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exposed

elijahmountcarmelthm

margaret feinberg sent me her book, the sacred echo and i have been meaning to read and blog about it. when i received it in the mail work was super crazy and then i moved. well needless to say the book, along with all my other books were packed away. i have just now gotten it out and so i began reading it this morning. i will start out with the section titled exposed. 

in this section margaret starts out by saying she was never much of a pray-er. if anything a yo-yo pray-er. there were many attempts such as praying standing, sitting, lying, a prayer notebook, a prayer photo box, but none of them stuck around. then she ended up making a prayer list in the back of her bible on the extra sheets. it is hard to lose your bible and that way its always right there. she started wondering why she was praying for all these things and people over and over when god already knows what he is going to do and already knows the words that are going to come out from her mouth before she even lets them out. then she started thinking of jesus’ parable of the tenacious widow who demanded justice. the judge finally caved, not because of her arguments, or the eloquence of her speech, or the testimony of her witness. he gave in because was a nag and wore him down. just like margaret says, i want god to not only hear my prayers, but to act on them. when god speaks to me i want to be confident to recognize his voice and then obey.

“i want a relationship with god where prayer is as natural as breathing.”

“i want my every inhale infused with his presence, my every exhale an extension of his love.”

margaret talks about when you feel or hear something and wonder if its god. questions like that take her to the story of elijah. in 1 kings 19, elijah hits rock bottom and is ready to throw in the towel. god asks elijah what he is doing here. he does not hold back with his response. his life is on the line, yet god does not answer any of his concerns. then god instructs him to go stand on the side of a mountain and wait. he is thousands of feet above sea level and the wind picks up. hurricane force winds are ripping the rock formations surrounding him. he hears an earthquake. the shaking finally stops. then there is fire all around, smoke fills the air. then it all vanished. god draws near, in the quiet sound of a whisper. he was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. that got elijah’s attention and kept it. this time when god asks elijah what he is doing here, elijah answers somewhat the same, but god replies with specific instruction and companionship. you have to be able to hear gods whispers. he comes close and breathes into your soul.

not only do you need to listen for his whispers, but his echos. the things he says over and over. he says it so much you can not avoid it. to hear from the god, the main source and authority is the bible. it is like gods megaphone to his children. it is something you should spend time doing daily. god does not just talk to us through the bible though. he has talked to people through many methods. he is creative and he is persistent in getting our attention and communicating with us.

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i like this.

erma-bombeck1

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.002 bighearted

always giving

much more

This chapter tells a story of Margaret’s upbringing. Many people used to ask her if her father was in the military because of their constant moving, but nor her father or mother were part of the military. They were just adventurers. From living down in Cocoa Beach, Florida to living on a boat that sailed to the Bahamas. After the time on the boat they decided to move up to the mountains of North Carolina. After some time there, they decided to head to Colorado. It was between Aspen and Steamboat. Steamboat became what Margaret would consider home. Her parents now live in the Bahamas and Margaret lives in Alaska. Though they are very different places, they are also alike in many ways. Travel and experience was nice for Margaret because it allowed her to be exposed to so many different things and people. Yet, it was not so good in the sense she would make friends and then move. One thing she really appreciated was watching her dad interact with all the different people they met along their journey. He would always make a personal connection with someone and he would do anything for them. When he owned the surf shop he would help single mothers out by giving them clothes, while living on the boat he would help people on the docks by fixing anything from their engines to their toilets. While in Colorado, he helped others on their ranch. He would help them build fences or even shovel manure. He did not mind getting dirty to help others. One word she uses to describe her dad is bighearted. He simply loved to be with people. A simple request was an opportunity for a relationship. He was also this way with Margaret. A great example is when she would ask him to borrow money. She would always ask for the bare minimum, but he would always give more. In the process of doing this, he gave Margaret an incredibly graceful understanding of how our heavenly father is. He is bighearted as well. When we ask God for something, he does not just give us what we want, or even what we need, but he gives us much more than we could ever even think of. 

“In Jesus, God put his whole heart on display for the world to see. In Jesus, my love for God is renewed. In Jesus, the fullness of God’s bigheartedness is revealed… Jesus was born into the stench of this world, and he embraced those in it. He went after the untouchable, the unapproachable, and the questionable.”

