and a Happy New Year!

and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas…and a Happy New Year from Teen Life!

We hope that you had a blessed Christmas and will have a Happy New Year. Once again, thank you for your continued support and encouragement. 2016 was our biggest year yet, and we are excited to continue to encourage, equip and empower teenagers to live life better! In case you have missed our last few updates, this year we presented at a National Conference, trained counselors to lead Teen Parent Support Groups in schools and served more school districts than ever before. We are excited for what 2017 will bring, but we need your help to continue growing and serving teenagers! It is not too late to give before the year is over and impact the lives of even more teens. Simply go to this link, watch our new awesome video and give online. Thank you for making the work we do with teen possible!

The Future of America

The Future of America

It’s that time again…election season.

Election time means many things:

  • The media is full of candidates, debates and campaign ads.
  • Our Facebook feeds only consist of articles about why you should vote for him or her.
  • Adults are stressed and concerned about the future of our nation.
  • TV become extra nasty with debates and “approved messages”.

And where does this leave our teenagers? For many, they are finally old enough to be aware of what is happening, but they don’t have any power if they are under 18. For some, it is their first time to get to vote! They are excited, confused and overwhelmed.

Teen Life exists to provide a safe place for teenagers to have difficult conversations. What is more difficult than politics? As a parent, teacher, counselor or mentor, you have an incredible opportunity to model for teenagers how to have difficult discussions in a safe environment. Take this time to have discussions and allow them to ask questions. They don’t have to agree with you, and you don’t need to lecture, but bring them along on this political journey so that they are prepared when it is their turn to vote.

Voting for the future President of the United States of America is important. Educating and raising up a new generation of Americans is just as important. This election season, let’s take the time to consider teenagers. Talk to them about candidates, why you choose to vote, and who you choose to vote for.

Here are a few steps to involve your teenager in the voting process:

 

Talk about the issues.

What policies are important to you? What beliefs do your family hold?

How do you feel about:

  • Abortion
  • Equal Pay
  • Gun Control
  • Same Sex Marriage
  • Obamacare
  • National Debt
  • Marijuana Legalization
  • Syrian Refugees
  • Nuclear Energy

These are just some of the important policies that could be affected by this election. The first step to educating your teenager should be to make sure they are aware of all sides. Present the facts, have a civil conversation, and allow them to ask questions and draw their own conclusions.

 

Consider the candidates. 

Now that you have talked about the issues and policies, who should you vote for? Are you Republican, Democrat, Libertarian? Will you vote based on a candidate’s beliefs or likability?

If you haven’t already, go to isidewith.com to see how your views line up with the current candidates. Take this quiz with your teenager and then let them take it themselves. It is a great resource and way to talk about the candidates in a format that teenagers will find interesting. Instead of pulling out charts and news articles, let them actively be involved in their choice.

 

Be prepared to vote,

Now you have discussed the issues and looked at all the candidates! But part of the voting process is making sure that you are ready to vote. Since every state has different requirements, look up your state voting information here.

Here are some things to consider before November 8th:

  • Are you registered to vote?
  • Do you need to submit an absentee ballot? (Check the deadline – it’s soon!)
  • Would you like to vote early?
  • Where do you go to vote? You can find that information here with your address.
  • Do you have a valid ID to vote?

Walk teenagers through this process so that they are prepared and informed for their opportunity to vote.

 

Let’s show this next generation of voters that they can have a voice. They can be calm and well-informed. They can have the impact of the future of our nation. Have you talked to your teenager about the election? How else can we involve them in this process? Share with us and share this post with a friend!

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Lifeline’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
The Power of “Me Too”

The Power of “Me Too”

Earlier this week, we held our 2nd annual Teen Lifeline Fundraising Dinner & Auction, and I am still blown away by the generosity and support that come from this night. One of my favorite parts of the night came when Beverly Ross spoke truth over the audience.

If you haven’t heard of Beverly Ross or Wise County Christian Counseling, I would encourage you to go check them out!

At this dinner, Beverly Ross challenged us by saying, “We need to teach our children that it’s not going to be okay. It’s going to be hard, but you’re never going to do it alone.”

Until she said this, I had never thought about the danger of saying, “It’s going to be okay!” When little kids are upset, we tell them it will be okay. When someone dies, we say that it will be okay eventually. In those teenage years, we talk about their future and that everything will be better – friends, parent relationships, school, drama, their purpose…the list could go on and on.

But can we guarantee that everything will be okay? That things will get better?

We cannot promise that their life will be perfect or happy or even “okay,” but we can promise the teenagers around us that when it gets hard, when life is less than okay, that they will have someone to walk with them. They are not alone. They don’t have to struggle by themselves.

