Why The Hunger Games is Important

Recently, I’ve seen a few people ask on Facebook why they should read The Hunger Games.

It’s understandable when a book creates such a frenzied following and is already secured 4 movie deals that some want to know why they should jump on the bandwagon.

They want to know, Is this just the current ‘thing’ or is it something more substantial?

The overwhelmingly majority have said, “Yes! It’s a must-read! It’s intriguing, thought-provoking with a strong female hero.”

But I was honestly surprised when a few people said don’t read The Hunger Games, because they’re immoral and ungodly. After my initial, “Whaaat?” my literary sensibilities were ruffled.

To have the plumbline of what we do or do not read be immorality is tricky. Is everything worth reading or viewing? Is all edifying? Are all stories equal? No.

But if we say, “Oh, don’t read that because there’s sin in it,” then we’re negating the experience of human life.

Should we not be around other people because their sinners? Should we not read the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, lest our American-Christian sensibilities forget the incest, human sacrifices, mass killings found in those first 39 books?

Do we stop teaching about the Holocaust and the Civil Rights movement, because they’re hard to stomach?

Because they make us uncomfortable?

When people say The Hunger Games is about kids killing kids, they’ve missed the point.

The Hunger Games is about survival, sacrifice, fighting oppression, and not letting another dictate your life. Yes, there are children thrown into an arena and told kill or be killed for the entertainment of a privileged and sheltered audience.

The Hunger Games is fascinating, because what would you do if you were thrown into the arena?

If at 17-years-old you are the sole provider for your family and their lives literally depend on you, what would you do?

If you had the chance to stand up to a dictator and say, “You don’t own me,” would you do it?

How do you live after being hunted and thrown over and over again into the clutches of death? 

One of the beautiful things about storytelling is the ability for it to teach, move, and strengthen us. Nearly all good stories require us to be uncomfortable, to go a bit further, ask more than we’re willing to give.

How will I know what it means to be resilient if I keep with the happy, comfortable, and tidy?

How will I know that some of life’s messiest battles are in the will if I stay with the easy?

How will I come to sympathize with the pain of others if I never hear it?

Oppression lives outside of Panem.

Rape. Abuse. Slavery.

Poverty. Wrongly accused. Orphans.

Depression. Power struggles. The loss of everything.

All of these are common themes in great literature. Why?

Story gives us perspective, empathy, and teaches us what it means to be human.

We need stories of betrayal, because we are the worst of betrayers. We need stories of despair to know we are not alone. We need stories that will explore even the darkest recesses of our heart.

We need stories that will tell us Jesus is not afraid of our mess, our ugly.

We need love stories that go beyond cheesy pick-up lines and love at first sight. We need stories of humility and sacrifice. We need heroes—we need strong male heroes and strong female heroes.

But even more, we need stories to give us hope, to tell us we are not beyond the arms of grace.

That redemption is possible.

No matter what.

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You're Already Amazing {a review}

It was somewhere in the chapter on the Promised Land and waiting for the Lord I realized I wouldn’t be able to speed read You’re Already Amazing.

It’s an easy read, a good message. My plan was to read it through quickly for review and then read it again processing the little nudgings I felt in my soul.

But it’s hard to speed past the Lord saying, Dwell on this. Settle here. Take this in.

You’re Already Amazing is like sitting down with a friend, a counselor, and life coach.

It’s hearing the truth you need mixed with practical exercises and action steps to help you understand more of who you are, how you got there, and where you’re going.

It’s not self-help. It’s not Christian pop. It’s looking at who you are and who you were made to be through the lenses of Jesus. Yes, we’re amazing, but only because God has made us so. We can’t conjure up this kind of goodness ourselves.

You’ll be prompted and prodded to evaluate your life, challenged in your obedience, and encouraged to be the woman God’s calling you to be.

