Welcome to those of you hopping over from Karen's Ehmans 12 Days of Christmas give-away or from the P31 woman magazine article I had this month. I wanted to share with you a prayer I penned over the years after my crazy Christmas. I pray through it often during this busy time of year to help me prepare a place for Christ in the manger of my heart and home at Christmas.

The Manger of My Heart
This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.

Fill me with your presence, from the very start.

As I prepare for the holidays, and gifts to be given,

Remind me of the gift You gave,

when you sent Your Son from Heaven.

The first Christmas gift, the greatest gift ever,
You came as a baby born in a manger.

Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,

Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.

This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart.
Search me and know the most intimate parts.

Reveal to me if I have ever hung a sign within,

Claiming it off limits, implying “no room at the Inn.”

Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus’ birth,
He left the riches of Heaven
and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.

Emmanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.

As angels announced, “Into your darkness,
God brings His Light.”

“Do not be afraid,” they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.

Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to your call.

Casting distractions and worries aside,
to You I surrender them all.

Surround me with Your presence, Lord,
I long to hear your voice.

Clear my mind of concerns and all the holiday noise.

Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.

In the midst of parties and planning,
I want to feel Your hush.

This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.

Dwell within and around me,
as I unwrap Your presence each day.

Keep me close to You, Jesus.

It’s in your wonderful Name I pray.

© 2003,
Renee Swope ~ www.ReneeSwope.com

Also, here are a few practical ways we can get intentional about unwrapping Christ's presence each day:

  • Plan out your holiday calendar and identify which days might be the most challenging. Write on an index card “God’s with me” and carry it around. Every time you feel stressed, thank Him out loud for being "with you" and ask Him to help you as you through your activities.

  • Write down on your schedule time to be with Jesus each day. Sit still in His presence, soak in His perspective through His Word, and bask in His peace as you work, drive, wrap gifts, cook, entertain, etc..

  • Throughout December, listen to songs that 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 for His perspective and peace for everything you listed.

  • If you feel yourself getting anxious, go back to the gift box and remind yourself that each assignment and challenge is wrapped in God’s peace. Trust Him and thank Him that no matter what comes your way, He is with you!
If you'd like to be part of today's give-away, you can double your chances of winning by leaving a comment below about your favorite Christmas tradition or how your family celebrates Christ at Christmas. I"ll be giving away my Christmas message on CD and a Bath&Body works candle to someone here and someone on Karen's blog, too.


Blogger Jill said...

Renee, I love the poem! As far as celebrating Christ at Christmas one of our biggest things with the kids is talking about Him as the reason for Christmas. We also do the "What God Wants For Christmas" activity from Family Life. And this year started doing Operation Christmas shoe boxes - the kids loved that. To bring it all together we make a birthday cake for Jesus - fun to see how little ones think He'd want it decorated!! Blessings to you this Christmas season, Jill

Blogger Shannon said...

We visit alot of family on Christmas. Christmas morning, my husband and I along with our five children read the Christmas story. We open gifts from each other. Eat homemade caramel rolls, and just enjoy the company of each other. We just started this a few years ago when the kids got older. It is nice to enjoy time in our jammies without hurrying anywhere for that moment..I have one graduating this year, so bitter sweet to see how things might change!
I am eager to follow your adoption story! Would love an update about that. I, along with my husband am starting a non profit to build a community of homes for married couples to do foster care with hopes that these children will have forever homes;before they age out of the foster care system! A huge passion of mine!

Enjoy Christmas
It's His Birthday
Enjoy life
It's His way!

Blogger Angie said...


Thank you for sharing your poem. It is beautiful and thought/tear-provoking. Thanks so much for the reminder.


Anonymous Stephenie said...

Our tradition started out in a very unexpected way. When my daughter was almost 3, I explained that Christmas wasn't just about presents, but about the birth of Christ. Upon hearing this she said, "Jesus needs to have a birthday party!" Christmas morning we have cake and ice cream and remember Who the day is really about. I let the tradition slip last year. I'm thinking that I will change it to dessert on Christmas Eve.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey There Friend,
I just love this poem. I think I share with my Bible study group next week.
My favorite Christmas tradition is on Sunday evenings when we all gather in the family room and light the advent candle for the week all taking turns to do a special devotion on the word that week. My other favorites are when we sit down to read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on Christmas eve (20,18,16 and still must hear it), and after the craziness of opening gifts early Christmas morning we sit down for a quiet, very peaceful candlelight breakfast with Christmas Casserole of course. I love that my children love traditions and they have not outgrown them.

Blogger Joyful said...

Your poem is beautiful Renee. It is my desire for the Lord to come to the manger of my heart as well.

Christmas family traditions...we get up REALLY early still (there's a child inside all of us); my son and I make Cinnamon Buns for breakfast while my husband gets to sleep a little longer; my husband reads the Christmas story from the Bible and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus; we enjoy lingering over the opening of gifts and enjoying and savouring every moment; my entire family arrives around 1pm for the afternoon; we visit for a few hours and then we spend a relaxing evening by the fire with a new book or magazine or DVD.

We have our family Christmas dinner before Christmas (this year it will be on the 20th), in order to meet the needs of our growing family. At our dinner table we set a place setting for Jesus. At His place we set a crown - a visual reminder of the One who's birthday we are celebrating. We always enjoy a birthday cake - complete with candles.

We always give our son a tree ornament each year as well. Some day when he leaves home (which I hope isn't for a long time yet), he'll have years of memories to adorn his Christmas tree. Many of the ornaments when he was younger were the photo kind, but they always pertained to something that happened in his life that year.

Christmas is such a special time. So thankful the Christ of Christmas lives in my heart all year round.


Anonymous Shelley said...

What a great message. I have been collecting lots of info from books and blogs and emails and trying to make our Christmas more Christ centered also. I love Christmas music and making cookies to give as gifts. We have been reading the story of Jesus' birth in our various Bibles since Dec 1st. The kids also like our manger scene advent calendar.

Blogger Cindy said...

What a beautiful poem - I would love to print it out and keep it as a reminder throughout December. My favorite tradition is attending the Christmas Eve service at our church - it's been harder the last few years with young children, but we'll keep trying!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it! I'm going to share your poem with my Mommy's Bible Study group next Friday. That's exactly what we've been talking about - how to stay focused on Jesus and not get caught up in all of the hoopla of the season.

Our Christmas Eve service at church is what really makes the holiday for me. We pack massive bags of snacks and go to church an hour early to get seats where our two kids can see everything, and then we feed them throughout the service so they are able to be quiet enough to stay. The wonder on their faces at the end while they listen to us all sing 'Silent Night' with the candlelight is awesome!! After that, we have a little party at our house and have a birthday cake for Jesus. :-)

Blogger Sandy said...

What a wonderful post! Last year I felt that I was so stressed by the time Christmas got here that I couldn't enjoy it for being so exhausted. This year, I'm trying to maintain my cool. I am keeping a consistent devotion time and making lists and cutting out what doesn't absolutely NEED to be done. As for traditions, we do a countdown to christmas paper chain. My daughter writes something to she's thankful for or something she can do for others on each strip. We countdown the days to Christmas while remembering others. This year my oldest, who's 5, made my heart melt when she suggested we say a prayer each day for the person we are thankful for.

So fun having your interview up on my blog today. Sorry I couldn't get the winter pic of your family to upload so I grabbed the other one off of your site. LOVE YOUR POEM!!!!
Have a great weekend!!!!!!

Blogger Chef Diane said...

Love the poem.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Bithday Jesus cake and my
hubby reading the Christmas story
from Luke before opening family
presents on Christmas eve and Santa gifts inthe morning were our
routines while the children were
growing up. They all have homes of their own with new family traditions now.
I daily spend time in Jesus' presence. I have the words Welcome
Jesus on my livingroom wall that
reminds me He is with me and closer than I can imagine.
Merry Christmas

Blogger Stacey said...

We are starting a new tradition this year...we are making a cake for Jesus. My three year olds excitement about it takes my breath away...

Blogger Lysa TerKeurst said...

What a beautiful poem Renee. I know I've heard you share it before- but what great writing to reflect on over and over.

I prayed it today as part of my quiet time.

Love you friend...

Blogger Joyful said...

Renee, I have just added a link on my post today to your poem here...I hope you don't mind. It truly is beautiful.

Love ya,

Blogger christy said...

A untroubled heart Wow what a awesome thought. My heart has been so full of worries and fears for solong I find it hard to grasp the thought of what it would be like. I would love to read this book.

Blogger patty said...

hi renee, my name is patty and i just completed the survey on doubt. i seem to have a lot of doubt in my life and i would be very interested in learning how to deal with this situation. thanks, patty

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