This is the power of Teen Lifeline Support Groups! More than anything, they provide a safe place for teenagers to talk about things that are both okay and not okay. They give perspective and understanding for other people’s struggles. They make sure that every teen participating has at least one adult and a group of peers to do life with.

As Beverly said, there are few words more powerful than “me too!” In the midst of pain, heartache, struggles, questions and life in general, teenagers need to be surrounded by others who can say, “Me too!”

“Me too” implies understanding and acceptance.

Think back to your teenage years. Did you ever feel alone, different, lost? What would have happened if someone had looked you in the eye and said, “Me too.”

Let’s stop making empty promises to our children. Telling them that it’s going to be okay is not helpful for anyone when you can’t actually guarantee what their future is going to look like. What is helpful is giving them a chance to meet and be encouraged by others who understand what they are going through. No fixing is required. You don’t have to have all of the answers, but take the time to listen and respond with, “Me too.”

So, what do you think? How has the phrase, “Me too,” impacted your life? What can we say instead of, “It’s going to be okay?” Share your thoughts and stories with us!

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Lifeline’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
Motivation Monday: Giving Makes a Difference

Motivation Monday: Giving Makes a Difference

We are less than 1 week away from the 7th annual #TL5K

If you would like to donate or help by becoming a fundraiser, visit our #TL5K site!

The #TL5K is this Saturday, April 2nd, and in the midst of planning and fundraising, I have also been doing some thinking…(dangerous, I know!)

Because we decided to move the Teen Lifeline 5K to the Spring, we did not actually have a #TL5K in the year 2015. That means that we have not held this run since October 2014, a whole year and a half ago, and a lot can change in a year and a half! It is easy to forget how far we have come in that short amount of time, but as we gear up for this year’s race, I want to take a step back and reflect on how far Teen Lifeline has come since 2014.

Here are a few things that have happened since the last #TL5K:

  • We have held support groups in 9 different school districts throughout Tarrant and Wise Counties. And since last spring, we have been facilitating support groups in Fort Worth ISD!
  • Teen Lifeline has held 2 volunteer facilitator trainings at the National Conference on Youth Ministries (NCYM), training 16 individuals.
  • We hosted Leadercast for the first time in May 2015!
  • Chris Robey wrote and developed a 10-session support group curriculum specifically for teen-aged parents. That curriculum is now being used with Birdville ISD teen parents and at our Keller Teen Parent Meetings.
  • We are able to help with Teen Parent Meetings in Keller and North Richland Hills because of our new supply trailer. This trailer is fully mobile and holds essential supplies that are given to teen parents like diapers, clothes, bottles, wipes, and much more!
  • Teen Lifeline held it’s first Dinner and Auction at Joe T. Garcia’s raising almost $30,000 in one night!
  • We have now trained a total of 100 individuals to take our Life Lived Better Curriculum into their local school district.
  • Teen Lifeline has started a new podcast called Stay Calm, Don’t Panic to help equip, encourage and empower those who live, work and interact with teens.
  • In 2015, we worked with 837 teenagers through support groups – our biggest year yet! In the 2015-2016 School Year, we have already seen over 747 students. During Fall 2015, we reached 435 teenagers – more than Teen Lifeline’s first 3 semesters combined!

As you can see, Teen Lifeline is growing. More teenagers are being reached. More teen parents are getting the help that they need. More youth ministers, social workers and volunteers are helping their local school with our curriculum.

I say all of this not to toot our own horn – just the opposite! I am telling you about the last year and a half to thank you! None of the great goals mentioned above would have happened without the 2014 #TL5K, or End-of-Year giving, or the Dinner and Auction, or Renew Weekend. If you think that giving your time or finances doesn’t matter, I am begging you to take another look at Teen Lifeline!

We are able to meet with teen moms and provide them and their babies with cute clothes and quality diapers. On a weekly basis, we get to share hope and a new perspective with teenagers who feel stuck and alone. Teenagers get to discuss stress management, relationships, school life and more on their school campus during the school day.

There are countless stories I could tell you that would make you laugh, cry and might even make you want to hang out with teenagers! Hopefully you have gotten a glimpse into some of these stories over the past several months. Hopefully you see the value in your gift. We cannot thank you enough for the last year and a half!

If you haven’t already given, please consider helping us reach our #TL5K goal of $70,000! Every single donation (no matter how big or small) helps teenagers and gives us the opportunity to step into the life of a teenager to equip, encourage and empower them to live life better.

 

Give Now!

 

Motivation Monday: Tough Love Brings Change

Motivation Monday: Tough Love Brings Change

We are only 2 weeks away from the 7th annual #TL5K

If you would like to donate or help by becoming a fundraiser, visit our #TL5K site!

 

One of our weekly groups is a year-round group at a local adolescent drug rehab. We have been working at this facility for over four years now, and I can honestly say it can be the most rewarding or frustrating experience of my week. These are young men who are battling addictions at a very young age and are (primarily) court ordered to go through 45-60 days of rehabilitation.

There are 16 boys on the unit at all times, so you can imagine how up and down these boys can get. A few weeks back, I had to completely shut down the group because the boys were not only being disrespectful of me, but also of each other. Nothing was getting done, and it seemed like they had all decided to quit on the group before we ever got started.

I don’t have to shut groups down very often. I try to exhaust all of my options before I make the call, but when I do, I typically do so with something specific in mind:

Next time. 

You see, when I have to come down hard on a group because of behavior or disrespect, I try to do so with a bigger plan in mind. While I hate to boot out a whole group of students from a week of support group that could be potentially helpful, I know the next week when we meet, things will be better.

Things will be better because when we meet again, I don’t hold anything against them. They failed to make the group happen last week. Maybe I failed as a leader. But, what is most important is how we move on. We can make it better together. I’m going to show up with the a positive attitude believing they can fix the problem.

And guess what? They always do. Anytime I’ve had to call out students on their behavior or attitude, they respond when I come back with the expectation that they will make it better and fix the problem.

We can do a great service to teenagers when we believe that they can get better. Adults have incredible power to influence students in a positive way by having hope that they can make positive and meaningful changes.

What can you communicate today to a student that will help them make meaningful change? 

 

Chris Robey, Program Director, has worked with teens for over a decade and strives to help students see the best in themselves.
Motivation Monday: Get Out of the Boat

Motivation Monday: Get Out of the Boat

We are only 5 weeks away from the 7th annual #TL5K, and our Kick Off Event is tomorrow, March 1st!

Please join us for dinner to hear about the great plans we have for this year’s 5K! RSVP here today.

Teen Lifeline’s vision statement is to “encourage, equip and empower teenagers to live life better.” This is done through Support Groups that take place during school hours, but sometimes in order to fully equip, encourage and empower the students we work with, our facilitators decide to go above and beyond their expected duties.

We love it when our facilitators become invested in the lives of the students they serve, and no one does it better than Jason Herman. Jason is the Lead Student Minister at The Hills Church’s North Richland Hills Campus. He has lead groups with Teen Lifeline since 2013 and has a particular passion for working with teenaged dads. He is able to form meaningful relationships with these teen dads because of the conversations had and resources that are exchanged. We are so glad that he has chosen to “get out of the boat!”


 

When I was a kid, I loved bumper boats (you know, bumper cars on water). I got a kick out of smashing into other unsuspecting bumper boat enthusiasts. The thing about bumper boats, however, is that you rarely react with the people in the other boats. You simply float from one person to the next and are never truly in control of what happens on the water. Sometimes, I think we approach life the same way. We wake up, get ready, coast through the day bumping into others only to get home, go to sleep, and repeat. It’s a chain reaction of events that simply lead to the next day, and we completely miss opportunities to fully engage people. So the question becomes, how do we break routine?

Perhaps the obvious first move is to get out of the boat. This looks different for everyone but for me, and many of us who work in the church, it means getting out of the office and engaging the community. That is why I love Teen Lifeline. Over the past three years I have worked with teen dads and been able to develop relationships with school administrators, staff, teachers, counselors, and students. As those relationships have developed, opportunities to engage people became a reality. Which leads me to the next crucial piece in breaking routine.

We have to keep our eyes open for opportunities to take the relationship deeper. I have found that such opportunities present themselves when a need is stated during group, which leads to a chance to engage outside of group. For example, during one session, my dads discussed several resources that were unavailable to them. Their needs ranged from being able to provide a turkey for Thanksgiving, buying Christmas presents for their children, to needing an attorney for various legal problems. In this situation, needs became opportunity to break routine. Coordinating with The Hills Church, each dad was given access to resources they desperately needed. Coincidently, none of this took place in our typical group meeting. It all happened outside group. We have to look beyond the group if we really want to engage lives.

When we engage people, understand their needs, and do more than simply bump into them, the routine of everyday life is shattered. Trust is earned and life moves from individuals bumping into one another to an adventure that is lived together. I love working with teen dads, and there is nothing like when one of them invites you into their life. Sometimes this even looks like a baby shower, a birthday party, or a wedding ceremony. This is life lived better, and there’s no telling what adventure tomorrow may bring.

 

Jason Herman is the Lead Student Minister at The Hills Church, North Richland Hills. He facilitates a Teen Lifeline Support Group for teenaged dads in Birdville ISD.