I was just reading to you

YertleA few months ago, I had the privilege of holding my newest grandchild, Daniel, just hours after his birth. He was swaddled snugly in a dinosaur-covered blanket, sporting a matching cap. I quickly accepted the offer to hold him and said the first thing that came to my mind. “I was reading a story to you yesterday, remember?”

Less than twenty-four hours before, I had sat down to read one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books to Daniel’s big brother, Elijah. Elijah soon lost interest and galloped away to do something else. But his mom, exactly 40 weeks pregnant with little brother was also sitting on the sofa, slowly rubbing her belly. So I kept on reading Yertle the Turtle, delighting as the precarious tower of turtles collapsed, leaving Yertle with a kingdom of nothing more than the mud into which he fell.

As I chatted with Daniel, I paused to marvel at all the voices I the world that he would recognize. His mom and dad, of course. His big brother, grandparents, and a few aunts and uncles. On more than one occasion, I would stoop down and “talk to the tummy.” Those on the outside would roll their eyes as I asked, “What’s your name?” “When’s your birthday?” and “Whatcha doin’ in there?” I like to believe Daniel merely thought, “Don’t worry, Apa, I’ll let you know soon!”

I like having conversations with little people. Even before they can respond with words, I can tell they are listening very carefully. Sometimes they’ll respond by looking deeply into your eyes. Or they’ll twist their mouth into interesting little shapes. They squint when you blow in their face and say, “It’s windy day!” And sometimes they look excited as you move their legs to make them run as fast as they can or move their arms to make them dance.

I love to read stories to kids, especially my grandchildren. I like to think I’m pretty good at it, too. In fact, I like to believe that story got the show on the road. A few hours after “the end” the contractions began. I think my young audience wanted to see the pictures that went along with the story!

Looking for my voice

Looking for my voice. Today I barely croaked out the second sermon as the laryngitis I knew was coming mercilessly set in. As early as Friday I knew it would be a tough morning. I could feel a little soreness in my throat and I just had a feeling that Sunday morning would be a challenge. Saturday morning didn’t start out too badly, but as the day wore one my voice was strained and even though I drank gallons (at least it seemed like that much) of water, I knew Sunday would be a struggle. Sure enough, I woke up with a sandpapery voice that got a little better after a hot shower. I didn’t sing any songs and really took it easy the first service, but I wasn’t at 100%. Fortunately, this is the service we record and post online. Bible class wasn’t too bad, but at the beginning of our second worship service, I knew it would be tough. I did get through the second sermon, but had to ask one of my elders to finish up the end of the service for me.

About 18 years ago, I was singing with a choir in another church and developed a really serious case of laryngitis. Ever since that time, a cold or some pine pollen or any throat irritation can set it off. It’s kind of like my Achilles’ heel, which as you might imagine isn’t good for a preacher. It happens about two times a year, and there’s really not much I can do about it. I had a sermon I was really looking forward to preaching, too. And since I don’t write out my whole sermon but kind of put together a storyboard, I couldn’t just pass off to an elder.

To tell you the thuth, I don’t like being vessel of clay (2 Cor 4).  But these kind of days remind me I am, and that God just might be able to communicate through a guy who can only croak out a sermon.