30 January 2009

Baleful Brewers of the Bitter Black Bean

Greetings Dear Readers,

I place great value on a good cup of coffee. I buy good beans, grind them myself, and carefully prepare the fresh brew often. I used to drink way too much bad coffee. I have been told that I make coffee that tastes like coffee smells. I think this is the best one can hope for in the world of the brotherhood of baleful brewers of the bitter black bean.

There is a secret that many miss in brewing coffee that I feel makes a huge difference. It is having the proper equipment (a decent coffee maker) that is properly maintained. I often hear of people complaining of a coffee maker that is a year or two old and no longer producing the luscious coffee it once did. More often than not people assume the coffee maker is dying and replace it. They quickly give up on an old friend that has served them well even though they have not truly cared for it, but rather for what it could do for them.

Rescuing a slow, sputtering coffee make is simple. All it takes is a little love, patience, and vinegar. Scale and oils from past brews build up and will eventually kill the coffee maker. Cleaning the brewer with vinegar can revive and save it. Here are the steps.

Step 1: Dump out any leftover coffee from the carafe and empty the basket of the old filter and coffee grounds.
Step 2: Rinse the carafe in cold water then fill with one part white vinegar to two parts water.
Step 3: Pour the vinegar and water solution into the coffee maker’s reservoir and turn the maker on to brew a pot. Once the brewing cycle is complete, shut off the coffee maker.
Step 4: Allow the vinegar solution to sit in the carafe for about 15 minutes .
Step 5: Rinse out any vestiges of vinegar by brewing water only through the coffee maker twice more, again shutting of the coffee maker and letting it cool about 15 minutes between cycles.
Step 6: Wash the carafe and filter basket in warm, soapy water. Rinse and get ready to enjoy great-tasting coffee once again.
Step 7: Brew you favorite coffee and site down to enjoy it
Step 8: Consider how easy it will be to keep that good taste in your coffee if you put just a little regular effort in maintaining your coffee maker
Step 9: Ask yourself if there are more important things in your life that you are about to throw away that may last if you just maintain them more regularly.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

26 January 2009

Tea Strainers

Greetings Dear Readers,

I love good tea. There are two kinds of tea that to me area pure delight. The first, and I will not belabor this, is sweet iced tea. This delicacy is one in which I rarely indulge these days but it is the best thing to cool a hot summer afternoon. It slacks the thirst, energizes the body, and lifts the spirit. I best stop there lest I violate my promise not to belabor the point.

The second, and much more commonly my companion than the first, is fresh brewed hot tea. Good hot tea serves as a balm when I am ill, solace in times of woe, and an excellent lubricant to good conversation. Understand that I am not talking about a teabag dipped in microwave heated water. A fine Australian missionary I once knew told me that American tea is an abomination of tea dust and herbal powders posing as proper tea. I believe she is correct.

I had the privilege and blessing of having a college roommate who knew how to make a proper cup of tea. He passed this sacred knowledge along to me and it has served me well through the years. You use loose leaf tea, properly boiled water, and patience. It takes time to prepare a good cup of tea and still at the end; all can be ruined for one must properly strain the tea.

Tea strainers are an odd thing. Some people use tea balls to avoid this step. I believe that this keeps the tea from fully infusing the water as it cannot expand in the ball. Self-filled teabags are acceptable if they are not overfilled. The best, in my opinion is to let the leaves sit free in the pot and use a proper tea strainer. This allows the leaves to open to their full potential, using less tea and still producing the proper colour and flavor. The tea is then poured through the strainer into the cup.

Without the strainer, the leaves flow into the cup. This has the potential of producing bitter and unpleasant results. Our lives are so like that teacup. We pour things into our lives steeped and loose. I wonder what others use as a strainer to filter out the bitterness and dregs in their lives. Christ followers are meant to use the Word of God, the Bible.

