Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unexpected Delivery


On Christmas morning a momma walked into the hospital with stomach pains. It must be appendicitis or ovarian cysts she thought....After several tests, the doctor walked in and told her the news. She was in labor, 3cm dilated with a full term baby. To say she was surprised wouldn't do justice to the rush of emotions and shock she was experiencing. How can this be? She was on birth control. She never had any pregnancy symptoms. She already has 3 little ones at home. Her husband was just laid off. She was having a baby and on Christmas day!
Hours later Nathaniel was born, weighing 6 lbs 14oz. Unexpected for sure, but one look at him and you know he was planned from the beginning. God wove him together miraculously and beautifully in her womb. As I sat there visiting with mom and holding Nathaniel I couldn't help but to think of how funny we must seem to God when we plan things, when we think we are in control and run around fretting about life. In just a few short hours of being in this world, baby Nathaniel is already making a difference and proving that every life matters.

Needless to say, this family could use a lot of love, support, baby diapers, CLOTHES, prayer, and basic needs.
We will be taking donations, supplies and meals to them over the next few weeks. I need help though. If you live local and would like to help this family-PLEASE CONTACT ME! They have nothing for him. If you want to help by making a monetary tax deductable donation to purchase gift cards, food and other needs you can do so through my partner Delivering Hope.
Together we can shower this sweet family with abundant love and blessings.

The donate button to contribute is on the top right of my blog

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Could it be.....

I'm sitting at my computer staring at the images of children I may or may not know. I am desperately trying to remember all the details of a moment I swore I would never forget. It has been almost 3 years since I have seen their faces, but it was only yesterday that my heart thought about them. On my first visit to Ethiopia I asked Alebachew to take us outside of Addis on show us a part of Ethiopia that a lot of adoptive parents don't normally see. I wanted to see Ethiopia from his eyes. We ended up at an old church on top of a hill. He looked at us with a look of, "are you sure?" I started to walk up the hill not knowing what to expect. I wish I could share the pictures with you, but they are on my computer that is not working...I do have a few though from FB. The first person we came across was covered in a tattered blanket and the smell of death was in the air. Alebachew did that tisk tisk head shake that Ethiopians do and said, "keep walking Steff". I stopped. Is he dead? Does anyone care? Where is his family? I kept asking questions. I started to kneel down and saw movement. Alebachew lifted the blanket. We got the man to sit up. We gave him water, a few birr for food, prayed and walked away. I looked around...I started to realize this wasn't a church, it was a place where the unloved and cast-out went to die. There were people laying around everywhere, dying most likely from AIDS. In the midst of darkness, death, despair and in the shadow of the huge cross on the building for all to ignore on a Sunday morning....there was a hint of life. Running up behind me were children. Never before had they seen someone stop to help those waiting to die. They were excited. They were beautiful. I think I counted 12 of them. I was overwhelmed and in shock. They lived there. This was their life. Why were they there? They looked healthy. They introduced me to their brother. He was maybe 16 and very obviously was mentally disabled. He kissed me. The other kids didn't know if they should beat him or laugh that he did such a thing. I kissed him back and Adam hugged him. The kids smiled. I was introduced to their momma. I wish I would have spent time with her. The smell was just so unbearable and I was overwhelmed with emotion. They lived in a concrete room off the church. It smelled of excrement and death. I hugged her and left.
That was it. I didn't even get their names. I don't know their ages or why they were outcast and lived amongst the dying.

I have thought about them so many times since then. On my last trip back, I wanted to find them. Timing didn't work out though. So, when I got back this time, I hired Alebachew to see if he could find them. I sent him a picture. I told him to look for them and if he found them, to give them the picture of us together and share with them the story of the broken woman who thinks about them everyday. To let them know....they are loved, prayed for and thought of. I asked him to get their names, ages and talk to their momma. To find out if they go to school or how many of the girls are now mommas themselves. I told him to find a school in their town and inquire about tuition ( school is not free in Africa). I asked him to find out what skills the mom has and if she is still alive. I told him to ask if I can come and see them in March....

Today in my inbox are 12 pictures. 3 years is a long time to try to recognize someone you only saw briefly. I only have 2 old pics to go by...Could the faces I am looking at, be the same children from the church? Could my search be over? Do they remember us? Through broken English Alebachew said he found 7 kids. I remember 12. Did they eventually end up being a shadow under the cross? There was only one face I recognized....


The picture from almost 3 years ago after walking past death...
You can see from my face (that doesn't hide feelings well)




The beautiful kids I met.
I so wish I had all my photos from then to study their faces...
There is one face I won't forget.
In this picture you can't see his..
(the kid sitting down)
but I will always remember his kiss:)



This is one of the pics sitting in my email.
I do know this face!
I do remember his kiss!

Could it be?
Did I find them?
Can I do what I should have done 3 years ago?
Sit down. Talk to the mom. Get to know her kids.
Look beyond the death, devastation and poverty.
To see them...really see them...know them...really know them...
To appreciate their beauty
to let them know....
They are loved.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Got Beads? Or The Orphan Bead Project

Have you ever heard of Orphan beads?

Until last week I had no clue what that meant.
I thought it was an organization that sold bead products for orphans

Then I found out what it really meant



"for those of you that bead, or craft, or even just pretend to do one of those, you know that when you string a beautiful necklace or bracelet together, you always have some leftovers. often times they get lost, or discarded, or thrown into a bowl with the other mismatched beads -- the orphan beads, never to be used again."

The orphan bead.
The discarded bead.
The bead tossed aside with no clue what to do with it...
After awhile the bowl is full of orphans ..what started out as just one or a couple
grows and grows...
My heart and mind can't help but to see the face of a baby, toddler, child, teenager in every orphan bead in the bowl.
I think about the 147 million orphans just waiting...
wanting to be noticed
wanting to be needed
wanting to belong
wanting to be beautifully strung together in a family.

but here’s the thing...
we don't believe there needs to be orphans. we believe that if we collectively bring them all together, we can make something beautiful, and they will be orphans no more.
this month we are working with Dawn from Funky Fish, an organization of mommas who believe in defending the cause of the fatherless.
we are teaming up with them, to collect as many orphan beads as we can, so that when they travel back to Ethiopia, in March, they can put these beads in the hands of the orphans themselves who will transform the orphan beads in to beautiful necklaces/bracelets, to help support their families.

The last time Dawn went to Ethiopia to minister to the orphans of Zeway and teach the them how to make jewelry that would help sustain them...it is no surprise that the orphans were drawn to the orphan beads. After learning and making several patterned bracelets with the non-orphan beads, their faces lit up when she brought out the few orphan beads she had. She said it was like a spark lit up in their spirits. To see all the different beads that were different from each other allowed them to see the beauty in their own creations.
The best part is when Dawn came home to sell the bracelets to support the orphans...
Guess which sold out first? The patterned beads or the orphan beads?


what we need from you?
Your orphans
We need every kind of bead.
and for you to help spread the word...
What's our goal?
147 million orphan beads of course. Smile emoticon

We want to send Dawn from Funky Fish with as many orphan beads as she can carry on her trip this March to show the orphans of Zeway that they matter.
AND
Because Every Mother Matters will be there to capture it all on video:)

To learn more about Funky Fish visit their site.
http://www.funkyfishdesigns.com/

To donate your orphans send them to:
Dawn Patterson
110 Lost Pine St
Elgin, TX 78621


Remembering the Why...

