Jesus has been with me every step of the way. He hasn't failed me yet. And, I wouldn't change any of it because of the work that the Lord has done in me through it all.
If you had told me when I was a naive, big-eyed college student all that I would walk through over the next 15 years I never would have signed up to follow Jesus. No way. No how.
However, I can genuinely say today that it, all of it, is well with my soul.
Before my life got messy, I loved Jesus. I wanted others to know Him.
But, something happened in me during the slow hours of suffering. Jesus brought me closer to Himself. I remember days when I would sigh with relief at the passing of every hour because I knew it brought me one step closer to the end of another day. I clung desperately to Jesus and His Word and the Hope that only He can give.
I survived. I lived. I made it. I came out the other side with a passion for women to know Jesus for who He really is and to live like He is real. Not just safe, moralistic, right-wing conservative, smiling, happy Christian lives. I have a burning desire to see women know God's Word for themselves and to hear Him speak there. I want women to know Jesus in whatever He calls them to walk through and to have the hope that I have in Him.
Then I read Jennie Allen's book, Anything, and she spoke my language. Reading her words felt like my heart being spilled out in black and white in front of my eyes.
Jennie started a conference called IF:Gathering a year ago in Texas, with live webcasts all over the world. Some of you might remember that I had a group of women over to my home for several Friday nights to watch the conference. When I first offered on Facebook to have friends over to watch the speakers, I really only expected a small response. But, the response was huge and immediate and about 20-25 women filled my living room each week. Women stayed for hours after each week to discuss life and Jesus and their hearts and trials.
IF:Gathering is happening again this year, and there will be a live webcast of the the event here in Salem. The gathering brings together women from all over the world to humbly seek God and to equip them to better live out their callings. The IF leadership team seek to model, resource, and empower women so that they create fresh, honest spaces in their local contexts to wrestle with essential questions of faith.
I crave real. I crave God. I crave other women to encourage each other on as we follow Jesus and dream about what God can do through the laying down of our lives in obedience to Him.
And, I know many of you crave that too because I've heard from you that you do.
So if you do, join me at the local IF:Gathering here in Salem with women from all over the Willamette Valley. The event will be held February 6 and 7 at Church on the Hill (2707 Maranatha Ct SE. Turner, OR 97392). The conference is completely donation based and requires a minimum $1 donation to register, but women are encouraged to give according to their ability.
Register at https://ifgathering.com/gatherings/5021.