A few snapshots from the summer. What a whirlwind of blessings!
Guys. I’m honored to know TWO real life authors. And I finished each of their books this month – how cool is that?!
The Girl Who Said Goodbye by Heather Allen is an absolute must-read! (I met Heather several years ago when she came to the DR to serve with a short-term team.) In this gripping memoir, she tells the inspiring story of her aunt, Siv Eng, who grew up in Cambodia during the time of the country’s takeover by the Communist Khmer Rouge. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but the fact that this story is true makes it so much more powerful. There were times I couldn’t see the blurred words on the pages for the tears. How incredible that Siv Eng was fighting for her very life about 40 years ago – just 10 years before I was born. My advice: don’t skip over the unfamiliar-sounding names and places. Refer often to the “Family Tree” at the beginning of the book – really get to know Siv Eng and her family. Throughout these pages, you’ll experience incredible heartbreak, horrific evil, and the depths of despair. But you’ll also see tiny ribbons of hope, unlikely kindness from others, and a clear picture of a God in control of it all.
Brian is the Executive VP of WPAR. When Scott and I lived in VA, I worked at one of the Christian radio brands, Spirit FM. (Close to the time I left my job, Brian, who wasn’t even my boss, found out we were headed to the mission field. He brought me a copy of Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life. It meant a lot that he cared enough to talk about where we were headed next.) Brian’s book, Leadership Endurance, hammers home the idea of leading others well. The chapters are easy to digest – they’re short and written conversationally. My suggestion? Read a chapter a day instead of plowing straight through the book. The last 2 sections – on facing critics and dealing with failure – were important for me to work through personally. Some good lessons amongst these pages. (And Lincoln is my favorite President, so it was fun to learn more from him, too.)
This was my second time reading The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player. A lot of truth packed in here. I read it more slowly this time through, but it’s one of those classics that I could probably read multiple times over and still find more nuggets of goodness. This won’t be the last time I open it up.
This summer, I’ve given my kiddos the goal of reading 80+ books each. Caleigh and Leyton aren’t quite able to do it on their own yet, so I’m letting others read to them. We recently finished this Usborne Five-Minute Bedtime Stories compilation. (The kids were mad that I didn’t let them count each separate story as its own book. Heh.) The stories weren’t terribly exciting for me, but the illustrations were cute and colorful, and the dialogue seemed to keep the kids’ attention.
Below are a few of the quotes I read this month that made me stop to think.
The songs of Cambodia had been lost and abandoned. Oh, to be a bird. Our country had become a cage, but the birds were free. If only their songs could tell of our plight. Would anyone listen?¹
There is a certain beauty in a scar. No two look the same, and the skin of the scar is tougher and stronger than the skin it replaces….¹
… her husband was a communist Chief for the Khmer Rouge. He was recently killed because of some disagreement, and she was sent to prison because of her association with him. Even the communists weren’t safe from the communists.¹
Set your mind to beat your hurdles…. Life is hard. You can spend time whining about the harshness of it or focus on a way to make the world a better place.²
[Leaders] place the goal in a greater historical context.²
Do not wait to be perfect to start changing the world. If you do, you will never change it.²
As Alfred A. Montapert observed, “The majority see the obstacles; the few see the objectives; history records the successes of the latter, while oblivion is the reward of the former.” Someone who thinks in terms of solutions instead of just problems can be a difference maker.³
To see far is one thing; going there is another. – Constantin Brancusi³
¹ The Girl Who Said Goodbye: A Memoir of a Khmer Rouge Survivor, Heather Allen
² Leadership Endurance, Brian Sanders
³ The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, John C. Maxwell
This month, I finished The God Ask, another required read for Freedom missionaries. This was a fantastic book – just wish I could’ve read it when we first started raising support! Even after 7 years on the mission field, I definitely benefited from hearing the ideas presented here. It’s so important to view support-raising with God’s perspectives in mind. All money is the Lord’s! Looking to Him first and foremost is the only way to approach this otherwise intimidating process. I was reminded yet again how blessed our family is to have such a great team of people behind us!
A few of my favorite quotes from my June reading:
He [God] knows exactly, to the penny, how much money He has stewarded to mankind as a whole and each person individually. Just like an investor would, He, too, is looking for the best ROI possible. The Lord is fully capable of putting just the right amount in our account at just the right time to fund just the right expenses. ¹
If the size of the vision for your life isn’t intimidating to you, there is a good chance it is insulting to God. ¹
For us to have the privilege of partnering with God to accomplish His plan is the mother of all mismatches. Just remember who the managing partner is! ¹
What if you were to start viewing yourself as a mobilizer? Not just moving people’s finances from one bank to another, but moving their hearts from a temporal focus to an eternal one. ¹
Certainly the Lord wants to bring every “lost sheep” into the fold much more than you or I do. We talk a good game, but He has staked His life on it! God yearns to see your life and ministry become fruitful. ¹
As a leader, your day needs to be spent on people, not projects. ²
Be honest about the circumstances but be hopeful about the plan to win the future. A sneeze of doubt by the leader can become the flu of defeat for a team. ²
Some people want the title…the pay…the authority…but not the responsibility. Sorry, it does not work like that. Either lead or get out of the way. ²
Take risks. Progress is never made in the harbor. You must take the ship out to sea and endure storms. ²
¹ The God Ask, Steve Shadrach
² Leadership Endurance, Brian Sanders
Nine days ago, we made it back to the DR safe and sound! Our family spent the month of May in the States. Furlough is always a rich time visiting friends, family, and supporters. Each year, we’re forced to stop and consider all the ways the Lord has worked throughout the year. It’s so fun to share the miracle stories with others!
