Friday, June 29, 2012

When Others Throw Words Like Spears

Some days, it's hard to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in my life.  You know the ones--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

When the dress up box gets turned upside down for the third time in a solitary afternoon, when children streak loud happiness down the hall even though I'm already struggling on a bad connection with a student, when husband jets out the door before helping buckle my precious cargo into their seat belts---

Then. It's hard.

To be kind. To be patient. To be gentle. To control my humanity bubbling up from the deepest parts of me until it spews forth.

I hold that bushel full of fruit, balancing it successfully on my head for half the day.  Then, something small happens, causing me to stumble.  A Lego. An unkind word. An oversight.

Patience tips over the side of the basket and smashes to the ground.  I grab at the woven canes, trying to make my load steady again, but with the sudden shift in weight, the other fruit sway to the left so that I swiftly lose both gentleness and kindness.

Before I know it, self control hits the floor and rolls under the table, hiding in its darkest recesses.  At this point, I usually just give up, drop the remaining fruit in frustration and sit down to cover my face lined with so much failure, I can't even lift my head.

Even with the Spirit residing within, it is not easy to be like Jesus.

And if it's hard for me to act as a Christian should with these minor annoyances, with people I love more than my own body, it's even more difficult when I'm faced with outright attacks from others I know by name only.

How does a Christian respond to a real attack on her? On her character?

How does she respond to words crafted in anger, spewing malice and unfair accusations, attacking the very essence of her being?

Such slander is less easy to ignore when it's made public, when it challenges one's career, especially in our uber-electronic age when words can go viral in seconds and turn a person's world upside down, when people automatically prefer to believe the bad over the good, when whatever is posted online--true or false--can stay there forever for all the world to read.

In times like this, it is more difficult to turn the other cheek.  When I feel threatened by the world, there is within me something that wants to fight back, to call down burning fire from heaven, to use my own words as knives and poison-tipped spears in retaliation.

I feel that deep gut response of anger, flushed-cheeks flash of fiery temper.  Then, as always happens, the anger fades and is replaced with sadness, hopelessness, a desire to just throw in the towel.  .

And so I walk away, hit the delete button, close my eyes and breathe a prayer.  Why, God?  Do you really want me to keep doing this when this is what happens?

The past two weeks have been rough on my fruit-bearing.  Two angry mothers and a vengeful student from last November have found me on my knees, searching under tables and chairs to reload that fruit basket a dozen or more times a day.

God has still not given me permission to adamantly defend myself, nor has He given me permission to simply leave behind this profession He has called me to.  His suggestion was simple: let others fight for me, to tell the truth that I couldn't.  So, I asked some to do just that, and oh the blessings, a reminder that the lives I touch for the good are worth more than any brief problems I must endure.

My fruit may be bruised, scarred, and maybe a little smushed, but I'm still willing to pick it up when it falls to the ground and then hold on for dear life.

Image: Harkiss Designs online, where you can support women in Rwanda, a country which has suffered from genocide.  This design is called "spirit fruit".  Read about Harkiss Designs here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

If A Life Has Mere Hours Left

I find the butterfly minutes after we return home from my three little fishes' early swimming lessons.

She lies on the carport in the dust, half covered by the uncoiled watering hose she must have crawled beneath in a desperate attempt to escape our one-year-old hunter cat.

This one who not an hour before majestically took to the sky now rests, defeated, in tattered rags, a remnant of the beauty God created her to be.  While her body appears intact, both hind wings are all but gone, the large fore wing in tatters and the right least damaged one almost transparent, missing most of its scales.

The damage is already done. Irreparable.

I pick her up, certain she is already dead.  Yet, at my touch, she flaps her wings wobbly, slowly, instinctually exerting any remaining energy to escaping my hands, to just be left alone.

My shoulders slump at the loss.  She will never soar again.  Likely, she will not last the day.


Two years into life on the farm and this is the first summer with brilliant colored flowers brushed across the landscape.  Golden glowing lantana, snowy white verbena, and vibrant pink vinca fill to overflowing the flower beds lining our carport.

Unlike the two summers before with only the the fritillaries, painted ladies, sulphurs, skippers, and buckeyes visiting the near-invisible purple blossoms atop the Genovese basil bushes, this season's brightly-colored rainbow array attracts the big butterflies.

