Legs and Lungs of Endurance


“The victims of injustice in our world do not need our spasms of passion; they need our long obedience in the same direction – our legs and lungs of endurance;
And we need sturdy stores of joy. ”
Gary Haugen

Many of you know my story. Many of you know I came to law school after a trip to the Dominican Republic and a desire to advocate for people to be free from sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Over the last three years, I steadily developed my dream Equal Justice Works fellowship proposal through internships, research, and volunteering. I made every decision to further my project.

I submitted my project for consideration almost one year ago. I tried not to get my hopes up. I knew it was a long-shot and there would be so many well-deserving projects. In November, four months after submitting my application, I received the exciting call to interview with a large law firm interested in potentially sponsoring my project. I was ecstatic.

I did three mock interviews, created the perfect handout, went to the interview, presented my project to a room of 8 attorneys, answered questions, and walked out feeling fantastic. Could this finally be happening?

I received a call weeks later. They chose another project. I was heartbroken.

This would happen two more times. The mantra become receive the call – participate in mock interviews – defend my project at the interview – receive excellent feedback – wait three weeks – receive a denial. Each time, I became more and more discouraged.

After three interviews, there was six months of silence. The interviews were to be done in April, so I knew the end was near, and I needed to start coping. So I did. I started to mourn the loss of a dream. As with any kind of grief, I went through moments of sadness, moments of denial, moments of anger, and moments of acceptance. I poured everything into this project. Was it worth it?

In May, Andrew and I graduated from law school. We celebrated the much-anticipated completion of our academic careers and savored the day before diving completely into studying for the Bar exam where we remain until the end of July.



One week into Bar prep I received another phone call. Another firm was interested in my project, and they wanted me to interview a few days later. I was shocked. I was fully immersed in Bar prep and was not prepared to re-visit my proposal and defend my project in front of another panel of attorneys. I had already walked through all of the stages of grief telling myself this was over, and it was time to move on.

It’s funny how life works in those ways. I spent the weekend reacquainting myself with my project and remembering all of the sweat and tears I put into this project. I knew this was really my last shot. I walked out of the interview feeling confident but also content. I knew I was prepared for whatever happened.

Yesterday, I accepted an offer from Greenberg Traurig to sponsor my fellowship. Beginning this fall, I will be working at Equip for Equality for two years advocating for people with disabilities to be free from sexual abuse and human trafficking. This is it. I cannot believe it is happening, and I am so incredibly humbled by the opportunity. I am anxious to get started and so excited to see what the future holds.

I will sing of all You’ve done
I’ll remember how far You carried me
From beginning until the end
You are faithful, faithful to the end


2015 Highlights and Grief

This was a huge year. Some of the highlights include becoming cancer-free for the first time in three years, running my first half marathon, accidentally winning a Bahamas cruise (seriously, ask me about it), and getting engaged.


Such a big year ended on a difficult note when one of my best friends was murdered. I still manage to deny he is gone, and I don’t know when that will change. The funny thing about grief is each time feels like you are experiencing it for the first time, and the coping mechanisms you  learned from prior experiences do you little good. It is raw. It is organic. It is inexplicable.

When I am surrounded by people who knew Sean, loved him, and miss him dearly, it is easier for me to keep emotional distance from his absence. Their memories keep him present, and we laugh remembering all that he was to us.


But when I’m alone, that is when it becomes more real. I see his name on my speed dial and realize I can’t call him. I see his name on our wedding guest list and realize he won’t be there. I look at pictures from our Boulder visit this summer and realize it was the last time I saw him, and I will never see him again. One of my happiest memories is now colored with deep sadness.

I have a special waterproof mascara reserved for biopsy days, and I’ve worn it almost every day since Sean’s passing. Slowly, I’ve been able to wean myself off with some certainty I will make it through a day without weeping. Some days I make it, other days I don’t. Breathe in, breathe out.

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me. C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I am thankful for Sean’s friendship and all of the years I got to spend with him. I am thankful for his humor, his intelligence, and his loyalty. I am thankful he called me friend for 14 years and made sure I knew I was valued. I am also thankful he and Andrew got to meet.

Next year will be an even bigger year. Andrew and I will graduate law school in May, take the Bar exam in July, get married in August, and honeymoon in Switzerland! It is going to be a whirlwind, and I cannot wait.




Yesterday, May 28, 2015, my endocrinologist came into the room and said:

Are you ready for a party?

For the first time in nearly three years, my thyroglobulin levels showed “undetectable” thyroid cancer. We will meet again in six months to see if anything changes, and if not, I will shift to yearly check ups.

I don’t know if I believe it.

It’s been a crazy three years. Four surgeries, unsuccessful radioactive iodine treatment, extensive nerve damage throughout my neck and right shoulder (which continues to get better), low energy, little metabolism, hundreds of needles, etc.


