Month: August 2014

The Case for Lawyers

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I took a class last semester called “Introduction to Representing Clients.” It was all about talking to clients, counseling them, negotiation tactics, conflicts of interests, and how to avoid or get out of complicated situations when representing someone. One of the first days of class we did an exercise where we listed off various stereotypes about lawyers.

Let me tell you, it was not difficult to make a list: greedy, stingy, aggressive, mean, selfish, manipulative, workaholics, dishonest, etc., etc., etc.

Then we talked about where these stereotypes might have come from. Some of them, we concluded, came from a lawyer actually doing his or her job well. A lawyer may be seen as aggressive or mean just by filing a piece of paper, but lawyers don’t always have a choice in whether to file a piece of paper because ethically, the client often has the final say. A lawyer may be seen as a workaholic because of the long hours he or she often works. But a lawyer facing a deadline or a sudden change in the case might feel required to work around the clock for a bit to resolve this issue, get to know the law inside-out and backwards, or come up with a new plan or argument. 

Lawyers get blamed for a lot: from changes in the stock market, to the cost of going to the doctor, to the type of curriculum taught to your children in school. And to be honest, lawyers can and might have played a role in each of those scenarios, but that is not all they do.

Some lawyers are greedy, manipulative, mean, and stingy. But you know who else is? Firemen, politicians, real estate agents, gas-station owners, babysitters, librarians, and gym teachers. I believe it’s not so much the profession that makes a person, but the person who makes the profession. If you are a greedy, mean person as a preschool teacher, you are still going to be that person as a lawyer. It’s not the job that’s the problem: it’s the person.

But that is not the kind of lawyer I would like to be. No, sir. I want to be the kind of lawyer who is also any of these jobs at any given time:

counselor
social worker
stylist
chauffeur
accountant
insurance agent
adviser
author
world-changer
listener
guide
advocate
representative
relationship expert
truth-seeker
teacher
student
artist
preacher
judge
ambassador

And I could probably go on with this list. But the point is this: lawyers aren’t the root of all evil, that’s sin’s position. And if you’ve had a bad lawyer or a better lawyer representing your opposition, then I’m sorry. But we are not all like that.

Personally, I’m psyched to be an attorney. Although it’s stressful beyond belief and crazy difficult, I really do believe I can do all kinds of great stuff with my degree and in my job. And even though I don’t have one of those eternally benevolent-sounding job titles like “teacher” or “in-home nurse,” I do want to do Good in my work, an I’m so insanely blessed to have been chosen for this job. Like it or not, people do need lawyers; so why not me?

-debarbibee

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Tithing, Teething, Trying

Tithing

As long as I made a steady income, I was tithing. There were probably some random baby-sitting gigs where I was paid in cash and failed to give 10%, but for the most part, it was always something I tried to do.

I was fortunate enough to grow up with the example of my parents writing that check on Sunday morning and tossing it in the offering, or giving it to one of us to offer. When my father’s parents were in town, my grandfather would give us each a dollar or quarter or whatever he had so we had something to put in the offering, too. Tithing was normal to us.

Although some may look at my husband’s and my current financial situation and assume it would be crazy to give away 10% of our small weekly checks without even so much as a tax deduction in return (We don’t make enough for it to make financial sense to take the deduction), but it was something we were each committed to before we met and knew it would remain a priority after we were married.

Why do we tithe? To put it simply: because the Bible is clear that we ought to, and that it is Good to do it. Although we can debate all day long about gross income vs. net income, passive vs. active income, and whether we should tithe from our tax refund checks, there are a myriad of examples (in both the Old and New Testaments) that all clearly say that we should give some of what God has given us back to him, to be multiplied by Him for His glory, of which I am a fan.

And this command my husband and I have been following as faithfully as we could. Until July.

Teething

This summer we had a clear financial goal: to re-fill our savings account to where it should be. Ever since our season of unemployment this winter, we haven’t been able to quite refill the tank. We had a number, we did the math: we could do it.

But about 6 weeks into the summer, things weren’t going as planned. I wasn’t making as much as I had planned, and we were spending a more than we should have. Blame it on increasing gas and food prices, summer dates, or vacations and staycations, but we (well, more I) panicked.

I wanted to save like mad. I wanted to eat like we were on food stamps, and I wanted to hoard as much much as we could until we hit that number. Like a teething toddler puts everything she can find into her mouth, I put all the money I could find into our savings, whether it was good for me or not.

And in addition to my temporary fear of spending money unnecessarily, I stopped writing tithe checks to our church.

Trying

The guilt over not tithing, though almost constant, like a thorn in my flesh, was not as bad as our financial state. Although I stopped writing those checks and did everything I could, we still didn’t reach our goal. If anything, we had less money than at the beginning of the summer. Something had to change.

I am a planner, and as all my family knows, a control freak. But no matter how much planning and stress I put into this savings project, I yielded no results

Finally, I confessed to my husband that the stress we’d both been feeling over this savings goal had also lead me to stop tithing. I said that I just wanted to store everything up that I could find until we hit our mark, and then we could start tithing again.

But this was totally the wrong attitude. God doesn’t want a piece of our extras, he wants our first fruits. God doesn’t just want us to be faithful when we have much, but also when we have little. I felt like an Israelite, when they were wandering in the desert after they left Egypt. God provided manna and quail for them, and told them to take exactly what they needed only. He said if they took too much, out of fear, there would be none the next day; it would be full of maggots by morning. I was storing up too much manna in my tent, out of fear I would be soon cut off, left out in the desert alone by my Father. I was wrong.

Massimo didn’t know we weren’t tithing for a month, and said that of course we needed to give what we’ve been holding back. “I like tithing because it’s like the blind bet in Texas hold ‘em: you don’t have to think about it, you just put it in,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your cards are, you just do it.”

I didn’t think that a poker analogy would work, but he was absolutely right: it doesn’t matter about the math. When we’ve been given something from God, our automatic response should be to return a portion to him.

And of course, the next day God reassured me that everything would be fine when I went to the mailbox and got a significant refund check from the electric company and our rebate card from my contacts purchase months earlier. I also got to work an extra few days this month, out of the blue, and after I wrote our over-due tithe checks, we had hit our savings goal!

I can’t control everything, and everything we have is a gift to be given again. It seems counter-intuitive, but by giving more you actually find you have more. Investing in the Kingdom of God is always a sound idea. Keeping it for myself will give me nothing but maggots in my cupboard and a stressful summer. So even though it’s difficult, we have to try.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce…” Proverbs 3:9

-debarbibee

5 Things I Could Really Go For

Monday I made a friendly PSA, announcing 5 things I’m really over and we can just put aside until further notice. But what are we going to do with the empty space left when we take green smoothies and Miley Cyrus out of our conversations and the media?What will we talk about? What will be make? What will happen?

Here are 5 ideas that I came up with in about 35 seconds (so think what you could do with a whole minute of using your brain?!) And these are only suggestions – there are literally endless possibilities. So let’s get that creative juices flowing!

kardashian-sisters

1. One of the Kardashian sisters should get a pixie cut.

When Kim went blonde? that was…. meh. If they really want to switch it up – and grab some headlines – maybe one of them should chop that impossibly long, thick, heavy hair. Just do it. You must be tired of it by now at least a little bit….I know I am. They always have the craziest long hair and I’m just wondering what one of them would look like with short hair. Do it. Do it. Just do it.

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Case-in-point: I got this image from perfectgosling.com. I’m not kidding.

2. Someone needs to explain this Ryan Gosling thing.

Maybe it’s because I never saw The Notebook, or because the only movie I have seen him in was Lars and the Real Girl, but I never really understood why Ryan Gosling is supposedly like – the perfect male specimen. I mean, can someone fill me in? (Although I was a big fan of the feminist Ryan Gosling. Well done, Internet.) Everyone got so mad when they found out he was having a baby with what’s er face. Why? Calm down. And fill me in.

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3. A Pinterest link-verifier.

