31 December 2008

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Sixth Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas Beloved Readers,

As the sixth day dawns I am just settling into the idea that I am on vacation. In that spirit this installation will be brief. It is good that I rest as I was quite weary when my sabbatical began. This morning I awoke feeling refreshed but my sleep patterns are not back to normal yet. Today is a day of rest for me, as will be the rest of my vacation.

I will spend the day watching a movie, putting away some things I do not need, and writing if I feel the urge. Daughter Christmas has a cold and will rest as well. We will spend New Year’s Eve quietly with my Son Maxim. I fear that midnight will be painful and hard as my beloved Avalon maintains her absence.

I start the New Year with plans to improve several things in my life but first I will rest and recharge. So on the sixth day of Christmas my Savior gave to me six more days of rest, five perfect things, four children to gather round me, the blessing of the Trinity, twice the joy of giving, and a purpose for carrying his tree.

Wishing you joy in the journey and a Merry Christmas

Aramis Thorn

PS - Hey Santa, pass us that bottle will you. There's a good fellow.

30 December 2008

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Fifth Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas Beloved Readers,
We try so hard to do so much to give the perfect Christmas gifts to others and we seldom allow ourselves to receive perfect gifts. God in his infinite wisdom gives them to us anyway. Today I had the happiest of accidents and in its serendipity God provided me with both joy and wonder at the meticulous nature of his care for me. Perhaps I am starting in the middle, so I will return to the beginning.
I am having dinner tonight with my in-laws. I love them dearly and that love has grown much over the last ten years. They are good people but as Avalon divorces me they have mostly ignored me in the situation.
Their one communication about it said that she is “our daughter and we are supporting her at this time.” I guess I expected better of them. They always seemed more interested in the truth and in following what was right rather than in following a formula. So they have left us out of Thanksgiving and Christmas but wished us to come over for dinner. Needless to say I am not sure what to say to them.
In the midst of my consternation over yet another open wound to my heart, God saw fit to arrange, without my asking or thinking of to present me with five perfect things. These things on their own can be great, but today, at this time and place they worked together to magically call forth memories of better times and people who truly loved me for me.
Just before I left for Georgia this Christmas, I had Maxim and his bride Raven over for dinner and to exchange gifts. Since I did not feel like making a big Christmas dinner and it was International Hamburger Day, I made hamburgers with all the fixings. That meal forgotten and many days past, I came to lunch time today not knowing what I wished but wanting something special.
I looked in the fridge and realized there was a pound of bacon thawed that needed cooking. Then my eye caught something else, lettuce and tomato that remained from Hamburger Day. They were both still quite fresh and good. I knew I had Miracle Whip® in abundance and I had brought back from Georgia one of the most precious products from my childhood; a large loaf of Sunbeam Bread®. You see these five things, properly prepared combine to make the favorite sandwich of my childhood, the BLT.
The bacon sizzled, the bread toasted, the Miracle Whip was spread, the tomato sliced and the lettuce torn. I spent a good half hour properly building and cutting those sandwiches. I spent a good hour savoring them. Memories of my Grandfather and fishing swam through my mind. Forgotten was my current pain and longing for my missing spouse. Far from my mind was anything other than the tangy sweet joy of those five things combining to make the little boy in me awaken with a fervor. I recalled the many times this particular meal had chased away my blues and lightened my heart. God is good. He arranged for all the necessary parts to be in play at just the right moment. It had to be Sunbeam Bread. It had to be Miracle Whip. It had to ripe juicy tomato and crisp green lettuce. The bacon had to be hickory smoked and almost crisp. They were all just as they should be.
So for the fifth day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me five perfect things, four children to gather round me, the blessing of the Trinity, twice the joy of giving, and a purpose for carrying his tree.

Wishing you joy in the journey and a Merry Christmas

Aramis Thorn

29 December 2008

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Fourth Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas dear Readers,

A visit from a dear fellow pirate and a good night’s sleep show me much recovered from my travels. I was blessed last night to receive The Asphalt Pirate and his lovely Bride in my home. I have not seen them for over two years and it was a brief and joyous meeting. Bride is with child and Pirate will make a great father. I already see his love for the child sparkle in his eyes. We talked long of meetings and partings until he had to part.

As I retired for the evening, much weary and already thinking on this morning’s writing and a good cup of coffee, I pondered on what I was most thankful for that fit the number four. Having been some time with Pirate I realized it was my children. The four of them fit so perfectly who Christ designed them to be in person and spirit. So if you will indulge me I will dote on each of them for a moment.

Maxim, my oldest is a firebrand for justice, right, and truth. He and I are so alike in some things that we strike many sparks in our interaction. He is one I would seek for a friend in any world and I love him with a passion I cannot quite put into words. Holding him for the first time changed me forever. Knowing him now constantly changes me for the better.

Bezel, my second son is both passion and tenderness in a strong and kind man. He is just beginning to find his way, though it was revealed to him when he was a babe. My time with him this Christmas grew our friendship and communication. He is charming and is learning to use that charm to draw others to Christ. His tenderness heals much in me.

Rachael, my first daughter, is with Christ. Even so, she teaches me, for she has never sinned, never rebelled, never broken her father’s heart. I still do not know why Christ chose to keep her to himself, but neither will I shame her by questioning that wisdom. Though I rarely share it, I miss her every day. There is no day I do not think of her and ask the Father to kiss her cheek for me and give her a hug from daddy.

Christmas, my adopted daughter is so like me it is startling. She has compassion and love for the entire world. Her faith grows daily and it is a joy to watch Christ claim more and more of her. Bezel commented on the beauty of seeing someone in the midst of their “first love” with Christ and it moved me much to see them understand each other. It is an honor to be a part of her life.

There you have it. So on the fourth day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me, four children to gather round me, the blessing of the Trinity, twice the joy of giving, and a purpose for carrying his tree.

Wishing you joy in the journey and a Merry Christmas

Aramis Thorn

28 December 2008

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Third Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas Dear Readers,

I am composing this in my head as I drive back from Atlanta to Madison. The drive is 14 hours give or take rest stops, fuel fills, pee breaks, and food. My daughter Christmas and I are discussing the week's events and I realize that the three things that mean the most to me this Christmas is God in all his persons. I need Fathering right now so much to deal with my pain and confusion. God is so good and faithful as he does this for me. He holds me close and whispers correction and comfort in just the way I need it right now.

Jesus is so real in my life right now and still I can only think to follow him. The babe in the manger, the angry carpenter at the temple, the suffering servant on the cross, and the risen King are all so present in me as I walk such an uncertain path. I stumble and he lifts me. I stray and he shows me where to put my foot next. I try to strike out on my own and he shows me the brambles and pitfalls I face if I do. I cry and wail for my lost bride and he reminds me that she and so many others are lost to him too. I am not alone.

