Ang’s April ’20 Reads and QOTMs

Zipped through some fiction books this month and made progress on a few of my non-fiction reads.

One of my favorite librarians left me Things I Never Told You on her last visit to the DR. I enjoyed reading about these three sisters who work through their broken relationships and try to process their fourth sister’s death. (From a writing standpoint, I’m still not sure how I feel about the switching between first and third person, but it didn’t bother me enough to quit reading.) Not a 5-star read, but I liked it enough to purchase the second of the Thatcher Sisters trilogy for a couple bucks on my Kindle.

Moments We Forget, book #2 in the aforementioned series by Beth Vogt, continues the story of the Thatcher sisters, focusing on Jillian and her battle with cancer. I liked “getting to know” the three girls better. It was cool watching another sister become interested in developing a relationship with the Lord.

More than a Carpenter is a classic read that I’m not sure I’ve ever picked up before. This new edition was co-written by Josh and Sean McDowell; the study questions were well-thought through. This is a great read for new believers or anyone curious about Christianity.

Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin was my favorite read this month! I downloaded this piece of historical fiction awhile back, and it’s been sitting dormant on my Kindle for several years. I accidentally opened it a couple weeks ago and thought, “Why not give it a try?” Ended up loving it. The characters were fantastic, Caroline’s slave Eli being a favorite. (I was reading this simultaneously with Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a non-fiction book about the same time period but focused on events out West. Neat to see Lincoln mentioned in both. I was able to make some more big-picture connections in American history.) I know life doesn’t always bring the happy ending for everyone, but it felt good to see things resolve after so much conflict/loss.


I tried awful hard to pare down my favorite thoughts/quotes from this month, but I wasn’t very successful. Skip them if you must.

How did forgiveness work? The divine interacting with the less-than of mankind. How did the supposed goodness of God not get overpowered by the world’s darkness?1

Mark Twain said this--'I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.'2

But maybe...maybe faith wasn't so much about believing enough. Being enough. Maybe faith was realizing the truth of who God was, and what He promised, was enough for all her doubts.2

Forgiveness always has a price.3

As G.K. Chesteron says, 'The purpose of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to close it again on something solid.'3

Christianity is not a religion; it's not a system; it's not an ethical idea; it's not a psychological phenomenon. It's a person. If you trust Christ, start watching your attitudes and actions because Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives.3

'He put us where we are for time being and give us a job to do. And even if I can't see a reason why, I gonna do this job for Jesus. I gonna love white folks, whether they love me back or not, 'cause that's what Jesus tell me to do.'4

'Seem like a mighty hard thing to change someone's mind,' he said. 'Most folks won't change their mind unless they have a change of heart first.'4

'Some of these men never once thought about Jesus their whole life,' he said. 'But they crying out to Him now cause they hurt and afraid. Jesus wants to answer them. He wants to help that poor dying boy out there, but the only arms and the only voice He has is ours.'4

'Can't never go by your feelings. Got to go by the word of the Lord.'4

'I won my freedom long before the Yankees came,' Josiah said quietly. 'I was free the moment I picked you up and decided to forgive Missy Caroline and her daddy. You can start living as a free man, too, once you forgive...."4

Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured. But I fear - I fear greatly - the storm will not pass... There is no chance of a speedy end except through united action.5

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: it is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.5

There are vast numbers not only in this island but in every land, who will render faithful service in this War, but whose names will never be known, whose deeds will never be recorded. This is a War of the Unknown Warriors...5

Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.5

Be of good cheer. The hour of your deliverance will come. The soul of freedom is deathless; it cannot, and will not, perish.5

Goodnight then: sleep to gather strength for the morning. For the morning will come.5

'There are bad white men and bad Indians,' [Black Kettle] said. 'The bad men on both sides brought about this trouble.'6

If you see yourself or your fellow students as candles, you'll want to make your campus a wind-free zone.7

A culture that allows the concept of 'safety' to creep so far that it equates emotional discomfort with physical danger is a culture that encourages people to systematically protect one another from the very experiences embedded in daily life that they need in order to become strong and healthy.7


1Things I Never Told You, Beth K. Vogt
2Moments We Forget, Beth K. Vogt
3More Than a Carpenter, Josh and Sean McDowell
4Candle in the Darkness, Lynn Austin
5Churchill: The Power of Words, edited by Martin Gilbert
6Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
7The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

March ’20 in Pictures

Not sure how to describe this last month – bizarre, perhaps? While some events were unexpected, the last few weeks have also been full of incredible blessings! Here’s our March in 31 pictures!

