Q & A are The Belonging Project

The pursuit of what the world perceives as the “perfect life” leaves us feeling depleted, disappointed, dissatisfied, and disconnected. If we would be open and honest with those around us, we would discover we are not the only ones tired of being lonely and left out at work, home, church, and online. God created each and every one of us with a hunger for true community, deeper connection with him, and friendships that are greater than “likes” on social media.

As she was touring the nation, speaker and comedian Amberly Neese found this sense of loneliness and disconnect to be present for women across the board—single or married, rich or poor, with or without children. That is the reason she set out to write The Belonging Project: Finding Your Tribe and Learning to ThriveIn this four-week study, Neese provides biblical and practical help for cultivating meaningful relationships that glorify God through an examination of the many “one another” scriptures throughout the New Testament. She groups more than fifty of them into themes in order to lead readers on an exploration of how to love, serve, build up, strengthen and forgive one another.

Part 1 of an Interview with Amberly Neese,
Author of of The Belonging Project
Q: Tell us a little bit about the central theme of your new Bible study, The Belonging Project.

The Belonging Project is the exploration of the New Testament as it pertains to biblical community. God has designed us to live in mutually beneficial relationships and has given us the blueprints to do so in His Word. This four-week study is designed to encourage, empower, and equip participants to thrive in the community to which God has called us.

I started writing The Belonging Project because as I toured the nation speaking and doing comedy, I just kept hearing women say that they were lonely. Single or married, rich or poor, with a zip code of kids or not, women are feeling disconnected and depleted. Technology has provided us a million opportunities to “see” into the lives of others, but it seems we are actually IN one another’s lives so much less.

To address some of those issues, I explored the more than fifty uses of the term “one another” in the New Testament. Phrases such as “love one another,” “pray for one another,” and “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” are incredible puzzle pieces in the full picture of what biblical community is designed to look like.

Q: Why is community often difficult for women to find and maintain?

Women are busy—overextended with activities, responsibilities, and obligations. Community takes intentional prioritization and a desire to grow alongside others. But it is no easy trick—schedules are full, the pull of busyness can be a real struggle, and community takes time and availability.

Availability also means we must bring our authentic selves to relationships, and that is not easy. Many of us have created a facade of “I’m okay,” but such inauthenticity undermines finding a tribe and learning to thrive. If we are not okay, we should have a safe space to share that, but we also should be creating that safe space for others.

I also think we can get caught up in “Pinterest-envy” or the desire to keep up with the Pinterest boards. It may not be that we strive for every aspect of our lives to be picture perfect, but mostly, we are trying to keep up with our perception of the lives of others. That envy can block us from seeing who people truly are and take our eyes off Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Only when we focus on Him and ask Him to use us to bless and serve others will we drop the envy and start living and thriving in authentic relationships.

Q: What are the four categories of “one another” sayings from the New Testament you examine in The Belonging Project?

The phrase “one another” is derived from the Greek word allelon, which means “one another . . . each other; mutual,” or “reciprocally.” Appearing more than one hundred times in the New Testament, this concept forms the basis of all true Christian community and has direct impact on our witness to the world. As we read in John 13:35 (NIV), “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

In the Belonging Project, we examine some of these “one anothers,” grouping them into four themes:

  1. Find One Another
  2. Fellowship with One Another
  3. Forgive One Another
  4. Fortify One Another
In each week of the study, we focus on one particular theme and explore relevant “one another” scriptures and related passages to help give us clarity on how we might live a life in a community that is both fulfilling and fun. Together, we will dive into how to handle life when we feel dejected, disconnected, and dissatisfied so that we can find our tribe and learn to thrive.

Q: Typically, in the church when we hear the word “fellowship,” we think the word “meal” should follow. What is true fellowship within our community?

True fellowship is when believers are willing to celebrate together, mourn together, support one another, love one another enough to speak the truth in love, and hold one another accountable. Such living is not easy, but it is rewarding and fosters spiritual growth in all involved.

In Romans 12:13, we are told to “share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” I am glad that Paul used the word practice when it comes to hospitality, because I am still practicing. There are people in my life who find great joy and fulfillment in opening their homes, hands, and tables to people, no matter the hour. Although I love when people come to visit and break bread with us, I need advance notice—and that is not hospitality in its purest form; it is the desire to impress others.

I used to believe that hospitality was limited to opening one’s home to others, but I have come to realize that, indeed, this is only a fraction of hospitality. Hospitality can be defined as serving others with love and without complaint, taking on the expense and tasks with joy.

Q: What is something about forgiveness and grace that we often misunderstand or get wrong? How does humility fit in?

Forgiveness has the word “give” in it. It is a gift to both the one forgiven and the one forgiving. We are called to forgive one another, knowing that we will eventually hurt one another as imperfect people. It is to make right. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same— it takes one to forgive and two to reconcile. Forgiveness does not require reconciliation; sometimes it is not possible or practical, but forgiveness is always the right thing to do.

Grace is the next step, not just make right, but make better! Grace can be defined as “undeserved favor.” If we continually recognize the grace given to us in Christ Jesus, humility certainly follows, and relationships with others more easily exist. Grace is what Jesus modeled for us and what God extends to us. God does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10). Instead, we are given grace. We sometimes focus on what we deserve because we work hard, go to Bible study, or because we declined a cookie. We rarely focus on the fact we deserved condemnation and instead we were given love. We deserved death, and we were given life.

Q: What are some ways readers can creatively come together to do the study as a group, even if they aren’t able to meet in person?

First of all, Zoom and other technologies like it are a great way to connect. Schedule a time each week to discuss the study at length, covering the questions at the end of each lesson and share them with others in the study. In addition, one could easily watch the videos, complete the study, then discuss the answers over the phone with others in their lives. The hard part is finding a tribe with which to do the study.

Ask God to show you how you can add to your community of friends, even at this time of quarantine. Pray that God would prompt you to think of others who might be hungry for connection and would benefit from such a study. Call at least one person in your church and or neighborhood and ask how you can pray for him/her. Pray with him/her on the phone and ask if they would like to be part of The Belonging Project with you. Make a list of people who might be good additions to your community of friends and to the study. Include people from your church, workplace, and neighborhood or area. Pray for each of them—not only that they might become your friend but also that God would bless their study of his Word.

The Belonging Project – Online Bible Study Facebook Group

For more details and to reserve your spot in one of the small group discussions,
go to https://www.amberlyneese.com/bible-study.

About the author
Amberly Neese is a speaker, humorist, and encourager with a passion for “GRINspiring” others. As a featured speaker for the Aspire Women’s Events and the main host/ comedienne for Marriage Date Night, two popular Christian events that tour nationally, she enjoys touching the hearts and minds and funny bones of people all over the country. The Bible says that laughter is good medicine, and she has found it’s also like glue—helping the truths of God’s Word to “stick.” Neese loves to remind women of the power and hope found in Scripture. Through a flair for storytelling and a love for Jesus, she candidly opens up her story alongside God’s Word to encourage others in their walk with Him. She is also the author of the women’s Bible study, The Belonging Project.

With a master’s degree from Biola University, Neese serves as an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University. She and her husband, Scott, have two teenagers and live in Prescott, Arizona, where they enjoy the great outdoors, the Food Network, and all things Star Wars.

For more information, visit her website www.amberlyneese.com. She is also active on Facebook (@Amberly Neese – Comedian/Speaker), Twitter (@amberlyneese), and Instagram (@amberlyneese).

Review of Holly Lane Christian Jewelry

Holly Lane Logo

Recently I had the opportunity to review a necklace from Holly Lane, a Christian jewelry company that specializes in jewelry designed to share Jesus Christ with others.

Company Description:

Our line of sterling silver Christian jewelry is intentionally designed to create opportunities to share Christ with others and to be worn as a personal reflection of faith. Each piece is designed in central Virginia by jewelry artist Tiffany Scott who has based her designs on verses from the Bible in order to bring comfort to the wearer and be a representation of God’s promises. These unique designs are meant to catch the attention of others and spark conversation about the verses they are based on.

Product Line Description:

Each piece of verse-based Holly Lane jewelry comes with a Story Card that features the verse reference on the front, and an explanation of the design’s significance on the back. Tiffany’s love for semiprecious gemstones shows through in her use of many different gems throughout the line. The Holly Lane line is designed so that the customer can put together their own personal combination of pendants, chains and bead drops based on the promises they are holding on to and how God is currently speaking to them in their lives.

Here is a video about how the jewelry is made.


A Special Note:

Each Holly Lane shipment is packaged with great care to provide an unboxing experience that will convey to the customer just how special they are. Truly as I opened the box, I could tell the care with which my selection was packed.


From the moment I placed my order for this review, I could tell this experience was going to be memorable.  From the email I received upon placing my order:

Holly Lane ORDER #23894

Hi Patti, thank you for your order!

We are lovingly crafting your jewelry and getting it ready to send! You will receive a shipping notice via email with tracking info once your order is on the way. First Class Mail will ship in 1-3 business days. Priority Mail will ship same or next business day.

We hope your Holly Lane jewelry will be a constant reminder of His Word and give you many opportunities to share it with others!

