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Meet the Class of 2024

On the Road of Restoration

Our 2024 Graduates, Tati Jones and Ethan Smith, have a lot in common. Both spent more than half their life growing up as kids at Show-Me. Both enjoy reading, drawing, and serving as their school’s team captain in multiple sports. Both work around 20 hours a week at a part-time job, and are set to start college in the Fall. Each feels called to develop a professional skill set that they can not only turn into a career but which they will use to serve in the mission field. It is a calling that they feel God led them to and confirmed by the people and events they experienced through their time at Show-Me. “I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for all the people in my life at Show-Me, who have helped me to strive to be the best I can,” stated Ethan. 

Life on the Move

Tati doesn’t remember having much of a childhood. She was too busy being a protector for her five brothers and sisters. Growing up, the six constantly moved from home to home, living with people they hardly knew, and rarely staying in one place very long. The instability left her feeling unsafe and unwanted.

In 2010, a church helped move four-year-old Tati and her siblings to Show-Me. Things didn’t magically change overnight; each child struggled in different ways as they adjusted to their new life. Being the older middle sister, Tati constantly flipped between roles to try and be the thing each sibling needed. Sometimes it was a shoulder to cry on. Other times it was the tough-love voice saying grow up. As her new houseparents’ attention focused on dealing with the kids who were having problems, Tati faded to the background and began to feel invisible.

The Perfect Burden

On the outside, Tati tried to appear as the perfect girl: happy, outgoing, and talkative. “You feel an over-bearing pressure (as a Show-Me kid) to always be perfect,” Tati recounts. “In your mind, the devil whispers that you can’t show pain or struggles because if you aren’t perfect, then no one will want you.” Her young mind believed that this must be the reason she had to move so much. The only way to stop it was to not show weakness, and give anyone a reason to reject her. Any pain or hurt she felt had to be kept hidden.

No Longer Invisible

She found solace in art and sports. Her art allowed her to express herself when she could not put it into words. She no longer had to keep the feelings isolated inside her. 

Sports were her safe place. The place she felt the most in control and wanted. She excelled at almost anything she tried. In sixth grade, she played on the varsity teams. By middle school, she was being selected for the All-State First-team in multiple sports. “When I was on the court, hearing people cheer, I no longer felt invisible,” stated Tati. “My team and everyone in the stands wanted me, and I knew I was making an impact.”

Cries are Answered

For a time, keeping a mask up and going through the motions worked. Focusing on sports and school, she hardly had time to think about how she really felt or all the things about her life that she did not understand. Then, one night as she lay alone on her bed looking at her mom’s mugshot, the only picture she had of her, Tati broke down. She cried out to God, “I don’t understand my situation. I don’t understand why I am here. All I know is I am just hurting.” In that moment, she felt God’s presence and a peace come over her like she had never felt before.

God became the One she went to when she could not find the answers. Singing praise and worship or playing a song on the piano allowed her to feel that connection with God and peace that passed understanding. She joined the praise and worship team to help lead other students. As her relationship grew, she felt a closeness to ask Him the questions she still did not understand.

God, what do you want me to do with my life?

Since she was little, Tati wanted to be a nurse. She likes helping people and has a passion for helping fix broken things, whether it was people or situations. In 2016, her passion was steered towards the medical field after reading the biography of Ida Scudder, a medical missionary to India. She was inspired by how Ida used her professional skills of nursing to save women and unwanted children who had been outcast by their community. Like Tati, Ida originally wanted to be “nothing like her parents.” Yet, Ida was willing to pray, “God, if You want me to, I will.” Ida created one of the first female medical schools and brought life-saving care to women in India, who, because of religious beliefs, could not be treated by male doctors. Tati saw how her faithfulness left an impact and legacy of hope that still touches millions. 

“God, how do you want me to make an impact?” Tati prayed. God’s confirmation would come in a way Tati least expected.

In 2023, her younger sister, Taija, was severely injured in a car accident and flown to a hospital in Columbia, MO. The accident had done a lot of damage to her head and body. When Tati first arrived at the hospital, Taija began to freak out. At that moment, Tati realized that she was able to control her own feelings, stay calm, and focus on what Taija needed. Like when she was a child, Tati remained positive and told her that things were going to be ok. Tati realized that in these dark and unsure moments when a patient feels out of control, they will reflect the emotions of the nurse. If Tati believed Taija would be ok, then she would, too.

It was confirmation to Tati that she was supposed to go into nursing. All her life, she had been developing the skills and empathy that she would need to help others in their greatest time of need. This Fall, Tati will head to College of the Ozarks to start her degree in nursing. One day, she hopes to use that nursing knowledge to do missionary work in Africa.  

 Fly Like an Angel

Ethan moved to Show-Me at the age of seven, when his parents, Nathan and Belinda Smith, returned to start the new Leadership U program and serve as relief houseparents. As the middle child of the Smith family, and as a sibling to dozens more Show-Me kids, Ethan has an easygoing, calm to him. He doesn’t say much, but you can tell he is always observing, and always thinking. As a kid, Ethan wanted to be a construction worker. He spent hours building elaborate worlds, planes, and other creations with his Lego and erector sets. At the age of 13, he realized that rather than build a plane, he wanted to fly it.

A family friend and supporter of Show-Me heard about Ethan’s interest and offered to take him up for a plane ride. He was a private pilot, who volunteered with Angel Flight. The mission provided free medical transportation to people in need. They delivered blood or organs needed for transplants; they helped get patients from one hospital to another. To get the medical care they need, a person might travel thousands of miles with different pilots handling different parts of the journey.

“After I saw how grateful people were when he flew them where they needed to go, I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of,” recounted Ethan. 

