10 Years of Thankfulness

10 Years of Thankfulness

Hopefully you aren’t tired of celebrating 10 years of Teen Life, because we would not be celebrating if it wasn’t for YOU.

This year, we are thankful for many things, but as we reflect on Thanksgiving Day, we can’t help but show our appreciation to those who have been part of Teen Life for the last 10 years, and especially to those who have impacted the life of a teenager.

So here we go.

Thank you to our staff and board who have poured time, dreams, and vision into Teen Life. Thank you for having a passion and love for teenagers – life lived better started with you. Each idea and encouragement has had a direct impact on the lives of teenagers!

Thank you to our incredible volunteers. You are the ones who make our Support Groups come to life each and every week. You take time out of your busy day to play with play doh, color with crayons, and talk about meaningful topics like relationships, stress, and courage. You are empowering teens, whether you ever get thanked by the students themselves or not.

Thank you to the donors and supporters of Teen Life. Your belief in Teen Life and the future of teenagers cannot be overlooked! You have donated money, resources, expertise, food, baby items, time and so much more. You may not always get to see the faces of the teenagers who are part of Teen Life Support Groups, but you are the reason schools can have free groups on their campus.

Thank you to the counselors and school staff who advocate for students each week. We are honored that we get to partner with you to provide resources to teenagers. You are the voices they trust and the people they look to long after the Teen Life groups end. Thank you for opening your campus and trusting us with your students. Your role and commitment to teens in invaluable!

Thank you to all of the students who choose to be a part of Teen Life Support Groups. You challenge us, make us laugh, make us think, and always keep us on our toes. Thank you for your honesty, candidness, and trust. You are the reason we do this – the reason we recruit, volunteer, create curriculum, and show up every week.

I could go on and on – but I am sure it would turn into one of those Oscar speeches that is way too long and still forgets someone important! We could never express our thankfulness for the last 10 years adequately, but Teen Life’s mission, vision, and growth is because of you.

You are our reason for the season. So humbly, we thank you.

We also encourage you to reach out to who you are thankful for today! Maybe it is a teen in your life or a family member. Maybe you want to reach out to a teacher, youth minister, counselor, or adult who was instrumental in your teen years. Thank those you love, those you just met, or the person who encourages you to keep going. Let’s not let this holiday or season pass without thanking those around us.

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Marketing & Development Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
The Best/Worst Time of the Year

The Best/Worst Time of the Year

Summer is upon us! Depending on your perspective, this can be the best/worst time of year for an adult in the life of a student. Over the next few weeks, you might see more joyous posts on Instagram from teachers with more trepidatious thoughts from parents. But for the student, this can also be the best/worst time as well. 

You see, for many students this time of year means freedom. They can sleep until noon (or 3), not be bothered with homework and other expectations, and generally just be free to do what they want. This freedom comes with an unburdening of sorts and a place to just “breathe”. 

Yet for others, this time away from school comes with a subconscious “dread” of sorts. This might seem strange, but go with me on this. I’ve worked with a lot of students who “hint” at their anxieties of having too much free time. They know when the structures and accountabilities of school are removed, they are more likely to make poor choices and get off track. This is rarely stated explicitly, but is more implied. 

We as a community who love students need to take notice. 

I’m not saying we need to create all kinds of programs and structures to keep kids busy. Our kids are busy enough. Summer is a welcomed time to get away from the often overbearing systems that can weigh students down. 

However, we also need to understand that there are students in this world who thrive on the structure and expectations local school districts provide. The great work teachers and administrators do on a daily basis afford a framework for students to thrive, especially when their home life is chaotic and devoid of structure. 

In general, I think the absence of something can highlight significance. When we lose a loved one, we gain a deeper understanding of their impact and significance on our lives. When we walk away from something, we see all of the ways we were blessed by it. 

School is no different. While teenagers will gripe and complain about having to be there, you will find a sense of appreciation about school when it isn’t there. They miss their friends, teachers, and learning – even though many would never admit to that. 

So, why am I posting this? Are you expecting 5 good tips to keep teens busy this summer? Sorry, I don’t have that for you today. 

But what I do have is a “thank you” for our teachers and administrators. 

Thank you for standing on the front lines of education, culture, social norms, and future-making. I cannot think of a place where the entire world intersects for teenagers like their local schools. And, you guys have to create a space where all of these things interact and function in a healthy way. 

This is an impossible job, but you keep showing up day after day to love these kids and show them a better future. If I might say this, you are doing God’s work in this world, and as we see the absence of this work for a few months, we are reminded of the impact of your tireless service to students. 

So, thank you. Thank you for dealing with the impossible teenager and their impossible parents from time to time. Thank you for being on the forefront of “culture wars” and having mud thrown at you for trying to do the right thing. Thank you for enduring politics and confusing state laws to give a student some kind of hope for the future. 

For those who work at schools, you are loved and appreciated. Stay with it. Don’t quit. You make a difference, and your influence wouldn’t be the same doing anything else. 

Enjoy your rest. Your students will miss you, but I am thinking you might miss them a little also. 

See you in August.

Chris Robey, Teen Lifeline’s Program Director, has worked with teens for over a decade and strives to help students see the best in themselves.
A Collective Community Christmas

A Collective Community Christmas

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.

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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.


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.


I just want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to our sponsors for this years 5K race. We are so honored to have these organizations backing our efforts to keep helping teenagers make better choices. Please take a few moments to visit their sites and see if they may offer something you could benefit from.



The Gathering is a house church plant in Burleson, TX. To find out more about their meeting go to their Facebook page by clicking on the logo to the left.






Paul Mitchell the school Dallas is a cosmetology and esthetician school in Carrollton, TX. You can find out more by clicking the logo.