Thursday, March 31, 2011


I am completely in awe of the people I "know"...
Online relationships have revolutionized the scope of globalization.
It's one thing to hear about what is happening around the globe...
It's quite another to be personally involved even if it's through the computer.
I read stories every day of personal lives and am immediately drawn into what they are experiencing on a level that is humbling.
I read of people going without shoes in an effort to bring awareness to the millions of people who lack "soles" ...
The need for clean water all over the world makes me cringe when I let my faucet run when brushing my teeth..
My heart hurts when I see a willing family that can take care of a sibling group of four orphaned children, but can't come up with the 50k to adopt them...then be judged when they ask for help to adopt.
I have visited child headed houses. I see my own children in their faces.
I have spent time with 90 year old widows who are caring for their 8 year old great, great grand kids because the generations before them died due to AIDS...
It didn't take me traveling to Africa to "know" the need...
I was blessed to spend time there
Thanks to the internet...
I have learned more
can do more

To know more about the orgs I support message me and I will give you links:)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Ready to Talk About it...

I'm ready to talk about it.
The story....
the one that you may or may not know or even care about.
The thing is...
to understand it all
I need to start at the beginning of the day
I won't
(some things just stay in Africa)
Not to hide's just some things you can't explain.
With that said..
The last time (before this time) I saw everyone in my group jump over and dance around a cultural fire in Dorze.
I pride myself in being up for anything...this night though, I just couldn't rally myself.
I was sick.
I sat there watching everyone jump, dance and laugh.
I was miserable.
I made a promise...
The next time I had an opportunity to jump over a fire I would do so with my whole heart!
This time in Africa
I had a chance
I took it...
You get the picture?
I jumped over the fire...again and again and then some.
I got cocky.
What seemed like something I couldn't do because of my weakness
became easy
really easy...
So easy that I forgot how awesome it was.
Instead of running and jumping over the fire
I decided I could just stand in front of the fire and jump.
I became cocky
I forgot the pure awesomeness of jumping over a fire in Ethiopia
I only thought of the number
I had 10 under my belt
I stood there
I jumped
I landed
in the fire
The guards came running
they patted out the flames...
I looked around at the faces around me...
I was
I jumped up
I looked at the film camera that was rolling...
"I think I broke my foot"

That was it.
People have asked me how I walked on it for 2 weeks without medical care or pain meds..
It was my embarrassment that spurred me on.
I hiked for miles on my foot.
I never complained until our flight home
It was huge
messed up
Even then...
the embarrassment was greater than the pain.
I have now been home for 3 weeks and finally went to the doctor
Since then...I have had an MRI and XRAY.
I was given pain meds, but had an allergic reaction to them. I broke out in hives.
The Dr. says it isn't good and can't believe I walked on it for miles in Africa.
Honestly, it hurts worse now than it did weeks ago.
The pain is insane.
The meds give me hives
I am embarrassed
I crushed my foot jumping over a fire in Ethiopia
I struggle with
I messed up my foot jumping over a bonfire in Ethiopia then walked on it without medical treatment for two weeks and have continued to run without walking since I've been home in spite of not being able to take anything for pain due to hives and my life style bad ass syndrome
I can't believe I was stupid enough to jump over over a fire that many times, break my foot, walk on it without medical care, put my family in jeopardy, live in constant pain because I have a hang up with asking for pain killers and now have to see a Orthopedic surgeon.
Um...then there's the before story and after story
But..this is the story
How I screwed up my foot in Ethiopia.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Gifts Opened

We finally did it. We had the twins open the gifts from their birth parents. I asked them who they were from and Xia said, "Our Ethiopian mommy and daddy!" I had built up this event so much in my mind that when it came time it actually was anti-climatic.

Excited to open the presents

Diezel could hardly stand it...

Xia opened her's first. This is about the time Diezel realized there wasn't a Batman figure inside...His face is priceless

He still had hope and even looked all through his head wrap

This moment almost made me cry. I remembered their dad showing me how to tie it on their mom

I pray I did it right

She loved it! And modeled it with the same expression her Ethiopian momma did.

To try to convince Diezel how cool the gift was Lukas tried it on...

He was still not convinced:(

My favorite moment was Adam gently taking the dress off Xia and telling her how beautiful she is.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A New Adventure

My family is starting a new adventure...At least I am. I'm praying the rest of the crew will join me.
At 38 I decided it's time to learn a 2nd language. I'm talking to really learn it. I can say a few words in multiple languages, but to actually speak, write and read another language has always been a dream of mine. I'm a little nervous. The cost was more than I had to spend. Hoping it will become an investment instead of another crazy idea I had gone awry. To be honest....I struggle with language in general. Those of you who know me and have had any lengthy conversations with me understand what I'm talking about. I get so thought disoriented and my words don't always come out right even in English. I'm also not picking the most practical language. It's used in one country and it's not even spoken by everyone there. It is spoken by many of the people I love. It's spoken in the country that I consider home. When I hear it spoken it awakens my soul....kind of like when I hear bagpipes playing. My spirit feels connected to a place that is deep in my roots. Unlike my Irish ancestry that runs in my blood....Ethiopia is not in my blood, but it is rooted in my heart and is in the blood of 2 of my children. Here's to a new adventure. Here's to learning Amharic.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beauty Defined....