Inside, comforting, judging, guiding, guarding, speaking truth rest the Holy Spirit of the living God. There are no signs and wonders. There are no strange tongues. There is the constant conviction of sin and leading in truth and righteousness that is the evidence of his presence. He is the surety of my salvation and he will guide me home no matter how long or short the path.

So on the third day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me, the blessing of the Trinity, twice the joy of giving, and a purpose for carrying his tree.

Wishing you joy in the journey, and a Merry Christmas

Aramis Thorn

27 December 2008

Pondering my Christmas gifts – The Second day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas Dear Readers,

Perhaps to avoid confusion and explanation is in order. You see, the12 days of Christmas song which I am so shamelessly pillaging for my little notes is based on the 12 day between Christ-mass and Epiphany (the day the Wise Men showed up). My intent is to share something of my Christmas with you over those 12 days. I am running a day behind but will catch up with a double dose along the way.

Each year, PNC Wealth Management calculates the cost of the 12 days of Christmas. This year’s price tag is $86,609.00. That is 10% higher than last year. I spent less than 1% of that on Christmas this year. I have spent more on Christmas is most of the past years but this year I embraced the challenge issued by adventconspiracy.org and spent less. My daughter Christmas and I made gifts for most of our family. It was great fun to think of, plan, and prepare the things we gave. She is artistic and talented. She made all the Christmas cards we gave from bits and pieces of her other art supplies. I shared pre-measured jars of my special pancake mix and we bought coffee cups from good will to use with pre-measured mixes for a 5 minute chocolate cake in a cup that you bake in the microwave.

We spent less. We had loads of fun. We made people just as happy and I believe I got the best of it because my joy was doubled that we had money to give for those in real need out of our Christmas budget.

So on the second day of Christmas my Savior gave to me, twice the joy of giving, and a purpose for carrying his tree.

Wishing you joy in the journey, and a Merry Christmas

Aramis Thorn

26 December 2008

Pondering my Christmas gifts – The first day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas Dear Readers,
This was definitely a “Hard Candy Christmas” for me and most of my family. There were so may little things that could have damaged my spirit but Christ kept opening my eyes to where he lurked in the events surrounding me. I resolved early on to make the best of the season in focusing on Christ and him alone. The resultant joy of this season has little to parallel others. There are some painful and bittersweet bits, but on the balance there is joy and peace in these anecdotes that are truly the spirit of Christ making himself real to me. I will endeavor to share some of it with you in hopes of extending your Christmas joy.

On the first day of Christmas I received a letter from one of my students who reads my blog. He is a fine and noble young man whose friendship I highly value. He related how events in his life had caused him to question the presence and purpose of Christ in the world. He went to tell me that my life makes him wish to believe. That Christ has used me to cause someone to seek Him is perhaps the best gift I can imagine.

My beloved Avalon has left me and is divorcing me for her own purposes. My sons and daughter are struggling in ways that I cannot repair for them. Yet had I not been immersed in these trials, Christ could not have used me to show a friend that faith is real; that there is hope.
As I sit here drinking my coffee, watching a movie while my children sleep, and eating one of the best cookies I have ever tasted, I see at least one gift I will cherish for life.

So on the first day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me, a purpose for carrying his tree. I would trade all I have for others to see Christ.

Wishing you joy in the journey, and a Merry Christmas

Aramis Thorn

25 December 2008

Merry Christmas to all...

Greetings Beloved Readers and Merry Christmas,

As I sit here with some of my family and missing others, I ponder what I would most like to share about Christmas. It is rather simple. It is Christ. You see I know that there are many sentimental things I can say about Hope, Joy, Love and all the trappings of Christmas. There are things I wish and they matter more than anything, for I believe that Christ wants them as well. You see I have a practice. I never ask God for anything on Christmas day nor on Resurrection Sunday. I consider that God knows my needs and in memoriam of those two days I think he has given enough. Here, today, however, is my Christmas wish list.

That my family would see Christ so clearly that they only follow him.
That my beloved Avalon would see how far she is from Christ and return to him
That my friends, family, and students who do not know him would give Christ and honest try
That all of you would feel my deepest gratitude for you individual parts in my life

Merry Christmas and remember if my seriousness during you merriment is an offense you can tell yourself this is just another Christmas blog. Hey Santa, pass us that bottle will you,

Wishing you joy in the journey

Aramis Thorn

23 December 2008

Advent - Love

Greetings and Merry Christmas Dear Reader,

What have we done with the word love? It is such a small word but contains so much power. I am going to abandon my usual approach to these things and just offer up some random thoughts. I leave for Georgia today to spend Christmas with my Son, Bezel and my parents and siblings. As I drive I will be thinking about love. Here are the questions I am going to ponder. Perhaps some of them should dance through your thoughts as well.

How do we show others that we love them?
How do we see Christ’s love for us actively in our daily lives?
Do we really know how to love or do we manufacture it when necessary?
When we feel loved by someone else, what is our response?
When someone says that they love us, do we really hear it?
Why do all those who do not know Christ not hear him crying out that he loves them so much?
Is it possible my actions toward others keep them from hearing Christ because I claim to be one of his followers?
How do I show others how much I love Christ?
Do you really believe that you can say that you love Christ and treat others with anything less than the love you need from him?
Do we know how to show love to others in the way Christ does, no matter how we feel?

I am sure there are many more questions to ask, but what I wish to say to all of you is that I love you all, collectively and individually. I will do my best to show it and ask in advance for forgiveness when I fail.

As we close out our preparation for Advent this year, I hope that we truly cling to the coming event of Christ’s appearing and what that means for us all.

Wishing you all joy in the journey and a Merry Christmas,

Aramis Thorn

15 December 2008

Advent - Joy

Merry Christmas Beloved Readers,
This, the third week of Advent is dedicated to Joy. I wonder if our current culture really understands what joy is. I think we confuse joy with happiness, excitement, and even fun. As my son Maxim often says, happiness is overrated. We can say that we are happy or unhappy about something but how often are we expressing true joy over things. In the Bible, the word happy appears around 25 time while the word Joy is seen over 200. So what is the big deal about joy?
Perhaps we should contrast the two words. Think about things that make you happy and then about things that bring you joy. Things that make us happy tend to be temporal and fleeting, but the things that give us joy seem to last. My children do not always make me happy but they always fill me with joy when I see them, speak to them, and hear of their lives.
This year has not been filled with much happiness for me. My beloved Avalon continues to pursue divorce from me and each thought of her is painful, but in those same thoughts I continue to find great joy in my love for her. Is that joy complete or reciprocated? No, but it still lives. My love for her, like Christ’s love for all of us is not based on her actions toward me but on who she is to me. My vows to her were not based on her being a good wife but on my choice to love her for life.
This is so relevant to the joy we sing and talk about a Christmas time. Our joy can be complete in Christ no matter what others do to us. I cannot buy the best gifts, have the party I wish, or celebrate Christmas with in-laws that I love. I can revel in the truth that all these ills will pass away when Christ comes to make all things new. I can find joy in the fact that evil and strife will not always hold sway over the world and in finding that joy I can wish it to others.
It is not my pain that matters but rather who I am in that pain.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart, prepare him room and heaven and nature sing.”

