Archive for the ‘The Big Move’ Category


Posted: January 23, 2009 in The Big Move

As with anything, there are good things and bad things about our big move. Good stuff we would never have experienced if we hadn’t moved, and things we miss out on because we have.

An example of the latter is the chance to spend an evening hanging out with friends. This is mostly attributable to being new, of course, and will change with time, but being so busy with law school exacerbates the situation. Last night, Mike & Heather invited us over for dinner and reminded us how nice it is to spend an evening with friends.

Mike & Heather moved here from Oklahoma for Mike to be the computer guru for Pepperdine, and in the process, the university snagged a really neat family. Their preschool twin boys are adorable, and it could be that they are the type of folks everybody instantly bonds with – either way, they have treated us like we are instantly good friends.

So last night was a good one. A scrumptious dinner, fun conversation, and new friends = a winning combination. It made the three hours of study at the law school afterwards much more palatable.


Posted: October 2, 2008 in The Big Move

May sound funny, but I used to think I was a marginally interesting person until I came to law school. Now I am surrounded by a whole cast of much more interesting characters.

Our Civil Procedure professor took a snapshot of our section this way:

New Hampshire, Texas, Romania, Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, Russia, Nevada, Washington, Michigan, Iowa, Canada, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Connecticut, Ukraine, Missouri, Maryland, Georgia, Minnesota, North Dakota, Florida, Oklahoma, Montana, Tennessee, California (all over the entire state)

High School Teacher, Middle School Teacher, Preschool Teacher, ESL Teacher, English College Professor
U.S. Marine Corps Captain; Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) in the United States Army, Special Forces; Interrogation Instructor for the Military, Iraq/Afghanistan Veteran
Banking, Investment banking
Crisis counselor
Preacher, Minister
Archeology Project
Legal Aid, Paralegal, Legal Assistant, File Clerk, Administrative Assistant, Personal & Business Assistant
Camp Counselor
College Athlete
Pet Trainer
IT Consultant
Store Manager
Cancer Research
Peace Corps
Sheep Raiser and Farmer
“The Industry” (film, movies…)

Pretty cool stuff…

One of my classmates used to write and produce for Disney Channel’s “The Proud Family.” We absolutely loved the character of Suga Mama. My classmate told me yesterday that Disney was iffy about Suga Mama when they first picked up the show, but when she turned out to be the biggest star they begged for more and more of her!

Hillary and I still maintain a classic line from the show even though it has now been years. I will forever spout Oscar Proud (the dad) when he told Penny (his daughter), “No dating until AFTER YOU’RE MARRIED!!!”

Anyway, hope you enjoy your Thursday, and in that vein, kick it off with a little Proud Family inspiration…

All in a Night’s Work

Posted: August 28, 2008 in The Big Move

I go to school at 7:30 each morning (Pacific Standard Time, which I’m starting to get used to…) and study until 5:30 each afternoon.

Last evening, after dinner, Hillary went to her youth group while Jody and I went to Dean Tim Perrin’s place for the first law school Bible study of the year, an event hosted by our Christian Legal Society chapter. We set a record with 70 people crammed into the Perrins’ lovely home.

Afterwards, Jody & I joined the youth group at a pool for the baptism of a young woman. It was a beautiful event. Roslyn (Hillary’s youth minister) had the honors, and it was so very sweet. Both of Sarah’s parents spoke, and a sizeable crowd gathered to join in the blessed event. Sarah’s parents invited everyone to their place after the baptism to enjoy desserts and friendship, and though we are new, we tagged along and had a great time. People have been so good to us.

But I had more studying to do. We pulled Hillary away from her new friends, and it amazed me how instantly Hillary has fit in – part Hillary amazing, and part amazing acceptance by these new friends.

I put in another 2 1/2 hours of study before bedtime last night, studying both Contracts and Property. Much of law school studying is “briefing cases,” and I briefed my favorite case so far late last night: Popov v. Hayashi (a battle over possession of Barry Bonds’ record-setting 73rd home run ball in 2002). The legal opinion was fascinating.

Right now I’m guessing it takes me 3-4 hours of study for every one hour of class – just staying up with the work load. With 14 hours of class each week, that puts me in the 60-70 hour category. That’s a lot of reading and thinking, don’t you think?

I’m getting used to it. It’s all in a day’s (and night’s) work.


Posted: August 24, 2008 in The Big Move

One of the best parts of my day comes quickly anymore. I get up early, training myself to need less sleep. Before my family gets up – in fact, before campus gets up – I head out on a morning walk.

My destination is Stauffer Chapel, a breathtaking building down on the undergrad campus. And I mean
on the undergrad campus. We live on a mountain, and in addition to the steep grade that defines the biggest part of the walk, I counted 202 steps from our apartment to the chapel’s front door.

