I talked about Lucy working on her independence this summer and other “summer goal” ideas back HERE. (She has taken some new things in stride which is awesome to see.)

So let’s keep going with that independence theme for a minute here.

Leading up to the 4th I read a couple good books that made me appreciate independence and the freedoms we enjoy a little extra.

I have been wanting to read that one on the left up there for a long time (I kept getting recommendations). Lu and I read it together and I think it merits it’s own blog post, so I’ll post on that later this week.

But let’s talk about that one up there on the right: I Must Betray You.

Because it’s about ROMANIA!

The beloved place of my mission.

Oh I knew about that tyrannical dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu when I lived there in 1993-1994. (So shortly after the revolution in December 1989…so much more HERE and anywhere you google that information.) There was still so much fear. So many still trying to find hope.

But this historical fiction novel brought so much more depth into that whole history.

It was about a 17-year-old’s perspective and how he became an “informer” to help his sick grandfather, how so many lived in fear and informed on each other. How the clutch of Ceausescu became such a vise grip on that country filled with anguish and trepidation.

It was fascinating. And also horrifying. And I was so grateful for the opportunity to delve more deeply into thoughts of that country I love so much. And the people I love there.

I loved the Romanian words and the descriptions that reminded me of my time there, and also made me yearn even more to get back.

Some day!

And although I didn’t finish until after the 4th of July, because I was in the middle of that book I had an extra measure of gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy here in this country on that day.

For those who have gone before and fought valiantly to make this country what it is today.

Sure, we have our issues.

There is so much we need to work on.

But I felt such an overwhelming gratitude for my grandparents who and their grandparents and those who came at the very beginning of this country who worked so hard to create the ripple effects we now enjoy.

I was overcome with that thankfulness as I got to join with {almost} our whole family switching up our regular tradition and trying something new.

(For so many years we have been meeting up with friends in California for the 4th of July. It has been a tradition we have all loved. But some things changed with the hotel our group had a long-standing relationship with, so we split up the band this year. We sure missed everyone, but we were so thankful for the chance to gather with our family, along with my brother and nephew (who’s parents just arrived in Sierra Leone for their mission so we grabbed him to join us), in Newport, to celebrate that big day.)

ALL our kids were there aside from Carson who was studying his heart out back in Florida for his boards exam on the 7th. We sure missed him!

To start off the day we met up with Dave’s cousin and her family (and some friends) who were there too, and had a “Stars and Stripes” team relay we had come up with the night before.

We all met on the public dock and each team (theirs and ours) had to do all kinds of burpees and squats intermixed with our team members making a loop on a paddleboard around a sailboat in the bay, and we ended the relay with each team doing the daily Wordle.

In my opinion it was the perfect way to start the day (even though we lost, ha!) and I loved watching that dock bump around with almost twenty people doing burpees and jumping jacks as I rounded the bend on my turn for the paddleboard run.

We took the ferry over to Balboa Island for breakfast.

I loved walking along the outer edge of the island with our big crew, every street lined with fluttering American flags.

We hugged Claire up before we had to drop her off at the airport to get back for volleyball, and our nephew too (had to get back for 4:45am work the next day).

We watched the massive parties that go on in the bay on the 4th.

We took in the sunset on the pier.

We watched the fireworks from the roof, probably 15-20 different shows popping off from what we could see.

Yes, that day was a good one to commemorate the freedoms it is so easy to take for granted. Are we “privileged” to live here? We sure are. And I’m just so grateful for reminders like I Must Betray You that we need to be grateful every day.

May we hold them sacred. May we work to create our own ripple effects so that future generations can enjoy the same freedoms we do.

I love my friend Eva’s description of her gratitude for America (coming from tumultuous Bulgaria during the communism very similar to Romania).

I talked all about her story and her beautiful art HERE.

America the Beautiful

(from Eva Timothy)

And I’ll link to where she talks about that history in her Instagram post HERE (listen to it, loved it).

Similar Posts


  1. That author, Ruta Sepetys – she wrote one of my favorite books of all time – Between Shades of Gray, go read it next!

    1. I meant to mention that I did read that book shortly before I read this one. I liked this one even better, but maybe it was just my love for Romania:). Isn’t it so cool how an author can do so much research to be able to write two books like these? I love it.

    2. Between Shades of Gray is excellent, but my favorite of this author’s is Salt to the Sea. I Must Betray You was interesting, but not AMAZING, like Sepety’s other books I’ve read. There’s a Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls podcast about Corrie Ten Boom that my children enjoyed. It’s a good version for young readers (it’s also in the Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls book). I plan to read The Hiding Place aloud to my teens someday. Such an incredible story.

  2. Oh I can hardly wait for your review of “The Hiding Place”. One of my all time favorite books and Corrie is one of my hero’s! ❤️

    1. Oh!! I’m right here as well! It is one of my all time favorite books. So much beauty and love overshadowing the atrocious things that happened. ❤️

  3. Two great books indeed! The Hiding Place is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve loaned it out so many times and have had to buy a new copy at least once. The Corrie Ten Boom house museum here in the Netherlands (in Haarlem) is even better than the Anne Frank house, in my personal opinion.

    I just so happen to be reading I Must Betray You right now and it really takes me back to my time in Romania too. But it also adds a lot of depth for me as to what those people went through. As we’ve been hosting Ukrainian refugees I am daily reminded what a blessing it is to have freedom. In Europe and the USA. May we always protect it!

  4. I love all of those American flags!! And the liberty filled lives, and happy faces!! I loved listening to Eva’s description of her gratitude for America!! Thank you so much for sharing that!! I lived 18 months as a missionary (twenty years ago), serving in Ukraine, in the very areas that are being threatened & bombarded every day now. I had strong feelings while serving there as I saw them struggle to push out of the oppression that hovered over them for so many years, and I have them even stronger every day about the need to preserve the freedom and liberty that only hope and faith can thrive in and continue to perpetuate!! God bless and preserve our freedoms, and the courageous people fighting to maintain and preserve theirs, around the world!! Thanks for the book recommendations! I’m excited to read these… I love Corrie Ten Boom’s. Her faith filled her life with hope amid such ugliness. Another book to read that is SO insightful and so incredibly eye-opening and awe-inspiring, especially in light of what we’ve been given here, and what is at stake if we lose it… “On Wings of Faith” by Frederick W. Babbel… it was out of print, but I see it selling on Amazon currently… or maybe your parents might have a copy. It was written by my sister-in-law’s grandfather. Did you know that Ezra T. Benson spent 18 months in Europe after WWII, helping people get back on their feet and ministering to the needs of everyone in the areas that were ravaged by war? My sis-in-law’s grandfather accompanied him and he wrote a book about their experiences together… it is an incredible picture of what European people truly suffered and endured, and many of the miracles that occurred during the war and in the aftermath. Pres. E. T. Benson said “It is difficult for those who did not see it to appreciate how terrible conditions were at the end of the war in much of Europe… The suffering, the pain, the sickness, the hunger, the hopelessness.” We are so blessed to have what has taken years and years to establish, and shouldn’t be taken for granted… it behooves us to guard our liberties with our lives, in endless gratitude to the many who lost theirs in fighting for ours!

    1. I so agree, and thank you for your words. I didn’t know that about President Benson. I’ll have to check out “On Wings of Faith!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *