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!

Ang’s July ‘19 Reads and QOTM’s

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Guys. I’m honored to know TWO real life authors. And I finished each of their books this month – how cool is that?!

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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.

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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.)

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This was my second time reading through The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player by Maxwell. A lot of truth packed in here. I read it more slowly this time around, 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.

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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