I took my camera along the other day – just the once – to record bits and pieces of my early morning.

There are often deer along the path. The sun isn’t up yet on my morning walk, so I had to mess with the flash on my camera so you could see the deer. The pictures aren’t great. But the reality is awesome.

I’ve learned it isn’t easy to walk down a steep hill. It doesn’t take much effort to fall down one, but to steadily walk is quite a challenge.

Anyway, it doesn’t take long to arrive at the chapel. I’m asuming this beautiful building is open 24/7 because it is always open when I get there, and no one else besides the deer and the landscaping crew is up yet.

I’m not much on the traditional signs of reverence. I don’t think God has a financial interest in stained glass. And I only take off my hat in a church building to keep from pissing people off. But for some reason, I walk in this building and my arms move themselves to remove my baseball cap. And I sense God.

I walk to the front of the chapel each morning. On the way, there are six Bible verses I read on the wall: three on each side. Three of the verses are some of my favorites. I salute each of them. I end up standing, hat in hand, in front of this massive stained glass wall. Each morning, I look up in awe and recite the Lord’s Prayer. This is how I intend on starting my day every day. It is my focusing prayer.

Then I turn and walk out. Simple as that.

I have to walk to the other side of the stained glass first to take in the amazing view of the Pacific Ocean. I see the waves rolling in. I see the ocean lose itself in the sky on the horizon. I’ve seen the sun rising over the mountains a couple of mornings.

Then, I trudge up the 202 steps and the steep mountain grade to get started on the rest of my day. The prayer walk is great, but facing the mountain in the immediate aftermath is hard. Not a bad metaphor for life.

We have lots of great friends who have said they plan to come see us sometime. I have an offer you just can’t refuse. When you come, I will be immersed in law school, and Jody and Hillary will be much more available than me. But bring your walking shoes. You have a standing offer to get up off our couch in the early morning, go on a morning walk with me, and have in your possession an unforgettable start to the gift of a day.

Good Friday

Posted: August 23, 2008 in The Big Move

Orientation ended yesterday. It was good, but everyone involved is still glad. The real fun is scheduled to begin Monday, but in law school (in case you didn’t know) you have many assignments due on the first day of class – and professors EXPECT you to be ready and randomly call on students – so this weekend won’t be very restful.

Dean Starr hosted a barbecue for all of us newbies in Alumni Park as a nice ending to orientation. It was a family-friendly event, so Jody, Hillary, and my mom had the opportunity to enjoy it, too.

The setting blew us away.

To me, the friendliness of the professors that came to be with us eclipsed the breathtaking setting. Professor Grant Nelson is a world-renowned real estate legal scholar (and my Property professor come Tuesday). Check this out: he came up to ME and knew who I was! He sat with my family, and then asked me about my new friend, Ben (he knew who Ben was, too!). Pretty freaky. Professor Nelson knows a lot about us already.

Pepperdine’s law faculty is ranked #1 in the country in “professor availability,” and that has been evident so far.

The only thing better than the friendliness of the professors (which, if you’re taking notes was even better than the setting) was Jody’s story she shared at the dinner table. Yesterday, in the campus bookstore, she stood in line next to Pat Sajak who was helping his son get settled into college. Jody said he was buying books with his boy. And yes, I asked if he bought any vowels.

Yesterday began with my morning walk (which I plan to write about tomorrow). After that, I drove with Hillary’s newly-updated immunization record to Malibu High School. I drove down the PCH, sunroof open, blaring U2’s “Beautiful Day” on the stereo.

As I looked at the waves roll in on Zuma Beach, a block from Hillary’s new school, I thought about Paul’s statement in Philippians that he knew how to “be abased, and how to abound.” I guess Katrina still brings to mind some feelings of abasement. But now, I sure feel like I’m abounding a lot.

It was a good Friday.

Okay, check this out: last night we have a required meeting for all new married students in our complex – go over rules, eat some dessert, meet the new folks (me, and a few others). We go ’round the room doing intros, and get this, the intros don’t do it. AFTER the get-together, Jody is talking to our next door neighbor, Kerri (who happens to be the director of our entire complex and another graduate complex on campus), and we discover that her husband and I are from the same hometown!

Zac Heath is a moviemaker out here in Malibu. I taught his brother, Jeremy, when he was a junior in high school. His little sister, Whitney, is a Facebook friend. And now, he’s my next door neighbor.

Check THIS out.

Live Greatly

Posted: August 21, 2008 in The Big Move

“One can live greatly in the law – as elsewhere.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

My new dean, Ken Starr, shared this Holmes quote in welcoming us to the Pepperdine School of Law yesterday. I sure could have used it all the times people told me “we need more preachers than lawyers” over the course of the past year.

