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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!!

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  1. We play lots and lots of Christmas music over the holiday season which helps me to remember where my focus should be. Also, my morning prayer time includes specifically asking that Jesus be the center of all that I do and that I don’t let him get pushed aside with other demands.

  2. Lots of Peaceful Holiday music on Pandora. And morning devotional time with Ann Voskamp. And tons of reminders to myself to stay focused on what is most important and to let the rest go.

  3. We love Christmas music!! We listen to it on the way to school each day.. I also love our nativity set.. It is a great reminder every time I see it!

  4. I have my “joy jar” – or my blessings jar. No matter what is happening in my life, I write something on a small piece of paper & put it in my jar that I am thankful for, that I have been blessed with or something good in my life. At the end of the year, I put them in a little ziplock & then when the new year begins, I start filling the jar again. It is good to look back at one of the zip-bags & read some of the blessings from the past. It is amazing to see how your blessings & joys add up.

  5. A local hardware store closes at noon and has a “Christmas Eve Service at the Hardware Store.” People from all over the community come to the service followed by homemade Christmas cookies, coffee & hot cocoa. It is a wonderful time. As the owner says, Jesus was born in a manager so we have church once a year in the hardware store.

  6. I wish I could say the nativity scenes were enough but some times I walk by then without noticing or truly thinking about the meaning of Christmas. I keep Scripture close by and this year in particular remind myself that when my children forsake the Lord will take me up…Immanuel God with ME. He loves and accepts me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. Nor will He abuse or use me. I will also play Christmas carols and other hymns. Doing Christmas activities with the grandchildren who live with us helps keep me entered as well.

  7. I start by watching Christmas movies. Even though some of them may not have a religious story to them I can see the love in each one of them and it reminds me that Christmas time is the time that we can see God’s love as he gave us his son to remind us everyday that he loves us.

  8. I love the idea of printing “God is with me” to carry with me all day, and also the Nativity by the bedside idea. We do Advent devotions currently which makes the season so much more special and focused.

  9. I love listening to Christmas worship music and have been for quite some time this year. We also have Advent devotions as a family. This year we are doing Ann Voskamp’s family devotional. So meaningful!

  10. We have a nativity in our living room which we talk about a lot with the kids. We also have a little people nativity and we teach the kids to tell the Christmas story with those kid-friendly pieces. We also listen to a lot of Christian Christmas music and sing all the time!

  11. We keep a gift under the tree for Jesus. On Christmas morning the first thing we do is give our gift to Jesus (since it IS His birthday). We write our gift on a little piece of paper and put it In the gift box under the tree. We also have a birthday party for Jesus after dinner complete with birthday cake!

  12. Wow! I absolutely love all of these. I think I’m actually going to try them all. I already do some of them and I really try to do as much as possible (spiritually) during December to fully prepare my heart for the coming of our Savior! Stress, chaos, busy schedules, to do list and so much more often creeps in trying to take my focus! I have to be extra intentional during Decemeber to make sure I am keeping my heart and mind focused on above and why we celebrate Christmas!

  13. I think making a list of what my expectations are might help with avoiding problems. I also want to spend more time reading and connecting with the real reason for this holiday.

  14. I plan time to spend with God everyday. I love the index card idea. We have our Nativity set out on a shelf that you have to walk by so you always see it.

  15. Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. For the past 8 years I have been miserable every year. 3 years ago I rededicated my life to God, and the first year I was as so focused on Christ’s birth nothing mattered. The past two years I have to go back to Jesus’ birth, and the young Mary’s feelings. That’s what allows Gods presence to come close.

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