Wednesday, October 31, 2012


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.