My Popular Posts of 2014

I’m still reeling from 2014 in many ways. It’s been one of those good-hard years. It was a learning curve year for me in many ways – figuring out what I love and what I don’t, what I’m good at and why it’s exhausting to do things simply because others expect it of you or because you thought it sounded like a good idea at the time. I made a lot of mistakes this year. (I won’t subject you to all of my navel gazing in this area, not yet anyway. I am a blogger after all, so no doubt some narcissistic pondering will follow at some point.)

But one thing I did learn this year was to keep my own secrets and sit with my thoughts a bit better. Sometimes I wonder if, in our rush for authenticity, we have forgotten how beautiful it can be to keep secrets. Not the shameful kind but the “just for us” kind, I mean. I’ve purposely been practicing the spiritual discipline of secrecy for much of what is going on in my heart and spirit these past few months. At first it was so difficult and weird – is it real if you don’t document it on Facebook or blog about it?! – but now I’ve relearned the truth that new life often comes forth in quiet, hidden, and sacred places. In the meantime, keeping secrets and holding more of our stories and evolutions, our victories or sorrows close to the bone suits just fine. Who knew, eh?

As a writer – or any kind of minister or artist perhaps – it’s hard not to turn one’s life into content or impose narrative for every moment. The discipline of keeping secrets is a good cure for simply letting it unfold for a while, without expectation of affirmation or criticism.

But practically, this meant that I didn’t blog as much as usual and a lot of what has been happening in my heart/mind/spirit has gone unwritten. I went from blogging almost every day to just a few posts every month, even taking whole months off here and there throughout the year. I’ve even had to take a break from responding to email altogether which is way out of character for me (I love to hear from readers and usually make the time to respond personally to each email I receive).

Of course there are other reasons for my sporadic blogging this year: a surprise new baby coming which completely disoriented us, a new book to finish writing (and I will share all about that in January), travelling and speaking all over North America, stewarding the message of Jesus Feminist throughout her first year of life, creating the Jesus Feminist collection with Imagine Goods, a trip to Haiti, new opportunities as a writer, three tinies at home with their own lives and drama and growth and change, remodelling parts of our home, marriage, church, friends, life, work, laundry (oh, can we talk laundry?!), meals, and everything that goes into keeping the wheels on the life of a busy young family.

No wonder I need a nap. 

Anyway. Enough of that.

Here are the most popular posts that I wrote in 2014 … with a few behind-the-scenes thoughts for each one.

1. In which I am learning to live with the ache :: I dashed this one off last January, never dreaming that it would strike the nerve that it did. Turns out, we’re not alone. Of course, just six months later, we had a surprise pregnancy and one of the first things everyone said to us – online and off – was “So much for that ache!” But I still love this post so much and I deeply connect with it, I know I’ll be revisiting it again soon since we are DEFINITELY COMPLETELY DONE after this tiny arrives.

2. In which I have a few things to tell you about Ferguson :: I very rarely editorialize like this anymore. But I was so deeply moved – and remain so deeply moved – by the protests in Ferguson and the growing #BlackLivesMatter movement in the United States as it continues. And it bothered me that it took so long for the American white Christian blogosphere to react to the so I just went and ahead and did it. I probably didn’t have any place weighing in. I got a lot of hate for this post but I don’t regret it. It was a small and insignificant thing to do in the big picture, I’m under no illusions.

3. 173 Beats a Minute: On one surprising little baby and the possibility of miracles :: This is our miracle baby story. I still can hardly believe that this really happened and is happening right now. I’m 31 weeks pregnant as I write this and I’m still just stupid grateful – when I’m not overwhelmed.

4. In which I disagree with Candace Cameron Bure about “biblical” marriage :: I read Bure’s comments about “biblical marriage” and I had to respond to that phrase in particular as she re-ignited the conversation in pop culture about what Christians really believe about headship/submission in marriage. I’m passionate about the topic, personally, of course, but in all of the conversations I’ve had since Jesus Feminist came out, I’ve come to realise that it’s even more important than I could have dreamed to speak the truth here and teach the truth in our communities. My husband and I submit to one another as we both submit to Christ. We learned that from our Bibles.

5. In which this is for the ones leaving evangelicalism :: I wrote this after the World Vision thing earlier in the year. Their hiring reversal hurt the GLBTQ community deeply as well as their allies, let alone the 10,000 vulnerable kids who lost sponsorships, so a lot of people were talking about how they were done, done, done with evangelicalism. Which I thought was just fine. And so I began to think about when I took a step out of the culture of evangelicalism – many years ago and my reasons were more related to women’s issues as well as the Iraq war – and I wrote this letter to all the ones who were leaving, the way that I wished people had spoken to me when I set out away from my faith tradition. I also did a follow up piece about the ones who chose to stay. These themes are a big part of my new book, incidentally.

