Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

There has been a lot of talk about The Hunger Games. The Books have been on the Best Sellers list for many years running, the Movie Premier was one of the biggest of all time! And yes, I was there, along side my Daughters.

My son's Girlfriend at the time, Olivia, first told me about these books, about how good they are & that I should read them. Young girls that worked for me told me about them as well. So I did what any real Book Lover would do, I looked into them. And thought No Thank You. They are not the type of Books I usually like to read. I don't do Sci Fi. They are set in the future. The concept seemed to far out there for me. There was a lot of Buzz about these Books. Everyone was talking about them, Blogs were written about them. Yet, every time I looked into them, I decided against reading them. I know me & I know Books, and they weren't my "usual type" so no matter how many times I heard "you have got to read The Hunger Games!" "They are so good!" I never picked them up. Then one day I came walking out of a convenience store & a saw a grown man (probably in his mid to late 30's) pumping gas into his car with The Hunger Games in his hands. He literally couldn't put the Book down long enough just to get gas! And I thought That's it! I'm reading those Books! We had the first Book because someone had given it to my girls as a Birthday gift. I read it. It's a very easy read, and very intense, I couldn't put it down. We went to Half Price Books where I picked up the second & third Books in the series, and read them, one right after the other. My daughter Lexi read them next & just as quickly.

Now some in the Christian world are criticizing the Books and the Movie. All they've heard is they are about children killing other children for sport. But, that isn't it at all. There is so much more to it. And if you look deeper, there are moral lessons to be learned in The Hunger Games. (Spoiler Alert) It is set in the future, in a post apocalyptic world. What was formerly the United States is now Panem, made up of the Capital, which runs the 12 outlying districts. There had once been an uprising & the Government now controls it's people by forcing all 12 districts to choose one Boy & one Girl, age 12 - 18, to participate in The Hunger Games. A child's name is put into the drawing once every year from the time they are 12. A child can choose to enter their name more times to buy food for their family. The main character of the Book is Katniss, a girl from District 12, the coal mining district, who lost her father in a mining accident. But not before he taught her how to sneak out of her district (which is Illegal) and how to survive and hunt for food. She and her best friend, a boy named Gale, the oldest children in each of their fatherless families, hunt together, providing food for their families & selling their kills to others for things they need to survive. Both of who's names are entered into the Hunger Games drawing multiple times. But it is Katniss' little 12 year old sister, Prim, who doesn't know survival the way Katniss does, who's name is drawn. So Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place in the games. Because she has spent her life protecting her little sister.

The Tributes (those chosen to participate in the Hunger Games) are taken to the Capital, trained & placed in an Arena, what is inside the arena, is any ones guess. It could be Jungle, Desert, Frozen Tundra. Where they must survive & yes, fight, while the world watches, until there is only one left standing. The winner & their family receives Food, comfort, and acclaim beyond their wildest imagination for their entire lifetime. This book will outrage you, that a government could do this to their people, that people would go along with it. (Though they do eventually rebel in the other books.) There are very touching moments, turns & twists, as well as suspense, violence, sacrifice, and even a love triangle between Katniss, her best friend Gale, and Peeta, the boy chosen from her district to go into the Hunger Games with her. I am Team Peeta! :)

My daughters & I, starting with the Twilight Movies, like to do our Mother/Daughter thing of going to the Midnight Movie Premiers. We were very Excited about The Hunger Games Premier! I took 2 vacation days off work, and let the girls miss a day of school! (Don't tell anyone!) Their BFF Brianna came with us.

Having bought our tickets as soon as they went on sell, I went up there at about 2:00 om the afternoon, armed with a Diet Coke, a lawn chair, and a good Book. The girls came up as soon as they got out of school.

Now waiting in line for up to 10 hours, might not sound like much fun, but it really is! The girls did some homework, saw some friends waiting in line to hang out with too. We took turns walking around the Mall. John brought us up a Pizza!

