Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I know I have not been keeping up with this blog . . . but like most people, I've been way too busy hanging out with family, doing Christmas shopping, eating holiday meals, etc., etc. I hope you all have had a wonderful time with your loved ones celebrating the birth of our Savior! While it truly is one of the best times of the year, I hope we keep the joy of Christ's birth near and dear to our hearts all year long.

I am now getting ready to go on vacation for a few days with my sister to Richmond and DC to celebrate the New Year, so more than likely, my next post will be in 2013. When I first started this blog (one of my 2012 goals), I thought it would probably be a little experiment that would fizzle out after a couple months, so I'm glad I've managed to keep posting throughout the year (albeit with some LONG breaks between updates). But I am so excited about this new year. All the promise it holds, all the excitement, all the new experiences to be had and new lessons to learn, and I can't wait to share some of it with you all here.

So without further ado: I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, Happy New Year, and I will see you in 2013!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What We Can Learn from Doomsday Preppers

I'm sure most of you are aware that many people are saying the world is going to end this Friday, and many more are simply saying that it will be "doomsday" or that life as we know it will never be the same after that date, even if human life does go on. Other people fear a more general "doomsday" taking place at some unspecified time, for any number of reasons, and have made it their mission in life to prepare for it--stocking up food and water, preparing shelter that will withstand crises, and more. (The popular TV show "Doomsday Preppers" will tell you more about these kinds of people and what they do to get ready for the end of the world).

Now, I know a lot of people write the "preppers" off as crazy. But the fact is, even if their methods are wrong, they ARE focused on always being ready for whatever comes. Because you know, we're all going to die someday. Sure, it could happen on December 21st. It could happen in 2064. Or it could happen today. The point is, we don't--and can't--know. But there is great value in doing the occasional assessment of your life to determine what kind of legacy YOU would leave if you died today. Bomb-proof bunkers and stockpiles of distilled water set aside, are you ready?

Do the people you love know that you love them? Do you have at least one friend who makes you laugh, one who lets you cry, and one who tells you the truth even when you don't want to hear it? Have you found something to pour your heart and energy into that will outlive you? Are you caring for the world and the people in it? Are there people you need to forgive? Regrets you need to release?

Is there a goal or passion you've always wanted to pursue and haven't? Are you living in yesterday or tomorrow more than today? Do you generally have time for the Really Important Stuff: like going to your daughter's dance recital, listening to your grandparents tell stories about their childhood, and being a shoulder to cry on for a friend? Are you learning, inspiring, and being kind? Taking risks?

Are you more concerned with doing well, or doing good?

What will be your legacy?

Just some food for thought.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Evidence of God's Care

As of Friday at noon when I finished my last final exam for the semester, I am now officially halfway done with law school! And to tell the truth, it's gone by pretty fast, so I feel like it really won't be that long until I am a full-fledged attorney.

My last final, for my evidence class, was on Friday, and it was 50 multiple choice questions on the Federal Rules of Evidence. I already knew it was going to be a really difficult test, and because it was my last final coming at the end of three very busy weeks, I was really exhausted and overwhelmed trying to prepare for it last week. I also had a paper due Friday for another class that I was trying to finish, so I was trying to study as much as I could for this exam but it was pretty hard to do. I was just praying a lot that God would give me wisdom and insight on how best to prepare for the exam and to use my study time.

My professor had told our class a couple times during the semester that it would be a good idea to do the multiple-choice review questions in the back of the book. By the beginning of last week, I still hadn't done those questions, even though I had reviewed all the reading and made a study outline. Well, starting on Tuesday or Wednesday, I started feeling like I HAD to do those questions and that even if I didn't have time to do anything else to study, I needed to do those questions first. I had a strong impression that they were more important than studying my outline or reviewing the reading assignments.

I had to spend most of Wednesday and Thursday writing my paper for my other class, but Thursday night, when the feeling that I had to do those questions in the book hadn't gone away, I sat down to tackle them. The answers were in the book, and so I was able to check them as I went along. There were 200 in all, but I only managed to do 150 before I just fell asleep--it was 2am and the exam was in 7 hours and I just couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.

So on Friday morning, I got to the exam and start reading through it. It didn't take me long to realize that, with the exception of a couple names being changed, about half the exam questions were taken verbatim from ones in the book I had looked at mere hours before! Because of that, I was able to speed through questions that I otherwise would have really struggled with. I've never been so glad to have followed a professor's advice!

After I got home that day, I was flipping through the last 50 questions in the book--the ones that I didn't get to because I couldn't stay awake anymore. Maybe one or two of the questions I didn't get to had been on the exam, but literally all of the rest of them were from the section I managed to finish. To make a long story short, I was totally overwhelmed by God's concern for my life and the way He even cares about helping a tired law student with her evidence final! He definitely answered my prayers for wisdom on how to study!

I pray that YOU have felt His hand of grace in your life lately as well.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

6 Days Till Break.

I can't sleep, so I figured I may as well write something instead! It's always active around this apartment building on weekend nights, but the past two nights, it's been sounding like my neighbor is preparing for a musical or something. At 3:00 in the morning. (And I'm resisting the urge to wake up at 6:30am and start blasting the Backstreet Boys). It's making me about want to go to a hotel to get ready for the rest of my finals--you know, Paper Chase-style. Although I'm not really sure I could sleep anyway, since my brain is crammed with civil procedure and statutes and case law from bioethics and the nuances of the Federal Rules of Evidence. My bioethics final is due Friday, and the evidence final is that same day, and then I'll be done for a whole blissful month.

My friends and I are all in that intense, stressed-out exam mode, but as I talked about with a friend yesterday, we're going to miss law school when it's done so we should resolve to enjoy it while we're here, no matter how challenging it may seem.

This semester has really been a whirlwind in a lot of ways: taking on a lot of new activities, finding out more about what I really want to do and become, and finding out a lot more about who my true friends are, what my Christian community here looks like, and where I fit in at this place in my life. It's been a growing experience and I think I really have learned a lot. At least I hope I have, because I still have two exams to tackle. :)
 
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."
Isaiah 30:15




Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Twilight/ Heaven Connection

With the recent release of the latest and last Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part 2, a whole slew of new articles have been cropping up that talk about the Twilight series and what it does to teenage girls. How it makes them feel about love. How it's similar to porn (I think that one's a long, long shot). All of its subtle and not-so-subtle implications about love, sex, marriage, and gender.

I watched all these movies, enjoyed the attractiveness of Taylor Lautner on screen, read most of the books, and really enjoyed them for what it's worth, but I do understand why many parents have chosen not to let their daughters get involved with this series. The movies' views of romance and sex are not always the best, and I'm not a huge fan of how Bella embraces the mindset of losing herself completely in a guy--that's an example adolescent girls could probably do without. However, I highly doubt that I'm the first to suggest this, but I see something different and much deeper in these movies. To me, they're one of the clearest representations we have in modern pop culture of the longing in the human heart for eternity.

Think about it. One of the major premises of the movies is that the vampires are (virtually) indestructible and ageless, and with the exception of the few who die over the course of the series, they basically live forever. They are impossibly strong, fast, powerful, and beautiful (and that's yet another social commentary right there--who doesn't long to be like that?) Because they live forever, Bella has to become like them, stopping her natural aging in its tracks so it won't hinder her relationship with Edward, forever seventeen.

I really think one of the reasons these movies are so popular is because they stir up and awaken the often-suppressed longing for immortality that nearly everyone has. They make you think, "What if I could live forever?" They invoke a deep craving for eternity, one of the most primal, unassailable parts of the human heart. As the Bible tells us, God Himself is the one who has planted eternity in the human heart. And He is the one who has made a way for us to embrace eternity and spend it with Him, truly living forever in the most fulfilling, exhilarating, joyful life imaginable.

