In which I criticise my list, offer my spiritual guidance to bloggers, and other matters

My daily kitchen bouquet

I had such fun putting together that list of 50 Church & Faith Lady-Bloggers during hockey playoffs on Sunday night (sidenote: Go Bruins!). And I’m overwhelmed by how well it was received. Thank you so much for your comments, for covering Twitter and Facebook with a message around women’s voices in the Church, for encouraging each one of those writers in the comments, for reading. I hardly know what to say – and, for me, to be at a loss for words….

My heart wasn’t to rank or exclude, but to bring attention to just a handful of women whose voices are speaking to us all.  And that’s not all….there were a few criticisms I had with myself over the list.

For example, I didn’t like that only a handful of women there were over 50, and so a friend of mine who falls into that category will be posting her Top Faith and Church Lady-Bloggers Over 50 here later this week. And I also feel that there was a gap in one or two more areas so I’ll be keeping an eye out to fix that later this week or next.

I’d like to highlight more women out of the USA, more women on the fringes of creative and new expressions of Church and faith, more women that are not married with children, more women that are visible minorities. So stay tuned, and if any of those areas are speaking to you, or if there is another area you’d like to see highlighted, drop me an email and we’ll see what we can figure out. I”m not into being a list-factory, but I do think it’s important somehow.

I wrote a short post for Lisa Colon Delay’s blog series on Spiritual Guidance for Bloggers. I admit that I struggled with writing it – I suck at advice and I’m very “hey, whatever works, man” in my sensitivities (you know me….).  But the series has been fantastic (particularly loved Ray’s contribution) and here is mine:

Dear Blogger: 

There are so many ways to be a better blogger, to increase your traffic, to maximize your SEO, to make money. 

I practice almost none of them. 

After nearly 8 years of writing my life out online, I’ve made almost every mistake one can make. I’ve learned the hard way to write angry, but publish when I’ve calmed down. I’ve received my fair share of angry criticism and lavish praise. I’ve been convinced that I’m God’s gift to the blogosphere and, usually within a few moments, pretty sure that my blog is an abomination upon the earth. And I discovered that what is good for the Google analytics isn’t always good for my soul. 

In which Sarah Bessey writes a letter to bloggers

And then picked up and featured my contribution to Adam Walker Cleveland’s (Re)Imagining Christianity series. No provocative title this time, thank heavens, but I loved that piece and I’m glad to see it still out in the world.

Somehow, when I find myself in someone else’s stories, I find God there, too. It’s hard to fight with someone about their own experience so sometimes, even if it jumps my fence, I have to slow my quick judgement, slow my I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong, to give space to the truth that God works and moves in mysterious and unique ways. Even if I disagree with the premise behind it, I can look a soul in the eyes and say, I heard you, I hear you, I honour God at work in you. 

I love when faith communities make space for the stories of the people of God. I hope we always make space for the testimony. Not the sanitized three-steps-to-success stories, no, the real ones. Not the properly vetted, people as mascots for evangelicalism. The unpolished, unedited people of God should be heard, we should be listening, we should be speaking, preaching the Gospel of our lives back and forth, not to one-up each other, but to encourage, to testify to the goodness of our God. 

He’s saved me.
He’s healed me.
He’s loved me.
Oh, I can testify to this: God is love and love is God and grace covers us all. 

Has Your Church Lost the Power of Testimony?

And in a trifecta of coolness (or a trifecta of “I’m sick of myself by now”), the vast blogging network, BlogHer, picked up and featured my contribution to the Mother Letters project as a snippet on their front page yesterday. (The full article is here.)

There is no perfect mother.
If there is one thing that has tripped me up most as a mum, especially in the early years of this, it’s the belief that somewhere, out there, was The Perfect Mother. Sometimes she was my own mother. Sometimes she was someone online. Sometimes she was someone at church or at the playground. I’d see one brief moment of her life, or hear her speak, or see her kids, and think, I bet she never resents wiping bums or feels bored, I bet she never feels so tired that even her eyebrows are aching, I bet she loves every single minute of this mothering thing and I bet her kids listen to classical music and never bicker. I bet she’s a better mother than me.
That just isn’t true, The Perfect Mother only exists in the land of unicorns.
Of unicorns and perfect mothers

It worked out nicely because the ebook celebrating both the mess and the glory of motherhood releases TODAY and I’m glad it’s getting more attention. I love that book and want to give it to every mother I know.

post signature

  • Alise Wright

    Congrats on all of the press out and about – that’s absolutely wonderful!

    Lists are hard, because no matter how many people you want to include, you’ll always end up leaving someone out. I know that this happens to me regularly with my “stuff I’ve been reading” posts. I’ll read something that I intend to put in it, but won’t pull open the draft and add it RIGHT THEN, so it ends up getting missed. And given that I try to limit it to half a dozen links, there will ALWAYS be something that I read that was good that was excluded.