Ethan plans to get a degree in aviation from The University of Central Missouri. He then wants to work as a commercial pilot to pay off his student loans and build a career.  His end goal is to one day become a missionary pilot. “I’ll go wherever God wants me,” stated Ethan. 

The Road of Restoration

While both graduates are grateful for all the people who have helped them along their journey, they know that their foundation must be built on something stronger. “(As kids at Show-Me) we have this joke, that when you cross that stage and receive your diploma that you are going to hear ‘oh, you are now restored, now complete,’” stated Tati. “But it is always going to be an ongoing work. People cannot restore people, only God can. Putting your faith in anything else will eventually fail. There is only one place you can put your trust and not have it broken.”

By |2024-04-25T11:36:51-05:00April 25th, 2024|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Testimony, Uncategorized|

Faith Like a Child

The “Friends of Show-Me” Annual Fish Fry and Multi-Miracle

You can’t miss it. The large blue building is the central landmark and most recognized feature of Show-Me. The Multipurpose building, or “Multi,” is the hub of life at the main campus. Daily, within its walls: K-12 school is taught, office staff conduct business, counselors listen to kids’ concern, visitors cheer on our athletes, and God is praised. Each year, nearly 500 supporters will unite during our Annual Open House, former kids and their families will return “home” to share a meal at the holidays, and tears will be shed as a once struggling young person crosses the stage to receive their high school diploma.  

Even more impressive than all the ways the Multi is used, is the story of how it came to be. It is the Show-Me version of the miracle of the fish and loaves. The testimony of how a childlike faith passed from one group to another sparks an overflowing of blessings that continue to multiply from generation to generation.   

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

“What do you do when the weather gets bad,” Kirk Bruce asked while touring the La Monte campus in 1990. “Pray! There is not much else we can do,” housemom and current Director, Karen Culler, said with a smile. Kirk continued, “what is something Show-Me could really use, but that you feel is not such a pressing need that you should ask for help?” Karen responded that a dream would be to have an area where the kids could play on a rainy day. A space large enough where all the families could gather as one big Show-Me family at the holidays or for special events. 

Driving home, Kirk and his wife, Bonnie, talked about the 40’ x 60’ metal building that he had recently built on his property for a cost of $14,000. Why couldn’t they build something like that for the kids at Show-Me? A simple shelter would give them a safe place to go when the weather turned bad. He had the skills to build a shelter like that; all he needed now was the money to do it.

A Challenge to Christians in Action

The Bruce’s decided to approach the 25 members in their Christians in Action (CIA) Sunday school class about the need. He challenged them to raise $15,000 toward the project. “If we are going to do it, let’s do it right!” Bill and Donna Crockett exclaimed. The group decided to hold an all-you-can-eat fish fry fundraising event. These “Friends of Show-Me,” as they called themselves, resolved to “give it a try, and with God’s help, see what happens.” As they brainstormed ideas, each member took stock of what talents, gifts, and connections they could bring to the project.

Smiling Faces and Fish Guts

Donna, a mother and former city council woman, utilized her organization and delegation gifts to lead the project. She turned the group’s idea into an actionable plan. “Mom never met a stranger,” laughed Tim Crocket, Donna’s son. “She was never afraid to ask for help. She could see the talents of others and know exactly how she could use them to fill a need.” Friends reached out to friends. Soon, everyone wanted to join the cause from the church to the wider community in Columbia, MO. 

Local businesses donated oil, cups, and other supplies. Donna found a fisherman in Louisiana, who caught 1,800 lbs. of fish. The CIA class met to clean and prepare the fish. Bob Fletcher, a member of the class, stored the fish in his industrial freezer near the venue. The Church family prepared desserts and side dishes. Greg Johnson, the pianist at Westside, provided the entertainment. On the day of the first event, Donna had lines of men waiting with their fryers. “Everyone had a great time,” recounts Kirk. “It didn’t matter if you were gutting fish or washing plates.”

All-You-Can Eat Fish to Satisfy the Multitudes

The event, held at the Kemper Arena outside of Columbia, MO, exceeded even their wildest expectations. By the end of the night, they had fed 1,200 people raising over $20,000. “After the success of the first event, everyone wanted to do more,” Kirk remembered. 

Daring to Dream 

They dared to dream bigger. The group vowed to hold more events each Spring. What started as a building project for a simple covered shelter transformed into an indoor recreation “hall of many uses.” The new plans included an indoor gym, kitchen, stage, tutoring and preschool facilities, as well as much needed storage. Looking to centralize operations under one roof, they added administrative offices, a counseling area, a print shop, and a library. Bill Crockett, an architectural engineer, offered his expertise to ensure the construction process would be a success. 

“The more people we get, the more things we can do,” Donna encouraged. Kids held “change for children” coin drives. Kirk donated all the tips from his barber shop. Other members of the CIA class made large donations. A young man from their church even wrote a $6,000 check. He said he felt compelled to give the money that he saved since his company was paying for all his expenses while he worked overseas in Africa.

The “Friends of Show-Me” Annual Fish Fry continued for the next four years, each year seemingly larger than the last. From 1990 to 1994, the “Friends of Show-Me” raised a total of over $125,000. 

In 1994, construction began at Show-Me. Volunteers helped with the finishing work on the interior part of the building. On July 8, 1995, the new Multipurpose building was dedicated at the Show-Me Open House event. 

Why Can’t We!?! 

The biggest impact could not be measured by a dollar sign. More significant than the money raised was how the project opened the hearts and eyes of all those who were involved. Hundreds of people, who had never heard of Show-Me, sat down to a great meal, and left with a new awareness of a place where struggling families could get help. Scores of volunteers, who first got involved to help do a “good” thing, caught the passion, and become faithful supporters. 

