The Returning by Rachelle Dekker – Book Review

I was given this book by Tyndale Publishing Network with the wonderful opportunity to review it however I wished. All opinions are my own. 

Glorious Summary of “The Returning” by Rachelle Dekker – derived from the back of the book, for who can summarize it better than the book itself? 

“They say the Awakening is coming.
That she’s the key.
But can she find her identity in the light
Before she perishes in the dark?

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”—one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned—a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil. ”

My Thoughts:

This book is the third installment of the series.

Upon receiving this book, I wasn’t aware of the previous books at first until I started to read and do some research. I quickly made it my goal to dive in to the series and read all three books before reviewing “The Returning“.

I sped through the books, all whilst trying to do them justice. I found my self-ordained task to be effortless, as these books drew me in, much like her father’s books have always done since I was a little girl. In case you all didn’t realize, Rachelle Dekker is the daughter of the esteemed Ted Dekker, who is also a famous Christian fiction author.

The Returning” came at a perfect time in my life, and I found it to become much more than just an ordinary book. It quickly began re-awakening a lot within my spirit! I even confess that my dreams have become impacted by the words of Truth and Life within these pages written by Rachelle Dekker.  

The words spilled throughout “The Returning” coaxed, soothed, and called to my soul.  Words from the book that cascade over every chapter, and consequently resonates and lingers within the deep cavernous recesses of my weary soul. Words such as, 

“Remember what I call you, beautiful daughter.(pg. 226)”

“Remember who you are. Your identity lies in me alone, and I see you as blameless. Beautiful, perfect daughter. (pg. 226)”

“Remember who you are. You are the light of the world. (pg. 227)”

“Take heart, See beyond what is in front of you. Hear the call; remember who picked you, crafted you, held you through all things. (pg. 230)” 

As a soul who has lived through much abandonment and rejection in earthly terms, and is on a long road of healing and erasing the lies with His truth about who I am, these words were more meaningful to me than I can adequately describe. It was as if Yeshua Himself was speaking directly to me throughout this whole series, and specifically this book, “The Returning“.

I am at a point in my life where I am dealing with a lot of pain and addressing the numerous lies I have believed that have written my personality and self-belief system and fueled my self-hatred and immense feelings of shame.  I have lived as a creature of fear…  but that is NOT who I am!

That is not my identity…

That is not my soul. 

I must call forth the Truth of who I am and REMEMBER.

 

I was leery of this book at first as it seemed almost like a cheesy bible study with a fiction aspect to it, but the more I read and processed, the more I fell in love and realized that I was meant to read this book… and it is anything but cheesy! I resonate a lot with Elise and Carrington in this book, especially with their battles with fear and self-doubt. Elise, even on a deeper level, as she battles with rejection, abandonment and feeling worthless. My adoption and personal life are a testimony of those struggles, as well as His restoration.  

Some of this book confused me at times. Questions such as, who is Aaron supposed to represent? (This is answered below in an interview with Rachelle Dekker by Tyndale Publishers).  Where do these powers exactly come from and how do they manifest?

These were answered more as I read deeper into the book and had self-reflection.

I definitely encourage readers to not be afraid to challenge and ask questions when they read!

A true author will answer your secret questions as you go deeper, or at least guide you on the path to find the answers within yourself… I found this to be very much true in the affirmative with Rachelle Dekker. She is a truly gifted author, in my honest opinion. 

It is intense how palpable the light and darkness (darkness specifically) is in this book, but it speaks to me because I love to see the world with an allegorical eye and it helps redshift my focus back to the reality of our world… peel back the mask of lies and numbness and face the spiritual battle and awakening right before me every moment of my life. 

I just LOVE the quote at the beginning of the book about the mask, which I’m not sure if my reader’s remember, but I have been going through a lot of soul work in being genuine, vulnerable and removing “the mask” in which I find myself hiding behind way too often in a false hope of achieving the veneer of “perfection”, which just leads to living a lie. 