Wishing you JOY in the journey and a Merry Christmas,

Aramis Thorn

08 December 2008

Advent – Preparation

Merry Christmas beloved Readers

Over the next couple of weeks you will encounter a question that I call a seasonal weather question. Often when people do not know what to say they talk about weather. During this time of year they ask, “So, are you ready for Christmas?” What the average asker wishes to know is if your shopping is done, if your house is decorated, and if your party is planned.

Too seldom do we really prepare for Christmas. Remember that we are talking about the Advent of Christ. Literally, we are looking forward to the arrival of the Anointed Redeemer. How do we prepare for that? Last week I talked about giving others hope. In addition to hope we need to prepare our lives for his arrival.

Instead of thinking of preparation as getting things we need, we should think of it as getting things in order. When we have a favored guest coming to our home, we will spend hours getting our house in order. We plan and anticipate the arrival and become more excited as the moment draws nearer. This is the whole point of celebrating the Advent of Christ. “Let every heart prepare him room.”

We are to approach Christmas as a time when we make ourselves ready for the anticipated arrival of the most honored of guests: Jesus Christ. So as you put up the tree, wrap the presents, and plan your holiday celebrating, I would pose a question. Should not this be another aspect of Christmas that we are pondering and preparing for all year long. Remember that the word Christmas literally means Christ Mass, or the celebration of Christ. So I ask dear reader, are you ready for Christmas?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

01 December 2008

Advent - Hope

Happy Christmas beloved Readers,

Tell me what you are doing for Christmas. Share with me you wishes and dreams. Was the first response a present you hope for or a gift you wish to give? I spent a good part of the Thanksgiving weekend hearing other’s talk of their hopes and wishes for Christmas. I watched as hundreds flooded our local mall in search of “door buster” deals and the chase for things. While all were out getting and spending I observed something else. I saw very little happiness in it.

I am beginning to think that we hope for all the wrong things and that it leaves us bereft of hope. We say we want world peace but do we really hope for it? We want the homeless to have a home. We do not want there to be starving children in Africa, Asia, or anywhere, but do we dare really hope that it can become a reality? During this festive time of year, do we dare to really hope that the world can be a better place? It can be, but how?

I think that first we have to stop trying to eat the elephant all at once. You can only eat and elephant one bite at a time. We are not able to end world hunger but we can find and feed someone who is hungry or help an organization that already does that. We may not be able to negotiate world peace but we can make peace with someone with whom we are at war. You see I think that we avoid the really big problems in our world because solving them seems so hopeless. The tasks are huge, daunting, and seemingly insurmountable. And then there is the ultimate hope.

Christ has promised to end all of the problems that plague us. One day there will be no more children with distended bellies. One day there will be no more aids, no more violence against women, no more war, and no more broken families. I know to some of you that seems more like fairy tale endings than it does a reality to hope for. That is the problem you see. We are afraid to hope for that finality because it demands that we have faith and that we act on that faith. I have found the best way to live out hope is to give it to others. Here are some practical things you can do to start the advent season with hope.

Dare to believe that Christ will make “all things new.”
Give up some of your personal time to care for the needs of others
Join the Advent Conspiracy – www.adventconspiracy.org
Listen to the Transiberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve and other Stories
Center your CHRISTmas around Christ not the gifts and trappings
Read Luke 2:1-14 and hear the hope in it

The thing is:
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 just ask.
-- Transiberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve and other Stories

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

24 November 2008

Christmas On All Souls Day (part the third)

Greetings Dear Reader,

As we approach Thanksgiving and the first real snows fall on the town where I live I wonder at the completeness of commercial America’s transition into full Christmas mode. Not only is it Christmas town in all our local shops, but Christmas music is piping from overhead speakers everywhere. I LOVE IT.

I overheard two co-workers speaking of this on Friday. The attitude of one of them was amazing. She went on about how much she loved Christmas and liked the idea of extending the whole season. I agree with her but I am also holding on to some old traditions. I will not put up the tree until Thanksgiving weekend. I won’t wear my Christmas bandanna until then either. I will do my best to forgive anyone against whom I am carrying a grudge.

This last bit is very important. A couple dozen years ago I realized that celebrating the birth of Christ without forgiving those who have hurt us or wronged us is a contradiction. The birth of Christ is all about forgiveness. It is about a God who could destroy us with a thought, and rightfully so, choosing to become one of us and die for us instead. To set up a manger without an eye to the cross is a vast error. Christmas is about forgiveness and redemption.

I have never told my children this but each year when I sit and go over my Christmas lists I include one of people I need to forgive for one reason or another. It is true. I keep a gift list, shopping list for an open house, and the forgive them list. This year is harder than ever. You see I believe in real forgiveness not just lip service to it.

Forgiveness is not just that I stop feeling bad or being angry about something. I have to quit making the individual pay for their offense. I have to restore them to a proper relationship with me. In Christ’s model prayer he asks the Father to forgive us in the manner in which we forgive others. If I say I have forgiven someone and do not restore her to her proper place in my life, then I have not forgiven her. Forgiveness is not easy but so necessary.

So I challenge you to make another Christmas list. A list of gifts you can give that only cost faith, pain, and pride. I promise that this is hard for me this year but I will not harden my heart by ignoring it. How about you? It is gift giving season. Whom will you forgive? If you have questions about this I will try to answer them, but it really comes down to this. Christ died to forgive you. Why not celebrate Christ’s birth by honoring his purpose in having one.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

17 November 2008

Christmas Trees on All Souls Day (part the second)

Greetings Dear Readers,

I am wondering when you start your Christmas Shopping. My children joke that I start the day after Christmas. The big secret is that I actually start on Christmas Day. For me it is the joy of watching others open gifts, see delight in their eyes, and learn what pleases their hearts. I study what other like and enjoy so that as I begin searching for gifts they are based on the person and not the "duty" of gift giving.

I never give gifts out of duty or pressure to find a gift for someone. I would give the entire world a Christmas gift if I could. By starting my shopping as soon as possible I am usually done by the end of November. This leaves me free to do things like Bell Ring for the Salvation Army. For Christmas to work the giving of gifts must be motivated by the joy of giving. That comes from an understanding of why we even give gifts.

I seek to be excellent at giving thoughtful, appropriate, and loving gifts so that perhaps it will open the door to giving the best gift there is. I seek for others to see Christ in my gift giving. I want others to know they are loved and to see that the love I have for them comes from my love of Christ. Hopefully as I celebrate those I love I do so in a way that celebrated Christ. Perhaps you too can wander the malls and shops as you complete your Christmas list thinking of the gift of Christ and how others can benefit from seeing him in your giving.

If you are going to make that change this year, then it may be good that there were Christmas trees on All Souls Day. This means you have more time. If you try it out, let me know how you fared.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

13 November 2008

Christmas Trees on All Souls Day (part the first)

Greetings Dear Readers,

As those of you who know me well may recall, I love Christmas. Christmas seems to have started November 2nd this year. And I love it. It is not the commercialism I love, but rather it is Christ and his advent, or arrival to the world as the God-man who would redeem our souls. Whether you share my faith or not, you must admit that the story is awesome.

Consider it for a moment. The very essence of all that exists and all that will ever exist creates us so that He may have a relationship with us. He sets up rules for that relationship that are in line with his nature. We violate those rules, reject him, and force him to place summary judgment on our species.

At this point we see why I am not a god. Were I in this situation I would just scrap the human experiment and start over. Instead God chooses to do something that I would not conceive. He comes to live among us and die for us. He pays the debt for our sin and asks that we only accept him on faith so that we can restore our relationship to him.

That in a nutshell is why we even have Christmas. So back to my original thought here; and that is that I feel that I am winning. You see I am free to talk about Christmas now. Many will complain and bluster that “Christmas starts earlier every year.” I do not think they are saying that we should not celebrate the advent of Christ only in December, but rather that they already feel the pressure to spend and get that has overtaken this most Holy of Days (holiday).

On the other hand, I get to meet those feelings of curmudgeonly humbug with joy, mirth, and anticipation. Avalon’s actions in our lives have made the financial side of Christmas almost untenable this year. I am determined, however, to participate in every available moment of Christmas joy by finding ways to celebrate Christ and those I love in ways that will be financially inexpensive and spiritually profound. In a perfect world it would be always Christmas and briefly winter. Perhaps the materials world’s march toward this truth can allow those of us who celebrate the advent of Christ daily to feel free to do so allowed all year long.

Wishing you joy in the journey and Happy Christmas,

Aramis Thorn.

04 November 2008

A Stack of Books and A Leap of Faith

Greetings Dear Readers,

Very often we want things for a good reason. Sometimes, along the way the wanting of the thing takes the place of the reason that we want it. For years I have wanted set of books that I only used briefly in the mid 80's. Over the years of wanting them the depth of my understanding of their purpose gave way to just wanting to possess them.

As my beloved wife Avalon leaves me for what she thinks is a better life, I have asked the same question of my feelings for her. Do I really love her or am I just trying to hold onto something I want having forgotten what it truly is? The true and harsh answer is both. I want MY WIFE. I do not want to go through the rejection, betrayal, violation of promises, and pain involved in a woman who vowed to stay with me for life deciding she does not have to abide by that promise. The last I checked I am not dead.

On the other hand, I truly do love her and know the meaning of that love. I have listened to others, as I go through this process, say things about Avalon that they would not say while she was in my life. The hard part is that the things that are being said are true. They are not pretty nor are they things I would allow myself to think about her. As I admit that there are some very unlovely things that are true about my departing spouse, I also realize that beyond on them I truly love her. It was an error to blind myself to those things and to not seek Christ's healing of my fears and her flaws in our marriage. It is necessary to never stop loving her, to see her as she is and constantly remember why I loved her from the beginning.

It is also necessary, for the sake of my own healing, to see her as she is, warts and all. I have done a good job of owning my own sin and failures. I have not been willing to remember that she is just as fallen as I am and that she has chosen a path contrary to the expressed desires of Christ. I must love her even though she rends me. I must remember the real reasons I loved her from the beginning and no matter what she does, see her as she is and continue to lover her.

I recently bought the books I spoke of earlier. I can see them from where I sit. I have delved deeply into them and remembered why I love them so much. They have something to teach me on every page. I bought them to remind me that you do not go into things so that you can blind yourself to what they are, but rather in faith see things as they are and work to make them more as God intended. Each time I study from my new books I intend to check on my faithfulness to seeing things as they are and not as I imagine or wish them to be. I will still look toward what they can become in Christ, but will do my best not to be blind to the wounds that need healing first. I failed Avalon in not seeing what she needed and I failed my sons in not seeing how those needs effected them and my relationship with them.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Aramis Thorn

30 October 2008

Boys of Summer

Greetings Dear Readers,

There is something about being a parent that is amazing. Opportunities abound when your children are young. Then they commit the terrible crime of growing up and opportunities become rare. As a teacher I had many summers to spend with my sons Maxim and Bezel growing up. We built some amazing memories and had some real and imagined adventures. I had the honor of teaching them to swim, discovering who they were becoming over Jamocha Shakes, and teaching them the wonder of baseball.

They are older now and the opportunities are few. They are good men trying to find the right path in a dangerous world. They are loyal friends. Maxim is a good husband to his wife Raven. His passion for the lost and seeing Christ touch the lives of others is inspiring. Bezel has a depth of loyalty and compassion that is incomparable. His charm and wit could win millions to Christ. They are amazing men who I also count at my best friends.

It astonishes me how much they have to teach me but I sometimes wonder about the things I need to begin to teach them. What is a father's place in the lives of his adult sons? I know that there are areas where I dare not tread. I must respect that they are young men but I see things they do not always see and am not sure how to communicate it to them.

There are other matters where I must teach them by action with few words. Currently I am teaching them how to handle pain and rejection at the hands of someone I love. I will have to teach them how a man handles aging, painful life changes, and facing the future without the love of your life. I hope they never have to apply these lessons but I will teach them just the same.

It is my job to be the example they need even when they do not wish it. I must handle all things with the grace and love of Christ. I must love them wear they are at all times. When I fail them I must own it completely. When they fail me I must insist that they own it but do so in a spirit of gentle and restorative love. I love my sons with a fire that is unquenchable. I challenge all men who are blessed with sons to do the same; be vulnerable about your failures, hold them accountable for their, most important, evidence the grace and love of Christ is all things.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

27 October 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Greeteings Dear Readers,

I am passionate about Christmas. I always have been. My children actually call me Captain Christmas. My church and many across the world are involved in an event called the Advent Conspiracy (http://www.adventconspiracy.org/). It has become a great focus for practices I have held for years in order to point the traditions of Christmas back to Christ. Nothing matters about this season if Christ is not honored, hearalded, and heard.

The noise of shopping, getting, materialism, and debauchery drown out the message that the living God wants to redeem the paradise that we have destroyed. He desires this so much that he would rather die than live without us. To this end he "became flesh and dwelt among us." We call that the Advent of Christ. We celebrate it with the Celebration of Christ or "Christ Mass."