A few weeks ago I walked into a room of Ethiopians in Assela. Every single eye was upon me. It didn't help we were late and had just spent the past week in intense situations beyond our control. We walked in, sat down and looked back at the people and what they represented in the room. Not gonna lie...I struggled to find one person I could make eye contact with while I spoke that didn't scare me. I listened to the "authority" in the room. Before things went further I offered an explanation of our tardiness. -We are a team. I had a member of our team that needed us....bottom line...we chose to serve our team member and thus we were late. -If you know me...I am NEVER late. After my explanation, we sat through an intense session. I have never before been privileged to be part of such an amazing group of brilliant women. Each momma had an agenda, a plan, a dream, a vision, a personal experience of why a momma's program is essential to developing Ethiopia into a country that overcomes the statistic of 1 in 11 women dying due to pregnancy related causes. We listened to a committee of mommas...who poured their heart out...their vision out...all asking for the same thing. A way to empower the least of the least. Their plan..brilliant. Their motives pure...Then, they looked at us and asked....
Are you going to be like the rest? Are you going to come and see...take pictures for your church...then forget? I personally looked in every momma's eye and said one by one, "Dear sister, it is not about funding or developing a is about you. How are you? What can I do for you today? Are you hungry?
My heart was broken. I did not have the $ to fund their vision or program...not yet, anyway:)
What I do have is this moment and what is on my heart. As uncomfortable as it was, not being able to meet the committee needs at that moment was a gift....I looked around the room, did what I could and said my peace. Oh my gosh...even after they knew I didn't hold the magic check they thought I did...We spent the rest of the night sharing laughter and love. I want to hold the magic check. I want to finally be the person in the the room that shouts, "YES". I don't want to be the other "committee" that comes then leaves. I want BEMM to be the ones that actually listen.

So....I'm going to work with MOPS International to get a program started in Ethiopia

More info coming

Oh MY Gosh!!!!!!!

Can't even begin to explain how excited I am!
When I went to Ethiopia...
I kind of had a secret mission.
A partnership of sorts.
Haven't really been able to talk about it.
Just wait!
Ironing stuff out now.
Yes, mommas lives will be impacted
Yes, you can make a difference!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Must Read

Written by: Jodie Herring

I don’t even know where to begin to start or even to process our first trip with Because Every Mother Matters to Ethiopia. First, I want to thank Steffany, president and the heart behind BEMM. You have a heart bigger than anyone I know and will do anything that it takes to help a fellow sister in need. Your leadership and grace made our trip successful. Thank you Amy, for your guidance and strength. Amy was our photographer and is the vice-president of BEMM. Your love for women and the mothers of Ethiopia was present in your spirit and the priceless pictures that you took. Crystal, it was a pleasure getting to know you. You are a woman filled with life, adventure, and love. You are filled with such courage. Thank you ladies for gracing me with your love of life. I also wanted to thank Gadese and Christiana. For without them there might never been a Because Every Mother Matters. It was an honor to get to know you and your family. Also, a big thanks to Alex, Eyob, Eyuel, and Dawit. Thank you for sharing your country with us and allowing us to ‘ boss you around.’

I wanted to thank Ethiopia for showing us what love and faith looks like. Beauty indeed is what you are made of. Ahmasayguhnahloh!!!

The purpose of this trip to Ethiopia with BEMM was to find mothers and connect with them. We did indeed found mothers and connected with them. We found mothers of all ages and generations. The women, mothers, and sisters all had beautiful souls. Through their smiles, tears, and laughter their light shown through. They had a voice that needed to be heard and shared. The everyday hardships of life and little opportunity afforded them with little hope. However, their faith and hope for life and for their children were permeating out of their small frail bodies. We connected with a 7- month pregnant woman hiking up a mountain miles and miles from her destination in Gimbie. “ Stop” is what I heard back in the bumpy van. Steffany and Alex saw the pregnant mother and told our driver to pull over. They ran down the hill and took off the 80lbs of beans she was carrying from her back. I couldn’t even lift the bag of beans past my knees. The woman clearly has more strength than I will ever have. We took her with us to Gimbie and found out that she lives about 2hr drive to Gimbie. She has a significant chance of delivering her baby at home without any health professional. We ended up giving her a birthing kit where she or a family member can use to help prevent infection to mother and baby during and after delivery. We connected with women who are infected with the HIV virus and need help with their family. They need the proper tools provided so they can themselves sustain a healthy life for them and their children. Organizations like Christian Horizons Global and Hope + Sisterhood Project are working on providing the tools for these women. These women need opportunity and the proper tools. They want to and need to provide for themselves and for their children. It is survival of the fittest and they don’t want to be the bottom of the food chain.