I'm a big believer that any type of pop culture can become a forum for sharing the Gospel with others, and that there's some redemptive element in virtually all popular literature and movies, if you're willing to look for it. Have the Twilight movies awakened in you--or in someone you know--a longing for eternity that you didn't even know you had? Be inspired by them to find out more about that longing and the One who gave it to you. In so doing, you just may find that these films have that redemptive quality after all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quote for the Day

"Imagine what would happen if God completely captivated thousands of lives . . . and ruined them for anything less than the well-determined plan He had in mind when He created them. What if nothing less than the flagrant fame of Jesus Christ became their life ambition? The wholly surrendered life in Christ is the most exhilarating adventure available for human flesh and blood. It is the offer to live for something so much greater. It is the offer for a life that matters here long after we've vacated this planet." --Beth Moore

10 Ways to Improve Your Life Right Now

My sister and I are always looking for ways to meet our goals and make our daily lives better, more efficient, and more fulfilling. But sometimes I don't want to take weeks or months to make life improvements or see changes happen. So here are some easy (and cheap) things I do when I want to immediately make my life better/ get more motivated, without having to wait 6 months or a year for the next big "life goal" to come to fruition.

1. Go do the hardest workout you can handle. You'll feel energized and motivated for hours afterward.

2. Text a couple of friends you haven't seen in awhile and make plans to get together with them for lunch, coffee, or just hanging out. Just looking forward to some quality friend time makes any day better.

3. Do something, watch something, read something, or spend time with someone that makes you laugh.

4. Pray. Count your blessings.

5. Go to the library. Get at least one of the books that everyone you know is talking about, and for the next week, instead of watching TV or wasting time online, read it.

6. Clean, scrub, and scour everything in your house or apartment. File all your papers, take extra stuff to Goodwill, clean out the pantry, scrub the floors, do all your laundry, etc. While you're at it, clean out your vehicle too, especially if it tends to become your second home like mine does. When you're done, light some candles, turn on some relaxing music, and enjoy being in a clean, uncluttered environment.

7. This one's more for the ladies, but: give yourself a manicure, a pedicure, or a facial.

8.  Spend awhile writing reflections in a journal.

9. Do just one of the nagging tasks you've been putting off for far too long.

10. Take a couple hours off and go see a movie. Go to a museum. Take yourself out to lunch. Sometimes life gets so crazy and busy that we forget how to enjoy a little time alone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Emmanuel: God With Us


This is my 100th post, so I'm going to try my hardest to make it a good one! :)

As we approach the Christmas season, and the holiday lights are going up, cookies are being decorated, and presents are being bought and wrapped, one thought that continues to be on my heart is the true significance of the name "Emmanuel." God with us. God in human form, pleased to dwell with us.

What did it mean 2,000 years ago for God to come and live among men? What does it mean for our lives now? It means that God Himself, Jehovah, I AM, the one who hung the stars in the heavens and carved the oceans out of the depths, came to earth. Yes, He came to ultimately die and rise again to redeem us. But He also came to experience life as we know it, to weep over the things we weep over, to laugh with us over our joys, and to experience brokenness, poverty, loneliness, pain, and everything else that afflicts the human race.

He didn't just come to die, he truly came to live among us as the prophets foretold. He came to bind up the brokenhearted, to release us from our prisons, to preach good news to the poor, and to replace our ashes with crowns of beauty and our cloaks of despair with garments of praise. He came to break the silence with the hope of God's presence on earth.

In between the final prophets of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ, 400 years passed when God appeared to many of His people to be completely silent. I've felt many times in my own life that God has been silent, and I'm sure that you have too. But one of the miracles of Christmas is that when Christ came, on that long-awaited day, 400 years of silence were finally shattered by a baby's cry (as this song so beautifully describes). God was silent no more. He became our peace, and every barrier between God and man was broken.

In the 1960s, a missionary named Don Richardson went to Indonesia to evangelize among the Sawi people, an indigenous tribe known best for violence, deceit, and treachery. Few had ever attempted to reach them before. Richardson knew what he was up against when he first shared the Gospel story with the Sawi, and the only character they resonated with was Judas the betrayer.

Soon, war broke out between the Sawi and a neighboring tribe. Desperate to end the devastation and make peace, the Sawi chief decided to invoke a traditional treaty with the rival tribe: the agreement of the "peace child." In this agreement, one side offered to the other a baby boy to raise as its own. As long as that child lived, peace would prevail between the two tribes. The chief asked for volunteers to give up a child, but no one stepped forward. Finally, the chief himself, overwhelmed by grief, brought his only son and laid him in the arms of the rival chief, making peace.

Watching this scene unfold, Richardson knew exactly how to share the Gospel with the Sawi people. He explained to them that Jesus Christ, God's only Son, was the divine "peace child," given over to a sinful human race to reconcile mankind to the Father for all time. As long as that child lived, there would be peace between God and man.

Yes, Jesus is the "peace child," the Redeemer, the lifter of our heads and the healer of our hearts, who came to live and walk with us just as much as He ultimately came to die for us. Let that sink in this Christmas as you ponder the divine wonder of "Emmanuel," God with us, our Prince of Peace.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor--so that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

50 Things to Be Happy About: November Edition

1) red cups from Starbucks in the fall
2) Christmas music
3) paying off the credit card bill in its entirety
4) getting so absorbed in a paper or project that you work on it for hours and completely lose track of time
5) a freshly washed car, especially when the rain does the job for you
6) stumbling across amazing blogs/ websites that you've never discovered before
7) the perfect words of encouragement from a close friend
8) meeting fun new people
9) the sound of children laughing
10) nail polish
11) chocolate-chip cookies warm from the oven
12) scrapbooks
13) that new favorite song ever that you listen to every single day
14) being an adult, having a driver's license, and being able to generally go where you want to go and stay out as late as you want
15) on-point advice
16) reading non-fiction
17) finding classy art to hang in your apartment
18) family movie night
19) Friday night after a really stressful week
20) DIY decorating projects
21) falling autumn leaves
22) inspiring quotes
23) seeing family over Thanksgiving
24) counting down to the end of the semester and break
25) the fact that the election is finally over
26) getting thank-you notes and wedding invitations in the mail
27) the exhilaration of travel (and daydreaming about places you'd love to go)
28) buying fresh flowers for a special someone (or for yourself)
29) spontaneous dance parties
30) meeting goals you've had for ages
31) cats
32) wearing your favorite warm red sweater on a chilly day
33) leaving the library with more books than you can carry
34) resilience
35) being healthy
36) art museums
37) pedicures
38) margaritas
39) Wednesday night Zumba classes
40) sleeping in
41) simply saying no to something you don't have to do and don't want to do
42) jigsaw puzzles
43) finishing what you start
44) finding that $20 bill you forgot you had
45) the delightful smell of old books
46) hummus and pita from an authentic Greek restaurant
47) learning something new
48) a surge of motivation
49) snow
50) a friend who is a great listener

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Break > Final Exams.

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday and time to spend with family and friends! November could be a pretty dreary month if it weren't for Thanksgiving and the reminder to be grateful for every blessing we have. I've had a great time being with my family in North Carolina over the last few days, eating lots of turkey, watching endless Lifetime Christmas movies with Mom, doing some shopping, laughing, and counting our blessings.

During the first part of the week I was mostly trying to get schoolwork done, but the two big papers I've been working on all semester are finally finished, so I'm excited about that. Now, I'm trying to get back into work mode because I'm driving back to school tomorrow and my first final is on December 3rd. It's going to be a very busy next few weeks, full of studying and coffee and energy bars and short on sleep, but Christmas break is fast approaching, so I definitely have that to look forward to!

 
Psalm 107:1: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading for Today

I know I am *supposed to be working* on my two papers due on Wednesday and not posting anything on this blog till they are done . . . but please read this article called "The Real Evangelical Disaster." It's about the inexcusable conflation/ confusion of religion and politics in American culture. It is the best thing I've read in a long time, and it hits the nail on the head.

Happy Monday . . . and back to paper writing for me. More substantive updates coming soon, I promise!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Promise . . .

