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In which I mark 7 years of blogging and God chuckles

On 8 July 2005, I started a little blog on Xanga called PoetStyles, my online alias for years.

I always wanted to be a writer, I just didn’t think that blogging was real writing. Blogging, an excessively ugly word that no one understood back then, was just a way to stay in touch with our friends and family, while we moved around the country, chasing our Evangelical Hero Complex in a circle. I yearned to be a writer someday, I read voraciously, I had been writing short stories for years. But these little essays? These reflections? These wonderings and wanderings? Psh. Totally not writing.

In 2008, when I was pregnant with Joseph, Brian sent me to the Festival of Faith and Writing. He researched writer festivals, found one that was a Christian one in Grand Rapids, and, in a grand gesture of love, a gigantic neon sign flashing I BELIEVE IN YOU, DARLING, he booked my ticket, and a hotel, and sent me there for the weekend.

It was awful.

So, so, so painfully awful.

I didn’t know a single soul there. I wasn’t a writer. I was a fan, a reader, a wannabe. And I was crippled by insecurity; introverted by nature, I was by now in powerful retreat mode. I hardly spoke a word for three days. I sat alone in the sessions. I wandered alone through the day. I ate alone. The only bright spot was hearing Luci Shaw perform a reading of her poetry.

Sick unto death of parking lots and air conditioning, I rented a car, and I drove past strip mall after strip mall after strip mall, desperate for some trees. I pulled over at an Applebees, I went inside and begged the wait staff to tell me where to find a nice park. They were baffled. They recommended the exact college where the festival was located. There’s some grass there, I think, they said.

The last day, I attended a session for aspiring writers. There was an agent and two publishers leading the talk. And for the next 45 minutes they pretty much told us all to get over it.  They spoke of networking and conferences. They talked about critique groups and pages per day. They cautioned against optimism, warned that publishing was nearly dead, made fun of ebooks and self-publishers. They were insiders, I felt so painfully outside. They cited stats and probabilities, they talked about how no one ever gets published without huge platform, about how none of us would probably ever have a published book.

I believed them. I believed them. I believed them.

I went back the hotel that night, and I sat in the middle of the floor. I laid out all of my dreams for God to look at. I said, God, do you remember in grade two? Do you remember how I wrote my first story about a snow bunny? Do you remember how I used to be excused from penmanship (my handwriting already legendary, thanks to the drills at my kitchen table with my mother), Mrs. Phillips wanted me to read Caldecott award winners. She told me I would be a writer. I believed her. Do you remember that? Do you remember how I filled journal after journal with terrible poetry throughout my teens? Do you remember that? Do you remember how I scored as a writer and an artist on every single career testing thing? Do you remember how I wrote essays and short stories, under the covers, with flashlights? Do you remember that?

I cried. I railed. I raged. I said, I will never be a writer. I am a terrible writer. I have no voice. I have no platform. I have nothing to give. I have no stories.  This is never going to happen for me. I had to admit it, it was true. I lay on my back, and I said, I give up this dream. I have spent 25 years of my life, calling myself a writer, and I have nothing to show for it. I couldn’t sell an article if I attached a kidney to it.

I am not a writer, I will never be a writer, there will never be a book with my name on it in any bookstore in the world.

And, I kid you not, I heard God. That has only happened one other time in my life, in a real, feels-audible-look-over-your-shoulder-did-you-hear-that sort of way. But I heard or sensed or felt or received a message from God in my marrow, however you want to think about it, I don’t really care what you call it, I just know I heard God.

He said, “You may never be published but that doesn’t change the way I made you. You’re a writer. Stop caring about the other stuff and just write. I’ll meet you there.”

I came home from Grand Rapids, depleted, and calling-less. The white flame that had existed in my heart, setting me apart as a writer and an artist, had dimmed. I would never be a real writer.

So I just began to write anyway.

I launched Emerging Mummy simply because I wanted to write out my life, I wanted to figure out what I thought about the emerging church, theology, God, my marriage, my miscarriages, breastfeeding, my passions, my interests, my parenting, politics. I wanted to find other people that thought about that stuff. I stumbled across Simple Mom, I think Tsh’s site was brand new in those days. She used to post a list of “top referrers” once a week, and that led me to SortaCrunchy, who lead to me almost every other blogger and friendship I now enjoy, and became a dear heart-friend as well. I found a tribe of men and women that were my own, they were writers, artists, thinkers, world-changers.

And me? I was writing. I wrote almost daily, and finally, after two years, I found my voice.

