Advent starts this weekend. And one of the books out there for you to read, by yourself or with your family, is Unwrapping the Names of Jesus. And today, I get to share with you some fun thoughts from the author, Asheritah. Asheritah and I wrote for the same blog a few years ago and her writing has been a continual source of encouragement for me.
I hope you enjoy the interview.
- So what some people might want some help with is how to pronounce your name. And can you give us a little bit of your background: like your family, what you do, etc?
Sure! My name looks intimidating at first, but it’s easier than it looks. Asheritah, my first name, is pronounced like “margarita” and my last name, Ciuciu, is pronounced choo-choo like the train. It sounds like a silly way to explain pronunciation, but my name has deep significance. My father made it as a compound name, based on Asher, to mean “God is my happiness.” And that’s been the guiding light of my life ever since, and it’s the foundation of One Thing Alone Ministries as well, as we strive to help women find joy in Jesus.
I grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and met my husband in sixth grade summer camp. It took eleven years for us to eventually marry, but I’m so blessed to have him as my husband. We have two spunky little girls and currently live in Northeast Ohio.
- With all the Christmas books out there – why this one? Why now? What compelled you to write an Advent book?
Believe it or not, I didn’t really enjoy Christmas growing up. Even into young adulthood, the Christmas season brought more anxiety than anticipation, and when I was expecting my first daughter, a mentor of mine encouraged me to begin new traditions for my own family. As I began praying, asking the Lord to help me rediscover the meaning and joy of Christmas, He pointed me to the names of Jesus.
If we really believe that Jesus is the greatest gift of all, wouldn’t it make sense that we would want to learn more about Him? What does it mean that He is the Lion of Judah? The Lord of Lords? The Alpha and Omega? Each name is a promise, a unique identity that reveals a facet of His character, and when we unwrap them one at a time, we discover the beauty of Jesus, Son of God, made man for us.
My desire with Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is to help readers rediscover the joy of Christmas by growing deeper in their knowledge and love of Jesus, learning to worship Him with all their hearts, so that when Christmas morning rolls around, we’ll all join in to sing, “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”
- Can you share a special holiday memory that you have?
One of my favorite Christmas gifts was a box of English books my dad managed to secure for me in Romania. English books were so hard to find, and he hid a treasure trove under my bed one year, and instructed me to take out only one at a time. Oh, the anticipation of each new book made me both excited to read the next book and also slow down to relish each book I held in my hands. In a way, this special gift inspired the format of Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, as I want readers to have that same experience: excited to read the next day’s name, but also slowing down to relish the beauty of who Jesus is today.
- You graduated Cedarville. What was the best part about being at a Christian university?
So much goodness! Cedarville was where I learned to think for myself, to hold up my own beliefs to inspection and really own my faith. But it also taught me the importance of defending my faith with gentleness and respect, something I struggled with as a teenager. I loved having a safe place to wrestle with the difficult parts of my Christian faith, and I still look back with fondness at many of the late nights spent debating transubstantiation, amillenialism, and arminianism, debates I don’t touch much today, but conversations that laid a foundation for my desire to help women dig deeper into the truth found only in Jesus.
- Being a mom to spunky children, do you ever wonder how you do it? What about parenting and being in ministry (outside the home)?
Oh, this is a challenge, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or climbing the lego-strewn stairs, there’s always more tugs on your time and body than there is energy to do it all. I think it’s important to enlist the help of others, especially those whose strengths fill in the gaps of your weaknesses.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by a community that supports me in life and ministry. From my husband (who is my biggest champion and a huge support in the technical part of running our ministry), to my mom and mother-in-law (who take turns babysitting our girls), to my team of assistants around the world (from South Africa to San Diego and everywhere in between), to the countless women who respond to my SOS prayer texts before I jump on a radio interview or when I’m facing a book deadline, I am blessed with so much help. Seriously, I couldn’t do this all by myself, nor would I want to even try.
- Out of all the names of Jesus that you unwrap in your advent book, which has been the dearest to you?
This is the hardest question of all, because I don’t really have a favorite. Instead, I’ve found that different names take on new meaning in different situations in life. Just today, I got an email with some bad news, and for a few moments I panicked. But then the Spirit reminded me that Jesus is the Lord of Lords, and that means He’s in control of this situation too. His Names are either true all the time or they’re not true at any time, and it’s moments like those that require us to live out what we say we believe. (BTW, everything turned out ok in the end, because Jesus really can handle our crises, can’t He?)
- This blog series is called Coffee With…so if we were sitting down having coffee somewhere, where would we be and what would you get?
Easy. We’d be sitting at the copper-topped tables at Artisan Coffee Shop, where you can find me most weeks working on some new project. And I’d probably be sipping on a Dark Chocolate Orangeman, which is part of the secret menu, but if you wanted to try one, I’d order it for you too. 🙂