Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

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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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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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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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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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!
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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?  


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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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Start With Prayer

So you want to start something, but don't know how, or where to begin, right?  Well... let's start right here!

Praying for Yourself


  • Pray that God will give you His vision, His plan for your neighbors, and that you will see people and their needs as He sees them.

  • Pray that God will grow your heart for those who don’t know Christ and give you a desire to reach them through an NBS.

  • Pray that you will be intentional about your own spiritual growth, allowing God to work in and through you.

  • Pray for God’s guidance, equipping, and empowerment to move forward in what He is calling you to do.

As important as prayer is to the foundation and beginning of your NBS, your personal spiritual growth is just as important to sustaining your NBS.

In his acclaimed book on communication, Dallas Seminary Professor Dr. Howard Hendricks says it best: “The effective teacher always teaches from the overflow of a full life. If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow.” Mother Theresa reflects the same message: “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil into it.”

Our spiritual growth as leaders and facilitators of our NBS allows God to use us to model and encourage our members to pursue a relationship with Christ more intentionally. To be effective in encouraging our women to grow, we must be challenging ourselves by practicing spiritual disciplines beyond studying our NBS material – spiritual disciplines such as daily Bible and devotional reading and spending time with God in prayer and listening.

“You see, effective teaching comes only through a changed person,” says Hendricks. “The more you change, the more you become an instrument of change in the lives of others.”


To read more about getting started, click HERE....

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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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I Don't Have Granite Countertops...

I don't have granite countertops, I can't lead a neighborhood Bible study...

There!  I said it!  Doesn't that sound crazy?  Oh! my list of excuses was many...

  • I don't know the Bible like I should.

  • I haven't been to seminary.

  • I am nervous.

  • I don't have the gift of teaching.

  • My house isnt perfectly decorated.  The list goes on, and on....

Yet in the not so ignorable part of my heart lingered these words, "Who will go for Me?"

I live in the "South."  Most of the women around me have lovely decorated homes.  My neighbor's home has been featured in Southern Living Magazine!  To invite women into my home felt intimidating.  My thoughts about granite countertops were very real.  But deeper still, were my thoughts about my sweet neighbors and friends living right here next to me. "Who will go for me?"  And I said, "here I am Lord, send me."

Send me with all my insecurities.  Send me with all my flaws.  Send me with my shortcomings.  Send me with my shallow worries about my kitchen.  I can't give them living water.  You can.  I can't give them forgiveness.  You can.  I can't bring life change.  You can. And you can use me.  And if the Lord can use me He can use you!

What are your barriers?  Spoken or unspoken?  Real or shallow?


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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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