Living art begets more living art, all beautiful to behold.

No longer do the swallowtails merely fly through on their way to my mother-in-law's Eden across the hay field.  Instead, they stay awhile, feasting on dewy goodness both morning and evening as they attract the attention of both woman, child, and beast.

As I watch her flap anxiously, I become intimately acquainted with beauty's fleeting nature, witness a literal manifestation of Paul's reminder that all is "here today, gone tomorrow."

I know it's ridiculous, but with children lately watching too closely how I treat God's creatures big and small, I take her inside anyway, place her in the butterfly cage with a single crimson zinnia and small dish of sugar water to strengthen her should she recover.

By late afternoon, she still hasn't moved.  Oldest son stands before the cage, him speaking hushed, somber words as he asks the tough questions about life and death, about whether Hannah was naughty for hurting the butterfly or just following her own nature.

I pick her body up once more, and she doesn't move.  Death has finally come.

I remind Wyatt that we did the best we could but it was just too late.

This is just the way life is, comings and goings, living and dying, beauty created and destroyed...all until creation's curse is lifted and time is no more.

Wyatt listens seriously, his ever-bouncing feet oddly still, then bends to air kiss this former beauty.  At his touch, just like Snow White, she awakens, flaps her wings maybe for the last time, just for him.

Triumph. Smile lights his eyes.  "Look!  She's alive!"

By morning, the light will be gone.  But the reminder will remain, at least for a little while

The fleeting beauty and gift that is life--

It is precious.

Life is precious.

It is worth celebrating, worth remembering, and worth protecting.

Even if there are mere hours left.

Friday, June 22, 2012

In the Front Yard

The two summers before this one, we lived in Maw Maw's house with its exterior walls so thin and devoid of insulation that the sound of husband walking on sun-parched grass outside our bedroom awakened me from many a Sunday afternoon nap. You wouldn't think the sound of sneakered feet crunching, swishing through growing blades could travel through wood, but you'd be wrong.

My then two-year-old son learned to hear the steady hum of the tractors vibrating through cracks in plank walls. In self defense, I learned the sound, too, the first hum finding me either collecting shoes to go outdoors or rushing to turn on a window unit to keep my son from hearing it, too, and begging to see the tractor.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, those two years were serving as a transition, molding this high heels, crepe blouse, and black pencil skirt college professor into a farmer's wife. It was in that old white house--a quarter mile's walk down an overgrown, all-too-narrow, country road--that I began to learn the sights, sounds, and smells of life on a hay farm.

I learned to catch the tell-tale whiff of freshly cut hay on the occasional breeze, to name the different pieces of equipment that attached to the back of the tractors, and to watch the radar for the rain's abundance or for its lack.

But there, life on a hay farm took place in my back yard, far beyond the carport, the pear tree at the yard's far corner, the ever-soggy slash of wetlands' tall swamp grass, and the single tombstone where Paw Paw was buried beneath the live oak tree.

From my front window, my yard looked ever-similar to the one I'd had when living on the outskirts of the city, a wall of always-green azaleas walling out the wilderness. I could pretend nothing had changed.

Only when I looked out back (and only if I looked really hard) could I see in the distance a blob of the classic John Deere green amidst a billowing cloud of dust. I had to look even harder to make out the raised bumps where square hay bales sat on an otherwise brown field, waiting to be picked up .This is the first summer with hay season taking place out my front door.

The hum is now a steady, unconcealable roar, the blurry image much more crisp so that I can count a line of single bales evenly spaced to the horizon, can see the sweat on husband's shirt as he drives past. Eyes closed, I now hear the difference between sounds of the rake, baler, and stack wagon.

It's been an adjustment, what with the clouds of hay dust creeping past the front flower bed barrier and quilting every leaf, chair, vehicle, window in their path.

This past week with husband windrowing as I clicked camera into falling sun, I realized it no longer feels awkward to be this farmer's wife by day, college professor by night. It all seems to fit.

The next day when I woke up to thunder, my thoughts instantly flipped to not my own yard's sun-singed plants with drought-curled leaves but to a field of hay on the ground. With each rumble that jostled me from sleep, I said a prayer for the rain to go past.

Prayer. It shows the state of the heart, reveals where the heart's interests, concerns, longings, allegiances lie.

