Chances are, you have heard the songs “Hooked On A Feeling” and “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” on the radio in your car, or in a store as you shopped. Both songs were recorded by B. J. Thomas in the late 1960’s. As you listen to the songs, you envision a happy, carefree man. But the life of B.J. Thomas was anything but carefree.
B.J. (short for Billy Joe) grew up in the Houston area with his family in the the 1940’s and 1950’s. He was very close to his older brother Jerry, who had contracted polio as a child, resulting in hearing and speech difficulties. B.J.’s father had a drinking problem and was at times violent to his wife, but B.J.’s mother stood by her man.
Although they were not a church-attending family, Jerry and B.J. started going to a Baptist church down the street from their house. That dropped off after they moved to a different neighborhood. Jerry and B.J. loved baseball and the new kind of music from Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Jackie Wilson. During his high school years, B. J. became the lead singer for a local band called The Triumphs. That was the beginning of his music career.
Until I read this memoir, I had no idea who Beth Moore was. I just liked the picture on the front cover – the family with their old-timey Volkswagen van, obviously on some sort of family camping trip. It was one of those nostalgic pictures that brought forth nostalgia. So I checked it out from the library.
Beth’s story starts out like a story of an average middle-class family living in Arkansas. There’s a dad, a mom, Beth, her brother and sister, and a granny who’s always lived with them. Life is stable, with good friends and neighbors. The family is very involved in their church, and Beth is baptized at the age of nine.
But her normal life takes an abrupt turn when Beth is molested by her father. She tells no one, but just internalizes her feelings. Her mother feels that there is something wrong, only to have her husband convince her that she is mentally ill. Life limps along for the family, and after awhile they move to California for a job promotion.
Beth grows up, marries Keith Moore, who struggles with PTSD. They have two daughters, and life is up and down for them. Beth starts teaching women’s Bible study groups at church. One things leads to another, and before you know it, she was speaking at women’s seminars and starting a worldwide ministry called “Living Proof Ministries”. I was surprised that I’d never heard of it, but perhaps that is because it’s affiliated with the Southern Baptist Churches, which I am unfamiliar with.