All My Knotted-Up Life: A Memoir by Beth Moore

By Stephen R. Clark

by Danielle Dolin

Memoirs are popular. With each, the styles and quality of writing vary as you would expect. Some are engaging and winsome, some are flat and wooden, some are angry and accusatory.

The better memoirs provide fascinating insight into the writer’s life, experiences, family, and friends in a credible way that reveals the writer and their journey. We feel empathy toward them no matter where they land. All My Knotted-Up Life: A Memoir (Tyndale) by Beth Moore is one of the best memoirs I’ve read.

Before picking up this book, I didn’t know much about Beth Moore beyond that she was a popular women’s Bible teacher. She held conferences that were well-attended, and her Bible-study books were consistent bestsellers.

Her roots are firmly southern and her writing style is warm and intimate. Born Elizabeth Green in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, she says her family were “river people.” She opens the book reminiscing how her mom and dad, grandmother, and the five kids piled into their blue VW “bus” to take long family trips. One included a stop at a campsite with its requisite challenge of assembling a large tent.

While this presents a happy, wholesome image of a typical 50s family, the reality was darker. Her mother struggled with mental illness, her father was a serial adulterer, and he even sexually abused Moore. In her teens, the family moved from small-town rural to big city Houston which was disorienting and challenging.

Of the move, Moore writes prophetically, “We don’t always want a new start, no matter how badly we need one. A new beginning can come for us like an intruder breaking into our house—into our very lives as we know them—and drag us kicking and screaming into a place inhospitable to our previous selves.”

Later, she meets her now husband Keith in college. Despite his struggles with PTSD and bipolar disorder, their marriage has flourished. Moore writes of her husband with realism and warmth. His heart and character are clearly revealed in the final chapter of the book recounting how he oversaw every detail of the building of their “church” house.

Moore’s life took on new meaning at a summer Bible camp. “A life-altering moment occurred during my college years,” she writes, “that is automatically underwhelming by the sheer telling of it, but everything afterward hinges on it.” She was overseeing a group of young girls at the camp. One morning as she brushed her teeth she “sensed the Lord’s presence” that was “intense enough to make her grip both sides of the sink until the moment passed.”

As soon as she was able, she met with the woman overseeing the camp and shared her experience. After listening intently to Moore’s recounting, she said, “I believe, Beth, that you have received what we Baptists would term a call to vocational Christian service.”

Since that “calling” Beth Moore has written dozens of books and Bible studies and positively impacted millions of lives with the Gospel around the world. All of which drew the ire of SBC leadership leading to her parting ways with the SBC and her former publisher, Lifeway. She describes her challenges dealing with the male leadership of SBC who, while scorning Moore engaged in massive cover-ups of sexual and other abuse by pastors and denominational church leaders.

She left the SBC in 2021. She and her family now worship at an Anglican church in Spring, Texas. She continues to develop materials that are published by her own company, Living Proof Ministries.

While the ending is a happy one of sorts, the journey Moore has traveled has been both amazingly rewarding and crushingly grueling. I have nothing but respect and admiration for her tenacity of faith and sold-out loyalty to her calling in Christ. This life of dedication has been costly and sharing about it was, for her, daunting.

She writes, “What every author hopes but has no right nor power to demand is that the reader will deal gently with records of sacred things. Vulnerability, in and of itself, is sacred because it mirrors, if even in a glass darkly, the image of Christ. Pulling the bandage back and giving someone a glimpse of a wound that, in this life, will likely never fully heal but only hope to be treated, is expensive.”

I’m glad she shared her life in this remarkable book, which was just named 2024 Christian Book of the Year by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).


Stephen R. Clark is a writer who lives in Lansdale, PA with his wife, BethAnn, where they attend Immanuel Church. His website is www.StephenRayClark.com. He is a member of the Evangelical Press Association and managing editor of the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog. He was also a news writer for The Baptist Paper and writes reviews for the Englewood Review of Books. His writing has appeared in several publications.

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