Standing Under My Tree: On Faith, Flip-Flops and Dreams Come True

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Rachel-6Rachel Parsons, director of Cherish Uganda, stood under a tall tree in the red earth of Entebbe with her black skirt, white twin set, chignon and flip-flops.

I recognize that stance, I thought.

It had nothing to do with legs, feet or hips.

It was a heart stance. They way she stood in her story and the story of Cherish. The way she was comfortable and joyful and completely inspiring our group of SheLovelys.

She stood under the tree on nothing but red dust and dreams and yet she was painting a picture with her words of a future she’d already seen in her heart. A picture so vivid, we could see it too:

- A hospital and even a speedboat that could carry pregnant women to good health care.

- A piggery.

- A creative arts school.

- A next generation of visionaries and great storytellers, lighting up the world.

- A mobile library that could serve the greater community and make readers out of kids who before had only a death sentence.

Rachel-5On hearing about the mobile library, yes, Kelley and I were literally wiping away the tears. We like books. And we know how books can crack open new worlds, even–and especially here–in a small village in Uganda.

Such was the power of Rachel’s storytelling and her ability to paint the future with her words. We could catch a glimpse of the future. As if it already was.

Now, back on my couch in Canada, when I think of Rachel, I picture her on that red earth under that tree, standing in a radiant confidence.

This is the picture that has stayed with me and it’s been speaking to me.

You see, confidence is a tricky word for me. I even had it as my “one word” for the year way back in 2001.

Then why the bump up against this word, time and again? Stand in confidence? Eeeek. Watch me run.

Yes, I know I know I know it’s not standing in self-assurance, but in God assurance. I think my visceral reaction has to do with a very twisted understanding I (and we?) have of the word. That I somehow need to become someone else–this better, more polished, better dressed, always-having-the-right-word-at-the-right-time version of myself. Which I know isn’t going to happen. And if that’s what confidence is, I might as well stop the boat right now. I can’t get on. I’ve tried it. It’s too hard. I’ll be a fake and I’ll hate it.

Don’t give me any of that juice. And hand me my flip-flops, please.

That kind thinking makes me want to shut down my computer, put down my pen and defect from a life of purpose.

But … then I remember Rachel and how she stood in confidence and I clue in that it’s a very different thing.

And, heck, I actually know some of that thing.

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It’s the heart position that says, I know when I stand here, in quiet knowing and a ridiculously tenacious faith–I trust and know that God will show up.

Yes, God may not show up in a way we anticipate, but standing in my place–under my tree of Life and purpose, in my flip-flops or Toms or bare feet–God meets me here.

It requires a kind of lockdown. Bulldog grip. A gracious immoveability.

And we can all know that thing and stand or sit under our tree, like Rachel does and Deborah did, because it’s a heart thing. It’s a heart stance.

I know this heart stance. I do stand here. It’s the stance that says, I have seen God move too many times to not trust right here. It’s my spot. The place where I just need to show up, hang out and stand my ground. In all my quirky and imperfect self-ness.

I also remember that standing there has less to do with my inner strength and more to do with trusting our God. Like the word itself says, if confidence is not rooted in a fidere–a faith–in the God who meets us here, then it’s no confidence.

Two weeks ago, Anne-Marie and Heather asked me, in different places and slightly different versions: How did you get the courage to start SheLoves? You can read my response in the comments on Anne-Marie’s beautiful post. I carried this dream for 13 years and learned and unlearned much, so it might call for a longer response.

But what I want to say here, is that much of the courage (heart strength, in the Idelette dictionary) came out of this:

1. Finding my place. The thing I was meant to do and wanted to do.

2. Catching a glimpse of the bigger picture–God’s heart for the world, including justice, Love and equality.

3. Then simply taking my place. Standing under my tree, heart and purpose aligned with God’s big story.

I remember how hard it was for me to talk about the dream and not feel foolish. It was hard to own the fact that I had seen something in the dark, something that was not yet visible or fully understood. I could make out fragments of it, but I had no idea what the complete picture looked like. (I still don’t!) I had to swim in the dark, look at the dream from all angles, learn from others who’d been swimming in the dark too, and I needed to trust that this God who was showing me this picture, would unveil all I needed to see, in good time.

This life–this standing–is a faith walk. A deep trust in the God who trusts us with these seeds of beautiful dreams.

Greatness emerges when, above all else, people are confident. When we believe—together—that life is good, God is good and humanity is good, we become very safe and salutary people for others. We do exciting and imaginative things because we are confident that we are a part of a story line that is going somewhere and we want to be connected to something good. - Hope Against Darkness, Fr. Richard Rohr

It is hard and it is good.

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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
  • Bev Murrill

    Oh my lovely, beautiful, gallant, heroic, strong, confident, vulnerable, forthright, empowering, generous, thankful-hearted, open, soft, gracious, grace-giving and grace-receiving Rachel. I love that woman so much and all the more because of, as you say Idelette, the heart stance which I’ve seen her take so many times. I’m so glad you have taken the time and space to celebrate her. She is unique and priceless.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      O Bev, YES! I’m so grateful we got to meet Rachel and spend time with her. It felt like such a luxury to be together … loved it! a

      And I am thankful she’s introduced *us.* :-)

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    Yes, yes, yes! Just what I needed to hear in this vulnerable space I’m in right now. The courage to stand in front of my classes each week and teach comes from exactly this, “But what I want to say here, is that much of the courage (heart strength, in the Idelette dictionary) came out of this:
    1. Finding my place. The thing I was meant to do and wanted to do.” Thank you Idelette.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you, friend! I’m so thrilled you have found your tree–those who come and sit and learn with you are blessed.