I have posted some of the practices that highlight our Christmas season. I will post others as the celebration of the Advent approaches. Here is the post and a link to my Church's site for participation.


Practical Practices are the only way for this to work. I will share a couple that our family practices in hope that it will encourage you.

We have a family tradition that for the money we spend on Christmas gifts we set aside matching funds for those in need. The week before Christmas we gather around a Salvation Army Kettle at a busy shopping location. (on a side note, they always need bell ringers. We take four or five two hour shifts each Christmas season to ring bells, sing carols, and help people have their needs met. You can sign up at www.ringbells.org.)

When we meet at the kettle I have already turned the money in $5 bills and divided them evenly between the gathered family. We take turns putting bills into the kettle and expressing out loud something for which we are thankful. It is such joy to watch the excitement of our children build as the bills disappear into the kettle.

A personal habit of mine is to sing Christmas hymns out loud as I shop. Most of the time people stop and listen, join in, or make positive comments. Cashiers listen as they ring up my purchases and they are cheered. I always sing songs that worship Christ and promote the true purpose of the advent of Christ. Most of all it keeps me focused on why I am in the world; to spread the light that is Christ and do my bit to help restore men to God.

Try it out.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

23 October 2008

God's Sense of Humor

Greetings Dear Readers,

It occurs to me that many people fail to see that like any loving father, God often laughs at what we do as his children. I have struggled greatly with my writing this year as Avalon tore apart our family by leaving us. She was my first reader; the one on whom I could count to show me where my writing had strength and where it needed retooling. This loss put a painful crimp in my writing for some time.

I reached a critical point two weeks ago when Avalon told me she was actually going to divorce me. I sat in front of my blank page not knowing what to do with the pain through which I could not form words. Later that week I breakfasted with my eldest son, Maxim. He happened to ask me about my writing. I explained how much difficulty I was experiencing and he encouraged me to keep at it.

I am not one to "put out fleeces" or in other words, ask God for a sign or affirmation of his direction for me. Instead I usually search the Word, pray, and ask the counsel of friends I trust. I decided I was going to make a decision concerning my writing by last Monday. I was either going to dig back in full tilt or set it aside for a long time. I prayed about this choice silently, not letting on to anyone that I was considering walking away from that which is a core passion to me.
I realize that so far I have not said much that is humorous. But the Father's laughter is coming. Monday of this week arrived and I had not decided. The college where I teach had held a celebration day the previous Friday and there were leftovers. On the table in the faculty lounge sat a bowl of cookies. (Please note that at this moment I am experiencing an uncomfortable pause of embarrassment) The cookies were fortune cookies. I love fortune cookies; not the fortune but the almond/orange flavor of the cookie itself. I grabbed one on the way out the door not thinking any thing about it.

The thing about fortune cookies is that they are nebulous, general, and vague. Anyone can roll their future into such phrases "Your intelligence will be seen by all" or "Expect an unusual opportunity to come your way." It is very easy to match what you do to the generalization of the fortune. I have always believed as well that one could benefit from the encouragement of these generalizations even if they are non-specific.

I created some ceremony for my sons when they were growing up around being careful to distribute the fortune cookies that accompanied our Chinese food. I would select from the cookies the "right one" for each person dining with us and then we would compare how the generalized fortune applied to us. It provided great entertainment after an excellent meal.

So to deliver on my promise here is the Father's injection of humor. As I said earlier I walked by the bowl and grabbed a cookie at random. On my way to my next destination I simply unwrapped it, enjoyed the cookie's sweet almond flavor, and read the fortune as an afterthought. I stopped, read it again, and broke into serious fits of laughter at my heavenly Father's great sense of humor. There was no vagary in the words on the small strip of paper. It is currently taped above my monitor as I write this. It simply read "You will become an accomplished writer."

I could hear my heavenly Father laughing softly at his little joke which also was a message of great import. I will face the pain and fear I feel as I return to the blank page without my beloved Avalon. I know I have something to offer as a writer and I know that "accomplished" may only mean being faithful to my calling. I will write every day and in doing so honor the love I hold for my Lord, my family who supports me, and my absent Avalon.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

20 October 2008

To Immensity and Beyond

Greetings Dear Readers,

Do you enjoy the beach? I know I do. I spent many summers of my youth walking the sands of a small Island off the South Carolina coast. Think of the vast grains of sand it takes to make up a single beach. We love to quantify things and yet there are some things that cannot be actually quantified. We can estimate how much sand there is on a beach, but it is not the quantity of sand that makes the beach for us. It is the unique beauty and temporal nature of that beauty that creates awe in us.

Albert Einstein observed that "Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." What then do we do with the vastness that is in God? I cannot measure the grace and love he must extend to put up with my often rebellious existence. Furthermore, he asks me then to extend grace and love to others and promises to provide to me the measure of that grace and love needed to do so. At what point does God's grace end so that I may quit extending grace to others? It does not.

Someone recently told me that they could not extend grace to me because it would be unwise to do so. They twisted the purpose of grace to their own ends to justify harming me. They do not know the future and neither do they see what grace God would give them to supply their need. I do not wish a God who measures out grace in teaspoons that must be earned. I think it more wise to count on grace to be sufficient for me to extend myself again when necessary so that as I am stretched thin, even to the breaking point, I become more transparent so that others can see it is Christ who provides the grace and I am just the conduit.

Pray that I stand in this rain of grace that God pours down on me so that I may become all he needs me to be to make his love known in the lives of others. I love living for a God who is immeasurable, uncountable, and unquantifiable. Anything less would cheapen my faith.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

13 October 2008

Results in Time

The half minute which we daily devote to the winding-up of our watches is an exertion of labour almost insensible; yet, by the aid of a few wheels, its effect is spread over the whole twenty-four hours. Charles Babbage -

Greetings Beloved Readers,

It has been so long since I wound a watch I wonder how many of those younger than me ever have. We do so many things as we prepare for the day but we seldom have to wind watches any longer. Like watch winding though, so many things can yield a greater return to our day.

If I exercise for half and hour, I due my body systems great good for the entire day. If I eat a good breakfast it sustains me through the morning. Both of these activities, repeated over many days will sustain me well throughout the years. Another activity; however, can sustain me for much longer.

Every morning I take a few minutes, 15-20, to read my Bible and pray. I listen to what God has to say to me and give myself back to him for the day. There is no special trick or method. I just listen and talk. I try to maintain the conversation throughout the day, applying what I have read to the ripples and waves of my existence. When I have read about being kind, I take extra care to be good to vendors at the gas station or grocery store. If I read about patience, I extend it to my students and family. The point is that this simple act, if acted upon can yield kindness and grace injected into the lives of others every day.

