Sharing the Light#039;

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 3, 2001

The Crosswalk experience

Recently I was privileged to share in a special event sponsored by Greenville's First Baptist Church.

Two years ago, the church held their first "Crosswalk" conference for women, seeking to offer a spiritual tonic to burned-out, over-stressed, depressed and discouraged Christian ladies in need of a "soul boost."

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That event was such a success the church decided to hold it every other year on a regular basis.

It was a wonderful weekend touching the lives of over 200 females from teens to great-grandmas.

Many words of wisdom were shared, along with much laughter and more than a few tears.

We sang with gusto, prayed with fervor, listened with rapt attention and shared honestly about our individual struggles along this highway called "life."

I could see why my friend Leesa had been so quick to sign up this year after attending that first conference.

The terrific conference leaders, author and speaker Barbara Joiner and singer and worship leader Alicia Williamson-Garcia were terrific. Barbara is funnier than many a professional comedienne; Alicia has a beautiful, soulful voice and passionate spirit for God.

The event was, in many ways, a family affair. There were numerous mother-daughter teams present, including my mom and I, and I noted many sisters and sisters-in-law shared the weekend together as well.

I kept thinking of other family members and friends I wished were there to share the day with us.

It was a long day for my 76-year-old mother to put in on Saturday (from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) but she was a trouper (as usual).

We didn't make it to the Friday evening session or back for the Saturday night concert-but I heard, as the current saying goes, "it was ALL good."

Mom and I marveled at how much preparation Joyce McLendon and the good ladies of FBC (and some of the good men, too, I should add) put into getting ready and pulling off this feat.

During morning registration we were offered delicious mini-muffins, donut holes and fresh-brewed coffee, all served with a smile.

Bottled water and soft drinks were also available for the non-java drinkers and between the seminars we were offered goodie bags of snacks and beverages, along with more friendly smiles.

Eleven different seminars were offered at locations throughout the church facilities.

There was only time to attend three-and it was very hard to pick.

Mom and I went to a fascinating one by former Greenvillian Cindy Barganier explaining her pillow ministry. You've heard of "sermons in stones"?

Well, we discovered sermons in pillows-I'm going to have to follow up with the delightful Cindy and write a whole article about this intriguing subject.

We also attended Alicia Williamson-Garcia's dynamic presentation on worship and Betty Speed's humorous and insightful seminar on stress relief. (I found out I need to get rid of my "piles"-piles of magazines, piles of books, et al.)

Other topics included prayer, laughter, nutrition, decorating ideas, dealing with difficult people . . . so many great seminars, not enough time.

Everyone was treated to a wonderful and nutritious lunch in the Family Life Center.

Pairs of FBC ladies had teamed up and decorated over 25 tables featuring their own interpretation of the theme "Walking in the Light", creating a colorful and eclectic "sea" of florals, flags and of, course, lamps, lanterns and candles throughout the room.

We were assigned tables where we would NOT be seated with our buddies or family members-thus giving us all a chance to make new friends.

It was touching to discover our hostesses had also been praying for each person assigned to their table for the past two weeks. (When I said they really prepared for this, I meant it!)

We were entertained with a fashion show featuring the church's ladies while we enjoyed our luscious cheesecake desserts.

(There were a few fun "surprise models" along the way, too.)

Now, even sentimental me usually manages not to weep watching women modeling spring outfits-but two of the young "mannequins" nearly caused my tear ducts to overflow.

Little Barrett Leverette and her older sister, Jennings, showed off the beautiful hand sewn dresses lovingly made by their talented mom Nancy. These are two lovely girls to begin with.

I know just how proud their daddy, Tommy, is of all three of his girls (the eldest is Sarah Ellen).

You see, Tommy and his family were our neighbors when I was growing up; his mother, the unforgettable "Miss" Minerva, was like a second mom to my mother and a wonderful, funny grandma to my sisters and I.

She's been gone for several years now.

Yet I could easily imagine Minerva seated there, round and ruddy face beaming with love and pride as she nudged those next to her and stage-whispered, "Those are MY granddaughters."

Later, as we sang sweet praise choruses during our final worship time with Alicia, I noted the young teenager standing in front of us lean over and wrap an arm around her mom's neck as she lay her head upon her mom's shoulder. "This is MY mom, and I love her" was the message that spontaneous gesture of affection sent out.

A weekend full of wise words, sweet memories, spiritual insights, joyful music-and an adolescent girl and her mom actually bridging that age-old generation gap.