Oh Snap! I have a TEENAGER in my house!

house-2When you are alone, in privacy, during the most intense period of your day, are you always calm? composed or just tolerant?

When you are in the shower or sitting on the comfort of your toilet bowl at home, does your mind begin to play a crossword reality check game with you? Do you drift or wonder into oblivion? Or you focus on some relaxing memories as you try to ignore images and flashes of the next chapter of your life?


I-do-a-lot! In fact, that is one craving routine for me! My bathroom is my go-to solitary hide-out!

As a kid, anytime I need to escape the piercing words or the back-hand slaps from my mother after I have really crossed the lines, I would go hide inside the toilet with a novel, preferably Penny Jordan’s M & B tucked inside my Brighter Grammar book, a pack of bazooka bubblegum, can of waterboy spray, drummer-boy air-freshener;  and a short prayer hoping that by the time I come out much later, my mom and her stop-over-to-visit-anytime siblings are not waiting for me in the dining room to dissect and analyze my “queer and mysterious apocalyptic ways”

house-10Hmmm, Aunty Virgie, ‘I told you she’s weird! I bet she talks to herself and her unseen pals, ‘We need to take her for charismatic deliverance! They would whisper among themselves as I sneak by and pretend not to understand their language and creep back into my room.

And today, It’s no secret in my household that, my bathroom is still my ‘thinking and hiding zone’ especially when I bolt the door behind me to keep my prying kids out! Phew!

“Open the door mommy, I need to tell you or show you something!

‘I-am-busy-now! I usually scream back as I return to my indulgence with a deep sigh of relief.

Ah! The serene sound and soothing effect of the running hot water on my skin, creating a tornado of misty steam, the aromatic lemon grass scented candle dropping its wax in unison to the beats of the water splashing….such bliss!

house-11So, my oldest daughter just became a teenager, a dainty one and not as dramatic or crazy or a firecracker as I was at her age!  #ThankGodForThat

And the more we grow together under the same roof, the more I become weak in the knees seeing how much she reminds me of me then in so many ways!

I stumbled upon her journal and there goes pages and pages of pure undocumented short stories she had written over the years, and a recent write up about her spiritual encounter at “Breathe girls only retreat” organized by  About One teenager ministry @ #BrightmoorChristianChurch and her joy at spending time alone too…in the BATHROOM!

My heart did a backflip two-miles away from my body until it dawned on me she-shares my-passion-for-writing! and for all I care, could be writing the story of my life!

And I thought about my own life … my own past … my own relationship with my mother!

And yet … there are many times when my life does not exude that joy, maybe when I was a teenager…house-12


Maybe I have forgotten what it was like to witness the wonder of His presence in my life. Those times when my life was too crowded for God, and I just needed to breathe again…

Today, whether you have a teenager under your roof, or you know a teenager who looks up to you as their roof, how much do you really know them? How are you fueling their lives for tomorrow’s story they intend to write about?

Isn’t it is so easy to relegate our spirituality to religious activity? When all they really want is to learn the path to follow? When we allow them to do more or all of the talking, while we wait on them?

house-6Oh Yes!!  There is a teenager in my house! and just like God longs for us to forever run into His arms, sharing every hurt and rejoicing in every victory, that’s exactly how every teenager yearns to wrap their emotional-arms around us, completing the peace we so desperately need!

Won’t you Join in today? and live a life that celebrates the amazing truth that opens the doors to a teenage-heart!

Happy 13th Birthday, Sophia!

Yours in HOPE as I share Jonny Diaz’s Breathe.



Introducing… “TeenSHARP”

lara_picOn Tuesday July 1st, 2014 TeenSHARP had the privilege of hosting 25 African leaders, in residence at the University of Delaware (UD), who were selected as part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Overall, there were 500 YALI fellows representing 49 African countries being hosted at 20 different universities across the United States. The 25 fellows visiting TeenSHARP represented 19 different countries including: Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, The Kingdom of Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

As many of the UD YALI fellows are engaged in youth activism and leadership development work in their respective countries, TeenSHARP was selected for a site visit during the fellows’ 6-week institute at UD.

As a TeenSHARP alumna, I joined a group of other TeenSHARP alumni, students, parents, and staff in planning and facilitating the fellows’ visit to Rutgers-Camden to learn more about TeenSHARP’s work.

After over 3 hours of dialogue, interactive exercises, and idea-exchange I left the event incredibly inspired. The fellows each demonstrated a strong, intrinsic motivation to change the world and a strong faith that they will be successful.

As they explained their different projects and non-profit organizations and heard those of my fellow TeenSHARPies, they shared their passion for social justice in their respective cause and country with such a contagious energy that my own justice-driven heart was elated…

 By Lara Abiona (TeenSHARP alumna and Junior at Trinity College)

What is TeenSHARP?

TeenSHARP is an official certifying organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Awards program. This allows us to acknowledge our volunteers with this prestigious national award after they complete a certain number of volunteer hours.

See www.presidentialserviceawards.gov for more details.

*** TeenSHARP is always looking for dynamic and ambitious volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of young people and their community. Here are a few ways that you can help us achieve our goals:

TeenSHARP session support

Highly-interactive bi-monthly training sessions are a major component of TeenSHARP. These sessions engage youth in team-building activities, experiential learning exercises, break-out discussions, reflection and planning, and leadership skills practice. Individuals who are passionate about working with teens and encouraging high-achievement are invited to apply to serve on TeenSHARP’s session support team. The support team will work with the teens during TeenSHARP sessions and assist the program facilitators in making each session a success.


TeenSHARP engages in regular academic consultations with its participants and in the process learns of the many needs of our youth and their families. Through our discussions with teens and their families and  review of participants’ report cards and progress reports, it is clear that many of the youth served through the program could benefit from regular tutoring sessions. TeenSHARP invites qualified individuals to serve as tutors in math, reading, foreign languages, and other subjects for its participants either once per week or 2-3 times per week.

TeenSHARP Project Leaders

TeenSHARP has opportunities for qualified volunteers to lead projects tailored to their interests and availability. The project leader positions with TeenSHARP allow volunteers to gain valuable project management experience while also impacting the families and communities served by TeenSHARP.

College Prep Mentors

TeenSHARP is looking for qualified undergraduate or graduate student volunteers to serve as college prep mentors for TeenSHARP high school students. The college prep mentors will receive training and will then be paired with one high school student each to provide them with college prep advising and hold them accountable for their college prep action plan.

Donate to TeenSHARP

If you would like to support the TeenSHARP program and lack the time to participate, we invite you to contribute financially to help the program meet its objectives. TeenSHARP is starting a scholarship fund for its participants in 2011 and is also looking for sponsors for its spring college tours. Our participants regularly make us aware of the resources needed to prepare them for leadership and college success and your donation will be instrumental in acquiring those resources for them. You can donate via paypal using the following link:


If you would like to apply for a volunteer position with TeenSHARP, share any ideas about how you can help, or make a donation to the program; please contact us at teensharp@gmail.com or 609.505.4285.