This Quote by Kara Dekker goes as follows – pulled from the beginning pages of the book “The Returning“:

Do you know who I see behind this thick glass?

A distorted image I call me.

But do I really know the person behind the bask, the body, the facade?

For you see, all I’ve ever known is how to attempt to be perfect

And when I fail, my mirror gets darker until all I see is filth. 

Disappointment.

We all live in tainted glass that consumes us.

But do we have to?

What if I decided to wipe my mirror clean?

Pull a lamp string to bring in light.

Forgive myself for my mistakes…what happens then? 

What if I chose to shatter my mirror altogether,

Believe in my beauty and worth and step beyond the 

Fragmented glass

I’d have to live in a world with flawless glass,

Where I never hated myself, never hated others.

Wouldn’t that be a world? 

-Kara Dekker

Interview Questions for Rachelle Dekker by Tyndale Publishers:

Rachelle Dekker -Dreamer, Writer, Child of the Light
  • What themes are explored in this book? Identity is something I am always exploring, so that’s no different in The Returning. But in this novel, I took a really hard look at forgiveness and how that relates to our journey of discovering who we really are.
  • You talk about the power of belief in the book. What is the purpose of faith, and what makes faith so powerful in people’s lives? Belief and faith are everything. We form our own realities. We make judgments based on the past and what we think the future will bring; then we shape our idea of what we are capable of around those beliefs. Imagine if we truly believed we were infinite sons and daughters of the creator. How different would the world look then? When we believe and have faith in who the Father calls us, then the world looks pretty different.
  • Aaron is a somewhat mysterious character throughout the series. What is he supposed to represent and what kind of spiritual leader is he? I like to leave this one open, which I know isn’t really the answer you want. I want the reader to decide who he is to them. For me he’s a guiding light, an angel maybe, a representation of the spirit who communicates with us and leads us. He can be many things—mostly, though, he’s a great way to hear truth.
  • How do you hope this book will resonate with your readers? I hope, as with both of the other books, that the reader sees themselves in the characters and that the story causes them to look inward. To ask hard questions like, Who am I? What am I capable of? Do I see myself the way the Father does? Can I? I hope it challenges their idea of identity and then gives them hope to see themselves and others more clearly. Because that’s how these stories have impacted me, and we are all really just the same.

 

I mean really… NOTHING beats curling up on a couch, in front of a blazing fireplace and reading a book that captures the imagination and soothes the soul. *swoon*

Summary: 

If you are looking for a Christian fiction book that will take you on an adventure of the imagination as well as a self-reflection and growth journey of the soul… then I highly recommend this book! It is just marvelous! I can’t wait to read more from Rachelle Dekker. I am so glad she answered her calling to be a writer, as I am sure she has already touched many lives. I know for sure, her writing has indeed touched my life.

At the very least, I encourage you all to check out her book at this link for more information! You won’t regret it!

Amazon Link (hardcopy and kindle formats available): “The Returning” by Author: Rachelle Dekker.

As always, my kindred spirits,

May you be awakened and renewed by His love for you every morning,

Rebekah Clark

New Year’s Revolution

Hi friends! Happy New Year!

Oh, wait. We’re over three weeks into the new year. (How’d that even happen?) This is the point when resolutions are starting to waver…or just flat out crash and burn, right? Unless, of course, you’re like me, in which case you haven’t even made resolutions yet.

I’ve been planning on making some good new year’s decisions, I really have. But with family visits, a month-long sickness (no joke), work at the newspaper going crazy, and Netflix binge-watching with the best friend on the weekends, coming up with resolutions hasn’t happened. Part of the problem is also that I’m an idealistic perfectionist, so I can’t just make resolutions on the fly. I have to sit down and think them up and probably write about them and feel that I’ve made them. If I can’t, it doesn’t happen.

