The Christmas story to many teens can feel distant–like something that only happened 2,000 years ago. But for Grace, a resident of the Show-Me Christian Youth Home in central Missouri, the story of God’s unconditional love through the gift of His son became very personal this year when three strangers entered her life, each bringing their humble gifts to honor God. Together they provided something extravagant and healing for one of His children. Grace’s Christmas wish story, shared on the front page of the December edition of Metro Voice, united these individuals, who by their steps of faith each found their own powerful, personal joy and healing through the opportunity to share their best for Grace’s future.
“Am I Worth Anything?”
Grace had every reason to have confidence in herself: she’s intelligent, athletic, pretty, and likeable. But she had a hard time seeing the good in herself because her past has distorted her understanding of her value and worth. “I grew up in a place where everyone cared about themselves: my biological parents only cared about drugs and alcohol. They didn’t care about their kids,” Grace reflected. “When you hear most of your life that you are going to end up like your parents in jail, that you are not going to make it in life,” said Grace. “You doubt everything about yourself and think, “Am I worth anything?”
The Metro Voice story shared that, after her parents’ incarceration when she was four, Grace and her sisters bounced around foster homes. When they finally found a family to adopt them, she thought her nightmare was over. Unfortunately, the years of hurt made it impossible for her trust these new parents; she was too angry to accept their love. She needed additional help.
At age 11, Grace came to Show-Me. She was angry and didn’t trust anyone, especially adults. “I was frustrated, mostly stuck on the question, ‘Why did this happen? Why me?” As she was welcomed into a warm, loving family with layers of support, Grace started to heal. She rebuilt significant parts of life on a firm foundation. She accepted Christ and finally let her anger go, realizing that God redeems the hurts of our past.
The last paragraph the Metro Voice story revealed that Grace hated to smile because of her teeth. More than just a cosmetic issue, for Grace, her teeth represented a deeper emotional wound, one that needed to be addressed.
Desperate, Grace asked her houseparents last year that instead of receiving Christmas gifts, could she get money so she could fix her teeth. But, it seemed only a dream because resources for orthodontic work simply isn’t a luxury Show-Me can afford. The request was never verbalized to any supporters, but the Spirit was working in the hearts of some very caring contributors.
Three Angels Unite to Find a Smile
After hearing about Grace, Metro Voice ran the front-page story in the December edition. Unknown to each, three different families were touched by this story and compelled to take a step of faith to try to do something to get Grace braces. An unofficial “Braces for Grace” effort began.
The first to respond was Mike and Linda Thompson. They developed a deep connection with the children at Show-Me following the death of their son, Zach. Linda felt the Spirit tugging, “I related to her at that moment as a teenage girl. I saw her as beautiful, but she looks in the mirror and sees the flaws. And I thought, ‘Let’s fix it!’”
The total cost fell beyond their budget, but Linda was determined. Around the same time, an anonymous family had read the same story and stepped forward wanting to help. The final piece was when a local orthodontist, Dr. Spencer, heard about the need and offered to significantly reduce the cost of services.
Linda commented, “I simply asked God what I could do, then God had things fall into place. Your own resources are going to fall short, God makes up the gap through the generosity of His people. It’s not important that Grace remembers my name, but that there were people that cared about her and saw God’s value in her before she did. I hope the same for each of the kids at Show-Me.”
The anonymous donors shared their thoughts as well:
“Last year, we had the opportunity to attend a promotion for Show-Me. Curious to learn more about this ministry we checked their Facebook page and found a link to a beautiful story ‘Grace-filled Christmas’ from The Metro Voice.”
They say their hearts were touched to read the story of Grace’s life. “With tears falling down our cheeks, we read about her challenges and heart wounds,” they shared. “Thrilled that she had found a loving home and was thriving with her family, school, and art, what really touched our hearts and compelled us to act was to read about her smile. We knew that God wanted us to take a step of faith and find a way to fund braces for Grace.”
With a copy of the Metro Voice’s article, they met at Dr. Spencer’s office and shared how they wanted to be a part of operation “Braces for Grace.”
“We felt our mission was to do something in a tangible way that would let Grace undoubtedly know that God knows the intricate details of our lives and that He has a plan and purpose for hers.”
Not only did He rescue and restore her through the ministry of Show-Me, they said, but He saw the cry of her heart and did what God does best, used His people for His purposes.
“We hope that the message in this story is that first Grace knows how much God loves her and that she is an inspiration to many.”
Grace doesn’t hide her smile anymore. Grace’s braces became a reality this past year.
When she looks at her teeth, she sees how her loving, heavenly Father coordinated His caring family to make sure she would have plenty of reasons to smile. She grows in confidence every day, thanks to layers of support and love received from Show-Me and from each contributor who makes her home there possible. Her smile is a reminder that she doesn’t always have to know the “why” because she can trust that God is always working through His people, many of whom she will never know their name, to go above and beyond to invest in her life and future. As Grace put it, “when someone does something for you, like the braces, that’s unconditional love. It means I am not in darkness where light can’t shine. There is a purpose for everything. You just have to wait, gotta listen for God to tell us.”
Read the original story here: Grace-filled Christmas.
–by Chad Puckett