An independent subtitled film titled Motorcycle Diaries demonstrates someone becoming one of us. It is based on a true story of Che Guevara before he became famous for involvement in the Cuban Revolution. The movie shows the tragedy and triumph of his and Alberto Granado’s motorcycle journey across South America. They offered medical help to a leper’s colony and while everyone else who aided and nursed the lepers used gloves, he refused. He embraced them. He becomes fully alive and spreads it to everyone he meets. He is never hesitant to fully enter their lives. Margaret tells a story from junior high where she had watched as these two girls were continuously teased and picked on. She decided to go ask the girls if she could sit with them at lunch. They told her she would not want to do that, she disagreed and chose to sit with them. Over time, Margaret received some of what the girls got, but she made two great friends out of it. They had sleepover and shared snacks. She said somehow when you know that you are enduring some sort of hardship because you care about someone else makes it hurt a little bit less.

Jesus reaches out to any and everyone. His love is intimidating because we know that we have areas in our lives that are not good. God is not going to judge us for that, he just wants to help us make it better. We are God’s. That is a promise he has made to us. He will be there through it all. The easy and the tough times. He is not only going to go before us, but he will be right by our side holding our hand.

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.003 breathtakingly beautiful

what a

beautiful world

The chapter begins with the story of Margaret and her high school best friend. They were part of the same clubs, participated in the same activities, hung out on weekends, shared their deepest doubts and dreams. another thing they had in common was their jewish heritage. one issue that separated their hearts was that she believed Jesus was the Messiah, while her friend did not. Margaret did not really talk to her about God, but she did talk to God about her friend. A lot. Her friend became coming to Sunday night youth with Margaret, but never came around to following Jesus. Finally she asked Margaret what she thought would happen to her if she died without choosing to follow Jesus. Margaret tried to dodge the question, but she finally had to tell her what she thought. Her friend responded, when she finally spoke, with a request for Margaret to stop trying to convince, convert or coax her into believing anything different. They no longer had the same relationship. Margaret later realized her motives were not right. She was trying to convert her more for herself more so than for her friend. With that haunting experience, Margaret still had trouble talking to people one on one about her faith. After prayers to God, he started answering them. Her friend Jay told her about a clear calling he had to plant a church in Arvada, Colorado. He had never been to Colorado nor ever started a church. The church had 100 members, 75 had just committed their lives to following Jesus. That was amazing. After hearing his story, she reflected on her own efforts with her friend form high school. He said he found people places people do not know Jesus, which is really anywhere. He would start by asking someone what they loved about Jesus? What a great question. Margaret answered with his beauty. The Son of God’s ability to expose the brokenness of humanity and the depths of his Father’s love is captivating. 

God shines his beauty everywhere, from amazing things he does to his beautiful creations. Margaret encountered the beauty of a baptism of a man with no arms or legs. While it could be easy to mourn his physical loss, everyone celebrated his spiritual gain. Modern culture grades and judges beauty on another level. It is more so on prettiness, popularity or one how easy it is to like you. The beauty of God invites us to something different. Whatever you fix your eyes on become your standard. Margaret makes a good analogy to this. Her father had a jewelry store and over time Margaret learning to spot a faux stone. Not because she wanted to learn, it just happened over time. The beauty of God helps you see not only others differently, but yourself as well. Recognizing what is beautiful to God, not just beautiful to us, is what he wants us to do. 

God wants us to share our faith to others, what he has done for us, about the relationship we have with him. Like Margaret says, she has caught a glimpse of his beauty and she wants everyone to know. I want to do the same. 

The end of the chapter asks the reader what we love about Jesus. What I love the most about Jesus is his unwillingness to give up on me. I have not been the perfect child for him, but I try. I am so thankful he has placed the amazing people he has in my life, and never has given up on helping me talk about my faith. I have been saved since I was in 8th grade, but I have just recently been able to proudly talk about my father and our relationship to anyone. I still stumble, but he is always there to help me up.