  • http://www.eloranicole.com/ elora nicole ramirez

    This is a heart-song, Idelette. I love it.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      I appreciate your words here so much. A song?!!!! Thank you, Elora! #singingmysongunderthetree :-)

  • hilary

    Thanks so much for this Idelette, took me right back there, as she painted a picture so real we could almost taste it and see it… Beautiful description of Rachel and our time with her. Truely an inspiration. And thank you for your thoughts on confidence… I agree about it being more about trust in God than in our own abilities… spot on. xxxx

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      What a day, eh?! Such beautiful, rich memories. Thankful I could share it with you … “Spot on.”–Ahhhh, I love hearing your voice again. Made me smile.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      And thank you … xoxo

  • http://www.daniellenotyetthere.blogspot.com/ Danielle Wheeler

    Oh my. I cannot tell you how much my dream and I needed to hear this today. And this line from your comment, “the pain of what it would feel like NOT to do it finally became greater than any fear,” it sank straight in my soul. Thank you.
    -Standing Under My Tree

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      So thankful to hear that it encouraged you, Danielle. That exercise–turning up the pain–has definitely helped me identify and clarify what’s important. I think I might need to do some of that again. #standingwithyou

  • lewprivette

    This is so encouraging, especially that you carried the dream for so long. I’m not even at dream stage yet. I’m just at “praying and waiting and listening” stage, but even that is a step along the journey.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      I’m so glad it encourages, Lindsay! Praying and waiting and listening stage is a pretty fun season. I loved it. Maybe even a little too much! ;)

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ Leigh Kramer

    Oh, friend. You took me back to that magical afternoon at Cherish and I’m teary eyed all over again. I see that heart stance in you already. Isn’t it funny how we don’t always have an accurate view of ourselves? I see such confidence in the way you live out your calling and the way you envision the future and the way you draw people around you. I am so honored to know you, Idelette. Your life speaks so much to me and what might be.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      I adore you, Leigh Kramer. :-) We have such wonderful memories together and that day was a pretty sweet start. Agreed!

      Now that I have my perspective around confidence all sorted out—jeepers, writing this was like going through a birth canal!–I will embrace the word confidence. And I appreciate the echo. We usually see it best in each other. What makes Sisterhood so powerful and important.

  • Bethany Olsen

    This is wonderful! And encouraging to one aspiring to stand in that kind of confidence. Thanks for sharing Idelette. <3

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you, Bethany!

      PS: You can get your gravatar right here: http://en.gravatar.com
      xoxo

  • Anne-Marie

    Wonderful! Sometimes we stand in the job we’re given even if its way big. Thanks for being willing both to do and to speak in response to the call.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thanks for asking the question, Anne-Marie! I look forward to standing and celebrating with you as you flourish in your spot under your tree.

  • Daniela

    I simply adore you.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you, friend. #feelingismutualyaknow

  • Megan Gahan

    there is so much to chew on in this piece i feel like i have to come back and re-read it a few more times. when a dream is birthed, you’re standing under the tree alone. that part is SO difficult – “I remember how hard it was for me to talk about the dream and not feel foolish” – um YES YES YES! often i want to just run over to another tree where a bunch have already gathered! thank you for carrying the dream my friend. thank you for waiting on His divine alignment. so encouraging. love you xxx

  • http://www.lovewellblog.com/ Kelly @ Love Well

    Beautiful.

    Reminds me of Hebrews 12. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entagles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

    Keep standing in faith, beautiful confident one.

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

    Man. That Rachel had the superpower to reduce all humans to tears. What an intense and rejuvenating day it was.

    Thank you for grasping at words to describe some of the experience. No wonder it was hard to write about.

    I’m so grateful for your “gracious immoveability.” <– #lovethisphrase

    This place, SheLoves, is *my* home.

    Thank you for building, protecting, maintaining, renovating and painting it.

    xoxo,
    Teen

  • Dindi Osterhaus

    I sit here this morning after 12 hours of sleep upon my return from my trip to Cherish Uganda with tears streaming down my cheeks. I simply love this woman of God. Without her and God’s work through her there would be 50 plus children without treatment and homes. It is a miracle of God. I saw it with my own eyes. I stood on the red soil with Rachel and the children, house mothers, aunties, and all the people who make Cherish work. I am so thankful God sent me there. I am thankful for Rachel. I miss them so much already. I don’t know why I am back here in the states. It is so hard to put into words what I have experienced. All I know is I was called there by God. There is work to do. We have angels on the ground there and God is so very gracious. Rachel takes no credit for what has taken place, she gives the glory all to God. Rachel oh my friend. I have been inspired by you and by your Cherish family. I hope you will have me back again because I have never seen more love and miracles due to faith, hope, and love. May God continue to bless you and my Cherish family every single day.
    I love you all,
    Dindi

  • fiona lynne

    Oh beautiful. I love your courage that is heart-strength. I love that confidence to stand in this place, knowing he’ll meet us right here.

  • rachelparsons

    Oh Idelette, I’m entirely humbled as I read your poetic words, knowing that as I type on this wall, SheLoves was once a dream and now an inspiring reality! You stand under your tree with your contagious heart stance, hands wide open to His plans and dreams, pockets deep with faith…I’m honoured that we share a God whose confidence is ours. You have a beautiful place in my heart. Thank you for this piece.

    Thanks Bev, Tina, Leigh, Hilary and Dindi……you’re words are like inkwells of kindness. X

  • pastordt

    This has been standing as a bookmark for one month, it appears. And WOW, I’m glad I didn’t shut it down. Powerful words, beautiful picture. Yes, confidence. . . we need it, you’ve got it, God gives it. Hallelujah and amen. (and thank you!)