6. Soapbox Warning: On Jian Ghomeshi and the acceptability of sexual violence against women :: Oh, this post. What a firestorm this one became. I was overwhelmed with responses of support, the devastating stories from survivors, and then the inevitable backlash. Eventually, it became hard for me to sort out the legitimate critiques from the violent abuse that came my way from every angle and that was when I had to step away altogether and simply let it stand as-is.

7. Guard Your Gates :: I loved this post and I’m happy to see it in the popular ones for the year. I don’t write about the tinies as much anymore, out of respect for their own stories and lives. So that means that a big portion of my life and heart never makes it onto the blog. I felt like maybe this was a way to write about how God parents me as I parent – without selling my tinies out – so I will try to do more of it in the future. Parenting is my greatest altar for meeting God and I am still figuring out how to write about it as the tinies grow up.

8. Women in Bikinis :: The backlash to this one shocked me. I thought I was just writing a nice little homage to my friends and the way that they set me free in so many ways, using the bikini thing as a metaphor, but instead I set off a modesty debate in the comment section that left me shaking my head. I don’t get it, man. Some debates are just a baffling waste of time to me and this is one of them.

9. In which you are not forgotten :: This was my first video released from The Work of the People. Travis Reed had come up to visit back in April and he filmed a day of conversations. In this one, I talked about a pastor who encouraged me with a word from God after one of my miscarriages and how her words – “You are not forgotten” – have become one of my cries of my heart for our world. I loved how it turned out and I love that so many watched it and felt seen, even if just for a moment.

10. In which I don’t mind if the tinies see me on the computer :: I absolutely hate mum-guilt. And I loved this post because it married a few things I’m passionate about – motherhood, freedom, the sanctity of work, and family dynamics. It was one of the rare times when I didn’t regret getting out my soapbox and having a good old-fashioned rant.


Okay, now in looking over these popular posts, I see a trend….. The posts that get shared or commented or liked are often controversial ones. And let’s be honest, I’m not that controversial. I very rarely write what I call “response” posts – editorializing, ranting or reactions to either news or the writings/sayings of other people. And yet those are often my most popular posts with the most traffic, the most comments, the most shares, the most accompanying outrage – and the most overwhelming email inbox.

Meanwhile, the posts that I personally like the best or feel most represent me as a writer are often flying under the radar.

So in addition to the Top 10 of the year, I wanted to share a couple more posts – these are the posts that I actually liked or feel represent my year of writing, even if no one else liked them or tweeted about them, even if they are an out-of-fashion style of blogging like story-telling or moment-capturing. I’m more that type of blogger than the click-baiter or the response-writer or editorialist anyway, who are we kidding?

I needed to see her :: I wrote this one after my church’s Christmas ladies’ event. I was feeling very emotional about it already – I could blame the pregnancy hormones but we all know I’m a feeler – and then my friend, Tracy, who is our worship pastor sent me that picture in the post. It seemed powerful to me somehow – the image of a pregnant woman preaching about the Incarnation – and i got to thinking of all the women I needed to see in my life in order to step out into freedom and the post grew out of that.

Being Brave Together :: I loved this post because it captures so much of what drives me these days, what makes me brave, and the real-flip-side of how bravery doesn’t feel good to me. some people get a rush from being brave, not me. I’m too much of a people-pleaser still to love it. So this was a wrestling. And then I published it right after my Jian Ghomeshi post even though I actually wrote it before I had even heard of the scandal. I had it ready to go in the queue when I decided to hold off and do the Jian one first. But boy, was it timely to re-read after that one erupted.

October’s Lady :: This is some of my favourite writing to do and yet the stuff that rarely resonates with readers. Go figure.

Instructions for an evening :: Again, I love to write like this but it seems that the Internet world isn’t made for this kind of work anymore. But I’m more committed than ever to keeping on with it. It’s how I think and move through the world, so it’s going to show up in my work. This feels more like the truest version of my self.

Be Not Afraid: A Letter to my Charismatic Brothers and Sisters :: I wrote this letter after Charisma News wrote an absolutely heinous editorial justifying islamophobia and then the evangelical world freaked out because Michael Gungor dared to say that he didn’t believe in six day creation (news flash: a lot of Christians don’t and haven’t for millenia). And because I have quietly become more neo-charismatic as I get older, returning to the traditions of my youth, I felt compelled to write about why that kind of stuff drives me bonkers. It’s an insider letter, perhaps, but I still think that’s where good critique arises – from within the family.

We underestimate the foolish and the kind ones: On building the Kingdom of God, peace-making, and bridge-building :: If I had to pick a post that sums up where I am at right now as an activist, this would be it.