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.004 amazingly wise

we all

take them

This chapter begins with the oh so fun application process to college that we all remember. In Margaret’s case she really wanted to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She prayed to God and asked him to let her know which school she should attend by giving her acceptance to one and rejection from the other three from the four she applied. She did everything she could to get into Georgetown. My favorite part she mentioned was the SAT course she took that had a money back guarantee if your score was not higher. Her score actually ended up being lower the next time she took it, which caused her to receive a rejection letter from her dream school Georgetown. My dream school was Clemson. Not a very hard school to get in to, but my SAT scores were not allowing me to get in. I made amazing grades, and was very involved in school activities as well as community activities. I was always busy. I am sure most of us took theses SAT courses to help boost our chances of getting into the schools we wanted. I believe I ended up taking about ten classes, had an SAT tutor twice a week and my parents made me go over my SAT packets from my classes an hour every night. Did my score get better? Yes, it went from a 900 to 1000, but that still was not good enough for Clemson. I ended up at Winthrop and later transfered to Clemson, but that is why I am in the place I am today. God knows why he does everything, even which college he lets us get accepted to. Margaret ended up at Wake Forest which has now placed her into the place she is today. At Wake Forest she fell in love with reading the Bible. This could have possibly happened at Georgetown, but maybe not. God’s wisdom, true wisdom, is essential to living the life we were designed to live. The only one who knows the right directions, is our Father.

While at Wake Forest, Margaret took a class from Maya Angelou. She was never afraid to address uncomfortable topics, but she did so in a way that was both tantalizing and terrifying. Though Margaret had to be on a waiting list, she eventually got into the class. The first class they went around the room and each student introduced themselves. She was no longer Margaret, but Ms. Feinberg. By the third week of class, after switching seats and continuing to learn names, an interactive test was given. At the end of the test, which everyone passed, she asked “Why did we just spend the last three weeks getting to know each other’s names? Why did I just spend nearly 20 percent of our very valuable time together making sure you knew each other’s names?” The room was silent. She answered “Because your name is a sign of dignity, and when you recognize someone’s name you recognize them not just as a human but as a person. One of the greatest ways you bestow human dignity on someone is calling them by name.” This statement is completely true. I never really recognized it, or cared if someone knew my name until recently. At my work, it takes time for the regular clients to learn your name. Some pick it up and call you by name quickly, while others are polite, but never mention your name because they do not know it. It really feels nice when someone knows your name, you feel special.

The true power of wisdom was revealed to Margaret through Maya Angelou. Wisdom is more than just practical know-how. It illuminates a better way to live, and even allows us to consider the best possible way to live. It does not travel alone, it’s companions are understanding, knowledge, counsel, discernment, discretion, justice, and equity. When we ask God for wisdom, he gives us so much more. It is a gift that keeps giving. God’s wisdom has no boundaries. He is the author of wisdom and all of its companions. 

Margaret tells a story of a college romance that was filled with late night talks on the couch, krispy kream donuts and warm kisses. There was only one problem, he just was not that into Jesus. She tried to not let that keep them from being together, but over time hearing verses from her Old Testament class warning not to marrying foreign wives who serve foreign gods, and even stumbling upon these verses herself, she knew it was not going to work. She finally explained it to him after a couple weeks, and made the comparison from the Bible. I can relate to this story, as I am sure many of us can. I had two prior boyfriends that were not close to Jesus. One who did not care to know him, no matter how hard I tried and the other who I thought was a Christian at the beginning of our relationship and later learned thought he was too smart to have faith. Nothing matched up in Christianity, he would not let anyone tell him differently. To be honest, I was not the one to give up or end these relationships. Though it was so hard at the time, and I never thought I would get over them, and my life was ruined, I had to trust God had someone better for me. I can not be with someone who does not have the same faith as me because that will only pull me away from God. Though I am so thankful I am not with those guys today, I continue to pray for their salvation. 

The next part of the chapter, Margaret begins talking about the book of Proverbs. It is packed with quick-witted and quirky observations on life. I love the one she goes into detail about. 

“Where no oxen are, the manager is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.”

Proverbs 14:4

This is saying sometimes work stinks, but keep up the hard work because it leads to profit. That is completely true. My parents have told me that about everything in life. They tell me to keep it up because it will be worth it in the end. I laugh at the fact I barely would ever believe them. I used to think my parents did not know anything, they were always wrong, no I was completely wrong. 

Margaret gave a few examples of one-liners most of us have heard. I love these sayings because just like the saying “Everything happens for a reason.” they may be corny, but they are so true.

