an unexpected ampersand

I never thought Judi would be an ampersand.

A storyteller? Yes. An entertainer? Most definitely. An anecdote worth re-telling? Certainly.

But an ampersand? No. I thought she would just be a lady that led me into giggles in our prayer class on Tuesday nights. I thought she would just be the woman who sat by Barbara and said "what the hell" when she was telling the story about her class reunion. I thought she would be someone who sat across the circle and always raised her hand to add a comment about the topic or lean in with an "Mmmhmm" more frequently than the rest of us.

I have an affection towards ampersands (that little piece of font beauty that looks like & means "and"). They illustrate all the additions that are woven through the 28-year-old story of my life. I've collected quite a pile of ampersands and sometimes I try to just pick one up and marvel at the way I never expected to hold it.

I never thought Judi would be an ampersand.

But, then she took my hand and asked me to sit down next to her when prayer class had ended. She told me about the replacement windows she bought and the contractor she paid and the voicemails she left and the time she went to his house and "yoo-hoooed" inside his front door because a year later the windows still sat in her garage. She told me about his questionable health and stories and that a neighbor saw his truck at Lowe's. She told me about calls to the lumberyard and the manufacturer and that the replacement windows still sat in her garage with winter approaching. She told me about the lawyer's advice, the neighbors' advice, and the carpenters' advice. She told me all this without breathing much, but often asking, "What should I do?"

I fumbled and mumbled and blank-stared because I had no idea. I had absolutely no idea what to say or how to advise this sweet old woman about her windows. I found myself post-prayer class on a Tuesday night literally feeling like the only good piece of advice I could give this woman was to pray.

So, we did. We prayed last Tuesday that this man would return her call. We prayed that her windows would get installed. We prayed with the desperation of helplessness and then we kept praying.

This week, Judi came in with celebratory animal crackers to pass around, proclaiming, "Praise God, it works!" She walked up to me and said, "He returned my call! That's our prayer answered!"

It took me a second, but when it sunk in I jumped up and squealed. Literally, I squealed.

The Lord answered our prayers for Judi's windows and printed a bold, beautiful ampersand on my heart with her story.

I think I'll need that giant carrying case - these ampersands are getting out of control.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy