SheLoves: 10 Exponential Moments of 2013

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women who love card 800My one word for 2013 was “exponential.” I’m not a numbers girl, so it rather surprized me when this was the word that came to mind last year. A math-y term, Lord? Really?

But as I explored the word, I realized: to be an “exponent” means to be a champion and an advocate. I could see how standing with another person would mean we could each grow and do far beyond our individual capacity.

I shared it with all of you at the end of last year—what I hoped and dreamed for us as a movement for 2013.

I could see a picture of “with”—unlocking the potential in each other as we flock together.

Not one plus one plus one. 1 + 1 + 1. (Even though that is good too.)

But us, standing together, to the power of many more joining us

=

the zing of multiplication.

Writing a post, looking back on what God has done in us through the past year on SheLoves, is becoming a new year’s tradition. But there is so much that has happened, I could easily write 5,000 words. I chose 10 exponential moments from 2013 to share with you, instead. [You’re welcome!]

1. Circles of Grace

In February, we rallied together in Circles of Grace—friends standing together and multiplied many times over from Vancouver to Texas to Cape Town to Brisbane to Dubai and beyond, each bringing her or his $10 to build a well for our Batwa friends in Bubanza, Burundi.

10 x 10 x 10 x 10 and then some. We raised over $15,000 for that well, which helped the community to drill deeper and put in a more sophisticated pump.

For me, one of the most special moments was when a solo mama at our church came up to me right after I shared my heart for this project.

“I’ve always wanted to build a well,” she told me. “It’s something God has stirred in my heart for a long time, but I could never give $10,000. Then she put a $10 bill in my hand and said, “But I can give this.”

[ Selah.]

I held that note up to Heaven and pleaded: O, Lord, please multiply this holy offering. And then God did, through so many of us who brought our friends and our $10 and our hearts.

Together we experienced the power of exponential. Together we became multiplied for the purposes of justice and equality.

2.  Zine

At the end of February, we launched our very first zine. I still remember the day Sarah Richardson put up her hand to create this beautiful piece for us. “I can do that!” she said. Now, month after month, she brings the most beautiful offering, telling some of the stories of the people behind the words that we read together every day.

Exponential is seeing Sarah grow and give of herself every month.

Exponential is watching our editorial team coming alongside her. (Here’s looking at you, Bethany!)

Exponential is feeling like we are a movement, because the behind-the-scenes stories are increasing every month.

(Heads up: Our December zine is coming out tomorrow!)

3. Stronger, Before Bigger

I was running (ok, slowly) along the boardwalk during our family vacation in Maui in April, listening to a leadership podcast by Bill Hybels. I had many questions on my heart: How do we build this movement, Lord? What is Your heart?

I felt a little disheartened. Two years into SheLoves having a pulse, we were growing, but we weren’t exactly “blowing up” the Internet. It didn’t quite feel like exponential to me.

But I listened to the wisdom in that podcast and I came home from that vacation feeling covered. It’s ok if we’re not the fastest-growing site out there. It’s ok if we don’t have all the bells and whistles, yet. It’s ok if we don’t spread like a white hot fire, yet. It’s ok. Slow and steady does it.

At our next editorial meeting, I told the girls: I want us to grow stronger before we grow bigger.

I think there was a communal sigh of relief. We had a plan. God is in it.

So, this past year, we’ve worked on growing stronger. We wanted to be faithful to what we have, to each other and to the vision of that beautiful global Sisterhood finding her seat and her voice at the table.

We built our systems and streamlined our editorial team. (In fact, it’s only been one year since we’ve even had a whole team of editors.)

We spent time building community with each other. (#onewordcheckins, anyone?)

And prayed and rejoiced with Holly as she welcomed Baby Samuel into the world.

We added Erin’s monthly Good News for Girls column and we featured Women Who Love.

We sharpened our consistency. Six posts a week—Monday through Saturday. We publish at the same time daily.

We worked on our social media sharing schedule. We now have a team of three people who share every day’s post on our facebook page. It starts with a 3am (PST) share from Kenya when Katie Richardson’s children go down for a nap. The 7am share is handled by Daniela Schwartz and then our day editors share the post around 4pm. Meanwhile, editors also schedule tweets and Rebecca Graham faithfully manages our Twitter account.

Now when I look around our virtual living room at what God has done in us and is doing in us, it certainly feels like exponential.

