A Love that Never Quits

The Miraculous Power of Second Chances

Dante knew something was missing in his life. Every waking moment he had been searching for it because he knew it was the critical piece he needed to fill the empty, painful void that tore at him inside. The void that reminded him of his pain, loneliness, and worthlessness. Watching from afar, he had seen glimpses of people who must have found it: the girl at school who never judged him because of the smell from his clothes, the genuine joy that he saw on the people coming out of the church across the street, and the families he saw laughing as they played at the park. Why could they find it and it remain so elusive to him?

He must be broken. Why else would a 15-year old that so many others called “extremely smart” be such a failure? It had to be the case. His parents abandoned him. Foster families couldn’t deal with him. Even the families that talked about God and His love for Dante still didn’t want him. It was the only reason that made sense to explain the events of his life. Why else could nobody love him?

Now, after they caught him again trying to run away, he found himself in the psychiatric hospital for the third time. Years of heartache, pain, confusion, and instability had driven him to the point where he could no longer find a purpose for life on earth. Then, news came. One hopeless young man would give life one last shot…

Six Months and “Good-bye”

Dante’s childhood was filled with instability. He was born to a mother who was addicted to drugs. Knowing she was unable to raise him, she tried to put him up for adoption. Unfortunately, the mandatory DNA test needed for the process brought into Dante’s life a danger she was desperately trying to keep out.

At the age of two, he and his younger brother were removed from her home and sent to live with their alcoholic, abusive father. Over the next five years, Dante stayed in numerous houses as his father was continually on the move outrunning authorities. Dante took on a parental role, trying to care for his little brother as best he could. At the age of seven, the law caught up and he was placed into foster care. Shuffled between homes, he usually never stayed in a place more than six months.

With each move, each rejection by those who said they cared and would love him, Dante withdrew more into himself. ‘Family’ and ‘love’ were just words, not real things.

“Each place just felt like another four walls,” Dante recounted. “There was no special relationship. I was not their child. Another mouth to feed so they could get a paycheck. Nobody loved or wanted me. Time after time, when I got to be too much to handle, the foster family would just get rid of me.”

Life had taught him that he could not trust others, only himself. That was fine. He would play their game and go through the motions until they were ready to throw him out. He stole food from the kitchen and hid it away in his room or backpack. He acted out, pushing people away before they could reject him. He did not want to interact with other kids at school, fearing that if they got too close they would see how broken and ugly he really was.

In 2009, eight-year-old Dante and his brother were ordered by the courts to live with a relative in Missouri. Things did not get better over the next seven years. Conflict, abuse, and chaos filled the house. As he grew in size and age, the lonely boy spilled over into a depressed and angry young man. Each day left Dante feeling more broken, out-of-control, and worthless. He had thoughts of ending his life and tried to run away multiple times. Counseling. Medications. Hospitalizations. Dante had tried it all and nothing seemed to help.

In 2016, his counselors reached out to Show-Me as a last hope. Even if Dante didn’t believe it, they had faith that this young life could be rescued and restored to a future of success if he had the right supportive environment and a loving family to guide him.

“My first impression [at Show-Me] was that it almost seemed fake because of how well I was treated,” recounts Dante. “I kept watching for the inconsistency. But, it never came. It was the exact same every day. Everyone showed me love and care in this entire community – from my house parents all the way down to the volunteers.”

One Last Chance…Again

The skeptical teen didn’t know how to react in this strange new setting, so he reverted to his self-sabotaging survival instincts: hoarding food, lying, arguing, and closing off. “I was not a pleasant kid,” admitted Dante. “I did a lot of dumb things. I had so much anger about my past. Most of all, I hated myself because I believed the inner voice that told me all the hurt in my life was my fault.”

Dante’s defiance escalated to more dangerous activities. Something had to change. “He was doing everything he could to try and force us to dismiss him,” said Rachel Reynolds, Children’s Services Director and long-time house mom. “But, we all felt like Show-Me could not give up on this kid. We had faith that we could still help him and knew he had nowhere else to go.” Believing a fresh environment could give him a clean slate, the difficult decision was made to have him join the Carman Family at the Drysdale Campus.

Quitting is Not an Option

Things didn’t magically change. “Dante was a difficult kid, but we committed to fight for him so he could have the love and stability everyone deserves,” the Carmans expressed. “The Lord put it on our hearts that giving up on Dante was not an option.”

Like most kids who grow up in chaotic homes, he tested boundaries trying to add instability in order to create a more familiar environment. The Carmans remained consistent: in the way they treated both their biological and Show-Me children, in how the rules were enforced, and in the love they showed.

Dante knew that he did not have to accept the Christian faith to be at Show-Me, but he did need to be respectful of it. Unknown to him at the time, God was planting seeds as he listened about God’s love while participating in family activities like daily devotions, church, and camp. “Before Show-Me, I knew of Jesus and His love, but I didn’t understand it because I had never had an example of it,” stated Dante. “It didn’t change the people who told me about it, so why should I want it.”

The Final Straw

The Son would bring those seeds to life at Dante’s lowest point. A few months into his stay with the Carmans, Dante forged a note and got on a bus prepared to run away. Fortunately, his attempt was derailed when the bus driver, a local youth minister who knew the Carmans, alerted the family. “I just knew this was going to be the final straw,” said Dante. “The moment their love would quit. Instead, they hugged me and told me that I had made a dumb choice, but it doesn’t mean that they love me any less.”

Something inside Dante changed in that moment. “I came to know the true love of God,” Dante stated. “Not just for others, but with the tough and constant love of my mom and dad, I experienced this love personally.”

Secure in that love, he began to embrace the opportunities surrounding him. The Show-Me school helped him catch up and graduate on time. Path to Purpose identified a college and career in precision machining that fit his personality and meticulous nature. The sports and the Leadership U programs grew his confidence. Most importantly, he realized that if others saw something in him to love, then maybe he wasn’t broken after all.

“The more I saw, learned, and felt that love from the Show-Me community, the more I wanted it for eternity, stated Dante. “I wanted that thing that allowed my parents to love me in a way that humans can’t.”

