For the Joy of Reading!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 6, 2014

children heart illustration

For the Joy of Reading!

I love to read! I love reading out loud, too. (With some books, I have been known to do voices for different characters.) I’ve been told I have an excellent way with the spoken word, as well.

At my new position, I have the great joy and opportunity to read to some young people each Tuesday. Today being Tuesday, today was reading day! I had two excellent books to read to the children. The same two I read last week, except I changed the order in which I read them—so, I read Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema to the four year olds this week, and read Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey to the kindergarten children.

I’ve been reading for almost fifty years In fact, I can vividly remember the moment when I started ‘decoding’ the letters. My mother was reading one of the Oz books to me, by L. Frank Baum. (We had several, in hardcover.) I was barely four years old—it was winter, and cold weather. I remember her reading the words at the bottom of one of the full-page illustrations, and running her finger along as she read each word. Wow! I had the grand feeling of huge puzzle pieces falling into place as she did that. I suddenly understood what reading was all about. I connected those sounds and those letters that my mom was tracing and the words she read . . . and everything fell into place. It was glorious magic!

And after that, it seemed like I never stopped reading.

I read a great deal of fantasy and fairy tales when I was in grade school, although I had fairly eclectic tastes. (I was the youngest child in my family, so we had all the books from my older brothers and sisters around the house. I was free to read whatever I chose.) I started writing my own stories and books when I was a teenager. And I kept right on writing fiction, through my twenties, into my thirties and forties—and took a break when I went to seminary. Or, instead, started to write serious papers and articles. And started to write sermons, too!

Sermons seem to be a great combination of several skill sets. A confluence, if you will, of several streams of interest. I’ve written here about my preaching before, and I’ll say again—I love it! There is something so satisfying, so deeply moving about handling the scriptures. Praying about what to say. Crafting the structure, the arc of the message. And then—the delivery. Excellent!

Reading picture books to children is also excellent, but in a different way. I get up close and personal. I can interact with the children. (I do interact with the congregation, too, except it’s different. Somehow.) I felt this wonderfulness today, as I read the picture books. And I connected with the children. Up close and personal. God, thank You for this awesome opportunity that You’ve given me—to read to children once more! Such an opportunity. So rewarding. Thank You, God.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Being Kind, Showing Love

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, February 1, 2014

Elizabeth's birthday cake Kevin Jones - photo

Elizabeth’s birthday cake
Kevin Jones – photo

Being Kind, Showing Love

Today is my birthday. “Hap-py birth-day to me!” I wouldn’t mention this except for the fact that my oldest daughter saved my birthday cake yesterday. She lives in the same suburb that the rest of our family lives in. She offered to take me out for a birthday dinner yesterday evening. But before we went to the restaurant, she noticed that something was the matter when I picked her up in the car. She frowned. “What’s up?” I tried to dismiss it, thinking that she and I didn’t need to rehash frustrating and irritating stuff, but she pressed me.

I finally came clean. “I baked a cake for myself this afternoon, and tried a new filling. Raspberry filling. I followed the directions, reduced the frozen raspberries and water on the stove, added the sugar, raspberry extract, and lemon juice. I removed it from the heat and let it cool, then added the corn starch in water. But it won’t set up. It’s still raspberry soup!” I communicated how disgruntled I was. We laughed, and then she commiserated with me. She asked what I wanted to do—just forget about the cake and go out to eat, or go and try to fix the filling and go out to eat later. I dithered for all of ten seconds, and then we went to my house to try our best on the filling.

Suffice it to say that together, we got the filling to jell. (We put it back on the heat.) We cooled it, put the filling between the cake layers, and then my daughter iced the cake (with my chocolate buttercream icing. Yum!) After that, she and I went out to a good, moderately-priced Italian bistro and pizza place. We got salad, baked potato and ribs (my choice—again, yum!) And afterwards, we went home for cake. (Yum, for the third time!) The—jelled—raspberry filling was perfect. All in all, a satisfying evening.

Through giving me a hand with the cake and coming to the rescue of the raspberry soup, my wonderful daughter showed great love to me. She was kind to me, intentionally. (Just what I am trying to do, each day in 2014.) I was so grateful! I told her so, several times, and gave her a few hugs. We all had cake and conversation. A wonderful, family way to end the evening, too.

As I reflected on this frustrating and irritating situation, my daughter was able to so easily redeem the filling (and my disgruntled temper, too!). Yes, it was a small thing. The filling of a cake that I did not need (in terms of calories), but she and I together were able to salvage and successfully ice and finish. This reminded me of situations where I was unable to complete certain tasks on my own at work, or in a ministry at church. But when one or two willing friends or co-workers came alongside of me and helped, the job was a piece of cake! (pun intended <grin>) I suspect that is exactly the lesson God wanted me to learn. God, do I hear You laughing? Not at me, but with me, of course. I think You are.