View your order status
or Visit our store


To the email I received to let me know my package was delivered demonstrates how much Holly Lane cares about the customer.  In this day where many companies seem to be forgetting about their customers, Holly Lane goes to the other end of the spectrum.

When I opened up the box and found the necklace was wrapped in tissue paper with a ribbon and a gold seal, I felt like I was a very special customer.  Upon opening the tissue paper, I found a box inside.




The necklace came with a beautiful card containing the Scripture passage for Proverbs 31:10, 28-29 – which was the necklace I selected.


The ruby and other charms on this pendant make it a beautiful and meaningful piece to wear.  Here is the description of the necklace from the Holly Lane website, “A crowned heart because you are a daughter of the King, a blessed charm to represent the great joy of family, and a precious ruby drop to remind you of your great worth. Inspired by Proverbs 31, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness…Her children stand and bless her…”

The necklace is 18 inches long, however, the company does offer extenders if you want a longer chain.  I think at some point in the future I will probably purchase the extender since I like my necklaces to be a little bit longer.


I truly love this necklace and am sure I will be purchasing more pieces from this company in the future.

You can use the code “20FORYOU”  to receive 20% off their purchase at hollylane.com

Click here or on the graphic below to enter the giveaway for a chance to receive a $100 ecard certificate to Holly Lane.


This jewelry provides the opportunity to share your faith as well as express your faith in a beautiful piece of jewelry you will come to treasure.  So check out Holly Lane for yourself.


FMF – Challenge


Today I am participating again in the Five Minute Friday posting.  Today’s word is Challenge.  What looks like a challenge to one person can be easy to another.  But that is what makes this world special.  We are all different.  Challenges can come in all forms – such as financial, athletic, educational, jobs, and more.  How you decide to approach a challenge can make all the difference in the world.

Some challenges might be avoided, while other things that challenge us are not avoidable – such as weather events.  But what matters is facing any challenge with grace, faith, and prayer.

Our family is currently dealing with the challenge of preparing for a cross-country move that will come at a yet-to-be-determined time.  However, we know it is definitely coming.  So our challenge is making sure our home is ready for the move when we get the final word.  This challenge is not good or bad unto itself.  Some of my teens and 20-somethings that all still live at home are viewing it as something exciting and to be enjoyed.  They also know where we move next will be for less than 3 years, so they can accept that.

So what type of challenge are you facing today?  I would love to hear from you.

If you would like to join up or read other posts from this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt, click here.

Review and Giveaway for BIBLEFORCE The First Heroe’s Devotional



About the Devotional:

The BibleForce Devotional includes 100 devotions concentrating on the heroes of the Bible using the concept of comic-style action art, facts about the hero, Scripture references, and action items aimed at helping kids connect God’s Word to their own lives.   While reading the devotional, kids will be able to find ways they can serve as heroes for God as well.


Designed to interest girls andboys alike, it is a great way of capturing the attention of young reads who want a devotional full of action, adventure, and color.  It is perfect for reading aloud or for young readers to read alone.


Cliick here to pick up your life-saving copy of fun.


And click here or on the graphic below to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of this devotional.



I found this devotional to be colorful and engaging.I loved having a built-in ribbon bookmark for keeping your place. I felt the text, comic picture and “Be a Hero” all worked hand in hand to convey the Biblcial message in each lesson.

I felt the lessons were of an appropriate way and written to keep the attention of the child reading the devotional.  Another aspect of this devotional I really like, is how only the reference for the Scripture to be read is given.  This feature allows children and families to decide what is the right version of the Bible to use for their particular circumstances.

All in all, I feel book is an excellent devotinal for children in grades 1 – 5.  So check it out for yourself.

I received a copy of this devotional for my fair and honest review.




Review of Covenant Kids Book 1 – The Law


As the mother of three sons and a daughter, comic books, manga books, and other graphic novels find their way into our home.  So when I saw the opportunity come up to review Covenant Kids Book 1 – The Law, I was excited about the opportunity.

My children are currently 23, almost 21, almost 19, and almost 17, but when they were younger, I would have loved for them to read this Biblically-based comic book by Andrew Youngblood.


Andrew Youngblood has been teaching Scripture to students of all ages for over twenty years.  But his own children inspired him to write a graphic novel.  While his own talents as an artist might not be there, his wonderful team at Sky Blue Ink were able to turn his Biblical adventure into an incredible work of art.


Combining the present with Biblical accounts of the very beginning, Mr. Youngblood has been able to capture Biblical truth and facts with present-day information.  I loved the drawings as well as the story.

