A Life Changed: Madesta Bowman
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. Throughout my life, the Lord has never failed me. I read a quote once that said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God,” and I have held to that. 
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Madesta Bowman, Placement Pic, November 28, 2000When I was ten years old, my mom was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and was given a year to live. God graciously extended her life for three more years, but unfortunately she passed away when I was thirteen.
My relationship with my dad was unstable, and he prioritized everything above me. I ended up having to take care of myself and made some poor choices. I ended up at the Girls' Ranch at fourteen years old - shy, hurt, angry and lost - and I trusted no one.
Four promises are made to every child who comes to Big Oak Ranch: We love you; we will never lie to you; we will stick with you until you're grown; and there are boundaries. I quickly realized that the staff at the Girls’ Ranch truly loved us. Their office doors were always open, and they were ready to talk no matter what was on their schedule for the day.
Over the years, I had four amazing sets of houseparents that loved me for who I was. asdfgfewEach home I lived in was a safe place of unconditional love. The Ranch taught me how to break the negative cycles that had been present in my life by doing life together... those intentional opportunities for investment, such as starting each day with family devotion and prayer at breakfast and spending time together at the dinner table while our houseparents listened to stories about how our day went. We went to school sporting events and on vacations together. I have many long-lasting relationships with my sisters and houseparents that continue today. 
I learned the value of responsibility through daily chores, making good grades, and working to earn my own money. These opportunities revealed a greater worth in me as I began to see how God sees me. While I had accepted Christ prior to coming to the Ranch, my relationship with Him grew while I was there. 
One of the greatest things I learned at the Ranch was forgiveness. When a mistake was made, there was grace. It was not always easy, but my houseparents and the other staff always provided an opportunity to work through mess-ups together. And because of that, today I extend grace to my own children. 
After graduating from high school, the Ranch continued to invest in my life as I attended college. They gave me guidance for school and work, and I finished the Physical Therapy Program at Jefferson State Community College.
ajweewerI met my husband during a spring break mission trip. Mike and I have been happily married for sixteen years and counting. We have adopted two precious girls. Our practice of doing life together continues with them. We invest in our girls daily by being intentional in showing them how to interact with the present culture, taking time to talk to them about who God is, their identity in Him, their worth, value, and purpose. As the girls are getting older, time seems to be more valuable as we raise them. We are currently hiking the Mountain to Sea Trail section by section as a family. 
Mike works within Human Resources for a non-profit organization. I am working as an Instructional Assistant for severe special needs children at an area middle school. We serve together in the Children’s Ministry at our church, teaching the 5th grade class. 
One tradition we have started in response to the fourth commandment is Fun Friday. qjrljwelkrjewIt is a 24-hour period where we set time for each other, and have a later bedtime. The desire here is making one day different from every other day of the week. We enjoy going to the mountains, hiking, playing games, riding bikes, taking day trips, visiting grandparents and watching movies. 
God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go. I will always cherish my time at the Ranch and the memories of how Big Oak does life together. It is because of their investment in me that I know what a family is supposed to look like. Thank you to all who continue to serve and support Big Oak Ranch!
Madesta Bowman