31 December 2010

At the Closing of the Year

Greetings Dear Reader

It has been a very good year for me. My career, my home, my family, and my faith seem to all be on a good track. I have friends that I value. My Sons are doing well and I have a Grandson that I love deeply.

There is more I would have done. There is more I could have done. I mark the passing of 2010 quietly and deeply changed. So little matters any more that used to matter. Most of it was only fodder for my falleness. I seek to sharpen my focus on Christ and following him. I will not be making resolutions but rather seeking to keep the one resolution that matters. I will take my stand in Christ and hope by his grace to be more his and less anything else.

For you my dear Readers, I wish you grace, peace, and joy. I hope that the blessings of God are poured out upon you. I love you all and value your interactions and custom.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

28 December 2010

12 Days of Christmas on a Lighter Note

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I know that we all love and endure the song the 12 Days of Christmas. Fortunately for us there are those who care enough about such things to add us the cost for us. Each year you can find the PNC, Christmas Price Index calculated for you. Enjoy and then return for my own whimsy on the matter.


Another View
By Aramis Thorn
Christmas 1996

The partridge perched upon the pear to sing his cockle song,
And merrily proclaim the day to all the gathered throng.
“Bob-white” he called amidst the branches of the potted pear,
My true love had tied his leg, so he was stranded there.
“Bob-white” again he issued forth all throughout the eve
The first day of Christmas had my guests all fit to leave.

Morning smiled the second day, as I greeted my true love,
As in each hand there was perched a cooing turtledove.
“Their wings are clipped, they will not fly.” She cooed reassuringly,
So, she propped them with the Partridge in the potted tree.
“Bob-white, coo-coo. Bob-white, coo-coo” they called to and fro,
I spent most of Christmas day the second, seeking solitude in snow.

The noise had quelled on day three, and peace I thought I’d found,
‘Til from the breakfast pantry rose a murderous cackling sound.
Armed with broom, to the kitchen I rushed, to face the denizens,
Instead of monsters or cockatrice, I found three French hens.
My true love smiled so warmly as she presented them to me,
I took them in their cages, and placed them 'neath the pear tree.

Day four saw me besieged by “cackle, coo, bob-white,”
I surmised to roast them all, but my true love I would not spite.
As evening came, my calm returned and the wild life seemed to quiet,
Until my love presented me with a brand new form of riot.
For in choosing a fourth gift, she had hit on the absurd
In that she presented me with four squawking calling birds.

The fifth day hardened fright and fear with “bob-white, cackle, squawk, and coo.”
For I was intrepidly bemused at what my true love next would do.
The pear tree looked so burdened with its zoo of noisome birds,
Were she to add five to the flock of ten, I could not contain harsh words.
At dinnertime, she presented me with a box battered and old,
To my delight my true love gave to me, five SILENT rings of gold.

Optimism held me in its grasp as day six broke cold and snowing,
I gazed upon my golden rings, admiring silent warmth a-glowing,
Down to breakfast I trotted, to my true love, with triumph in my breast,
Only to find her in the kitchen, with six geese upon six nests.
I sat upon the kitchen hearth and dwelt on roasted geese,
To my horror I realized each had eggs, three or four apiece.

To the hot tub on the winter porch I went, to soak away day seven
The silence and the steamy bath promised to resemble heaven.
I’d just relaxed in the warm pool, when I was set upon,
By the paddling and pecking of seven swimming swans.
Enough I screamed of feather and foul, I don’t want flocking gifts,
“Very well.” My true love sadly said. The day ended in a tiff.

The eighth day of Christmas dawned with a fresh snow falling.
My true love woke me from my slumber by gently, sweetly calling.
She suggested that I quickly join her by the stable, near the shed,
With trust that no bird would brave the cold, I trundled out of bed.
What met me at our barn brought forth oaths and shrieks and vows,
For there upon eight stools sat eight maidens milking cows.

Day nine came, and I thought, my mind was coming loose,
But I was, at lunch, satiated by feasting on beef and goose.
Dinnertime tempted me to dine on both partridge and hen,
But the thoughts were interrupted by my true love once again.
The view within the parlor set my wits to madly prancing,
For my true love had hired nine ladies who were dancing.

Madness seized me on day ten, and I would not leave my room.
I met each cajoling of my love with bitterness and gloom.
Around eight in the evening time, a clamor filled the house,
Pushing me to investigate so I sneaked out like a mouse.
I perched upon the staircase and downward started creeping,
And was horrified to find the hall filled with ten lords a leaping.

I barely slept throughout the night amidst the noise of birds and cows,
I was glad my true love leaned toward the kosher, or I might have gotten sows.
Sunrise came early on day eleven, and I thought to sneak to town,
For no new terror-gift would I find, if I were not around.
But my true love laughed as she realized my victory she was swiping,
For in the driveway of the dawn, there were eleven pipers piping.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas had arrived with our house quite full,
But no one for a hundred miles could say that it was dull.
I’d grown accustomed to the noise, to dodging lords leaping, ladies dancing,
I’d even realized that dairy cows, my larder were enhancing.
My true love sat with me by the fire, holding my hand and humming,
As I tried to grow accustomed to twelve incessant drummers drumming.Day thirteen has come and gone, and fourteen was quite peaceful.

I realize now that my true love intended no malice, harm, or evil.
As peace and quiet reclaim my home and I see where I was wrong,
I'll transform my true love’s gift parade into a Christmas Song.
Many will sing of my adventure and never know its pains and ills,
I'll even leave out day 24: the arrival of, the postman with the bills.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

25 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 25th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I hope that at this moment you feel the joy I do. That is half of the gift today. Try going through the day expressing joy and showing gratitude. Let small things go and focus on the gift that is Jesus and our redemption.

I love you all collectively and individually.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, “That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store.”

24 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 24th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

Family has arrived from the south. Everything is chilled or ready to cook. I still need to roast some coffee and make a desert for tomorrow. Most of the presents are wrapped and so the social and material parts of Christmas are pretty well done.

The important part of Christmas can become my primary external focus. It is always my internal one but I will share it with who allow it now. The gift I suggest you give is that tonight or in the morning, whenever you open gifts, is to read Luke 2:1-16 to your family and guests. It matters. Here is the text provided for you in the King James. I do not think that it is the best translation for everyday use but it is beautiful to read out loud. I will drop in briefly tomorrow, but after that I will have a long winter’s nap. Read on…

Luke 2:1-16
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, “That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store.”

23 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 23rd

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

As I head out the door to gather my last few things for our Christmas dinner, I would advise a single gift to give others. Be calm. Be the center of calm. Realize that nothing is as big as it seems in the moment. It will make you happier and infect those around you.

If it gets hard, then take a moment, take a breath, just let things go. I promise it will be worth it.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, “That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store.”

22 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 22nd

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

With just a few days to go until Christmas Day, I sit in my writing room and look out at the snow. I consider how much I love my job and the opportunities it gives me to make a difference in the lives of others. I also appreciate that it is a demanding and sometimes busy endeavor.

In recognizing that, I am giving the gift to all of taking some time off until the New Year. I do this so that I can recharge, spend time with family, and give more of myself when I return to work. When I do not take time off from time to time I become less focused on the good things and more focused on myself. This is bad for all concerned.

It is easy to believe that we need to be at work all the time, but what we do when we believe that is diminish our effectiveness in the lives of those around us. During this time off I will delve into some things that revive and recreate me. I will indulge in some leisure activities that I just enjoy. I will make myself available to those I love.

Take some time off is you can. It is a valuable gift to you and those around you.

