D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: Heather Caliri

Places My Name Has Been

I've got a few things floating out in the wide world and I thought I would just quickly tell you about them. I also thought for a few of you it might be interesting to know how I got myself into writing these pieces/what they were about.  




1. Books and Culture

Firstly, I wrote a book review that was published in the September edition of Books and Culture. I had e-mailed the editor (the illustrious John Wilson) out of the blue a few months before because I so admired the high level reading and writing they had going on in this publication. To be honest, I also wanted to write for them because most of the reviews I saw were written by very academic (and very smart) folks who all worked in colleges and had published highly-acclaimed books. Since I am none of those things, it made me want to try just a bit harder. John Wilson was very gracious and sent me a book on labor trafficking to review (Life Interrupted, by Denise Brennan), which sent me down all sorts of rabbit trails (the best kind of book there is, in my opinion). Since then I have read and reviewed another book (I believe it will be coming out in January) that John also sent to me and now I must say I trust his taste implicitly.

If you like to write, then reading/reviewing books is such an excellent way to hone your skills/figure out what the power of the written word means to you. I regularly now find myself reviewing at least one book a month (although, I have discovered that if I just truly don't like a book, I can't bring myself to review it. There are too many good books out there to focus on the bad. And let me tell you, there is a lot of bad in mainstream publishing). Besides Books and Culture, another favorite place of mine to read (and review) books is over at Englewood Review of Books. They are the coolest (they started out as a church community that read/reviewed books together, and now it is a big beautiful collection of fascinating reads from people all over the country).

The review is online, but is behind a paywall. I do highly recommend the subscription, however, especially if you like your scholarly + theological sides to be challenged/unlocked.




2. Timbrel

Timbrel is the Mennonite Women USA magazine (I know!). My good friend Claire is the editor of Timbrel (besides being an awesome writer herself, as well as an occasional model for Christian Amish book covers). She asked me to write about my journey in pursuing foster care as a means to growing our family for their "mothering" issue.

I am not someone who writes a ton about motherhood or things that can be strictly considered "women's issues" and to be honest this was one of the more difficult pieces I ever had to write. Motherhood, mothering, and growing your family are all so very personal, and I am well aware of the variety of experiences. Just a few short months ago we made the decision to stop pursuing adoption through foster care, after many months/years of prayer. I hesitate to explain our decision because it is tied up in the lives of so many people we now are in relationship with--so many of our friends and neighbors who were in foster care themselves when they were young, or who had their own children taken away from them). As we have journeyed into the system, and seen others do the same, there is just no way around the brokenness to be found in every corner of this world. While we most certainly do believe there is still a definite need for people to be involved in foster care (and many children need permanent homes) we also realize there are many ways to support families in crisis, and we are being drawn to help families stay together.

I know, big topic right? It is so hard to even address in anything fewer than a hundred thousand words. The wounding of our families in this country is incredible. The space for transformation is breathtaking. Lord, may your kingdom come. This article is also not available online, but you can purchase a subscription here. I also have a few copies of the magazine if anyone desperately wants it I will send it to you!





3. Image Journal

My friend (and amazing photographer) Fritz Leidtke got me a subscription to Image last year and it has been one of my favorite gifts ever. It is a beautiful, meditative, smart and thrilling journal. I mean it. I have always been a bit out of my mind and so I decided that Image was one of my favorite places to read I should most certainly send something in. Perhaps it is because my identity has never been tied up with being a writer (but oh my, don't you dare touch my do-gooder/missionary/social justice identity or I will cut you) but I don't seem to suffer the paralysis or nervousness that can affect some. I tend to read good things, get inspired, and then type away and send my stuff out into the cold world. And sometimes, it works! Like with Image--while I can hardly believe it, they accepted a piece I sent them and published it in the October issue. Now, sadly, there is nowhere to go but down (also, I sense a theme: being the least qualified writer in the joint. This makes me feel a teensy bit proud but also pretty insecure).

This piece was born out of a really intense season this spring. I thought: I have never read a literary exploration of what it means to burn out. I know people toss that phrase around like old change, but that truly is the sensation I experienced. Being surrounded by people ricocheting from one chaotic situation to the next really took a toll on me. Writing it out helped me more than I can say (as did making a few changes to my schedule). This is probably the most personal (and raw) piece I have ever written.

If you don't already subscribe to Image, I would highly encourage you to do so. You will not be disappointed. I believe you can sign up to get a digital copy for free--so check it out, and I trust you will be astonished as I have been by the craft and care of this publication.



4. Interview

Lastly, a few months ago Heather Caliri asked me a few questions about how I read the Bible. I think I thought it was for an e-book or something and would be highly edited, so I dashed off some (ahem) casual thoughts. She just recently put the answers up on her blog as a part of a series she is doing called "Quiet Time Confidential" (all the evangelical kids shiver a little bit when they read that). So if you have been dying to hear about what I think about reading the Bible, you should go on over and read it.



