When Paris, America, and Worlds Collide

He’s standing at the window, staring out through falling snow and I can see the worry biting deep into his lip. Shoulders hunched, he leans forehead against the cold third-story glass and peers across the street and down the block. Rising blue and silver in winter twilight, the French high school gazes back at him with darkened window rooms.

Photo: Peter Gutierrez, Creative Commons, cc license

“Hey,” I slip up to him and rub my brother’s back. “I’m sorry. I know it’s scary. It’ll be okay, though.”

My words trail off, because nothing can fully unwind the twisting stomach knot of walking into a new school. Four moves in four years brought its own adventures and challenges, but this last move for my shy brother had sapped him. That winter 1991, he was tired of goodbyes and heart-weary at the work of starting new friendships.

We stand silent in his corner of the three-bedroom apartment our family shared that year in a snowy mountain hamlet of France, and my stomach churns and aches for my little brother. Freckles sprinkle against an anxious face, brown hair parted center, curling wispy and boyish mischief on the sides.

“Can I pray with you?” I wonder quiet, and he nods. Our words are calm, at ease talking to the unseen God who knows our names, our hearts, our lives, and who wasn’t lost in the trans-Atlantic flights. The Creator speaks French, English, African Koinyeka and Dioula languages, and every breath’s spoken word.

This memory has crept in to me this week, remembering that ache and the wrenching twisted stomach and, while my brother’s story no longer winds nervous at a European window, I know that you and I have others that creep easily into our minds, curling up a tummy quiet. 

You and I, we have stories of our own, and stories that belong to family and friends close to us. Stories that are not ours to share publicly, but we can still lean heads into window panes beside them, stare down into the swirling snow below and whisper, “You are not alone. I see it too, and I am here.” 

You are not alone. Your loved ones are not alone, France is not alone, and we hold an awesome privilege in our hands. We can stride into the throne room of the International God, and mouth our loved ones’ names. He knows. He loves them even more than us, and he is still working.

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  1. Bill (cycleguy) on January 12, 2015 at 1:28 am

    It is so important to remember He is not just the American God. He is the God who spans boundaries, countries, worlds of culture and all of this globe. Good reminder Jennifer.

  2. Ceil on January 13, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Jennifer! What a touching post. I imagine that there are many French people with a tummy in a knot now. In the U.S. we know their cares well. Yes, God is a God for all, he is not exclusive. May we speak the name of the country and it's people before the Lord.

    And may he bless them as he blessed your dear brother.

  3. TC Avey on January 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I love that God is universal! He's not just for one nation or people or language or anything.
    While the world may seem scary and out of control we need to focus on Him. He is still on His throne.

  4. Jennifer Dougan on January 15, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Hi Bill,

    Yes! "The God who spans boundaries, countries, … and globes…"

    How are you and your family doing, Bill?

    Jennifer Dougan

  5. Jennifer Dougan on January 15, 2015 at 4:31 am


    Thank you. Yes, France, Africa, Syria, and dear loved ones can quickly come to mind for us, huh? Praying for them.

    How are YOU? How is your family?

    Jennifer Dougan

  6. Jennifer Dougan on January 15, 2015 at 4:37 am


    Me too. I love that Jesus had Middle Eastern skin, and that our God is an international God, the ruler of all.

    How are you? How is your family? How is writing going?

    Jennifer Dougan

  7. cabinart on January 16, 2015 at 2:50 am

    Jennifer, did you mean God loves the French more than He loves us?? Is that because they are suffering right now? Or did you mean He loves the French more than we do?

    Always questioning, always learning, that's me.

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