Our texts flew back and forth. “I’ve got seats saved!”  “Can’t wait to see you!” with lots of smiley emojis. As we both finally took our seats in the auditorium of Community Reformed, our sigh of relief was in unison. We made it – physically, emotionally and spiritually. We so needed this time to remember spirituality and faith are done with others not just ourselves.

Katie was the one who’d introduced me to the ladies of IF the year before. I was so excited to sit and listen and lift my hands and heart in worship with women in my community

2017 was amazing yet full of heavy moments. Politics and deeply held beliefs seeped into a few of the speakers words causing us to remember that this gathering doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Laughter was quick, loud, long and glorious! It truly is medicine for weary souls – especially when it’s about ourselves.

Ann Voskamp boldly challenged us to get in formation; cruciformation – a life formed by the cross, lived in submission to the cross and in the process, creating change.

A panel of single women and women of color challenged those of us who didn’t even realize we needed to be challenged. Single women often are shoved aside in our churches and not given a place of worth. They are treated as though they’re not quite completed yet with their missing husband-piece. It was therapeutic to call out these things in the body of Christ. I didn’t say comfortable. Trust me, it was anything but comfortable.

Sitting there with the many women around me, most I didn’t know, I had no idea who was married, single, divorced, abused, or even who struggled with race questions. It’s a scary moment when hard things are spoken on that huge screen and we look around hoping that there is someone who understands and feels the same.

Being women whose greatest desire is to see Jesus magnified and other women discipled, we have to first acknowledge the junk in our midst and call it out. This is the only way we can come together and be safe places for truth conversations.

There were so many moments of gut-busting laughter, arms-flung-wide worship and heart-breaking truth it would be impossible to put it all in one measly post, but let me tell you, God always shows up.

These are the things that I’m most looking forward to tomorrow. It is so easy to get in our bubbles and our own little worlds that we scarcely even realize it. As women, we need to reorient our hearts from comparison and perfection to unity and humility. We need each other so much.

I have no idea who will be speaking tomorrow evening.

I have no idea who will be leading worship.

All I know is the theme: God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of love and a sound mind. Living a life ablaze… these are the things I know.

This year is the first year I will be going without my dear Katie. Plans have a way of adjusting themselves when God chooses to do so. This year I’m joining my new town of Hamilton in their gathering.

And I can’t wait!

Oh, if I’ve piqued your curiosity, it’s not too late to come. 🙂 Here’s all the IF Hamilton info!