Immeasureably More... IF:2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The If:Gathering just wrapped itself up in Austin. These women below are such beautiful representations of humility and grace. They are lights rising in darkness. Thank you. 

It is such an honor to share words with the world about our local experience, but first let me take you back to where God first planted seeds of faith and calling and obedience in my own life.

30 or so years ago, I had what I can remember as my first experience of racial inequality. I remember where I was, what my little pigtail braids looked like, the very last room on the right at the end of the hallway, small wooden chairs and and the smell of the building I was in. I remember pale mint green walls and evergreen carpet. I was small. Four or five maybe. I remember my teacher's name and her hair pulled up in a beehive hairstyle, plastered together with what may have been an entire can of hairspray.It was the 80's okay...  She taught us with so much love and so much joy, always the softest hugs and biggest cherry red cheeks.

"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow black and white they are precious in his sight....." and "he's got the whole world in his hands, in his hands, in his hands...." we would wiggle in our chairs and sing our little hearts out and she would beam at us. And I absolutely believed it was true.

I was a little sponge soaking in all the words from my sweet teacher and there was joy. I believed God was so good and I believed that He had created us all so beautifully, with so much love. Little Amanda, curious and so in awe. He was somehow holding all the little kids like me across the world, I don't think I understood completely, but it felt good. It felt safe and good to be held and it felt incredibly exciting to know there were kids all over the world that I had no idea about.

Then I walked out of that little room, at the end of the long hallway, into the world and the world was broken. The world in which I lived didn't love all those little children and their actions didn't match up with the song or the message that my sweet, soft, Sunday school teacher was so joyfully teaching me. As strange as it may sound, even at that small, the age of my own little girl now, part of my spirit broke, it hurt, my mind was confused and my world lost trust and belief in a lot of things, but I never doubted the words of God or the songs my teacher sang, they felt right, good, safe, joyful and the things I heard and saw in my surroundings felt ugly, dark and wrong. And I struggle even now to type this because I want to honor the good far more than I expose the ugly, but in short, in their humanness and brokenness, some of the very people in my world that fed me God's word, taught me hate and division. But God. 

Hear this thought my sisters, GOD'S WORD ENDURED... Every good and perfect word was planted on good soil, in a little girl with wild childlike faith, it burrowed deep and even though I wrestled with many things throughout my life, I never, ever doubted that God's love for ALL of his people was real. I never doubted His command to love your neighbor as yourself, even when I wasn't given an opportunity to do it. Putting myself out there to connect with others has been my heartbeat since way before it was a topic of highlighted conversation but my soul finds a deep exhale knowing that now it is. 

The battle over that has already been won, the blood of Jesus covers it all. His grace heals and protects and is greater than all the sin that Satan would love to use to reek havoc and cause more destruction. The chains of that bondage are broken. The conversations about that are for tables not blogs. 

But the talks of reconciling ourselves to Christ and eachother, of being made credible witnesses, those belong in all all places. Yes, on blogs but more than that deeply rooted in safe places of authentic relationships where people live eachother enough not to be able to walk away... Tasha, sweet sister, you are my people. I get you and I love that place God has set you in during this time in our world. SHINE on friend! 

Fast forward to February 6th and 7th 2015 and welcome yourself into our IF:Gathering.
We gathered at Kingdom Life Church in Simpsonville, SC

I love photos and while these are simply a conglomeration of IG photos and are far from professional, what they are is real and beautiful. Click on any image below and watch a feed of our gathering :) You too can have your own collection with a little gadget called SnapWidget. It's the most fun!

Last year, just minutes before IF began God literally gave me Ephesians 3:20. "To Him who can do immeasurably more that we could ever ask or imagine according to the power of His spirit at work within us." It became our theme verse and my life verse along with Joshua 1:9. I began giving myself permission to put into action the dreams I had been dreaming for decades. This year, as you can imagine, I kinda had a few fall out moments as I watched those two themes come around and weave together! Affirmation.

