Saturday, May 31, 2014

New Blog Layout!

I hope you all enjoy my new blog design! I realized that it looked really amateur and kind of sloppy and disorganized, so I set to work fixing it, and I am pretty pleased with the results. Feel free to check out my new page links at the top. I hope it makes your reading experience a better one!

Friday, May 30, 2014


A little Haitian girl singing “Our God is Greater” in Creole at the top of her lungs during worship night in the local church. Two little boys playing with a paper sailboat in a mud puddle, as excited about their toy as can be. A young couple inviting us into their home to pray for God’s blessing on their marriage, children, and daily lives. Children running into your arms, content to play with you for hours, just wanting to know that they are loved.

           These are just a few of the sights and sounds that Meagan and I experienced in our week serving in Haiti with Mission of Hope! Meagan and I spent the week in the small village of Titanyen, situated right between the mountains and the sea, where MOH has one campus dedicated to alleviating poverty, providing medical care, educating children, and meeting spiritual needs, all done in the name of Jesus. MOH’s main purpose is to empower the local Haitian church to meet the needs of the community, rather than to simply send short-term mission teams into the village to complete a few projects and leave. They’re pursuing a change that is deeper and more long-term than that. Because of this philosophy, Meagan and I served in the village and completed work projects under the direction of leaders in the local church—men and women who have partnered with Mission of Hope to effect change in Titanyen, and who are aptly referred to as “village champions.” A group of village champions, who also served as our translators, worked with us throughout the week and selected every project that we performed. Because of this unique approach, once mission teams return to the US, the people who are benefited don’t simply remember that “a group from North America” helped them—they remember that the local church stepped in to fill a need, and are much more likely to seek to have their spiritual needs met in their own communities as well.

During our week in Titanyen, our routine was to alternate spending a day doing village ministry with a day doing work projects, so that we could gain exposure to both forms of service. Our last day of the trip was a “vacation day” at a beach resort. “Village ministry” took on different forms—usually, it involved playing with children of all ages from the community, going door-to-door to pray with and build relationships with families, presenting Bible stories in the local park, and providing food to the children. Wherever we went in the village, usually a small crowd of eager children followed us around, just wanting to spend time with us even though we couldn’t speak their language. They were happy to sit in our laps, run and dance around with us, or play soccer with us. The families that we spoke to were so warm and welcoming, more than willing to tell us about their children, their jobs, and life in the village. They were almost always willing to allow us to pray for them—and sometimes they prayed for us. One of my favorite home visits was when my group met with the pastor of a local church, and he prayed over all of us. These are the moments I will remember most.

On our work days, we usually went out in groups to paint homes for local families and, on our last day, to paint a small family-run orphanage that houses about a dozen children. On Sunday, we had the privilege of attending the church on the MOH campus and worshipping with the locals. We always talk about our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world, but it can’t compare to actually being with those brothers and sisters in Christ, seeing their passion for following the Lord, joining with them in worship even though you’re singing the same song in two different languages. We also had the opportunity later on Sunday to tour a couple other campuses that MOH has in that part of the country. Meagan and I were consistently impressed with this organization and how they’ve been willing to tackle lofty goals like building schools, running a medical clinic and a prosthetics lab for people who lost limbs in the 2010 earthquake, hosting pastor training conferences, and so forth. MOH’s goal is to be run entirely by local Haitians by 2020, without involvement from staff from the US—once again evidence of their goal to empower the local community. 

Meagan and I also were blessed to be able to join up with a large college group from Arkansas and to do all of our projects and ministry with them while in Titanyen. We weren’t sure what it would look like to basically go on a mission trip when it was just the two of us, but right away this group welcomed us in with open arms, and it was wonderful to have a bigger group of people to pray with, process with, and share a vision with. As a result of this trip, Meagan has chosen to sponsor a child in Titanyen, and I hope to do the same in the next few months. I was inspired by a question that was posed to us during our debrief night: What would it look like for you to be a village champion in your own community, being involved in the daily life of your city and helping to draw people to Christ through service and relationship-building? There’s so much still to do, and Meagan and I are so excited about taking what we learned from Haiti and pouring into our own communities! Because it's all for the glory of God. 

I didn't take this picture--one of the other girls in our group did--but I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it because it is so great:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

And So Bar Prep Begins . . .

