Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

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

BlueBasket-1
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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Diane's story: Having a Heart for the Community Where God Plants Us

Diane's Story
Our family moved to Buford, Ga., from Florida two years ago in a total faith move. We had no jobs, no friends, family or connections. But we were convinced the Lord wanted us in this geographic location.

I've always had a heart for the community where God plants our family. After we settled in and began receiving employment opportunities, I began to yearn for neighborhood connections and a Bible Study. The Lord put on my heart to start a study, but I needed to wait for His leading. Soon, I met a neighbor whose husband is the pastor of a large, local church. I mentioned my yearnings to her, and we agreed to launch a study together at the New Year.

In the meantime, I met Debbie McGoldrick, and she shared all the Lord had placed on her heart and the NBS2GO studies. Once I saw the materials, I knew this would be perfect for a new neighborhood study, one that can both reach those who are newly seeking and those who already love delving deeply into the Word.

Intentionally, I opened our home for the neighborhood's annual Christmas party. There I met women and shared our idea for launching a Bible study in the neighborhood. Several immediately desired to join us! Later, I learned that several of these ladies had specifically prayed for Christians to move into our house. Since launching one year ago, we have prayer walked and put out flyers inviting neighbors to our study several times. At Christmas this year, we hosted an Operation Christmas Child event. We are now planning a food drive. Many of us attend board meetings and social events with the openness to meeting new families. We are intentional about connecting and reaching out to neighbors with food, kindness and encouragement, even if they never join our Bible study.

I may never have met these women had it not been for our study. The love and commitment we have for one another is so strong. We “run,” not walk, to each other’s homes each week, looking forward to studying, growing and loving one another more.

Diane O.'s Neighborhood Bible Study celebrated a year together in January.

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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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I am a type A personality. Only opposite.


 It is late September. One of my best friends just sent me this text. "Target has Christmas lights for sale." She knew it would make me laugh. For you see I am a type A personality.  Only opposite.  In my life A=adrenalin lover (i.e. love doing things last minute...or down to the wire.)

The texts continued.

"Noooooo" I said with that many o's.  "But maybe I should buy some now because they always run out."

"That is what I was thinking too," friend said.

"Naaaaa" I said with that many a's. "...just can't be that prepared."

Friend says, "never have been.... so why start now.  Not as exciting to be that prepared."

"Where is the thrill in being prepared?" my fingers texted back.

"Absolutely!" she said followed with a Christmas tree emoji.

Don't you love a good friend who knows what will make you laugh, bring a smile, knows your personality and accepts you for who you are? 

Grace abounds in relationships like this. 

Sometimes I wonder if my neighbors have good friends. Do they have deep connections?  Are they loved for who they are?  Does someone know them well enough to make them laugh?

Or are some lonely?  Feel abandoned?  Misunderstood?  Isolated?

Praying for "community" in our neighborhood Bible study is top on my list.  Each week I ask the Lord for three things.

1.  That each of us would learn something from Him.

2.  That each person would contribute to our time together...that we would learn from one another.

3.  That laughter would fill the room.  "A cheerful heart is good medicine."  Proverbs 17:22

 Last week I arrived a little late to Bible study (sometimes family "things" do this).  As I walked into the room I couldn't help but be overwhelmed.  The room was filled with conversations and laughter.  Ladies were sharing recipes, kid issues, family trials, health concerns, etc.  The room was buzzing with community.  The room was "loud" with empathy.   The room was overflowing with God's immense grace.  

The Lord has answered my prayers and continues to do so.

How about you?  How have you experienced community in your neighborhood?

 

 

Joan, with three teen sons and one preteen girl under her roof she is thankful for her husband and naps.  Between laundry loads and fixing beef you might find her in the McDonald’s drive thru ordering a coke with extra ice and a chocolate chip cookie …because this is her happy place.
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A Young Perspective on Open Hearts & Open Doors


This weekend I hosted a party in our new neighborhood for a former neighbor. (A little background on the eight of us hostesses - we’re all in a really fun season of life. We’re all 20 somethings, we’ve been married about five years, and we’re young in our careers and in our adventures in parenting.)  Even though we’ve been getting together and throwing little get-togethers for years, this time, somehow it felt different.

I felt the tension of being old enough to plan and celebrate new life experiences – a baby shower! – but still so young in the world.  As we were setting out the food and arranging the flowers, I still almost expected one of our mothers to pop in and help. I had a vision of all of us girls pretending to be adults, trying to “play hostess” dressed up in our mothers’ heels and pearls. It was a beautiful moment of vulnerability as we outwardly projected confidence in our ability to hostess, while inwardly wondering if we’d ever truly measure up. The moment passed and the shower went off without a hitch. I think our mamas would’ve been proud.

