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From Bethel Kid To Baylor Mom

Bethel News

A Journey of Faith, Love and Perseverance

Together, they light up a room.

Both mother and daughter have a glow about them, engaging smiles and laughter that spills over, binds them together, and covers a multitude of struggles that have brought them to where they are today.

Before them stands Baylor School, one of Chattanooga’s most prestigious and historic private schools, where 11-year-old Olivia is scheduled to start classes in August. Her mom, Maria, is over the moon.

What People Say

As a young teen, Maria was not Baylor bound. She came to Bethel in crisis. She is well aware that some people pigeonhole girls who have lived in a children’s home, dismissing any possibility of a bright future.

Maria also knows how wrong they are.

“When I came to Bethel, I had no idea what I wanted out of life,” Maria said. “I knew I wanted to hang around with my girlfriends. I knew I wanted a boyfriend. It was at Bethel that I learned that God had a plan for me that went far beyond that.”

Today, Maria is married, a mother of two, a childcare worker, and a college student, finishing on her degree so she can one day open her own business. And now, she is a Baylor mom as well.

Dream Big Dreams

Maria can still hear the words of wisdom, prayer, encouragement and love that were spoken over her at Bethel and helped lead her to a better life, and she sows them into her children.

“I did not want my children to have to walk through the same struggles that I did,” Maria said. “So confidence, the importance of education, and God’s plan for them, these are things my husband Olen and I pour into our children all the time.”

“We tell our children to dream big,” Maria added. But still, Baylor came as a bit of a surprise. “It wasn’t even in my thought process. I thought, ‘Baylor?’”

To Baylor and Beyond

“Once Olivia went to camp at Baylor, she was set on it. She would not hear of anything else,” Maria said. “As a parent, you know how tough the criteria are, you know how many kids wants to get in that school, and how few are chosen. But she was determined, she worked hard, and she was accepted.”

Olivia, who loves science, writing, robotics, the violin, sports, and a multitude of other school activities, wasn’t worried. She feels certain Baylor is where God wants her to be.

Where Olivia will be headed after Baylor is still anyone’s guess. But she takes with her a verse her mom learned at Bethel, one that still guides our campus school:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

So we have confidence in her future and we are excited to see how God will use the gifts and talents He has poured into her.


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