Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Women at Crossroad's Recap

I have talked and talked and talked about Women at Crossroads, and I'm finally going to tie up all the lose ends and give everyone a break on the topic.  Until next year.  {Because there will hopefully be a next year!}

In this post I talked about how excited I was to finally see the conference materialize.  The whole thing started in March, and the thought of pulling a conference together in three months was a little overwhelming.  I wrote about my battle between peace and anxiety over what might happen at the conference.  And then in this post I wrote the day before the conference, I expressed my fears and frustrations.  All a part of the process, or so I'm told.  So I want to start this post out with a big "thank you."  So many of y'all offered me encouragement while my head was spinning off into another dimension.  Every comment and e-mail helped calm me down.  Not to mention all of the prayers that were said for this conference.  I can tell that tons of prayers went up for Women at Crossroads because the end result was more amazing than I could have ever imagined.  =)  

   June 8 & 9, 2012

Friday, June 8:  6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

We started off in the Fellowship Hall.  You'll notice in the pictures that everyone "working" the conference was dressed in black and had pink lanyard name tags around their necks.  Guests were met by some ladies from our church passing out goody bags.  The goody bags were absolutely amazing.  I was so pleased with them.  Every guest got one, and every bag included a Gideon's Bible, an Itinerary for the weekend, spray hand sanitizer, a Women at Crossroad's notepad, a pink Women at Crossroad's click pen (who doesn't love a good click pen?!), some scripture tracts, mints, gum, a pack of Kleenexes, and a registration card.   We also had sticky name tags for everyone so that we could hopefully learn names and make strong connections with everyone who attended.

Then, we had a little station set up for mom's to sign their children in to child watch services.  We didn't know most of the children or mothers, so we had a system where each child got a numbered name tag and the mom's got their number.  To pick their children up, they had to have the right number.  We also got the mom's name, child's name, and any special care instructions.  

Then, we all ate dinner together.  My sweet daddy and some other men from the church spent all day Friday bbq-ing chicken.  

We had lots of wonderful helpers in the kitchen, including my darling husband.  =)  He was so supportive of the entire thing and I can't sing his praises enough.  

It was so great to see different races mingled together in an all-white church.  Where we live, going to church is very much a family event and churches tend to be either all black or all white because of it.  It was great to have both.  =)  

After everyone had fully tummies, we moved into the sanctuary.  We borrowed furniture from a local furniture company to decorate the stage.  Even though the conference was obviously held at a church, I wanted to make sure everyone felt comfortable and casual all weekend, free to be themselves.

  Another thing I loved about the conference was the mixed-up order of everything.  It was so different from a regular church service, and I loved the "spice" of doing things out of the ordinary.  A local lady sang for us and led us in a praise and worship song.  Her voice gave me goosebumps.  Our main event for the night was a speaker named Maria Owens.  She's regionally renowned and does conferences all over the southeast.  You may have heard of her - her name is Maria Owens.  She has such an amazing story and the fact that she came to our little hick-town conference was icing on the cake.

After the conference was over, everyone was invited back to the Fellowship Hall for dessert and coffee.

  We encouraged everyone to come back fro Saturday but some people let us know they wouldn't be able to.  Still, everyone was just overflowing from what happened Friday night.  We cried, worshiped, held hands, praised God, and were ourselves.  Everyone in the Fellowship Hall was bubbling over.  Later, my dad told me he looked at my husband and said to him "Look what our girl did," and Mr. R got choked up and couldn't respond.  That just melts my heart.  =)  And not to toot my own horn in ANY way, but I was just so emotional the entire day because God gave me this idea.  I was obedient, and everything that happened was because of HIM and not me...but a part of me just could not believe the amazing thing I had put together.  It was a late night & Saturday would be an early morning, so after everyone left we cleaned up and headed home to get some rest lay in bed and think about everything, unable to sleep because of the excitement.  =)
Saturday, June 9:  9:30 am - Noon

Saturday was a completely different format from Friday.  We did start out with food again, breakfast in the Fellowship Hall.  We chowed down on fruit, cereals, granola bars, yogurts, muffins, and topped it all off with juices or coffee.  Then we headed on over to the Sanctuary again where one of our church members briefly discussed the good and bad girls of the Bible.  It was really cool to hear about the bad girls who had happy endings.  Obviously those are stories I can relate to pretty well.  We had more praise and worship music, and we even had a little comedy skit that had us all laughing to tears.  Then, we broke off into small groups that met in classrooms.  We had five topics and everyone got to choose two classes to attend.

