Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Called to be Holy, not Happy

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 
Thessalonians 4:7

We live in a culture that worships happiness. Everything we do seems to be determined by the reward at the end and whether it will make us happy. We hope for wealth, thinking it will bring happiness. We test relationships for the happiness factor. School, job, family--everything is judged by whether we are happy. We have convinced ourselves that God just wants us all to be happy.

This is not new; it is as old has humanity itself. Adam and Eve thought being like God would make them happy. As it turned out, happy was the last thing that disobedience allowed. Our attempts to be happy will ultimately stymie us not matter how are we try or how many things we attempt.  C.S. Lewis articulated man's drive for happiness in Mere Christianity

...And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery-- the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. 
                                                                    (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity "The Shocking Alternative")
Our idea of happiness too often leaves those around us unhappy. We pursue our own goals without considering the impact on others. As long as we achieve happiness, how we got it doesn't matter. And that usually backfires. God never once calls us to happiness. Jesus spoke the Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount, and He did talk about happiness, but the happiness He described followed something entirely different: holiness.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
Thessalonians 4:1-8 To abide in the faith of the gospel is not enough, we must abound in the work of faith. The rule according to which all ought to walk and act, is the commandments given by the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification, in the renewal of their souls under the influences of the Holy Spirit, and attention to appointed duties, constituted the will of God respecting them. In aspiring after this renewal of the soul unto holiness, strict restraint must be put upon the appetites and senses of the body, and on the thoughts and inclinations of the will, which lead to wrong uses of them. The Lord calls none into his family to live unholy lives, but that they may be taught and enabled to walk before him in holiness. Some make light of the precepts of holiness, because they hear them from men; but they are God's commands, and to break them is to despise God.

photo overlay: mine
papers and stars: Julie Enrique Designs

Sunday, January 12, 2014

World Trade Center

December 4

White Roses for Birthdays

no one forgotten

The Survivor Tree

photos: mine
overlays: Kim Klassen
Scrapbook Elements: DigiDesignResort "Beyond the Darkness"

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Decline of the English Language

Sprint has a series of commercials that make me laugh every time I see them.  Ah, teenspeak.

And the next day...

Grad school, day two.

Got to class on time. Right class. Right room.

Computer logged into the wifi on the first try. (I took my laptop instead of the Chromebook.)

Logged into the school site easily.

Ordered textbooks from Amazon and saved a bundle of $$. Learned about the best book rental place and saved even more.

Took notes on the computer--no hand cramp.

Calculated that I have been in a classroom as student or teacher for...ready for this?

THIRTY EIGHT YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh mercy.

But, I had a good day.

And I don't have another class until Tuesday.


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Not Auspicious

After more years than I care to admit, I have returned to the college campus. The program is a Masters of Teaching--and looks to be a repeat of coursework from my last years at Cal Poly. Hoops. Bureaucracy. Whatever. I know things have changed since 1990, so I don't mind the new information or refreshing the stuff I learned back in the day. I would very much like to skip the student teaching part, though...but probably not.

So, tonight was the first class. I got to campus early. I successfully claimed a parking hang tag and a student id. I found this building for tonight's class and had enough time to meet my adviser in the English building. With confidence I strolled back to the hall for my first class.

And there the trouble began. I had the new family Chromebook (won by Brian in a radio station contest), so decided to log in and verify the class and room. I had scrawled out the class name and room number on my map, but neglected to write the course number. Big mistake.

The Chromebook couldn't access the school wifi. My phone also failed. And, of course, what I had scrawled on my map was WRONG. Wrong course name, wrong room number. And no way to right the wrong.

And I didn't even have a Barbie lunchbox as consolation.

I was saved by a professor on her way out of the building. Sensing my distress (and possibly the tears welling in my eyes), she offered to find my schedule on her computer and help me find my way. Within 5 minutes, I opened the door to the right classroom.

But the humiliation didn't end there. Of course, 20 minutes late, I was the LAST to arrive, and the professor (whom I actually liked a lot by the end of class) decided to announce my arrival. By name. What could I do but take a bow? And a seat. Toward the back. In the middle of a group project. At a table of three seasoned students, one of whom is returning to school after raising kids, She is three semesters ahead of me, though, so I was the sole newbie in the room.

Fast forward two-plus hours, and I still couldn't get the Chromebook to access the internet--and a couple of tech-savvy classmates couldn't either. I will take my laptop to the next class and arrive in the right place early enough to secure a wall seat near an electrical outlet. Hopefully that will solve THAT problem.

