About the Author

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, heart-encourager, and grace-needer. She's also a wife and mom of three Joshua (27), Andrew (24), and Aster (13) and the best-selling author of "A Confident Heart" and her newest book, "A Confident Mom," released in February! Renee loves making memories with her family, creating beautiful...

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things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. Renee,
    I think you nailed it when you said that the only thing perfect about Christmas is Christ. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. No matter how much striving or trying we do, we will ALWAYS fall short. On the flip side are the Christmases that people dread because of loss, or dysfunction, or extreme hurt….again we need to, I need to, have tunnel vision to keep my eyes focused on the only thing/person perfect about Christmas. To laugh at our foibles and failures is perhaps the best gift we can give to those around us. No matter how Christmas may be coming to your house, the challenge is, to just let it happen. As Ann Voskamp puts it, we are all “manger tramps”. No perfect people need show up….that’s why Christ came for us. We really can’t truly embrace Jesus unless we embrace our imperfect nature. Thanks Renee!
    Bev xx

    • We can get so caught up in Christmas shopping. Even as Christian we forget the real present that came to earth. The best present we can give someone who does not know Jesus. That is telling them about the present God gave us that is Jesus himself.

      • Maybe we can be the ones who hug a frazzled friend or tell an overwhelmed mom she’s doing good; and more than enough! Maybe we can be the ones who create space for grace and offer the gift of God’s no-expectations. Maybe we can remind ourselves and others that we don’t have to do it all because He already did all that we would need. Merry Christmas!!

    • It’s so true!! I wish I had understood this in my 20s, 30s and early 40s instead of stressing myself and my family out for the whole month of December. I really thought I should be able to do it all — and do it really well!! The reality of His grace and His love for imperfect people like me has taken a while to sink in, but these days freedom and imperfection has never looked so beautiful!! Merry Christmas xoxo

  2. Oh, Renee, we are also The Family of the Flaming Advent Napkin (and I thought we were the only ones!).
    Advent candles are so great, and I love ours, but such a hazard at an imperfect table. I’ve been running imperfect Christmases in this house for a couple of decades–this year it’s been a kitchen renovation that has spread sheet rock dust to the far corners of the house.
    When we celebrate a Savior who was born in a stable, I guess we have to be ready for anything!

    • Oh, Michele, I love it. Makes me want to come to your house for Christmas and unwrap the gift of His grace among sheetrock dust!!
      Although, I’d have to wear a mask, because I”m allergic to it. Merry Christmas to you and your family! Be sure to keep some water close to the advent candles :)!

  3. Renee,
    I love this whole reminder about what really matters at Christmas. Praying God doesn’t let me forget these points as I prepare during this Advent season.
    Wishing you and your family an imperfect Christmas!

    • Thanks Joy, and merry Christmas to you and yours.

      Lord, seal today’s reminders of Your grace in Joyce’s mind, and ours. Help each of us to live in the beautiful imperfection of Christmas memories and unexpected moments. Remind us Holy Spririt, again and again. May we experience the fullness of Christmas and all that YOU are to us and we to each other.

  4. Renee I needed to be reminded of the imperfection which in turn can turn into cherished moments. Every year I tell myself this is going to be the year I have it all together! It never happens and it leaves me feeling discouraged, disappointed and frustrated. I’m grateful for the moments I am reminded of what the season is truly all about. Here I am reminded that Jesus was the Perfect Gift and it takes me back to reality, that it’s not about me. With my own house still in disarray with Christmas decorations, I took my neighbor up on her offer to come over and hep her trim her tree. A neighborly acquaintance, not necessarily a close friend I found myself sipping hot cocoa and trimming my neighbors tree as we chatted and she told me the stories behind some of her sacred tree ornaments that had been passed down to her. I’m thankful for the time shared with her and most importantly to be content with my own imperfect Christmas décor I still find in disarray in my home.

    • Oh Nora, this is CHRISTMAS!!!

      What you did with your neighbor is such a beautiful picture of making room for others, which is exactly what it looks like to make room in our own manger-hearts for Christ. What a gift you gave – to help, to sit and visit, to listen to all her stories. Your disarray is beautiful because of what you did with your time instead.

