On Women and a Letter to Beth Moore

I used to think I couldn’t “deal” with women very well. Being a tomboy at heart and not super emotional about things, I used to find it hard to relate to the sensitive nature of most women. It’s still a little hard for me to understand when women find fault or get hurt in the simplest things because most of those things I don’t even notice…I guess I’m just a little INsensitive. So, I’m trying to be more understanding, and I’m finding that as the years go by, I love women more and more. They’re complicated, but I’m doing my best to understand them, their hurts and joys. I love walking alongside then. Women are such an encouragement to me as I get to do life with them. She’s already raised a headstrong 4
year-old and survived it…she helps me. I’ve had two babies under two with a husband that worked long hours…I can help her. Doing life together helps us know we aren’t alone. That what we’re experiencing is “normal.” Like it says in Titus 2:3-4 “Older women…teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.” I love this picture of the younger women learning from the older.

I realize, again, how blessed I am, that when I read those verses in Titus 2, many “older” women come to my mind who have fed into me over the years. The majority of those women, of course, I know personally. BUT, I can’t leave out others who have poured into me without even knowing it. One of those women is Beth Moore.  After a series of events that took place over this past week, I found myself sitting down to write a little thank you note to Mrs. Moore. I decided to share it here on my blog. You will, no doubt, be reading it before she does because I’m gonna snail mail it to her, Kenya to Texas. I hope that in reading it you will sense that when you get into God’s Word, with or without the help of a trusted Bible Teacher, you find God. He’s right there waiting for you in the pages of that ancient text.

Dearest Beth,

For years I’ve wanted to write to you. Wanted to tell you how much your ministry, your Bible studies have meant to me. During one of your studies you asked us to do a spiritual timeline. When I did it, it revealed to me that my spiritual growth, especially during my college and young married years, was centered around your studies. I was reminded of that timeline this past weekend as I spoke with a lady from Iowa. Let me try to explain…I live in Kenya. My husband is  a pediatrician, serving as a missionary doctor at Kijabe Hospital, a mission hospital about an hour north of Nairobi. I had the privilege of getting to head up a weekend retreat for missionary women serving all over Kenya. There were a little over 100 of us. Lucky for me, a team of incredible women from Iowa (they call themselves Team Zebra….isn’t that great?!!), came to lead the retreat for us. They brought us a speaker (a budding, hilarious, Jesus-lovin’ new-ish author, Kimberly Stuart! If you don’t know her, you should. You would LOVE her. {see how I think I know you?}), showered us with American cereal and goodies, and took care of the details of our entire weekend. I can hardly say I even had much to do with it, but for the logistical side of things here in Kenya. However, being the head gal on this side of the retreat, I was blessed to get to know Team Zebra and their leader. During one of our chats, you and your studies came up. That’s what had me thinking of that timeline again. But before I move on to the point of this letter, I just want to say, you would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall at our sweet little retreat. Missionary women living in Africa, women on a team mostly from Iowa but one from Minnesota and one from Mexico…all together worshipping, appreciating and loving on each other. You’d have cried with the rest of us on our last day together as they sang a benediction to us, then again as our group sang our own unplanned benediction back to them. The Spirit we’d ask to invade us had done so. Praise Him!

But back to that timeline, during college, the first “Beth Moore Bible Study” I did was Breaking Free. I distinctly remember not wanting to break free from the ungodly relationship in which I was involved, so I tabled that study and kept on with the guy. (keep reading!) Later in college, after a summer in West Africa where Jesus fiercely drew me to himself,  I was hungry to learn all I could about the One who had blown me away with his Amazing Grace. I found myself in a church that was offering the study, Jesus the One and Only. I still fondly remember the ladies who mentored me, from whom I may have learned as much by watching as I did by doing the study (which was lots on both counts, and I am guessing is half the reason you have us studying in groups). After I was married, I was able to “lead” my first Bible Study with a group of 4 young women, including myself. We were all the wives of budding young medical students. That group consisted of one Baptist, a lady from the Christian Reformed Church, an Apostolic Christian and a Mormon. We did the online study of Living Beyond Yourself, and enjoyed every week of encouraging each other to become more like Jesus and to bear his fruit daily. I remember loving all the details of the cross study of Daniel and Revelation. Then following up with your short study of Revelation in which I still think about “creation crying out for the redemption of the Saints” every time I see a tree blowing wildly in the wind. During a season in which I moved from one city to another with two babies, leaving all the friends I’d grown to love like family and beginning a new phase of life where I worked with Operation Christmas Child as a volunteer coordinator, God knew I needed your study, Seeking a Heart Like His. I remember studying about Jesus’ circles of friends. The large group of followers, his 12 and his 3. I desperately needed, and missed those 3 during that time, but was encouraged by God choosing David to become a leader, by his equipping him for his service. It seemed every day of that study was written just for me and really helped me as I embarked on a new ministry in a new place. Do I also remember from this study your talking about David (or maybe Saul) either moving forward in battle or being pushed back, but never standing in one place? It was either you or one of my pastors, but I always give you credit when it comes up. I think of that often…that I can’t just float along. I must fight to move forward, or I’ll be pushed back in the battle.

I could comment on many more of the studies I, your beloved, have done with you. But I should get to the reason I chose today to actually sit and send a letter that’s been in the making for over 15 years. In 2006, after 2 years of infertility and being told we wouldn’t have a baby without invitro (that we couldn’t afford and I just wasn’t sure about the whole thing), I began your study, Believing God. I began reciting to myself, “God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do. I am….”you get it. You wrote it after all. These statements were just what I needed as I waited on God to make me a mother. Struggling with infertility is one of the hardest things I believe a woman can endure. Friends don’t know what to say. The infertile doesn’t know what to believe, how to feel. Every teenager you know, it seems, is having an unwanted pregnancy. I was struggling, but your words helped me to trust in God’s Words, encouraged me to believe in Him. During that time, God showed me Isaiah 40:31, whispering to me (as I was taking off in an airplane) that waiting would give me supernatural strength, that I could run that race and not grow weary. Reading about mounting on wings with eagles while flying through the clouds is a pretty hard thing to forget! Next was mid July. As I was begging God for direction on whether we should continue trying to have a baby, or if we should begin the adoption process, I found myself in the 4th chapter of 2 Kings. I was trying to read through the Bible that year, and that was my passage for the day. Through the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman, I felt God saying to me, as Elisha spoke to the woman, “At this season, about this time next year, you will be holding a son in your arms.” My first thoughts were, “Don’t jack with me God.” Which, as I continued to read, was the exact reaction the Shunammite woman had as she said, “No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your servant.” Again, I thought to myself, “Well, I guess that could mean adopting too. I’ll just be happy to have a child in my arms.”  I finished the passage with verse 17, “But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.” I prayed and prayed that day, praising God. I only told a handful of people about this interaction, knowing many would think I was crazy. Many of my well-meaning friends, who’d been walking this dark road of infertility with me, had their doubts. They didn’t want me getting my hopes up. But the statements I’d been repeating from your Believing God study just wouldn’t allow me to doubt. “God can do what He says He can do!” His Word was indeed alive and active in me. I was believing God. On August 23rd, 2007, “at that season, about that time the next year” I was holding, not a son, but a daughter in my arms.

That daughter is now 9 years old. Don’t be freaked out, I’m not a stalker or a weirdo, but there have really been many times that I have thought, this kid could be the next Beth Moore. She may not have big hair and her nails are only ever painted with African dirt, but she loves studying the Bible. When she was in 2nd grade, she made up a Bible study about the Armor of God to send to her friends. The fill-in-the-blanks were adorable. You’d talk in one of your videos about your obsession with words, having to read every word you see. I’d go home and my then 3 year-old would be trying to sound out the name brand on the dishwasher. She’s still obsessed with words. She loves when I take the time to do Bible Study with her. She’s always asking which book of the Bible I think she should read. She has an insatiable thirst for The Word already. She has waaaaaay more questions than I could ever answer about the mystery of the gospel.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you now. Why after all these years, would I write to you today? Well, when I went into my kids’ room last night for one last peek at my three little sleepers, I noticed my daughter had fallen asleep with her booklight still on. I stepped up on the bottom bunk, careful not to smash the little brother beneath her, and what I saw melted me all over again. (Why is it the sweetest moments happen when they’re sleeping?!) She was dead asleep, with her face on her Bible. It appeared she was reading the story of the little slave girl and Namaan. She had the Jesus Storybook Bible open beneath her own Bible, researching. I turned off her light and moved the Bibles to the bookshelf. It wasn’t until this morning, as I began to write this letter to you that I realized the the scripture she was reading was from 2 Kings 5…just one page turn away from the Shunammite woman, the scripture God had given me, telling me she would be mine.

So after a weekend of being with women in ministries similar to mine,  getting to spend time with women who are doing ministry similar to yours and then seeing my daughter, another generation of women searching the Word for Truth….I just felt like it was time to drop you a line. To give you a tiny glimpse of the ripple effect of the work you are doing. To say thank you for following Jesus. To thank you for being a modern-day hero of the Faith for us and our daughters. To encourage you to keep it up. Run and don’t grow weary, friend. His supernatural strength is with you.

Your willful student,

Becky Cook