Prayer for 2011

Less of ME

more of YOU.

God, less of ME in all the areas of my life......

....less of my whining.

....less of my selfishness.

.....less of my criticizing.

....less of my selfish ambition.


More of Your GRACE.

More of Your LOVE.

MORE of YOU.... my actions. my thoughts. my WORDS.

Lord, I want to shine YOUR Light this year. I want to radiate YOU....not me. I want to be "the sweet aroma of Christ." I want to be filled with ALL the fullness of Christ. Lord, help me to put aside ME and allow YOU to flow through me. I love You, Lord.

A prayer for YOU, dear Reader-

May God be gracious to you and bless you and make His face shine upon you. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon you- establishing the work of your hands. May 2010 be a wonderful year full of His gracious blessing. May it be full of PEACE, JOY, LOVE, and GOODNESS. May this year be a year that we all draw near to Him, basking in His Grace and His Presence. I pray that you, too, will seek Him with all of your heart.

Merry Christmas 2010!

May the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ bring you much comfort, joy and peace this holiday season as we celebrate His birth, life, and resurrection! During this beautiful season, we are reminded to put our trust and faith in the innocent baby born on that special night. We pray that Jesus will be the heart of your holiday, and that Christ will be the focus of your Christmas!

2010 proved to bring our family some big changes- some wonderful, some challenging and some very trying and sad.

We have entered the realm of parenting PRE-schoolers AND HIGH schoolers! Andrew is a freshman in high school and loves it (uh-oh….should we be worried?????). He played football for Linn Mar and really enjoyed it. Our youngest, Abigail began preschool, but since her older brother started “high school”, she was convinced that she, too, was in HIGH SCHOOL and called it that for the first month! As the youngest of 5, she really does think she belongs in high school as she tries to keep up with her older brothers and sisters.

This year began a new adventure of HOMESCHOOLING for the Berta family! Ashley, 6th grade, Aly, 4th grade, and Aaron, 2nd grade are all home with mom learning some great stuff (even some of it academic! Ha!) Seriously, it has been a wonderful, yet challenging school year with many valuable academic and life lessons being taught. Tracy has been in “7th Heaven” having the kids home. Brian finished the basement and made a beautiful school room and huge 7 foot desk for the kids. Tracy jokes that after 12 years of waiting for a finished basement, she would have homeschooled years ago! Ashley and Aaron are both “duel enrolled”, which means they go to public school for some subjects. Ashley, who loves music, takes orchestra and vocal at Oak Ridge Middle School. She is playing the violin. Aaron goes to Bowman Woods for gym and music. Both Ashley and Aly enjoy piano lessons.

The hardest challenge our family has faced this year is the passing of Brian’s dad. Les went home to be with Lord a day after his 85th birthday on November 18th. It was a very difficult and trying fall with Les suffering a massive stroke in September. We will sure miss him. But, we rejoice in knowing that we will see him again because of the hope and promise of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This year, we are especially mindful that Christ came to free us from sin and death. When we see the manger, we are reminded of the cross. Jesus made “ A WAY” in the manger….a way to overcome death and to live with Him in everlasting, eternal life. Jesus is truly our Savior, and as we grieve our loss, we are thankful that He is also, Emmanuel- God with us…with us to comfort us…to give us peace….to give us hope….to give us joy.

Our prayer for you, is that you, too know that Promise of our Savior and that you are reminded of the glorious riches to come.

May He bless you richly in this New Year. And, may the “God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.”

Merry Christmas and Happy 2011!

Oops! I did it again....

Well, I have done it again.

Expected people to fill my longing heart.

Expected people to satisfy me....

Expected to find peace in someONE, instead of THE ONE.

With everything going on my life....Brian's dad passing away....catching up with homeschooling after 2 months of his dad being so sick....trying to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas....trying to BE the WIFE...the MOTHER...the TEACHER...the FRIEND....the DAUGHTER....the SISTER...

My "love bucket", my heart, my spirit....has been emptying.

And, I have been looking to PEOPLE to fill it.

And becoming angry at them when they can't.

Feeling lonely.





I know the ONLY way to be filled.

The ONLY ONE who can truly satisfy...

OK, Lord.

Here I am.

Fill me.


are what I need.




First Posted 12/15/09

Does your family have Christmas traditions? Do you remember the traditions you had as a child? Ashley has been completing a unit on Christmas traditions at school and I thought I would share ours with you!

Merry Christmas!

My Family Christmas Traditions
By: Ashley Berta

Every family has their own traditions. The Berta family is no exception. We do a lot of fun things in my family to make Christmas special.

A few traditions…….