I no longer wind a watch, but this daily time with God; a very small investment, yields great results that can ripple into not only my day, but the day and eternity of others as well. You do not need to take my word for it. You are free to try it.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

09 October 2008

Tiers of Hope

Greetings Dear Readers,

To the right, you will see the picture of a Tiffin. It hails from India and is used there as a lunch box. I encountered one for the first time about ten years ago when working with a community organization. I have wanted one ever since. As the need to be careful how much waste I generate grows more important to me, I realized how much this would reduce my waste for taking lunches to work.

I bought a four tier tiffin (they come in 2 - 7 tiers), on eBay, from a very nice lady in the UK. She was so nice I will provide a link to her eBay store so you can get your tiffin from her. http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZmin36 Should the link not work, her eBay handle is min36. Please give her your custom should you decide to purchase a tiffin. Good sellers deserve more business. Now back to the tiffin. As I waited for it to arrive I realized there are so many possibilities for its use.

One can take their lunch/dinner without using plastic bags.
One can surprise a friend or loved one with a hot meal.
One could create a very portable picnic with this tiered container, add a bottle of good wine and have a romantic evening at the park
The possiblities are probably endless

It is made of stainless steel and each layer is self-contained. So why all the big fuss? Well, you see, I have a hard time getting things for myself. Given the current stresses in my life, it is very unlikely that I would like myself enough to do something like this. But I did. I bought a tiffin. It arrived yesterday and I have washed it and will take my lunch in it today. You see, every day I can build little layers of lunch. I will not need to decide if I am going to try and rinse out the zip lock bag to use it one more time. I have a sustainable food transport system; a gift I have given myself and in a small way, the rest of the world. I have so many other things I can give the world if I will just do it. Today I will not use any disposable items to carry my lunch. The tiffin will fit right in my lunch box with my titanium spork (yes I really have a titanium spork http://www.thinkgeek.com/ ). Lately I have shed many tears of sorrow and pain, but thanks to Min in the UK, today I have some tiers of hope. Thank you Min.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

07 October 2008

Changes in Latitudes

Greetings Dear Readers,

Avalon told me last night she is divorcing me. Please pray that only Christ has his way in this. For the record, I love her and want our marriage to work. For the record she says she can never trust me again. This is not an issue of infidelity or unfaithfulness.

My heart is broken. I am an idealist and believe that all can work out if we walk in faith. I failed in my first marriage because I ran when things seemed painful and hard. I feel today how my first wife must have felt then. For the record here is where I stand:

I love Avalon and always will
I cannot control her actions
She is doing as she wills
I am willing to do anything to build a Christ centered marriage
She is not
She has stated clearly that she wants her own life
Please pray that her every action, thought, and pursuit are centered on Christ alone
Please pray the same for me

I will continue to write and attempt to be light and salt. My children continue to be great sources of support and comfort but they are hurting too. Pray for them to heal. Pray that I find a way to be a source of healing for others. She is the one who has captured my heart. "For he wrote your name on my heart in flame, its a wound I'll not erase." The door will always be open to her. The journey will be longer without her. But it is about the journey and not those who leave us along the way. I seek Christ alone.

Wishing you joy in the Journey,

Aramis Thorn

06 October 2008

For Ailing Cubs Fans Everywhere

Greetings Beloved Readers,

Here is an excerpt from my forthcoming book - Sheetrock in the Road. Let me know if it helps.

The Mound

Sometimes, when you are a boy, your Grandfather teaches you. He takes you by the hand and explains that you are going to a sacred place where men may only see God if they really look for him. On the way, while you are riding in the supple interior of the 1957 Chevy, your Grandfather explains that there are rules while you are at worship. You never call out negatively. You shout praise at the top of your lungs and revel in the thousands around you doing the same. Sometimes, when you are a boy, you learn that worshiping God has nothing to do with a place, but rather how your heart is in that place.

There are sacred places spoken of only in hushed tones of deep reverence. There are sacred places that elicit wild yelps, screams, and that cause people to roll on the floor or faint. According to Moses, there are even sacred places that cause you to take off your shoes. Across the world stand cathedrals built centuries ago where the slightest whisper echoes from the marble and the granite floors. They command silence from the pilgrim and reverence. In these vast halls of wood and stone, tall spires rise up to the heavens to tell all that they can, “Come here to find God.” Bells peel from these towers calling all to worship and prayer.

The natural world of cathedral mountain sanctuaries and finger of God canyons still the murmurs of tourists as they unfold their splendor to visitors. Azure rivers wind through brown ravines. Deep forests echo with the symphony of life causing the hiker to push on a little deeper, never knowing quite what he seeks. Everyone, if they are looking, finds a sacred place, a Mecca that sings to his or her soul of what has gone before and what may possibly someday follow.
Sometimes someone shares with you his or her sacred place. They give it as gift. They pay the way and show you to your place. For the very fortunate few upon whose soul God shines his most glorious light, the pitcher’s mound is that sacred place. The chosen see the truth imbued in the barren dirt mound at the time of creation. The enlightened know that all manner of things emanate from this one place into the hearts of small boys and ancient men. It stands just slightly elevated above the rest of the baseball field and it is from this shrine that the worship begins.

The pews fill slowly with eager worshipers. The stewards finalize their preparations of the garden by raking the rich sweet grass around the dais then smoothing the dirt and checking for litter or debris. Consider the first lesson learned around the mound. It stands alone, a ruddy dirt lump in a sea of costly cultured green fescue. Equidistant from the bases, it appears an eye sore to the uninitiated. Instead, it is the beginning of all things. The game cannot begin until the pitcher takes his place and hurls the sphere sixty feet to the catcher. So important is this moment that dignitaries from all areas of life vie for the honor of throwing out the first pitch. I do not want to get ahead of myself though. Before there can be a first pitch there must be a call to worship.

The lector announces that all is ready for worship and all rise as one to intone the baseball hymn. As a boy, I grew up worshiping at the mound in Atlanta Stadium. The hymn held special meaning for me. I would see my Grandfather stand facing the flag, a moist spot in the corner of his eye, his hand reverently over his heart. Once when I was distracted during the singing of the hymn, I began to look around. My Grandfather slowly reached out his strong gentle carpenter’s hand, grasped the top of my head, and softly, irresistibly turned my attention back to the flag dancing in the evening breeze above the stadium. No words were necessary and besides he was busy singing in his cracked old man’s country voice. It was the first time I remember thinking that the song was about our team, “… and the home of the Braves.”[1]

The flag flows in the breeze atop the stadium and the voices lift to it. The singing of the National Anthem provides us with a moment of unity. We declare to the world that we are one nation. We remind millions of people every day that there is a symbol of our nation that waves in the wind over even our leisure activities. The national anthem at the beginning of every ball game matters.

As the song ends, the first sign that this is no ordinary worship erupts from the congregation. All explode into thunderous applause and cheers. At this point the chosen one makes his way to the mound. It may be a politician, a rock star, or current pop hero. The dignitary recognizes the import of the moment weather they understand it or not. They stand atop the dais, pause for a moment, and release what is usually an awkward rambling pitch. Nonetheless, the congregation cheers, hoops and hollers. The umpire always calls it a strike and the catcher either throws the ball back to the celebrity or trots it out to him, depending on his judgment of their ability to catch.

Amidst further cheers the dignitary departs and the seriousness of the moment descends upon the crowd. For a moment the calls vendors for peanuts and beer are ignored. Thousands of eyes focus on the pitcher as he makes his way up the mound. The umpire hands the first game ball to the catcher who tosses it out to the waiting pitcher. The first batter from the enemy team takes his place in the batter’s box. Every ear strains for the sound of the two words that will move things forward. Those lucky enough to be seated behind home plate hear it clearly. The din of the noise that is a constant in ball parks forces those seated near the outfield to wait for the sound to echo and carry to them. The point is that the words come. The man in black behind the catcher raises his hand and points toward the pitcher and intones the first holy words of the day, “Play ball.”

The pitcher looks in and takes his first signal from the catcher. Their secret language of numbers and motions tells the pitcher what to throw and the catcher what to expect. Sequestered in the pitcher’s glove is the ball. He carefully rotates to get the grip essential to the proper pitch. Carefully adjusting his footing, he looks in one more time to get his bearings. The stretch and delivery can be ponderous or lightning fast. Either way the sphere is launched and the batter must choose. Like all of life, he as little time to decide but he must decide to swing or not. From that single binary choice flow a multitude of linear binary choices. If he does not swing is it a ball or a strike? If he swings is it a hit or a miss? If it is a hit is it fair or foul? Is it a grounder or in the air? Is it a fly ball or line drive? Is it fieldable or out of reach? Is it a home run?

The time from pitch to home run is a matter of seconds, and every pitch has that potential. Each ball thrown could end up sailing over the fence into the glove or head of a waiting fan. It does not matter which team hits the home run everyone loves to see it. In every game, every pitch from every pitcher has the same potential. Weather curve ball, breaking ball, or fastball the binary choices unfold with the same potential conclusion. Every batter has the chance to reach that potential, even pitchers.[2]

The point is that baseball is about potential. From atop the mound the pitcher unfolds a potential that reaches the entire world. Every spring the potential released by the first pitch from every pitcher’s mound emanates the possibility that dreams can be realized. Every player on the field started out as a boy in the bleachers. Each successive pitch is renewed hope for the next hit, the next catch, the next home run.

Baseball has changed drastically since I was a boy. Too often it is about the money. Grown men are willing to disappoint millions of fans over money. They all need to remember that they are living a dream that few realize. They are getting paid well to play a game. With that privilege comes a great responsibility. The players of today are setting the standards of fair play for millions of young players who look to them as an example. Every player holds in his glove the hopes of a coming generation.

This is why baseball is sacred. From it I learned about potential and fair play. My Grandfather knew there were life lessons in the box seats at Atlanta Stadium and he diligently passed them along to me with a fair supply of hot dogs and Coca-Cola. You never boo the opposition. You always cheer a great play even if it is the other team. You do not leave you empty cups in the stands. You are nice to the vendors. The most important lesson though is on the mound. Poised there is the pitcher and the next pitch is imminent. The linear binary will unfold even if no one but the pitcher acts. It will pass too quickly to see. This is the definition of life. Like every pitch, every moment has new potential but only if we choose to swing.

Wishing you joy in the journey,
Aramis Thorn

[1] There are many who do not understand the importance of the national anthem. Before we begin what has been often called the national pastime, we first pay tribute to a nation that allows us to have such leisure. When I was a boy this meant that you stopped talking, put your hand over your heart, looked at the flag, and sang with all your might. You showed reverence for the moment. Vendors stopped selling hot dogs, peanuts, and beer until the song was over. I do not know what has changed but people stopped teaching their children about this and those children grew up into ignoramuses who talk on their cell phones, shout for the beer boy, or even complain about the national anthem itself. That song is hard to sing, has too many high notes, and is still one of the best reminders that people died so that we could go to baseball games. So the next time you are blessed enough to go to a baseball game, hang up your cell phone, put down that beer, stand up straight, put your hand over your heart, face the flag, and sing till your throat hurts.

[2] I think that the decline in baseball may have started with the introduction of the designated hitter by the American League. There is something integral to the game for the opposing pitchers to face each other in the linear struggle. I think it diminishes the stature of the game to say that the pitcher does not have to hit. He does not have to hit well, but he should have to hit. The designated hitter sends the message that the game is about something besides all nine men in the field doing their best and making their individual contribution to the cause. I am pretty sure that the eventual destruction of our great nation will be traced back to the introduction of the designated hitter.

04 October 2008

In Christ Alone my Hope is Found

Greetings Beloved Readers,

The media wishes for us to think that times are dark. For me they seem to be lately but not in the sense the world sees. Big things like the economy, planetary stewardship, and how we are going to power our lives loom in every morning paper and the news media. America clamors for change internally while our global respect and position dwindles.

At the more personal level, my wife Avalon has left me and will probably divorce me, I am trying to rebuild some relationships that I did not even realize I had damaged, and I have a burden that grows ever deeper for those in my family who are aging and do not know Christ.

Some would say that life for me is grim right now, but they would be wrong. As pertaining the global issues, I will do my part to be a good steward of my resources and refuse to acknowledge that my life is governed by the economy or the price of petrol. It is Christ alone who governs the world. Current stress are just the natural result of our failure to stand with Him.

The same holds true with the personal issues. In my arrogance and blindness I have failed as a husband and friend in many ways. I love my wife but realize I can do nothing to change her choices, so I can only stand with Christ and hope she does the same. For the friends I have hurt, I can only ask their forgiveness and strive all the more to be and conduit of Christ's love to them. For my relatives that need Christ, I must realize that my human failings may have hindered their seeing Christ in me and I must reach out to them will all the love that Christ places in my heart.

The common theme in all of this is that I must stand in Christ alone. No matter what I do wrong or what wrong is done to me, it is in Christ that I must find my comfort, strength, sustenance, and being. My world is in turmoil both globally and locally. In the midst of all that though stands Jesus Christ.

I have attached a You Tube video of the song In Christ Alone by Stewart Townsend. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8welVgKX8Qo)

The lyrics are included in the video. It will only take about five minutes of your time to watch. I know that the religions of the world clamor for your time, money, and souls. I would ask that you consider all of this background noise, and investigate Christ alone. It is where I stand and I find that "I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can't be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation." (Romans 8:38-39) I ask humbly for you all to try standing in Christ alone.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

01 October 2008

Stepping on Toes or Stepping on Heels

Greetings Dear Readers,

Some time ago I wrote about the difference between being a Christian and being a Christ Follower. You can read that post here if you wish, http://aramisthorn.blogspot.com/2007/06/do-not-call-me-christian.html

In the current political season we are hearing a great deal about the place of Christ in government and debates deal with issues such as same sex marriage and abortion rights. As a Christ Follower I think that we lose our focus during these times. We become so embroiled in the arguments over hot political issues that we forget to focus on Christ in the political process.

