July 18, 2017

The Hiding Place - Book Review

Disclosure: Some of the links in this review of The Hiding Place are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase, but this at no cost to you and all opinions are my own.


The Hiding Place The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

Over a year ago I posted a review of some of my favorite World War II Page Turners, and it was shortly after that, a follower suggested a book called, "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom with Elizabeth and John Sherrill. Since I always come back to World War II novels, I added the book to my must-read list, where it sat for far too long. I finally decided to read the true story of a Dutch spinster turned Jewish sympathizer and later concentration camp survivor when I downloaded "The Hiding Place" on my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie Ten Boom were among the hundreds of thousands of prisoners detained in the Ravensbrück women's concentration camp during World War II. The difference between the Ten Booms and most of the other inmates was apparent as the story unfolded. The Ten Booms were devout Christian women. Their faith poured over into their every action, not withstanding the time they prayed for the Lord to use them to protect his sheep. Shortly, after that Corrie found herself at the center of the Dutch underground, working diligently to aid in the protection of Jews and young Dutch men. Little did the Ten Booms know they too would soon be hiding fugitive Jews in their home.

The Hiding Place The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

The middle-aged, unmarried sisters learned to be living examples of their devote faith from their Father. He would read aloud from his Bible daily for anyone who would listen, including his family and the employees of his small watch shop. His son Willem also developed a vigorous and unwavering faith, and he grew to become a pastor, and he ran a nursing home where he helped protect the feeble-minded and old of age. The entire Ten Boom family was convinced that their faith and love of Christ meant that they were to be his tools. Their actions were driven by a mission to bring the Word of God to all how would listen.

Throughout the story, there are several instances of miracles described which can only be attributed to God's glory and faithfulness. It was in one the darkest places, and during such a tumultuous and terrible time, that the Ten Boom women were living witnesses to God's promise of faithfulness and love. They were able to hide a bible in the concentration camp and read to the other women, who desperately yearned for the promise of better days and an ever-faithful and loving God.

As a modern Christian, this book is full of practical takeaways. I was most moved by the Ten Booms ability to see every situation as an opportunity to minister the Word of God and how their faith in Him kept their spirits lively in the darkest of circumstances. However, the most profound lesson was told through Betsie's story; it was her incredible love for the enemy and her constant prayers for their change of heart that I found most moving. In the mists of the most inhumane treatment, Betsie prayed for her captors.

This true story ends with a lasting legacy when Corrie Ten Boom is released from the concentration camp and later starts and runs rehabilitation centers for those affected by the war. This outreach was a dream she and Betsie shared during their quiet moments together in the concentration camp, and their mission helped hundreds of battered souls regain their place in society.

If you are a lover of WWII novels, nonfiction, historical fiction, or Christian novels, this book is a must read. I give this one a hearty 4.5/5 stars.

What are you currently reading? Please share in the comments below so I can add it to my must-read list.

The Hiding Place The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom


Be Blessed,
Brittany
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July 11, 2017

Pushing the Boundaries: Media and Teens



When did I get this old? I mean, I realize I have experienced my healthy share of birthdays which makes me older on paper. I've noticed the creeping wrinkles on my forehead and around my eyes, and I'm sure if I were not as vigilant about coloring my hair, I would also see some grays popping through with exponential frequency. When I say "old," I don't mean the number of candles on my cake each year. When did I get so old that when I open (or dare say, click on) a magazine article for a teen publication, I am dumbfounded and breathless because of its shocking content?

I feel like a mother in the 50's who just discovered her teen listening to Elvis because I recently found out that Teen Vogue is once again pushing the boundaries with their journalism. You may remember the article about a post-abortion gift guide that they published some months ago? We'll save that discussion for another time and place. But, now they have an article committed entirely to teaching teenagers how to have anal sex. Why am I so shocked by this? I mean I have a degree in Journalism for goodness sakes. I was taught about sensationalizing and pushing boundaries and yes, our First Amendment Rights. I appreciate the craft of journalistic nuance and the commitment to bring meaningful content and newsworthy material to readers. But is that what this is?

What I cannot endorse is journalism without the consideration of audience and when it is executed in a manner completely devoid of moral aptitude. Teen Vogue is not it's counterpart Vogue, a publication where this type of article would make sense. It is written for an audience who is not legally able to drink or vote. Do they have sex - yes! Are they interested in learning about themselves as sexual beings with raging hormones - yes! I acknowledge that the audience is interested in this content, just like my four-year-old is interested in guns and fighting. That fact alone does not make it appropriate to give him a step-by-step guide on how to be a super villain, and it is my opinion that this material is completely inappropriate for a teen-focused magazine.

If internet, music, and television media are held to appropriate age standards in regard to content creation, with warning labels displayed when necessary, why is it that a teen publication is able to publish very adult content without repercussions? Why aren't parents everywhere kicking down the doors of Conde Nast in disgrace? When did it become a magazine's duty to educate our children on what is proper sexual behavior? Furthermore, when did we expect our children (because teens are still children in the eyes of the law) to be adults? Why is it necessary to make this type of content so accessible to them? As a mother, as a woman, as a journalist - I am outraged.

My children are too young to read, let alone understand the content of the magazine, but if a TEEN magazine needs to publish salacious material just to stay relevant maybe, they should reconsider their audience. There is a place for this type of content, and it is in the pages of an adult-targeted magazine, not one for 14-year-old high schoolers. The responsibility of having a conversation like this is up to parents and not a publically-traded, big media publishing company. Again my issue is not with the content but with the vehicle and its intended audience.

Maybe I am the one who needs the reality check. Maybe I am living in a suburban fantasy world where parents actually speak and educate their children in a time and an age-appropriate manner. I admit I might be the one who needs to sit down and give myself a real education on the kind of content that is relevant to teenagers - and then I'm sure I'll need some serious prayer time.

Parents, I encourage you to be vigilant about censoring the type of content you let your children absorb. Decide what is best for you and your family and proceed in a manner which you are most comfortable. Do not allow media outlets to dictate what is right and reasonable - make those decisions for you and your family.

Pushing the Boundaries: Media and Teens as it relates to the recent Teen Vogue article

Whoo, rant over, how's your Tuesday going?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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June 7, 2017

Explaining Transgender to My Four Year Old

I almost did not write this post. In fact, it has been weeks, maybe months, since all this has happened and ever since I have been playing the scenario over and over again in my mind. I wonder if I handled things correctly and what I should do next time this situation arises.

How I explained transgender to my child. A tough conversation for any age, when the conversation came up with my four year old I wanted to handle it in a loving and delicate way that encouraged inclusion and was unwavering in our Christian faith.

I always knew I would have to talk to my children about identities as hetero or homosexual, transgender and bisexual, I just never imaged the conversation would start when my son was only four-years-old. Like almost everything I have experienced to this point in parenting, it came faster than I could have imaged and I was unprepared. I was unprepared for the questions, for the stares, for the pointing.  I pray I handled things delicately and was sensitive to my child's feelings and those around us.

I am not writing this to make a mockery of the situation. I am writing this because I want to do right by my child who is growing up in a world where he will be faced with people who are different from him in many ways; their beliefs, their appearance, their attitudes, their language, their sexuality. I want him to learn to love all people, regardless of the differences which exist between them. His beliefs, whatever he may choose them to be as he grows, should not hinder him from always loving his neighbors.

My son pointed across a restaurant and very loudly called out, "look that girl is really a boy!" I wanted to shrink under the table, and I tried to quiet him quickly so we would not make a scene. But honestly, in the moment I had no idea what to say to him. And so, I'm writing this for advice on how to handle this situation knowledgeably and lovingly, here is the whole story.

