Sunday, February 9


This trip was one of my very favorite trips of all times.  I have a hard time nailing down exactly what it was…but really everything!  I will try to tell about it in pics. 

These were several Instagrams foreshadowing what was to come...

 With all that and more built up anticipation…we were SO READY!!

And here we are, ready to leave…not realizing we were starting a LOOOONG night of travel. :(

 Got a little air sick from the storms we flew thru...

 We laughed so hard we cried at these pics.  They were tears of joy and of desperation.

And this was us trying to maintain a good attitude while our flight was delayed, delayed and delayed some more.  We wound up renting a car to drive to Austin (2 1/2 hours!) and found out on our way…the flight actually left for Austin.  SERIOUSLY!?  Thankfully the trip flew by (or maybe that was my safe driving! ;)  Then GPS lead us to the back door of the airport.  We were initially on to the the detour when we'd seen ZERO green airplane signs and it said we were 0.6 miles from the airport.  Rut-roh. Zero point six miles later ----No lie---the only think between us and our car and the planes was a tall chain linked fence.  I mean honestly.  And on our way to find the FRONT door I found myself driving on grass…which was really stance.  Then we turn in the rental place and stand in the LITERALLY FREEZING COLD waiting for a receipt which I'm sure was 30 5 solid mins. ;)  Then we went for a shuttle and he said we had to go in to get a ticket.  NOPE.  So we went to a cab who was apparently "last in line" and unable to take us…so we RAN to the cab in FRONT and got in.  And the sweet smell of raspberries greeted us and it was heavenly (looking hard for silver linings at this point!) UGH!  We arrived to the hotel at 12:15 am.  The lady was sssssssssllllllooooooowwwww as moooooollllllaaaasssssssessssss getting our keys.  We get the keys, get up stairs and they don't work.  COME BACK DOWNSTAIRS and she said it works but our girls have locked the deadbolt.  Wow.  Ok…so back up and we knock soft, then hard then start calling phones…finally RACHEL!  "MEL!?"  We're in…and finally get to lay down…on our pull out couch bed.  What ever non positive sleeping experience you've had on a pull out couch bed…yes.  That.  All night long. In our ribs. BUT WE WERE THERE!! SAFE and sound (but not sound asleep…ha!).

 View from our room at the Double Tree Suites by Hilton.  GREAT hotel booked by Linda.  We had a 2 bedroom/2 bath suite.  It was so much fun to all be together.  (The other 6 flew in sooner than we did.)  That was a huge part of the FUN was that I was not in charge!  HA!  Linda booked the room, Kristie planned the Austin fun stuff, I just followed the crowd.  Being along for the ride was a blast!
 View from our room.  The Capital!
 We had brunch at Kerby Lane.  I had pumpkin bread french toast.  YUM.
Above pic is Steph and Alli.

Here is our group!  Vicky, Rachel, Steph, Me, Alli, Kristie, Jessica and Linda.
 Austin usually has mild weather like FL…but not this weekend.  :(  It was COLD.  When we arrived we checked in w our IDs and got a key we wore around our neck.  We were so excited!!!!  We saw Jen Hatmaker come in and I may or may not have yelled "I LOVE YOU!" as she walked in. :)
 IF happened in the Austin Music Hall.  We had no idea what to expect.  All I knew was that I had done Jennie Allen's bible studies and LOVED them.  And she was heading up this great weekend about "If God is real, then what?"  I also knew that Jen Hatmaker would be there (she said so on her blog) and Ann Voskamp.  I didn't wanna miss it!!  All the emails about the event had this earthy outdoor white farm table looking vibe, with lights hanging from trees.  We were like…how does that translate?

Also, we registered for this event in October.  Registration opened up at noon eastern time.  We all were sitting on ready at 11:50 am.  :)  In my panic I registered twice!  Thankfully…cause that allowed Rachel to go who wasn't able to register on her phone like she planned.  All 8 of us made it in!  The event sold out in 45 mins.  We later found out what a miracle it was that we all made it in!!!!  There were hardly any big groups!

Another bonus was Steph…she was driven and wanted all of us sitting together.  And she wasn't afraid to go early to wait in line and make it happen.  That's usually my obsession at events too…and I didn't have to stress!  I just followed her lead.  LOVED it.

We were there when the doors opened.  This greeted us…
 And there was a fun photo booth thing we all got our pic in.  It's on FB and when I get a hard copy…I'll post it. :)

 There was free water bottles, free coffee (unless you got espresso!) and fruit.  We had to wait outside in the lobby…there were LOTS of us there early. :)
 Then we walked in…there were tables!!!!!!  It was so fun!!!  Just like the emails!  The tables were decorated so cute.

 We were all freaking out. :)

 In each of our seats were these fun Noonday Collection bags...
 …with all these goodies in it!  There was a copy of Angie Smith's book, a journal for IF (with everyone who was a part of IF in it--in full color!) and pages to take notes.  The journal was a wood grain texture w IF: embossed on it.
 Jennie started us off!  She was so excited.
 Speaker after amazing speaker came out.  Part of it was their powerful testimonies and the other part was the unknown of who would knock our socks off next!!  And the worship was great.  It was such a great intimate setting full of women who worked hard to be a part of the weekend and were singing their hearts out.  Such a cool thing to be a part of!