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

--Isaiah 54:10

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Friday :)

The past 24 hours have just been so great that I already feel like I've pretty much had a complete weekend . . . and the weekend hasn't even started yet. :)

Prayers have been answered, new friendships are forming, I accepted the family law/ civil litigation job for next summer and am so excited about it, I led a really fun school tour this morning, great conversations have been had, ambitious goals have been set, and I even joined a Moot Court team, which I've been wanting to do pretty much forever.

Looking forward to girls' night tonight complete with friends, food, wine, and lots of laughter and shenanigans as we celebrate my friend's fast-approaching wedding. Lunch followed by an "outlining party" at Barnes and Noble with my friend tomorrow . . . trying to be productive! Sitting down with some hot cocoa and the movie The Lucky One sometime this weekend because it was finally released on Netflix. Then church followed by lots and lots of writing on Sunday, which may turn into a Sunday afternoon nap, but that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

But first I've got to finish cleaning my apartment, go to the gym, and tackle some of that writing and editing that needs to get accomplished soon. Hope you all have wonderful weekends!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thoughts for Election Week

Barack Obama is our President now, and barring unforeseen circumstances, he will be our President for the next four years.

I don't intend to come across as angry or abrasive at all, and forgive me if I do . . .  but let me express my opinion for a moment.

I suggest we all find a way to accept and to respect our leadership, whether we like it or not, and to stop complaining about it. Doing something to effect change is welcome; whining and bemoaning how the next 4 years are going to be terrible is not going to change a single thing. Acting as if it's doomsday is not going to help--but calling your representatives might. Anger, complaints, and hatred are not going to help--but supporting the causes you believe in most deeply might.

I am not a strongly "political" person and political debates with people are not my thing. With the exception of my closest friends and family, I never even tell people which way I vote. But I have to say that election day always reminds me that as Americans, we have the great freedom not just to vote, but to . . . gasp . . . disagree with each other!! And we have the responsibility to do so respectfully. If we can't learn how to disagree with each other more appropriately, we had better not have anything to say about it if we lose that right entirely in the future. I'm serious. If we can't disagree without personal attacks, maybe we should just keep our opinions to ourselves.

Be classy, fellow Americans. I'm tired of people attacking each other verbally and on the Internet because they disagree with each other's politics. I'm tired of people acting as though the only individuals who should exercise the right to vote are those who will vote the same way they do. I'm tired of the pettiness, the ignorance, the arguments, and the assaults on people's intelligence, religion, and credibility on the basis of who they vote for.

I don't know who you voted for, but I voted for the person I believe is best equipped to lead our nation into the future. I voted for the person who I believe best embodies the values and principles I hold dear. Does that mean I 100% agree with that person? Not at all. But there will never be a perfect candidate. (And if you think there should be, try running for President yourself. Rumor has it that it's not exactly a piece of cake). I know that many people I am very close to would disagree strongly with the candidate I chose, as I would with theirs. But I'm not going to let that disagreement place a divide in these friendships--because some things are more important than having the last word.

The presidential election makes me proud to be an American and proud of the freedoms we have, but it also makes me sad that every time, the disagreements are more heated, the attacks are more personal, and the complaints are louder.

When did we lose the ability to disagree respectfully? When did we start buying into the idea that everyone has to feel the same way we do about serious issues? When did we start refusing to allow others to entertain their own beliefs without heavy backlash? When did we start believing that complaining, whining, and worrying changes things? When did we start thinking it was ok to indoctrinate and coerce others into embracing our opinions?

I'm praying that God will bless and transform this nation as we go into the next 4 years. I resolve to respect our leadership whether I agree with it fully or not, and to support the causes I believe in the most.

Whether you think those actions will help or not is up to you. But I'm pretty sure they will help more than dramatic Facebook statuses, arguments, and complaints.

God bless America.



Saturday, November 3, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

It has been such an eventful week--for me, for my family, and also for some of my friends.

On my end, yesterday I received a job offer for next summer to work with a family law trial lawyers' group. I'm really excited and grateful for the opportunity. At the same time, I have a big decision to make, because I have been given only a very short time to accept or reject the offer, and it happens to be in a city that has always been on my list of "top 10 places I will never live in." Mostly because I'm not a big-city person, and this is in a huge city. But I'm reminding myself to never say never, because this does sound like a great job, and it's in the practice area I am most interested in. For a lot of other job interviews I've had, I've had to conjure up, or even come close to faking, interest in their practice areas. No law student can be genuinely interested in every area of law, so a lot of times I've had to draw some really tenuous connections to my current interests to try to convince employers that I would just love their practice areas--even though for some of them, the truth is that they just don't excite me or interest me very much at all. But not so for this place--I've loved family law since I interned in that area in summer 2011. So I will probably give it a shot, but I need to do a lot of thinking/ praying/ talking to people and getting advice first.

And as for my tasks for this beautiful fall Saturday? Mailing my absentee ballot back so I can be a good citizen and do my voting duties, going to the gym, and hitting up Starbucks for a really long case note-writing and editing session before my deadline on Monday. Although that session might end up more like this:

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/16-ways-to-appear-more-productive-at-a-coffee-shop/

Thanks for reading!



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Agendas

I'm realizing that it's the time of year when I don't just need a to-do list; I need an agenda. As in an hour-by-hour, do-this-at-this-particular-time agenda. We have the whole week of Thanksgiving off for break, and since I don't have classes on Friday, theoretically I could leave to go home and visit the family as early as Nov. 15th, the Thursday before. But I also have my brief and my case note due--both in hard copy--over the break (thank you, law school). So I have to have those things done and done well before I leave--I'm not going to rush through them just to jump-start my break, although that is definitely a temptation!

So anyway, here's my agenda for tomorrow:
  • 7:30am: Get to school and print out all the sources I've used for my case note so I can check the hard copies to make sure all of my citations are accurate. Start checking citations.
  • 8:30: Evidence class.
  • 9:30: Work on case note.
  • 10:50: Bioethics & law seminar.
  • 11:50: Turn in timesheets for this pay period, have lunch, make Mexican cornbread for the evening's potluck, run a couple errands
  • 2:20: Legal writing class.
  • 3:30-5: Work study in the admissions office.
  • 5-6: Go to the gym (I've realized that if I don't go before it gets dark, I don't go at all).
  • 6:30: Christian Legal Society potluck dinner & socializing
  • 9ish: Do a little cleaning, get ready for my interview Friday, and go to bed!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

3 Amazing Songs . . .

Check out these great songs:

"Whom Shall I Fear" by Chris Tomlin: Remember when I said that Meagan and I got to hear Chris Tomlin's brand-new song, the first time that he ever played it for an audience, when we went to his church over Labor Day weekend? Well, this is that song. It's worth a listen . . . or ten. I've been playing it on Youtube on repeat for days.

"Cornerstone" by Hillsong Live: this song reminds me of my true hope in life.

"Still" by Hillsong.

I hope these bless you as much as they blessed me this week.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Prayer Diaries

This week has been a whirlwind, not just in terms of my schedule, but also emotionally, and I just want to really share from my heart with you all, my readers, about what God has been doing in my life lately. It's hard for me to really expose myself and be vulnerable in my writing, but I really think what I want to say could be helpful for some of you experiencing similar things.

So there are some things I've been praying for literally this entire year. I know that in the grand scheme of life, that's not that long at all--many people have faithfully prayed for years before they've seen their prayers answered, and some may never see those answers. At least not this side of heaven. But I am still quite young, and this is about the longest period I've ever prayed, at least consistently, for something and seen absolutely no answer. And I have worked hard, so hard, to make the things I'm praying for a reality, but that hasn't changed the situation either. When that's the case, it can make you feel overwhelmed by inefficacy, like nothing you're doing is even mattering. And it makes you feel desperate, grieving over needs that appear to be going unmet.

I'm not sure why this has been the case, but I've also noticed that several times in this journey, my hardest and most intense prayers have been immediately followed by the situation becoming worse, not better. It had gotten to the point where I was scared to pray anymore, because it seemed to only make things worse. That was what happened on Tuesday, and I was so discouraged by it, I really didn't even know what to do anymore. It honestly felt like the prayer was sabotaging my efforts, not helping them. I wanted to say to God, "You do realize that I still NEED this, right? I wouldn't ask you for it if I didn't really need it, and it's not going to go away--I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly not need it anymore."

