Sunday, December 29, 2013

10 of the Best Feelings in the World

Not an exhaustive list by any means, but here are a few of, in my opinion, the best feelings in the world and small moments in life to be very grateful for:

1) Coming home. Wherever and whatever home is for you, whether it's going back to the mountains with the sunset glinting gold over the horizon or driving back to your city after being away, when you round the bend on the interstate and can see that beautiful skyline again. Knowing that you have some small niche, a place of your own, an area where you belong and can be yourself and be comfortable.

2) That moment that typically happens around October of your freshman year of college when you realize that you actually have friends at this school and you like it here and want to stay. One chilly fall weekend, you spend virtually the entire weekend having ridiculously long talks with people over waffles and hot chocolate at brunch and then cramming far too many girls on your dorm-room bed to watch movies and laugh and laugh, and you have The Moment and realize you actually like these people, a lot.

3) The wonderful feeling when the unfamiliar becomes familiar and even comfortable, like wearing a well-worn pair of jeans. Perhaps it's the time when you're driving home from work at rush hour to your tiny apartment, and you realize you don't see this place just as the huge city with too much traffic and too many people--instead, you see your favorite park, your favorite neighborhood coffee shop, your favorite hole-in-the-wall thrift store. You know your way around, where to go for the best farmer's market or manicure or yoga session, and it's become your city. Or maybe it's the moment when your tongue suddenly and finally wraps around the strange cadences of the new language you've struggled for so long to learn, and you find yourself having deep conversations and conveying meaning in that language and you honestly forget it's not your own. And you say something funny and native speakers laugh and you know it's because you actually said something genuinely funny, not because you messed up the words worse than the soufflé you tried to make for that dinner party last month. (And this is even more true when you are living in the culture and have to speak the language just to get by.)

4) The feeling of being strong, like when you are running and you feel your heart beating and blood pumping and your muscles straining and your breath becoming a bit ragged but you just want to keep going anyway, because you're about to run without stopping for longer than you ever have before in your life.

5) Feeling capable and self-sufficient. When you fix the toilet or the chipped plaster or the malfunctioning garbage disposal or the flat tire yourself. When you move yourself to a new place, file the motion in court yourself, paint the kitchen on your own, write an amazing cover letter yourself. Or even simply being capable of taking care of the really small things, like doing all your laundry and washing your sheets and deep-cleaning everything, knowing that you've absolutely earned a hot shower and a night of takeout Thai food and a marathon of My Strange Addiction on Netflix.

6) When you have a moment of absolute, spontaneous, entirely unexpected connection with an unlikely person, and you have an amazing conversation and they just get you, and you realize you should actually probably be BFFs.

7) The realization that you are stronger than you think. That it's pure grit and determination and adrenaline getting you through, but that's ok because you have no shortage of tenacity, and you can and will fight for what you believe in and stand up for yourself and push through it.

8) Getting in the car to go on a road trip to the beach with friends, when you're totally stocked up on fresh playlists and sunscreen and novels and diet cherry Dr. Pepper, and you can already practically smell the salt of the ocean breeze even though you're still, like, six hours away.

9) Enjoying the unbroken possibility of the early morning. Drinking your tea and brushing your teeth and watching the sun rise, sitting in the utter quiet and gathering your strength for the day ahead.

10) Moments of brief respite in times of intense crisis of stress or pain or grief or disappointment. Brief periods of completely unadulterated happiness like the strange peace in the eye of the storm, whether caused by a night out with friends, losing yourself in a project or purpose that matters to you, or simply walking outside on a fall day and finally noticing all the beautiful autumn leaves. And realizing that you're alive, and life can still be beautiful.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Currently . . .

These posts on what people are currently doing/ feeling have been traveling around the blogosphere for a long time now . . . I'm stealing that idea and putting my own spin on it. Here's what's going on in my life, currently:

Excited About: Christmas. Duh. AND seeing my best friend from high school when she comes to visit me in less than three weeks!! And drinking hot chocolate on the couch with my sister while watching lots and lots of Hallmark Christmas movies that are totally reminiscent of the movies described here.

Working on: Nothing. And let me tell you, it is amazing.

Craving: Barbecue-chicken goat cheese quesadillas from this little hole-in-the wall Mexican place in Atlanta.

Texting: Juliana, Catherine, Maria, Ashley, and Jennifer. These ladies typically hear from me at least once a day each.

Inspired by: My grandparents, who have been married for SIXTY years, as of today. Isn't that fantastic?

Wanting: To find a job that I won't feel embarrassed about when people at dinner parties ask me, "What do you do?" To have something awesome to tell those people. With minimal stress and "why did I decide to get a law degree?!!" panic attacks.

Needing: To do exactly what I'm doing now: catch up on sleep, truly relax for more than 2-4 days for the first time in seven months, and be with my family.

Watching: All the crime/ FBI/ forensics shows on Netflix.

Proud of: One of my best friends, who just landed her dream job! Way to go Catherine!

Listening to: A bunch of Matt Redman. And Justin Bieber's Christmas CD.

Loving: Being done with my fifth and penultimate semester of law school.

Reading: A Moment of Truth by Lisa Scottoline. Mercy by Jodi Picoult. And yes, I did just go back and re-read my favorite Babysitter's Club book of all time: Stacey and the Mystery of the Empty House. It was sooo good.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Quote of the Day

This is a statement I think we could all really take to heart: "Sometimes, people will hate you because you're preaching the same Gospel that Jesus preached. Other times, they will hate you just because you're being a jerk. Quit doing the second and blaming it on the first."

--from Jefferson Bethke's book Jesus > Religion

Monday, December 16, 2013

Refreshment in the Valley of Weeping

Last night I found myself praying for a couple of friends who have faced far more than their share of grief and tears this year. Somehow, life often seems to work this way. When it's sunny, everything is wonderful and the blessings flow freely, but when it rains, it pours. There's often not a whole lot of middle ground. These dear friends have faced one loss after another over the past number of months, and my heart has just been breaking for them. I just prayed that God would in some way redeem their sufferings and make them beautiful, and that he would turn their tears into blessings. I had no idea where that prayer came from, but I knew I hadn't just come up with it myself, so I started flipping through my Bible (well, to see if there is a passage that says something like that. And there is.

Psalm 84:5-6 says, "Happy are the people whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a source of springs; even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings." The Valley of Baca was a place right on the path toward Jerusalem that many people traveled every year as they made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. It was filled with thorns, wild animals, vipers, and all kinds of other danger, and because of the hardship people faced when they had to cross through it, it got its name, which means "the valley of weeping." It is believed to be part of the desert of Beersheba--which is where Hagar and Ishmael were sent away from Abraham's house to wander in the desert alone. It is where the prophet Elijah experienced a deep depression, almost to the point of death. Some scholars think it could also be an area that Abraham passed through when he went on his "test of obedience" to sacrifice his son Isaac.

We are all on a pilgrimage right now. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and this world is not our home. But as we are on this pilgrimage, we are bound to pass through the Valley of Weeping, probably at many different times in our lives, simply because we dwell in a broken world. Simply because it is not our home.

I can't claim to know what your Valley of Weeping is right now, and perhaps, you aren't walking through it right now at all. But I know that someone who's reading this is. I just know that, because brokenness is unavoidable in this life we lead. Maybe you are a new parent and feel terribly inadequate and exhausted and afraid of messing up and sorrowful even though everyone is telling you this should be the happiest time of your life but you're too depressed and tired to figure it out. Maybe your friend or family member was hurt in a car accident. Maybe you or someone you love has just gotten that terrible phone call from the doctor, and the test results came back positive. Maybe you just moved to a new city or even another country and you feel alone and wonder if "home" will ever really mean anything to you again. Maybe the relationship you thought was everything you wanted and needed has painfully fallen apart, leaving you shocked and aching.

