BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

GUEST BLOGGER - POWER of STORY - KIMBERLY ZWEYGARDT

I'm excited to bring to you today an article written by Kim Zweygardt Mugs N Muffins Book Club Leader. Kim is a women of many talents. Here is her BIO: Kimberly Zweygardt is a Christ follower, wife, mother, writer, and book group leader, blogger, dramatist, worship leader, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, a fused glass artist and a taker of naps. For more information: http://www.kimzweygardt.com/

Tomorrow I'll have a complete interview with Kimberly about her book club experience an how The Book club Network has helped her with starting a book club. Thanks Kimberly for this inspiring article. Can't wait for everyone to read your interview tomorrow. You can catch part of it now on the Christian Fiction On-Line Magazine! http://www.christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/biz.html just click the link and get a sneak peak!

THE POWER OF STORY

As a voracious reader and aspiring writer, the idea of a book group was intriguing, so imagine my excitement when one began in our small town. However, they met on a week day afternoon so I couldn’t attend. What a disappointment… until I saw their reading list. I take seriously the Scriptural admonition to fill my mind with whatever is pure and as a Christian; I wouldn’t have been comfortable with their list.

Awhile later I sat by a woman I didn’t know well at our church potluck. My recent attendance at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference opened up a discussion about books. I didn’t even know she liked to read. Over the next few weeks, that conversation about authors replayed over and over again with other women interested in reading good books.

In a small town, if you want something to happen sometimes you have to do it yourself, so I discussed starting a book group with my Pastor and his wife. The group would have a three-fold purpose; to introduce readers to new books and authors, to provide avenue to discuss life and faith using Christian fiction as the backdrop, and for outreach—a non-intimidating place you could invite a friend to learn about how faith is lived out through the power of story.

It has so exceeded my expectations that I now know what I thought was a good idea instead was a “God idea!”

Four women discussed Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer in July. I ordered ten books for our December selection, The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren. Several women share books so about twelve or fourteen are reading each month. We have crossed denominational lines as well as geographic lines, with three women driving up to 50 miles one way to attend. That is totally God.

In the same way, I see God moving in our group to open hearts and doors.

A woman in the group used to work with me. We both have very strong personalities and because of our different job roles, we often clashed. I’d allowed my feelings from work to color our interaction at church. We were friendly, but we each kept our distance. Not until Mug N Muffin book group began did I even know she loved to read. I wasn’t sure how we would interact in the group.

We were discussing Deborah Vogt’s Seeds of Summer. In the book, there is a difficult relationship between the romantic interest of the main character and his father based on guilt and misunderstanding. During the discussion, this woman began to share her own difficult family relationships and her guilt over some things in her past. I saw her perfectionism and rigidity through a different lens as the rigidity became vulnerability. I could share in her suffering and as a group we cleaned out old festering wounds and applied the Balm of Gilead to bring healing. It was a holy moment….and was the first of many as our group discusses characters and circumstance in fiction that relate to our own character and circumstance. Discussing the difficulties of a character’s life allows us to open up about our own struggles bringing healing and community.

If you are considering starting a book group but wonder if you should, “Just Do It!” There are great resources to help you like The Book Club Network (TBCN) www.bookfun.org . To begin, we held a luncheon and invited a local author to come speak and sign books. In a small town, everything is news so we got some great publicity. Each guest had a list of about twenty books with a little blurb about each book compiled from reading lists I’d requested on the discussion board at TBCN. They circled books they found interesting and from their choices I made a reading schedule. I emphasized that there is no pressure. If they don’t want to read a selection, just don’t! Come the next time! But the more great books we discover, no one wants to miss out, so everyone is reading and our number is growing.

A great “hook” for our group has been interaction with authors. With shrinking promotion budgets, authors are promoting themselves. Many are on Facebook or are members of The Book Club Network. They are thrilled to discuss their books with your group. We’ve been privileged to have two Kansas author’s come to speak (Deb Raney and Kim Sawyer), but we also discussed Perfect with Harry Kraus MD via speaker phone. Next up, Skype, as soon as I figure out how to use it. With technology, authors are only a phone call (or mouse click) away.

Jesus taught through story. Is it any wonder He is using the power of modern story to draw us to Himself? Consider beginning a book group and see where He leads you!


Kimberly Zweygardt

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