“Mom’s (Donna) goal was to get people to think about the kids in our community who needed a safe place like Show-Me,” stated Tim. “As she would say, family does not end when a person turns 18 years old. Everyone needs a place where they can come ‘home.’ If these kids do not have a place, then why can’t we make a place!?!” 

The Real Miracle 

The Show-Me Fish Fry miracle was never about fish; it is about what can happen when we have faith like a child to respond to a need we see in our community. A need that even some of the Lord’s disciples might think is too big to attempt. God’s miracles rarely involve the sky opening and manna from heaven descending. More often, they occur when ordinary people accept His invitation to be part of the solution.

God will show us the miraculous when we look at what we been given, and have the courage to offer Him even those little gifts. Then, He will multiply it to be more than enough as we pass the basket to invite others to share in the blessing.

“You realize that the blessing is pouring yourself out,” stated Elton Fay, a member of the CIA class and Show-Me board member. “The truest blessing comes when you do something for someone that can never pay you back.”

By |2024-02-14T13:03:42-06:00February 14th, 2024|Categories: Celebration, Children, Uncategorized|

20th Annual Culler Memorial Basketball Tournament

Team slots are filled for this year’s tournament. Feel free to come out and watch the games!

We are so pleased to be able to host this annual tournament!

This year’s tournament will be held on Saturday, March 16th.

Get your teams together and head our way for some friendly competition.

The registration fee is $150.00 per team.

Many of you have participated in this tournament year after year.

It has become a highlight of our Spring here at Show-Me. Don’t wait to register your team!

The double elimination bracket allows for 8 teams and slots fill up fast. We can’t wait!!!

If you have any questions, please email Judi at judi.crawford@showmekids.org.

By |2024-02-16T13:08:06-06:00January 3rd, 2024|Categories: Children, Events, Sports, Uncategorized|

Seeing Mom Succeed Instead of Struggle

New Family Care Ministry launches to help single mothers

Problems can be blessings in disguise. Rather than maintaining the status quo, challenges redirect us back to the Father for His guidance. They force us to temporarily slow down and reevaluate, leading to the discovery of new, more effective, lasting solutions. This has been the catalyst for some of Show-Me’s greatest transformations over the last 25 years: the creation of the Show-Me Christian School, the expansion of counseling services, the development of the Path to Purpose program, and the consolidation of distant, individual satellite homes to build campus communities with on-site support systems.

We are excited to announce the next page in our testimony with the launch of our new Family Care Ministry – a program to help single moms and their children find the tools and resources they need to build a healthy, stable, self-sufficient, and successful future!

Praising God for Problems!?!

Over the past 15 years, Show-Me has wrestled with how to be the best stewards of our satellite units scattered on the edges of Missouri. While the Hubble Home in Galt, MO, was built from the ground up for the ministry, most of the satellites were donated, single-family homes that were never designed to accommodate a larger Show-Me family. Located, in some cases, up to four hours away from the main campus presented numerous challenges: increased costs, lack of readily available support of the campus communities, and limitations on what type of children could be placed there.

One solution was to sell some of our property, and use the funds to build new homes at our larger locations. This led to the establishment of the Drysdale Campus with three homes, and the expansion of the main campus to seven homes. While the Judd Home in Knob Noster, MO could easily connect with a campus, the New Life Home in Mayview, MO, and the Hubble Home in Galt, MO, could not. Unable to secure houseparents, these homes sit largely unused.

Without Options

Show-Me has seen a reduction in the number of child placements, while pleas for help reached a 10-year record high last year. In many of these requests, the children need more help than Show-Me can provide. Yet, we regularly get calls from single moms in desperate situations. Facing unexpected crises, they are looking for a way to protect their children from the ramifications. Whatever the case, they realize for their child to have a better life, they need more resources than they alone can provide. “To be separated from my children was one of the hardest decisions I ever made,” stated Vickie Moyer, a single mom who placed her two teenage children with Show-Me. “I just wanted the best for them.”

Until now, Show-Me only had one option to help them: Mom places the children with us while she works to get back on her feet so the family can reunite. Though successful in many such cases, unfortunately, some moms lose their motivation and often end up in worse circumstances – and the children have had additional trauma due to the separation. For others, separation from their child is too much to bear and they either look elsewhere for help, or continue to struggle on their own. In each case, the generational traumatic cycle continues, and the child pays the cost.

The Family Care Ministry

A single mom shouldn’t have to separate herself from her children to “get her life back together,” often due to circumstances beyond her control. Through our new Family Care ministry, she can keep her family intact while she rebuilds her life together with her kids. These moms will receive the support they need to “hit pause,” work through the issues that led them to need our services, and focus on the future success, happiness, and stability of their family.

The goal-oriented program is designed to provide hard-working single mothers with the time, space, and resources they need to build a safe and stable foundation to become a healthy and independent family with Christ as their cornerstone. The Hubble Home and New Life Home are being modified to provide independent living spaces for multiple families.

A Team for Mom

The program does not seek to replace Mom; she will still be responsible for raising her own children. A Family Life Coach will live at the home. Working around their job or school schedule, the coordinator will meet regularly with each mom to guide her along her individual path to independence and her pursuit of long-term, quality-of-life improvements. Moms will receive coaching in areas of parenting, vocational assistance, financial management, discipleship, mental health, and coordinating resources her family needs.

Most living expenses will be covered including housing, utilities, and basic needs for the family so that moms can focus on the steps they need to better their lives. The moms will also have access to donated food, clothing, furniture, and household items at the main campus. Our goal is that Mom and her children leave Family Care 100% stable, self-sufficient, and on a path to a healthy future, with a nice “nest egg” to launch back into the real world.

Success Rather than Struggle

“Over my years, I have seen so many struggling moms,” stated Bobbie Novak, the Family Care Program Manager. “It isn’t lack of desire, but lack of guidance.” Joining the Show-Me family in 2006 as a housemom, Bobbie is uniquely qualified to lead the program as an accredited Family Support Provider. “I’ve had a passion for especially the mothers of the children because I had their babies,” stated Bobbie. “You always want to have the parents as part of their life and part of their success story whenever possible.”

By |2023-12-08T14:05:37-06:00November 7th, 2023|Categories: Children|Tags: , |

Leading One Relationship at a Time

Celebrating the Smith Family’s Ministry

Nathan and Belinda Smith’s fingerprints can be found in nearly every corner of Show-Me Christian Youth Home. In ten years, they have served in the roles of relief houseparents, Leadership U Coordinator, coach, teacher, 4-H sponsor, missions team leader, photographer, and nurse just to name a few. Each of these outlets gave them a chance to build relationships with the kids in different and powerful ways to teach life lessons and build bonds that last a lifetime.

“Building a relationship is critical. Until you have that, kids are not going to listen to anything you have to say,” said Nathan. “All they will hear is meaningless words.”

Home Away from Home

Being relief houseparents gave the Smiths the opportunity to build deeper relationships with almost every child at Show-Me. Children stayed at the Smith’s home whenever their houseparents were off-duty. They also stepped in to provide extended care for kids, as well as crisis intervention.

Anytime they had kids, the Smiths wanted them to feel like they were part of the family.  They made their house a relaxing, non-stressful place where each child felt loved and safe enough to open up and be themselves. “I loved being able to share life with them – through the ups and downs – and walk with the kids through those times in their lives to whatever extent they would allow or wanted us to,” stated Belinda.

“I always looked forward to going over there because they always made me feel loved and accepted when I visited,” said Josie Koebel, a 2020 graduate of Show-Me. “I felt like I could talk and be myself around them.”

Actions Speak Loudest

Many times, the lessons that had the deepest impact were the ones without words. The everyday moments of life provided time to deepen connections: working out together, feeding the animals, or riding in the truck on an errand. “It was not what Nathan said, it was what he instilled in me,” stated Steven Durst, a 2015 graduate. “He always led by example from the disciplined, responsible way he ran his program to how he was always willing to help. He showed me how I needed to be purposeful with my life.”

Sean Hensley, a 2008 graduate, had only been at Show-Me for a few months. A turning point for him was what the Smiths did not do. He flipped over a railroad tie which crashed into a wooden fence and created a large hole to the pasture. When asked, Sean denied being involved, until a few hours later his conscience would let him keep silent no longer.

As Sean explains it: “I felt so bad that I had lied to Nathan and Belinda because they had been so forthright about wanting us kids to be able to come to them about anything. When I told him, he didn’t yell at me or get irritated. He said ‘we will get this fixed and obviously you will be a part of it.’ After that, I felt like I could tell these people anything because they really did care and would try to do what was best for me. The Smiths laid the groundwork for me to finally be able to trust adults.”

Victory  Beyond the Scoreboard

The Smiths served key roles in sports and extracurricular activities, including the 4-H program.  Nathan coaches basketball, while Belinda coaches volleyball and archery. Belinda created and ran the 4-H program at Show-Me for many years. These venues provided great outlets for kids to discover their talents and develop self-confidence.

Confidence comes from accomplishment. Accomplishment comes from perseverance. Perseverance comes from a desire for something better. Without desire, you will not try. This is true in life as much as it is in sports or the classroom.

Every child has a different personality, strengths, and weaknesses. The Smiths feel God called them to help each child grow in the unique way they needed. “Lord, help me to see through Your eyes to find and develop the things that You love about this child.” Nathan prayed.

While they both taught the fundamentals of the sport, the final score was never the main objective. Attitude, teamwork, and character mattered more. Not everyone could score, but all could encourage. “Coach (Belinda) taught us that we have to be intentional in our encouragement,” stated 2021 graduate, Sadie Puckett, a former volleyball player. “This experience has the potential to shape and mold us in either a positive or negative way. We determine if we are going to waste it or use it to turn us into something beautiful. We are going to work hard either way.”

Learning to Lead Like Jesus

The iconic ministry that led them to dedicate their lives to the mission of Show-Me: Leadership U. Working with horses and dogs to overcome challenges, students develop character and purpose as they embrace the principles of learning to lead like Jesus. “Working with the animals opens the kids’ hearts to receive instruction,” said Nathan. “When they see how your advice makes the horse do things they never thought possible, they begin to trust and are willing to listen to what you have to say about horses, life, and even God.”

“Learning to be a leader can give them the confidence and skills they need to break the generational cycle many are caught up in,” stated Belinda. “They realize that they have the power inside them to take a different path than the one they came from.”

The Essential Element: Relationships

How does a person measure their greatest impact? Nathan and Belinda Smith could point to numerous accomplishments: developing and running the Leadership U program, uniting a previously win-less volleyball team to become state champions, or helping to raise dozens upon dozens of children that have grown up under their influence. While the Smith family has made a difference in many areas over the last ten years at Show-Me, their biggest impact will always be in the relationships they built with the children that call Show-Me “home.”

“Nathan and Belinda have been a role model for my marriage,” stated Josie. “They are always going to be a part of my family and life. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without their guidance and love.”

By |2023-07-03T15:48:43-05:00July 3rd, 2023|Categories: Children, Houseparent|

From Questions to Trust

Finding the Greatest Gift in the Darkest Moments

What is the next step in your life? What do you want to do for a career? Unanswered questions are nothing new to Luke Porter. His life has been full of them.

