Finals always l…

Finals always leads me to blogging. I think it’s because a) I spend more time alone (or at least not interacting with individuals;  b) studying gets monotonous;  c)  I always question my decision to go to law school during finals.

 

(an example of why I turn to blogs during finals…)

Today is just such an example of such a blog. I’ve been conspicuously absent due to the busiest months I have yet experienced. I’m sure it can get busier. I fervently hope that the next time I am as busy as I was this Fall it’s due to people and not projects… although I’d settle for a mixture of both.

The last couple of weeks have been an adventure in the “what if”. Those two words are haunting. As soon as you start to think of the possibility of well… anything… suddenly the present is less desirable. Whatever the status quo is seems inferior to that change that could be just around the riverbend. 

I generally like change. I’m discovering that it’s not always a good thing and that the “what if”‘s of life should not spoil or rob contentment from the simple pleasure of today. 

So, sit back. Take a second and breathe. No matter how stressed out you may be, this time, this period of life is good. Dreaming/dreading what if’s won’t change the day in front of us. All we can simply do is turn to the One who knows our past, present, and future. There are no “what ifs” for Him, simply what is and what will be. 

 

 

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Summer Countdown

This is the obligatory, “What I did this summer” blog.

This summer I:

1. Cleaned a python’s cage

2. Re-learned how to do manual labor

3. Got callouses on my hands from manual labor

4. Stayed at a 5-star  hotel

5. Learned how to be comfortable at cocktail parties.

6. Stopped biting my nails

7. Held a Revolutionary War musket

8. Went horseback riding in the desert

9. Went cliff jumping

10. Went on a jeep ride in Sedona

11. Instigated two-stepping and line dancing for 50 people (even though I didn’t know how to do either dance…)

12. Had brilliant conversations with individuals far more intelligent and successful than I could ever hope to be

13. Babysat 3 toddlers and a nine month old

14. Side-hugged a Supreme Court Justice

15. Earned callouses from wearing heels at a reception at the Supreme Court. Marble floor hurt.

16. Went to a contemporary, Calvinist church, followed by a liturgical Baptist church, followed by a Gospel-singing non-denominational church.

17. Ate duck

18. Cleaned of my own accord

19. Ate delicious mac & cheese at a wedding

20. Towed my car to get it rekeyed

21. Flirted my way into a discounted rate on a car repair

22. Went to my first real club

23. Became comfortable with ambition

24. Learned how to make Gin and Tonic

25. Discovered accomplishments aren’t really that exciting, so you better enjoy the journey

26. Learned to use y’all

Hope your summer was fantastic. Hopefully this next year will be just as much of an adventure as the last.

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Boo Slacktivism!

I have just returned from an incredibly transforming 10 days with the Alliance Defense Fund where I went to my first part of training as a Blackstone Fellow. I spent my days listening to brilliant speakers, discussing (read vigorously debating) with my other Blackstone Fellows, and soaking up the fellowship that can be found in being around other Believers.

There, I realized that I have become a ideological pansy. I had soaked up ideas that were simply not true and excused my lack of actual conviction as being “educated.” An education should expose you to contrary ideas, but education ends when the exposure creates a vacancy of conviction. My convictions were about as strong as a 1L’s self-esteem after being kicked out of class on the first day. In other words, I had become a slacktivist.

I had sheepishly espoused ideas that abortion was bad, religious liberty was good, and that marriage is a good thing, but I didn’t have the chutzpah to do anything about it. Pansy.

Worse, I felt that being a vegetarian (temporarily, of course), buying local, or donating money to random charities satisfied God’s desire for me to be an expression of His love. FALSE.  I’m sick of buying T-shirts to help orphans, retweeting pithy comments about how Jesus called us to action, and talking about how I’ll do something in the future.

I’m doing something now. I’m not sure what exactly the future holds, but I refuse to retreat. I will not settle for mediocrity when it comes to passionately demonstrating Truth. Dietrich Bonhoeffer bemoaned cheap grace, merely accepting salvation without any action. We as a generation have exchanged radical lives for a series of hipster-filled conventions, where we talk about being counter-cultural when all we really do is create a subculture of Tom-wearing, free-trade-coffee-drinking, Christians. These aren’t bad things, in fact they’re pretty incredible. The problem is we stop there. Sure, maybe we’ll volunteer occasioanlly, but these actions are a band-aid on the big issue. We, as a body of Belivers, have become irresponsible. We bemoan the political system as being out of touch and filled with hypocrisy, but we don’t do anything besides tweet about how messed up it is.

It’s time for us to step up and take responsibility.

If we want to really live out the commandments Jesus gave, then we have to make big choices. Big choices that will affect our culture. It won’t just be an underground movement occurring in coffeeshops in the cool part of town, it will be in the city square. It’s time to step up. We have a responsibility. Resist the urge to appease your conscience with a t-shirt made from fair-trade cotton. It’s time we take responsibility.

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Adventurous Routines

Tomorrow, I begin a new adventure.

I like adventures (in fact, I’m certain that I have written a post or two about that certain interest of mine).

I have a routine when beginning a new adventure. (I realize that’s quite contradictory…routine and adventure and all that). I’m enough of a gypsy that I embark on adventures enough to have it pretty well established. Here is the schedule. (pronounced shed-jewl…. I’ve ODed on British TV again).

1. Obsessively google the region/location of the adventure to know points of interest and a means of transportation.

2. Actively monitor any form of online communication pertaining to the adventure. IE Facebook groups, e-mails, and messages.

3. Discuss every possible catastrophe with numerous individuals to sound out what possible faux pas I may commit in order to hopefully have an escape plan. (This is kinda like a government emergency response plan. It sounds like a useful exercise, but really is just a waste of time and energy that makes you feel more prepared).

4. Watch/read/listen to inspirational stories of people embarking on adventures and succeeding.

5. Shop (typically without need) for the appropriate attire.

6. Prepare to pack. Stare at clothing. Stare at luggage. Pretend to pack. Watch an entire season of a British TV show. 6-7 hours before departure pack.

All of these items are completed. The last task is one of my favorite.

7. Sing “I Have Confidence” from the movie version of the Sound of Music.

With all of these tasks done, I will now head off to sleep, dreaming of the adventure ahead.

Bri

P.S. Here’s a link to a fantastic version of I have confidence: I dare you NOT to feel more excited about life after hearing it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXHab

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Remembering is hard to do

I forget things.

I forget the feeling of eight glorious hours of sleep after a day of manual labor. Sure, studying is hard work, but there is something special about the rest that comes after a day of scrubbing floors, washing dishes, and moving wood.

I forget the joy of a cool spring morning. I’m not sure a beautiful day can truly be enjoyed without the cold that comes before.

I forget how much I love the color green. I’m currently surrounded by green. In my beautiful little corner of the world, green is not a singular shade. Crayola cannot compete with the multi-faceted color that shimmers through the sunlight on grassy pastures, on trees, or the moss on a fallen log. It’s simply beautiful.

I forget how wonderful it is to be respected, to have your opinion matter. It’s been a while. Grad school has been a fantastic time to learn how much I am wrong (which is a good thing)… coming back home has been a time to rebuild some of the confidence that allows me to be decisive.

I forget how good it is to simply trust, and take a momentary break from questioning everything. Grad school allowed me to openly question everything. To look anew at basic propositions that I had always defended. However, questioning gets tiring. Getting tied up in the minutiae of the tenants of faith leads to frustrating results. Little issues that seem like such a big deal right now are entirely insignificant in the long run. It’s nice to take a breath and know that God is God.

Hopefully, I can remember this.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

I have returned to the my homeland, a lovely state nestled in the Midwest. This little metropolis now boasts a Panda Express within walking distance of my home, a chipotle, AND a trader joes. Who knew the Midwest could be cool?

However, despite all the changes I have seen commercially in my hometown, it’s far more surprising to notice how little some things change.

Sure, many of my friends are doing different things, living different places, etc. However, much of the day-to-day hasn’t changed  (as determined by superficially living here for 5 days…).

I suppose at this point I should insert some paragraph about how comforting it is that some things never change. Unfortunately, I am feeling the opposite. This last year has been a blur of studying, complaining about studying, stressing about the consequences of my studying, and feeling guilty about not studying. Despite the lack of any real activity, I feel like a different person. Somewhere in the endless tedium of the never-ending-to-do-list, I met people, incredible people. I thought about things. I argued with God. I reconciled with Him. I questioned long-held beliefs. I reinforced them. I organized and demolished, obsessed and relaxed.  In the midst of that craziness, something happened: I changed.

I like Change. It’s been strange to meet with people who haven’t seen me in a while. To hear them react to the way I speak  (I guess grad school has infiltrated my lexicon) dress (let’s be honest, I’m almost always over-dressed, one of the dangers of having studied to be an opera singer that they never warn you about) and how I think.

In the same way, even the people that seem to have no changed at all have. By remaining the same, it is a change. Each day offers the chance for an individual to redirect their course. By remaining, there is a change. A choice to remain as you are slowly makes any habit, belief, or idea more ingrained.  As those choices pile up, even a person who has chosen not to “change” has changed in that they are more decided in those convictions. Circular, yes, but thankfully none of my professors will be analyzing this argument.

So here’s to change, be it a hair cut, a change of diet (props to all you vegetarians/vegans), or location.

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Bye Bye Bye

I am merely two days from my departure from this mythical world in which I have whiled away my first academic year of grad school. It’s incredible how 8 months can so completely change someone. I have met so many incredible people during this time. Here are some highlights:

1. Finding a roommate via craig’s list that happens to share my love of Bollywood, baking, “deep” discussions, and messiness (although that may be a problem as we both slip into the depths of disorganization).

2. Going to a church where I’ve found an incredible community complete with some of the most amazing women ever.

3. Learning how to study far longer than I knew was possible.

4. Discovering a coffee shop that makes me feel like a hipster and provide fantastic people-watching.

5. Dog-sat a delightfully simple boxer mix who I will miss dearly as she goes to a new owner.

6. Developed deep relationships with people in a Bible study at my grad school were we dug into the Word and dug out of the pits of stress/frustration caused by school.

7. Learned how to put air in my tires.

8. Embraced an autumnless lifestyle.

9. Got a snowball thrown at my face.

10. Had a snowday for having an inch and a half of snow.

11. Reconnected with family I hardly knew before

12. Developed an appreciation for country music.

13. Found a new love in the white board.

14. Lovefeasts: a hipster’s version of the potluck = AWESOME.

15. Surrogate parent’s are awesome.

16. So are real ones.

17. Connecting with neglected friends is worth the effort. They were in your life before for a reason.

18. Prejudices and pride serves a better place in Jane Austen’s novels than in daily interactions. Along the same lines, witticisms and awkwardness shouldn’t be purposefully sought after. Life provides enough amusement of its own.

19. Always check the left hand.

20. Wear appropriate footwear. Blisters aren’t becoming on anyone.

21. British TV really is better than anything.

22. Netflix is dangerous to one’s academic success.

There’s so much more, but all I can say is: this has been a great year. Sure, it’s hard at time, but meh life wasn’t supposed to be same gruel of good tidings and success. Here’s to life. L’chayim!

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