Ang’s July ‘19 Reads and QOTM’s

IMG_2838

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

51R7aLMbHjL

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.

810jp6ckizL

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.)

41J1NrKE65L._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_

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.

878c7783850dfa6afec1c0624ef84e3c93513d69

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

Ang’s April/May ’19 Reads and QOTMs

51e0ngIgQ8LThis 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!

71C57BHhMAL._AC_UL320_SR216,320_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
For the Glory: The Untold and Inspiring Story of Eric Liddell, Duncan Hamilton

Ang’s Feb ’19 Reads and QOTMs

IMG_9325We’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.

32487617._UY1057_SS1057_

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.

81wSgtoiotL51nAcr-PhpLTackled 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.

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
The Journal of John Wesley
The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, John Maxwell

Ang’s Jan ’19 Reads and QOTMs

81rzdofmxplThis was a phenomenal work of historical fiction! I learned about a part of WWII that I don’t ever remember focusing on. Very emotional to follow this displaced family who was forced to leave their precious Lithuania for cold and brutal Siberia. For me, its ending was abrupt, especially since I loved the characters so.

41+wlb5hwrl._sx331_bo1,204,203,200_I ran across this book while I was browsing Goodreads a few weeks ago and bought it on a whim. This issue of raising grateful children is one that’s been on my heart for the last few months. I want my three sweet kiddos to grow up really thankful for their many blessings – to exchange selfish attitudes for selfless mindsets and actions. Honestly, I feel like the writing was a bit haphazard. There weren’t any earth-shattering concepts in it. But I’m glad I read it, because it made me slow down and think more intentionally about what our family can do to combat this problem. One Amazon reviewer hit the nail on the head when he said, “The issue is real but the book needs polishing.”

A few of the quotes that impacted me this month:


“Twenty minutes,” the officer barked. He threw his burning cigarette onto our clean living room floor and ground it into the wood with his boot. We were about to become cigarettes. ¹

I pictured a rug being lifted and a huge Soviet broom sweeping us under it. ¹

I scanned the group. Faces spoke to their future. I saw courage, anger, fear, and confusion. Others were hopeless. They had already given up. Which was I? ¹

I felt as if I were riding a pendulum. Just as I would swing into the abyss of hopelessness, the pendulum would swing back with some small goodness. ¹

Anytime we step out of the mainstream and try to turn our lives (or homes) around and dare to go upstream, it’s hard. Some would say impossible. The journey is filled with obstacles, naysayers, and discouragers. And then there are the children…. Our kids are taught conformity–to be like everyone else, to follow rules and not misstep. It’s in our human makeup to want to fit in, to not stick out or be different, to blend in.²

As uncomfortable as it sounds, parents who want less-entitled kids have to be less entitled themselves, and parents who want to raise more grateful kids need to start by livnig more grateful lives. ²

Research proves there’s a direct link between low self-esteem and materialism. We give our kids more because we think it will make us all feel better, but it actually places a higher value on things than on relationships. And often our kids don’t need more stuff or more freedom; they just need more of us. ²

A child-centered home inhibits awareness of others. When we focus all our time and attention on our own needs, it’s really hard to see the needs of other people. ²

By Christian perfection,
I mean 1.) loving God with all our heart….
I mean 2.) a heart and life all devoted to God…
I mean 3.) regaining the whole image of God…
I mean 4.) having all the mind that was in Christ…
I mean 5.) walking uniformly as Christ walked. ³

Behold, what frailty we in man may see! His shadow is less given to change than he. ³


¹ Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys
² Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, Kristen Welch
³ The Journal of John Wesley

Ang’s Oct/Nov/Dec ’18 Reads and QOTM’s

Wow, I fell off the monthly blogging wagon. Life has really taken me for a ride these past few months. So many things going on, but I was able to tackle a few books. Thankful for the awesome opportunity to be challenged and to learn new things even in the middle of the craziness.

