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by Jan Ackerson  
1/29/2008 / Humor

I knocked on the church office door, eager to meet the new pastor. A muffled voice called "Come in!" but the door was mostly blocked by half-unpacked boxes. A man sat in their midst, with an apple jammed in his mouth.

"I'm Susie Fields, the secretary," I said, pushing a box with my foot. "Can I help, Pastor Bradford?"

He chewed vigorously. "Call me Jeff," he sputtered, swallowing. "There's not really much you can do, I'm notoriously disorganized. But if my wife comes by, could you show her around?"

I returned to my desk, trying to imagine our persnickety previous pastor surrounded by such disarray. Pastor BradfordJeffmight just be a refreshing change. I busied myself with paperwork, startled occasionally by thumps from the next office.

The next morning, I found a stack of scrap papers on my desk. I read the topmost note:

for bullitin

Grimacing at the misspelled word, I rifled through the notes in growing confusion.

holly holly
Agnes Day
not care committee
sniggles group!

I squinted at the untidy handwriting and turned the papers over. No help thereone was written on the back of a used envelope, the others on old receipts. Jeff was still thumping around, and I really hated to bother him, but his notes had bewildered me. I poked my head into his office.

He greeted me with a grin. "What d'ya think, Susie? Will you join?"

More puzzled than ever, I stammered a bit. "Joinjoin what?"

"The singles group! Just what we need, doncha think?"

Of course I agreed, being rather desperately single, butI looked down at the papers in my hand. Singles group! "II couldn't read your handwriting. It says 'sniggles group'."

"Oh goshsorry. Didn't mention my dyslexia, huh? Yeah, if it wasn't for my brother, I never woulda made it through high school, and Caroline fixed all my seminary papers. D'ya thinkcan you figure out my horrible spelling?"

I showed him the papers, one by one. "Holly holly? It's only September"

"Holy, holy. You know, by Jimmy Owens?"

He certainly knew his music. "What about Agnes Day? We don't have anyone named Agnes."

"No, it's a song! You know, 'worthy is the Lamb'" He sang a bit of a familiar tune.

I burst out laughing. "Agnus Dei! Okay, I'm catching on, but not care committee?"

It was Jeff's turn to laugh. "That's note. I thought people might like to send notes when someone misses a servicea 'not care' committee would be pretty awful, huh?"

Over the following weeks, I learned to interpret Jeff's scribbles, and to appreciate the enthusiasm he and Caroline shared. My confusion abated as Jeff's spelling quirks became more and more familiar.

plz find picture of angleI found a majestic angel, blowing a trumpet.

you pick a himI sighed, wishing that picking a "him" were that easy, and chose a hymn.

put fiend day on calenderFriend Day was scheduled for September 16th.

jesus lover of my sole I double-checked this one, knowing Jeff to be an avid fisherman. But no, he had meant "soul" after all.

sweet sweet spitThat one, ironically, caused me to spray my monitor with coffee. Sweet, Sweet Spirit, I typed, chuckling.

One morning in November, I looked through Jeff's usual pile of notes and stopped cold.

this coopon good for one free back rub wenever you want

I was baffledit seemed horribly inappropriate. Jeff had always been friendly but professional, and Caroline and I had become great friends. I swallowed hard, deciding to confront him. His door was open, and he was leaning back, his hands laced behind his neck.

"Uh-oh, you look confused. What's Jeff done now?"

Now I was really perplexedwhy was he referring to himself in third person? I held up the handwritten coupon. "I don't...feel comfortable with this."

He stood up and took the note, read it with interest, and snorted. "It's for his anniversary, I think. Look, it's stuck to another announcement. He must've misplaced it."

"For hiswhat?" I felt hopelessly muddled.

"You must be Susieright?"

The light dawneth. This must be Jeff's brotherhe'd never mentioned they were twins.

"I'm Jim." He grasped my hand and shook it. "Jeff tells me you're the best. My company sent me here for six months, and Jeff says you'll show me around town for chocolate. What d'ya say?" He held out a Snickers, and I couldn't help noticing that his ring finger was bare.

Somewhere in the distance, I heard the angles snig.

Jan is a Christian who has traveled through sorrow and depression, and has found victory and grace. She dedicates all writings to her Heavenly Father. Check out Jan's website at
Copywrite Jan Ackerson--2006

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