A Forever “Welcome Home”

With hard work and guidance, Dante turned his new found hope into a solid future. In 2018, Dante was baptized. In 2019, he graduated from high school. This spring, he received his college degree in Precision Machining Technology. Thanks to a summer internship, he had a full-time job waiting for him to start in May.

“It seems unreal at times, Dante said standing on the front porch of his house. “If I had not come to Show-Me, I am not honestly sure I would have a life. My second chance gave me more than I could ever repay. It gave everything: a new outlook on life, the family I always wanted, and a love that will never end.”

 

See more of Dante’s story here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq1f0SZlSnw&t=20s

 

By |2021-07-01T11:04:13-05:00July 1st, 2021|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Houseparent, Path to Purpose|

Students Become the Teachers

The Fires & Refinement of the Class of 2021
How would you survive if you were bounced between 30 different foster care home or had dozens of siblings? Imagine being forced to go to a new country where no one speaks the only language you know. What would you do if you had the responsibility of caring for five children, all under the age of five years, without the most basic of resources? What if, in the blink of an eye, an accident causes you to suffer a near fatal brain injury that leaves the majority of its victims unable to ever speak or walk again? To any adult, these tasks would be daunting. To a child, they would seem impossible to overcome. For the Show-Me Christian School Class of 2021, these are challenges they have faced and came out victorious. Battles that have not broken them. Trials that have strengthened, refined, and inspired them to set out on a mission that God has uniquely designed each to complete.

From a Junker to God’s Classic

For most of his life, Michael thought of himself as a junker car that was ugly, dented, and unwanted. Born to drug-addicted parents, Michael bounced between 30 different foster homes before he was adopted at the age of 5. He acted out trying to be “cute” as he desperately worked to earn his new parents’ affection. His “cuteness” may have gotten him noticed as little child in the foster homes, but his antics created more negative effects as he got older. At school, kids would pick on the childish, short, skinny kid who was always trying to get the teacher’s attention. The bullying made him afraid to talk to other kids or make friends. It led to a vicious cycle of problems and isolation. Michael struggled in school, each year falling further behind. For eight years, Michael constantly worried that his adopted family might not want him either. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, Michael would lie, telling the adults what he thought they wanted to hear. As he got older, his sadness boiled over into anger, then depression. Feeling lost and without purpose, he tried to take his life in 5th grade. His parents felt helpless. If the years of counseling and trying everything they knew didn’t help, what else could they do? Someone told them about Show-Me in 2014. They realized that the structured daily routine, positive Christian atmosphere, and one-on-one teaching style was an environment in which
Michael could thrive. “I thought it was going to be a vacation from home – boy was I wrong” Michael laughed. “It isn’t easy, but Show-Me is a fresh start for us kids coming here.”

When 13-year-old Michael sat down for lunch on his first day, he realized there was something different about this place. Miguell, an older 8th grader, sat next to him and started to talk with him. Michael didn’t have to do or say anything to earn his friendship, this guy wanted to be his friend. For the first time in a long time, he didn’t feel lost or alone. Over the next few years, Michael learned to accept the love of family. Focusing on his studies and with extra help, he caught up in school. He discovered his mechanical gifts and learned the value of hard work by assisting his houseparents with hands-on projects – gifts he hopes one day to use in his own automotive shop. The biggest change came the day he heard Pastor Alan talk about what Christ’s sacrifice meant. It not only showed God’s love for us, but it was proof that each of our lives have purpose.

Trusting in that love and believing for the first time that his life truly did have purpose, Michael asked to be baptized. Michael no longer worries about earning God’s love or being wanted. He knows that he is a child of the King of Kings. In his senior devotion message this March, Michael used the illustrations of cars to explain to his classmates how God rescues and restores each of our lives. Michael knows that he
is not the worthless junk car he once believed he was. He is a classic Mustang that God is in the process of restoring.

Hope in Hidden Answers

Ever think having a brother or sister can be a lot to deal with, try having 42! Sadie has been a part of Show-Me all 18 years of her life. Never the oldest and rarely the youngest, she learned to be very observant, keep calm, and find organization in chaos. The details of each siblings story’s may be different, but all share a common factor – they are children caught in the crossfire of struggling families. They are broken lives who don’t understand how or why they ended up in this situation. Many are angry because so much is out of their control and fearful their life is destined to turn out like their parents. Sadie saw that the thing her brothers and sisters were really searching for was hope: hope for their future found in answers from their past. It is that hope that compels Sadie to seek a career in criminal justice. “The love, loss, and hope I’ve learned and gone through has taught me to want to fight for hope for others,” stated Sadie. “Working for a federal crime fighting agency, my wish is to give hope to the families and loved ones of the victim by finding answers, solving cases, and preventing the suspect from
destroying more lives.”

Failure Leads to Success

When Jonas arrived in Missouri to meet his adoptive parents, he could only speak and read in his native Ethiopian language of Amharic. Communication was a great challenge since no one else around him could speak it. Without words, how could he let people know how he was feeling or what he needed? Even though over the next few years he would learn English, his difficulty in communicating snowballed into more problems. Jonas began his education three grades behind. The language barrier made
learning extremely slow and frustrating. Despite putting in many extra hours of work, Jonas fell more and more behind in school. His inability to communicate left him feeling angry and alone. He began to believe the lies in his head that he was a disappointment to everyone, he would never be good enough, and he could only count on himself for help. His anger grew more out of control each year, even to the point where he needed to be physically restrained to calm down. Finally, realizing Jonas needed more help than they could give him at home, his parents reached out to Show-Me. The new environment was good for Jonas. The individualized school program allowed him to go at his own pace. The smaller
class sizes and additional help from his teachers gave him the means to understand. He finally had the tools he needed to catch up in school and graduate. Yet, if you ask Jonas what led to his success the most, he will tell you it’s “failure.” In his endless failed attempts to be “good enough,” he realized that no matter how much he accomplished or how many people liked him, he was never going to be worthy in everyone’s eyes. It is an impossible task to achieve. “Nothing matters except how God sees you,” realized Jonas. “God loves us for who we are, not what we accomplish or what we have. If God considered me – flaws and all – worthy, maybe I could, too.” Jonas began listening and trusting the people that God
was sending to help him. In failing on his own, He learned success could be found in trusting God and the community of support He sends for guidance.