“Have some time off for good behavior,
Fourteen days give or take a few,
Oh the little baby Jesus,
I’ll share a birthday card with you.” - Ian Anderson


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, “That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store.”

21 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 21st

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

Since today is the Winter Solstice I thought I would indulge in a little syncretism and honor those who do not follow my faith. There is an implied arrogance in following any system of belief that claims to be the only way to God. I do not have to agree with the faith of another to be respectful and kind to them. I do not have to water down my faith to treat another with love and acceptance.

That said there are those around me celebrating Hanukah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice and other days particular to other belief systems. No one may truly follow Christ and treat others with disrespect. As a gift to others, remember where your faith comes from. It has become unpopular and to some even wrong to wish others a “Merry Christmas.”

As one who knows the richness and peace available in follow Christ, when I wish this to others I am being inclusive not exclusive. In wishing another “Merry Christmas” I am inviting them to see that there is a richness in Christ hidden by the failures and selfishness of some of his followers.

No one has the right to degrade the beliefs of another. Perhaps if we follow Christ closely enough, wishing others a Merry Christmas will not be seen as exclusion but as inclusion.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

20 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 20th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

All of have family and friends about which we say that we do not see them enough. We think of them, miss them, then the business of life dismisses them from out mind. Imagine what it must be like not to have even the opportunity for others to visit us or to visit them.

We all know someone who had distant or no family around. We all know people who lack genuine friends. A great way to give is to invite them into our circle. If you hesitate at this, consider that whomever we would avoid is also someone Christ came to redeem. The love of genuine friendship and thought family is a great weapon toward that end.

There are people out there who need who you are. Take time to recognize them and extend your heart to them. In doing so, your own heart will grow bigger.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

19 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 19th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

Before I get to today’s way to give I want to report on something that happened yesterday. Christmas and I were in a store where every register had a line five or six people deep. The manager of this store and I are on very friendly terms and earlier he had said how busy he had been all morning. He seemed a little harried and I offered what encouragement I could.

After we finished our shopping we were in the end of the line on the register he manned. Christmas and I began to sing, as is our habit. Immediately the lady in front of me joined in as we started the second line of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

Two rows over a young mum encouraged her children to join as well. In just a few moments easily half the people waiting in line were singing this old Christmas hymn and the cashiers were all smiling.

I wrote earlier this month that this has always been one of my Christmas wishes. As I reached the manager and he rang up my purchases he told me how much the singing had lifted his spirits. It was the start of a beautiful day for me. I hope you are smiling as widely as you read this as I am in writing it.

Now on to the gift you can give for today. This one is very simple. It is infectious, will spread rapidly, and is very healthy. As you go about your day give this gift to everyone. Just smile. Smile big and broad.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

18 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 18th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

In the academic world we talk about the necessity of understanding something before one can apply it. You cannot configure a network server properly until you comprehend what the server will be doing. One cannot fully do until one understands.

I am sure that you get this but I wonder how often we translate it to the ways in which we interact with our fellow humans. It is so easy and weak to judge others harshly. It takes effort and an act of will to try to understand another’s perspective on an issue.

If we hope to apply the love, mercy, and grace that others so desperately need then we must first seek to understand things from their perspective. As you go about your business, remember that we can choose to understand before we seek to be understood. This gift will enrich the lives of everyone you give it to and allow them to feel the significance they need. Perhaps in this we can lay the groundwork for them to see Christ and just how deeply he understands us.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

17 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 17th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

The vast growth of the use of phones for everything is amazing to me. My phone will take pictures, browse the internet, has a full Microsoft Office® suite, a GPS, an MP3 player, and many other features. I received 43 text messages and 17 emails on my phone just yesterday.

With all of this there is a function that I use mostly for essential communication that I can use to give to others. I rarely use my phone for phone calls that are not family, personal, or professional business. Instead, why not make some calls to people that I have lost touch with just to reconnect with them? I made a list of people and will reach out to them over the next two weeks at moments when I have time just to talk.

I have no illusion that people are living lives that feel a void with my absence, but I can be assured that a call from a friend may uplift them. It is a simple thing and we all have the tools to do so. Give someone a call and share yourself with them.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

16 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 16th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

It is so easy to look at others and decide that we are somehow better than them. It is natural to make our sins of less import than the sins of others. It is easy to look at how those who do not follow Christ corrupt the thing we who do cherish and to judge them. What is difficult is to see them as Christ sees them.

Recently someone submitted a comment on my post railing against the celebration of Christmas. I chose not to publish the comment because of the tone and judgment in the response. I harbor no ill will toward the commentator nor do I think that everything he said is wrong. What I do see is that unless we stop judging each other and the fallen world we will not be able to be known by our benchmark: our love for each other.

I urge you to give everyone around you the gift of withholding your judgment and condemnation. It is not my place to rail against anything. It is my place to do all that I can to show love, kindness, and compassion to those around me. We celebrate the birth of Christ because that is the beginning of the march toward the cross and the payment for our redemption. The Father saw fit to celebrate the event with shepherds and angels. I continue to celebrate the great gift by giving small gifts to those I love.

The corner of my smile and mirth will always be that God loves me enough to redeem me. The shadow of it will be the knowledge of the price God paid for MY sin. I will do my best to withhold judgment and give my love and kindness to others. Try it. It feels great.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

15 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 15th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

We all live next to someone. Even those who live in remote areas eventually have an end to their land and the beginning of their neighbor’s. We live in an era where we do not often know our neighbors. This somehow has lead to us feeling that we do not have any responsibility for them.

I would urge that we are even more responsible. If those who follow Christ do not reach out to our neighbors at Christmas who will? Even the smallest kindness can lead to lasting friendship. We cannot truly show Christ to people whom we do not know. One of the best ways to know someone is to serve them.

We can see the needs of others if we simply look. We can show kindness by meeting small needs without being asked. Find something to do for your neighbor that is unexpected. Send them treat that you bake with your family. Shovel their walkway when you shovel yours. Offer to watch their children while the Christmas shop.

The list could be endless. The acts can be simple. The impact can be eternal.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

14 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 14th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

One of the things I do not consider enough is asking God for opportunities to be a blessing to other. It is such a simple thing to request that God use you to reveal his love to others. It really only takes a willing heart.

Imagine the impact if we all chose to give to others by asking God to use us in this way. There are needs all around us and I think that requesting that God make us aware of them removes blinders that keep us from seeing the things that will show him to others. We are not dependant on our resources alone to be a blessing.

As we move toward the day when God spoke his own thoughts on redemption, why not ask him to help us promote his “peace on earth and good will toward men.”

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

13 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 13th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I have spoken about making peace a few days ago. I want to ponder today something much deeper. Since Christmas is about redemption I want to ponder giving others genuine forgiveness. We all have places in our lives where we hold grudges or have not expressed forgiveness for wrongs past.

We must extend forgiveness if we are to be part of the redemption process. Give forgiveness as a gift this year so that you and others can join in the celebration of true redemption.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

25 Ways to Give – December 12th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

One of the great joys for me is doing small invisible things to make others happy. I sometimes buy bagels for the staff at work and just leave them in the kitchen. During Christmas I leave small gifts for people anonymously. There is a quiet simple joy to this that I often have trouble putting into words.

I urge you to try this. Notice things that people like and provide them silently. Provide a treat for everyone. Be kind and giving. It will build something amazingly sweet inside your spirit. Try it. Like this post the things are small but can have great impact if done.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

11 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 11th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

One of the ways that I give during the Christmas season and all year long is in assuring that I give a very specific gift to myself. It is a gift that costs nothing but a little mental discipline and faith. In giving this gift to oneself you share it will all around you.

