Are you Blossoming yet? by Renee Emerson
I love that the Lord calls us to Himself in the middle of our mess, heartache and despair. He sees our self-inflicted misery, and instead of condemning us, He compassionately embraces us. He lovingly corrects us, leads us into obedience, and then totally transforms our lives.
I can't help but be filled with joy and overwhelming gratitude towards Jesus and what He has done, is doing, and will do in my life. There was a time when Christ-centered and life-giving friendships with other women seemed beyond my reach. I felt unlovable, doomed for every friendship to fail, and hopeless in this area.
Then God. Then He did what only He could do. He took my mess, heartache, and bitterness and made ALL THINGS NEW. He showed me my sin, and I repented. He helped me forgive myself and others. He gave me hope where there was none. He took an area of my life that was in utter ruin and rebuilt it His way, with His wisdom and His purpose.
Blossoming through Books isn't just a ministry to me. It represents so much goodness brought about through so much pain. God has anointed a weak area of my life - I can claim no wisdom or glory for myself - only He can claim the credit.
Blossoming through Books is my testimony: my encounter with the living God who took my ruins and rebuilt them on His firm foundations.
So, let's pause and ask ourselves, are we blossoming yet? There are many ways to blossom through faith in Christ; for me, it's been through fellowship, leadership, and books!
Blossoming through Books
(and Developing Healthy Reading Habits)
Busyness is an idol the world worships. Thankfully for us, as Christian women, we can live free from this heavy burden, knowing that our love and acceptance comes not from what we do but what Jesus did for us.
One of the beautiful gifts reading gives us is the ability to focus our minds on one thing. We can put away all other thoughts, slow our fast-paced lives, and just relish the journey of turning page after page. Through books, we can make new book friends, be encouraged by true inspirational stories, and gain more insight into our amazing God and what it means to live as His beloved children in a broken world. The possibilities are almost endless!
Unlike many other tasks we find ourselves completing these days, reading forces us to put our phones, laptops, and distractions away to focus purely on one thing. This is a treasure in a world where multi-tasking is normal, and our brains are flooded with information overload constantly!
As a homeschooling mother to four little girls, a wife and friend, and a women's ministry leader – I understand more than most the "I'd really love to read a book – but I simply don't have the time" dilemma. During the first few years of motherhood, I barely touched a book, yet when God planted the dream of starting a book club in my heart, I knew it was time to change my habits and begin to make time.
In the past five years of running my book club, we've read over 50 books as a group, and I've read many more in my own time.
Reading has become a way of life for me, and here are my top 3 tips for creating healthy reading habits so you can enjoy the gift of reading too;
1. Choose the RIGHT books.
We live in an R-rated world. Our gaze is easily turned towards that which is wicked instead of that which is good, pure, and worthwhile. There has never been a time when access to books has been so easy, yet the quality and content of books have never been so sinful, misleading, and destructive as it is today. We can be fooled into thinking that it is okay to consume sinful entertainment because "everyone else does!" but I would encourage you to pause and ask yourself ", Would I read this book out loud to Jesus?".
When it comes to choosing books, the reality is that despite the infinite poor-quality books available today - there is also so much goodness to fix our eyes on, and a great place to start is books authored by Christian writers. From spiritual growth to historical fiction (and everything in between!), there is bound to be a worthwhile and good book for you to enjoy.
Some of the things I suggest you consider while choosing books are;
Is the book written by a Christian author?
What kind of themes does the book explore?
Does the book have life-giving qualities?
Does the book have any inappropriate/offensive language, sex scenes or violence?
Does the book contain any heresy?
Does the book align with my values, beliefs, and theology?
(If you do not know where to start, head over to our social media pages, and you're bound to find something that catches your eye!)
2. Read MANY types of books – at once!
I used to be that person who could only read one book at a time. The idea of starting a new book when my other book was not yet finished drove me nuts! But over the past few years, I've embraced the healthy habit of consuming different book genres and have found that whatever my mood – I ALWAYS have a book to read.
What types of books?
The book you cannot live without; the Bible
A book to help you on your Christian journey; Spiritual Growth/Christian Living/Theology
A book for Rest; A great fiction book or biography
A book for Play; A classic book or great children/young adult literature
A book to enrich your love of the written Word; Poetry
I'll admit, this tip won't be for everyone! But having a few different options on the go at any one time allows us to process what we're learning and enjoy every page of the books we're reading without becoming overburdened by too much of one genre, bored, or mentally exhausted.
3. Prioritise reading the WORD above all else.
There is no substitute for the presence of God. It's easy to neglect the things of the Lord by allowing the more seemingly pressing tasks of the day to take over. There is a very real spiritual warfare as the enemy tricks us into thinking other things are more important than reading our Bibles. We often believe that rest comes from "zoning out" (watching TV, scrolling social media etc.) instead of plugging into the Lord, who is our source of strength and the only real way to find true rest for our souls.
Most importantly, we need to put aside intentional time to sit with the Word in the presence of our God, who fills up our tanks, nourishes our souls and provides for our every need. I always remind my book club sisters that if you can only read one book for the day – make sure it's the one that counts: The Bible.
Blossoming through Fellowship
(Entering into life-giving, authentic and healthy Christian friendships)
In 2018, I opened my home for the very first time to women I barely knew, and with God's guidance, we continued to learn, gather, grow, read and pray together.
Five years later, we are still sitting on the same couches, meeting regularly, enjoying fellowship, and praising God for His goodness in bringing us together. We've laughed and cried together, healed and forgiven, grieved losses and celebrated new babies and marriages. We've done LIFE together, with Jesus at the centre.
We've read 50 books as a book club, and although women have come and gone during different seasons, we've still got original members.
Friends, we were created for community. Don't get me wrong, Jesus is enough – even for the lonely and broken-hearted. But it was not good for man to be alone, and us women need to stick together too. We blossom through a life-giving healthy community together. A single star in the sky cannot shine as bright as a cluster!
Blossoming through Leadership
Oh, the joy my heart feels when I'm surrounded by my sisters-in-Christ, a good book, coffee and the wonderful presence of Jesus. After a busy day homeschooling three kids while chasing a baby and a toddler, it's an absolute joy to welcome my book club friends across the threshold of my imperfect but cozy and welcoming home.
My book club sisters have often sweetly commented, "what would we do without book club?!" but truthfully, the question to ask is, what would I do without them?!
I thank God daily for the incredible women He has brought into my life, who bless me more than they could ever know. It's not a burden to lead a women's group; it's a privilege and a blessing.
If you've ever considered leading women or felt God's gentle tug on your heartstrings to form a book club and delve into good books and fellowship, don't fear it becoming a burden. If the Lord is calling you, He will equip you. Your sisters will uphold you with utmost affection and prayer as you joyfully and sacrificially lead them.
"As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!" 2 Corinthians 9:13-15
Here are a few things I've learnt over the past five years while leading my Christian Women's Book Club;
• Lovely atmospheres have nothing to do with a pretty home; they happen when the presence of Jesus is welcomed.
• Healthy friendship groups don't just happen; they need to be cultivated and fought for. They need grace and forgiveness and Christ at the centre.
• Book clubs that pray together stay together. Women grow together in authenticity, in a circle where it's okay to be honest, where our troubles are prayed for, our sin is lovingly addressed, and our achievements are celebrated.
• Having a book club vision and etiquette creates healthy expectations and prevents unhelpful worldly habits (gossip, envy & drama) from corrupting what God intends to be good.
• Leading women is a wonderful and unique blessing.
• Book clubs are the best! ❤️
The women God gathered for my book club were strangers from my local church, but soon enough, they became my sisters! They have witnessed this ministry flourish, poured their prayers and friendship graciously into my life, and are the dearest women in my heart. Some women have even started their own book clubs after big moves interstate, creating a beautiful flow-on effect from our first humble little book club gathering.
Never did I imagine all those years ago, while choosing the first book, baking the first batch of scones and quickly arranging some cozy pillows, that it would be the start of something new and beautiful; that God would turn our little book club into a women's ministry equipping other women to experience the same blessings we've enjoyed these past five years.
Together we've Blossomed through Books!
Are you interested in learning more about Blossoming through Books?
Head to blossomingthroughbooks.online to check out all of our FREE book club resources, and sign up to our mailing list to get the latest bookish news, reviews, resources, author meet and greet and ONLINE book club updates!
If you're interested in starting your own BTB book club, contact us at
email@example.com for a welcome pack, practical advice, and book lists to get started. We can help you discover the heart of a successful book club, and you'll be amazed as the books you read change your life and the lives of those around you.
Renee founder of Blossoming through Books
(Photo by @thewillowsphotography )
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