I turned the corner in our small school hallway and overheard a group of teens talking about me, and they weren't nice words. I remember how deeply it hurt at that time. I was already going through some inner turmoil of my own. My grandpa was in a hospital bed, dying of cancer. My mom cried every day. I felt helpless. She was at the hospital with my grandma daily and I took on the responsibilities at home- cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, grocery shopping etc. My heart was overwhelmingly sad and part of me just wanted a carefree life like these other teens had. I wanted everything to be better. How many other teens have felt this same way through the years? We had our 6th annual Youth Explosion this week at church and my heart was bursting with love for these kids. The mom in me wanted to just hug them all and make their lives better but I know that the only One Who can do that for them is the Lord. All I can do is pray and be there for them. These kids made decisions this week to be a follower of Christ. Completely committed. They didn't wait for their friends to go forward, they practically jumped out of their seats. They wanted their lives to be different. But then they have to return to the reality of life. Sometimes that means sadness, pressure from other teens, loneliness, heartache. Many might not have a support system cheering them on. Too often when we become adults, teens annoy us. Their dress, their music, their attitudes. We think the things they worry about are so silly and "they will realize some day that none of that matters" But underneath it all could be a heart that is overwhelmingly sad. A heart that puts on a show but is really in despair. We don't know what might be going on in their private lives. The heartaches they might be enduring. The things that are hurting them right now are very real to them. I will never forget during that time in my life that I broke down in church one Sunday morning and couldn't stop crying. My youth pastor's wife, Sheilah Smith took me in a side room and just held me as I sobbed. I don't remember her exact words but I know she didn't treat me like I was silly or didn't matter. She encouraged me, prayed with me and loved me. Our theme this month at church is Outreach. Don't neglect our teens. Don't treat them as if they don't matter. Love them. Pray for them. Reach out to them. The decisions they make now could set the course for the rest of their lives and they need encouragement from all of us to stay on the right path and be a follower of our Savior. Don't give up on them. We were all that age once ourselves and I thank God for the ones that never gave up on me.