I found the blurbs in each frame to be easy to read and understandable.  Designed for children ages 7 to 13, I feel this is a worthwhile graphic novel for this age range.  Based on the idea of living in a place where it has recently become illegal to study or even talk about the Bible outside of church on Sunday, Naomi decides to form a study group with three other teenagers so they can learn more about the Bible.  With the climate in our country today, I feel this is a relevant and worthwhile subject for children to read and learn about now.  The graphic novel format may reach children who otherwise may not be interested in hearing about the Bible.

CK Images

As they learn about the Bible they recognize God has a plan to bring everyone into a loving and close relationship with him through his Covenant.  But these teens, as well as children today, need to recognize that not everyone wants to hear about God’s love.

This graphic novel is the first in a series of twelve to bring the truth of God’s Word and love to children.  So if you have children in your life who need to hear about the Word of God and strengthen their faith, check out this graphic novel for yourself.

Click here to buy your own copy of Covenant Kids Book 1 The Law

Check out the giveaway for this book by clicking the link below.


I received a copy of this book for my fair and honest review.


Review of Courage for Life/Strong and Courageous



Courage for Life is a Bible App that brings the Word of God to life with female voices.  With busy lives and being on the move frequently, having a Bible app I can listen to is beneficial.  With so many Bible apps out there, it can be hard to pick just one.appText

This particular app is the first female-voiced audio Bible app.  While I did enjoy it, I do not think it will be my preferred audio Bible app.  At this moment, only the New Testament is available, which was rather disappointing.  At the end of each chapter is an application section that you can either listen to or read.  I appreciated this feature.

In addition to the Bible reading, there are interviews with women who helped make this audio Bible come to life.  Devotions are also available, but you have to leave the app and go to the website.  I would prefer to be able to stay in the app to read the devotions.  To me, accessing the website requires the Internet, which I would prefer not to do when reading a devotional.



While there are things about the app I liked, for the most part, I feel I have other apps I already use that offer more features and benefits.  While I will keep this app around, I do not think it is currently my favorite Bible app.

In addition to the app, I also received a copy of the book She is Strong and Courageous.  This book is designed to take women on a 90-day transformational journey.  Each day contains a passage of Scripture, a prayer, an observation, an interpretation, applying what you read, along with a closing prayer.



I found the devotionals to have meaning and being reasonable in length.  Of course, you could use the devotional as a springboard for deeper study.  The devotional is written by the creator of the Courage for Life app, which I found interesting.

So if you are looking for an audio devotional or a physical devotional, check out these two for yourself.

If you would like to enter the giveaway, click here or on the graphic below.


Review of Formerly a Wife: A Survival Guide for Women Facing the Pain and Disruption of Divorce

Formerly a Wife

Built on the foundation of her own experiences from her own divorce, Formerly a Wife: A Survival Guide for Women Facing the Pain and Disruption of Divorce provides excellent insight from a Christian viewpoint about divorce.

Let’s face it, no one (well typically anyhow) no one goes into a marriage expecting to divorce.  However, divorce does occur and occurs all too frequently.  I watched my parents as they divorced when I was 23.  I have watched numerous extended family members and friends go through divorces as well.  Divorce leaves devastation and chaos in its wake.  However, I have also seen some divorced couples manage to come out on the other side of divorce and be better separate than they were together.

Welby O’Brien does a remarkable job meeting people where they are.  She provides excellent words of wisdom and Scriptural basis to help individuals heal.  This book has been featured on the 700 Club and is recommended by groups such as the American Association of Christian Counselors.

While my husband and I are still married, I believe this book would be an excellent resource for those in danger of divorcing or already divorcing.

So check it out for yourself.

I received a copy of this book for my fair and honest review.


Review of Goodbye for Now

Goodbye for now

Goodbye for Now: Practical Help and Hope for Those Who Grieve provides excellent insight in dealing with the death of a loved one.  So far in my lifetime, I have had to say goodbye to all of my grandparents, three of my husband’s grandparents (one died before we became a couple) and countless other friends and family members.  Grief is hard.  No matter what a person does, he or she can not prepare adequately.

Goodbye for Now includes practical information for dealing with grief and the steps to take after a loved one dies. It is definitely a useful book to have and read.  Whether you have just lost a loved one, are about to lose a loved one, or just want information for when you do lose a loved one, this book has something to offer you.

Welby O’Brien has a masters degree in counseling as well as a teaching degree.  She is an author of several books and is a contributing author to both Chicken Soup for the Soul and  Shepherding Women in Pain.

So check out this book for yourself.

I received a copy of this book for my fair and honest review.


Review for Love Our Vets


As the wife of a Vet (formerly in the Air Force) who then went active duty in the Army Reserves after our first child was born, I have great respect and concern for our vets.  Our home of record is the location of one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the country.  So we have a lot of friends who are vets.  So when I had the opportunity to read this book, I was glad to read it.

This book is dedicated to addressing the needs and concerns of loved ones who are vets dealing with PTSD.  It includes more than 60 heartfelt questions for taking care of yourself.  Shared from the viewpoint a counselor along with her personal experience, this book touches on a lot of wisdom and quite a range of issues.

I found the book to be well-written, informative and worth reading. I appreciated how she was willing to share her own experiences with her readers.  I also appreciated how she included reflection questions at the end of each chapter.

Welby O’Brien, the author, has a master’s degree in counseling as well as a teacher’s degree.  She is an author of several books, plus a contributor author to Chicken Soup for the Soul as well as Shepherding Women in Pain.

So if you have a family member who is. a vet or know of someone who is a vet, check out this book for yourself.

I received a copy of this book for my fair and honest review.


Review and Giveaway for Healing the Healers


When mass trauma hits, faith leaders are called upon to guide communities through the aftermath, but who reaches out to heal these healers and their families? This new media resource is designed to support clergy, laity, social workers, first responders, and other spiritual care providers facing community-level trauma.  The five-part film series also offers a discussion guide which includes written reflections from scholars, clergy, and other experts.

In this series, Reverend Matthew Crebbin of Newton Congregational Church holds powerful conversations with faith leaders who have experienced mass trauma, such as Newton or during 9/11, and even those ministering to a community facing chronic violence such as Hartford, CT or St. Louis, MO.

This series does a remarkable job of touching on both traumatic events as well as addressing what the faith leaders and other responders have to deal with during times of traumatic events as well as the results for communities many years in the future.


The first episode is titled – Newtown Faith Leaders Unite in Tragedy.  This episode includes self-awareness and self-care, phases of human-caused disaster as well as the impact on the families of faith leaders.  It addresses the ideas of re-traumatization, moving forward and looking ahead.

The Very Rev. Kathleen E. Adams-Shepherd

The second episode is entitled “Looking Ahead and Moving Forward”.  This episode features Reverend Kathleen Adams-Shepherd, who was formerly from Newton and currently lives in St. Louis.  This episode includes the themes of mass tragedy and the Liturgical calendar, self-awareness, self-care, denominational as well as congregational support and more.


The third episode, “Pastoring in a Community That Faces Continual Trauma” addresses the topic of chronic gun violence.   Rev. Crebbin speaks with Rev. Henry Brown of Mothers Against Violence of Hartford, CT, and Pastor Samuel Saylor, Sr., Senior Pastor of Gardner Memorial AME Zion Church.  Both have personal connections to trauma that they discuss with Rev. Crebbin and discuss how they cope with the chronic stress, both mental and physical, that can result from ministering to a community re-traumatized continually by gun violence.

Father Basil O’Sullivan
The fourth episode, “Heartbreak and Hope 20 Years After Tragedy” includes a conversation with Monsignor Basil O’Sullivan, who is the parish priest of Church of the Holy Family, Dunblane, Scotland.  It addresses the fact that time does not necessarily heal all wounds, confronting depression, questioning God, re-traumatization, and rejoicing in the preciousness of life.  Out of all the episodes, this is among my favorites.  The Monsignor speaks eloquently and with feeling about what his community has gone through since their own experience 20 years ago.
Cantor Michael Shochet

The fifth episode, “Faith Leaders as First and Second Responders examines Cantor Michael Shochet’s journey from poiice officer to Cantor.  He discusses his personal experiences of being at the Pentagon following 9/11 and the trauma of seeing his partner being shot in front of him.  He discusses the similarities between faith leaders and the police in being first responders.

If you have experienced any type of personal trauma, you may want to think twice about watching this series.  Or you may wish to contact a professional prior to watching it.

I loved the variety of people interviewed, especially their backgrounds (Christian and Jewish), a former police officer), and their willingness to share their own experiences.

As a mother of four, I can not begin to fathom what these individuals have been through and continue to live with each day.  Yet this film does a remarkable job of addressing the issues facing communities and those called on to provide healing.  This series contains powerful words and imagery.  It provides an excellent look into what faith leaders may experience personally in their congregations and communities following acts of violence, whether those acts occur on a regular basis or unexpectedly such as the shooting at the school in Newton, CT.

You can see a trailer of the film below.

You can find the film series here.  If you know of someone who could benefit from this resource, please share the link with them.


Click here or on the graphic below to enter the giveaway.


I received free access to these episodes for my fair and honest review.