Tricked – Sex Trafficking in North America

Last night, Jason and I watched Tricked, a documentary about sex trafficking in North America.  It was definitely graphic and there was a lot of language and sex, but it did a great job of showing the realities of the industry.

The people being interviewed had such sad stories: like a police officer and family who wanted to adopt a teenage girl out of the sex trade and were told it wasn’t a good idea, a woman remembering that she used to charge $30 for a blow job and $50 for sex, and a young teenager who had told her story over and over again but the cops never had enough proof to arrest the people who forced her to commit sexual acts for money.

We watched men talk about buying sex as if it were another monthly bill, and commenting on how the price of pussy has come down with the recession.  An older man talked about how he has always paid for sex and doesn’t care if the women are willing or not as long as he gets his money’s worth.

One of the cops interviewed said that we are past the time when pimps target troubled teens and runaways.  They are in the movie theaters and malls, they are targeting teens as young as 11, pretending to be their boyfriends and then beating them and threatening to kill their families if they don’t comply.  They are told that the cops aren’t on their side, and in many cases that is true.  These women are seen as prostitutes and rarely treated as victims.  Another cop said that if someone did this to his daughter he would kill them, which would be unfortunate because he would be in jail, but he said there is not justice enough for taking away someone’s future, their innocence, and their choice of what to do with their life.

If this issue has ever grabbed your attention, watching this documentary.  It is on Netflix!

Nonprofits like The Exodus Road, Love146 and North Star Initiative are fighting sex trafficking right now and you can help!

Journal like a Psalmist.

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I messaged Macy this morning, completely discouraged and angry.  I’m so fed up with things going wrong, one after the other.  I’m so tired of living in what feels like a constant state of emergency.  I’m so irritated that God isn’t the kind of God who will make everything okay and comfortable and easy for us.  I’m so embarrassed that we can’t just go to work and pay our bills and live in our stupid apartment like normal stupid people.

And I wanted to journal, but I felt like I would just make ugly black marks all over my journaling Bible because that is what my heart feels like.  Great big ugly black marks going all through it.  Mentally, I try to curb the bitterness and accept that God is good and that we will be fine, but emotionally I’m all like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum.  I’m flinging junk and wailing and writhing on the floor in public emotionally.

Macy said, just journal.  It is important to document the bad as well as the good.  And she said other things and made me cry and filled that friend place in my heart that had been achingly empty for a few days.

So I put the baby down to nap and I gathered my supplies and I turned to Lamentations, because when I have some kind of beef with God, this is where I go:

I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long.
He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked.
He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding;
he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate;
he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow.
He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver;
I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long.
He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood.
He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”

That may be slightly dramatic, but sometimes I just feel that way.  My soul is just completely bereft of peace and my endurance for this garbage is just gone.  My hope in the Lord is more like a sarcastic, “Okay, let’s see you work THIS together for good.”

And I journaled.  It started out all gray overtop of the words because my anger was gone and at that point I just felt like.. whatever, God.  Do your thing or don’t do your thing.  I cannot find it within my soul to care.

I glanced at the next column, knowing the words that were there, but not wanting to read them because I didn’t feel them yet.  And they caught my eye anyway:

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope..”

Then promise after promise of God’s goodness just washed over me and I cried and read that even though I feel like everything and everyone are against us, that God is for us, that he doesn’t punish us willingly, that he has compassion, that it is good to bear burdens when you are young because there are so many lessons to learn.  And I felt like maybe my page could get a little more hopeful, not for the present but for the future.

The reason why I have always related to the Psalms and Lamentations is because of this type of writing.  The pouring out of all the emotional junk that you feel and then choosing to remember the truth of who God is and what he has promised to do.  Life is so full of pain and embarrassment and garbage, but in the middle of that, God is still a good God.  I am so grateful that I can have days like today where I yell at him and then end up resting in the promise of rest to come.

be all there.

I’ve been so busy and so stressed, that sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to treasure each of these moments.  I’ll realize that I’m on my phone when I could be making Eden laugh, or capturing the last of her toothless grins on camera.  I get frustrated that she wakes up all night when I could be cherishing the chance to cuddle her close while it lasts.  At this stage I feel like she learns a new thing every day, and I want to be fully present to appreciate each milestone.

My new job and change of babysitter upped my commute from 15-20 minutes to more like an hour.  I don’t love being in the car that long, but getting to commute with Eden is fun.  I’m glad to have her with me for the extra 45 minutes in the morning, even if “with me” is just listening to me sing songs to her or napping in her car seat.  I think that being a working mom is helping me to be jealous of every minute that I can hold her and talk to her, I don’t want to take these short years for granted.

One thing I love about my life is our family dynamic.  Jason has taken to being a dad like a pro, and Eden is obsessed with him.  Their relationship makes me all sappy and teary eyed.  Every little girl should be crazy about her Daddy.  And every Momma should get that fuzzy feeling when she sees her man getting wrapped up in his child.  So beautiful.  *snif!*

One of the quotes that gets repeated among my MMR friends over and over is from Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I always thought that was a great quote, but sometimes things don’t internalize in me as deeply until I have a moment of realization.  When my baby outgrows one of my favorite onesies.. be all there.  When my husband and daughter are having a staring contest.. be all there.  When we drive down to see family.. be all there.

I want to challenge myself to be present in my real life and avoid screens when I have the option of interacting with people.  I want to think back to these days and have a hundred stories to be able to tell when we get older and Eden asks what she was like as a baby.  I want my default to be a conversation, not checking Facebook.  Will you join me?

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Righteous Tree

Like a field of dried up soil is my soul.
Full of rocks and brambles, left untended and alone.
Yet where I see a barren place where nothing good can grow,
you promise me you’ll plant a mighty oak.

In this heart so full of guilt and pain,
will you plant a seed of righteousness for the glory of your name?
Send that living water flowing down in drops of rain,
the tiny seedling sprouts a fragile stem.

Till my heart.
Cultivate the soil of my soul.
Where nothing used to be
now a tiny sapling tree grows.

In autumn slender branches lose their leaves,
and winter wraps a blanket ’round the work you’ve done in me.
Every year, I fear that I will never see the spring,
till the light of the world comes to warm all things.

Tend my heart.
Irrigate the corners of my mind.
You use the hardship and the joy
to make my heart a little more refined.

It’s hard to see the change with just your eyes,
and I fear that you’ve forgotten me and your promise was a lie.
But what I can’t see is that you keep adding rings inside, until I find…

That you have pruned my heart,
you have nurtured every aspect of my life.
This is the planting of the Lord,
that in me, you may be glorified.

You made a tiny acorn grow into a righteous tree.

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Giving my daughter to God.

I am finally sitting down and processing the last couple of days.  I’ve been rushing around and worried and planning, and now I am just sitting here.. and this is when I just want to cry because of how awful it has been and how relieved I am that God has brought us through it.  It is probably too soon and too personal, and I probably shouldn’t write this post, but I need to process it and this is the easiest way for me to do that.

Without going into detail, we found out this week that Eden had been in a potentially dangerous situation at our former babysitter’s house.

I cannot even articulate how horrifying it is to realize that the person I trusted with my precious baby was not trustworthy.  It would be impossible to tell you how much I blame myself for explaining away red flags and not wanting to be “that mom”.  There is no way to really express the amount of stress and guilt and fear that has taken up residence in my heart this week.

Nothing bad happened, (THANK GOD) but in this corrupt world full of filthy people, there is no amount of chance worth taking.  Kids are abused, neglected, kidnapped, murdered, etc.. on a regular basis.  People are disgusting and self-justifying and horribly sinful and rotten in their hearts, and somehow we have to figure out who we can leave our defenseless baby with that will care for her like they should.

This morning, we thought it was pretty bad, but that we had addressed it enough that we felt we could leave her there until we found a replacement.  Then I found out that it was SO MUCH WORSE than I had known about.  And I would have, probably should have, flipped my mother lid right there and rampaged the place and taken my daughter away.  But I usually don’t react to things at first, it takes me awhile till I’m like.. WAIT, WAIT, SHE SAID WHAT??

That was this morning.  And all day, I have seen God bring people alongside me to encourage me, to pray for me, to reach out to their friends and try to help me.  All day, God has been at work in our world and solutions have been popping out of the woodwork.  We went from having no options to having more options than we need.  That makes me cry too.  I can’t tell if I’m crying from sadness or blessedness at this point.

Being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done, and not because of the sleepless nights and dirty diapers.  The weight of responsibility is so heavy, and the fear of the unknown is so daunting.  I remember as a child, I would try to make my mom promise that nothing bad would ever happen to me and she would never do it.  That resonates with me now.  I want to promise her that she will be safe, that we will make sure this never happens again, but I can’t control those things.

The only thing that I can promise my daughter is that God loves her and will be with her no matter what happens.   I can scrutinize and agonize over every decision, but in the end all I can do is pray incessantly and give my daughter to God.  She will be safest when I am holding fast to Christ and trusting him to do what I can’t do in her life.

I swear, this baby makes me a better Christian.  She shows me how pitiful I am and how desperately I need a Savior.

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