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.
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.
It’s Christmas season, and I must admit that I am a huge Christmas movie fan. I love them all – the classics, the comedies, the cheesy made-for-tv specials. But one of my very favorites is the Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It is a great movie if you are looking for a laugh, but more than that, there is a quote from the Grinch that perfectly negates a common misconception about Christmas.
“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…means a little bit more.”
It is so easy to get caught up in the presents, holiday treats, Christmas lights and fun that comes along with this time of year, but that is not what Christmas is about.
The Collective Community Christmas Party that happened this week for our teenaged parents was a true Christmas miracle, and one that I am proud to brag about. Each holiday season, Teen Lifeline holds a Christmas party for the teenaged parents that we work with throughout the year. They bring their families for dinner, Santa pictures and a chance to pick out Christmas presents for their kids. I love the hugs and gratitude we receive after this night. The smiles on their faces when they tell me that their kids will have presents on Christmas because of us. But it isn’t just because of us. There are too many people who help make this night, those presents, this experience a reality for teen parents.
To show the collective efforts that go into this night, I would like to give a few “Thank Yous” to those who sacrificed time, energy and resources:
Thank you, North Ridge Middle School! Your Christmas Drive provided teen parents with toys, supplies, clothes and diapers. Not only did we give these out at the Christmas party, but they will continue to bless these teen families throughout 2016!
Courtesy of North Ridge Middle School.
Thank you, NRH Police Department! The presents from your annual Toy Drive will help young parents provide a Christmas morning for their children. I wish you could have seen the moms and dads as they thoughtfully picked through your toys for the perfect gift that would bring a smile to their child’s face!
Thank you, Healing Hands International for the diaper bags, quilts, stuffed animals, and toys! We are so grateful that you chose to share the generosity of others with us.
Thanks Healing Hands International!
Thank you, Heritage Church of Christ and The Hills Church! You shared your building, volunteers and decorations with us to make this night run smoothly. Thank you for giving up a Sunday night during this busy season and making our party possible.
Thank you Devon Renee Photography and of course, Santa! You put (mostly) smiles on the faces of kids and captured these memories perfectly!
Picture taken by Devon Renee Photography.
It is easy to focus on ourselves, our schedules and our wants during the holidays, but I am thankful that these people chose to set themselves aside, and I know that our teen parents are thankful, too! I love the perspective of North Ridge Middle School teacher Kim Holbrook when she said:
“I am so glad we could help out. I too was a teen mom, and had it not been for my parents and the support that so many people offered me, I would not be where I am today. It has truly blessed me to be a part of this community service project!!”
Like the Grinch said, maybe Christmas means a little bit more…
Maybe it means giving sacrificially so that others can have more. This holiday season, look for ways to look outside of yourself, what you are getting and how much food you are going to eat. Give up an hour or so to help someone else!
Maybe it means accepting others’ generosity and the gift of knowing that someone else cares. Don’t forget to be thankful (actually say it out loud) for the people you are around and the gifts you will receive next week.
If we’ll let it, Christmas can mean so much more.
A few years back, my wife and I were at the Storyline Conference with noted author Donald Miller. We decided to go to this conference in Nashville at what we believed was a pivotal time in our family life. I was in ministry at a congregation, and while everything was fine, I wasn’t sure what I was doing or where I was going. I enjoyed my job but didn’t see a future where I would be fulfilled and happy over the long term.
This particular conference seemed to be something that would at least help us think through these questions. The focus of the conference centered on understanding yourself as a character in your own story. We worked through our backstories and thought a lot about what we wanted.
There was one section of the conference where Miller riffed a while about relationships. During this particular section of the conference, he said something regarding relationships that has stuck with me –
“Sometimes we are just ONE good relationship away from everything being okay.”
Read that again.
One more time, now.
What a simple, yet powerful statement. These words seeped down into the recesses of my soul and found space to take root. The cost of the conference and travel to get there might have been worth it for those words.
Because the source of my discontent might not have been my job as a minister or the mission I believed in.
I was just very, very lonely.
Actually, both of us were. And, we couldn’t see much of a way out of the loneliness while being on staff at a church where there were very few families who were in our situation.
Why is this little story important, especially for those working with and loving teenagers? For my wife and I, the solution wasn’t really that profound. We needed relationships and we needed to figure out how to be in a place where we could find them. And, we did. We moved to a town and found jobs that put us in places where we could find people to live life with. We found some friends. Obviously a lot had to happen to solve our problem, but the problem itself was really simple – we needed friends.
And, Don was right. While we have our fair share of struggles and frustration in life, things are a lot better.
We were just one (or maybe more) relationship away. This made all the difference.
A Teen Lifeline support group operates on this idea. Sometimes, it’s the really simple solutions that make the biggest difference. Maybe it’s a different relationship. Or, maybe we could start doing one thing just a little differently. Then, the world opens up and we wonder what life looked like before.
Just like you and me, teenagers can get lost. And in the confusion of being lost, they lose sight of the fundamental, important things that brought joy and happiness to begin with. Our groups help students reclaim what was lost and discover what really matters. They face their problems by finding their courage and strength in themselves, others, or God. And discovering that the solution is so simple makes it so much better.
So maybe we don’t need to try and fix everything for our students, or ourselves, for that matter. Maybe instead, we help students to find the simple way that could make a huge difference.
“I am honored to introduce to you Allison B. Lewis. Allison is a mom, accountant, mentor, blogger and…my wife. We have been married for almost 11 years and I am so blessed by her. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a post she launched last week. She puts into words why Teen Lifeline does what we do. You can read more from her on her blog at DeepRollingRightField.Blogspot.com. This is also a great opportunity for you to make a donation to our 4th Annual 5K Run/Walk and help us reach our goal so we can keep reaching teens.”
This week I’ve been mad.
Maybe more mad than I have ever been before.
Because when I think about all the hurt, the lack of resources for people that are hurting, how the choices of one person can impact generation after generation…
I GET MAD.
Lately my frustration has been pretty narrowly focused.
I HATE DRUGS.