“You Will Never Amount to Much”

Luke knows that he was born in Bogota, Columbia. But, without an official birth record, the details – even his birthday – are unclear. Luke was told he lived with his Grandma until the age of three, but he doesn’t know why his Mom and Dad left him. He knows that in 2008, he and his older brother and sister were adopted by a family from Kansas.  And, even though he would spend the next nine years growing up in a house with 15 other kids, why did he never feel like he was a part of the family?

He wondered why it was always “his fault” when anything went wrong. No matter how hard he tried, why could he not do anything right? He must be bad; there must not be anything good about him. Luke bounced between peaks of anger and valleys of depression as conflicts escalated. Constantly, he heard a voice telling him that “he would never amount to much.”

Realizing he could not get the help he needed in their home, his adopted Dad began searching for a place where Luke might actually be happy and feel a part of a family. A friend from their church recommended a place he volunteered: Show-Me Christian Youth Home.

Beginning to Believe

In 2017, a quiet, reserved twelve-year-old hesitantly stepped onto the Show-Me grounds. “I came in as lazy as a kid could get,” Luke said. “I didn’t feel I could do anything.”

To his surprise, Luke discovered that Show-Me offered a new world of possibilities to find his talents. Working alongside his housedad, Luke helped with lawn and maintenance projects. He discovered that he enjoyed working with his hands. It felt good to see something he fixed or built.

At Show-Me, Luke found many areas to get involved in. He played soccer and basketball. He ran cross country and track. He participated in quiz bowl, Leadership U, and archery. Luke discovered talents and leadership abilities he didn’t know he had. For the first time in his life, he heard compliments. Those encouraging words boosted his self-esteem. He began to notice things about himself that were good. “Gradually, I began to believe I could have a future,” said Luke. “I could amount to something.”

Being Real

While sports helped Luke to see his talents, the other kids at Show-Me helped Luke see his life from a better perspective. The more he focused on himself, the more lost he felt. By hearing their stories, he realized that there were people worse off than him. It made him want to reach out and help. As he helped them, it helped him.

He found it easiest to talk to other teens at Show-Me. He could be more himself around them. They might not have all the answers, but since they had gone through similar experiences, they understood some of the feelings and questions that swirled in his head even if he couldn’t put them into words. “Having been through similar past struggles, we can see what’s really going on,” stated his classmate, Tati. “We are real with each other and will call each other out on stuff.”

The Power of Just Being There

While Luke trusted some of his friends at Show-Me, learning to trust adults would not be as easy. “With a whole bunch of people in my life, I begin to start trusting them. I feel like it’s going to be different – then they leave,” stated Luke. To protect himself from that feeling of abandonment, Luke always kept the adults in his life at a little distance. “If I am only going to know them for a little while longer, they don’t really need to know anything about me,” he reasoned. Each time things felt like they would finally fall into place, another obstacle came and knock everything over.

In 2021, Luke faced the biggest challenge of his life. He received word that his adopted father – the one person he trusted in his life – had died. Luke’s heart cried out with questions: How could God let this happen? Why did the people in his life keep having to go away? In this time of uncertainty, Luke found an answer — his family.

“It wasn’t any specific thing they (Ken and Emilee Parton) said. It was just that they were there and listened when I needed them,” stated Luke. “Family is a group of people, it doesn’t have to be biological or adopted, that will be there for you, who are honest with you, and willing to help. My Show-Me family isn’t just the Partons; it is my friends here; it is all the teachers, staff, and supporters that I know love and care about me. “

Not Knowing the Answers is OK

Show-Me has not given Luke all the answers. He is taking things one step at a time. In May, he receives his high school diploma from Show-Me Christian School. He’s not sure what the next step will be. Maybe, he will work for a year to build a solid financial foundation, then go to tech school and get a degree in electrical engineering. He hopes one day to have a career he enjoys that allows him to create things with his hands.

“Truthfully, the future makes me nervous,” admits Luke. “But, it is less scary knowing I have a family here at Show-Me that cares about me and I could go to for help if I need it. Knowing there are people who will actually listen and see my point of view (my Show-Me family) helped me realize I am not alone. Even though I am still trying to figure out the next step, I know my family will be there.”

By |2023-04-25T17:11:35-05:00April 25th, 2023|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Path to Purpose, Teen, Testimony, Uncategorized|

The Rescued become the Rescuers

Answering the Call to ‘Rescue and Restore’

Police officer. Houseparent. Nurse. Firefighter. It takes a certain kind of person to be a rescuer. When others flee danger, the rescuer runs toward it. They deal with people at their worst and must make life-and-death decisions. They face long, fast-paced hours with little pay or appreciation; many times being seen as the enemy by the very people that they are trying to help.  Why would anyone choose a job like that!?!

For five rescuers who once called Show-Me “home,” it is not a job, it is the mission God called them to do. Their life confirms it. The challenges they overcame, the hardships they endured, all were the necessary training ground to develop the skills, coping mechanisms, and Christ-centered view needed to succeed in their daunting tasks. Someone once fought to rescue and restore their life; now they feel it is their turn to answer God’s call.

Alex: The Difference of One Pivotal Moment

Alex Stimson’s young life had all the ingredients of a career criminal: divorced parents, abuse as a child, lying, anger issues, and increasing behavior problems. Alex’s dad had fought and won custody to get his son away from his Mom’s abusive home. But, now what? They had tried state-based group homes; he was kicked out in three weeks. Therapy? In Alex’s mind, all his problems were someone else’s fault. His dad didn’t have the skills needed to help Alex move past the trauma he endured and heal. After a lot of research, they found a brochure for Show-Me Christian Youth Home.

