Getting Ready to Receive, Day 6

Yesterday Nelson Mandela died, leaving behind a rich legacy of forgiveness, humility and leadership. He most certainly lived his life well and I am among the many who admired him greatly. Since the announcement of his death, I have heard several people use the word “hero,” a word we typically reserve for giants like Mandela who are known by the whole world. But I believe the visible work of heroes like Mandela often gets lived out quietly in the everyday life of people we know. One such hero in my life is none other than the author of today’s post and my big sister, Laura Brown. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband, John, and their three children. She works for a global company called Glatfelter, and when she’s not busy traveling all over North America for work  and all over Chillicothe, Ohio taking her kids to karate, tennis and more, she can be found running the Upward Basketball league in her community, volunteering with the Junior League or out training with her team, “Paper Girls Wear Pink,’ for the next Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. And if that’s not enough (and it is!), she’s also the big sister who flies down at a moment’s notice when her little sister is overwhelmed and gets her house cleaned, fills her freezer with crockpot meals and does her laundry! Hero barely scratches the surface here, friends.

Laura shares today from a place of wisdom and experience about managing the pressure-cooker of life without closing ourselves off from each other and from the God who wants to give us good gifts. Enjoy!

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The ugly sweater contest is a mystery to me. We place so much pressure on ourselves during this time of year:  Did I get the perfect gift for Joe’s uncle’s best friend whom I’ve never actually met? Is that present hidden where the kids will not see it during their latest game of “Spy Kids: Let’s Ruin Christmas for Mom and Dad”? Have I properly constructed the best wreath in the neighborhood per the shoddy directions given by that weird link on Pinterest?

So now, to add to the contents of our Christmas pressure cooker, we compete to see who can be the best at being the ugliest. Really? And I will not even mention that e-mail I got asking me to join the “No Weight Gain During the Holidays” challenge. Cris Carter needs to just add that one to the “C’Mon Man” lineup next Monday night.

Here’s the thing about that pressure cooker we’ve placed ourselves in: the lid is on, tightly sealed. That is not what God has intended for us in this season or any other.  God has called us to take the lid off. He has called us to open our hearts to receive his gifts of grace, mercy and healing. He has called us to share our light with the world so that others may see his glory.

On this day of advent, preparing for the coming of Christ, spend some time considering those gifts that God wants to give you this season. Are you hurting from a relationship gone awry? Jesus comes to heal the brokenhearted. Do you have financial hardship in your life? God will provide. Do you have family members living in the darkness? Jesus came to save.

Preparing to receive these things is not easy. But here is a great idea to start: get on your knees and pray. Hold your hands open as you pray signaling a willingness and ability to receive. Ask God to prepare your heart to receive that which he has for you in this season. And when you are done with that prayer, find a friend or a blog (hey, maybe this one?) to help you keep your hands open, outstretched to the Savior, ready to receive the gifts that only he can give.

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:4

Is the lid off your pressure cooker, ready to receive?

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