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Hello friends and family …

This blog, believe it or not, started 12 years ago in print form as a weekly, printed newsletter I published called the Ten Acre Times. Out-of-state family and friends wanted to stay in touch with the happenings of our family and it was a way for me to keep them updated through writing (which I loved as a kid). As you might have deduced by now, it still exists but has since found a home online where I continue to post recent happenings and thoughts as I work through my first year of law school at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia … 

Feel free to scroll down to read the latest posts!

March is Nearly Over …

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This year is just rolling right along, isn’t it? I can’t believe March will be over in a few days …

This week was pretty uneventful – I met with my faculty advisor and registered for classes that I’ll be taking next semester … which will be my first semester as a 2L! The end of our first year of law school is in sight.

Obviously, with the end getting closer each day, the amount of things that need to be done seem to be increasing. Last semester, we had a nice chunk of time, about 10 days completely free to devote to studying … this semester, we have 2 days, so that’ll force all of us to be much more diligent in readying our outlines as we wrap up this semester and begin memorizing information now.

I feel like this past week didn’t so go so great as far as productivity goes … sometimes you just can’t concentrate and focus, no matter how hard you try. I think this week was one of those.

I had an interesting experience donating some blood last week … they had problems getting the the needle in a vein, causing blood to get over my shirt … the nurse who was trying to get it in had to call someone else over in an effort to start the blood flowing. Even once they got the needle properly in, the blood wasn’t flowing very well … I think it took me around three hours from start to finish (waiting in line, filling out paperwork, getting the blood drawn, them monitoring me afterwards). Supposedly, I looked green and was close to passing out. I hadn’t eaten since the day before, so they were thinking it was a combination of low blood sugar and just nervousness – I agree. I don’t really like seeing blood to begin with and all of the initial problems getting the blood moving didn’t sit so well with me. Fortunately, I didn’t pass out, and all was well … I even got some free pizza and orange juice afterwards!

I probably wouldn’t have gone to give blood, but my younger sister Lily lost a lot of blood when she was younger and fortunately, others had given blood so she was back up and running in no time. They said they three lives can be saved by just one person donating … obviously, some individuals require much more blood, but it’s pretty neat if you think about how lives can be saved or benefitted by small sacrifices made by others. It’s all a team effort.

Oh, and then Friday night, all of the law students and faculty headed over to the football stadium on campus in a conference area on the third floor overlooking the field for a banquet. They brought in a live jazz band (no dancing, though) and had a photo booth, catered food, candy bar, etc. Other than having to get all dressed up, it was a really enjoyable evening. I sat at a table with Professor Martins, who teaches our Foundations class and a few of my classmates. Every year, they put on this banquet, and it’s basically a chance to recognize the 3Ls, as they prepare to head out to the “real world” and thank faculty who have played an instrumental role that year. So many people did so much work to put the whole event on …

So … I guess this week wasn’t as uneventful as I initially thought. We had a bit of a cold and rainy spell, but the sun is out and shining today, and forecasts call for temps to be climbing back into the 70’s … that sounds great to me!

Yes, I know I haven’t been posting many pictures lately – the problem is, I haven’t really been out and about too much and when I do, there’s not much to take pictures of … other than my weekly Walmart shopping expedition and my weekly drive to church, I am either at school or sleeping at the house I’m staying at. Pretty simply schedule!

Reading through Matthew this week … over 75% of the way done with my “Read Through the Bible in 90 Days” plan – yes, I did miss a few days, but I’m still on track to finish sometime mid-April, I believe. It’s been really good. I think I’ll definitely start the plan again and probably add in an additional book as well.

Have a blessed week, everyone!

Moot Court Highlights

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Hey there, everyone!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update as to how things have been going over here! This past week, our entire class participated in a mandatory “moot court tournament.” I forget if I explained this in a previous post, so I’ll do it again briefly.

Over Christmas break, our professors released a case file containing depositions, exhibits, charts, a complaint, and an answer all in a nice package. Since the beginning of the semester, we’ve been working on putting together memorandums either in support or against the defendant’s “motion for summary judgment.” Complicated terms, I know. 