I know that sounds like a riddle but it is truth at the very core. I strive to see everything as an opportunity to see Christ. I work every day to assure that I see all things in this light. Every positive and negative thing is an opportunity to see Christ laying out the path home for me. Everything that comes into my life is there for the purpose of my reclamation and to give me opportunity to assist in the reclamation of others.

There is no higher purpose than this. There is no greater opportunity than to follow Christ and see others walk the path with me. It is easier to point this out at Christmas time and so I encourage you to adopt this view so that others may benefit from it.

I promise, if you begin to see everything in this light, the view will be marvelous.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

10 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 10th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

One of the things that we can truly give to others is awareness. It does not take time to train our eyes to anticipate the small needs of others. I am talking things that only cost us a minute or two of our time and a little of our consideration but make others feel loved and noticed. The excellent side effect is that it makes us feel good as well.

I will give a few examples of what I mean and then be off to other pursuits for the day.

If I see a Mother with children putting items in her car at a store, I offer to return her trolley to the cart corral for her.
I try to always take a trolley into the store with me from the parking lot.
I have a coworker who drinks coffee in a steady stream during the day. When I go get water or coffee from the kitchen I bring him back a fresh cup.
When I am out shopping I make funny faces at fussy children and almost always make them laugh.

There are many more but you get the point. I promise those trifles will make a difference.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

09 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 9th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

As much as I try to walk through life being good to others, I am fallen and I fail. There are those who dislike me, are offended by who I am, or who my own selfishness has harmed. It is my obligation to make peace with others. Making peace is part of the global redemption process. I have chosen to work very hard to be peaceful with someone who I know dislikes me.

This individual sees me as a religious fanatic and sees all kindness from me as a form of manipulation to get him to “convert.” This of course makes me more determined to be nice to him. My Grandfather used to quote a poem by Edwin Markham all the time.

He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in. - Edwin Markham

Imagine the impact if during Christmas or throughout the year we took this attitude toward all of those who see us as an enemy. The challenge for today is to give peace to someone. Here are some practical things you can do to establish peace with someone with whom there are walls or even war.

Point out something positive about them or their work
Show an interest in something they like to do
Side with them on an issue where you both agree
Set aside your own pride and search for compromise
Absorb the wrong and love them anyway
Make a heartfelt plea for peace between the two of you

I have been working hard for several weeks on this very thing. Just yesterday the individual met my eye and expressed his gratitude for my support on an issue. This is not a victory for me but a victory for peace and loving others at any cost. You see my motive is for him to see Christ despite my falleness and failures.

Your challenge for the day is to reach out and make peace with someone as a way to give to yourself and others.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

08 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 8th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

My time seems to be so demanded this week. We have begun a new quarter at school. Our family open house is this weekend. I am still in high shopping mode. Emotional pains also vie for my attention. Amidst all of that is the temptation to get lost in expectations and impressions of others.

This time of year more than any other it is vital that I focus on those around me rather than my own agenda. It is my children, family, and friends that need attention. Beyond all of that I must focus on Christ. I cannot be any of the things my children need unless I walk in the grace and spirit of who Christ is. I cannot give from the heart unless Christ guides my heart. I cannot celebrate properly unless Christ is the celebration.

So many things try to actively or passively push Christ and his gift to us out of the Christmas season. The passive ones are usually attached to merchandizing and money. Electronics vie for my attention and resources. Just the potential stress if my buying is not Christ centered is daunting.

I must also protect my focus from the things that try intentionally to drive Christ from the Christmas season. I do not begrudge others their celebrations at this time but I refuse to water down the celebration of CHRISTmas for the sake of political correctness. I do not want this to seem like a rant in any way but we are not excluding others by wish them a happy Christmas. We are in fact including them in the advent of the most important event in history.

I must lovingly and humbly disallow the watering down of my focus on Christ while not disrespecting others and what matters to them. I must be sure to act as Christ like as possible and hope that others catch the image that is intended in the celebration. Nothing else about Christmas matters if I do not celebrate that God became incarnate for my reclamation. There is nothing to celebrate if Christ is not our redemption. It seems foolish for anything but Christ to be my focus.

If you do the same, focus on Christ and his spirit in your Christmas preparations, giving, and celebration, you will find a new and amazing beauty in the season.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

07 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 7th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I mentioned Bell Ringing earlier in our journey. It is not the focus of this way to give but it is an example. Each time I bell ring I find it curious that there are those who as they walk by tell me what other charity they support. Even more curious are those who pull a huge roll or wad of cash from their pocket and put a penny in the kettle.

I know that I have more than I need. I know that God has blessed me richly in many areas. What I do not understand is how we, as a society tolerate allowing fellow citizens and more so, fellow humans to be homeless or hungry.

There are so many ways to give aid to those who are in need. As the temperature dips into single digits, I am so thankful for all that I have. Beyond that I am obligated to give generously for the needs of others. I am to find myself ending the year richer in my care of mankind. If God gave his very best, Jesus for us, then we are obligated to give our very best to each other. I am asking you to be generous. Do not give until it hurts. Give until you feel the joy of giving. Never give out of guilt. Always give from the heart. Be generous.

Through long December nights we talk in words of rain or snow
While you, through chattering teeth, reply and curse as you go.
Why not spare a thought this day for those who have no flame
to warm their bones at Christmas time?
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

Now, as the last broad oak leaf falls, we beg, consider this:
There’s some who have no coin to save for turkey, wine or gifts.
No children’s laughter round the fire, no family left to know.
So lend a warm and helping hand –
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.

As holly pricks and ivy clings,
your fate is none too clear.
The Lord may find you wanting; let your good fortune disappear.
All homely comforts blown away and all that’s left to show
Is to share your joy at Christmas time
With Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow. – Ian Anderson

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, “That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store.”

06 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 6th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

My record is four. It is a record I hope every year to surpass at Christmas time. When I shop at a particular store I cannot help but use a trolley (shopping cart). My Sons often tease me about this but it is the truth. I do my best to bring one in from the parking lot, but there is always someone there to give me one if I do not.

I do not always need a trolley when I am shopping but I do always want one. Fortunately this turns out to be an opportunity to give. You see very often I encounter people who are cart-less and carrying more than is manageable without one. It is such an easy thing to give them mine and go get another one.

The problem in doing this is doing in secret. Once is easy to get away with. I can wait until the shopping cart ladies at the front of the store are busy with a customer return or a false security tag alarm. I can slip quietly back up and get a new cart. I have never gotten away with more than twice. They all know me by name and so ask me, in very motherly tones, “What did you do with the cart you had?”

When I tell them that I gave it to an over burdened customer I am embarrassed and they add to that by telling me how nice I am. It is not that I mind being thought of as nice but it means I got caught.

As you shop, consider the burdens of others. Even if you already have an item in your cart, you can carry it back and get another one. Giving your trolley to someone who is overburdened is an ideal way to share the spirit of the season in a gift of opportunity. Just be sure to be sneaky when you get a new one.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

05 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 5th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I wonder how often I succeed in something I do consciously but try to do quietly. I wonder how often someone else truly benefits from my actions. Let me set the scene for you.

I am at the grocery store. It is Friday afternoon and I am about half way through my shopping. I am in the canned vegetable isle and apparently, so is everyone else at the store. I need four cans of petite diced tomatoes. It is on my list and happily the price is lower than I had anticipated. There is a lady standing in front of the petite diced tomatoes reading the label of a can crushed tomatoes. Her heavily laden cart is turned sideways in the isle allowing no one to pass.

I watch as the population of the grocery store descends into an angry mob. No one says a word but I can see angry glances exchanged by the harried and blocked shoppers. The lady continues to quietly delve the mysteries of crushed tomatoes, oblivious to the building storm of impatience around her.

The man behind me with nine gallons of milk and seventeen boxes of cereal begins to grumble. The attractive young mom with two chattering youngsters in her car screeches to a halt just short of the three people in front of her. When she curses under her breath, the elder child scolds her saying, “you told us not to talk like daddy.” I barely contain my laughter.

I am sure the throng on isle seven is about to produce farm implements and torches. I focus on the woman and quietly begin to sing. The song is obscure to most but the melody is ancient and draws the spirit toward it. I can sing well enough to not cause harm so I up the volume just a little. I pour all the kindness and patience I can into the gentle strains of the song.

The woman looks up at the trolley traffic jam, smiles uncomfortably, and moves on down the aisle freeing her herd of harried shoppers. She meets my eyes as we pass and pleads a self conscious “sorry.”

I smile back and whisper, “No worries, I am not in a hurry at all.” She smiles, embarrassed and moves along to complete her shopping.

About thirty minutes later I am finished with my list and head for the checkout line. In front of me is Ms. Crushed Tomatoes. Just as she gets up to the register the clerk runs out of register tape. The young girl running the register looks around for another roll and finds none. So very concerned she meets Ms. Tomatoes eye and squeaks, “I have to get more tape. Be right back.”

I immediately begin to hum the same tune. Ms. Tomatoes turns at the sound and smiles at me. After two minutes, each comprised of about seventy two thousand seconds the young cashier returns. She apologizes again whilst loading the tape. To my joyful surprise Crushed (after that smile I feel we are on a first name basis) responds to the girl, “No worries, I am not in a hurry at all.”

The nervous girl lights up with a beaming smile and begins to ring up Crushed Tomatoes’ groceries. They chat and both are feeling pleasant as she departs.

It is so easy to choose to be patient with each other whilst pursuing our errands. When you go abroad to do your shopping, keep in mind that everyone has a schedule and things to accomplish. Give them all the priceless gift of your patience and deference. You will make a difference.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

04 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 4th

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

How many wars you fighting out there this Christmas morning?
Maybe there’s always time for another Christmas song. – Ian Anderson

When I am out and about during this season I sing. I sing Christmas hymns and meaningful Christmas songs. I have a passable singing voice so I do not do much harm that way. Occasionally another shopper or clerk will join me. Often I get smiles and nods of appreciation. From time to time I get fussed at for forcing my beliefs on others because of singing hymns. A time or two I have been humbugged and even once threatened with being boiled in my own pudding.

It is all worth it. The momentary joy in another when they join in or just enjoy the moment is beautiful to me. I can use my time in public to raise peoples’ spirits for a moment. I can share my overflowing joy at the advent of Christ and perhaps relieve a little of the tension from harried shoppers. My dream is that one day an entire array of people standing in a checkout line will join. It is a big dream but one worth dreaming.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

03 December 2010

Bonus Post in Celebration of SNOW

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

We are getting our first real snow tonight -

Aramis Thorn
© Tuesday, November 04, 1997

Visiting a Crystal Gallery

Silently the clouds crept across the sky,
Negating the brilliance of the haunting harvest moon.
Only the brightest of stars could I still spy,
While the cottony gray darkness still had rips and tatters.

Sending chills over my exposed face,
North winds begin to whip over the field fiercely
Offering me an invitation to retrace
What steps I have taken and return to my cozy home.

Something inside drives me to pursue,
Narrowing my focus to climb the hoary-frosted hill.
Only the higher field will give a proper view
When the dance begins in earnest.

Softly they begin their waltzing flight
Navigating their way through the winter wind,
Outstanding crystals of drifting delightful white
Whispering to me that God is still an artist.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

25 Ways to Give – December 3rd

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I write about this every year and probably always will. The Advent Conspiracy is one of my favorite Christmas initiatives. This will not be a long post as I would rather have you spend your time on their site. I urge you to see what they have to offer and to participate. If your church is not involved then help them get there.

This is not a denominational or sectarian movement. It is a call for Christ followers to make Christmas about the main thing. We can still put Christ at center of his celebration. Join me in this as we journey toward Christmas.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

02 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 2nd

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last...By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
And to know who needs help
You need only to ask” - Old City Bar by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

It would be quiet easy to find people in need at any time of year. Instead of simply giving money you can do some far more impactful. I want to suggest that you find a family in need and adopt them for the season. There are so many things that can be done to assist others. What I am suggesting is that you treat them life family for the season.

I am sure your church or one of the local family help organizations in your community can direct you to the right place. One cannot really assist without planning that assistance. We should ponder some of the needs that families may have during the Christmas season. Some are obvious and some are not. Some of you can give greatly and some only a little. The point is that we give from the heart in ways that make a difference.

Here are a few ideas:

Provide Food, even Christmas Dinner
Provide gifts for the children
Watch children for free so that parents can shop
Include the family in your celebrations
Have your children shop for children their own age
Pay utility bills during the cold months
Deliver a month’s worth of groceries
Invite them to go bell ringing with you
Bake cookies together for them to share with friends

Some of you who read my blog are very wealthy and could really make a difference if you chose to do so. I would love to hear that someone decided to:

Pay a family’s rent for a year
Buy them a car – completely paid for
Provide utilities for a year
Start a college fund for the children
Provide groceries for a year
Hire a tutor for children in need

I guess I am issuing a challenge here. Should we not lead the way in aiding others to see Christ by our generosity? Most of us have more than we need and more than we will ever need. Please do not let indifference or ignorance keep us from giving to those who have true need.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

01 December 2010

25 Ways to Give – December 1st

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

As we make the ponderous journey through December I am hoping to encourage others to give things eternal as gifts. Last year we visited with Dickens and considered 25 Thoughts on “A Christmas Carol.” This year I hope to inspire myself and others to give from the places that truly matter. I will make mankind my business and ask you to do the same. Let us begin with something very easy.

Even though many of the sites are open and manned, there are still many shifts at Salvation Army kettles that need bell ringers. Every two hour shift that the kettles are not attended signifies a loss of hundreds of dollars. This loss limits the funds available to shelter the homeless and feed the hundreds of hungry the noble organization serves.

It is not too late for us to go ring bells. I am asking that you gather some friends and sign up for just one shift. My family does this every year. We gather, sing, and watch as people’s spirits are lifted. We get too cold and then go out for a hot breakfast. It is joyous and fulfilling. You do not have to do anything but show up, ring bells, and go home.

To make it even easier, here is the site that will let you sign up. www.ringbells.org Please, give it a try. If you do, I would love to hear about it. You could even take pictures and send them to me. Remember that during this time of year “many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts..." (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

30 November 2010

Roasting Your Own – An Aside

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I know that some of you read my blog whilst enjoying a cup of coffee. I often am, as I am now, enjoying a cup of the bitter brew when I write to you. The difference for me today is that this coffee is unique.

Here are things that I know about the coffee I am currently sipping:
-It was grown in Mexico
-It is fair trade coffee
-I bought 25 pounds of it
-The beans were carefully roasted in 4 ounce lots
-The blend is a dark full roast and a medium roast
-It is the best coffee I have ever had
-I roasted it myself

I realize that saying it is the best coffee I have ever had is a bit arrogant and perhaps I am a little high from the constant contact with the oily caffeinated beans. I would say that roasting the coffee is almost as addicting as drinking it. But this coffee was roasted, allowed to breath for twelve hours and then sealed for twenty-four. I have a very excellent grinder that allows me to set the level of grind for the kind of coffee I will brew.