The topics were:
  1. Sexual Abuse - led by a woman who was sexually abused by her uncle and cousins from the age of 3 until she was a young teenager.
  2. Depression - led by a woman who struggles with clinical depression, an inherited  from her father who committed suicide
  3. Being a Single Mom - led by two single mother's with completely different circumstances and upbringings
  4. Drug & Alcohol Abuse - led by me, having struggled with drug & alcohol abuse from the age of 14 to 22.
  5. How Well Do You Know Your Women - led by a church elder, discussing women of the Bible further and the importance of being well-schooled on them
After the second class, we invited everyone back over the Fellowship Hall for prizes and dessert.  We had a table of prizes set up and we drew from the registration cards.  We gave away Bath & Body Works candles, lotions, and body sprays; local cookbooks; a ton of items donated by Tupperware; devotional books, Christian CD's; a wax warmer and three different wax scents; some Christian comedy DVD's; and a set of stainless steel kitchen spoons with a canister.

Every single person in attendance got a prize because of the enormous amount of prize donations that were made by church members and local businesses.  We were also able to give away one grand prize...and the grand prize was a complete surprise to everyone attending and to most of the conference workers.  Only 8 people knew what the grand prize was in advance.  

Because of the generous donations of two local businesses, we were able to give away the living room set that was displayed on stage all weekend.  That's one sofa, one love seat, one chair, one coffee table, two end tables, two lamps, and a rug.  =)  

I want to share with y'all the story of the woman who won our grand prize.  Her name is Marian, and she's from Florida.  She has a son who lives here, and while visiting him she attended a church that advertised Women at Crossroads.  She thought it sounded interesting and decided she would come back up for another visit so that she could attend the conference.  I learned this because she was in one of my Drug & Alcohol Abuse classes.  She was the only one in the room I wasn't familiar with, so I asked her name.  She told me her name is Marian, and she told me why she was there.  She also told me, "You'll remember me."  Later that day, when I drew for the grand prize drawing of the living room set and pulled her name, she just erupted with tears.  The look on her face was of sheer disbelief.  After the crowd had calmed down, I went and talked to Marian.  She tearfully told me about her son and his family, and how much they struggle to make ends meet.  She wanted to give the living room set to her son because their living conditions are very poor.  I was happy that the living room set was going to someone in need.  She was happy because she was able to help her son in a way she would not have been able to, otherwise.  The fact that SHE won is a total God thing.  Can you imagine how many different things had to fall into place for a woman from Florida to be able to attend a tiny little first-time conference in South Carolina?  God put all the pieces together long before I ever came into the picture.  Every single thing about Women at Crossroads screamed to me...

God is Good.  =)  

I still can't believe that God used me in such a big way.  I would say I'm at a loss for words, but that's clearly not true based on the super long post I just wrote.  It was such a busy weekend, but it was such a blessing.  I'm honored and humbled that God chose me.  He picked me to lead this, and He made all the pieces fall perfectly into place every step of the way.  Every fear and frustration I had along the way was comforted by His shining perfection.  For the first time in my marriage, I feel good about serving along side my husband.  I feel like God used this conference to teach me so many things about Him, about others, and about myself.  I hope that He wants us to do this conference again next year.  I hope that the problems within our church clear up or that I can bring the conference with me wherever I go.  It was such a huge cup runneth over...and through the conference I've been asked to serve in other ways in my community.  I am proof that God can take a mess and turn it into a message.  And I'm just so incredibly thankful.  To God be the glory.      



Kristen Seuberling said...

You did a great job! This is just going to get better each and every year, too!

Annabelle said...

It looks like your conference was awesome! I wish I could have came! If I would have been down there at the time, I would have def. been there!

Amber in South Carolina said...

Glad to hear the conference was such a success! And such a sweet story about the grand prize. God is good like that ;)

Lauren said...

What an amazing post! God IS good, always. How encouraging that all your hard work was rewarded. So excited for you lady:-)

Ashley said...

This had me tearing up! What a great job! Isn't it so wonderful to see something that you put so much into turn out to be so fantastic! :)

Janna Renee said...

This looks like SO much fun! You did such a good job, and it must have been amazing to witness all the effort go into action! You deserve to be proud <3