The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 28, 2012

Freedom, finally

Women's conference coming up

By Lisa Shrewsberry
Lifestyles Editor

BECKLEY — This is NOT your average women’s conference. Expecting tea-sipping and doilies, snowman s’mores crafts or tips on crock-potting a ham? You’d better stick to Pinterest.

The Finally Free Women’s Conference scheduled for First Baptist Church in uptown Beckley Saturday, Nov. 3, is designed for women to gather together, listen, share if they so choose and benefit from honest discussions about the hurdles slowing them down in life. Sure, you can Google ‘fellowship,’ but it won’t have the same impact.

“We are not pretending we are part of some Hallmark family and that everything is going well. (Attendees) are going to meet other women who have very real struggles and hear about the choices, positive or negative, each have made,” previews keynote speaker Kim Tabor.

The Finally Free Women’s Conference began as a national movement when Tabor, an Indiana-based musician and author, had an epiphany.

“I was actually on vacation a number of years ago. I was on the beach just walking all by myself, no one else around,” only she and God were there, she explains, when “He dropped this idea into my heart.”

What Tabor heard as she quieted her spirit were directives toward a new mission. Maybe she hadn’t simply crossed paths with so many women who’d overcome adversity to rise to new heights. Maybe she’d been appointed to meet them. The noiseless voice she interpreted in her heart said, “Create a platform to tell their stories.”

“I came back from that walk and went to my husband and said ‘I really feel like this is something I’m supposed to do.’”

Through her Finally Free project CD, Tabor recorded the testimonies of seven women. She accompanied each retelling with a song relating to their journey. Through it, she says, “God began to teach me this thing called freedom.”

While she has performed at concerts with popular Christian artists like Sandi Patty and The Gaither Vocal Band, Tabor felt the penetrating poignancy in each woman’s spoken message. The CD, released in 2007, had the potential to change lives. Taking real women talking openly about their very real and painful struggles, sharing their failures and specifically about how their faith elevated them above their circumstances, Tabor’s subsequent book, “Living Free and Loving Life,” adapted easily into the theme and she began touring the countryside in 2010 with a comprehensive message of freedom, finally.

Women of old were more compelled to share their burdens with one another. Today’s woman, believes Tabor, shoulders her burdens on her own. We are walking islands. “If (women) don’t come for any other reason other than to be encouraged by other women, it will be worth a few hours on a Saturday.”

Addiction, crippling fear, anger, alcoholism and abuse. Powerful bondages inhibiting a life’s ability to progress positively, to thrive. All, as well, are able to be overcome through one’s faith in God, maintains Tabor.

“I call them our stones. Especially as women, we collect them throughout our lives, different negative things. We are carrying around all these things God never intended us to carry.” This conference, says Tabor, is about living in God’s love and freedom each and every day. “It’s there for the taking,” she states.

How does a member of the fairer gender lighten her load, as one programmed to accumulate rather than cast off? John 10:10 is the license to be free for ladies, believes Tabor. “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it to the fullest.” The truth is, she explains, most of us are just barely surviving but here God says “I want you to flourish and thrive” and doing that is possible.

“He sets us free for a reason. He has purposes and plans for our lives,” ones more significant than Earl Grey or the recipe of the day.

There will be other women sharing their stories along with Tabor at the conference, acting as guides for ladies to tap into their God-ordained freedom.  

To help with materials and lunch for the event, there is a $20 advanced registration fee and a $25 at-the-door entry, “but there are also a number of scholarships available for people who want to come but can’t afford to,” adds Tabor.

“Our goal is to have at least 100 women attend who need to be free or to have family members come if they are unable to get the gal to be brave enough,” explains organizer and church representative Pat Earehart. “For everyone who comes, they’re guaranteed to go home with a better outlook and feeling about themselves than they did when they came in, even if they don’t feel like they have much of anything going for them.”

— E-mail: lshrewsberry@register-herald.com