While Gerth occasionally uses the “hey, girlfriend” style (which is not something I typically enjoy), her message is strong and clear. She’s speaking to the heart of women–the fear, inadequacy, broken dreams–and calling us to embrace who God has called us to be and to walk in courage in the freedom He’s given us to pursue that calling.

Because we each have a purpose, a gift, and a Father who loves us more than we can imagine. And, as I dwell on that, it is probably the hardest truth to accept.

Because His pure love is a freeing love that should incite courage, passion, and trust in our hearts.

It should make us rise up and follow in obedience knowing that He is safe and good and holds our best interests at heart.

{And, yet, I still struggle with the love of God. Something so free, so wide still feels vulnerable. Safe, but not quite. Musings for another day.}

A few of my favorite quotes, thus far:

Love all. Please One.

God’s heart is the place where “woman” began, and though we may look elsewhere, it is still the  place where we (as women) find who we are in the end.

When we limit our negative emotions, we limit our capacity to experience positive ones too.

The Israelites having those emotions in the desert wasn’t the issue. It was that they chose to obey their fear rather than God’s command. At the end of the day, we’ve got to listen to and follow God’s Spirit more than our own hearts.

God wants us to understand who he created us to be so that we can fulfill the purpose he has for our lives.

You can find You’re Already Amazing on sale at DaySpring for $9 and join the Bloom Book Club starting Monday, March 19th.

 

{DaySpring has been kind enough to share You’re Already Amazing with me for review, but the opinions expressed are all mine.}

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When You Forget the Joy in Thanks

Friday I was reminded about the joy in thanksgiving, in writing down the gifts and remembering all of God’s good ways. I forget. So often I forget and it becomes a drudgery.

The little things—the dishes one more time, answering “What would happen if…?” for the 20th time that hour, remembering what’s for dinner and my family actually needs food, patience.

It’s the little things when they add up make the day seem long. When I forget there is joy and gifts and thanks in the drudgery and in-between is when I feel burdened and frustrated and life-less.

Everyday, it seems, I forget the graces and get stuck in the doing. I forget the joy and chain myself to the have-to.

I have to be good. 

I have to pray.

I have to be patient with my children. 

I have to cook dinner. 

I have to reach out to others. 

I have to do this all with a good, kind heart and a smile on my face.

I struggle with the free things–grace, thanks, praise. I forget that simply giving thanks to God, giving praise and being filled with joy because of Him and the good He gives is enough.

It is so ingrained in me that there must be an exchange. I must do to find grace, to give thanks…even to whisper praise. And my doing has to be good enough.

In all this, I forget that grace is free and joy is found in abiding—simply being in Him.

It’s not always easy remembering joy, giving grace, receiving grace, and letting praise flow from my lips. Even now, this morning, I’m struggling with how loud one of my boys is being. Grace is hard for this mortal form when it doesn’t fit prettily between the lines.

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…” (Luke 22:19 NIV). In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.”

The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.”

- Ann Voskamp, Eucharisteo: A Conversation with Ann Voskamp – Part 1

It’d be nice if giving thanks and remembering the joy was always a happy, warm feeling.

But I am learning, remembering to give thanks is a discipline. It is a choice. It won’t magically happen and I won’t just wake up one day more at peace and filled with a contented thanks.

It is a working out the dirt and grey in my heart.

It is turning from darkness and choosing the light.

It is speaking grace, receiving grace, reading grace, living grace.

It is a hard turmoil to reign in this selfish, frustrated flesh.

But—there is joy in thanks and even though most days I have to work hard to kill the sin and see the beauty,

I know the joy and promise of Jesus is better than what I am living.

******

605. a safe place to stay during the tornadoes

606. the rainbow after the storm

607. friends to pass the storm with

608. creamy jalapeno dip

609. making snow angels

610. Otto’s first walk in the snow

611. swinging in the snow

612. boys and their sword fights

613. little arms that squeeze tight around my neck

614. gentle reminders of true Words

615. impromptu family poetry reading

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Motherhood & Risk {the better mom}

Five. The number hits me with a weight unexpected.

Joe had just mentioned if we wanted to keep having our children 2 years apart, we’d need to get started on the next one. Really? I thought. Otto seems still a baby to me, but calculate 9 months of pregnancy and, yep, he’d be about 2 years old.

And then, I realize that would be 5 pregnancies in just as many years. Five.

The number hurts. I have two beautiful, joy-filled faces in front of me and two I’ve never seen.

Five means there’s a chance for one more face, one more soul that, Lord willing, I’ll see when the time comes. But, yes—fear creeps in my hurt, because there is no guarntee.

Today I’m over at The Better Mom sharing about the risk of motherhood.

 

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What's Your Story? {beautiful sisterhood}

I have been hurt by women, more specifically women in the church.

When I was in 7th grade, I went to our church winter camp where the girls in my cabin made it clear I was not welcomed and they wanted absolutely nothing to do with me.

They teased me about my lack of make-up and my Garfield pajamas, tried to lose me on a hike in the woods, and right after the evening message they corralled around me and said I couldn’t hang out with them because I wasn’t cool enough and didn’t go to the right school.

The next year we moved. Our new church wasn’t much different. I still wasn’t cool enough to talk to the Christian girls and the ring leader made the others promise not to talk to me. And when one girl did try to reach out to me, she was shunned until she retreated back to the group.

The two years we attended that church, I spent many a Sunday morning hiding on that floral, white wicker couch in the women’s bathroom. Just me and my Bible. It was safer there. Better than being rejected again and again and again.

I’ve had other poor experiences with women in the church—ones that have made me feel because I didn’t finish college or have children yet I wasn’t quite good enough—that I hadn’t yet arrived.

I’ve attempted initiating conversation time and time again, tried joining women in conversation to met with blank stares and silence.

The culmination of these experiences has shaped how I view women and my relationship with them—especially in the church.

Every time I step into a church gathering, my mind begins to tick—

Do they like me? Do they think I look stupid?

What if I say the wrong thing? Are they going to think I’m intruding? That I’m being a know-it-all?

Do they not want me here? Is anyone even going to talk to me?

I have to fight my insecurities in what should be the safest of settings.

But, still, I keep coming back—why?

Because I know there are beautiful women out there just wanting to connect and more than that I know that God is honored when his women treat each other with dignity, respect, humility, grace, and come together as one body.

It’s not easy. It hurts. 

But my heart fills with, “What if—?”

What if we stepped outside our reach and found something beautiful?

What if I challenged you to wipe the slate clean?

To forgive the past hurts caused by women, step out of your safe group, and lay down the protective shield.

What if I said Jesus is waiting for us sisters, His bride, to love in bonds of peace? What if there was a way to walk in unity? What if—?

I beat my chest with the “What if…?” and my eyes water in the longing.

I have been on the painful side of sisterhood, but–-

my, oh my—I have seen it’s beauty.

I have experienced the love, forgiveness, and grace of women living wide open. I have been blessed to learn from women who are unafraid to share their failures and boast in God’s grace.

I have been received with arms wide open on first encounters, breathed on with words of life and truth, lifted and carried in prayer when I couldn’t say the words myself.

I have seen this sisterhood and it is Kingdom built.

My, friends, there is a beautiful sisterhood, but we must be willing to be broken enough to join.

******

Today I want to hear your story of sisterhood—the pain and the beauty.

Leave a comment or write a blog post. But, really, I want to hear your thoughts, read your story, see where you’ve been.

On the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, I’ll host a little link-up for conversations on women and friendships in the church. I want to grow in my relationships and stay accountable to walk this in the everyday life–online or off.

Each of these Thursdays, I’ll tackle a new subject or have a guest writing. It’ll be your chance to share your perspective. Would you consider joining in?

{Wondering how all of this got started? Read A Beautiful Sisterhood.}

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