Second Friday • Advent 2022

December 9th, 2022

ALL THE WAYS I AM WORDS

Wikipedia makes the statement that the term I Am relating to God appears over 300 times in the Bible, first in the book of Genesis (15:1) and last in Revelation (22:16). This has led to the Biblical God sometimes being referred to as “the great ‘I am’”. I have not listed 300, but several from the Old and New Testament. Jesus used the “I Am” phrase seven distinct times when referring to himself. God uses “I Am who I Am” in Exodus speaking to Moses.

This post may seem repetitive and long but I think the message from God is very clear and concise, He is “ I AM!” God is not to be confused with anything or anyone else, period. A very good friend of mine shared a few verses with me years ago and after I read them, it completely summed up who Jesus is, I will never forget the simplicity of understanding once I read and understood the verses.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

—John 1:1-5—

The Old Testament recorded over 300 prophecies telling of Jesus coming, His life and journey to the cross, and the power of His Resurrection; this was copied from an article at crosswalk.com. *Link provided below.

This advent season is a celebration of prophecies fulfilled than can not only be traced throughout the Bible but also through historical records. God is REAL, Jesus is REAL and SALVATION is a gift for everyone to receive. God is speaking to all of us, He is telling us the answer to every question we have or will ever have. I AM, is the answer.

I watched a new Christmas movie tonight, it was new to me… “The Little Drummer Boy Book II from 1976, I can’t believe I had never seen it. I’m many ways, we are all just like the little drummer boy, asking ourselves, “what possible gifts do we have fit for a King?” Just as the little drummer boy offered his gift of playing the drum, we too can give to Jesus…we each have the perfect gift, surrender of hearts to Jesus, placing our trust in Him and choosing to worship and obey Him.

Imagine the joy that filled the hearts of those gathered in the stable, under the brightness of the star in the east that guided them to this place where Jesus was born and found laying in a manger. We can experience that joy as well, I hope you will continue journeying with me through advent as we seek the new born baby in Bethlehem.

Original Art By: Me
Traveling to Bethlehem following The Star in the East

“I AM” Verses in the Bible

  • “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” —Genesis 15:1
  • God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” —Exodus 3:14
  • Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” —John 6:35
  • Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.” —John 6:47-50
  • When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” —John 8:12
  • “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” —John 8:58
  • While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” —John 9:5
  • I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” —John 10:9
  • I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” —John 10:11-14
  • Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” —John 11:25
  • Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” —John 14:6
  • “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5
  • I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” —Revelation 1:8
  • He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” —Revelation 21:6

Friends, thank you for your support and companionship as we celebrate advent 2022. May your day be filled with unexpected joy. I challenge you today to listen for, “I am” statements, may they remind you of God, the Creator of everything, the Architect of all things. May the peace of God be with you today and always —Much Love 💜✝️💟

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

References:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_am_(biblical_term)

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.1.1,John.1.2,John.1.3,John.1.4,John.1.5&version=NIV

https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/10-bible-verses-that-prophesy-christ-s-birth.html

https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-I-Am/

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Gen.15.1&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exod.3.14&version=NIV

https://bethlehemhandicrafts.com/blogs/news/113-the-7-i-am-statements-of-jesus-christ

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.6.35&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.6.47,John.6.48,John.6.49,John.6.50&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.8.12&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.8.58&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.9.5&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.10.9&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.10.11,John.10.12,John.10.13,John.10.14&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.11.25&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.14.6&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.15.2,John.15.1,John.15.3,John.15.4,John.15.5&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Rev.1.8&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Rev.21.6&version=NIV

Second Thursday • Advent 2022

December 8th, 2022

The Moon Is Always Full

As I was reading my devotional for today, I happily learned something new. It’s interesting, at least to me when I learn something new, my after-thought is…I should have known that! It seems so natural and why did I have to learn it to know it. Today’s title is a great example, “the moon is always full,” I actually said to myself, “well, DUH…Charlotte, one does not need to be a scientist to know that. Indeed, the moon is always itself, full all the time; however, we cannot always see it in its entirety due to orbiting the earth.

A Few Statistics

  • The Moon orbits Earth once every 27.3 days
  • The moon spins on its axis once every 27.3 days
  • Earth orbits the Sun once every 365 days
  • Earth spins on its axis once every 24 hours

This means that although the Moon is rotating, it always keeps one face toward us. Known as “synchronous rotation,” this is why we only ever see the Moon’s nearside from Earth.

