IF:Gathering :: A Thirsty Flower in the Rain

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I didn’t know exactly what I was signing up for when I got my ticket to IF:Gathering in Austin. I was certain that it was going to be pretty awesome and I wanted to be in the building when it happened. The conference sold out within 45 minutes of going on sale last Fall, so I didn’t get a ticket. Oh well. Then on a whim I entered a contest on Lindsey Nobles site and about 3 weeks before the conference I got an email from her saying I had a ticket if I wanted in. Of course! I live a little over an hour away from Austin and I wanted to go even if I couldn’t stay the whole time.

The conference took place on a Friday and Saturday. I could only attend for 2 hours on Friday, because I wanted to come back to San Antonio and lead my book club. I’m glad I made that decision, because I was able to catch up on what I missed through the live feed after book club.

On Going Alone

I was able to get a ticket, but the conference was sold out so I couldn’t ask anyone to go with me. I was super nervous about going alone even though I am an extrovert. I still have Lisa Pennington’s blog post about her terrible conference experience ringing in my head.

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On the first day I headed upstairs and picked a seat with a decent view of the stage below. I started chatting with the older lady next to me and asked if she worked with a church in Austin. She chuckled and told me she is Jen Hatmaker’s mom. How random is that? I asked her if she was proud of her daughter and a few other nice, but probing questions. She told me, “Jen writes like her daddy, but talks like me.” She also told me how Jen’s dad is a preacher and “if the internet had been around when he preached, then he would have been famous too, because he has the personality for it.”

I completely missed the dinner mixer Friday evening and was afraid I had missed my chance to meet someone to hang with the next day. Saturday morning I drove the hour up to Austin and prayed that God would help me meet someone so I wouldn’t have to go to lunch alone. Of all things, that is what I worried about most.

When the doors opened Saturday morning Bibles and elbows were being thrown to save seats. I wanted to be able to see the big screen from the first floor. I tried one spot, then left to find another. I found an open chair at a round table with 3 ladies in the back. My seat had a decent view. Being the extrovert that I am, I started asking them questions and quickly learned that they all had a heart for Africa and two had been on a mission trip together. God answered my prayer with Andrea, Kendra, and Erin.

I had so much fun with these three ladies and genuinely enjoyed my time with them. I wish that I could have had more time to listen to their stories and get to know them better. I was so grateful that they let tag along with them.

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Refreshment

I went Saturday morning with the hope of being filled up or hearing a personal word from the Lord. Over the last few weeks I have had a few nights of insomnia where I am equally excited and overwhelmed with all the change that is happening in my family. I knew that my bouts of insomnia were a result of not spending enough time reading my Bible and praying. However, I was too tired to actually make time to spend with the Lord. My soul felt empty.

God made time for me to be filled up with Him despite myself. My day at IF:Gathering was a gift from Him. During worship at the start of the day I heard Him say to me, “Today I am watering the seed I’ve planted in you, because breakthrough is coming.” I felt like a thirsty flower in the rain. I lifted up my arms, opened my heart, turned off my cynicism, and drank in words of wisdom the rest of the day.

The seed that is planted in me is my desire to lead a revolution of digital tentmakers with Daniel. I believe there is more than one way to do missions work as a family. We want to do it and teach others how they can become Digital Tentmakers too. Daniel and I talk about it here at Life with a Mission.

What Spoke to Me at IF

The majority of IF:Gathering was about running the race that God has called you to run with God. Jennie Allen’s fear is that we’d all go out and do great stuff, but never repent and spend actual time with Him. The balance between being in God’s presence and serving Him was a common theme on Saturday. It felt like the proverbial Mary vs. Martha debate. Shelley Giglio shared from Psalm 84 and talked about building in the presence of God. Her suggestion of doing both at the same time definitely has me wanting to know more.

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I think everyone who went walked away with their own one-liners and segments that spoke most to them.

Here are a few things that spoke to me:

God can use anyone. God can use murderers, prostitutes, terrorists, and stay at home moms. The question, “Who do you think you are?” is a lie from the enemy.

Run YOUR race. Stop comparing yourself to others. Run your race for an audience of One.

Stop striving. Sometimes I feel immense pressure to network, connect, and build a platform for Digital Tentmaking. Even while I was there I would purposely walk by where the “internet big names” were sitting to see if I could introduce myself. God told me that I don’t have to work so hard at it and that he will bring the right connections at the right times. Knowing that I just need to keep going and He will bring the opportunities we need at the right times is so freeing!

Keep moving between the stepping stones. Jennie Allen talked about how IF:Gathering came about. She would reach the next stepping stone in the water, but there wouldn’t be another step on for a while. Then the next step would appear. It was 7 years between the time God called Jennie to bring women together until it actually happened. God led her and brought the right people along the way.

“Ask for a heart to serve and just move.” – Jen Hatmaker

We are a privileged generation here in the U.S. and we need to be about bringing justice to the world. Justice means to set right.

I recently read a short book titled, Deepening the Soul for Justice. Every time I hear the word “justice” I feel the Lord tapping on my hard heart with a hammer and chisel. I still have no idea what exactly my heart is going to break over, but I’m curious.

I came home pumped and re-watched Jen Hatmaker’s talk through the live feed with Daniel. I knew he would like her talk as much I did. I am so grateful that he was willing to watch a speaker from a Women’s conference.

I needed this time of refreshing last weekend so badly. Everyone who went and watched online will have a different take away. I found water for my soul and freedom to follow to my calling.

Did you attend or watch IF:Gathering online? What did you take away from the conference? 

About Amanda

Hi! I'm Amanda. I love Jesus, good friends, good books, good food, and Texas. I am married to the handsome Daniel Espinoza. I homeschool my 3 young children. Follow me on Twitter: @AmandaEspi or on Google+

2 Responses to IF:Gathering :: A Thirsty Flower in the Rain

  1. Alia Joy February 10, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

    Hey Amanda. I’m glad you chose to go it alone and that you were met with inspiration and fellowship. I tuned in online and watched from home. I wish we could get a drink and talk in real life, I’d love to know more about your experience and catch up. I’ve been interested to see what the experience was like for people just attending but not part of leadership or ones with a huge platform or blog. I’m glad it was a good time and you weren’t caught eating alone. If you’re ever in Oregon, stop by and we’ll chat. ;)

    • Amanda February 11, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      Alia, yes! I’m not sure when Oregon is happening for us, but I definitely want to go.

      Thank you so much for your comment, because that is how I feel too. I enjoy hearing how people experience conferences. I walked up and told myself “This is the very first IF:Gathering and they are going to make mistakes. Have grace.”

      I do think it would’ve been cool if we could have gathered in smaller break out sessions with similar interests. If their goal is to gather, equip, and unleash then it’d be fun to be equipped in your specific area of ministry like discipleship, Bible study leaders, missions, injustice, etc. I doubt they’d do that, because you can’t live stream different sessions. But it was cool to be there even as one large group of 1200 people.

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