I’ve pondered, prayed, and poured over how to share this post, this event, this experience. I’ve struggled with over explaining, under telling, and I’m just left with – you’ll get there if you are supposed to. IF:gathering has been a life changing and momentous weekend in my life for the past three years. If I could get every one of you there I would. I realize how many will just disregard this as “another women’s event” or say “I’m just not into this kind of thing.” And for you, I’m kind of at a loss. I will tell you what this is, what it has been to me, and prayerfully hope and expect that whoever needs this and is supposed to be there will walk through the doors. I promise that if you do join us in some way, as you come with an expectant heart, God will meet you there.
The gathering itself takes place in Austin, Texas and we LIVE stream it to our location. Many IF:locals take place in a living room, others in a venue, or a church. We have held two in living rooms, another at a wedding venue and this year we are partnering with the GORGEOUS and generous Camp Indianola. This partnership is a total blessing to us and to all who will participate. This location gives us the opportunity to be surrounded by the most astounding Pacifc Northwest view I could possibly describe. I am so looking forward to a fire on the beach and some time of personal reflection in the incredible setting.
In terms of what to expect… There are 3 sessions this year that include worship and speakers – some special guests who will share their hearts; a lot of prayer; break out conversations that are real and candid; and a chance to both reflect personally and connect with other women. We have awesome food, a snack bar that is to die for, and you can come EXACTLY as you are in your comfortable clothes and bring a blanket or cozy sweater to snuggle in and hear from the Lord. The beauty of this being local is that we bring our own heartbeat and pulse to the event. Each year I’ve left feeling refreshed and renewed. We have added the overnight element to the event this year to provide quiet, respite between gatherings, and so that for us who often don’t take care of ourselves or disconnect fully from “what’s going on back at home” we have more of a chance to focus on our hearts, feeding our souls, examining our needs, and growing in OUR relationship with the Lord.
Ladies we gather around tables and share our hearts, we eat – and boy we can eat, we pray, we are quiet, and we attend to our needs. You pick what this adventure holds. If you come with an expectant hopeful heart I know God has something for you. We have prepared for you. We provide a small gift that you can take as a memento of the year, a journal and some other special supplies. We have thought of you! Knowing that there are women praying for me and thinking of me and my experience helps me feel known, even before I walk through the doors. Having participated for several years now I know that the leaders in Austin are prayerful and intentional about how they build their team. They know the heartbeat of women and are so sensitive to the Lord. That helps me have confidence in the content I will receive. Watch these videos to see more of what the day looks like, and the heartbeat from Jennie Allen, the founder for IF:gathering.
As I reflect on the experiences the past few years I see God’s hand at work. Each year I’ve left with a piece of guidance, a challenge, or the beginnings of something larger that God was working in my heart. The first year I left with an urge to build a community of women who could share their lives leading to some of the most important relationships I now have. I am so grateful the Lord led me and that I responded to His tugging. Then the next year the phrase “going beyond” resonated with me. Since then I’ve had a rock with those words on it sitting in my windowsill, through multiple moves and experiences it was the start of a new journey with the Lord.
Last year a new word RESOUNDED in my ears as I left our local gathering. I carried a domino along to add to my sill with the rock. From home to home into various life adventures these words have been my companions. Each another step in the process of hearing HIS voice in my life. Ladies, It wasn’t a magic pill or the unshackling of my soul. But it was a step, a step of obedience to help put on the event, but even more so to just attend and to listen for His prompting. I can’t promise an audible voice or this clear banner waving before your eyes and yet when I have come expectantly, waiting on Him, I have experienced His hand in my life. I can’t quite explain it, except to tell you that this weekend has proven to be one where each year I leave changed and I know the next right step, the next way I can obey Him.
Ladies, I ask you to consider joining us. Carve out the time for yourself. Honor yourself and take this opportunity to dive into relationship with Jesus. Come ready to connect with other women who are hungry for friendships, ready to be authentic and vulnerable alongside you, and to hear God speak to you. I believe this weekend will look different for each of us. There are fewer sessions then in years past, we have spaces for you to pull away and reflect or pray. The worship is simple, and familiar. The ladies dear. The venue astounding. The food will be fabulous. The time you spend invaluable.
Come expectant and ready. Ask me if you have questions or reservations. If this post or our interactions where I have invited you, personally or publicly, have not convinced you that you need this weekend then I honestly feel I’m just not doing my job. I truly feel called to get you in the door, having this experience. I’ve been praying for YOU!
You can register for our event here. And then once you have registered you should join this group so you can get other details as the event approaches this next weekend. Don’t miss out!
And if you are someone who has read this far, and you like to know what to expect I’m sharing the conversation questions here, and the attendee guide here. If you like a surprise just wait until you get there. We will have it all ready for you.
Special thanks to Camp Indianola – Stephanie, Darren and Deanna, and Ross for making this event happen.
And to Graceland Photography for the awesome images from last year’s event at the gorgeous Empress Hill! (And to 2016’s gracious host Emily – THANK YOU too!)