December 4, 2017
by Jennifer
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Starting New Traditions with a Family Honor Plate

When I was growing up, on special occasions like a birthday, First Communion or getting a good grade on a test, the person of honor was given his or her dinner served on a shiny red plate that had the words “You Are Special Today” on it in white script lettering. We always loved getting the honor of having the “Special Plate.” When my brothers and I got married, my mom got each of us a “Special Plate” to continue with our families.

Family Honor Plate

My daughter shows off the Family Honor Plate.

So, I was very excited when I had the opportunity to review a different version of that plate – the Family Honor Plate. The concept combines doing a family craft, building a tradition that uplifts, and teaching children virtues. The kit comes with everything you need to decorate your own Family Honor Plate, by hand painting and then baking your plate to set the paint. It was very easy but also a lot of fun to design our plate.  In my next post, I will share a video of how we decorated our plate.

Family Honor plate

Here is an example of one family’s plate. The writing in the center is on each plate and you decorate the outside rim.

Next, we will put the plate into action by talking about character traits (fruits of the Spirit) and celebrating good choices when we see them. Unfortunately, we are sort of in camping mode at my house as we are undergoing a kitchen renovation. We are in the drywall phase and have no flooring, cabinets or appliances at the moment. So we mostly are eating on paper plates right now. But as we get our new kitchen set up and return to a normal eating schedule. I plan to incorporate the Family Honor Plate into our nightly mealtime. I am already thinking of the perfect spot to display the plate so we can use it as an anchor and guide for our daily behavior, starting with me and my husband!

I am a firm believer that when you focus on and recognize the good, you get more of it. How fun would it be if instead of looking for ways to tattle or for pointing out where others fall short, we look out for good choices and attitudes in the members of our family each day? When the person of the day is given the plate, they are told of the specific choices they made and the virtues and character those choices showed. It is also important to make the connection between the choice they made and how the child’s action made everyone involved feel, so they understand and connect with the power and beauty in positively impacting others.

I would love to see the kids competing in kindness, gentleness, and self-control to get the honor plate – even if they have to “fake until they

Table Talk cards

A tool to help us get talking, share stories and share memories!

make it.” If we all showed up every day from a place of love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, what a family culture we would have and how might that impact our community? Our world certainly needs to focus on building up these character traits and how powerful the impact we can have on the world when we operate from a place of love.

I also got a fun flip book of table time discussion cards called, “Let’s Talk.” This is a great tool to get us out of our phones and talking to one another again in real conversation. This tool can help us teach our children how to listen, share, and communicate which is so important for social skills, academic skills, and future career skills. And more importantly, it opens the door for family storytelling that will make lasting connections for your children.

Both the Family Honor Plate and the Let’s Talk book would make great Christmas gifts for your favorite families and Familyhonorplate.com is offering a 20% discount on multiple orders at the Online Store!

I’ll be posting a follow up with our completed Family Honor Plate and a video of the unpacking of the kit and the artistic creation.

#Honorplate #Flyby #gifts #family

March 21, 2017
by Jennifer
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Celebrating Our Son on World Down Syndrome Day

When my son Joey was born in 2010, we knew very little about Down syndrome (clinically known as Trisomy 21) other than it meant that he has three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of two. We were told by the not so tactful nurse in the NICU that a lot of people would like to adopt a child with Down syndrome. We were told by the cold doctor that broke the news to us seven days after he was born that he may be able to put two words together, We were told he would be dependent on us for his whole life.

But what we soon learned is that he is a gift that brings overwhelming joy and laughter to our lives. Joey is just like any other child. Some developmental milestones take longer for him to master. He walked later and he talked later but soon mastered both. At seven, he can do much more than “put two words together.” He tells us “that’s annoying.” He asks “How was your day mom?” He teases his big sisters and he sings as loud and as often as he can.

One milestone we are still working on is toilet training but there is progress and we will eventually get there too. For the foreseeable future, academics will take a lot of work! He is in his second year of a mainstream Kindergarten that is co-taught with a special ed teacher in the classroom and he has a 1-1 para. He knows many site words, but cannot spell them and has a hard time identifying them in a sentence. His lower muscle tone makes it difficult to write and he gets tired out easily. He will learn to read and write but with a lot of practice!