Have you ever wished there was some magic formula to ensure that your prayers would result in getting what you asked for? I sure have. I've thought, "Lord, if there is something you want me to do or say or be before you'll answer this prayer, just tell me what it is and I'll do it!" You start to feel like you're literally strategizing to figure out how to get the answer you need so much, instead of just letting God do the work. And it can leave you feeling like God has simply let you down--I know that's not the "Christian" thing to say or feel, but that's exactly how it feels.

Then on Thursday this week, I got some great news. It wasn't by any means the complete answer to my prayers, but it was a HUGE step in that direction. And today was another big step. And I am now closer than I've been all year to having this huge need met and this desire fulfilled. But I'm not there yet, and I know that this may not be the beginning of the answer that I think it is. And I am so close, but I'm honestly scared to get my hopes up too high. I got home tonight and didn't really know how to feel. I was so happy for the progress that had been made, but also so apprehensive, because if it doesn't work out now, it will be the biggest disappointment yet. I felt happy, but also stressed out about how this will end up, and totally worn out from this whole process. And I would rather have never made those steps this week if they're not going to take me all the way.

But then I realize that I am not in control--God is in control. (The control freak inside of me positively cringed when I just wrote that). I am not a patient person, y'all, and I also like to have all my ducks in a row, so it is so hard for me to relinquish control and wait for the Lord. Especially when you've waited for weeks, and months, and maybe even years, and you have to keep waiting.

I was tempted tonight to stop praying now, for several reasons. One is that I'm, like, one phone call (that I may or may not get) away from having this prayer answered anyway, so I feel so close it's tempting to just stop now. The other reason is that, like I said, I'm afraid to get my hopes up about this because I've been disappointed so many times during this journey, but the essence of prayer is hope, right? It's not really possible to pray without hoping, so if I am to continue to pray, I must contine to hope. And we can't stop asking God for what we need and want deeply: after all, he asks us, "What do you want me to do for you?" and he longs to know our deepest desires.

But I decided that I will not stop praying, because when you've been running a marathon, no matter how tired you are or how close you are to being done, you never, ever walk across the finish line. No, you sprint across. And that's exactly what I'm going to do, even if the finish line is further away than I think. I will just keep running.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wrestling for Blessing

Recently, I was reading the story of when Jacob, one of the most interesting characters in the entire Old Testament, wrestled with God. You can read it in Genesis 32. It's one of the strangest passages in the Bible: basically, Jacob was getting ready to reunite with his brother Esau, and he was very worried about how the meeting would go because he had stolen Esau's blessing years before. The night before, he was standing alone at the ford of the Jabbok River when a mysterious man (understood to be an appearance of God) stepped out of the shadows and "wrestled with him till daybreak." The two wrestled all night long, and Jacob finally said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

I will not let you go unless you bless me. This story has always kind of bothered me, and I finally figured out why: it's so unorthodox! Wrestling it out with God and demanding that He bless us? That is not what you typically hear of as a good way to approach God (which in our times is usually done through prayer). No, we're usually told to submit to God, to demonstrate our total willingness to follow His will, and never to insist on getting our own way.

Jacob took a much more stubborn, demanding, persistent, tenacious approach. He literally fought it out with God all night long, holding on to Him and demanding that God bless Him then and there. I was tempted to think this might have just been a dream or a vision of Jacob's, but yet, there was a physical manifestation of his night of wrestling with God: in the intensity of his struggle, he injured his hip and walked away limping the next day.

But there's more to the story. Jacob received the blessing that he asked for from God. Jacob demanded God's blessing in a very physical way, holding on to the mysterious man and refusing to release his grip until He blessed him. And verse 29 tells us, "Then he blessed him there."

The most surprising thing is that Jacob's utterly unorthodox approach worked. He insisted on receiving God's blessing, and receive it He did. God's blessing and favor in Jacob's life was clearly evident when he went to meet Esau the next day and was warmly received, even though he had been fearing for his life because he was convinced that Esau hated him.

Jacob's life wasn't always the best example for us to follow--after all, he cheated Esau out of his father's blessing and was deceptive in other areas of his life. But in this passage Jacob had a moment of raw openness and persistence with God that in some ways could be a model for all of us. It is ok to ask, and ask boldly, for the blessings of God. It's ok to be stubborn in prayer and stubborn in pleading that the favor and blessing of God cover our lives. If God's response to Jacob here is any indication, it's even ok to hold onto Him for all we are worth and insist that He graciously bless us.

It won't be without cost. That kind of desperate passion with God, that raw vulnerability, strips us of our pretenses and our excuses and demands a new level of commitment, of reckless abandon. It demands that we struggle through it with God when everyone around us tells us to give up. It requires that we exert ourselves in prayer in a way that we possibly never have done before. It may be painful and difficult at times.

But although Jacob walked away limping, he also walked away blessed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Procrastination Problem

So, starting tomorrow, I have a new goal: stop procrastinating. (Yes, I'm aware of the irony in that sentence. But it's still technically the weekend, so this goal can start on Monday.)

I have two quotes that are kind of inspiring me in this direction: One is "Never leave for tomorrow what you can do today." The other is, "You will never change until you are utterly tired of the old way." Well, I am totally tired of my old way of postponing important things like papers until the last minute and then having to stay up crazy-late and rearrange my whole schedule just to finish them on time. And I'm even tired of procrastinating on "little" things like washing dishes and doing laundry because the longer I wait, the worse the task becomes.

I've analyzed my procrastination issues from every direction: I'm just a perfectionist, I just have too much to do anyway, all I need to do is re-prioritize my time, blah blah blah. The bottom line is that putting things off until the last minute is a big problem for me and I'm ready to FIX IT. I'm ready to start actually getting things done ahead of time, having those papers printed out and gathering dust before they're due, etc. I DO have time for the things that are important to me, and I need to just start putting first things first.

So here are my anti-procrastination goals for the week (feel free to keep me accountable):
  • Get ready to nail my Moot Court tryout on Friday and have all my background cases read by tomorrow.
  • Complete and format my evidence class outline by tomorrow night.
  • By next weekend, I want to have spent a good couple of hours working on the second draft of my case note and incorporating my faculty advisor's and editor's suggestions.
  • Edit my fellow student's note by Tuesday.
  • And here's the big one: complete a full draft of the appellee's brief by Friday even though it's not due till November 19th.
So that's it. I'm determined to get these things done sooner rather than later because eventually I have to do them anyway. So thank you, readers, for being my accountability partners as I try to overcome my procrastination issues--I hope to report on my progress soon!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"I Can't Live Without Finding God"


So when I look at the statistics of how many page views I am getting on my blog, and what countries those viewers are coming from, I can also see what kinds of Google searches led people directly to my blog. Usually the search terms are just obvious, like the title of this blog or something about lawyers in this state and so on. But every once in awhile, someone stumbles across my blog by using some really unusual search terms.

Here's what it was a week or two ago: "I can't live without finding God." Someone, somewhere, put this search into Google and then found my blog as a result. I don't know who they are or where they are or what exactly they were hoping to find that day. But knowing that someone with such a desperate hunger for God, someone I almost certainly don't even know, is reading words I've written? That reminded me of what a responsibility I have to write in a way that glorifies God and points people to His grace.

Those of us who are Christians all have a tremendous responsibility to write and live and work and love in a way that points people to the hope we have in Christ. And honestly, this can be more important than ever when, via the Internet, people can peruse our lives in ways never imagined possible even 20 years ago.

This experience reminded me that I don't know everyone who reads this blog, or who looks at my Facebook page, or who observes the way I conduct myself in everyday life. For that matter, I interact with people every day that I don't know--whether it's the person who helps me at the drive-through or who swipes my student ID card at the gym or the random 1L I pass in the hallway or, indeed, the strangers who read my blog! We all have these interactions--are they positive? Do our lives exude the joy and compassion of Christ, even to people that we don't know? Would people be closer to understanding the grace of God as a result of their interaction with us?

Just some food for thought--and a reminder that the way we live DOES matter, even if we think no one is really looking.

Friday, October 12, 2012

50 Things to Be Happy About

1) coffee table books
2) orange Skittles
3) Sunday afternoon naps
4) candles
5) learning how to walk in heels
6) coming home at the end of a long, long day
7) the relief of finishing a huge paper or project
8) pajama days
9) the freshness of the world after rain
10) when the bill for filling up the gas tank is less than you anticipated
11) girls' nights and wine
12) laughing so hard that no sound comes out
13) listening to 90's boy bands to get you pumped up in the morning
14) the fact that you can pray at 3:12am and God still wants to hear you
15) a freshly and spotlessly cleaned house
16) finding great bargains
17) this hilarious but wise marriage advice from a 5-year-old girl
18) that moment when you realize you're about to make it through something really difficult
19) endorphins from a great workout
20) ice-cold Coke
21) Friday paychecks
22) getting an early morning class canceled
23) getting compliments all day on clothes you bought at a thrift store
24) funny text messages
25) freshly washed sheets
26) phone calls from long-lost friends
27) reading through your old journals and realizing how far you've come
28) that long-awaited new novel from your favorite author
29) the rare full day that stretches before you with nothing to do and nowhere to be
30) fond memories of college
31) calling your grandparents
32) a long, hot shower
33) a smile from a stranger
34) crossing off every single item in your planner
35) stargazing
36) hugs
37) perusing old yearbooks
38) sunflowers
39) wearing boots and scarves in the fall
40) finding pennies on the ground
41) random acts of kindness
42) driving to your favorite music and singing along
43) brand new highlighters (ok, maybe this one is just me)
44) deep conversations
45) spontaneous adventures
46) grilled cheese, tomato soup, and hot chocolate with marshmallows: the perfect fall lunch
47) finding catharsis through writing
48) anticipating the holiday season
49) snagging the last parking space
50) pleasant surprises

Sometimes the best things really can be some of the simplest pleasures. What's on your list?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Top 10 Most Inspiring Quotes Ever

1) "God's voice speaks deeper than what hurts, brighter than what is dark, more enduring than what is lost, truer than what happened. "- Dave Powlison

2) "Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrow's a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live. So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot more often. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along." -Robert J. Hastings

3) "Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible."

4) "My dear Jesus, my Savior, is so deeply written in my heart, that I feel confident that if my heart were to be cut in pieces, the name of Jesus would be found written on every piece." -Ignatius of Antioch

5) "The world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong in the broken places." -Ernest Hemingway

6) "Not even waste is inviolate. The day misspent, the love misplaced, has inside it the seed of redemption. Nothing is exempt from resurrection." -Kay Ryan

7) "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." -Alfred, Lord Tennyson

8) "Love God and do as you please." -St. Augustine

9) "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." -Henry Ford

10) "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

These are all on my "life list" of quotes for when I needed some motivation and challenge . . . do any of these resonate with you? Do you all have favorite quotes to add?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Heavens Declare . . .

So earlier today, I was thinking, "Can I please just fast forward until October 20th?" Don't get me wrong, I love October. I love the cooler weather, being able to wear scarves and boots (although here in Georgia that doesn't really happen till December), pumpkin-flavored everything, fall foliage, and feeling like I have an excuse to pull out the Christmas music if I'm so inclined, since the holidays begin in a month and a half.

But the next couple weeks, at least up through Oct. 19th, are going to be absolutely crazy (hence my wishing that it could be the 20th). I have two 15-page papers due (a case note and an appellate brief), Moot Court tryouts, the law review symposium, two job interviews on consecutive days next week, and all my regular classes/ reading/ etc. So I was at the gym tonight and just kept thinking about how in the world I was going to get everything done, and feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

Then I walked outside to drive home and was greeted with the most beautiful sunset ever. The whole sky was awash with hues of pink, gold, and purple, and I could see a couple of faint stars beginning to shimmer on the horizon. It was gorgeous. And it was exactly what I needed at that moment.

The heavens declare the glory of God. And if even all of creation can sing His praises, so can I, no matter how crazy life gets. It just stopped me in my tracks and completely reminded me that the God who creates so much beauty just for His glory and for our enjoyment can also provide everything I need. And if I would keep wishing to skip ahead over the hard stuff, I might just miss the beauty too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My New Career Goal

OK, this one is really simple and for once doesn't involve anything like getting a Ph.D. or breaking into a highly competitive field or finding a position that lets me pay off all my loans in a year. It isn't even really geared towards "getting a job," but more towards building a network so that I can eventually, well, get a job. My new goal is to do something--anything--to enhance my professional development and build my network every single day. I left it purposely open-ended, but the idea is to keep me from getting the "tunnel vision" that so often plagues law students, where they either are not focused on the future at all, or where they only have one career-related goal and think that it's the end of the world if they don't achieve it.

So, what does that mean for me? It could include:
  • handing out a business card
  • going to a career lecture or attorney panel (checked this one off for today--went to a great public interest career panel discussion)
  • sending emails to speakers at said panels to thank them for the advice they gave
  • polishing my resume
  • polishing some writing samples
  • doing some small things to enhance my resume, like getting research-certified in legal databases and joining the American Bar Association
  • doing a mock interview
  • applying for a position
  • maintaining strong relationships with people who know me and my work product and could recommend me to employers
Do any of you have lists like this? If so, what's on your list?

I've noticed that a lot of my fellow students don't seem to recognize that the "rules of engagement" for finding jobs has completely changed from what it was even 10 years ago. Or they seem to be aware of it, but to not know how it should affect their job search. Here are two things I've learned about it:

Here is what I think is by far the most important one: In this economy, you don't "choose" your job or career path; it, in many ways, chooses you. Some students "choose" to work in, for a random example, labor and employment law. But let's say those students graduate and there are no jobs to be found in labor and employment law. Are they going to do nothing for 5 years while they wait for positions in their "chosen" field to open up? Of course not. They will take whatever jobs are offered to them. Maybe a position in a D.A.'s office. Or in a small personal injury firm. Or doing legal consulting for a business. And those first opportunities may eventually lead them into their "choice" of labor and employment law, but more likely than not, a whole new career path they could never have envisioned on their own, but that is deeply satisfying, opens up. I am not "choosing" what I'm going to do next summer or after I graduate law school--not in terms of what it is or where it is. I don't say this to be negative, but the economy is too bad to be doing that and it's a set-up for disappointment. Of course I am going to more strongly pursue opportunities in fields I think I would really enjoy, like family law and public interest work. And I'm also not saying we have no autonomy in the job search or that we're all going to have to just take jobs we hate--not at all. But in a generation that's grown up with choices that even our parents never could have imagined when they were young, we need to learn to relinquish some of our ability to choose, accepting that holding on to our "choice" with clenched fists is a hindrance and not a help. This job market is not about choices; it's about making the most of whatever opportunities are offered to us.

And finally, I've learned that the first few years of work after law school (or after college or any grad school) are about being willing to do the dirty work and "pay your dues." My friend aptly compared it to doing a residency after medical school. It means you need to be ok with not working in your dream job, in your dream city, right away. It means you're willing to work the crazy-long hours, knowing that it won't last forever and is a way to get established and get valuable experience. It means you might take the clients or cases or even the office cubicle that nobody else wants. It means that the words "work-life balance" probably shouldn't come out of your mouth for the first year or so. It means you realize that your first job doesn't have to be your last, and while it may be hard at first, it gets better.

And I'll be perfectly honest--these career lessons can be tough pills to swallow, but I think being aware of them will help me in the long run. And I also know that whatever job I end up in has every bit as much potential as any other job to be part of a career I really love.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music for Your Monday

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Do Politics Have to Do With Faith?


In case you don't want to read this because you're already sick of reading about people's political views, I promise you that this post is NOT going to endorse any political party, view, or candidate. But with a presidential election coming up in less than two months, it seems that politics are at the forefront of everyone's mind right now. Commentary about the parties and candidates dominate Facebook and Twitter every single day. And much of that commentary consists of people engaging in all-out bashing of the party or candidate they oppose. In fact, at least in my experience, bashing the opposing party is much, much more common than actually demonstrating what is admirable about the party you support. In this area as in most, perhaps just because of human nature, it's easier to tear people down than to build them up.

But I've noticed something very troubling: if the derogatory comments about other parties and candidates aren't bad enough, people also take it upon themselves to tear down anyone who supports the party or candidate they don't like. Romney supporters use online forums to attack Obama supporters, and vice versa. They try to attack their intelligence, their upbringing, their patriotism, and even things like their femininity or masculinity. (Don't believe me on that last one? Haven't you heard people say, "I don't know how anyone could vote for Romney and still consider herself a woman"?)

Here's the worst part: I've noticed that many, many Christians have no qualms about maligning the faith of other Christians simply because of who they vote for. They take no issue with telling other people, at least in so many words, "You can't possibly be a Christian/ be making the Christian choice if you vote for [insert a candidate here]" or "It's only really 'Christian' to vote for the candidate I support, and if you don't, then I call your faith into question." I see this attitude all the time, even though it's admittedly a lot more subtle than in the examples I just gave. And indeed, Christians need to seriously consider how their faith and the principles of God's Word should affect who they vote for. But here's the thing: it's not as if it's "Christian" to vote for one candidate and "non-Christian" to vote for another. There's no explicit indication from God about who to vote for in the 2012 election. And so we must each make a choice through prayer and discretion--but it's not as if one choice is "right" and the other is "wrong," as long as they are made after seeking out God's will on the issue.

And this form of tearing people down and judging others through political posturing has got to stop, because if it doesn't, I fear it will cause fault lines to form in the church itself. We cannot treat other people as if we doubt their Christian faith simply because of who they vote for.

And what else do politics have to do with faith? We are to pray for and submit to the leaders and governing authorities that God has placed over us. Yes, that does mean what you think it means. Even if you hate our current President and everything he stands for, God still expects you to pray for him. The same goes for whichever individual is elected in November. I know I don't make this a regular part of my prayer life, but I certainly should. We are to pray for our leaders and to show respect for them. According to 1 Timothy 2, we are also supposed to thank God for them. Now call me crazy, but I'm not really sure how bashing candidates we oppose fits into that framework. Why are we so willing to assume others aren't voting "the Christian way," when there's no one perfect "Christian candidate," when we aren't even willing to follow the political instructions God has explicitly given? Pray for our leaders. Thank God for them. Respect them. Submit to them. Simple as that.

Judging from the opinions I've heard over the past couple of months, some people pretty much think the world is going to end if their favored candidate doesn't win. Does the President have power to change our lives dramatically? Yes. But who is really in control? The leader in the Oval Office, or God?

I believe that God appoints leaders for such a time as the one we're living in. As an article I read recently pointed out, every generation thinks they are living in the most important time in human history. Every generation thinks the next election will totally change life as they know it. But good times and bad times have faced the American people before, and God has still--always--been the one on the throne.

The Bible says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." Not, "Blessed is the nation whose president is Mitt Romney."  Not "Blessed is the nation led by Barack Obama." Or anything else. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

So I leave you with this: Yes, it's important who we vote for. Yes, we need to seek God's leading in all of our political decisions, as in everything else. But before we enter total political panic about what's going to happen in November, we need to be asking ourselves, "Do we live in a nation whose God is the Lord? Do we live a LIFE in which the Lord is God and the Lord is in control?" That's where real change and transformation starts. And if we allow the Lord to be in control, life as we know it really will change, but the blessing will ultimately be ours.

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord." --Proverbs 21:30

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What I'm Loving This September

Y'all, these past two weeks have been an absolute blogging FAIL and I know it. Which could be why I have approximately 1.3 readers remaining. (If that's you, thank you!) Sorry to be so inconsistent with posting . . . as my sister said, "You're breaking your own rules about blogging!" Yes, it's true, I totally have broken the post-four-times-a-week rule that I idealistically designed about a month ago. Unfortunately, I think that will come with the territory over the next couple of months as I try to finish this semester, but I will do my best to post something new/ interesting at least a couple times a week.

Over the past two weeks, my life has pretty much consisted of classes, Mock Trial, interviews for summer associate positions next year, working on my case note for law review, and trying to spend time with friends and be social/ find time to sleep.

But here's a few things I've been really enjoying in the past couple weeks:

1) DIY French manicures. I have never had a "real" French manicure done, and a couple weeks ago I decided that I really wanted one to look professional for some events I had coming up. But being the cheap person that I am, I didn't want to pay to have one done in a nail salon. So I bought some white polish and some clear polish and I gave it a go on my own. The first one was really hard to do and took forever, but I was really pleased with the results, and by the second time, it was so much faster. This is going to be my cheap, go-to nail look for when I need to really look like a lawyer.

2) Old Redbook magazines--I just unearthed a huge stash in my apartment and totally forgot how great this magazine is.

3) Spotify. Yes, I just jumped on this train two weeks ago, even though it's been popular for a really long time. (For those of you who are not familiar, you can download Spotify on your computer and get almost unlimited free music, make playlists, and share songs with friends. The only downside is that you don't actually own the songs, so you can't put them on an iPod or CDs.) But I've been rediscovering all my favorite old-school Christian music from, like, 2000, as well as a bunch of great new albums that have come out.

4) homemade facial scrub made with brown sugar, lemon juice, and honey. This is the only facial/ body scrub I think I'm ever going to use. It is so easy and cheap to make, and if you leave it on for about 10 minutes and then wash it off with a hot washcloth, it will leave your skin so smooth.

5) Nicholas Sparks books. No further comment on this one.

6) This one is nerdy, but my evidence class. It is so good/ interesting, and I feel like I'm finally learning totally practical stuff about how to actually be a lawyer, conduct a trial, make objections in court, etc.

7) Atlanta Braves baseball (I've gone twice already this month). There's not much that ails you that friends, laughter, and a good baseball game can't fix.



8) The Zumba and high-intensity training classes I've been taking at the undergrad campus. Yes, this is part of my mission to finally get in shape.

9) The gene patent cases I'm researching for my case note and their implications for individualized medicine--interesting stuff.

10) the start of FALL--weather that's finally getting a little cooler, fall scented candles from Bath and Body Works like pumpkin caramel latte, end-of-season sales on summer dresses, etc.

Thanks for letting me catch up with you--come back tomorrow and read my upcoming post, "What Do Politics Have to Do With Faith?"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What I'm Reading Lately

This is an article that I read that has gone viral this past week, and for good reason. Titled, "I Don't Wait Anymore," it is outstanding. The author has boldly addressed what it can look like and feel like for a single 20-something to be told, over and over, "Just keep waiting and satisfying yourself in God, and when you least expect it, He will bring you a husband." This is such an important issue for women in my generation, and I'm so grateful to this young lady for speaking up about it in a gracious and godly fashion. Read it to find out why she doesn't wear a purity ring anymore (and it's not because she's given up on remaining pure).

And check out this open letter from a millenial. I don't agree with everything in it, or with its "blaming" older generations for some of the struggles facing my generation, but the issues it raises are timely and important. Certainly some food for thought.

Enjoy!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Loving the Law School Life

So this week I wrapped up my third week of regular fall classes, started back to work part-time in the admissions office, joined the Mock Trial intra-school competition, picked a topic for my law review case note, finished editing my second manuscript, joined a 1L mentoring program, went to a bunch of other random meetings, and tried to fit in reading for class/ working on my appellate brief for legal writing on the side.

I have been on-the-go pretty much 24/7 since getting back to school a month ago, but it's all good because I really love everything I'm doing. I have a lot more on my plate than I did last year, but the advantage now is that I know the ropes and am not as freaked out by everything. But this definitely isn't 1L anymore! I don't think I've ever had this much going on at once before, with the possible exception of second semester of my senior year of college, but I am feeling so absorbed in all my projects and excited about all my activities. I also love all the people I'm getting to work with on different things, some of them old friends and some of them that I've just met in the past few weeks.

