It’s hard to believe I haven’t written about IF here before. I mean, really rather shocking. I chalk it up to the fact that I haven’t written much of anything here over the past year. Because if you’ve spent more than a little time with me over the last year, I’ve more than likely word-vomited on you about just how amazing IF has been for me.
Just in case I haven’t waxed poetic to you yet, and you don’t know a thing about what IF is, here’s the cliff notes version of it. IF began three years ago when God set the wheels in motion through Jennie Allen in Austin with their first conference in February of 2014. To say there was a groundswell following that conference is an understatement. IF exists to gather, equip and unleash women to live out their calling by creating tools and resources for the local church and the women they serve; a generation of women who desire to change their local context for the glory of God and the good of others. To underline the focus on the local church, IF keeps their February in-person attendance small, and then encourages women to host IF:Local gatherings in their local context to participate in the conference via Live Stream. (ahhh the power of technology)
IF:Local is how I first experienced IF, when I decided to host a gathering in my home last February. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I knew they had wonderful speakers and I love gathering women together in my home, so I figured what could there be to lose? And let me tell you , it was more than I ever could have dreamed of, and has continued to be. God moved in such a powerful, tangible way and that weekend was just the beginning of what He would do through the last year.
After a weekend of getting to know each other and being vulnerable, the women gathered in my living room were asked to write on a stone what they felt God was calling them to beyond the weekend together. And those 20 minutes were the minutes that would rock my world, and solidify my faith. Those 20 minutes were the moments where any doubt I ever had about God was washed away. As we shared our calling, we also shared our fears and our prayer needs. We prayed for patience for a dear girl who had been dealing with infertility for 2 years, we prayed for movement in a relationship that seemed to need a nudge forward, we prayed for knowledge and confidence for a student readying for board exams, and we prayed for relationships to be built for a shy, introverted girl who longed for deep relationships with women in her community. We prayed for so many things, and God listened. My friend found out she was pregnant within two months of our gathering, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl in December. And that relationship that needed a nudge? Not only were they engaged shortly thereafter, they were married in December. That student? She passed her board exams with flying colors on her first try. And that girl who longed for friendships? That girl was me. And oh the fruit that prayer has yielded.
Even that very weekend a brave soul showed up to my house not knowing anyone, and she has blessed me and discipled me through her steadfast faith and friendship this year. Christine lived in the area and we instantly clicked. And this year I watched her work through some tough decisions and, because of her faith and true abiding belief in the Father, she and her precious family are in Nashville now. And I was so sad, thinking I was back to longing for relationships. But then I stepped out on a limb and went to the IF:Local Leaders Gathering in Orlando in September, and from just that weekend, I have two new amazing friends, Jennifer and Laura…Laura who lives just minutes from me but we had to travel to Orlando to meet. And what amazing women they are. I grew closer to women who I had met through a church small group and together we got deeper with God and prayed Anything prayers. And the circle continues to grow. We’ve found an amazing church in our neighborhood and I’ve already met some amazing ladies there who I know will continue to bless my life and grow my faith.
I could go on and on about God’s provision and movement over the past year. But I say all of this to bring me here, IF:Gathering is once again upon us. And if I can push you to do anything at all through this tiny little space on the web, it’s to find a group of women who you can walk with spiritually and be vulnerable with and do live in the trenches with. A place where you can wrestle with your faith and work through it together. And I really believe IF can be that jumping off place for you. If you live in the Dallas area (or want to travel in!), I am hosting again this year, no…co-hosting with my IF friend Laura (God is GOOD!), and I would love for you to join us! We will be gathering February 5th & 6th. All of the details can be found here on our website page, as well as our Facebook event page. And if you don’t live in Dallas, rest easy! There are over 1500 Locals happening all over the world. Visit ifgathering.com/local to find one near you. And if by some chance there isn’t one near you, you can host one too! Or stream it live throughout the weekend right wherever you are.
I am so expectant and excited and filled with the joy of the Lord at the thought of this year’s IF:Gathering. I pray God will place on your heart the place you are meant to be and that you will come with an open heart and mind and eyes ready to see God move. My life was truly changed last February and I know there is more in store this year. So tell me, will we see you in February?