Saturday, May 29, 2010

Out West for the Summer

This is working out nicely: remembering to blog every half-year and then giving a fairly succint summary of thoughts on such chunk of time. I didn't even think my blog mattered any more, but then three fairly important individuals within a month or so told me that they had looked at my blog: my wife, one of my good friends, and a potential employer.

Picking up from last December, at Christmastime, Amanda and I went to Natchitoches, Louisiana for an overnight stay at a bed 'n breakfast. We saw the famed "City of Lights" in all its beauty, took a horsedrawn carriage ride, experienced the forced pleasure of dining at breakfast with couples twice our age, learned about Steel Magnolias, visited forts and other historic sites, and saw a real ole' fashion' gen'ral store. Meanwhile I had the pleasure of editing a professor's Torts nutshell, and before I knew it, the Spring Semester started.

Law school was busy, busy in the Spring, for me. I thought that taking 14 hours, as opposed to 15, would make things a bit easier, but with 5 exams, no matter. I was able to clerk with a great law firm around 20 or so hours per week, as well as performing research work for a renowned Louisiana professor. I continued and finished editing my own legal article, which is scheduled to be published in about a year. Additionally, I accepted a position on the Louisiana Law Review Board of Editors for Volume 71. My classes were really interesting. Bankruptcy taught me that there is this magical kingdom created by the filing of the petition / order for relief. There is a magical shield of protection from creditors [The Automatic Stay], time travel in the form of reachback period to recover fraudulent conveyances made by the debtor [Avoidance Powers], and superhuman abilities to either assume or reject certain conventional obligations [Executory Contracts]. In Insurance, we learned about UM coverage, automobile liability insurance, etc. But what I best remember are a few learned cases: the Louisiana Supreme Court making statements like, "Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn"; an accidental death indemnity provision being interpreted in a case where the insured exclaimed that the town wasn't big enough for the "two of us" and one of them was "going to have to die"; and looking at the ancient roots of the "insurable interest" requirement of property insurance, prior to which Chinese merchants got insurance on other folks' boats--a sort of primitive gambling. I have no words of sarcasm for Commercial Paper--it was genuinely fascinating to learn how our banking system works, but also inherently dry, which is why there are no humorous words to describe it. Legal Ethics taught me to do the right thing, and Jurisprudence taught me that we should all give up hope in defining what the "law" is because no one will ever know. I really did enjoy classes, though. Grades weren't half bad, either.

"First year they scare you to death. Second year they work you to death." Aside from the "death" aspect, this has been true so far. In the Law School Almanac, we read further, "...Third year they bore you to death." Ahhhh. Savory, sweet boredom, I mind you not. Come to me like a summer's day--oh successions and donations, you darling thing. Who knows, now maybe I'll even become a normal homo sapien and exercise my body more than once per month!

Speaking of which, I'm happy with myself, for now. I've been exercising almost every day for the past two weeks. Amanda and I are staying in Houston with her parents for the summer, while I have the blessing of clerking for two prestigious firms. And I get to grade the law review hopefuls' papers starting next week. I've always wanted to know what it's like to be a teacher and grade papers at night ... [?] ... . But when I'm done with that, on weekends, the Missus and I are definitely going to have to see us some Texas. Some Austin [music and huge urban bat population that lives under some bridge], San Antonio [Custer's last stand ... or Davy's Crockett's ... I honestly cannot remember for the life of me who fought at the Alamo], and New Braunfels [or at least the Schlitterbahn part of it].

This calendar year has had a couple firsts, for me. I lost my first grandparent. My dear Grandpa Tippin crossed the waters into the Celestial City just this March. My tears, mingled with comfort and some bitterness, were not for him, but only for the living who miss him so. My uncle performed a gentle version of "I Will Rise" at his memorial service, and hearing the song on the radio even now makes me thing of Grandpa.

I've always been a healthy kid growing up and thought that weird physical ailments were for Other People. But a tension headache and the discovery that my jaw is literally crooked has made me realize otherwise. Oh well. There's always health insurance. Wait...

Moving on, I literally, moved on. I drove my first U-haul truck, putting all our stuff in storage for the summer. And had my first sushimi, or sashimi, or whatever it's called, last night. Might never do that again; I'll stick with rolls.

Remember Saint Augustine? Don't. Remember Jesus, instead. But Aug had some things to say that point me to Jesus, that I love, including something along the lines of: our hearts have been made for God by God, and these hearts are restless until they find rest in Him. And that sums up my stage in the Spiritual Journey right now: desperate and clinging--but hopeful--but restless for More, and All. The time is short.

Amanda and I are both a bit restless, perhaps. That darling had a hard year. I will stand toe-to-toe with anyone who says that she is anything other that she is One Strong Woman. She taught a bunch of rowdy little...angels for a whole year and survived. She'll tell you that teaching in the public school system is the hardest thing she has ever done. I'm ready to get out of law school and start making respectable money so that she can do something else. Not that she doesn't love kids and teachers are admirable figures, but as her husband I say another year, or less, of this is more than enough for her lifetime.