Yesterday was an absolute great day. Dean Starr emphasized the word “community,” and it was evident that this is what Pepperdine SOL is in reality: a welcoming community. I had lunch with Professor Goodno (my program advisor) and a couple of new classmates, and she made us feel completely comfortable and welcome. After reading of the horrors of law school, I think all of us were shocked.

A few thoughts from yesterday:
* Law school is going to involve a lot of work. Surprise!
* We were told repeatedly that we are the most academically gifted class in school history. Due to the competitive nature of law school, this brought mixed feelings.
* Professor Doug Kmiec delivered a breathtaking lecture on “Foundations of Law.” I must take Constitutional Law under this man no matter what.

Funny for a former preacher to say, but choosing a Christian law school wasn’t even close to a factor for me (there were two in the eight schools to which I applied). But Pepperdine has already made me glad I’m here for that reason alone. A little bit for the welcoming atmosphere. A little bit because I already speak the language. But mostly because I approach life from that background, and as Professor Kmiec so effectively taught us yesterday, I need to determine over the next three years what will be the foundation of my new professional career.

Go Sharks!

Posted: August 19, 2008 in The Big Move

I grew up a Falcon. My wife was a Rebel. Erica was a Greyhound, and now Hillary is a Shark.

We’ve untangled the lingo and learned the proper response to where our daughter attends school: “Malibu High” (which just sounds cool, no?). Well, it is cool. It was named one of the Top 100 schools in the country in 2007 by U.S. News & World Report. It has an amazing fine arts program. And when we climbed the stairs to the track/football field, we saw the Pacific Ocean.

In Ocean Springs, Hillary attended one of the top schools in the state of Mississippi. Now, she has matriculated to one of the top schools in the nation. I wonder where this girl will go from here?

King’s Kamp

Posted: August 17, 2008 in The Big Move

Hillary at King’s Kamp (she had a funny picture where she was talking to a can of bug spray, but she said it was too embarrassing for me to put on my blog!)

Three days after arriving in Malibu, Hillary whisked off to church camp in the mountains of Idyllwild, California, with a coupla hundred people she didn’t know. She came back yesterday with stories of fun times, silly songs, and new friends.

Plus, she told us that she felt like she grew closer to God specificially in the area of praise & worship – she teared up as she explained this to us.

Not bad work for an 11-year-old’s first week in her new home 2,000 miles away.

Law School

Posted: August 16, 2008 in The Big Move

It has been quite a rush moving to California: selling most of our stuff, making the cross country trip, navigating the system, and seeing the sights. In a few days, however (I’m beginning to realize), I will walk down the sidewalk pictured above, open the door and step inside, and begin the reason that prompted this exhilarating move: law school.

The word “horrors” is often associated with law school, particularly first year. We’re about to find out. Many months ago now, while living in Mississippi, I purchased the book Law School 101, a book that tries to prepare folks like me for what lies ahead. I read it eagerly, intending to read it over and over again prior to our arrival. But I just read it once. I guess pulling off the move took precedence instead.

But a couple of days ago I opened it up again, skipped past the sections on the LSAT and how to get into law school, and honed in on the chapters preparing the readers for First Year. As I read, I started kicking myself a bit:
* Shouldn’t I know what a tort is more than a few days before my first day?
* Shouldn’t I know what it means to “brief a case” before I spend my next three years doing it?
* Did I actually THINK before deciding to go to law school?
* Do I have any idea what I’m in for?

Natural jitters, I suppose. Probably more reality kicking in.

I remember my last semester of college (so long ago, I’m suddenly feeling!). My friend, Kirk, and I were assigned to student teaching in the same school district. As we walked down a sidewalk after our orientation session, he looked at me in all seriousness and said, “Have you thought What if we don’t like teaching?” No, I hadn’t thought about that, though it seemed a rather important thought to think. Then ten years ago, when I made the move to preaching, I remember a long-time preacher telling me I had no idea what awaited me. And he was right.

So I guess these thoughts just come with the territory. Or at least they do with me.

Funny thing: as I read yesterday what it means to “brief a case” and how law school is so different from everything else, I had this crazy serendiptity that law school was designed for me. That the skills required in law school are a near perfect match to the skills I naturally possess.

Now I thought I should blog about this today because I’m sure I won’t feel this way again once I walk through those doors – at least for the entire first year. But maybe, every once in a while when things seem really bad, I’ll stumble back to this morning and remind myself that, for once, I really feel like I belong somewhere. And that will keep me going.

I’m going to be a lawyer.