The biggest transformations of my life had their origins in words. I wrote my way through major faith shifts and doubts and wonderings, as I went from mega-church refugee, bitter and cynical and opinionated, to a broken wandering soul, to the wholeness God has graciously given in and through and outside of the wide glorious Church and the Word and the world, I wrote my way back into the Church and community. I wrote through becoming a mother, again and again and again, through miscarriages, through loss, birth, through the painful realities of mothering, and the ways that God met me and changed me profoundly through this crucible of mothering, this joy, this sacred season, and I loved my tinies more and better because I was writing about us, every day. I began to write about what love looked like for Brian and me. I wrote through my opinions and politics-at-the-time with a carelessness and ridiculousness than positively embarrasses me today. (There are portions of my archives I would like to burn down.) I was set free from people pleasing, approval addiction, I began to tackle my fears, to write more honestly, to be more honest with my own self, to engage my doubts and wonderings.

And crazily, people like you started to show up, to hang out and say, “You, too? Me, too!” You were a gift to me, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. (It still baffles me that anyone reads this site, besides my sister.)

Thank you. Truly. Thank you for being part of my life.

I am not the same person I was in Grand Rapids that day, let alone the woman that I was 7 years ago, before any of this online “writing my life out” thing had begun. Over the past year or two, I began to understand why God told me to keep writing that night at the festival though. After all, I had been healed, set free, and made whole through this discipline. God met me here, and He was enough, always had been, always would be.

Selah.

I was satisfied, content, I am still, most of the time. I was beginning to call myself a writer again, after all, blogging counts, I reasoned. I did not care about agents. I had zero SEO experience. I did not attend a single blogger conference (still haven’t). I didn’t move with the movers or the shakers, I was pretty unknown, I began to write for a few other sites, but those were born organically of relationship, not because of a well-crafted pitch. I liked my little corner of the Internet, I liked all of the friends I made – like you, of course – and I needed to write like I needed to breathe, so it worked.

And now, I have a book deal. Which is ridiculous, let’s be honest. (I can’t share all the details just yet – not until the official announcements. Hopefully soon.)

I am sensing God’s laughter in this. When I laid it all down, when I said I didn’t care about platforms or networking, about publishing or any of it, when I just wanted to write, when I simply wanted to show up in my own life with gratitude and grace, and God kept meeting me in the most ordinary, most radical, of ways, then, then, then, the release. The best agent in the business took me on. Ideas, words, flowing. Proposal crafting. Pitching (oh, God, rejection suuuuuucks – and oh, yes, I experienced my share). And now, this goodness, with such good, good people I can hardly believe my good fortune.

I’m writing my book now. You’ll hopefully be able to hold a copy in your hands someday. Like, with a real cover on it.

That may be an owl laughing in my forest out back, sure, but it’s a bit too holy and other-worldly, maybe there is a Godly chuckle there, in the darkness, a knowing, an enjoyment perhaps, I feel like shaking my finger at the woods, oh, you, I would say.

I did nothing “right”. Everything that the festival said to do or try, I did not do. I gave up. I buried my dreams and moved on. I opened my hands, no more tight fist clenching for me. And God showed up, made something beautiful out of my dust, restored me, healed me, and then, now, even resurrected a dream, the dry bones began to dance.

Blogging – the practice, the discipline, the community, the people, the medium, the work, the tribe – changed my life. It is still changing my life. It will always be a big part of my story. And I love being part of your story, in some small way, too.

The very first sentence that I wrote on my little Xanga Poetstyles blog in 2005?

“I wonder how open and honest you can be on the Internet.”

Turns out: pretty damn honest.

I’m wide open.

Gratefully,

 

 

abundant life, anniversary, art, blog, blogging, books, faith, fearless, gratitude, Jesus Feminist, journey, seasons, work, writing
  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

    As someone who is finally claiming the writer name and is just starting out, this is so encouraging :)  I remember xanga, ha.  I have had 4 instances of hearing God so almost audibly like that…..it’s cool in a crazy kind of way….and it’s something that you can’t really talk about because people think you’re nuts.  I’m so glad you heard and listened :)

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes, people can think we’re nuts, but I think I’m starting to be okay with it. Glad ot know you’re nuts, too. ;-)

  • http://www.seeprestonblog.com Preston Yancey

    Amen, amen. I read you today, with French press coffee and under the watch of a grey sky, rejoicing in doing it all wrong and that being exactly right. I still don’t understand SEO. And that little corner. Then the surprise. Since I first read a word from you, maybe two years now, maybe just a bit less, I longed for them to be paged words. You have that rare grace, Sarah, how your form words as invitation and you table with your insights, draw up and in. Ordinary sacrament. Every blessing to you, friend.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thank you, Preston. Truly. So glad for your voice, too.

  • Anne J

    So glad you listened to His voice and found your own. Your writing has blessed me! Love, Anne

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thankful for your friendship, too. Anne!