A Rough Start for a Greater Cause

Ana never really had a childhood. The oldest of five siblings, Ana became the caretaker early on while her mother was out. There was no time to think about what Ana wanted or how Ana felt, she had a job to do. Her siblings needed her. That all changed in 2010. Two ladies from a Vacation Bible School told her mom about Show-Me. The next thing seven year-old Ana knew, she and her five younger siblings were
living at Show-Me. Her old job was taken away. Her new job was to be a kid. “I was overwhelmed because I didn’t know what to do since they didn’t want me taking care of my siblings,” Ana recounts.
Over the next few years, Ana saw how God had always been watching out for her. She remembered how an unexpected- person seemed to pop into their lives at just the right time when they needed food, a place to stay, or some other kind of help. She realized how God had protected them from the bad people
finding them.

Seeing that the God of the Bible, who was always there for His people, was the same one in her life, Ana accepted Christ. “Jesus used my bad life for a greater cause: my growing and maturing in Him (my Savior),” Ana stated. “Jesus led, not by forcing others to follow, but by being the model that made others choose to follow.” Desiring to be that positive role model, Ana heads this fall to college to become a social worker. She hopes to shows young people, who look like her, that they can beat the odds, too. “I want kids, who feel broken like I did, to see that they can overcome their past,” Ana said. “They can find another way to succeed, and not become the statistics society says they will be.”

Focus on God Can, Not “I Can’t”

Brendan’s life changed in a instant that day in 2016. Playing tag, he ran into a volleyball net, which caught him by the face and slammed his head against the hard floor causing his skull to fracture. He was life-flighted to Children’s Mercy Hospital. The doctor’s warned his traumatic brain injury (TBI) might
cause him to never be able to see, walk, or talk again. His only chance was to have an emergency surgery to remove the blood clot on his brain and put in two titanium plates. Over the following months, the physical pain slowly decreased but the emotional struggles increased. To give his brain a chance to heal, the doctors told him he had to eliminate most physical activity for the next two years. Thinking about all
the things he could no longer do made Brendan become more and more depressed. How could God let this happen? Maybe he should just give up and accept that he could no longer ever have a “normal” life as an independent adult.

Then, Brendan made a decision. He would not give up! He would focus on what he could control and trust God to take care of the rest. Philippians 4:13 became his life verse. Brendan might not be able to do certain things, but through Christ’s strength, he could do what God wanted him to do. He focused on his school work and strengthening his muscles a little every day. Over the next four years, Brendan’s dedication and faith revealed a bigger picture that he had once missed. In rehab, he saw other young men, who had suffered TBI injuries. These men could not talk, walk, or do basic life functions. Seeing Brendan and the progress he was making gave these men hope. Those men helped Brendan realize that God didn’t abandon him in his injury. He shielded him, sent people to encourage him, and be with him
through every step. Instead of being upset about what he couldn’t do, Brendan is now grateful for all
the things that he can do.

Choosing the Refiner’s Fire

A few years ago, the members of the Class of 2021 might have written their life’s stories a little
different if they had the choice. Now, they are grateful for each moment of their testimony. In the
refiner’s fire their eyes were opened. In the flames they saw how they are not alone. God was and will
always be there with them through every step. He uses experiences the world wants us to believe
can only destroy a life to strengthen and refine His children into the change agents He will use to
transform for good their families, communities, and world. As the Class of 2021 has shown, we
only need to be brave enough to trust Him and the work He is doing.

 

By |2021-06-16T17:16:41-05:00May 31st, 2021|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Events, Teen, Testimony|

Character Above Championships

Developing the Foundation for Lifelong Victories

Winning will never be the goal of the Show-Me Christian School Athletic program. Angel teams have reached the heights of state championships and the lows of finishing a season without a single win. Yet, every year, players achieve priceless victories.

Sports provide many benefits to any child; for a child growing up at Show-Me, it can be the catalyst to victory over issues they struggle with in school, at home, or in their adult life.

An Ideal Training Ground for Life

Athletic participation breeds success where traditional methods fall short: motivating a child, understanding abstract concepts, and seeing the results of perseverance. As one housedad explained, “My teenage daughter gets frustrated because she can’t always see the gradual growth she is making in her life. Sports gives her a measurable way to see the progress. When she first arrived, she couldn’t dribble a basketball. Now, she is a starting player on the varsity team.”

The structure of team practice and coaching mimics Show-Me’s family model of restoration. At home, the child may still unconsciously revert to emotional barriers to protect themselves. On the court, the player is more open to listen to the coach’s instruction because there is no negative past to overcome.

Sports directly addresses many of the root problems caused by their previous environment. Exercise is a natural way to reduce anxiety and depression. Working out daily, kids eat and sleep better. This leads to better memory and improved concentration. Physical activity provides a child a safe outlet to let out their anger or energy.

Being part of a team gives young people an edge over their peers in areas beyond physical health. Through the discipline of practice, they develop lifelong skills of self-control, responsibility, goal-setting, and time-management. Working with teammates forces them to communicate, trust others, and learn to control their emotions. Each player brings a different value to the team. But, for the team to reach its full potential, each individual must know and do his or her part. Following the guidance of coaches, all players must move in the same direction, toward the same goal.

Games provide a snapshot of the unfair, competitive adult world they will face. Referees will miss a call, people will foul, and they will sometimes miss a shot or fail. Sports is another opportunity for Show-Me to coach and walk our young people through the numerous kinds of challenges all adults must navigate. By experiencing them now, they can safely fail and learn how to overcome them, rather than have them derail their life as they face them alone as an adult.

The Spark To Ignite a Life of Success

Academics, athletics, and the arts are the places most kids first 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.