After careful reading and planning I made my first pot of home roast (the official name is Orion’ Blend). I have three roast colours; Dark – Betelgeuse, Medium –Bellatrix, and Light – Mintaka. I am working on a Rigel blend but cannot decide if I want it to be lighter or extra bold. I did burn one roasting in trying to get beyond the dark roast but as a friend said, “that happens.”

All of this may seem light and unlike my usual seriousness. I assure you this is serious business. Coffee is a multibillion dollar industry. Pound for pound I am paying about 50% less than I usually would. I enjoy doing it. It is benefiting growers directly and it is very easy. It takes about ten minutes to roast enough for a pot of coffee. Now before you think I have gotten too politically correct, it is rather that I am doing something I enjoy and saving money. I also am sure that the coffee I serve my friends is wholesome and has no odd chemicals in it.

Beyond that I have learned more about the bitter black bean that I love in a way I had not imagined to learn it. I have grown a new appreciation for the amazing thing that is coffee. I will do my best not to take it for granted again. My cup is empty and I am on to other things, the first being a hearty refill.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

29 November 2010

On Holding Orion

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

We all know that holding a new born child has some magic in it. New life with a new slate that is clean and a new story to write is the very best kind of enchantment. We had the joy of gathering together over Thanksgiving weekend with all the grandparents present. The mirth and merriment had no end.

Ten adults with their own lives as stories all had a single focal point most of the evening. When I was privileged to hold my Grandson nothing else in the world seemed to matter. He is changing us all and I know he changes me every time I hold him. My thoughts whilst holding him the other evening were all on this child and the potential to always be a good example for him.

We all get to choose how we will be around a child. The language we use, the habits we indulge, and the values we support will all impact this fresh life. I cannot compartmentalize my life into the thing I do around Orion and the things I do away from him. Who I am will influence him. My values will bleed through no matter how I try to mask them.

I must become committed to following Christ as closely and as honestly as I can so that whenever I am around my beautiful Grandson that is what he sees. I cannot harbor any anger or hurt. I cannot indulge any selfishness or self-centeredness. He will pick up on how I feel about others and so I must love others as I wish for him to do.

I loved holding him and realize that no matter how long I hold him, it will not be long enough. That realized it followed that all the others wished to hold him as well. I could have sat with him in my arms all evening. I used to hold his father for hours and hours. In realizing that all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents want to hold him as well, I must guard my good desire from becoming selfish greed.

Every good thing can become a bad thing once it is no longer selfless. It is the self that creates the sin that ruins the good things. Christ must increase and I must decrease.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

28 November 2010

Meaning over Mistletoe

Greetings Dear Reader,

I trust that you all had a happy Black Friday. I know that many of you were up and about early in the pursuit of deals and steals. There is nothing wrong with Christmas shopping or enjoying the fervor of the day. My daughter Christmas and I headed to observe own Black Friday traditions. As I have been talking about often lately, I am doing my best to focus on the purpose of Christmas over the trappings.

I love decorating and changing the home to reflect the spirit of the season. I love moving among the bustling shoppers smiling and finding opportunities to show small kindnesses. The look given when you give away your shopping cart or help someone with packages is so much more one of surprise that it once was. Common courtesy is no longer common and yet it must be so if I am to live the spirit of Christ’s love and kindness.

As you will hear me say often over the next month and as Mr. Dickens said so well, “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

No matter what my vocation I must focus my avocation on ensuring that I am about the business of the meaning of Christmas. It has nothing to do with decorations, shopping, food, or mistletoe. It has everything to do with providing opportunity to all that I encounter to see and feel the purpose of the season. It is all of no use if the threads of redemption and reconciliation are not sewn into the fabric of all I do.

I was with someone yesterday who battled to focus on others instead of himself whilst shopping. A constant stream of muttering about what he wished to have accompanied his attempts to shop for others. It reminded me keenly that I must focus on others and know that Christ has my needs in his heart.

So as I move among the shoppers and shop keepers I will choose meaning over mistletoe. I will choose kindness over self-centeredness. I will choose generosity over greed. By God’s grace I will live with that spirit in heart daily.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

27 November 2010

The Vigil - 3

Greetings Dear Reader,

Drawn towards destinies darkling kite, riven by reality
Riding the passion to terrible height, life upon death’s tree
Cause me to drink from the chalice of fire. Forge me anew in the heat of desire
Let me inhabit the holy empire and make war on the armies of night. – Kemper Crabb

I am going to war in December.

Even the celebration that wishes “peace on earth” to all is an act of war. We serve on a battlefield where there are no neutral zones. We journey through a world where there is not a demilitarized zone. The Advent of Christ is a major military move in a campaign against the darkness that wishes to claim us all. On a field where there are no rusty swords our weapons are strange and seem ineffectual until employed.

There are the common weapons that Christ followers know. The Sword of the Spirit, the Shield of Faith, the Breastplate of Righteousness, and the Helmet of Salvation are all well known to us. We have sabatons in the preparation of the gospel. Our loins may be girded with truth. (Ephesians 6:10-18) We have others weapons as well; weapons of mass destruction.

When we show love, employ kindness, and rain down humility on others we become beacons of light that can shatter the darkness. We give others the courage and strength to embrace Christ and join our fight for reclamation of creation. Every encounter is a skirmish. Every conversation is a salvo.

When I stand in line at the store and treat the cashier with deference and politeness, I am attacking the darkness. When I get a trolley for an overburdened mother, I am waging war. When I give my time and attention and money to those who are in need; that is battle rage. I can become a berserker, seemingly mad in my quest to exhibit the love of Christ all that I do. I promise that the army of darkness will try to kill me for it.

I choose deliberately to go to war. I choose with intent to love, forgive, and show kindness. I do not care if I am boiled in my own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through my heart. I will sing as I go. I will sing battle songs that cry out to all that Christ has come and that his purpose is to draw ALL humans to himself.

Mankind is my business and it is for them that it is all done. If you have the heart I ask you to ride out to war with me.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

25 November 2010

Giving Thanks in 2010

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have so much to be thankful for this year. You are near the top of the list. I do not know all of you and that does not lessen one bit my gratitude for your patronage. As we turn the corner into December I will be attempting another marathon of postings. I invite you all to interact anonymously or not with my postings. Your feedback, responses, opinions, and questions are always welcome.

Know please that as I went before the Father this morning to give thanks that I thanked him for you. So as I move on to family centered things for the day I wish you all a most joy filled Thanksgiving Day.

Later this evening I will take up my "Christmas Present" mantle and do all that I can to live the season as a celebration of Christ as it is meant to be celebrated. I start it out by pondering all the great blessings in my life. I am so grateful and honored by all that God has given me and I pray that I live up to his trust in me.

I love you all, collectively and individually.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis ThornMat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out

24 November 2010

Choosing Your Artificial Christmas

Greetings Dear Reader,

I know that we are two days out from Thanksgiving and there are some of you who think that Christmas should wait. I draw a clear distinction between the merriment of Christmas and the merchandising of Christmas. One cannot celebrate the birth of God Incarnate and worship things at the same time. The other day I was shopping for a gift for my younger Son. I took a walk through the trees and decorations at the store because doing so lifts my spirits.

Whilst walking among the non-living trees I heard a boy call out from his cart. He was talking to me. I was wearing my burgundy waffle Henley and my black jeans. I was wearing a red bandana. The boy was pointing toward me and speaking to his mum. “Look, mom. I told you he was here. Hurry mom, we gotta get our artificial Christmas and decorate it.”