My good friend Tammy was there too, and we were, until later in the evening, about the oldest ones in line! :) Die Hard Moms! (The things we do for our Daughters!) :)

This was a girl in line across from us! Being much older than she is, believe me, I felt like doing what she was doing! :)

We ran into our friend & former Pastor, Jeff, in line as well, wearing one of the best shirts of the night! :) One thing very different from the Twilight movies, is there are A LOT more boys in line! For Twilight, it's mostly girls. The Hunger Games shocked me with how many, not only boys, but grown men! I saw Big Burly men in Hunger Games Tshirts! :)

Two of my Beautiful Nieces, Alarie & Rachel, came to our side of town to join us for the Premier! Then crashed at our house before driving the hour back to their side of town.

I also saw a friend, Patty, I hadn't seen in a while. We let her Daughter in line. (Behind us, of course!) :) who sat with us for the movie!

Lexi loved it when she was told by countless people in line that she looked like Katniss! That was after all the idea behind the outfit! :) There were more girls with side braids then I have ever seen in my life!

Yes, you will cringe reading these books at the possibilities of what people can do & force others to do. As someone who can't watch Boxing or UFC fights without getting a stomach ache, you can see why these would not appear to be my kind of Books. But the larger themes of Good winning over evil, of sacrificing for those you love & for what is right, and that every life is precious, is what The Hunger Games are really about!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Salvaging Spring Break

It's been so nice to have a whole week off work, but this hasn't been the fun Spring Break we had planned, having lost my Mom, we had to plan & have a Viewing & Funeral this week, as well as going through some of her stuff. Not the best of Spring Breaks for Teenagers!

But we made the most of it; The Arizona Aloha Festival was going on & we were able to get there to see some of our friends we used to Hula with perform. It's a tradition we do every year, and it's a great way to spend a day. Something all of us love to do. My girls also got together with a friend they used to go to Church with, that they haven't seen in a long time, & spent the day hanging out at the Mall & going to see the Movie The Lorax! They really had a good time & liked the Movie BTW.

Zach's Girlfriend, Kendra, came down to stay with us for a few days & we spent a day at The Phoenix Zoo. We had great weather, the sun was shinning, the temp was in the 80s! My Brother Marty, who was off work all week as well & his son, Nathaniel who was home from College came with us, as well as my Husbands Niece, Heather, her husband Neill & son Austin, who were here from New Mexico. We had a great time. A day in the sun was just what we needed!

The King of the Jungle!

Looking good in stripes!

One of these is my Son, Kyle, one is not!


Monkey Village!
One of my favorite places at the Zoo.

Getting up close & personal!

My all time favorite animal: the Flamingo!
If I had to be an Animal it would be a Flamingo,
I would live on the Beach & I look good in Pink! :)

I gave Erica my camera & told her to get a shot
of me on the bridge with the Flamingo's behind me . . .
this is what I got! :)

So, I had to get one of them.
Erica didn't want to be in it! :)

Zach & Kendra looking cute!
Enjoying the day & each other!

But of course the Big Brother & Cousin can't let them have their moment!

Zach & Kendra looking out on the animals,
then Kyle, Marty & Nathaniel have to join in! :)

All the kids going on a Safari!

Birds of a Feather!
(Just like us!)

Austin & Lexi coming soon to a Zoo near you!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And, Here We Go Yet Again.

This past Sunday, our Pastor announced his resignation. Which means that yes, we will once again be on the job hunt. In the Church world when the Pastor resigns, technically the whole staff does as well. The Church can keep staff members on until the new Pastor is hired. But then it is up to him (or her) as to who they want on staff. Sometimes they keep the existing staff, sometimes they bring their own with them.

So, Here We Go Yet Again . . . My Husband & I have been in Ministry for well over 20 years now. We have averaged to stay in a position for from about 6 to 8 years. Until recently, due to the economy mostly, we have been let go by (including the Church we are at now) 4 Churches within the last 2 and a half years. Talk about a Roller Coaster Ride!