Ang’s March ’20 Reads and QOTMs

People often ask me what I miss most about life in the States. Family and Kroger’s ice cream aisle are pretty high up there, of course. But – nerd alert – I think the library would make my “Top 10” list as well!

The last few weeks, I’ve been reminiscing about the endless hours I spent as a young girl in our public library. (There is a literal ache in my chest when I think of that place!) I absolutely attribute my deep love of reading to my camping out at the library. I felt such a sense of wonder every time I walked into the main atrium of whichever branch we decided to visit on a particular afternoon. It was almost overwhelming for my indecisive little heart – which section should I peruse first? Sometimes I’d stand there amongst the rows of books, not really searching for anything in particular. Just being in the middle of all that knowledge and fun excited me!

It hurts not to have that same access to physical books. I can’t check out a giant pile of good reads (with my very own library card, of course). There are no weekend trips to listen to an author do a read-aloud. While my kids humor me by taking part in reading challenges at home, it’s not the same as going through our library’s summer reading program. I’m much more thankful these days when I get my hands on a good book, and my Kindle quells the sadness a bit, too.

I’ve digressed. I’m supposed to be sharing about my March reads.

This month, I finished Paul David Tripp’s book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family. To be completely honest, I’ve been feeling a lot of “mom guilt” recently in regard to how I handle my growing kiddos and their various struggles. One of my biggest takeaways from this book was the reminder that, while I have the incredible responsibility to be an ambassador of God’s love, grace, mercy, and discipline, my children will ultimately be changed as they choose to walk with Him. My biggest criticism of Parenting is how repetitive it felt. Tripp could’ve gotten his point across in half the number of pages. Overall, I’m glad I read it – I was able to slow down and think intentionally about how I can better draw my babies toward Jesus in each precious, mundane moment.

Awhile ago, I was talking about The Boxcar Children series with Krista, a fellow missionary. I was fairly obsessed with those books at one point in my childhood. Freedom’s school library has a few of them in English, but I wanted to read the first one aloud to my kiddos to set the stage. I was elated when Krista told me her girls owned a copy! This month, Noah, Leyton and Cal were forcibly introduced to the enchanting world of Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny. Such fun – for me, at least!

Below you’ll find a few of my favorite quotes of the month.


Since change is most often a process and seldom an event, you have to remember that you can't look for a dramatic transformational conclusion to your encounters with your children. 1

What kind of picture are your children getting of God's authority by the way you exercise yours? 1

It's not your weaknesses that you should fear, but your delusions of strength. 1

Parenting is about the willingness to live a life of long-term, intentional repetition. 1 

If the mind developed through blind, material process of Darwinian evolution, then why should we trust it at all? Why should we believe that the human brain--which was the outcome of an accidental process--actually puts us in touch with reality? 2

What does national unity mean? It surely means that reasonable sacrifices of Party opinions, personal opinion, and Party interest should be made by all in order to contribute to the national security. 3

It is curious how the English-speaking peoples have always had this horror of one-man power. They are quite ready to follow a leader for a time, as long as he is serviceable to them, but the idea of handing themselves over, lock, stock and barrel, body and soul, to one man, and worshipping him as if he were an idol; that has always been odious to the whole theme and nature of our civilisation.... 3

1 Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, Paul David Tripp
2 More Than a Carpenter, Josh and Sean McDowell
3 Churchill: The Power of Words, edited by Martin Gilbert

February ’20 in Pictures

One sixth of the way through 2020! Here’s a small peek into our February!

Thanks for continuing to pray for us! See ya in a month!

Ang’s February ’20 Reads and QOTMs

Happy Leap Year! Here’s my February in books. And… go!

I received Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog for my birthday from a dear friend who knows me so well! This fun book would be great coffee table decor. As her subtitle says, Florey definitely gives “the quirky history and lost art of diagramming sentences.” I know that the percentage of people in my life who care even the tiniest bit about diagramming sits around .00002%, but I’m in love. (Thank you, Mrs. Ramsey, for being my Sister Bernadette when it comes to diagramming and grammar.) In the middle of this short read, I feel like Florey breaks away from the topic at hand, but it’s an enjoyable read overall – if diagramming is your niche.

Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer for Christians was a birthday present for Scott, but I stole it. Heh. I wanted to devour and savor this tiny book simultaneously. Its whole premise is that the gospel is not just for unbelievers, but for everyone. Even after salvation, preaching the gospel to oneself is necessary if abundant life is to be experienced. Some great content in this concise little read. It’ll definitely be a re-read as I continue to digest the ideas here.

