When my friend Jenn asked me if I wanted to go to Austin, TX with her to attend a rad women’s conference called the IF: Gathering, I said “sure!” I mean, who doesn’t love a good road trip with friends to the great state of Texas? I love Tex-Mex, road trips, margaritas and Jesus. So clearly my answer was yes.
What I didn’t expect was for the conference to sell out in minutes. 1,200 tickets sold in the blink of an eye. Shortly after, the conference leaders announced that they were encouraging “IF: Local” groups to gather in living rooms, churches and movie theaters around the country (and world) for the women who didn’t get a ticket but still wanted to LiveSteam the event. Upon hearing this, I had two thoughts: 1) Daaaaang, that must be a good conference to sell out so fast. 2) Shoot. That means Jenn is going to talk me into planning an IF: Local group with her. Ha! Sorry Jenn, just being real 😉
We started planning in October. Almost immediately I felt this question hovering over my head “what in the heck is the IF: Gathering?” And to be perfectly honest, I was still asking myself that question just 48 hours ago! IF: Gathering. It felt vague yet intriguing, confusing but interesting….and just so perfectly hazy that I couldn’t help but want to be a part of it.
We planned for months without actually knowing what we were really planning for. Is this a conference that we’ll be streaming? Will there be speakers? Topics? Worship? Are there lunch breaks? Coffee breaks? Potty breaks? How much should we charge to covering catering? How do we get the word out? Uhhhh…what exactly is it that we’re planning again?
All we had to go on was there were a handful of women of faith that we knew of and respected (Christine Caine, Jen Hatmaker, Angie Smith, Ann Vosskamp etc) who had a burden on their heart to gather women across the world and to answer the question: If God is real….then what? How do we gather, equip and unleash a women to live out the calling God has placed on them?
That was literally all we had to go on. So beautifully vague.
As the weeks went on, the details trickled in slowly. We walked in faith, trusting that God would help us with the logistics, murky as they were. With a week left to go before the Gathering, we had pretty much every plan flipped upside down….we had to change our venue, our catering, the cost, the number of expected women who were coming. But, God is bigger than little logistical details.
Friday came. We still had no idea what to expect. The start time came. We still had no idea what to expect. The women were filling up our living room and we still had no idea what to expect. We just sat there with arms open, hopes high and hearts surrendered to however God wanted to move in this time.
Boy did He move!
We had the most incredible weekend. We heard amazing teaching, worshipped together, took 2+ hour dinner breaks, learned things, spoke truth over each other, met new friends, embraced old friends and grew together. We engaged in real, honest conversations about fears, convictions, our calling, our hopes, our families and our Lord. And it wasn’t just the 15 of us gathered in a living room in Colorado. There were literally hundreds of gatherings just like ours all across the United Sates (and in a few other countries too!). All together, there was something crazy like 25,000 women who were a part of IF. That’s just a little bit crazy. Just a little.
Personally, I walked away with some crystal clear truths that I felt the Holy Spirit lay on my heart, which I’ll probably post about later this week since it would turn this post into a legitimate novel haha! But truly, it was a beautiful weekend and I’m so thankful to have been a part of IF: Gathering!
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”- Hebrews 12:1-2 (MSG)