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Thursday, May 21, 2015

the choosing {book review}

//title: the choosing//
//author: rachelle dekker//

"Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her." 

I am a pretty big fan of several of Ted Dekker's novels, so my curiosity was definitely piqued when I saw his daughter had written a debut novel.  I was not disappointed!

It usually takes me a little time and perseverance to really get into a book.  Not so with The Choosing.  I received and read this book in a matter of a short few days.  I was immediately drawn into the world of Carrington Hale.  I saw the world through her eyes, my heart aching in her despair, my stomach twisting in the anguish of what looked like her hopeless future...then my chest growing warm when I felt the love she had found. I was sucked right in!

I can't really think of a negative thing to say about the book.  The balance between description and action was absolutely perfect.  The inner turmoil and outer movement of the story was fluid; perfect.  The characters and the dialogue were believable, raw, personal.

Some were worried about this book being just another Divergent or Hunger Games.  Just another futuristic dystopian book, right?  Wrong.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

This is the story of a identity.  Of beauty.  Of hope.

This is the story of a True Love between a girl and her Father.  And how she learns what it really means to be loved and to be called beautiful.

I would recommend this book specifically for teen girls struggling with their identity and worth.  While I believe it is an excellently written story suitable for anyone (aged 13 and up), teen girls will be able to relate to Carrington's struggle of identity, and will be encouraged in her journey of finding her ultimate worth in the loving arms of her Savior.

I can't wait to share this book with my family and friends--and I'm anxious for the next in the series!

Thanks so much to Tyndale for providing me with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review as a part of The Choosing blog tour.

About the Author 
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her online at rachelledekker.com. 

A snippet of Q&A:

How did you come up with the story for The Choosing?

This is a hard question because it has many answers. I wanted to write a theme-based novel about identity. I wanted to write a dystopian novel. I wanted to write in a world that was familiar, but in a setting where I could change the way the world worked. It actually is several ideas I’d been toying with pulled into one story. Once I landed on Carrington’s core revelation and story arc, I simply fell in love with her as a character and drew the rest of the story around her. That’s usually how it works for me. I come up with a character, good or bad, and create the story from there.

You based your main character, Carrington, off of your younger sister. In what ways is Carrington like her?

It’s more the beliefs that Carrington struggles with that remind me of my sister. The idea of worth, of not feeling like you’re enough, or questioning whether anyone would choose you. Carrington came about as I spent time with my sister and her college-age friends and saw that a large majority of them were searching for significance, searching for worthnone more than my sister at the time.

Throughout the book, Carrington struggles with understanding her identity and worth and what is true. Why did you decide to write about the theme of identity?

Someone once asked me, If you could leave one message for your younger sisters, what would it be? The answer was always the same: I would pray they knew what they were worth. Identity is everything. There isn’t a theme that doesn’t start with identity, or circle back to identity. Knowing who you truly are is the greatest journey we face. Am I enough; am I worth it? I believe everyone faces these questions, and I sought out to explore them through this story.

Do you think women tend to struggle with identity more than men?

I don’t think women struggle with identity more then men. Not at all. I just think we struggle differently. As a woman I understand the identity struggle from a female perspective more, but I think most men wonder if they’re enough just as much as women do. We are all the same at our core, really. We are on this earth for a short time, trying to figure out our purpose and worth. Searching for recognition, usually in all the wrong places. The truth I am discovering is that there is no need for searching. The truth already resides inside of us. The Father has already marked us as chosen, worth it; He has already given us a purpose. It’s only a matter of looking inward to the soul and to the Creator of that soul to find our worth. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

when i just want to do big things

What is the purpose of life?

What do I want to be known for?

What will people say about me when I die?

The profound, philosophical questions of life.  The ones that stop us in our tracks.  They cause us to second guess our next steps.  To look behind to find wisdom for what is ahead.

I find myself wrapped up in the culture screaming "BIG".