I also have no doubt that one day he will live with independence. Today, he can dress himself, brush his teeth, cook toast and waffles and butter his own bread. He is the best among my three of putting his stuff away. And he can work a TV remote, iPad or iPod like no one’s business. He loves to help with household tasks like sorting laundry, using the sweeper and cleaning the windows. This morning he helped me make my coffee.

But what I most appreciate about my son is that he understands the simple things in life. He knows when the music moves you, you just have to dance and sing like no one is watching. He understands the power of a smile to brighten someone’s day. He teaches us to celebrate our accomplishments (even the small ones) when he shouts out, “I did it Mom!” And he inspires us that when we struggle with something we are working toward, to shake off the setbacks and keep trying. Most of all he has taught us to accept people for their gifts and abilities and look beyond the surface.

So on 3/21 – World Down Syndrome Day – I am very thankful for the little boy God sent to teach me about love. If you would like to support our journey, please consider a donation to the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta today! https://dsaa.nationbuilder.com/give

February 26, 2017
by Jennifer
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2017 The Year of Renovation

My word for 2017 is Renovate.


Definition of renovate, renovated; renovating

transitive verb
1: to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding)
2: to restore to life, vigor, or activity: revive

I can think of no more appropriate word. I have been taking stock in my life and a number of areas could be restored to new life and vigor.

Revonate our home After four years lease purchasing our 1960s-era home, we finally purchased it at the end of 2016 and are eager to make some major renovations. A lot of the renovations will be DIY, and it will be slow going, but worth the investment.

We have been living in a very cluttered and disorganized environment for a while and those types of surroundings really sap my energy level. I am on a kick to get rid of extra stuff. Truly bring in what is beautiful and pleasing and set up systems of order.

Frankly, every area needs to be touched and my kids and dogs need retraining as it is beginning to feel more like a zoo than a home!

Renovating our home for this year means:

  • New floors, baseboards, doors, paint and furnishings in rec room. It will include a craft/homework area and a TV/Game area and possibly a Murphy bed for guests.
  • New floors,  baseboards, doors, trim, paint, bedding and some decor for my teenager’s room.
  • Finish laundry room redo with a new doggie door and pet area.
  • Possible new bathroom for downstairs.
  • Fix sagging floors above crawl space/below the main level.
  • All new flooring, baseboards, trim and paint in the main level.
  • New kitchen and opening the wall between kitchen and dining.
  • Adding in windows and replacing the front door.

There is a lot more to do, but I hope we can tackle the above this year. We are in the rec room phase right now.

Along with the actual renovation is a lot of purging and reorganizing. Redoing our main level has me analyzing how we live and what we might need to help reduce clutter such as a better-organized landing spot for shoes, backpacks, and coats, as well as a designated closet for brooms and mops.

Personal Renovation is also high on my priority list this year. As I approach my mid-forties, I realize that I look and feel much older than I should. The weight challenge is still a big issue (no pun intended), while I think my mindset has become healthier in the past year, my waistline has not. This is the year I will tackle this beast! I must become gazelle-like focused on winning the weight loss battle. And to win, I am looking beyond the scale and just what and how I eat. I am paying attention to overall wellness. I want to revive my overall appearance through skin care and attention to wardrobe and daily physical activity. I am prioritizing rest, renewal of spirit, and personal time, as well as making efforts to reduce stress. Which leads me to the next renovation…my schedule.

Renovating my schedule is a challenge I will face this year. It is challenging because I like to say “yes” to new opportunities and I like to volunteer and be involved in things. However, now is not the time in my life for a lot of extras that don’t directly involve my family, my relationships or my work. My children and husband need more of me, I need more time for friends, hobbies, and interests and to continue to do well in my career, I need to remain a high performer. I  sometimes have to remind myself that high performing does not mean doing everything. So, I am learning to say no and to remove certain obligations that keep me on a screen or away from my family.

Renovating our environment. I am hoping the newly organized home and revised schedule will help us to renovate the tone and cadence of our home life. Perhaps influenced by the times, the tone has been negative of late around our home. Children bickering constantly, harsh words, raised voices, and overall stressful vibes in the air. The day to day weekly routine is about survival and getting things done. We have little to no time of just enjoying being together as a family. My kids need nurturing, training and more attention. My relationship with my spouse could use some nurturing too.

We have a lot of work to do ahead to rebuild and restore peace and vigor to our life. It will take a lot of work and prioritization. It is a lot to balance – actual renovation, health, exercise, time, relationships. It will require us to stay in focus and say “no” to things that won’t help us get to our goals. But it is the year of renovation and we will embrace it!

May 25, 2016
by Jennifer
1 Comment

My PCOS Journey

I am a pretty strong person. When things go wrong, I quickly go in to fight and fix it mode. I also am a high achiever, driven, type A person who strives to overcome weaknesses and meet challenges head on. One of my biggest challenges is Policystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a chronic condition which affects many women. It is treatable but not curable. It’s symptoms include irregular menstruation, infertility, pearl-like cysts covering the ovaries, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, hormonal imbalance, abnormal hair growth, inability to lose weight, inflammation, acne and skin tags, anxiety and depression.

It can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.Many with PCOS also have thyroid issues, Hashimoto’s, gluten and dairy intolerance.

My PCOS journey

When I was a young I showed the signs of extreme hunger, a large appetite, extreme mood swings, anxiety, acne and early puberty. I began dieting at age nine and was a lifetime member of Weight Watchers in 7th grade. I was always self conscious about my weight and became fanatical about counting calories and exercising. I would eat a can of spinach as my after school snack, work out two hours a day and even bring my own Weight Watchers frozen pizza to a slumber party while the others had Dominoes.

A regimen of dieting from a young age and being very active in many sports enabled me to keep the weight off. But I still never saw myself as skinny. Looking back at pictures, I was actually in great shape! But I fought for it. I gained a little in the college years, but was still healthy, exercising, and watching my diet like a hawk. The mood swings and anxiety did increase during my college years with the stress of school and relationships.

With discipline, dieting and a lot of exercise, I was able to maintain a healthy weight until I got pregnant with my first child. During the pregnancy, I gained 45 pounds in the first two trimesters and then had her ten weeks early as a preemie in September 2001.

It took a few years for that weight to come off and seven years for me to have another child. During that time, I had a miscarriage. After my miscarriage, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I finally had a reason why I could look at food and immediately gain 5-8 pounds in a weekend, but it would take every ounce of preparation and discipline, and several months, to drop that same weekend weight gain. It explained why I was hungry all of the time and had troubles with acne and abnormal hair growth.

I was prescribed Metformin, a drug to treat diabetes, that is effective in many with PCOS in regulating testosterone levels and reducing other symptoms. I found a low carb, low sugar, low fat, low calorie weight loss program called Quick Weight Loss and over six to eight months lost 45 pounds! I was in the best shape I had been since I got married and my symptoms decreased. With the help of fertility medications, I finally found out I was pregnant again in December of 2007.

During this pregnancy, I gained 65 pounds! It just seemed to pour on. I also had severe edema. After my daughter was born, they gave me a powerful diuretic to address the edema and I lost 20 pounds in one day! But sadly, I did not lose the other 45 pounds before getting pregnant again in November 2009. I only gained about 20 pounds during my third pregnancy and after my baby boy was born in July 2010, I was able to drop a little weight, but the excess 30 or so pounds I was carrying would not budge.

So for the past six years, I have tried everything to get the weight off. I have seen trainers and nutritionists. I have bought books, supplements, shakes and systems. I’d lose 20 on a very restrictive diet and gain it right back to what seemed to be a set point. Then the set point jumped up another ten pounds, and in the past few months it has jumped another ten pounds! I’m now 50 lbs overweight and it won’t budge.

During the past 90 days, I participated in a challenge. I tracked and turned in my food log, focused on a set number of calories and activity based on my basal metabolic rate. I tracked my food with My Fitness Pal. Each day, the app said I should be losing and each day the scale didn’t budge or worse, it went up. Two dietitians said I needed to eat more! BUT when I added 200-300 calories, I gained.

I exercise several times a week and my body has only gotten bigger and more jiggly, especially in the tummy. I am always hungry and always craving foods. This is due to hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance and issues with Grehlin and Leptin (hormones that regulate hunger and fullness)

My skin has changed recently too, with more acne and skin tags and even the texture has changed. I am tired and fatigued. My body aches and I feel like I’m nine months pregnant. I hate having these weaknesses!

It is not as simple as eat less, move more. It doesn’t work people!!!!! And I’m sick of crazy fad, restrictive diets, and spending money on crazy schemes. I want a real solution. I just don’t know how to sort through all the information and clutter to make a practical plan. I mean I have been dieting since I was nine and read all the books. I feel like I have a PHD in dieting, but I still haven’t been able to make it work for me.

I recently went to the doctor and the ironic thing is that he said I actually need to reduce my caloric intake,  not increase it as the  nutritionists said. Crazy as it seems, people with PCOS can be extremely resistant to weight loss.  He said that it would require 20% less calories than the average person trying to lose weight to get the same results. And the Glycemic load, sugar and carbs will have a significant effect on my ability to lose.

I must eat whole foods that are primarily veggies and lean proteins, and have a low Gylcemic load. Many people with PCOS are sensitive to gluten and dairy, so I need to eliminate these foods. The discipline and will power and planning it takes for nutrition to be spot on is overwhelming.

I also must reduce stress and get more sleep (working mom of three, with three dogs and a child with a disability who keeps me on high alert, makes it difficult to relax or sleep). I am trying to be more realistic with schedules and commitments to reduce stress in our crazy lives. I am trying to listen when my body says rest, which is very hard for this Type A person to do. Being still is not a strength of mine. I like to always be accomplishing something.

Summer is here and I dread going to the pool, in worse shape than I was last year. I am not the person inside that I look like outside. I want the woman on the inside to get out!!!!

I know to manage this I must almost become fanatical again. Planning meals and packing food wherever I go to ensure the right nutrients, getting enough sleep and the right kind of exercise, taking vitamins and minerals every day and not giving in to temptations for sugary things. It means I must be different and always have a plan or alternative food ready for situations where I cannot control the food available, such as business meetings and travel.

It won’t be easy, in fact, when I was first diagnosed and working on my eating and nutrition, I was very serious about controlling my environment and temptations. An employee was getting married and the team had a party for him at a pizza place. Knowing the options would be few, and the temptation would be large, I declined to come. That decision had professional implications I would later regret. However, if I was an alcoholic, no one would blame me for not attending a party at a bar. It takes self advocacy for others to realize the seriousness of the condition and its challenges.

It is a real and daily challenge I face. It’s my biggest struggle. It totally sucks. And it is important I get on top of my health for my kids. They depend on me. It is a journey that I will likely be on for life.

Breaking Busy

March 26, 2016
by Jennifer
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Breaking Busy

Recently, I read a book by Alli Worthington, titled Breaking Busy. It is about how to find peace and purpose in a world of crazy. I thought it was appropriate since crazy is one way to describe the world in which the Sheran family lives. Some others might called it a circus. We always have some crazy story to tell!

I always have been a busy person and for many, many years I took pride in it. Look at all I can do! When I was a young girl, I was involved in many activities from school clubs, volunteering, to dance and sports. Looking back, I don’t see how my parents handled me and my brothers competing schedules.

As a young adult, the pattern continued with work, volunteering at Church, social life and more.

Now as a 40-something working mom with three kids, kids activities, three dogs, a house needing a total renovation and volunteer involvement, the busy has come to crisis point!

Early last fall, I found myself in a state of high anxiety, I wasn’t performing well in my work, my home, and relationships. I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed! Something had to give.

Breaking Busy

My favorite singer, Kenny Chesney, just came out with a new song called “Noise.” In it, he remarks “We didn’t turn it on, but we can’t turn it off.” Letting busy run your life is another form of noise. Some of it we have control over and a lot of it we don’t. To balance the busy takes extreme discipline.

Alli discusses these issues in a down to earth, non-judging manner and includes action steps to help BreakingBusyyou “Break Busy” based on her own journey. It was an affirmation of the journey I had already begun to simplify life.

The first step is to understand capacity. I think that is an area where we routinely fool ourselves. The joiner in me, the person who wants to craft the remarkable life for my family, who wants to belong in the neighborhood social circle, who wants to perform and excel at work, and who wants to make a difference for people with disabilities, has said yes far too many times when I truly did not have the capacity. However, I was too blind to even know it. I had good intentions but they were backfiring when I took on too much!

This fall, I was asked to take on the school newspaper club at our kids school. As the time came to set up a meeting date, select kids for the club and plan the editorial calendar, I began to panic. Work was extremely tense at the time. I was working for a nonprofit whose funds were low and the board was breathing down the executive director’s neck and priorities were changing by the minute. My youngest had just started kindergarten and was struggling with behavior. These are just two of the issues I was facing. For the first time in my life, I did not just trudge on and suck it up, I called my friend and said I am sorry to have to do this but I just cannot take this on.

And you know, it was okay. She understood and she wasn’t mad. It was okay. The world did not end. And, while my world was still overwhelming, I had made one small step to regain control.

You see, fighting busy takes courage, but it is so vital to truly living a remarkable life.

So, I have to make a decision daily and weekly about each activity, option, meeting presented. Is it necessary? Is it beneficial? Have I already scheduled too much? Will something else fall behind if I do this? What things are truly important?

And busy shows itself in other places than just on your calendar. Your mind can be busy too. So reevaluate the things you put into it and find a way to un-clutter it. Mediate, journal, pray, talk to someone, but let you mind have peace. Give yourself time to just chill.

Why not join me and Alli Worthington in a new mission to be #BreakingBusy today? Comment below and tell me how you plan to start.

October 3, 2015
by Jennifer
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The Prince Who Was Just Himself Offends

A new children’s book is out which is supposed to teach about celebrating everyone’s differences. It features a young prince who has Down syndrome.  The Prince Who Was Just Himself , written by Silke Schnee and illustrated by Heike Sistig, is about a royal family who has a third child who is not like his two older brothers. They notice things that are different and special about him. Eventually he saves the town from an evil knight by showing his unique compassion.

As a mother of a five year old son who has Down syndrome, you’d think I’d applaud a book which celebrates differences and teaches people to value the differences in each of us. However, I found the book stereotypical and offensive.

The thing is people try to lump all people who have Down syndrome into one group with similar outdated characteristics such as – they are happy all the time, they are “slow”, they can’t be hurt by your ignorant remarks, they are uncoordinated.

In the book, when the towns people snickered that the little prince was “different” and “not like us,” the book says the Prince Who Was Just Himselflittle prince “only smiled at the them and was happy to be out in the sun” – as if people with Down syndrome can’t get their feelings hurt from the cruel remarks of others. As if they don’t long to belong in a community and have friendships and be accepted for who they are.

The book described the prince as “not being very good at running and jumping,” that he was “never in a hurry,” and he “hardly ever used words or sentences.” Yet, today, people with Down syndrome can learn, read, write and speak in sentences. They have interests, talents, hobbies, and jobs. They compete in special olympics and even on typical sports teams, they run, wrestle, cheer, dance and lift weights. And I know from experience, when my son is determined to do something or go somewhere, I can barely catch up!

The point is to create awareness and acceptance we don’t need to highlight and generalize stereotypical differences in people, we need to illustrate their humanity, their beauty and their individualism.

Published by Penguin books, the Prince Who Was Just Himself was well-intended but misses the mark.

Disclosure of material connection: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free in the hope that I would give it my fair review. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

September 16, 2015
by Jennifer
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Turning Points

Ashley Smith Robinson in her book Captive, discusses the turning point in her life when she was held hostage by escaped prisoner Brian Nichols in Atlanta ten years ago. At the time, she was addicted to drugs and struggling to come clean and get her daughter back. During her ordeal, Brian wanted Ashley to do drugs with him. It was at that moment she knew her choice would define her. She bravely said no and hasn’t touched drugs since.

Many of us can look back on our lives and see turning points. For me two distinct turning points stand out. The first was right after college. I had broken up with my boyfriend of 51/2 years and entered into a deep depression. Life as a an adult just wasn’t what I had imagined. I was drinking too much and behaving recklessly, grasping to find out who I was without someone beside me.

Here I am after my first turning point as a youth leader.

Here I am after my first turning point as a youth leader.

Then one day, I decided to go to church. I had not been in a long time. I went to the LifeTeen Mass at the church I grew up in. During the service, they were singing the praise and worship songs I fondly remembered from my youth – Our God is an Awesome God and the like. It triggered something in me and I went back to my apartment and dug out my old Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith cassette tapes and sang and prayed and asked God back in my life. Then I became a core team member for Life Teen at my church and it truly changed the trajectory of my adult years.

The second major turning point of my life was when my son was born, and diagnosed with Down syndrome. It is with that news that I became an advocate, found my purpose and eventually changed careers (sort of).

My son - my second major turning point.

My son – my second major turning point.

I quickly learned all I could about Down syndrome and discovered that there was a 70-90 percent abortion rate for those given a prenatal diagnosis. The reason for this is that communication about the genetic condition given by doctors is biased and outdated.

I also learned that my son had every opportunity for a typical life given enough early intervention and ongoing support, but that I would need to diligently advocate for those supports because funding was almost nonexistent.