Yes, we get to start job hunting once again. Sending Resumes all over the country. Waiting. Praying. Hoping. Dealing with Frustration & Disappointment. A Roller Coaster of emotion. Did I mention I don't like Roller Coasters?! It's true, my favorite ride at Disneyland is, It's A Small World! :)

It's been a long road these last few years. Not knowing what's going to happen, where the money is going to come from to make our bills. Longing to be back in Full Time Ministry, at a job we love and we're made to do. It's hard not to get discouraged. Especially when it keeps happening!

This week, at my Mom's funeral actually, after John sung a song, beautifully I might add, :) a Pastor we used to work for called him over & said some words we will never forget. She said, "I just want you to know that you are worth way more than what you are going through right now!" Then she want on to say, "No, I mean it. Don't give up on your dream." When John confided that he's at the point of being just about ready to give up those dreams, she said, "Don't you dare! You go on Dreaming! And you dream even bigger than you ever have before!" I Love that! We are both dreamers by nature, but it's hard when nothing keeps happening. We just needed this reminder.

No, I don't like Roller Coasters, but I do tend to like Change! The new, the unknown, the limitless possibility! Earlier while we were going through my Mom's battle with Cancer, John said to me that maybe this is why we hadn't gotten a job somewhere, because God knew we needed to be here with my Mom. My girls will be starting High School this Fall and this actually would be a good time for a move perhaps. So, it's back to the drawing board for us, climbing back on that Roller Coaster, hopefully for the last time for a long time! Don't be alarmed if you hear some screams! (From me that is, John actually loves real roller coasters, but not the emotional kind!) So, Please Pray for us. For God's will in our lives. For our God given dreams to be realized. And dream with us, won't you?! And above all: Dream Big!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Hardest Words We've Ever Had To Say: Good Bye

For the past 3 weeks or so I've spent every one of my days off at the hospital and then at hospice with my Mom, as I had on Monday of this week. On Tuesday, March 6th after I got off work I called my brother to see how my Mom was doing that day. He told me her breathing had started to become labored. Having lost our Sister & Dad, we knew what that meant. I got home after crying all the way, and told my husband. We asked our kids if they wanted to see Grandma one more time, or would they rather not see her like that. They all wanted to see her . . .

Zach left to go turn in some homework, but didn't stay for class & we texted Kyle who was in a College class as well & he too wanted to go. He had a friend drive his truck home from school, so we could pick him up on the way. We live on the East side of Phoenix, my Mom is in West Phoenix, Kyle's class was down town Phoenix!

There were many family members in her room. And as always when we get together, there is laughter. But this night there were also tears. Mom hadn't really been responsive for several days, but we know even if she can't open her eyes, she can hear us. We had a precious time of saying good bye. I told my Mom we love her & will miss her everyday. But that we are glad she will get to dance with my Dad once again. At this she raised her eyebrows (as if to say woo woo!) ;) Which brought laughter through the tears! I thanked her for everything she has done for us, for being such a great Mom & Grandma to our kids.

On the way home John said he could just see my Dad in Heaven, how excited & giddy he would get, knowing Mom was coming! We got home around midnight, my Brother John was staying the night with Mom at Hospice. At about 1 am he called me to say after we all left Mom just seamed peaceful & her breathing slowed until it stopped all together.

I was so glad we decided to go that night. Yes, Good Bye is the hardest words we ever have to speak, but I'm thankful we had the opportunity.

I have spoken at my Sister Debbie's funeral, at my Dad's funeral, and my Brother-in-Law, Tom's, but I just can't at my Moms. My Niece Sarah said, "But it's just not a Funeral without an Aunt Star speech!" To which her Dad, my Brother Danny replied: "or is the other way around?!" haha Yes, I am a talker. And Danny should know, I get it from him. I think he & I are among the few people who actually like public speaking. But, I just can't do it this time. I'm not that Brave. So this will have to do.

I knew when I hung up the phone that early morning on March 7th, that my life had changed forever. I don't want to think about being on this earth without her here. She was such a big part of my kids' lives. I miss her for me, I miss her for them. I just miss her. And I know I will miss her until I see her again. We have Hope because we have Heaven.