I’ve saved a spot for you. Grab your coffee and get comfortable…
I’ve got a story to tell you.
A year ago I was an anxious, excited ball of energy as the minutes wound down and registration opened for (in)RL. I had participated from the comfort of my own dorm room in 2012 and this time around I was spending months working behind-the-scenes as the (in)courage (in)tern to get everything ready for a conference I absolutely love.
It was like a little bit of magic, watching women register and the numbers climb – not because of the numbers, but because each one represented a woman who was searching for community, looking for a place to be poured into while pouring out. A safe place to be loved.
I wrote an email. A simple one to our team saying what an honor it is to serve God’s women in this way, a place where it’s never about my name but solely to bring glory to His. At the bottom I included a verse, one that I felt God pressing on my heart for (in)RL, to remind us that He has it all.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us – to Him be all glory. Eph. 3:20
It was amazing, the months leading up to the conference, the videos, the meet up on Saturday, all of it. I hosted at my school and was reminded that God uses good community to heal the scars of broken community.
And through it all, the craziest thing happened. Ephesians 3:20 became “the verse” of (in)RL 2013. I don’t think anyone intended for it to happen, but it just sort of did. It fit perfectly because God did indeed do more than we could have dreamed, asked or imagined.
A few months later, the (in)courage team met in Arkansas to dream and brainstorm for the next year. I could almost feel the heaviness of a question in the room, though we all felt lighthearted and laughed way too much.
The question no one was really asking was this: What do we do for (in)RL next year? Where do we go after such an amazing time just a few months ago?
We has tossed around the question, rattling off a few ideas, but not until the morning before we left did we all sit down and discuss. But there’s something I have to tell you first, something incredibly important.
Over the summer God pressed one word so deep into my soul that I couldn’t get away from it. Every conversation seemed to revolve around this word, and no matter how much I told myself I was crazy, I couldn’t escape it.
God wanted me to breathe story.
I thought and prayed and wrote and prayed some more, but it was always there, this unshakeable burden to share story with the world.
I spent the summer working two internships and serving at camp, but just as important I spent my summer with my Jesus speaking so very clearly these truths to me:
It doesn’t matter who you are or who you’ve been, every single person has a story. The artist, the CEO, the mom, the single college girl, the homeless man on the sidewalk, the cashier, the pianist, we all have one, we all have a story. And when we keep our stories to ourselves, whether out of shame or fear or a belief that we don’t have one to begin with, we are denying Him glory. Because there is power in every story, no matter what you have or have not walked through.
There are entire chapters in my story that I wish I could scratch out and there are pages I’ve loved so deeply that I’ve underlined and dog-eared them. But this is my story, and I must share it. Because when I do, others are free to share theirs, too. The world needs my story. The world needs your story.
I fell in love this summer, but not with a guy.
I fell in love with the power of story.
And so on a Monday night in Arkansas, just minutes after meeting me for the first time, Holley Gerth looked to her left and into my eyes and asked three simple words, “What’s your dream?”
And I told her. I said it out loud, all messy and confusing and ungraceful. I stumbled over the words, leaving my mouth for the first time, and I spoke of my love for story.
She so graciously told me that she believes story is important and I should chase my dream. I don’t know what she saw in me in that moment, but I believe it was a little bit of His words seeping out.
Tuesday morning came and we had all gathered to share ideas for (in)RL. The youngest in the group, I felt so passionate about the theme being the power of story, but I didn’t want to speak first. I know, I know.
But God has a sense of humor like no other, and from across the table the first person spoke up and said, “I really think we need to focus on story.”
I gripped the table and I think my mouth might have fallen open. I looked at Holley across the room and she just smiled back. In that moment, it was just the two of us and God, witnessing something that only He could orchestrate. A split second later I was maybe a little too loudly saying, “Yes. YES. We’ve got to talk about story.”
And so here we are, the day of registration for (in)RL 2014 going live, and I’m again an anxious and excited ball of energy. Because this year? I’d like to invite you to something so dear to my heart I can hardly explain it.