I am back from Haiti! Meagan and I had an amazing time. I am still processing everything and working on an official blog post to tell you all about the trip (complete with pictures), but that probably won't be done for a couple of days yet. I am trying to get back in the swing of things in the US, catching up on emails, doing laundry, deep cleaning, etc. Today I did my initial diagnostic practice test for my bar preparation course, and I have to complete foundation classes online before the class actually starts this coming Wednesday. The foundation classes are focused on the MBE (the multistate bar exam), which is 200 multiple choice questions testing the majority, "national" rule of law in 6 subject areas: evidence, criminal law and procedure, torts, contracts, real property, and constitutional law. These subject areas are all also tested on the Georgia essay portion, as well as family law, commercial paper, secured transactions, business associations, federal and state civil procedure, legal ethics, and I think a couple subjects I am forgetting about. This is why the bar exam is so hard--it's about sixteen final exams in one over the course of two days, and the stakes are incredibly high because it is only offered twice a year and you can't be a licensed attorney unless you pass. Plus, you have to know how Georgia law differs from the multistate/ majority rules of law--like how the Georgia evidence code differs from the Federal Rules of Evidence. But I feel like I'm in good hands with my prep class, so I'm not too worried about it right now, I'm just trying to prepare mentally to spend about 500 hours this summer preparing for this test.

So just so you all know: 1) care packages are appreciated, especially if they contain chocolate/ wine/ Starbucks gift cards, and 2) I may be going off the grid a little bit, or a lot, with the blog this summer (well, I kind of feel like I've already done that. It's been forever since I've posted anything really substantive.) Who knows, I may find blogging to be stress relief and end up doing it more than usual, but in case I disappear for a little while, I'm just warning you ahead of time because my prep class will be very demanding and I plan to spend a lot of what free time I do have training for my next half-marathon at the end of June. I also have tons of drafts of posts that have been languishing forever waiting to be published, so I may give you all a bunch of those this summer too. The "going off the grid" thing kind of applies to all areas of my life--I can't promise I'll be very social or that I'll respond all that promptly to emails, phone calls, and texts because studying is my most important priority right now. But I'm just going to dive right in and get this done, and on the other side (hopefully), I'll be an attorney . . .

Sunday, May 11, 2014

And More Pictures . . .

Here are some more pictures I found from the last couple of months that I want to share . . .

This was a really fun night with Caitlin, Kyle, and Jade (who took the photo). 

I love this picture of all of us at Christiane and Geoff's wedding. 

Ashley and I on our way to the wedding!

My summer: preparing for the bar exam

And some pictures from the Braves game for Geoff's birthday

Graduation Weekend

As of yesterday, I added "J.D." to the end of my name! I officially graduated from law school, and I am so excited! I will really miss my friends, but I also could not be happier about moving on to the next step. I finally finished my last exam on Wednesday, and then had a couple of senior dinners/ luncheons/ etc. at the end of last week, and then the commencement ceremony yesterday.

I'll just tell the story with a bunch of pictures:

And these are a few "senior photos" that my dad took of me the night before graduation:

At the senior dinner, I won an award from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for excellence in family law:

Such a great weekend with family and friends!

Friday, May 2, 2014

One More Test....

Well, sort of. One more test of law school. Not counting the bar exam. The only thing that stands between me and graduation is my final exam in Torts II, which is this coming Wednesday. I understand statutes of limitations and repose, privileges and immunity, duties to occupiers of land, malicious prosecution, and some random stuff about injunctions....tomorrow is a products liability/ nuisance/ defamation day. And there are a lot more topics I'm probably forgetting at the moment. Although if I can just get products liability under control, that would be a victory in and of itself. And then I'll take my exam...and then I'll graduate...and then I'll be in Haiti!

Today was not spent studying, but rather on what has become an exam week tradition I'm starting to think of as Stupid Errand Day--all those things that HAVE to get done before the exam, and you just want to clear your to-do list so you can actually STUDY, so you spend the entire day going to the bank and meeting with financial aid and getting groceries and dealing with essential emails and filling out required senior surveys and turning in loan deferment forms and getting IT to help reinstall Windows Media Player. And yeah, it's annoying, but it really has to be done. I knocked out tons of essential items on my to-do list though, and now I actually can focus on studying for like 15 hours a day until Wednesday. This has been one of those days where I haven't even eaten dinner yet even though it is 10pm because my whole sleeping and eating schedule is totally off-kilter right now, but I have a taco casserole in the oven that should be really good. (This has also become an exam week tradition--I only ever make that casserole when I have finals).

And in other news . . . I found a beautiful $80 graduation dress this week marked down to $24 (bargain hunting for the win). And I signed up for another half-marathon today. It's on June 22. I think it's a good idea to be training for that one while I study for the bar exam because I've found repeatedly that when I have two very hard things to do at once, I do better on both of them than when I have just one thing. I'm not sure why, but that's the way it usually goes, so I'm thinking of this as my "Help Lauren Pass the Bar" run.

So this is a busy and kind of stressful time, but I'm getting there, and it will all work out. 8 days to graduation.