Ang’s May ’20 Reads and QOTMs

Two sweet missionary friends (one who lives right next door, and one who lives halfway around the world) have been telling me for quite awhile that I absolutely had to read Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. They weren’t wrong! This fantastic book, first published in 1869, is a coming-of-age story – journal style – that traces a young girl’s life as she grows up, starts a family, and deals with life’s various hardships and struggles. Prentiss so artfully shares how Katherine falls more in love with Jesus each day. The language and cadence may be difficult to grasp at first (it’s a 150-year-old work after all), but I wholeheartedly recommend this book!

I also worked through The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. The authors, Lukianoff and Haidt, while operating from a pragmatic point of view, make some excellent points about the culture of “safetyism” that is overtaking America today. As far as I can tell, these two gentlemen are not believers. While they’ve missed the wonderful difference Jesus could make if He were invited into the conversation, they do a great job identifying problems and trends in our country, and they recognize that, as a nation, we must value truth more than comfort.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz was a birthday gift! This story falls into my favorite genre. I finished the book contemplating the various decisions each of these characters was forced to make to stay alive. Are there any instances when compromise is OK? What happens when personal decisions affect the lives of others? This story is certainly not a pretty one, but I continue to be drawn to the experiences of those who lived through the atrocities that Hitler unleashed. (From a writing standpoint, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m old-fashioned. Novels written in the present tense usually tend to annoy me. Overall, I was much more impressed with the survival story upon which the book was based than the actual writing. Five stars for the storyline, 2 stars for the delivery.)


Below are some favorite excerpts I read this month!

We are all very happy together when nothing goes wrong.1

I came away, and all the way home I fought this battle with myself, saying, "He loves me!" I knelt down to pray, and all my wasted, childish, wicked life came and stared me in the face. I looked at it, and said with tears of joy, "But He loves me!" Never in my life did I feel so rested, so quieted, so sorrowful, and yet so satisfied.1

Then I began to hem those handkerchiefs Mother asked me to finish a month ago. But I could not think of anything to do for God.1

I see that if I would be happy in God, I must give Him all. And there is this wicked reluctance to do that. I want Him--but I want to have my own way, too. I want to walk humbly and softly before Him, and I want to go where I shall be admired and applauded. To whom shall I yield? To God? Or myself?1

I wish I did not take such violent likes and dislikes to people. I want my religion to change me in every respect.1

"...the first thing you have to do is learn Christ." "But how?" "On your knees, my child, on your knees!"1

If Christ do all, what am I to do?1

It is easy, in theory, to let God plan our own destiny, and that of our friends. But when it comes to a specific case we fancy we can help His judgments with our poor reason.1

Instead of fancying that our ordinary daily work was one thing and our religion quite another thing, we should transmute our drudgery into acts of worship...1

...if I had been told what I was to learn through these protracted sufferings I am afraid I should have shrunk back in terror and so have lost all the sweet lessons God proposed to teach me. As it is He has led me on, step by step, answering my prayers in His own way; and I cannot bear to have a single human being doubt that it has been a perfect way. I love and adore it just as it is.1

We can all be more thoughtful about our own speech, but it is unjust to treat people as if they are bigots when they harbor no ill will.2

"I don't want you to be safe ideologically. I don't want you to be safe emotionally. I want you to be strong. That's different. I'm not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn how to deal with adversity."2

... Americans are now motivated to leave their couches to take part in political action not by love for their party's candidate but by hatred for the other party's candidate. Negative partisanship means that American politics is driven less by hope and more by the Untruth of Us Versus Them. "They" must be stopped, at all costs.2

Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.2

Having people around us who are willing to disagree with us is a gift. So when you realize you are wrong, admit that you are wrong, and thank your critics for helping you see it.2

... thinking is social. As lone individuals, each of us is not terribly smart, for we are all prone to cognitive distortions and the confirmation bias. But if you put people into the right sorts of groups and networks, where ideas can be shared, criticized, and improved, something better and truer can emerge.2

He must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below, of which we have the honour to be the faithful servants.3

1Stepping Heavenward, Elizabeth Prentiss
2The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
3Churchill: The Power of Words, edited by Martin Gilbert

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

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

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

Ang’s June ’19 Reads and QOTM’s

31EwFFEfmRLThis 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