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|

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|

Christian School Honors

The past few weeks have been busy for the students and teachers of the Show-Me Christian School. We have celebrated both their academic and athletic accomplishments from the past year. Nearly all of our students participate in organized sports here at our main campus in La Monte. This past year, we had teams that competed in Girls Volleyball, Boys and Girls Basketball, Archery, Track & Field, and Girls Softball. Our annual athletic banquet honored all of the hard work each of our athletes put in throughout the year. Some of our feature awards were: giving out six new varsity letter jackets, scholar athlete awards, given to students who participated in three sports while maintaining a 3.0 grade average, and we honored our Girls State Champion Track  & Field Team from 2017 with a special commemorative plaque.

We also honored all of our students at our annual academic banquet. During this banquet, each student is recognized with a Christ-like character trait. Teachers evaluate each student’s performance throughout the year, choosing the trait that the student most showed throughout the year. Each student really looks forward to hearing the trait each of their teachers sees in them. Some of the other honors given throughout the evening include: Supervisor’s Student award, given to the highest performing student in each classroom, three new inductions into the National Christian Honor Society, given to high school students who achieve not only high grades, but maintain high character, and Bible Memorization medals are given to students who memorized every monthly memory verses. 41 out of 45 of our students earned this medal.

We are proud of all of our kids, and all of their God-given talents! We cannot wait to see what the next school year holds.

By |2018-05-29T18:18:32-05:00May 29th, 2018|Categories: Academics, Child's Story, Children, Sports|

Introducing the Graduates from the Class of 2017

Each of these young adults have earned their Path to Purpose diplomas. By achieving this milestone, each graduate will have access to $500 in emergency funds, assistance in purchasing their first vehicle, and whatever ongoing support they need to keep their momentum moving in the right direction.

Name: Destin McMurray
Years at Show-Me: 4 years
Graduate of: Show-Me Christian School
The Next Chapter: Attend State Technical College of Missouri in Linn, to specialize in Biomedical Engineering Technology. “I will help people by fixing the machines that are used to save their lives.”
Impact Show-Me had on his Life: “When I came here, I didn’t talk to anyone. I was shy and kept to myself. But, I learned how people think and what their actions mean. I have learned the confidence to be a leader.”

Name: Emma Novak
Years at Show-Me: 5 years
Graduate of: Grundy County High School
The Next Chapter: Become a PreMed student majoring in Biology at The College of the Ozarks. After college, I plan to continue onto Med School to become a Pediatrician and eventually travel as a medical missionary.
Impact Show-Me had on her Life: “Show-Me planted a seed in me for loving children and a yearning to help those in need.”

Name: Grace Brodersen
Years at Show-Me: 6 years
Graduate of: Show-Me Christian School
The Next Chapter: Major in Social Work at Missouri State University. “I want to help kids in foster care who don’t have a voice. I want them to feel loved, safe, and know someone is watching out for them.”
Impact Show-Me had on her Life: “I learned to forgive and love the people who hurt me. I had real control issues that I learned to let go. My biggest challenge was finding self-worth and knowing I am loved, but I know God overcame that for me.”

Name: Jenna Watkins
Years at Show-Me: 6 years
Graduate of: Show-Me Christian School
The Next Chapter: Attend Missouri Southern State University majoring in Early Childhood Education to one day become a Kindergarten teacher and Volleyball coach.
Impact Show-Me had on her Life: “Show-Me really is a family. It is all about family. You have lots of siblings, so you never feel lonely because there is always something going on.”

By |2017-06-03T18:22:18-05:00June 3rd, 2017|Categories: Children, Events, Path to Purpose|

Celebrating our Graduates

Congratulations to our 2015 graduates! In addition to earning their high school diploma, these students have also graduated from our Path to Purpose program. By achieving this milestone, each graduate will have access to $500 in emergency funds, assistance in purchasing their first vehicle, and whatever ongoing support they need to keep their momentum going in the right direction.