Only God could make my heart large enough to love a farm filled with what I'm most allergic to, to love another set of parents I once could not have imagined living an evening's walk away from.

I've heard that prayer changes a person, and I know this is true.

But prayer also can show a changed person. 
(Since the clanking hum of tractors, hay balers, and stack wagons has filled the farm today, marking the official start of summer, I thought it fitting to repost this from the archives.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fleeing from Our Responsibilities

It's been nagging at the back of my mind all day.  What would cause a mother to desert her young?

A third nest abandoned in the span of one week--one with three near naked fledglings tossed aside to the red barn's floor, another across the yard with a solitary egg tucked inside.  And then this morning, I water plants to find a third untended nest on the front porch baker's rack.

Surely we hadn't spent too much time swinging near her new home, not with summer raging, sending us all inside before noon.  Even our hunter cats prefer the activity of children on the carport, not this dull, far away nook. 

So why? Why invest this much of herself to just leave it all behind?

There were hours, even days of painstaking labor, of searching, finding, and carrying back a single stick per flight, like trying to move a beach one piece of sand at a time.

Yet, imbued with this God-given instinct to build, she did, knowing nothing more but the clutch of eggs in her belly and what her Creator set in her heart to do.

Late this afternoon as the sun began to creep down into her dark nest, I went back just to make sure the mother hadn't been out for morning tea with crickets and fresh rainwater.

No.  All four brown-stippled white promises huddled together, touching, tucked tightly away in brittle shells still exposed.

So much in life is like this, the starting and not finishing.

We pour days, years into people, responsibilities, promises.  And then we awaken one day to just leave that nest unfinished, making others ask the same question of us--how could we just up and leave? quit?

Sometimes, the reason is justified.  But all too often, we fail to follow through to the end when something is not turning out the way we anticipated; when the cold, wet, and rainy climate makes us more uncomfortable than we think we deserve to be; when the responsibility seems too much or interferes with something we'd rather do. 

When the going gets tough, we spread our wings and try not to look back, afraid of the conviction that might come if we saw what we were leaving behind.

I don't want to be one who breaks her promises, one who is flippant about her commitments, who thinks service should be a pot-hole-free path, who leaves others in a lurch just because I prefer the easy, carefree path soaring above versus being tethered below to my responsibilities.

And there it is, what I've been struggling with for the past couple of weeks--the burden of responsibility.

What to do when a responsibility becomes a burden? When a service, a ministry done in Christ's name is difficult and overwhelming? When others' refusal to commit, to take on a responsibility leaves a yoke unfilled in my hands.

Too many want to be  Mary, sitting at Christ's feet.  But what they don't realize I want to be her, too.  Plus, Martha gets a bad rap as the one Jesus chastened.  Honestly, who would want to be her?

But there's a balance here. I can't just fly off and sit at Jesus' feet all the time when He has called me to be His hands and feet.

I know it's oversimplifying the story and who Mary was, but I can't just be a sitting Mary. There's a time to serve the master and a time to sit at the master's feet.  And I must acquire the wisdom to tell the difference.


After working on this post, I walk out front to encourage my gutter-hanging husband to hang it up and call it a night.  White nightgown fluttering around bare feet, I move down the concrete porch to the nest, drawn, I guess, by the need to check just one more time, just once more.

I gaze into the dark hole.  This time, country white pearls don't gleam in the lamplight.  This time, the darkness moves, flutters, and I gasp, hurriedly step away.

In the cool of evening, she has come home, freedom in the heat of day re-tethered to her responsibility in the coolness of night. 

This little one knows already what I am struggling to grasp--the wisdom to know what time it is.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Choosing What We Pass On to Our Children

There are some things we parents have no control over whether or not we pass on to our children. 

Given the choice, I wouldn't have passed on my health problems to my oldest son. I wouldn't have chosen to give my youngest son those genes that make weight a lifelong struggle. I wouldn't have passed on my natural shyness to any of them.

But while I don't have a choice in any of this, there is still a huge legacy I'm daily passing on to the next generation. 

At times, it's overwhelming, knowing that everything I say and do leaves an impact on their hearts and minds, affects their attitudes about everything from food to the state of the world, and determines how they relate with others.

Things I said and did before, I now must watch carefully.