“Before coming to Show-Me, the only place that most of our kids can find these opportunities is at home or in school,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “Unfortunately, there is little chance finding it at home because of the dysfunction. If a child does not find it in academics, they can feel they have no value.”

Part of the restoration process is ensuring each child knows they have value and God-given gifts. The school offers programs in music, arts, drama, and sports to  provide avenues of discovery.

For many, Show-Me is the only chance they have to be part of a sports team. Most kids arrive at Show-Me never having played on a team and without basic skills. Although not mandatory, every child is encouraged to participate in sports and join a team starting in 5th grade.

The sports program has evolved over the decades from pick-up games on the front lawn to informally arranged matches with other small schools. Uniforms consisted of whatever resources could be found. Names and numbers were ironed on to donated jerseys. Games were held at other local schools’ fields or at the Show-Me multi on a hard linoleum floor marked with tape.

In 2015, Show-Me joined the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association (MCSAA). The Angels now compete in a 16-game schedule against six other Christian schools in the MOKAN conference. A state tournament is held at the end of each season in Joplin, MO, to determine the state champion and give out awards.

Transforming Losers Into Champions

Championships once only seemed a dream in 2016. Across every sport, each team has finished their inaugural season with a losing record. The girls volleyball team did not win a single game their first season. Yet, as one player encouraged her coach at the end of season, “winning does not matter compared to the things we have been through in life.”

In fact, losing may be the best thing that could have happened. “You learn a lot more from losing than winning,” stated Director Chad Puckett. “You find out who you are and what you value.”

The experience united and motivated the girls. Many of the older players took on leadership roles and began mentoring their younger teammates. The players used any extra moment they could to practice including during their school breaks. Their determination was rewarded as each season they won more and more games. In 2019, the girls team saw their dream become a reality when they won the state championship in volleyball.

The secret to their success didn’t lie in their individual skills, but in the bond of their team. The more the team played as one, the better the results on the scoreboard. The attitude of one player could build or break that bond.

“Our coaches taught us that we have to be intentional in our encouragement,” stated Sadie, a senior on the team. “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.”

Having an attitude of encouragement has been a hallmark of Show-Me sports. Numerous times since joining the MCSAA, Show-Me has won the MOKAN Conference Sportsmanship award, given to the team whose players have most reflected Christ-like attitude and character both on and off the court.

Angel Pride

The growth of the sports programs not only has impacted the players, but it has become a focal point of pride and motivation for the bigger Show-Me community. “Kids do not always take pride in academics, but they do in sports and for their team,” stated R.J. Bachtold, a teacher at the school and Show-Me Athletic Director. “You can see that sense of pride in the students as they walk past the Angels logo going from their locker to their classroom.”

The benefits of their athletic experience will remain long after they have taken off their Angels jersey for the last time. The challenges they face as adults will not be so daunting as they remember that with hard work, practice, coaching, and a team of support surrounding them, that victory is possible!

 

By |2021-01-31T13:00:04-06:00January 31st, 2021|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Sports, Teen|

Coming Home

Transforming Strangers into Family

Winter is coming! December may not yet be here, but the signs are clear: leaves are changing colors, kids are practicing their songs, and housedad, Ken Parton, has already begun decorating for Christmas. Preparations are in full swing to welcome “home” all of our past and present Show-Me family for the holidays.

This year has special significance for the Parton family. It will be the first time their “bigger family” will gather at their new residence, the newly-completed House #7. They know that not all of the 32 kids who have joined the Parton family over their eight years at Show-Me will make it. Those that do will be welcomed to find their personalized stocking hung, their hand-made ornaments proudly displayed on the tree, presents ready to be traded at the gift exchange, and the traditional family games set out just waiting for the laughter to begin.

Houseparents, Ken and Emilee Parton, may not be their biological parents, but they are family. This may not be the house they grew up in, but it is home because the love of their family is here. God has used that unconditional love to heal and bond this group of strangers into a family.

A Prayer for a “Bigger Family”

The Partons’ life took a very different path from the one they envisioned twenty-five years ago when they married. After attending Nebraska Christian College, they worked their way up the management chain to both have lucrative careers: Ken becoming a district supervisor of a national restaurant chain, and Emilee starting her own business.

They actively served in their church: Ken working with the youth, Emilee organizing bigger events, and both leading the worship team.  Their business backgrounds laid the foundation for the church to open a food and clothing pantry. To outsiders, they were living the American picture of success.

Under the rosy façade, things were far from perfect. They knew that God had a greater mission planned for them, but what? For years, the couple had struggled to grow their family. In 2003, they lost their son, Brock, at birth. A year later they suffered a miscarriage. In 2008, the birth of their daughter, Sophia, seemed to be the beginning of the answer they longed for. Two years later, their prayer would be for a second child. Over time, it changed to adopting a child. Eventually, it simply became “Lord, please give us a bigger family.”

The Partons prayed for guidance and began to look at different options for their life. “We knew we weren’t where we were supposed to be anymore,” Emilee recounts. “We hadn’t quite figured out what or where we were supposed to be.” A few months later that answer would come when Chad Puckett, the Director of Show-Me, spoke at their church and stated that the ministry was in search of new houseparents. As Emilee explained, “in my prayer for direction, I realized that God was going to answer with Show-Me… not quite what I imagined, but we definitely have a bigger family now!”

Trading a Job for a Mission

Stepping out in faith in 2012, the Partons moved to the main Show-Me campus in La Monte, Missouri. From the get-go, they quickly learned that serving as a houseparent is not a job, it is a life. There is very little downtime as kids’ needs do not distinguish personal time and business time. A typical week is similar to most parents: cooking, cleaning, appointments, school, games, church, etc. Just at Show-Me, each family is trying to coordinate up to ten people, all going in different directions. Add to that coordinating volunteer groups, teaching at the school, refereeing basketball games, coaching, leading worship at chapel, and organizing major events for Show-Me.  Added together, you might get an idea of what the Parton’s life is like.