I recently had a discussion with one of my teaching colleagues in which he were shocked to learn that I was a Christ Follower but held political views similar to his. When pressed on certain issues his anger was aroused that I believed that same sex marriages are not a good thing and that abortion is wrong. A truth dawn on me as a marshaled arguments for my position in my mind. I had a choice. I could argue my point, and perhaps win, but was it right for me to argue my position in these issues? Would that be Following Christ.

As my friend continued to heatedly make his points about a woman's right and ethics in a given situation, I realized I had a choice. I had excellent arguments against what was being said, but I also saw an opportunity. My primary obligation to this friend was to connect him to Christ in any way possible. Instead of arguing the issues of abortion I chose to be kind and gentle.

My answer on the issue of abortion was just this; It is the responsibility of Christ Followers to care for those in need socially. How can we dare ask a woman not to abort her child if we will not make keeping the child the most supportive and loving environment to be found on earth. Instead of protesting outside of clinics, why are we not providing care for the mother and child to term and beyond if necessary. We could release the resources to provide medical care, education, counseling, adoption services, and child rearing training. We could show the love of Christ in such a way that any choice other than keeping the child seems absurd.

My point is that we need to follow Christ more closely so as to not step on as many toes. Do not get me wrong, following Christ will lead to some serious toe-stepping, but not the argumentative and unkind flavor that permeates the current religious climate in America. Perhaps a more light hearted example will illustrate my point.

My daughter, Christmas likes to walk very close behind me when we are out and about. She very often steps on the back of my shoe. Her past, before she came to live in our home, taught her that this was reason enough to receive a beating or punishment. The first few times it happened she shrank back in fear, not knowing how I would react. One day, in a moment of what can only be true Divine inspiration, I came upon an answer that would relieve her fear.
The next time she stepped on the back of my shoe, I turned and thanked her. She looked very puzzled so I explained. I told her that every time she did that I was reminded of how closely I wished her to follow Christ. That from now on when she stepped on my shoe, I would view it as a reminder of how closely we should all follow Christ. This little thing has done much to assure her of her place in Christ and in our family. It has done much for me as well.

You see, I must also follow Christ so closely that sometimes I step on the back of his sandal. The simple choice is to this or always be stepping on the toes of those to whom I am supposed to represent Christ. I have done a lot of toe stepping over the years. I am going to try much harder to step on Christ's heels instead. I do not think he will mind.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Is Our Cup Ever Empty?

Greetings Beloved Readers,

As I toil through some unwelcome changes in my life I find myself pondering the vastness of God's grace. We are created to do good works. We are built for the purpose of doing what is right. When others who claim to be Christ followers do what is wrong and it impacts us; what then should be our response. I have spent several months trying to get someone to do right by me. That is foolishness and a waste of my God-given time.

I have felt empty and allowed myself to be blind to the constant grace God was pouring on me. I cannot make anyone do anything. I cannot fill up anyone else but I can let my fullness in Christ spill over onto others. The other day Maxim and I were having breakfast and he reminded me just how much he and his brother Bezel love me (for the unaware, these are my sons). I have failed them both greatly in not letting them know just how much of my burden they ease. I have not connected to them in Christ enough to let them see their value in my life. I did all this because I was too focused on controlling that which is not in my control.

I have also realized that I was feeling that my cup was empty. At that same breakfast I took this photo:

The diner where we have breakfast is one of the best in the world. Everyone there knows us by name and the staff keeps your coffee cup full no matter how fast you drink. I habitually turn my cup on its side when I am full up so as not to waste their coffee. While it is good thing there, it is wrong when I do it to God. Like a cosmic waitress He is there constantly wanting to warm me up with His love and grace. Sometimes I turn my cup on its side to tell Him without words that I have had enough of Him for now. Doing this keeps me from being filled in a way that allows His love and grace to spill out of me and onto others.

Bezel and Maxim, I apologize to you publicly. You are the finest sons a man could want. My cup is upright and hopefully it will soon overflow again. To the rest of the world, if you see me tipping my cup over feel free to set it aright. I am far more thirsty than I realize sometimes.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

21 August 2008

Songs I Just Can't Listen To

Greetings Dear Readers,

If you have read the previous posts you know that Avalon has left us. I still see her and she is ever lovely and I ever love her. The music that so spoke to me of her has strangely become all barbs. She never knew that I filled my portable music with songs that inspired me and songs that reminded me of different ways in which I love her. I still listen to the songs, but they are so filled with the barbs of her absence. I fully own my failings as a husband and I miss her every moment. I also know that Christ is teaching me daily how much more he loves both her and me than I ever imagined. Please pray for us, for my children, and for healing of the great wounds her leaving has opened in all of us. Mostly pray that we all follow only Christ and that we do it closely.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

30 July 2008

21 and Lessons Learned

Greetings Beloved Readers,

Things continue to progress in life even when one wishes to step off the ride and just watch. Christmas, Maxim, Raven, and I journeyed south for Bezel's 21st birthday. We all had a much needed respite and Christmas was awed by the amazing green of our nation. Since her migration here from Australia, she has remarked over and over how lush America is.

Bezel took on all comers with potent potable names on his 21st birthday. Jose', Jack, Jim, Johnny, and many others found their way down his gullet and made havoc with both his brain and belly. I was not witness to his gastronomic dance but heard about it from all my other youngsters. He seemed to learn a valuable lesson from the adventure and he still shows maturity in his choices and actions. I am proud to be his father and his friend.

Christmas and I visited Kentucky Down Under. I highly recommend this amazing place and its exotic Australian animals.

Avalon is still away but the smell of chocolate chip cookies never fades. I love her and miss her. Pray for us.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

20 June 2008

Some Catching up to do

Greetings Beloved Readers,

Life has had much turmoil for me of late but I am attempting to regain the regiments that aide me in my journey. This will be a short post with both good news and dire.

Avalon has left me. After nearly eleven years she has said she no longer wishes to try and make our marriage work. I love her and pray daily for reconciliation but she says that is not her desire.

More work but more writing time. I am teaching full time again but it may actually provide me with more opportunities to write as it has forced me to write at other times than morning.

Awesome Father's day gift: My daughter, Christmas, gave me a Knight's Templar ring for Father's day and it is lovely.

My Son Maxim and his bride kept me busy all weekend. All of my children are caring for me well during this time of trouble.
Bezel, my youngest son, turns 21 next month and we journey south to celebrate him.
I will endeavor to write more often now that things are settling.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Aramis Thorn