It’s been hard to find books that concurrently capture the attention of all three of my kiddos. After discovering that our school library has a good portion of this Magic Tree House series, I started pulling these books because they were short and easy reads. I thought they’d be perfect for my kids’ varied age ranges/interests, but I’m actually not a huge fan. The concept of siblings visiting other times and places is all fine and dandy, but the books are poorly written and the plots are slow-paced. When I’m reading these stories, I find my mind wandering. We made it through #7, but I think it’s about time for a break.

Below: some quotes I’d like to remember from this month’s reading.


In the end, I think the important thing was not what we learned from diagramming in Sister Bernadette's class, but simply the fun we had doing it. Diagramming made language seem friendly, like a dog who doesn't bark, but, instead, trots over to greet you, wagging its tail.1

When I begin my train of thought with the gospel, I realize that if God loved me enough to sacrifice His Son’s life for me, then He must be guided by that same love when He speaks His commandments to me.2

When I see persons who are materially poor, I instantly feel a kinship with them, for they are physically what I was spiritually when my heart was closed to Christ.2

Indeed, as I perpetually feast on Christ and all His blessings found in the gospel, I find that my hunger for sin diminishes and the lies of lust simply lose their appeal.... Eyes do not rove... when the heart is fat with the love of Jesus.2

And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigorous, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.3

To conclude that Jesus was a deliberate liar doesn’t coincide with what we know either of him or of the results of his life and teachings. Wherever Jesus has been proclaimed, we see lives change for the good, nations change for the better, thieves become honest, alcoholics become sober, hateful individuals become channels of love, unjust persons embrace justice.4

Good parenting, which does what God intends it to do, begins with our radical and humble recognition that our children don't actually belong to us.5

Your kids will never be what they're supposed to be or do if they lack God-consciousness.5

God's greatest and most wonderful gift to you as a parent is himself! He knows how hard your task is....5

1 Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog, Kitty Burns Flory
2 A Gospel Primer, Milton Vincent
3 Churchill: The Power of Words, edited by Martin Gilbert
4 More Than a Carpenter, Josh and Sean McDowell
5 Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

In His presence…

Not long ago, a missionary here asked me, “What do you really enjoy about your job?” I talked a bit about the teachers and the blessing it is to be a part of their lives. While that response is absolutely true, I think I’d expand my answer if I had the opportunity for a “redo”.

I’ve had the incredible privilege to work in several areas here at Freedom over the years. And with each passing day, the Lord is teaching me that no matter what I’m doing, keeping in step with Him is the most rewarding and precious experience this world has to offer.

By nature, I’m a perfectionist. Taking risks is hard for me. To fail is one of my biggest fears. And yet I’m learning that God, while He wants my best, is ultimately responsible to work out His perfect plan. I’ll give an example of how this recently played out in my life.

This past December, I was sitting in Jason’s office one afternoon, brainstorming some fundraising ideas. We’re behind financially in regards to sponsorship numbers, and we hadn’t met our end-of-the-year goal. Our “Change a Life” program is super important for us. It essentially keeps things running at the school. We’re able to bus in our 410 students because sponsors’ monthly donations cover costs like food, transportation and teachers’ salaries. How in the world were we going to find so.many.new.sponsors for the new year? As we bounced around a few ideas, this campaign push just kind of popped up. We thought a good goal would be to find 60 new child sponsors in these first three months of 2020. It was a solid direction, but instead of running after it, fear of the unknown initially began to creep into my mind. Are there really 60 (!) new people out there, willing to give their time and money to this cause? I started to think about all the ways a campaign like this could fail, and I shied away from the idea of putting together anything at all.

But as time went on, God quietly and consistently whispered to my scared little heart, “Just trust me.” I thought, Ok, Lord! You’re giving me this opportunity to walk with you. Even though I think this goal is terrifying and ambitious, You’re in charge…

Well, here we are. Halfway through the campaign. (The Lord has provided about 20 kiddos with new sponsors! That is amazing!) To be honest, I still wonder if we’ll actually hit our goal. I pray we do. It’d certainly be amazing to see this campaign successfully finished on March 31st, but ultimately I’ve been trying to allow the truth that God is in control to soak down deep in my heart. The Lord is doing a work in my life, and I’m doing my best to simply rest in Him. I really don’t have to worry so much when I choose to abide.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16:11

There is this beautiful balance to be enjoyed in my relationship with Jesus: my humble efforts combined with His perfect plan and powerful provision produce such bliss. Joy to the fullest is found in walking with Jesus – no matter my weaknesses, no matter the circumstances, no matter the outcome.

January ‘20 in Pictures

While these photos certainly don’t capture everything, here are 31 pictures from our January in the DR!