Our Class of 2015

Summer graduate

Jessica

Jessica graduated from the Show-Me Christian School. She lived at our Emerald Ranch Unit near Goodman, Missouri. She hopes to launch directly into a career working as a veterinary assistant. Her job-shadow with a veterinarian cemented her interest in working with animals. Continuing to help on the ranch, she will live nearby to her Hurley family relying on their encouragement, as well as the support of Show-Me.
“I’m definitely scared [about the next step],” she confesses, “But it is a good scared because I know there are plenty of people here to help me along.”
Summer graduate

Chris

Chris graduated from Grundy County High School. He will continue to live at our Hubble Home in Galt, Missouri while he attends Grand River Technical School to become certified in General Building Trades. He then will go on to college to get a degree in General Construction.

The Path to Purpose program will allow him to continue to apprentice with housedad, Chris Novak, learning mechanics and building skills.
“At Galt, (housedad Chris and I) did a lot of odd jobs to help people in the community. I fell in love with it. Now, I want to build houses for people because it is a way to provide someone with a home where they can raise a family.”
Summer graduate

Steven

Steven graduated from La Monte High School, which allowed him to be part of the Building Trades Vo-Tech program. He placed second at the Missouri SkillUSA competition in Carpentry and has won awards for his artwork. Already serving in the Air Force Reserve, Steven plans to switch to active duty status this summer. His goal is to one day be selected for the Pararescue team, the combat medics of the Air Force Special Forces.
“Thanks to my time here (at Show-Me), I found Christ in my life. And, I am going to need Him where I am going in a career that will push me to live on the edge of my limits. I always wanted to be an elite soldier, but one with a mission to save lives, not take them.”

By |2016-10-24T22:32:43-05:00May 11th, 2015|Categories: Child's Story, Children, Events, Path to Purpose|

Jerrica’s Story: Rebuilding Bridges

For many of the 2,000 children who have called Show-Me “home,” the path that brought them here was treacherous—one filled with neglect, fear, and uncertainty. Some have been homeless, some have parents in prison, and some of the kids got in trouble with the law themselves where Show-Me was their only alternative to juvenile detention. For others, their guardians’ just felt like Show-Me could provide them with a better life than they could on their own.

Jerrica’s journey is a fairly typical case. She joined our Show-Me family when she was 14 years old. By the time she reached our doors, she had been placed in home after home staying with countless faces. Nothing seemed to work out. “My whole life was a mess. Nobody wanted me. Nobody trusted me. I had burnt all my bridges,” remembers Jerrica.

The thought of graduation and a positive future seemed an unachievable goal. “I never believed I would make much of my life,” said Jerrica. “The idea of graduating in 2012 seemed a million years away. I kept telling myself that I was never going to make it. I should just give up and drop out now.”

Life at Show-Me wasn’t easy at first. Her rebellious attitude and distrust of everybody and everything made “fitting in” difficult. In her eyes, no one seemed to want her. Searching for acceptance, she acted out to try to be “strong” and “hard.” But, her Show-Me houseparents, Jeff and Jessica Weber, would not give up on her. They accepted her for who she was, not how she acted. She became a part of their family providing her with a structure and stability she never had before. That love and guidance changed Jerrica. She began to trust others and with that trust, slowly, came change.

Jerrica has now blossomed. She is active in her youth group, loves to help with the other kids on campus, and always has a smile on her face. She finished her studies early and will not only graduate, but receive her diploma with honors after managing a 3.5 GPA.

Our new Path-to-Purpose program has helped unite her passion for kids with a solid plan and set of resources. She has earned a number of scholarships and is working this summer at a nearby Christian camp to help with school expenses. She will start college in August at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri working toward her degree in Elementary Education. She hopes to teach Second Grade and make a difference in children’s lives.

“I don’t like thinking of where I would be if it weren’t for God. Before, I dreaded each day. I didn’t know what I would do, who I would meet or where my mom would take me. Now I feel safe and secure,” exclaimed Jerrica. “For the first time, I am excited about the next part of my life and ready to get there. I know it is going to be a bright future and I know I have a huge family who always has my back!”