Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ponder Anew . . .

I've been listening to a lot of the old classic hymns on Spotify lately. While I love modern worship music, sometimes I feel like there's really no substitute for these old hymns that have stood the test of time. One I've been listening to every day lately is Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. There's a verse in that song that says this: "Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee. Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with His love He befriend thee." Think about those beautiful words for a moment. The Lord prospers our work and defends us. And ponder anew what our Almighty God can do if He befriends us with His love. I'm pondering it right now, and it overwhelms my heart, in a good way. We serve an Almighty God who is willing to befriend us and to work on our behalf, and there are few things that are better than that amazing truth.

God truly can do above and beyond all that we could ever ask or hope. He truly can, and I am asking Him to do just that in my life, and in yours, this year. This is why I'm not willing to settle anymore, folks, in any area of my life. I'm not willing to settle because I serve a God who can do immeasurably more than all I could ever ask or think. I read this amazing quote the other day and I'm quite certain the author didn't mean to apply it to prayer, but it relates just the same: "Sometimes the only difference between wanting something and having it is asking for it." Now, of course it's not the point of prayer to get whatever we want just by asking God for it. And there can be a lot of reasons why God doesn't give us things that we believe we want or need. But I think there's a very good underlying concept here, and it's that we need to be willing to ASK. ASK God to do more and greater things in your life. ASK God to spark a revival in your home, your church, your city, your world. Ask Him to show His power and goodness in your life in brand-new ways, ways you've never even thought of before. Ask Him to do the work He does best: redeeming your brokenness, healing your scars, transforming your deepest wounds into your most powerful ministry, bringing your life up from the pit and crowning you with love and compassion. Ask Him to give you greater territory to take over for Him, greater spheres of influence in your job, your school, and your community. We need to start asking. There are some things that aren't going to start happening until we start asking, and we may not even know what we're missing out on by not asking. And I refuse to be someone who does not have because she does not ask.

I want to embark on a journey of deeper and more heartfelt prayer this year, and I invite you to join me in this. I want to become, more and more deeply, a woman who ASKS. Who asks for revival, who asks for healing, who asks for transformation, who asks for miracles, power, blessing, and favor from our Almighty God, who, even though it blows my mind, wants to befriend me and to prosper my work and defend me. I don't even know exactly what all that looks like right now, but I am determined to exert myself in prayer until I find out. I'm committed to praying until I find new strength, until I find my deepest hope and peace in the Lord alone, until I find the life purpose the Lord has created me for, until I tap into that deeper well of spiritual authority through which Christ said that whoever believed would do "even greater things than these." I'm totally talking to myself right now and not my readers, but maybe we need to start spending less time on Facebook and more time with our Almighty God. Maybe we need to start straining in prayer just as much as we strain to complete every last item on our to-do list. Maybe we need to start being willing to get up earlier and quit hitting the snooze button so we can immerse our day in prayer from the beginning. Ponder what could happen: the chain reactions that could begin, the revivals, the blessings. Don't leave a blessing unclaimed because you didn't ask for it. I'm just not willing to do that anymore. I want this to be the year of prayer.

Readers, here are some specific things I am praying for in my life right now, and I invite you to join me if you feel so led:
1) I am graduating in just 3 months, and I desperately want to graduate having made a lasting positive impact on my law school for Christ. I want the lives of many students and others to be substantially better, richer, and more in tune with God because I was there and because they knew me. I want to leave a powerful legacy for Christ, and I am praying that I would be able to leave such a legacy on my school and my community.
2) This year, I want to do more with my writing. I want to actively use my blog and other writings to introduce more people to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. I want my writing to become better known and more widely disseminated, but I need wisdom for how best to do this because, as a soon-to-be attorney, I'm unwilling to do non-legal writing under my own name because I have to be very careful what employers and colleagues can find out about me online. But at any rate, I believe that God wants me to use my writing to positively impact others, and I believe that in a very real way, I have a calling to write--and I want to follow that calling. I just need to know how and when and in what way.
3) I want to pursue the job and career that God has planned for me. This is yet another area of my life where I don't want to settle for less than His best. I've settled in the job arena before, and I'm not willing to do it again. I am praying that God would prepare the right job for me and lead me directly to that job, and that the process of finding it, this time, could be substantially less stressful than it has been in the past. And I'm praying that when I find THE JOB, I'll know it and know that it is right for me. And I want to have an amazing testimony of how God graciously led me to the right position and opened the doors for me to receive it.

So those are a few things I'm praying for right now, and I want to ponder what God will do as He defends, protects, and befriends me.

Haiti and Half-Marathons . . .