Ang’s January ’20 Reads and QOTMs

Wow. So the second half of 2019 kind of happened. At hurricane velocity. The last few months left me not knowing which way was up, but now the dust is settling. January is busy, but I think I’m slowly finding a routine again.

I finished a marvelous old classic, Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Written in 1916 and published in 1920 (exactly 100 years ago!), this book could understandably take a couple chapters to “hook” the reader. But it’s a light and easy read once you’re acquainted with the cast of eccentric characters. I feel like mystery novels are often set up so that really anyone could be the murderer/perpetrator, but it’s still fun to speculate before the big reveal. Brought back memories of enjoying the wonderful world of Poirot as a teen.

If you know me, you’re probably aware that WWII fiction is a favorite genre of mine. So I was excited to receive the Pulitzer prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See as a Christmas gift. From a writing standpoint, I was initially frustrated that the book was authored in present tense and contained various run-ons, fragments, and punctuation errors. However, Anthony Doerr very clearly knows grammar rules, and yet it seems that he purposely chooses to break them to aid his storytelling. I finished this book just pondering the far-reaching effects of war. So many people on both sides of WWII experienced incredible death and pain and loss, but they often had to bury atrocities and somehow figure out how to move on with life. And even though these characters weren’t real, I really just wanted them all to love Jesus, which they clearly didn’t. Heh. (One other note: I was glad to be able to read a physical copy of this book because of the jumps in time and space – I had to frequently turn back and forth to see which year or place we were in.)

While I don’t agree with all the underlying perspectives/worldviews in each book, many of these passages certainly made me think. So here are some good quotes I found this month:

The despair doesn't last. Marie-Laure is too young and her father is too patient. 2

Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever. 2

“Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.” 2

“Every rumor carries a seed of truth, Etienne.” 2

He thinks of the old broken miners.... To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it's a glowing puddle you can carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop. 2

With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent - Madame, my dear lady, do you not tremble for your children? 3

No doubt it is not popular to say these things, but I am accustomed to abuse and I expect to have a great deal more of it before I have finished. Somebody has to state the truth.... 3

1 The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie
2 All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
3 Churchill: The Power of Words, edited by Martin Gilbert

Ang’s August-December ’19 Reads

For me, 2019 has been one big blur in a lot of ways. Not sure what made it so full, but there’s been a lot going on. So much change here at Freedom. While that growth is such a good thing, the reality is… monthly blog posts about books I’ve read get pushed to the wayside. But my OCD self couldn’t just leave things as they were, so here’s one giant catch-up post. Welcome to my “August-to-December Book Dump.”

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This story is incredible. Heartbreaking and raw and incredible. Eric Liddell is probably most famous for his Olympic feats, but his life consisted of so much more. He was a godly missionary who gave his life for the Lord. I certainly hope to meet him someday. If biographies are your thing, you don’t want to miss this one!

The God I Love – what an amazing read! While I’ve generally known the circumstances surrounding Joni Eareckson Tada’s intense diving accident, I’d never read anything more than a few short articles. This memoir is well-written, enthralling and, above all, points to Jesus. I will definitely be checking out some of her other books. Five stars here!

When I picked this book up, I had been in a funk. I wasn’t wanting to digest heavier reading. So I went with The Widows of Malabar Hill. It fun with just the right amount of suspense, reminiscent of a Hercule Poirot mystery. This fiction novel was set in 1920’s India, and I learned a lot about Muslim life. It looks like this might be a series. Not sure if I’ll pick up another one anytime soon. My “to-read” list is extraordinarily long, and… well… life.

If you or someone you know has dealt with childhood abuse, this book is a must-read. It obviously focuses on sexual abuse, but the general principles can be applied to other situations as well. The book was really difficult for me to digest, but it was important for me to work through it. I’ve always felt a little scared about entering the deep and painful waters to help others who have dealt with abuse. Am I really qualified? What do I say? How can I truly help someone who feels like she’s drowning? I finished this book realizing that it’s not about having all the answers tied up in a nice package. Choosing to “be there,” to offer His truth in those dark and terrifying moments, is what is needed. After all, I’m not the one who does the life change – that’s left for the Savior.

Say what you will, but I’m a sucker for a Francine Rivers novel. Honestly, I haven’t read many of her books, but the few that I’ve devoured haven’t spent much time on my nightstand. Definitely enjoyed this work, which is actually based on the story of a real-life graffiti artist turned Christian. I know that many think these novels to be cheesy and romantic, but I enjoy seeing how Rivers weaves her message of faith throughout the pages of each book. A great read, in my opinion!

That’s it, folks! My Goodreads goal is to hit 20 books this coming year. Excited to see what all there is to learn in 2020! See ya next year!