    That said, I’m REALLY looking forward to the over 50 list that is being put together. That’s a demographic that I don’t read nearly enough, and I need to plump up my reader in that area. 

  • D.L. Mayfield

    wow girl, you are blowin’ up! i just read this piece by THE Penny from Blue Like Jazz, and it reminds me of what you have written here. I love it, love the transparency, love the dichotomy of feelings that success and attention bring. Also, I view your 50 lady-bloggers list as a great example of a non-violent protest in the current culture wars. thanks so much!

    Here is the article:

  • Lisa Colón DeLay

    Your contribution and endorsement of the bloggers series is an honor. I think you wrote from the heart. That translated. It helped people. It made a difference. Thank you.

    I loved your list. With regards to updating it or stewing on it, I would just encourage you to not over-think or apologize. What list is perfect? When you wrote it up, you were responding with a positive effort to include the under-represented. That did happen. So…As your spiritual advisor, I would suggest that you put the list down for a fortnight, just for some genuine peace. (I’m not your spiritual advisor, but I don’t want to see you go to the place of second-guessing.) Riffing off your post…I remember who you are. You are enough.

  • Leigh Kramer

    Since the discussion the other day, I’ve been considering a top single lady bloggers list. I’ll let you know if I come up with one.

    • Alise Wright

      Oh, another voice that we need! Thank you so much Leigh!

    • JennaDeWitt

       Please and thank you! :) Us single/non-mommy readers do enjoy hearing about how great parenting is as something to maybe someday look forward to (seriously, Sarah’s posts have restored my faith in marriage many many times), but honestly, there is a missing piece in the blogosphere (or what I know of it) for those of us who can’t relate to many of the ancedotes and metaphors used by those with kids and husbands. We need girls who can speak into our lives (about more than just the LACK of kids or husband) on faith, community, friendship, ministry, etc. from a single girl’s perspective.

  • Melissafedd

    As a lady blogger I would like to add my criticism.
    Bruins? Really? I mean I know Vancouver is sucking hard but don’t you live like an our from the riots? Er…I mean rink?

    Just a fellow Canadian Lady Blogger throwing in my two cents.

    Love your work Sarah! Excited to have found you! 
    (Congratulations on killin’ it this week!)

  • Caris Adel

    I loved the list…I’ve bookmarked it so I can sit and read through a bunch of new blogs slowly.  Women bloggers outside the USA would be so interesting to read.  There was somebody (Tsh Oxenreider I think?)  a couple of years ago who lived outside the states and it was so fun to read about their tiny apartment and what life was like there. I think seeing global perspectives is so helpful in getting us out of our little ‘yay America (or Canada!)’ bubble.

  • Jessica

    For an awesome single lady blogger, check out Love what she posts, just wish it was more often!!

  • Leslie Keeney

    So I guess my question would be how does anyone really know how old someone is unless they tell you? Some people leave life-stage clues (like when my tagline used to read “middle-aged but almost post-modern”), but otherwise isn’t someone’s age just a best guess? (Unless, of course, the person putting the list together is simply going to ask, which is great research methodology, but might be just a tad awkward) 

    Anyway, that’s a list I’d like to read! :)

  • Miranda

    Bruins?!? Pffffft! ;).

    Awesome, awesome list Sarah.

  • Shannon Stoltzfus

    Hi Sarah,  I’m a brand new blogger, as in not even three months in yet.  But I’m enjoying writing my thoughts out.  I’m currently going through a divorce and am a single mother.  Yet I still write about God and what He’s doing in my life.  If you feel so inclined check my blog out.  

  • Sandy

    This 50 year old blogger would love to read more of my clan!  But I love the young mom stories, too…it wasn’t that long ago…..

  • Linda Stoll

    Thanks for mentioning that there are few bloggers that are noted and appreciated who are above 50!  I’m in my mid-50s now, and it wasn’t til the last few years that I gained wisdom and insight that no letters after my name could supply.  A decade of talking deeply with women one-to-one in the counseling office and blogging for a few years have propelled me into a sweet spot I couldn’t have imagined. 

    I have more to offer now than ever before because I’ve lived life with all its messiness and disasters, as well as the crazy joys and celebrations.  There’s a wisdom and perspective that has emerged, slowly but surely, borne from decades of marriage and children and grandchildren.  Of being called to ministry, and then having doors slam shut … only to reopen in ways that I couldn’t have dreamed.  Of going through depression … and coming out the other end so much healthier than ever.

    I have never been more whole than I am today.  But only by His grace.  Sharing it with others brings my life full circle.

  • Mickey James

    I was searching the blogs for a long time and that is good to know that I have found such blogs here. Great working! Keep it up!