The Lipstick Gospel + a Giveaway
Today, we're hosting Stephanie May Wilson, author of The Lipstick Gospel (her first book and it is soooo good!). She is equal parts writer and celebrator who believes that even Tuesday is worthy of a champagne toast. Stephanie believes in the healing power of a warm cup of coffee and a place to let your guard down. For her, that space is StephanieMayWilson.com, where she shares stories of big adventures and small moments with friends and strangers alike. Psst: read to the end for a little surprise!
Name: Stephanie May Wilson Age: 26 Location: Nashville, TN Blog: StephanieMayWilson.com
You are the founder of StephanieMayWilson.com and the author of the newly published book, The Lipstick Gospel. How did you first start blogging and why?
To start with, I never intended to be a blogger. In college I studied broadcast journalism and I intended to be a reporter, and a network anchor. That was my plan and I was sticking to it. But, as often happens, when I became a Christian my heart began to change, and I began to want different things as a result.
I decided to take a step back from my dream of being a journalist to work at a college ministry for a year, and then ended up going on the World Race (an 11 month mission trip to 11 different countries).
When I signed up for the World Race, they gave us each a blog and asked us to record our journey as it happened, and that was how I got into blogging.
As I traveled and wrote, I found this incredible passion for sharing my story that I hadn’t known was there. The most amazing part to me was that people seemed to be connecting to my story. People I hadn’t talked to in years were emailing me thanking me for my story, telling me what it meant to them. It was shocking, really.
But that’s how it started! When I came home from the trip, I started my own blog, and it’s developed from there. I learn something new about storytelling every single day, my blog has evolved several times, but the heart has only grown stronger. I believe more than ever today that our stories matter, and that when someone shares what God’s done in their lives, it is an invitation to believe He can do that in our stories too.
In your book you talk about how you came to know Jesus personally (which is one of the most beautiful testimonies I have ever heard), but could you give us the cliff notes version as a teaser for those who haven’t read your book yet?
Growing up, my family rarely went to church. We were a good family, solid morals, great parents, but we just weren’t practicing Christians. We’d go to church on Christmas and Easter, but that was about it. So I grew up in a great home, I just didn’t grow up knowing much about Jesus.
I didn’t even consider becoming a Christian until I was almost done with college, because that was the first time I ever really needed God.
It started, as most major life-changes do, with a breakup. But this wasn’t just any breakup, this was one of those breakups that rocked me to my core, the kind I wasn’t sure I’d ever recover from. And it was then that I prayed my very first prayer.
I prayed, “God, I’m out of ideas, you have to take over from here.”
Shortly after that, someone recommended the book Eat, Pray, Love to me. I tore through it in two days, devouring her words. It felt like this woman knew me, understood me, was sharing the words I’d been thinking but had been crying too hard to formulate into sentences. I decided that, to get through this breakup, I was going to do whatever the author did. I was going to travel, I was going to do some soul-searching, I might even give this whole “God thing” a try.
Not long after, I left to study abroad, and that’s where I met Jesus. My best friends and I were traveling around Rome on our spring break, and ventured into the Sistine Chapel one afternoon. That’s where it happened. I met Jesus in the Sistine Chapel and I haven’t been the same since.
That’s definitely the abridged version, but the full story is in my new book, The Lipstick Gospel! :-)
What is your favorite passage/verse/story from the Bible?
Oh, that’s hard! I have a few. Habakkuk 1:5 is an easy answer for me because it’s the first piece of scripture I ever read (on a mirror in my sorority house, which is where “Lipstick Gospel” comes from!). You can now buy a print of this verse in my new shop!
I also really love Proverbs 3:5-6, and Romans 8:28 has gotten me through lots of seasons of life. I also really love the testing of Abraham. It’s just so good.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6
What does a set-apart young woman look like to you?
To me, something that sets women apart is confidence. So many women (and men) are struggling to define who they are and where they fit in the world. I think that when women take the time to really figure out who they are, who God is, and who they are because of who God is, that’s the thing that really sets them apart.
What advice do you have for young women who are struggling to maintain their faith in college?
The biggest piece of advice I would give is to find some Christian friends. I’m not talking about a Bible study, or an accountability group (although you may find friends there), but a group of girlfriends who believe what you believe.
It’s nice to have people to study the Bible with, but unless you have friends who can really walk with you through life — through the fun parts and the hard parts, and encouraging you from a Christian perspective — it’s going to be really tough to maintain your faith.
The truth about faith is that God never intended for us to do it alone. It’s just too hard to do on our own. So my biggest encouragement would be to find some really awesome Christian friends — people you get along with, who make you laugh, who you have things in common with — and start doing life with them. You’ll be amazed at how friendship strengthens your faith.
What is something God is currently teaching you?
The thing God is teaching me right now is that He always provides for me. I doubt Him, I find myself afraid that He’s not going to come through, but He always, always does. His provision really is incredible, and I’m learning to rely on it instead of what I can make happen for myself.
Congratulations on your recent nuptials! What is one lesson you’ve learned about marriage in these first few months?
Thank you so much! Hmm…let's see. The thing I’ve been most surprised about is how much I love being married. People always say that marriage is really hard, and so that’s what I was bracing myself for. I was bracing myself for it being really hard. But what I’ve learned so far is that life is life — it’s hard and wonderful mixed together, but it’s always better when you’re doing those things with someone you love by your side. The last six months haven’t been easy, there have been bad days and good days, but they’re all so much better because of who I get to go through them with.
If you could tell your 18-year-old self something, what would it be?
That’s a great question! When I was 18 I went through my first bad breakup. My heart was in pieces, and I was pretty certain I’d never feel better. And so I would tell her that it’s going to get better, and that there are far better things ahead than she could ever imagine.
You participated in the World Race, traveling to 11 countries in 11 months. What is one memory or lesson that stands out to you most vividly from that experience?
Oh gosh, that’s a hard one! There are so many! One thing that really stands out though is the fact that God is living and active in our lives. He’s here, He’s present, He’ll talk to us, and listen, and interact with us, all we have to do is ask Him. I think we so often keep God on the pages of our Bible. We keep Him confined to Sundays, and time in church. But really God is so much bigger than that. During my time on the World Race, I learned how to interact with God, and how to live each day as though I believed God was living inside of me, and all around me. Learning that truth was the most exciting, empowering adventure I’ve ever been on, and it’s an adventure that’s continued to this day!
In your book you talk about your first mission trip and the great impact it had on your life and worldview. What advice would you give to someone who is praying and/or preparing about going on a missionary trip?
Go! Absolutely go!
There is so much to love about short term missions, or missions of any kind. You’ll learn so much about people, about who we are and what it means to be human. You’ll discover a deep love in your chest for people you’ve never met before. You’ll experience God in all new ways, and you’ll come back changed. Mission trips have changed me and my life in unbelievable ways. I can’t recommend them enough.
Thank you so much for having me!!
To celebrate the launch of Stephanie's new book, we are giving away THREE PRINTS OF YOUR CHOICE from her shop to one lucky reader!
Giveaway ends Wednesday, Feb. 11, so make sure to tell your friends! Winner will be notified by email!
// all photos courtesy of Stephanie May Wilson