A New Year: Thrive 1/27


a-new-year-thriveI told Sara I would write two articles for Thrive and the first was my experience with cancer. In this article, I would like to share about my time at TVBC as the Children’s Ministry Director. As I reflect on my time served, in these last few days before my “retirement,” the memories have come like a flood. Some memories are accompanied by laughter, some with tears, and some where my heart wants to burst at the goodness of God!

I have served at Taylor’s Valley eight years, a few as Preschool director, and the remainder as Children’s Ministry Director. I remember being approached about taking on the Children’s Department and I had one immediate condition…I could NOT give up my preschoolers! I wanted all or nothing! I do not regret that choice and am thankful it was approved. Now those preschoolers are the older children in my department.

I am SO incredibly proud of each and every one of “my” kids, from babies to kids already promoted to youth. Someone recently commented I had made an impact on their child’s life…but the truth is the children have made a profound impact on mine!

I have “worked” with children since I was fourteen in some way or another. I was not blessed with children of my own and even when we sought to adopt, my health got in the way. That door shut several times. But I’ve never been bitter. Truly. I can say that because the Lord blessed me with all of your children! Yes, I think of them as my own. I love and pray for them as if they are my own. And I will always be grateful to all of you for entrusting me with the care of your children!

God did all that for me. He gave me each and every single one from the time I was fourteen to now, the age of 50. One of my former kids deemed me, “Mother of Bell County” once….I’ll take that! What an honor! 

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-5-43-56-amMy eight years at this church has been sweet, at times challenging, at times bitter-BUT the children have always been my joy and so many times, an anchor keeping me going. I use the term “Beyond Blessed” all the time-but it’s truly how I feel! Here’s a few examples of the joys and blessings I have experienced through the years: 

Watching the kids connect with the scripture and memorize a verse;

Watching the kids truly worship in the praise time of Sports Camp;

Watching the joy of huddle times;

Enjoying bible study with preteen camp kids;

Enjoying fellowship time at “chow” with them;

Mom and daughter retreats;

Holding the sleepy little ones and rocking;

Reading a book to a toddler;

Yes, even getting “bitten” by the playdough dinosaur by 3-year old boys in extended care!

The conversations, the hugs, their sweet prayers, passing out their bibles from the church…all the special events. Most of all, I have had the privilege of watching many of “my” kids make the ultimate decision, to ask Jesus to be their Lord. There is nothing like being present when a child prays the prayer!! NOTHING! God gave me the gift of getting to see the last of my original 3-year old preschool group get baptized just recently. That was a sweet gift from Him.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-6-08-08-amI may have to step down from my position and “retire” from children’s ministry, but my heart will remain with MY kids. I will hold on to these precious memories for the rest of my life. Their sweet faces and smiles will always warm my heart! I will continue to pray for MY kids, because they are my blessings from the Lord!! I am so thankful for my time here. Thank you so much for allowing me to serve in my “dream job.” It’s been the very best 8 years.

I have to share this as I close and hope Bro. Jared doesn’t mind. This sums it all up in a nut shell! The staff was meeting this week to finalize some things and Jared shared with me his girls had attended the Women’s Ministry Movie Night. As Jared was dropping them off, his boys were in the car and wanted to go too. They were begging, but dad said, “No, this is for the girls and ladies.” His youngest, Jacob, exclaimed, “But Mrs. Beth loves us!” That’s EXACTLY what I hope each of the TVBC kiddos know….

1. Jesus loves them


2. Mrs. Beth loves them too…ALWAYS!!!

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”

(Matthew 19:14)

Beyond Blessed,

Beth Harris


My last Wednesday night with TVBC Kiddos!


A New Year: Thrive 1/26


a-new-year-thriveIn upcoming weeks, the Thrive ministry at TVBC will present different mentoring options available for our women. Rather than only offering large group bible studies throughout the year, we are also going to include one-on-one bible studies in which women can pair up and work through together at the convenience of their own schedule, as well as mentoring guides to facilitate the Titus 2 commandment found in Scripture (older paired with the younger). Why are we passionate about this? Read the following article for 5 great reasons we should pursue one-on-one discipleship and mentoring. (Sara)

Last week we looked at the importance of one-on-one ministry and some of the key aspects of mentoring. Today, let’s consider five reasons why mentoring is worth incorporating into women’…

Source: 5 Reasons for Mentoring in Women’s Ministry

A New Year: Thrive 1/25


a-new-year-thriveO Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b]
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

(Psalm 8)

I watched a video once of Louie Giglio describing just how indescribable our God is. (Watch here). In this video we are shown pictures of our galaxy and that which exists beyond our galaxy, giving us a glimpse of how physically small we really are.download

I couldn’t help but come away from seeing those images thinking about how big God is and how insignificant I really seem. My thoughts echoed that of the psalmist above,

what is man that you are mindful of him?