  • Canita

    Thank goodness for you, Sarah.  Truly.  Thank you for sharing your words with me, with us.  You are a real blessing.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      You, too, Canita – so glad I’m “met” you through this.

  • http://www.adesignsovast.com/ Lindsey

    Thank you for this wildly inspirational story.  I love reading your words here and can’t wait to hold (and devour) your book.  xox

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      You are so kind, Lindsey. Thank you.

  • http://bethmorey.blogspot.com/ Beth

    Oh, yes.  God is doing something similar for me, through blogging, right now.  There is a healing and an opening and a bettering that is happening because I write and share my story, and it is profound.  I don’t know where it’s going, only that it is good.  “Wide open” is exactly right.  

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes, it is so good. You’ve summed it up.

  • Grace Elizabeth

    I’m new to blogging. But it has definitely opened my eyes. Ive found these people living out their lives in incredible ways and writing about them beautifully in their little corners. It’s helped me to understand that this family I am in, these brothers and sisters I have in God are all people like me with ups, downs, struggles and laughs. I never want to stop blogging. This past week I’ve been away, camping, I kept thinking about all the hundreds of blogs I am missing reading. I am so in love with reading people’s thoughts and ideas and reflections I am learning to tear myself away and go out there and live it. Thanks Sarah. To me, you feel like a friend. Maybe you haven’t even noticed me or anything but it doesnt matter, because it is your love for God that makes me feel like your friend. You are an amazing writer and I cannot wait to read your book, I know it will be amazingly beautiful and stunningly wonderful.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      It is addictive, isn’t it?! I love how there is no filter, how we can have direct access to someone else’s VERY different life. I totally get how you feel like we’re friends – I have the same thoughts, and have for years! Thanks for being aprt of my life, Grace Elizabeth – appreciate it.

      • Grace Elizabeth

        It really is! I just can’t stop! I have never found anything like it, it’s a real connection with someone you will never meet! Thank You!! You bless me daily!

  • http://twitter.com/RachelRHeath Rachel Heath

    I’ve only just stumbled onto this little “corner of the internet” recently, so I haven’t been there with you for most of the journey.  But your writing has been an important part of MY journey since I found you, and this post inspires and encourages me more than I think I can really say.  I have been blogging in obscurity for a long, long, long time and I’ve often felt felt alone because not very many people read my stuff, or even know about it, and that feels like rejection even if no one tells me, “no.” I’d like to think that a few people out there, somewhere, need to hear my voice. Truthfully though, I just need to write for my own sanity, because I am a writer, because this is how I process life. Thank you for sharing your hopes, thoughts, and experiences with us… I’m going to keep doing the same.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Rachel – keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. You know it.

  • http://www.creeksideministries.blogspot.com/ Linda Stoll

    Listening to His voice and saying ‘yes’ to the giftedness.  Being faithful to the calling and moving ahead into what is unfolding.  Especially when none of it makes a bit of sense. 

    Absolutely …

  • Michele Minehart

    So. Affirming. (And I miss the days of Xanga’s “listening to” feature). Best wishes and congratulations! 

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Ha! Listening to! Those were the days…

  • http://www.sarahcomley.blogspot.com/ SarahComleyCaldwell

    Thank you so much for your words!  I discovered your blog recently with your book posts, and it’s now one of my must-read-blogs!! :)  It is so refreshing to hear your honest, beautiful words.  I’ve been writing in the quiet of my journal since college, and I started blogging in 2008 just to document my musical performing travels overseas.  I feel like a novice blogger, now as my blog feels like much more…something important to keep me in the trenchs of writing.  Somewhere I can share my faith and grow.  Thank you again for inspiring me that it doesn’t matter if my blog isn’t even read by 10′s of people everyday :) It’s about what God wants to do with the writing, and the call I’ve been given, and the growth journey there is to take.  I’m so grateful for your ‘damn honesty’ – it’s beautiful!
    Blessings to you!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Our stories are always so important, I’m glad you’re witing yours out!

  • https://sites.google.com/site/holyhugs/ Jim Fisher

    Ditto Preston, including the coffee, but the skies beneath which I write are bright and hot. Sarah, your writing is a refreshingly sweet oasis of heartfelt love in this vast Sarahan wilderness we call the internet. Fragrant bread and wine in a world of wormwood and gall.

    I love the poetic rhythm to your prose. I love the imagery teased out of my imagination with a few well-chosen words. Dense and chewy.

    But I also love the airy interludes injected with your bubbly effervescent humor.

    Punctuated with silence … silence in my soul as I pause for reflection between words … and the sacred silence of prayer at a well-placed stepping stone called Selah.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thank you so much, Jim, truly. Means a lot to me.

  • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

    Oh Sarah, I love that as you’ve been set free you’ve in turn set others free, not even just to write….but to be themselves, to pursue their dreams. I can pinpoint some major turning points in the past couple years and a lot of them have a post by you to go with it. God has used you to speak a lot of healing and freedom into my life, so for that thank you. Thank you for being so damn honest and showing up to this community you have created. It’s been my church when I couldn’t find it anywhere else. You introduced me to people like Kathy Escobar and Rachel Held Evans. A toast to you and to God using us despite ourselves. :)

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Cheers, indeed! 

  • Tiffany Norris

    You’ve been such an inspiration–especially to those of us who {after, um, the same amount of time blogging/writing} are still struggling to find their voice. Thank you for being such an encouragement and a wonderful blessing to readers!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Tiffany.

  • Lisa_DiggingForMyrrh

    Oh, thank you, THANK YOU, Sarah. I am just starting out on this blogging adventure and you have SO nailed the angst, the desire, the hope, the worry. Love to you and the tinies, and much thanks for your transparency. You give me hope…not for a book deal–I SO cannot see that–but that I might be able to add my voice to the online community and bring a little stained-glass light to a dark corner of it, even as I work through my own healing and voice-finding and niche-creating. And wow, so many of us are finding voices and raising them! What on earth is God doing? : D

    God knows what He’s doing. Me, I am just hanging on for the ride. : )

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Yes, I love that – stained glass light in a dark corner. So good! you hang on, luv.

  • Gina

    I remember that blog…  *warm smile*

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Them were the days, Mummyof2.

      • Gina

         Touche’.  *guffaw*

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah {the smitten word}

    this is loveliness, all. i found you through megan 3+ years ago. it’s funny how the rabbit trails lead and how God’s fingerprints become visible, tracing our stories all along. blessings on your next steps, friend.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      It is! I was thinking about that earlier this week: how so-and-so lead me to so-and-so who lead me to so-and-so and on and on. We’re all so connected now, I love it.

  • http://www.adventuresinbabywearing.com/ Stephanie Precourt

    When you look at it all together, it’s absolute perfection in every way. Beautiful.

    Steph

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Steph. I always thrill when you stop in here. You were one of the first stops I made after SortaCrunchy, I think I read all of your archives, including Noah’s journey, in one night. I made you my virtual friend, long before we got to know each other a bit better here and there. I hope to meet in real life someday.

      • http://www.adventuresinbabywearing.com/ Stephanie Precourt

        Oh gosh that makes me blush! I am such a fan. And it’s so funny because I came across “Noah’s box” from back then tonight and I didn’t feel anxious at all. I felt really really happy.

        Steph

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

    Congrats on 7 years, Sarah! I’ve only been blogging a little more than a year and have tried to maintain the attitude. I don’t have any big projects like you (yet!), but I did land a new job with Columbia Theological Seminary in part because of my blogging experience. You never know how God will use something.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Congrats, Michael! That’s brilliant!

  • http://riverintowords.blogspot.com/ karen

    boom. :) thanks for being a part of my journey, too.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Boom, indeed! ;-)

  • http://honestlyhere.com/ hannah

    “Hearing” your voice has been such a blessing to me as an aspiring writer and as a believer. I know I can always come here for words that speak right to my soul. I’m so excited to keep following you and hear more about your book deal! Thank you for your commitment to writing, to this blog, and to yourself! 

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Hannah!

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com Ed_Cyzewski

    Yay! Keep writing Sarah! What a gift you have to share.

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I want some posts from you about becoming a father, Mister…. #SternEyes

  • http://simplemom.net Tsh @ SimpleMom.net

    I loved reading this, Sarah! Thank you for sharing this; it’s an encouragement. I often feel the same way—why is anyone reading this? (My blog, not yours.)

    Keep writing… You have things of value to share.

  • Brittaney

    Oh Sarah, let’s be honest, you having a book deal is not ridiculous. In any way. Being a published author is exactly who you are, and has been stamped on you since day one. That is why Brian sent you to that writer’s conference. Anyone who knows you knows you were born to write, to paint words on paper. I love you and am so proud of you and so excited to see your destiny becoming reality. Watch out world!!