As chaotic as schedules can be, the bigger challenge is building a relationship of trust with each child. Without it, the child will never be willing to accept the resources and help they need.

A New Definition of Family

Most of their kids have come from situations that have led them to believe that they only have themselves to rely on. They have been let down too many times in the past by the family that was supposed to take care of them. “I always struggled with letting people love me and accepting that love from others,” recounted Grace, a child who once lived with the Partons. “I had felt so rejected for so long, I truly believed I wasn’t able to be loved. I was never going to have my picture perfect family.”

Although each child is immediately welcomed, it will take time before they consider themselves part of the Parton family. The Parton’s first step is to meet each new child where they are at, not force them to be part of the family until they choose to be. From the moment they first arrive, Ken explains, “We are Ken and Emilee. We are not trying to replace your parents, we know that we never can. But, our home is your home. Here, all your needs are going to be taken care of.”

It will take weeks and months for the protective walls to slowly be lowered as the child sees the proof in actions. Their fear is that because they are not part of the biological family they will only be accepted and loved up to a certain point. “Our fear stops us from healing,” Journey, an adult who once lived with the Partons explains. “In the back of your mind you are always wondering when will this love stop.”

They wonder: “Do you love me because it is your job or because you really want me?” Knowing this, the Partons are very intentional about treating all their kids the same. It is the little things that make the biggest difference in building trust and making each child feel valued as an individual. This is made especially evident during the holidays.

Building Bonds Around a Tree

Many of the kids at Show-Me do not go to their biological homes for holiday breaks because the situation is still not healthy for them. The kids in the Parton home would travel with Ken, Emilee, and Sophia to Tennessee for Christmas with Ken’s parents. Grandma and Grandpa Parton welcomed them with open arms and spoiled all the children equally.

From the presents under the tree to the stockings customized for each child, Ken and Emilee make every effort to let no favortism show. Together, they play charades, open chocolate advent calendars, and worship as a family on Christmas Eve.

“It made me really feel like I was a part of the family,” remembers Destin. “Growing up in foster care, I lived with people, but it was not family. I was their kid as long as it was convenient. When it became too much of a burden or cost, then off to another home I go.”

The Promise of Christmas

Today, many of those same kids, who piled in the minivan to drive to Tennessee, now live across the country as adults. They may each have different last names, but they are family. “I never would have imagined that my family would turn out being just a group of random people that happened to be needing a family just like me,” stated Grace. “It’s super cool to think about the fact that we all wanted the same thing: a family, and so we just became each other’s family.”

That Parton family only continues to grow, now welcoming grandchildren to its fold. This Christmas, they will travel across the country to come “home” and be with their family in Missouri at the newly finished House #7. The older children will make sure that the family traditions are carried on for the next generation. Grandma will bring the special treats and Emilee makes sure all the favorite foods are prepared. For the Parton children, it is a reminder of Ken and Emilee’s promise to them that they never need to feel alone because you will always have a home and family ready to welcome you.

By |2020-11-13T22:12:53-06:00November 13th, 2020|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Houseparent, Testimony|

When There is No One Else

Discovering Her Inner Strength

“I never believed this day would happen,” Amanda stated.  “Most of my life, graduation felt like an impossible dream.”  Her diploma symbolized more than just completing high school, it was the reassurance that her fear would NOT come true. Unlike what she was told growing up, she would not end up like her mom, who as a young teen became pregnant with her and dropped out of school.

With the support of her Show-Me family, she is on a path to get her CNA certificate in order to serve the elderly and help children like she once was – in need of a little extra attention to reach their God-given potential. “I never would have gotten here if it wasn’t for Show-Me,” she explained. “The school allowed me to catch up to where I needed to be and the teachers were always there to push me to strive and accomplish my goals!”

School Sets The Stage for Life
Growing up, Amanda called many places home. She attended numerous schools as she bounced from family to family. Moving so often made it hard to trust others, build healthy relationships, or keep up with her peers in school. Math was especially difficult for her.

She was placed in special education classes to try to help. Although only behind in math, being labeled a “Special Ed” kid made her believe she was an overall failure with little hope for a future. These feelings ate at her self-esteem leading her to increasingly become isolated, which made her more vulnerable to negative influences in her life. Things came to a boiling point in 2015. Soon after, she soon came to Show-Me.

Uncommon Solutions to Common Problems
Life didn’t magically get better when she arrived and joined the Watkins family. “At that point, I didn’t have much hope for myself,” Amanda said. “I didn’t care for anything.”

Despite having been in the 7th grade, she was at a 3rd grade level in Math and English. She was behind multiple grades in the rest of her subjects. Her situation was a familiar one to Show-Me, where it is not uncommon for the kids that find their way here to be four grade-levels behind where they should be. The battles that they face at home make keeping up with the rest of their class a struggle. Public schools do not always have the necessary resources or time to give the extra attention needed to help them catch up. Feelings of failure, depression, frustration, and anger can arise if the cycle continues and the gap widens.

In 2000, after being forced to dismiss too many children because they were suspended from the public school, Show-Me created a private, Christian school option to try and overcome some of the unmet challenges. Using the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Program, each student is evaluated subject-by-subject to create their own academic path to complete their studies. Students learn at their own pace while working to reach daily goals. This approach empowers students to own their education and success. Many kids who were falling behind in their former schools are able to catch up and graduate high school on time.

The ACE program identified the subject concepts that Amanda missed. She began to show progress and pass her subjects as she followed a targeted approach using PACEs, the ACE program’s bite-sized workbooks designed for self-instructional thinking skills and the mastery of a subject. Whether at home or in class, there was always someone available to help her understand when she got stuck or confused since many of the houseparents also worked in the school.

The Show-Me Christian School (SMCS) went beyond helping her in core subjects like math, English, literature, science, and social studies.  Interwoven into each lesson was a Christian world view with Scripture and one of 72 Biblical character traits – all designed to help develop moral character, a sense of accountability, and wisdom in her life. It was changing the way she thought of herself. “Here we are all the same, nobody looks at you different. For the first time, I never felt rushed or uncared for,” stated Amanda.  “Having the freedom to go at my own speed made me want to try harder. I found an inner strength I didn’t know I had.”

