ampersands

"... & now I live in Ames, Iowa." Tonight it struck me, facing a beautiful piece of stained glass in the cozy, stone room that tucked itself in as an afterthought of the grand cathedral. I sat in the corner and scanned the room, drank in the faces, and then closed my eyes to let the lilting music of rolled r's and long o's seep behind my watery eyes.

Tonight I found myself (at 5:15 pm and on time to the 5 pm service) at the Spanish Mass and I started to feel the weight of my most recent ampersand.

"... & now I live in Ames, Iowa."

The weight is not wrong, only sometimes I forget what I joyfully carry around - three years of my life lived with kingdom eyes to hold the gaze of beauty in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. With every ampersand added to my life, I found the blessing of my daily rhythm beholding the beauty of God.

I sang & jumped & talked & listened & wrote & learned & prayed & crafted & played & taught & watched & loved...

because God showed me boundless grace & mercy.

God commissions me, with His blessing, to be a blessing... to stuff my life full of ampersands that PROCLAIM His glory.

Some ampersands are harder than others to etch into my life sentences. Some ampersands are carved painfully because I'd really rather not add anything else.

But, no matter how they find their way into my story, I love 'em... because what else can we do with the life God gives us? Every ampersand is a blessing, every day and each moment - an ampersand stamped on our existence this side of heaven.

I'm looking at my long list of ampersands tonight and counting my many blessings... counting them like currency that should be spent lavishly on gifts.

"... & now I live in Ames, Iowa."

Thank you, Lord, for stamping this ampersand on my 27-year-old life. Thank you for bringing me here and adding dump trucks of blessings on my already overflowing soul. Thank you for the hard days and the brilliant days and the days I wish I were somewhere other than here.

I pray I make every ampersand (every blessing added to my days, every moment) available to others in a way that brings them face to face with the Giver - no matter where my ampersands land me.