FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7
Friday morning and early afternoon was so restful and just what we needed. We all slept in a bit, cooked and had breakfast together, and then several of us when on a walk together in a nearby park. It was sunny and 60 degrees and just the perfect time for a stroll. We encountered some rather intimidating geese and lots of ducks and talked and laughed and burned some calories!
When we got back, we got ready to leave for IF: Gathering!! It was held at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship church in Plano, Texas about 25 minutes from where we were staying in Dallas. We went around 3pm to register and were met with welcomes from the most precious volunteers and they gave us cute beaded bracelets that served as our “credential” to get in. They were actually made by a Clemson grad! After checking in, we quickly headed off to Torchy’s Tacos for an early dinner before returning to IF to get our seats and shop the vendors. Torchy’s was delicious (true Texas tex-mex) – I had an amazing fajita taco and an avocado and refried beans taco and we got some Guacamole, Salsa, and Queso for the table. The queso was really good, but the guacamole was probably the best I have ever had!
We headed back to the church for IF and shopped around at the vendors and just took all the excitement and beauty in. Everything was very intentional and there were beautiful flowers and decor all around. Prior to this trip, I had watched certain messages from past IF: Gatherings and have loved Jennie Allen for years, but I had never experienced an IF: Local Gathering before (but am excited for engaging in those in years to come!) and was basically not sure of how exactly things would go.
IF:GATHERING EXISTS TO EQUIP WOMEN WITH GOSPEL-CENTERED RESOURCES, EVENTS, AND COMMUNITY SO THEY MAY LEARN MORE ABOUT WHO GOD IS AND DISCIPLE OTHER WOMEN RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE.
Session I included worship, sermons from both Jada Edwards and Beth Moore, conversation time, spoken word, and more worship through song. It was unbelievable. Just like a glimpse of heaven. The whole weekend was us walking through Romans 8 and each of the speakers had a different verse or set of verses in that chapter to teach on. Jada spoke from Romans 8:1 about how there is no condemnation in Jesus. That doesn’t mean no conflict, consequences or conviction – but when we are founded in Christ Jesus – our seat the table in heaven is secure and He has freed us from condemnation, both now and in eternity. She challenged us to ask ourselves where we are watering down the truth of God. Beth Moore shared on Romans 8:9-10 and on the Spirit of God and the power He gives us to witness and make disciples. She challenged us by asking “when your life on earth is over, do you want there to be a natural explanation for how your life played out …or do you want people to remember your life as transformed in such a way that would make no sense other than to attribute it to Jesus’ supernatural power and grace over it?”
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8
Saturday was day two of the conference, with two sessions – one in the morning from 9-12 and one in the afternoon from 2-5. We started off strong with a message from Jo Saxton. She spoke on what adoption would have meant contextually for the Roman church and as God’s adopted children, we are free from fear to grab hold of our inheritance in Him!
Next, Ruth Chou Simons spoke and I adore both of her books “Gracelaced” and “Becoming and Beholding,” so I was really excited to hear from her. What she shared was just beautiful and she spoke from a real and genuine place, while painting. Her painting did not go as planned, but God used that to make her message even more clear. She reminded us that the hope of Christ is transforming us right where we are and we can invite people into our unfinished, imperfect work in progress to experience the grace of God that fills in the gaps.
Latasha Morrison of “Be the Bridge” came out for a talk with a mom and daughter duo about racial reconciliation and it was really encouraging and thought-provoking for me.
The final speaker before lunch was Jennie Allen and she spoke on the topics of our thoughts, as that is what her new book is about. I LOVED her message – it’s really hard to choose a favorite because they were all so amazing in different ways, but hers resonated with me very deeply. She encouraged us to set our minds on God himself and to speak our fears to the people of God, so they can help us bring them into the light/go to war for each other!
We took a break for lunch and went to Cowboy Chicken and came back for Session III. Biana Olthoff kicked off the afternoon with her hilarious self and the main takeaways were that resistance is a sign you are going in the right direction and that ultimately, we FIGHT from VICTORY.
Next was Ann Voskamp, who shared a beautiful poem and then the final female speaker was Sadie Robertson, who is just the cutest. She spoke with confidence and conviction about what God has been teaching her and her heartbeat for our generation to know and be transformed by Christ is so encouraging. Her question was – “what has got your head turning that is causing you to miss what Jesus is doing in YOUR life?”
Jennie came out to close out IF with a surprising twist, but it was amazing!! She invited two college boys to the stage to tell a room full of women the story of how they are trusting God to reach high school and college kids in Nashville, TN. They shared a specific story of how they recently took a risky step of obedience to share the gospel with 1000+ high school kids at a RAVE of all places…they had us laughing so much, but more than anything – I was so challenged, so in awe of their brave faith, reminded of God’s POWER and spurred on to ask God for what my next risky step for Him is. We were given gold keys to write our next step of obedience on.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose one earth will be loosed in heaven.
Sweet Cait had to leave at the end of the conference to catch her plane back to Boston and we missed her on our last night in Dallas. After getting back to Dallas, we had dinner near our airbnb in the Bishop Arts District (again) at Oddfellows, which turned out to be a cute and yummy spot! We headed to get dessert at Emporium Pies and Melt and took them back to the house to eat. Sadly, then it was time to pack and get ready for an early morning haul to the airport, but of course Linz and I got in some last minute singing and dancing before bed.
Time to wake up came TOO early and our flight got a little delayed, but all in all we soaked up our last few moments together and had a smooth ride home!
Andz, Bobz, Caitz, Linz, Hollz, Suz, Manz – I love each of you so dearly and it’s such a gift to see His beauty through each one of you. Let’s fight for one another and the Kingdom together.