But here’s the other part of being an idealistic perfectionist–I’m terrible with resolutions. I have grandiose ideas of what I want to do. I’ll tell myself that I’m going to read so many books, write everything I want to write, do so many Bible studies, practice my Spanish, lose weight, eat better, exercise more, get enough sleep…you get the idea. But I never do much of anything to break those big goals into small or realistic steps. So if I can’t accomplish them in huge leaps and bounds, I don’t do them at all. When I make resolutions, they crash and burn almost immediately.

One of my resolutions is always to write more. Each of these notebooks represents one or several writing projects that I want to be working on…

Still, I do try to make some resolutions or at least have a few ideas to remind myself of the things I want to accomplish and work on through the year. One thing I did last year was an idea I took from Nicole—pick a word of the year. My word last year was “follow.” I knew that I’d be graduating from college, going back home, and trying to find a job. I knew that things would be more uncertain than anything I’d dealt with in the past. And I knew I would have to trust God and follow His will, His plan, His adventure for my life. That simple word was a huge challenge, inspiration, and encouragement to me throughout the year.

So I thought: “why not choose a word for 2017?” The problem was, I couldn’t choose! “Follow” still seemed so appropriate in so many ways, since I’m pretty up in the air about any long-term future plans. “Discipline,” “adventure,” “submit,” “content,” “abide”…all good words, all with lots of meaning for me, but nothing seemed to be clicking as the right word.

I’ve been trying to make the perfect resolutions, trying to find the perfect word…then it hit me. That’s not ultimately what I need.

I don’t just need resolutions. I need a revolution. And I don’t just need a word. I need the Word.

Let me explain. My best friend, Marissa, has this habit of referring to resolutions as “revolutions.” (It’s not because she doesn’t know the right word, it’s just a funny family quirk.) At first I just thought it was fun–then I realized how important and awesome it is.

A “resolution” is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” We make resolutions because we want to make changes, and by George, we are going to make them. Until about three weeks later, when our motivation and dedication tend to falter, anyway…

A “revolution” is “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.” (It’s absurdly ironic that I’m listening to “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton as I type this. I’m also very tempted to turn on Les Mis. Do you hear the people sing… Oh goodness I’m such a Broadway nerd. Getting back on track…) So, what does that have to do with anything?

Here’s the point: A resolution is me gritting my teeth and saying “I am going to do this!” A revolution is a change of who’s in control.

We can make decisions, but we usually don’t have enough strength to carry them out. We mess up. A lot. Especially when trying to better ourselves. Especially when trying to sin less or serve God better. Want to know why? Because we’re trying to muscle our way through and make it happen in our own strength. Just ask Paul how that works out (Romans 7:18-25). We simply don’t have the strength to do it on our own.

That’s why we need a revolution. When I’m trying to do everything in my strength, I’m letting my sinful self be in charge. There needs to be a “forceful overthrow” of our inner “social order in favor of a new system.” We need to execute our proud, teeth-gritting, self-dependent sinful nature (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5). We’re not sufficient, we’re not good enough, we’re not able, in and of ourselves…“but our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). We need a new system–one where the King is in charge (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16-18). That way, He can be our strength, and in His power, we have all we need to live as we should (2 Peter 1:3). This is the revolution through the power of the Word (John 1:1-5).

We can make resolutions, but without the revolution of letting God throw down our sinful self and take control, those resolutions won’t get us far. We can pick a word for the year, but without the Word of God–Jesus Himself and His written Word–controlling our lives, it won’t accomplish anything worthwhile.

So yes, I do have resolutions for the year. I want to write: posting on this blog weekly, working on two books, and keeping up with/trying to publish smaller projects. I want to be healthier: eat smaller portions and less junk, maybe find time to exercise more, hopefully lose some weight. I want to be faithful in studying my Bible each day.

But more than those resolutions, I want the revolution of God being in control so that my writing is for Him, my health is for Him, and especially the time I spend in His Word each day is to know Him better.

