In which I announce the International Women’s Day synchroblog

International Women’s Day is this Friday 8 March 2013. It is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

So to celebrate the occasion and raise awareness, I’m hosting a synchroblog right here on the topic of Spiritual Midwives and Patron Saints. I’d like to add to the official celebration of International Women’s Day the voices of the Jesus Feminists – men and women who are feminists precisely because we follow Jesus – and make some room to celebrate the spiritual achievements of women, past, present, and future who have mattered to us.

Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives :: Sarah Bessey


What do I mean by Patron Saint? or Spiritual Midwife?

I use the terms Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives to explain how I feel about the women intrinsically linked to my spiritual journey.

It’s an imperfect metaphor, but in a way, Spiritual Midwives helped God give birth to some new part of me. These women were the midwives – by their lives, their faith, their obedience, their words, their prayers, their real-life example  – for the work that God birthed in me, and through me (they are the women I know personally). I use the phrase Patron Saint to explain how I feel about the women, both past and present, who have shepherded me through their work and legacy, and whom I seek to emulate in some way (these are the women I don’t know personally).

Women profoundly shape our spirituality. So let’s talk about them.

My Own Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives

In my personal life, I have my mother, of course (if you’ve read here any amount of time, you are already well acquainted with her), and my sister, my Auntie Donna, my grandmothers, even my great-grandmothers, my mother-in-law. I have had women in my faith communities like Janet, Ruthanne, Karen, Eloise, Lisa, Tracy, Steph, Bonnie, Natalie, so many. I have plenty of “little sisters” in the faith, there, too, young women that I “mentored” throughout the years that have wound up teaching me more than I taught them like Abbie, Natalie, Bianca, Kelsey, and so many others dear souls.

There are biblical mothers like Junia and Phoebe, Huldah and Tabitha, Lydia, Mary Mother of God, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Abigail, Esther, Vashti, and Priscilla. There are the women of church history like Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, Amy Semple McPherson, Corrie Ten Boom, St. Therese de Lisieux, the Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth, and Gladys Aylward, on and on. Then there’s the writers and thinkers that mother me: Luci Shaw, Madeline L’Engle, Kathleen Norris, Anne Lamott, Lauren Winner, Jennie AllenAnn Voskamp, Jen HatmakerRachel Held Evans, Amber Haines, Emily Wierenga, Nish Weiseth, Megan Tietz, Phyllis Tickle, Mary Oliver, L.M. Montgomery, and so many more. There is my secret behind-the-scenes sister tribe, the SheLoves Magazine and Deeper Story families, and my real-life friends, a beautiful collection of souls, as well as my very own girls. And then there are the thousands of unnamed, unnoticed, uncelebrated women in our lineage of faith and our own stories, the ones famous only in Heaven, and I want to honour them, too.

All of them are with me, here, as I write and work and mother and love and live into the mission of God in my right-now life. These women are with you, too, I know. Writers, preachers, pastors, mamas, missionaries, teachers, labourers , aunties, biblical characters, neighbours, engineers -whatever.

Tell us about the women who have mattered to your spiritual formation. Who are your own Spiritual Midwives? And who are your Patron Saints?

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Write your own post on your own blog, telling us about your own Patron Saint and Spiritual Midwife. Write it quick, don’t overthink it, just spill it all out.  Include pictures, tell a story, tell us about a moment, a conversation, a turning point.  If you’ve already written one along these lines, feel free to link that up, too.
  2. Include a link in your own post back to this post here, so your readers can find other bloggers writing on the same topic. Feel free to steal my graphic up there, it’s all yours.
  3. Enter the link to your post (the actual post link, not just your blog link) into the Linky tool there below. (Email subscribers and RSS readers, you’ll likely need to click through to my actual blog to see the link-up.)
  4. Tell a few people about it – maybe through your Facebook or Twitter or by talking about it with your sister on the phone while the tinies holler in the background (ahem).
  5. Click around and visit a few of the other posts linked up, leave comments for each other, and encourage one another.

  • Danielle | from two to one

    Great idea, Sarah. So thankful for your prophetic, Jesus Feminist-y voice. Happy Women’s Day!!

  • Jean Wise

    Sarah I just wrote a post yesterday about strong women and mention international women day. Wow two great minds working alike. I am excited. The post will be live tomorrow am and I will come back here then and link up. Great idea. will add your blog in case others want to come back here.

    • Sarah Bessey

      So great!

  • Nicole Romero

    I am so excited about this linkup. I have a serious burning in me to discuss this lately and am encouraged to join an ongoing conversation!!

  • Emily Wierenga

    Hope you don’t mind, friend, but I linked up a post about what my spiritual mothers are teaching me about myself. A Woman’s Manifesto. Love this, and the way you embrace the sisterhood.

    • Sarah Bessey

      loved your woman’s manifesto, Em!

  • HopefulLeigh

    If not for my blog sabbatical, I’d be all over this. Looking forward to reading these posts.

  • Jessica

    I think I’ve got an old Women of Valor post lying around here somewhere that might do the trick . . .

  • mizmelly

    Oh I miss writing a blog. My troll put paid to any hopes for me writing a blog for the near future. Sad to have to miss out on this one. Will look forward to reading some of the entries.

  • Pingback: Character Study: Measuring Up | 3dLessons4Life's Blog()

  • dukeslee

    Love this link-up, Sarah. And a hearty YES to the uncelebrated and unnoticed women in our lineages.

  • Nicole Romero

    Hey Sarah… soooo, I’m new. And I did it incorrectly above. I’m #1 and I did it wrong. :) Here’s the actual link to my post on this topic. That link only leads to my about page. lalalala.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oh, that’s fine! And loved your post, Nicole.

  • Pingback: Women scare. Women's care. | Mary DeMuth()

  • Lydia Lee

    Hi, My name is Lydia Lee. I am 11 years old. I attached my story from my blog, Out of the Ordinary. My mom said that it would be OK to attach it. She also told me that you love Haiti. And I do too!!! :)

    • Sarah Bessey

      Lydia Lee – you are a delight to me. Loved your post!

  • Pingback: What I Gather About Women of Valor | Rachael Gathers()

  • amber@therunamuck

    Hey you. I feel like we’ve been walking together a while, just side by side walking, and the longer we walk, the lower we get, and the greater God becomes. You are the kind of sister who trudges. Thank you. I love you.

    • Sarah Bessey

      This sums us up, indeed – we’ll trudge together.

  • Jen Hatmaker

    I just love you.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Right backatcha, beloved.

  • Jerri Miller

    I am linking up the story of the lady who asked me, a church kid, if I’d asked Jesus into my heart. She was the first one to ever do that …

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oh, how beautiful.

  • Pingback: My Spiritual Moms | Laura L Johnson()

  • Pingback: Synchroblog for International Women’s Day | Predatory Lies()

  • Tara M. Owens

    So, I linked myself up (first time every) and the image is all weird. Not sure how to fix it, but I am still very grateful for the inspiration.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Yours was amazing, Tara.

      • Tara M. Owens

        Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Pingback: mom’s weakness made me strong |()

  • Pingback: Michelle DeRusha | Courage and Grace: Elizabeth DeRusha()

  • Pingback: For International Women’s Day: We Honour Her — SheLoves Magazine()

  • Michelle DeRusha

    Love this idea, Sarah. Hooray for International Women’s Day!

  • Pingback: Celebrating Spiritual Midwives on International Women’s Day | Doorkeeper()

  • Pingback: I was her boss, but she was my leader - Everyday Awe()

  • Pingback: In Which I Tell You How Much I Love Sarah Bessey()

  • Stephanie Spencer

    I am in tears this morning after writing my post. Thank you so much for the prompt to honor women who have impacted our lives. My friend Carol is so deserving of a tribute, and I don’t know that I would have done it otherwise.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Me, too! Your friend Carol is amazing – loved reading yours, stephanie!

  • Pingback: My Litany of Women – An #IWD synchro blog | Where do I begin?()

  • Pingback: Song of My Mother | neither here nor there()

  • Pingback: on spiritual sisterhood | Shannon Craig()

  • Pingback: In Praise of Small Efforts | Love Is What You Do()

  • Pingback: Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives()

  • Debbie

    I posted on a blog that I facilitate – Thank you for this!! Great idea!

  • Pingback: Friday Favorites | One Little Library()

  • Pingback: For International Women’s Day 2013 ~ A Special Tribute | StyleSpyGirl's Blog()

  • Pingback: The hand that Fills the Crock pot | Accidental Devotional()

  • Pingback: my spiritual midwife: kay arthur - Sandra Heska King | Sandra Heska King()

  • Pingback: Some Women I’m Honoured & Shaped By | harrietlong()

  • Pingback: 3 Ways to Empower Women on Women's Day - Gabbing with Grace - Gabbing with Grace()

  • Pingback: » Spiritual Midwives 1000 Strands()

  • Pingback: Women | Bethany Beams()

  • Pingback: On International Women’s Day… | crazy little thing called love()

  • Pingback: In Honor of International Women’s Day | The Human Impulse()

  • James Prescott

    Writing my post left me in tears too – a great idea, thanks for encouraging us to do this. So many awesome posts.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Your post was wonderful, James.

      • James Prescott

        Thanks Sarah – and thanks for your kind comment too.

  • Pingback: My Favorite Feminist | communicating.across.boundaries()

  • mizmelly

    I don’t have a blog, so I’m celebrating (albeit a bit late) my spiritual midwives and patron saints here. First, there’s my own mother Tricia, who died 6 years ago. She taught me how to find beauty in unlikely places and she showed me how to stand up for the least of these. Her whole life was a study in resilience and determination and she helped guide me to places where I might meet God, while never forcing her own faith on me. Then there’s her best friend Anne R-M, who held vigil with me the night before Mum died and walked me through the subsequent grief as well as my first pregnancy and the early days of my daughter’s life; all of which happened within a year. Anne showed me how to stand up and walk forward in the dark. Pat S. gave me her own guitar when I was 15, because she believed in me as worship leader. She also took me seriously as a writer when she honestly critiqued my first attempt at a novel in my early teens. She had an unorthodox style to being a minister’s wife and then went into ordained ministry herself. I will never be more grateful for witnessing her bravery in following her calling.
    Jeanne D. was a haven in a storm and taught me patience and perseverance. She has given me a vision of how family could be in spite of curveballs and spiritual hurricanes.
    Shelley M, my acting teacher who laughed out loud when she discovered I was a Christian, pushed me to question my faith, not to take it for granted. She would only accept me training to become a preacher in my church if I was going to ‘change it from the inside’! She taught me how to be present in the moment as an actor, which has led me to experience God’s heartbeat in every moment of life.

    My aunties Kath, Anne and Angie, and cousins Bree, Lisa, Tami and Laura have taught me, from the perspectives of their varying spiritual beliefs, that God is bigger than we know and is not about to be straitjacketed by Christianity.
    Finally my patron saints would have to be Sue Monk Kidd, for opening up the world of the Divine Feminine to me in her book Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Rachel Held Evans, for her unwavering for standing up to bullying, machismo and misogyny in the church. And you, dear Sarah Bessey, for lighting the way in terms of parenting, writing, celebration of the day to day. Thank you for being so vulnerable in sharing your heart. God has spoken to me so often through you.

    Thanks for the opportunity to honour these amazing women in my life. Melanie

    • Sarah Bessey

      Bless you, my friend. xo

  • Amanda Steyer

    I keep thinking I’m done, then refreshing the page and finding more wonderful words. Thank you for blessing us all with this opportunity to share and celebrate these blessed beings!

    • Sarah Bessey

      You and me both! I think I finally got through all of them – what richness!

  • Pingback: My grandmother has the softest skin | Leah Colbeck()

  • Pingback: Those Who Have Inspired Me | Leelee Writes()

  • Pingback: He Gives and Takes Away | Finishing The Race()

  • Pingback: with child: god leads | Redeeming Naptime()