Recently my favorite tea strainer developed holes due to age and use. The acids in the tea ate away at the mesh until the strainer was no longer useful as a strainer. I have replaced it. So often people claim to use the Word of God as the strainer in their lives but they poke holes in the text to justify their own ends. The Word is meant to be a filter. It is a standard against which we may measure our actions to avoid taking in that which is not in character with Christ. When we twist and misuse the book, it always harms. When we read it, and follow the clear guidance in it to love Christ and all of mankind in the way he loves them, we can find great peace.

God wants to communicate with us and he wants to be clear. Perhaps you should try this method of filtering your life but remember not to poke holes in the filter.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

25 January 2009

A Little Light Musing (pun intended)

Greetings Dear Readers,

I recently was asked to render 25 random things about myself. I thought I would share them with you.

25 Things about me…

1. I think Georgia Peaches are the best food on the planet
2. I have eaten monkey
3. I went to Australia for only 6 hours
4. Serenity is my favorite movie. I could watch it daily.
5. I love the cold
6. I love the snow
7. I have driven a vehicle at over 200 mph
8. I am not a Christian (http://aramisthorn.blogspot.com/2007/06/do-not-call-me-christian.html )
9. I make my students guess my pen name
10. I am very allergic to cats
11. Cats either love me or want to suffocate me as they always sit on me
12. I want to be Santa Clause
13. I have worked as a professional Santa Clause
14. I once, on a dare, ate a gallon of chocolate ice cream
15. I once threw up a gallon of chocolate ice cream
16. I have been homeless
17. I have seen every episode of every iteration of Star Trek at least twice
18. I see most of life as a musical
19. I have every Jethro Tull album released in the United States
20. I am really good with words
21. I am never good enough with words to express the depth of my love for my children
22. There is a college picture of me in a three piece suit and wearing a large red nose and tinfoil antlers
23. I once made an Ice Cream Sundae for Isaac Hayes
24. I have one degree of separation from 3 presidents
25. I know that I fail, rebel, wander, and sin but want to follow Christ so closely that from time to time I step on the back of his sandal.

How about you?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

22 January 2009

An Ancient Love

Greetings Dear Readers,

Who do you love? What do you love about them? What cost are you willing to bear to show that love? Imagine being one of 19 children. Imagine trying to stand out among those siblings as the next to the youngest. Charles Wesley was such a man and proved over and over his love for Christ in the hymns he wrote. Penning over 6000 hymns in his life, he constantly pointed men toward the greatness, majesty, power, and love of God.

What is we really wish. Charles Wesley spent his life attempting to help us see who God is and his great overreaching love for us. You see he chose us. He decided that he would rather die than live without us. He gave all for us and continues to do so. We treat the love God pours on us with everything from awe to contempt.

I am in an odd stage of life. I never expected to be alone and in so much pain. Many of my past failings have come home to roost. I am reaping the cost of old sins and striving hard to avoid new ones. I know that I have done some good in my life, but not enough to properly reflect the love so graciously poured out on me by Christ. I am realizing that nothing matters but the love of Christ and his constant plea for us to hear him. My son Maxim pointed out that we read John 3:16 but not 3:17 as often as we should. We are the responsible for showing the world that Christ came to bring us hope and to redeem us from our own failings. As I consider the years past, realizing that I am in the place where I probably have more days behind me than ahead of me, I echo the thoughts of Charles Wesley in his grand request concerning the one love that transcends time and all of eternity.

Jesus Lover of my Soul

Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom fly,While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high!
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, Till the storm of life be past;Safe into the haven guide, Oh, receive my soul at last!

Other refuge have I none, Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;Leave, ah! leave me not alone, Still support and comfort me!
All my trust on Thee is stayed, All my help from Thee I bring;Cover my defenseless head With the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall— Lo! on Thee I cast my care:
Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,Hoping against hope I stand, Dying, and, behold, I live!

Thou, O Christ, art all I want; More than all in Thee I find:Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name; I am all unrighteousness:False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, Grace to cover all my sin;Let the healing streams abound, Make and keep me pure within.Thou of life the fountain art. Freely let me take of Thee:Spring Thou up within my heart, Rise to all eternity!

I know that Jesus loves my soul and will see it safe into his presence. Until then I hope that I can find ways to visibly return a measure of that love in following, serving, and loving others as he does.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

20 January 2009

An Ancient Adoration

Greetings Dear Readers,

When was the last time you had a quiet drive, ride, or walk in the country. There is something about the quality of the world in Spring or Fall that makes me love travel. I remember one year Avalon and I were traveling to her parents for Resurrection Sunday and she was overcome by the beauty of the many greens in the world. I remember that moment fondly every year near Resurrection Sunday.

When I was very young my Grandfather used to take me fishing often. The long walk from the car to his favorite fishing spot was on a trail lined with Oak and Pecan trees. We would enjoy the shade of those trees in Summer, revel at their beauty and new leaves in spring, and gather the pecans for pie in Autumn. My Grandfather always took time to thank God out loud for the beauty of that place. Often as we walked he would sing an ancient hymn and encourage me to join in.

The hymn, known as The Crusader’s Hymn is at least 500 years old and may be as much as 900 years old. Imagine being on a horse and riding into the wild world from the safety of your home. You see the grandeur of creation with little of man’s corruption of it imposing upon your view. Your sadness is strong and leaving behind hearth and kin, but you see world cloaked in the new life of Spring. When you camp at night there is no light pollution to block out the vast sea of stars above you. But best of all, you know that all of this is yours because it is God’s gift to you through his beloved Son.

I will not argue that most things revolving around the Crusades are dark and ugly. Out of that ugliness, however, arises this song, sung by knights are their way to Jerusalem, by my Grandfather on the way to his favorite fishing hole, and by me when my heart is heavy. Perhaps you too can sing these words and find comfort in them.

The Crusader’s Hymn

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Savior, art to me.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

19 January 2009

An Ancient Request

Greetings Dear Readers,

As we rush through our lives, “limping through heaven or running through hell.” We ask so much of God that has nothing to do with who God is. It must be both saddening and amusing to God that we so often sound like little children with a want list. I admit freely that there are things I want from God that may or may not be in my best interest. I try to make sure I ask properly and accept it when my Father says no.

In another vein though, I have worked very hard at asking things that follow along with my Father’s heart. In that pursuit, I have focused on things that remind me of that heart. What do men wish from God? What have they asked for that has stood the test of time? The answer best comes to me from 5th century Ireland.

St. Patrick, in A.D. 433 defied an order to light no fires prior to High King Loegaire of Tara lighting the ceremonial fires of the pagan celebration of the Spring fertility rites. Patrick lit the Easter candles and this account was remembered in an ancient Irish folk song called Slane. This is the name of the hill where St. Patrick lit the candles.

This tune was paired with words used since at least the 8th century by Irish monks. Saint Dallan Forgaill, an Irish Bard is credited with penning the immortal words, but the hymn was not translated into English until 1905. Still for at least twelve centuries, this one song has expressed desires that I believe truly are in line with the Father’s heart for his children. I often sing or hum this song when I am out running errands. It keeps me focused on what I am really meant to be doing. Take some time to read the text of this ancient request to God the Father. He will not mind if you make the request your own.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art-
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joy, O bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O ruler of all.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

18 January 2009

An Apology and Clarification

Greetings Beloved Readers,

I strive to be clear in all that I say and will always own my failures to do so. Recently Avalon related that my statements on here made her feel hurt and angry. She thinks that I think lowly of her. Nothing could further from the truth.

I will begin by apologizing and asking her forgiveness for making her feel anything but loved by me. I do believe that her actions are wrong and that she is far from the truth in them, but I do not think her evil, low, or unlovable in any way.

My heart is broken and I daily miss the love of my life. I realize that who I am is neither easy to know or live with. I realize that I failed in many ways to be the best husband I could be to her but I have done nothing worthy of her abandonment and exit from our marriage. We disagree and she is gone. I love her no less nor do I wish her ill.

Since I hurt her by words on this venue, it is on this venue that ask her forgiveness and apologize with all my heart. For those of you who would know my heart in this matter, I refer to someone dear to me who has left this stage for a grander one. You can watch the Video or just read the lyrics.


Believe in Me
By Dan Fogelberg

If I could ever say it right
And reach your hostage heart
Despite the doubts you harbor
Then you might
Come to believe in me.

The life I lead is not the kind
That gives a woman peace of mind
I only hope someday youll find
That you can believe in me.

Those other loves that
Came before
Mean nothing to me anymore
But you can never be quite sure
And will not believe in me.

Too many hearts have been broken
Failing to trust what they feel
But trust isnt something
Thats spoken
And loves never wrong
When its real.

If I could only do one thing
Then I would try to write and sing
A song that ends your questioning
And makes you believe in me.

Too many hearts have been broken
Failing to trust what they feel
But trust isnt something
Thats spokenAnd loves never wrong
When its real.

If I could only do one thing
Then I would try to write and sing
A song that ends your questioning
And makes you believe in me
Oh, you can believe in me.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

13 January 2009

Some Through the Fire

Greetings dear Readers,

I learned last night of a disaster that befell Toccoa Falls College, the school where I earned my baccalaureate degree and after graduate school taught there for many years. I love the place as it is a beautiful and graceful campus fit for learning and spiritual growth. On the campus is a magnificent water fall. Access to these falls was monitored by a gate cottage that held a gift shop, restaurant, and faculty offices.

Around two in the morning the building, Gate Cottage burned to the ground. Several professors lost all the contents of their offices with a new term looming on the horizon. This school has survived so many trials. The professors and staff there that I know are good people who sacrifice better pay and a better lifestyle to teach young Christ followers headed for ministry, teaching, counseling, and business. As I read the story I reflected on how many lovely memories I have of that place.

My children spent most of their childhood there. I still follow the lives of those I taught there. I also experienced great loss there. Some of that loss I am just now beginning to feel. What I would say to those now in crisis is simple and much better said in the words of an old hymn by George A. Young.

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.

The thing is that God does give a song and we must choose to sing it. My prayers are with my friends and I will choose to sing on their behalf.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

12 January 2009

Clean and Organize

Greetings Beloved Readers,

Today is both National Clean Off Your Desk Day and Organize Your Home Day. Trying to do both in one day seems like trying to eat an elephant. I have two desks that both need cleaning. We have not yet put up Christmas and there is heaps to do around the house.

I like order and neatness but I seem to disturb it more than I contribute to it. I love the feeling of walking into a space that is neat and proper, but it is my entry that seems to diminish its order. It will be an easy thing to unclutter my desk. It will be a far different thing to keep it that way. I also find that I function better in an environment that is a little cluttered.

Perhaps we are all authors of chaos. We bring our own sense of order to things. For me it is a bit of clutter, but as that bit grows it quickly reaches a frustrating mass. We impose things on every environment to make the place more suitable to our likes, wants, and needs. Nothing is wrong with this as long as we do not step on the needs of others in the process.

When it comes to changing the way we do things, however, I think we take on too much. We resolve to change major things but they quickly become daunting and elephantine. It is a daunting thing to say I am going to keep my desk clean all year. It is another thing to start by putting away papers as soon as I am done with them. I know I cannot give up all sweets, but I can stop eating carbs after 7 pm and not before 6 am. I cannot promise to be the man I should always be but I can determine in individual situations to do what is right in that situation.

I do not know what you need to change but I know how you can change it. Take small steps. Adjust little things to make what you do more the way you wish it to be. I know I am going to. There is after all a way to eat an elephant…one bite at a time.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

06 January 2009

Epiphany – Apostrophe

Greetings Beloved Readers,

Smee: I've just had an apostrophe.
Captain Hook: I think you mean an epiphany.
Smee: No... lightning has just struck my brain.
Captain Hook: Well, that must hurt.

Very often I have ideas that creep into my mind slowly after much thinking, careful researching, and zealous pipe pondering (for those of you who care nothing in the bowl but regular old Cavendish). Once in a great while though, I have an apostrophe err…epiphany.