Essentially, the facts of the case was that a tavern owner served a patron several shorts of alcohol – this patron later became severely intoxicated as evidenced by his .20 BAC level taken at the scene of a car wreck that he later became involved in. There were two issues that were addressed in this tournament – actual knowledge and proximate cause.

The Indiana “Dram Shop Statute” essentially states that if a sever of alcohol has actual knowledge that a patron is visibly intoxicated at the time of service AND that patron’s intoxication is a proximate cause of the death or injury complained, then that server is liable. 

Really, it came down to two issues:

First, whether the server, John Daniels had actual knowledge of Ed Hard’s visible intoxication at the time he served him, as according to the record, Hard never showed the requisite visible signs of intoxication. However, actual knowledge, while it is judged by a subjective standard, can be proven by circumstantial evidence, (i.e. his BAC level, his “staggering,” etc.) 

Second, there was uncertainty as to whether Hard’s intoxication was the proximate cause (i.e. the natural and probable) result of Mr. White’s death and Mrs. White’s physical injuries or whether Hard’s act of colliding with their car was a criminal act, which would then be a superseding, intervening cause, breaking the “causal chain,” and ultimately removing the bartender’s liability. 

In a given round, there were four participants, each arguing a particular issue for a specific party – so, for instance, I would represent the plaintiff and argue the “actual knowledge” position, another classmate would represent the defendant and argue the “actual knowledge” position from their perspective … and the same thing for the “proximate cause” issue. 

Not only do you present your argument, but you must also respond to questions that the panel of judges (three in preliminary rounds) would ask you and still be able to smoothly continue your argument. Every round is different – sometimes you’ll get a “cold” bench (i.e. very few questions asked) as opposed to a “hot” bench (lots of questions) … while you do get to speak for 12 minutes, the goal is to have about 8-9 minutes of content, as you’re banking on the fact that you’ll be asked at least a few questions. In both of my preliminary rounds, I never got to get to my conclusion and parts of my points as there were just too many questions. 

Thursday evening rolled around and the top 32 competitors were announced as they would move onto the quarterfinal round. Well, my name was called! It was pretty exciting. The quarterfinal round was a lot of fun … it was with fellow classmates from my section, and while we all wanted to move on, we weren’t so competitive to the point where we would try to “win at all costs.” Once our quarterfinal round was over, we all gathered in the “Supreme Courtroom” to hear who would move onto the semifinal round … and to my surprise, my name was again called! 

This time, however, we literally only had 20 minutes to prep and unfortunately, the way things worked out, I had to argue an issue I hadn’t really worked on. When we wrote our brief, I wrote it in support of the defendant and during the tournament, I was assigned the issue of “actual knowledge,” meaning during the two preliminary rounds, I argued for the plaintiff and then for the defendant, each on the subject of actual knowledge. However, in the semifinal round, I had to argue plaintiff, proximate cause. Not only was it an issue that I hadn’t argued and prepared for doing the tournament, but I wrote my brief for the defendant … so, it was incredibly confusing – I had no clue what I was doing, haha. I got four outlines from my classmates, so I at least had something to talk about, but my mind was still kind of in a jumble when I walked up to the podium to speak in front of a panel of five judges … still, they were awfully nice to me, even though it was clearly my worst performance of the tournament. 

In the final round, they had a panel of nine judges, and each were “real” judges … quite the impressive lineup and each one of the competitors did a superb job. I know I definitely wasn’t at the caliber to compete in that round … I learned a lot and really had a lot of fun last week. I was grateful for all of my classmates who really pulled together and helped each other out, sharing outlines, spending time to do practice rounds and pepper each other with questions while the other was speaking, etc. I definitely don’t regret coming to Liberty!

Now that the moot court tournament is over, it’s time to buckle down and begin prepping for final exams. We’re less than two months away from completing our first year of law school. It’s crazy to think about – it’s gone by so quickly!

Have a wonderful Sunday, folks!

