Wednesday, February 10, 2016

IF: 2016

Hey there, friends!

This past weekend, I got to take part in something pretty cool.  "Pretty cool" is an understatement - it was awesome.  Actually, I could use #alltheadjectives to describe it, but I'll just let it speak for itself.

The IF:gathering is an annual international Christian women's conference.  Yes, international.  It was held live in Austin, TX, and women/groups/churches around the world had access to it via webstreaming.  (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: technology amazes me.)

The IF mission is to "gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose."  This idea had humble beginnings in the heart of a brave woman who found friends to come alongside her and make her dream a reality.  It's pretty amazing to see how God has moved and worked through the process and this year, brought thousands upon thousands of women together to partake in His word, worship, fellowship, and so much more.

So, moving on...

I got to attend one of these gatherings at a local church with about 20 women from our church.

I was so excited to hang out with and get to know these women better, and I was even more excited to hear and learn what God had to say through the speakers, times of worship, and conversations that were going to take place.  I went into it ready to focus and try my best to let go of all distractions.

And then, Satan showed the form of a neck hair.

I know - probably the strangest sentence you've read today...and probably the strangest sentence I've written...ever.

But it's the truth.  Hear me out, here.

Yes, I get neck hairs.  I always thought they wouldn't be a thing in my life until my "later years."  I thought maybe the chin hairs would make their appearance first.  But, low and behold, I've been blessed with random, wayward hairs on my neck for a few years, now.  And here's the more embarrassing thing: once I am aware of their existence, I am obsessed with ridding myself of them until they've been cleanly removed from their unwelcome place on my neck.  I can't handle it.  It's a problem.

So, needless to say, when I discovered one of these feral follicles right before we began the opening praise and worship set of the IF:gathering, I was done for.  All of my hopes and dreams of going into this event sans distractions went out the window.

Yeah, this sounds funny and weird and may seem a little tongue-in-cheek, but honestly, I was really bummed about it.  I truly believe Satan used the open door of my neck-hair-distraction to let all the other worries, doubts, to-do's, and countless other distractions I was so desperately trying to keep out walk right in.

I tugged and pulled at that little sprout of a hair for a solid 5 minutes before discretely unsheathing the tweezers from the itty-bitty Swiss army knife I keep in my purse (yep).  Those didn't do the trick, either.  (I don't know if the ladies around me witnessed any of this, despite my discreteness, but if ya'll did, thanks for ignoring it. ☺)  I. was. so. annoyed.  And I refused to get up and go to the bathroom to take care of it.

So, in my discouragement, I literally prayed, "God, please help me get this neck hair out, so I can focus completely on you and your Word."

And guess what?  He showed up - in such a real, tangible way.  I got that neck hair out - with my fingernails, no less - a few minutes later and before the worship set was over.  I can't explain the sense of relief, joy, humor, and awe that came over me.  Seriously.

I know - this sounds so, so ridiculous.  And yeah - it's pretty embarrassing, seemingly trivial, and perhaps TMI.  But I wouldn't share it if I didn't think there was some merit in it.  It's just one of those times I felt so heard and recognized by God.  I don't always recognize or remember times like this, so I clung to the moment.  And I wanted to share it, because it meant so much to me...I can't really explain it.  But thanks for letting me try.

I still feel really silly about it.  You're probably thinking, "Really?  All this over a neck hair?"  But, yes.  That's what Satan chose to use and that's what God chose to use to, once again, reveal His power over Satan.  Mysterious ways, am I right?

And then, there was the rest of the conference!  So, so much truth was spoken through this gathering of amazing women (and a couple men) who shared their stories, their hearts, and the words to which God had led them.  I'd really love to share it ALL with ALL of you, but that would probably take a day or two.  So, maybe we can meet for coffee or lunch, or maybe have a phone date, and I can tell you what I learned.  And/or maybe I'll write about it someday.

For now, though, I'll leave you with this thought:

What IF we lived like Jesus did?  What IF we loved like He loved?

In Him,

P.S. I just remembered I wrote about something similar a couple years ago here.  Satan fights a constant battle.  Aren't you so glad God is on our side?!

Favorites of the day:
building relationships with church friends
(building relationships, period - haha)
delicious strawberry poke cake from two of the sweetest boys I know

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