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  • Jennifer Z. Major

How to cure the pre-conference jitters. Yeah, that's it.


It was something that ONLY God could have arranged. I'm referring to my rollercoaster ride at ACFW 2013.

A quick review: A dear friend, and fabulous writer, Sarah Thomas, gifted me with my hotel stay. Her only request? That one day I'd share my blessing in whatever way God leads me, in order to help another writer along her way.

Also, the 600$ fee for the conference? Well, it literally and miraculously, appeared out of thin air, and I could fly down to Indianapolis on points.

So, I arranged to stay with friends, who we'd known for close to twenty years, near Indianapolis for a few days before the conference, and we had a lovely visit. Yes, while I was at James and Elaine's, I baked a cheesecake to take to Sarah. In the end, she took most of it home to her husband, who really enjoyed the leftovers.

So, the day of registration dawned and I was a nervous wreck. I'd met 1 other writer in person, and spoke with a few on the phone, but I felt like a walking case of Imposter Syndrome. I don't often feel that scared or entirely out of my element, so yes, I was a bit of a wreck. Did I mention that I was a wreck?

The plan was that Elaine was to drive me down to the hotel, but given that she wasn't very familiar with the neighbourhood, it was James who drove. All the way into town, we chatted and yammered, but my nerves were getting worse and worse. He kept telling me hilarious stories to make me laugh, but as funny as he is, nothing was doing the job. For some reason I cannot recall, I decided I need new lipstick.

Yup. Lipstick. I hardly wear lipstick, but when I do, I prefer a nice dark plum shade. Anyway, new lipstick is my comfort buy when life gets interesting. It's cheaper than shoes. Anyway, this woman NEEDED lipstick!

James knew of a pharmacy near the hotel and we stopped there "for a few minutes". Poor man, he must have known better. No woman instantly finds the right lipstick.

When we got to the pharmacy, James decided to err on the side of chivalry and come inside. The burly security guard outside may have been a clue to the state of the neighbourhood. So, I headed for the door, and James being the gentleman, let me go first.

JUST as the automatic doors opened, he yelled, and I mean YELLED, "THE TAMPONS ARE IN THE FAR CORNER!!!"

Now, there were quite a few people in that store, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM looked right at me. ALL the air in the store sucked out the doors and I chose at that moment to pray for immediate death.

I could NOT believe James had shouted that!! Then again, he's the father of 3 girls, so there ya go. Filters be darned!

My heart was going full throttle, so I took my sweet time finding some lipstick, and as I waited in line, James said a slew of obnoxiously questionable things out loud. I gave up trying to make him stop, and just rolled with it. There was no stopping him, he was on a nuclear-powered roll and did not care AT ALL about my poor nerves.

Did I mention he's a pastor? No? Well, he is. Good luck going to a pharmacy with him, though.

So, we got back in the car and I went nuts. "I cannot believe you did that!!" And yes, I was in pain from laughing so hard.

What was James' response?

With a very sincere smile, he said, "Welllll, you're not so nervous anymore, are you."

Then he gave me that look. The "I knew exactly what I was doing, and you're welcome" look that sealed the deal.

All day, I'd prayed that God would take away my out of control nerves and calm me down. And He did. He sent James to shake me up, make me laugh so hard I cried, and settle me down so I could go into that conference knowing that no matter who I met, no matter how stressful the meetings got, NOT ONE of them would mention feminine hygiene supplies at the top of his or her lungs. THAT had already been done.

Thank you James, and just so you know? I'm usually fine in meetings, and EVERY time I go into a pharmacy, seven words get shouted in my head.


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