Three Little Girls: The Madysen Acey Story

Bob Bevington
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Three Little Girls: The Madysen Acey Story | December 6th, 2011

Three Little Girls: The Madysen Acey Story

Madysen Acey, now a 7th grader

Trying to understand tragedy and suffering in the world is difficult for all of us. Find out how a faithful mother and her little girl have faced it together. Our guest blogger, John Schott, provides insights from their remarkable true story.


Three Little Girls: The Madysen Acey Story,

by John Schott

Three little girls. Wow, how can three little girls who don’t even know each other soften me so much? How I view the world. How I view grace. How I view the sovereignty of a God who is near. A God in the mess of life.

The first little girl, Debra, is one I knew back in second grade. She was smart and she seemed to want my attention, which as a boy annoyed me. I was arrogant. One afternoon, I ran up from behind her full-speed and planted the heels of my palms square into her back and plunged her face-first, in her dress, with her books, into a wet, hard, gravelly puddle. She was covered head to toe, bleeding from her knees, and crying profusely.

I don’t know whether Debra and I ever had a conversation throughout elementary school, middle-school and high school. Ever . . . that is until I was about 39 years old. By that time I had already been broken like a wild colt. I had spent the last several years picking up the pieces and facing a lot of difficult truths about myself. And Grace was flowing into the cracks of my brokenness. I received a group email from Debra. Her words shook me to the core. Debra wrote to everyone she knew, even me, to request prayer for a family she came to know when she relocated to Mississippi. That’s when I first encountered the name of girl #2. Ten-year-old Madysen Acey.

The largest tornado in the history of Mississippi had wreaked havoc throughout the state. The next day, Madysen was at a friend’s house playing on a tractor. When she lost her balance she reached out to catch her fall by grabbing onto a downed power line. It was enough electricity to kill a steer. Madysen survived, but she lost her entire right arm, half of her left arm, and had severe damage to her hip. Later, Bethanne would share how, as she arrived on the scene of the accident, Madysen consoled her mother.

I wept in prayer for this little girl and her family. I think I cried for five straight days at least. I lost count.

Girl #3 is my daughter, Olivia. It was still April, but May was fast approaching. Birthday plans were to be made for Olivia’s 9th. Olivia wanted a simple party at the playground for as many girls as she would like to invite. As Olivia reviewed the list of guests she said, “I don’t need 32 presents, Daddy.” Olivia had her mind set to make it a fundraiser. A fundraiser for Madysen. And that’s what we did. “A Mess of a Party!” Messy games for Madysen with cake and drinks. It was a great day!

I’m part of the Bible Study group mentioned in RLB, the little band of believers who meet in the Bevington basement on Sunday nights. We prayed for Madysen and her family constantly and grew to love the family in Mississippi we never met.

Two people with RLB connections were taken as much as I was, namely Rob Thomas and the wife of “Jay the Pacifist.” Madysen, her Mom Bethanne, and her brother, Braxton were never far from our minds and hearts. We subscribed to Madysen’s CaringBridge site and over the months that followed, we learned that she was making slow, painful progress. She was determined and working hard in therapy. The therapists and nurses loved her and she loved them.

There’s a verse from Jeremiah that had its grip on me back in 2008. I wasn’t surprised to discover it was one that Madysen’s Mom clung to as well:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).

Ironic, you may think. A woman is at a hospital bedside coping with her daughter going through real suffering. Severe suffering. And she is sure of this promise. This unwavering promise. Don’t you think it’s also ironic that the same verse made an enormous impact on another little girl, Bethany Hamilton, pro surfer? Soul Surfer. Shark attack survivor.

Pride is blinding. But faith . . . faith is not blind. It is eye-opening. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, sweeter than walking with God by faith, particularly in the mess of life.

The passage in Jeremiah 29 continues,

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.

Bethanne knows this, too. One day she wrote,

She still amazes me in how strong and patient she has been the last ten days. Not to say she hasn’t had her moments, but for the most part she has been an inspiration to me. I’m very anxious to see why God chose us for this. Not that I question him. Just curious to see what he has in store for us!

So are we, Bethanne. So are we.


To go to Madysen’s CaringBridge page click HERE.