My mom came in town, and I was excited to show her some of the new places I had discovered around our charming downtown area. On our list of stops, we went to a delicious local restaurant known for amazing burgers. It was beautiful outside, and since she lives in Ohio, where the weather in Spring can be rainy, snowy, or sunny, I wanted to take full advantage of our time and sit on a patio. My boys loved it they got to run around and enjoy the mild weather. We were there for an early dinner, and the tables were occupied, but the entire patio was not yet full of patrons. The people dining at the restaurant varied considerably. There were a couple of coworkers, reuniting and sharing a drink,  an older couple who apparently were also trying to enjoy the Georgia Spring weather and another family with children who were all smiles as they indulged on their burgers and fries.

There was one other notable couple in the corner, a man and woman, who keep mostly to themselves and appeared to be in deep conversation. When we arrived, they moved down a couple seats, and I suspect it was so the voices of my little ones did not interrupt their chat. I can honestly say I did not pay the couple much mind and they were positioned behind me, so they were not in my line of vision. My oldest, however, was seated directly in front of them and it was unavoidable for him not to notice them discreetly sitting in the corner.

In between mouthfuls of fresh cut french fries, he looked up a couple times to observe his surroundings - an act quite common for a four-year-old. At one point, without hesitation, he pointed his finger at the couple and said, "look that girl is really a boy!" He did not realize the impact of his comment, and I cannot be sure if the couple heard his innocent observation or not. However, we shushed him quickly and redirected his attention to French fries and passing vehicles. Distraction techniques are a saving grace and simultaneous frustration of having young and curious children. In this instance, I used it to my advantage.

In the meantime, my mind went in a million different directions, trying to decide how to lovingly and honestly explain the situation to my little man who suddenly seemed so grown up. He had propelled himself into a very profound scenario with one simple observation, and as an adult, I was faced with explaining a situation I had not fully come to terms with from a personal standpoint. For hours I was content on not rehashing the situation and decided to just ignore it altogether. But before bedtime, I had a change of heart. I decided he needed to be confronted with the weight of his observation. I wanted to approach the topic delicately but head on. I wanted to give him an opportunity to ask questions and think through his comments.

I asked him about his day, a practice typical during our bedtime routine. We discussed the highs and lows. Finally, I gently nudged him to recall our dinner, and immediately he mentioned the lady who was really a man. I stopped him and explained that throughout life we will run into people who are different from us in one way or another. They might look different, speak differently, or they could believe in differing truths. I concluded by telling him regardless of our differences it is impolite to point those things out so publically. I went on to explain that our hearts have enough room to love all people regardless of the outward things which make us each so unique. I told him loving someone does not mean we agree with all their actions. This lesson seemed a bit mature for my youngster. I tried to use an analogy he would understand; I love him to the moon and back, always and forever (a saying I express to him and his brother daily), but it does not mean I agree with him when he hits his brother or does not share his toys. Love transcends sins and personal choices. It is not his job to be critical of the lifestyle others choose for themselves. It is his job to lead by example and offer a safe haven of love and comfort for all people. Jesus was a perfect example of this and you have to look no further than the Gospels to get a glimpse of how loving another person does not mean you accept sin, it means you see beyond it.

I do not know if this message is over his head and I'm sure the conversation will come up again as he grows more knowledgeable and mature. I also have some research to do from a biblical and social standpoint. I hope I have done him and the woman at the restaurant, justice in how I handled the conversation about transgendered individuals. In a modern, quickly evolving world, it is one of my biggest challenges as a mother to maintain an open heart but also stay true to my convictions and the teachings of my church. I am committed to sharing those beliefs with my children in a way that will allow them to make their own decisions as they grow but also to teach them to be sensitive to the needs of others.

How I explained transgender to my child. A tough conversation for any age, when the conversation came up with my four year old I wanted to handle it in a loving and delicate way that encouraged inclusion and was unwavering in our Christian faith.