I want to do something BIG.  I want to be something BIG.  I want BIG accomplishments on my resume.  I want people to talk about all the BIG stuff I've done.  The BIG amounts that I spent on the good of the world.  Money, time, whatever.  

I just want to be BIG!

....and then I stop...

Why do I want to be big?

I argue: "Well, God is glorified when I do big stuff!  It makes people notice how big HE is!"

Then, a still *small* voice reminds me that...I don't need to remind people how big He is.  He's already big.  And people know it.  And He doesn't need me to prove it.

So why?  

It would seem to me, that my generation has been brought up on the idea to do big things for God.  To dream big, to pursue big, to work hard, to accomplish grandiose.

I found pride in this idea.  Listening to the S. M. Davis talk, "What to Expect from a 12-Year-Old" at the tender age of 12, I found myself cheering and whooping.  

It's about time people stopped underestimating us!  I'm gonna blow their minds.

I stoked my pride as I pushed and shoved and worked and read and studied and worked and read and...

Soon, I found myself lost.

I stood on the brink of adulthood, with no vision or dream.  But I wanted one so badly!  

What's wrong, Lord?  You know that if you give me a vision, nothing can stop me from getting it done!  Nothing!  Why haven't you given me a calling or a dream?  Why don't I have something big to work towards?  How do You expect me to change the world if You don't tell me what to do?

So I took it into my own hands.  I kept working and reading and studying.  Hoping the answers would come.  My pride kept driving me.  One day, I'll do something big and make God proud.

I failed to realize.

He's already proud of me.

I found myself standing face to face with what I felt was my boring, mundane life.

The one where I wake up every morning and put a load of laundry in before I start the coffee.

The one where my routine is that of learning how to roll with not having much of one.

The one where I go to work to smile at people and help them with their crafty needs.

The one where I read late into the night.  Or stay up late with my sisters, watching old TV shows, eating popcorn and sour gummy bears.

The one where I have unfinished craft projects every where...but the most important ones always get done.

The one where I love on my brothers and sisters, planting kisses on their foreheads and cheeks as we pass in the hall.

My life.  My simple, boring, mundane, beautiful life.

You see, my beloved reader, what I missed was the very essence of what I thought I was working so hard for from the beginning:


By grace I have been saved.  By grace do I breathe.  By grace do I worship.  By grace do I live this life I've been given.

I am nothing.  If it weren't for Him.

It's only because of Him that I can even wake up in the morning, much less do anything!  

I stop, I bow my head.  My pride failing.

What makes me think that I am so worthy to do big things for Him?  What makes me think that I have anything to give Him?  Why do I think I deserve a place to do anything 'bigger' or 'better' than to live this seemingly boring life?

I don't.

Besides, who am I to determine what is small or big?  

My calling is to be faithful.  Stop looking for the big things.  To stop shoving.  To stop trying.

To wake up in the morning and smile as I pour soap into the washing machine.  Faithful.  This is where He has me.  This is my obedience.  This is my joy.

This is His glory manifested in me.

He doesn't need my help being glorified to the world.  

If He chooses to use me in the spotlight, doing 'big things, that's up to Him.  But if He wants me behind the scenes, cleaning everybody's laundry, cooking the meals, cleaning the bathrooms, it is still a position more worthy than I deserve.

Does this mean that we should stop dreaming of 'big' things?  That we should stop working towards doing grand things for His glory?

By no means!  But don't be discouraged if you don't have a dream right now.  Don't be sorry if you aren't making a 'big' impact on the world right now.  Don't be afraid that you're disappointing God by not doing something 'great'.

Be faithful in where He has you right now and leave the rest up to Him.

"He must increase, but I must decrease."
~John 3:30

Monday, May 4, 2015

may the 4th be with you

Hello, my lovely readers!

Just wanted to let you know that, in celebration of today, May the 4th, also known as Star Wars day, I have a series of giveaways going on over at my online mag, Beloved Girl!

Check it out and enter for a chance to win one of these gorgeous prizes:

...and more! ;)

Check out the giveaways HERE!

Or, check out each of them individually: