Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

As we celebrate the birth of our sweet Savior, this Christmas our family is reminded more than ever of the gift of “Immanuel”- our God with us. We have needed Him to be with us more than ever. And He has kept His promise.It’s been an amazing year. Yet some times it feels like the hardest year we’ve been through, especially the past few months. Still we know He’s been right there walking by our side. He’s gone before us and stood in the places we walked into before we ever got there. We asked Him to prepare a place for us in those unknown places. And we have found evidence of His faithfulness each time. We have seen His hand. We have felt His power. And our hearts have been guarded by His peace that surpasses our understanding. All throughout the year we’ve known the gift of His presence.And, as many of you know, we also received a very special Christmas gift this year! The gift of Aster.

It’s been so wonderful to have her here in the months leading up to Christmas. Each night as I swaddle her up and hold her close in my arms before putting her to bed, I look into her eyes and imagine what Mary must have felt. After enduring the difficulties of her unexpected pregnancy, having to leave her family and travel to a land so unknown, I imagine her holding Jesus in her arms and thanking God for trusting her with this assignment – to be Jesus’ mother. Oh how blessed she was for believing that what He had promised would be accomplished.

How blessed we have been in believing God would be “with us” when He called us to adopt a baby. I am so thankful for the gift of His joy through Jesus’ love tucked in the heart and smile of our sweet baby girl!

Never before has God’s desire to adopt us as HIS children been more real than it is now.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. ” Ephesians 1:4-6

Our overwhelming love for her has changed us in ways that only Love could do. And yet even more than our love for her, she helps us see how great our Father’s love is for us!

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

Our prayer is that Aster’s story would somehow translate God’s love story for so many other people than just us. We are praying that each person who knows us, or is getting to know us through her adoption, would know the width and depth and height and breadth of God’s love for you. Love that surpasses knowledge (in our head) so that it can supernaturally satisfy every need and longing in our hearts.

Love has gotten us through recent trials. Love has bound our hearts together and kept us near to Him and each other. It is His Love that we are putting our trust in as we wait for my biopsy next week. It is His Love that met us in the Doctor’s office Monday and gave us the time we needed with a busy surgeon to ask a lot of questions and get a lot of answers.

It is that Love that will be with my dad as he goes into quadruple bypass heart surgery today, (that we just found out about Monday night). It is that Love who will open dad’s heart to physical and spiritual healing It is Love we are asking to guide the hands of his surgeon and BE the hand that reach down from Heaven because He is the Great Physician.

It is Love that transforms, renews, heals, restores, redeems and remains. My prayer for you this Christmas is that HIS love touches your heart and your life in the way you need Him most. Thanks for loving me so abundantly these days with your prayers, words, faith and encouragement. You have been His love with skin on!

Sweet Christmas blessings from my heart to yours!

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. May you have a blessed Christmas as well Renee. Aster is such a doll.

  2. I check your blog often, especially now through your adoption process. We have adopted 3 boys from both Russia and China. I understand the elation and the exhaustion and can't begin to imagine having to face all the other trials you are facing this day.

    My heart is heavy. Please know that while you have many praying, I too will be going to the Throne on your behalf.

    May the Prince of Peace give abundantly to you this Christmas.

    Pamela

  3. Merry Christmas Renee!! Thanks for your words and the pics too – they are beautiful. God's love is amazing and that's what the season is all about. I pray He lavishes it on you in the days ahead! Prayers and a hug too, Jill

  4. Be still, and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10

    When I am totally overwhelmed with things going on around me I stop, close my eyes and meditate on Psalm 46:10. I feel God's arms as he wraps them tightly around me, holding me saying "Be still, and know that I AM GOD". I am reminded that he loves me and will carry me through anything.

    I pray you and your family feel God's presence and perfect peace. May you have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

  5. His Love. I love it! You've written a wonderful post with Jesus clearly written all over it. Merry Christmas, Renee. May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you!

    Rebecca

  6. Renee-

    What a blessing to me that you share your life. While it is not a blessing that you and your family are having so many difficulties in your life this past year, it is a reassurance to me that me and my family are not alone in the many health struggles that we have been going thru this year. Praying that you, your Mom and Dad are all given the gift of excellent health by the time the new year rolls around. Loving the pictures of Aster and the boys, please keep them coming. Have a Merry Christmas. Lisa from West Virginia

  7. Renee, Thank you for being so faithful and for sharing with others. Your family is an inspiration and an example of God's Love. I pray that you will have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

    I love Aster's pictures. She is precious!!
    Angela T Ramsey

  8. God is faithful, Renee. Our family has had a difficult year as well, but God has walked every step with us, and graciously interspersed moments of joy and laughter in the midst of it all. And we hold on to our peace through the hardest times because HE is our peace.

    Merry Christmas, Renee, to you and your beautiful family.

    P.S. LOVE your family photo! 🙂

  9. Renee,
    You and your family are in my prayers. You asked, I think on Twitter of ways the Lord has helped or ministered to us. For me in the last six monthes or so it has been Kari Jobe's CD…the name of it is just Kari Jobe. The Lord has used this CD and to comfort, strenghten and encourage me. I am praying for your Dad (and Mom) today and you and your whole beautiful family.
    The Lord bless and keep you and your family in His care.

  10. Wow – bypass surgery for your dad on top of everything else. Big hugs to you, my friend.

    Have a blessed Christmas. I'm so glad you have Aster to include in your celebration!!

  11. What a beautiful picture of a beautiful family!!

    Merry Christmas to you!

  12. Renee,
    I have seen you speak, I follow your blog and I follow you on Twitter and Facebook. I feel like I know you so well. You are such a blessing to me.

    I have been praying for you and will continue to pray.

    May God feel your hearts with peace this Christmas. I'm having faith that things are going to start looking up for you really soon, starting with good news from your biopsy next week. I claim healing and good news in Jesus' name.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

    Merry Christmas to you and your precious family.

    Caley

  13. Merry Christmas Renee! I pray your dad's surgery went well. I am also praying for your health. You have a beautiful family! I'm so glad you see the Lord's faithfulness to you even when it is tough. God will see you through this.

  14. Your on my heart and in my prayers.
    love you and Merry Christmas!

  15. Praying for you and your family. Trusting in the Lord for a special touch! God is a God of miracles.

  16. Renee,
    Thanks for your encouragement on my blog. It has been an honor to pray for your family through the trials. I hope to get to meet Aster in person soon. Merry Christmas.

  17. Merry CHRISTmas! Praying you all relax and enjoy this special time together! Thanx for sharing the pictures and your words.

    We love you sister!!

  18. "Our prayer is that Aster's story would somehow translate God's love story for so many other people than just us"

    I love this – it is so simple and yet so profound. Thank you for being so transparent!

  19. Renee – I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, especially with your new little addition. I bet it will seem like a blast from the past to have all the little colorful toys from Santa scattered around your living room again. I know it would be for me since the kids are a little older now. 🙂 I pray you can enjoy Christmas without the heaviness of worry, and that you will feel God's presence throughout the next few days. I am praying for your dad, and for the two of you. Hope to see you soon. Blessings,

  20. Merry Christmas Renee!
    Thinking of your family today and praying that 2010 will be filled with continued blessings for the Swope family. Love ya! Leah

  21. I just love your weblog! Very nice post! Still you can do many things to improve it.

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