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