Forgive me for the familiarity but, though we’ve never met, we’re actually very close. We’ve belly laughed together, wept together, and studied together. You’ve been with me in small groups gathered in living rooms, huddled in church sanctuaries, and curled up in coffee houses. Beth, I’m just one of the countless spiritual daughters you have dedicated your life to raising up and I thank you. Over the last 14 years you have been to me a mother, a coach, a counselor, and a teacher.
I expect you’ll be quite busy for your first few decades in heaven. There will be floods of us up there, lining up to express our gratitude. One unfamiliar woman after another, so excited to finally get to tell you, face to face, how much your studies, books, and teachings meant to her over the years. You’ll probably have to sneak away to get a chance to worship at the feet of Jesus. O, but when you do! Imagine all the crowns you’ll have amassed to lay back at His feet. What an honor!
I write to you today with one request. Help us get to Lit.
The first of your studies that I ever did was Breaking Free. I was in my early-twenties, newly saved, and deep-down bitter. Though I was in love with the Lord, I hated men, feared women, and was weighed down by self-pity and anger rooted in my past. I was enslaved to two packs of Camel Menthols a day and binge eating. The woman who was discipling me, Adele, recommended that we work through Breaking Free. Week after week, I wept through the readings and workbook. I feel in love with the book of Isaiah and copied Chapters 60 through 62 out over and over again in my notebooks and journals, claiming the promises of restoration found there. Adele and I giggled and cried through your videos each week and worked through the study. Once wasn’t enough for me.
In the first few years of my Christian walk I did Breaking Free three times. The second time I braved it with a group of women from my little church in Mililani, Hawaii. It shook me to my core to face my fear of church ladies. They were all married, blonde, homeschooling moms with mini-vans and gracious tongues. I was the pierced single mom, with two different colored children, who kept losing her temper and letting one of those old f-bombs fall in the sanctuary. It was during that study that I first began to realize that these perfectly coiffed church women were just as broken and messed up as myself. Over three months of study, one by one, the ladies opened up about their pasts, abuse, addictions, and insecurities. What a relief to learn I wasn’t the only one! Then a year or so later, I broke free yet again with a troubled young woman I had begun discipling. She had fallen into sexual sin and was struggling with the decision to choose holiness or the flesh.
It became a running joke with the ladies I knew that I was a Breaking Free flunkie who needed three go-rounds to get “broke for good”. Finally, I graduated to Living Free. This led to a handful of peaceful, fruitful years in my Christian walk. From teaching Sunday school to feeding the homeless, running the food bank to working nursery, cleaning the church to mission trips to Kenya- I was on fire to serve the Lord. But underneath it all, there was still a lingering doubt- a guilt I could not shake. Despite my triple attempt at Breaking Free and subsequent delve into Living Free; despite pouring over Get Out of That Pit, highlighter in hand; despite my love for the Lord and the time spent in His word, I was still walking around in chains. I could not quit smoking. Time and time again I tried and failed. I wondered if I was really a Christian.
For years, I begged the Lord to help me tear down that idol for good. I thought if I could just pray more regularly and read scripture more faithfully, if I would just try harder, I would be healed. He answered with the desert. I got sent from my safe sheltered little island home to the Sonoran Desert where, with no one left but the Lord, I quit smoking for good and subsequently spent four years struggling with overwhelming depression and anxiety. It was in the desert that He taught me to pray faithfully. It was in the desert that scripture truly became “the air I breathed”. It was in the desert that my idols came crashing down. It was in the desert that I worked through the Breaking Free study for the fourth time, with a new group of ladies, and finally saw all those restoration promises from Isaiah come to fruition in my life.
Like the Israelites coming out of Egypt, I did not leave slavery empty handed. I have been given a story. God has freed me and brought me through the desert with the dream of writing. I have two books which I believe the Lord has commissioned me to write. He has assured me that my past, my pain, and my struggle will not be wasted, but rather used to bless other women.
From the second I saw the first post about the Lit Conference on Facebook, I have been dreaming and scheming about how to get there. Besides the “fire in [my] bones to teach, speak or write,” I keep getting this admonition spoken over me: “You’re going to be a writer like Beth Moore.” But how to afford it? Honestly, getting to Texas isn’t practical. I’m newly married, not yet three weeks. My family of three just grew to six, and my husband hasn’t found work here yet. We’ve got Christmas coming up and no job prospects for him in sight. But yesterday morning over coffee I sat down and wrote out a prayer in my journal, “Lord, I like to write and I think I’m good at it . I think I’m supposed to write these books. I really, really want to go to Lit. Can you make a way?” and he answered me as soon as I opened my Bible.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 4:10-11
I decided, if the Lord wanted me there, he would provide the funds.
Yet, this morning, by 8:30 Arizona time, when I went to sign up for the conference, every ticket was already sold out. They had all been snatched up in thirty minutes, a half an hour I had spent well- reading the Word and praying. In tears, I put myself on the waiting list but shut my laptop without much hope; I was already 259th on the list. For an hour or so I wallowed as I cleaned my kitchen. I had considered signing on first thing this morning to ensure I got a spot at the conference. But if there’s one thing that my four years in the desert taught me, it’s that the very first thing I need to do every day, without fail, is talk to my Daddy. So I had resisted the urge to cut my prayer time short and hop online. Had I been wrong? Or did God not want me at this conference? Then the idea to write you a letter sprouted and began growing. By the time the last dish was done, I knew I had to write you to ask.
Please, Beth, make a way. Make a way for the wait-listed women to be included. Make a way for myself, the 258 women before me, and the women after me who sighed to see their number on the wait-list. Make a way for us to come. I don’t know how you’ll do it. A bigger venue? An additional day? But I ask you to make it happen.