I smiled at the lad. He was not the first child to think I was Santa. Hopefully he will not be the last. I reassured him, “Do not worry. Your mother will get things ready in time. She always does.” The child visibly relaxed and retreated a little into the cart. It has been many years since I worked professionally as Santa but some of the magic is still there. The mom whispered a thank you and hurried on before the spell wore off.

The child’s words, however, stayed with me. I wondered at the pressure of a world where the only choice is an “artificial Christmas.” Were I able I would pass the true joy of Christmas to every man every day. What I must do is find that joy within my own spirit every day and rekindle it afresh. I can give the gifts of Christmas; love, forgiveness, peace, and good will every time I encounter someone if I choose to have them ready to give.

There are two Christmases. The real one that is imbued with Christ and his journey of redemption for our sake is the real one. This real Christmas can still involve family traditions and giving gifts that come from the heart. The merchandising and diminishing of Christ as the founder and finisher of our celebration is the artificial one. I must be so in tune with Christ that his joy and mirth spill out of me constantly. I have so many things to be thankful for but chief among them is a year spent trying to find the joy of Christ in every moment.

As Turkey and trimmings make the turn to black Friday and the decorating of trees, I pray that I find in every moment the Christ who is there waiting for me. I hope that I abandon pretense of any kind and offer my fellow man both substance and style. My prayer is that I offer all around me a real Christmas that need never be put away because it is the wrong season. It is always the right season to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Now, as the last broad oak leaf falls, we beg, consider this:
there’s some who have no coin to save for turkey, wine or gifts.
No children’s laughter round the fire, no family left to know.
So lend a warm and helping hand –
say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow. – Ian Anderson


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

23 November 2010

Orion Rising

Greetings Dear Reader,

At 12:20 yesterday morning (22 November 2010) my first Grandchild made his exit from one world and entered ours. The Hunter's Moon was full and his Constellation was high in the night sky. I held him for the first time some twenty minutes later. He was alert and looking around. He was wiggly and commanded the undivided attention of all seven adults in attendance. He looked so much like my son did on his first day amongst us that I was completely befuddled.

I watched as my Grandson exerted his power over all around him. It was amazing to see each of the adults transformed from a person with a unique personality to an entranced holder of new life. Every aunt, uncle, parent, and grandparent looked transfixed at Orion’s bright eyes and spoke words of love and kindness to him.

The labour was difficult on his Mum and his Papa is tired from the long attendance. We were all tired form the waiting. The first thing that got my energy up, before I even saw my Grandson was the joyful laughter of his Papa as Orion emitted his first cries of life. The heavy delivery room door between could not muffle the delight in my Son as he welcomed his Son. In that moment we all changed forever.

I long to capture the power and potential of this child’s arrival but cannot quite find the words. The short of it is that it was all settled in that moment when his father opened the thick wooden door and presented Orion to us all. A very noisy bunch of people became suddenly quiet. We took turns holding this beautiful boy.

When it was my turn I whispered to him the same first words I whispered to his father the first time I held him: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish by have everlasting life.” I explained to him how much I already loved him and promised him that we would have many conversations.

Now I must become more and more purged of my fallen self and selfishness and become more and more a reflection of who Christ is so that Orion will see it clearly. Everything else is subtext. Everything else is commentary. Anything that detracts from this beautiful child seeing Christ in his Grandfather does not belong. Everything that promotes it honestly is a necessity. I already love him at a level that I cannot express. Welcome to the journey Orion. I hope I do well by you.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

20 November 2010

A Journey Over Stones

Greetings Dear Reader,

Most of us hate pain. Most of us would rather not have it at all if possible. Physical and emotional pains are very different and for some reason for the last month or so I have been recalling the most extreme physical pain I have ever experienced.

It was over thirty years ago. I was just a few months away from high school graduation. We went to a school wide retreat at a camp in the North Carolina Mountains. During one of our recreational activities I broke my leg very badly. Both bones were snapped, I ruptured ligaments, and tore tendons. The initial pain was dreadfully painful. It was about one in the afternoon.

What followed was the real pain. The camp staff rushed to my aid. They arrived with a stretcher and immobilized my leg then secured me to the stretcher. Four of them carried me to an ancient waiting station wagon. As carefully as possible they laid me on a mattress in the back of the station wagon. Then the torture began in earnest.

During the trip to the car, every jostle and slight shift send waves of nauseating pain rolling up my leg. Then as the driver started the engine to the station wagon one of the camp staff and one of my teachers climbed in the back of the wagon with me. They iced down my leg as the station wagon began to move over the smooth driveway to the road that led out of the camp to the highway. It was that road that was my torture.

For the next twenty minutes over a road paved with loose stones and another thirty over washboard dirt that was the pain. The suspension in the station wagon was far past its useful prime. The stones in the road were fresh and thick. Every bump sent shocks of pain racing up my leg. The man from the camp began to weep as he saw the pain I was enduring.

I began to pray. I asked God for one thing. I did not ask for the pain to stop. I did not ask for the road to be smooth. I asked that God would give me the strength to endure the pain. I lost myself in this request as I journeyed over those stones and across that long washboard road. Shortly after we reached the smoothness of the state highway I slipped into a fugue. The next thing I remember was being carried into the clinic in the small town nearest to the camp.

The intern at the clinic gave me a shot of morpheme and set my leg. He put a cast on it and told me to see an orthopedic surgeon immediately on my return home. What followed was surgery and months of recuperation. What I remember most about that journey from the camp to the clinic was the third person in the back of the station wagon with me.

Neither the camp counselor nor the teacher recalls a third person being there with us. It was a young woman and just as I began praying she began to sing. The song was one of my Grandfather’s favorites, God Leads Us Along. It was one of the things he used to sing when we worked in his garden or sat by a river fishing. The entire text of the song is at the end of this post.

My journey over stones was one of the worst physical pains I have ever endured. The teacher told me weeks later that when I slipped into that state of semi-consciousness that I was quietly singing that same song.

The pain never really subsided until the morpheme kicked in. What I did learn is that we can endure pain and even find a song in the midst of it if we are willing to do so. I have forgotten that lesson along the way sometimes but it has been on my mind a great deal lately.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity's day,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long. – George A. Young

19 November 2010

That’s why I don’t care if I look like a fool

Greetings Dear Reader,

To do all the things that I have written about this week does make one appear quite mad. I follow in faith someone I cannot see. I believe I have an unseen enemy who wants to destroy me. I rest my eternal soul on the gamble that an invisible God loves me and is willing to pardon my offenses against him through grace. I am willing to forgive and attempt to love my enemies and forgive wrongs done to me.

I have to trust in the absurdity of love and the amazing nature of grace. I have to carry the song in my heart and on my lips. I have to be the fool. The classic image of the fool so depicts what I must be. Those who choose to follow Christ are often scoffed at. They are vagabonds dependant on that distant calling tune to lead them onward. Ultimately the truth is that I must worry about nothing but what God thinks of me. If I know I am doing right by him and humbly follow only his calling; dance only to his piping, no matter how foolish I look to others then I am wise. It is after all the foolish things of the world that God uses to confound the wise.

So dear reader, if you hear me signing and it embarrasses you, I care about your discomfort but will not quiet my tune for you. If you see me moving forward and it seems that I am blind, know that I am listening to the pipe of God’s own Fool and it sings me down the path. You are welcome to follow along if you wish. I promise the adventure will be glorious.