In which I fall for the beautiful facade :: Returning to Haiti this year was an important part of my year. I joined the board of Help One Now and so this was an important trip to see the completion of several projects and the rise of a few new ones, as well as reconnect with our partners on the ground. But this post pretty much serves as a parable for how I miss the point and fall for the beautiful lie in development or activist work still. I wish it had gone a bit more popular because I felt like the idea behind it is applicable to so many areas of our life as believers, particularly in the Church, but what can you do? When I post about Haiti, few people read, even fewer share.

Tell them about the love that doesn’t show up in movies :: I didn’t do much writing in my never-ending series of “What Love Looks Like” but I did love this one. It’s a song for the vast middle part of a love story.


 

Before I sign off for 2014 and begin to look ahead to 2015, I need to take a moment to thank each of you for reading here and for being part of our life. It means more to me than you could know that you are here with me.

Saying “thank you” seems inadequate but it’s all I have right now: thank you.  Thank you for reading, for commenting, for our funny and deep and weird conversations on Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, for your emails and letters, for your support and critiques, for showing up to the events in churches and community centres where I stumbled over my words and hugged you a bit too tightly and likely cried, for buying my little yellow book, for your prayers for me and my family, for staying with me, really, for all of it.

My 10 Favourite Books of 2014
Hold Fast :: One Word 2015
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  • Juanita Dueck

    Well Sarah, some of my favourites were your favourites too. But I’m so thankful for your THOUGHTFUL, caring, justice-oriented voice in a sea of ranting, raving lunatics(sometimes I admit I am one of the latter). I’m excited for you and your NEW book and NEW baby in this NEW year. Lots to look forward to on all fronts!

  • Such thoughtful end of the year ponderings … I’m heading back to do some serious re-reading.

    Blessings, Sarah …

  • Brittaney Borman

    I really loved the videos you did earlier in the year. I like hearing your words/thoughts in your own lovely Canadian voice.

  • Nicola

    Well I never comment despite being a huge huge fan of your writing but I wanted you to know those last posts you chose were my absolute favourites (now it’s my English that’s showing!), particularly October’s Lady and Instructions for an Evening – I read and reread those several times when night-parenting my second baby girl this autumn. So I guess I am saying please don’t stop writing like that! Your writing has blessed me more than you’ll ever know over the years – I frequently go back to your Practices of Motherhood series which changed me forever and I never thought 5 years ago when in the depths of postnatal depression with my first baby girl that I would actually enjoy the baby months second time round. Praying for you and your family as you adapt to a new normal in 2015 x

  • I have to say, Sarah, as I’ve said before. The posts that resonate most with me are often the ones you like (though I appreciate your perspective on the events of the day as well). There is something about leaning into who you are as a writer, and simply owning that, that I appreciate.

    And a word on the bikini post. You know that this has been a hard year body image-wise for me, and that both the instructions for the evening of your life and that post inspired a truly free afternoon for me. So thank you, those words meant something to me.

    Here’s to finding out what’s next for the new year!

  • Jenny Flannagan

    October’s Lady was my favourite of the year! Don’t stop writing like that…

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  • Ronna

    Your favorites were some of my favorites as well! More than the controversial/editorial blogs; although I needed to read and enjoyed most of those at some point as well.

  • Rea

    Although I appreciate the things you write on controversial topics because you so often echo my own thoughts, it’s the beauty in posts like October’s Lady that I truly love. I suppose maybe it’s harder to comment when you are sinking into the words and wrapping them around you. “This is beautiful” seems like such a trite thing to say over and over again. But I have so appreciated the quiet moments that your words in posts like those create space for.

  • Chelsea

    I love your writing so much I’m sure I’d love your grocery lists. 🙂 lol I love your popular and unpopular posts. I love the way you put into words what I feel and what I think so beautifully. Thank you for sharing your gift.

  • Esther C

    Your post “In which the Spirit inhabits the praises of the people” was my favourite of the year. It brought tears to my eyes and phrases from that post have stuck with me. Thank you.

  • I’m a fairly new reader of yours, and I just held back on commenting on nearly every one of these posts that you shared (so I don’t look like a stalker) and instead decided to just make one comment in one spot (like a normal person). So much of your writing resonates. Your instruction for an evening is my favorite practice at the closing of a chapter, the thing I do before I even return home. Your words to those leaving evangelism that God is also in the wilderness… I’ve never been an evangelist, God and I became acquainted in the wilderness and only recently have I tip-toed into a church, so I know that is true. Your support of Help One Now was affirming, we sponsor a child in Ethiopia through this organization and it is encouraging to hear from someone in the know about their platform. Your thoughts on courage… just, yes. Thank you for sharing your words. Looking forward to reading more in 2015. Happy New Year!

  • A wonderful recap of a powerful year of writing. Thank you for being YOU, and for sharing YOU with US. ♥

  • Naomi

    I don’t often comment, and I just found your blog late this year, but “October’s Lady” and “Instructions for an Evening” were some of my favorites. I really love when you write this way. And I appreciate your voice and words ~ yours is one of the few blogs I follow. Thank you!

  • Lydia

    I don’t often comment, but I read regularly and it feels like buttering you up to say this, but I mean it; those posts you listed as your personal favorites…those were the ones that kept me coming back…those were the ones that make it easier for me to dive into the big uglies with you, because I feel like I get to see your whole heart in the softer, more “real life Sarah” posts. I especially loved the bikini post and October’s Lady. thank you for being.

  • Handsfull

    I find I just repeat myself over and over about your writing – ‘This is beautiful!’ – so eventually I stop saying it, so as not to be boring. But I don’t stop thinking it. Your writing (and speaking) are among my very favourites on the interwebs! I love the way you let the Spirit move you… and I have to admit to occasionally being jealous that you aren’t my mother. Lol…

  • Alina Sayre

    I loved “October’s Lady” 🙂 Be the truest version of yourself. You’re speaking truth and hope into a lot of people’s lives, including mine 🙂 Thank you, and please keep writing!

  • Laura Klassen

    I love your writing, Sarah, although I seldom comment. Your controversial (?) posts are always well thought out, and it’s surprising to me that your favorites that “flew under the radar” were not more popular because I found them amazing. I think I’m an “October lady” as well, except here on the prairies it’s more like a “September lady”. 🙂 And I’m proud you’re a Canadian … and your aunt attends our church in Moose Jaw.

  • Melissa

    Chiming in to say that the moment capturing you do is fabulous, and please don’t stop doing it. I think it’s the combination of moment/life capturing and turning a critical/soapbox eye to the world that makes me always so interested to see what you’ll have to say next. Best wishes for a very merry and happy new year!

  • I read your blog AFTER going to the store for last minute items. The past year, as you mentioned, seemed easier to “fire people up” over innocent, general statements. I borrowed a technique from a TV episode and began many conversations with “in my opinion”.

    Back to the store visits. The store was packed with traffic stalls at isle intersections BUT every one remained calm, polite, quietly working their way through. There were many “sorry, thank you, excuse me”. Visits through the year had often been similar to a war zone.

    After returning home and commenting on the “change”, I actually returned later New Years Eve afternoon to get one last item AND verify I was not hallucinating. No yelling, banging carts into each other, angry threatening looks. I was sure I had entered another dimension by error. The cashier commented that she experienced whatever pent up anger was left before a customer exited the building. Even so, I observed four checkouts with at least five people in line, with full baskets and everyone patiently waiting their turn.

    Rereading your blogs with your current content, caused me to ponder if we (the general population) might re-evaluate our responses to one another and begin applying GRACiousness….hmmmm…Christians and Grace.

    Your thoughts, opinions and observations generally stir my thinking, often challenge my opinions, and sometimes PROVOKE me (anger, disagreement, get up and walk around my office and our home, vent, or rant), then sit down, chew on the content some more and return to your next blog for another round.

    There are several, count on one hand, bloggers I continue to follow that present information, as you do, in a logical, objective, passionate and reasonable method that demands I evaluate it in the same manner. Frequently, comments to blogged content seems so absurd or contentious (even on FB) that I wonder if the person ACTUALLY THOUGHT about the material offered. Even those, tho, cause me to review my attitude when submitting comments.

    2014 was a REALLY TOUGH year for more people than I realized, including my wife and I. Your blogs were an enjoyable Oasis traveling this 2014 desert. I like your writing style and enjoy discussing your material with friends and family members that also follow you. Happy New Year.

  • Amy

    I have favorites in both of your “categories”, but your favorites were truly at the top of my list. I wonder if the people the “quieter” posts speak to are those that tend to be quieter in spirit… who don’t comment much on anyone’s posts? I think I fall into that category… I am so deeply touched and moved by these posts that I can’t put into a “comment” what it meant to me… how God used it to speak to me, to move me, to grow me. Maybe your more “controversial” posts tend to speak to the people who are wired differently? those who are able to put into words right away what they think? what their opinions are? and they share and share and share because that is natural to them? Either way…don’t stop writing. However, whenever, whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to write – keep being obedient. Your writing is beautiful and thought provoking and I think “bigger” and my God is “bigger” because of it. thank you!

  • October’s Lady and Instructions for an Evening are my favorite kind of writing too:) So glad there’s still a place for us to read and write these pieces on the internet, even when click-bait seems to rule the day. I hope to see more lovely posts like these from you in 2015:) Many blessings to you and yours in the coming year.

  • Joy_F

    “Be not afraid” was honestly my favorite. I am also a Charismatic by birth, and have been trying to sort through it. There is so much I love still and yet……. So this particular post really resonated. The fear of everything in some of the churches though is honestly the reason I am most unsure about it now and staying. How to change that?

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