| |

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!!

Similar Posts


  1. I make sure I take the time to pray and read the Bible. I take extra time if I feel myself getting “tangled up in the Christmas lights”. Listening to the Christmas songs which speak of Christ and His birth help, too….I make sure to sing them as the praise songs they are instead of just another catchy jingle.

  2. I am blessed to have my daily morning and evening time with Jesus as a Spiritual habit I never miss, no matter what is happening around me or to me or who is visiting but I have never done anything special for Advent. This year I am spending each day writing out Scripture that brings the amazing story of Jesus birth and the prophesy of His arrival alive to me in a way like never before and spending that time hand writing His word has given me a surge of deep, intimate connection.

  3. Our church youth group provided each family with a devotional leading up to Christmas. We are doing that each night as a family.

  4. I have been reading three advent studies and listening to music.
    I moved a nativity that is an advent candle holder to my bedroom mantle.
    Thank you for the great ideas.

  5. Ironically, sitting still in God’s presence during the Christmas season is hard to do. Our schedules are full and the pull to produce is stronger than any other time of year. I like that you take time to reflect and listen to God. I’m being more intentional about that this year. We are also gathering the kids (amidst sports, finals and work) for nightly family devotions. Not able to do it every night, but as much as possible.

  6. I currently have been participating in an online Bible study that has kept my heart focused on God and Jesus. I’m also enjoying a daily Advent reading. I do love your idea of placing a nativity at my bedside so I can reflect on the gift of Christ each night before falling asleep and each morning as I wake up. I have a small child’s size nativity that belongs to one my daughter’s. She isn’t using it in her room this year (I think it will get “lost” on her messy nightstand!) so I think I’ll use it in my room. Perhaps my daughter will make room for it and I will tell her your suggestion. Thanks for the idea! God bless you all and Merry Christmas!

  7. I LOVE the idea of a manger scene on the bedroom! Focusing morning and night I the true reason for this blessed season will help my stress level immensely, before the day’s worries threaten to overwhelm.

  8. Last month, on SM, I started a bible challenge. Each day I, & some friends, would sit down and dig deep into the word. December is no different. We’ve plunged deep into it and spend time doing so daily!

  9. When I was younger and my children were small I always felt rushed because of the expectations I set for myself to make it the best Christmas. Now that I’m older and the children are adults, I keep it minimal, if it gets done great but if it doesn’t then that’s okay.

  10. I love listening to Christmas music and I love nativities. We have several we set up.

    We’re reading a new Advent book this year, Ishtar’s Odyssey. It is exciting and we love it and pausing to think about all the details in the Christmas story that are left untold.

  11. Christmas music has always brought joy to my heart and as a family we read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve before we go to bed. This year I must place my expectations at the feet of Jesus and keep my eyes on Him not my circumstances.

  12. Every year before we unwrap presents my sister in law and i will read the first part of Luke and the first part of Matthew that talk about Jesus’s birth. It reminds us and my kiddos that its about more than presents and also helps me connect with Jesus again.

  13. My family gathers every nite before bed starting Dec 1 thru Dec 24 and read Christmas books. My daughter is now 15 and she still wants to do it no matter what. It’s a good way to end the day with Jesus.

  14. I love music. Listening to Christmas hymns always put my heart and head in the right place. I am also adding to my calendar for 8 am each day to say a prayer of thanks. I have found that when friends request that I pray for them, it works best for me if I put it on my calendar. The phone dings and I stop what I am doing and pray for a few minutes.

  15. I need to start my day with God’s Word & fill my day with praise music. These keep me focused so the business of life doesn’t sweep me away.

  16. This is great. There’s so many Christmases that go by feeling empty. They don’t seem as magical as when we are kids. I love remembering God with us and that us the best gift. We have been remembering this by taking time out every night and doing advent. It has been a great reminder what Christmas is all about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *