Honor’s story cannot be told without mentioning that I sat for the California bar exam while pregnant with her. Though it was incredibly difficult to spend my entire pregnancy studying (literally from the very beginning until four weeks before I had Honor), I am happy to share that I passed the California Bar Exam! I’m now double-barred — I am licensed in two states! I share this to point you to Jesus, and to let you know that He truly is worthy of all glory in this. This is not lip-service, not something to tack on because it may be socially acceptable, but because it is true — Jesus be glorified.
If I’m being honest, my pregnancy with Honor was very stressful from the very beginning, simply because we had so much going on. Yet, I know that God’s hand was evident throughout all of this. This process towards obtaining my license really began over a year ago. I spent all Summer 2019 studying for the California bar exam while completing a federal clerkship. I commuted one hour each way to my clerkship, worked full-time, and also managed to be a wife and mother. Although I already had a law license, I knew better than to go at it without a bar prep course — I forgot a lot of the nuances of law that I had not looked at since I took the Alabama bar exam back in 2016. Plus, the Alabama bar exam is markedly different than the California bar exam. The Alabama Bar Association uses the Uniform Bar Examination (the “UBE”) for its exam administration, while the California Bar Association uses a state-specific exam. While some of the testable subjects overlap between the exams, many did not. I needed to learn many areas of law afresh to succeed on the California bar exam.
Thus, I used Kaplan (which I highly recommend) because I had such success with them. I would listen to lectures on the way to and from work, and use my evenings to work through essays and multiple-choice questions. Raegan visited my parents for about three weeks towards the end of the summer, which allowed me to stay later at work and also stay up later studying. Joshua even rented an office space for me, since I had a tough time focusing at home (he’s literally the greatest husband).
Studying for the July 2019 exam was brutal, and required me to trust God’s leading in all of this. The move to California demanded so much of me.
To say that it was hectic is a complete understatement.
On top of that, we knew we were going to try for a baby in July, the summer month the bar exam is administered nationwide. As I shared before, we did indeed get pregnant in July!
I found out I was pregnant the week before the exam!
Despite being exhausted from clerking, studying, and being in the early stages of pregnancy at the same time, and despite being desperately behind on my bar prep course schedule, I felt confident about the exam. I trusted that God was leading us into California and was leading me to take the exam at that time. On top of that, just a few days before the exam, the California Bar Association released the essay subjects that were being tested! I felt so excited — how amazing was it to know about the subjects beforehand? I took the exam, nauseous and all.
Imagine my disappointment when I found out that I did not pass the exam. I found out our first week of living in California.
The news felt like a punch in the stomach. I felt so embarrassed, so ashamed, and worst of all, I felt out of my element — I am attorney, yet I failed an exam? I passed the Alabama exam on the first try, and yet I did not pass the California bar exam, even with the released subjects. I worried if I could ever be an attorney again.
Yet, God reminded me that I am already an attorney. I already have a license. I am competent. Not by my own strength, but by the grace of God. His hand is on my life, and He already gave me this assignment. The call on my life did not change with this result. I was reminded of Romans 11:29 – “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”
I am not incompetent. The exam result was not a reflection of my intellect. I simply had a lot going on at the time, and just needed a little less on my plate to tackle an exam. It had been 3 years since I sat for an exam, and I needed to get back into the swing of things. My 2016 studying schedule did not look the same as my 2019 study schedule. In 2016, I studied full-time and was a single mother. In 2019, I was clerking full-time, a wife, and a mother with a host of different responsibilities that just were not present back in 2016. I needed to be kind and gracious to myself. Joshua and I prayed and sought the Lord’s direction, and we both felt Him leading us to try again.
The bar exam was a total team effort from my entire family, and this time it was riddled with even more challenges. Despite these challenges, the Lord confirmed to me that I would pass the exam.
I took a Kaplan bar prep course again, and began studying in the middle of my pregnancy with Honor. However, one week into studying I was hospitalized due to contractions and bleeding. This happened the week of Christmas, of all times. After this, I was put on bedrest for 1 1/2 weeks. We were also still getting settled in after having moved. I decided to rest and wait until the holiday season passed to pick back up with studying. My husband really carried the load by unpacking most of the house and ensuring that I was getting adequate rest, all while working a hectic schedule. The medical challenges did not let up as January went on. I was in and out of the hospital due to fevers, migraines, contractions, rising blood pressure, and many other issues. I did not study much on the days I had appointments or hospital visits, or just pure exhaustion.
When I was doing well, I would study during the day while Raegan was at school. After I picked her up, she would work on her homework next to me while I studied. She would quiz me on my flashcards while I quizzed her on her spelling and vocabulary words. Raegan was such a little trooper! My husband would take me on walks and quiz me on my flashcards, and listen to me describe evidentiary standards, procedural rules, tortious conduct, and all manner of legalese. I would draw out concepts on my whiteboard, and he asked questions to help me articulate concepts in laymen’s terms.
In the midst of bar prep, we also planned and had our baby shower in February, and prepared for Honor by getting last-minute baby items. Putting together the crib and dresser, nesting like crazy by cleaning, and going to appointments to keep track of Honor all while studying was very intense.
The week of the bar exam came, and it felt like all of hell broke loose. I had seven doctor’s appointments and visits to the labor & delivery unit the week of the exam. I was 8 months pregnant with Honor, and was experiencing migraines, pain in my eyes, and swelling. I honestly felt like I was about to crack under all of the pressure. In the midst of all of this, I cried out to God. I prayed for certain subjects to be tested on the essays portion of the exam, since those subjects were my strengths.
I took the exam, waddling and swollen and exhausted and all. and…
We passed. Just as God said we would.
We did it. My husband, Raegan, and even Honor (by staying put and not coming out earlier!) all worked together. I see God’s grace in all of this. Even though I did not pass the first time, that did not change the assignment to pass the exam. I truly believe He went before me in this exam, because the very subjects I prayed to be tested, the ones that were my strengths, were indeed tested! He is FAITHFUL and KIND.
This is us. We live a life of faith. We do our best to follow the voice of God over everything. The Bible you see in this photo is our foundation. His Word is our life. Even though we are not in vocational ministry, Joshua and I have learned a long time ago that our lives are our ministry. Do not miss the fact that God can get glory out of everything, even in sharing your everyday life. In our everyday life, Joshua’s call as a physician and my call as an attorney showcase His glory, His redemptive nature, and His incredible kindness. When things do not go as expected or planned, that does not mean that God has changed His mind. It just requires us to continue to trust what He said, knowing that no word from God ever returns void. (Isaiah 55:11).
I’m so excited to step into this next season as a double-barred attorney. To God by the glory!