I found an article online in which the writer referenced the phrase, “the moon is always full” from a book called, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. The actual quote is, “There is a Japanese saying, “For the moon there is the cloud. For the flower there is the wind.” When we see a part of the moon covered by a cloud, or a tree, or a weed, we feel how round the moon is. But when we see the clear moon without anything covering it, we do not feel that roundness the same way we do when we see it through something else.

I actually own a two copies of this book, hardback book and audio. I guess it just moved up to priority level in my reading library. I would be amiss if I did not say that the book was recommended several years ago by a dear friend, PC and I think she would be pleased that I’m finally going to read it.

though it is midnight, dawn is here; even though dawn comes, it is nighttime.

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

1 Corinthians 13

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I can’t help but draw some similarities to the moon and our humanness. Some of us only see the crescent of the moon never realizing the whole moon is still there. In our lives it’s in reverse, we see the whole of people (the exterior/body) but only know pieces (interior/thoughts/emotions/etc.) or the crescent of who they really are. Unfortunately, many people choose to fill in the unknown with half truths or less. My thoughts go to Mary and Joseph all those years ago, I’m sure people “talked” about them both directly and behind their backs. Gossip has been around a long time. Most people don’t want to take the time to know the truth, it involves connecting with people and that can be messy. Mary and Joseph were being obedient to God, that was what mattered. I’m sure there were relatives and neighbors that did not understand, but they did not let that deter them from being faithful. Mary and Joseph’s hearts were for God and His will, God was able to see the “whole” of who they were. Everyone else only saw the exterior of who they were. I often think about the pure hearts and minds of Mary and Joseph, knowing that they were created beings just like you and I. Made with purpose and a plan, a marvelous plan.

God of the two lights.

I love the sun,

it’s revealing brilliance,

it’s lingering warmth,

but in the dark of night,

let me learn

the wisdom of the moon,

how it waxes and wanes

but does not die,

how it gives itself

to shadow,

knowing it will emerge whole

once more.

- Jan Richardson

Life teaches us many life lessons and I am no exception to the rule, some lessons took me several attempts before the knowledge penetrated my thick stubborn skull. I don’t regret any of them, because each failure yield a specific skill I needed to continue my journey through life. I’m thankful that God never gave up on me. Our hearts are very precious cargo we carry with us everyday, I love the words from Proverbs 4:23, King Solomon said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

When we open our hearts to others, much like seeing the whole of the moon not just the crescent we can experience fullness. This allows others see more of our wholeness. In doing this, the opening of our hearts, we are exposing ourselves to vulnerabilities. Making oneself vulnerable is neither good nor bad, it is an opportunity to deepen relationships and cultivate a greater sense of self. We can expand our understanding of our shared human and spiritual presence in the world. Remember, you can choose who and what you share with others. Place your trust in God, allow Him to guide your path.

“He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

—Psalm 23:3b

When we see people, it is a good reminder that even though we see a “people” we are only seeing a “crescent” of who they really are. Sometimes I see people on their best day and others on their worst day, I may not always succeed but I try to just be kind. In my job, when I interact with frustrated people and I get frustrated, it is never productive. Frustrated people just want to be heard, even if they are wrong. Allowing a bit of latitude and calm speech can go a long way in de-escalating an issue. In a world, even in a season of rush and self-absorbed people, a kind word or a kind gesture can do wonders.

Friends, I pray for you this day…may you be welcomed with kindness and may it return in full measure. You are a gift to me and a blessing.

This is a link to a PDF copy of the book, ““Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Zen-Mind.pdf

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

References:

https://astronomy.com/magazine/ask-astro/2012/08/the-moons-nearside

https://www.google.com/search?q=goodread&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1Cor.13.1,1Cor.13.2,1Cor.13.3,1Cor.13.4,1Cor.13.5,1Cor.13.6,1Cor.13.7,1Cor.13.8,1Cor.13.9,1Cor.13.10,1Cor.13.11,1Cor.13.12,1Cor.13.13&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Prov.4.23&version=NIV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ps.23.3&version=NIV

Second Wednesday • Advent 2022

December 7th, 2022

Soft Sheets & Christmas Joys

“Praise the Lord! How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting! He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!”

—Psalm 147 : 1, 3-5

Advent is a joyful time of year, as we are preparing and remembering the gift of Jesus to the world. Joyful, may not have been a way to describe what happen all those years ago, as Mary found herself pregnant before her marriage to Joseph and having to travel all the way to Bethlehem to be taxed according to a decree by Caesar Augustus. Upon their arrival to Bethlehem, Mary went into labor. The city was crowded and busy; overflowing with people because of the tax decree, hard as he tried, Joseph could only find lodging for Mary in a stable.