Or maybe you have lost someone you love, and all you can even wonder is how on earth your heart can feel so empty and so heavy all at the same time, especially as the holiday season approaches and it seems like the entire world is happy and excited but you. And your chest aches because, after all, your heart is breaking. You fear growing old, because this person's death has left the biggest gaping hole in your life, and you don't think it can ever be filled, and you fear losing others as time passes and having a life that looks like Swiss cheese someday--ragged and full of holes. Because you are grieving and your nerves are shot, normal amounts of stimulation are just too much, and being around people makes you feel like the world is screaming at you, even though you can't bear to be alone. And even though you're sick, so sick, of crying, the tears come again and you know that this is your valley of weeping.

I don't have the answers, but I do know that ultimately Jesus went through the valley of weeping too, and He did it for us. And this passage from Psalms actually suggests that God can transform our tears into a source of blessings and refreshment. When you walk through the valley of weeping, you will make it a source of springs. God can even use our tears to be a source of refreshment in the desert. He holds every last one in his hands and records them in His book, because He cares about every one and cares even more about the heart they come from. And then he sends the rain to cover our own desert and our own "valley of weeping" with blessings, as our tears mingle with the rain of grace and flow into a stream of blessings. The autumn rain will cover the valley of weeping with blessings. The prophet Ezekiel wrote that the Lord will send showers of blessing just when they are needed. These are such beautiful word pictures. The very hand that formed our hearts sends showers of blessing to rain on our desert places, and to mix with our own tears to become an oasis of hope. In other words, God really does turn our tears into blessings, indeed our valley of weeping into a gentle, compassionate rain of blessings, like a free fall of His Spirit and His hope into our hearts.

And this is such a reminder that it's ok to cry. A lot of us try to be tough almost all the time, to not let our guard down, and to not express our true emotions. But I don't always have to be tough, and neither do you. Sometimes we need to shed that facade like last year's fashion and realize that there are occasions where we need to cry. If that's your life right now, I hope you will allow yourself to simply feel what you are feeling and know that somehow the Lord gently uses even our tears and pain to become a source of blessings and refreshment in the darkest valley. Thank you for reading--I'm praying for y'all tonight.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

One Blessing After Another

"When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, He will send them a Savior and Defender, and He will rescue them. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. But you, Bethlehem . . . out of you will come one who will be ruler over Israel . . . and He will be their peace.

You are to give Him the name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us . . . for from his fullness we have all received one blessing after another. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was very rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. For nothing is impossible with God.

He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end. For the Mighty One has done great things for me . . . His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. He has remembered to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers. He will give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. On earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.

Now Jesus was the son of Joseph . . . the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham . . . the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God."

(passages selected from Isaiah, Micah, Matthew, Luke, and John)

2013: Year in Review

As I think back on 2013, I realize that it has been an insanely busy year. As I think back on the goals I've had for this year, I realize that I have met some while totally falling short on others. I didn't run that half-marathon even though it's been on my goal list for seriously YEARS. (Oops.) I didn't read the Bible entirely through. I didn't travel abroad. I didn't practice a whole lot of random acts of kindness, I didn't always follow my rule to "say what I mean and mean what I say," and I definitely didn't have coffee with Chris Tomlin (all items on my goals list for this year. That last one was a distinct possibility since I went to his church for awhile! But alas, it didn't happen. Yet. :) I'm pretty sure I wasn't always classy, didn't always inspire others, and didn't stop to watch the sunsets nearly often enough--all things that, either literally or figuratively, I wanted to do more!

But I also did a ton of other stuff, and it's kind of exciting for me to think back on the things I did accomplish in 2013. I got published for the first time, with an article on patenting in biotechnology. I joined the editorial board of the law review and edited more than 600 pages for our fall publication down to every last footnote and punctuation mark. I traveled to Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Richmond, Savannah, the mountains, the beach, and more. I had a job as a law clerk in a fast-paced litigation firm in the big city. I helped to coordinate a national moot court competition on legal ethics and professionalism, including writing the competition problem. I took a bunch of classes. I helped to research and edit a professor's article on neuroscience and criminal culpability. I competed in moot court and client counseling and closing argument competitions (gotta develop those practical lawyering skills). I learned how to do demands, interrogatories, petitions, ante-litem notices, and motions, and prepared trials, cross-examination, and discovery.

I did some things I've never done before this year--got a hotel room all by myself, went on a vacation by myself, and picked an apartment and signed a lease with no "supervision," parental or otherwise. I read some amazing books. I spent some great time with friends going to music festivals and baseball games and pool days and other fun things. I went to the symphony and art shows and Spin classes and wine tastings and birthday parties and some fancy dinners and networking events. I tried Chicago deep dish pizza and watched the sun rise on the beach and made some unlikely friendships with people who are very different from me but have taught me a lot about life.

But I can't stay in one place or sit still for long, and I am already thinking about what I want to accomplish next year. Next year I want to get a real big-girl litigation job--as a real attorney, not a law clerk. I want to pass the bar exam. I want to publish another article, run a 10K, graduate with honors, and win my first real case. I want to become a World Vision child ambassador. I want to speak up for women and children who can't speak up for themselves. I want to take a class or two at a nearby university, but only in fun stuff, like Italian or creative writing, because I'm not ready to stop learning. I want to travel to amazing places in the US and the world (first picks: San Antonio and Seattle). I want to own a Bible that's falling apart and learn how to be a woman of prayer. I want to be smart, curious, honest, funny, and compassionate.

I want to keep writing. I want to inspire and encourage people. Here's to a great new year!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I'm Back!!

. . . . and done with exams!! This is the time of the semester that I always forget that other people have lives. That they aren't sitting on their couch in sweatpants all day studying election of remedies and the corporate opportunity doctrine and indemnification and the advocate-witness rule and writing papers on Establishment Clause jurisprudence. I have seriously done nothing but write and study for the past week, and it feels so good to just NOT have to do that right now. And I get to actually sleep tonight!! I had three exams and a paper due in literally a 48-hour period this week, and it was pretty much the most exhausting thing in life. I haven't worn makeup in a week and I've been wearing the same jeans like every day (don't judge), and I haven't worked out in 5 days unless you count doing tons of pushups and jumping jacks to keep myself awake during business associations cram sessions, so I'm seriously craving some gym time. (Come to think of it, I could just drink coffee to stay awake like normal people do. But no, I just do pushups, because I'm weird like that. And occasionally have a peppermint mocha too.) And now I just want to eat chocolate and watch tons of Netflix and BREATHE. (And clean my apartment, and do laundry, and make some real meals . . . )

To be honest, I have a little bit of post-exam depression right now, which is common and something I feel like most students have for a few days after finishing each semester. Paradoxically, the first couple days after finishing exams are usually emotionally my lowest points in the whole semester, and I know it's the same way for a number of students I know. I think it's because you've been working as hard as you can work and then it all suddenly stops, but even so, it's very hard to actually relax, and you find yourself feeling really worried about grades and really disappointed because you think you didn't do well but won't know how you did for another month. No matter how I actually end up doing, I virtually never walk out of a law school exam and TRULY feel good about it. Some I feel ok about. But for most, I second-guess myself like crazy and assume I probably didn't do well and then end up beating myself up about it, and trying to convince myself that I don't care about it that much even though I do care. I know I have overachiever tendencies and need to just chill, but after working crazy-hard all semester, honestly, I just want to get good grades and feel like it paid off! But it will eventually, because LOOK AT THIS:

Seriously. Is that not the most beautiful piece of paper you've ever seen in your life? And I've been blowing up the website for the office of Georgia bar admissions checking to see if my file has been assigned for review yet . . . hopefully soon!

And in other news--random thoughts about life right now:

  • I'm kind of obsessed with the Christmas tree I put up in my apartment! It is so pretty. I couldn't handle paying for ornaments because they're so expensive, so I bought two packs of Brach's candy canes for 98 cents each and hung those on the tree instead.
  • You really need to try these salted whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. These are single servings of sweet/salty/chocolate-y deliciousness. And because they're single serving and you're not being tempted by a whole batch, you can eat one without feeling like you need to spend 17.5 years on the elliptical to burn it off.
  • And you really need to read this article about how we can embrace single adults in the church. 
  • Along those lines . . . quit hashtagging #married life after everything. This has been a pet peeve of mine lately. This has nothing to do with jealousy. It's just . . . annoying. Not everything you do in life has to do with being married. Just because you do something with your husband doesn't really justify such a hashtag. If it did, every time I did anything, I'd be hashtagging it #singlelife. #notcool, y'all. And while we're at it, don't put 15 separate hashtags in one post because it's just overkill. Example: Posting a picture of yourself and a friend clutching cups of coffee on the street on a chilly day and writing this: #gingerbreadlatte #boots #scarves #cold #snow #christmas #friends #loveher
  • I really want to go see Catching Fire again. These movies are great escapes because Katniss's life will always be more stressful than mine.
  • This wonderful Bible verse: "The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." --2 Timothy 4:17. Enough said.
  • I've been getting back into Pinterest lately . . . I normally get on this site approximately twice a year. But every once in awhile I get on a little kick with it. Lately I've been looking at how to do DIY craft projects with Christmas lights and empty Pringles cans and crayons and you-name-it. I might need to do some of these over break. 
  • I am planning to make up for my long absence from the blogging world with a series of Advent meditations. I did a series like this for Lent this past year, and it seems to have gone over pretty well, so I'm going to give it a shot and do it for the Christmas season too. 
  • It feels so good to sit on my couch and listen to Christy Nockels and write and write and write. I already got caught up in my journal, which did me a WORLD of good. I absolutely need to write every day because I'm pretty much wired to write and I have withdrawal if I don't. 
Well, that's it for now! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy December!

This is my absolute favorite month of the year. Cold weather, snow, everything related to Christmas, hot cocoa, gifts, holiday parties, lots of red, Christmas music (that I don't have to feel weird about listening to, unlike when I'm whipping out the Hillsongs Christmas CD in the middle of August). In December, everyone just seems more generous, loving, and kind. People give to charity more this month than at any other time of the year, and so many people go to great lengths to get the perfect gift for their loved ones.

So, I am looking forward to the new month. I know I have been MIA from the blog for the past several weeks and can only anticipate that trend to continue, with three finals and a paper due in three days next week. (I'm getting stressed just thinking about it.) But in other news, I finished my character and fitness application for the bar exam!! I submitted my seven-year driving records and my birth certificate and got fingerprinted and answered tons of questions about every place I've lived for the last five years and every job I've had since age 18 and references and student loans and mental health treatment and credit cards and criminal records (none of that, thankfully) and traffic tickets (also none of those) and personal/ family information and contact information and educational information and so much more. Now that the bar knows everything about me . . . hopefully they will find me fit and with the requisite character to sit for the bar exam.

And so begins the whirlwind of the next two weeks. I literally don't know how I'm going to get everything done, but I feel confident that I'll find a way to figure it out. And at the other end of the finals marathon is my absolute favorite holiday. Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted . . .

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Help Me Cross Off a Bucket List Item . . .

. . . by helping my blog reach 10,000 page views this month! I only have 1,000 to go. If what I write resonates with you or encourages you, please share it with your friends and family. I am very careful about who I share it with myself because, for job search reasons, I want to remain anonymous as I write, but if anybody else wants to share it, that's great!

Also, please feel free to email me at the address listed on the right side of this page: comments, critique, etc. If you want to do a guest post or have me do a guest post for you, please email me and let me know.

New to my blog? Never been on my blog at all until this moment?

You might like some of these posts:

Reflections on Grace

Is the Gospel Offensive?

I'm Tired of Hearing that True Love Waits

Validation Addiction

The Great Chick-Fil-A Boycott

Just One Touch

You can also find some of my thoughts on social justice and the necessity of compassion for Christians, the biggest myths about relationships, social media, the role of desire in the Christian life, unorthodox but effective prayer, and politics and faith, as well as my mission statement for life and a piece on my favorite Bible verse of all time.

Thank you to all of my readers! You are what makes writing worthwhile.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Law Student

I don't know about you, but I love reading "day in the life" descriptions for people . . . I just think it's so interesting to get a glimpse of what someone does every day, especially if they have a career that I'm not familiar with. So in that vein, I thought I'd give you a day in my life. I don't know if some of you might be thinking about going to law school, or just wondering what a law student's typical schedule looks like. My first year of law school involved MUCH more reading and studying. This year involves a lot more editing manuscripts for law review and event planning for Moot Court, and I spend substantially more time on those tasks than I do on actual classes/ schoolwork.

So here was my Monday:

7:30am: I got up, showered, had an apple with peanut butter and my multivitamin, checked my emails, and got ready. I usually get up anywhere between 7 and 9 depending on when I actually went to bed. If I stay up till 2 getting things done, which I do about twice a week, I will get up at 9, but usually I go to bed around 12:30.

8:45am: Drove to campus. I live about two minutes away, which is amazingly convenient. I spent the next hour finishing up a manuscript before my 9:40 remedies class.

9:40-10:40am: class

10:40-noon: I worked on editing the business associations article I just got assigned this morning.

noon-1: class

1:00: I went back to my apartment, made and ate lunch, took out the trash, got books for my afternoon class, and just chilled for a little bit and read a magazine.

2:00: headed back to campus for legal ethics class and then went to class

3:20: met with IT to figure out how to do some editing on the Moot Court website and reviewed and approved our contract with the caterer for the banquet we're hosting after the competition (competition is NEXT weekend. I'm kind of freaking out). I sent some emails trying to coordinate getting bailiffs for the competition and figuring out the team pairings for the preliminary rounds, and just generally putting out a LOT of fires related to that.

4:30-6: finished editing the business associations article. Well, I need to give it at least one more run-through. But the serious editing is done.

6pm: came home and made/ ate dinner (a turkey sandwich, some surprisingly good Campbell's clam chowder, and grapes, in case you're wondering)

6:30-8:15: studied for my remedies class

8:30-9:30: gym

10-11pm: vacuumed, mopped my kitchen and bathroom floors, did a bunch of dishes, scrubbed my countertops and sink, and just generally did some serious and much-needed cleaning

And as we speak, I'm writing this post, trying to make a little more progress on my remedies outline (exams are in one month--don't even remind me), giving myself a French manicure because tomorrow I'm going to this really important networking event and need to look at least somewhat pulled together, and hopefully watching a little Netflix before I go to bed. Tomorrow I need to get the ball rolling really early because I will be gone for the networking event from 4-10pm (it's 2 hours away), which means I need to go to the gym first thing in the morning, and I have a law review meeting at 9:30am and also HAVE to edit and distribute the bench brief (summary of the competition problem and relevant case law for the Moot Court judges) no later than tomorrow. I also have a major advanced legal research project due on Thursday afternoon and am going to see a movie with friends on Wednesday night and haven't started the project, so I might need to get some stuff done on that tomorrow.

Anyway, this is a pretty typical day for me! I don't know if I made you all want to come to law school or totally turned you off to it, but this is my everyday life at the moment, and I'm doing my best to enjoy it as much as I can.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Favor of Him Who Dwelt in the Burning Bush

I continually pray for God's favor to cover my life. I pretty much pray for this every single day, and sometimes I honestly feel just a little bit selfish to pray for it so often. Because it's easy to ask yourself, "Why should I be able to have the favor of God on my life and my relationships and my pursuits? Why do I deserve that?"

But really, isn't that just the point? We don't deserve it and aren't worthy of it, but He chooses to show us His wonderful favor anyway. Scriptures talk about God's favor in a number of ways and with a number of word pictures--favor covering us as a shield, proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor, and the ones the Lord favors: those who are humble and contrite in spirit and who tremble at His word. But there's another unusual description of the Lord's favor that I am fascinated by. It comes from a passage in Deuteronomy 33, where Moses is blessing the twelve tribes of Israel before his death, and Joseph in particular. Moses says: "May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield; with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills; with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush."

This ancient and beautiful blessing asks God to bless with the favor of Him who dwelt in the burning bush--as the speaker here, Moses was obviously invoking the experience that started his whole ministry, when he met the great I AM in a burning bush in a lonely desert. To me, it is utterly profound that he would ask for Joseph to have this particular type of God's favor--the favor of the one who dwelt in the burning bush. Moses knew exactly what kind of favor this was. It's a favor that invited him, and invites us even today, to take off our shoes, stand upon holy ground, and come face to face with I AM. It's a favor that enabled Moses, and enables us, to speak when we don't know how to speak or what to say. It's a favor that enables us to reach people, to reach hearts, and to lead people away from their bondage and toward the life of freedom God has for them. It's a favor that gives us great boldness and reminds us that God will be with us always. It's one that allows us to confront when necessary, to show forth the power of God, and to shepherd people toward a new life with Him. It's that kind of favor. This is exactly the kind of favor I constantly pray for in my life.

Maya Angelou once said, "The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise." And I want to reach people's hearts. As a law student and soon-to-be litigator, as a blogger, as a friend, in every other place and arena and sphere of influence I find myself. You cannot be a good leader without seeking to reach hearts, and you cannot reach hearts deeply without the favor of God in your life. I want to reach people with the message of I AM. I want to stand on that holy ground and speak the words God gives me to speak. What a blessing it is to know that, as I pursue that, I can be covered with the favor of Him who dwelt in the burning bush.

And we do not have this favor because we deserve it. We have it because we've been bought with the blood of the Lamb and brought into right standing with God because of the sacrifice of Christ. We have it because God has made a way where there was no way. And we can never underestimate the power of His favor in our lives--giving us the grace we need to follow Him.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Lord Longs to Be Gracious to You

It's a hard week. I'm exhausted. And stressed. And every law student I know is too. Honestly, this week is about as intense as finals, which is saying something. I have 2 major writing projects, a 100-page law review manuscript, a midterm, and the MPRE (the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam--standardized test of legal ethics that everyone must take to get a law license) all in the next 5 days. Preparations for the moot court competition are going into high gear, as it's less than 3 weeks away. I'm not getting enough sleep, and lately when I do try to sleep, I've been either lying awake feeling stressed out, or having to-do list-induced nightmares (my least favorite of those? Dreaming that I completed some huge assignment or project--and then waking up to realize I actually haven't started it yet).

But here is some encouragement for today, for you and for me, from Isaiah 30:18. I love the way the Amplified Bible puts it:

"And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!"

He waits and longs to be gracious to you, and you are blessed if you wait and long for Him. That's good news no matter how stressed out you are!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Runner's High

Catherine and I have been on a major workout kick lately, and we don't plan on stopping it anytime soon. We've been going to the gym pretty much every single day for the past two weeks, no excuses, and working out a whole lot harder than I normally do--I've run more, done more pushups and lunges and ab exercises, and lifted more weights in the past two weeks than I have in such a long time. This girl, who's normally content to just do a Zumba class or jog some or shoot some hoops, is getting used to running a few miles basically every time I go to the gym. It's often the last thing I actually want to do after a long day of school work, but I know it's good for me.

And I feel great. I have so much energy (as in, I feel slightly caffeinated, without the coffee, pretty much all the time and am naturally more alert and focused) and I just feel strong and physically capable, which is a really good feeling to have. And there's nothing quite like the endorphin rush from a good run. Today I was actually quite satisfied to realize that I'm going to need to buy new running shoes because I've basically cracked the soles on my old ones. There's something really satisfying about realizing that you can lift 100 pounds, or run for one minute longer than you could last week.

And I don't believe I would have the energy to do all the work I need to be doing right now if I weren't exercising so much, so I'm telling myself, I think truthfully, that I don't have time not to work out. Today we went to the football field and ran up and down all the bleachers, and ran sprints, and did pushups and crunches, and came up with all these other random cardio exercises. I think this coming week, we're going to add some swimming and biking to the mix. We've already run the stairs in my apartment building once before, and I think we'll definitely do that again (yep, all 10 floors of it). Catherine's trying to stay in shape for her upcoming army physical fitness test, and I'm just trying to get in shape for, you know, life. I want to be able to haul heavy grocery bags and books around with no trouble, and be able to run up two flights of stairs when I'm late to class, and know that I could defend myself if I ever needed to. So anyway, I think this is going to become my new lifestyle. I will probably never be one of those women who jumps out of bed on the weekends and goes and runs 10 miles, but really big and profound lifestyle changes start with really small ones. So I'm starting now.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Don't Want to Be in a Relationship.

I know that this puts me in a category with what seems like about 1% or less of people my age: Not only am I not in a relationship right now, but I have absolutely no desire to be in one. Not now, and not for a LONG time in the future.

I love being single. That's not sarcasm at all--I mean, I really love it. I love that I can make big plans for my future and be able to pursue what I feel led to pursue without being tied down by someone else's plans. I'm young, and I love that I don't have to fit my life into someone else's. I love that I can do what I want to do on Friday night, whether it's going out with friends or staying in and reading a book. I love being able to go where I want and do what I want without having to check in with anyone. I love that I can spend time with any friends that I want, male or female, without feeling guilty about it or worried that my significant other won't like my friends. And with no offense meant toward anyone, I guess I just don't want to spend every waking moment with one person right now. Most girls I know who are in relationships, for example, have dinner with their boyfriends EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I just don't want to spend that much time with one person right now.

But my culture makes me feel very guilty about loving being single. I'm not supposed to love it. I'm supposed to hate it and be willing to do just about anything to be in a relationship. It is not assumed that single people have full, complete lives (but I would very much like to challenge that assumption). It is assumed that their lives are "unfinished," if you will, searching, and sometimes desperate. Just in terms of cultural norms, when people ask me if I'm dating someone, I'm not really allowed to say the truth: "No, I'm not dating anyone because I love being single." No, you're expected to give people very clear, logical reasons as to why exactly you aren't dating, and a clear timeline of when you expect to start dating in the future. Hence my classic excuse, aided by the fact that I went straight from college to law school: "I'm waiting until I finish school." And on top of making us single ladies feel like we can't possibly not be planning to date someone in the very clearly defined future, I know many people would dismiss every reason I just gave for loving singleness as being totally selfish. While I do understand how it could seem that way to some, at the heart of it, why is it selfish to pursue the lifestyle you want? Most of the single people I know still care deeply about others, are invested in their friendships, active in their communities, successful in their work, etc. They're giving and contributing and mentoring and investing and making a difference. They are not selfish simply because they're pursuing the life they want in terms of their relationships--just like it's not fair to tell people who are in relationships that they're selfish just because of that fact.

Just as people have the right to pursue a relationship if it makes them happy, they should also be able to not pursue a relationship if that's the lifestyle they want, without having other people wonder what's wrong with them and when they'll come around and realize that they need to Start Dating Right Now. And don't even get me started on the offensive articles out there about "why you're still single" that accuse single people of being weird, immature, unable to take care of themselves, and socially awkward. I mean, really? Moreover, I'm tired of the idea that single people aren't really "adults" yet, and I don't even know where this notion came from. It's not as if getting a boyfriend or girlfriend suddenly transforms you into an adult, or as if single people aren't paying their bills, working really hard, and taking care of themselves just like any other adults.

