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The Lipstick Gospel

The Stories you Live/The Stories you Write

I'm Stephanie May Wilson!

I'm an author and podcaster and my specialty is helping women navigate big decisions, life transitions — creating lives they love.

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For me, writing and living are one and the same.

There’s the story I live and the story I write – the living coming first and the writing weaving it into something that makes sense, and on the best days, means something.

Some days, the writing is hard, coming out messy and fitful, or even worse, not coming out at all. But I’m coming to realize that when the writing is hard, it’s usually because the living is too.


I’m overwhelmed sometimes by my desire for the life that I want to live.

I so badly want to live a life that’s heavy with tangible moments. The kind of life that goes by slowly, each bite savored, each touch felt, each note heard. I want to live the kind of life that’s full of meaning, full of love – the kind of life that makes me want to laugh and cry simultaneously with the deep beauty of the thing.

I want to live the kind of life that reads like an essay about food – thick with description, each moment captured perfectly – the kind of story you don’t have to be there to experience.

Writing when the living is hard – The Lipstick Gospel

I want to live these stories because these are the kinds of stories I love to hear.

It doesn’t always happen, but every once in awhile I read the kind of story that makes me want to weep. Usually it’s not about anything in particular – it’s not the story of a great, heroic moment, or a gigantic life change. The stories that touch me most deeply are the stories of the little things. About the little moment that someone took the time to notice, helping me pay better attention as well – infusing my life with the rich meaning that comes with living intentionally enough to see.

And some days this all seems possible. Some days I’m so present in a conversation or so aware of the smell of the crisp green pepper crunching under my knife, that I can't help but see the divine nature of every single moment of our lives and I'm so deeply grateful.

The moment is made even better when I can get the words to form just right, capturing what that moment, what that crisp crunch meant to me, and what God did in it.

And then there are moments when this feels impossible.

There are days and weeks and even months that feel like a rushed college lecture, slides whipping on and off the screen too fast to take notes. I race from one moment to the next, my eyes glued to my to-do list, making sure that I don’t forget a single item, but also not taking the time to even notice that I showed up.

I want to write the stories that draw out the meaning in life – highlighting it with all of the pomp and circumstance it deserves, but it’s just not always easy.

Writing when the living is hard – The Lipstick Gospel

When I started my job, my boss told me to read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. He pointed out an essay in particular called Shitty First Drafts.

The premise is simple and the concept, perfection.

Your writing, first time around, really sucks. And that’s ok.

Writing doesn’t need to be good and chances are that right at first, it wont be. But what it needs to be is honest. Our writing needs to tell the truth, the best way we can see it.

Perfection is overrated and unnecessary. The important thing is that we show up, that we sit down at our computer and write – that we stay there especially when it’s uncomfortable.

And I’m learning that this is the same way with life.

Life isn’t perfect- as much as I’ve tried to squeeze and manipulate it to be. It’s not perfect and it’s not shiny and sometimes it comes out in fits and spurts and doesn’t make sense at all.

Writing when the living is Hard – The Lipstick Gospel

This weekend felt beyond repair. It was a chaotic stream of things not going my way and immature reactions as I just couldn’t figure out how to go with the flow.

The only thing that was more impossible and frustrating than the world this weekend was me. With fists screwed up into little balls and childish despair in my wake, everything was blown way out of proportion. But I just didn’t care.

I wanted to quit, wanted to flee the scene until I could get everything perfectly right. I wanted to run home, hide away, stay in bed or avoid sunlight until I was sure the pouty child inside of me had left, but I just knew I couldn’t.

Because somewhere beneath my frustration I could see that there was great value in sticking it out – even if all I was surviving was a plain old weekend.

I stayed and fought because a very wise man in my life is teaching me something great. He’s teaching me that the best things don’t require you to be perfect – they just require you to show up and give it your best shot, again and again, especially when it’s uncomfortable.

Writing when the living is hard – The Lipstick Gospel

So these days I’m practicing my writing and I’m practicing my living. I’m wildly uncomfortable at times and some days it all feels impossible, but I’m showing up, again and again.

Because that’s what I want my life to be about – deep love and the best kinds of moments – the moments you really have to work for. I’m doing the hard work of living and writing imperfectly – showing up and telling the truth the best way I know how. Because beneath frustration and imperfection I believe in the goodness of our moments and our lives, especially the kind that take some fighting for.

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  1. Toni-Lyn says:

    This is beautiful, and I love watching you journey with your writing through the tough processing of letting go of perfection. About a year ago God challenged me to live my life with hands fully opened. Often I even had to literally pry open my clenched fists and physically hold my palms out. I found it an act of rebellion of sorts to keep hands tight around what I wanted, what I found to be true, what I didn’t want to leave, and it all left me tired, lonely, and without. So, the challenge to keep hands open has been my personal version of your journey through this. The beauty of it is that with hands open you not only can let go of things you previously clung to with a desperate control, but you now have empty and free hands to fully receive what God has been waiting to give you.

    Those things God is giving you when you stop to open your hands are small shimmers of abundance. Like you said, noticing the crunch of a pepper, that is abundance, because it’s a recognition of the wholeness and goodness that God infuses into every part of life. It’s beautiful to read along with you. I hope your day is filled to the brim with these shimmers.


    • Stephanie says:

      This is beautiful, Toni-Lyn thank you!! It’s so good to know that I’m not the only one learning these messy lessons, and having to learn them over and over again. Thank you so much for the beautiful encouragement. You can’t imagine how much it means to me! 🙂

  2. Chinny says:

    Stephanie, you’ve done it yet again. Fantastic post on writing! I totally relate to you on this. Perfectionism plagues me when it comes to just showing up with a pen and my journal or that blinking capital I on a Word document. For the last couple years, I couldn’t bring myself to write because…I don’t know. I just feel it needs to be nearly perfect the first time around which is a ridiculous expectation. That is partly contributes to my lack of World Race blogging. My English professor recommended that same Anne Lamot book and I read it too! It really helped me when she said the first time writing is okay to be “shitty” and just let go and be honest in the content. I love her straight-forward frankness. I can worry about the grammar and other nitpickings later. I appreciate your post on this topic. I thought I was one of the few to severely struggle with simply writing. I feel God prompting me to just be honest on the page, and just revise later. It is ok for my writing to suck, and not put so much pressure on myself. And you too! You’re an awesome writer! Of course you must know this. The Lipstick Gospel is just the beginning of your storytelling masterpieces God is bringing outta ya! With all your poppin’ color, brilliant femininity, free-spirited words, God has your life and writing the kind of perfect He smiles upon. I hope that makes sense 🙂 Keep on truckin’ fellow writer!

  3. Chinny says:

    P.S. Have you ever heard of Ommwriter? Yes, no maybe? It’s really cool, and may help make the writing process and experience easier and more fun if some days are proving exceptionally challenging to get words on the page. I have a PC (man, do I want a Mac!) so I haven’t been able to download it yet but I will as soon as they upload the program to their site. Check out

  4. Emily says:

    Oh, girl. I can relate to so much of this. That perfectionist side is hard to shake. And life (and life intertwined with writing) is just plain hard sometimes.

    After impossible days or chaotic weekends full of the mess like you described, in the midst of the just showing up, I find it extremely encouraging and freeing to meditate on John 1:16 – “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

    Believing right along with you that this imperfect life is full of moments worth fighting for!

  5. Christy Z. says:

    i love you lady.
    such a beautiful process.
    so necessary. so genuine. so raw, real, and messy.
    it’s perfect – cause He’s writing it!

  6. […] wise girl, Stephanie over at The Lipstick Gospel gives this […]

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