All that to say, if you’re waiting to start a Neighborhood Bible Study, don’t wait until you feel old enough or ready enough or prepared enough. “Do not let them look down on you because you are young....” (1 Timothy 4:12a) We have a place in the body, too! And we have a purpose to serve in our neighborhood even if we feel inadequate and inexperienced. Even if you think that when you open the door your neighbors will view you as a little girl playing dress up, pretending to be able to host some big event, the truth is, when you open your door, you open your heart – and that is a beautiful thing for neighbors to see.

I’m right there with you, stepping into big beautiful shoes, twisting the pearls around my neck and hoping to create authentic community with my neighbors just as I am – inadequacies, imperfections, and all...

Lucy

 

Lucy Duggar is a 20-something fully-embracing life in Atlanta - loving her husband, Grant, and their comical great dane, Georgia. Culture, travel, and art history are a few of her favorite things, having worked for a museum and several non-profits in the Greater Atlanta Area. She was born in Alaska and has lived in Oregon, France, Wyoming, and most recently London, and Shanghai; she and Grant are just back from a year living abroad, but she feels most at home in the South. Where ever she may be, you can bet there's a good book at hand and a delighted introvert fluttering pages.
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Love Your Neighbor As Yourself?


"Love your neighbor as yourself.". Yes, but how?

What comes to mind when you read this verse?  (Mark 12:31) What does it look like to accomplish this!  What stirs within you when you hear Christ say this is the second greatest command?

I often feel inadequate. Don't you?  Sometimes certain "neighbors" come to mind that I have a hard time loving. I think of circumstances where I have been misunderstood and have a strained relationship with a "neighbor."  Or a "neighbor" has said something or done something that has left me drained or wounded. These are all valid situations.  I am sure you have a list too!

But what I would rather draw attention to with this verse is actually initiating love to all my neighbors.  How about focusing on trusting God to reach them with His message.  Love is active.  Love strives towards someone.  Love would rather be guilty of moving towards someone rather than being passive.   Yes!  Amen!  But how do we do this?

Start with prayer.  Ask the Lord to give you a heart for your neighbors.  Pray for them by name when you know it.  Pray for their children.  Pray for their work.  Pray for God's protection and blessing in their lives.  Pray the Gospel would be heard in their houses. 

And then what?  _____________________________. You fill in the blank.  As you are praying,  my guess is that God will give you ideas to communicate His love to them. He will whisper to you to write a note to someone. He will purposefully have you run into another who needs encouragement.  He will want you to take cookies to a young family.  How about starting a neighborhood Bible study?   I still remember the peanut butter pie that we received 9 years ago when we moved in....and who brought it?....my godly, loving neighbor who reached out to us with Christ's love. And she is my co-leader in my neighborhood Bible study!

Love takes action. How will you "love" your neighbor today?  How have you loved your neighbor?  

Love,
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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Adrienne's Story: My Whole Life Would be Suspect


There was no way I was going to a neighborhood Bible Study! These people were radicals. They would no doubt judge me. I didn’t own a Bible, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to find my way around one if I did. All my life prior to Bible Study attendance would be suspect! I was almost 40 years old, had everything anybody would rightfully need in life, and I was miserable. The self-help aisles at Barnes and Noble weren’t helping. I sensed I was being pushed hard by the Holy Spirit to give it a try. I see that now, only in retrospect. So I went.

None of my fears were founded. The group of women I met that first year were polite, patient and concerned about the spirituality of others. Nobody attempted to convict me on my prior lack of Bible knowledge or church attendance. There were no critics as I flipped back and forth through my Bible trying to locate the proper Book. No one commented on me or my family’s spiritual life prior to that first year of the study.

I cannot begin to estimate the value our Neighborhood Bible Study has brought to my life and to my family’s lives. There is no doubt the Lord intended for me to be in that environment to come into a personal relationship with Christ. Despite having the worst of preconceived notions, I was to take away Truth – life-altering Truth. Jesus is likely delighted to not be the stern taskmaster and cosmic scorekeeper anymore. My family now knows the Lord as the Loving Father that He is. My husband and I have grown in faith together in the years since I started attending the study. All three of my children now know Jesus and have the opportunity to live a life intertwined with Him, which I never had. I am certain that my grandchildren will have the opportunity to grow up with Jesus.


Did I mention that the woman who ultimately showed me the way to Christ actually asked me often to attend the study, through at least two years of carpooling? I am eternally glad that I finally said yes.












Adrienne Osbourne



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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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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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