Finding Her Stride
She discovered a number of talents and interests by participating in extra-curricular activities. She sang as part of the praise team for the weekly chapel services. Being around the animals in Leadership U (LU) provided safe emotional connections. “Horses and dogs don’t judge you, they are really good listeners,” she joked. She found that the concepts taught in LU applied to her life, too. “To accomplish my goals, I needed to calm down, have confidence, try harder, and above all never give up,” stated Amanda.

That same determination would carry over to success in sports. Amanda gained confidence as she played volleyball, basketball, and was part of the team that took first place in track at state. “There, I forget about everything else,” she said. “To play well, you can’t let doubt and fear follow you on the court.” She was named to the MOKAN all-conference second team in basketball and took top state honors in volleyball. But, her teammates were her biggest motivational factor. “If I wanted to play, I knew I had to find a way to do well in class,” she recounted. “I couldn’t let my team down.”

In the Path to Purpose Program, she learned key life skills like how to make a budget from the Dave Ramsey’s financial courses and how to drive. Job shadowing at local hospitals confirmed that she wanted to be a nurse and work with the elderly or kids with special needs.

Taking on a New Identity in Christ
Slowly, but surely, becoming an adult didn’t seem so scary when she realized that she was a part of God’s bigger family. At the age of 19, she decided to make the change official when she changed her name and asked to be adopted by the Watkins family. “My parents helped me succeed by believing in me, not giving up (even though at times I thought they would), and showing me how to love and be part of a family,” Amanda said. “I’ve learned that when there seems to be no one else, there is always God to rely on.”

By |2019-06-28T13:53:15-05:00June 28th, 2019|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Testimony, Uncategorized|

Building on Foundations of Faith

HEROES STEP FORWARD TO RESCUE &
RESTORE MORE!
By Chad Puckett, Director

God’s timing: perfect!
Praise God for His incredible provisions and how He shows His faithfulness through His people! Let me share with you what has taken place in His ministry at Show-Me in the last couple years.

As we celebrated Show-Me’s 50th Anniversary in 2017, we reflected on our Father’s provisions and captured the momentum to “Rescue and Restore Even More.” We launched a capital campaign to add new homes, upgrade water systems, expand satellite campuses, and enlarge the Christian School after building a new office.

God’s people: providing!

God’s people responded enthusiastically to get this off the ground. A donor in Minnesota made the initial deposit into the campaign of $250,000. Then, the folks at Greentree Christian Church in Rolla, Missouri, chose Show-Me for their 2017 Thanksgiving offering, contributing over $130,000. Soon, ground broke for an additional home at the La Monte Campus, while plans were finalized for the water treatment programs.

Weather complicated the extensive excavation needed for the new home at the La Monte campus, completed by Bruce Morton of Morton Custom Contracting in Sedalia, Missouri, at a greatly reduced cost. As this preceded, Forum Christian Church in Columbia, Missouri, approached Show-Me about funding and constructing the walls needed for the home.

The Homes for Hope program enables the congregation to build the walls in eight-foot sections in their parking lot, to be transported here and assembled on site. They slated this project for June, 2019. Again, God’s people come through!

Campus-community: expanding!
Realizing that the Show-Me program works best in a campus community, we launched into the development of the Drysdale
campus. Ground broke for the third home at the Drysdale Campus in Spring of 2017, the Reed Home, funded through the sale of the former Camdenton homes sold in 2011. Through a series of misfortunes, the construction of this home was delayed
beyond our control. Finally, in the Fall of 2018, the excavation was completed and the basement prepared. God’s people came through again, providing a volunteer rough-in crew to “shelterin” the home in March 2019. Jake Sbabo from Rolla, Missouri, provided his crew to accomplish this huge step forward.

Even while we planned for the expansion of the Drysdale campus, God presented us with an incredible opportunity. A Mennonite family just a block away (who has been incredible neighbors) presented us with an opportunity to rent one of their homes, a five-bedroom farmhouse. The Eades family moved from the La Monte campus in May, 2018, to reside there with
their six children, which soon grew to eight. RJ and Marie Bachtold were then able to begin their ministry at the LaMonte
campus. Yes! More children Rescued and Restored!

And, a bonus!
While the construction of these homes progressed, God prompted a generous couple to donate their beautiful home and
70 acres in October of 2018 to further the ministry. Bill and Marilyn Seibert built their dream retirement home near Lincoln, Missouri, twenty years ago with Show-Me in mind, knowing that when they were no longer able to use it, Show-Me could.
The Watkins family moved from the Knob Noster home to this four-bedroom, five-bathroom home in November, 2018. New
houseparents, Tim and Sarah Scott, move into the Knob Noster home in June, 2019 to begin a family – and rescue & restore even more!

Debt-free? No doubt!
Since paying off all debts in 2014, we’re committed to remaining debt-free as we grow. Funds are on-hand for everything currently under-construction, and we’ll continue that way.

Also, we’re not asking donors for pledges, as they often divert their current donations from the operating funds to the building
funds, leaving us unable to utilize the new facilities. Rather, we developed the strategy of asking those interested and capable to make one-time gifts. And, it’s working!

And a word about operating funds. As we grow the facilities here, we likewise need to grow the operating funds. We estimate the cost to operate a home each month is $5,000; last year, the Lord provided a surplus of $61,000 (=$5,000+ per month)! Praise God, He’s making it clear that we can support another home!

Our God: glorified through His people!
All this in the last two years while I “sat back and watched!” Years ago as I wrestled with the overwhelming task God gave me as Director of Show-Me, my Father gently and clearly told me, “You take care of the kids; I’ll take care of everything else.” He receives great glory working through His people, I just need to step out of the way!

How about you? How does our Father accomplish His great work through you and the resources He’s given you?
Send me a note – I would be honored to hear and rejoice with you!