We were told in an email not to make dinner plans on Friday.  When it was time to break Jennie said, "We have a surprise for you!  We've made 1200 dinner reservations for you all in downtown Austin.  Go out in the lobby, choose your ticket w reservations on it and go!  You will not wait for a seat…they are waiting for you.  And be sure to use the conversation cards we give you at dinner."  Our group got tickets to Bobs Steak House.  The food was AMAZING.  I sat w Alli, Eryn and Aunt Cheri.  We had a great time!!  We were a little late that night back to the music hall.  So we had to sit upstairs.  BOO. Not half as cool up there…figuratively and literally.  We vowed to not do that again! :)
 Alli's key necklace kept breaking.  And each time I tied it back it was shorter…this time it was touch and go getting it over her big ol' head! :)
 Aunt Cheri and Eryn
 DELISH!!!  Have you ever see a carrot that LARGE and IN CHARGE?  It's like a Carrot w a side of steak!
 On the way back to the music hall after dinner I was walking w Cheri and Eryn.  A bus with IF: on the side pulled over and picked us up!!!  That was awesome.  Saved us time since we were already late!!
 We got warm chocolate chip cookies each time we returned to the hotel.  And this group of girls was just amazing.  Every one was so fun and sweet.  We had the best time!!!

 We got up early the next day and got these seats!!!  YAY!  We had gotten starbucks for breakfast.  Oh and the shuttle!  So our hotel had a free shuttle to anywhere downtown with in 2 miles of the hotel.  Which was perfect cause that's where we were for the weekend.  So we would call ahead for our 15 passenger van shuttle (all together again!) and would go straight there…all for the price of a great tip.  A guy named Jeff was our driver a lot of the times…very nice and helpful guy.

Rachel, Kristie, Alli, Steph and Linda.
 While we waited for it to start Sat am…there was live Twitter feed going on the screen…so we added our group the the screen. :)

 twice. :)

I think part of the fun was all the surprises…although I thought I hated surprises.  But the people who shared would walk out and I would think, "Hmmm…who is she?" and her story would be powerful and she would be a great speaker…and come to find out she would be a big name Preacher at Hillsong Church (Christine Caine) or American Idol finalist (Melissa Dolittle lead worship and shared) or LANCE ARMSTRONG'S ex WIFE (forgot her name but was an amazing story on forgiveness!).  It was all SO GOOD.  The worship leaders changed (Aaron Ivey w Chrisy Nockels, Melissa Dolittle, Melissa Greene) but all were great.  Ann Voskamp read some of her best blogs.  Some people read poetry.  One photographer, Esther Havens, showed her work and her passion for telling the stories of those in need…and came out to speak to us SANS make up.  In a room full of women at a big event…that was pretty brave. :)  So much encouragement and testimony was shared.

 Below was Shelley Giglio (Her hubby started Passion).
 Lunch on Saturday we hit the farmers market while some of our group stayed and waiting in line for good seats (we got kicked out each time so they could reset the room--change table stuff, put free stuff in our seats!).  I had a fried egg and mushroom sandwich from a food truck.  Food trucks are EVERYWHERE in Austin.

 This is Melissa Blair who we met when we walked in and got seats the first day.  She stayed w us most of the time at the conference.  She was a very cool girl. :)
 Aaron Ivey.

 Jen Hatmaker, Rebekah Lyons, Jennie Allen, Lindsey Nobles and Bianca Olthoff.  These ladies are the ones who made IF happen.
 They were all talking about how IF started and where is was going.
 More Aaron…he was SO happy and enthusiastic.

 At the end all the leaders got on their knees and prayed for us and IF.

Saturday night we planned to have dinner at the Oasis.  It was 20 mins away.  But it was worth it.  We took 2 separate cabs to dinner.  I was hungry and so CARSICK.  I was so glad to get there!  (And thankful again that we didn't pay cabs all weekend!  It was expensive to get there!!)
The sunset was AMAZING.  We were racing there to see the sunset (since we heard it was we had to see!)
I guess they added that fun art for pics like these.  Isn't that diver funny?  I didn't even see it until I was looking at my pics later. :)

Talk about views…there were 4 or 5 levels to choose from (inside or out!) to watch the sun set as we ate.  It was pretty chilly so we ate inside.  The chips and salsa were fantastic.  The food was ok…and the atmosphere was VERY fun.  
Just now noticing the girl w the blow up penguin to the left…haha!
This was in the gift shop!
So on the way back to the hotel to save money we CRAMMED into a van.  "Hey Kristie, are you sitting on something back there??  --yes.  What?  --Linda." HAHAHAHAHA.
This was my small arm party…Daisy made me that bracelet.  I LOVE IT.  And I actually lost it right after this trip. :(  She just made me a new one so I am VERY excited about that.

Alli and I stayed while the other gals left early Sunday am.  We went to church at the downtown campus of Austin Stone.  It was great.  We actually ran into Eryn there!  And afterwards we shared a cab (she was headed to the airport) and we went to Torchy's Tacos.  OH. MY. WORD.  I had a fried avocado taco…and the salsa.  It was so good.

Seriously great food.  Worth the stop.

And this was in the airport in Austin…and I thought it was hilarious. :)

These girls are the leaders of IF.  My Instagram has now been over taken by all these ladies...

Headed home!

…to beautiful, WARM sunny FLORIDA! :)  And this trip home was MUCH less eventful.  Whew...
It was a wonderful weekend.  So thankful I got to go and be a part of it!  Now on to IF: Equip and IF: table. :)  

THANK YOU DANIEL for letting me go and being such a fun Dad. :)


Sarah Nicholson said...

Woah Mel, that looks AMAZING... I didn't know Aunt Cheri was going, too... very cool! I'm so glad you got to go (maybe a tad bit jealous;) but so glad you got to go! Thanks for sharing about it. Sounds like it lived up to the hype!

David Jones said...

You got the fried avocado taco!!! What an amazing weekend- and somehow I am re-discovering your blog again after a year- what???

Anonymous said...

That ^ was Eryn :) Not David...