4. Sisterhood Trip

In May, a handful of us gathered, first in Uganda, and then in Burundi for our first ever SheLoves/Amahoro Sisterhood trip.

Claire, Tina and I met up with Kelley, Fiona, Leigh, Nicole, Meda and Hilary in Entebbe.

Sisterhood had skin on and pyjammies and sunglasses and flip-flops. Sisterhood had unique accents and varied Myers-Briggs personalities and drank malaria pills.

We bonded, talking about racism in South Africa and oppression under the Roman Empire. We listened to our friends from Kenya talk about tribalism and our friends from the DRCongo show us a slideshow with their pride and their pain.

We bonded in worship and communion under the stars.

We bonded squished together onto too few chairs at the airport, waiting for our flight to Burundi.

We bonded when we turned on the taps for water from the SheLoves well in Bubanza, while the women and children sang and we couldn’t stop smiling.

Then, on a different day, we sat together under a thatched roof in Matara, Burundi, with friends from another community development project and we drank Fanta and Coke.

The community leaders spoke up and said, So, you’ve come to visit us twice now. We think it’s time that we save up and come and visit you in Canada.

“How much is a plane ticket?” they asked.

When we told them, they laughed, gasped and shook their heads.

View More: http://tinafrancis.pass.us/africa2013But the mere thought—that this is what friends do—that friends visit each other, spend time together and grace each other with our presence …

It was a beautiful moment.

5. Moldova with Tina

Tina and I were the last of our Sisterhood group to fly out of Burundi in June. We had one more leg to our travels: we were going to Moldova. I’d been there in January with a group of bloggers from Children’s HopeChest and the team from Beginning of Life just felt like our people.

I was so moved by how they do the beautiful, holistic work of not only rescuing girls out of human trafficking, but working to shift their society so the larger story can change. I wanted Tina to see the work and meet our friends.

Again, we saw the difference a second visit makes. The way the girls hugged me—like I wasn’t just someone passing through, but a friend. And this time I’d brought one of my dearest friends to meet them!

On the Sunday afternoon before we were to fly home, Tina and I were invited for tea and cake by the Dubceak family. They turned out to be the parents of the beautiful Mila who’d been translating for us and had also shown us around the city with her hubby Serge. There may have been 12 of us around the table that afternoon as we ate layered honey cream cake, ice cream that didn’t seem to melt and bowls and bowls of cherries from the garden.

We lingered and listened and shared. History, jokes, our hearts.

All I know is that Tina and I drove away that Sunday, feeling like we’d been with family. Our Moldovan family.

It was another table. Another circle. More of our global family.

6. Facebook Shares and Likes

Confession: Summer online is always a little harder and slower for us. So, this year, as per usual, we expected our shares and “likes” to be a little lower over July and August, but we always concentrate on resting, refueling and strengthening community during this time.

When September came around, our daily visits kept going up, but the social share numbers (the facebook shares and likes, for example) remained too low. I made a few enquiries, but couldn’t get to the bottom of it. What was up?

It even felt a bit vain to care about the numbers.

Finally, when one of our writers complained that her facebook likes actually went down that day, instead of up, I knew something was really wrong. I sent our webmaster a screenshot of what was happening with our links. She realized that because we’d been using a third party application and scheduling our shares before the posts were published, facebook couldn’t “find” the post and treated it as non-existent. Hello!

As soon as we figured that out, we changed our system. We now go live a few minutes after midnight (PST) and posts only get shared once they are published.

For the past month, the results have been rather dramatic. Even exponential. The community we knew we had all along, is now clearly visible.

The interesting part of our dilemma, is that the low shares brought solidarity. We all learned to stand together and support each through the dry season. We discovered that these “likes” matter to every brave soul who puts her or his heart on the page; so we show up for one another.

For me, that is a moment.

7. Jesus Feminist

I don’t think a conversation around “exponential” is possible without mentioning our sis Sarah Bessey and her little yellow book, Jesus Feminist. We are so proud of her and how she is lighting up the Internet with her words and her heart and the radical notion that God sees women as people, too.

This is also the first book we’ll read on The Red Couch, our new bookclub starting in January, thanks to Leigh (Sisterhood Trip roommie) Kramer.

I was thrilled when Scott and I were invited to Brian’s secret launch party for Sarah. Tina asked me to share something from us. In front of some of her closest friends and family, I got to tell her, “Eshet Chayil, Sarah Bessey. You are a Woman of Valor.”

Because she is.

And that was a moment.

sarah bessey secret launch party

8.  I Am From

In August, I got to do the “I am From” exercise with a group of women from Vancouver’s inner city—many of whom had struggled with homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness. When Phoenix shared her “I am From” poem, it was like a veil dropped. The room felt a little more honest, a little more human.

I knew I wanted to be part of making space for her at our table. So, what a privilege to have her lead us out in our poignant synchroblog this year, along with Claire. If you haven’t seen it yet, go take a peek at the 100+ gorgeous linkups. To me, these “I Am From” poems say, Our stories are each so unique, but we can meet together around a table and share our lives for greater good.

9. SheLoves Media Society

We put on our big girl boots this year and became a non-profit society in Canada. It means we are official, legit, the works. We can have a bank account and we can receive donations. We can sell advertising and products. For me, what it means is that we can grow, strengthen and do good things. Empowerment all around!

10. Keep A Girl in School

Probably the most poignant expression of “exponential” this year, for me, came through our Keep A Girl in School initiative. Not only did we raise $10,000 together, so girls in Northern Uganda can have a one-year-supply of sanitary products and not drop out of school, but it really was HOW it came about that showed me we get “exponential.”

It started with Mama Marilyn Skinner sharing the vision at RelateWomen and Megan Gahan saying, Yes.

But this wasn’t a one-woman effort. Or even a two-person effort. It became a four-person effort multiplied by every person and ministry who then came and stood with us. (Tina and Kupa, you blew me away.)

We became four to the power of many many many.

The way I had hoped we would be a sisterhood this year, but couldn’t quite know how. The way I think God imagined us to be when that word “exponential” dropped into my heart.

So: Thank you, dear SheLovelys, for the way we stand together, the way we make room for each, the way we call out the songs in each other’s hearts and the way we leap to do the difficult things.

Thank you for the way we, together, can be women who Love.

It is such an honour and a joy to do Life with you on these pages and beyond.

With Love,

Idelette
xoxo

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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Idelette McVicker
  • Sarah Richardson

    O, look what a year we have had! I want to weep for joy. I cannot imagine what this year would have been without SheLoves.

    Welp, now I’m crying. How beautiful is this place?

    • Amazing amazing amazing. I cannot imagine this year without you, dear Sarah. xoxo

    • olivechan

      I’m crying too! Sweet tears of worship and wonder. I’m a newbie to *this* particular sisterhood but I have felt welcome. Thank you lovelies!

  • Saskia Wishart

    This gives me great joy. So so thankful to be part of this sisterhood!

    • Ahhhhh. JOY. I am so so thankful you are part of this sisterhood too, Saskia! xoxo

  • Shilpa

    Wow, Idelette! Praise God for the exponential year you’ve had. Even though we’ve met only a couple of times, it’s easy to see that you are God’s chosen and faithful steward.
    1 Peter 4:10-11
    “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides,”
    May you be blessed exponentially for being such a positive role model to women around the world.

    • Dear Shilpa, you are such a wonderful encourager. Thank you! I feel so blessed + grateful to be part of this Sisterhood!

  • Naomi Williams

    Oh wow Idelette praise from the rooftops for the way God has worked loveliness through your one word and blessed so many of us global sisters in the process! You have encouraged me so much both through this post and through what you share of your heart, thank you thank you xo

    • Thank you so much, Naomi! So great to hear the ripples go on. We have an amazing, beautiful God. SO thankful for you being here.

  • Claire Colvin

    What an incredible year! Keep a Girl in School remains one of my own highlights for the year because it was a time when God asked me to step into an area of weakness and then surprise, surprise, He showed up and did more than I asked. I’m really looking forward to the book club!

    (One quick edit – there are two number eights in the list. I didn’t want to miss the tenth moment and couldn’t figure out where it went.)

    I’m excited to see the new zine tomorrow – each one is more beautiful than the last.

    • Ooooops! Haha. Thank you, Claire! I started with 12, but the word count was running so long, I decided to take two out at the end … And I thought I’d checked it! I guess I was starting to go cross-eyed after so many hours staring at the computer. It’s fixed now! Thank you for pointing it out.

      I’d love to hear more about your backstory of Keep A Girl in School! That sounds beautiful.
      xoxo

  • I am not sure how SheLoves mag got on my radar and how my Ionline world crisscrossed with some of the women of this movement, but I am grateful that it did. SheLoves has become an exponential presence in my virtual life. Here’s to 2014! (Have you announced your one word for the new year?)

