I was so excited to receive Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch to review. I have read the author's blog "We are THAT family" for years now and am thrilled to share her wonderful book with you today. I read this so fast and really enjoyed all of it and was looking forward to writing my review!
About the book: ARE YOU SETTLING for a shiny, pinned-on, ornamental faith? Get ready for one that’s messy, bold, and courageous.
In high school, Kristen Welch wore a big, sparkly rhinestone “Jesus” pin 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 reflection of who she was.
Real life and motherhood catapulted Kristen into places and situations she’d never imagined. There came a day when she stood in the slums of Africa, poised on the brink of a risk bigger than any she’d ever taken. And she knew she didn’t stand a chance—unless she was ready to put aside the rhinestones and get branded by the real thing.
Rhinestone Jesus is the spiritual adventure story of one woman who went from living a safe, “good-girl” faith that didn’t cost much, to realizing that God was daring her to say yes to a deeper, more authentic way. This book throws the doors wide open for any woman who’s ever thought of herself as “just a mom.” Read it and be inspired. Be empowered. Say yes to God right where you are—and stand amazed at how your life will shine. Tyndale House Publishers
I felt I could relate to Kristen so much in this book and learn more about her and her family than I already knew from reading her blog. She has lived a Christian life, even wearing a JESUS pin to school (I remember those pins and had one myself so seeing that on the cover made me want to know more about this book and read it myself!). But things change for her as she is standing in the middle of an African slum on a trip with Compassion International. Her whole life changes when she comes home and realizes there is more to following God than how she has lived so far.
She shares so honestly and openly about her family, her marriage, and her struggles. I appreciate that she doesn't paint some rosy picture of a perfect little life she lives before or after she said "yes" to God. She is just a normal woman who trusted God with her life and family and said "yes" to being used for Him when she saw a need.
Reading this book was very thought-provoking to me and really made me ponder my own life and what saying "yes" looks like for me. I normally don't reread books but this is one I wouldn't mind rereading. I liked the pictures that are included throughout the book as well, these make it more personal I thought.
I hope you will read it too and be changed by it.
About the Author:
Kristen Welch writes the parenting blog We are THAT Family (you know the ones). She is an (in)Courage writer, a Compassion International blogger, and a regular featured contributor to LifeWay's HomeLife and ParentLife magazines. In 2010, Kristen founded Mercy House, a nonprofit maternity home in Kenya, Africa, which rescues young pregnant girls from extreme poverty. Mercy House is almost entirely funded by readers of her blog. Read Kristen’s blog at www.wearethatfamily.com .
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 Theatre Arts and each year they gave up 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.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me by the Tyndale Reviewers Program for my review. Thank you!
Have a day of blessings!