House 7 under construction at our main campus

The Plan

1. Fix key Infrastructure
• @ Main Campus
— New drinking water system
— Update Waste system
2. Expand Capacity
• Add new homes
— Build House #7 @ Main campus
— Add 3 homes @ Drysdale Campus
+ Build Reed Home
+ Rent Rissler Home
— Build school / gym at Drysdale campus
— Link Lincoln Home with Drysdale Campus
• Increase staff & support
— Houseparents (Need 2 more)
— Find ongoing $ support
($5K/mo per home)
3. Upgrade facilities for growth
• Enlarge School (~ 80 students)
— Upgrade current facilities
+ Create elementary school area
+ Build Leadership U Indoor Arena
+ Update gym & muliti purpose area
+ Renovate stadium
— Relocate non-school staff & programs
+ Build new office across from school
+ Renovate area for volunteer lodging
— Build new science labs & locker rooms
• Build House #8 – at La Monte

The Davis-Domann Court 

Our Newest Home in Lincoln, MO

Leadership U Arena

Drysdale Rental Home

By |2020-01-28T14:28:06-06:00March 16th, 2019|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Events, Testimony, Uncategorized|

The Class of 2019 needs YOU!

Eight seniors prepare to graduate this May – one of our largest classes ever.

The Show-Me class of 2019 stands ready and well-trained to face the adult phase of life having completed, through the Path to Purpose (P2P) program: career assessments, job shadowing, learning to drive, training in personal finances, writing resumes, securing post-secondary education, and job searches.

But, our task is not yet complete! As they cross the bridge to adulthood, they will still need guidance, encouragement, and other resources. We believe that no child should “age out” of a program that they depend on they should “age into” healthy adults with a family ready to walk with them.    

Our Show-Me’s family commitment to these young adults goes beyond graduation. Rescuing and Restoring Young Lives means working to keep each child on a positive path, removing obstacles, and helping them get back on it when they stumble.  Even a small bump in the road can cause a person to suddenly end up in a ditch.  We want them to always know the first place they can safely turn is their Show-Me family. 

We are committed to do anything we can to keep their momentum going in the right direction!  Our Path to Purpose program was set up for this reason, not only to teach them the skills needed to become a productive member of society, but connect them to a network of positive support, which provides the resources needed to overcome the inevitable, unexpected twists of life. As a graduate of the P2P program, they have funds available to help when a need arises: extra money for text books, unexpected repairs, down-payments for housing/utilities, medications, continued counseling services, educational funding, and various emergency situations.

We don’t think these qualify as “luxuries.”  We expect them to work hard through the difficulties that life will continue to throw at them. Just like most of our parents who helped us along the way, We want them to thrive in the adult world.  Our experience has shown us that one of the best investments we can make is providing them with reliable transportation. So, Show-Me has committed to each high school graduate, who has also completed every element of the P2P program, to pay for the first year of their auto insurance and provide them with a reliable starter vehicle. Praise God, several vehicles have already been donated- we only need 3 more!

We’ve already invested so much into these young lives – let’s finish the task! Are you with us!?!  Your gift will equip these amazing young adults with the tools they need to keep them steady on the Path to Purpose God has for them.

If you would like to contribute to our Path to Purpose program, you can do so here.

If you would like to contribute to a specific need of our graduates, please check out our Class of 2019 Amazon wish list.

These amazing Seniors were featured on our Facebook page last Fall and will be featured in our May newsletter.

Nate, trained in Criminal Justice through the State Fair VoTech program, will continue his education at the University of Central Missouri.  His ultimate career goal is to become a police officer.

Amanda will obtain her CNA and enter into a career to make life better for adults with developmental disabilities and other special needs.

Nick hasn’t made certain plans for his future, but it will certainly involve mechanics of some sort.

Kerenda, well-known for her kindness and servant’s heart, will obtain her CNA training this summer and desires to serve the great folks at the Missouri Veteran’s Home. 

Emily, the biological daughter of Chad (Director) and Jen Puckett, has been accepted at the College of the Ozarks to study nursing and fulfill her life-long dream of becoming a Labor and Delivery Nurse.

Dante, very mechanically inclined, has been accepted to the Missouri Technical College in Linn.  He intends to become a Precision Machinist.

Journey has been accepted to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg to complete her education in Graphic Design. Her incredible talent will lead her to an incredible career.

Cassie, the biological daughter of Charles (Assistant Director) and Jodi (School Administrator) Watkins, will attend Missouri Southern in Joplin to become a teacher and coach.

By |2019-02-11T19:06:59-06:00February 11th, 2019|Categories: Boosters, Child's Story, Children, Path to Purpose, Testimony|

Immanuel- God with us Matching Challenge

Dear Friend,
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people.” – Luke 2:10 Immanuel, which means “God with us,” changed everything. Hope arrived in Jesus. God had personally come to live among us, teach us, rescue and restore us, die for us, come back for us, and live in us through His Holy Spirit. Amazing! Inspiring! News we have to share!
In 2015, Show-Me shared that good news with a hurt, 16-year-old atheist who felt afraid, alone, and with little hope for a future:
Journey couldn’t fathom a God who loves and yet lets one of His children go through the awful things she endured as a child. If He was real, He was far away. That belief all changed at Show-Me. “God came to me through the people here,” stated Journey. “They didn’t just tell me about Him, they showed me Him by how they lived.” Seeing it through actions and not merely words, she began to believe. A few months later, she asked God to live in her heart and was baptized. This spring she will graduate and plans to go to college in the fall to study graphic design. God came alive to her at Show-Me!

YOUR continued support is a witness to Journey and the world that God is real – and He is WITH us – as Immanuel!

Here is one last opportunity in 2018 to share with children a “God with us” message. A group of donors just set a new Matching Gift Challenge to MATCH every gift given NOW until December 31st, 2018 – up to a total of at least $30,000 that is returned in the enclosed envelope or given online at https://www.showmehelpingkids.com/give/! I say “at least” because this challenge continues to grow as additional supporters step up to increase the matched amount.