Houston is nice, I guess. 45 minute commute to work; could be worse. I've never heard a meaner hiss come from a domestic animal as I've heard come from my mom and dad -in-law's cat, whenever Amanda and I's kitty walks by. Wait, I'm starting to sound negative, when I don't intend to. Actually, I love Amanda's parents and I am humbled that they would host us for the summer, and am eager to spend as much time with them as I can. Dad even said we would go running together tonight, which of course is exciting because I already accepted the fact he's going to give me a butt-whoopin' in this Heat.

Somebody pass me a 10-gallon head ornament and plate of barbeque!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Watching the Lord of the Rings extended edition movie trilogy, making sure my wife's third graders' cotton balls are glued onto snowmen and not each other, wrapping presents in Precious Moments paper, blasting Relient K's version of "Angels We Have Heard on High" and Bing Crosby's version of "Adestes Fideles," gazing in wonder at the a cajun-flavored version of the The Nutcracker ballet, a Sabbath day in God's presence without having to rush home to get ready for work/school the next day, watching The Nativity Story with my wife and putting up a nativity scene above the television, setting up a new computer and making hot cocoa for my wife asleep on the couch, who said she will wake up and play Star Wars Battlefront with me tonight or tomorrow.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Reflection is now more important than ever, which is why there is the least time available for it. My reflection in the mirror reveals what I think I can no longer pretend to not be a gray hair or two (though I partly maintain it is a blonde streak from my early childhood years). Some would say it's the stress of what has been my toughest semester of law school, others that it is wisdom. I am agnostic. However, I have become more certain than ever that I am both an imperfect man and a man who will do whatever it takes to strive for excellence.

Halfway through law school, as I took my last final exam a couple days ago, all the motion stopped for a minute. And suddenly, though there are no more 15 hour workdays, I am more tired than ever. The Law Review paper is written, the classes complete, the ink pens and highlighters run dry. And I am finally conscious of the need for a time of refreshing.

I can take external pressure; it's a soul in travail that can't be lived with, like, I have heard, a ship tossed in the waves. It's not the external force of waters that will sink the vessel, but that which seeps in, through the cracks.

There is so much pressure to stay ranked first in class. However, I can find no joy in labor other than exertion to the fullest extent possible and rejoicing in toil irrespective of the fruit it bears.

The opportunities have changed, but the eternal macrocosm is immutable. The priorities must follow suit, for, to quote William Jay, "Oh that we estimated our souls as [H]e estimates them. Every thing else would appear less than nothing and vanity compared with their salvation."

That's all I have to say for now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


In the blink of an eye, all this changes.
Everything. Nothing is left untouched.
No measure of wishing could bring it,
Whatever loathing insufficient to prevent it,
It waits for no one, inverting,
Burning, destroying a life's work,
Edifying, making inviolable another's treasure.
Of all the things that mattered, none remains.
Riches to rags and rags to riches,
Primordial terminal, last first.
The blink of an eye changes nothing,
For we should have seen it coming all along.
We can't say He never warned us,
That all along, there was not much time left.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." [emphasis added]

I have been brooding over how to implement this instruction in my life, praying daily, "God how do I do everything to honor you?" It sounds simple enough. But in Christian circles it has the potential to become a mere truism. I have to take a good, hard look and determine whether I know I'm actually doing any given activity to the glory of God.

What about this: Let's say I graduate from law school in a couple years and become a potato farmer. If I felt bitter, as if my scholastic time was spent in waste, would I have really spent that time to the "glory of God?"
If I'm an athlete and sprain my ankle such that I can't play the championship game and I feel that my entire season previously has been mere vanity, does this comport with a notion that the first part of my season had value as exemplifying the "glory of God?"
If I host a Bible study and invite the whole town and only my wife and I actually show up to pray for an hour, and so I wonder if I'm a failure, does this mean I have failed to give "glory to God?"

Bitterness seems the antithesis of having truly performed an activity in honor of God. Isn't that the essence of what we're striving for, not to not care, but to care about what He cares about? Because if we're caring to act in ways that are concerned with what He cares about, which is what really is the only matter of concern, then we have acted for the glory of God.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Breeze

Summer 2009 breezed by for my wife and I. It was the fastest summer of my life thus far. The Monday morning after finishing spring final exams the Friday before, I began clerking at a local law firm and writing a paper for a competition to become a writer for the Louisiana Law Review. The first two weeks were the slowest, balancing time between writing about the constitutionality of Louisiana's anti-smoking ban for the competition and working in a law firm for the first time. But thankfully the time committment paid off; I have been accepted as a junior associate for the law review this fall.

