It’s been awhile friends, since I’ve had emotional and mental space to write and hit the “publish” button. Goodness, when I looked at the date of my last entry I realized it had been longer than I imagined. So much has happened since July, and really, I won’t bore you with all the little details. The big things have been continuing work on the remodel (it’s almost done enough to move in!) and taking on some heavy classes in the fall that left me with no extra anything
As I read back over one of my last posts, I was reminded of the way God was moving in my heart at that time and how I thought I would be sharing the vision I hinted at much earlier than this. Anyway, here we are and I will attempt to do that now.
Last year in February, I, along with several other women, had the privilege to attend the first ever IF:Gathering in Austin, Texas. It was a brand new thing and I wanted to see for myself what it was all about. I call it a thing, because IF:Gathering is not simply an event that happens once a year – it is a gathering together of a community of women who long more than anything to have more of Jesus and who desire to live their lives out of love for Him. Because if God is real, than we want more than anything to live like it. We want to let the real God that we love and worship do a deep and profound work in our hearts, increase our faith, and let Him change us to the point that we live differently because of it.
As I’ve been pondering and remembering how this conference and the ongoing connection with this community has impacted, inspired, and changed my life this last year, I have found myself wanting to bring this same kind of community and connection to my place in this world, to the people I rub shoulders with every week, to friends and sisters I don’t yet know, to those who long for a deeper connection with Jesus and also with His Body of Believers. What I love about this, this “movement” I guess I’ll call it, is that the founder and leadership of IF:Gathering do not want to have everyone leave their places and come to them once a year for a conference, but rather that we would gather locally with the people in our churches, in our communities, in our towns and cities and neighborhoods, the people we do life with, and join in the conference from where we are. They do this by offering streaming video of the event and providing an astonishing amount of resources and material to help women do this in their own context. I love this so much about them. I appreciate so much the humility with which this event was put on last year, the almost palpable presence of the Holy Spirit and the breathless expectation they – and we – had for what God was about to do. And what He did was explode this movement to the ends of the earth. People are watching in and doing online Bible study and praying together and eating together all over the world. To me, this is one of the most beautiful pictures of the Body of Christ coming together that I could imagine. Women from all different cultures, denominations and churches are laying down the things that don’t matter and unifying around what matters most – Jesus Christ. Jesus, and how He changes us so we can live our lives for His glory and for the good of people. I love the simplicity of this message and how the focus is on the heart of the Gospel. This – the pure and simple Gospel – this, I can get behind. This I can bring to my community, to my place, with the confidence that God will be honored and we will be challenged to a deeper place with Him.
My prayer for a number of years has been that there would be a safe place in my community for women to come together to wrestle with big questions, doubts, and fears, where there is no judgment or condemnation, but a place where grace is extended, where truth is spoken in love, and where we recognize that everyone is on a journey, realizing we are all at different places in that journey. And somehow, someway, I find that God is allowing me to be a small part of beginning to create such a space in a broader context than I ever imagined. In a small way, I see that happening as IF:Sugarcreek is coming to Sugarcreek, Ohio on February 6 & 7 via a live stream video event, as we join what God is doing in Austin, Texas and around the world right from our own little hometown. No need to pack up and hop on a plane to be a part of what God is doing, this is coming to you right here in your community.
God has been so gracious and brought together a group of six women who have come alongside me to make this possible this year, and I’m so grateful. We don’t know what to expect but we’re believing that God will do immeasurably more than we could ask or even imagine. We are so excited that we have registrations from people from a number of different churches and contexts from throughout our community and that we will get to meet new people and encourage them to live into God’s call on their lives wherever they may find themselves. Because we believe in coming together to build the Kingdom together, and we believe in affirming where God has called you, no matter how that looks or where it may be.
