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Shining God's grace in dark corners

26 months ago. That doesn't sound like much. 26 months.

That's how long ago it was that our Dark-Haired Daughter went missing for 48 hours, during which time she was repeatedly sexually assaulted. We have come to believe she escaped a human trafficking situation.

Those 48 hours were far longer than the 26 months that have gone by.

Many of us have pondered how Mary felt watching her Beloved Son during his Passion and Death. How would she have felt? I believe I had a taste of that in the aftermath of my daughter's assault. She refused to leave my side; we slept together for weeks afterwards - with her waking up screaming multiple times a night. She still suffers from PTSD, although she has made a remarkable recovery.

I would do anything to take that pain, those events, that torture away from her. It was nothing but horror.

I have always told my kids that there is no situation so dark, so bleak, that God's grace could not redeem it, but in those days following our daughter assault, that was hard to believe.

Because I've my job, I've been given a platform to speak out about human trafficking. I had the opportunity to put together a presentation on Friday, March 28 in Grand Rapids, MI. We had five amazing panelists: Carol Isaacs, Judy Emmons, Leslie King, Andy Soper and Becky McDonald. More than 190 people came to learn, ask questions, and literally receive their marching orders. They were told in no uncertain terms by our panelists: now you know. You know the scourge of human trafficking. You have the resources now to make a difference. If you choose not to, then you are complicit.

I won't lie: this event was incredibly difficult to pull off. I really didn't think I'd be able to do it: just getting our panelists together on the same day was a feat. I spent a lot of time asking for the prayerful intercession of St. Josephine Bakhita (patron saint of slaves and human trafficking victims.) I begged God that everything would be to his glory. It was only prayer that pulled this all off.

The day before the event was very hectic: the linens weren't what we ordered but they had to work (and be steamed), the microphones came in but not the bases so they wouldn't stand up, we had to set up extra seating and figure out what to do if more than 200 people showed up, every time I turned around there was a phone call...you get the picture.

But there came a moment when I had to sit down and take it all in. It was really happening. I was getting the best experts in our entire STATE to come and speak to an overflow crowd about human trafficking. The pebbles would be dropped in the water, and the ripples would expand. Every person there would have the ability to make a difference.

And none of this would have happened had it not been for what happened to our Dark-Haired Daughter. It was her bravery, her willingness to share her experience, to fight for her own sanity, her compassion and empathy that drove everything that happened for this event.

I wept. I wept in gratitude for the ability to make some difference. I wept for her pain, and for the pain of every person who's been in that situation. I wept for the little girl that had been so wounded, and yet was so brave. I wept for the fact that this horrible, evil situation shed some light. Through the cracks of the wall of horror surrounding her experience, God's grace shines. I wept, knowing that Christ wept with me.

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Crossing Guard

I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.