Thank you for extending a hearty “God with us” message to the awesome kids at Show-Me! YOUR prayers and contributions ring the truth of Immanuel to young lives anxiously waiting to be rescued and restored.
Grateful for you,
Chad Puckett, Director

 

PS: Remember, your gift is DOUBLED and will have TWICE the impact
in response to this challenge! Make sure to postmark your gift by December 31st for 2018 tax benefits!
Double the Blessings for YOU and our children

By |2018-12-19T09:25:01-06:00December 19th, 2018|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Testimony|

World Changers – Making a Difference

by Belinda Smith

Just recently I heard one of our junior high boys say he wanted to make a difference in the world but he felt he wasn’t old enough to really do anything yet. We want our youth to understand that they can play a vital role in advancing the kingdom NOW. Everyone can do something right where they are, no matter their age. Three ways we are focusing on: PRAY, GIVE and GO. We can always pray, often give, and sometimes
we are even called to go. We created a visual on the wall so we can see how
Show-Me Christian School has reached out and made an impact on their family/school, community, country, and world throughout the school year: coloring on a gift sack used to encourage someone; baking cookies or raking leaves for a neighbor in the community; volunteering to help with Special Olympics or another event; giving money to help build an orphanage for those rescued from human trafficking; praying for churches, missionaries and organizations, spending a week in El Paso, Texas; or maybe even taking a trip out of the country….everyone can do something.
At the beginning of the year, the kids were asked a question: “How do you see God using you in the future to advance the kingdom?” My husband starting asking young people this when talking about the future, for the purpose of prioritizing God’s plan over our own. Also on the wall are pictures of each of our world changers next to how they want God to use them… future web designer, chef, actor, police officer, missionary, pilot, physical therapist, dog trainer, nurse,athlete, etc. Spreading the Word of God is not just for preachers and missionaries. We are all commanded to spread the Good News.

We greatly appreciate God’s provisions through our Show-Me friends that love and support us. At the same time, we don’t want our kids to ever feel entitled. It is our desire to teach our youth how to give back or pay it forward. We want them to be “others minded.” The best way to feel better is to do something nice for someone else. This has shown to be true with our students through the following comments after serving others in El Paso, TX, during our Fall break:

“I liked seeing how happy everyone was with the work we did on the church.”
– Ethan, 7th grade

“Something I’ll always remember is the overwhelming gratitude [of those we served]”
– Emily, 12th grade

“My favorite part was seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of the kids.”
– Josie, 10th grade

“Hanging out with all the kids and being a part of the VBS was my favorite.”
– Deonsay, 9th grade

When we serve others, we are both the giver and the receiver of the blessing. Service is rewarding and humbling. Our desire is to continue planning trips and projects that will give our youth experiences and perspective while reaching out to those in need but also to keep our eyes open to simply fill a need when we see it. We are raising world- changers who aren’t waiting for the future to make a difference. They are making a difference now!

By |2018-11-05T11:22:34-06:00November 5th, 2018|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Testimony|

Twice the Blessings

Dear Friend of Show-Me,
PROGRESS. It is an essential ingredient to transform STRUGGLE into SUCCESS. If we are ever to leap from “what is” to “what could be,” progress is the small steps we must continuously make. As Winston
Churchill said, “continuous effort—not strength or intelligence—is the key to unlocking our potential.”

Recently, the smallest of lives reminded me of this truth. As we heard “Timmy’s”* name called out at the school awards ceremony, most of us in the audience began to tear up. Our cheers turned into a standingovation as he proudly made his way across the stage. His notable smile widened as he received the “Mr. Progress” award, a special honor given to the student who makes the most progress in a school year.

What an inspiring moment for a child! The opportunity to see his struggle turn into success! It was the culmination of an eight-year battle to overcome his continuous behavioral and learning issues. His teachers and Show-Me parents had exhausted many great ideas to try to help the
little guy. Nothing seemed to work to control his anger and hyperactivity. Timmy seemed to cause so many “problems” that it was easy to lose sight of the many problems he was trying to solve in his young life.

One Child’s Story: Timmy
Only three years old, Timmy, with his Mom and five young siblings, fled an abusive home and ended up at a women’s shelter. Knowing it was no place to raise kids, the ministry counseled Mom and told her of Show-Me. She hoped to place her children there for only a short time while the shelter helped her get back on her feet. Soon, that plan unraveled and mom ended up in jail. Not the ending we all hoped for, but at least the children could remain together. In the safety and stability of Show-Me, they discovered their academic, artistic, and athletic talents. They continuously earned Honor Roll and achieved numerous awards.

Each of the siblings found a way to thrive…except Timmy. He began to believe that he might never overcome his struggles. His “problems” were interwoven. Struggles in school led to acting out at home. The only way to solve one problem was to help him understand and deal with them all.

We approached his issues together from all angles.
• Counselors helped him to understand and talk about his past.
• His houseparents created an environment in which he could thrive with consistency and routines. Breaks were added to his studies so he could go outside and run out his extra energy.
• Our self-paced school gave him structure to focus and minimize distractions.
Feeling the love of so many people who believed in him and his future, something clicked! With an amazing attitude, congenial spirit, hard work and determination, Timmy is now embracing a new role for himself and finding success.

How can a child transform struggle into success? The number one factor is a team of support that never gives up. And, that’s exactly what Timmy had in his corner. A team, including YOU, who believes in each child’s potential and is ready to invest in their success. To challenge YOU to be a part of the next child’s team, an anonymous donor has offered to match your gift to Show-Me this summer. Every gift received by July 31st will be DOUBLED – up to a total of $20,000!You can make your donation here! So, let’s create more moments like these for the “Timmy’s” who haven’t had that moment, yet – a moment that makes an impact for a lifetime.
Thank you for believing in each of these young lives and being part of their team. With your support, together, we can turn their STRUGGLE into SUCCESS!

Awaiting the next moment,

Donation receipt signature

Chad Puckett, Director

By |2018-07-02T16:03:14-05:00July 2nd, 2018|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Uncategorized|