Sunday, July 27, 2014

Impossible

Well, I've pretty much studied as much as I can, and now my bags are packed and I'm driving up tomorrow for the bar on Tuesday and Wednesday. At a lot of junctures this summer, I've felt like this whole thing is completely impossible....how can anyone learn this much stuff/ how is anyone a lawyer because I don't know how anyone passes this exam!

But then I am reminded that all things are possible with God. And that's He's already helped me do a lot of things this year that, even a matter of months ago, I would have labeled "impossible," or pretty close to it. In January, I thought I would never be able to run 13.1 miles, but in the last three months I've run two half-marathons. I thought I might never actually be able to do more mission work abroad, even though I had been wanting to for such a long time, and you all already know that I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Haiti for just that purpose 2 months ago. In fact, it was "impossible" for me to go to law school in the first place because I couldn't afford it, but God worked that situation out too, and now I have a law school diploma hanging on my wall.

I am reminded of how the Israelites were too afraid to even enter the Promised Land because there were giants in the land, and they said, "Why would God have brought us to this land only to let us fall?" But God commanded them, "I have given you the land--go in and take possession of it!" That has been one of my themes this year. If God has truly called you to do something and made a way for you to do it, He has given you the land, but it's up to you to go in and take possession of it, and to have courage no matter what stands in your way. I was praying about just this situation the other day, and I told God, "Right now I feel like David trying to go up to fight Goliath--unprepared, incapable, and facing a ridiculous obstacle between me and doing what I want to do and feel called to do (aka, being a lawyer)." But God immediately reminded my heart, "But Lauren, remember who won that fight." Remember who won that fight.

If you think something is impossible, God can always find a way to prove you wrong. Always. He has given me the land, and I'm going to go into the Georgia International Convention Center on Tuesday and take possession of it. See you on the other side.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

9 More Days

9 days till the bar exam and this week my main goal is to avoid all my panicky classmates and all their stress because I don't need all that around me! I actually feel very calm right at this moment. I am systematically going through my outline for each of the 19 subjects that will be tested, and making a bullet point list of all the most important and most-likely-to-be-forgotten items from the outline for that subject. I am making charts to compare federal civil procedure with Georgia civil procedure and the Uniform Commercial Code with the common law of contracts. And finally, I'm making lists of "scenarios" for each subject that could come up on the multiple choice (example: if you enter someone's home with a key you stole, that's still a "breaking and entering" and you committed a burglary). I will have all the subjects reviewed by Thursday, and I am going to spend the weekend going over multiple choice questions and reading sample essay answers from past questions. And I'm totally getting a massage on Friday too ($10 massages on the undergrad campus? Yes please.) I am printing out all of my lists and charts and filing them in this old Washington and Lee binder I have from college, and that's going to be my final notebook of stuff to read the Monday morning before the exam. Then, I am going to drive to Atlanta, check in to my hotel, and CHILL until Tuesday morning--game time.

There are some topics that I really, really hope will get tested--for example, I am really hoping we get a family law essay or a wills essay. If we get a federal diversity jurisdiction question, I'm pretty much, mentally, going to be sitting on the beach sipping a margarita while I answer it because those questions are SO easy (I could teach that to someone entirely untrained in law in a matter of 5 minutes). Thankfully, there aren't really any subjects that I feel like I would totally have no clue about if they asked. I mean, I would much rather not have an essay about property or criminal procedure, but I feel like I could still write a semi-intelligent response if we did. But I feel like I at least HAVE A PLAN for this last week, which is half the battle. And I got groceries and gas and cooked for the week today, so hopefully my personal life will be handled for the next week. It takes me about 3 hours to get through each subject outline, but I've already done a bunch of them in the last few days, so I think I can tackle them soon enough. I started saving a fair amount of time when I realized I don't need to always put in my notes, "Under Georgia law . . . " I told myself, well of course it's under Georgia law, it's not like I'm taking the Montana bar exam!

