Thursday, May 24, 2007

Out of Touch...

It seems to me as if life seems to come at you in waves. There are long periods of relative steadiness - then, WHAM - sudden chaos.

That's what I'm experiencing right now. Just when I felt we had been in a bit of calmness and steadiness in our lives - EVERYTHING CHANGES.

Deciding to send our son to a brand new school...

Expecting a new child...

Law School finals...

Doctorate Graduation...

Studying for the Bar Exam...

Purchase of a new home...

ALL AT ONCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is a very hectic time, but this is life. This is the way it seems to go. It is not "easy," but it is always more than you expect.

Our family's life is changing quickly - and we are excited about our future.

There are, however, a lot of things going on that I would love to be writing about - the politicization of the Justice Department; the attempt at Immigration Reform; the Texas 10% graduates policy; the press-privilege in Texas issue; etc. Hopefully, I'll be back at it soon - but right now, it's just too much.

The Texas Bar Exam is in late July - as much as I love Oil & Gas and Trusts & Wills, I regret that I will likely be spending more time on those topics than on things I'd like to write about. But, this is life, and there is nothing I would trade for it.

Recently, I have taken to a little ritual with my son Noah each morning. Before we go to school, I stop him in our morning preparations and first I ask him to shut his eyes and think about one thing, and secondly, ask him a question.

First, I ask him to shut his eyes and think about him being a good boy, and how proud his teachers will be of him if he listens to them and if he learns and listens to them through the day; and how he his friends will be so happy if he is nice to them, and treats them well, and puts their interests ahead of his. I also tell him how proud I and his mom will be of him if he is on his best behavior all day, and he listens to his teachers, learns as much as he can, and is the best friend that he can be to his friends during the school day.

Secondly, I ask him to tell me three things that he is thankful for that day. That is such a beautiful and wonderful question. It differs every day -sometimes it's his toy cars, sometimes his piano (a keyboard he got from his grandparents for Christmas), and sometimes it is his mommy. But the most mornings, just like this morning, it was the following:

1. I'm thankful for Jesus saving our sins and love.

2. I'm thankful for God loving us.

3. I'm thankful for Jesus rising.

Let me be honest, I have no idea how much Noah really "knows" or "believes" these things. But what I do know is that he regularly gives me these answers - in this order - when I ask him this in the morning.

Sometimes, life seems so fast and furious that we're rarely doing more than treading water. But then for moments - even if it's brief and relatively rare moments - it seems like maybe we are making progress amidst all the chaos. As much as I care about the myriad of issues and challenges that face us all these days... really all we can do is make a difference a little at a time.

I've always believed that changes are brought about from the bottom up. Family, Church, Community, City, State, Nation. That is how I have felt differences were made. In the midst of a blinding amount of upheaval and change in life, it is centering to hear your child say that Jesus is one of the things he is thankful for.

I can't seem to find the time to write everyday about all the things I think and feel about. But - I HOPE - I am imparting everyday the things that are true and important --- to my little boy and to everyone I come in contact with. That may not change the world, but it may change people.

That is enough for me.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kids Today...

What an article from the NY Times today: Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard

This makes me both scared, and hopeful to be a parent these days. Scared because of all the pressure to compete and exel kids are under; hopeful because I'm convinced that good kids will ultimately excel - and hopefully keep a little bit of innocence and wonder as well. Read the whole article, but here is a bit:
ON a Sunday morning a few months back, I interviewed my final Harvard applicant of the year. After saying goodbye to the girl and watching her and her mother drive off, I headed to the beach at the end of our street for a run.

It was a spectacular winter day, bright, sunny and cold; the tide was out, the waves were high, and I had the beach to myself. As I ran, I thought the same thing I do after all these interviews:
Another amazing kid who won’t get into Harvard.


Actually, meeting the soon-to-be rejected makes me hopeful about young people. They are far more accomplished than I was at their age and without a doubt will do superbly wherever they go.

Knowing me and seeing them is like witnessing some major evolutionary change take place in just 35 years, from the Neanderthal Harvard applicant of 1970 to today’s fully evolved Homo sapiens applicant.

There was the girl who, during summer vacation, left her house before 7 each morning to make a two-hour train ride to a major university, where she worked all day doing cutting-edge research for NASA on weightlessness in mice.

When I was in high school, my 10th-grade science project was on plant tropism — a shoebox with soil and bean sprouts bending toward the light.

These kids who don’t get into Harvard spend summers on schooners in Chesapeake Bay studying marine biology, building homes for the poor in Central America, touring Europe with all-star orchestras.

Summers, I dug trenches for my local sewer department during the day, and sold hot dogs at Fenway Park at night.


I see these kids — and watch my own applying to college — and as evolved as they are, I wouldn’t change places with them for anything. They’re under such pressure.


