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The Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Does Not Fail
IVP Books / 2009 / Paperback
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Chosen. Special. That's how Starbuck described herself as an adopted child in a loving family. But the word she really believed was "rejected." Her search for a father to trust doesn't end until she finds a heavenly Father who never neglects to say, "I'm there for you." A humorous, poignant, and theologically astute memoir. 192 pages, softcover from InterVarsity.
"Chosen." "Special." Those are the words Margot Starbuck used to describe herself as a child adopted into a loving family. And when her adoptive parents divorced, her dad moved east, and her mom and dad each got remarried, she told herself that she was extra loved, since she had more than two parents and people in different times zones who cared about her. But the word she really believed about herself was rejected. First by her birthparents. Then by her adoptive father-when he moved away. Then by her stepfather. Then by her birthfather a second time, when she tried to invite him into her life. Most of all, Margot felt rejected by God the Father, who she also suspected could not be trusted. Margot's story begins with a woman looking for her biological father. But it doesn't end when she finds him. Instead, his rejection punctures her soul and sends her on a different search--one that leads to a different Father. This Father did not just "sacrifice a son" like the parents she knew, but instead gave his own life out of love for her. Maybe you've been disappointed and wounded by parents who divorced, left, were abusive, or simply weren't there. Enter into Margot's story. She has been where you are. She knows the pain you carry. And her journey can lead you to the God who nurtures, protects and always says, "I am for you."
Margot Starbuck is a writer and speaker who cares deeply about what it means to follow Jesus in the sneakers, pumps or Doc Martens in which we find ourselves. She is passionate about communicating God's great love for the world--inextricably bound to God's love for individuals--in print and in speech. Margot studied art at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. At the beach and in dorm rooms, she began to notice the bind in which women find themselves today, specifically as they're pinched by the culture's insistence on the value of appearances. She was further equipped to process these issues theologically at Princeton Seminary. Today, Margot continues to be energized by the kingdom reality of God's big plan for our bodies which have been called Her first book, describes the way she came to know that the God who "so loved the world" cared deeply for her. Her second book, is about that inextricable love setting people free to be agents of the new kingdom Jesus ushered in. When she's not writing books, Margot pops up online in places like and Though disheartened by much of Christian culture's silent insistence on keeping up appearances--namely, by simply doing it--Margot is regularly inspired by those countercultural heroes and communities who are exercising different practices. (For a sane perspective on body image, she recommends TrueCampaign, an organization partnering with Food for the Hungry to transfer resources from personal self-improvement to global survival.) Right now, Margot is writing a lot about what it looks like for normal-ish folks to exercise love and justice in our cars, at the grocery store and in our neighborhoods. When audiences invite her to speak about how we can live with less stress, or spend more time with God, or grow in our faith, she still often seems to end up right there where the recycled rubber meets the road.
"Simply put, this is a brilliant book. Beautifully written, it's a must-read for all of us who realize our deepest longing is for a true experience of our real Father. Don't miss this book!"
"Will this book be made into a movie? A TV series? A graphic novel? Well, it oughta. Margot Starbuck's story has legs, and it'll captivate anyone who has a chance to hear it, in whatever way they can. Her easygoing style spins this unique yarn into an every(wo)man tale that can speak to us all."
"Starbuck gets it--what many fail to understand about how much it hurts to lose your parents at birth. Being relinquished, that is, given away, and then taken by others can be a core injury to the developing human heart. In her early years, Starbuck denies it, then fights it, then feels it. She negotiates the troubled waters of sorrow and 'second rejection' suffering when Max, her father by birth, says 'No' instead of 'Hello.' Finally, she rests her heart in the Lord's care and discovers her deepest identity in Jesus Christ. Lightly and delightfully written, this autobiography is a great read for those who want to understand more about the agony of abandonment and the joy of belonging."
"With this book, Margot Starbuck unleashes her new, very welcome voice. She narrates the Christian spiritual life with winsome humor and (occasionally scary) honesty. Pretty much every woman I know will be getting The Girl in the Orange Dress for her birthday."
