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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rhinestone Jesus

Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch

About The Book:
In high school, Kristen Welch wore a big, sparkly rhinestone “Jesus” pin to school every day and carried her Bible wherever she went. (Yes, she was that girl.) But she didn’t realize her faith, though sincere, was shallow; much like her artificial accessory, it would one day tarnish, no longer a true fit for who she was. As real life catapulted Kristen into places and situations she’d never imagined, there came a day when she stood shocked in the slums of Africa and realized in one desperate moment that Jesus wasn’t enough for her. At least . . . she wasn’t living like He was. On the brink of a risk bigger than any she’d ever taken, Kristen knew she didn’t stand a chance - unless she was willing to put aside the rhinestones and get branded by the real thing. Rhinestone Jesus is the story of one woman’s journey from comfortably living a safe, “good-girl” faith that didn’t cost much, to realizing that God was daring her to say yes to a bolder, more authentic, more dangerous way. This story of spiritual adventure throws the doors wide open for any woman who’s ever thought of herself as “just a mom.” Kristen will inspire and empower you to say yes to God right where you are - and stand amazed at how your life will shine.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book. It was a memoir, a story, a guide, all in one! I could not put this book down. And having not heard of the author's blog, after I read the book, I spent hours perusing her blog! I can't wait to read more from this author, and become a faithful follower!

About The Author:
Kristen Welch grew up in a suburb of Houston, Texas. In the 1990s she attended a small Bible college, where she met her husband and graduated with degrees in Christian education and English. For the first ten years of marriage, she worked alongside her pastor-husband in youth and children's ministry in Arkansas, New Mexico, and Florida, often writing her own curriculum and resources. During this decade, she endured the ups and downs of life. Over the years, Kristen has grown a vast following of moms who identify with her real, often funny, and always inspiring writing. In 2010, Kristen traveled with Compassion International to Kenya on a blogging trip to write about poverty in a huge slum. That experience turned her world upside down, and as a result, she and her family founded a non-profit called Mercy House Kenya. The organization funds a residential maternity center, operated by indigenous staff, that offers hope and a home to pregnant teens living in extreme poverty. In 2011, Kristen wrote her first book, a devotional for moms called Don't Make Me Come Up There! She is also one of Dayspring's (in)Courage writers, a frequent speaker, and a regular contributor to Lifeway's HomeLife and ParentLife magazines. Kristen's blog following continues to grow, and many of the readers financially support the work of Mercy House. When she and her family aren't traveling to Kenya, Kristen and her husband and their three children live in Texas, where they enjoy going to football games and flea markets and trying new restaurants. 

AUTHOR Q&A:
 1. What is your hope for your book, Rhinestone Jesus? My hope is that every person who picks it up will be inspired to say yes to God right where they are.
2. That’s an interesting title. Can you provide for us some context and meaning? Rhinestone Jesus is a very personal title. As a teenager, I wore a rhinestone pin on my clothes that spelled J-e-s-u-s. I was introverted, so this was a way for me to “wear” my faith without having to say much about it. I was involved in Theater Arts and each year they gave us made-up awards. I won The Rhinestone Jesus award from my peers.
3. What message do you hope will resonate with your readers? That God can do anything through anyone. He asks us to do the impossible - not because we are capable, but because we need Him to accomplish it. Saying yes to God requires ultimate dependence in our inadequacy. And He does it so that He will be glorified.
4. What do you feel “just a mom” can do with bold faith and a God-inspired dream? I think the beauty of my yes to God to start a maternity home in Kenya is that I am just a mom. It’s obvious to everyone who has witnessed this story, that I’m not the real author - God is. It’s proof that He can use anyone to do anything. When I initially said yes in the small daily stuff, I didn’t know it would lead to Mercy House. But I was called to obedience and that’s really what Rhinestone Jesus is about: saying yes to God right where you are and not waiting to have all the answers or a perfect life before you obey.
5. How did you feel God’s leading to step out in faith? It was saying yes to a lot of small things that led my family to a greater yes. We were terrified and still are most days, but God is faithful and teaches us through the challenges and victories. Our yes to God isn’t really about success or failure. It’s about being obedient.
6. What prompted you to follow through with this particular dream or calling - founding Mercy House, the non-profit maternity home in Kenya, Africa to rescue young pregnant women from extreme poverty? Starting Mercy House was a response to what I saw in Kenya. I saw a need and couldn’t find anyone meeting it. I prayed that God would send someone. And He sent me (dangerous prayer, by the way!) I have always felt that God wanted me to encourage and connect mothers through writing. Mercy House in many ways has become an extension of that dream that started as seed many years ago.
7. How has this dream taken shape? Can you provide an update? Mercy House runs two residential homes with pregnant and teen moms in Kenya. We have babies of all ages. It’s a lot like a (loud) home, where the girls live and learn, heal and grow. They stay with us until they are able to return home or until they can live on their own. We also reach out to single mothers in the slums surrounding the homes, with plans to expand this outreach in years to come.
8. How did you lead and mobilize a community to care deeply, and help build this dream? When I returned from that first trip from Kenya, I was wrecked. I processed the emotions on my blog for months. Looking back, I can see that I was in labor, working hard to birth something. I believe other moms were too, and when I asked for help, they said yes with me.
9. Why is it important to you to affirm moms who wonder whether their work really matters? Because many wonder if it does. I think it’s part of our make-up - we long to make a difference and we wonder if what we do does, in fact, matter. I am compelled to tell mothers yes. It matters so much more than you think. It doesn’t matter how small or big, saying yes to marriage, motherhood, and ministry - you name it, it matters.
10. What have you learned about listening to, and obeying God’s call? Sometimes people call me brave. If they only knew…Not only am I not courageous, I live with the same fear and inadequacies as other God-sized dreamers. Without a doubt, I think the Church (with a capital C) lacks obedience. I did for so much of my Christian life. I think if we have faith to believe in Jesus, we also have to believe that when we do what He tells us, He won’t leave us alone. It’s been the hardest journey of my life, stretched me further than I thought possible, but I’ve never been alone, not for a second.
11. How have you, and those closest to you, been impacted by trusting God and saying yes to a deeper, richer, more authentic faith? Simply put, it has changed every area of my life, in so many ways. I can honestly say I’m not the same person. When we step out and obey, God changes the world - our world. He changes us. My family said yes with me and God has used that to alter the legacy we will leave in the future.
 

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