Today is the feast of the Epiphany. It is the day we remember the visit of the Magi. So much tradition has grown up around the simple statements made by Matthew in the second chapter his Gospel. This was a big deal. At Christmas we sing We Three Kings and set up Melchior, Balthazar, and Caspar around the manger. Do we really consider the impact of this bit of the Advent story? I thought that on the Feast of Epiphany you might benefit from some observations about the visit of the Magi.

They were men of science: In those days there was not a distinction between Astronomy and Astrology.
They left their homes in search of a great King whose birth was heralded by the stars.
They brought expensive gifts to honor this King and inquired at Jerusalem, Israel’s capital for the new King’s whereabouts.
It was not just Herod the Great who was disturbed by this news but all of Jerusalem.
Herod feigned friendship to the Magi and intended to murder this new King, an obvious rival
God warned the Magi to avoid Herod on their journey home
A direct result of their visit was the murder of all the toddlers and infants in Bethlehem

In many parts of the world today, children are awakening to gifts left by either the Magi or Befana (see her story here http://village.fortunecity.com/radclyffe/541/SoulKitchen/Folklore/folklore.html). Perhaps a simple way to extend our Christmas into the New Year and avoid the post Christmas let down is to hold back a small gift or sweet treat for our children and loved ones and surprise them with it on Epiphany or Twelfth Night. We know that the timing we assign to all of this is traditional and not factual. We know that we know very little about the Magi and even less about the events surrounding their visit to Jesus. We also know that they undertook a perilous journey and went into great danger to honor the Advent of Christ. I encourage you to find a way to remember that men who did not need to left their homes to honor the birth of Christ and in some way share that wonder of that with your loved ones. Their journey was significant enough to God for him to include it in the Gospels. That alone makes it worth commemorating.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

05 January 2009

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year Beloved Readers,

I own 4 different film versions of A Christmas Carol. I have the Alistair Sim version, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, and Muppet versions. According to IMDB there are at least 24 film versions including television. I would love to see them all. George C. Scott’s is my favorite and I only tolerate the Muppet one. In Scott’s version Edward Woodward (better known for his role in The Equalizer) portrays the Ghost of Christmas Present remarkably. Every time I watch him in this role I am galvanized to spread the presence of Christmas every moment I can.

Faith Hill’s song Where are You Christmas does the same thing to me. The common connection is they both offer the real possibility that we can carry the Spirit of Christmas with us always if we choose to do so. I know that many people do not get why Christmas matters so much to me. I will try to explain it.

You see, like everyone else who lives, I am a fallen, covetous old sinner. I have no hope from myself and could never truly help myself. Then God had this great idea (not literally because if you are omniscient you do not have ideas). He decided that he would rather die than live without us. He gave us himself as a perfect gift. How amazing is it that Christ was willing to live among us, be one of us, and let us murder him and all for our benefit. None of that is possible without the Incarnation, or taking on of flesh by God. It is what makes God our Immanuel (God with us), allows him to be named Jesus (savior), allows him to be called Christ (anointed one), and gives us a reason to have Christmas (literally Christ- Mass or the celebration of Christ).

If the God I sin against daily would do so much for me, how do I dare miss a day of celebrating his incarnation. I have undergone some major changes in the last year, some by choice, others forced upon me. I have decided that never again will I hide my daily love for celebrating the Advent of Christ. As I move through the year and see how the liturgical calendar revolves around the Advent and Resurrection of Christ, I will find ways to celebrate him even while the trees and nativity scene are in storage. I will do it by remembering what Christ loves most; that is man.

Dickens, using the ghost of Jacob Marley said better than I ever could. “Business! 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!”

Anything I do must be charitable, merciful, forbearing, and benevolent. So in closing out this series of writings I again echo Charles Dickens, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me.”

