About Izzie

written in the Fall of 2012 – found in Evernote

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Not a plantain, but often called a weed. 🙂

My friend Izzie – there are so many cool things about her. Our youngest girls are best friends – they probably don’t remember a time when the other wasn’t there. We eat, talk, pray, play guitar and sing together. Izzie and I will sit around a talk about nothing and then she will ask ‘how is it with your soul?’ And it’s okay. (It wouldn’t be okay coming from a lot of people.)

But the thing that I think is most cool about Izzie today happened today. Anna got stung. Her first sting. And it hurt. I ran to get some salve for her and Izzie ran to the front yard saying something under her breath as she went. She came back in with a leaf and asked for a mortar and pestle. I don’t happen to have one hanging around my house so Izzie asked if I minded her saliva mixed with this plant that it became apparent was going to be put on the sting site.

Izzie chewed. Izzie applied. We held the chewed plantain onto the sting site with band aid. Ice applied to held numb the site as the plantain drew the poison from the stinger out. Anna felt better. So did I.

Everyone should have a friend who will chew on yard weeds to comfort your child.

A Lesson from the Trombone Section

A few weeks ago, we went to the District Jazz Festival. Caleb’s ensemble played in the morning. We decided to return to the Festival after lunch to listen to our high school jazz band and a few others. The district Jazz festival is kind of a try-out for states. The bands that get a certain rating are invited to a state competition. (Both of Waterville bands received a high rating and are invited to states.)

One ensemble was especially fun to watch in the afternoon. There were less than 20 kids in this particular jazz band. And five of them were trombones. One trombone is loud. Five could be overpowering, especially in an ensemble this size. But this ensemble never featured the trombones. All the pieces gave the melody to instruments that were ‘in the minority’.

But I loved the trombone players best.  Why? Because they loved the music and they appreciated the music of their fellow musicians. They entered into the music. When someone had a solo, their faces and posture celebrated the magnificence of the music being played. They did it in a way that didn’t draw attention to themselves, but that threw attention onto whoever the musician was that was being featured.

I want to live life that way. Brassy, bold, enjoying the gifts of the people in my particular ‘ensembles’ in a way that makes you pay attention to them even more carefully.

The Myth of the Hospitality ‘gift’

It’s a good thing….

Say that with a certain lilt in your voice, and everyone knows who you are talking about. I’m sure that there is a lot of cool stuff to learn and buy from that someone, but right now I’m thinking about how many obstacles seem to be placed in the way of having people in each other’s homes.

Hospitality. People have told me that I have the gift of hospitality. I receive that blessing, but I don’t accept the distance that it seems to put between my lifestyle and others.

I have had people tell me they couldn’t do what I do. All I do is make coffee (well, usually Marc makes it). Sometimes I add chili (not to the coffee – eew!) The hardest part of ‘hospitality’ is moving outside of myself long enough to make a phone call or send an email “Want to come over?” Honestly. That is the hardest part for me. Every time I need to pick up the phone I am momentarily seized with anxiety. Push through, call. Done.

But what I hear when people talk about how we have people over is how they aren’t as neat as me, or as organized as me, or as creative in the kitchen as me (I’m not creative, I’m comfortable and broke, so I use what I have on hand.)

There are so many obstacles to being hospitable it seems, from the cooking channel to TLC, to rows and rows of cookbooks, to theme parties, to “it’s a good thing”. It’s become an industry to ‘entertain’ people, to have a dinner party, to cook a meal.

But it’s not meant to be that way. It’s meant to be “I’ve got some fish, you’ve got some bread.” Let’s gather around that and see what happens. It’s not about setting or food, it’s the gathering. And that’s not a gift or personality trait.

It’s really not a gift of hospitality… it’s a heart cry. It’s just as much about my wanting to be part of you, as it is my inviting you to be a part of me. It’s a note passed secretly across the homeroom “I like you. Do you like me? Circle one.”

I can’t accept that we are meant to live our busy lives bumping into each other’s force fields. I can’t and I won’t. A human life is meaningless if it doesn’t becomed entangled in other’s. It’s neater and easier, but where does it go?

I am a highly, highly introverted person. People tire me out, and I love solitude. I am not just an extrovert looking for the next rush of people to come through the door and jazz me up (that’s Marc). But I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity that being with people in community, around a table or a mug, gives us. An opportunity to love, laugh, challenge, get angry, and grow. There is no way to hot-house the growth that comes from being with people. So even though I might rather not, I would even more rather not be who I am today when I turn 50 with the same ideas and outlook on life, not having had to give or take to or from the lives around me.

Please don’t watch me and say ‘oh, she’s got a gift’ and choose to not try it yourself. How will you know, until you try? If it is a ‘gift’ I happen to know the Giver has more to give out, and as far as I can tell He is all about His people living in community with one another.

A Neighbor’s Grief

One of our neighbors is probably in her 80’s. Her daughter died on Tuesday, after battling leukemia for two years. The woman had been married for more than 35 years, and her son was born in 1989. He is 16 or 17.

I’ve never met any of them… and my heart is so sad for all of them. How will I be a neighbor? Even if I knew her, I know myself well enough to know I would be bound up with saying something petty or ‘band-aidish’. And now I don’t even know her, but I know that I’m her neighbor.

Oh how will I be a neighbor?

Making neighbors into … Neighbors

We live on a dead-end street. There are 10 houses, including ours. Two are empty right now. So the kids and I are embarking on a neighborhood project. It began this week with Valentines. They made enough Valentines to leave one at every house. “from Caleb, Anna, and Sofia at 5 Oak Knoll”. I figure I can come up with something at least once a month that we can do to bless and reach out to our neighbors.

One of our neighbors today came out to say thanks. He said, “What a touch of humanity. Most of us live like the person next door isn’t even there.” And that is what my army of little people and I are going to change.

What is amazing to me, is that for whatever reason, this ‘distance’ that is ‘natural’ between people, strangers, Caleb does not at all understand. It is certainly nothing that he has gotten from his shy and introverted mother!

As I’m sitting here wondering about this, it strikes me that as we’ve come to terms with our issues (I’m the oldest, I’m the middle, I’m an extrovert, I’m an introvert, my mothers brothers dog had puppies in front of me when I was six) that we’ve overused the usefulness of self-awareness and built walls of excuses around ourselves. (I haven’t showered, my house is a mess, I’m too busy anyway.)

So when do the healthy boundaries, and healthy self-awareness begin to pen us in one from another? How is it possible that I have lived on a dead end street with only ten houses, (two of which are empty most of the year), for over a year, and still had to look up (or have Marc loko up) the names of the recipients of our Valentines on the computer?

Stay tuned as we continue our Operation Neighborhood in the upcoming months.