As someone with a more-often-than-not unhealthy body image, I must try valiantly to teach my daughter otherwise.  The words "diet" and "fat" are no longer in my vocabulary.  There is no losing weight, only making "healthy" and "unhealthy" choices to help us grow strong and give us "long" instead of "short energy," of daily exercise as a way to stay healthy.

While I still hate plenty about my post-twin body, I make it a point to never say "I look fat in this dress" or anything else negative about my appearance.  She'll all too soon get enough of that from the world. I want her to believe she is beautiful as God made her.

Then comes the natural shyness both husband and I suffer from.  Whereas I would be comfortable sitting quietly alone, I now must go out of my way to be more social than ever before, solely to show through action rather than mere words how to interact with others.

Finally, there are the deep-seated fears husband and I both have, those that must be tempered so as not to be all-consuming, incapacitating rather than those that are healthy, a respect for what should be feared--poisonous snakes, ill-meaning strangers, and God. 

The children see this mommy scream over a mouse and a hornet's nest.  But they also see her kill them both.

The children hear this mommy's voice rise in panic to "stay away" from the unknown snake they've just found.  But they also hear her calm voice telling them to leave it alone because it's a good snake that will kill mice.

This summer, I'm working daily to stop one fear in particular from becoming their fear.

A few weeks ago, we installed an above-ground pool in the backyard, our "vacation."  I am frightened when in water where my toes can't touch the bottom, a fear I inherited from my mother's fear.

While she encouraged my brother and me to swim, her tense fear was palpable each of the few times she entered our pool, and I learned it well.  At a teenage summer camp, I never went past the shallow end line dividing the pool in half.  Later, when husband and I snorkeled over a coral reef at Hawaii's Hanauma Bay, I was scared but doing ok until I reached the reef's edge and saw the drop off into blackness.  I remember suddenly flailing about like one who couldn't swim, literally choking and gasping for breath as a cold panic consumed me. 

I don't want this for my children.

And so I schedule daily, timed swimming practice.  I glibly say "sure" when Wyatt wants to try again swimming without floaties.  I act nonchalant each time he ducks his head under water and comes up gasping for breath or when he leaves his mouth open and makes that gagging sound. I push down the panic when all three cling to me, their weight threatening to drag me under.
After a few days, I force them to take off their rings that lift them high out of the water and swim, chin up, with just their floaties.  I encourage them to do cannonballs with their daddy, to become comfortable putting their head underwater without a mask.  I splash them, and they splash me. I force myself to give tough love, refusing to listen to any whining.

In one week, all three of my darlings will take swimming lessons.

Honestly? I'm scared to death.  But knowing how to swim is for their own safety, and so I embark upon this path to overcome my own fear so that they won't inherit it.

It's simple.

If I say not to fear but show fear, they will fear.

If I say family is important but spend all my time on the computer or in front of the TV, they will learn family is not worth their attention.

If I say God is my life's devotion but show no regard for Him in my daily living, they will learn apathy and hollow verbal devotion is acceptable.

If I say to love others but growl at the cashier for her mistake, they will learn intolerance.

Six little eyes watch each move I make more than six little ears listen to each word I say.
Each day, I must ask, "What do I choose to pass on today?"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What to Do When All Seems Lost

I refer to it as the “hopeless bed.”  It’s the one I still don’t know what to do with, haven’t figured out how to save from the hay field that always comes knocking, wanting its territory back.

This is the flower bed that last summer was home to a five-story hornet’s nest with a diameter the size of a tennis racket.  This summer, it has housed three large red wasp nests hanging inconspicuously from woody white verbena stems.  Blessedly, I have only felt the stinging wrath of one who returned home to find me at his broken home.

As if impediments of the pointy tailed variety weren’t enough, early this spring, my father in law was a little too exuberant in his spraying of the winter weeds across the hay field, which stops at an invisible mowed line a few feet from this very bed.  The weed poison decimated my voluptuous verbena plants that ran our house’s full-length, providing evergreen and snowy white undergrowth for the sky-loving pink roses.
Husband listens with an attentive ear to my frustrations, suggests digging everything up, soaking it down with Roundup, and starting over.  While starting over sounds good, it would mean digging up all the hurricane lilies hiding beneath the surface, the ones I tucked away there almost two years ago. 