    • Thank you, Pam! I am so thankful for you.

      I was super excited to see your word for 2014! Hello! We are tracking, friend! I haven’t announced mine yet … doing it Wednesday!

  • Bethany Olsen

    Yay for seeing all the things that have happened this year right here in one post. Exponential, indeed! Love you Idelette, so much. <3

    • Thank you, Bethany! Love you right back. xoxo

  • This brought tears to my eyes this morning. WHAT A YEAR. My goodness gracious, Idelette. This community is one of the great privileges of my life. So honoured and proud to be a small part of our sisterhood. You make room for all of us. Here’s to 2014!

    • It really has been a year … woohoo! It floors me every year to look back and see. So honoured to walk this out with you. xoxo

  • jennieallen

    Beautiful. Exponentially so. 🙂

  • Stefanie

    Wow! Thank you, beautiful Idelette, for this. It is powerful to see on one page so many of the wonderful things that took place this year. Sarah’s right, you DO make room for all of us. It’s remarkable! xo

    • Thank you, Stefanie! I like to think we are making room for each other now. I love that. xo

  • makeda

    This made my heart smile on so many levels. There is wonderful work happening in the SheLoves community. Thank you Idelette for the incredible vision and leadership you bring to this team.

    • O, Makeda! We started off last year together, didn’t we? Such a life-changing trip. Wish we were having a reunion trip in a few weeks. 🙂 Thank you for being such a wonderful exponent, my friend. xoxo

      • makeda

        It really was a life changing trip, much shifted for me on that trip. It was a good year but here’s to 2014 being even better.

  • I am a quiet reader here, and honestly? Had no idea of the breadth of life happening within SheLoves. It’s amazing!! Thank you seems too small for all you’ve done in 2013, but it’s all I’ve got =) All truly is grace.

    • Thank you so much for joining us, Anna! Thank you for saying hi and commenting–it means so much. Truly. Knowing we are connecting, makes it all worth it. Love xoxo

  • Roos Woller

    Thank you She Lovelies for an amazing year and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us in 2014. Buckle your seatbelts here we come!!!

    • cjdeboer

      Honk honk!!!!

  • Holly

    Idelette, I honestly don’t think that you will know this side of heaven how far your love reaches, friend. And to have been invited into that fold, to walk WITH you for even a portion of the journey? It is all so much grace and joy and spirit-filled glory. I know I’ve said it, again and again, but truly, it is such an honor to be a part of this gorgeous community. My life has been impacted in ways great and small and I KNOW that I am a better person for it. Thank you.

    • cjdeboer

      You say it so beautifully, Holly, that all I can add is a big fat DITTO! xo

  • Thea van Diepen

    I just had a thought about your friends in Burundi: If you and they want to raise money to pay for plane tickets for them to come to Canada, I would totally be behind that with my dollars and whatever other help I can provide.

    • Erin Wilson

      I’m in.

    • Wow! Now you have me thinking …

      • Thea van Diepen

        🙂 My old church does trips to Zambia to help out with a group of communities that they’ve partnered with, and they also help out financially during the rest of the year with whatever need those communities voice to them -things like seed for a lending program, bikes, a school. The church’s focus has always been for the whole endeavour to be a partnership, rather than some sort of benevolent paternalism, and so the Zambians do what they can to help the church, namely by getting up early and praying for at least an hour every day for all of the church’s members (which is pretty much the coolest thing I’ve ever heard, and I still tear up thinking about it).

        Sometime in the winter one year, after the church had done a few missions trips, two of the Zambians were able to get travel visas and they came to Canada (I’m not sure who paid for the tickets, but it’s highly likely that it was the church). I remember thinking when this happened: “This is how you do church globally. This is how you have a family.”

        So, when I heard about your friends in Burundi wanting to come to Canada, it reminded me of all that, and how beautiful it all was to see in action, and I wanted that for you guys and your friends.

