Creation of our Family- May 24, 2014

Monday, October 26, 2015

No longer slaves to fear

            The next stage of our journey has begun, in more ways than one. This morning starts our first day in this next chapter. This chapter is one that, so far, is mostly characterized by trusting our Father and relying on the love of our family and friends. Our hearts are saddened when we think of all we left behind in Ohio, but quietly hopeful toward what lies ahead. Knowing that I am a child of God, I will not be afraid of walking into the unknown.

                                   I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.
       Prayer is a powerful weapon. Prayer is communication with our God, and resting in His presence. Prayer is what has held me up over the past nine months. Truly, prayer side by side with my sisters and brothers in Christ has been the anchor God blessed me with over the last couple of years of ups and downs.

            Last Friday was my last day working as a staff attorney and coordinator of the Legal Aid of Western Ohio Human Trafficking Protection Project. This morning, as I reflect through prayer, worship, and journaling, I am filled with gratitude. I think back to August 23, 2009. That was the day that the seeds of the Human Trafficking Protection Project were planted in my heart. That is the day that I learned that “Hope is to the heart what seeds are to the soil.” If my heart has a strong hope in it, my heart will endure the difficulties to realize that hope. Hope is the starting point. Hope is the anchor of the soul. (Hebrews 6:19).

            On August 23, 2009, I went out for lunch with some of the other missionaries working in Maputo, Mozambique. We were eating “lulas” on the patio of the Catembe Grand Hotel on Catembe Island, in Maputo Bay. At that time, I was in the process of healing and recovering from a very difficult season. Mozambique had become my Psalm 40 place, the high rock on which he set my feet when he heard my cry and rescued me from the mud and mire. (Psalm 40:1-2). On August 23, 2009, he “put a new song in my mouth.” (Psalm 40:3). This new song started with worship, prayer and two words: human trafficking. God spoke the words to my heart that day at the Catembe Grand Hotel, and confirmed many times over that he was calling me to “be a voice for voiceless” survivors of human trafficking in the coming years.

            I took the LSAT, applied for law school, was awarded a full tuition scholarship, and began studying at Michigan State University College of Law with a single goal: to protect and speak up for survivors of human trafficking. Times were sometimes difficult (as anyone who has attended law school and sat for the bar exam would agree!!). I immediately became active in the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force and applied for a summer legal internship with International Justice Mission. Through being a member of the task force and working in Bolivia with IJM, the calling that God put in my heart in 2009 sprang to life. At the end of my first year of law school, I brought together a group my classmates and we laid the groundwork to found the Modern Abolitionist Legal Society, and my years of raising awareness about human trafficking among professionals began with a bang.

            In law school, there is a lot of uncertainty about what kinds of jobs will be available when you graduate and pass the bar. With my singular purpose, I decided there was only one option: apply for a Skadden Fellowship to start a project that would provide representation to human trafficking survivors. It was a long shot. No graduate of my law school had ever been awarded a fellowship, and, in fact, the majority of fellows proposed projects in big cities and with known public interest legal organizations as partners. I chose internships and clinics to grow in the areas of immigration law, representation of vulnerable individuals, and human trafficking laws and policies.

The Family Justice Center- Defiance, OH
In August 2012, I attended a single session at the American Bar Association conference in Chicago: Witness Intimidation. I saw that a number of victim advocates and victim attorneys would be presenting, so I felt compelled to go.  That day was pivotal because I learned about the Family Justice Center model. A couple of weeks later, I decided to research the closest Family Justice Center to MSU Law, so I could visit and, hopefully, discuss partnering with me to seek a Skadden Fellowship. On the website, I found that the Family Justice Center of Northwest Ohio was the closest one, so I called the number listed. A week later, my new boyfriend (now my husband!) and I drove down to Defiance, Ohio, and I met Pam Hayman Weaner for the fist time. She convinced me that Defiance was the place to launch this project and put my vision into action. And so we did! Three years later, through the Skadden Fellowship and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, the project I started has trained over 3,700 professionals, responded to over 150 referrals of potential human trafficking, and represented more than 50 survivors. Not only that, but the Human Trafficking Protection Project is continuing at Legal Aid with new grant funding, very dedicated volunteers, an amazing supervisor, and a flourishing new chapter of a regional human trafficking coalition.  
You spread the sea so I could walk right through it.
My fears are drowned by perfect love.
          God was so incredibly faithful to the calling he put on my life. He fulfilled his promises to me and completed this chapter of the purpose for my life. There were some terrifying moments, and some moments of great uncertainty. But God came through every single time. Indeed, he parted the seas, moved the mountains, and drowned out my fears with his love. I am extremely grateful, not only to God but to each and every person who supported me and strengthened the project.
You might be reading this asking What does this all have to do with infertility, after all, this is a blog called Faith, Love, and Babies?  Good question, friends. At the risk of making this my longest blog post yet (I am already beginning page three on the word document I am typing in!), I will explain.

We went in for our follow up consultation with our fertility doctor in mid-September. It looks unlikely, friends. We were filled with sadness and fear that day, as the doctor said words like “genetic testing” and “surrogacy.” What?! He encouraged us to get genetic testing done on both of us, and to consider another full IVF cycle with genetic testing on each embryo before attempting to transfer them into me for implantation.

It was all too much. We felt no peace about moving forward. We did not do the genetic testing. We continue to pray for our two still-frozen embryos, and continue to wait for God to give us peace about the when to begin another frozen IVF cycle to give those two embryos a chance to grow and be born. But the chances don’t look very good. We will wait for God to lead us. 

A beautiful reminder (painted by Jane DeKorne)
Around that same time, we started to feel God moving us out of Ohio and to Minnesota. The week that I was sworn in as an attorney in Minnesota, Josh and I had some very positive meetings and interviews there. We felt God giving us the green and telling us “it’s time to move.” Neither of us had full time job offers. We had no place to live. But we began preparing to move, choosing to trust God. That is still basically where we are at today, as we sit in my parents’ basement in Luxemburg, Wisconsin.

And then a beautiful thing happened. We learned about the Waiting Kids list in Minnesota. God began to deeply stir our hearts and souls for children waiting for families in that state. We began to research, pray, and talk through the possibilities. We learned that, in Hennepin County alone (where Minneapolis is), there are 77 kids on the waiting list for families. We grow more and more certain each day that we are being called to create our family through adoption. God wants us to be parents to children who are alone and feeling unwanted. We desperately want to be their parents (no, not all 77!!). 
Godparents to our niece, Maya (10/18/15)
Even as I write this, my heart soars. I surrender to the beauty that God is making out of the ashes of loosing four babies this year. I surrender to the mystery of God’s plans for our lives. My heart still feel sadness for our children we never got to meet. I still may never fully understand. But I now feel excitement in this season of waiting, as the puzzle pieces begin to come together for us. God has brought us through another difficult season, and He has given me the firm anchor of hope to cling to as we peer into the unknown.

You rescued me so I could stand and sing: 
I am a child of God. 

            Friends, that is what I leave you with today. God has rescued me so I can stand and sing: “I am a child of God!” (Lyrics in italics throughout blog are from the song “No Longer Slaves.”) I see his fingerprints and his faithfulness so evidently. He has a plan for our lives, and he will fulfill those plans and purposes of us. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts as we continue on this journey and start a new chapter in so many areas of our lives. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and love. We appreciate you more than you know!