“Sin Immeasurable” … Quotes from a Spurgeon Sermon

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Hello friends,

The sermon today had a quote from a Spurgeon sermon from February 12, 1860 – I took down the quote, looked up the sermon, and there’s a lot of good nuggets in here, so I thought I’d share a few of the highlights:

“Any notion that we are free from sin should at once discover to us that we abound in it. To vindicate my boast of perfection, I must deny the Word of God, forget the law, and exalt myself above the testimony of truth.”

Even what we call “evil” is usually misguided …

The shades of evil are perceptible to God, but not always perceptible to us. Our eye has been so blinded and its vision so ruined by the fall, the absolute black of sin we can detect, but the shades of its darkness we are unable to discern. And yet the slightest shadow of sin is perceptible to God, and that very shade divides us from the Perfect One, and causes us to be guilty of sin.

Every day … we sin an innumerable amount of times:

Who can understand the number of his errors? the mightiest mind could not count the sins of a single day. As the multitude of sparks from a furnace, so innumerable are the iniquities of one day. We might sooner tell the grains of sand on the sea-shore, than the iniquities of one man’s life. A life most purged and pure is still as full of sin as the sea is full of salt. And who is he that can weigh the salt of the sea, or can detect it as it mingles with every fluid particle?

“Small sins” that we downplay are not seen in the same way by God:

“[E]ven if we could tell the number of human sins, who, in the next place, could estimate their guilt? Before God’s mind the guilt of one sin, and such an one as we foolishly call a little one—the guilt of one sin merits his eternal displeasure. Until that one iniquity be washed out with blood, God cannot accept the soul and take it to his heart as his own offspring.”

The hell which is contained in a single evil thought is unutterable and unimaginable. God only knows the blackness, the horror of darkness, which is condensed into the thought of evil.

Open sins are often an external manifestation of what truly is underneath … (i.e. an iceberg):

Our open sins are like the farmer’s little sample which he brings to market. There are granaries full at home. The iniquities that we see are like the weeds upon the surface soil; but I have been told, and indeed have seen the truth of it, that if you dig six feet into the earth, and turn up fresh soil, there will be found in that soil six feet deep the seeds of the weeds indigenous to the land. And so we are not to think merely of the sins that grow on the surface, but if we could turn our heart up to its core and center, we should find it as fully permeated with sin as every piece of putridity is with worms and rottenness. The fact is, that man is a reeking mass of corruption. His whole soul is by nature so debased and so depraved, that no description which can be given of him even by inspired tongues can fully tell how base and vile a thing he is.

Spurgeon then discusses the law …

“[T]he law does not mean merely what it says, but that it has a spiritual meaning, a hidden depth of matter which at first sight we do not discover. For instance, the commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” means more than the mere act—refers to fornication and uncleanness of any shape, both in act, and word, and thought. Nay, to use our Savior’s own exposition of it, “He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, committeth adultery already with her in his heart.” So with every commandment.”

Too often, it’s so easy to downplay our sin … to not realize it for what it truly is:

“The commandments, if I may so speak, are like the stars. When seen with the naked eye, they appear to be brilliant points; if we could draw near to them, we should see them to be infinite worlds, greater than even our sun, stupendous though it is. So is it with the law of God. It seems to be but a luminous point, because we see it at a distance, but when we come nearer where Christ stood, and estimate the lair as he saw it, then we find it is vast, immeasurable.”

Sins are limited to just external actions – things that can be seen:

“[T]he law deals with sins of thought,—the imagination of evil is sin. The transit of sin across the heart, leaves the stain of impurity behind it. This law, too, extends to every act,—tracks us to our bed-chamber, goes with us to our house of prayer, and if it discovers so much as the least sign of wavering from the strict path of integrity, it condemns us.”

Comparing ourselves to friends, to culture, and to past individuals to determine how “righteous” we are can be incredibly dangerous …

To get a full idea of how black sin is, you must know how bright God is. We see things by contrast. You will at one time have pointed out to you a color which appears perfectly white; yet it is possible for something to be whiter still; and when you think you have arrived at the very perfection of whiteness, you discover that there is still a shade, and that something may be found that is blanched to a higher state of purity. When we put ourselves in comparison with the apostles, we discover that we are not what we should be; but if we could bring ourselves side by side with the purity of God, O what spots! what defilements should we find on our surface!”