And yet a few verses later, the psalmist described our position, our standing, our worth before our Creator of this cosmos. We are God’s crowning creation. We are given a purpose, to have dominion over that which He created. We bear His image.

In light of the majesty of God and the worthiness of following His calling on my life, how disastrous would it be if I missed His purpose for my life? What if all the good works I am doing fall short of the one work He has called me to, and how do I discern what that is?

missionstatementA group of ladies at TVBC are reading through “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done” by Matt Perman during the month of January, and these kinds of questions are the ones we are tackling. Matt suggests we start with writing a Mission Statement that includes our Core Purpose, Core Values, and Core Beliefs. He shows us scriptures that contain examples of those elements and charges us to begin to find our life calling by doing what we are doing with excellence.

In group discussion a few weeks ago, we noted that imitation is the highest form of flattery. With regards to writing our mission statement, this means that as we share our first drafts of mission statements with one another this next week, we have the freedom to borrow ideas and phrases from others as we hear someone beautifully pen a thought we couldn’t quite express ourselves!

A few years ago when I attempted my first mission statement, I did the very same thing. Using scriptures and other examples Matt presents in the book, I drafted my first (seen below). Have you ever written one yourself? Seen a mission statement that stuck with you? If so, will you share your thoughts below?

As the old saying goes, if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. Let’s be people of eternal purpose as we bear our Creator’s image and fulfill our callings.

Sara Burt


A New Year: Thrive 1/24


a-new-year-thrive“My times are in Thy Hand.”

Psalm 31:15

Eight years ago, I was brand new to the Taylor’s Valley staff by a few months, and went in for a routine women’s well check. What began as routine ended up as a full hysterectomy due to the detection of early stages of uterine cancer. The Lord was so very present in my life during this time and I experienced SO many of His blessings. The doctors told me tests do not usually pick up cancer cells in the uterus and had I waited a few months, the cancer would have been full blown.

When I got “the call” on my back porch one morning, I looked up in the blue sky and heard that still, quiet, and firm voice inside me ask, “How much are you going to trust Me?” I responded to the Lord, “I choose to trust You, Lord.” You see, I had been asking God to give me the kind of relationship my mother had with Him. Little did I know He would use a trial to strengthen my walk with Him!

He is so faithful!!!

He kept me in perfect peace through it every step of the way. There was only one time I was anxious. It was the appt. when we went to find out what stage of cancer I was in, at this point we did not know. As my sweet husband and I sat there in the doctor’s office waiting for what seemed like an eternity for Dr. Capen to come, I started to get antsy and shaking, telling my husband over and over it was taking too long. Then all of the sudden, the smoke alarm started going off! While we did not have to leave the facility, we did have to evacuate the area. It turned out to be a small electrical fire with one of their office machines…but it was EXACTLY what I needed to break the tension. After that, I was relaxed again and ready for the news!

He is so faithful!

I was flooded with flowers, calls, visitors, meals, prayers, and support from friends, family. Prayer warriors from so many churches, even across the country prayed for me. It was a humbling experience! The women of our church gave me such encouragement in those early days when we did not know what “stage” I was in. I was amazed how many cancer survivors there were in this church and words cannot express how much it meant to this “new” staff member to be supported. Our pastor came every day to the hospital and prayed with me. The nursing staff was phenomenal. It was my first surgery ever that required a hospital stay and I can’t say enough how much I appreciated the people He placed in my path.

He is so faithful!!

The end results were I was one sick girl. Not only did they find pre-cancer cells, but severe hypo-plasia, endometrial scarring in the fallopian tubes, and cysts (too many to count) on my ovaries (PCOS) (Which kept me from losing weight & having children). I didn’t love being thrown into “forced menopause”…but it’s better than the alternative. I could have had to face chemo and other horrible things cancer victims endure. I would not trade my experience for anything, because I felt His presence and it is indescribable.

My God is faithful

He has blessed me beyond measure and I am thankful to be able to live in His grace and mercy. I am SO very far from being perfect and certainly have made MANY bad decisions in my life, but that’s what living in God’s grace is about. If it were not for Christ’s sacrifice, I would not be where I am. I am thankful for the gift of my husband, my family, friends (old and new), children He has placed in my life, and our loving, supportive church!

He truly is faithful!

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, expands to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Psalms 36:5

Beth Harris


A New Year: Thrive 1/23


a-new-year-thriveA few more devotionals are coming from TVBC Women – in the meantime, don’t miss this great article written for Lifeway’s Women’s Ministry by a friend, Dr. Deb Douglas!

A Note from Kelly King: Many women believe being a women’s ministry leader is all about Bible studies and events. While those are important, many times your calling in ministry means working with w…

Source: Called to the Messy

A New Year: Thrive 1/20


a-new-year-thriveMany of you know my sister has been struggling for the past few years with mental health issues, alcoholism, and substance abuse. In this struggle, she has lost her children, her husband, and her job. Through her struggles, I have found my own. I don’t understand how we could have grown up together, have experienced the same trials, and now lead such different lifestyles. I know this is more common than not, but it is hard to see someone you love follow such a dismal path…by choice.

My mom called not too long ago and shared a bible verse that one of her coworkers shared with her. My bible was in the car, so I reached for the nearest one, my Mimi’s. This bible has been sitting on her piano that we brought to our house after she passed away 6 years ago. I have never touched it. In fact, her bookmarks and writing utensils are still in the pocket where she left them.

As I opened her bible, I noticed a sticky note attached to the inside cover. I touched it where she had touched it and I looked at her beautiful handwriting. I turned to the verse my mom told me about and it was indeed fitting for my sister, but not for me.  It didn’t “touch” me the way it had my mom. So instead, I turned to the verse my Mimi had written on the sticky note…1 Corinthians 10:13.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

This verse caught my breath. It was exactly what I needed in order to be reminded my sister can still turn back to God. She just has to have an open heart to see the way out He provides.

My Mimi was very special to both my sister and I. To know God spoke to my Mimi through this verse, so much so that she wrote it down on the inside cover of her bible, means so much. God knew when I would need this verse. He knew when I would open her bible. He knew all these things before we were even created. The fact He chose my Mimi to share this with me even after she is gone, means so much and fills my heart.

The Post-It Note or sticky note was invented in 1968 by a scientist at 3M named Dr. Spencer Silver. Dr. Silver promoted his invention as a “solution without a problem.” Dr. Silver found something noone knew we needed and his invention has been used by all of us at one time or another. We all have problems and many times we cannot see or find solutions to them.  We often are so focused on the problem, the cause of the problem, the symptoms of the problem, or the consequences of the problem that thinking about the problem itself keeps our eyes off of the only One who can deliver us through or past that problem-Jesus.

My Mimi placed that sticky note inside the front cover of her Bible to remind herself of that verse each time she opened it, and she opened it daily. If we can find a way to stick ourselves to Jesus, we have our victory over struggle even before the struggle begins.