Well, time to review some more multiple choice questions and review annulment of marriages in GA. Terrible things happen in these multiple choice questions, y'all, I'm telling you what. I'm like, who thinks of this stuff? For example, bears chase people, hikers fall into canyons, people drop cigarettes inadvertently into gas leaks on the ground and cause explosions, people get drunk and do lots of stupid things, people ask others to commit crimes and then realize that the person they asked is actually a cop, gravel flies off the back of people's trucks and onto the roadway and causes accidents, defendants run around the courtroom in a frenzy until they have to be restrained, a beekeeper's wild bee colony gets loose and terrorizes the community, etc., etc. This question about liability for keeping animals on your property was so absurd it just made me burst out laughing: "An eccentric couple kept a kangaroo in their backyard. The kangaroo was always gentle and had never hurt anyone. But one day, a visitor came to see the couple, and the kangaroo attacked the visitor!" Well, of course it did--it's not a pet, eccentric couple!

More to come soon--I'm off to go figure out why, even though C is technically a correct answer, D is a "better" one. Almost there.

"Do not pray for tasks equal to your power. Pray for power equal to your tasks." --Phillips Brooks

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th, everybody! I hope everyone has had a great holiday and time to spend with friends and family. I spent most of the day sitting by the pool with Christiane, Geoff, and Ashley, laughing and laughing, eating ribs and corn and potato salad and apple pie, and watching fireworks by the lake. Can't get much more American than that! I so, so needed this time. I was really worried about taking a substantial break from studying because I only have about three weeks left and I feel guilty when I'm not working because there is so much more than I could ever learn in 3 weeks, even if I worked pretty much 24/7. And we're close enough to the big event that trying to relax often makes me feel anxious and jittery, like I feel during my law school final exams. But it was definitely the right decision to take most of today off, because I seriously feel like a new woman now and so refreshed. I've been running on fumes for the last week or so and didn't even realize it. And now I actually feel ready to work again. I'm going to watch a movie and go to bed (which will be amazing, because I pretty much haven't watched TV/ movies all summer). Good night y'all and enjoy your holiday!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Peace That Passes Understanding

So, first of all, for anyone wondering, the answer to the multiple choice question in the last post is B: the plaintiff recovers nothing because the modified comparative negligence statute bars recovery for anyone who is as negligent as or more negligent than the defendant--which we had here, because she was 50% at fault.

Second, I wanted to share a couple of verses with you in the way that they appear in the Amplified Bible, a translation that includes nuances and shades of meaning from the original Greek and Hebrew languages that don't show up in just a standard English translation. It's meant to recover a lot of the Biblical meaning that gets lost in translation. And I love the way Philippians 4:6-7 is translated in this version: "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests) with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

That tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ. I love that description. It's the knowledge that it is WELL with your soul--whatever may come. It is well. It is a contentment and a rest that persists even in the face of the insanity of our world. It is a peace that can't be touched by whatever I face in the next month, or ever. It is that deep inner calm of knowing that the Lord directs my steps, goes before me and behind me, resides within me, fights mightily for me, strengthens me, and helps me, and I have full, unlimited access to God's power and presence because of what Jesus Christ has done for me. After all, no one is more capable than God--and He is on our side, empowering us, infusing inner strength into us, giving us the victory.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Question of the Day

I've gotten to the point in my life where I am writing my own multiple choice questions in order to review. And of course, I decided to share one of them with you, since I don't really have time to blog about anything else! Any guesses as to the answer on this one? And this question is actually pretty easy, so no pressure: 

The plaintiff and defendant are involved in a car accident, where the plaintiff sustains $100,000 in damages. It was determined that the plaintiff was 50% at fault in causing the accident, while the defendant was also 50% at fault. Assume that this jurisdiction has a modified comparative negligence statute in force. Further assume that the plaintiff’s sister offered to pay, and did pay, $10,000 of the plaintiff’s medical bills to help the plaintiff out. The plaintiff’s insurance company paid for $60,000 of her damages. How much money is the plaintiff entitled to recover from the defendant?