I am merely speculating, but this all seems rather stressful to me. Somehow, it’s easy for me to believe that Mary and Joseph were extremely brave and calm, with complete trust in God. And, they had each other.

Today, I read a story called, “Soft Sheets” it was written by Jan Richardson and it made me reflect upon my first Christmas season of being single after a long relationship.

Soft sheets is about the purchase of new sheets and the excitement of sleeping on them. That first night the sheets seemed to be mocking and making fun, because they were no longer to be shared with another. A waking dream of sorts, ghost of Christmas past. As sleep came, dreams gave way to vivid imago of what had been, and morning came sweetly with soft sheets.

That first Christmas for me was rough, reality had hit me in all the vulnerable places. I remember pretending that life had not changed, I simply pushed my grief inward. I did not want others to see me defeated, I wanted the joys of past Christmas’ in my life. It took me several years (stubbornness runs deep) to grasp the “joy’s” I wanted to hold onto. I was able to accept the truths in life and simply be thankful for the experiences and adventures I had be blessed with. After that it was easier to let go of the burdens I held onto that were so intertwined with my joys. I believe that God loves us and His great love is able to teach us lessons even in the most unpleasant circumstances.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

—Psalm 34:18—

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”

—John 14:15-17—

Beloved companion,

you are my delight,

but sometimes I need you

to take flesh

and form,

to feel the breath of you

on my neck,

the hem of your garment

thrown across me

when the night

is at its darkest

and the land

has turned to sleep.

- Jan Richardson

C. S. Lewis — “Lewis said that joy must have a stab or a pang of inconsolable long- ing that nothing else can satisfy. Because of this longing, joy creates a dissatisfaction with any other state of mind. Joy will not let people settle for anything less. The longing gives us the knowledge that there is something more, something better to life, even if we have never ex- perienced it. This knowledge is the work of the Holy Spirit. Longing tells us that there is something missing from our lives. We cannot de- scribe what that missing experience is, but we know it is there.” —-The Fruit of Christ’s Presence & Surprised By Joy

Thank you for visiting my advent blog, I am blessed by your support. May you experience unexpected joy today. Amen.

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ps.147.1,Ps.147.3,Ps.147.4,Ps.147.5&version=KJ21

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John.14.15,John.14.16,John.14.17&version=NRSVA

https://www.uu.edu/societies/inklings/books/FruitofChristsPresence/Fruit_Chapter4.pdf

https://jacovanrossum.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/1a-c-s-lewis-joy.pdf

Second Tuesday • Advent 2022

December 6th, 2022

FROM PASSION TO PASSION

The things that we are passionate about are woven into the essence of our wholeness. In addition, our passions can certainly change as we experience new things in life. One thing that remains as we move from passion to passion is a thread that is ever abiding with our sense of purpose.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

Colossians 3:23

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

I starting playing softball at the age of five. I grew up playing on teams and loved the competitive nature of the sport. I loved the team atmosphere and the self discipline toward excellence both for self and team. I was blessed to play a sport I loved for over three decades. I was fortunate to have played in college and for years after with friends on a local team. Softball was my very first passion.

Life lessons from my softball passion can be seen in my every day life now, I am competitive in my work environment, I hate making mistakes (errors), I love working with others and supporting them and encouraging their passions. Just as in my pursuit of being a great player, I strive to be a great employee, coworker and friend. I continue to challenge myself to learn new skills while working to improve the ones I already have.

I also had a second passion early in my life, I loved going to church and learning about God. I was very fortunate to have been raised in the church with loving and caring adults that taught both by words and actions. I have always been interested in learning about the Bible. When, I was in my teens, the pastor of my church gave me the opportunity to deliver a sermon on “love,” what sweet memories! I will admit there remains a passion within me for ministry and I’ve even considered seminary. This blog is an opportunity to pursue such things and to share my passion for Christ with all of you.

Lastly, I would like to mention another passion of mine; Flintstone memorabilia from the 1960’s, ‘70’s thru ‘90’s. I have a fairly sizable collection and with my recent move, they are still all boxed up. I think I’m most fond of Fred, he’s always trying his best but makes mistakes; and his friends all love him.

Thanks for listening to my passions!

What about you? I urge you to think of the passions within your life, look for that common thread woven into each one and I’m sure you will see the connectivity.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

—Unknown

“Our passions are not too strong, they are too weak. We are far too easily pleased.”

—C. S. Lewis

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

References:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/