For two years now, I've participated in an event called IF:Gathering. It's like a conference, it's like a worship service, it's like a morning Bible study sitting on the couch talking with the gals about God and His goodness. So obviously, it's tough to explain but that's okay. My level of participation has been watching the live-stream, alone, from my home (and usually not live but catching up at night or during rest-time while the kids sleep.) I know of only two other women in my area who do the same but I'm hoping to change that for next year's gathering. This "thing" is so uplifting to my soul and so humbling at the same time. I mean, the first year I found myself crying in the middle of my kitchen while singing "Oceans" by myself yet with thousands of women around the world. This year I watched mostly in my bedroom with the iPad propped on top of an empty laundry basket - wish I had taken a picture - while my husband watched TV downstairs and the kids slept. I am so glad I took the time to listen and learn from the women God has called to "gather, equip, and unleash this generation for the good of the people and for God's glory." But now I realize I should be sharing this experience with others.
About two weeks before IF, I checked their website to see if there were any public IF:locals in Utah. NOT A ONE*! It was a map full of little grey place markers and and my empty state. Now there may have been groups who registered as a private group with only the people they chose to invite but the closest public IF:local was in Idaho or Colorado. I know Utah is usually 5-10 years behind the nation's big cities when it comes to well, most new things really. But I don't want IF:Gathering to be one of those things. So I am praying about it, but I think next year I would like to host an IF:local for Utah and our valley/church but also open to anyone who finds us. *looking back at the site - now almost a month later - there was a private IF:local at South Mountain Community Church in Draper, so that's great!
The teaching this year was convicting and raw and helped me understand more of who God made me to be and how we should be living in freedom and grace for His glory in what He has called us to do. All the "messages" were related to the story of Joshua and the promised land. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:
Be strong and courageous!
We must let go of the past to lay hold of what God has for us in the future!
Service is what prepares you for the battle, not performance.
Faith doesn't demand that God explain himself!
Being faithful doesn't mean being fearless. It just means your faith is greater than your fear.
God is holding on to you tighter than you are holding onto him.
Walk it out, even when it's not working out. Just because your progress isn't obvious, it doesn't mean your faith isn't working.
Take the next step of obedience!
- strong words from women I have come to admire and learn from: Jennie Allen, Jen Hatmaker, Christine Caine, Angie Smith, Ann Voskamp, Rebekah Lyons, Bianca Olthoff, Jo Saxton, and probably more that I'm forgetting right now.
My Bible study/grow group/community on Tuesday mornings - we call it "moms group" - has graciously allowed me and a friend to share our thoughts and experiences from this year's gathering. I am grateful for the good discussion it has started in our community. I desire for us to be women of God who are bold and honest, and loving with each other and our neighbors - just as Christ is and calls us to be.
Another aspect of IF, that continues beyond IF:gathering is IF:Equip. It is a daily Bible study, right now we are working through Hebrews, where women can connect and study God's word together. If you have an extra 5-10 minutes a day, or you don't have a clear direction in your study of the Bible right now, then you should check it out.
Do you have a community you grow with? You should. Seek it out, God meant for us to be in community with other believers. Heb 10:24-25 "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Find a church, find a small group, and seek community from outside too (organizations like IF) but the local church is how we can truly grow in relationship with others for God's glory. I'm so thankful for the people God has placed me with and I love them more each day.
May "the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15
I'm thankful today for the people God uses to speak His truth and grace into my life!
How about you, did you watch/attend IF:Gathering this year or last? Are there any other conferences or gatherings that you have loved?