Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

The Dog Days

My neighborhood Bible study doesn’t meet in the summer, which makes for a long stretch of time – 10 weeks or so – without my friends! Although we see each other at the pool occasionally, it’s not quite the same as meeting every week and delving deeply into each other’s lives. I often get discouraged in my walk with God in the summer. Why? I begin to wonder if I really have my own relationship with Christ or if I’m only in touch with Him vicariously through my godly friends!  Do I lean on them too much?

In past years, I’ve returned to Bible study in August like a staggering refugee, deprived of water and sustenance after a long stint in the desert. Not surprisingly, my relationship with the Lord has suffered.  The discipline of meeting Him daily went out the window in June. I’ve spent too many days “playing hooky” from my time with God.

This summer I’ve tried to be different. We’ve kept up our early morning coffee dates. In late May, knowing I’d be distracted without the discipline of my weekly NBS, I committed myself to reading a chapter or two of Psalms every morning.  I even took my Bible and my devotional book, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, on my beach vacation this year. Hey, there’s a first time for everything!

Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like He’s listening. Sometimes it’s hard to connect without my Christian friends helping me. But one thing I’ve learned from my NBS is to just keep coming. Even if I’m figuratively dragging myself into His presence, disheveled and discouraged, just to throw myself at His feet to cry, the great thing is -- He doesn’t expect or need me to bring anything to the party. He IS the party. All I need to do is come!

I despise getting up early. That’s my particular distraction. But, my first morning at the beach, I did just that, hoping that the promise of a glorious sunrise over the Atlantic would pry me out of bed. As I got my coffee and settled into a creaky lounge chair to watch the sun rise and read, I was rewarded with these perfectly wrought sentences in the voice of Jesus: Be willing to fight for this precious time with Me. Opposition comes in many forms: your own desire to linger in bed; the evil one’s determination to distract you from Me; the pressure of family, friends, and your own inner critic to spend your time more productively. OK, Lord, you have my attention!

Then I turned to Psalm 19, written thousands of years ago by someone I’ll never meet this side of heaven. As the sun rose into the sky, brilliant and alive with color, I read: The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship. Day and night they keep on telling about God. Without a sound or word, silent in their skies, their message reaches out to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it and moves out across the skies as radiant as a bridegroom going to his wedding or as joyous as an athlete looking forward to a race. The sun crosses the heavens from end to end, and nothing can hide from its heat.

Really? I smile to myself. I am stunned by the specificity of the message. I’m floored by the way it touches my heart and seems written exactly for me, in this particular moment. He is listening.  I thank Him, and then I silently thank my NBS for teaching me this wonderful discipline of coming to Him, just as I am. He is the party.


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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55 Hits

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 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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71 Hits

His Plan, Not Mine. Thank God!

I have always had a heart for women’s ministry and for my neighbors, so you would think that starting a neighborhood Bible study would just be a natural, and exciting thing for me to do. It wasn’t.  I was excited to be a hostess, and even meet new neighbors, but leading a study, and opening it up to my ENTIRE neighborhood was causing a little bit of insecurity.

I had met with Debbie McGoldrick and she had encouraged me to have faith! Invite everyone and rest in the sovereignty of God.  He would bring just who needed to be there.  I stressed that no one would come, or too many people would come, and they wouldn’t fit in my house!  After some hemming and hawing, I finally made invites for all 260 homes in my neighborhood.

When the day came for my open house/kick off tea party, I was a mess.  Not knowing how many would show up was nerve racking!  I prepared for about 10, and then, at the last minute, I rushed my friends for cookie donations, and gathered enough for about 40… (This is typical behavior of some one trying to “help” God, or A/K/A control freaks)

The doorbell only rang a few times.  I was crushed.  “What’s wrong with me?” “Doesn’t anyone like me?” “What did I do wrong?”  It was hard to focus on the few beautiful women that were sitting around my kitchen table, chatting and snacking on cookies happily, when I was worried about where everyone else was!

I was so hesitant to invite so many! I prayed, and prayed through each one of those 260 invites.  I prayed for each family as I put those invites on their doors.  I didn’t want to invite everyone, but I did out of obedience! How could I have so many cookies left over after all of that!?

I tried to be gracious, and I made sure everyone had cookies to take home, and I even gave some to some neighbors that didn’t come.  I asked God why only a few?  I was ready! (I like to think that I bring my Father in Heaven lots of laughs and I know he smiles and shakes his head at me daily.)  Didn’t I just step out in faith?  Didn’t I just pray for the entire neighborhood, one address at a time?  Didn’t I just plant seeds of fellowship in this community? Um…. Yes…

God always has a purpose, and nothing is ever wasted.

When the first night of our Bible Study finally came, I looked around my small, but cozy living room and my heart swelled with gratitude... I had just enough seats!  It’s funny how we like to think that God’s ways are the same as ours… I praise Him that they aren’t, but oh! they are SO much higher!

I bet you have just enough seats too…  What does God want to do in your neighborhood?



Jennifer Mottola is a social media team member for NBS2go, as well as a busy wife, mama to adult, and almost adult off-spring, blogger, home-school teacher, gardener, crafter and, obviously, a NBS hostess.  You can read more about her adventures at www.reallyjennifer.com

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80 Hits
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A Banquet for Birds

Like any good southern girl, I hang Boston ferns out on my porch every year in late May. It just makes the whole, sweet-tea-fanning-yourself-watching-the-neighbors-go-by-summertime atmosphere. Within a week, we typically have birds’ nests built in two or three of the ferns. This year, we were treated to three nests! It’s pure fun to watch the little blue eggs appear, to try to time when they’ll crack open and to witness the teeny birds grow and change. Then one day, while you’re at the grocery store or out on a walk, they fly away, and you’re left with a dehydrated, lonely fern, wondering where the time went!

As I go about my business during the summer days, I can hear the babies cheep-cheeping as their mama brings them food every half hour or so. All day long, I hear them. This morning, as I spent time with the Lord, the mama bird fed her babies, and I heard their cries. I thought to myself, that mama is so faithful! She never abandons them. She prepared a safe home for them, she kept them warm, ushered them into life, and now she feeds them all day long. They don’t want for a thing.

I felt an affinity with those little baby birds, as I considered how God feeds me. Faithfully, He nourishes me with His Word and protects me in my utter helplessness and dependence. He never abandons me. Even when He’s not in my sight, I know that He is nearby, and He will return to meet my needs. All I have to do is receive what He is offering.

How does the Lord nourish you? Have you seen Him meet your needs in a fresh, new way today?

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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. She punctually procrastinates about updating her blog at www.1hotmom.blogspot.com
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70 Hits

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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