  • Forever YoungWard

    Sarah, I’ve just found your blog and become this week because I decided that anyone who chooses such wonderful books to read over and over must be a person whose blog I need to read (from all of your book posts this week):)  Congratulations on your book deal and I’m so happy I found your site–a lovely place to be:)

  • http://www.embracingtheodyssey.com/ @OdysseyMamaC

    I’m so glad to have discovered your blog. You give hope and comfort to this “non-writer” writer; I feel as if you’ve crawled inside my head and stolen my thoughts. Congratulations on your book deal! I can’t wait to add you to my shelf. :-) 

  • Diana Trautwein

    Oh my goodness. Except for the fact that….let me see now….I am 30+ years older than you, do not have an agent, do not have a book deal…this could be my story. I started my blog 7 years ago (with a year completely away after the most honest thing I had written to that point caused someone pain). I ‘heard’ God tell me to start writing my life down in year two…but I was too frightened to answer that call until I retired. These past 18 months, I’ve been trying to find me – better late than never, right?? Trying to find a voice, an honest response to my life – my experiences, relationships, working life, parenting, grandparenting. I am not nearly as brave as you are, but I’m working on it. Thank you for this encouraging word here tonight. What I heard was very personal – write for your granddaughter, when our first grandgirl was newly born. But I had no room in my life for writing until I started this thing called a blog and most especially, not until I took that blog-thing seriously as I neared retirement. And my, what an amazing experience it has been. Thank you for not doing what they told you to do – I think most of it is crippling crap and designed to kill the artistic spirit. So….thank you for remaining true to who you are, true to your call, true to your gift. It’s a wonderful thing, Sarah. It truly is.

    • http://rawfaithrealworld.wordpress.com/ RawFaith

      Diana where do you blog?  I would love to stop by and visit. :)

  • http://www.theblahblahblahger.com/ the Blah Blah Blahger

    I love this post. God DOES meet us where we’re at…He’s faithful to complete a good work in us, even when we don’t know what it is. : ) 

    And I’m sure you look back on that awful conference now with a greater understanding of the writer you were always meant to be.

  • Murdenkim

    Teary. Can’t wait to read that honest to God book

  • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

    Believe it or not, I had a xanga account too! Ha. “Darkly_optimist” <- Oh to be a young adult again….

    I loved hearing that *you* Sarah Bessey had your share of doubts. I loved reading that it took you 2 years to find your voice. I love hearing that you didn't party with the movers and shakers of the publishing world and just loved your little corner of the internet.

    THAT is where I am right now. Doubts, insecurity, God's nudge to "meet me there" and not wanting to meet anyone important, just because they are "important". I just wish I was reading your words 7 years ago. Grateful to have you in my world now. So obnoxiously excited for your new season as a writer.

    Thank you. I needed this.

    All the way from a conference room in New Delhi,
    (Seriously jet-lagged) Me

  • http://howtotalkevangelical.addiezierman.com/ Addie Zierman

    I wrote my first story in 2nd grade too. It was about a hat. Amazing what those first teachers mean to us: the ones who say, “you don’t know this yet, but this is who you are.” Beautiful.

  • Elizabeth Lehman

    i loved reading this.  i love how honest you are.  your writing is a gift!  

  • http://www.kellyjyoungblood.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

    This made me smile; I feel so happy for you.  I have had many of the same thoughts and maybe this week I’ll write a little bit about it, inspired by this post.  

  • http://www.outofmyallegedmind.com Nancy Franson

    “So I just began to write anyway.” Perfect.

  • http://sarahaskins.com Sarah Askins

    Oh I have loved reading your blog these past few years. While I haven’t blogged quite as long, I too have found my voice, the poet writer in me. Here’s to holding your book and many more years writing.

  • http://amandapeterson.blogspot.com/ Amanda Peterson

    Thank you, Sarah. I needed to those words today. I needed a reminder to cease my striving in many areas, writing being one.

  • LG

    Made me cry. Thank you for sharing. So encouraging. x

  • http://annieathome.com Annie | annieathome.com

    Thankful with you for the wonderful and unexpected ways He weaves these threads together! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erin-Cook-Szczerba/564743125 Erin Cook Szczerba

    Oh, I loved reading this! So fun to see the thread of God in this part of your life. Similarly, I have loooong felt a strooong desire to tell stories in public. :) I’m a terrible writer of stories but when I’m telling them to people, I feel more alive than usual and God somehow uses me to speak a message to those I’m talking to. So of course, I want to be a speaker. And the desire doesn’t go away, and God keeps confirming it, but I have no platform. I don’t have the right connections. And-similarly-I’ve heard God tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing, to follow His lead, to take opportunities to share my story and He’ll do what His thing. And I’ve been told that I should be more positive about all things “Christian” if I want to be a speaker, and that I should be more careful about what I put on my blog or on Facebook, and that in general I need to be sweet and perfect. But that just doesn’t portray the Jesus I know who let me get all grimy and question all things Christian-culture related. So, I’m going to remember your journey when I wonder what the hell I’m doing here. You are wonderful, Sarah Bessey!

