D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: donald miller

D.L. Recommends Vol. 3

  It's time. Time for another volume of completely arbitrary things that I, D.L, recommend.



from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men



Moone Boy

Pretty sure I have recommended this before. But I am going to recommend it again. Because it is even better when you watch it a second time and you actually start to understand the Irish accents/slang/inside jokes. Go watch it! (You can find it on Hulu).


James Agee

The ultimate War Photographer. You guys, I can't even. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is bizarre and wonderful. In it, Agee goes to write about poor sharecroppers in the South and leaves a shaken man. It is lyrical and uneasy and so very worth reading. Now I want to read everything about this man who saw every human as being excruciatingly unique and worthy of honor.


The Empathy Exams

This book, by Leslie Jamison, is worth the hype (and it is what pointed me to James Agee). There were a couple of her essays where her self-consciousness was crippling, but I am all for anyone who is trying to feel it all. I read later that her mother is a pastor who works with the poor, and that influence to me could be felt rippling under the surface.


Planting Things in the Ground, Even though You Feel Skeptical

It really helps a tired soul find a few seeds of hope.


Looking at Pictures of Babies



Lupe Fiasco

OK, OK I really only listen to one of his songs when I plod along on my jogs: The Show Goes On. What is better than a white girl sweatily running and singing about throwing her hands up in the air? A lot of things, actually. But this one consistently works for me.


Adult Bands Pretending to Be Kid Bands

Did you know this is a thing? It is. My friends are in an awesome band named Destroy Nate Allen and they do kick-butt shows for kids (Ramona loves them). And they introduced us to this band called Koo Koo Kangaroo which is basically like the Beastie Boys taking over Yo Gabba Gabba (complete with gold fanny packs). My husband is currently obsessed with their album which is all about cats.



Don't ever go back to plain vanilla ice cream. Don't.


Longform Podcast

I am loving this. It basically interviews an interesting long form journalist/writer/essayist and they talk about the craft. I have found some new favorites from this podcast (including Alice Gregory).


Fosterhood in NY.

The best, most honest, transparent, hopeful, exasperating, beautiful and tragic blog ever written on what it means to be a foster parent. I love how the author is SO committed to being in relationship with the birth parents and their extended families. I cannot stop reading this blog, and it is more gripping (and harrowing) than a novel.



Or, as I call them when I am pretending to be from Northern Ireland, "tunderstorms". Being a transplant to the MidWest, I find a lot of pleasure in the wilds of the storms that we get here in the spring.


Image Journal

I wanted to think that this literary journal was a bit snobby, a bit elitist, a teensy bit out of touch. But I consistently sit down and find myself carefully absorbing every word in the latest volume. I highly recommend supporting this endeavor, and I wish it wasn't such a rare unicorn of a journal.


Signing With a Literary Agent

It has been a long road to this point for me, and I can't say that it has been easy. But I did it. Here's to one more step on this adventure.


Applying for Crazy Things

I heard about the Collegeville Institute from a tweet; I applied for a summer workshop on a hope and a prayer. And now I get all-expenses paid week at a monastery where I get to hang out with awesome people like Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and have lots and lots of time to write. And be alone. Basically the dream of every poor writer. Take THAT, Donald Miller (or, as I like to call him: DonAHLD Miller). All the deadlines for this year have passed, but bookmark the site and apply for next year. You never know what will happen until you put yourself out there.


Taking Uncouth Selfies

Everyone should do it, or else you will get a big fat head.


dorkily excited about the article.





So that's it. I haven't watched anything great lately and I would love some recommendations there. Also, I need a few light reads for my summer. Hit me up, people!









Remember: You Will Die-- Guest Post by Jenny Stockton

Jenny is a wonderful human being who is genuinely interested and curious in so many aspects of life. We bonded after writing pieces for the same issue of Conspire! magazine (one of my favorite publications out there, btw) and I love how this story underlies the freedom that we gain when we finally give up trying to be "normal". Because there is no normal, is there? There is only radical love, which asks us to takes risks and reap great benefits. Be sure and check out Jenny's site (she is always introducing me to new artists/books/writers) and say hello on Twitter.


Remember: you will die.


For most of my life, I pictured my future as an adult in a static manner: complete with spouse, house, kids, meaningful work, Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe, and the obvious contentment that comes with acquiring it all. I spent a number of years and a lot of dollars I didn’t have chasing after those things, convinced that if I could just get them and keep them under my control, I would be happy and things would stay that way forever.

At a certain point during my college career, however, the Jesus of the Bible began toteach me that seeking the kingdom of God is actually the most important thing and, try as I might, I couldn’t deny it. I decided to become a teacher out of a desire to serve the poor and help young people learn to seek truth for themselves. It felt like the best way for me to help build God’s kingdom. It felt like a noble, selfless decision and it led me to some of the most valuable and worthwhile work I’ve ever done. I’d be lying, though, if I said I never imagined myself as Michele Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, saving kids by wearing a leather jacket and pointing out the similarities between canonical poetry and popular music. I thought I’d find a place to become that lady, then stay for 30 years while I worked on building the rest of my static, perfect life.

Guess what? It didn’t really work out that way.

Last April, as I wrestled with the feeling that I was wasting my days as a classroom teacher (because so much had changed since I started and I often found myself requiring kids to do things I thought were a waste of their time), I read a post on Donald Miller’s site about the process of maturing from consumer to creator, and it struck to the core of everything going on in my heart and mind. Justin Zoradi’s words encouraged me to see myself in the middle of this transition from consumer to creator, and though it was a bit scary, I knew deep down it’s what I wanted. I wanted to be a writer.

