I have been on an awesome journey this past year! It started when my friend Marissa and I got a message through Facebook from a friend, Leslie, letting us know that Gateway Church would be hosting an IF Gathering. Marissa and I had heard of this event and we talked about how we would love to go but, in the end we decided we were just too busy and it wasn’t going to work out. We both had a lot going on, Marissa had just found out her father had stage 4 cancer and the doctors did not give him much time. She was in the process of spending every moment she could with him while at the same time dealing with all of the logistics that come along with an ailing parent. I was busy for a much happier reason, my only sister at the age of 38 just had her first baby. A sweet little girl and her and her family were all coming home from Texas to Baptize the baby and have a Sip & See in her honor. So, I agreed that she could host the event of 100 of their closest family and friends at my house. They were arriving just days after the IF Gathering and I had a lot to do, including cleaning and getting my toy ravaged house ready for all those visitors. So like I said, we both had our plates full and really we decided that maybe if we had known sooner we could make it work but, it was just going to be too much for us this time around.
Then, we received another message from Leslie a week later. She let us know that she had been praying for us and she knew we were both very busy but she hoped we could join then. Marissa and I spoke again but agreed we just couldn’t make it work.
Then again, just days before the IF Gathering Leslie wrote us again. She was quite persistent but as you will see she was doing someone else’s far more important work than her own. Leslie wrote and said that God had put it on her heart that we needed to be at the Gathering. This time Leslie caught our attention! It was evident Leslie wasn’t the only one who wanted us at the IF Gathering. So Marissa and I decided we would set it all aside and attend. We agreed to attend the Friday night portion of the event last year.
I will admit I was nervous about a lot of the aspects of that Friday night. First of all, I was putting off so many of the things I had placed on my to-do list that needed to happen over the weekend and even more I was a Catholic girl. I seldom attend other churches or services and stepping out into a new church always makes me a little nervous. But I told myself if God needed me there for Marissa I would be there. She has been such an amazing and supportive friend and a strong hold in my journey of faith. She needed to be there and I was going with her. You know that guilty pleasure of a moment when you think, I am so in control of this life! I’ve got this! And then we are gently reminded how foolish we are and in fact we control nothing but our faith. I had that moment, because I quickly learned that I wasn’t at the Gathering just to support my dear friend, I was there for me too!
Of course I was foolish to be concerned about stepping out into a new church or an event that wasn’t “Catholic”. After all every women in the room was there for the same reason, they had been called as well. We were welcomed in by the ladies at our table with grace and gratitude for us joining them and it didn’t take long to realize that without a doubt we may have thought our lives were too busy to be at the IF Gathering but there was no doubt we were exactly where we were supposed to be at that exact moment.
That Friday night was an amazing experience for both Marissa and myself. As we drove home that night we were both so full of excitement and joy. We had so much to say and felt such a sense of renewal and hope. We were so happy we had set aside our busy lives for that evening. We talked about if we could figure out a way to return for the Saturday portion of IF but it just didn’t seem possible. We both really had commitments that we couldn’t push aside another day. But at that point we were both so grateful that we had listened to our call and made Friday night work.
When I got home my excitement was uncontainable. I went on and on to my husband Russ about what an amazing night Marissa and I had and what wonderful things we had heard and experienced that night. But as he eagerly listened to my every word I realized what was so overwhelming about the entire thing. It wasn’t that I had an amazing night or that Marissa felt renewal from that evening, it was that each one of those women in that room felt something special when they left too. I was certain it was different for each of us but it was what each of us needed. We each got the call and because we didn’t put it off God was giving us each something very special. He was doing amazing things on this earth through this event! I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I went Friday night and I knew I wouldn’t be going on Saturday so Russ and I stayed up and watched the live-stream through the night.