We visited Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Maryland. So many blessings from unexpected sources. Several people walked up to us and just handed us money. Others gave us cards, goodies for the kiddos, or verbal bits of encouragement. We were so spoiled with good food, wonderful company, and heartfelt prayers. Wow – God provides more than we need! This year, I left the States feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work here in the Dominican. Thankful!
This young adult piece of historical fiction was fantastic! I learned about another part of WW2 that I was unfamiliar with: the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Crazy to think that more people died in this maritime tragedy than in the sinking of the Titanic. I absolutely loved the subtle character crossover with Between Shades of Gray, and I enjoyed the various first-person narratives. Heartbreaking, well-written, and addictive. I was a fan!
Discipling Nations is a newly required read for Freedom team members. I worked through it on my Kindle, but I think I’d prefer it in paperback. There are charts, footnotes, and graphics that I would’ve liked to reference a little more easily. Miller essentially unpacks the big-picture concept that a person’s ideas have consequences. There are good study questions at the end of each chapter. Overall, I think it helped me more clearly articulate a general overview of different worldview systems.
Below: a few of the quotes that caught my eye in the past weeks!
No one wanted to fall into the hands of the enemy. But it was growing harder to distinguish who the enemy was.¹
What had human beings become? Did war make us evil or just activate an evil already lurking within us?¹
How foolish to believe we are more powerful than the sea or the sky. I watched from the raft as the beautiful deep began to swallow the massive boat of steel.¹
… as the ancient Hebrew axiom says so well, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 KJV). Development is more than working, even working hard. It is about thinking, and about what we think. The attitudes of our hearts inevitably show up sooner or later in our behavior, speech, writing, and handiwork.²
Ideas also diffuse through time. It has always taken time for ideas to travel around the world and penetrate cultures. But today, with the advent of modern information technologies, ideas require less and less time to spread—for good and ill.²
Those of us who want to work effectively with the poor need to learn three distinct worldviews: our own, that of the culture we’re trying to disciple (our host culture), and biblical theism.²
We live in a moral universe, no matter how hard we try to deny or forget it. Our story has a moral theme. C.S. Lewis stated it most succinctly: First,…human beings, all over the earth, have the curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly,…they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.²
He who has a “why” to live for can bear almost any “how.” -Friedrich Nietzsche³
Mission-conscious team players who have committed themselves to a team allow the leader of the team to do the leading.³
Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes stated, “The man who is prepared has his battle half-fought.”³
Perfection is what you’re striving for, but perfection is an impossibility. However, striving for perfection is not an impossibility. Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts. -John Wooden³
Liddell followed his conscience, choosing to do what was right because to do anything else, he felt, would sully the gift God had given him to run fast.4
… those incapable of malice rarely suspect it in others.4
“No man who really is a man ever cared for the easy task. There is no enjoyment in the game that is easily won. It is that in which you have to strain every muscle and sinew to achieve victory that provides real joy.”4
¹ Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys
² Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures, Darrow L. Miller
³ The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, John Maxwell
4 For the Glory: The Untold and Inspiring Story of Eric Liddell, Duncan Hamilton
I finally finished John Wesley’s journal on my Kindle. It took me awhile. I’m in a stage where I don’t want to “abandon” books, so I waded through. I’m glad I did. I wouldn’t recommend it as a light and airy read – it took me awhile to get used to the archaic language.
I cracked up at one Goodreads user’s one-star review: “John Wesley goes about on a horse.” Hah! I guess that’s one way to boil it down into a sentence. Wesley certainly put some miles behind him as he traveled. He also went through some pretty insane life experiences: people wreaking havoc/causing insane distractions/hurling him with rocks as he preached… storms at sea… his rocky friendship with George Whitefield… “losing” his first love… finally marrying a not-very-nice lady (although he never degraded her in his journal)… falling off horses… dealing with all kinds of weather issues on his journeys…
I teared up as his journal entries reached the end and his body started to fade. What an amazingly full life Wesley lived – spent for the Lord. His desire was to see Methodist “societies” established around the country. He felt it important for the Word to really take root in people’s lives. I’d be interested to read a biography soon.
Some favorite quotes (more like giant passages this time) from my March readings below!
I preached on “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). I believe God applied it to many hearts. Were it only for this hour, I am glad I came to Holland. ¹
(Reflecting on his 81st year of life) We can only say “The Lord reigneth!” While we live, let us live to Him! ¹
Even now, though I find pain daily in my eye, or temple, or arm; yet it is never violent and seldom lasts many minutes at a time. Whether or not this is sent to give me warning that I am shortly to quit this tabernacle, I do not know; but be it one way or the other, I have only to say,
My remnant of days
I spend to His praise
Who died the whole world to redeem;
Be they many or few,
My days are His due
And they are all devoted to Him! ¹
I stood at the window of my room… waiting for Big Ben to tell that the War was over. My mind strayed back across the scarring years to the scene and emotions of the night at the Admirality when I listened to these same chimes in order to give the signal of war against Germany to our Fleets…. And now all was over! The unarmed and untrained island nation… had faced unquestioningly the strongest manifestation of military power in human record, had completed its task…. ²
Why is war to have all the splendours, all the nobleness, all the courage and loyalty? Why should peace have nothing but the squabbles and the selfishness and the pettiness of daily life? Why if men and women, all classes, all parties, are able to work together for five years like a mighty machine to produce destruction, can they not work together for another five years to produce abundance? ²
And this is progress, this is liberty. This is Utopia! What a monstrous absurdity and perversion of the truth it is to represent the communistic theory as a form of progress, when, at every step and at every stage, it is simply marching back into the dark ages. ²
You’ve got to think about the “big things” while you’re doing the small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. – Alvin Toffler ³
Another thing an intentional person has to learn is how to say no. For me, that has been really difficult. I never met an opportunity I didn’t like, so my natural desire is to say yes to everything. And you can’t accomplish much without focus. ³
Specialize in your specialty. When you have a solid understanding of your strengths, you will be able to focus. Your goal should be to spend 80 percent of your time and effort on what brings high return to you and your team. ³
¹ The Journal of John Wesley
² Churchill: The Power of Words, edited by Martin Gilbert
³ The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, John Maxwell
We’re still working through this book together as a small group, but I finished early. Several of the chapters were extremely convicting and thought-provoking. I underlined a ton. The chapters on suffering, waiting, and contentment were particularly timely for me. It’ll be a good one to revisit in the future.
WWII historical fiction is quickly becoming one of my favorite genres. I loved this Italian point of view. While Beneath a Scarlet Sky had a neat storyline, the writing could’ve been better. It made me sad to think about Pino Lella’s heartbreaking experiences, but did he know the One who will eventually set all things right? There was way too much cursing. I don’t recommend it to my book-loving friends. It won’t be a re-read for me.
Tackled a couple more Stink Moody books at bedtime with the kids. Again, not my favorite series in the world, but the boys are learning lots about English – as well as ways not to treat your siblings/friends. Hah. The boy humor definitely keeps them more engaged. I’ll be excited to get into some other (classic) read-alouds as the years go by.
Below: quite a few quotes from this month’s reading. I usually try to pare these down, but I just couldn’t take any more out! My suggestion? Just go read some good books!
I think the main difference is that in college, when I was around Mike, I wanted to be like Mike. Now, after spending time with Mike, I want to be more like Jesus. ¹
I have heard so many Christians tell me of a gut-wrenching season they walked through, only to hear them say, “In the end, I’m glad it happened…” None of them would have chosen ahead of time to walk through such a difficult trial. But all of them are grateful, in hindsight, that the trial came. Such fire-testing seasons are severe gifts from a loving Father…. These seasons are necessary because we do not walk easily into maturity. ¹
Faithful obedience, over time, weakens temptation’s allure. ¹
If your faith begins and ends with you, you are missing the truly profound experience of working with God to make a difference in a needy person’s life. ¹
It is a mistake to assume that “letting go” is always going to be a onetime event. Far more often, it [forgiveness] is an ongoing commitment. ¹
The time will come when all of us will be done mourning – but that time is not now; that time doesn’t exist on this earth. We need to mourn. Mourning invites us into a deeper life. ¹
But seeking after the transcendent – which can be found in God alone – points us to the only world where we can be truly satisfied. ¹
We pay a price when we become leisure-oriented, self-serving people… ¹
He was frightened by the penalty for helping the Jews, but he was going to help them anyway. ²
We are passing through a bad time now and it will probably be worse before it is better, but that it will be better, if we only endure and persevere, I have no doubt whatsoever. ³
To fight in defence of his native land is the first duty of the citizen. But to fight in defence of someone else’s native land is a different proposition…. it involves a higher conception… a wide outlook upon human affairs and a sense of world responsibility. ³
I am persuaded both evil and good angels had a large share in this transaction: how large we do not know now, but we shall know hereafter. 4
People who are focused on themselves are less likely to make changes for the team than people focused on serving others. 5
Without knowing both sides of the story, people tend to give the benefit of the doubt to themselves and to assign negative motives and actions to others. Without communication the situation just festers. 5
People forget how fast you did a job-but they remember how well you did it. -Howard W. Newton 5
Dependability means more than just wanting to take responsibility. That desire must also be coupled with good judgment to be of real value to the team. 5
A basic truth of life is that people will always move toward anyone who increases them and away from others who devalue them. 5
You can’t break a cycle of apathy by waiting to feel like doing it. 5
¹ Authentic Faith, Gary Thomas
² Beneath a Scarlet Sky, Mark Sullivan
³ Churchill: The Power of Words, edited by Martin Gilbert
4 The Journal of John Wesley
5 The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, John Maxwell