 A) $50,000—the amount of plaintiff’s damages attributable to defendant.
 B) Nothing.
 C) $40,000—the amount of plaintiff’s damages not covered by insurance.
 D) $30,000—the amount of plaintiff’s damages not covered by collateral sources. 

I will post the answer tomorrow! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What You MUST Do With Your Life

So, here's just some food for thought based on something my friend and I have been talking about this week: I'm tired of 20-somethings telling other 20-somethings what to do and couching it in terms of "life advice." And ok, I'm pretty sure I've probably been guilty of this a time or two even on this blog, so I admit it. But what I'm really talking about are the lists--the stress-inducing, judgmental lists that make readers feel like if they haven't reached certain milestones by 23, 25, 26, etc., they are failures. Maybe you know exactly what I'm talking about:

"25 Things You MUST Do Before You Turn 25."

"If You Haven't Done These Things by Your 30th Birthday, You'd Better Get Started!"

And the vague, "Things You Have to Do to Be an Adult."

Really? I must do a list of things compiled by a 25-year-old before I turn 25? I have to follow the advice of my peers (not older, wiser folks, mind you) if I want to consider myself to be a real adult? I need to be going through my twenties with a checklist in mind--made by people my age and younger? Now, I know you're probably thinking I'm reading way too much into this. Of course I don't have to follow those lists and of course I can ignore what people tell me I "have" to do. However, I think what I really find troubling is that articles like this, while new ones get published every day and blogged about and go viral on social media, are only scratching the surface of a deeper cultural epidemic among 20-somethings. That epidemic is a compulsion to one-up the life choices of everybody else with your own and then to act like you're superior to all your peers because of what you decided to do and that THEY NEED TO DO IT TOO. Like, right now:

"Why I Got Married at 22 and You Should Too"

"23 Things to Do Besides Getting Engaged When You're 23"

"Why You Should/ Shouldn't Go to Grad School"

"Why You Should Definitely Work in _____ (tech, the arts, etc.)"

So I need to do all those things because someone else my age has decided that that's the best way to live life? What happened to individual differences among people, different values, different goals, different hopes for the future, and different skills? I already know way too many of my peers who feel bad about their lives because they're struggling in this economy to find work and pay off debt, or they feel like they'll never be able to afford better than a studio apartment, or they feel discouraged and like failures because they're working so hard to make rent that they simply don't have the time or energy to be in a relationship right now. Or perhaps, they are married and have small children and a job and are doing their very best to keep up with a multitude of responsibilities, and the last thing they need is to get on the Internet and be told they shouldn't have gotten married yet, or should have waited to have kids, or their career is never going to advance because they're trying to have a family too. And really, at the core, isn't it arrogant to assume that others need to do exactly what you have done and to pursue the life you've pursued? Who are you to tell someone when/ if they should pursue a certain career, date, get married, buy a house, travel, have kids, etc.?

Let me put it to you this way: people my age have enough stress in our lives as it is, and enough expectations on us from 100 different sources. We don't need to keep reading about how we're not real adults or are doing life wrong because we haven't found a long-term "career" job yet or because we haven't had a serious relationship yet or because we decided to wait on/ skip grad school. Plus, I would rather take my serious life advice from people who have lived a lot more of it than me. I'm not saying 20-somethings can't have great insights on life, but if I'm really trying to make decisions for myself, I'd rather seek insights of people who are significantly older than me and have made certain choices and lived to tell about it.

And finally, I have enough expectations for myself as it is, and I don't need the added burden of tons of cultural expectations from people who don't even know me or know my life circumstances. I'm willing to bet this is also true for almost anyone my age. Here's what you MUST do before you turn 25: whatever you are good at and enjoy and feel called to do and want to do. No one else can make that decision for you. So, 20-somethings: Quit telling other 20-somethings what to do.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Just Keep Studying . . .

