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"Mom, I failed the Test"

"Mom, I failed the Test"

by Bob Fry, Director of Development

We are a family of academic over achievers. Susan and I and our 3 adult children have 6 post graduate degrees between us, resulting in 2 attorneys, a physician, a petroleum geologist, and a special education teacher with a master’s in early childhood development from Columbia University. If we include our parents we get another teacher, a Navy physicist, two attorneys and a doctor.   And if you wonder how 4 parents can add 5 careers, it's because my Dad practiced both medicine and law as an anesthesiologist and an attorney.

But for all of that, the best thing that ever happened to our family academically was the day our older daughter, Jennifer, "bombed the LSAT," as she described it at the time. 

It’s a bit of a long story, but if you’ve ever had a sleepless night worrying about your kids in school or been through a failure yourself, I think you’ll find it encouraging.

Our story begins a year or so after Jennifer came home from England.  She had just spent two years at Oxford university where she earned a masters in Byzantine Art history.  But she soon discovered there were practically no jobs in the Art History world, so she went to work at an art gallery in Laguna Beach.  During that time, on an overnight flight to New York she sat next to a law school professor and the two of them talked their way across the country.  When she got off the plane, she called home to declare, " I'm going to law school."

Her law school decision was late in the academic year, but she signed up to take the LSAT anyway (the Law School Admission Test) even though she had very little time to study or prepare.   As a result, she scored so poorly that she could not get into the schools she wanted to attend such as Harvard, Stanford or Duke.

But Chapman University, near our home in Orange County, was actively recruiting students to their young law school and they offered Jennifer a full scholarship.   The blessings from having "bombed the LSAT" were beginning.  Jennifer saved a $100,000 on a law degree in addition to “qualifying” for three years of free room and board!  And we were blessed to have our daughter come and live with us again after she had been away for six years.  And as wonderful as those blessings were, there was much, much more!

While attending Chapman, Jennifer threw a party at home for her law school friends.   And she also invited Martha Gilbert.  Martha was Susan's aide at the time at the special education pre-school in Irvine where she helped Susan nurture a class of severely handicapped children. At that party, Martha met one of Jennifer’s friends, Dave Kelly.  Martha went on to become a teacher, Dave became an attorney with whom I now work and, as all good stories should end, Dave and Martha dated and married and became the parents of Nate, as you can see in this photo.

But there's more!

At that time, a graduate from Chapman Law School who was working for the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) in Sacramento came and gave a talk to his Alma Mater. PLF is a public interest law firm that seeks to protect private property rights and other individual liberties.  In that talk, Jennifer learned that PLF had an internship program for law students.  So she applied for and was accepted into that internship.  She did well and was then offered a job after law school which she accepted.  She then took the Bar exam (which she did not bomb!) became an attorney and moved to Sacramento to practice law at PLF.

One day Jennifer called me from work and said, “Dad.  One of the attorneys I work with at PLF wants to ask me out.  Do you think it’s ok to date someone at work?”  My answer was, “Sweetie.  You can always get another job.”

So Jennifer did date Joshua Thompson and later became Mrs. Joshua Thompson and after that the mother of Juliet, Eddie and Baby Arthur as shown in the next photo.

Now I know my daughter.  If she had aced the LSAT, wild horses could not have dragged her back home and away from a prestigious national law school; she would certainly have gone to one of them.  And if she had, Dave would never have met Martha . . . and they wouldn’t be the parents of Nate.  And Jennifer would never have met Joshua . . . and they wouldn’t be the parents of our grandchildren, Juliet and Eddie and Arthur. 


The most important word in the Old Testament is, “Remember.”  God is constantly telling Israel to remember how he brought them out of Egypt and to remember all the other ways in which he blessed them in the past.  He tells them to remember these past blessings as they go from one failure to the next.  In so doing, the comfort He offers is the promise of His continuing faithfulness which they can never see at work in the middle of their sufferings and trials.  They, like we, only know what God was doing when we look back; we cannot see it at the time.

The day Jennifer got her LSAT test scores was not a happy one in our home.  She was in tears and we were not celebrating.  But looking back, there isn’t a day that goes by that Susan and I, and indeed Jennifer and everyone in our family, aren’t grateful to God for the day that Jennifer bombed the LSAT.  It turned into one of the greatest blessings of our lives!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 Jeremiah 29:11

Spoken to the exiles in Babylon . . . seventy years before their rescue.


Bob Fry, Director of Development

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