The next morning Russ and I were a little tired from the marathon watching but with two little boys there is no rest for the weary. So he and I were trying to get our Saturday morning bearings straight and I got a text message from Marissa. I remember the message so vividly. All she wrote was, “God is moving mountains we are going today!!” I was tired Russ was tired, I had so many things on my to-do list. But when your friend sends you that message. You move!! So we did. I got dressed and kissed Russ and the boys good-bye and put my to-do list on the shelf for another day and went.
It was a great day!! Again I knew I had made the right decision by attending. And at the end of the day just before we left, the founder of IF, Jennie spoke about what we were going to do when we walked out the doors. She spoke about how it was easy to have God in focus the last two days with no distractions, or lists or kids or parents or whatever. But what happens when we leave those doors and all the distractions, which aren’t bad, but they are back and they are real. What then? How do we keep our focus? If God is real she said, then what was it that he wanted us to do?! If God was real, why were we not doing it?! What were we waiting for?
Then they handed each of us a rock. We were to write what we were going to do next, when we walked out the doors, Jennie said. These are moments when I get nervous. I watched as women all around the room busily wrote and wrote all over their rocks. Mine blank! I had nothing to write! How could this be happening I thought? I must have something to write? I was paying attention all day and yesterday. I know there is something I should do? I pleaded with God. Please give me something…anything to just write down. All these women are writing books and I can’t think of a single word! By now ladies were turning their rocks over and still writing. OH MY GOODNESS I thought! I’m the only Catholic girl in the room. Hello!! Is everyone looking at me? I was probably sweating at this point. Then, I gained my composure and just closed my eyes. OK Callie, think of something. And the only thing I see is an old NO FEAR t-shirt. OK, whatever! I’ll take it. So I thought, perfect! I wrote No Fear on my rock. I took a deep breath of relief. I had something. I had no idea what it meant or why I wrote it but, I had something on my rock. And once I relaxed I opened my eyes and I felt the word…Surrender. So I quickly turned my rock over and wrote that on the other side. Success!! I was feeling very proud, I had something on both sides of my rock!!!
I left that IF Gathering on Fire!! I was so excited for what God had in store for all of these ladies, in that room and across the Globe. I still had no idea why I wrote that stuff on my rock and I still had no idea where my journey was taking me, but it didn’t matter. God was moving mountains and I was part of it!
That evening I told Russ everything that happened that day. I told him I still wondered how I was going to make a difference and that I was kind of upset that I still didn’t know. After all, everyone in that room that day seemed to know exactly what they were doing when they walked out those doors. Russ assured me that I would find out when the time was right. I told him he was probably right, and truth was I was still just excited that I had written something on that rock!
The next morning was Sunday. Sunday mornings are always hectic in our house. It’s like another work day as we rush to get out the door on time for morning mass. I did mention we have two full of life energetic boys? 2 and 4 years old. There is never a dull moment in our house, especially in the morning. I’m sure it was 5 minutes before we needed to be in the car and on our way. The kids were running around screaming with no clothes on and I was putting on my makeup…and then I felt the words…Catholic Women’s Conference. What??? Of course I responded with no, I can’t do something like that, my biggest fear is public speaking and I can barely get these boys dressed and off to church on time, I will think about doing it when the boys are bigger. Goodness I was way to busy for an undertaking like that. I continued to hear those words, Catholic Woman’s Conference and I continued to respond in a similar way for the next few months, I’m busy.
Then one Sunday morning I was sitting in mass in the one moment of quiet before someone needs a tissue or wants to be held or needs to go to the restroom and I saw it. All the sadness. I saw it, in so many women. There were tears of loss and looks of worry. All of these women were struggling with death, illness or financial worry. Some were crying others were just almost not even present in their own bodies. They needed a re-connection to their faith and their Father. They needed renewal as much as Marissa and I did. They needed God to move mountains for them. And so my answer was no longer I’ll get to it later, it was how soon can I do it? The answer was NOW!!
I have a challenge for you…
If God is real, then what does he want you to do?
If God is real, why are you not doing it?
If God is real…then what?
What are you waiting for?
Let me know what you would write on your rock!!