A surprise book review (but really, you need this book)

I reluctantly did her Bible studies with teammates in Beijing. They loved her, and being a team player, I held my judgmental comments to myself. Mostly.

It was the days of someone hauling DVDs and physical copies of the Bible studies in their suitcase.

The woman on the DVD was from a southern part of the U.S. Her big hair, made-up face, and strong accent all were a bit much for me. But what was clear beyond everything was her deep love for Jesus and her desire for us to love him too.

Though I internally rolled my eyes at most of the trappings, I could never quite roll my eyes at the content.

Lest you think I’m super mature in Christ, I’d rather not share this part because it shows my petty heart. A few years ago I went on a kick of exploring the public tax records of ministries in the U.S. I wanted to know what salaries leaders were being paid. Her salary, and those of some of her employees, were higher than I thought they “should be.” I even texted a friend I thought as much.

I now wish I hadn’t because there was so much I didn’t know.

All this to say, if you would have told me that I would recommend her book and tell you that you need it, I wouldn’t have believed you.

So, here I am, sheepishly looking down, not at all a “life long Beth Moore admirer,” telling you if you only read a handful of books this year, her memoir All My Knotted-Up Life must be on the list.

I listened to it through the Hoopla app, and if you can listen to Beth read this book, all the better.

You’ll find a woman who shares her life in such a way that you get the point without feeling voyeuristic.

Here are three reasons I’m recommending this book:

1. Beth is an engaging story teller who can keep the story moving. In this not-very-long book, she starts in childhood and brings you up to the current day. As the reader/listener I wasn’t left with large chunks of her story that left me confused how she went from Point A to Point B because she included enough context. Nor did I ever think, “move it along! We’ve got it!” And if you love a good turn of phrase? You’re in for a treat.

2. Beth does not shy away from, nor glorify, the hard parts of her story— but she doesn’t leave you in the muck. She has the knack of shooting straight while showing how she tried to stay near to Jesus. Those of us in ministry need these models.

3. The wide range of topics that you might relate to will surprise you. They include:

—A chaotic childhood.

—Sexual abuse at the hand of her father.

—A child dealing with a parent (her mom) with mental illness.

—Surprise! to both members of a marriage when one spouse is diagnosed with a mental illness after you married. (In the Beth’s case, Keith was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the subject is beautifully handled in the retelling.)

—A foster child you thought you would have forever being removed after many years in your family.

—The joys and challenges of a growing ministry.

—The role of gender in ministry when you want to be faithful to Jesus. In particular a denomination that believes a woman needs a “male covering.” What that means and how does it plays out?

—Parents aging and dying. Parts of your story, in this life, left unresolved.

—A freak illness that lead to the incapacitation of one spouse for several years. (Keith got some weird infection, Beth and her daughters needed to grieve that he was “gone” . . . and then slowly, slowly he miraculously came back. This was probably when I was googling and judging her salary. Lord, forgive me.)

—Finding your spiritual home no longer home. Feeling adrift spiritually while still loving Jesus deeply.


This is a different type of memoir than the biographies many of us have read about pillars of the faith. It was refreshing without elevating one person into super humanity. Beth has lived enough life to have something to say, she keeps you hanging on her story telling, and she reminds us that it is possible to stay close to Jesus when life is messy, hard, and beautiful.

If you’ve always been a “Beth Moore Fan,” you’re going to love this book.

If you’ve googled her ministry tax forms and judged her salary, you’re going to love this book.

If you’re looking for a fellow traveler who is the best story teller, you’re going to love this book.

Get All My Knotted-Up Life by Beth Moore.

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Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Equipper of cross-cultural worker. Amy is the founder of Global Trellis, co-founder of Velvet Ashes, hosts reading challenges at The Messy Middle, and is the author of five books (Looming TransitionsLove, AmyEnjoying NewslettersGetting Started, and Connected.)

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