No one may know they’re there but me.  I’ve been waiting, watching after this particular variety of lily that never blooms the first year it’s moved to a new location.  Only in the second year do the bulbs begin producing lilies that look like crimson, long-legged spiders walking on air.

To literally start over would mean two more years of waiting for their blooms.
And so, I soak shirts full of sweat, pull an index finger callous worth of weeds, and dig out six inch hay roots until my fingernails are definitely unladylike, all while keeping my eyes out for airborne stingers.

Each time I fight with the land, I am reminded that I am fighting against creation’s curse to be untamable wilderness. Until Christ’s return, it’s literally an un-win-able fight.

But each time I fight, I realize what I verbally label “hopeless” to all who will listen, in my heart, I still refuse to accept as such.

I have a problem believing in hopelessness because I have seen hopelessness turned into hope.

I have a problem believing something is hopeless because I know the hope that is coming, because I know Him who IS my Hope.

I love how the English Standard Version puts it: “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”(Eph. 2:12-13).

I was hopeless.  And then there was hope.
Matthew Henry says, “Who can, without trembling, reflect upon the misery of a person, separated for ever from the people of God, cut off from the body of Christ, fallen from the covenant of promise, having no hope, no Saviour, and without any God but a God of vengeance, to all eternity? To have no part in Christ! What true Christian can hear this without horror? Salvation is far from the wicked; but God is a help at hand to his people; and this is by the sufferings and death of Christ.”

To give hope to the hopeless…..

We who were once far off  are called to keep sowing, weeding, pruning, harvesting, even when all seems lost.

Images: The hopeless flower bed--one from now in its wild state and two from last year during happier days.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Upon Killing My First Mouse

It was bound to happen sooner or later, me having to kill a mouse. With two year-old attack kittens, though, I had hedged my bets on later, maybe when I'd had ten years or so to toughen up to being what my daughter calls a "Farmer in the Dell mommy."

I was wrong.

Our farm house is situated at the edge of an ever-encroaching hay field, as is evidenced by my wild looking rose bed out front.  With the blazing heat of summer, the hay runners wake up and do just that--start running, sometimes an inch a day until they fall over under their own weight and wave in the late afternoon breeze, ripe for the harvest.

A field of foot and a half tall grass is a heaven-sent protective forest for small critters hiding from the ever-present falcons who weave shadow circles on the ground below as they coast, watching, on overhead currents. 

As the summer hay grew taller, the outdoor dreamsicle-colored tom cat began leaving me presents to show his undying affection for my motherly nurturing--a shrew by the basketball goal, a decapitated mouse on the front porch for my inquisitive boys to find and prod with a stick, something indistinguishable that he'd foolishly decided to keep for himself.

But my fierce hunter cat wasn't enough.  

Somehow in the after-church house-door-wide-open chaos that seems to happen every Sunday night-- between hustling reluctant children inside to change clothes and cooking a quick supper to put on the table, the mouse crept in, unnoticed.

Before the pancakes and eggs were even on the table, husband's search for a Kleenex brought him face to face with the mouse, now cornered by our one-year-old kitten Hannah.  He swiftly closed the bathroom door on them both.

Perhaps it was because its hunched over body was the size of a a baseball, only dark brown and a lot more furry.  Perhaps it was because she had already eaten supper only moments before.  Whatever the case, when I peeked in to assess the situation, Hannah scrambled out the door, head over paws, in her attempt to run far away.

So much for my attack kitten.

Husband wanted to simply direct the creature out of the house with a cardboard barrier, but I was scared of it creeping in my house another day--I mean, who wouldn't want to return to a land where the smell of buttered grits perfumed the air?  Knowing my fear of mice, such an occurrence just might be the scream heard round the world.

So, I gritted my teeth and did what any God-fearing farmer's wife would do.  Armed with my garden hoe, I climbed upon the toilet seat and squashed the brown puffball until his eyeballs bulged big and he stopped trying to escape. One squeak.

The children in the other room boldly announced the mouse's death with their outside voices.It was a story of David and Goliath come to life.  I was David.

But the premeditated murder of a messy rodent wasn't as empowering as it sounds.  I descended my throne and told husband I thought I might just be sick and left him to take the now dead mouse.

In retrospect, I guess we should have just slipped a mouse trap and cheese in the room, locked the door, and let death happen in the dark silence of night so I could skip the dying part.