      I pray you might consider putting up less this year, so you can enjoy more of the unexpected moments that become gifts. That’s what I did this time, and it’s making such a difference in my December. Next year I can go all out, but this year simple is serving me well. 🙂

  5. Renee,

    Funny you should ask to come to my house for Christmas. I will be eating with my pastor, his wife & other friends. My hubby has to work that day. Christmas Eve we will be eating dinner at my in-laws & doing Christmas with them. I always say Norman Rockwell & Martha Stewart don’t live here. You are getting lovable me. Since we don’t have any family around we put up a little “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree with a few gifts for others around it. In the past I would spend time over the holidays with my aging parents. I would visit dad in the assisted living & try to make Christmas fun for him. Hard when they don’t know what day it is. We need to get our focus off the secular idea of gift buying & back onto the real reason for Christmas. Our church used to go Christmas caroling to nursing homes every year. You could tell it brightened their day for a bit. Some even sang with us. Our little church is doing a “live” nativity scene. We want the area people to drive up & really see what took place on that morning. No one down here is perfect & most people don’t care about perfection, just you being there present in the moment with love & laughter. Enjoy the time you have with family. You never know when they will be gone.

    Have a blessed Christmas everyone! Feliz Navidad 🙂

    • So many good truths here in what you shared Beth. It is interesting how those around us really do influence what we think Christmas is supposed to look like, or what we are supposed to be like. I pray that I’ll be one who helps lower others expectations of themselves. Together we can all enjoy the gift of grace and just being together. That’s what Christmas really is about.
      xoxo ~ Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  6. Renee, thank you for this message to recovering perfectionists. (Raising my hand.) “Canceling my request for perfect this Christmas” sounds like a beautiful idea. May He empower each of us to live that out!

  7. Rene I love your post, it sounds like our family several years ago. It was the first time for our new Son-in-law to share a meal with us. We were starting to eat and he knocked his glass of water over and was so upset. We told him not to worry as he was a part of the family because someone always seemed to spill their water every meal. God Bless you and your family this Christmas!

    • My family watches to see how long it will take before I knock a glass over, every time we sit down!! I was so proud of myself this Thanksgiving because I didn’t spill anything the whole day!! 🙂 Merry Christmas!!

  8. Well, amen to this! I’ve been learning this for years, since I too tend to be a perfectionist if I’m not intentional, and I so love all of the magical Christmas traditions. But I’ve also caught myself so many times being so busy “celebrating” that I haven’t spent enough time in quiet, contemplative and meaningful thought and prayer with the One whom it’s all about.

    This year we just decided to leave our tree very simple after we saw how lovely it looks with just a few basic ornaments. All of our other precious decorations will remain safely tucked in their box for another year. They’re not going anywhere, and we feel so much more free.

    Here’s to our real and simple celebrations that allow us to be present with God and others during this season of joy. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I’m with you!! Simple was my goal this year, too, so I could enjoy more of December and not have as much to put away in January. We didn’t pull out all our family ornaments and decorations. Just a few. And our tree only has some red and gold balls, plus 25 white Jesse Tree ornaments on it. It’s small and simple, but so pretty. And it’s made all the difference. 🙂

      Merry Christmas!

  9. Renee, ahh, this is so good. Time, laughter, encouragement. Yes. Those are the gifts I know I want to receive from the ones I love, so why not purpose to be the first to give them. (And I just love picturing you laughing hard and your kids soaking it up in their hearts.) xx

    • Becky, it really is one of our favorite Christmas memories! I just remembered it was Aster’s first Christmas home with us. She was a year old, but she’d only been home for 2 months. I’m so glad I could just laugh at myself, and enjoy that moment. And I hope one day she’ll hear her brothers talking about it, and give herself the same grace her mama needed – that day and every day. Merry Christmas sweet friend!

  10. Such wisdom here, Renee. My husband tells the story of elegant Christmas Eve dinners from his childhood when he was afraid to move for fear of breaking something, spilling something, or committing an embarrassing breach of etiquette. I have to ask myself: Is that the kind of Christmas I want my grandchildren to remember, in the name of Martha Stewart perfection? Hardly. With you I want to embrace the imperfect–even at Christmas–and let Jesus shine through the mistakes, mishaps, and messes!

  11. The older I get, the more I recognize how much others around me (friends and family) influenced what I thought Christmas was supposed to look like, or what I was supposed to be like. Now, I pray I can be an influence who helps my family and friends lower expectations of themselves. That way we can all have more time to energy to enjoy the gift of just being together. And I pray that for you, Nancy, and your family too ~ this Christmas!