In exciting news for today, I officially signed the lease on my new apartment! I am so happy and so relieved that this worked out. This is particularly exciting because, other than just run-of-the-mill buying products or services/ getting student loans, this is literally the first time in my life I have ever entered an official contractual arrangement without my parents. This was my Big Independent Moment of the week. And it feels so good! I have always in the past been required to have my parents sign on as guarantors for leases and so forth--which is fine, but it is such a wonderfully independent feeling to be able to transact business with someone on my own merits and get by on my own credit score instead of someone else's.

And, of course, I read the entire lease word-for-word before signing (I don't understand people who DON'T do that . . . I mean, if you're going to legally obligate yourself with a document, you'd really better read it first). It actually served as a very effective review of contract law, as it contained:

  • a force majeure clause
  • liquidated damages clauses
  • provisions about mitigation of damages
  • and a merger clause
But, you really didn't need to know all that. Studying for the bar is totally taking over my brain! I've already dreamed about felony murder and the statute of frauds this summer, and I usually have a law-related dream almost every night. A couple mornings ago I woke up and felt SO totally refreshed, and then suddenly realized that the law hadn't intruded on my dreams that night. And it was great. It's hard not to dream about it though when I'm spending 10-12 hours a day on it. I have those giant Post-It note things all over my living room walls, where I've written the major points of each subject outline by hand to help me remember them. If I have guests over anytime soon, they'll be able to learn the finer points of severability of offers to compromise, larceny by trick, and subsequent remedial measures just by reading all the Post-Its. I've done about 1,500 practice multiple choice questions so far this summer for the multistate portion of the bar (called the MBE), and would like to do 3,500 or so before the actual test. Some of--or most of--these questions are kind of insane. The ONLY way to get them right is to practice until you don't think you can practice anymore. Here's a couple examples of the kinds of questions that are on the bar: 

1) In a murder trial, a witness would like to introduce the victim's statement, immediately prior to his death, that the defendant was the one who shot him. The admissibility of the statement should be determined by:
A) the judge, without assistance from the jury
B) the judge, with a limiting instruction to the jury
C) the jury, without assistance from the judge
D) the jury, after a preliminary determination from the judge

Oh, and I skipped the part where the beginning of the question is often actually 2-3 paragraphs long, and you have to dig through it to find the relevant facts. And sometimes the questions will say stuff like, "The jurisdiction has adopted a modified comparative negligence statute, which reads as follows: '[Quote from the statute]'" and then you read the answer choices and realize that the statute they gave you is totally inapplicable to the legal claim and is only there to trick you. 

Or here's another example: 

"[Long fact pattern]. How should the court rule on the validity of the assignment?"
A) The assignment was not a present interest transfer.
B) It was not actually an assignment but an order directing payments to a third party.
C) The assignee was properly assigned the payments but assumed the risk of insolvency.
D) The assignee was properly assigned the payments but did not assume the risk of insolvency.

Bonus points if you can even figure out what SUBJECT that last example relates to. (It's actually contracts.) Evidence, torts, and criminal law come pretty easily to me, but it's a different story with property, contracts, and constitutional law, so I'm going to need to devote additional time to those in the next few weeks. We're at the turning point of the course now, where tomorrow we have a practice MBE exam and then we'll be spending the rest of the summer studying exclusively Georgia law topics, tested on the essay portion of the exam. I am going to see my friend Juliana on Saturday and am staying with her that night and then I am running my half-marathon on Sunday, so I will get a little time off this weekend, which I'm looking forward to. Anyway, time to keep pressing on (and to go to bed). Happy Friday!

