Why IF:Local Matters

on January 12, 2015 in #thatisbrave, AnnieSpeaks with 5 comments by

In just a few weeks, I’ll be in Austin, Texas for IF:Gathering. Lucky for me, just like last year, I get to be part of the hosting team along with my great pal Joy Eggerichs, particularly hosting the IF:Local livestream.

Ever since last February, it has been hilarious how many people at churches or events will walk up to me, all squinty-eyed-like, trying to figure out why I look familiar, and they say, “uhh… why do I know you? WWAAAAAIIITTT! You hosted IF:Local!” and then they will proceed to tell me the sweetest story of what their experience was like watching the event from their own town, many in their own churches or homes.

I know IF:Local matters because it gives thousands and thousands of women who can’t make it to Austin the chance to experience the same content with their hometown girls.

But IF:Local matters even more for women like my friend Lindsey. I asked if she would tell you her story of how attending IF:Local in 2014 while bedridden has completely changed her life.

. . . . .


My bed is cozy. When I say cozy I mean that I quite literally have the softest sheets on the planet. There are no less than seven unique and perfectly weighted pillows piled up against a rustic headboard. I have a mattress that only dreams are made of. Sounds good, right? The truth is right after finishing this cozy bed, my world unraveled.

Five years ago I was diagnosed with an invisible enemy called Chronic Lyme Disease. My health eroded and everything changed. About the same time my hubby and I brought home our precious girl from Guatemala. Our daughter suffers from complex developmental trauma and lives in a near constant state of anxiety. Our lives became centred around two hard realities, Lyme Disease and Trauma Parenting. I began to feel like a prisoner in my home. My cozy bed became my pit of despair.

Now fast forward with me to the day that I decided to get out of bed. The weekend of IF:Gathering 2014. Since I couldn’t leave my house because of my illness, I didn’t fit into either defined category- being in Austin for IF:Gathering or going to a meet-up for IF:Local. I laughed and declared that I was having IF: My Bed (in pajamas, without make-up).

God met me that day. I had no idea how much the isolation of battling a chronic disease had been crippling me. I needed to hear that God was not through with me. While watching IF: Gathering online I chose to live again. I chose to get out of bed (despite the immense pain and fatigue of Lyme Disease). I chose to be present in my story and not wish it away even if I never felt better.

Though I was confined to my home I asked God how I could comfort others. God’s response was like a bolt of lightning – start a ministry and call it Bottle of Tears.

Today Bottle of Tears is about mailing hope in vintage bottles to those who need it most as a reminder that they are deeply loved and not forgotten. I get to pray for people who are hurting as each bottle leaves my house. I get to watch hundreds of people comfort one another. I want to spend the rest of my time on earth loving others right where they are. 

. . . . .

I don’t know your plans for February 6-7, 2015.

Maybe you’ll be with us in Austin for IF:Gathering.

Maybe you’re going to gather up with other women in your area and watching the IF:Local livestream. (Don’t know if there is an IF:Local planned around you? Search here! If you can’t find one, but want to host an event where women can gather? Plan that here!)

But maybe you have to work on Friday. Or you can’t travel to where a meet-up is happening. Or you, like Lindsey, are homebound, bedridden, or for any reason unable to leave your house or room.

Hey. I’m Annie. I’m your friend. And I’m inviting you to hang with ME at IF:Local.

God will meet you there, just like He’ll meet us in Austin. And it’ll be ME, your local yahoo, just on the other side of the screen!

Hope to see you there.

. . . . .

You in? What’s your plan for this year’s IF:Gathering?

. . . . .


  1. Heather
    posted on Jan 12, 2015 at 8:47 AM  |  reply

    I was able to watch the IF Local last year on the Sunday and Monday after the event. Watching Annie and Joy was such a blast and all of the speakers were incredible. Even though I didn’t actually watch it live nor did I connect with other viewers, it was still a wonderfully rich experience. I’m hoping it will work out for me to watch the IF conference again from my home this year.

  2. Erica G
    posted on Jan 12, 2015 at 11:18 AM  |  reply

    Annie, by some STRAIGHT UP MIRACLE OF THE LORD, I’ll be in Austin at IF. As I mentioned to you on Twitter.. I’m having some sadness that I’ll be missing out on your backstage hilariousness. (I’m not letting #bringemout die.) I’m gonna go ahead and try not to be a crazy lady, but I am definitely hoping for a run-in to say hello to you! 🙂 (Remember when you came to Colorado to speak at CCU and we went out for Mexican and Sprite?!)

  3. Kristin Ciampa
    posted on Jan 12, 2015 at 11:20 AM  |  reply

    This year I am hosting IF:Greater Portland in Maine. The women of our church participated last year and it lit our women on fire for Jesus. I was a bit breathless reading about Bottle of Tears, because I too had a lightening bolt moment where God showed me so clearly what He wanted me to do. I started a ministry called Brave Mama, where we put together baskets for mother’s with babies in the NICU at our local hospital. IF: Local has changed the landscape here. We live in an area that is 97% non believers. We are trusting God to show us our steps and give us direction about what He has for us! Also, Annie, after IF: Live Stream last year, I am almost certain that our destiny is to be friends (but not in a creepy way)! 😉

  4. posted on Jan 12, 2015 at 8:36 PM  |  reply

    Wow I didn’t know your story Lindsey But I adore what bottle of tears is all about!
    I’m so excited that my church is hosting the Live Stream, so so so excited! I wanted to go so bad this year and just can’t get away! SO if anyone wants to join my community to be apart of the Live Stream I’m in Chattanooga, TN!

  5. posted on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:15 PM  |  reply

    I’m attending IF:Local in Minneapolis. It’ll actually be my first social even with women from my new community since I’m moving there week earlier. Actually, the women I’m going with are people I’ve never met in real life so it’ll have a lot of IF:Gathering elements for me. I’m super excited and so glad they thought to include me! “See” you there!

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