How many times have you pinned it, and then you go back to make – I know, like .05% of the things you’ve pinned, but still – and the link is BROKEN?!? Or you have to sign in or pay for access to that vital information?!?! Or the link just sends you to some other site where the photo exists, but there is no information? WHAT am I going to do with THAT? We need a link verification on Pinterest so these dinner-time disasters don’t happen.

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4. Sporks should make a comeback.

According to some, these are still in existence, but I have not had a confirmed sighting since that one picnic in 2001. It’s two utensils in one – what is not to love? They may not be the most glamorous of the utensil world, what with chilled salad forks and mini butter-knives around, but they still have a place. And I, for one, would love if Target started carrying them on a regular basis to really take our parties up a notch.

We need this. America needs this.

We need this. America needs this.

5. Another show as hilarious as The Office, as smart as Parks and Recreation, and that makes a statement like 30 Rock.

You know that horrible time of year when you find out your favorite show gets cancelled? And you think, “That’s okay, I still have these other shows I like.” Well I had that, too. Until ALL MY FAVORITE SHOWS ENDED, and NOTHING awesome replaced them. Add to this my lack of access to television channels and my serious dislike of buffering commercials on hulu, and I’m stuck with the rejects and out-dated series on Netflix. So not only do I need a new AWESOME show, but I need it three years ago, so it will be available for streaming. Get on that, NBC.

-debarbibee

5 Things I’m So Over

You know those times when you’re trolling the Internet, or having a conversation, or walking around the city or the mall, and you see something and you just think to yourself, “Why is that a thing? Why was that ever a thing? Can we just get over it already and do something new?”

No? Well, that happens to me – too much. Let’s get creative, people, and totally put this stuff in the attics (literally, or the attics of our minds) because they have so been done.

1. Green smoothies.

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Like the Shrek-colored ketchup of 2014, I don’t think I can go on a food blog or Pinterest without someone raving about green smoothies, like they are liquid heaven and you can just ignore the fact they look like, well, someone got sick. What is the deal, anyway? Is it really, truly that much better to drink your salad instead of eating it? I mean, I see that it’s portable, but HOW MUCH do you have to wash your blender for that?!?! No thanks.

2. Mommy Wars.

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We get it, you are the most thoughtful, amazing, perfect mother and you are raising the first person to live to 100. Your baby is Chris Traeger and if we only listened to your advice, our babies could live to be 100, too, and solve world hunger, and be President of the world. Thanks for the tip, but is it really worth biting off the head of every parent who disagrees with you? Because, really, here’s the thing: that mom, too, thinks she is the most thoughtful amazing mother and you can’t both be right, so let’s just bury the hatchet, shall we ladies?

3. Rompers.

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They look so cute on the 110-pound hipster-chic I saw on Instagram, and honestly I wish I could pull it off. They look so comfy it’s crazy. But, they don’t always come with room for hips and thighs, and what if my torso is too long and it’s, like, pulling on me. Always. And how do I go to the BATHROOM?!?! For the same reasons I stay away from one-piece bathing suits, I will not, sadly, experience the comfy, adorable look of a romper. So please get it out of my face because I am sad.

4. Repeating words or syllables in pop songs.

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This is the musical equivalent of saying “Uh” in the middle of your speeches. But I’m assuming the 15-year-old pop star hasn’t taken a college course in public speaking yet, so let me fill her in: saying “Uh” (or in your case, repeating syllables) is distracting to your audience, soon that is all they are listening to. Also it shows that you having nothing else to say, so you are filling in with a sound. Also it makes you sound unintelligent. So don’t do it. Just be quiet. Don’t be afraid of the quiet.

5. How inappropriate Miley Cyrus is.

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“Miley Cyrus takes her inappropriate antics to a new level!” Really?! That’s a headline? When has she not done that? Unless she’s quitting the music industry, wearing a pantsuit, and attending Harvard in the fall, it’s not news with Miley. She is literally always being outrageous. Her “wild” is now her “normal,” so move on.

So, are you also over these things? Can you believe we’re still talking about them? What else do we need to retire?

-debarbibee