Don't get me wrong. I am delighted for my friends who are happily dating, engaged, and married (and a couple of my friends have really wonderful marriages and I think, someday, I probably will want a marriage like theirs). I am just as happy for my friends who, like me, are happily single. But here's a little secret: I'm not waiting to finish school before I start dating. That's an excuse because I know most people won't be ok with the real answer. I'm not dating because I don't want to be dating! (I'm laughing right now just imagining the responses I might get to that if I said that to people when I go home over Thanksgiving break!) I highly doubt that in 7 months when I graduate I'll suddenly want to start dating (or in a year, or a year and a half, etc., but that's neither here nor there). Of course I don't know what will happen in the future, but based on the fact that I've been very happily single for my entire adult life so far, I would definitely anticipate that I'll probably be perfectly happy working for a few years before I even want to think about dating. So what if I'm 27, or 30, or 32, and not in a relationship! If I'm happy and doing what I think God wants me to do, why does my personal relationship status even matter to anybody else?

I know that that's not acceptable to a lot of people. I know a lot of you all may be reading this and wondering who this weird girl is who just readily admitted that I've never even been in a real relationship and that's perfectly fine with me. But ultimately, we as a culture need to stop judging other people's choices to be, or not to be, in relationships, because it's offensive, and we need to just stop already. Anyway, that's my two cents. Thoughts?

Sunday, October 20, 2013


This verse is highlighted, underlined, starred, and circled in my Bible: "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me." (Psalm 138:8). When I strain toward my future, often with confusion and fear, or simply wishing I had more than one life so that I could do more things and have more jobs and pursue more dreams in my time here, it helps me tremendously to remember this bold promise for my life. It's amazing because it reminds me of two things: First of all, I have a purpose! My life has a purpose. It's not an accident or random or a product of chance that I am here right now, at this time in history, in this city, at this age, in law school, sitting on my couch typing out these words on a gloriously sunny Sunday morning. It's not just random, my life has a purpose. All of our lives have a purpose. Another verse that reminds me of this is Isaiah 42:6: "I have called you for a righteous purpose and I am holding you by your hand." Amazing.

And second, it's such a source of peace to know that not only do I have a purpose, but the LORD will fulfill it for me. I do not have to struggle and strain and wander through life confusedly trying to pursue a purpose and desperately trying not to miss the mark. The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me, and my job is to follow His leading and listen to His heart, not being anxious about anything, but claiming His purpose and His peace for my life. I am claiming that today and claiming these promises for my life in a time that could otherwise be burdened with great uncertainty. I don't have to stress about fulfilling God's purpose for my life because that is something that He has clearly promised to do--all I need to do is go where He leads me and be fully attentive to His voice. He knows the way that I take and has grace for me every step of the way.

Friday, October 4, 2013

October Friday :)

I LOVE Fridays in the fall. Well, fall in general. And as of October 1st, I *officially* gave myself permission to pull out the Christmas music . . . even though I had definitely already been listening to it since September. And even though it's still HOT here, usually the mornings have a hint of cool fall air and remind me that lots of football, cute scarves, boots, pumpkin-flavored everything, and anticipation for the holidays are coming my way in the next couple months.

Today, my last class got canceled (I kind of love it when professors just have to go out of town, even though they're always so apologetic), so I just need to get through my business class and then I'm done for the weekend. There's a big art festival downtown this weekend with free admission to a bunch of art museums, so my friend Juliana and I are going to get dinner and then check that out tonight. This week I've been pretty absorbed with editing a huge trial practice and procedure manuscript, outlining for my remedies class, and recruiting judges for the Moot Court competition (yeah, that's still going on. And there's so much more to think about: trophies, gifts for the judges, planning a banquet, getting a caterer and a bartender, getting a photographer for the awards ceremony, finding professors to grade the teams' briefs, and so on. My friend Maria who's also on the committee is fantastic at the whole event planning thing, so it's been great to have her involved).

As far as other random happenings in my life lately:

--I got to hear Matt Redman lead worship live at Passion City Church on Sunday and it was amazing. And I'm totally obsessed with his new CD and have been listening to it nonstop--it's called Your Grace Finds Me, and you should definitely check it out!

--Discovering that I had a free trial of Netflix instant streaming means I've been watching random documentaries and the Andy Griffith show alllll week long.

--Catherine and I signed up to do this closing argument competition that involves students from every law school in the state. Grand prize is $2,000. We're trying to win back most of the money we dropped on our bar prep courses. :) I spent $2,415 on mine, which definitely makes it the biggest ticket purchase of my life, but if I don't pay tuition for a course, chances are very good that I won't pass the bar.

--I've been speaking up more lately . . . about everything. Sharing my opinions with people instead of just acting like I don't have one because I don't think people will like it, being more vocal, participating more in class, etc. I'm not sure what prompted the change, but I like it.

--I've been on a brown rice kick lately. It's so good (and cheap). Last night for dinner I pretty much set up a brown rice buffet with various toppings to choose from: beans, corn, tuna, etc. This may be my go-to "poor law student" dinner.

--I really want to go to Bath and Body Works ASAP and buy some of their fall candles: they have harvest coffee candles, pumpkin pecan waffle candles, etc. That's what I'm talking about!

Well I have to run to class but have an amazing weekend!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Everyone Doesn't Have to Like You.

Just a quick thought for the day: Not everybody in the world needs to like you! Like many people, I am usually very focused on trying to get everyone around me to like me and respect me and want to be my friend, but I've been realizing lately that that's simply not necessary. And it may not even be a good thing.

It dawned on me yesterday that if absolutely everyone who knows you likes you, then maybe you aren't living your life boldly enough! Sometimes, to do the right thing, you need to shake things up, rock the boat, step on someone's toes, and do some things that people just aren't going to like. I don't mean that you do these things in an unkind or a rude way, or that you're trying to get on someone's bad side. But really, if you never do anything that some people won't like, there may be a lot of things you need to be doing but aren't because of a fear of rejection.

Yesterday I publicly stood up to a fellow student who has treated people badly for years, and called him out on his bad attitude and behavior. I'm pretty sure I lost at least some of his respect (if I ever had it to begin with). I'm pretty sure I made him mad. And because I never do things like that and would rather run from even the appearance of conflict, last night I had to fight an overwhelming urge to apologize and tell him I didn't mean it. But I did mean it, and I wasn't sorry for saying it. And I realized that I probably would have stood up to him a long time ago if I hadn't been so driven to have everybody like me and think I'm so nice.

Being nice is a good thing. Being liked is a good thing. But it's not everything. And if everyone likes you, it's possible that you're not standing up for anything when you should be. Just some food for thought.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Read More Books.

I've always considered myself to be a reader, but over the past two years or so, I've realized that, besides textbooks and assignments for school, the most in-depth items I typically ever read are articles on Thought Catalog or Huffington Post or someone's blog, or, in the alternative, magazines. Often what I actually read is so light and devoid of real content that it's basically nothing but junk food for the mind. Our culture of instant access to any information via the Internet makes it very possible to get our brains to the point where we can only digest so much information at a time. And it has to be quick, easily digested, and instantly gratifying. And I realized that something rather tragic was happening: I didn't really know how to READ anymore. How to sit down with a hard copy of a book of any kind and get lost in it.

And there were so many things I was missing because of it: the joy of staying up half the night because you just have to read "one more chapter." The smell and feel and solidness of a book in your hands. The fun of getting lost in a story, or, in the case of non-fiction books, the fun of learning 100 things you didn't know before.

