Chapter OneJanuary 1
happy new year?
He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Few people make getting cancer a New Year's resolution. Its
presence is never by invitation, and nobody daydreams about the
possibility of cancer growing inside a loved one. I had seen it distress
families around me, but I never did more than say a halfhearted prayer,
share a sympathetic sigh, or lend a listening ear. When the words "Dad
has cancer" left my mom's lips, they fashioned the course of my entire
year, resulting in a soup of fear, dependence, and relief. I had no idea
what gravity the words held until they sunk in moments later as I
stumbled into my room. With every step I took toward my bed, new
thoughts seared the reality. Stomp. Dad will have to take chemotherapy.
Stomp. I will have to face my peers. Can I handle that? Stomp. Will I cry
during my classes? Plopping onto my bed with these flooding thoughts,
the big one hit me: Will Daddy die? I cried for hours as this question
replayed itself. I began to call out to God, "Stay with him and protect
him!" I was not in the mood to offer polite requests. I was screaming
at God into my tear-dampened pillow; I wasn't angry at God, but I felt
such passion and needed to yell. In the following months, I saw my
father's joy. He was weaker in a physical sense, but his spiritual
strength inspired everyone. Seeing this helped me cope with all of my
questions. I felt that I could make it through anything if I just carried
a positive attitude, believed in God's faithfulness, and trusted Him for
a happier New Year.
Sonja Mindrebo, 17, Houghton Christian Academy, Houghton, NY
Lord, I want my faith to be strong enough for everyone
to see-no matter what my circumstances. Amen.
"Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No'; anything
beyond this comes from the evil one."]
Last year I was the student manager for our cross-country team,
and I had a lot of fun managing. Coach would give me a bad time
every once in a while about how I should run for the team. We
laughed about it, and I never really took him seriously. As the season
started this year, we were two girls short of a full team, which needs
four members. I told Coach that if another girl joined the team, I
would run so they could have a full team. Two days later another girl
joined the team. I knew that Coach wouldn't hold me to my promise,
but I had given him my word. Even in this unimportant situation, that
had to mean something. I don't like to run, and I am not anywhere
near being in shape, but I am now a member of the girls' cross-country
team. To be honest, it is painful, but there is some pride in finishing
and doing my best. Also, I get to think a lot about how God uses some
things that are painful that we wouldn't choose to do to make us into
the people He wants us to be. God is using a simple promise that I
made to teach me more about Him. Also, I have been told that some
other girls admire me for going out as a senior, especially since I always
finish last. I guess that there are some benefits to keeping my word. If
only their "Good job!" would make my legs stop hurting!
Lisa A. Osler, 18, Nebraska Christian High School, Kenesaw, NE
I don't want to make promises I won't keep,
especially to You, Father.
faith-it's how i know
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.
Have you ever sat in an airplane, anxious about take-off, only to
get in the sky and have your breath taken away by the most
beautiful sight as you fly through the clouds? Have you ever just sat
and looked at the rain and seen through the gloom the wonder of the
rainbow on the other side? These are reminders of the promises from
God! When I have the opportunity to just sit and see these things, my
faith is strengthened. I am reminded that God is real. Birds know
when to fly south, bears know when to hibernate, the ocean knows
where to stop at the shore, and the night knows when to hide as each
day arrives. Many times my Mom thinks I don't listen, but I do. She
tells me that everything else in life knows its place, that everything
else does what God wants, and that we do well when we follow God
by faith. She tells me we mess up when we do only what we want to
do. I want to find my place; to live for God; to walk by faith. Faith is
not an old-fashion, out-of-date, out-of-style idea. Faith keeps us soaring
through the clouds. Faith keeps us going through the rain until it
parts to reveal the beauty of the day. Faith! It is the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For us to believe that there
is no God is foolish. To live for God is faith!
Candace K. Croston, 16, King's Fork High School, Suffolk, VA
Give me enough faith to do Your will in everything,
even when I'm unsure of what will happen.
the breath of life
And he is not served by human hands,
as if he needed anything, because he himself gives
all men life and breath and everything else.
One thing I don't think about every day when I wake up is the
fact that I am still breathing. To most people, breathing each
day is taken for granted. But sometimes I wonder whether I have
enough air to live one more second. I have suffered from asthma since
I was two years old. It is a problem that has influenced my life repeatedly.
Having a cold makes it extremely difficult for me to breathe. It
feels as though a giant is standing on my chest and just won't back off.
As I lay in the hospital bed, gasping for my next breath, I realize how
important breathing is. I wonder, Why can't I just breathe like normal
people? Why do I have to go through the pain, struggle, and fear I face each
time I have an asthma attack? As I hear the buzz of the nebulizer and feel
the mask on my face, the pain of trying to breathe finally begins to
ease and I realize that God is still in control. It can be hard for me to
see how something good can come from my lack of breath. Then I
remember all of the times God has given me breath again. He knows
the pain I have been through, but he has never left me alone. Having
asthma makes me see that there are times when I can't do anything
but use my inhaler-which is when I need to rely on God most. I
know He is in complete control and has great plans for my life. He
does not waste anything.
Stacey Krieger, 16, Nebraska Christian High School, O'Neill, NE
God, I am so glad You are in control! I am thankful that
nothing that happens is out of Your hands.
Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Reading this passage brought back many memories of what I used
to be like. To everybody else, my relationship with my mom was
good. That is because no one knew of the real words I spoke to her. If
I even disagreed with her, I would turn the situation into such a huge
problem. My reckless words were piercing her like a sword, and it was
affecting the dynamics of our entire family. The words I spoke towards
my mom were so sharp, negative, and disrespectful that it was impossible
for us to have a loving relationship. Of course, my mother was
always quick to forgive and show her affection, yet I always pushed her
away with my words and attitude. One day the tension between us got
so bad that I ran out of the house to take a walk and think things
through. I was so sick of living like that, and I was ready to admit that
I was terribly wrong. As I walked I couldn't stop crying because I kept
asking myself how I would feel if I had a daughter that treated me like
that. The pain I felt was so real, and like Proverbs says, it pierced like
a sword. I felt so ashamed and I wanted to change my ways so much. I
knew that to make things better I would have to work really hard on
watching the words that I said and the way I said them. It was difficult,
but I found that if you try saying three good things every time you say
a negative thing, your speech will improve remarkably. Today I have
an amazing relationship with my mom.
Chloé Truehl, 18, Adelaide, Australia
Why do I hurt people so often with my words?
I want to show Your love, Lord, instead of hate.
a powerful story
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
I love to read, and I'd have to say the book that's impacted my life the
most was a true story about a group of Anabaptist Christians in
Austria in 1539. They were captured and put into a dungeon because
they believed differently than the Catholic faith, Austria's national
religion. Their faith amazed me because they were willing to do anything
for the Savior. The book describes how they tried to witness their
faith to the jailor and then how they were willing to become galley
salves rather than renounce what they believed was the truth. On the
long march to the sea in chains, they were amazingly able to share the
gospel to many people. Then when they reached the sea, God delivered
them from the galleys, the soldiers, and the chains and dungeons. They
were able to really glorify God through this situation. After reading this
book, I became really convicted. Am I willing to die for my faith and
for Jesus, who died for me? How much do I love my enemies and even
bless them? How much of my life have I given to Christ? Would I be
willing to let Him lead me through whatever He wanted? I still have so
much to learn, but that book still challenges me so much. My life has
changed; I have a different goal now. The firm believers in that book
are my role models as I try to live a life where I am willing to sit back
and let God drive!
Hannah Reeves, 14, home school, Central, SC
Please, give me faith that can move a mountain.
I want to use it to do something great for You, Father!
my best friend
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he
will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Reading the story of Robinson Crusoe, I could not believe it was
based on a true story. He arrived on an island by accident. He
was miserable in the beginning, but later embraced religion as a balm
for his unhappiness, and he adapted to life on the island. I understood
Crusoe's feelings. Arriving at the Memphis airport from Korea, I
couldn't find anyone who had my yellow skin color. Fear attacked me.
My mom was not there to wake me up in the morning, and I had no
friends. The first day of school in America was the worst day of my life.
In English class my teacher asked me, "Where are you from?" My
answer was short and clear: "Bathroom." Everyone started to laugh at
me. I didn't understand because I had actually just come from the restroom.
Then, I couldn't find friends to sit with at lunch, so I left the
cafeteria with a piece of bread. The school was huge, but it seamed like
an uninhabited desert. Attending church with my host mom made all
the difference because I was treated like a member of their community.
I joined the choir and learned to speak English and to praise God. God
was my friend, and He was there to help me through the hardships,
and He helps me to not be afraid. Crusoe overcame loneliness, and I
will endure all my afflictions with my best friend, God.
Grace Park, 17, Houghton Christian Academy, Houghton, NY
Help me to remember that I'm not alone.
Too often life can make me feel like I'm
on a deserted island by myself.
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
1 John 2:6
My grandpa was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease about three
years ago and the struggles he endured with his health were
painfully difficult for him and our whole family. After a fall out of his
chair that resulted in a broken hip and a change in him . he was
never the same. His medicine made him hallucinate and say crazy
things, and he was in and out of the hospital for the next several
months. Eventually pneumonia filled his lungs and his health continued
to worsen. On his last hospital stay his doctors gave no
encouragement that he could live very much longer. We all struggled
with what was happening to this man we all loved so much. We knew
that he was a very godly man. He knew much about the Bible, and he
went to church every Sunday that he was able. He had such a positive
influence on me. In April he passed away. He was at home at the
time with family around him. His death was hard for me. I wanted to
just curl up in a ball and hide from the world. I had lots of friends that
were there for me during that time. My friends helped me get through
it . some of them I hadn't treated too well before, but they were still
there for me when I really needed them. I know that my grandpa is in
heaven right now. That experience made me a lot stronger and
helped me to not take my life for granted. It really made me ask
myself, What kind of legacy would I leave behind if I died now?
Bethany Musgrove, 17, home school, Hermitage, TN
I want my life to mean something, Lord.
And the only way it will is if I live for You.
Help me to do that.
challenge my faith
The testing of your faith develops perseverance.
I was spending a week hiking in the high peaks of the Adirondack
Mountains with five other girls and two counselors, and they had
just announced that it was quiet time. I found a nice, secluded spot in
the woods and prayed. Dear God, please challenge me in my faith this
week, challenge me to deepen my relationship with you. When we started
on our overland hike to the next campsite, it was just the right temperature
and my pack felt light on my shoulders. But after a while I was
sweating as I jumped from rock to rock with my huge pack to avoid the
thick mud, but my pants got muddy anyway. A fly buzzed around my
head, and I got all wet from the rain on the bushes. Then I hit my head
on a log that hung across the path. When we finally got to our campsite,
I discovered that we were sleeping in the lean-to with the spiders
instead of our nice bug-proof tents. Tears came to my eyes, and I was
thinking, Okay, God! What's with this? Why am I having such a miserable
day? Then I remembered that I asked Him to challenge me in my faith.
I realized He was challenging me to be cheerful in all circumstances,
and I was failing miserably. I prayed that God would give me the
strength to be cheerful, even though I was having a crummy day, and
He gave me just the strength I needed to continue on through the next
few days in the high peaks.
Allison Engel, 16, Wheaton North High School, Wheaton, IL
Dear God, please challenge me in my faith today. Challenge
me to deepen my relationship with You.