The horror of hell allows us to catch a glimpse of how serious sin is in God’s eyes:

“We must know the extent of eternity, and then the unutterable agony of that eternal wrath of God which abides on the souls of the lost, before we can know the awful character of sin. You may best measure the sin by the punishment. Depend upon it, God will not put his creatures to a single pang more pain than justice absolutely demands

Spurgeon then concludes with a few applications:

“The first lesson is—Behold then the folly of all hope of salvation by our own righteousness … You say that you have good works. Alas your good works are evil, but have you no evil ones? Do you deny that you have ever sinned? Ah! my hearer, art thou so besotted as to declare that thy thoughts have all been chaste, thy desires all heavenly, and thine actions all pure? Oh, man, it all this were true, if thou hadst no sins of commission, yet, what about thy sins of omission? Hast thou done all that God and that thy brother could require of thee? Oh these sins of omission! The hungry that you have not fed, the naked that you have not clothed, the sick ones, and those that are in prison that you have not visited—remember it was for sins like these that the goats were found at the left hand at last. Not for what they did do, but for what they did not do—the things they left undone, these men were put into the lake of fire.”

I think it’s easy to put so much credence in emotion when it comes to salvation … Spurgeon addresses this:

“But now we come to another—how vain are all hopes of salvation by our feelings. We have a new legalism to fight with in our Christian churches. There are men and women who think they must not believe on Christ till they feel their sins up to a most agonizing point. They think they must feel a certain degree of sorrow, a high degree of sense of need before they may come to Christ at all. Ah! soul, if thou art never saved till thou knowest all thy guilt, thou wilt never be saved, for thou canst never know it. I have shown thee the utter impossibility of thy ever being able to discover the whole heights and depths of thine own lost state. Man, don’t try to be saved by thy feelings. Come and take Christ just as he is, and come to him just as thou art. “But, Sir, may I come? I am not invited to come.” Yes you are, “Whosoever will, let him come.” Don’t believe that the invitations of the gospel are given only to characters; they are, some of them, unlimited invitations. It is the duty of every man to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is every man’s solemn duty to trust Christ, not because of anything that man is, or is not, but because he is commanded to do it. “This is the command of God, that ye believe on Jesus Christ whom he has sent.”

A Post From Last Week …

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Hello family and friends … sorry, I typed this up in a Word document and forgot to post it! This was written last weekend:

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Wow, February sure went by quickly, didn’t it?

Since I last posted, my buddy Colton and his wife Bethany had their first child, Payton William … it seemed like it was just yesterday that we were interns together in North Carolina back in 2012. So much can change in just a few short years!

We also got a ton of snow … there’s still a good amount outside still, as the temperatures have remained below freezing for the most part. One of my classmates slipped and fell on his way to class and ended up breaking two of the vertebrae in his back … fortunately, he’s fine and not in too much pain, but he’ll have to wear a back brace for a few weeks or months.

This past week, I also participated in an in-house negotiations tournament – it involved mainly 1L (what they called first-year students), but there was one 2L (second-year student) team who won the entire tournament. There were 16 teams that competed in the tournament with two preliminary rounds Wednesday and Friday and a final round on Saturday.  Continue reading

Another Year Goes By …

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So yesterday, February 7th, was my 22nd birthday. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since my 21st birthday. It’s a little sad not to be home, with my family to celebrate it. If you know our family, you know we all value traditions, especially my Dad. Out of the children, Bethany and I are probably the two that are the die-hard “traditionalists” in our family. 

As we’ve gotten older, we’ve celebrated birthdays differently throughout the years. When I was younger, we would go all-out, invite tons of friends, mountains of presents, and usually celebrate it at Chuck-E-Cheese’s (that was me). Over time, as our family has grown, our birthday celebrations have gotten progressively smaller. Usually, it’s just our family, sometimes another family comes over, but usually it’s just family and the birthday person gets to make two, key decisions: dinner and dessert and the activities of the day. 