  • Peytondsimmons

    hey i am madysen acey best friend and it is sad whta happed to her but we all like to look at it as a blessing she wants she doesnt want people to feel bad for bc she had no friends till this happed so i know ger more  than any one eles i love her to death

                                                                 you can call me AT 901-497-6044 for an questions or anything

  • john Schott

    Well, Friday marked one month since the blog posted. Much has transpired since then. Since I am “succinctly challenged” I will try to sum up the biggest highlights:

    -Madysen’s Mom and I spoke for the first time the day before this blog posted after about a year of correspondence..
    -By one week after the blog, a plan had unfolded to conduct a family faith weekthis summer of 2012. We are assembling a team here to go down to Tunica, MS. Many of the team members have endured extreme challenges and tragedy and have responded in faith. Many of them will be speaking and sharing their stories.
    -Sarah Hill (Soul Surfer, Bethany Hamilton’s Youth Group Leader/Mentor) will be slated to speak on the final night.
    - I visited the Acey family and the fine town of Tunica for New Year’s Weekend. Loved it and love them.
    -On the way to Tunica, I recieved an e-mail that Bethany Hamilton, Soul Surfer, wanted to connect with Madysen.they did connect on January 3rd.
    On Friday, January 6th, one month after the blog posted, I happened to meet a man in his 30′s who was visiting the Hudson, OH area from NC. He is a christian man who lost his left arm in a tractor accident when he was 12 years old. More to be said on this!

    God is Good. He adores the Acey and Graves families.
    More to come…

  • Cindy

    Thank you John for continuing to share this story, we are blessed to be able to see Gods hand in her life.

  • Lele3

    When I read the scripture it brought a tear to my eye.   Our God is a faithful God and I am so grateful to him that he spared Madysen.  I have know this family for a while and are very dear and precious to me.   

    If we adults could learn from Madysen what a blessing we could all receive.

    Gods plan is being revealed a little every day and one day she will hear His precious words.

    “Well done my good and faithful servant.

  • Bethanne Acey

    I want to thank each one of you for your prayers and kind words. We couldn’t have made it through these last 19mths without it. John, a very special thanks to you and Olivia for all you’ve done. This world could use more families like yours!!
    As for Madysen, she has taught me so much since that horrific day in April 2010. I know, and she does too, that God has great plans for her. I haven’t quite figured it our yet but I will in HIS time! God bless you all!!!

  • Tim Everly

    Isn’t it amazing to think that for many of us, in various ways, in ways that only GOD can do, that He has already given us a future and a hope and that we have found Him & He HAS found us!  Madysen’s story has gripped me as well, brother.  How she consoled her mother at the scene of the accident!?!?  Who does that?  That is extraordinary courage from an extraordinary girl!  How God uses stories such as this to teach us!  Thank you for sharing!  

  • Lilcamper333

    Very nice John… Made me stop and think of how small my problems.

  • Lisathweatt

    Thanks for sharing, I too have been following Madysen’s story here in Alabama, have prayed for her and her family continuously…she is a true testament!!!  God Bless you, and God Bless America!!  In Christ we are all family

  • Marybeth Huntzinger Cialini

    Thanks for sharing this awesome act of true faith by Madysen and her family.  Filled my spiritual cup today and for days to come.  Look forward to more words from you John.

  • Johnrschott

    Thanks for your heart felt words. It has been wonderful getting to know more about the Acey family. If anyone is willing to keep them in faithful prayer, I’m sure they would covet them. We should be able to hear from Bethanne once she has a moment to break free, so if you have and questions or comments let us know.

  • Christycwoods

    Makes me think about what a beautiful dance God has planned for Madysen!

  • Paula

    Jeremiah 29:11 has been my lifeverse for so many years, and when I am praying for people I love who have not received Christ, I will dwell on that verse.  I have seen how great God can be in the midst of trouble, even tragedy, and stories like the one you shared just humble me.  I think as adults some times we make our faith too difficult, we try to overthink it.  Simple Faith is healthier I think.  When you see miracles such as these, it is better to linger on those.

  • Andrew Paisley

    Great stories John.  Love seeing God at work. 

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