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.