In 2002, 13-year-old Alex joined the Ward Family in Camdenton, MO.  Over the next four years, the Wards’ helped him emotionally and spiritually heal. He developed deep bonds with his Show-Me siblings – ones he still calls family. Show-Me loved Alex just as he was. “It wasn’t one giant thing that changed me,” stated Alex. “It was the little things every day that made me the man I am today.” That structure would develop and nurture Alex’s faith in God and himself.

Building upon that faith, he graduated and left Show-Me in 2006. College, odd jobs, and serving as a youth pastor filled his days over the next few years. In 2010, he began his 13-year career in law enforcement. Today, he is a Highway Patrolman, living in Wyoming with his wife, Laura, and their two children.

As a state trooper, he must hold others accountable for the choices they make, but Alex tries to let God use each small interaction to be the pivotal moment that changes their life’s direction. He makes sure they know they matter and have value. Alex uses his own story to give them hope that they can change, but they can’t do it alone. “Your past can be a part of who you are, but it does not have to define your future,” Alex said. It is the message that Alex received at Show-Me and helped change the direction of his life.

“My life could have been a coin flip on how it turned out,” stated Alex. “Hearing these people’s stories and backgrounds, I realize that could have been me. The only difference was I had one pivotal moment – the youth home – which opened the doors to a thousand different possibilities that I didn’t know existed. It was the difference between growing up and never getting the help and healing I needed, then turning towards substances or sex or any other vice that we try to fill our lives with. I found fulfillment in Christ and found healing, joy, discipline, and a determination that might not have been there otherwise.”

Kayla: Finding Purpose in Brokenness

Kayla Jones’ life could also have turned out very different if it was not for her four years at Show-Me. A family history of substance abuse and mental illness set her up for an early life of hurt and fear; by the age of 13, she learned to disguise those feelings with many unhealthy coping mechanisms. Numerous friends she once skipped school with have died or are involved with the justice system. “I should be dead,” said Kayla, an 11-year Registered Nurse. “My training has made me aware that many of the ways I was dealing with stressors could have led to a poor outcome. God saved me for some reason.”

Kayla credits the love and understanding she received from her Show-Me family as one of the things that changed her. “They were there as I stumbled through my grief (over the death of my father) and despite the immense pain I experienced, they encouraged me to keep moving forward,” Kayla said. Their compassion opened Kayla’s eyes to see herself through God’s eyes as the success she was created to be.

Her personal understanding of the need for “helpers” led Kayla into the field of nursing. While at Show-Me, she volunteered at nursing homes. She became a Certified Nurse Assistant working her way through college, and then a hospital critical care nurse upon graduation. Today, she serves as the Statewide Director of Nursing for an organization that provides medical and mental health services to 21 correctional facilities in Missouri. She oversees a staff of over 300 nurses, who provide nursing services to incarcerated individuals.

Healing broken adults that society wants to forget about is her passion. She is reminded daily of how important the work of Show-Me is. “It is easier to work with someone at age 13 than it is at 50,” she said. “We all make mistakes, but we all deserve compassion and care. I am not the only one that came from that type of home environment or only child that felt that way. Good things can come out of really bad situations. We can all make choices to change a life. God can change a life. Everyone has a purpose.”

Emily: A Bridge to Healing

Show-Me has been a part of Emily Puckett’s whole life. Born to then houseparents, Chad and Jen Puckett, she has lived with 41 different siblings and calls countless others family. Being raised at Show-Me, Emily saw what happened when the new “Show-Me kids” felt they were treated equally with the houseparents’ “biological” kids as one family in an environment of hope and healing. Their dignity was maintained, barriers could come down, community was built, and dysfunctional cycles could be broken.

“Everyone had trauma, adverse childhood experiences, unfortunate circumstances, and we all lived in a bit of chaos,” Emily said. “But, we had the same Jesus. Seeing people break the cycles they grew up in inspired me to be a catalyst for change.”

Emily considered careers as a special education teacher, therapist, adolescent counselor, caregiver, and more. She had a realization after watching her big sister, Kayla’s journey. “Nurses fix everyone and everything,” thought Emily. “Nurses ARE educators, counselors, caregivers, and advocates for healing.”

In May of 2023, Emily will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of the Ozarks, Missouri’s top nursing school. She has accepted a nursing job in Rolla, MO, where she plans to follow in Kayla’s footsteps to train as a critical care nurse. “Now, my greatest aspiration is to show others their value by loving and serving them and providing a bridge to healing,” stated Emily.

Thomas and Kyle: Actions…Not Words

Thomas and Kyle Chaney aren’t much for words. Why did they choose the career paths they did? “I wanted to drive a car that would go fast,” joked Kyle, a deputy sheriff. “I wanted to drive big red trucks,” laughed Thomas, a volunteer firefighter. “You have a lot of people pour into your life, so you want to give back,” explains Thomas. “You can’t really tell someone why you do what you do. You just feel called to help.”

Thomas and Kyle saw the impact of answering that call from their Mom, Rachel. As young children, both were adopted into the Chaney family and grew up in their Show-Me home. Watching their parents and other Show-Me families join together to deal with situations with children from diverse backgrounds and different needs, taught them many lessons they regularly use as first responders: when you are dealing with people at their worst times, you have to put aside your emotions to get the job done; you will never feel completely ready or prepared, don’t let that stop you from trying; trust God and your desire to help more than any fear.

The biggest lesson their Mom taught them? “Life is not about you,” states Thomas. “It is about being there for each other.”