Seems I've imagined Him all of my life
As the wisest of all of mankind
But if God's Holy wisdom is foolish to man
He must have seemed out of His mind
Even His family said He was mad
And the priest said a demon's to blame
But, God in the form of this angry young man
Could not have seemed perfectly sane

We in our foolishness thought we were wise
He played the fool and He opened our eyes
We in our weakness believed we were strong
He became helpless to show we were wrong

So we follow God's own Fool
For only the foolish can tell
Believe the unbelievable; come be a fool as well

So come lose your life for a carpenter's son
For a madman who died for a dream
And you’ll have the faith His first followers had
And you'll feel the weight of the beam
So surrender the hunger to say you must know
Find the courage to say I believe
For the power of paradox opens your eyes
And blinds those who say they can see

So we follow God's own Fool
For only the foolish can tell
Believe the unbelievable; come be a fool as well – Michael Card

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

18 November 2010

That’s why I sing for a God unchanging

Greetings Dear Reader,

I sing. When I am out and about, walking down the halls at work, or puttering about the house, I sing. Most of what I sing during these times is directed at God. Saint Augustine of Hippo (AD 430) is often attributed with saying "Qui cantat bis orat" or “He who sings prays twice.” Although we cannot find anything that proves he said this, the words are true. He did say "cantare amantis est” meaning "Singing belongs to one who loves."

One of the ways I work out my feelings as they involve my faith is singing. The Ephesians were told to sing to themselves in “Hymns and Psalms and Spiritual Songs, making melody in their hearts to the Lord.” I know that when I do this it impacts me. I know that when my spirit urges me to sing and I refuse it is because I want to hang on to a foul mood.

Music is so much more powerful than we realize. In a conversation with my Son, Bezel the other day we talked about how music influences everyone in our family. My older Son, Maxim and I were also recently discussing his favorite band and as I have delved into their music to know him better I can see why the content flows with who he is. We are a restless lot and I know that music always impacts me.

I just changed up the memory card in my car, replacing the music I have been listening to with a mixture of some new faith centered music and my first salvo of Christmas hymns and songs. I will never say that all music must be faith based to be good. Nor will I give my ear to most “Christian” music. I will say, however, that when I am troubled, angry, or subdued in my pursuit of Christ, that Christ centered music can be the factor that tips the balance in favor of following.

Augustine proposed, “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” When I sing to God words that are truth I find rest even from my deepest pains. I think of all those who have journeyed through the years with a song on lips and in their hearts and long to learn from their example. Sometimes the song has a minor key and sometimes it is even a dirge.

No matter the tune or the context, when I sing to God the path is easier and the stones in way are smaller. God is constant and when allow truth to make music in my heart and on my lips I inch closer to him with my burdens lightened.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

17 November 2010

That’s why love is so Absurd

Greetings Dear Reader,

As amazing as grace is love is truly absurd. It sounds stupid to love those who hate you. It goes against the grain to love your enemy, forgive those who hurt you, and to take in those who would destroy you. It is completely absurd to turn the other cheek when you know you will be hit for it. It is stupid to think that it will do any good to love someone else for the sake of peace.

It is stupid, absurd, and mad but it is the only thing that works. It is love that burrows into the petrified heart. It is love that shatters stone and binds brokenness into power. It is love that is the only weapon whose strokes heal. Love is formidable and indomitable. Nothing can truly stand against it.

I must love at all costs. I must love the one who would kill me. I must love the spouse who abandoned me and broke my heart. I must love the child that refuses to see how far he is from his walk with Christ. I must love the co-worker who hates me for my faith. I have harmed Christ in all these ways and many more I do not even comprehend.

Not only must I love above all but I must absorb the hurt that is the cost of loving. No matter how much someone abuses my love for them, I must continue to love them. No matter how much it hurts to be near them I must accept them and do all that I can to live out the gospel of Christ in that relationship.

It is God’s blood that is shed for the sake of love and I dare not let one drop of it be shed in vain. I must amass the energy that is God’s love and deliver it with laser focus on all that I encounter. There is not cost great than the life of Christ so anything I am asked to pay is a pittance. It is absurd that God would allow Christ to miss a moment of his presence at the throne much less take on our pitiful shell of pain and withstand abuse at my hands.

Love is absurd but by God’s grace we are called and equipped to become obsessively absurd in our love toward others. God will raise great love from shattered hearts if we allow it. He will use that same love to raze pain if we will release it.

There is no room for division, abandonment, rejection, or dismissal of others. Reclamation demands it. We cannot say we follow Christ and reject anyone else. We cannot say we are his and dissolve the bonds we make in him. There is no room for anything but love without limit. Anything less IS truly absurd. I love you all; collectively and individually.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

16 November 2010

That’s why grace is so Amazing

Greetings Dear Reader,

I had the privilege to recently discover the musician Matt Maher. I am thankful for him and his music. Those who know me well will tell you that content matters to me much more than music style or genre. Feel free to check out this artist as you have probably heard a couple of his songs sung as worship songs.

The song that snagged me the hardest (picture a bass here gulping down a rooster tail), is the song Look Like a Fool. You seen the chorus pounded on the my brain the first eleven or twelve times I listened to it. I am going to dwell on it a little as it relates to me.

The first line is “That’s why grace is so amazing.” For me it is. My young life taught me that I was an inconvenience and a misfit. When I found Christ as a teen I was still somewhat of an outcast to both my family and my church family. As an adult I have failed in so many ways. Often I feel more like a misfit than I do anything resembling a child of God.

Even though that is true, God chooses to show the depth and breadth of his grace by occasionally letting me see how he uses me. Just today the campus president at the college where I teach told me that my kindness reaches far beyond where I ever see. It was an offhand comment that touched me in a way he could not have known I needed.

I still struggle every day with the depth of my inadequacies and the damage done by the rejection of those to whom I have given my heart. I believe that some of those wounds will never heal. Amidst all of that darkness there are stars that shine so brightly. Stars of hope that guide me on toward Christ and my journey with him show how his grace can even work through me.

Grace is amazing because it can make this scarecrow feel like more than stuffed rags lifted up on a pole to scare away marauders. Grace is astounding because from time to time I see where my actions or words cause a smile or warm a heart. Grace is enough because it allows us to be used to further the redemption project that the Father is working out in our world of misfits.

So remember your people
Remember your children
Remember your promise oh God
Your grace is enough for me – Matt Maher

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

15 November 2010

Changed to Bring Change

Greetings Dear Reader,

We sing a song at church that seems to carry into everything for me. Many times I have been in a discussion about what evidences that one is following Christ. I used to have a list of answers. I used to think that it could be quantified and measured. I am sure that God can do both but it is beyond my grasp.

I spent many years thinking and advising that if we keep a laundry list of Christ following activities and do them with all our heart that we are following correctly. What I am discovering and working hard to apply is that we cannot be sure that anything works without leading with the heart. The heart must seek Christ totally and then the change will follow.

If I do anything; eat, rest, play, or work, I must be doing for the purpose of following Christ. It is that simple and it is that complex. The Gospel of Christ must change me. If it does not then I cannot be sure that I am following. I have habits that I must abandon. I have weaknesses that I must abhor. I have places what I must conform to the love and grace of the Gospel.

The purpose of this is twofold. The primary is my own wellbeing. I am better for each thing I shed for the sake of Christ. I will be healthier, at peace, and able to absorb the ills of life if I am allowing Christ to mold me to his likeness. The second, as important but undoable without the first is that I am changed for the purpose of bringing change. God’s redemption project is designed to work through the redeemed.

It is not enough to simply adopt the name of Christ and enjoy a quiet private faith. I am changed for the purpose of evidencing that change to others. I am to become a conduit through which Christ can draw others and in turn work redemptive change in them. Everything Christ gives to me is completely mine and is mine to pass on. Everything I do that prevents the latter weakens my ownership of the former. How can I have confidence in a faith I do not share and practice? How can I show others a path I will not walk?