Of course, I got home planning to do some of the work assigned for next week, but I couldn't find the files. It's a good thing I have a child attending the same school. I was able to access most of it, send an email to the professor about the one I couldn't find, and actually turn in two items to the Dropbox.  I feel so accomplished.

And on that positive note, I am going to bed before anything else happens!!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Let There Be Cupcakes

Build Me Up Buttercup

Cookies N Cream
Savanna's Strawberrylicious

Nonnie's Cinna Yummy

Hey, I'm the photographer for a bakery!!

Photos mine
Overlays: Kim Klassen

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

My Word for 2014

My blog title reflects how I've learned to live my life: by accident. I've tried the planning thing, but usually my plans turn into something I could never have anticipated, so I learned to take life as God sent it--planned by Someone other than me. In the past three years I have focused on appreciating that approach to life. I learned to be content. Oh sure, I'd love to win the lottery, but since I don't buy tickets, that's not likely. I've worked to be connected. For an introvert like myself, that's not so easy. Making that even more challenging is my tendency to "fix" things--even when my input is not requested. It's hard to connect to people when you forget to just listen before offering solutions--no matter how good those solutions may be. I haven't mastered that balance, but it's not for lack of trying. Can I help it if my quiet studio is my happy place? 2013 was a year of perspective. Had I known what the year would hold, I may have chosen a different word.  But again, living by accident, I know that I chose that word for a reason I couldn't possibly understand until the year was over and I had time to reflect. I'm still processing the perspective gained in losing my job, a debilitating injury, weight gain (because of the injury), and more illness than in many years.

Starting over, as I have to do in 2014, will certainly test my perspective on who I am and my purpose in this life. As an athlete, I am starting over from a place I haven't been in years: overweight, short of breath, and weak. Intellectually I know that I will rebound, but knowing where I was a year ago, it's hard to persevere. It's remarkable how important the rotator cuff is. Losing it, first through wear, then the tear, then surgery for repair, brought my workouts to a halt. Use it or lose it--and I lost everything except weight. My immune system suffered the lack of conditioning and I've had cold after cold after cold since August. So, as my shoulder heals, I will slowly begin to regain my strength and stamina. But I am starting over.

Losing the teaching contract was a surprise. It gave me a chance to pick up my photography and learn how to photograph food at a local bakery. (I got that job back in May when school let out. Mostly it is about service, but I've added food photography and website maintenance to my repertoire. Life by accident.) It also gave me time to reconsider graduate school. As it turns out, a Master of Arts in Teaching is pretty much starting over--even to student teaching again. Really? I've been teaching for 25 years and I have to do another two semesters as a student teacher? Perspective. The classes I'm glad to take; things have changed in the last two decades. I'm hoping the program will allow me to do at least some of the "practicum" at the university, but we shall see. Living by accident sometimes has detours that don't seem to make sense until later in the journey. Perspective--a middle aged woman surrounded by fresh faced collegiates. Experience amid enthusiasm. Starting over.

2014 is also the year of the empty nest and empty wallet. Two children in college (plus me) and no children at home. It could be interesting. It could be lonely. It could be fun. It could be any number of things. It will be a new beginning for me and Brian, starting over as a couple.

In all these "startings over" I will have to live a little less my accident and a little more by design. My word for 2014, then reflects that idea:

Intentional means to do things on purpose, by design. Starting over does offer the opportunity to set new goals and work toward them, knowing that if the path diverts I am well practiced in living by accident as well. I am adaptable; the last couple of years have taught me that. Since I'm starting over in so many areas, I can be intentional with how I approach new things. For my health, I can be intentional in my training and my eating. I can drink enough water and avoid too much sugar. I can pay attention to strength training and not rely on the treadmill for a complete workout. For school, I can be intentional in how I respond to new ideas. I can focus on what goals I set for myself (ultimately a PhD), and worry less about being the oldest one in the class. I can intentionally write and research and produce with a view to those PhD studies.

Spiritually, too, I must be intentional. I must look for God's hand in the detours. I must seek His perspective when things don't go according to my plan. I must connect to those who come alongside me as I travel the path, intentionally listening and nothing more. And I must continue to be content with whatever circumstances I find myself in, knowing that, instead of living by accident, I intentionally choose to live in a design that I may or may not yet understand.