But I’ve stopped feeling bad about the looming rejection. When my four were little, I used to hope a couple might go to Harvard. I pushed them, but by the end of middle school it was clear my twins, at least, were not made that way. They rebelled, and I had to learn to see who they were.

I came to understand that my own focus on Harvard was a matter of not sophistication but narrowness. I grew up in an unworldly blue-collar environment. Getting perfect grades and attending an elite college was one of the few ways up I could see.

My four have been raised in an upper-middle-class world. They look around and see lots of avenues to success. ...

That day, running on the beach, I was lost in my thoughts when a voice startled me. “Pops, hey, Pops!” It was Sammy, one of my twins, who’s probably heading for a good state school. He was in his wetsuit, surfing alone in the 30-degree weather, the only other person on the beach. “What a day!” he yelled, and his joy filled my heart.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Republican Presidential Debate...

I recorded and re-watched the Republican Presidential Debate tonight from the Reagan library in California.

I was taking notes - but it got late, so let me just give a few general impressions broken into categories -

Positive -
Brownback - Wow - I would never have expected it, but I thought he came off really, really well. Much better than I expected. I thought he seemed composed, rational, and direct. Easily the best of the second tier.

Romney - Incredibly smooth and positive; almost too smooth in that it almost seems contrived, but he was impressive.

Giuliani - This was an incredibly difficult situation for him because he is the most moderate of the Republicans, yet he stood his ground, and was strong - and yet got his points across clearly. He managed a difficult situation well as the front-runner.

Negative -
McCain - Shockingly bad; he warmed up a little bit as things went along, but frankly, he didn't look remotely like a President, and I think he won't make it to the primaries.

Tancredo - Simply looked out of his league; he was so choppy and utterly unable to get his point across; I thought his campaign was about taking extreme conservative stands, but I simply have no idea what he was trying to do tonight

Who? - I'm going to divide this into two sections - First, those who gave it a valient effort, and then those who were just invisible...

Gilmore - when he was actually asked a question, I thought he did fairly well, even though I've never even heard of him before; he always seemed poised, strong, and have ideas...but he was rarely given much of a chance

Huckabee - He was what he always is - full of character and leadership - yet he simply was not given a chance to really expand on anything - it was always in brief questions that were not in his wheelhouse

Hunter - simply did not stand out, he looked like a Congressperson, not much more

Paul - diligently advocated the Libertarian position - which was different, but that was the only thing that made him stand out

Thompson - disappointing; he was just barely there, there was simply nothing whatsoever impressive about him

Overall -

Who looked Presidential?

Who benefits?
Romney - won the debate, solidifies position, will take supporters from those who didn't do great
Brownback - stood about among the 2d tier
Guliani - as long has he can do this - fight against the right-wing effectively - he will be nominee

Who stumbled?
McCain - Ugh...he won't make it to the primaries
Thompson/Huckabee (because he made no splash) --- these two guys I thought could be dark horses, and they didn't stand out - it's over for them

Similar to the Democratic debate of last week - this just goes too fast to give any of these guys a chance to really come off the key is not to come off poorly. Romney and Guliani accomplished that - McCain simply did not.

Standing for Nothing...

I'm sitting here studying for finals (my LAST finals - HOORAY!!!!)... anway, I'm listening to some old Caedmon's Call as I try to get my mind around Bankruptcy law, and as I was listening - I was really touched by the following lyrics from their song Standing Up for Nothing, off their 1997 (10 years ago - I am so old) self titled album:
I've never seen my congressman
But I can't deny that he exists
'Cause I've seen his legislation pass
I've seen his name on the ballot list
Same I can't deny this fallen world
Though not my home it's where I live
How can I preserve and light the way
For a world that I can't admit I'm in

'Cause I know who you say you are
But these crows can't be made to stop
So I'll sit denying by this fire
I ain't standing up for nothing

Lack of interest leads to
Lack of knowledge leads to
Lack of perspective leads to
Lack of communication leads to
Lack of understanding leads to
Lack of concern leads to
This complacency denotes
This approval denies
The truth

On Monday night, my wife and I were having a conversation with some friends in which we were discussing the idea of ideas - or maybe to put it better, the way that some Christians seem to be overly defensive or downright militant against discussion of ideas or thinking that is different than ours. My friend said something terribly insighful - we have no reason to fear others' thoughts or opinions, as long as we are firmly rooted in the things we believe. As a Christian, I do not have to be defensive about - or withdraw from discussion or debate with - people who disagree with me. In fact, in pulling away and refusing to address people and ideas that are contrary to our own - we end up standing up for nothing. That's not to say that we will necessarily agree with others all the time - in fact, I think the faith that I hold means that very often my thinking may be very different than non-Christians. Yet, that doesn't mean that I will avoid those discussions, conversations and disagreements.

It is my job as a Christian to acknowlege this world - and in so doing, light the way for others. It's not mine to dig my head in the sand and deny, deny, deny.

Lack of interest, knowledge, communication, and understanding denies the truth.