By |2023-04-05T21:38:11-05:00February 22nd, 2023|Categories: Children, Testimony, Uncategorized|

More than an Education

From Trying to Survive to Learning to Thrive

“If necessity is the mother of invention, discontent is the father of progress.” David Rockefeller’s words encompass the attitude, history, and future of the Show-Me Christian School (SMCS). It began in the basement of house #4 as a determined effort to give Show-Me’s kids every advantage to succeed; it has grown over the last 20 years into a school with a nearly 100% high-school-graduation rate (National statistics show a graduation rate of 30%-50% for foster care youth with similar backgrounds).

No More Falling through the Cracks

For many of the children that find their way to Show-Me, school is a struggle because of the battles in their home life. It is not uncommon for kids to be four grade levels behind where they should be. Public schools do not always have the necessary resources or time to help them catch up. Feelings of failure, depression, frustration, and anger escalate if the cycle continues and the gap widens.

In 2000, due to too many students “falling through the cracks” either academically or socially, the Show-Me Christian School (SMCS) was created to provide students a new chance to succeed. Using the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) program, each student is evaluated subject by subject to identify any learning gaps (core concepts that the child might have missed) and create an individualized academic path.

Students use PACEs—the ACE program’s bite-sized self-instructional workbooks designed for thinking skills and the mastery of a subject—to reach daily goals. Each child consumes the information at their own rate, rather than being pushed or held back by their class. This approach empowers students to have control of their education and to own their success. Many kids who were falling behind in their former schools are able to catch up and graduate high school on time. “Show-Me was the first time I felt successful,” explained Kayla. “The school allowed me to feel in control of my life and my future.  I set my pace and could still do my own thing, but with their structure, I found success.”

Beyond teaching core subjects like math, English, literature, science, and social studies, the Christian worldview of the curriculum reinforces the importance of morals and Christian values in all aspects of life. Interwoven into each PACE are Scriptures and one of 72 Biblical character traits—all designed to help develop moral character, a sense of accountability, and wisdom in their life.

A Team Dedicated to Their Success

While the ACE curriculum provides a solid foundation for academic success, the greatest strength of SMCS is found in its people and the positive environment they create. Socially, the environment lends itself to developing self-discipline, as well as providing the necessary security and fostering needed confidence. Children are surrounded by a wide range of positive adult role models.

Many of the houseparents take on extra roles serving as teachers during the day. The additional help reduces class sizes to an 8:1 student-to-teacher ratio. The collaboration between the houseparents, teachers, and counselors provides each child with a team of support all working off the same page. Problems are identified sooner and corrective actions are reinforced in all aspects of a child’s life. Whether at home or in class, there is always someone available to help each child keep moving forward.

“Children need to know they are seen, heard, and valued,” stated Robin Blake, SMCS Administrator. “If a student is struggling, SMCS’s individualized learning path means their struggle won’t get lost in the chaos of the rest of the class.”

Beyond Academic Success

Part of the Show-Me restoration process ensures each child knows they have value and God-given gifts. Academics, athletics, and the arts are places most kids discover they have talents. Once they realize success in one area of their life, it flows into all areas. That first discovery is critical in developing self-confidence and the courage to try new things. The school offers programs in music, arts, drama, and sports to provide avenues of discovery.

“Not all students find competence in academics,” stated Director, Chad Puckett. “They need opportunities to explore competencies in other areas. That’s why we give them space to find it in arts or athletics. This also helps them become well-rounded in all areas of life.”

Signature Programs

Always looking for ways to improve, Show-Me developed two signature programs over the last decade to better prepare our young people for the world they will face as adults. In 2011, the Path to Purpose program was created to teach life skills, technology training, and other career preparations through hands-on applications. Two years later, Leadership U was introduced to instill character, develop a strong work ethic, and give direction to the students as they learn to lead like Jesus through the training of horses and dogs.  Both programs provide real-life experiences and problem-solving opportunities.

In Leadership U, students learn to adapt their communication and leadership style to the personalities of each animal and situation just as a boss must do with their employees. “It taught me to chase my aspirations with everything I have and to prepare myself for what is to come through real-life experience, setting goals, and learning next-step skills,” remarked Emily, a SMCS alumni who will receive her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from College of the Ozarks this May.

 

Using virtual reality, headsets, students will be able to have hands-on interactive experiences such as dissecting a frog or taking a field trip to ancient Rome. 

Traveling to Ancient Israel and Saturn’s Rings

In 2020, Show-Me announced plans to expand the SMCS facilities to accommodate up to 85 students. The new 6,900 square-foot area will include a new room for the high school and a separate room for middle school students. The current 7th-12th grade learning center in the multipurpose building will be converted into a larger elementary school room. The additional space will allow teachers to work in groups without disrupting the rest of the class. Other spaces include permanent areas for classes like art and music. Part of the new addition will be a larger Path to Purpose center that includes a computer lab, virtual reality (VR) capabilities, and high-tech equipment like 3-D printers.

The added technology capabilities will provide students with hands-on opportunities to delve deeper into subjects like Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. In VR, students can dissect frogs or mix chemical compounds without the mess, smell, or danger of blowing up the classroom. They can travel to ancient Israel to hear Jesus give the Sermon on the Mount or fly to the rings of Saturn while still making it home in time for dinner.

“Our original dream goal was to have a dedicated science lab, but that required hiring a specialized teacher, buying costly equipment, and storing dangerous supplies,” said Director Chad Puckett. “VR meant our students could have even more experiences at a fraction of the cost.”

Never Stop Believing

The same spirit of innovation and refinement continues to develop new programs, opportunities, and a Show-Me family dedicated to the Show-Me Restoration Process: helping our children address the challenges of their past, prepare for a healthy future and an excellent eternity.