As a parent, how do you handle these challenging conversations with your children? If you have experience with the transgender community how do you suggest we approach the topic with our youth, knowing so many adults do not fully understand it themselves?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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May 17, 2017

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip

Disclosure: Some of the links in this Crockpot Hot Wing Dip recipe post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase. 

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is an simple recipe with tons of flavor. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Do you have a recipe in your arsenal that you go to when you know you have a crowd to please? Is there one that everyone raves about and asks for time and time again? Are you known for a signature dish? Well, if you aren't then you can borrow mine because it's easy and amazing. It has spice and tang and crunch and heat. It reheats like a champ and it is perfect for game nights, a Father's Day surprise, a Memorial Day or Fourth of July picnic, or an office potluck. My Crockpot Hot Wing Dip will have you doing a happy dance for days and dreaming of an excuse to make it again. Also, it tastes amazing with a cold beer.

I normally double or even triple the recipe when I take the Crockpot Hot Wing Dip to parties and I have NEVER had leftovers in the 8+ years I've been making it.

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Roughly 6 cups of water
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder 
  • 4 oz block of cream cheese, cubed  
  • 4 oz. shredded Monterrey jack cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 bottle of your favorite hot wing sauce - I like Moore's Original Buffalo 
  • Tortilla chips for serving
Preparation Instructions: 

Place the uncooked chicken in a large pot with the chicken bouillon powder. Cover the chicken with water and bring to a boil. Continue to cook the chicken until it is completely cooked throughout, roughly 15 minutes on a slow simmer. Remove the chicken to the Crockpot and reserve two cups of the water in which it cooked.

Return the chicken to the pot or a large bowl and shred. I like to do this with a hand mixer but you can certainly just shred the chicken with two forks. Add the entire bottle of buffalo sauce and stir to incorporate. At this point, I normally like to put the chicken in the fridge overnight but it is not necessary.

Add all the cheeses to your Crockpot, top with the chicken and stir to incorporate. Let sit on low heat in the crockpot for one hour, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, take the two cups of reserved water and pour it into the bottle that held the sauce and shake. Pour about 1/4 cup of the reserved water into the crockpot and put the bottle with the remaining water in the refrigerator.

The Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is now ready to serve. Turn the heat on the Crockpot to the lowest possible setting. Stir the mixture occasionally throughout the party or event to prevent it from sticking to the sides and burning. The dip will thicken as it sits. If you notice that the mixture gets too thick, add a little of the reserved water and stir.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. I only use Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce to add flavor and spicy. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

The Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is perfect over top of tortilla chips or on a sandwich bun. I normally opt for chips since they are more family friendly and easier to serve at events.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. I only use Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce to add flavor and spicy. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Check out some of my other favorite recipes, including my crockpot turkey recipe, here. What recipe are you know for among family and friends?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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May 12, 2017

Give Mom the Gift of Relaxation

Disclosure: I was provided with free Spa services from Salon Greco in Suwanee, Georgia in exchange for an honest review of my experience.

Mother's Day is this Sunday, and if you have procrastinated on finding a gift for your mom, then you are now in a time crunch. Here is the good news, the gift most moms really want is still available, and I am going to tell you a secret to help you nail Mother's Day this year. You might just win the "favorite child of the year" award this year if you follow my advice.

The majority of moms love and embrace their role in the home, whether they are considered a traditional mom or whatever their version of mothering might look like. When they have a little one to care for it is a remarkable and cherished responsibility. But here is the big secret, the thing most moms want on Mother's Day is all the love that comes with being a mom, but with a body and energy level that reminds her of her pre-child days. Give your mom what she really wants this year, a heartfelt gift of relaxation and rejuvenation, which can easily be done with a gift certificate to her favorite spa, like Salon Greco The European Day Spa in Suwanee, Georgia.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Salon Greco a spa and salon located just north of Atlanta, Georgia is one of my personal favorites (read about my experience there). When I dream of a day of restoration and relaxation, it is the first place that comes to mind, and when I walk out the doors after a massage or facial, I feel like a new woman. No matter if you are a working mom, a fur moms, a woman pregnant and expecting her first child, or a stay-at-home mom, almost every mom would enjoy a facial, massage, manicure, pedicure, makeup application, or hair style in a beautiful, well-maintained, relaxing environment.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.


Salon Greco is making it even easier to pamper your Mom this year with their Mother's Day Soiree, beginning today, Friday, May 12, and lasting until Mother's Day on May 14. Send mom to the European-inspired spa so she can enjoy refreshments and treats, an enticing spring atmosphere, and a relaxing package for two that includes:
  • The Ultimate Massage/Shampoo Experience
  • Beautiful Hair Finishing & Style
  • Customized Beauty Secrets
  • Professional Makeup Application 
  • A Mother & Daughter Mini Photo Session with North South Photography
The entire package for two people is only $185. Add additional people for only $93/person and make it a little party honoring all the women you love and respect. Bring your sisters, grandmothers, aunts, godmother, pastor's wife, or any women deserving a little pampering. If the Soiree is not your mom's style, a gift card to Salon Greco allows her to customize an experience perfect for her ideal version of relaxation.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Hurry over to Salon Greco and get Mom the gift she really wants; one of rejuvenation, relaxation, and beauty. Tell them "Everyday Thoughts" sent you and you will get $20 off any spa treatment of your choice costing $50 or more.

Happy Mother's Day to all the awesome moms out there. What are you wishing for this Mother's Day?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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May 8, 2017

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell - Book Review

Disclosure: Some of the links in this review of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novelare affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase, but this at no cost to you and all opinions are my own. 



It has been awhile since I posted a book review but after reading The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi I knew I had to share it with you guys. Even if you only read one book a year, this debut novel needs to go on your reading list. I consider myself very scrupulous with my book review ratings, and I would give this one at least 4.5/5 stars. In my adult life, I have only ever awarded 8 books with a five-star rating.

Nadia Hashimi did an eloquent job of interweaving the stories of two different Afgan women. The women are related but separated by generations, regardless of the generational differences many of the struggles they faced were similar. Rahima was a child bride, and Shekiba was a woman with a large, deforming scar on half of her face, the result of a childhood accident. Shekiba is Rahima's great-great-grandmother, and Rahima used the strength and wisdom she learned from Shekiba's stories to persevere through unimaginable adversity in her own young life.

This is a fictional story, but it is told in such a way that it could easily be true. The suppression and adversity that Afgan women are faced with then and now, are so different than the roles we have in Western society. This book is not easy to read but it is enlightening, and it will leave you on the edge of your seat. 
It is perfect if you are looking for a book club book that will generate meaningful discussion about very real issues women face in Afghanistan. More than that, however, it is a book highlighting the extreme cultural differences between women in the Western world versus those under the careful scrutiny of a male-dominated society in Afghanistan.


I was shocked to learn how slowly life and societal norms evolve in Afghanistan. The novel tells the story of two women separated by years and generations, but their stories could almost overlap regarding the oppression and censorship they faced. If you watch the news at all, you must be aware that women are being treated unfairly, stoned to death because they are victims of rape, left on the curb because of deformities, sold to the highest bidder for a cow. In Afghanistan, women are mere possessions, and in many cases, they have little to no purpose other than to bear children and tend to a house. They are passed along from one family to the next like an old pair of hand-me-down jeans; their opinions and voices of no consequence. This book gives those women a voice, it sheds light on the emotions, thoughts, and dreams that women have, even if they are tucked away inside their husband's or father's compound with no access to or knowledge of the outside world. 


After reading this novel, I'm looking forward to watching Hashimi's career evolve. Her ability to hook readers with riveting character development and intriguing plot points, culturally counterintuitive to my understanding of the world, leaves me wanting more. 


Now I am onto my next book At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider.  



Check out some of my other book reviews here:


What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading? 

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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