  • I am SO thrilled to be a part of this corner of Love. Honoured, stunned, blessed. SheLovelies have brought me to tears many times, brought my dreams to life and made me lasagna and cookies. We just planted our tree from Daniela, a reminder of the goodness of God in the barren places. You ladies have changed me. Idelette, you are incredible. You have indeed called out the song in my heart. So much love to you. xoxox

    • Group hug!!!!!!!!! Love right back xoxo

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    Every one of these moments brought so much joy into my life, directly or indirectly. Well done to the SheLoves team, and to you SheLoves mama! You have truly created a space for women to wake. Now I’m excited to see just which mountains you and your amazing team will move and shake next year 🙂

    • Together we can. You are one of the most wonderful encouragers and friends and sisters along this journey. I think you know just how much it means to me, but I’ll keep saying it. You bring my worlds together. xoxo

      • And that’s just HUGE for me.

      • Nicole A. Joshua

        Oh Idelette. You just made me cry happy tears. Love you very much! Have blessed New Year’s Eve celebration!

  • How could ALL of this happened in ONE year? I’m in disbelief! ONE YEAR. Well, technically its many years of you carrying and nurturing the dream, but talk about a year of fruition. This year our little baby went Pro.

    Reading this felt like a slow-motion victory lap. Like the day we crossed the finish line at the half-marathon. It’s a moment.

    The part that made my heart sing is #3 “Stronger, Before Bigger.” We did the hard work, the deep work, the not-always-exciting work. We strategized, problem-solved and pooled our resources. This picture of growth is true sisterhood for me. It’s a rare and spectacular thing to roll up your sleeves alongside people you admire and love. Strategy gave me dignity this year. We were THINKING and DOING. What dignity there is in strategy, sisters brainstorming.

    I’m so grateful to have a seat at the table.

    Love you,
    Teen

    • Erin Wilson

      I’m so glad for #3, because this is the part that most of us don’t get to see. The fruit tastes sweeter when you know what it took to grow it. I hope we can keep getting these glimpses into the back-end. It’s got it’s own kind of encouraging magic.

      • I hear you, friend … As I continue to reflect, I am noticing how we grew most out of the challenges. I feel like I need to give myself a pep talk/reminder to embrace, ok, maybe lean into, more of the challenges, knowing they will bring the most fruit in the end …

    • I know, right?! ONE year. It’s so good to reflect and take stock. Our baby went Pro … Has she put in the 10,000 hours? Collectively we certainly have! 🙂

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for how you run the race with me and all of our worlds. I’m so grateful we get to sit together.

      Exponential was also how you and I traveled across three continents, four countries and just get along … no drama. I love that. Thank you for being amazing …

      xoox

      • This is true! 🙂

        I keep forgetting that it’s no small thing to “just get along” when sharing a space.

        It’s just so EASY with you. 🙂

        I love our airplanes chats. It’s like a confessional where the truth comes pouring out.

  • I have no words for what SheLoves has meant in my life this past year. From reading the posts here to our sisterhood trip to sitting on your infamous red couch- I have been changed in the best of ways. So grateful for you, Idelette, and for the ways you have stepped into your calling and made room for us all. xoxo

    • O, Leigh! Yayy! You have been a HUGE part of this year … So thankful you are walking right closely with us. Love and a big squeeze hug. xo

  • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

    Love this recap, beautiful.

    • Thank you, Rachel! So appreciate you.

  • Megan Gahan

    This list is stunning. How could this all be just ONE year. I feel like I don’t have words, so I will just say thank-you. For calling out the dreams in each of us and having the courage (and chutzpah!) to stand with us, our trembling hand in your firm confident one. I am honored to be a small part, and so indebted to the community of SheLovelys for showing up to this table each day, and putting their hands up. 2014 is going to blow our socks off! Can’t wait to do it with you my friend.

    • Megs, my hands sure tremble … and my knees often knock. But I love adventure, so I keep leaping. What a fun, heart-stretching, faith-enducing adventure we get to be on. I’ll keep sweating for sisterhood, if you’re there. xo

  • Erin Wilson

    First… wooooooot!!

    Second… thank you!!!

    • Wooooooot right back. You’re welcome. And thank YOU!!!! xo

  • This is so inspiring. You are awesome. Xx

  • jenyylee

    So wonderful to see the year in review! Wow.
    It was amazing to journey with everyone here, with my One Word, and a new one for 2014! 🙂

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  • Scott McVicker

    I agree Sarah…I did weep and cry as I read all that you all have accomplished. I feel that I need to pull up my boots for 2014.
    A job well done to all of you who are involved. Thank you for coming alongside my wife’s vision and running with her. Together you are all accomplishing great things and I am excited to see it all grow! 2014 Here you come!!!!!!

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