It’s a story I shared last year, when Shea and I were just getting started on this Jennie Allen journey of ours.
Shea found an IF: Gathering in Alton, Illinois. We had agreed to stay overnight in a stranger’s house, armed ourselves with our precious Anything books and we weren’t turning back.
It was the next step on this new path that we felt God had been leading us down for months. We wanted to bring this excitement we’d been experiencing to our church and our community and most importantly: our high school girls.
IF: Gathering is a women’s weekend conference, but it’s not something you travel to, rather something that was designed to be brought into communities by the local Church. The Gathering happens in February in Austin, Texas and is simulcast all over the country. But the recordings of the speakers can be played at any time. Like Mount Pulaski Christian Church will be doing in April!
So we were pretty late to the party, but we’d found the very last Gathering in the state of Illinois.
Excited doesn’t cover the emotion. Ever since Shea had gotten her hands on this Anything book – things had begun to change.
First she ordered it, then she forced one on me. Then we were up early every morning, texting each other from our living room couches, trying to process just what this Anything meant.
Jennie Allen’s book Anything has a simple message: will you be brave enough to pray the prayer? God, I will do anything.
Anything you ask of me.
Sounds cute, right? We thought so too at first. And for the most part, this prayer came easy for the first few weeks.
Shea and I have both felt a heart for fostercare since before we met – the first Anything we expected was the green light to fill our houses with strangers’ sweet babies. But that wasn’t what we got.
Through prayer and struggle, we felt God had something else too. Something big. A revival unlike anything we could produce ourselves. The Spirit was moving, change was coming and we knew it was coming for Mount Pulaski.
We arrived that weekend in perfectly planned outfits, our journal bibles in hand and that nervous smile you paste on when you’re an introvert volunteering to meet new people.
Friday night was fantastic! We made a new friend, stayed in a stranger’s house without getting murdered and really felt God speaking to our hearts and to the future of our ministry back home. We showed up Saturday morning hungry for more.
And then Garrett called Shea, three times.
I’d missed three calls from him too.
I stepped outside, it was pouring rain that morning, and called him back.
I knew when he answered something was wrong. My Bear Grills, rub-dirt-on-it husband abruptly informed me “I need to go to the hospital.”
There was this pain in his back that had woken him up about an hour earlier. A pain so bad that he couldn’t move, couldn’t walk, and so bad that he’d called me out of this conference he knew was a solid two hours away.
We went back and forth on the phone. He agreed to call Wyatt in another hour if nothing got better. I hung up and immediately started calling my “people who take care of Garrett” list.
First a hysterical voicemail for Micah.
Then a pleading phone call for Wyatt.
I needed someone bossy and big to bully my husband into the Emergency Room. Wyatt assured me he was up to the task.
When I hung up, I was just standing there alone in the cold rain absolutely convinced that my husband was in critical condition and we would have to sell the dog to cover his medical bills. All the while, I – defender and protector of Garrett LeVault – was two hours away. And I was scared.
So I called my mom.
I sobbed through an explanation, then asked her a question I thought I already knew the answer to.
“Do you think I should go home?”
My mom loves Garrett, pretty sure she likes him more than she likes the rest of us. The two of them are eerily similar, so dealing with me is their great uniter. Garrett is her Golden Child. I expected her to demand why I wasn’t already in the car. To tell me that women’s conferences were a dime a dozen. That I would never find a better husband if I was foolish enough to lose this one over Jennie Allen.
Mom didn’t say any of that. Instead:
“You turn around and you go back inside and you listen closely. There is something that Satan doesn’t want you to hear today. Do not give him that victory.”
And as if sending me off to grade school for the day, she prayed for me and sent me back inside with the reassurance that she would be covering Garrett in prayer and it was my job to listen up. I wish you all had my mom. Honestly.
I did what she said. Within twenty minutes of that phone call, Wyatt had put Garrett into a car and they were on their way to the ER.
When they arrived, the pain was gone. The receptionists looked at Garrett like he was crazy. He started doing back bends, trying to make the pain return. Back bends.
That day at the Gathering, Shea felt called to lead women’s ministry – something she never would’ve guessed when she started reading Anything. For the last year, we’ve gathered with other women for the IF Gathering, and the IF Table and we’ve seen Jesus work a revival through pain and tradgedy in our community.
Shea would’ve left that morning if I’d asked her to. Satan would’ve pulled her away because of my fear for Garrett.
I believe that, crazy as it sounds. Satan would’ve loved to see us struggle through these last months of death and grief and pain without this Women’s ministry. He would’ve won a hundred tiny victories by keeping the women in our community isoliated, alone in our trials. But my mom had the wisdom to speak against that before Satan had a chance to win.
We’re currently on a plane (which we both passionately HATE) on our way to meet Jennie at the Gathering in Austin, TX. Our world has turned over twice in the last year. Jesus has been so good. And life has taught us such hard things.
This week we’ve had explosive fights with husbands, grandfathers admitted to hospice, battles with our wardrobes, misplaced time off requests, broken dryers and what felt like very personal attacks from the Enemy. We’d appreciate your prayers.
For you – I feel the need to pass along my Moms words: whatever it is that’s dragged you down from out of nowhere, don’t give our Enemey that victory. Pay attention when you’re in pain, when you’re heartbroken, when you’re hurt. There’s something Satan doesn’t want you to hear today. Go wreck his battle plan.