The rest of the summer was spent both working part-time and in school full time. I had the privilege of clerking at two different law firms in downtown Baton Rouge this summer. I was at Kantrow, Spaht, Weaver & Blitzer for half the summer and at Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips for the second half. Just as my professor had forecasted, Legal Research and Writing was the class most useful during my clerking experiences, mainly drafting research memoranda in support of legal theories and motions for summary judgment. Clerking was a great experience. It showed me how much I had learned in only a year of law school...and how much there is left to learn in an ever-changing and vast body of law. It's great to get extracurricular work in such areas ranging from products liability and commercial litigation to bankruptcy, taxation and employment discrimination.

The hardest thing this summer was balancing time between class and work. Whenever I was at work, I felt like I should be studying. Whenever in class, I felt like I should be working. I took Evidence with Professor Maraist and Constitutional Law II with Professor Baier. Both were rewarding and uniquely challenging experiences. Evidence proved to be my favorite subject thus far, and Constitutional Law II allowed a survey of nearly 350 cases, each of which we were responsible for. These past few months have been the most disciplined of my life, requiring trained monkey adherence:

7:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. Evidence class
8:55 - 10:10 Constitutional Law II class
10:30-4:00 Work
4:00-6:30 Studying
6:30-7:15 Exercise
7:30-11:00 p.m. Eat, more study, Bible, domestic life

Recreationally, I used my spare moments to play through Half-Life 2 for the xBox console, play softball for the law firms, had an outing with law students to play laser tag, and visited my mother- and father-in-law in Houston over July 4th. I turned 23 years of age this year, and was able to go jet skiing for the first time with Amanda while at Navarre Beach, Florida, in addition to acquiring my first ever thorough sunburn.

Amanda has been quite busy as she went through the Teach Baton Rouge program to become certified to teach this summer. She just began teaching last week and now educates a class of 21 young, eager minds in the third grade. I could not be prouder of her.

In other news, we finally got a pet, as we are not ready for a human child yet. I think we picked a good pet to simulate the 2-year-old experience, though. Ten-month-old Rocky is a sweet, constantly purring and people-loving kitten who loves to play with anything that moves...or does not move. I have been bonding much with him of late and he and I will be on even better terms once he stops assaulting me whenever I try to eat, requiring me to put him in the other room if I am to finish my repast in peace.

Other than the sunset in Navarre Beach and walking out onto a sandbar with my wife, one of the most beautifullestest things I have beheld this summer was a full, glowing rainbow across the horizon over the lakes at LSU. This was only a week ago and was the first time I have ever seen a full rainbow.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May Flowers: A Grace Manifesto

Ancient writers would call on the muses to inspire them as they prepared to weave their tales. I don't wish to weave an inspired tale, but rather tell it truthfully as it should be told, so I have asked the Holy Spirit to assist my tongue [keystrokes] to proclaim the events as they really happened.

Backing up to January of this year, finding out I was first in my law school class was overwhelming and humbling. After prostrating myself before God and thanking Him for his enabling power (see John 15:4, Without Him we can do nothing), I enjoyed the next few weeks eating hors d'ouevres with attorneys and feeling like hard work pays off. But during the semester I noticed my footsteps were a bit heavier, putting in the hours studying was a bit more onerous. When something you love becomes a mere contest, rather than vice versa, scary things happen. For me, I love the order and logical coherency of the law (especially the La. Civ. Code). But as March turned into April, I realized that it's not all a bed of roses; the crucible of 2 weeks of 4-hour law school exams had returned again.

The weeks leading up to H-hour were brutal. For not just me, but every law student across the country. My wife tried telling me I was hitting it too hard, I needed to exercise more, etc., and she was right (alas!). By the time I was 25% through with exam period, I had worked myself into a frenzy of studying and anxiety that I had hopeless insomnia, a thing I had never experienced before. All I could do was focus during the day as much as I could and literally throw myself on God's mercy. It was the hardest 2 weeks of my young life thus far.

The following week I started clerking with a Baton Rouge law firm, as well as working on a law review write-on paper over the next two and a half weeks. Just this past week grades came out, and I prostrated myself in worship...again.

With a handicap of 3-4 hours of sleep per night, I actually did better than the semester before.

This blog is over five years old. When I first started it I was a bumbling kid coming out of high school, and apparently, well, now, I'm something or someone a bit different. And perhaps, now this blog is subject to review by important people now since it's title makes it appear first on a Google search. I see no reason to discontinue the transparency my understanding of why things happen the way they do. Hard work pays off, but it was the enabling grace of God that makes hard work fruitful (see Psalm 75:5-6, that promotion comes from God).

Thus, 2009 lessons learned:
  1. Whatever work you set your hand to doing, you have to love it if you want to either do well or enjoy your life, or both.
  2. The Lord gives and takes away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.
  3. The brain is a place where investments are made. If you make the necessary deposits, the knowledge you need will be available for withdrawal, even under non-ideal circumstances.

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