Thursday, November 22, 2012


Here's an interesting fact about myself: I don't really like the go-around-the-table-and-share-something-you're-thankful-for thing. I know, I have plenty of guilt about this. But somehow, I just always have trouble coming up with something that doesn't sound (to me), like it's contrived or stupid. And, I hate being put on the spot.

So today, while I was out on my run, I thought about what I am thankful for this year. Here are a few things on my list, as well as pictures from my day:

1) Practice Court - I wouldn't choose to go through this experience again, but I am grateful it happened. I feel deeper in love with Jesus as a result. And isn't this really the best thing you could ever wish for?

2) Legs that let me run, a heart that keeps up, and beautiful weather to enjoy.

3) This little cutie:

4) So many other things that would make this blog post miles long.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Redeeming Law"

More than a year ago, I stumbled across the book, "Redeeming Law"by Michael Schutt. I hurriedly ordered it on Amazon, hoping that it would help me better understand my reactions to law school. Why was I dreading going back to school for my second year of law school? Why do I feel as though being at the law school sucks all the life out of me?

Unfortunately, I didn't make it past the first couple pages of the book. I don't remember why - part of it is probably that when I finish my homework, I don't feel like reading anything else; part of it might have been that the book was different than I expected - the fist several chapters stress theological concepts, and I couldn't quite grasp how that related to me. I thought my problems need more practical solutions, and I had trouble connecting with the book.

But last weekend, after exams were finished, this book came to mind again, and I decided to dig it out and once again see if I could get some help for the world I find myself living in. Again, I found myself having trouble connecting with the first chapter, but I kept reading. And boy am I glad I did...

The author starts by laying out three stumbling blocks that Christians face when seeking to serve Christ in the law. They are: (1) law schools have abandoned their moral center, and subtly teach students that spiritual apathy is okay; (2) the church no longer has a well-developed doctrine about vocation, and is thus unable to help lawyers in their goal to serve Christ through the law; and (3) lawyers do not think theologically about the substance of the law and their daily work.

The first stumbling block is the method of teaching in American law schools. It used to be that the study of law was reserved for people of great virtue. The law (and thus lawyers) was something to be respected. Unfortunately, the law (and lawyers) has fallen out of respect. Instead of being something that promotes virtue and morals, the law has become a means of social engineering. "Law, in this view, is primarily a tool to be used to reach particular social ends."

Let me explain a little bit by using an analogy (it took me a while of pondering this before I understood the author's point). As you could probably guess, I was very disappointed by the results of this last election. One of my initial reactions was that now I really needed to move to Colorado - the state needs my red vote! :) But the problem isn't in shifting the number of Republicans that live in a given state. Rather, we are watching the moral breakdown of society. If voters don't have a Biblical worldview, we can't expect that they will support a candidate who opposes gay marriage and abortion. What we need aren't more red votes - we need more people who espouse Biblical views and are willing to vote accordingly.

This is exactly the author's point about the way we view the law. We should not view the law as a means of obtaining a particular social goal. If we do, the law shifts based on who has political power. Rather, earthly law should be viewed as a reflection of the divine law. We must recognize that there is an independent moral order, and law is only just when it complies with that moral order.

So what are the practical consequences of viewing law "pragmatically"? It means that law students are taught that activism is more important than virtue. Suddenly, playing games in the courtroom is justified, because it will result in the right "social end." One of the examples that the author used to illustrate this really stuck with me. He talked about how one of the greatest "injustices"these days is to let a criminal off on a technicality. However, "technicalities are the moral fiber of justice." They were put in place to protect against doing wrong. Technicalities are a means of ensuring that we find the truth. And then, this:

"But even when human justice is unable to do perfect justice to an accused and the guilty go free or the victim goes uncompensated, God's justice prevails. If we really believe that the King of the universe is sovereign, then we know that there are no gaps in ultimate justice. God judges the deeds of all humans."

Wow - I guess I should stop myself the next time I feel myself getting angry over a perceived injustice, huh?

The second stumbling block is the church's view on vocation. A correct view of vocation tells us that faithfulness in the stations in which the Lord has placed us is faithfulness to Him, whether that station is as a stay-at-home mom, a pastor, a lawyer, or something else. However, so often we view "spiritual" work as more important that "ordinary" work. This often leads Christians to view their work as tools to more "spiritual" ends. There are three ways this view manifests itself:

(1) The platform theory: a job is only worthwhile spiritually if it provides exposure or opportunities to evangelize.

(2) The finance theory: the worthiness of a job directly relates to how well the worker can financially support the local church and world missions.

(3) The graffiti theory: a job is worthwhile if it allows one to "leave a mark" on the world.

The graffiti theory relates directly to what we discussed above - viewing the law as a means to social change. However, the author points out that we can love God through ordinary means - like helping parents set up an inheritance for their children. Or representing an injured person who needs to be compensated for his injuries so he can provide for his family.

Wait - you mean even personal injury cases can bring glory to God?

The final stumbling block is lawyers themselves. We are taught not to think about how our daily work glorifies God, so we don't. But living for the Lord requires intention - we don't just fall into it.

I know that this book (and the blog post) are mainly focused toward lawyers. But, these concepts have implications beyond the legal world. All of us need to intentionally think about how what we do pleases the Lord, even if it's not "church work."

This book has been immensely encouraging. It's helped me put words onto what exactly I hate about the legal culture. Lawyers are subconsciously told that religious thought has no place in the office. We can be Christians, but only at home. We follow the blackletter law without questioning it. Unless, of course, it's in our client's best interest to change the law.

It's this shallow view of what we do that bothers me. It's just taken some help to put my objections into words. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Week 1

The first week of this quarter was a night and day difference from last quarter. Despite the fact that there were two last-minute (aka notice the day before) afternoon sessions for PC 3, only having it for an hour in the mornings makes a HUGE difference. Not to mention being able to take classes that I am actually interested in.

I love love love Administration of Estates. We spent all last week talking about representing fiduciaries (trustees, executors of wills, guardians). So it's not at all about writing wills, but it ties in with the subject matter. Plus, it's just great to be reading the Trust Code instead of the Rules of Civil Procedure. :)

I got called on in Products Liability the very first day of class. Probably because I sat on the front row (I love being near the front!). After PC, getting called on in that class was a breeze. The cases are super short, the concepts are very concrete and elements-based, and the cases are interesting. I guess that makes me sound kind of sick - but the ways in which people get hurt lead for some very interesting stories...unless it involves children choking on blocks. Those are never cool.

Real Estate Finance so far is kind of boring (reading through statutes - blegh). But we're going to walk through a real estate transaction during the quarter. So once we get past the initial "what do brokers and real estate agents do?" portion, I think it will become a lot more interesting. On the first day of class, one of the professors said that real estate law is like flying a plane - you have a bunch of checklists, and as long as you go through each one, you'll be fine. My thought was, "I love checklists!" Sounds like my firm description might have just gone from "Wills and Trusts" to "Wills, Trusts, and Real Estate." :)

The capper of the week was the Baylor football game last night. Everyone expected that we were going to be crushed by Kansas State (the #1 team in the nation). By some miracle, though, we beat them 54-24. It was a very exciting game, with Baylor scoring within the first 5 minutes of the game, and just continually building on its lead.

I hope your weekend has been lovely! I've done very little work. Thankfully, it's a short week! Only three days of class until Thanksgiving!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

While listening to Christmas music tonight, I came across this song. It's been a favorite for a long time, but I thought I would share it.

My favorite line is, "The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy." It's so convicting every time I hear it. The Lord doesn't ask for much. All He asks is that we be willing to let Him use us to accomplish His purposes.

Are we offering ourselves to the Lord? Or are we too concerned that His purposes will inconvenience us?

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Great Start

This quarter has started off wonderfully.

For starters, I had an awesome new outfit to wear to school today:

The top and pants came from Gap. On Thursday, I got $119 worth of stuff for only $44.50. I had seen the orange pants two weeks ago, and was anxiously awaiting the day I could use my 40% off coupon. Thankfully, they were still there! It was even cold enough to wear my puffer vest today! I literally went from wearing shorts last week to a puffer vest today...

Second, Gertrude hit 200,000 miles today! It's a little ridiculous how excited I am about this fact. She's been a wonderfully reliable car - and here's hoping I can get at least another 50,000 miles out of her!

Third, I got to start my morning with Professor Featherston in "Administration of Estates." The class is all about fiduciary duties, probating wills, and managing trusts. I am SO EXCITED about this class. Being away from these types of classes has made me realize how much I really do want to be working in this area of the law. Now if I can just find a small estate-planning firm tucked away in the mountains, I will be one contented newbie lawyer come next August. :)

Fourth, I did not have to see "The Mean One" today during PC. :)

Fifth, we got our big trial assignments today, and I did not get the Titanic case (a massive case with tons of parties that drags on for multiple days). Plus, our opposing counsel seem like nice people, so hopefully they will make the process go smoothly.

Finally, I thought we had a double session today (and the rest of the week), but we did not. Apparently there's not one tomorrow, either, since we haven't gotten a reading assignment. That meant I could go home at lunch, and I got an extra two hours of time added to my day!

There are lots of things to be thankful for today.
Today starts a new quarter! It's hard to believe that 11 weeks ago I was beginning the most terrifying quarter of my life (I was more nervous than I was before my first quarter of law school!). This quarter, I get to start every Monday morning with Administration of Estates, a fact about which I am beyond excited. :)

The weekend was fantastic. On Thursday, we got an email from our Admin professor saying that there was no homework assignment for Monday, and to enjoy the weekend. Then on Friday, we got an email saying our PC assignment wouldn't be up until Sunday. So, since I had nothing to do, I drove up to Dallas for a day at Six Flags with the family. They got free tickets from friends, and since it was a private event, there was hardly anyone there. Talk about winning.

This is my favorite ride:

I remember as a kid going to Opryland, and my favorite ride was the swings. So now, every time I go to a theme park, I have to ride them. Some things just never get old.

Of course, in Texas, they call it:

Did you notice the guns around the middle post in the above picture? :)

When I got back on Sunday, I went to the grocery store, cleaned the condo, and went for a hill workout. It was a wonderfully relaxing end to a great weekend.

I also started reading, "Redeeming Law" over the weekend. I bought the book over a year ago, but have just never sat down and actually read more than a couple pages. Be looking for a post about what I'm learning from that in the next couple days...

Well, I'm off to finish getting ready for today. Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Little Goodnesses

It is done. This quarter is over. And, Lord willing, I will never again have to sit in PC 1 and PC 2. Only three months stands between me and never having to see these professors ever again.

After the exam, I went for a quick mile and a half run. I finished in 13:48!!! My shins are still bothering me, so I'm trying to take it easy, but the very slow progress this fall has me frustrated. After two runs this week, I'm feeling like I am actually making progress, which is very encouraging. Even though it's taking me a while to build up the mileage, I'm doing it at a faster pace - my next 5K will be a PR! Here's hoping that this next quarter will be less stressful, leading to more progress. :)

On my run this afternoon, this Kari Jobe song came on. In a way, I feel like it's a good summary of my quarter. I have been brought to my knees many times this quarter. But each time, I've come to experience Christ in a new and more beautiful way.

Also, this verse came to mind:

Psalm 27: 13: "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

I have seen the goodness of the Lord this quarter. Even in the little things - like not getting called on when I was unprepared, or getting an encouraging text message, or AnnaGrace cooking me dinner.

So, look for the little goodnesses of the Lord. They are there, if you're really looking.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Exam Week Update

Today was my second exam, and my first PC exam. Only one left!!! Unfortunately, it's also the hardest. I suppose it's a good thing that my end-of-the-week grades always end up being better, huh? :) Overall, I felt like the exam went well. This makes me a little nervous - usually the exams I feel like I nailed are the ones that are my lowest grades...but it's done, and that's really all that matters.

This has been the lowest stress finals yet. I'm not concerned about failing, and I've given up caring what my grade is. I feel like I've been broken this quarter (in a good way). I've always worked hard and tried to make good grades. And while that's a laudable goal, it's not all there is to life. So I'm giving myself permission not to stress out this time around, and to study as much as I am able (or not able).

Tonight, I'm taking the night off and watching election results. Studying after an exam is usually pretty worthless anyway. Plus, I love elections!!!

In other exciting news, I voted for my first Democrat today! (It most certainly was NOT Barack Obama.) The current presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (it's the Supreme Court for criminal matters) is Sharon Keller. A couple years ago, some lawyers tried to file an appeal for a defendant on death row. They were having technical problems, and asked for an extension past 5pm. Her response was, "We close at 5pm."

Granted, the defendant might have been guilty, and he might have already appealed multiple times. But it's highly unprofessional to make a statement like that. So, I voted for her Democrat challenger (who's not going to win - it is Texas, after all).

Happy Election Night!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


All quarter, I've been reading through 1 Peter (thanks, Grandma, for the suggestion!). The theme of the book is suffering, so it's been rather appropriate. I've been amazed at how each time I read through the book, different verses stand out to me.

Yesterday morning, I was starting again in chapter one. I previously underlined verses five and six, but this time, verse seven stuck out to me:

"These [trials and suffering] have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."


And now my editorialized version:

"Practice Court (and its heartache and misery) has come so that your faith - of greater worth than money, a career, or man's praise, which perish - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

I had a small lightbulb moment. There have been many times over the past two years when I've wondered why the Lord brought me to Baylor. Why couldn't I have listened to the people who told me to apply to law school in South Carolina, if that's where I ultimately wanted to live? Why couldn't I have picked any other law school? It's a hard feeling to explain, because I wouldn't say I regret the decision to come here. The Lord obviously led me here. He has provided great friends, and I've made some fantastic memories. But it's also been really hard.

But as I read verse seven yesterday morning, I realized:

This is why the Lord brought me to Baylor. It wasn't so I would be comfortable, or happy, or a fantastic student.

It was so I would come to know Him better.

And that makes everything worth it.

When people ask me how Practice Court was, it's hard to give an answer. There were days when it was absolutely miserable. There were days when things weren't so bad. And there were days when I just felt numb to it all.

But overall, I saw the Lord show His faithfulness to me over and over again. Here are a few examples:

I only got called on once the entire quarter. There were days when I felt invisible - people all around me were getting called on, and it was almost like the professors couldn't see me.

Proverbs 2:7-8 - He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.

When I got called on, I felt this incredible sense of peace. Words can't really describe it, except to say that I could feel people praying for me. I have never before in my life had an experience where I felt more clearly that the Lord was teaching me what to say.

I never once got a personal memo (and there were many people who got more than one).

Becoming untethered - the Lord used even that awful first mini-trial for good. I realized how much I crave affirmation from humans. Despite my claim that I would work as unto the Lord alone, I realized how miserably I fail at that. Which led to the question - what does working unto the Lord look like? I can't measure that by whether I get my homework done or how prepared I am for class. Does working unto the Lord sometimes mean that I don't finish all my homework? I still don't have an answer to that question...

But what I have learned is that working unto the Lord is so much less stressful. I can only do my best. If that means that I don't get the reading done because I need to take care of my mind/body by taking a break, then so be it. I don't think the Lord calls us to stress ourselves out to get all our earthly work done. Our God is not a slave driver. He doesn't care how many cases I read in a night. Or whether I properly state all the objections during my mini-trial. Instead, He cares about my heart.

So, that meant that at times I went into class unprepared. That was a terrifying feeling. One day, I sat in class thinking, "This will be the day I get called on." Then I found myself getting irritated over that thought - the one day I'm unprepared.

And then I stopped myself. That's a really crummy view of the Lord, isn't it? Because ultimately, He is in control of who gets called on each day. That means that the above thought means that I think that God is willing to throw me under the bus. That He doesn't really love me, that He's not really faithful, that He can't be trusted.

Man. That's an awful realization to have about your view of God.

And so the Lord yet again stretched my trust in Him. I did my best. Which, as the quarter stretched on, often meant that I didn't do all of the reading, or I skimmed, or I didn't feel prepared. And on those days, I had to consciously remind myself that the Lord was on my side. That He is my shield. And that, should He allow me to be called on, He had a reason for it. Maybe even a reason for the memo (as much as I hoped He didn't need to teach me anything through a memo).

And on those days, I was consciously aware of His faithfulness when I didn't get called on. As I watched others get memos, I could almost hear the Lord saying, "See, I AM watching over you. And everything I do is for your good."

It's been an awful quarter. But it's also been an amazing quarter. And while I would not ever wish to go through the experience again, I also wouldn't trade it for anything. The Lord used Practice Court to make me more like Him. So no matter what happens next week during exams, I've already achieved the success that really matters.