It Is Possible to Survive (and Not Hate) Jury Duty!

The presumption of innocence of the defendant and the judging of the facts by 12 impartial members of society is an important part of our legal system. It helps protect the innocent and convict the guilty. It is a solemn and important civic responsibility.

A few months ago I received my first jury selection summons. Based on what I knew about jury duty (TV crime dramas and 12 Angry Men), I freaked out.

It was right at the beginning of the school year. I had just started homeschooling Quentin. And I was also teaching a high school persuasive writing class at a local home school co-op. I couldn’t imagine how I would cope if I was selected for a trial that lasted for a week, or two, or three!

Making a long story short, I requested to be excused. A reprieve was granted–supposedly until school was out in the summer.

“Supposedly” is the key word here, because shortly before Christmas I received another summons to appear for jury selection in early January.

At this point, we had a school routine established. And I was feeling slightly less stressed by all my teaching responsibilities, so I decided to just accept it. Who knows, what if I reminded them I was supposed to do it in the summer, and then I got summoned the week of a family vacation or the week of VBS? There isn’t much to do in a cold, dreary PA winter, so why not spend a few days in the courthouse? They were obviously not going to forget about me! Besides, I had between a 66-75% chance of not even being chosen.

But I was! The odds were definitely not in my favor that day.

I cried on my way home from the courthouse after jury selection. I imagined days or weeks away from my kids while their education and the housework fell apart. I imagined shuffling them from one babysitter to another while all structure and stability disappeared. And I imagined the stress of trying to presume someone innocent and then sorting through the facts in a potentially complicated case. I did not feel emotionally up to the challenge.

But, as is often the case, reality is not nearly as bleak as our imaginings! The case lasted only 1 day. It was clear and concise. There was no need for hours of deliberations. There was a lot of down time, so I was able to get a lot of reading done! I had a quiet lunch hour by myself and a chance to visit some fun little shops without 3 kids breaking anything. And I learned a lot–about the court system, society, and life.

It is always sad to see someone who’s life is falling apart. It is a scary and sober responsibility to have someone’s fate in your hands–definitely not something to take lightly! And it is a sad reminder of how dark, broken, and dangerous our world can be.

Would I be upset to get another jury summons at some point? Absolutely not! The presumption of innocence of the defendant and the judging of the facts by 12 impartial members of society is an important part of our legal system. It helps protect the innocent and convict the guilty. It is a solemn and important civic responsibility.

(And, personally, it was a great chance to sharpen my speech and debate skills as I listened to and mentally graded each of the lawyers on the structure, content, and delivery of their arguments.)

Finding New Joy and Purpose in the New Year

Year-long goals don’t work well for me, so I thought I’d try something new this year–1 new goal per month. It only takes 3 weeks to make a habit, right? So a month should be long enough to enact some change.

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I can’t be the only person feeling like I got stuck in a rut at some point last year. I’m overwhelmed and unmotivated and frustrated with where I am in my personal and spiritual growth. It’s time to get unstuck.

Year-long goals don’t work well for me, so I thought I’d try something new this year–1 new goal per month. It only takes 3 weeks to make a habit, right? So a month should be long enough to enact some change.

My goal for January is to exercise 5 days a week. It’s not that I’m horribly overweight or anything. But I just feel flabby and tired and out-of-shape. I had 3 babies in 5 years. (That does a number on one’s body!) I don’t like the way I look or feel right now. It’s hard to find time to exercise with 3 little people who wake up very early. But I’m going to make it a priority for one month and hopefully get some of this flab out of the way. If I lose a few pounds, that would be an added bonus!

My only other goal at this point, which I hope to make a year-long goal (Wait, didn’t I just say I don’t do year-long goals?!) is to read 2 books per month: 1 non fiction and 1 fiction.

If you know me, I love fiction–especially the classics and WWII historical fiction. I’ll read Dickens or Bronte or historical fiction all day long (and neglect my family, too!). I struggle to stay motivated reading nonfiction.

But part of learning and growing is reading nonfiction–whether it is being challenged by someone’s life or reading a book about spiritual growth. So I am determined to read 1 non fiction book per month.

This month I’m reading The Clockmaker’s Daughter: A NovelTby Kate Morton. I love Kate Morton’s books, especially The Forgotten Garden: A Novel! (I should probably add the caveat that The Clockmaker’s Daughter does contain some supernatural elements not all readers may be comfortable with reading about.)

I also started No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending.

When I started Esther Fleece’s book, I thought I was reading something for someone else. But I quickly realized we all have things we block instead of dealing with them in a healthy manner. I intend to write a review of all I’m learning from the book after I finish it.

I already have a couple of ideas for February’s goal. But I’m not sure if I want to stick with a practical goal (like I did this month) or branch out into an emotional or Spiritual goal. I still have several weeks to decide what I’m doing. And maybe I’ll end up choosing two goals and see how that goes.

In the meantime, my kids are bouncing off the walls from a too-long Christmas break, so we are getting back into a school schedule. My abs hurt from the Jessica Smith TV workouts I’ve been doing every morning. I have jury duty next week (first time ever). And I really want to find time to finish my books!

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