D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

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D.L. Recommends Vol 5.

A list of things that I, D.L., humbly recommend.

 

 

The Overnighters

This documentary shattered me. It's about a pastor in small-town North Dakota who lets men (who are looking for work in the new and booming oil field) sleep on the floor. The tension between the "normal" parishioners and the men (called "the overnighters") is real, and raises questions of how hard it is to love ALL of our neighbors. It also got me ruminating on what it means to be in contact/relationship/ministry with the most broken of our world, the men that so many of us would just disappear off of the face of the earth. In the end, a secret about the pastor is revealed, and the film ends abruptly. But for me, the humanity showcased in the last 5 minutes didn't negate the rest of the film but rather infused it with meaning. After all, I believe in a God who uses broken people to love other broken people. Look for my review coming soon for Christ and Pop culture--and in the meantime, go watch it on Netflix.

 

Breakfast Cereal

Pregnancy craving number one, man. I have slowly weaned myself off of the Lucky Charms and try and be content with Honey Bunches of Oats and Barbara's chocolate and peanut butter puffins but man. Is there anything better than a bowl of sweet, crunchy goodness mixed with a splash of cold milk? I think not. Except if it is . . .

 

Ice Cold Lemonade

My other preggo craving. In -22 degree temperatures. Go figure. I will drink this until the heartburn becomes unbearable.

 

Anne Lamott

I feel a bit sheepish admitting this here, but give me Anne Lamott over Annie Dillard any day. Meaning: I know it is rather uncouth to love Ms. Lamott but I do. I have seen her speak in person and agree that her "schtick" can get rather old (and I am very sensitive as a woman author myself at being labelled as being "emotional" or "over-the-top"--two things I hear Anne called often). But over Christmas I found myself in a little beach town on the Oregon coast and wandered into a bookstore. I took her newest book "Stitches" off the shelf and sat down to read for a minute. The next thing I know, I am sobbing in the corner of a strange place, facing my own mortality, believing in a God who sees it all and loves me anyway. That was when I decided to come back to Anne, and I have been reading all of her recent essay collections. I highly recommend it. 

 

Agent Carter

Ok I am only sort of recommending this. The last episode I watched got terribly violent and I might have to quite this one! But for what it is worth, this is a superhero television show about a kick-ass woman. I like that it started off being much more about emotional/intellectual intrigue, and that the sexism of the time is a major plot point/twist. In fact, one of the reasons she is such a successful spy is because no one pays any attention to women. I also love the costumes of the time period (the 50s, I think). Time will have to tell if I keep this one on my list, however. 

 

Leslie Knope

Parks and Rec ended this past week and I am sad to see it go. Leslie was the best--so earnest, so unashamed--and the sweetness to be found in all of the surprising relationships (one of my all-time favorite things in the world) made this show great. My only (2) complaints: it focuses a bit too much on career-oriented drama, and Leslie as a mother was not fleshed out even one iota. Ah well, you can't have it all. 

 

Grantchester

Oh my word I love this show. It's a PBS Masterpiece Mystery series about an English vicar who solves murders. But actually it is way better than that! I love that this show actually does talk about God sometimes (when usually, vicars just mosey about and wear their collars blandly) and Sydney, the main guy, is a very complicated fellow who has complicated relationships with just about everyone--including God. All that to say, this show manages to be very pleasing and relaxing while still stirring up deep questions and feelings. Go watch it now!

 

Essay Collections or, the poor person's MFA

I have been thinking a bit about MFA's and how they so aren't a reality for me right now--but I have been very influenced by the work of people who have gone on to get this kind of specialized learning. So for all of us poor/busy/parental types, I have found the easiest temporary solution: in whatever genre you want to write, spend a lot of time reading excellent work in that category. Presto! For me, that has meant burrowing into both the Best American Non-Required Reading and the Best American Essay collections from 2014. I don't love everything, but I make a note about what stands out to me, and think about how I want to push myself forwards. 

 

Generosity

It's just so great. I just have so much to learn in this respect. I just receive so much from so many people in my life. My heart is full. 