Being an impersonal murderer is okay with me.

I grind rose-eating caterpillars under my boot heel and snip katydids and grasshoppers with my garden shears without a thought.  As a farmer's wife, I'm keenly aware that cows, chickens, and sheep must be slaughtered for my meal.  And this is fine, again, because although I know the truth, I'm one step removed from the process.

My mother thinks I'm crazy because mice are rodents and must be killed any way possible because of the damage they do.  I agree. I am a Farmer in the Dell mommy.  I did what must be done.

But in my quiet time with God, I tell Him, "It wasn't supposed to be this way, was it?" Man wasn't supposed to be at odds with creation. All was supposed to work together in harmony.

I think back to Adam and Eve, when God killed the first animals in the garden to provide skins to clothe two newly naked sinners.  When they first put on those clothes, when they first slaughtered an animal, themselves...with their own hands, maybe to provide more clothing for themselves and their family. 

Did they weep?  Did they say the same thing?

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

If You're Staying in a Hotel This Summer...

We don't like to think of ourselves as racists, as people with deep-seated prejudices that color our relationships with others.  I'm no different.  I like to think of myself as someone who has a heart equally open to all people no matter their gender, skin color, or socioeconomic status.

But then, I get on the phone with a woman from Mumbai who speaks broken English.  As the second hand twirls circles over a dozen numbers, I hear that condescending tone creep into my voice as hot blood rushes to my cheeks.

With each misunderstanding caused by a language barrier, I grow increasingly annoyed with yet another customer service representative reading from a basic script.  She doesn't know how to deviate from her limited vocabulary.  I try to "dumb down" my explanation, speaking as I would to a child, but still, she can't address my problem.

It's not her fault but the company who hired her.  And yet, sitting now rigid at my desk, hands clenched, I want to throw something.

In that moment, I mentally label her with adjectives like dumb, idiot, and stupid, all because she doesn't know my language.  I may never speak such words aloud, but I think them, and my tone screams them to anyone within earshot.

Sadly, it's not a prejudice I realized on the phone that day or many other days...or many other years.

Perhaps that is why God sent me earlier this year to teach English as a second language to a group of men, women, and children from around the globe--Burma, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mexico...

He had to first make me fall in love with a people I watched struggle each week to learn a language they needed to literally survive.  In this way, God peeled back the nice facade I've been trying to present to myself and revealed the prejudices that had been in my heart, invisible to me.

In the ESL class, my "men" sat along the right wall, their eyes bright with intelligence even though they could barely communicate with me.  The tall, slender one with the broad smile was more attentive than any student I had ever had.  As we worked on learning essential vocabulary, he would phonetically write out each word, would then write the same word beside it in his own language, and then would sound it out over and over.  Every time I glanced his way, his lips were constantly moving even when I could hear no sound. 

In his former country, he built busses.  Now?  He was looking for a job.  Any job.

Like many permanent refugees in America, he had difficulty finding employment.  In a country that prides itself on equality, there is still a deep-seated prejudice when it comes to language.

To not speak English is to be unintelligent.

Two of my students spoke both Spanish and French quite fluently; yet, their English was broken.  Another of my students said that English was his fourth language--and yet his lack of fluency in English was what he would be judged upon, not his great intelligence in knowing the other three.

Slowly throughout the eight week course, the new refugees began getting jobs that no one else wanted, jobs that they traveled to each day by bicycling several miles through big city traffic:

A cleaning lady at a local school.
Workers at a local car wash who clean a thousand cars a day.
A cook and dishwasher at a higher-end chain restaurant.
Housekeepers at a downtown skyscraper hotel.

As I have hugged, laughed with, and loved each of these people, God has stripped me of that prejudice.

I will never be able to look at these invisible people the same way again.

I will never be able to pass by the cleaning lady in a hotel without at least a kind hello.

I will never be able to struggle to communicate with someone who doesn't speak my language and think, "What's wrong with you!  This is America!  Can't you just learn to speak English!?"

As Christians, it's a prejudice we just can't afford.  Every tongue, tribe, and nation is coming to our doorstep, and our call is to show them the love of Christ....

Even if they never learn to speak our language.

Photo: "Language Barrier."  Flicker via an interesting photographer BenRobins' photostream.