Tuesday, February 28, 2012

UN BEAU SOUVENIR - Brownie Comes Home

 Some members of the family were aware of the scheme – some were not.  The Shepherds were living in Paris in 1988.  Elizabeth was 11 and was going into 6ieme, the French equivalent of junior high school.  Word was that it would be a difficult transition.

She had asked about having a dog on a number of occasions, and each time the answer had been a polite no – with maybe a fish or a turtle thrown in to soften the rejection.  In the fall of 1988 the “dog” question came up again.  Eleanor saw Elizabeth’s point of view.  She decided to pray about the subject – if God could send a dog who would cost nothing to procure, maybe that would be a sign that Elizabeth should have her dog. 

When school resumed at the LycĂ©e International, Allison Dearborn, Elizabeth’s friend, came back to announce that Laura, their collie, had given birth to a litter of pups.  News of the event shook our house at 5 rue Claude Debussy.  Elizabeth saw her dog. Eleanor’s prayer had been answered. The only barrier was convincing John and Glen.

One day after school Elizabeth went to the Dearborns and saw the pups.  All were black except one, appropriately named “Brownie”.  Elizabeth remembers holding Brownie up.  The rest of the litter was fast asleep, while Brownie, true to his nature as we were to later find out, was wide awake, and barking for someone to come and get him out of the tedium of the pen.  No sleep for him.  Elizabeth held him up, and he peed all over her – no doubt a sign of appropriation of his new found human.  Her skirt was wet, and her heart was set.

After much discussion the decision was made.  The dog would come home. We would give it a try.  John and Glen reluctantly acquiesced, but set a condition.  His name would be Beauregard, after the illustrious pooch of Pogo cartoons – Beauregard Bugleboy Bloodhound.  And so we made the trip to Maisons Lafitte to the Dearborns to get Beau.

He was ours, a tiny ball of fur with big dark eyes and the energy of a bomb.  The Dearborns said goodbye to “Brownie” and we put “Beau” in our car. 

Life was never the same after.   Applications of Javex to the basement floor to teach him to attend to his needs outside, and the doggie bed basket chewed to bits.  The little mutt seemed to be all teeth.  But when he cuddled into you – the wreckage did not matter.

Beau was given his bed in the basement and spent the night there – reluctantly admittedly, but he did it – for all of about 2 weeks.  After 15 sleepless nights due to whimpering and scratching, Beau’s sleeping quarters were relocated up 2 flights of stairs, next to the humans.  Within no time he was sleeping on the various beds, relocating himself throughout the night to make sure all was well and ensuring a warm spot on the bed for all. We had the door from the basement into the back garden redone to put in a swinging door so that Beau could come and go as he pleased.  The swoosh could be heard as he trotted in and out, scouting out the events in the back yard and alley.

Four weeks later we went to London, England for the weekend and took Beau back to the Dearborns to stay with them and Laura, his mother. Laura had welcomed him back with maternal concern – regurgitating her food for her pup in case the new humans were not feeding him properly.  As our plane touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport coming back we couldn’t wait to get out to the Dearborns to pick him up and bring him home.  The dog had won our hearts.

He was not what you would call a well-disciplined dog.  In fact, that objective would never be fully realized.  There are lingering differences of opinion in the family about why that was so.  But the beast remained independent to the end.
Winner of 2011
Word Guild Award
Christian Leadership

Winner of 2009
Word Guild
Award of Merit
Human Interest Story

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Praying for Those Who Are Unemployed

           When I began my ministry of intercession, I never imagined that a time would come when I would have a whole list of people to pray for who needed employment, but with the changing economy, every day my prayer list includes the name of someone who needs work. 
            As I scan the list, I find many different reasons people are searching for work and came to the position where they currently find themselves.  When I think of my own situation, I realize how fortunate I was to find three different part time jobs I enjoy.  Without them, my story might have ended quite differently when I was laid off my last full time job in the spring of 2011. 
            What are the concerns of those for whom I pray?  Rose (not her real name), wishes to find another job, that would give her the kind of responsibility that she had in her accounting job in her own country.  When she immigrated to this country, the skills she learned in her home country only qualified her for a clerical position here, without any of the responsibilities that she had in her previous employment.  I pray that she will find a position offers her with the fulfillment of feeling that what she does matters.
             Another jobseeker, also an immigrant, after landing a good job following years of training in the information technology field, left to join his wife in this country.  Although he has had a few short-term contracts, including one in another city, he has not found a permanent position.  Their situation grew more serious when their first child arrived a few months ago. 
            Jane, who worked in the banking sector for many years, felt that she would find more satisfaction in working for a non-profit.  When she sent me her CV to pass on to my contacts she expressed her desire to do work that made a difference in the world.  Her experience would make her an asset to any non-profit, but her acquired skills are not an easy match for a position that would be at her income level in the banking world. 
            Corinne is limited in her employability, since she has been trying to find work in a bilingual city and she is unilingual.  After scouring all the possibilities she could find, she finally chose to set up a business for herself.  Since it usually takes a while for such ventures to become profitable, in the meantime she procured a part time position that requires only the language she speaks. 
            Andre had a good position in marketing, but when the economy weakened, the company required him to lay off his whole department.  He knew that meant the handwriting was on the wall for him.  At the same time, his wife who had lost her job was hired to work in another city nearby.  It was logical for Andre to look for work there too.   However, this is a smaller city and does not offer as many opportunities as were available in the advertising sector.  He will likely need to find how transferable his skills are for other sectors. 
            Norman was also a victim of societal change, when the video rental store that he managed was closed.  It looked for a while like there might be a possibility that he could take over management of a store in another city, but that job went to someone local. 
            Each of the situations is unique.  Some are related to the current economic downturn and some are not.  In each case, the need for work is obvious, but the job openings seem to be scarce. 
            My conviction is that the Lord is aware of each person, each situation, each family and their needs.  My prayer for them varies according to their particular circumstances.  I also recognize when I pray that I only know a small portion of their story.  Only God knows all of the details and I believe I can trust him to work all things out for their good. 

            I know that does not mean that these friends will avoid the worry and stress of financial need that accompany loss of employment.  However, as I pray for them, my prayer is that they may remain calm and confident that the One who knows them better than they know themselves and who will not leave them without hope.  Since I experience lay offs twice myself in the last three years, due to a lack of funding available to employ me, I can perhaps pray for my friends with a little more empathy, than I might have before this happened to me.
Winner of 2011
Word Guild Award
Christian Leadership

Winner of 2009
Word Guild Award of Merit
Human Interest Story