 

By |2023-04-05T21:38:23-05:00November 4th, 2022|Categories: Children, Teen|

A Bridge to Break the Cycle

Celebrating 10 Years of the Path to Purpose Program

Early on as Director, I wanted to address the one question that always made me uncomfortable: “What happens to a child after they graduate?” I knew that Show-Me excelled at giving children a solid, stable home life, and did the best we could after graduation, but I wanted to do better. As a housedad for 10 years, I witnessed too many Show-Me kids stumble in adulthood; they would turn to their old support systems a cycle we worked hard to get them out of or turn to government support systems a cycle we didn’t want them to get into. Houseparents, who are a vital link to these kids, didn’t always have the time and resources to help them. We needed to launch an intentional, targeted effort to resolve this weak area and improve our “restoration” results.

—  Chad Puckett, Director

 

The need for a family doesn’t end when you turn 18 years old; it’s a vital foundation for your whole life. A young person should never “age out” of their primary support system – they should “age into” healthy adults through it. In June of 2012, select Show-Me supporters rallied to set aside resources and create a program that would bridge the gap to adulthood for current and former Show-Me children.

 

A Right-Fit Education and Career

Show-Me alumna, Judi Crawford, immediately accepted the challenge to lead this program as the Path to Purpose Coordinator. “Growing up here, I always had support even after graduation,” stated Judi. “But I knew of other alumni who did not know how to ask for the help they needed. This program was my opportunity to try to change that. My hope is that the relationship we build while they are here continues even after they graduate, so they know they always have a Show-Me family that they can lean on.”

Path to Purpose (P2P) strives to prepare young people for the adult phase of their life and walk with them as they cross that bridge to become stable adults. As they work through the program, they gain the skills, knowledge and insights they need to succeed. Judi works individually with each student to find a career path that fits their personality, capabilities, and goals. Starting in elementary school through hands-on workshops and field trips, students are introduced to economics and the numerous skills each job requires. Students continually dive deeper into their interested fields through job shadows, part-time work, and other career-exploration activities as they progress through P2P.

For Journey, who will graduate in May of 2023 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, her career path became clear after P2P gave her the opportunity to attend a week-long camp introducing her to graphic design. She discovered how her racing ADHD mind and high energy could actually be an advantage rather than a disadvantage. As a web designer and graphics artist, her restless creativity and energy can be utilized in a high-demand job that provides support for her future family.

Navigating Financial Aid

One hurdle most young people face is how to pay for the next level of training. The majority of P2P graduates are able to go to college without having to take out large loans. Due to their unique circumstances, our alumni often qualify for numerous scholarships, grants, and other financial aid if they can accurately present their case. The problem is their unique family situations do not fit into the standard categories for most forms. Before P2P, many Show-Me young people missed opportunities; now, they have a 10-year veteran to help them navigate the process.

 

“I would have gone clinically insane if wasn’t for Mrs. Judi,” Brendan, class of 2021, stated as he recounted the four weeks of patience and persistence it took to finalize his aid.  “But, thanks to her help, I was able to receive a full-ride scholarship and even have some money left over for expenses.”

 

Tools for the Journey

Knowledge isn’t the only thing they need for this journey.  From a reliable vehicle to a laptop for classes, Show-Me has committed to equip our graduates with the necessary tools they need to succeed. As a P2P graduate, they have funds available to help when needs arise: textbooks, unexpected repairs, down payments for housing, help with medications and utilities, continued counseling services, and various emergency situations.

“Nothing really prepares you for that moment when you look at your bank account, which only has $3 in it, and realize you have a lot of bills left to pay,” Dante recounted. The extra help came in especially handy for Dante, class of 2019, when his Precision Machining Technology degree program required over $3,500 of work tools or when his car broke down a week before he was supposed to start his new job.

 

Leaning on Wise Counsel

Sometimes all the young person needs is a little advice on this new adulting stuff such as taxes, car repair, or legal issues. If Judi doesn’t know the answer herself, she will lean on other members of the Show-Me family. Thomas Chaney, a Show-Me alumni and former car shop manager, inspects, repairs, and tunes up all donated vehicles. Jacob Crawford and the rest of the maintenance staff can fix almost any home problem. Lori Muhr, our Business Manager, can explain financial and tax issues. Elton Fay, a long-time attorney and Show-Me Board Member, has been there to advise on any legal matters.

 

“I expect all of our kids to work hard through the difficulties that life will continue to throw at them,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “But, just like my parents helped me along the way, when they have a need, I don’t want them turning to other sources for help. I want them to come “home.”

 

By |2023-04-05T21:38:39-05:00June 21st, 2022|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Path to Purpose|

Thank You Song

Thank You!

Composed and written by Taija, a child growing up at Show-Me Christian Youth Home

I was only two, not knowing what to do
Until you came and helped me through
I didn’t know I wasn’t gonna get to see my parents for a long time
You showed me I can have a family here

You’ve played an important role in my life
Teaching me to do right and let me learn about God
I can never thank you enough for all of your love
Thank you, thank you

Now being a teen isn’t so easy
I mean drama and all of those things
But I know that I have a place to call home
And people to call family

You’ve played an important role in my life
Teaching me to do right and let me learn about God
I can never thank you enough for all of your love
Thank you, oh thank you

I can never thank you enough or God
God thank you for my life
For being so nice
For sending me more people in my life that love me

You’ve played an important role in my life
Teaching me to do right and let me learn about God
I can never thank you enough for all of your love
Thank you

By |2022-06-07T04:38:33-05:00June 7th, 2022|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Music, Testimony, Uncategorized|Tags: , |