And yes, I do have a word for the year. Kadima. It’s Hebrew for “forward.” (I got it from a cool scene in the TV series The Flash, not from the liberal Israeli political party of the same name. Just throwing that out there…)

Forward. Forward in my writing, forward in my still up-in-the-air life, forward in my relationship with God. Forward in the revolution.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

So, friends, have you made any resolutions? Do you have a word for the year or anything similar? How’s 2017 starting for you? And how will you move forward with those ideas in terms of this revolution? Give me your feedback in the comments!

Save

Noble the Movie

 

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The movie Noble is about the life of Christina Noble, an Irish woman from the mid 1900’s, who has had a very difficult and trying childhood and life growing up in Dublin and then moving to England, but throughout it all she holds onto, even if just by a thread of hope, her faith in God.

In the midst of her suffering and crying out to God for understanding and beseeching Him with questions about if He has forgotten about her, she has a vision of children from Vietnam consumed by war and devastation that their little innocent hearts does not deserve to have to endure through. She dreams of children, who are desperately in need of love, protection, and help. She vows that one day, somehow, she WILL go to Vietnam and carry out her vision that God has placed within her heart. The movie goes through her journey in Vietnam in 1989, as she is trying to set up a home for the street children so that they can be safe, loved, nurtured, educated, and receive any medical care they need.  The movie also has many flashbacks about her life as she was growing up and all the intensity and sorrows she went through to make her into the woman she was destined to be.

Her spirit is one truly comprised of gold to go through all the pain she went through, and yet to still have a song on her lips, radiating joy in her heart and love for the “least of these”, the poor and abandoned children, in abundance. She is such an inspiration in how she pours and selflessly gives out of herself to these children in desperate need on the streets of Vietnam. She is as bold as a lion, and in the movie, she even rescues some young girls from being preyed upon by evil predator type men who have nothing but the vilest intentions with these young girls, which adds for quite the dramatic plot twist as she “storms the castle”, so to speak, for these young souls. She is a hero in the truest form of the word, in my humble opinion.

The movie was such an inspiration and very moving.  I found this movie to be quite surprisingly splendid and refreshing because sometimes, with more feel-good/faith films, they can be quite cheesy and low quality, but this movie was quite the opposite. I loved the more serious parts, and how they were expertly broken up by little scenes of humor and amusement that left me giggling and smiling.

The actress who portrayed Christina Noble, Deirdre O’Kane, was delightful! She had such a passionate and vibrant acting personality, and the Irish accent in her voice, both singing and speaking, was beautiful to watch and hear!

In this movie, I laughed, I cried, I was, to say it again, very much moved by this movie.

Watching Christina’s story drew something out from within me, it reignited a passion, so to speak. Children are the future, and we are called by God to love the children, widows, and orphans (James 1:27 and Psalm 82:3 in the Bible), and for someone to embrace that divine calling so selflessly and fully with a wide open heart and boldness of a lion…that is true faith and religion in my opinion. Serving with abandon and loving everyone you come across with and protecting them from themselves even. There is no greater calling, than to be NOBLE and BRAVE and to LOVE, no matter the personal cost (John 15:13)!

Have you seen this movie yet? What were your thoughts on it?

Beloveds, my ending question is one that convicts me to the core and puts my priorities in alignment, and that is: What is something both noble and brave you would accomplish with your life if you were guaranteed NOT to fail because God was on your side?????

To find and connect with other “noble” women, search the hashtag on your favorite social media “#sheisnoble”.

Now may I add this as a follow up to that question?

GREAT NEWS!!! He IS on your side, and if He has placed a dream within you…no matter how huge or minuscule, if it is from Him…NOTHING can get in your way. Fear has no place where love is (1 John 4:18), and God LOVES you and is FOR YOU! Go be bold and brave like Christina, and do great things for the Kingdom and for His glory alone! You are VICTORIOUS in Jesus!!!

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Now for some homeplay (homework but better):

Here is the trailer for the movie and a link to their phenomenal, beautifully done website! Go check them out and give them some lovings and go watch this movie!

Here is the official synopsis from their website:

“They broke everything but her spirit. They took everything but her dream. NOBLE, the award-winning feature film, is the incredible true story of a fearless Irish heroine driven by her daring vision to escape the slums of Ireland and risk everything on the streets of Vietnam.

Winner of six U.S. film festival awards, including the Panavision Spirit Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the powerful biopic drama written and directed by Stephen Bradley is heralded by critics as “raw and genuinely powerful,” “captivating” and “moving.” The Hollywood Reporter calls it “a joyful and rousing affirmation of the human spirit that will resound widely.”

With great affection, as always,

Rebekah M. Clark

God As Our Father

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

As Christians we live in a world of paradoxes–an all powerful, all mighty, all righteous God who we should fear is yet an all loving, all merciful, all tender God who has adopted us–who allows us to address him as our Father.

So how do we reconcile these powerful truths in our minds? I was recently struck by a scene from The King’s Speech. Previously in the movie it showed the main actor interacting with his daughters–you could tell they had a wonderful relationship–lots of giggling and hugs. Later in the movie it shows him arrive home right after he is crowned King. He is in his ceremonial dress. When he sees his young daughters he opens his arms wide. But instead of running immediately to Him they both curtsey and murmur “Your Majesty”…..and then they run to him.

I marveled over this dynamic. Though their Father was someone they loved, cherished, and were extremely close to, even as children they respected and honored him as their King. Although perhaps a simplistic example of the intricacies of our relationship with God–I feel that we can and should apply a similar approach in our own personal relationships with our Father King. Often God is painted as someone to be feared and revered–or a Daddy who hugs and coddles. The truth is He’s a beautiful blend of the two–and so we should approach Him with a courtesy, a murmur, a reverential respect–and then fling ourselves into His wide open arms.

Cravings ~ Not Your Normal Devotion

I recently wrote in my Moms of Faith column about the need to ditch perfection. I talked about how for a time I gave up on doing my devotions because I felt I just didn’t have the time to do them “right”. This year I decided that I would throw this mindset out the window—whether that meant amidst screaming children or a brief one verse to ponder over that day.

Carey Bailey had the same thought! She struggled with time to devote to God amidst the chaos that is life as a new mom. She felt Him telling her to “just make it easy” and so she did. And now you can benefit from that! Cravings contains daily “thoughtlets” based on the Psalms that are great–short, sweet, but anything but not fluffy. I love that the adorable stand that lets me read it while I’m loading the dishwasher! It’s been perfect for those days when life just gets in the way of a “proper” time with God–and of course those are the days I need it most!

I also really love the concept behind the name–the thought that when we have “cravings” it should really be God’s word we’re craving…..not chocolate or cupcakes! This has encouraged me during my journey to become more healthy and helps remind me where my focus should be and what the “good stuff” really is! This would make a perfect Mother’s Day gift for a busy mom in your life!

Here’s a little more about this awesome idea and a great giveaway as well! Also drop by the rest of the Blog Tour to see what other bloggers have to say!


“When I became a mom I lost my God time,” says Carey Bailey. “I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in, since everything but that time was a priority. So I made note cards that I set around my house with scriptures written on them. Even when my arms were too full of babies, laundry, and diapers to pick up a Bible, I could easily read God’s words of encouragement that I was starving for”

And Cravings–The Devotional was born. Celebrate with Carey by entering her Minute-for-Mom Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • $50 gift card to Erin Condren Shop (Your one-stop-shop for all things awesome!)
  • $50 gift card to Victoria’s Secret® (For something pretty.)
  • $25 gift card to Bath & Body Works® (For a little spa treatment.)
  • 2 Sets of Cravings – The Devotional (For you and a friend.)
  • Scentsy Plug In and 2 Bars (A lovely scent for your space.)

Hurry, the giveaway ends on 5/12/12. The winner will be announced 5/14/12 on Carey’s blog!
Just click one of the icons below to enter! Tell your friends about Susan’s giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

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