I also learned that research on cognitive function for those with DS was advancing both behaviorally and clinically and that one day there may be drugs that help my son’s brain and memory. However, funding for DS research is among the lowest.

I knew I needed to be part of the solution, so I joined the board of the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta.

Later, I expanded my advocacy to all developmental disabilities and joined the staff of All About Developmental Disabilities after some 15 years in PR agency world. I now get to use my skill set to advance a cause I am closely passionate about.

Two turning points that changed my life and helped me follow my purpose. I am so thankful that although these moments were challenging, scary and even heartbreaking, I was able to trust where God was leading me. Have you faced any turning points that led you to #followyourpurpose?

September 14, 2015
by Jennifer
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Vampire Diaries

So my daughter is obsessed with Vampire Diaries which is filmed outside of Atlanta. She asked me to watch with her before she and her besties went to Covington, Ga the site of the fictional Mystic Falls to go on the Vampire Diaries tour.

Being an old Ann Rice fan, I was hooked before the first episode was finished. The storytelling in the series is entrancing. From episode to episode there are new plots and twists which keeps viewers on their toes.

So now I’m hooked and trying to catch up to season 7! The tour was great and it was neat to hear the behind the scenes info and then watch the episodes. It gave me a greater connection to the show and its cast and characters. It is fun having something to share with my daughter.

As Christians we know that Vampires, werewolves and witches don’t really exist. As storytellers,  we can appreciate the weaving of a good tale, the tug between good and evil and the journey all people go through to find meaning. The characters each struggle with morality, sin, forgiveness, humanity, using powers for good or evil. We see that even in the most evil character we find the ability for redemption and the longing to be forgiven.

Like the characters on Vampire Diaries, all of us struggle to use our gifts (powers) as  they were intended and often fail miserably. We long for eternal significance. We seek to be connected to something larger than ourselves. Happily we are freely given significance, forgiveness and love by a God who created us and gave us each individual gifts. And we get to be part of it without any blood loss because we follow the one who took the sacrifice and shed his blood for us.

Gilbert House

My daughter and her besties in front of the Gilbert House. The real owners are super nice and if you catch them outside they will invite you on up!

Vampire Diaries Cast

Okay, so they are just cardboard but you can find the real cast around Covington on shooting days and the towns people really like them. How could you not? #Salvatorebrothers

Mystic Falls

The Covington courthouse is a staple in the fictional town of Mystic Falls as is the Mystic Grill next door. It used to be an insurance company inside while the exterior was made over for the show, but the mayor wisely created a real Mystic Grill for fans coming to experience Vampire Diaries.

 

September 14, 2015
by Jennifer
0 comments

Captivated by Captured

While I was at the 90 minutes in Heaven premiere, Governor Deal mentioned that Georgia is the third state in the nation in film production! Another Georgia film is opening this weekend and is based on a story that is close to home. I was able to see an advance screening of the movie and read the book it is based on, and I have to say this is a riveting real-life drama!

In the book Captive, Ashley Smith Robinson shares her raw story of brokenness and addiction which led to the Captive by Ashley Smith Robinsonturning point where she found her purpose. On that fateful day, another broken soul, Brian Nichols escaped from the Fulton County Courthouse, killing several people in his path and initiating a statewide manhunt. Nichols forced his way into Ashley’s apartment in an Atlanta suburb where she was held captive. Ashley’s motivation to be reunited with her daughter kept her thinking straight and ultimately led to her survival. The book shares the details of that harrowing event and is a story of redemption and hope.

The movie, which is a close representation of the book, is well-acted by David Oyelowo and Kate Mara. It had me glued to my seat. I vividly remember the event that unfolded in my home city. I was amazed at the level-headedness Ashley summed as a recovering addict. She was determined to survive the ordeal, which had many close calls.

Tv Coverage Brian NicholsCAPTIVE

I had the pleasure of meeting Ashley’s family and hearing a first-hand account of that night as she answered questions at the screening. She said she used that night as a catalyst for a renewed relationship with God, her family and herself. Her turning point was when Nichols asked her to do drugs with him. An addict, it would have been easy to say yes, but she somehow knew the decision could alter the course of her life and said “no” standing up to her captor. It must be scary after all this time to share these intimate details of that night.

If you like crime dramas, you will love this book and movie. If you have a turning point in your life, you will certainly relate to this story. I encourage you to pick up the book or catch the film, opening September 18 in a theater near you. Watch the trailer here.