Do you remember the good ol' days when the Tacky 4 Africa headbands were truly tacky? I know some our first fans to jump on this train of tacky are shaking their heads and laughing. We had everything from wide headbands that never stayed on, headbands with...yes, Easter eggs on them, the lucky St. Patricks day, Fourth of July, Grandma's curtains, great grandma's polyester pants or what was left of them, strawberry shortcake and everything in between. If you don't know the story of how it got started I encourage you to read it. The thing that I loved most about that time was how much fun it was to randomly reach in a bag and know that whatever I pulled out would be pretty tacky then send it to the person who ordered it. I would visualize them opening the package, laughing their butts off and thinking..that was the best $10 donation they had ever given! Well, since then the Tacky 4 Africa headband has morphed more into a realm of somewhat awesomeness (depending on ones taste)..I can honestly say we no longer make ones that I, myself would not wear. I genuinely love them all. It seems like I always sell my favorites right off my head:) Now when I reach in my grab bag of headbands to send one to a buyer my first thought is, "Oh I hope they like it, don't care if the sewing is a little off and they think it's worth the $10".

Buying a Tacky 4 Africa headband should be fun! It should be about the fact that your $10 donation not only supports the refugee hands that make them, but amazing organizations that BEMM supports. The thing is...I don't think your expectations have changed. You all rock! It seems something happened inside of me and I forgot somewhere along the way that it is about the why and not the what. Two weeks ago I got over 60 headbands back from one of our refugees. The headbands were a mess. They had holes, back stitching, weird sizes and were sloppy. For the first time ever I didn't pay for the really bad ones. I sent them back saying they were unsellable. I paid reluctantly for the semi-okay ones and prayerfully sent them out to you all. I hoped you wouldn't notice the flaws. I forgot that you don't buy the Tacky 4 Africa headbands for the headbands themselves, you buy them for the cause. Then this week I got another batch in. They were great...except that the refugee that made them got a few of the patterns mixed up. Meaning the tie and the headband don't match at all! My first thought was to send them back and have them redone, but then I remembered the Easter egg headband, the lucky charm, the grandma's curtain...I remember how I struggled with how on earth I was going to sell them...I remember staying awake all night until God helped me come up with Tacky 4 Africa and grab bag headbands...I remember selling out of the "unsellables" within days...I remembered that it is about the $10 donation to an amazing cause and not the trinket. So here I am with a stack of Tacky 4 Africa headbands that are truly either tacky or misshaped. I paid the refugees upfront in faith, believing that I will once again have fun choosing a headband and visualizing the buyer laughing when they open their package and thinking that was the best $10 donation ever spent.

I have 30 of them. My goal is to sell them within 30 hours, to raise the $300 for BEMM to prove that why you do something is always more important than what you do...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Hold Out

Last night was just...well...exciting, exhausting and encouraging. By 9pm we were still about $1500 from our goal. I was tired, wanting to go to sleep. I had spent a lot of my day at the hospital with my dad who just had a heart attack, the probability of raising the rest of the money was slim. My husband and kids were asleep. I missed dinner with them. I had a conference call with 2 amazing women who want to help BEMM get organized. Um...we all know I need this:) I was physically and emotionally spent. At 10ish I put my head in my lap, listened to music, closed my eyes and wrestled with GOD. I had just gotten an email telling me a pastor from someone's church would make up the difference. I could have taken this as a "Wahoo....We did it" and taken the money, but I didn't. My response, "They can give on top of the 5k that WILL come in". My fear...maybe, just maybe I'm being stubborn. I could take it. Let go. Claim victory and go to my bed that was screaming for me. After all, I tried and did my best....I should take it..right? NO. I posted one last post. Rallied one more time. Waited for the real miracle....In less than an hour the money came in! In the last hour, while most of the world slept and when I could have taken the easy way out...THE MIRACLE HAPPENED! To be apart of the last 10 minutes was magic! I love this. Then today 15 minutes before I was to announce the winner of the REDical bracelet..I realized we were $30 from our goal. I could have ignored it and moved on, knowing the pastor would cover it, but again I knew that was not the answer. So, as of tonight..we are over $100 from our 5k goal! I feel the dance coming on. If you have read this blog for awhile you know what I am talking about and if you have no idea what I am talking about then for the sake of CELEBRATION and all things embarrassing...I will once again make a fool of myself and share-THE DANCE! (wow, just watched this for the first time in 2 years!...No words)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why I Don't "Pray" About It...

I set out to achieve a goal of raising 5k by World Aids Day for Project Hopeful's Sisterhood+ campaign. You all know by now... I don't plan or think things through. I don't "pray" about it or wait for a "sign". I just act. I move forward with confident expectation. I believe my God will move mountains, peoples hearts and miracles will happen. Why don't I pray about it first? Do you pray before you meet one of your kid's needs? Your spouse's needs? Do you pray if you should help a child lost and screaming for their momma? Do you pray before you call the police if your house is being broken into? Do you pray before you heat your house in the winter? Do you wait for a "sign" to go to church? If you see a baby that is crying, soiled, starving, abandoned...do you pray or wait for a sign before you reach down and embrace the child? No. You don't think. You don't plan. You act. You move forward with confident expectation that what you do WILL make a difference. You don't think about what's next? What if the child you pick up dies, what if the people who break into your house hurt your family, what if you can't meet your kid's need...The outcome is not up to you. What is up to you..is what you choose to do or not do.. right now. We are STILL over $1500 from our goal. Yesterday was a crazy, beautiful and tragic day. Within moments of each other I found out our biggest donation yet had come in ($1000 from a beautiful person) and my dad had a massive heart attack. Imagine if I was a "pray" about it or give me a "sign" type person. I would be a confused mess. The thing is...life is messy. It is unpredictable. It never goes how we plan. It can be beautiful and tragic all in the same breath. We have our agendas and picture how we see things happening...we can get caught up in waiting for the "right" time, "praying" for the next step...in truth-all you have is right now. This moment.

At my sister's funeral (who died in her sleep unexpectedly) I spoke about James 4:13

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Today we are selling our TV and entertainment center to raise the money for my 5k goal. Why am I sharing this? Do I want a pat on the back? No. I don't. My point is sometimes...we need to be willing to climb that mountain, we need to be the miracle....we are the "sign" that is needed. Instead of waiting for God to move...we need to move forward with confident expectation...knowing and believing that HE is 10 steps ahead not only waiting for us but carrying us the whole way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Split Second

Within an hour of my last post I found out that a $1000 donation came in!!!! Then 2 minutes later I got a phone call from my mom telling me my dad collapsed from a heart attack and was in ICU. I went from elation to panic within a second. I learned a lot today.

Tired

Are you tired of me talking about going REDical yet? Truth be told...I'm kind of tired of it. I'm not tired of using my voice. I am not tired of the cause. I am not tired of doing what is right. I'm just tired of feeling like I'm not being heard. Then God slaps me upside the head with truth and I think to myself... are you kidding me Steffany? Even if everyone has tuned me out. Even if the goal is not met. Even if I am hidden on Facebook because I am annoying...I must NOT grow tired in serving, in giving, in loving, in my obedience to- " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I remember it's not about me... then I open my eyes to what God has done and who has listened...and I stand in awe. I am once again reminded that HIS plans are not always mine..they are always better and I am excited to be used by HIM.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Picture is Worth...


(Carolyn Tweitmeyer and daughters from Project Hopeful being Tacky 4 Africa)
To watch the video they were making click here


Some say a picture is worth a 1000 words. I believe that. I also believe a picture is worth a dollar. I have a donor who will give $1.00 to Because Every Mother Matters for every photo posted on our Facebook fanpage of someone being Tacky 4 Africa or going REDical for World Aids Day. $1.00 for the mommas in Africa for each picture (one per person). Have you ordered a headband? Do you have a picture? Post it and we get a $1.00. In celebration of all things Tacky and REDical for every picture you post, you will be entered to win our newest Tacky 4 Africa headband!


The medical team from doma rocking the Tacky.
To watch the awesome stuff they are doing click here



Dasha the cutest headband model from Project Hopeful


My friends canine companion looking like a stud in a headband-proving that they truly are for all creatures!



Leah, my awesome sister-in-law who continues to spread the tacky to all her friends in Lubbock, Texas by selling, giving and sharing!



JR showing that real men will do anything to support mommas



Bethany displaying the cool way to go TACKY 4 AFRICA



and Danette (need I say more?)

