"Click". We registered for it. "Click!" We paid for it and the hotel. In two simple steps, Gerard and I were attending a Weekend to Remember in Cedar Rapids the weekend before Thanksgiving. A weekend away with my husband is a rarity, the Coffeehouse won't miss me. I thought to myself as I realized I had to sacrifice the Coffeehouse to attend the marriage conference. That same night we registered, we had scheduled to have Bruce and Becky over for dinner. They are my student teacher, Faith's, parents, were/are our marriage counselors and, I'm honored to say, FRIENDS.

As we were wrapping up and I was doing dishes in the sink, I gleefully told Becky about our weekend away. Her jaw opened just wide enough to catch a fly. "Carrie, I came here tonight with the intention of asking you to speak at the Coffeehouse..." My heart quite literally fell to my knees doing backflips on its way down. (good mental image there 'eh?) 

I knew the topic she wanted me to talk about before I even posed the question.

My car accidents. My panic attacks. My insecurities and fears. My knees that currently held my heart? They started to wobble and I left the sink to sit back at the table.

Fast forward through 4 weeks, 6 hours of editing a paper together, probably another 4 hours editing it individually, countless run-throughs of practicing **it** outloud and November 18, 2011 arrived.

After teaching that day, I arrived home and put the finishing touches on our packed bags for the Weekend to Remember. When Gerard got home, we dropped Ella off at her puppy-sitters and drove into Des Moines. I arrived at the DTC to get fitted for what I call a "face mic".

Apparently, I have small ears. For face mics, this poses a challenge. I digress...

I felt like I knew them really well already. Christy and I went to Drake together but were never in the same Bible study. Meredith was a Drake grad and Becky had worked with all 3 of us to hone our papers down to the nitty gritty. We rounded the troops and prayed in the nursery as 400 women found their seats and munched on tasty treats.

Christy presented her testimony really well. Then Meredith told her stellar story and I could see a thread linking all three of us: the need for perfection or high achievement to gain approval and acceptance. God's acceptance and/or anyone else's. Becky & Shaly had done a slam dunk job of picking us and God had directed our words so well! But really, any female could speak about the same topic because it affects all of us. 

I know Carrie because she and I slept in the same bed for a summer. Oh yes, Shaly just introduced me to 400 women with that, albeit true, zinger. As the laughter rang out in the room, my knees' wobbliness subsided and my heart climbed back up to its home in my rib cage. The applause started and I put one foot in front of the other, crossing the stage. Here is what greeted me:
(yes, part of my message actually included taking a picture of my dear friends. All 400 of them. I just wish I could've fit them ALL in the photo-I even put my widest lens on!)

We smiled, we laughed, and at least I cried. I don't know about anyone else...All of what God led me through from the day Gerard and I got married till now was revealed reflecting His glory. In a short 20 minutes. What a labor of love! If any woman there was impacted positively, then there has been fruit from the suffering and joy from the pain aside from my own personal gain from the experience.

**I won't make this post any longer by putting up my four page, single-spaced, paper but if anyone wanted to read it, I wouldn't be opposed to emailing it to you. Drop me a comment in the space below with your email address and I'll shoot it your way. :) Gerard also video-taped it, so if you're visual rather than a reader, I could send you a DVD instead...