I do not know exactly where I'm going after law school is done. I mean, I don't even know for certain what state I want to take the bar exam in, or what kind of law I want to practice, or even if I want to use my degree for something different where I don't "practice law" at all. There are a lot of things I think I would love doing, though, and I will need my degree for those things, so I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing right now.

I had a little bit of a rocky, confusing journey to law school. Some of you know more of the story behind that, but suffice it to say that I did not expect to go to law school when I did or where I did. But it all worked out beautifully, even though I could never have planned it quite that way. I absolutely love it here, and pretty much every day I feel such a strong sense of confirmation that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Knowing that I am in the right place and doing the right thing is one of the best feelings. I don't need to know exactly where I am going and what I am doing in 2014 when I graduate. I will know all those things when the time is right, and for now, I am going to rest in knowing that I am supposed to be here, and I love it here. That is a blessing, and it is the encouragement that keeps me going when I have those days when I need sleep, caffeine, energy, a vacation, and a few more hours in my day.

Learn to love the place you're in, no matter where it is. And have a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Unseen Grace

This weekend, my sister came down to visit me for the holiday, and we had a great time. On Sunday, we had the privilege of going to Passion City Church in Atlanta, a first for both of us. It was amazing! Chris Tomlin led worship, and Louie Giglio preached. This congregation is obviously excited about the Lord and what He is doing in people's lives, and it was great to be a part of that.

One of the best parts of the service was that Chris Tomlin had just written (and is in the process of recording) a brand new song for his CD releasing in a few months. He said that it was the first time he had performed the song for an audience. (As Meagan pointed out, we got to attend the world premiere of the song, which was great!) I would post some lyrics but I'm pretty sure that could be copyright infringement, so just go buy his CD when it comes out!

The message of the song was based on a story in 2 Kings 6 that I never even really knew about before. But as a result of the Bible-reading-in-90-days challenge, I had actually just read the story last week and was already thinking about sharing it with my blog readers. After that church service, I definitely feel like I need to share it with you all!

In this passage, the prophet Elisha is advising the king of Israel because Israel was at war with the king of Aram. The Arameans encamped around the city with a great army of horses and chariots. Elisha's servant was terrified when he saw the enemy armies, and he asked Elisha, "What are we going to do?" Elisha said, "Don't be afraid--those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed that the Lord would open the eyes of the servant so that he would be able to see. God answered his prayer, and the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and "he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." God had sent and stationed an unseen army around Elisha to protect his people. Even though at first the servant was too fearful to see them, they were still there to fight on behalf of God's people.

We don't always know how God will choose to protect us, watch over us, and carry us through the battles we face. I believe that God surrounds His people with forms of grace and power that they can't even see. Scripture tells us that God sends angels to encamp around us, and He surrounds us with songs of deliverance. Sometimes He may give us eyes to see the unseen, but even if not, this story reminds us that we have supernatural strength, grace, and power to face whatever we have to face. The power that is with us is greater than any power that can ever be against us!

God is for us and is by our side in ways we can't even fathom, and we will not be afraid.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Encouragement for Your Monday

If you are a child of God, then you know that the Lord goes before and will be with you, and He will never leave you nor abandon you. Nothing and no one can snatch you from His hand. The Lord is the one who has upheld you since you were conceived and has carried you since your birth, and He will sustain you all the rest of your life. He holds you by your right hand. God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever, no matter what.

The Lord is your guide. He is your Redeemer, who teaches you what is best for you and directs you in the way that you should go. His faithfulness surrounds you. He will lead you forward and keep you in perfect peace as you trust in Him completely. Cast your cares on Him, because He will sustain you. The Lord has called you for a righteous purpose, and He will fulfill His purpose for you in perfect time. He makes all things beautiful in His time. His mercies begin afresh each morning. He will always direct your steps as you trust in Him.

The Lord delights in you and rejoices over you, and He will quiet you with His love. He is your rock and your refuge, and even the most intense storm can't take that refuge away. He is your hiding place. His everlasting arms are holding you up. He is mighty to save. He is with you and will watch over you wherever you go. Because God is for you, no one can be against you. He has not given you a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind. The joy of the Lord is your strength, and as you hope in Him, He will infuse you with new strength to face whatever you have to face.

And God's grace is always, always sufficient for you. For me. For all of us.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer Wedding . . .

Today I had the privilege of going to a wonderful wedding celebration for wonderful friends . . . wishing all the best for the happy couple!
 
 
 
 
 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1 Corinthians 13

Friday, August 24, 2012

Worship High


I read a really fascinating article this week about a new study that has found that megachurch services and similar highly emotional worship experiences actually release oxytocin and other chemicals in the brain that can become addictive. This type of worship was then compared to a "drug" or a "high" that people are desperate to come back to again and again. The author pens, "This pursuit of transformation by consuming external experiences creates worship junkies who leap from one mountaintop to another, one spiritual high to another, in search of a glory that will not fade." He goes on to suggest that these "mountaintop" worship experiences are purely external and a poor substitute for an internal connection with God through the Holy Spirit. And as the title of the piece ("When Worship is Wrong") suggests, he believes this type of feel-good, passionate worship is actually wrong.

As someone who's very interested in both neuroscience and religion, I find it fascinating that researchers have suggested that the neurochemicals released during this type of worship can actually be addictive. And when I first read this piece a few days ago, I found myself agreeing with most of its premises . . . after all, an emotionally charged worship experience isn't a substitute for the continual practice of the presence of God in daily life. Ideally, I would be worshipping while I wash dishes, drive, do bioethics reading, go to the gym, spend time with friends, etc., and not just for a little while in church on a Sunday morning.

But the more I think about this article's attack on emotionally charged worship, the more troubled I feel by it. For one, I think it's a major reflection of a faulty school of thought that is still quite prevalent in our faith: if it feels good, then it must be wrong. I don't need to elaborate on how many other activities would suddenly become sinful if that theory were correct! And I also disagree that this phenomenon of emotional engagement happens only in the megachurch environment or in loud and excited worship with other people. Haven't you ever experienced it too after prayer in the quiet of your own heart? I have.

And I also have to wonder if maybe God, Creator of our brains and our hearts and our spirits, purposely designed worship to be a satisfying, fulfilling experience that would indeed often make us "feel" good. After all, we are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, which suggests that our emotions as well as our rational, thinking side needs to be involved. Of course there will be times when we experience no emotion during worship, or when our heart's not really in it, and we have to continue to love and trust God when the feelings aren't there. But that does not mean that an emotional worship experience is bad. Emotion is a vital, integral part of the human experience, and it should be able to be a part of our worship and a part of our interaction with God.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Plunging into Year #2

I know I've been totally falling off the wagon with blogging since coming back to school . . . and honestly, I will do my best to write as much as I can, but it probably won't be as often as during the summer. Thanks for being patient with me when the posts are scarce!

I've been busy redecorating and rearranging my whole apartment/ making various crafts, and I love the results! I feel like I live in a whole new place now. Here are some pictures:







 
 
 
 
 
With classes starting up again, I've been busy reading these:
 

 
 
And these, the remnants of my summer reading list:
 

 
 
I've also been doing a fair amount of cooking, including experimenting with this quinoa dish with strawberries and almond butter which is versatile enough to be a side dish, breakfast, or dessert. Definitely making this again!
 



And finally, I've been going to the gym and realizing how out of shape I am; blanketing the southeastern United States with resumes for summer 2013 jobs (yeah, it really does start a year ahead); and catching up with my law school friends and trying to socialize as much as possible before the year gets really intense.

So that's bits and pieces of the past two weeks, in pictures!

Here's the verse that's sustaining me this week:


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Spiritual Dissection

Last Sunday in D.C., Meagan and I had the privilege of going to National Community Church, which Mark Batterson pastors. This church meets in several different places around the city, but we went to its location in a theater on Barracks Row in downtown D.C. The worship was amazing and the people were so welcoming.

Mark was actually preaching that Sunday, and he said some profound things that I've been thinking about all week. At one point, he was talking about Hebrews 4:12, which says, "For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." And he had this to say about that passage: "Far too often we try to dissect the Word of God instead of allowing it to dissect us. We try to get through the reading of the Word instead of allowing it to get through us." That really hit me, and I've been pondering on it ever since. We try to dissect the Word of God instead of allowing it to dissect us.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with studying the Word, analyzing it deeply, considering it from every angle that we can. But when we are more focused on tearing apart every little nuance of the Word, even arguing and nitpicking about minor disagreements on Scripture, than we are on allowing the Word to penetrate us and expose us for who we really are--then there can be a problem. The Word is powerful enough to expose our deepest motivations and conditions of the heart, and we have to be willing to allow that exposure to happen. We are all in need of that point of conviction that drives us toward repentance and the grace found in Christ alone.

And on another note . . . as I promised, here are some pictures from our adventures in the nation's capital:








Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Surprises

Since I got back to Georgia on Wednesday, it has been an interesting couple of days, especially today . . . definitely some surprising interactions and events. I've had several unexpected and great conversations with people I hardly ever talk to. Then today I randomly got offered a job that I applied for . . . four months ago! I'm definitely taking the weekend to think about it and make a decision. It would be a good opportunity, but I'm not sure it would be a good idea for me to take on even more responsibilities this fall than the ones I already have.

I also finished Law Review orientation, which was pretty good (the best part was probably getting free stuff--including free food this week, free coffee in the law review office during school, and copies of the Bluebook. The non-law-school folks out there may not know the significance of that, but it is a really important legal citation manual that I will probably use for my entire career, and it costs at least $40 on Amazon, so that's money I don't have to spend. Which makes me really happy). I got my first manuscript to edit by next Friday (only 26 pages--not too bad). I also had an unexpected conversation with one of the law review publishing coordinators this morning. We had some interactions this summer that made me feel that I might have some difficulties working with her, so I was trying to just do what I was supposed to do during orientation and not attract her attention. But this morning she pulled me aside and said, "Lauren, I just want you to know that I have very high expectations for you on law review because I've been told what kind of work you are capable of." I was really surprised and just said, "Well, I will do my best to meet those expectations." So I was happy to hear that, and I have so enjoyed getting to know the 25 or so students on law review over the past couple days, so I think it will be a good year working together. Hoping for a great 2L experience--and that I will be able to not just meet, but exceed, expectations this upcoming year.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Hunger Games

My sister and I went to see The Hunger Games this weekend now that the movie has finally reached the discount theater ($2 a ticket, I can't argue with that!)

I haven't read the books. I hadn't even had any serious urge to see the movies--they were just on my "I'll probably watch them through Netflix sometime" list. In other words, I had not yet embraced what has become an absolute pop culture phenomenon in the past year or so.

But The Hunger Games ended up being one of the most provocative, powerful movies I have ever seen. I tend to get pretty philosophical when I watch movies and to try to look for the life lessons/ allegories to life in most movies I see, and this movie provided more than enough food for thought. To me, it was a powerful social commentary that raised timeless questions about life. Like these:
  • What if you were a teenager and your very life literally depended on how popular you were?
  • What are humans capable of when they are left to their own devices and their base survival instincts?
  • How can you exert some control over your life when you live in a totalitarian society?
  • What is stronger than fear for your life?
  • Would you be willing to die to save someone you loved?
  • And the most intense question of all: Would you be willing to kill to save someone you loved?
I won't spoil the movie if you've not seen it yet and still want to, but I would highly recommend it because of the way that it intensely grapples with a lot of questions that have no easy answers. Yes, it does have some violent moments, even though much of the violence is not really on screen but rather something you know is happening in the background. I can't endorse all the philosophies of The Hunger Games and certainly not the violence, but overall I found it to be a really thought-provoking depiction of honor, sacrifice, loss, and love.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympics!

I finished up work on Friday and am now on a quick vacation to see my family before I have to be back at school on the 8th. I feel like all I've done with my time off so far is watch the Olympics! Every night my mom and I are glued to the TV, riveted by the gymnastics, synchronized diving, and swimming. And I'm so excited that women's gymnastics won a gold medal!

Honestly, I think the commercials are just as inspiring as the games themselves. Like the one where one of the USA swimmers (probably Ryan Lochte or Michael Phelps) is swimming, and saying, "It's not enough to dream about winning Olympic gold. It's not enought to plan for it or wish for it. Luck didn't get me to London . . . I SWAM here." That commercial pretty much inspires me to 1) become an Olympian, or 2) failing that, just change and improve the rest of my life.

I'm leaving today to go and visit my sister--we're spending the weekend together in D.C. I'm looking forward to lots of museums, sightseeing, good restaurants, and time with Meagan and her friends. I will hopefully post pictures when I get back! In the meantime . . . go watch the Olympics.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What Not to Do to Make Your Blog Great

I'm noticing a trend on this blog: I tend to write about things I'm not really an expert in. Like dating. And figuring out your career. So today I'm going to write about another topic that I really can't call myself an expert in: blogging! I just started this blog this year and I know I'm nowhere near an expert. But it's something I enjoy experimenting with and I've learned a lot of new things along the way.

Lots of bloggers produce those lists of "things you should do to build a better blog," and they usually boil down to consistently writing high-quality content that people will not only want to read, but will also feel compelled to share. While that's good to know, that's easier said than done, isn't it? Blogging is hard work. And it can be hard to build a new blog from the ground up--I think some new bloggers get totally discouraged because they think if they were already well-known before they started blogging, they would have had 594, 657 page views by now! But a lot of us have no choice but to blog anonymously (for me, it's because right now I've decided my writing needs to be kept separate from my law career), and so we have to have our writing speak for itself since most people don't know the person behind the keyboard.

That said, sometimes it's easier to know what NOT to do than to have a checklist to follow when starting up a new blog. So without further ado, here's my list of what not to do to make your blog fantastic:
  • Make your writing as whiny and full of complaints and negativity as possible. Don't just make it an occasional post--constantly write about your pet peeves and how frustrated you are with life and how everything makes you grumpy. (I know some people whose blogs really are like this--not too fun to read!)
  • Make sure that your blog is not user-friendly at all. Have it be completely cluttered with gadgets and ads, and make sure people aren't going to have a clue how to post comments, or where to find the archives.
  • Disable all comments so that no one can respond to your posts (exception: sometimes doing this once in awhile for particular posts is necessary). But the point of a blog is conversation and interaction with your community of readers. A blog should be the Internet version of a coffee shop, not a lecture hall. People want to be able, metaphorically, to get their caramel macchiato and be invited to stay and chat for awhile.
  • Be sure to write only once every few weeks or months. (Most people take unproductive blogs off their Google Reader subscriptions pretty fast, unless the content is so good that it makes it worth a long wait.)
  • Give up when it's been 6 months and your stats indicate that you still only have 6.7 readers. For one, many, if not most, readers use RSS feeds or follow blogs by email, so the times they are reading may not be included in your statistics. What's more, Google Analytics shouldn't destroy your self-esteem. Write if it brings you joy, no matter who reads or who doesn't.
  • Never write about anything remotely controversial. While you don't need to feel compelled to dive into political, social, and moral debates all the time, contributing to big debates is one thing that will make people want to read your work.
  • Only pull material from others (like quotes and links) without ever producing any of your own.
  • Never edit your posts.
  • Never comment on other people's blogs or websites.
  • Lose sight of why you're keeping a blog in the first place. Why this is something you should NOT do: you've got to remember your ultimate goals with blogging so you'll stay motivated to keep doing it even when it's difficult. I write to inspire other people, to glorify God, and because it's something I love to do.
New bloggers: what has (and hasn't) worked for you? Where do you find blogging motivation/ inspiration? What's been the hardest thing about starting a new writing venture?