Don't have a Tacky or Redical headband? Order 1,2,3,4 or 10. 100% of your purchase supports the refugee hands that make them and organizations making a difference in a mommas life. For 2 weeks a picture posted is worth $1.00 to help BEMM



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why Did Fatima Die?

The topic of discussion this week in the Boster house....

Why did Fatima get killed mommy?
I get asked this question when I wake up.
I hear this question when we eat lunch.
I am confronted at naptime.

Who was Fatima mommy?
Was she black?
What did the man look like that killed her?
Did they know how much she was loved?
Does the gunman remember her?
Why did Fatima have to die?
Does God love the man who is singing about her?
Does he hate the one who pulled the trigger?
Was she killed in Africa?
Why does the man still sing about her?
Am I beautiful like Fatima?
Mommy...Why do people kill?
Does God love them?
Would I be taken away like Fatima?
Would you sing about me?
Can we find the person who killed Fatima and tell him her name?
Mommy, why does the man take away what is loved?

These are just a few of the questions that I have been asked this week after sharing with my children K'naan's song FATIMA.





These are the conversations I have with my children. I used to raise my kids in a bubble thinking protecting them from the world was the best gift I could give....I now know showing them the world and letting them experience it...the good, bad, beautiful and ugly has a greater and more lasting impact than anything I could imagine.

Why Them????

Why? Why have I spent the last 3 months supporting Project Hopeful? They are known for their passion and advocacy work in helping hiv+ orphans through educating families about hiv who are considering adoption to remove stigma in hope that the millions of children living with HIV who may never find a family have HOPE.
Powerful.
Beautiful
Moving.
Purposeful.
What about Because Every Mother Matters? Where on earth does our mission fit? Even though I am an adoptive mother...I do not believe adoption alone will solve the orphan crisis. Let's just say that every Christian did indeed adopt a child...then what? What happens tomorrow when due to AIDS alone 6000 more children will be defined as orphans and then the next day?
Orphan care is NOT just as simple as adoption.
Adoption is
one solution
necessary
mandated
beautiful
a
gift!
Orphan care is looking at the causes, the solutions and then WORKING TOGETHER!
There will never be one solution or one cause...
16% of kids under 5 die to Malaria
Every 2 seconds another child dies from Malnutrition
Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
1 in 11 women will die due to pregnancy related causes in E. Africa.
What if you could help a momma through her pregnancy, make sure her family has clean water, provide mosquito nets to the family, educate on self-sustainable ways to feed their family...what kind of difference would that have? What if all organizations worked together? What kind of impact would that have?
So, why? Why am I working with Project Hopeful?
In Africa..unfortunately life is already hard. You might die due to childbirth, lack of clean water, malaria, malnutrition....
but to die in shame
to be left alone and unloved because of HIV...
to suffer in silence as a momma and know after you die your kids may carry your legacy and face the same demise is UNFATHOMABLE.
Before Carolyn Twietmeyer and I had even spoke live...I committed to helping her. At that time I only knew of her adoption ministry. Even though I'm not in the adoption ministry..I prayed she woulds use her passion, knowledge and reach to encompass the mommas-
It wasn't until after I sold 120 headbands at her booth that I even heard about PROJECT HOPEFUL's SISTERHOOD PROJECT!
I encourage you to read more and learn why I chose to support Project Hopeful.

By now most of you know they have been featured in PEOPLE magazine. Buy it. Support it.

Only 5 days left to raise the 5k I promised I would raise for the SISTERHOOD PROJECT
5k to help over 14 mommas and their children. 5k to help 14 mommas keep their children.
5k to bring HOPE to our sisters in AFRICA!

Want to help?
Buy a WORLD AIDS DAY HEADBAND.
and/or
DONATE directly to PROJECT HOPEFUL.
remember for every $20 donation you will be entered to win a custom bracelet made
by FUNKY FISH
YOU HAVE TO WRITE BEMM in the notes section.
All info is on my website
Click LOGO






Tuesday, November 23, 2010

She Cries...

Xia cries.
The first time I held her at age 2
she cried.
When I would look at her
she cried.
looking in the mirror
she cried.
Even though starving... my attempts to get her to eat
made her cry.
In her sleep
she cried.
She cried when she was full.
She cried when she was hungry.
She cried when I held her.
She cried when I let her go.
As she smiled
she cried.
THEN
I forgot
She forgot
2.5 years has passed
and
we forgot that Xia cries.
I spent a lot of time with her parents in Ethiopia two weeks ago
and they asked me
"Does she cry?"
because they said
"Xia cries".
my answer
NO.
I haven't heard the Xia cry for a long time.
She smiles...
She laughs..
She is happy...

Then today
she cried
and
cried
and
cried.
My first thought was shameful
why are you crying
I was irritated
then
I remembered
Xia cries.
and
so do I.
I didn't look for a reason or ask why
I just held her and cried too.




Monday, November 22, 2010

Here's the Deal....

I have no idea what I am doing. I sometimes kid myself into thinking I have a plan or that I can charge into whatever I'm doing and come out victorious. In all honesty...I'm not the most relateable, smartest, or capable of people. I am not trying to be down on myself or display a false humility..I am just being real. I have people for whatever reason through this blog want to meet me and when they finally do, I rarely hear from them again. I know this and it's okay, it really is. I am different, weird, crazy, "ADHD", blonde, aloof..etc...I'm kind of the underdog I guess. The underdog of non-profits, the underdog of life, the underdog in relationships. I come up with these, for me, huge goals..like raise 5k for a baby home in Liberia in one week, raise 3k for a Christmas project in Uganda in a few days, raise $1800 for a mom in Ethiopia, 15k for medical expenses for Gedese, 15K for a women's health center, 1000's for strangers adoptions, 5k for World Aids day, etc...I attack these goals/visions with absolutely no plan, no backing, or thought. I am not popular, well liked or for the most part taken seriously. I have 62 blog readers and half of those probably have never even read my blog (I do have a handful of loyal friends/readers who support whatever crazy thing I do). I don't have a "following", a "platform"..I am terrified to speak publicly whether it's in front of one person or 100.Yes, my family has had limited grocery budgets, we sold my cars, my family has sacrificed alot to meet many of the goals when the donations didn't come in...No complaints here. I am blessed. In all reality for me to even think BEMM could even make a dent in the issues that are dear to my heart is ignorant. I doubt BEMM/or me will ever be "successful" in most peoples eyes. I don't think we will ever help the 1000's. I don't think I will ever have 1000's of people supporting my goals....BUT DOGGONEIT...That is what I love. Just because of the reasons I mentioned...for BEMM to accomplish every single goal that I listed above can ONLY be attributed to GOD! There is no way..this girl (me) could have done anything by myself. The only answer is HIS power because it is so evident and clear that it is NOT ABOUT ME. I will never help 1000's, but I can tell you by name each and every person that BEMM has helped and to me that is why I continue to ignore the obvious that I have no idea what I am doing and trust that GOD does.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This is Dedicated to YOU

No act of giving is insignificant. Even the smallest decision to do something, anything will have an impact. Today my tears are flowing. When I started BEMM I had one goal in mind- To share the joy I get when my hands and heart are open and willing to give what I have. I purposefully created a product, "The Tacky Headbands" knowing even in the hardest of economical times...to support a cause through $8-10 purchase was do-able. To date the tacky headbands have raised 1000's of dollars. More than that-They are made by beautiful hands that need not only the money, but the confidence to know-they can make a difference..then they are purchased by you-Believing that your donation has made a difference. And me? You trust my decision to find an organization that BEMM can support. I don't take this lightly. Many of you have followed me from project to project. Together we have raised more than 30k overtime. We have faced disappointments together...when in faith we gave to causes, only to be burned. This is dedicated to all of you- Whether you have been with me since the beginning from Marion's House, the River Island Project in Uganda, birthing kits, Gedese, Feed the Forgotten, The doma health center to Project Hopeful, etc...This is where the past 6 months of our conjoined efforts have taken us...Guess what? YOU MATTER!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Aware

Have you ever found yourself wondering how on earth you of all people are where you are? It's like those times you have driven for many miles- you are aware of your surroundings and everything, but you are on auto pilot. You finally notice where you are and everything seems so fuzzy. You remember driving but at this very moment you seem to be acutely aware of where you are.