 

Winning Something in a Raffle When You Are A Child

When I was young and living in Wyoming my dad took my sisters and I to a raffle that the local rotary club was sponsoring and we each got to get our name picked and go up on stage and choose a brand-new toy to take home. I remember being astonished at my good luck (I believe I chose a child's plastic camera). A few weeks ago the same thing happened to my daughter--we were at a community meal and she won a Jasmine doll (as is the norm in our community, the raffle numbers had to be rattled off in 3 different languages, so everything took much longer than it did in central Wyoming). I don't think she will ever forget it either. 

 

Woodland Hills Podcast

For those times when you just need a good sermon, look no further than Mr. Greg Boyd and his pals at Woodland Hills. We have snuck off to his church a time or two and always enjoy it immensely. 

 

Mennonite Potlucks

So much food. So many casseroles. These are my new favorites. 

 

Gang Pastors turned Writers

I have already written a bit about Wanted by Chris Hoke (and my review should be out in Books and Culture any day now) but I will say it again: read this delicious, well-written, heartbreaking (in the good and sad sense) book. Then, do what I did and go on a gang-pastor reading bender: Reading the Bible with the Damned by Bob Eckblad is a wonderfully practical theology of how to read the Bible with the oppressed (srsly, it should be required reading in Seminaries) and Tattoos on the Heart by Fr. Greg Boyle is like reading your jolly grandfather's take on some very hard stuff. The joy and pain that suffuses these works will stay with me for a long, long time. 

 

Jesuits

They just seem so awesome. A little anti-establishment, a little prophetic, a little comedic--the perfect blend of humor and pathos. Also, it turns out my great-uncle was a Jesuit who lived a very extraordinary life (sadly, I never got to meet him, but my mother is currently researching his life and I can't wait for the details). 

 

Going to see plays before you are 50

We live in a theater town, or at least there are people in our city who sometimes go to the theater (supposedly it is second only to New York City). Some of these big prestigious places have programs to woo in the young, giving steep discounts. For valentines day the husband and I went to see a big 80s-tastic musical production of a Midsummer Night's Dream and it was so great. I think the rest of my life I will have a commitment to nosing out the cheapest seats at all the high art places. 

 

Danielson

I am having a bit of a renaissance love affair with the music of Daniel Smith (solidified after listening to a recent podcast, where he was so refreshingly casual about his faith--neither agonizing about it nor apologizing) and I was reminded of this most excellent article detailing what it actually means to be a Christian artist (from the Believer, circa 2005). 

 

 

Aaand, that's it for this volume. As always, feel free to tell me what you are recommending these days! 

 

 

 

 

D.L. Recommends vol. 2

D.L. Recommends vol. 2.  Here are some things I recommend:

 

 

 

Busting out the Easter Dress Early

I got Ramona an Easter dress at the thrift store that gets all of it's clothes donated from Target (I know. I found a way to work the system). Yesterday was nearly 60 degrees, so I had to let her wear it early. And go tromp around in the muddy rivers the snow was making. Because you are only 3 once.

 

Turning 30

It's really quite nice.

 

Reframing the words to excellent songs in order to make them Toddler Appropriate

I used to sing "Oh Yoko" to my daughter when she was a baby, but I changed "Yoko" to her name, and the chorus became "my love will lead you home". Tonight we danced around and sang it to each other. It was pretty great. Very Rushmore-esq.

 

Found

This is a book by Micha Boyett. I love the poetic-ness, and how she juxtaposes the mundane aspects of the stay-at-home life with the contemplative life of Benedictine monks. Since I am also a recovering savior complex, spend a lot of time with a certain 3 year old, and also yearn to pray more, this book was excellent. Slow, simple, and it made me realize how much space there already was for contemplation in my life.

 

Watching Cat Vines

Vine is very newfangled to me. But watching 6 second loops of cats being cute/ridiculous/funny is seriously soothing to my soul.

 

Eating Sugar Cereal

Having a bad week? Buy a $3 box of sugar cereal (preferably: Lucky Charms) and pour yourself a tall bowl. Aaaah.