Since I was about 6 or 7, I’ve had a “turtle cake” every year – lots of green frosting and even more candy, you know, butterfingers, Reese’s PB cups, sour worms, etc. all of my favorites. We rarely ever got candy while growing up, and because this was one of the few occasions that I could … I definitely wanted to make sure that I got the most out of it. 

This was the first year that I didn’t have a turtle cake. Last year, friends from Texas made me one, and usually, even though I missed my birthday (like the one year I was in Cambodia), I still was back home close enough to my birthday that I was still able to have the cake. Well, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to be back in the Washington-state area for awhile. I might even have to wait until this winter, I don’t know. So, that was one tradition that died this year. 

Still, it was a great birthday! My family had sent me a box filled with all sorts of presents that arrived the day before my birthday. I knew they’d be out most of the day picking up my Dad and Stefanie from the airport as they were flying in from Seoul on their return from Cambodia so we decided to open it the night before my birthday so I could open it over a FaceTime call. Lots of fun. It was great to see them all and do some catching up as well. Lots of snacks to eat, some new clothes, scented markers, cards and envelopes, a new plate, a wallet, lots of cards … so much other stuff! I was amazed at how many gifts they could stuff in one box!

I stayed up a little later than normal that night so I slept in till 5 AM on my birthday and got some good work done that morning. The weather was absolutely amazing yesterday and in fact, today is even nicer. We’re probably sitting in the mid-60’s right now. It’s quite a difference from the 9-degree weather we were experiencing Thursday! 

For dinner, Trotter and I went over to Buffalo Wild Wings about a mile away from the school. He treated me, which was much appreciated! We had fried pickles, french fries, and boneless wings – they have quite a broad variety of sauces, ranging from sweet to spicy … to super-spicy! I like spicy foods, but not anything so spicy where it’d make your mouth burn, so I picked honey mustard and sweet BBQ. It was quite filling. It’s awfully loud in there with all of these sports games going on at once – I guess there was a big basketball game that involved a Virginia college team so everyone around us would whoop and cheer every time they scored a point. 

I certainly missed not having my family around and friends, but I’m definitely settling in here in Virginia and am thankful for the chance to make new friends … 

This past year has been incredibly busy and there’s been so many things that I’ve done and that have happened in my 21st year of life. Even though this year has had its share of low moments, I’m thankful for all of God’s many mercies and blessings. There’s so many things that I take for granted that are things that many people don’t have – a great family, friends, a good church, an opportunity to study law, a working vehicle, the list goes on. I can’t complain! 

I’m very blessed to have lived for 21 years and I hope to be a wise steward of the remaining time that I have here. 

I guess it’s been awhile since my last post – I’ve been away from Lynchburg over the past two weekends. This upcoming Wednesday, we’ll be receiving our “file” for the negotiations tournament. Negotiations is essentially where there are two teams (comprised of two students) and each team represents a fictional company. Over a period of 45 minutes, each team negotiates with the other in attempt to get a good deal for their company without going below the minimum dollar amount. 

The nice thing is that outside research is prohibited, so we’re dealing with a closed universe. All you have to work off of is the facts that they’ll be providing us on Wednesday. We had a coaching session last week and got to see a small version of what we’ll be doing once the tournament rolls around in about two weeks. It’s a required activity during your 2L year – this tournament was voluntary, but I figured that I might as well get my feet wet in an ungraded exercise that is only against fellow 1L students and upperclassmen. 

We’re also progressing with our summary judgment brief for our moot court tournament coming up next month. That’s where we’ll be defending either the plaintiff (wife whose husband was killed by a drunk driver) or the defendant (tavern who provided alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver) in front of a panel of judges. Not only will the opposing team be trying to poke holes in your argument but the judges are free to interrupt at any time and ask questions or attempt to find holes in your reasoning. It’s also a team competition, but because you’re each arguing separate issues (that the tavern had actual knowledge that the drunk driver was intoxicated when they served him alcoholic beverages and whether there is a causal connection between the serving of alcohol and the death of the plaintiff’s husband), you don’t exactly do a whole lot of cooperation in-round. In fact, one they move onto quarterfinals, semifinals, and the final round, I think only one person from each round (so out of four individuals) advances. I’m not sure how it all works quite yet. 