Today I find myself in full realization and completely present in where I am and I can't help but to cry. Who am I? Who am I that I should be here? Those of you who know a little more about me...to be sitting here, writing this and experiencing the life I have is to be fully clothed in the beauty of grace. I am alive! More than that...my heart beats for my God. I look back and am in awe of where I am and all HE has done.

I have 6 beautiful children, a man who loves me more than I deserve, amazing friends and the love of Christ in my heart.

I have been overwhelmed by the support and love I have received today in regards to the vision in my heart to raise 5k for Project Hopeful. I'm tring really hard not to get stressed and attached to the results from today's efforts. Instead of worrying and pushing... I am completely surrendered. I don't know if 5k will be raised...that is up to HIM. I do know..at this very moment-I feel humbled, blessed, loved, aware, and undeserving. I know that I am nothing...yet, very loved. I am thankful.

This is me...on my knees...thanking you for the amazing gift you gave me today- AWARENESS.
That what I do-does matter and what you do-does matter. I love you

REDically Tacky 4 Africa


CLICK ON LOGO TO DONATE
(put BEMM in comment section)


Today is the day!
The official start of going
REDically Tacky
for WORLD AIDS DAY!
and believing with
Radical faith
that 5k will be raised
for the PROJECT HOPEFUL
Sisterhood+ Project.

I can't begin to tell you how urgently this money is needed. I can't begin to tell you how much you are needed. I can't begin to tell you what hope your/our efforts will bring to a momma and her children. I can't begin to tell you how the sisterhood project will help families stay together and what that means in regards to the orphan crisis. I can't begin to thank you enough for helping spread the word. I can't begin to effectively share my heart with you, for you, and for them..my only words
LET's GET REDical
(insert cheesy grin)

Here's the deal. Today is the official kick-off.
Here are ways to get involved and support REDical.

1. Buy a headband or two or three or four or how ever many. Remember they make great gifts. Order the World Aids Day one. If you order more than 4 headbands-you will be sent a free gift.

2. Just give money- Any amount is needed. Remember we have a 5k goal in less than 2 weeks. If you donate $20.00 or more, you will be entered to win either the Funky Fish/BEMM bracelet or the original BEMM painting by Amy Smith

3. The first donor of the day and the last donor of the day will automatically be entered to win the bracelet or painting AND will receive a t-shirt (limited sizes)

4. Do any of the above AND spread the word through blog, facebook, etc..and you get a HEADBAND for free! (please send me a link to your posts)







Original painting by Amy Smith


Custom bracelet by Funky Fish designs


T-shirts donated by Jamie Glandon



And the original and famously TACKY 4 Africa Headbands




Thursday, November 18, 2010

Go Redical for Hope

One of my many blessings and wow moments in Ethiopia last week was when we visited the ENTOTO project. A few people that lived in the area (outskirts of Addis) on your way to Entoto- where the holy waters are saw a people with no hope, no future, outcasts among their own. Most of them had come from all over hoping, believing the holy water of the area would cure them of their affliction. Most of them women, mothers, young girls with HIV/AIDS. When the holy waters didn't heal, their faith waved and their heart and spirits shattered. I don't know the whole story of how everything transpired so I will try not to ad lib, but basically a few individuals started visiting with them, reaching out, and really seeing these people for who they are-beautiful, capable, worthy. Long story short 100 people are now being served, educated and treated and given what is needed- HOPE. They are now working, learning, taking medicine. They are active members in society, they no longer hold their head in shame, but can look at you in the eyes and when they do...it is magic. It doesn't stop there..on the mountain of Entoto, children are going to school, the community is working together, things are changing. I was blessed to stand in the same room with the founder and many of the women whose lives had been changed. They were busy making jewelry that was being sold around the world. From Ten Thousand Villages to boutiques in California.

Why do I share this story?

Two reasons.

World Aids Day is quickly approaching. I thought I had three weeks to accomplish the goal God put in my heart..turns out I have only 2 weeks. That's why when it is accomplished I can sit back, raise my hands towards the heavens and scream, "ONLY YOU FATHER". For the last few months many of you know I have been quietly advocating for PROJECT HOPEFUL. The truth is..I don't know much about them, but what my heart tells me and what I hear my God tell me is...GO Steffany- Bury your head, work in faith, give all you have, and love..do it all radically!
They are starting a similar program to what I saw in Entoto. Everything is coming together for them...the need is 20k. The difference between the two projects is the women and children will not only get education, purpose, drug management, but A SAFE PLACE TO STAY! The level of vulnerability for these women and children who live on the streets compared to an actual home is heartbreaking.

My goal in two weeks- 5k. I want to raise 5k for Project Hopeful, I want to raise 5k for the women and children that my very heart beats with, I want to raise 5k because I know it is possible. I want to raise 5k to glorify my creator, I want to raise 5k because IT IS NEEDED.

To raise that money through headbands is possible. I would need to sell 900 of them- Remember 40% goes towards the refugees in my area- That's some major revenue for two awesome causes. The reality is..I know it will take more than headbands. I will start up $10 Fridays(but we only have 2 until World Aids Day) I will auction off my original Because Every Mother Matters painting by Amy Smith, I will personally give all that I can, and I will sell headbands!
I can't do this alone. I need you. I need you to spread the word. Post on Facebook, Twitter and to blog. Together we can do this. I am open for more ideas on how to raise this money in such a short time. I just know....It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about HIM.

and I can hear HIS voice every night.....

GO REDICAL..GO REDICAL for HOPE
Red being the World Aids Day Color:)

Are you in?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Family

Wow. I just reread my last post. That was a doozey. It barely made sense to even me. Maybe I should hold off future posts until I resume somewhat of a normal wake/sleep/eat pattern.

Until then head on over to Paula's blog to read a little of what we did. I promise you'll beable to follow her train of thought:)

Spears Family Blog



Pictures of my Ethiopian family.....



Gadese and Christiana


Slumber party at Gadese's



Cried a lot



I spent the day with my twins parents-Fekede and Almaz


Alex and Christiana

I Give...

I have so much to process...I want to hit the ground running, but my body is a little hesitant. I know so many of you who have read this for awhile all have the same question....Is Steffany healthy? (Given what I went through last time)-The answer? I am great. I can't quite figure out my sleeping schedule and have been up the last few nights by 3 am. I have lost 10% of my body weight and am 98 pounds strong! No worries at all about my physical health. I hiked 24 miles in 24 hours to buy meat for a village. I feel like a warrior:) My family did amazing while I was gone. I walked through my door to not only a clean home, but candles lit everywhere and my first warm shower in 2 weeks. My family was amazing. I have been resting as much as needed and working as much as I am inspired. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for my journey and my family. I can't wait to share everything with you all. From spending the night with BEMM's first momma (Gedese), to breaking bread with my twins parents, visiting the most beautiful place on earth with doma to visit where all your donations have gone, creating new friendships....and planning a return trip beginning of March. It's not to early to begin thinking about coming. The next few weeks are going to be insane. HOLD ON. So much is happening. Not only for BEMM, but my personal life and many orgs close to my heart. I feel so humbled and blessed to be a small part of HIS work. Many times over the last few weeks I heard.."Where's Steffany" or "Steffany has ADHD" Right where I need to be. All over the place. You know that and I know that. Everything I do may seem absurd to all until you are the one my absurdity loves. One thing I learned through all this...ADHD is not a bad thing. I know this blog is everywhere. Normally...My written word is grounded and understandable...blame it on Africa, but right now..I just write.

I can think of one beautiful example- As the team waited patiently in the bus after our feast at Gadese. I sat inside holding her, Alebachew and Christiana. We cried and held eachother and cried some more. I tried to pay them for the feast which lead to more crying.
Since I don't know Amharic...but I do understand laughter, love, anger, and hatred...I chose at all times in all circumstances to do what I know...Be a dork. My heart was broken from the moment I landed with Gadese, the twins parents, etc...I escaped...I needed to laugh, cry and smile. If you are wanting sad pictures of Ethiopia to inspire you, grab you and make you want to give...Then I have nothing.This time I focused on the beauty and not the devastation. I saw the joy and not the sadness. My stories are of hope and not desperation. I leave knowing with all that I have...It's not about me. I can leave nothing worthwhile...other than my smile. For the 1000's that asked me for birr..Which may have provided a meal..What I and my traveling (doma) companions left meant more. A smile. A laugh. A song. A memory. Will I remember my last meal more than the people who were there? My last visit I wanted every dying person to have a drink of water and gave the very clothes off my back. This time..I wanted to give more. I only have one shirt and one bottle of water. I gave my heart. I gave my joy. I gave my smile. Does the dying need water and warmth or prayer and love? Which is more important? What do you have? Which do you give?
Again...I am processing...

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Moon, the Stars and Everything

I have no idea why planning for this trip to Ethiopia seems so much more stressful. Last time I went I had a day notice to pack and leave to go meet my sick twins. I had never been to Africa, Adam was gone and I was traveling alone. I guess it's because (forgive me I process the obvious while I type)..my only thought was..get to my babies as fast as I can.
This time I have a lot more tension and anxiety built up. I'm not racing there to make sure my babies will survive, Adam is gone will be home this time, I will not be alone (I have a few amazing ladies going with me), I have been there before, I know He wants me there...So, why on earth am I so stressed?
Maybe because I spent a year of my life sick after my last visit? Nope. I know I will be fine.
I think I just feel scattered. This time I have so many reasons for going. Last time I only had 2 reasons -Diezel and Xia-
I'm going with doma, the amazing organization I have been busting tail to fund raise for. This has involved 9 months of planning and working hard. I have never remained this focused outside of my marriage and family ever! God has grown me so much over this time. It's weird-even though I feel more distant from HIM than I ever have ...He has used this time in my life to stretch, grow and be productive for HIM. This past few years I have walked more in faith than ever. It's like HE leads me to where I need to go...then says "GO". So therefore, I go. I work. I plant. In faith...I bury my head and plow.
I'm also going to see Gedese and her family. My heart has longed for them since I said, "Goodbye" almost 2 years ago. I want to spend every moment with them, but will only have a few precious hours. I want to hold Christiana like I did when she was a baby, because in my heart it was just yesterday that I rocked her to sleep. Yet, she is 2 now and will most likely be afraid of me. I want to bring tons of gifts and pack my whole house up for them and lay it at her their feet. I love them.
The twins parents are traveling many miles to spend time with me. I think this is where my burden maybe. I want to give the the moon, the stars, anything and everything. How on earth can I begin to express my gratitude. I have so many mixed emotions regarding the twins adoption. Guilt being a main one. Even though I sat down with them last time and heard their reasons for leaving the twins at the orphanage...I can't help but to feel guilty. If more programs were in place to help families stay together, was my agency ethical in placing the twins, even though we offered to help the family stay together-did they really get that offer or was it a lie, what were they told (we were asked to give them money by our agency director while we were in the same room with them), did my desire to adopt fuel the insatiable greed of people wanting to make money from the business of adoption, but really-When I sit down with them again..and I see them, really see them and listen to them, really listen to them and want to give them the moon, but I legally can't do anything for them, but tell them...I really do love their/our children and will give their/our children all that I have..I guess I need to realize that in itself is giving them the moon.
So maybe that's it..I just want to give more, be more, feel more, do more. I want to give what it is I don't have..the moon, the stars and everything. Maybe that's my lesson. I can't fill the one need people have...It's GOD. HE is the one thing that satisfies. I can't give GOD or be GOD, but I can serve GOD. And in serving GOD their is no guilt. He is the moon, the stars and everything.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Faith is My Hero!

WARNING:
This post is a mother bragging about how amazing her kid is.

On Tuesday Faith (9 almost 10;) had 8, yes 8 teeth baby teeth pulled without general anesthesia. She is in the 4th grade and has only lost 2 baby teeth. Given her small mouth and the crowding of her adult teeth above her gumline she would never loose her baby teeth on her own. She was excited to move forward and transition (insert big sigh) into pre-teen land and not be the almost 10 year-old with all her baby teeth. My only regret was not listening to my gut earlier. I have questioned her dentist for years about her not losing any teeth and again and again was told to not worry. I think he was shocked to see what came out! Faith has an extreme fear of needles and pain. This was done not in an oral surgeons office..so, being put under was not an option. She had her gums and palette stabbed over 20 times with injections. I had no idea after all my dental stuff that the injections themselves produced so much blood. EEEK! She cried and shook all over. I had to hold her down. She was breathing so fast. I just kept telling her, "Breathe baby". She didn't settle down until after the first tooth was pulled. I watched as the dentist used all his strength to pull each of the 8 teeth...


You can see in this picture why they were so hard to pull out! Due to the crowding her roots never dissolved. These are the baby teeth of a 9 year old! ....The dentist agreed they wouldn't have come out on their own. These are her four front teeth and her four bottom teeth.





The holes that were left 36 hours after being pulled. The dentist said she would probably be in pain for a few days. Other than almost passing out and vomiting when she got home..she has been a TROOPER! No pain meds. Totally happy, positive and confident.




My biggest fear was not the surgery itself, but how she would respond to it not only physically and emotionally. Most kids have already lost these teeth by the 2nd grade. I'm not homeschooling right now and well...to be honest our school is a good school, but it is also a school with some snooty kids. Most girls in Faith's school at her age are dressed pretty good in all the name brand stuff. They are into looking good and being accepted (I guess this is any school with pre-teen girls) The thing is all my kids seem to march to their own drummer. They are the kids that are slightly different and a little odd just like their parents. Faith never matches and picks even for me some of the most absurd outfits and she always tell me when I question her choice, "Mom, I am me..I like this. If I am comfortable wearing this, then should you care?" So, knowing this about her, I have no idea why I stressed so much about how she would be impacted if and when kids make fun of her.



Afterall...look at this beautiful face and stare at her soulful eyes and see her confident spirit..even if they did, would she care? NO! Faith you are my hero sweet girl. You teach me everyday to embrace who I am, because at the end of the day it's not what others think... it's how much you allowed God to shine through you. And GIRL YOU ARE A SHINING STAR!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Big Rocks

This past week was insanely difficult. Maybe, it's the pre-Africa jitters or more than likely it's the culmination of the past three years of self inflicted stress. Adam is gone again to LA to finish up the film. I leave in a week for Africa. I have often joked about the craziness of our life. Having a massive photo business with 50+ employees, making a feature film, opening a paintball business, buying land to run not only the renfaire on, but multiple festivals, trying to run a skate ministry, adopting 2 very sick kids from Africa, bringing home a sick pregnant woman home to care for, starting a non-profit, blah, blah, blah... Yes, these are ALL great things and yes, by doing them..I believe we are doing what He is calling us to do. But HE also calls us to personal time with HIM, sowing into our children(not just by example, but time), enjoying today and not planning for tomorrow. The thing is He did plant all these visions in our hearts and He did equip us to accomplish them...It just doesn't all have to be at once. I also believe life is not suppose to be in perfect balance..there are seasons. I think Adam and I are just trying to extend the harvest season beyond where it was intended. In all honesty, I have so much resentment built up in my heart because of this. I have been screaming, "uncle" for so many years, only I have done it in a way that was a counterproductive. I play the martyr really well in my marriage. Why am I sharing all this? Well, you know me...I never really hold back...but more importantly, I ask for prayer. I found myself at the beginning of this week pushed beyond my limit, beyond where I could even hold on. I found myself questioning not only myself, but my marriage and who my man was to me today..not yesterday, or last year, or 16 years ago, but at this moment. I felt more distant, and disconnected from the man I love than I ever have. It was scary, nasty and devastating. Over 16 years of disappointments and heartaches and loneliness poured out of me...Needless to say..It was a hard week. I have come out of it more determined than ever that God knew what He was doing when Adam and I fell in love and even though HE called us to so many things..Adam and I need to learn to put the big rocks in first. We both jump into everything 100% and give all that we have...For him it's been work and business (Proverbs 24:27) for the past 16 years and for me (Titus 2:4-5). When I get back from Africa things are going to change. Our focus will be where it needs to be..Our relationship with God, our relationship with each other and caring for our babies will be our big rocks..
I am excited to begin our new life together in 3 weeks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Where I am...

I am in awe of where the whole "Tacky for Africa" headband thing is going. I originally started the tacky movement to simply move some... pardon the expression-Hideous or God awful headbands that a group of beautiful elderly volunteers made for Because Every Mother Matters. At that time my focus was completely on funding the birthing center in Ethiopia. I had no idea how I was going to raise the 15k needed. I just knew I committed to doing it. Then, I never would have thought that those "tacky bands" sold only "grab-bag style"would be responsible for half the money raised. What the original "sweatshop of love ladies"-(my endearing term for the 3 generational family of women who donated their time to sew the original Tacky for Africa headbands) did not only for the mommas in Africa, but for this momma right here is hard to explain! Being able to sell and market what they made in spite of NOBODY ever seeing what it was they were buying..is a testimony in itself. I learned to not only believe in the obvious, the power of God...I learned to believe in the power of a good story. It wasn't me or what the "sweat-shop" of ladies made..it was the story behind the headbands. I also, as hard as it is to admit..I learned about my ability to tell the story. I learned that I have more passion and more skill than I knew I had. Up to this point- I knew 3 things-1. I was a wife who tried hard. 2. I worked my butt off to be a good momma and 3. Even though I made a lot of mistakes..man, my intentions and heart were pure.

Then a few months ago I happened to overhear a mom talk about her cleaning business that employed local refugees. Needless to say, I stalked her that afternoon and begged for a chance to sit down with her. All I could think about was a statement she made.."I have more unemployed refugees who need work than what I can offer". Um...this is a mom of 3 that felt called to open some sort of business that could employ the refugees..maybe 30+ that came to her church! -Amazing woman. Anyway, from the moment she talked about the refugees..I felt this immediate connection. I called everyone I knew, before I even spoke with her-that I was going to somehow combine what I was doing with Because Every Mother Matters with the growing refugee population in my own town, thus helping this local organization. Within a week we had 3 different refugees sewing headbands. I sold completely out of them at the Together for Adoption conference. I had just finished the fundraising efforts for the doma clinic that I had spent so many months working for. I was convinced the headbands were done!.The Tacky for Africa headband success was a double edged sword for me. This was the confidence I needed that people wanted to support not only my local refugees but other amazing organizations like Project Hopeful. I now found a new mission. A new purpose and more importantly a new responsibility. I now knew...it wasn't about me or my original "mission statement"...I had now been around enough non-profits and organizations, that I knew...where my place was and is. I came into the land of "non-profit" wide eyed and bushy tailed..I quickly became aware of the politics and unfortunately..the crap that follows most of them (especially the "Christian" ones) ..My purpose was clear-

supporting those who provide hope to mothers and their families around the world and in our own backyard

So here I am...finally, knowing my place.

Because Every Mother Matter's will fight to support all mommas through multiple organizations.

It will NEVER be about us or me or you...

It will always be about THEM!

We are about to launch our "world aids" headband through Project Hopeful.

If you are going to the mid-Atlantic Summit they will be available for $12.00

They will also be available through our website.

*IMPORTANT* Please Help and repost!

Given the demand we had at T4 the refugees have spent a lot of time sewing about 100 more headbands. They were so encouraged by the demand and excitement that ALL they want to do is sew:) I pay them upfront...meaning for every headband they make(no matter the quality) I personally at this time $4.00 for every band. This week alone I have written almost $500 in checks. I have sold maybe 30..you do the math. We are releasing this week the World Aids Day headband sewn by an HIV+ momma. Until then, please help me, help them....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Day..

Not gonna lie..it was a really rough day.
I'm hopeful tomorrow will be different...
but then again...
This is life
and
it is hard

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

BunnySuess

I feel a deep need to help, to constantly be a voice-no matter how small or even obnoxious it maybe...I tend to go against the grain, forge a new path and quite honestly...I can without ill meaning in my heart offend people. As rough and strange as I am...I am a people pleaser by nature.
I know..it's quite the contradiction. On one hand-I am bold, unique and take strong stands and on this other hand-I desire to be understood, to love, to embrace everyone...It reminds me of the passage in the Word about being luke warm...I guess you could argue my two extremes could be mixed to luke warm and thus be spewed out like vomit...But, I don't know..I think God made me this way. I am able to see and experience two separate extremes. I think my irritatingly honest voice is best heard when mixed with my desire to not only be loved, but to love beyond my ability.

this is hard enough to figure out just being me, Steffany-the person, but man...it's excruciating being this way as a mom, a wife and now the sole driver of the vision God gave me for BEMM.
I will always be, hopefully be, me...a whacked out..beautiful mess...

I am learning to figure this all out. I know a few things...
1. It's not about me
2. I will piss people off
3. My heart's desire is to see EVERYONE...to really see them..to love them for who they are and who they can be...

It's so surreal to be here..at this moment. I run into people, or have people contact me, I see photos on FB...they all say the same thing outwardly, "Steffany, I am in awe of you and all you are doing". When I hear this...my first response is.."Please don't be, I am still me and I can only do this because of HIM"...my next thought is..., "okay, yeah, I have overcome a lot of stuff"...but then my last thought is....."STOP!...Don't you know, YOU...yes, YOU...are SO MUCH MORE CAPABLE THAN ME!" Instead of being in "wow" of me...look inside..look deep...You will see what I already know...That you rock. I will continue to be me, a dork, a person who is wrong more than she's right...I will make you mad sometimes because I can be quite annoying...The thing that needs to change is...YOU thinking you are any different than me...In fact, we are quite the same. A person who wants to simply love people and desires to love more than they know how.

And why is this called BunnySuess?
Ask Adam...
The one I simply want to love more than I know how

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tacky for Sveta


I don't know where to begin...



From the beginning? I don't even know what the beginning is or was like...I can only guess..because I don't know the whole story..So, why don't I just share the facts..
There are 2 sisters in the Ukraine without a family. One has HIV..I have no idea how long they have been orphaned..I have no idea when the last time someone..anyone tucked them in at night. The only thing I do know, is there is a family who is desperately trying to adopt them. They actually leave in a few days in hopes to bring them home. To a mom, a dad, a family that will tell them, "You are worthy'. It's like an invisible thread that has bound this family to these sisters halfway around the world. That invisible thread is held together by a love so deep and a faith so complete that this family has NO IDEA how they are going to financially pull this off. They do believe in miracles. And I believe that EVERYONE HAS THE ABILITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF ANOTHER!



There have been some awesome organizations and individuals working hard to spread the word through raffles, blogs, facebooking and donations.
Project Hopeful
Funky Fish designs
(You all know how much I love them) has donated items to the raffle

It still hasn't made a dent. I read this post from the family that is adopting the girls and it broke my heart....
So, I'm going to do what I can do...I donated some of my coin here and I am also personally buying two TACKY for AFRICA Headbands and am going to hold a 48 hour raffle. For every $5.00 you donate for Sveta-You will be entered to win one of our brand new stock of headbands.
Two winners will be chosen by 5pm wed.