Thanks for reading!

Your Correspondent, srsly has got to go eat something with pumpkin spice in it right now.







Who Are My Brothers and Sisters? Guest Post by Heather Caliri

Heather Caliri is a recent find, one I was delighted to make. This girl has the gift of asking questions. Her series, called "One Woman's Yes", is both inspiring and hopeful to me. So many of us find ourselves in crazy and wonderful lives just because we said "yes" to one little thing a long, long time ago. And then we said yes to the next thing, and the next, and the next. Heather interviewed me for the series and I felt like I could have talked to her all day. I'm so glad she wanted to write for this series, and as always I appreciate her ability to ask great questions and see the world with great compassion and nuance.



Who Are My Brothers and Sisters? Guest post by Heather Caliri

In family therapy with my parents once when I was thirteen, the psychologist asked me what emotion each of our family members felt most easily. I remember pausing for a moment, and then naming the others’ emotions without much hesitation. My parents laughed, nervously. I took that to mean they agreed.

“And you?” the therapist asked.

I didn’t have to think. “Guilt,” I said.

I remember feeling a little triumphant that I knew us all so well.

I also felt trapped. Because honestly, I was sick of feeling guilty.

Let me give you a bit of a family history. I’m the youngest of three kids. Both my brother and sister are adopted, both when they were about six weeks old. I was the ‘natural’ surprise about three years after my sister was born.

Whether adoption goes poorly or well, it’s hard on the adopted kids. From a very young age, I realized that strangers commenting that my brother and sister do not look like my parents meant something. I have the odd belly laugh of my cousin, uncle and father, my mom’s penchant for organization, and my baby pictures are little facsimiles of my aunt’s. Those are ties that my brother and sister don’t have. Even these small differences are privileges I didn’t earn.

I grew up with guilt about that. Guilt about my birthright. Guilt about my life being easier from the very beginning.

Recently, it occurred to me that many of us in the US are living my story. We are the privileged children; our brothers and sisters around the world live stories that are much harder.

So right below the surface of our picket fences and cable TV is that ache I felt the last time I was on the beach with my sister, and a woman said to us, “That’s funny—you don’t look related.”

I have wondered for a long time: is that ache helpful? Or not?

I know from experience that it gives me more empathy for others. I know it keeps my conscience honed. And at the same time, it paralyzes me. It silences me. It makes it hard to look in the mirror.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown discusses the difference between shame and guilt. Guilt she defines as believing we’ve done something bad. But shame means we believe we are bad. Shame is about self-loathing.

In other words, guilt and shame are close sisters. If I do nothing about my guilt, if I refuse to speak it out loud, it starts to decay.

And the guilt I feel about who I am—the privileges I was born with—well, those turn into shame almost immediately. Because I can’t change my passport or my skin color. I can’t change being the biological kid. I can do something about my socioeconomic status—giving away the considerable excess—but as Shane Claiborne points out, even the option to do so is a privilege. (Believe me, I’m praying about that one.)

So whatever I do, privilege is sticky, and so is guilt. And oh, Lord, so is shame.

Given that I can’t shed those privileges like old skin, I have to decide, then, how I shall live. I keep coming back to this: trying to stop looking at those privileges for a moment and look to others instead.

Because the guilt I feel is helpful only when it leads me into empathy, honesty, listening and togetherness.

I’ve started trying to overcome my shame, that greedy silencer, when it tells me to keep my distance, close my mouth, hide or pretend.

I’m incredibly grateful for the relationships I have with my brother and sister. And what I’ve seen is that to really be siblings, we must be able to speak out loud the reality of our family, and the reality of who we are. Because the truth is, we can’t change many of the facts, however unfair it might seem.

What can change is relationship. And I’ve learned it’s best for me to take the first step. I can seek out my brothers. I can invite them to break bread together. I can make it a burning priority when they are inviting me.

For me, downward mobility means building relationships with my brothers and sisters—whoever they are. Especially when “relationship” means going down into the unfairness and guilt and shame. Even when it’s scary, and risky. Even when I’m afraid I’m doing it wrong.

That means I have to get used to being in the minority at a gathering. It means I confront my wrong assumptions about my brothers, and how I’ve gone along with ignoring them. It means praying awkwardly in a language that feels uncomfortable. It means pushing past the ease of staying with my “own kind” . It means dreaming that as my privilege and guilt and shame are said out loud, the person speaking will grab hold of my hand and whisper love.



h bio picHeather Caliri is a writer based out of San Diego. She started saying little yeses in faith, creativity, and parenting--and was shocked by the results. You can join the adventure on her blog (http://heathercaliri.com), or by subscribing here (http://eepurl.com/tgdfD).










For all posts in the Downward Mobility series, please click here.

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