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