My verse for this summer: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" -Romans 8:31

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Adventures in Apartment Hunting

On Friday I went to go find myself a new apartment for when I start my job in August. In my mind, I was expecting the search to be like it was when I found an apartment for law school . . . where leasing agents are super nice and accommodating and friendly, they clearly want to lure you in as a tenant, and are willing to work with you because they see you as a person, not just a profit source. Well, I was kind of stunned by just how hostile the rental market was in my new place. That's the only word I really know to describe it . . . competitive, bureaucratic, and involving lots of dealing with people who could care less about you or whether you actually decide to live in their property. The first apartment complex I visited, in particular, left a really bad taste in my mouth. The leasing agent acted bored by even giving me a tour, and was kind of unprofessional and borderline rude. Like, I'd ask how much I could expect rent to increase upon lease renewal, and she just said, "Well, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in the lease that says rent can't exceed a certain amount." Oh really. All she could talk about was how quickly the units fill up and how if I didn't get back to them by later that same day, there probably would be no vacancies available. It was so obvious that I was completely expendable as a tenant. They weren't trying to sell me anything because they just didn't care--if I wasn't interested, someone else would come along in an hour or two and sign a lease. Well, I for sure wasn't interested.

The next apartment I went to was pretty nice on the surface, but I had some major misgivings about it because it got really bad reviews online, with one of the main complaints being that they raise rent by $300 or so every time you renew your lease. None of these apartments include utilities either, and doing the math, that means in 2 years I would easily be paying up to $1900 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and utilities. This isn't New York City, and that's not acceptable to me, so I kept looking. I looked at another apartment complex that looked nice online but just looked rundown and not very attractive in real life. I walked around with the leasing agent on a tour that lasted all of ten minutes, and then he was like, "Do you want to sign a lease now?" What I felt like saying: "Why yes, I do want to sign a legally binding contract to pay you a large amount of money every month for a whole year after a few minutes of touring your underwhelming property." But I just said, "Well, I need to keep looking, but I'll let you know."

But then I also toured an apartment that had GREAT reviews online, and this one was so much more in line with what I was looking for. The property manager actually talked to me about myself and my needs and what I'm looking for in a place, and it was obvious that she actually was trying to convince me to live there, unlike anyone else that day so far. She even said, "Oh, you're going to be an attorney? Well, we really want you here!" And it didn't hurt that the model apartment she showed me was beautiful. As I walked around trying to remind myself "furniture and decor not included," I realized that it was still definitely going to meet my needs. The bedroom is small but totally functional and big enough for a queen-sized bed and a desk. The living room is a really good size and, unlike my current apartment, the walls are not plaster so I can easily put nails in the wall to hang pictures. I can even mount my TV on the wall if I want (never mind that I don't have a TV. I may get one in the fall). The kitchen was my favorite part: beautiful granite countertops, wooden cabinetry with a lot of storage space, brand-new stainless steel appliances, and a dishwasher that is probably going to change my life (never had one of those before). So, this hopefully is going to be the place I end up, provided my application gets approved and everything lines up financially. And it's exactly five minutes from my law office! And about 3 minutes from a Target and a huge mall, and across the street from a beautiful park with a bunch of running trails. And it is pet-friendly, so I'm getting a cat from a shelter in the fall. And it has a pool, a place to grill out by the pool, a decent gym (although I'll probably get a gym membership elsewhere, but it's still nice to have), and resident events every month. So I'm so happy to have found this, and I can't wait to get moved in and get it decorated at the beginning of August!

On Friday I also stopped in at the law firm, said hi to everybody, and had lunch with 3 of the associates. We had a great time, and it was really good to see all of them. They even paid for my meal because they said it qualified as an "official associate business lunch." They are the best. The first thing my soon-to-be-boss said to me was, "Shouldn't you be studying right now [for the bar]?" But I reassured them that I am working hard, just taking a day off to find a place to live! They were really encouraging and told me that I am going to make it through the bar exam and that they can't wait to have me start.

I am so, so excited about my soon-to-be new life and I can't wait to get settled in and go on all those IKEA runs to get decor and lamps and stuff and to explore my new city and get my cat and start my job (not in that order). But now it really is back to studying so that I can actually get my law license, because that would definitely help!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

New Blog Layout!

I hope you all enjoy my new blog design! I realized that it looked really amateur and kind of sloppy and disorganized, so I set to work fixing it, and I am pretty pleased with the results. Feel free to check out my new page links at the top. I hope it makes your reading experience a better one!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Haiti!!