I’d spent seven years working full-time in a field that provided me with a decent salary, good benefits, and the promise of retirement security. The idea of simply walking away from all of those things seemed crazy. Eventually though, I came to the conclusion that if I continued doing what I was doing, it would be solely because I was afraid of change. And let’s face it, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Luckily for me, I married a man who has believed he’s meant to be creative his whole life. He doesn’t compromise his principles about life and work and doing things that are meaningful with his time. He’s earned his living for the last seven years by playing the drums, and he is not at all concerned about acquiring an extensive wardrobe. When he took me out on our first date, he wore a watch with hands that read “Remember: you will die”. He’s constantly encouraging me to fight my fears and to press in to the inevitable change that comes with being alive.

I quit my job last year to spend more time writing and to work with my husband and his band. I let go of my need to have a regular job so that I could buy new clothes all the time. I discovered, quickly and easily, that we actually need very little. Over the last year, I’ve bought less new clothes, but I’ve spent most of my days doing just what I want. I’ve been able to rest and write and pray and travel with my husband and help kids in my community get new books. I’ve had time and space to dream about the future. And miracle of miracles, we’ve still had enough money for for everything we need, plus a mani/pedi for me every month.

I’m learning to believe and to trust that my desire to be a writer is not simply a selfish, nonsensical one. That maybe it’s one of the things I’m supposed to do before I die. That maybe things are always changing and the best I can hope to do is learn to find peace in the face of fear.

There is a sense of adventure in my daily existence now that I never believed could happen to me, much less would. And there is SUCH freedom in the ability to spend so much of my time as I choose. There is SUCH freedom in the knowledge that my husband and I could go, tomorrow, wherever we feel called. There is SUCH freedom in the deep peace that comes with recognizing that it’s God’s kingdom already. That He has rescued it and that we get to help in the work of redeeming it. That nothing in life is static forever, and that one day I will die.




Jenny StocktonJenny Stockton's development as a writer started at a young age, when she self-published her first work of fiction as a first grader. It was entitled The Bear Who Got Married, illustrated by the author, and dedicated to her sister Amy. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband Dann.







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

party crasher

I have a long history of stumbling into crazy experiences (i.e., miracles). I have had people give me laptops (Apple laptops!), buy me tickets to the Justice Conference, furnish and decorate my baby's nursery when we were in the hospital trying to survive. After I wrote this post for Deeper Story, I was feeling a little frustrated. We truly DO NOT KNOW what is going on in our lives. And it feels horrible, this here-but-not-here, the endless waiting, the mourning and rejoicing for things that aren't for certain. So I did an old-school evangelical move and got my Bible and sprawled out on the floor with my face in the carpet. I let out all my frustration, detailed everything I felt like God had told me about our future and I didn't understand why things weren't lining up. I want bells and whistles, God! I am making tiny steps towards following you! Tell me what is going on!

Well, then I got bored.

So I went and checked my e-mail. There, I found a free code for Donald Miller's Storyline Conference. I shrugged my shoulders, got a ticket, and continued about my day. It turns out that code was only meant for certain pastors at a certain Blue-Like-Jazz famous church, but when all the dust settled the organizers were cool and said I could come for free. Cue me singing the Amy Grant "Providence" song. Over and over and over again.

Based off the promotional literature, I was skeptical of Storyline. No offense, D Miller, but it all sorta sounds like corporate mumbo-jumbo (vision casting, living a good story). Also, I have been disappointed by enough of my young adult obsessions to know that Mr. Miller isn't God, nor is he even the same person he was when he wrote Blue Like Jazz. He is human, he is flawed, he might have turned into a salesman.

So I went with a mixture of excitement and cynicism (you know, the usual). And I was blown away.


I don't know how much I can write about the conference without it sounding weird or corporate or like white-people-having-an-existential-crisis. But basically, the conference asks you to assess your life and come up with concrete ways to live a better story. You do this by evaluating your past (good and negative turns, and finding redemption in the bad) and narrowing your focus on what roles/ambitions you want. The key here is that your ambitions must be greater than yourself; God is in the business of saving many lives--not making you happy.


What I loved most was the emphasis on how consumerism and the American dream create really boring stories. Nobody cares about these stories. Nobody is saved by these stories. But this is what we are inundated with, all the time. Great stories involve risk and failure and actual concrete adventures. People who are living out these stories are not shopping at Target or watching TV or reading escapist literature. They are out there, writing their own grand adventures.


It was interesting for me to attend this conference a few weeks after I quit my job. It gave me insight into my future and I am still reeling at how practical it all was. I walked away with a spring in my step, firm in my resolve to create some change (and move forward some important plot points) in my own story. I also felt extremely encouraged, and validated on a very deep level for many of the choices I have already made. And I will be changing things in the future, some of which I will write more about in the near future. But if anyone, anyone has found themselves in a situation like I am in, I would encourage them to pursue something like Storyline.


Ah, providence. The past two days have been eye-opening for me. The conference itself is a catalyst for change, for those that are willing to risk it. It is a recipe for failure, in many ways. It is also an outline for kingdom living, for entering into a story that is all about saving many lives.

And this, my friends, is what I want my story to be.


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