Perhaps when my children speak of me to their grandchildren, they will be able to echo Dickens’ words about Scrooge relating them to me. “…and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”

So on the Twelfth day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me twelve months to celebrate him, eleven months to prepare, ten reasons to love him, nine men to guide me, eight men I can help see, seven figures under the tree, 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, Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year

Aramis Thorn

04 January 2009

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Eleventh Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year Beloved Readers,

I do not know if you remember or have read back that far, but this all started with a series about people putting up Christmas decorations on All Souls Day. Here we are a day before Epiphany and many are dealing with the “after Christmas slump.” As way of beginning to close out my writing about Christmas for a spell, I wanted to offer another perspective. As I said way back in November, the whole idea of Christmas is the preparation for the Advent of our Anointed Savior. He is coming. Not just did he come, but he is coming back. The process of redemption is still moving forward and we are every day either detracting from or adding to the reclamation of our world. What I do today either makes the world a better place or a worse one.

How I treat everyone matters. Am I loving, patient, kind? Do I like Saint Francis beg God to make me an instrument of peace? The year is young and new. Christmas decorations are coming down and all the Christmas stuff at Wal-Mart is 75% off. I bought a few little things for next year. My daughter got some sale items so she can spend the year crafting cards for people next Christmas. We even in the waning days of this Christmas look forward and begin to prepare for the next.

Perhaps like Ebenezer Scrooge we can “keep Christmas in our heart all the year.” Perhaps this can be the year where we prepare for the Advent of Christ a little bit every day. If we give a little more of ourselves to him and those he puts in our path for the next eleven months, perhaps the reward will be that next year we will feel less put out when the decorations go up “to early.” Perhaps we will feel less stress, less pressure, and more love for those who need Christ so desperately.

So on the eleventh day of Christmas my Savior gave to me eleven months to prepare, ten reasons to love him, nine men to guide me, eight men I can help see, seven figures under the tree, 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, Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year

Aramis Thorn

03 January 2009

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Tenth Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year Beloved Readers,

It took some time to settle on this one. It is late in the day and I usually write in the mornings. This is a simple list; things that Christ has done just to show me why I should love him with all my heart. Here are ten among the countless reasons why I should give him nothing but my very best.

Christ is the one who seeks me when I constantly question, ignore, hurt, and reject him
Christ is good, constantly, in every situation, no matter whether I see it or not, he is good to me
Christ is working for me best even when I am working against it
Christ knows what I need even when I am lost, confused, or prideful and sure he is wrong
Christ is gentle, firm, kind, and patient no matter how long it takes me to get it right
Christ knows me, warts and all, to the depth of my being and still chooses to love me
Christ does not fear but instead already knows what I will do to hurt him tomorrow and chooses to stay with me anyway
Christ will carry me when I cannot walk and run with me when I am whole
Christ experienced the human condition so that he could truthfully say he understands
Christ died so that I might live
Christ promised to someday replace all that is wrong in me with beauty and grace

So on the tenth day of Christmas my Savior gave to me ten reasons to love him, nine men to guide me, eight men I can help see, seven figures under the tree, 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, Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year

Aramis Thorn

02 January 2009

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Ninth Day of Christmas

Greetings, Merry Christmas, and a Blessed New Year Beloved Readers,

As most of you have read the last nine months have been very trying for me. Not only has Avalon left us but I have had to face failures from my past including those in my relationships with my beloved Sons. I have had a life-long struggle with building lasting relationships with adult men. I know why and will not belabor you with the details but it is a struggle I fear I will carry through life.

That said, I wish to count among the precious gifts Christ has granted me, the men currently in my life who challenge me to be more than I am. They lovingly have built bridges to me when others are tearing me and those bridges down. Four of them are pastors at my church. Each has in his own way helped to guide me through the rocky waters of Avalon’s divorcing me. They have reassured me that I am doing what is right and been a sounding board when I am unsure. They have kept me from doing some pretty stupid things and shown me that who I am in Christ has value.

Three others are teaching colleagues who are serious Christ followers. They are good steady men who listen when I need an ear and check me when I seem rough or harsh. They have prayed with me and for me. They have honored who I am as a man and as a teacher. They are slowly teaching me that I can trust other men.

The last two are my Sons, Maxim and Bezel. They are my best friends and are willing to ask me hard questions in dangerous times. They stand by me even when they have to show me errors in my thinking and actions. They have fought to keep our relationship whole and strong. They even love me enough to stand against me when I am wrong, reassuring me that they love me. I will never find the words to express the depth of my love for my Sons.

All these men have helped, guided, and built me up in some way. I am humbled and thankful for their love and support.

So on the ninth day of Christmas my Savior gave to me nine men to guide me, eight men I can help see, seven figures under the tree, 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, Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year

Aramis Thorn

01 January 2009

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Eighth Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year Beloved Readers,

As promised I am writing twice today to catch up so that this series will end properly on the twelfth day of Christmas or Epiphany. I found that I am missing the workings of school but that will be handled soon enough as we begin again next week. As a dear friend said last night, I will not wish away the time in between as it is her vacation from teaching as well and she needs the rest. That said, I am anxious to see some of my students who are both very important to me and not in my normal circle of movement. In them I see something for which I am eternally grateful. I see that Christ still has a purpose in both my life and my current distress.

I want to focus though on a particular gift Christ has bestowed upon me as I enter the year. It is that there are these people in my life who need to see Christ and that Christ sees fit to clean me up enough for them to catch a glimpse of what he has to offer in me.

I can attest to how far I have come because of Christ’s love and grace. Long ago in my far past I was headed only for death and destruction. But even then he saw fit to send along a flawed broken human who he had polished up just enough for me to see Christ in him.

I can think of eight men who I interact with daily who need to embrace Christ fully or need a deeper relationship with him. Avalon’s departure has forced me to examine myself and see how I can better be the example Christ wishes me to be. It is in this trail that I have found that I care so much more about the hearts and spirits of my students than I ever thought I could. And in that caring there is a list of eight young men who need all that Christ has for them and the richness that is found in being his and his alone.

I have put their names on a sticky note by my monitor. I will spend the year praying for them daily just so I can have a small part in their journey toward Christ. More importantly, they help me keep my eyes off of myself and on things that matter eternally.

So on the eighth day of Christmas my Savior gave to me, eight men I can help see, seven figures under the tree, 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, Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year

Aramis Thorn

Pondering My Christmas Gifts - The Seventh Day of Christmas

Greetings and Merry Christmas Beloved Readers,

As I ponder the first day of this New Year, I awaken neither hung over nor over partied. I am surrounded by a fresh snowfall and the temperatures outside are in the teens. It is both cold and beautiful. I have so much to be thankful for as the year begins and so much to look forward to. Traditionally the tree comes down and Christmas is pack up in decoration today. We have decided to leave it up a little longer.

I keep tokens of Christmas around me all year. In my office where I write there is a lovely little manger scene always on my desk, an ornament of Santa sitting with his laptop hanging by my lamp, and up on a book shelf a stuffed Santa. But this year I want the full effect a little longer.

In times past I had difficulty putting away the tree and trappings. It actually caused me pain to do it. With some difficulty I have overcome that and feel grateful for the years that Avalon put things away for me to save me the hurt. I wrote earlier about the ceramic manger scene under our tree this year. I am thinking of those seven precious figures and how often they have spoken to me throughout this Christmas season.

So many aspects of the small piece of history that is represented by the manger scene touch me this year. Joseph was unwilling to see Mary hurt when he thought the worst of her and when God intervened to correct him, he took the opportunity to be a father and husband in hand with all his heart. Mary endured fear and shame for the sake of what was right for the world, disregarding her own happiness. The Magi left whatever home they had in search of the new King so they could honor him. And Christ stepped away from the eternal companionship of his Father to take on flesh and be with us.

None of them thought of their own happiness above doing their part in bringing salvation to men. All day today people will tell me Happy New Year. I cannot truly say that I am happy, but that is not what Christ intends us to be. He intends us to have something far less fleeting. He wants us to have the love, joy, and peace that comes from obedience to him.

That is one of the significant things I see in a manger scene. That all involved left their homes to take part in an event that redeems us all. They each put what was right over their own happiness and in that journey found happiness and much more.

So on the seventh day of Christmas my Savior gave to me seven figures under the tree, 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 a Merry Christmas, and a Christ filled New Year

Aramis Thorn