A little Haitian girl singing “Our God is Greater” in Creole at the top of her lungs during worship night in the local church. Two little boys playing with a paper sailboat in a mud puddle, as excited about their toy as can be. A young couple inviting us into their home to pray for God’s blessing on their marriage, children, and daily lives. Children running into your arms, content to play with you for hours, just wanting to know that they are loved.

           These are just a few of the sights and sounds that Meagan and I experienced in our week serving in Haiti with Mission of Hope! Meagan and I spent the week in the small village of Titanyen, situated right between the mountains and the sea, where MOH has one campus dedicated to alleviating poverty, providing medical care, educating children, and meeting spiritual needs, all done in the name of Jesus. MOH’s main purpose is to empower the local Haitian church to meet the needs of the community, rather than to simply send short-term mission teams into the village to complete a few projects and leave. They’re pursuing a change that is deeper and more long-term than that. Because of this philosophy, Meagan and I served in the village and completed work projects under the direction of leaders in the local church—men and women who have partnered with Mission of Hope to effect change in Titanyen, and who are aptly referred to as “village champions.” A group of village champions, who also served as our translators, worked with us throughout the week and selected every project that we performed. Because of this unique approach, once mission teams return to the US, the people who are benefited don’t simply remember that “a group from North America” helped them—they remember that the local church stepped in to fill a need, and are much more likely to seek to have their spiritual needs met in their own communities as well.


During our week in Titanyen, our routine was to alternate spending a day doing village ministry with a day doing work projects, so that we could gain exposure to both forms of service. Our last day of the trip was a “vacation day” at a beach resort. “Village ministry” took on different forms—usually, it involved playing with children of all ages from the community, going door-to-door to pray with and build relationships with families, presenting Bible stories in the local park, and providing food to the children. Wherever we went in the village, usually a small crowd of eager children followed us around, just wanting to spend time with us even though we couldn’t speak their language. They were happy to sit in our laps, run and dance around with us, or play soccer with us. The families that we spoke to were so warm and welcoming, more than willing to tell us about their children, their jobs, and life in the village. They were almost always willing to allow us to pray for them—and sometimes they prayed for us. One of my favorite home visits was when my group met with the pastor of a local church, and he prayed over all of us. These are the moments I will remember most.

On our work days, we usually went out in groups to paint homes for local families and, on our last day, to paint a small family-run orphanage that houses about a dozen children. On Sunday, we had the privilege of attending the church on the MOH campus and worshipping with the locals. We always talk about our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world, but it can’t compare to actually being with those brothers and sisters in Christ, seeing their passion for following the Lord, joining with them in worship even though you’re singing the same song in two different languages. We also had the opportunity later on Sunday to tour a couple other campuses that MOH has in that part of the country. Meagan and I were consistently impressed with this organization and how they’ve been willing to tackle lofty goals like building schools, running a medical clinic and a prosthetics lab for people who lost limbs in the 2010 earthquake, hosting pastor training conferences, and so forth. MOH’s goal is to be run entirely by local Haitians by 2020, without involvement from staff from the US—once again evidence of their goal to empower the local community. 

Meagan and I also were blessed to be able to join up with a large college group from Arkansas and to do all of our projects and ministry with them while in Titanyen. We weren’t sure what it would look like to basically go on a mission trip when it was just the two of us, but right away this group welcomed us in with open arms, and it was wonderful to have a bigger group of people to pray with, process with, and share a vision with. As a result of this trip, Meagan has chosen to sponsor a child in Titanyen, and I hope to do the same in the next few months. I was inspired by a question that was posed to us during our debrief night: What would it look like for you to be a village champion in your own community, being involved in the daily life of your city and helping to draw people to Christ through service and relationship-building? There’s so much still to do, and Meagan and I are so excited about taking what we learned from Haiti and pouring into our own communities! Because it's all for the glory of God. 



















I didn't take this picture--one of the other girls in our group did--but I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it because it is so great: