Should Your Kids See Mockingjay? {Family Movie Moms}

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I saw Mockingjay last week. (Do you love that awesome, clear picture of me and Staci and Katniss?) Usually, if I get a blog invite to a movie, they’ll allow me to bring a guest or two.  This time? NO GUEST. Apparently, Mockingjay is a THING. Which, is clearly, why I wanted to go! Yet, somehow, when we arrived (and sat behind a row of they-clearly-do-review-movies-for-a-living guys), ten little girls paraded up to the seats and were having a birthday party at the screening for Mockingjay! Who in the world do her parents know?!

I felt like the girls were 10 years old. But I guess they could have been up to 13. So, they really made me put my Mom Eyes on as I watched the movie. Is it appropriate for 10-11 year old kids to be reading books and watching movies about death and murder and fighting and war? I feel like I read Baby Sitters Club in 6th grade. Yet, the Hunger Games books are a good read, there are redeeming values and I don’t have a 12 year old. I don’t know what that feels like or what works best.

Anywhoo. It’s a topic {along with the movie Big Hero 6} Heather and I discuss on our monthly-ish Family Movie Moms podcast! Go pull this up on your phone (or download a podcast app & subscribe to God Centered Mom), plug your headphones in, pick some chore you have NOT been wanting to do and listen while you work!

Packing the Best Box(es) Ever

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and saw a picture of my friend Amy. Amy is the former Team Distribution Manager for Operation Christmas Child. She led my trip to the Dominican Republic along with about 8-9 other trips every year. She’s the woman who goes into these communities, schools and churches and organizes the whole shoebox shebang.

Anyway, here’s her picture:

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But the best part is her caption, “It’s National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. Two years ago in Zambia, there weren’t enough boxes for all of the children that showed up. I sat outside with them and told them about Jesus while their friends were inside receiving a gift. They never got a box. Would you pack a box this week, and then another?! What a dream to have enough boxes for every child in the world.”

I could not get this picture out of my head. After breakfast, I showed the kids and watched them stare with wide eyes at actual kids who were not getting any gifts for Christmas. Before Les left for work, I showed him, too. I felt my must-share-with-everyone thing rise up in me.

So, I emailed Amy and said, “Can I share this with my readers? Pllllleasse?!” She messaged me back right away and said PLEASE DO! Apparently, that entire trip to Zambia, they were dreadfully short on boxes because more kids showed up than they expected.

Why? Because an American (especially a pretty blond) had never been in their area before and everyone wanted to see this novelty! They were so into her hair, she finally just let them get their fingers right in and explore!

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She said, “I ended up talking with about 50-100 kids at several different churches, but there wasn’t space or boxes for them. We talked about Jesus. I shared the gospel. We played silly games. And of course the most important part is hearing the gospel, but them not getting gifts BROKE my heart.”

It breaks my heart, too. I packed my first shoebox in 2009 and documented it right here on this blog. Since then I’ve worked in the Processing Center for OCC, delivered boxes in the Dominican Republic and been an advocate here on my blog. This year, we’re hoping to pack 40 more boxes. That’s 40 kids–maybe THOSE 40 kids in Zambia who will receive a gift and learn about the greatest gift of all, Jesus.

If you’re still on the fence about packing a shoebox, let me give you some quick and fast tips on packing the best box ever:

1. Pack a Gender Neutral Box

When I was in the DR, we went to two distribution parties where we ran out of boy boxes. We had to open up the extra girl boxes and see which ones would be appropriate for a boy to receive. So, even though a pink princess box looks fun, why not do a box full of all kinds of treasures–notebooks, puzzles, crayons and toys that all kids would appreciate!

2. Pack It Tight

If you’re gonna pack a box, let’s pack it up! We love to buy little containers, cups and zippered pouches because then we can fill them with small erasers, pencil sharpeners, lip balms, stickers and hair clips before packing them in the box!

3. Play Tetris

Pack your box with some spatial reasoning and get even more stuff in the box than you thought possible. Put the stickers and notebooks on the bottom. Wrap the soap with the washcloth. Slide the pencils into the sides. Stack up the playing cards and boxed toys tightly together. And if that means you need to take something out of the packaging, do it! It’s better to fit more stuff in than to “prove” it’s new by keeping it in a large bulky wrapper.

4. Don’t forget the Bare Necessities.

Make sure every box includes some kind of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, brush/comb, soap and washcloth are our faves) and some school supplies (some kind of notebook, pencil/pen, crayons/colored pencils/markers).

5. Shop Around

The Dollar Store isn’t always the best deal. You can get full-sized AIM toothpaste at Walmart for 89 cents and 8-count crayons for 90 cents on Amazon. You can buy packs of playdough that have 4 containers inside and spread those out to 4 boxes. I found dresses for $2 at Walmart last week!

6. Add Prayer

An actual child is going to get the box you pack. A real kid! Pray for that child. Pray as you pack the box. Think about what they might think when they see each item. Pray God will use those small gifts to bring hope and light to their life.

You can see more of my journey with Operation Christmas Child here. And explore their website for more information, too!

And I’m going to echo Amy’s plea:

Will you pack a box? And then pack another one?

Don’t forget about the Operation Christmas Child book giveaway! Or the Pre Black Friday deals from Dayspring!

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Operation Christmas Child CRAFTING Party

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Yesterday I invited all the older elementary and middle school kids that help me in the church’s preschool department over to our house. We had taco soup, the cheeseball from heaven, the magically delicious corn dip and some chocolate chips cookies! We weren’t really there for the food. We were really there to get our CRAFT ON! […]

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Atlanta Area Swap Party!

I wanted the Atlanta Area Truth in the Tinsel Swap Party to feel like a Girl’s Night Out instead of a oh-brother-we’ve-got-a-lot-of-work-to-do-to-get-ready-for-Christmas. The first thing to consider was decorations. We didn’t pull out all the Christmas decorations because it was hosted at my mom’s church (she’s a Children’s Pastor) and her Children’s Church room is […]

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Coupon Code & Giveaway to Cirque du Soleil Amaluna in Atlanta!


Basically, I’ve tried writing an intro to this post four times so it doesn’t sound like a commercial. But I seriously can’t help it. I’m practically giddy over here because I get to giveaway FOUR tickets to Cirque du Soleiel’s Amaluna in Atlanta! Y’all. I’ve been to Cirque du Soleiel’s La Nouba in Orlando (Thank […]

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Asa’s How To Train Your Dragon Party

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All last year Asa wanted to have a Spy Party. I was all set to do spy training for his little friends. Then. How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Dragon Week happened. And we had to have a Dragon/Viking party. So, here it is! I didn’t want it to feel like a cartoon party […]

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Encouraging Conversations

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So, my friend Crystal Stine asked me if I would like to be a part of her 31 Days series, “Encouraging Conversations” where she talks to some of her fave encouraging folks about…well, about their favorite topic. Do I want to talk about MY favorite topic for all the internets to see? Hello! Sign me […]

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