I am not the person I was when all of this began. I’ve tried to think of how to tell you how this experience has changed me, but I can’t find the words. All I know is 25 year-old Lydia is completely different from 22 year-old Lydia.

I’m overwhelmed looking back at all that has happened, and all of the people who have come alongside me from every part of my life. Thank you. Importantly, I also have a community from around the world who I connected with on Instagram right after diagnosis. It may sound so silly, but they changed everything. I know their stories, and they know mine. Our struggles, our triumphs…my little support group. Sometimes social media can be–dare I say–beautiful.

Photo May 29, 10 56 35 AM

I can’t wait to see where life goes from here, without so many interruptions. I am still learning how to live in this new body, figuring out how to maximize energy and metabolism. Now, I can do this without any setbacks!

I can’t wait to dive into my final year of law school and to be fully present. What a change! I can breathe deeper already.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for your faithfulness.

One more year of law school!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written and honestly it’s because I chose the most writing-intensive semester of law school. From writing a research project on the intersection of people with disabilities and human trafficking, writing a research project on wage theft in the U.S., and four major writing assignments for Legal Writing 4 Public Interest, I was not sure I’d come out of this semester in one piece. But, alas! Here, I am.

It’s hard to believe I have two years of law school done and only one to go. Part of me is sad knowing I could be graduating right now had I not taken a detour. However, I’m thrilled to have more time to volunteer in the community without the need to start paying back major student loans.

Health Update

The next two weeks I have blood work, scans, and a meeting with my endocrinologist to check in after my elevated levels a few months ago. Please pray for the all-clear or that I will be eligible for alternative treatment this time around.

“Scary Close” – Donald Miller

In Donald Miller​’s new book, one of the conversations is about how we wear our jobs as a costume and how this prevents people from actually getting to know us. He went on a retreat and the only rule was that you could never talk about what you do for a living. He writes:

I never realized how much I’d used my job as a social clutch until the clutch was taken away. I must have hinted that I thought my work was important a thousand different ways…I must have been nauseating to be around. But deep inside, I wanted to desperately to talk about what I did because I knew people would like me if they only knew. I knew people would think I was important. Slowly, over the week, I realized I was addicted to my outer shell, that without my costume I felt vulnerable. p. 31-32

Man, I know I’m guilty of this. How frequently do we enter new social situations and the conversations start out like “What’s your name? What do you do?” How different would our relationships be if we didn’t approach conversations this way?

What kinds of questions do you think would spark honest, meaningful conversation? What would it be like to allow people in to that vulnerable place to know you for you?

Being an introvert in law school – moving outside comfortable

Yesterday, I read an American Bar Association Journal article about how law school and legal training is made for extroverts and so rarely fitted for introverts (most specifically in the way classrooms have been structured for 100 years, as well as the types of law you’re supposed to pursue). Can I get an AMEN?

Because of this, law school has been one large trust game for me –continually placing myself in one uncomfortable situation after another, trusting that by the grace of God I will come out on the other side. From the classroom to field experience, it’s been a game.

I know I am not alone in this.

While frequently this game has cornered me in fear, with several nights of little to no sleep, more and more I’ve seen how God has used these situations to strengthen and train me to learn and grow so I am even more equipped to pursue public interest law in whatever form it takes.

But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

I spent one year working at Equip for Equality (EFE), a disability rights organization, working with people with disabilities on abuse and neglect cases. Entering this internship, I was not comfortable cold-calling strangers or speaking on the phone for long periods of time. I was also worried I wasn’t qualified to conduct phone intake with people with severe mental illness and developmental disabilities. However, through this internship, I found a voice and patience I didn’t know I had. I pushed past these fears, and came out a stronger, more articulate advocate for people with disabilities.

My training at EFE has also been extremely helpful in volunteering at the Daley Center, helping people who can’t afford attorneys fill out legal paperwork. There have been several instances where people with severe disabilities effecting their speech have been at the desk, and I have been able to understand them and walk through the process patiently. Without my time at EFE, I would not have the know-how or patience to make sure they are adequately helped.

This semester, I stepped out of my comfort zone again. I am interning at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation working on litigation for sexual abuse and sex trafficking cases. While my motto throughout law school has been “I would like to never step foot in a court room,” I decided to join this litigation team and help them prepare for trials.  I had no experience drafting paperwork necessary for these trials, and I was worried about inadequacy and how my work could directly impact victims of serious abuse. However, over the last month, I have learned more than I could have imagined through the extensive research projects I’ve been assigned. I have also seen how my training at EFE prepared me for sensitivity and understanding with another vulnerable and hurt group of clients.

Taking it a step further, I just accepted an internship offer for the summer to work at Cabrini Green Legal Aid in their family law division. Accepting this internship is a big step of faith, because I will be getting my 711 license, allowing me to be in court and represent clients just like an attorney. From what I’ve been told, I will be in court almost every day with clients working on child custody, child support, visitation issues, etc. I have no court room experience and I am terrified of the idea of it, but I know I will come out on the other side I better (future) attorney.

You know, God continues to be incredibly faithful through this journey. It is the most challenging and frustrating experience of my life, but at the same time, the most humbling and gratifying. 

Job found contentment and even joy, outside the context of comfort, health or stability. He understood the story was not about him, and he cared more about the story then he did about himself.”
― Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life


Many of you know that a couple years ago I rode my bike from Cincinnati, Ohio to Washington DC with my Venture Expeditions family. For this trip and on our route, we raised awareness and money for International Justice Mission and their fight against modern day slavery (including sex trafficking). The trip was a game-changer for me.

I had never cycled before, never trained so hard, and never experienced the kind of joy that comes from physically sacrificing for others. Each mile we prayed and thought about the people we were advocating for. Each day–through sweat, pain, and tears–we had the opportunity to focus our hearts and minds on what it means to love people like Jesus.

Instead of just placing money in an account, we pushed through mountains, flat tires, rain storms, and injuries declaring “Freed people, free people.”  The people we were advocating for live in modern-day slavery, so we chose to push our limits and physically sacrifice in a way that says “We’re with you.”

Venture 2

Well, it’s time for a new challenge and a new cause. On June 6, 2015, Andrew, my dad, and I will run a half marathon and raise $1,200 in support of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). CAASE addresses the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation. CAASE’s work includes prevention, policy reform, community engagement, and legal services.

This semester, I am a legal intern at CAASE, working on cases regarding sexual assault, rape, sex trafficking, etc. I am passionate about the work CAASE does, and I am thankful to be part of it.

Just like being a cycling rookie for my Venture trip, I am certainly a long-distance runner rookie. 🙂 I have never run more than 5 miles at once, and I look forward to training for this cause. I pray for a centered mind and heart in order to get the most out of this experience. I look forward to the inevitable growth that will happen in the coming months.

Please consider joining our cause by donating below. The money raised will directly support the CAASE’s work, which includes providing free legal services to survivors of sexual assault and the sex trade, advocating for legislative and policy reform that will hold perpetrators accountable, creating resources for survivors of sexual harm, and preventing sexual exploitation by teaching young people about the realities of the sex trade and sex trafficking.

Online fundraising for #SharpNessRun13point1 - Race for CAASE

Approaching 25

As most of you know, I received wonderful news after my fourth surgery this past August. My abnormal thyroid levels were “virtually undetectable.” This was the first time I received this news since the start of my journey two and a half years a go. My endocrinologist was equally as surprised as me.

For the last couple months, I have been enjoying living a relatively normal life. I have had only a couple of doctors appointments and no biopsies or surgeries. This has been the most uninterrupted semester of law school so far. Law school is much better without having to regularly miss class and also taking classes I’m interested in! (who would have thought?! 😉 )

I’ve finally had the chance to deal with the on-going complications of having no thyroid, as well as the repercussions of having so many surgeries. In the last two years, just when I learn how to adapt and listen to my body and how it has changed, I’ve gone in for more surgeries or testing which inevitably changed the playing field again.

Because my thyroid medication has to be so high to suppress abnormal cell growth, my heart rate accelerates quickly, and I have frequent heart palpitations. To keep this under control, I’ve had to cut back on caffeine significantly. This was a difficult adjustment, because having no thyroid also significantly lowers my energy level. I always felt like I had to overcompensate with high levels of caffeine, just to feel normal.

However, I’ve had time to adjust without further complications, and I’ve been substituting morning coffee with superfood smoothies, and it’s been a game changer! Any other my thyroid cancer sisters reading this, I highly recommend it! This is just one ways I’ve been blessed the last few months of appointment-free living. I’ve been able to understand my new body and make steady life-style changes.

On February 12, 2015, I go in for further testing and on February 19, 2015, I learn whether or not I am for sure “cancer free.” What a week that will be–I cannot wait.

On another note, I will be turning 25 in a few short weeks. This birthday has kind of taken me by surprise. If you would have asked me ten years ago where I would be in my mid-twenties, this is not what I pictured. However, this is not a sour realization.

Most notably, if you told me ten years ago, I would be in law school right now, I would have laughed at you. I would have told you I would be a musician, running a photography studio, and/or writing a book. But, God works in funny ways sometimes and instills in you a passion to go outside of your comfort zone, to try something that terrifies you, and to trust him along the way.

Francis Chan wrote in his book Crazy Love, “‎Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?” It’s so simple, but I’ve been holding onto these words lately. Law school has been so outside my comfort zone and frankly, it is still terrifying at times. However, I’m convinced that pursuing justice through the law is the way God has called me to love the people he has made, and I’m choosing to trust him along the way.