  • http://www.carriepaz.blogspot.com/ Carrie Pazdziora

    Oh so heart-encouraging, Sarah… I’m in the throes of producing an album with my band, just on the verge of receiving and debuting it, and this is exactly what I needed to read.  To forget about the agents and the money and the fan-base and just sing.  All those things were sucking the life out of me, but if I just let the music be what it is in my soul and on my lips… then I’ll live.  Thank you.

  • HeatherKopp_SoberBoots

    Sarah! Yay yay yay!! So excited for you! And I love, love your story. We all began here. With gulping self-doubt and the wonderful, awful need to just begin. I distinctly remember sitting on my bed talking on the phone to my sister and bursting out sobbing, “I want to write! I want to write!” 
    “Write what? What do you mean?” she asked. 
    “I have no idea! That’s the problem!” 
    But of course, the solution was found in having the problem. I needed to write and signed up for my freelance writing night class. I have often gotten derailed since then–completely sidetracked by drinking, too–but I haven’t ever been able to not write anymore than I could not not drink. Thank God that one compulsion has helped to save me from the other. I absolutely adore your writing, Sarah. And I am so thrilled that I’ll get to read your book. I can’t to wait to curl up with it and let your beautiful voice and wonderful way with words flow over me for hours. 
    Thanks for sharing this story. I hope I never forget what it’s like to be new and terrified and yet to feel that distinct sense that I was on the right track. Blessing on you and your book! 

  • http://amyscottsthoughts.wordpress.com/ Amy Scott

    Thank you for sharing this journey that you’ve been on! I’ve been blogging for the last year and I’ve battled the same thoughts that blogging doesn’t really matter or make a difference. I know that God has given me a heart and a passion for writing, but I often wonder if anything will come of it. I have made the same decision just to blog for the sake of blogging, to write because I love to, because I have to, I’m compelled to. I don’t know where my journey will lead, but I keep faithfully blogging my way through life. My only difference is I struggle with censoring myself – I have my family and my church staff that read my blog, so I feel I have to keep a cheery and chipper perspective, but sometimes that is hard… Being a woman in ministry is tough, add being an introvert and the dream of being published… I sometimes feel like one odd duck. Anyway, I wanted to say thanks for this post! It has given me hope!

  • http://yyjennylee.com/ Jenny L

    Thank you for being one of the inspirations that got me blogging again. I’m slowly finding a community!

  • http://london-heather.blogspot.com/ LondonHeather

    Happy blog birthday Sarah!

    And thank you thank you thank you for writing and sharing your words and seeking God and stepping up to His call.  Such a beautiful story, so encouraging to me.  Cannot wait to read your book, and in the meantime I look forward to regularly checking in here and enjoying this space with a fresh cuppa.

  • Dena Akridge

    Just found you a few months back, this is my favorite of yours.  I’m about 10 years older than you, but probably 5 yrs behind you in a similar journey.  Thank you for your honest encouraging words!

  • http://www.LifeintheWhiteHouse.com/ Jess

    I love this! Started blogging almost 5 years ago, it was mine, it was secret. No one knew anything about what blogging was. I still am unknown, but I write because I can’t NOT write.

  • http://twitter.com/LisaColonDelay Lisa Colón DeLay

    That’s really precious.

  • http://twitter.com/Saint_Upid Chad Thomas Johnston

    Pretty hard to beat your story! :) It’s awesome. I too am writing simply because I love to write. In the end, it is enough. 

    The best part of this entry for me is your discussion of the insiders who cautioned against optimism. People like this are just begging to be set on fire, or to at least have flaming bags of poop left on their doorsteps. Why do people have to be such killjoys? :) Are their inner worlds really so desolate that can only hope to dry up the souls of others as well? Good grief!

    My agent’s been shopping my book for 16 months now, and I have definitely had moments of very real discouragement. I sometimes feel like it will *never* see the light of day. Other times I fear it’s horrible enough that it *shouldn’t* see the light of day. But I wrote a book, and I got the attention of an agent, and I am soldiering onward. I hope, and I get discouraged, but mostly I write. I figure that’s how it should be. Let the naysayers live in plastic bubbles of pessimism and breathe in their own farts. I will be writing while they do that. :) 

    Kudos to you for sticking with it and getting a book deal. I found your blog and your tweet stream because you made yourself visible. So you’re doing something right! :) Keep it up!

  • LeechcraftMegilp
  • Louise

    I don’t often comment on your blog but I really enjoy reading it. You have such an amazing way with words that everything you write, even about the most ordinary thing, becomes something beautiful and powerful. Plus as someone who is English I like that you’re a fan! 