This weekend was at the tippy top of my list. Women gathered, tearing down all the million barriers the world uses to keep us apart. I have dreamed about not just assembling a diverse group of women, but for God to give those women around me the desire to get busy digging deep into messy waters to put fears about our misconceptions and misunderstandings about one another away.

What actually happened was my immeasurably more... These women not only gathered, but they served each other and created spaces of truth with each other and they began bearing their souls to each other, even though many of them had been perfect strangers just hours before. God broke the barriers, HE gave the desire, HE bound the enemy and HE washed over our place with His Spirit so thick that I found myself more than once holding my breath without even realizing it.

Our gathering drew women from across denominational, racial, generational and socioeconomic places and allowed them to truly serve one another using unique God given gifts to bring glory to the one who does in fact love and hold us all. This has been my heartbeat for years and years and years and I am only sorry that I didn't believe in God enough to answer His call sooner, because the lie the devil has sold me has told me I didn't have any "qualifications" worthy of starting these conversations and even more debilitating, that no one cared.... Well let me tell you, these women care and my story is more qualification than any institution could ever teach me. My experiences count. I have permission to impart what I know onto others. These ladies were crazy brave and insanely loving. They wept and they shared hard things and they were gentle and accepting and grace giving. 

We broke away from the gathering at one point and circled together and because I am probably a little reckless now with believing God, we addressed the elephant in the room, we spoke put the fears and preconceived believes, hurts and heartaches attached to our ethnicities.

It was HOLY.
It was beautiful and brave and bold and HOLY.

Women from 25-80 shared and in the end, we worshiped and held hands and prayed crazy prayers for God to do IMMEASURABLY MORE in us, through us, for the kingdom to come right where we are in Simpsonville SC and those beautiful women left dreaming their own dreams to change the world and with a BURDEN to shoulder each others sorrows and celebrations. More beautifully, to see and understand each other more deeply. 

Right now, there are a group of women, who were total strangers 48 hours ago, planning a birthday party for one of my best friends, just because. There are women ready to dive into lead new If:Tables, there are others who have confessed to some really hard things, others who have a curious mind for where to begin their own journey of boldly seeking to believe God and others who are ready to take on this reconciliation movement head on.

For all the anticipation |and yes admittedly a little anxiety| I had that God would unite such diverse women, not just among racial lines, but just life experience ones, HE SHOWED OUT and my crazy little dream {immeasurably} more than came true. I have about 120 new warrior sisters rising up and we.won',shaken except when the Father needs to shake us up to send us out.  And I think it's safe to say, we all left with a more beautiful, bold, all encompassing version of God than when we walked in. 

God answers prayers! He mends, molds, restores, holds, heals, rescues, redeems, protects, and performs in every single one of our lives, we just have to believe Him for who He is. This is just the beginning. Could not be more consumed by the love of Christ than in this moment, reflecting on who God is. Satan you loose. You have been wrapped up and ratted out. Your schemes, bound up and thrown out. Your plan has failed, your scheme revealed and your division crushed, your chains broken, lies brought to light, you are finished. Your future is bleak and we will rise, together, shining light into the darkness of the broken, the trafficked, the hungry, the suffering, the poor, the lost, the red, yellow, black and white......

Greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city....

But you better bet, I BELIEVE!

I wish I could have hugged every single women participating in IF. Thank you for saying yes, I pray that the words of the father will settle deep into your bones and that just like the little pigtail me, you will never stop feeling JOY in them no matter what lies this broken world tries to tell you. There is beauty in everyone of us and there is power in the name of Jesus, let us be the brave bondage breakers that refuse to let the glory of the Lord pass us by.

Now get out there and write your story!
Make sure you hit pause at the bottom of your screen as you watch the youtube video so the music doesn't overlap.

Love and Blessings,


And a few more lovelies from Austin... 
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