Well, the sunshine is absolutely amazing right now. I might try and go for a run. My Mom got me some new insoles for my shoes – you actually can put them in the oven, heat them up, and then mold them to fit the contours of your foot. 

Have a great week, everyone!

First Week Thoughts

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Well, the first week of my second semester of law school is over! Honestly, it’s been a tough, long week – perhaps it’s because I haven’t been reading and briefing cases for over a month if you take into the account the three weeks of final exams and studying plus the three weeks of Christmas break.

Not only are we reading a lot more than last semester, but the concepts we’re learning right out of the gate require a lot of reading, re-reading, and … re-reading. Basically, all that means is that I’m pulling long hours in the library, which isn’t too bad. I picked a different spot to study this semester as the table I used was right in the middle of the library and people frequently would pass by and talk … which was all good, but I did get frequently distracted and had difficulty in being more efficient with my study time.

This semester, I found a carrel (basically a study desk) farther in the library, amongst the rows and rows of books right up against a wall. I’m definitely liking it so far as it allows me to organize all of my books and office supplies and it’s in a fairly secluded part of the library.

So far, so good. I got a lot done yesterday, which I’m pleased about – I read ahead for Civil Procedure and refreshed and updated my Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Property outlines.

This upcoming week, a few of my classmates and some upperclassmen will be heading over to Washington DC to represent the law school and actually lead the March for Life march! It’s quite an honor. In 2013, over 650,000 people attended – not surprisingly, it doesn’t receive much media attention, but this isn’t just your typical march. There’s actually a Livestream available, so you can catch it all live.

We’re renting a bus and are departing from the school early (I think at around 5 a.m.) and getting back sometime around 10. I should be able to catch some sleep on the way back, so I’m not too worried about getting back on my regular morning schedule come Friday morning.

Speaking of the morning schedule, it’s worked fairly well this week. I didn’t quite get up at 4 a.m. every morning, but I generally was still able to get to the school by around 5:30 a.m. I keep on forgetting what I’ve posted previously – it seems as though my last post was a long time ago … anyhow, I set a goal of reading through the Bible in three months. So far, I’m still on track – I’m trying to be mindful to not gloss over that day’s reading but to really seek to absorb it and take it to heart. Sometimes, I just see it as another task to “check off,” but it should be more than that. I’m in Deuteronomy now (just finishing it up) after 15 days in. It’s neat to see a lot of the tort concepts we studied in class in the laws/statutes God gave to the Israelite people …

I also started up (and have maintained) a super-short workout routine that I can get done in 5-7 minutes, right before I go to bed. Sometimes I get to do it right after eating, but I guess it doesn’t bother me too much. Here’s the gist of it: 25 pushups, 25 sit-ups, 25 “core exercises” (don’t know how to explain it exactly), and then finish it up by doing some resistance band exercises. It makes me tired which results in me falling asleep even faster and hopefully has a positive impact on battling this cold, which I’ve had for the past couple of weeks – nothing serious, just more of a nuisance.

This week, I’m going to try to get home a bit earlier and do some additional, non-academic reading before working out and going to bed. I’m not sure which book yet, I have a few on my dresser that I need to get through, so I’ll probably make that decision tonight and start reading.

It’s a cloudy day here in Lynchburg – the sun was beautiful this morning, and it felt like it was going to be a super-nice day … then the wind came and blew in some cold temps and dark clouds. Oh, we actually got some snow in Lynchburg earlier this week – it was just a sprinkling, not even a quarter-inch I would imagine, but it pushed back classes by three hours. The road was somewhat icy in certain spots, but I got to the school just fine, and it was all melted by mid day.

I threw together ingredients for a stew of some sort (potatoes, onions, beef chunks) in the slow cooker before I left for church, so we’ll see how it turns out.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!