Growing up, I remember my dad hiding Easter eggs in the best of spots.

 

Inside the cabinet of our piano, on top of the ceiling fan blades, nestled in the strings of our basketball hoop, and scattered across our backyard in the mesh of leaves, dirt, and lawn furniture. And my brother, sister, and I would play like sleuths, elbowing each other for the biggest eggs, and each secretly hoping for another quarter to add to our piggy bank.

 

Now since my own toddler has come of age to participate in an Easter egg hunt, you can bet your bottom dollar it is on. My husband jokingly (but not so jokingly) left a stack of eggs on our kitchen table with these instructions: “So Oscar can practice. Try to get him to find the gold ones first—they have the biggest prizes.” Welcome to the inside of #andersonpartyof4.

 

Sometimes there are moments (like that) when it’s very easy to forget that Easter is more than just Cadbury eggs, bunnies, and brunch. As much as those marshmallow Peeps and straw bonnet hats have become holiday staples, those things have absolutely nothing to do with the origination of the first Easter 2000+ years ago.

 

But how can anyone keep the focus when all we’re hearing is the megaphone of the Parks Director before the big hunt or the blaring sales of Target’s Sunday ad to ring in the holiday? How do we expect to celebrate any differently if we eat our ham in silence and shove some toddler aside so our kid can be victor of all eggs? (Because, if we’re being real, those bloodbaths that are local egg hunts just are trouble.)

 

If we keep attending family gatherings without saying a word of prayer, pumping up egg hunts like it’s more important than the cross, and really, making it out to be anything other than Jesus, we are missing the mark. Missing the point.

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I was determined to learn a new language, even if I was well past the age of a typical college student. But I found that I struggled retaining many pieces of information—from simple vocabulary to complex verb conjugations. My professor noticed my difficulty and gave me a simple suggestion, “Study right before bed,” he said. “Your brain functions well while you’re sleeping.”

 

After years of pulling all-nighters as a graduate student, I found this concept difficult to believe. But a recent sleep study published by Notre Dame found that studying before sleep had some significant memory benefits. The study tested college students who were divided into two groups—those who were given information to memorize at 9 am, followed by 10 hours of wakefulness; and those who were given information to memorize at 9 pm, followed by 10 hours of sleep. Those who studied the information and went right to sleep could recall that information 10 hours later and were even able to process complex information and processes while they slept. Those who studied that information during the daytime were less able to recall even simple formulas and vocabulary.

 

Could it be true? Could it be possible…that I just needed to study and then sleep? I could hear mothers across the country rejoicing…college students celebrating.  I thought I owed it to my professor to try it.

 

I started going through my language materials for about 30 minutes before bedtime. The plan was working! I began waking with the vocabulary still intact. I even conjugated a couple of verbs over breakfast.

 

If this could work for my vocabulary, what would happen if I applied this same technique to memorizing and understanding Scripture? If I filled my heart and mind with the truth of God’s Word—even just a snippet—could my mind process that information overnight so that I woke with a clearer understanding of who I was in Christ?

 

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According to a recent Pew Research estimate, there are about 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States. This provides a great opportunity for the body of Christ to reach out to our Muslim neighbors, friends and co-workers. 

 

This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Samya Johnson of Call of Love Ministries, who says we can’t forget to point people towards the heart of the gospel message and savior of the world.

 

Listen to a podcast of Jo's program by visiting http://myfaithradio.com/2017/ministering-muslims/ or by clicking here. 

 

Connecting Faith is aired every Friday afternoon at Noon on Faith Radio Network/KTIS Radio. You can listen at AM 900 / 90.7 FM here in the Twin Cities or online at MyFaithRadio.com

 

We will be posting Jo's weekly podcast here on Heart Matters Publishing. Enjoy the show!

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This very idea that we have individual homes in heaven is really neat... Mansions are the personal expression of this person in house form... Mansions are big and different and have friends like striped cats and furry dogs that you knew as a kid. 
—Josiah Cullen

 

It was bound to happen.

 

March is crazy busy for airline staff. Families are flying away from the cold, after-school activities, and homework to make memories in the sun. College students are putting even more distance between them and their parents with their newfound independence, while giving their brains a break from the workout the profs demand. And then there are all the charter flights for the March madness basketball teams.

 

Combine a busy flight schedule with a gal that goes full-speed ahead, sometimes ignoring the details, and it was bound to happen.

 

The plane had just landed from a flight from Minneapolis. My daughter, a flight attendant, joyfully welcomed the travel-weary passengers to their new destination. “Welcome to Florida everyone!”

 

…Only, she was met with stares, surprise and confusion instead of the smiles she was expecting.

 

Another stewardess hissed to her under her breath.

 

“Oh,” she corrected. “I mean, welcome to California!”

 

She looked back at the other flight attendants sheepishly. “Well that explains the mountains… When I heard we were going to Palm Springs, I just assumed Florida!”

 

Have you ever had that happen? 

 

You were planning on going here, but you end up there.

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Tagged in: Eternal life

We gals grew up hearing and reading love stories and fairy tales from the time we were little. One of my very favorites was, and still is, Cinderella. 

 

Perhaps I am drawn to her story because, like myself, she was just an ordinary gal. 

 

And, she, like many of us, found herself stuck in what felt like the inescapable drudgery of daily life.  

 

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With the death of her mother and father, she felt very much alone and unloved. And sometimes we can feel lost and alone in this great big world of ours too. 

 

She also experienced the painful feeling of rejection and ridicule by those who should have loved her. Instead, her stepmother and stepsisters were wickedly cruel. And who of us hasn’t experienced hurt-filled words?

 

But then, one day, she encountered “divine intervention” and the experience was transformational, to say the least. From dirty cinder soot clothes to a sparkling new ballgown, she soon found herself the Belle of the Ball dancing with the Prince Himself. 

 

But, as is the case in all our lives, in a blink of an eye, real life rushed back in and she once again found herself in the same old routine of life, back in the cinder soot. The memory of her encounter with the Prince began to fade. 

 

Fortunately, her prince had not forgotten her. He had been searching high and low throughout the land to find her. 

 

When he finally did find her, she was not dressed in that beautiful ballgown like the night he’d first danced with her; no, she now stood before him in all her cinder soot shabbiness.

 

He, however, could’ve cared less about her outward appearance. Because his only motivation for knocking on her door that day…was love. He loved her…just as she was. 

 

Victor Hugo once said…

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved…loved for ourselves.

  

And isn’t that what we all long for in the end? 

 

Love stories. Fairy tales. Call them what you will, there’s a reason why we gals are drawn to them. 

 

I think it’s because, like Cinderella, we too hope that despite our ordinariness, our unexceptionalness, yes, even our cinder soot shabbiness, we too might be chosen. And not just chosen. Loved. Loved for who we are. Loved NEW. Loved from ordinary into extraordinary. 

 

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Because if love is anything…it is transforming.

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