41agtusbxpl._sx298_bo1,204,203,200_ In October, I worked through this must-read by Elisabeth Eliot. Tears as I walked this journey, this time imagining how I would’ve responded had it been me that lost my husband. These men and women had a contagious faith. Will always love this fast, easy, yet emotional read.

b1cbjntwjis._sl250_fmpng_I’ve been reading this Judy Moody spin-off series about Judy’s little brother, Stink, to my boys at night, and they are obsessed! These haven’t been my favorite stories in the world, but if my kids will sit and listen to a read-aloud, I’ll buy every single one! Noah and Leyton are learning tons of idioms and other English nuances, a huge plus for this self-proclaimed language nerd.

71anl5ebqkl

Worked through The Search for Significance over the last several months with some missionary ladies and interns. Many of the workbook questions really made me consider the perspectives from which I am operating: good reminders not to give in to Satan’s lies in the day-to-day. For me, it was vaguely reminiscent of Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

51au58ubjdl._sx330_bo1,204,203,200_Whew. Finished The Indifferent Stars Above in December. I’m glad I read this one, but I was equally as glad when it was over. I picked it up because I loved Boys in the Boat so much and because I’ve always been interested to know what exactly happened to the Donner party. I felt physically ill through a portion of this story. Pondered various life questions. What would I have done had it been my child starving on the side of a mountain? Brought up lots of “what if’s”. Definitely learned a ton.

Below is a (very long but not exhaustive) list of my favorite quotes and passages from my finished books from the last few months.


I would gladly give my life for that tribe if only to see an assembly of those proud, clever, smart people gathering around a table to honor the Son – gladly, gladly, gladly! What more could be given to a life? – Pete McCully ¹

When life’s flight is over, and we unload our cargo at the other end, the fellow who got rid of unnecessary weight will have the most valuable cargo to present to the Lord. – Nate Saint ¹

That night I was so keyed up I couldn’t sleep much. On the other hand, I realized that the whole thing was in the Lord’s hands. ¹

A missionary plods through the first year or two, thinking that things will be different when he speaks the language. He is baffled to find, frequently, that they are not. He is stripped of all that may be called “romance.” Life has fallen more or less into a pattern. Day follows day in unbroken succession; there are no crises, no mass conversions, sometimes not even one or two to whom he can point and say: “There is a transformed life. If I had not come, he would never have known Christ.” There will be those among the Indians who say that they accept Christ, but what of the forsaking of heathen custom and turning from sin to a life of holiness? The missionary watches, and longs, and his heart sickens. ¹

It is easy to see how the availabilty of even so simple a tool as the machete can profoundly alter a culture. ¹

“… They didn’t know what a great sin it was. They didn’t understand why the white men had come. Send some more messengers, and give the Aucas, instead of fierce hearts, soft hearts. Stick their hearts, Lord, as with a lance. They stuck our friends, but You can stick them with Your Word, so that they will listen, and believe.”

This is the context in which the story must be understood – as one incident in human history, an incident in certain ways and to certain people important, but only one incident. God is the God of human history, and he is at work continuously, mysteriously, accomplishing His eternal purposes in us, through us, for us, and in spite of us…

Bones have their secrets, but they tell no lies. ²

One by one, feathery flakes landed on cold blankets and buffalo robes, on sweat-slicked hair, on shoulders turned to the sky, on soft checks–each flake delicate and slight, but each lending its almost imperceptible weight to the horror of what was about to happen. ²

Modern disaster psychologists have found that bold, decisive leadership greatly improves any group’s ability to survive the early stages of an impending catastrophe. ²

Sitting in the casino, I wondered if the habit of taking chances and thus far surviving them had lulled them into a false sense of security, left them as mesmerized by the temptations of fortune and the hazards of chance as those sitting around me seemed to be as they watched the wheels spin before their faces. ²

Imagination can only take you so far out of your own world. But it occurred to me that any one of the sixteen-wheelers racing by the interstate could have carried all of the Donner party over the crest of the mountains in about seven minutes. ²

Led into the wilderness by a lie, led astray at times by their own dreams and ambitions, … they had found themselves blundering ever more blindly through terra incognita as they moved west. Here at Emigrant Gap, even the landscape itself had conspired to deceive them. And when the land they encountered did not conform to their expectations, they had continued to move forward as if it did, taking the easier route downhill. In the end, as a group they had exhibited precisely the opposite kind of behavior from the humility and open-eyed awareness that survivors always seem to demonstrate. ²

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10 ³

The only way we can overcome the fear of rejection is to value the constant approval of God over the conditional approval of people. ³

There is nothing more motivating, nothing more comforting, nothing else that compels us more to honor Christ, and nothing else that gives us as much compassion for others as the sacrificial payment of Christ that has rescued us from eternal condemnation. ³


¹ Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Eliot
² The Indifferent Stars Above, Daniel James Brown
³ The Search for Significance, Robert S. McGee

Ang’s September ’18 Reads and QOTM’s

41DN9Ld7m2L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Another book finished. I had heard good things about Leadership Pain, but honestly, I wasn’t extremely impressed. Don’t get me wrong – there were great parts. I underlined a good bit. The concept of pain being an excellent teacher is a good one. But I feel like the actual writing was a little… redundant and all over the place. This book would’ve been a more effective read for me in about half the number of pages. I’m glad I read it, though I’m not sure I’d recommend it to my reading friends.

Some of my favorite quotes from my September reads are below!


Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp. – Dr. J. Robert Clinton ¹

Some leaders lose sight of pleasing God and, instead, live to please the next person who walks into their office… In our insecurity, we become chameleons, changing our attitudes, perspectives, and values to suit the person in front of us. Our life’s goal is gradually shifted from bringing glory to God to winning approval from others. ¹

Suffering so unbolts the door of the heart, that the Word hath easier entrance. – Richard Baxter ¹

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. – C.H. Spurgeon ¹

Shouldn’t we suppose that many of our most painful ordeals will look quite different a million years from now, as we recall them on the New Earth? What if one day we discover that God has wasted nothing in our life on earth? What if we see that every agony was part of giving birth to an eternal joy? – Randy Alcorn ¹

All the thrill of boyhood dreams came on me just now… I wanted to sail when I was in grammar school… Now I am actually at sea–as a passenger, of course, but at sea nevertheless–and bound for Ecuador. Strange–or is it?–that childish hopes should be answered in the will of God for this now? ²

The Lord has given me a hunger for righteousness and piety that can alone be of Himself. Such hungering He alone can satisfy, yet Satan would delude and cast up all sorts of other baubles, social life, a name renowned, a position of importance, scholastic attainment… Surely they can mean nothing to the soul who has seen the beauty of Jesus Christ…. ²

Would the New Testament answer the longing for the Quichua for freedom from fear, peace of heart, deliverance from evil spirits? The missionaries… felt themselves foreigners–felt they would always be foreigners. The Indian himself must be the answer…. ²

Jim, I’m taking the Lord at His word, and I’m trusting Him to prove His word. It’s kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket, but we’ve already put our trust in Him for salvation, so why not do it as far as our life is concerned? If there’s nothing to this business of eternal life, we might as well lose everything in one crack and throw our present life away with the one hereafter. But if there’s something to it, then everything else the Lord says must hold true likewise. ²

It’s hard to stay on top of it all, hard to keep rejoicing, hard to love those ungrateful Indians. It’s hard to keep our primary purpose in view when we get so swamped with secondary things. ²

“There’s glue in places that don’t need it…”
“It doesn’t bother me. The fabric will cover it.”
Franz’s father gave him a lesson. “Always do the right thing, even if no one sees it.”
“No one will know it’s there.”
“Fix it, because you’ll know it’s there.” ³

A Nazi was someone who chose to be a Nazi. ³

The more he read, the more Franz was bothered by the hypocrisy of the war he had joined – of people who believed in the same God, fighting one another. ³

As soldiers, we must kill or be killed. But once a person enjoys killing, he is lost.³


¹ Leadership Pain, Samuel Chand
² Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot
³ A Higher Call, Adam Makos