Here's the thing: smart people read real stuff. Period. If you want to truly consider yourself an intelligent person, you need to read. If you're not a reader, your brain is probably begging you to become one. There's a wealth of knowledge you choose to forgo if you don't read, and that in itself is very sad. Also, if you fancy yourself a writer but don't read, you have NO raw material to work with. The more I read, the more I can experiment with imitating and mixing the writing styles of different authors I like. And the wider variety of books you read, the more you can take in the practical wisdom of a whole lot of people who have had life experiences you haven't had and be able to learn from them.

This past week, I got mad at myself about the whole "I don't really read anymore" situation. Ever since I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was to sit down with a book and read to my heart's content, and I've all but lost the ability to focus long enough to do that. I believe that these are real structural changes that occur in the brain because of too much easy access to sound bites of information on the Internet--we lose the ability to focus on anything hard for a long period of time. And I'm determined to change all that. After I got done with class every day this past week, I read for about an hour before getting started on the rest of my work, and then some more before I went to bed. And it was SO satisfying, and was making me crave reading again. So I now have a whole stack of books from the public library to plow through over the next few weeks. And I'm getting more books put on hold for me to pick up later. The more you read, the more you want to read, and the more quickly you can undo the damage caused by months or years of not being a reader.

And I've decided to stop making my other classic excuse: I don't have time. Granted, some days I simply don't have time on that particular day for any non-school-related reading. But I can tell you that there's never a whole week that goes by in which I can't carve out some quality time for reading. You have time for more than you think. In the past three days, I've "had time" to do a ton of writing, to go to a music festival, to go out for dinner with a friend, to watch a lot of Netflix, to go to church, to take a long Sunday afternoon nap, and you get the idea. You do have time, you just have to find it. Or make it.

And it doesn't just have to be an actual book in your hands. Kindle works, if that's your thing. Audio books work. Whatever gets you absorbing material more substantive than Facebook and your favorite blog. Along those lines, I want to start listening to more substantive material too--like listening to sermons from my favorite pastors or TED talks when I go to the gym (pending my purchase of a real phone that has Internet access, something that, along with cable/ Instagram/ Twitter/ etc., I've never actually had).

So anyway, this is my plea to the average person: read more books!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reflections on Grace

Grace is the strong hand that reaches out to pull us out of the rising waves when in fear we start to sink.

Grace is the eyes that see us even when we feel invisible to the whole world.

Grace stares in the face of infinite loss and points to but one mighty refuge: the Cross.

Grace is the divine hand that pulls us back from the brink. Every time.

Grace causes the last bits of ice on the surface of our souls to chip off and melt away.

Grace sprints to us while we are still a long way off and gets the fattened calf ready for the party of the century--because a beloved child is coming home.

Grace calls the lame, the blind, the rejected, the poor, the lost, and the mourning to feast in the King's banquet hall, and His banner over them is love.

Grace extends a hand to the lost and the rejected and asks them to dance.

Grace turns to the criminal beside Him and offers him paradise at his last breath, bringing the unshakeable hope of heaven even to a place shrinking under the stench of hell.

Grace is the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints. Qualified us, even us.

Grace is the searing poverty of One who, through His sacrifice, makes even the least of these extravagantly rich.

Grace marks the murderer, the outcast, the broken, the drug addict, the prostitute, the rapist, the abuser, the weeping, the child slave, the victim, the bully, the terrorist, the forgotten, the unwanted, and declares over them all the same eternal and beautiful mantra: You. Are. MINE.

Grace utterly demolishes every lie we've ever been told about ourselves and claims that we're worth the life and breath and blood and tears of the One who makes the morning stars sing together.

Grace is rain in the desert, peace in the storm, life in the midst of our lifelessness.

Grace breaks into the camp of the enemy and steals back lost innocence, lost hope, lost dreams, lost souls.

Grace declares that our past cannot define us, our present cannot possibly be the end of our story, and our future is being written by a hand of love.

Grace strips off our dirty, ripped, filthy sin-rags and garments of despair and drapes a spotless robe of righteousness and a garment of praise over us.

Grace gently pries the cheap dime-store trinkets out of our fingers to replace them with a gift of immeasurable worth. To place His ring on our finger.

Grace pursues us and chases us down and can always outrun us, because it is relentless.

Grace is the crimson stain obliterating the record against us, nailed to his cross.

Grace picks up our ruin and gets the mess of our lives on His hands and picks through even the gutter, the garbage dump, the dark alley, the dirt, the prison, the crack house, the nightclub, the brothel, the homeless shelter, the sweatshop, to find us. Just to find us.

Grace runs after us every time we run away. Every time.

Grace feels our tears on His face and our smile on His lips.

Grace breaks down the walls, tears the bars away, and floods the forbidden and forgotten places with light.

Grace is the divine power that pours unchecked healing into the broken life of someone who but touches the hem of His garment.

Grace wraps a towel around His waist and washes the feet of sinners.

Grace whispers, grace shouts, grace shatters all our preconceived notions about ourselves.

Grace is the treasure of the ages in a cracked jar of clay.

Grace defies all the lies we've ever been told about who we are and just starts telling us whose we are--until we finally start to believe it.

Grace pierces even the deepest darkness and rips off the veil.

Grace is the name of Christ, whispered in the darkest valley. Shouted from the highest mountaintop. Sung from the church pew, prayed by a lonely child, cried out by a single mom, pled by the worst of sinners, breathed out from the heart of the faint and weak and weary. Jesus. JESUS. Never-ending grace.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Job Search Musing

I made myself a little "Job Search/ Career To-Do List" this weekend and therefore have "started" my post-grad job search . . . right? I also added about 75 people on LinkedIn, updated my resume, uploaded it to the "resume books" on the career services website, and made plans to join the local bar association and to renew my membership with the American Bar Association. I was talking to a friend lately about how important it is to get our networks to work for us . . . I can't devote as much time and energy to job searching as I want to and probably need to, but I want to milk my connections for all they're worth and put myself in a position where people readily think of me when they hear of particular job opportunities, and are willing to pass those opportunities my way. I'd like to get 250 connections on LinkedIn by October 15th, and I'd like to send my resume and a note of interest to at least 5 potential employers within the next week or so. Full disclosure, I think that LinkedIn has very little, if any, value for actually getting a job and is more a way to seem connected than to actually be so. But I also think that employers may assess how active and connected you are on LinkedIn to determine if you are the type of person who is active in your networks and has the ability to generate business connections for their company.

Several friends and I have talked about how we're ready to start work right now. I am just ready to go with this and ready to be where I've worked to get for years. Not that I'm not still enjoying school, because I definitely am, but I'm ready to be in the work world helping people and making a difference and putting my education to work.

I am planning to network like crazy at this Moot Court competition coming up in November, the one I'm planning with a student committee and the one I wrote the competition problem for (which, by the way, is DONE and posted on the website and it is such a huge relief to be finished!) We have to invite attorneys and judges from all over the city and different parts of the state to come judge competition rounds, and we will probably have 150 attorneys in all participating, and I plan to give out my business card and speak with every single one over the competition weekend. I am pretty determined to make some solid job contacts from that event, because I feel like it's definitely possible. In the meantime, one of my friends is my "job search accountability partner" and she's supposed to keep me on track to make sure I'm sending my resume to enough law firms, and going to job fairs, and things like that. So we'll see what happens. But I know I have to stay on track with this, because in this job market, if I don't make things happen, they're definitely not going to happen. I have got to put in the work and effort if I want to have any chance of seeing results. I'll keep you all posted!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

3L, So Far

And so I am back. I haven't had a chance to write for awhile, but this is a random Tuesday morning where my first class got canceled, so I'm going to take this opportunity to fill all my readers in on life the past few weeks.