One of our traditions is we always have a Christmas tree. First, we get a live tree and tie it to our van. When we get our tree home, we bring up the ornaments from our basement. We have tons and tons of ornaments. The kids pick out all the ornaments that belong to us individually. Like, if the ornament says your name on it, you made it, or someone gave it to you, you would automatically get that one without taking a turn. We call it “automatic dibs.” Then we divide the ornaments between the four of us kids (we don’t include my baby sister, Abigail) and we take
turns going to the huge pile of ornaments and picking one. After we’ve picked all the ornaments, and there’s not one left, we trade.

We play “shop.” If someone wants one of your ornaments, they can trade one of their ornaments for yours. But, you don’t HAVE to trade if you don’t want to. If someone offers a trade and you
don’t like it, you’d say, “No deal!” to them. Finally, after we like all of the ornaments that we have, we shout, “Ashley’s (or whoever’s) ornament store is closed!”

While the kids are picking the ornaments, Mom and Dad put up the lights and tinsel. Then, we put up the ornaments. When all the ornaments are up, my mom makes hot chocolate, and we
spread out blankets around the tree, lie down, and sip our hot chocolate. While we’re sipping our cocoa, we talk about what we want for Christmas.

Another tradition is we do “Gift with Purchase”. This is when we decorate plain ornaments, or make a small craft that has something to do with Christmas. When we go shopping we give it
to a clerk at a check out center at a store.

One last Christmas tradition is we sing at a nursing home. We get into our van and drive off to the nursing home. At the nursing home we sing Christmas carols. We walk up and down the halls singing.

Christmas Eve…..

During the day, we decorate Gingerbread houses. The boys make one and the girls make one. On Christmas Eve we put out some snacks to eat. We never really have a meal. Then we get dressed in our matching, fancy, and dressy Christmas clothes to take pictures. After we take pictures we head off to church. We ride around looking at Christmas lights after church. When we get home, we eat more snacks, and sometimes watch a Christmas movie. But we always have to be in bed early.

Christmas Day…….

On Christmas day we kids are so excited to open presents! But my mom always makes us wait for my dad. He's hard to wake up! We can’t just say “Come on, Dad. It’s Christmas,” and he’ll wake up. No! We have to jump on him, and shake him, and pinch him, and so on. But the way he always gets up is by Mom’s kisses and sweet talk. YUCK!!!!

But when my dads finally gets up, Mom is ready with the video camera. She tapes us as we all walk down the stairs.

Sometimes it gets annoying because it takes FOREVER to just get down the stairs. When we do get downstairs we sort out our presents and open them from oldest kid, to littlest (or sometimes
the other way around), one at a time. And all the way through it Mom is video taping it. For the rest of the day we play with our toys, or watch our new movies, or whatever.

So this is my family’s Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and a few of our traditions! Every Christmas is the same at the Berta’s house!

Like Ashley, one of my favorite traditions is the "Gift with Purchase," an idea that I got from the book, "Redeeming the Season."

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.

Please take a few moments and join "At the Well" to see and SHARE some more Christmas traditions!

Give a “little Jesus”

This Christmas, give a “little Jesus” everywhere you go!
Shine the light of the Savior to everyone you know!
Tell everyone about this incredible Gift and His amazing love,
Share the Light, the Hope, the Joy and the Peace that only comes from Above. -Author Unknown

Greetings, all! May you be experiencing the excitement of Advent as we are preparing our hearts and lives for the celebration of Christmas!

I was talking with Andrew once when he was younger about his friends and his desire that they all would be saved. He realized he can’t “push” Jesus onto people, but has to “shine” Jesus, lighting the way to Jesus by his love, his actions, and his words to others. Andrew learned that he can’t just tell people, “You need Jesus or else you are going to hell!” (or at least, it may not be the most effective way). But, he has learned that he needs to first build a relationship with people, asking God to open doors for him, giving him the right words to speak, and giving him opportunities to share Jesus and Christian love with them.

But, what I explained to Andrew, is that we need to give people the “whole picture.” You see, Andrew is in a place of “I want people to know Jesus because I don’t want them to go to hell!” But, what I am trying to help him understand is that is only part of our faith. Yes, as Christians, we have this wonderful hope of the glory to come- we have the promise of Heaven and living eternity with our awesome God! Hallelujah!

But, that is not the “whole story.” When we have a relationship with Jesus, we experience this incredible hope, joy, and peace NOW, here on earth, no matter what our circumstances are. When we have a relationship with the Savior, we get a glimpse of eternity right here and now!

When we are walking with the Lord, we experience true LIFE right now, and it is amazing, wonderful, incredible, and wild! When people accept the Savior, they will not only “escape hell,” but they will experience never ending hope, unfailing love, abounding joy in any circumstance, and indescribable peace, even through life's most difficult trials.

Jesus is an incredible gift to share with the entire world!

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
First printed December 2007