Having a "Mary" Christmas at the Well....

Having a "Mary" Christmas:

Keeping "Christ" in Christmas with Practical Ideas

Do you find yourself stressed each Christmas, trying to "DO" all of the activities of the holiday, only finding yourself depleted and wondering if your family celebrated the true meaning of Christmas?

What are practical tips and ideas you can share that celebrate Christ and simplifies Christmas?

Thanks for joining us at the Well....it's been awhile since I have joined in the conversation. Life has been crazy here at the Berta house (and two weeks without a computer- ugh!). But, I have checked the questions each week, pondering and praying over them. So, if you are unable to write about this week's question, don't sweat it! My prayer is that you will take time to ponder it, though, and think about your own Christmas traditions.

Are there ways to bring Christ into these traditions? (Like the "Gift with Purchase" idea below that spreads Christ's love during shopping.)

Are there areas which need to be simplified?

Are there areas in which do NOT glorify God and need to be rethought?

Please share your own thoughts, ideas, traditions if you can.

And, please check out my devotion on "Having a 'Mary' Christmas" at the Cafe on Thursday.

I have personality of doing and doing- kind of like Martha. My sweet husband used to say "you're going overboard, Tracy." I said "used to" because, thankfully God has helped me in this area. I want to do it ALL. I want to be involved in everything! But, I know that I have to be careful or I will do too much, stressing myself out and my family.

So, I have tried to make choices of WHAT to do to glorify God. For example, I love caroling. The kids and I love to carol and have hot chocolate (singing is NOT one Brian's favorite things). So, we go caroling at the nursing home.

Each year I host a cookie exchange. I love to entertain. I love to make food, decorate, give out door prizes....About 4 years ago I began sharing my testimony during the evening. I serve my guests, making sure it is a wonderful evening, and then share what God is doing in my life. I try to invite new ladies each year, including how important God is to me. This is a fun way to share my faith with friends and neighbors.

When I send out Christmas cards, I choose cards that tell about what Christmas is about- the celebration of the birth of Jesus. When I write our Christmas letter, I include what God is doing in our lives, taking the opportunity to share our faith.

With the kids, I love to do advent activities as a family. Family Life Today has a wonderful book and activity called "What God Wants for Christmas." As we look forward to Christmas, we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. We watch videos of the Nativity story. We want our kids (and ourselves for that matter!) to remember that the meaning of Christmas is Christ!

For me, the most important thing is keeping my relationship with JESUS the most important thing of Christmas! It sounds so strange- I mean, after all, Christmas is Christ! But, if I am not careful, I can let all of the activities interfere with keeping Christ the focus of Christmas. I can become stressed and anxious, taking it out on my family! But, this is the time when I should be experiencing perfect peace and creating peace in m home. So, when I become anxious, I step back, evaluate what I am doing and think about what I need to take out of my schedule. I have realized that I can say NO to things and requests. (One busy year I even decided NOT to send out Christmas cards! It was a relief not to have one more thing on my "to do" list.) We don't have to do all of our traditions every year. Christmas should be peaceful and joyful!

So, my prayer for you is that this Christmas is filled with peace, love, and joy. I pray that if you become stressed, you, too, will take a step back and evaluate what is important and what could be taken out. I pray that you will bask in the peace of Christ, filled with His love and joy. I pray that as you celebrate His birth, you will be overwhelmed with hope.

Merry Christmas!

Black Friday

Are you going shopping today?

It's Thanksgiving night and I just finished getting ready for the big shopping day, “Black Friday.” I have my list of “must haves” and my plan of where to begin at 4 AM. I have gone through the flyers and found the best deals.

And, as I write this, I am watching one of the funniest Christmas movies, “Christmas with the Kranks”. With their only daughter away with the Peace Corps over Christmas, Luther and Nora Krank decide to “skip” Christmas and go away on a cruise. Their decision to boycott the holiday has the neighborhood in an uproar.

This movie is hilarious because I can relate to all of the crazy details that we can get caught up in over Christmas- the cards, decorations, parties, lights….losing sight of WHAT Christmas is really about. Sometimes we can become so overwhelmed with the activities, forgetting that Christmas is remembering and celebrating the birth of Christ.

One of my favorite traditions of Black Friday is an idea that I got from the book, "Redeeming the Season."

One of the ideas is called “Gift with Purchase.” Our family makes simple crafts like ornaments, and then we give them to sales clerks, thanking them for working during the holidays. We make sure to include a scripture and message of God’s love through the birth of Jesus. The reaction of surprise and thankfulness of the clerks is so worth the effort! They love being appreciated!

This season, especially when you have the opportunity to spread Christ’s love with strangers, remember to keep Christ in Christmas. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed in the details, but remain in His peace. Help your family to bask in the gift of Jesus….His love, His peace, and His hope.

And, if you happen to shop, please give a friendly smile and thank you to those salesclerks!

Thankful Thursday

I am SO thankful for my computer! Oh, I am soooooo glad to have a power cord back!

Lord, I am so thankful for my beautiful family. I am thankful for an amazing group of ladies in small group with me. I am thankful for Your graciousness, goodness, PATIENCE with me!

This week Iris is having us ponder the theme of "life." She reminded us of John 3:16 and how our amazing God has given His life to give US life! I thought of "life" in a different way this week. I am so thankful that God has given us life to the FULL. I want my life to be full of LIFE! I want to have fun. I want to enjoy every day. I want to "rejoice and be glad" in every day that God has made!

All this to say, I am so thankful that my family is taking a vacation! Thank You, God!!!!! We are going to Disney World next week! What a blessing this vacation is. We were not planning it, but God has made it possible. He has so blessed every detail of the trip. Yay, God! Lord, I am thankful that that You fill our lives with "LIFE"- joy, fun, memories, (roller coasters!).

Please visit Iris for more thankfulness!

I'm so glad to be back.....and over at Laced With Grace!

I am sooooooo excited to be back!

Thanks to all who emailed to make sure I was "OK"! I have a power cord and am able to use the computer! There were SO mani emails to read after 2 weeks.....

I am excited to be at Laced With Grace.....writing about heart makeovers!

In this age of makeovers and “extreme makeovers,” we are always looking for ways to transform ourselves. We are not satisfied with staying the same, but are searching for ways to improve. So many times this concentration is focused on our outward appearance......The transformation we will be concentrating on is a makeover of the heart.

What is a heart makeover? What does it mean to renew and rekindle your heart? What does it mean to have a complete transformation of the heart? To have a heart for God? If you are like me, I didn’t even realize I needed to change my heart! I thought, “My heart’s OK. I’m a good person. I love God.” But, over the years, I have had a total transformation of my heart......

Please visit over at

to finish reading this devotion.


Do you fear?

I want to share a wonderful prayer that my dear friend Donna wrote....

Psalm 27:1,3
The Lord is my light and my salvation...
He is the one I have chosen to trust in--to place my confidence in. I will cling to Him and seek His Kingdom and His righteousness...make it my aim above all else.
Whom shall I fear?
The fears clamoring to rob me of my peace and distract me from the course I have decided to take --they are my enemies! I will choose instead to trust in Him, follow His ways. I will not listen to or give place to the fear which so desires to engulf my being and immobilize my faith. My soul, hope thou in God!!
The Lord is the strength of my life...
It is to Him that I look for the strength, the power, the courage to live each new day --trusting Him to lead my steps and give me His wisdom!! Waiting upon Him, I receive new life, a renewed spirit, and strength for the day. I will not grow weary or faint (Is.40:31) for my eyes are on Him (Heb.12:1-2)
Of whom shall I be afraid?
Therefore, fear of people, circumstances, inadequacies, of failure, of the future, etc. will have no place in me. You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You! (Is.26:3) You, Lord, are a resting place, a hiding place, my refuge and my fortress. And with you I am more than sufficient for each days requirements (whatever life brings my way Phil.4:11-13)
Though an host (army) should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident!

Listen my soul, and take heed. Though all within me and around me may want to cry out in fear, I will look to the God of my salvation and I will not be afraid. Eyes of faith are not moved by circumstances, or by what is seen. They look to what is unseen. They look to the Promises of God. They look to the God of the impossible. They live as foreigners and strangers in this world for their real home is in Heaven. They are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom. Their eyes look to a reward which is reserved and waiting for them in heaven (1Pet.1:3-9, 13). They live with their eye set on the hope before them (Rom.8:17-18)...the same as Jesus did. (Heb.12:1-4)

Where are you?????????????


I have been gone for so long! I am jumping on Brian's computer for a quick minute.... my BEEPING power cord on MY computer turned out to be a (gadget/gizmo???) inside of it that DIED. So, NO computer!!!!!

Brian's laptop was out of commission as well, as his office was doing some sort of "housekeeping." So.....

I haven't blogged for VERY long!

I haven't answered email for 2 weeks!!! (I haven't seen my email as I can only access from my computer....) I am sure there are at least 500.....

Please pray for ME! :)

Hopefully getting a power cord this weekend (they are $100!!!!!!!!).

Blessings to you all!