I've fallen into a satisfying, albeit very busy, routine with classes, editing, recruiting teams for the Moot Court competition, writing, job searching, studying, and spending time with friends. I really enjoy all my classes (legal ethics, remedies, business associations, advanced legal research, and advanced legal writing group), and am loving being in my third year, knowing the ropes, and feeling confident about my niche here and what I want to do when I graduate.

My sister came to visit me this past weekend, and we had such a good time. We went on day trips to a couple different cities and spent some time at the beach, which I am always up for. It was really good to just have a chance to have fun and set aside some responsibilities for awhile. Here are some of my photos from the weekend:

rooftop bar at sunset

sweet potato and Vidalia onion ravioli with pecan cream sauce and balsamic

chicken with blueberry topping, collard greens, and sweet potato with vanilla pecan butter

LOTS of delicious food consumed this weekend . . .

another sunrise on the beach . . . I will never get tired of these!

stores & restaurants by the beach

cute coffee shop by the beach

On Sunday night, we came back to my apartment, watched a movie, and then went on a major, much-needed organizing spree in my apartment. We were able to go through and organize the STACKS of paper that had built up on my desk, my closet, my dresser, my jewelry, my clothes, and basically my entire bedroom. And, I recently redecorated my bathroom, and it looks really good, if I do say so myself. It's like a little oasis:

So that was my weekend . . . now it's back to the weekday routine of reading appellate briefs, class, studying, working with my manuscript teams on editing projects, and everything else. 
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
--Psalm 90:14 

Friday, August 30, 2013

God's Best

Sometimes I don't think we even realize how truly amazing God is, and how much He loves us, and what beautiful things He has planned for our lives. If we were able to fully realize it, I believe we would be living with tremendous joy on a day-to-day basis, knowing that whatever comes around the bend next is truly God's best for us. There is nothing that comes to us that hasn't been filtered through His loving hands first. And we should be getting very excited, because He has plans for us to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future.

Y'all. I want God's best for my life. I refuse to settle for anything less than that. Wanting what's simply good is settling. Even wanting my best is settling. Why would I want anything less than God's best for my life, to live in the center of his plan and pursue exactly what He wants for my life? This is what I want for my life. I want to be a woman who goes where God leads and obeys and is willing to get out of the boat and walk on the water in faith.

As some of you know, as a student in my last year of law school, I am beginning to search for a permanent post-graduation job in earnest--my first real "big-girl job," if you will, at least in the sense that it's for the long haul, and not just a summer or part-time position. And this process is admittedly scary and stressful. It's easy to get overwhelmed by it and to not even know where to begin, and to be tempted to switch into panic mode when yet another friend secures a job and you feel like everyone has a job lined up but you (which is exactly how I feel right now even though I know that's not true and the people who already have jobs are actually in the minority, but just happen to comprise about 90% of my friend group).

I have prayed long and hard about my future career and where I need to be job-wise, and I need to just keep praying until genuine trust fills in all those spaces in my heart where anxiety tends to reside. Trust that I serve an incredible Redeemer who knows--and will DO--what is best for my life. Trust that my Savior has my name engraved on the palms of his hands and has had a plan for my life long before I was even born. I need to dedicate this time of job-searching and considering what my life will look like next year entirely to the Lord. You know how life somehow never works out quite the way we plan it in our heads? (And looking back on my life, even three years ago I could never have guessed that I would be where I am now and doing what I'm doing now). As soon as I think I know what I'm doing, God finds ways to surprise and delight me with things I couldn't have even thought of myself. That's why even though I know what I want to do and where I want to do it--I want to do family law litigation in a small firm (15-20 attorneys, or fewer) in a particular city--I want to be open to all the possibilities, all the permutations that the Lord may have in mind for what I do after I get my diploma and (hopefully) pass the bar exam. I want to be willing to go anywhere and do anything according to God's best plan for me. And somehow I sense that no matter what I have all planned out, God has something a whole lot better in mind.

I really can't possibly know what amazing things God has in store for my life, plans to give me great hope and a joyful future, and I really can't wait to see what He has planned. It amazes me all the time that He loves us so much that He's willing--and eager--to guide each step of our lives into the wonderful things He has prepared for us.

My friend texted me today: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. How amazing is that?!" Yes, it is pretty amazing! We should be living our lives with an ongoing sense of holy anticipation, knowing that the Lord is in the business of continually surprising us with His grace.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Christ Is Enough

This morning I was thinking that I just need to hire a personal assistant . . . someone who can do my laundry, wash my dishes, run all my errands, order textbooks, check over my degree audit to make sure I'm going to graduate on time, send all my emails, return my library books, gather references for my bar application, and find 150 attorneys willing to serve as judges for the Moot Court competition. With all those practical tasks done, I might actually have time to prepare for classes, edit manuscripts, job search, and have a social life--tasks I can't exactly delegate. That would definitely make my life easier, I feel like.

All that said, it is truly a relief, and a joy, to be back in a place where I am surrounded by friends, where I know the ropes and know what is expected of me and am capable of meeting my expectations, and where younger students look to me for help and advice. It makes me really happy to feel needed, and so I love it when 1Ls and 2Ls stop me in the halls to ask me questions or get advice on things. One of my biggest goals for my last year of law school is to be a good mentor to them.

And finally, on this beautiful Sunday morning, I want to share with you all the song I've been listening to on repeat every single day for about a month now: Christ Is Enough by Hillsong Live. I love, love, love the message of this song. In all the uncertainties and hectic hustle of my life and everybody's lives, Christ is truly enough, and we can always rejoice in His utter sufficiency. He is the hope that is the anchor of our souls. And, as the song talks about, we can and should decide right now to follow Jesus without turning back--the cross before us, the world behind us, following Him completely and obediently.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rainy Saturday

It is a very rainy and gloomy Saturday here. I normally am not a big fan of rain, but on days when I don't really need to go anywhere or be anywhere, I pretty much love the rain. This is perfect weather for what I need to do anyway: deep clean my apartment. There's something very homey and comfortable about washing dishes, vacuuming floors, and organizing my closet while the rain pounds on the windows. And then I plan to top off my cleaning with some sitting on my couch watching the Andy Griffith show, because I've had a major craving lately. Maybe I'm just weird, but that is my plan for the day! And I hope to get to the brand-new coffee shop that just opened downtown sometime today too.

Other life updates:
  •  A bunch of my classmates are taking the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination--basically the lawyer ethics test that's required for the bar) today, and it reminds me that this bar exam stuff is the real deal and coming up fast. I'm not taking the MPRE until the November administration, but it's beginning to hit home that this is all coming together. I need to email some old professors and employers soon to start pulling together a list of willing character references for the bar exam, too.
  • Draft of the legal ethics Moot Court problem is totally finished and in my editors' hands! I've already heard some good feedback on it so I'm really excited.
  • Law review orientation is done and went so incredibly well this week. We have an amazing group of 2Ls joining law review and I've gotten to meet and spend quality time with, well, all of them after spending both of the last 2 days together. What excites me most about being a law review editor is that I have the ability to set the tone, in many ways, for how the staff relates to each other. My biggest goal is to break down the barriers that always seem to exist between the 2L and 3L classes--I mean, I remember when I was a 2L on law review, the 2Ls and 3Ls never really mingled with each other or talked to each other. I am determined to change that this year. I made a point to talk to every single new 2L staff member and get to know them at orientation, and I want them to know that I--and hopefully every other 3L board member--is available to them for any questions and concerns they might have. This is my opportunity to be a mentor and set an example, and I want to embrace it, because that's basically why I wanted to join the editorial board in the first place.
  • I enjoyed some wonderful Indian food and catch-up time this week with another friend that I hadn't seen all summer. As usual, it wasn't long before we were talking in depth about everything from school, to jobs, to dating, to qualities we look for in men, to race relations, to subtle sexism in the workplace. I LOVE our crazy conversations.
Well, that's all for now, I hope you all are having a great weekend!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Law School Bucket List

So I just got back a little while ago from this joyful, laughter-filled catch-up coffee date with one of my best friends, who I only saw once all summer as we worked in different cities. I feel like every time we get together, the conversation is full of ridiculous and hilarious stories dating from our childhoods to the present, lots of confessions that start with "so I've never really told anyone this before, but . . . " and hopeful discussions of all our aspirations for the future. We moved from Starbucks over to Panera for dinner because we literally talked for about 6 hours. She was going to use some of the time to study for the MPRE exam next week, but, oh well, that will have to happen another time! I am feeling so blessed right now to have such a great friend in my life.

We started talking about everything we want to accomplish in our last year of law school, because our time here runs short as we see graduation on the not-so-distant horizon. We came up with SUCH a great 3L bucket list/ goals list. Some of them are her ideas, some are mine, and some of them (#1 and #3, anyone?) are never going to actually happen. But they might. So here's our list:

1) Go skydiving. I mean, there's a place we can do it that's only an hour and a half away.

2) Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.

3) Join the local all-women's roller derby team.

4) Volunteer at one of the local Habitat for Humanity events.

5) Take every advanced skills course we can possibly take (I'm thinking advanced litigation drafting, advanced civil procedure, tort law seminar, pretrial practice, and divorce mediation. Now that I'm pretty sure I want to do trial law and domestic relations/ personal injury work, I have a much better idea of the classes I need to be taking).

6) Go to trivia night at the Mellow Mushroom. This is what all the cool people are doing.

7) Invest significant time and energy into building strong friendships with the 1L and 2L students, and into mentoring them, giving them advice, and ministering to them. Be one of those people that the younger students look up to, trust, and confide in.

8) Go regularly to high-intensity training and Zumba classes on main campus.

9) Get up early and go running downtown on a regular basis.

10) Volunteer at the local adoption agency/ crisis pregnancy center.

11) Keep getting as much job experience as possible. We decided that developing practical lawyering skills was a lot more important than grades, although ideally, we'd do well with both.

12) Go to local bar events and network without being awkward. (This is going to be hard, because we are two of the most awkward people EVER.)

13) Get in shape and become those people who can do, like, 60 pushups in one minute.

14) Run a half-marathon.

15) Embrace leadership positions in various student organizations that we're involved in.

16) Go to her family's lake house for a weekend.

17) Actually look cute and make an effort when we're on campus. There have been times when I go days on end without wearing makeup/ doing anything with my hair, especially during finals, but this year, I just kind of want to look pulled together!

18) For me: ask the cute guy I met last week out on a date already.

So that's some of our ideas for the year ahead . . . I'll keep you all posted if we make any progress on this list!

Stop Avoiding Hard Things.

We all have a tendency to avoid "hard" things, and those things can be hard for any number of reasons: because they're boring, because they're physically challenging, because they're intellectually challenging, because we don't really know how to do them, because they are uncomfortable, because they scare us, and the list goes on. Exercising is hard, resolving conflict is hard, telling people "no" is hard, finishing papers and projects is hard, developing a regular discipline of prayer is hard.

But isn't it true that everything we do day to day was, at one point in our lives, "hard"? When you were first learning to walk, that was hard. When you first began to read and write, that was hard. If you've ever played a sport, the first time you tried it was probably very hard. And as we grow older, the hard things never really stop coming our way--moving by yourself to a college 250 miles from home where you don't know a soul is hard. Starting a new job and learning what's expected of you there is hard. Living in a new city and establishing a new circle of friends is hard. Determining to keep living the way you know God wants you to live in a culture where that lifestyle goes against the grain is very hard.

But if virtually everything we now do every day was once hard, how and when did it become easy? Driving used to be very hard for me, and it's not anymore. Reading case law used to be very hard, and I could now pretty much do it in my sleep. When did the shift happen? Hard things only become easy when we do them, over and over and over, when we push through the discomfort and fear and challenge and do it anyway, and build up our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual muscle in the process. If we never do hard things, those hard things will never become easy. If we want our lives to eventually become easier, we have to do the hard things first, over and over again, until eventually, they aren't so hard anymore. Of course, some things will always be hard to a point--but the more we do even those things, the easier they become over time.

We live in a culture saturated by ease and instant gratification, and maybe our relentless pursuit of ease is exactly, paradoxically, why our lives can seem so hard. If we never do anything hard, we never develop any strength against adversity. Push through it anyway. Do it anyway.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beach Retreat

So on Tuesday morning, I hopped in my car, turned the music way up, and drove all the way to the coast, stopping along the way for coconut shrimp from Red Lobster. I needed some time alone. I needed some beach time. And most of all, I needed some time alone with God, to process the summer, and to process my life, and to plan for this busy, exciting, demanding year ahead. The year in which I, you know, graduate from law school.

About a week and a half ago I had called to reserve a room for one night at a hotel right on the beach, so that's where I stayed. It was the best. This trip was exactly what I needed. It was the first time I've ever gone on vacation by myself, but this time, I knew that it was the right thing to do and what I would find most relaxing. There are plenty of times when it's so much more fun to go with my law school girls or other friends, but this time, I needed it to just be me, my beach towel, my Bible, and my journal. And it was wonderful.

I spent the better part of my waking hours for two days on the beach. I walked on the shoreline for hours, sat in the sun and pondered my life, swam in the ocean and jumped the waves like a little kid, and even got up in time to see the sunrise yesterday morning. It was beyond beautiful:


Watching that sunrise was pure therapy for me after a tough last few months, and I felt like God had made it just for me. When it was over, I sat in that swing pictured above and read the Bible and felt like, for the first time in an admittedly long time, I was consciously trying to listen to the voice of God--trying to drown out all the other unbelievably loud and chaotic voices in my life and just be quiet and listen. We all have those other voices in our lives--voices of people constantly telling us more that we need to do and be and accomplish, voices from the media and popular culture telling us how our bodies and our minds and our lives do, or do not, measure up, voices from our past that hold us back, and you name it. The thing is, it is harder to seek out the voice of God above those other voices because we have to so consciously and so intentionally seek it out, and we have to quiet our minds and our hearts enough to be able to hear it. But I felt like God was speaking to my heart this: "Don't choose to listen to other voices more than you listen to my voice just because it is easier and takes less effort to do so. Seek out my voice even amidst the noise of your life. And if other voices in your life are telling you anything that contradicts what I tell you, you need to listen to me."
And really, this is part of being still and knowing that He is God, that He will be exalted among the nations, that He will be exalted on the earth. Just because the voices around you are telling you every day that you don't measure up, or that you are not beautiful or smart or successful enough, or perhaps even that you are a failure or incompetent or a loser or worthless, doesn't mean you have to listen to them and internalize their messages. Just because it's easier to hear those voices doesn't make those messages true. Not when God is whispering into our hearts His truth--that He delights in us; that He has called us BY NAME and we are His; that He quiets us with His love and rejoices over us with singing; that we are part of a holy nation and a royal priesthood; that He had a plan and purpose for our lives before the world ever began. That is what's true and real and worth listening to.
I am claiming God's purposes for my life as I enter 3L--my last year of law school. This is a big year of wrapping up all my formal higher education, determining where I want to live and work, preparing to take the bar exam, and just in general, making decisions that will probably affect my life for a long time after I walk across the stage and receive my diploma in May. But the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me, and He is my Redeemer, who teaches me what is best for me and directs me in the way I should go. I will rely on Him. I will trust Him no matter what the world around me says, because He is truly, abundantly, and undeservedly faithful.