Directions-
DIRECTIONS FOR ENTRY: Go to www.projecthopeful.org use the “DONATE” button on the home page. **PUT “SVETA” IN THE MEMO WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR PAYMENT.**
Two winners will be chosen by 5pm wed.


PLEASE HELP US SPREAD THE WORD!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hit me With a Brick...

For years my kids have asked me to decorate the house for seasons...my response is always.."Money and time should be spent in things that matter"- My house is always just that- a place to lay down your head and dream of a better tomorrow. I am constantly in survival mode. Most of our towel racks have been yanked off the walls by ambitious children. My walls are smudged with hand prints and cracks. Not to mention the toilets, my carpets are ruined and the daily kill my cats bring in! With my husband gone most of the time- I am responsible for yard work, cleaning, upkeep, I even crawl on my roof 2x a year to clean the shingles and 12 skylights, housewashing, anything I think needs to be done, care of our kiddos, dinner for 8-12 a night...So, when my kids request seasonal decorations....My initial response is....NO WAY!....Then I think... HOW DUMB AM I? How Selfish...? We chose this life of chaos . Not them...They want decorations? They want a sense of normalcy? Then..I need to suck it up and do it!

Pics to follow:)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The End.....?

When I went to the Together for Adoption conference in Austin, I was pretty set on the fact that the Tacky for Headband era was over. My plan was simple-bring 120 with me. Sell them. Give 40% of the money to the refugees that made them and the rest to Project Hopeful. I did not want this to be a "BEMM" project. I wanted this to be about serving the refugees in my community and an awesome organization(Project Hopeful). Period. Sell them and move on. Um...Turns out HE had different plans. I sold out of the headbands quickly. I was able to give the refugees more money than I thought and had a blast supporting Project Hopeful. When my last headband was sold I got an email from a local friend who just finished running a race with a tacky headband...apparently the headband did a great job not only holding her hair in place, but being a super cute accessory. She wanted to throw a headband party! Then even more ideas came my way-(I can't wait to share them) Anyway, it was obvious the headbands weren't done. As I looked around at all the t-shirts that said, "It's not about me"...I realized..I maybe done, but God's not. For every headband I sell-It means a local refugee family is supported by their own two hands, it means another great cause can be supported whether it is BEMM or another awesome cause! So, I came home..ready to go. Ready to keep going. Keep selling. Keep spreading the tacky!
Then it happened...The whole vision of Because Every Mother Matter changed. It was no longer about the mommma's over there, it became about the mommas here. How, as an organization I can connect, empower women and families in my own community and at the same time help mommas/families across the world. I am excited to start working with local mommas/women who are overcoming domestic violence as well. Imagine the impact! To help a momma in need locally by empowering her to create a product that she is paid for that will in turn be sold to bring hope and change to a momma overseas!?
My challenge....
What I thought was the end became the beginning...yet, it may end...WHY?
We lack sewing machines. I delivered fabric to the refugees over a week ago and we keep running into the roadblock of the broken sewing machine!

So, here I am...wanting to help people help themselves by helping others and then this...
We are back ordered on our headbands. Have a huge upcoming launch of a limited edition product. This has the potential to not only feed families here, personally empower them, but also support several non-profits!

The need- We need either sewing machines or the money to purchase them.

If you would like to help purchase a sewing machine you can donate to the right. If you would like to donate one...please message me

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Twins Parents

In 3 weeks when I travel to Ethiopia I will see the parents of my twins. We are so blessed to have met them before. My children actually have a video and pictures of all of us together. We got to cry together, pray together and share a moment that many adoptive families could only dream of. In the past few years we have exchanged emails, phone calls and pictures. In my heart and spirit I want to give them everything I have! They gave me their children. They entrusted us with the gift God gave them. When I found out the twins had parents my heart broke. Poverty is no reason for a family to be separated. We did everything and offered all we knew to keep them together. Yet, their story goes deeper than that. It is more solid than earthly treasures, their reasoning dives further than my soul can go...The point is...I love them, I want desperately to give them everything. The only thing I can give them..is the knowledge that their/our kids are loved. I know this, but I still want to do something tangible. I get to spend a day with my twins parents and I don't want to show up empty handed. By law I am not allowed to give any gift that has any monetary value...I send pics regularly...ideas? What on earth can I bring or give to symbolize how much they mean to me?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wonderfully Terrified

In less than 3 weeks I leave for Ethiopia and I am wonderfully terrified. It has been 2.5 years since I first landed on the other side of the world by myself, scared, exhausted and completely submitted in heart, mind, and spirit. From the moment I walked out of the airport, looked all around me and took a deep breath...I knew from the depths of my being-I was home and I would be back. Never in my wildest dreams could I have planned what happened next. From my twins who at times we wondered if they would survive, bringing a sick and pregnant Ethiopian woman home with me for a year, being sick for the majority of a year with typhoid fever, hep A, tissue parasites, meeting our twins parents, seeing such beauty in the midst of absolute devastation, helping people take what may have been their last drink, worshiping God in way I never imagined, and feeling so alive yet, utterly broken all at the same time. It has taken me over 2 years to "recover" from my last trip. I know that sounds absurd. Just saying it makes me feel dramatic and slightly stupid. I have had to cancel 2 trip to Africa in the last 2 years due to health issues or timing. I do know that THIS is the right time and I do feel good, but I am still wonderfully terrified. This time, I will not be bringing home dying children, nor in all likelihood a sick pregnant momma. I also chose to vaccinate this time. The chances of spending the next year of my life incredibly sick is pretty low...I will get to see Gedese and her family (the sick pregnant Ethiopian lady), I will also spend some time with my twins parents. This time we will be traveling out of Addis to work on establishing a womens health center in a remote village. I think I am wonderfully terrified because...I don't know what will happen... just like last time, I went exhausted, scared, but completely submitted in heart, mind and spirit and it's humbling to look back and see what He has done in my life and in the life of others. What will He show me this time? How will I respond? And how will I be able to once again leave a place that I feel is my home, to come back to where I am now and just WAIT and patiently count down the days until I can go back again..to look around, smell the air, and feel that freedom that I felt 2.5 years ago...Yes, I am wonderfully terrified.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stop Preaching...

This maybe one of those..do I even write this post. How much do I share post. A get off your soap box post(speaking to myself). I have read so many, "What T4 meant to me" type posts. I have been moved. I have cried. I have screamed. I have been angry. I apologize upfront for what I may say. My goal is not to offend, create a spirit of defensiveness or to point fingers. To hear that there are 163 million orphans worldwide should not sit well with anyone! Can you even really grasp that number? I read somewhere that in this world...right now..over 22,000 children will die today. Stop. Just process that. Really. I have 6 kids. I think about their smiles, their dreams, their hearts. Break that down. Stop looking at the NUMBER. Look at your own child...Imagine they died today. Your best friends kid died today. A friend of a friend's child died. Yes, does the church need to do something? Yes, if every "Christian" adopted would things be different? Yes. The truth is...Your church may not do anything. Your Christian friends may look the other way. My question? Why is 163 million orphans a church issue? A "Christian" issue? Really? And this is where...at this sentence, I will create enemies-This is not about being Christian or not Christian....We are talking about 163 million children without someone tucking them in at night. We are talking about 163 million children who have no-one to tell them, "I love you".
If I were to die today....the spiritual orientation of who holds, feeds, cares for and loves my kids is not what I would think about. I would just want to know...that someone...anyone cares and will love them. My children could be raised by a homosexual Jewish man for all I care. I do NOT say this blindly, lightly or ignorantly. The gospel will reach the hearts that have been opened to it. PERIOD. I was raised agnostic, ran away joined the circus, supported myself on the streets and swore I would never have kids...etc...I now have 6 children, a foster care license and 2 kids from Africa. Yes, I am a "Christian" today, but my faith and walk will not guarantee that my children will walk the same path or visa versa.... Is 163 million orphans too much to even comprehend? No. My God is huge. But, to think they only option or the best option is a Christian family...is well, limiting. The environment or the family a kid is raised in does not predetermine how God will use them.You have zero control on how God works, but you completely control how you will respond. Stop preaching and start reaching.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Calling All Bloggers

I miss reading blogs. I miss catching up with you all. I miss my blog list. Having a blog roll makes it so convenient. I don't have to go searching for you. So, for the whatever time...I am creating one again. Please leave me a comment and link to make finding you easy. Yeah, I'm talking to YOU!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Much Better

Wow, I am feeling much better after my whole, "confession". I am all packed. I have 120 headbands tagged and ready to sell. Missy is bringing 51 BEMM candles as well. I don't have a BEMM booth, so whatever sells will be because of word of mouth. The Tacky for Africa headband fans out there going to T4 start spreading the word! They can be purchased at the project Hopeful Booth. I decided to use the headbands to support the work they are doing. I can not wait to meet Carolyn and the other ladies that started Project Hopeful. My hope is the money that is raised in the sale of headbands in cooperation with BEMM at their booth be used to help grow or start an HIV+ mommas program. (Though this has yet to be discussed, I am purely doing this in faith:)
The cost for the headbands at T4 is $10. I paid the refugee mommas $4.00 to sew each headband. My goal and vision with BEMM is to support, uplift, and empower Mommas everywhere. By paying the refugees instead of having volunteers sew this batch, I was able to accomplish all 3 goals. The rest of the $ that is raised at the Project Hopeful booth will go to them. Here's the thing...I paid the refugees upfront in faith that:
1: I WILL BE ABLE TO SELL THE HEADBANDS THIS WEEKEND (thus recouping my $400+ investment into their lives)
2: That they would produce a product worth the $10....

Once again..I am finding myself in a pickle. I have $120 headbands that I need to sell! I was super excited about these! They were made with the material I picked out..I thought the era of the tacky headband was gone. Well, turns out about 30% of the headbands have..um..some flaws. Personally, I love it and think it makes them way more personable. After all how many of us can say we are wearing a headband made by a refugee of Congo and that our purchase helps support their families? So, once again...I pray that the headbands are bought with the spirit of helping and not getting. At the same time, you maybe pleasantly surprised.

As always I can guarantee 2 things.
1: 100% of your money will go towards a momma in Africa
2. You may love your headband or you may not...but that is not the point.

HOPE TO SEE YOU IN AUSTIN!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Mask

I'm leaving Thursday morning at 4am to Austin for the Together 4 Adoption conference and well....I'm not excited. I keep asking myself and God, "Why am I going, really why?" You know besides the obvious..like great speakers, time to fellowship with like minded people, seeing one of my favorite blog friends, selling BEMM headbands at the Project Hopeful booth. The truth is, I don't like group settings, not to mention sleeping with a ton of people I don't know...More than that..I hate seeing the masks people wear or feeling like I need one too. The last time I went to one of these things, I knew nobody. Sure I knew people from blogland or reputation, but know any of them...no. I was so uncomfortable the whole time. No one would know it by looking at me. I'm outgoing, I adapt easily. But it was awful. I hated feeling like the 5th wheel, or the "who's" that person. I hated seeing even in such an environment as Orphan care..that there were cliques. The "in" people. The people "you just have to know"! I hated being forgotten the moment I was introduced. I had just finished fighting typhoid fever, Hep a, incredibly sick twins that had only been home for months, Gedese had just left..the last thing I wanted was to feel alone amongst hundreds of people. I had spent the first 36 years of my life the oddball, weirdo...I didn't want to spend the next 36 years lonely. So..there began my journey for acceptance and belonging..I think I spent the next year trying to get to know as many people as I could. I joined yahoo groups, twitter, facebook, I blogged more often. The more involved I got..the more feedback I craved. And guess what? It worked. People responded, I felt accepted... This barely known by anyone girl managed to have 520 friends on FB, 736 fans on Because Every Mother Matters...I felt so good...I felt safe...I started opening up about me, the real me, my REAL struggles...not just the ones I want the world to see...not the ones that will earn me brownie points, the hard stuff...revealing stuff. The more I opened up, the more fake I felt. Even though my true self was pouring out and I was genuine...my motives were wrong. I realized I had WAY too much junior high in me still. In the midst of all of this truth, I am committed to going to the conference and feel just sick to my stomach. There are many people who this time will "know" me and I won't be the 5th wheel. I know I am feeling so angst because I hated all the masks I saw at the last one and I was so close to willingly wear one myself...all because I want to belong. So, the day before the conference I sent out a post proclaiming my fakeness, then I closed my Yahoo accounts and am soon to leave Twitter. I have spoken more about my weaknesses in the last few months...mainly to connect and thus be accepted. Did you know being lame is the new cool? LOL...This time I really am calling myself out. I needed to do this before T4..and if it means, I will once again be the forgotten, the lonely, the unknown, the "who's that"...then I will embrace that the way I should have from the beginning...It's not about me. It's really not. The more I seek out approval and acceptance the more I miss out on truth and growth. At 38, I don't have time to play pretend. This is me...and like I have said before..I qam a beautiful mess.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

There's a Lesson in This...

I know there is....there has to be.......at least I hope there is....I came home this morning after a long morning of soccer, paintball and Adam being gone, to a bloody massacre in my dining room. Our dining room or more exactly under the dining table has become a place my family refers to as, "the killing field". I know it sounds completely morbid and beyond gross..but it is what it is. It is the place that our family cats bring in their prey and leave them either dying, dead or completely massacred. The last thing I wanted to see at 10am after an already grueling morning was, blood, feathers, wings, bones and a visual play by play of the struggle this once beautiful bird had. I sent the kids outside telling them, a sacrifice was laid in the heart of the killing field". I'm sure this sounds disturbing to many of you, but we do live in the woods and the cycle of life is something my kids live with daily. We spent the first few years trying to shield them from, "the killing field"...We have rescued many creatures in the midst of tears falling and hearts pleading for things to be different...only to have the creatures we spent hours and days trying to heal only fall prey to their fate..
Today as I swept up the feathers, scrubbed the splattered blood and once again tried to wash away the stains not only for my children, but for my self the harsh reality of life...it hit me...the lesson. The deeper one...there is the obvious..the cycle of life, etc.....but there's more. A lot more.

I started thinking about the bird...this one was different. The signs of struggle were obvious. I thought about the mice I have found. Obviously they didn't fight. The moles, bunnies, bats, frogs, chipmunks...I thought about the dozens and dozens of prey I have cleaned up under our dining room table. Then it hit me...my cat is me...or a part of me..it is my nature. It is neither good or bad..it just is. The prey the cat brings in is my struggle with sin. It's always going to be there. The" killing field" is the root. No matter what...my killing field is the root of my sin. It's always the same. Sometimes it's masked like a mouse and other times a bird..the truth is, I struggle with the same sin, the same desire, the same temptation all my life..no matter the form. The thing about this bird is it fought. Blood was everywhere..there was an epic battle, but like always..nature or "will" won. I couldn't help but to think of my struggle, my sin, my nature, His will. I know it is what it is and sin or "prey" will always be a part of my life...and the "killing fields" will always be the same...under my table or me struggling with the same crap just in different form. At times in my life I may be like the mouse that just crumbles during the chase, and hopefully other times I will be the bird...and I will FIGHT. I will fight the inevitable. It will be bloody and I won't go down easily...I will fight my own sin nature in the killing field...I may be lucky and escape for awhile, but the truth is I am the prey and I will eventually end up under the table. The truth is I will struggle with sin my whole life. Sometimes I will cave easily and not fight and other times I will put on the full armour of my God and it will be bloody...My only rest is in HIM my savior. What a sweet day it will be to sit as HIS feet.


Isaiah 65:19-25

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20 "Never again will there be in it infants who live but a few days, or older people who do not live out their years; those who die at a hundred will be thought mere youths; those who fail to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the LORD.