Michelle Martinez


A New Year: Thrive 1/19


a-new-year-thriveOur home telephone rang on the morning of January 1, 2003.
Still recovering from a youth lock-in the night before, I hardly noticed it. The phone was on Sara’s side of the bed, so I did not even move. But after answering the phone, Sara woke me and said I needed to get on the phone with her.
My father-in-law was on the phone. Immediately, I felt something was wrong. I could hear it in his voice. Indeed, the news he had to deliver…well, you can’t mask it and talk as though everything is okay.
“Jared, your Dad went for a walk this morning…”
He didn’t have to say anything else. Somehow I knew.
My Dad had died.
I don’t remember anything else that was said.
I dropped the phone, went to the living room, dropped to my knees, and wept. Instinctively, I yelled, “No!” I must have said it a dozen times. My wife came moments later and wept with me.
Up to that point in my life, I’d never really wept over anything. Sure, there had been times I had cried, but I had never experienced loss like this. And I haven’t experienced anything like it since.
My Dad was my best friend. I always felt loved and valued in his presence. And there was a deep sense of warmth and joy when we were together. In an instant, those days were over…
Fourteen years later, I stood in my kitchen surrounded by my wife and kids. I was telling my kids the story of how I asked Sara to marry me (that’s another story for another day). Dad played a key role in that story and so I began to tell my kids about him. And surprisingly, as though it happened yesterday, I suddenly began to weep.
As it turns out, after fourteen years and at a moments notice, I can reenter that world of grief.
Having experienced grief for myself and having observed grief in others while serving as pastor, three thoughts come to mind.
Weep. Jesus wept. There’s a time for us to weep also. Grief is a glorious ruin. We live in a broken world. The Bible takes it as a given people will weep. In weeping we acknowledge things are not as they should be. We are restless for God to set the world right. We join with others and say, “How long, O Lord?” We look at the world as it is and with deep grief, yell, “No!” 
Hope. Though we say, “No!” to the world as it presently is, we are assured the brokenness is fleeting. Why? Because Christ has overcome death. One day we will chant with all the saints, “O death, where is you victory? O death, where is your sting?” O, to utter those beautifully powerful words! In hope we boast in the victory of our great God and Savior.
Learn. Losing someone often drives us to think more critically about life, our relationships, and our purpose. We realize our time is short and life is fragile. Grief can help us gain greater focus on what matters and clarity on why we are here. Paul encouraged his readers to make the best use of the time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-21). Walking through grief can motivate a person to take this admonition more seriously.
In the end, I remain deeply thankful for the time I had to spend with my Dad. I recommitted to love those closest to me, making the most of the time we have together. And one day, I know I will be reunited with Dad in the presence of Jesus, where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.
Jared Burt

A New Year: Thrive 1/18


a-new-year-thriveMy name is Madison. I am a teenage girl and this is my story.
As a very young toddler, weekends were a struggle. While my mom worked weekend shifts trying to keep our family afloat, my Saturdays were often spent taking care of my younger brother’s most basic needs, feeding us both while my dad was MIA or incoherent. By age four I was left without a father and the struggle to survive was greater. At the age of six I had a second little brother come into my world, but when I found out he was physically disabled and unable to communicate, my entire world came crashing down.
Over time, I learned to cope with the difficult days, but with my littlest brother Caleb needing special care and attention, I often felt pushed to the back.
At age seven I accepted Christ and have great memories of those tween years.
When I turned ten we moved away from our home town. Moving was difficult because it meant leaving the home, friends, and family I had always known. Two hours away seemed worlds away.
My mom remarried and I found myself in a new family. With now six kids under the roof, I again often felt overlooked for the next five years. Yelling and arguing became the norm with that many personalities colliding together.
The marriage didn’t last, and after the divorce, we moved back to the city I had once called my home. I was now thirteen and starting my eighth grade year. Eighth grade year began less eventful, and seemed smooth sailing until Christmas. Caleb, my youngest brother, took a huge dip in physical health and at the time, we thought he wouldn’t make it to Christmas Day.
I was shaken so hard when I was told.
I stopped eating for a while. I lost my appetite most days and I lost a lot of weight.
When Christmas Day finally came, he was still with us and I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it.
The summer went well, ninth grade year rolled around, and I was doing great. Then, at the beginning of January, I told my mom I needed help with some depression issues I was having. I felt I was almost to my breaking point. Once I started talking to my counselor, things got better. But it seemed just when things were taking a turn, I found out my one year old cousin, Mabry, was sick and in the hospital. I went to visit her and could not stop crying. I was so afraid to lose her and I still am. One of my biggest fears is to lose anyone I love. Whether it be by death or a lost relationship.
God has helped me through all of this by sticking by my side. One verse that helps me is,
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13
Christ will always be there. He’s always with you, so lean in and accept His help.

A New Year: Thrive 1/17


a-new-year-thriveIn November 2013, I (Marilyn) attended a Bible Study in an Assisted Living Center in a small Texas panhandle town. Bob, a 67-year-old resident, was leading a study on Acts 4. As he read the chapter discussing each verse, his passion, knowledge and love of Jesus was evident. Bob, pastor of a tiny church nearby, was not an ordained or trained pastor. Without notes, he taught the lesson from his heart as he shared Luke’s words sprinkled with God-inspired personal insights.

Bob, a humble and simple man who clearly loved Jesus with all his heart and soul; a man who found joy and peace in the challenges of his life; a man whose greatest desire was to serve Jesus and share the gospel in both word and deed — made an impression on my life that day. He challenged me to be BOLD in my faith, to speak out in BOLDNESS, and to share with others.

Thanks to Bob, I no longer ‘just read’ Acts 4 and specifically Acts 4:12. Each time I read or study this scripture, I remember Jesus’ humble servant, Bob, and the passionate love for Jesus that radiated from him as he spoke of the disciples’ sacrifice and Jesus’ gift of salvation.

“Salvation is found in no one else (but Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

(Acts 4:12)

839b6a61932169b592f3044905a1ffbeThank you Lord for crossing my path with Bob’s. May you bless him. May he continue to serve you all his days. May we too BOLDLY share the truth of salvation with the passion and love exemplified so clearly by this simple man named Bob.

Marilyn Hoeth

A New Year: Thrive 1/16


a-new-year-thriveAfter our second session studying “What’s Best Next” by Matt Perman yesterday, I was reminded of when I was first learning Perman’s principles for productivity. The biblical way he approaches “getting organized” forced me to become a disciple again of God’s Word and learn something new for immediate practice. As it goes with most kinds of change, the process was challenging and at times painful. But just as we have read the last few weeks in his book, we are called to be good stewards of our time because we love God and therefore love people. Love and generosity should drive our productivity as well as our daily choices.

A few years ago a friend mommy blogger hosted a blog series, asking women to write entries on varied subjects while including practical tips relevant to their topic (see my original post here). Since I was at the time halfway through the pursuit of a Masters in Theological Studies, she asked me to write one offering tips on going back to school mid-mommyhood. As requested, I included practical tips that had helped me survive (including reading the book “What’s Best Next“!), but I also gave an apologetic for why I had chosen to go back to school in the first place. Below is an excerpt:

“At first thought, it may seem as if going back to school is a decision “for me.” Au contraire. My husband and I are approaching our 13th wedding anniversary, and of those 13 years, he was enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate school for almost a decade.

sara-family-2While there were several very difficult years (we added 4 to our family count in 7 years), I truly enjoyed the innumerable late night conversations as he stretched my brain working out his thoughts. Our little family stood beside him when he graduated with his Masters of Divinity, feeling like we all owned a part of that degree.

Little did I know God was preparing me for my own journey back to school as a homeschooling mom of 4.

Why go back?” “Who will this benefit?”

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-8-11-59-amFive years ago, my oldest was given a school assignment while studying the medieval time period. The assignment required the family to design and create a family crest. After much discussion (read debate), we all agreed on the following family motto: Amo, Disco, Duco: (I love, I learn, I lead). The motto was birthed out of Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV),

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you think about it, these verses drive the desire to be educated. As our love for God grows, we want to know Him more. As we know Him more, our love for Him grows. We know wisdom’s source:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10 ESV).

The Burt family motto, Amo, Disco, Duco merely speaks to the two greatest commandments Jesus provided as the foundation for our existence. In loving God we desire to learn. His love drives us to love and lead others, following in Christ’s footsteps.

Furthermore, do we ever cease to be a disciple? God has called and gifted each of us, empowering us to participate in the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28). This means God is glorified as we cultivate and sharpen the gifts He has graciously given each of us, aiming to influence our culture.”

12359830_10207529807859740_1953154052611412749_nWith the Lord’s help and the never-ending support of my family, I finished the degree half a year later. Yet the journey with discipleship, loving God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, is a lifelong endeavor.


If you are diving into What’s Best Next with Thrive this month, yesterday’s session was a day of many practical tips full of change – which can be challenging. But don’t give up. Take the first steps this week.

  1. Come up with a draft of your mission statement, the declaration of your core purpose that stands true even when your world falls apart.
  2. Next write down a few of your core principles that guide your life.
  3. Finally, jot down your core beliefs including the baseline principle for why you do what you do – the gospel, what God has done for us in Christ.

I can finish this post the same way I finished the guest blog for my friend:

“Bottom line – women rock. You can do this and even enjoy the process! Above all, God will be glorified as you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. So buy some frozen dinners, brew a cup of coffee, and dive in.”