So, I have a lot of exciting news to share with you all tonight! First, Catherine and I won first place in the regional client counseling competition, and our 2L teammates won second place! We are incredibly excited because we never expected for the competition to go that well, but we are thrilled, and are now looking forward to participating in the national competition next month in Oklahoma! (And if we win that we get to go to Puerto Rico for internationals, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here . . . ) I am also so excited to have an excellent team of 2Ls who can do well in this competition next year, as well.

Next piece of exciting news: I've decided how I'm going to spend my 25th birthday, which is rather rapidly approaching on May 16th. I am going to spend my birthday week in Haiti volunteering with Mission of Hope. This Christian organization works in Haitian villages to provide health care, education, food, and the Gospel to the people there. Late one night the first week of January (the night I wrote this post), I started researching organizations abroad to do a mission/ volunteer trip with and found Mission of Hope, and just in the past week took the plunge, committed to going, and reserved a room at the mission headquarters for the week of May 14-21. So I'll walk across the stage at graduation and then hop on a plane four days later, and I am SO happy about it and so glad to be making this a reality. And also, my sister is coming with me! We are both very invested in this sort of thing, and very passionate about doing the Lord's work in the developing world, so this is definitely our cup of tea. I just kind of realized that it's now or never, you know? Of course I can always say that "sometime I'll go on a mission trip," but if you put it off too long, life and other responsibilities get in the way and it often doesn't happen. I decided that it's time for me to practice what I preach, put my money where my mouth is, and DO what I always say I am so passionate about. Life is just too short to wait to do important things later--we need to do them now. So I can't wait to ring in my 25th birthday in Haiti in a few months.

Applying that same "it's now or never" attitude, I also signed up to run my very first half-marathon on April 19th! I have wanted to do this for YEARS and have written about it on this blog many times and had it on my list of goals for a number of years. I know that I'm not in shape yet, or anywhere close, but I realized that I need to register for a race first and then get in shape after that. I need the time pressure of a race date to push me to get where I need to be physically to tackle 13.1 miles. So I have approximately 9 weeks, and somehow, I will be ready. It doesn't matter how long it takes me to run this half-marathon as long as I simply finish it. (Finishing alone would be accomplishment enough for me. I don't really care about my time.) So I'm doing this, and it's going to happen, finally!

I decided the first week of January that 2014 is going to be the year that I make things happen, dust off some dreams that have laid stagnant for far too long, and do my part to craft a passionate and fulfilling adult life. I decided that I need to be more assertive about pursuing the life and career I want. It's not going to just "happen," I have to be willing to work for it and to do things I haven't done before, especially in the job arena. I've realized that the whole idea of someone randomly calling you and telling you, "You know, this position just opened up, and you would be perfect for it," is 100% not a thing, and that you have to network like crazy and make opportunities happen instead of waiting for them to fall in your lap. So that's exactly what I've committed to doing, and it's beginning to work (more about that later), so I'm very encouraged. But just in general, my mantra lately for life has been this: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." And that's just not good enough for me. What I've always gotten just isn't good enough anymore. The same old results aren't going to cut it for me in 2014, because this year I'm just pursuing more. I honestly just want to claim this year for Christ, to declare over my life that this is the year of the Lord's favor, the year that I watch God work in ways I've never seen Him work before, the year that I watch Him do immeasurably more than anything I could ever ask or imagine. I've been tapping into that for my strength and inspiration, and it's been more than enough, because He is more than enough. Make this your year, too. Claim the favor of God over your life, and go out and let Him work through you, because He is the God of new things, of second chances, and of making a way where there is no way. This IS the year of the Lord's favor.

"See, I am doing a NEW thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." 
Isaiah 43:19 

"He has sent me . . . to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 
Isaiah 61:1-2

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Countdown to Florida

I'm headed for Jacksonville tomorrow and am so excited about it! Even though we're going down for a client counseling competition, we are also definitely going to the beach . . . and out for a couple nice dinners . . . and shopping. And believe me, I could sure use it after this crazy week of law review deadlines and trial practice and preparing for the competition and no sleep. It's been good, though. I had my friends Jennifer and Carl over for chili Sunday night (the un-Superbowl party, because we skipped watching the game). We had a really great time, and I resolved that I need to host a lot more dinner parties and have people over more often! I spent all day Tuesday going to a seminar on financial topics in family law, and most of the rest of the time in classes, meetings, and practices. It has been one of those weeks where getting up at 6am is "sleeping in." But I got rewarded for getting up super early with the most glorious sunrise on my drive to school this morning, so there's that.

Well, I'm off to an afternoon/ evening of torts II, the gym, writing a contingency fee agreement for my class tonight, advanced litigation drafting, and dress rehearsal for the competition. And then I'm going to go home and curl up in my pajamas with a movie and some chocolate and call it a day!