  • Let go and let God.
  • God grades on the cross, not the curve.
  • God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

These all contain truth, but do not mistake wit for wisdom. Through wisdom we learn to love God and love what he loves.

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.005 surprisingly talkative

just listen

he is talking

This chapter starts out by Margaret describing her post-college situations. It kind of made me laugh because she explained the same thing that happened to me and so many people I know. Even though almost everyone I know ended up back at home with their parents for a period of time, having no idea what they were going to do with their lives, while you are in the situation you feel like you are the only person in the world this is happening to. Why aren’t things working out for me? Why can’t I find an amazing job I love? Why don’t I know where I want to reside? Why isn’t God helping me figure these things out? The solution is to ask yourself what you want to do? Margaret’s decision was to write, which is nice for us. Because God was silent in his answer, she was able to stick with it. She was created to do this. 

God never ignores our prayers. He is very talkative. He constantly wants to talk to us and help us. His voice is not just heard with our ears, but with our eyes, mind, spirit, and entire being. He shines through our friends, family, spiritual leaders. 

Margaret talks about how God talks throughout the Bible from beginning to end. From “Let there be light” to “Yes, I am coming soon” The Bible is an amazing book that shows you how glorious our father is. It is before, during and after its time. It is filled with ancient stories from faraway lands, but it speaks so clearly to us. Every part of the bible teaches us a life lesson. Like Margaret says, sometimes you see a sentence that could have been written specifically for you that day. I read my Bible each morning, and I just open it up to one of the many marked pages from sermons I have heard. It never fails, that the page I open up to relates to something going on in my life and it helps me so much. I almost feel like God is picking the pages I look at.

Margaret had a job opportunity as a freelance  publicist for a music company. It would have been a great job. They gave her seventy two hours to decide. She began praying, asking what to do. Finally as she was getting some cleaning done, God asked her if she wanted bronze. She did not understand until later, but he was asking her if she wanted the bronze or wanted to wait for the gold. He had something even better out there for her. 

“Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. Instead of bronze I will bring you gold.”

When Margaret came across this verse from the Bible, she never questioned her decision of not taking the job again. She knew she made the right decision. Even though the decision may not seem right at the time, God knows what he is doing. He only wants the best for us, and he knows how to make that happen. Two of Margaret’s favorite stories from the Bible completely relate to this. Both the story of Noah building a boat among people who had never seen rain in Genesis and the story of the Passover in Exodus. 

One time Margaret was listening to a preacher on the radio talking about idolatry and he finished his sermon with the instructions to ask God reveal idols in our lives. She asked and the first thought that popped in her head was that she had more idols than she could handle right now. You have to face sin to be set free. 

Margaret was reading the story of the burning bush in Exodus 3. She wondered what would have happened if Moses had just decided to pass by the bush and go about his way. She said if there is something we encounter that is highly unusual we should probably take the time to pursue it. She was on a plane and began having a conversation with a divorced man on his way to see his daughters. She felt the need to pray with him, but she didn’t. She walked away from the bush. She apologized to God. Of course he forgave her, but she knew it was not the same as if she had obeyed him. So on the next flight she had a conversation with the man seated next to her about faith. She began the conversation with an easy “Where do you go to church?” He had not had a conversation like that with someone in years. 

I loved this statement she makes. She says that God whispers. If someone yells, you can hear them clearly from across the room, but if the same person is whispering, you need to be near them to hear. He whispers in order to draw us closer to him. Even if we do not hear him, he continues to speak to us over and over again.

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father and son

team

hoyt

my brother sends me forwards all the time. i hate forwards but he is pretty good about sending ones that are pretty interesting. the other day i read the best forward i have ever received. it was about a father and son, dick and rick hoyt. please go to their website and read more about them, but i have posted a portion of the page that explains who they are.

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father and son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America. It’s a remarkable record of exertion all the more so when you consider that Rick can’t walk or talk. For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick. At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development.

“It’s been a story of exclusion ever since he was born,” Dick told me. “When he was eight months old the doctors told us we should just put him away he’d be a vegetable all his life, that sort of thing. Well those doctors are not alive any more, but I would like them to be able to see Rick now.”

please click here to see footage of dick and rick in the ironman competition. it really shows how god shines through peoples actions each and every day.

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