So this weekend my awesome sister-in-law (and some other rockstar ladies) put on a women’s conference called If:Plano. There was a huge women’s conference in Austin called the If: Gathering. It is put on some women who have an amazing heart for God and wanted to ask the question If God is real what does that mean for our lives? But then all across the world other churches are putting on programs called If:Local. So ours was If:Plano, but there were TONS of others around the US and the world. Anyway, last year, my sister in law went to Austin and really felt God calling her to put on an If:Local event at our church, so this past year she has been working so hard to bring this even to St Andrew and I was so happy to have been able to be a part of it. And because I feel like all great events like this need a little decompression and recap, I thought I would share some of my favorite tidbits from the weekend. And also, they did such an amazing job of making all of the tiny little details beautiful and I wanted to share them with you all! (ps one of my good friends made ALL of those cookies for our gathering! Talk about a labor of love!! She is amazing!)
The event is centered around streaming these talks from the Austin conference and some of them were truly amazing. I had 4 favorites: Jo Saxton, Eugene Cho, Bianca Olthoff and an Indian woman who spoke about her experience as an abused woman. I’ll talk a little bit more about why I liked them, but one of the things that I realized is that they said some great things, but none of them were so profound that I had never thought of them or been told similar things, but rather that it gave me some time to take a breath, refocus and think about my life, my faith and where God really wants me to be. It was more a time of allowing myself to Be Still, which lets be honest DOESN’T HAPPEN often enough. I think it was a God thing that the If:Gathering was this weekend, there was something very powerful about all my worldly possessions being on a truck and out of my reach while I was listening to people talk about how to live a more faithful life.
Alright, some of my favorite thoughts from the weekend (and yes I’m paraphrasing all of these, so apologies if these were just my interpretations of what they said!).
- Learn to let go of the perfection and need to live up to other people’s standards. Jesus wasn’t insecure.
- When God is moving, IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
- God doesn’t look at us and say Come on… Get it together, he is instead interested in the renewal of all things
- Take the resurrection personally. What you see as broken, he sees as beloved.
From Eugene Cho:
- Sometimes we are more in love with the idea of following Jesus rather than to actually follow in his steps.
- The world is cacophonous and drowns out the fact that we are the image of God.
- If you believe that someone is outside of God’s redemptive power of Grace, you need a refresher course on his grace.
- If you think the grass is greener on the other side, maybe the spirit is telling you to water your own grass!
Bianca: I mostly found Bianca highly entertaining and enjoyed her perspective on the story of Lazarus… and now I will never hear that story without thinking of Martha as a fiery Puerto Rican woman.
The woman in a Sari (someone told me we weren’t supposed to put her name out on the internet… so I’m not calling her by name):
- Her story as an abused Indian woman was POWERFUL and her work to end slavery across the globe is inspiring. I want to learn more about IJM and their work.
- “Sometimes we are willing to let the wound rot instead of being willing to open up to our shame.
- What we really need is for people to JUST SHOW UP.
It was sort of amazing that the speakers that I expected to be blown away by, I was actually underwhelmed with their talks; but the people I had never heard about were very POWERFUL. I think there is a lesson in that! We talk about loving the least and the lost, but then our society idolizes certain people and makes us believe that their word, their story is more important than someone else’s. And I’m definitely not saying their story and their knowledge isn’t important, I just think I sometimes need to be reminded that there is a lot to be learned from EVERYONE in every walk of life.
I think one of my favorite parts of the weekend was the worship music. We had our local church’s contemporary band play, led by Shana Saint who has a PHENOMENAL voice. I LOVE the music from The Well and that band did NOT disappoint. Listening to a group of women singing “It is well with my soul” and “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free”, sometimes as a declaration, sometimes as a plea, is one of the more amazing experiences. And it is well with my soul.
The If:Gathering also is a big supporter of Noonday Jewelry and my sister-in-law got to share about how amazing this jewelry is and the marketplace it creates for women in third world countries who are provided a living wage because of the jewelry that is sold through this program… and it is beautiful, fantastic jewelry to boot!
I feel like I have a lot of other thoughts from the weekend as well, but I really appreciated the opportunity to take a break from the busy-ness of my current life and refocus. One of the things Reese and I have talked about in this moving process is being intentional about our lives in Wichita. We want to take time to really invest in our family, invest in our new church and invest in some sort of service to the community (yet to be determined).
This weekend also gave me the opportunity to say goodbye (for now) to quite a few of the friends and people from the church who have influenced my husband and I over the past few years. There was more than one tearful goodbye and the If: Plano felt like the perfect way to close this chapter and start a new one. I especially loved getting to share the weekend with Becky and my mom! (my twin brother also helped prep/serve during the weekend too, even though it was a women’s conference) I have the best family… church and family family!