"The desire for a father who sees, knows, hears and loves us is the quintessential longing in every girl's heart. In The Girl in the Orange Dress, Margot Starbuck chronicles her own search for a Father who doesn't fail her, and the good news is she lands us right in the heart of God: the one who accepts us and never fails us. Thank you, Margot, for sharing your journey and reminding us once again that he is the only one that can truly fill our longing for 'perfect' on earth."
"This is a story hard to put down. It is a fascinating read. Margot's ability to capture the essence of the search--not just for her biological father, but ultimately for her heavenly Father--is intriguing, unique and most of all--real. Throughout the book, I felt like a fellow traveler, quietly joining in her journey . . . encouraging her on. This book is a must-read for anyone who might find themselves on a similar search--one of a lifetime."
"A lovely journey through family, failure and friendships to finally find a Father who does not fail. Sure to charm and challenge all spiritually minded seekers and sojourners."
"Margot Starbuck takes us on a lovely and challenging journey, searching for herself, her family and her faith along the way."
"I haven't felt this much emotion from a memoir since reading Angela's Ashes. Outrage, grief, joy and humor mingle together in Margot Starbuck's book, drawing the reader into her experiences in a way that leaves one feeling neither like judge nor voyeur, just a friend on the journey. Humbly honest, graciously hilarious, evocative, The Girl in the Orange Dress is for anyone who needs to know, really needs to know, how much God loves his children."
Read all Questions/Answers for "The Girl in the Orange Dress: Searching for a Father Who Does Not Fail"
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Author: Margot Starbuck
Located in: Durham, NC
Submitted: June 02, 2009
Tell us a little about yourself. Im a writer and speaker living in Durham, North Carolina, with my husband and three kiddos, by birth and adoption. I also have the privilege of participating in Reality Ministries where Ive been befriended by teens and adults with disabilities. I am ridiculously grateful for each of these holy privileges.
What was your motivation behind this project? When my agent suggested that I write a spiritual memoir, I knew that was exactly what I should be doing. Im a storyteller and the thread of Gods goodness has been woven throughout my journey. Its simply a story that begged to be told.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? My hope is that readers will come to know, in their bones, Gods constant whisper, I am for you. Some readers have had parents who drank too much, or who died too early, or were absent for other reasons. Our human experience of fathers and mothers can cause us to believe that were not really worthy of love, human or divine. Even when our caregivers have done their very best--which I think they all probably do--each one of us stands in need of a love that never fails. The journey toward receiving that love in our deepest places requires courage, and I hope that readers who are on that road will be encouraged by my story.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? During my darkest days I suffered with the pain of depression. It has been a great experience for me, through this book, to be able to look back and recognize Gods faithfulness on the journey, through the good gifts of people, prayer, therapy, and medication. I continue to be grateful for all the members of my tribe who loved me back to life, on Gods behalf.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? My first semester at Princeton Seminary I took a course with Dr. James Loder. When he described the logic of the Holy Spirit I recognized, immediately, the pattern of Gods Spirit at work in my own story. It gave me a rubric to understand what had, and was, and could happen in my own journey. I also enjoy reading Anne Lamott. I appreciate her transparency and vulnerability. Theres something very lifegiving about that. It chips away at the deceivers lie that we should already be perfect, and, ironically, opens us up to real transformation.
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: I want readers who may be hurting, ones whove received bad gifts, to know that redemption is Gods whole business. Its what Gods about. I want them to know that God cares, personally, for them. God sees, God hears, God knows, God cares. I used to think that God had much more important things to do than to worry about my emotional pain. After all, there were war-torn countries and starving orphans, right? Thankfully, Gods economy and resources were different than mine. In fact, Gods healing of human hearts is entirely compatible with Gods redemption of all creation. As we come to experience Gods great great love for us, in our bones, were set free to be for others the way that God, in Jesus Christ, has been for us.
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