Do not let fear keep you from joining us – bring your fear, your questions, your doubts, your misgivings, bring them right in. I know I will there with all of those things. We believe we should bring any or all of those things, because if we’re honest, we all probably have at least one of these lurking in the corners of our hearts – and what better place to bring them than here? Don’t check them at the door. And just one more thing, no need to put that mask on and make sure everything “looks good”. Just come. Bring all of yourself. Bring your true self. Let’s be courageous and brave together. Let’s see what God has for us as we gather together. The winds are blowing and there is a fresh fire alight in the world, and this is one of many places around the world where I see this happening. I believe the Holy Spirit is always working and moving in the world around us; I see Him moving here and I know I want to be a part of it, I want to join in. We would love if lots of you would join in as well.
So, if you want to the nitty gritty details about when, where, what and how, keep reading. IF:Sugarcreek will be streaming the IF:Gathering event live on February 6 & 7, 2015 at Provia Door at 2150 State Route 39, Sugarcreek, Ohio. Since we are streaming live and the live event being in Austin, Texas which is in the central time zone, it will get just a bit late here in Ohio on Friday evening. Registration is required and the deadline to do that is February 1. The registration process is a two-part process, beginning with registering with IF:Gathering here. They have costs involved with doing an event such as this, and we encourage you to support what they are doing. Without them and all their hard work which continues year-round, this would not be possible. They ask you to give what you feel God would have you give, with a minimum of $1 required to register. The second part of registration is for the local part of the experience and we also are asking you to give what God lays on your heart to give, again with a minimum donation of $1 payable to Rosanna Mullet which should be mailed to 781 Smokey Lane Rd NW, Sugarcreek, Ohio 44681. We have limited space available, so please be as sure as you can that you are able to come if you sign up. We do ask that if you are registered and something comes up last minute that makes it impossible for you to attend that you notify us as soon as possible.
IF:Gathering does not release the speaker list ahead of time (they really want you to join because of Jesus, not because of certain speakers, but we’re all human and WE WANT TO KNOW!) so I’ll give you a taste of last year’s speakers. They were amazing – so gifted and so full of Jesus! Some of the speakers were Christine Caine, Ann Voskamp, Jen Hatmaker, Rebecca Lyons and Shelly Giglio, just to name a few. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Oh, and the worship times were so good too – great musicians to lead in worship.
Schedule & Theme
Friday, February 6, 2015
Sign-In and Appetizers: 1:45 pm – 2:45 pm
Session One: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm “A Call to Believe”
Dinner Break: 6:00 pm – 8:00 A Catered Dinner will be provided.
Session Two: 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm “Why Don’t We Believe?”
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Session Three: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm “How Do We Believe?”
Lunch Break: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm A Catered Lunch will be provided.
Session Four: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm “What Could Happen IF We Believed?”
Find us on Facebook at IF:Sugarcreek and follow along there for updates and details. You can also ask questions there (as well as here in the comments). We really hope you will join us if God is nudging you to do so.
My friend Irene reflected here a bit on her experience at IF:Gathering last year…
“Heading to IF I had no idea what to expect, but it was much more than I could ever have imagined. First you should know that I would not have been able to go to IF had not someone paid my ticket and invited me along for a gathering that I will never forget. Just with that, gratitude filled my heart and as things came together to go I knew it was just where God wanted me to go.
“So as I reflect on what I experienced at IF in Austin, as we walked in I remember feeling like I could turn and run because of all the people, but it did not take long for that all to change. We were greeted like everyone was greeted there, like we mattered.
“As we sat and listened to Jen Hatmaker, Shelly Giglio, Ann Voskamp and Jennie Allen just to name a few, my heart filled and overflowed, so many things to remember and take home. As I glanced around the room I saw hundreds of women doing the same and I thought, what could be more beautiful? Women from all over the world together because of Jesus.
“You may ask what did I take home from IF? First of all, IF is a gathering where everyone matters. Then, as Ann Voskamp spoke she asked the question, “What if I am a Jesus user and not a Jesus Adorer?” That, my friends, stabbed my in the heart. I asked myself, am I more of a Jesus user than a Jesus Adorer? As she continued, she said when Jesus is beautiful to us, He moves us and that changes the world, versus when He is only useful to us and we expect Him to change our world.
“As we get ready for IF:Sugarcreek 2015, my prayer is that women could gather and be filled with the love of Jesus and that their cups would be filled and overflowing.” –Irene