 

Throwing Class Parties

As a teacher of adults, it really is my prerogative when it comes to throwing class parties. Sometimes the complexity of it overwhelms me: perhaps not everyone can afford to bring food, what if nobody shows up, how do we communicate (remember I teach level 0 pre-literacy). But I am leaning into this commitment to celebration thing we have going on in our order. This week we had a class party and it was so smashingly fantastic. I had SO much pasta and so many sambusas. East African food FTW!

 

Sambusa

If you have never had one, you are missing out. Like the Indian Samosa, but filled with ground beef and onions and occasionally peppers. The best East African snack/street food EVER.

 

Brooklyn 99

Oh my gosh this is our new favorite show. So funny, the characters are so endearing, Andy Samberg and his big goofy smile just win you over. It is not a cop show at all. It is a show about a bunch of dorky people doing what they love. This show makes me sad for other shows.

 

Applying/Pitching for Scary Things

Grants. Week-long retreats. An article at a place you have never written. For me and my writing, if I don't push myself, I tend not to produce. And for every 99 rejections, there seems to be 1 acceptance! Yay!

 

Reading YA during Spring Break

I am officially on spring break. While I have a few deadlines to make (plus, I crammed in a ton of socializing time in like I do), I am determined to make it somewhat feel like a reprieve. Enter the Young Adult literature.. I have gotten all of John Green and Rainbow Rowell's entire oeuvre's on hold for me at the library. Remember when life was simple but felt really complicated? When you fell in love with the first boy you kissed? When you were s emotional and sure that nobody felt like you, until the one day you realized how beautiful the world was and everyone in it? Yeah, that's like my norm. So YA just feels right.

 

Listening to Built to Spill While the Snow Thaws

It just feels right.

 

Americanah

You will be hearing more about this book from me at some point in the near future. Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie writes in a way that is lulling and piercing. Her descriptions of immigrant life in America resonated so deeply with me I was almost embarrassed. Her words on racism in America have not left my mind. It's not ok, the author is telling us, over and over again. Cruelty is never ok. You don't get to gloss over that fact, ever.

 

Figuring out your Rule of Life

Pope John Paul the II had one. So did MLK.  So do all the Benedictine  monks. Basically, pick a few spiritual disciplines and incorporate them into your life.  I personally like to crib from Dorothy Day (a personal hero of mine): find the face of Christ in the poor every day, and journal journal journal.

 

Ditching Netflix/Hulu plus for Amazon prime

Guys. Amazon Prime is amazing. Quit your Netflix and your Hulu and instead get free 2 day shipping and access to shows like Veronica MarsPushing DaisiesZach Stone is Gonna Be Famous, and the Pride and Prejudice that has Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Yes. If you divide the cost of Prime over 12 months, it's like $6 a month or something. Caveat: Amazon is also not the best thing ever. Support local and all that. Make your own instead of consumption. Yeah. But I have ordered a few killer Doctor Who mugs and some organic fair trade coffee at some sweet deals. Just don't go all crazy!

 

Read Genesis Again

I am in a Bible study with a neighbor and we are going through the Women of the Bible--starting in Genesis. Pretty bleak stuff, ammiright? Except there are so many stories of God hearing/seeing the oppressed. The stories of the Hagars, the Leahs. They just make me want to cry. I am also left with the unshakeable belief that God uses the most crazy miserable mess-ups to bring about his kingdom. I don't get it at all, but it makes me feel a bit more hopeful about myself.

 

About Time

This movie came out last year and went under my radar. It is delightful--time travel, stiff upper lip British people, Bill Nighy!, that guy who played Bill Weasely . . . don't be freaked out by the fact that there is a soft-focus Rachel McAdams on the cover. This is not the Notebook. It is very sweet and poignant and witty and just a really great movie (by the same people who brought you Love Actually). There is a phrase on love and death that will never leave me mind. But I won't tell you. You will have to watch it for yourself.

 

 

 

So that's what I am recommending these days. Hit me up with whatever you have got!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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