If the Gospel does not change me then I cannot see it changing others through my example. I have been redeemed for the purpose of my reclamation and the redemption of others. The Gospel must change or it is not the Gospel.

I have been blessed – now I want to be a blessing
I have been loved – now I want to bring love
I’ve been invited – I want to share the invitation
I have been changed – to bring change, to bring change – Aaron Niequist

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

12 November 2010

Getting ONE with Your Life

Greetings Dear Reader,

And sometimes we run by the power of his might
On own at the best we can plod – Michael Card

I was recently reconnecting with a friend and we were discussing the twists that life takes along the way. At one point my friend expressed the need to get on with life, but said that they needed to “Get one with life.” This slip has had me thinking all week.

In my efforts to gain a better grasp on my approach to following Christ, one of my foci has been to realize that I control nothing. I can follow Christ or I can try to control my world. Both are not possible and the latter ultimately fails anyway. Life comes more and more to mean the act of moment by moment looking for the next place Christ wishes me to step. When I do that I move and life is in harmony even amidst storms and pain.

Many years ago our family was returning from spending Thanksgiving in upstate New York with my maternal Grandfather. As we made our way south the sky began to take on the colour of dark slate and the opened up to deliver a massive winter storm. As the snow obscured all driving visibility we watched car after car slip off the road and pirouette into the ditch. My mother urged my dad to get off the road and find a place to stay the night. My dad was willing but wished to get further south of the storm first.

Easing down the right lane in our VW Microbus, he pulled in behind a Semi with chains on its wheels. We started up a long upgrade and my mum protested that we would get stuck and that we could not see. My dad explained that all he had to see what that truck’s tail lights and we would be fine. He glided along for miles behind the truck riding in the furrows left by its chains. Eventually, well south of the main part of the storm we pulled off for the night. Those who had pulled off earlier were stranded for days by a late fall blizzard. We were far enough south to make it home the next day.

Once we decide to follow is when our life begins to work. When I only follow I do not get lost. When I do anything but follow I am sure to get lost. When I do anything on my own I fail. When I follow Christ and him alone, I can get ONE with life and the beautiful dance that it is.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

10 November 2010

Thank You Veterans

Greetings Dear Readers,

I never loved the soldier until there was a war,
Or thought about tomorrow until my baby hit the floor.
I only talk to God when somebody’s about to die.
I never cherished freedom. Freedom never cries. – Five for Fighting

Let me start by saying that I hate war. Killing each other is the poorest way to solve problems there is. I am also pretty sure that it flies in the face of the command to “Love your enemies.” That said, tomorrow is Veterans’ Day. Because people are willing to kill each other over resources, land, power, and wealth a standing militia is a necessary thing.

I want to stand tall and strong and thank the individuals who wear the uniforms of our military for their service. We all know someone who has put on a uniform and left behind family and career to put themselves in harm’s way for our freedom. There is always a price to pay for freedom. There is always someone who dies so that I can go to Wal-Mart whenever I wish. I do not have to worry about Pizza-Hut being blown up whilst I have my bacon and pineapple pizza.

I have a Daughter-in-Law that is a veteran. She is an amazing person who is artistic, intelligent, and compassionate. I love her dearly and do not get to show it often enough. She put her life on the line to save the lives of both our troops and those of our enemies. She showed compassion to those who would have killed her had they had the chance.

Everyone knows someone who has risked all for our freedom. The entire country is lessened when a veteran has needs that are unmet. Every soldier is a volunteer. Every one that returns from war has risked all to protect my freedom. No matter what I believe about the politics involved, that is nothing compared to real men and women giving me the freedom to be whatever I choose to be.

We cannot escape the debt of love and honor we owe our veterans. We cannot neglect respecting them and their sacrifice without wounding our own souls. Tomorrow take the time to respect the veterans in your life. Reach out to them in gratitude and honor. I know I will.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

08 November 2010

Servant of the Bean

Greetings Dear Reader,

This past month our church opened a new venue to facilitate the outreach to the college campus and it is going well. It is astounding to me that amidst the beauty and grace of our new venue which is also a bar, that there is a complaint I have heard every week.

It seems that the venue decided not to serve coffee as is done at the primary church site. The intent is that we patronize the local coffee bars that surround our site. This, in my opinion, is excellent thinking. We get the opportunity to build relationships and show Christ’s love to a whole new set of people.

Still, every week I hear people complain that they are not getting the convenient free coffee. Every week someone returns from Starbucks with a negative comment about the walk or the cost. I wonder what it is that makes us so coffee focused. I love coffee. I do not have to have it to be happy and I can pass it by at will. It does; however, seem to be one of the vices that the church has embraced with abandon. Almost all of our social events include coffee in one way or another.

What is it that so easily deters our attention from the purpose of being gathered with other Christ followers? For our household I suggested that we not begin spending six dollars a week on coffee and I started making a fresh pot when I get up on Sunday morning. I consider that we can get served coffee occasionally but if we do it every week that is conservatively about $300 dollars annually for hot water passed through beans. From that perspective it just does not seem wise.

It also occurs to me that no one has privately stepped up to offer providing coffee for the church. There are people who attend who could. It just seems to me that putting such emphasis on coffee is not focusing on the main thing. If we have to have something to be at our best, then we are connected improperly to it. It is my understanding that I am not to be addicted to anything but God. I wonder what would happen if the leadership provided a sermon on the bean?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

07 November 2010

Unexpected Kindnesses

Greetings Dear Reader,

I like the movies. I like going to movies. My eldest Son says that I never dislike a movie. This is not true. The remake of Clash of the Titans was horrid. Now before you run off, this is not going to be a movie review, but rather a pondering on kindnesses I receive from people that make a difference.

Last week I had a three day weekend. On Friday I took Christmas to see a movie and on Saturday I took my younger Son, Bezel to see a different one. I almost always go to the same theatre and the staff knows me well. This is not just because I attend often but because I engage in polite conversation with them and often give them my review of whatever movie I have seen as I exit.

When my Son and I arrived everyone was dressed in Halloween costumes. The box offices were draped in fake spider webs. The manager at the box office perked up as we walked in and greeted us with a kind smile. As I handed over my money to pay for our tickets, it was politely refused. Instead the manager gave me a bright smile and said that the movie was a Halloween gift.

This past Friday I went to see the new Will Farrell movie, Megamind (I would caution that this is not really a children’s movie). As the credits rolled in the relative darkness a figure moving through the isle called my name. It was a former student who I care for deeply. I had not seen this student in over a year the reunion was warm and welcome.

Earlier in the week one of my fellow professors bought lunch for us all with no prompting. My campus director called me to tell me good news when he was in the midst of an important conference. Another friend reconnected with me just because he wanted to let me know how he was doing. A young friend John shared his home made movie with me giving me both laughter and delight (You can see this movie here. It is worth the view).

All of these kindnesses and more occurred in the space of only ten days. All during a week when I am struggling emotionally, God has put things in my path to remind me that he cares about me. This does not take into account the building aura of advent I feel, the anticipation of my Grandson’s arrival, or the amazing sun rise yesterday morning. Beautiful sunrises always make me think of my eldest Son. He knows why.

The beauty and grace of the world coupled with the constant presence of God in reminding through friends how much he cares for me has carried me through a rough sea. The storm is not over but I am sure the sails will hold and the course is still true. I am thankful to my friends and to God for the provision in my life. I hope you can see the same in yours. One really only has to look.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."