changes taking place in us. God gave me favor with my Dad – he loved exchanging emails – and he would listen as I shared the ways my faith was growing and our lives were changing. By God’s design, my parents moved into a retirement community full of godly people, and Dad was invited to his own neighborhood Bible study. Like me, he turned down the invitations at first, but he too eventually gave in (if only to get them off his back!) and began to love it. He called the men in the study “Quote and Go” because they were so familiar with Scripture.

I knew God was a big God, but I could never have imagined what happened next.

One afternoon, as my Dad and I sat on his patio, dunking Oreos in milk, our conversation turned to Christ. My heart began beating wildly in my chest, but God gave me boldness. I asked Dad if he wanted to pray to receive Christ, and he said yes. We prayed a sweet, childlike prayer together, and the skies, which had been crystal clear moments before, opened up and poured rain. It felt like God was crying tears of great joy! My parents were baptized soon after by the minister who led Dad’s neighborhood Bible study. I had to see it with my own eyes – the two of them up on the altar in choir robes – to believe it! When Dad died two years later, I had great peace and assurance that he was in Heaven and that we’d see each other again one day. That blessed assurance was possible because someone invited us – not once, but many times over – to a dangerous neighborhood Bible study.

Have you ever stepped out on faith to do something "dangerous?" What was the result of your boldness?

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Laurie Bengochea (pictured with her family) is the mother of four children, and more importantly, the grandmother of one darling little girl. She leads a community Bible study in Georgia. She has a heart to disciple women wherever she is.




Laurie's story was written by Erica Rountree. Erica 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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10 Neighborhood Christmas Outreach Ideas


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An Original


Enjoy our guest post today from Abingdon Women

 

The lotion bottle was sitting nearly empty among the crayons, paint, and other supplies.  I had slipped into the supply room to grab some markers and paper for my prayer time on the retreat I was attending.  At first glance, it went unnoticed.  Then I looked more closely and discovered the cherry almond “original scent” words on the side of the bottle.  My breath shortened and my heart skipped a beat.  Could it be?  I quickly dropped my markers and began to squeeze some of the forgotten lotion as the bottle gasped for air as I had just done myself.  And true to it’s claim, the “original scent” of my grandmother’s silky smooth hands took me back to my childhood.

My grandmother’s hands are special not because of her lotion but because they have made a difference in this world.  Her hands have prayed for me and my family devoutly over the years.  Her hands cared for my own mother.  Her hands helped the less fortunate.  Her hands baked chicken casserole when we visited and nearly always burned the rolls each holiday (at least I get my cooking skills honestly).  The lotion scent on my own hands brought so many welcome memories to mind about my grandmother’s caring hands.  It was indeed a scent of my childhood and one woman who has had great impact on my faith and family.  And then a bit of sadness swept over me.

Sadness came after the joy and those happy memories because it hit me that I don’t really have a scent (unless you count my deodorant).  Surely that doesn’t mean I don’t leave a mark on this world as my grandmother has done.  Will I leave my mark on this world even if I keep switching lotions to the one on sale or with the latest ingredients?  Maybe I don’t have a scent because there are only 10,000 (give or take a few) choices in the lotion aisle these days and it seems I never return home twice with the same brand let alone an original scent.  Part of the time, I just find something in my pantry.  Maybe my scent is actually coconut oil. Anyway, I think a world of choice is wonderful, I do.  Choices are a privilege and honor.  I have to wonder though if in a way we can be losing ourselves constantly by all the changing scents and too many choices (can you tell I'm feeling overwhelmed just in the processing of this)?  We are too often distracted and we can not even look to the lotion aisle for anything original.  All these thoughts raced into my mind as I continued to smell the lotion on my hands and they brought me to one conclusion.  My maker is truly what has made my grandmother an original...and me and you as well.

God’s love is our origin.  Let’s use it to find our own originality and purpose in this life.  Let’s find our calling and our identity in Him.  The gift of understanding that God made each of us unique, original, and also in His image is our hope.  Connecting with our creator that we each discover our originality and then share it with others is the mark we are to leave on this world through our own hands.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for creating me as an original in your image.  Thank you for the unique gifts, talents and strengths you have given me in this life.  Allow me to be who you made me to be through the ever changing roles I serve in this ever changing world.

God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them. - Genesis 1:27 CEB

Whitney Simpson

Whitney is a seeker, writer, teacher, retreat leader, and spiritual director. She truly believes that "the journey awakens the soul." Her journey currently includes being a mom and wife, offering spiritual care services, and writing for the Abingdon Women blog.

As a survivor of multiple health crises including melanoma skin cancer, stroke and brain surgery (by the age of 31), Whitney has learned to depend greatly on God as her strength and peace and to more fully embrace life's journey. She helps others explore peace in their own lives using ancient and modern tools and seeks to share the balance and benefits of a contemplative life among the realities of a fast-paced digital world. Whitney received Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation and is a certified lay minister and certified yoga instructor. She and her husband,Troy, and their son, Drew, live in a rural area east of Nashville, Tennessee. You can find out more about Whitney at her personal blog, www.exploringpeace.com.
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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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