if:gathering 2017 (if:evergreen)
Every year, I am humbled and blown away by the power of the Holy Spirit. This was the fourth year IF: lead generations to the Spirit and this is the fourth year I was honored to share in the celebration of our King. The first year, I started in my living room with four people who took a chance on me (a stranger in California). My best friend, who lived in another state, encouraged me to tune in, invite, and receive. I followed her encouragement, so full of fear, yet there was a drive pulling me to gather. Friendships were made and I was introduced to what God had called me to step into that year. IF: nurtured me where I needed it, IF: empowered me to #justkeepswimming, and the Spirit carried me through one of the toughest seasons of my life to date. IF: inspired me to finally start this blog and start living out loud my life. By writing here, it has helped me overcome perfectionism. See the start here.
The second year, was insane. Last minute a friend gifted me her ticket and I flew into Texas and drove with that best friend and a dear friend and we experienced first hand the supernatural powerhouse of the Spirit at IF: in person, in Austin. He had more plans, more dreams, and more words for my soul. We moved back to Colorado and I was so raw and so lonely. I wrote a post about “getting on the plane” to IF: here, but I never wrote a followup. I was shaken to the core. Instead, I wrote about how God had to wring out my pride, I wrote about how the Lord drew me closer through recovery of my PTSD , I wrote about shame , apologies, and about falling apart and it was all ok. I just wrote my ever living heart out. It was my therapy. 2015 was raw, so very raw. Each post dripped with the longing for Jesus, with hope that redemption was near.
Finally, in 2016, I was in a place of rest. I was warn out emotionally. I walked into the fire of refinement and needed rest. I discovered I had Hashimotos Thyroiditis and took a break from blogging and focused on feeding my body with the Spirit, good food, and rest. Frankly, it was a season on silence for me. God was quiet and it was ok. I am not sure if I would have heard him. I was just so tired. From moving three times in two years, having a baby, and hanging onto a marriage, I was glad he was quiet. I am grateful for His timing of rest for me. He knew I would have pushed through even if I needed the rest. Thank you Jesus for slowing me down. I had even planned to not attend IF: this year and stream from my bed, however, an email from IF: themselves encouraged me to attend and write about my experience. I decided to visit a small church in Denver to experience IF: first hand. Once again, He moved in ways I had not seen coming. The Lord led me to write about “Living in the Suffering” knowing I was about to step into my diagnosis. Ugh, He is good and He is faithful, isn’t He? So, 2016 was about living in the suffering, but it is all for His glory. I am still walking in recovery and hold on to the hope that God says who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Can I get an Amen?
This year was quit the surprise for me in a different way. My dear friend, Sarah, said she wanted to lead the IF:Gathering in our town, call it IF:Evergreen, and was curious if another friend of ours, Kim, and I wanted to help. I was supposed to be resting and saying no, but I could not resist. I have to say, Kim and Sarah did most of the work and I was able to do more of the fun stuff that didn’t require the hours they put in. (Thank you Jesus). Let’s just say, no stone was unturned and the gathering of the women in our town was beautiful. It was a dream of ours from the start that God wanted to unite the women under one church. Throughout the IF: weekend, He showed us that we all share the same message: To spread the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Women, and even the men, from all the churches and under various denominations gathered to unite us. It was a beautiful thing to watch and to be a part of. I am grateful that IF: has created a platform for us to facilitate in our home towns.
From the beautiful well appointed decor to the maticulous planning, every detail was thought through. We desired to create a space for our women to feel welcomed, loved, and expected. It was like being in my living room that first year, but on a larger scale. Instead of 4 faces, there were over 120 new and familiar faces. Many hugs, amens, and “nice to meet you’s”. There were believers that drew from decades of loving the Lord, brand new believers, and women who wanted to know more about this “Jesus” we talk about. It was beautiful in every way.
But the worship. Oh the worship. The presence of Jesus was light, warm, and enveloped us into his love immediately. We got deep fast, we worshipped our Maker, and we rested at His feet. The humility that covered the room was palpable. The first night He was preparing us for His Word sisters! We fed our souls and our tummies. It was like a girls night out with our sweet Jesus as the host!
The next morning we arrived with anticipation of our Saviors plans. and let’s just say, he brought us back to our knees and employed the speakers to hear what needed to be said. Jill Briscoe and Bianca Olthoff and many others brought the house down.
What struck me the most, and what is still with me, is the message the Lord impressed on me this year. I am still basking over His Word listening, but HIs message is still not clear. With every moment with Him in the Word, He draws me close and whispers, “write these words on your heart”, so I am memorizing scripture. He delivers, “sit with me”, so sit with Him for hours I never knew existed. And one thing that leaves me breathless is this scripture,”Be alert and of sober mind, your enemy, the devil, prowl around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5;8 I am breathless because there have been full on direct attacks in my life, on the people I love, and in my personal life during the planning of IF: and since. Relationships are on the edge. Self doubt is on the rise, and physical attacks are actually happening. Strange “near misses” seem to find my way. BUT,
I am showing up anyway. My God has already won. Although I become afraid of the devil’s tactics at times, I show up afraid because I know God is preparing something or the devil would be so alert and full of fear himself.
“However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love Him…” 1 Corinthians 2:9
He has plans friends. He is going to do the unthinkable and we are going to watch in awe of Him and His glory. Whatever it is that I hold on so tightly, I pray that I let go and allow God to take it. It may be my control, my voice, my kids, my husband. Lord, forgive me, loosen my grip so that I may see your amazing plans for me and for my people this year. To you I give my trust and my glory. – Amen
So keep in the Word my friends. Stay close to your Maker. He will never leave nor forsake you. He sees you, loves what He sees, and wants to do something great with you, if only you will let Him. The key I have found is to be in the Word first, listen to Him, recognize His voice in your life, and obey. Obedience never fails us if we do it in His name and for His glory.
Love to you all so much. I am grateful to be called His daughter. I am grateful for my town. I love my church and am grateful for the life I am given.
Thank you Megan for your amazing photos. Give all the creds to you, friend for capturing this weekend.
Thank you Bergan Park Church for hosting this event. Thank you Red Rocks Worship and Bergan Park Worship for leading us to a sacred space to worship. Thank you to all the volunteers that made this event happen! We love and appreciate you!
And thank you Sarah and Kim for allowing me to experience the behind the scenes of planning this event. You both are amazing and gifted and so very loving. I had fun with you and will remember this for a lifetime.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can attend next year to an IF:Local near you, how to get involved in the IF:Tables near you, or just learn more about the IF:Gathering, go here. So in closing, God bless you my dear IF:Gathering. Thank you, again, for creating a space for all of us to hear God’s Word, grow, and spread His gospel!
Jennie Allen said that her focus is more on the “just one”. You don’t have to be a blogger or speaker or writer to reach one heart. Start with a coffee date and see where that takes you. Love to you my sweet people. Until next year!
Myself, Kim and Sarah. Love you girls!
Last, but not least, the beautiful photos in this post were captured by the amazing Megan White Photography. Thanks Megan! You are gifted in so many ways and am grateful to be on this end of your gifts!