(in)RL: We Need Your Story
I couldn’t see it over the summer or even on a Monday night in Arkansas, but God was loving me deep and loving me hard, even in all the questions and wonderings I had.
He saw the future and He saw me sitting here pouring coffee at 10:39 on a Tuesday night because how can I even pretend to sleep when God is on the move?
He knows every part of you, my friend. Every single beautiful, messy, insecure and broken part – and He loves the mess right out of you.
God is in the business of restoration. You are loved right where you are, more than you could ever imagine or dream. He sees your heartache and your joys, He knows the simple things in life that bring a smile to your face and He’s been right by your side through each and every storm you’ve gone through. He has walked each page with you and He isn’t finished writing your story.
Whether it’s 9:23am or 1:47pm or 11:30 and you’re about to fall asleep, He sees you. He loves you. Right now, in this chapter of your story.
And the crazy thing is, He knows what’s coming next. He’s already written it and we have the high honor of playing a role in the greatest story ever written. You are loved today, yesterday, and forever by the greatest Author.
It’s my privilege today to invite you into my story and to invite you to a conference that is holding a piece of my heart.
If you’ve never heard of (in)RL, think of it as a girl’s weekend with chocolate and laughter and real, honest life – minus the plane tickets and checked luggage and hotel cost. It’s on April 25 & 26 this year, and on Friday the 25th we’ll be sharing our stories with you. 30 women have recorded their stories, in hopes that you will enter into the beautiful, the messy, and the beautifully messy.
The videos will play online Friday, so grab your fuzzy socks and your coffee and settle in. You can watch the videos throughout the day.
And on Saturday? It’s the very best part, where women in your own community meet up to eat and get to know each other, to dive into the real and share their stories. Because friend, the world needs to hear your story.
A few important things you may want to know:
- You can register for (in)RL here: www.inrl.us
- It is completely free!
- Just for registering, you’ll be given access to all the content from (in)RL in 2012 and 2013. I know right?! So amazing.
- You can host a meet up (which is what I did last year, and I’ll be hosting again in Birmingham this year) or simply attend, either is great!
Sweet friend, it doesn’t matter how much life you’ve lived or what you’ve walked through, you have a story. And we need to hear it! And maybe, just maybe, you’ll see my face and hear my voice on the videos, sharing my own story. *Cue the awkward*
You know, I wrote recently of how God blew me away with the amount of money given for (in)Mercy. I woke up and believed God to bring us to $15,000 for the day, but later doubted and lowered the number.
He had other plans, and by the end of the day $43,000 was raised. God is not contained or constrained by numbers, and so as I look at the big number 6,000 – the number of women who were part of (in)RL last year – I can only think of what it may be this year.
It will never be about the numbers, but I’ve felt God asking me this week, Kaitlyn, what do you believe I can do? What number is too big for me?
Everything and nothing.
He can do everything, and nothing is too big for Him. And so I want to put it here, that I’m asking and believing Him for 10,000. Not for the number or the hoorah, but simply because that number scares me. It feels impossible and too much, but then I pause and remember Who He is. I remember how He has been weaving the story of (in)RL: Story for months now, and I find myself confident in this:
He takes our dreams and blows them out of the water. He loves every little bit of us, sees the far-fetched dreams, and loves us right in the middle of the mess.
And so I’m going to invite you into mine. Into my mess, into my story. It’s a jumbled, beautiful, unedited, unfinished and raw work in progress, but it is my story all the same.
Enter in and get comfortable. Don’t leave too fast, stick around and I’ll refill your coffee. Join us for (in)RL and share your story with those around you. You never know who needs to hear it.
I’m joining Holley Gerth today for her new link-up, Coffee For Your Heart, to remind you that you are loved. In every bit of your story, no matter where you find yourself. He loves you in the questions of summer, the dreams of fall, and the anxious and excited of winter. Right where you are, you are loved.