D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: john perkins

Choosing a Different Dream: Guest Post by Diane Miller

I love that this series on Downward Mobility introduced me to Diane Miller. One can argue about terms and theoreticals and even theology all the live long day, but what really interests me (and, I suspect, everyone else) are stories of transformation. Diane is one of those people (and she is so very very nice!). I, like Diane, believe there are a whole lot of us out there who are being transformed with better dreams, visions that come from Christ himself. Diane gives a call that I would love to see responded to: are there others out there like her? It's time to share your story in this space, time to be mutually encouraged, time for a fresh wave of vision for the peace of God to come in all our neighborhoods. Amen! Choosing a Different Dream: Guest Post by Diane Miller

Most of us in the U.S. have bought into some version of the American dream. We get an education, a job and then we buy dream stuff--a widescreen something or other, a car, furniture, and then maybe a condo or house.  Along with that, we also seem to choose a destination-based community lifestyle, as we start traveling to our job, school, church, or activities.  We head out from our home in the morning and come back after our 9, 12 or 15-hour day of work, school and/or fun stuff.  No longer is most of daily American life spent in our home neighborhoods. Our lifestyles are now formed by the pursuit of our American opportunities and we spend more hours “going & doing” each day than we do living in our homes (sleeping doesn’t count!). I bought into this modern-day prosperity lifestyle for a few decades; however, I am now done with it! My dream routine left me with no sense of belonging in any one community and the “going & doing” became too downright exhausting!!

Our family has decided to intentionally live different. We’ve chosen a culturally and socio-economically blended neighborhood to call home and we are determined to base most of our life here. We’re not "going & doing" as much. We own one car and live on one income, which affords me, the mom, time to do all sorts of community activism and volunteer work. Our daughter attends a neighborhood public school, has become fully bilingual and is on track to head to her college choice.

We know that we have had privilege and entitlements being white, growing up in a quickly fading white dominant culture. We are highly educated and have more than our basic needs provided for by my husband’s corporate-type job. We could have chosen a “stacked wealth” area that appears more affluent, beautiful, comfortable and safe to live in.  However, we’ve resolved that those qualities no longer fit with our family mission of living with less and loving more.  So, we’re living and breathing deep into our chosen beloved ‘hood while building meaningful friendships with our neighbors--as many as possible!

Most days we find peace, freedom and joyful adventure in this life. Our neighborhood mix gives us opportunity to get to know folks who are immigrants from all over the world. The only thing homogeneous in our community is that we are all very different. Is that comfortable?  Well, not always. We have tolerated vandalism, tagging, alley arson fires, gang bangers hanging around and an occasional shooting. But, is it a place to see our God’s goodness, live an abundant life adventure and stand against the systemic injustices that follow gentrification in our nation’s cities? Yes, pretty much everyday! It is our family model for living and loving well with what we have been given. Besides, how did comfort, dream stuff and constant “going & doing” become more valuable than Christian love and servitude to others not like us in a neighborhood community?

We’ve been on this journey for a while and, being real, we’re still battling our old “dream” tendencies – so, we’re human! We also believe many others are making similar lifestyle choices and hope to connect with y’all and share stories, inspiring a different type of urbanization movement.  Are you folks out there? what are you doing?

Our dream is that all neighborhoods flourish with no stacked poverty or stacked wealth. . . communities where people live, belong and celebrate the good of all the different residents on their blocks. Neighborhoods where children are well known and have a sense of belonging, peace and hope. Where everyone has the freedom to sit on their front porch and dream big dreams! We see this neighborhood community as a beautiful witness to our God and all the great diversity of His creation--shalom as our new life-giving American Dream!

“When God called Abraham to bless him, and to bless all the nations through him, he employed the notion of “Shalom”. This Hebrew word, in time, came to mean everything good you would want for yourself and wishing that same quality of life for your neighbors and friends…” (Dr. John Perkins, Beyond Charity

on the porch_BWDiane is a former corporate America 70’s gal, who roared through the business world for 30 years. It took a move from her beloved, fast-paced urban lifestyle into California suburbia to shake her world. There, she was asked to be an outreach director at a large church. Her upwardly mobile, affluent Christian lifestyle became totally wrecked as her family started & continues on a journey of living different.

She is now a wife, mom & neighbor in the diverse Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. She labels herself as a CCD Mama. That means a gal (not necessarily married or a mom!) who commits to live & love with God’s heart for seeking justice & empowering others in Christian community development. You can find her website at Connectingood, or find her on Twitter here.

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

my week in review

what up, week? this hasn't been a very easy one, has it? first there was the car that broke down on the husband's birthday, at the nice bagel shop that we drove to (we wanted to pretend for a moment we were back in portland, that life was familiar and safe). we arrived to a smoking car, green ooze spilling everywhere. while we tried to figure out what to do on a sleepy sunday morning, i set down the diaper bag on a table. we left, took our sweet time driving the 3 miles back to the apartment, stopping to take walks so the car didn't overheat. the toddler protested, cried some big fat tears. we finally made it back. we realized the diaper bad was no longer with us; calls to the bagel shop resulted in nothing. it was gone, taken, my wallet and my husband's ipod the only real things of value in it (and the humor is not lost on me, that our stuff got stolen when we drove to the "nice" part of town for a little escapism). happy birthday, baby. then there was the week of meeting new people, being exhausted by small talk and never really knowing how safe you can be, still be chafed by how little you know about this town, this community, the place you are now committed to (o acedia, you fought us hard this week, always dreaming of good times past, of alternatives to our present reality). there was the night i woke up in a panic, seized by a faceless terror, and could only think to pray from the book of revelations, some bit of holy truth about the blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony, repeating it over and over, telling things unseen to be gone. and if this sounds crazy, let me assure you that it is. our safety nets having been flung aside, the cracks in the world are starting to appear. but so is the gold, underneath.

there was the radiator in the car, of course, and the money to fix it. there were the carbon monoxide alarms that went off in the apartment, scaring the baby half to death, the fire department coming to check everything out, the night i thought for sure we would all die in our sleep. we slept restless, not very long, the sounds of the city reaching up to us and always reminding us to be wary, on guard.

and then there was yesterday. i got up and went downtown saw a little bit of a conference that was geared towards the very thing we moved here to do: to build up neighborhoods, to reconcile the divisions in our churches, to go to the forgotten parts of the cities and stay. and i got to hear john perkins give a bible study. does it really matter what it was about? he was beaten half to death by police officers just for being black, for loving peace and justice. and jesus told him to love those oppressors, that they themselves were bound and enslaved by racism, how it had affected them as well. i would listen to anything that man has to say, for he knows how to love, knows how to endure. it rather put things in perspective, really.

i saw all those young people with a passion for community development (and brown boots and scarves, evidently), drinking their coffee, taking copious notes. i felt detached, frumpy, only there for an hour or two and not succeeding in relaxing. i narrowed my eyes at all those dreamers, thousands of them stretched out in front of me, and i thought: well do it now, honeys. do it all, while you still have the brain capacity to think beyond the thousands of mundane life tasks that take over once you have children (it may or may not have been a rough week for a certain 2-year old in our house).

and even as i think these thoughts, i love those dear little children and their heart for something different. and i see, scattered throughout the crowd, people who have been doing it for twice as long as i have, married couples holding hands, living this different way together. and i have come and i have been encouraged by all of it, the naiveté and the experience and the excitement and the burn-out of it all. and i walk out the doors, because you always have to at some point, and the work has already begun again.

it's been a long week, hasn't it? and it's only one out of 52.

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