  • http://sortacrunchy.net/ SortaCrunchy

    I just want to lay my head on the desk and sob reading this. Because all of it? All of it. ME TOO. Me too. I’ve written words of love to you so often that you just have to know, just know and know and know, that Yes. It is true. This medium changed my life, too, and God met me in my words.

    There is hard work ahead of you, sister, and I’m so honored to prayer doula the message to be born. 

  • http://www.redeemingthetable.com Kamille

    God’s grace, his mercy is definitely new every morning.  Your story of there to here is woven with the Spirit.  Laying bare your soul before the Almighty, he takes his pen & paper and writes then turns to your downcast soul, “Sarah, would you like to write here too?”  I’m glad you answered him with a yes!  I’m glad you didn’t jump through the hoops.  I’m glad that you stand as an inspiration for me in the writing arena to let it bare out.  

    PS I never commented on the day you wrote about your book deal turning to an actual book–I apologize with a hearty, “Congratulations!” and a batch of homemade cookies right now!

  • Kristen Strong

    I adore you and your beautiful go-against-the-grain heart, Sarah. Thank you for listening to Him alone and following HIs direction. We readers are all the better for it!

    xo

  • Katie

    Hi Sarah,

    I think it’s about time I introduced myself to you.  My name is Katie and I know about a million people you know.  Well, maybe not a million. :) But here’s a few: Tsh is a good friend of mine in real life (and was even before she was Simple Mom – and now I work as her VA).  Megan (Sorta Crunchy) and I became online friends a few years back and then real life friends about two years ago.   Jennie Allen is a friend of mine here in Austin at church.  Maybe there are others?…And I have a good number of friends who have graduated from Regent, where I myself once hoped to attend…Anyway, so, I say all that just to connect a few dots and say, “look, we have this in common.”  Somehow I just discovered your blog pretty recently  – in the last 5-6 months maybe? – and I love it.  I am so thankful for your honesty.  I am a writer, too….and I relate to so very, very much of what you wrote here…and right now I am in that place of doubt and uncertainty and wondering if I really have anything worthwhile to say or the ability to say it well.  I have started and stopped blogging many times.  I struggle with it and really, I think maybe it’s not the venue for me…but then I wonder if it’s just the insecurity talking.  Whatever.  :)  Anyway – just wanted to stop by and say thank you for this post and for your blog, and congratulations on your book deal.  That is very exciting and I can’t wait to read it!  Thanks for your time.

  • Olivia

    Sarah, your blog has changed my life in many ways, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful gift. So much of what you share has transformed what I believe about so many things, particularly about mothering. Now, can you do me a favor? My daughter is 3, my son is 21 months, and I am due to deliver our second daughter any day now. Can you write a post about how I am going to survive the next year? Honestly, I am terrified. I have a feeling that I will be reading The Practice of Clinging to the Vine several times a day. Whatever you write, I know it will be amazing and transformin! I can’t wait for your book!

  • http://www.nebraskagraceful.blogspot.com Michelle DeRusha

    Congratulations, Sarah. I loved reading a bit of your history as a writer here.

  • Rebecca

    As I read the post I thought “I’ve had that happen!” Only it wasn’t about writing (I do blog, but at this point it’s my way of keeping a journal for my kids), it was about air conditioning. Here in New Mexico we have horrendous, horrible things called “swamp coolers” or evaporated coolers. You blow air over water. Very cheap and does work somewhat in the desert, but not enough for my Virginia constitution (I like my house to be 72 degrees or cooler). The problem was that houses with refrigerated air, or “real” AC, cost bundles. We had to live with the swamp coolers. I got mad every year, complained throughout every summer. Then one summer I decided that I was going to be grateful for the house we did have, that it was perfectly located and perfectly priced. I decided to be content. The next month we were offered a house with refrigerated air that cost a mere $25 more per month.

    God is good, and I imagine He chuckled a bit:)

  • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

    Oh Sarah.

    I can’t wait to read your book.

  • the Sooz

    I love Jesus and I love you.  This is all so thrilling.  I simply cannot wait to have your book on my shelf.  I will be as radical about your books as I am about Trader Joe’s.  

  • Stephanie

    So proud of you, Sarah Bessey!

    You have no idea how many of us are cheering you on, applauding you.

    I’m absolutely positive that this book deal won’t be your last.

  • Kate

    Heh.  I’ve stumbled upon your blog through the books lists (which I greatly enjoyed, by the way) and ended up on this post.  I am a New Yorker living in Grand Rapids and know exactly about the Festival you are speaking about.  I also can identify incredibly with your encounter with the waitstaff who were baffled as to where to go to see trees.  These are the people I minister and work with all the time.  This is the place God has called me to be for a time.  This is the place that kills dreams.

    But amazingly, this is also the place where God showed me how to really let go of my dreams and start living His dreams. As it turns out, they are the same thing with one major difference – who is in control.  Your story is beautiful and after a week of reading badly-written op-ed pieces, your writing was a refreshing drink of water.
    Best of luck to you and go with God.Kate

  • Melissa Affleck

    As someone who is currently in transition and feeling such a disconnect between my calling and the current reality of my life, thank you for this post! I know that every one’s story is different, but reading your post today reminded me of God’s hand in my story even when I don’t understand. Thank you!

  • Caroline

    This was beautiful, Sarah.  And I’m glad you finally found your voice to share with us.  Congratulations on your book deal.  I have struggled with telling people that I am a writer, instead of “just” a stay-at-home mom.  It’s hard.  They think “Writer?  What have you written?  When are you getting published?”  I’ve written one book that I’m sure will never see the light of day.  And I write, write, write.  I am a writer.  Just not the way other people think.  God has spoken to me about this, too, the way He spoke to you.  So glad your dream will be realized and I cannot wait to buy your book!

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    I love everything about this. Here’s to whatever comes next for you, friend. I’ll be cheering you on all the way. 

  • Laura_InTheBackyard

    Wonderful.  Just perfectly wonderful, Sarah.  Love this and love you and love to think about the many blessings this comfy space – and your book – will bring to my life in the future.  

  • kim

    This is my first time here, I found you through a link an acquaintance tweeted. Since grade school, I’ve wanted to be a writer.  I feel like you felt, I have nothing important to say, nothing that a million other people haven’t already said, and I have no platform. I tried blogging, I have blogs littered all over the internet, and every time I got the least bit personal, my friends and family expressed deep concern that I was sharing too much of myself with the internet world, and that was dangerous.  That people were making judgements about me, and I wasn’t presenting myself well, and I was being too transparent, too dark at times.  And I believed them, and I stopped writing, and now it’s been so long since I wrote anything that I believe I’m lost and not sure I can find my way back to it again.  I’m glad I found your post today, because maybe, just maybe, I’ll go find one of those lost blogs and write something.

  • Idelette

    absolutely stunning … I loved taking this trip through the past seven years with you. You inspire me and I am so thankful for your words, but even more, for the flesh-and-blodd woman in those words. 

    • Idelette

      make that “blood.” 

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  • Melissa

    Lovely. Thank you, ma’am, for your voice – I actually wept the first time I read a piece of yours (it was about women in the church and stomping on a table and dancing). 

    I have a dream to write, but I don’t know how to start, and I think I’m in a waiting time. I’m not sure I have anything original to say. I hope one day soon I will think “God did this through Sarah Bessey. I think He wants to do it with me now, this is the time.”

    I loved your story of childhood reading and writing, I smiled at the word Caldecott, thinking of book fairs and musty elementary school libraries and Mrs. Everett, my second grade teacher.

    Bless.

  • http://gemmasjourneyoflove.blogspot.com/ Gemma Hartley

    I’m so longing to get past that beginning point, where I want to write but feel my words aren’t good enough yet. Where I feel like my dream is beyond reach; perhaps dying. And here you are, breathing life into me with your words like you so often do. I know I don’t really know you, but I feel like I do sometimes, because your words strike a chord in my heart. Just…thank you.Thank you for being you.

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  • Erin Burke

    I cannot even tell you how much this resonates with me. Thank you.
    And congratulations. That is huge and exciting.

  • http://www.tanyamarlow.com/ Tanya Marlow

    Thanks so much for sharing here. For various reasons, I really needed to read this today.

    I feel embarrassingly late to the party- 7 years…? Yikes. I’ve only been going for 7 months.

    You are one of my writing heroes- it’s good to know that sometimes heroes feel like failures too.

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  • Lacy Blaine

    sometimes you wonder if you’re ever even heard in the comments, but still, i’ll say that to someone in the beginnings of her life, this is a wonderful read to find. you had me at “Evangelical Hero Complex.” :) thank you for opening up your life in this way, Sarah!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Oh, I’m here listening, Lacy. I can’t always respond to every comment right away but I don’t miss a single one. Blessings on your journey, new friend.

  • Jamie

    Reading this post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this experience. I think I’m going to re-vamp my own blog :)

  • Sheila Dailie

    Having just taken my first step on the path called “blog” this was so inspiring. While my writing has not been as disciplined or frequent as yours, writing is a healing agent, a counselor, a brain-storming friend that helps me grow toward wholeness in His spirit. Thanks for your example that God’s path does not always follow the “industry” how to!

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  • http://beautifulinhistime.com/ Aprille {beautifulinhistime.co

    This is so inspiring. thank you for sharing your soul!

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