D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: birthdays

#thirtynerdyandsturdy

look what my husband got me this morning!  

I've had quite the week--my sisters flew out to the frozen tundra that is the Midwest to celebrate my milestone birthday (hashtage thirtynerdyandsturdy). I couldn't think of anything I would have liked more than tromping through art museums, seeing a cheap play, eating Nepali food, going to the Mall of America and seeing how many free things I could get for my birthday (a lot, actually). Then they left on Sunday and just as I was preparing to settle into the gloom and existential crises of it all my husband threw me a surprise "13 going on 30" party. We listened to our favorite music when we were 13 (mine was MxPx all the way) and talked about the books we read (Frank Peretti and Bruchko for me). Our small apartment was crowded, stuffed to the gills with a crowd diverse in ages and backgrounds. And I sat on my little chair and soaked it in. This is my life: squeezing the celebrations out of everything we can, cobbling together a community wherever we can find it. It is all so hodgepodge, it is never enough, it is enough.

There were a few things I wanted to do before I turned thirty, and not many of them have come true. No books published, no more babies in our house, no miraculous movements. But I keep writing, keep trudging through the paperwork for foster care, keep praying for healings in spirit and soul.  And usually on my birthday I do the old evangelical habit of trying to find a verse for the year. But this time, a poem came out and hit me in the face (in a good way). I guess this is how I know I am getting older: I like reading poems, I am going to learn how to garden this year, all pop music seems very distasteful. Anyways, I read this poem by Wendell Berry and the last lines especially resonated with me:

 

As soon as the generals and the politicos

can predict the motions of your mind

lose it. Leave it as a sign

to mark the false trail, the way

you didn't go.

Be like the fox

who makes more trails than necessary

some in the wrong direction

practice resurrection

 

 

A long time ago I committed to the idea that there was one straight and narrow way to serving God. The hardest way, the best way, no room for trial and error and failure in my world of righteous living. But of course I have wandered, and I have been crushed by the guilt of it all. All the decisions I have made in the recent decade of my life, all of the identity makers I have clutched with white knuckles--they aren't enough for me anymore. And as Christ has so kindly stripped me of these illusions, he has been building me up too. Reminding me of the smallest ways the kingdom of God comes. Like my commitment to glittering all the things. Or my commitment to baking chocolate cakes for uncelebrated birthdays. Or my commitment to journaling every morning, petulant and emotional and expectant. Or my commitment to living in a place where I live and work with the poor every day, because that is where I meet Christ. In every face, every story, every life. It's all so hodgepodge. It's never enough, and yet of course it is.

I hear him say: be like the fox. This is the year of making trails. I struggle with this, because my entire life I have been so afraid of going in the wrong direction. He knows this too, and he tells it to me gently:

 

But for every failure, there is a chance to practice resurrection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me

I have a long history of having an identity crisis on my birthday. The hubs asked me very politely several days ago not to do this. I agreed, if only because I have had a few too many of those lately, and could use a break. In reality, this has been a banner year for some confirmations of things (column gigs and various magazine articles and copious amounts of constructive/positive feedback). I became a real teacher. I became the mom of a toddler. I was a pretty good wife.

But none of that really matters, because that is not truly who I am.

And I couldn't tell you even if I knew: all I know is this very second. The way God likes it when I sigh and squirm and then sit quietly on my own little carpet-square of a story.

For my birthday I got 2 books (one on adoption, one on the upside down kingdom) a worship CD, and a funky necklace made by women raising money for overseas adoption. A very, very tiny part of me thought: but what about an H&M giftcard? Glittery Toms? Chocolate bon bons? (PS: this is why the hubs hates birthdays: I declare myself free from consumerism and then pout when he doesn't buy me stuff). But I realized (and I am not saying this lightly) that I really didn't want anymore stuff. Plus, it is so cute that the hubs believes me when I say I want to want less. And what we do gift, I want it to be about something more.

So thanks to my husband for believing me, and believing in me. I am excited for my 28th year, mostly because I get to spend it with him.

Oh, and this one:

 

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