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4th Day of Christmas Giveaways with Renee Swope

12 Days of Christmas Giveaways at KarenEhman.com

Welcome to the 4th Day of Christmas Giveaways!!!

Today, my friend Renee Swope is here to offer her post, Unwrapping His Presence. She is giving away 2 gifts for us! See the bottom for all of the details!

Here is Renee…

Visions of the perfect Christmas danced in my head.

For the first time in our married life, my husband and I were hosting both sets of parents, most of our siblings and a few extra loved ones for the holidays. They all lived out of town, so having them with us for the holidays felt like a dream come true.

But somewhere in the midst of all the preparations, I got tangled up in Christmas lights and unrealistic expectations. And, by the time everyone got to our house, I could not wait for them to leave!!

The week before Christmas, it dawned on me that I didn’t know how to cook a turkey, and all hope was dashed when I discovered (the day before Christmas) that grocery-store turkeys are frozen and need 48 hours to thaw. It was too late to pre-order a fancy honey-baked hams or roasted turkeys so we ended up with Bojangles friend turkeythat year, served on plates that didn’t match my Christmas table cloth with napkins that stood awkwardly, half bent over for lack of the support from the cute napkin rings I forgot to get at Target that week.

Christmas came and so did all our guests. We had a house full of people, but sadly I had an empty, grumpy heart.

Christmas day was a big ole disappointment.

Walking through what looked like a landfill of crumpled wrapping paper in our living room, I felt overwhelmed by my hopes and dreams of the “perfect Christmas” that hadn’t come true.

I knew I should be grateful but something was missing.

While kids chased uncles with remote control cars and grandparents napped on the couch, I snuck upstairs to our bedroom closet and sat down on the floor. Taking a deep breath, I tried not to cry. Instead I opened my Bible to read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2 hoping if I could just put myself in the story it might change the one I was living.

Slowly, I let each word remind me of the first Christmas and God’s promise that came true in Bethlehem.

“She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger…” Luke 2:7 (NIV).

Closing my eyes, I imagined Mary wrapping baby Jesus. like a gift Her hands carefully folding each corner of cloth. Like a beautiful bow on the perfect Christmas gift, she placed a kiss on his forehead.

I sat there just taking in that image, and then I noticed a cross reference at the bottom of the page from Isaiah 7:14 that read: “

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel, God with us.”

God with us.

God with me.

Now I knew what I was missing. I had been so focused on creating the perfect Christmas that I’d forgotten to unwrap the perfect gift: Immanuel, my God with me.

Bowing my head, I pictured a gift under my tree, waiting to be opened so He could reveal Himself to me.

That day in my close, I unwrapped the gift of God’s presence, inviting His calm into my chaos. His perspective to replace my expectations, and His joy to help me enjoy the gifts of my imperfect Christmas waiting downstairs.

Simply pausing to acknowledge and thank Jesus for being {with me} brought a peace to my heart unlike anything matching table settings or the perfect turkey could ever bestow.

And, guess what? It ended up being an “almost” perfect Christmas after all!

Retro.Blue5 Ways To Unwrap His Christmas Presence

  • Place a nativity at your bedside so you can reflect on the gift of Christ each night before you fall asleep and each morning as you wake up.
  • Write on an index card “God is with me” and carry it with you all throughout December. When you feel stressed, thank Jesus out loud for being “with you.
  • Plan time every day to be with Jesus: to sit still in His presence, soak in the perspective of His Word, and bask in His peace as you work, drive, wrap gifts, cook, entertain, etc.
  • Listen to worship songs to remind you of the gift of Christmas – Immanuel – God with you.
  • Make a list of expectations and preparations that could rob you of joy and consume your focus this Christmas. Place the list in a gift box and wrap it in God’s presence with a prayer – asking Him to give you His perspective and peace for everything you listed

ComeToMe_Cover ENTER TO WIN:

WHAT is ONE way you will intentionally unwrap the gift of God’s presence this Christmas?? Choose one from those listed above or share an idea or tradition of your own.

Share your answer in the comments below this post and you will be entered to win Renee’s giveaway! She will be choosing 2 winners who will each receive 2 gift sets (one to keep and one to give away). Each gift set will include Renee’s beautiful new “Come To Me” journal along with her favorite journaling pen and a $5 Starbucks gift card.Giveaway at KarenEhman.com

Winners will be announced Tuesday, December 22nd! And, a grand prize winner will be chosen exclusively from the names of those who enter to win every day, under all 12 posts!

Renee.CasualPhotoRenee Swope is a Word-lover, heart-encourager, story-teller and grace-needer. She’s also best-selling author of A Confident Heart, but most know her best as co-host of Proverbs 31 Ministries’ radio program “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.” Renee’s favorite place to be is next to her husband, JJ, and their three children: Joshua (?20?), Andrew (18) and ?Aster (7), who their family traveled together to adopt from Ethiopia in 2009. Find more encouragement from Renee at www.ReneeSwope.com.

Merry Christmas!!
Renee

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218 Comments

  1. I live alone, so 1st thing every morning I play a mix of Christmas & worship songs to focus on Jesus while I wash my face, etc to get ready for my devotional time.

  2. The kids and I are journaling our way through Advent. I bought a special book for the kids, and I’m using my favorite Bible. Each morning we break out our books and art supplies and get to work. It’s a different way to remember what the point of all the fuss really is.

  3. We listen to Christian Christmas music! We also set up a number of nativities throughout our house. A few of them are “child-proof” so my kids take turns acting out the Christmas story with the characters just about every night.

  4. This message hit home with me in a big way! I am very guilty of striving to create the perfect Christmas every year only to have my hopes dashed when my expectations and desires fall short of being achieved.
    I never realized this was happening until this year when I read a similar devotion about all week ago. I have no doubt this is God speaking to me.
    To keep my focus on Jesus this season, I am consciously thinking on my desperate need for the Christ Child each time something doesn’t work out just the way I intended or chaos is swirling around me. I’m so thankful He came and meets me in my mess.

  5. I took time to sit and reflect with tea in hand in front of my Christmas tree. I’ve also started reading Fervent and reflecting on my life each morning so as not to miss the most important thing this Christmas: my relationship with God.

  6. Posted in reply to email:

    Christmas presents – Jesus’ presence. I’m using these entries to pause and reflect on Christmas through a new lens. Today the ‘Papa Bear’ of our adopted daughter passed away after a major stroke. He life has touched many lives, especially that of Inez and our granddaughter Taylor. Almost at the same time a new baby was born, Sebastian to a school family. He was rushed to Children’s hospital, unable to breathe on his own. Prayers for his healing and little life. Already he has touched lives in the hours that he has been on this earth. Presence —- the touching of lives, engaging in life, life itself. God with us. Each day I find a ‘picture’ of God’s presence in my life and that of my family and friends. This is my PAUSE for PRESENCE this advent season.

    Thank you for this present of reflection,
    Vicki Butler

  7. I love these ideas! Along with my morning devo, I plan on reading over the birth of Christ and journal my thoughts now through Christmas! Thanks!

  8. One way I unwrap the gift of God’s presence is soaking in His Word in the early morning hours while the house is still and I can think! I have Scripture on the walls in each and every room so that my heart is reminded of His great love as I move from room to room! xoxo

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