The team headed to Gadese’s village to visit her mom and family. The trip to the village was not planned before arriving to Ethiopia. It was God leading us all the way according to his plan. The first house we arrived to on our hike was a pregnant woman with indigestion like complaints. She delivered her first baby by herself!!! There is no midwife or doctor to deliver her baby. There are around 85 million people living in Ethiopia and about 1 doctor to 40,000 people. Many of these women living in rural villages don’t have the access to healthcare professionals. These women are often laboring for days and week, which often leads to the death to the mother and baby. These women often develop obstetrical fistulas that lead to more social and health complications. Infection and bleeding leads to high maternal death rate of about 1 in 15 births in East Africa. These maternal death rates are preventable with the proper healthcare and education. Women should not be dying in this day and age from improper health care. One more child is now an orphan. An orphan that now has a 15% chance of dying before the age of five. As a citizen of the world we should stand up and say this is not acceptable. Women need to be helping women across the globe. “ Injustice anywhere should be a threat to justice everywhere”~ MLKJ

We now are going to establish a relationship with the village of Tijo and to the pregnant mothers. Its going to be sister helping sister and women helping women. It is going to be a start of a beautiful relationship where women can be validated and dignified. Because Every Mother Matters.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Pictures

A few days ago I wrote about spending time with my twins parents in Ethiopia.
You can read about it here.
Part of BEMM's agenda in Ethiopia was to identify possible care points for our developing programs. We had planned to stop in Nekemte to get to know the town, the people and asses needs. I chose Nekemte for the obvious....This is where my twins were born and their family lives. I knew and planned on seeing their parents while we were there. Just never expected to see them standing in the street waiting for our arrival. I feel so blessed to be able to have an opportunity to have a relationship with them no matter how difficult it is. I am so thankful to my best friend Amy Smith who was there for me every moment and so lovingly captured the spirit of my time with them while holding back her own tears. I appreciate her knowing when and when not to snap a picture. I pray these photos and this blog will remind our twins how much they are loved and desired.

Walking away from the group after seeing her standing in the middle of the road. We spent the next hour alone in the very room our twins spent the first 18 months of their lives.

Alebachew, Eyob and Amy arrived later to be there and take pictures. I am sharing with them the newest photos of our twins and talking in detail of their everyday life.

Being given a gift that cost them more than the food they purchase in a month. A traditional dress. They were concerned that they only bought the twins and I gifts.....

Being physically dressed by both of them. (Thanks Amy for only capturing the last few moments and not the awkwardness before:)

Fekede showing me how to dress our son.
Oh how much I can see Diezel

Lovingly dressing his wife...the mother of our twins. It was so hard not to lose it. Once again so thankful for Amy

Almaz modeling our daughters clothes that they bought for them

Our twins two mommas. Bonding, laughing, but both wanting to cry.

Being lead through the town arm in arm with the two people I respect the most.

The next night at dinner after a rough day in Gimbie....

The twins were their only children. To listen to her talk about maybe one day...then stop. I looked down at my beating heart and saw the message around my neck.
"Because Every Mother Matters"...
I knew the necklace was made for her. I was shaking so badly trying to clasp the BEMM necklace around her.

Before they left I was given a typed proposal to BEMM of ways their town needed support.
They did this on their own. I hadn't told them why I was coming. On the bottom of the proposal read "From Fekede and Almaz"
The same thing that was handwritten in smudged ink on the gifts to our twins.
I have been given so much....

One day I can't wait to write back...
To: Fekede and Almaz...

*Once deepest thanks to Amy. I know it was hard my sweet friend and you and I may forever be the only ones who can read between the pictures. I will forever be thankful for your presence and your understanding. *


No...I still haven't opened the gifts with the twins.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Red Button

What is it about my nature that just wants to push the red button? The bigger the sign that reads, "Do Not Touch"...the more I just want to run up and hit it as hard as I can. It's like a magnetic force that draws me in. Is it because my heart is filled with disobedience? Defiance? Curiosity? What compels me to do the opposite of the big red sign? Is it the same force that makes me want to only read the red letters in the bible? Am I attracted to the idea of something being taboo or the chaos that follows? I had someone recently give me some advice on what to write about on my blog. I understand where they are coming from. I appreciate the feedback. my thoughts have become a big red button. I'm told, "Don't touch it"....and now all I want to do is push it, hit it, smack it, slam it, jump on it, lean on it...I want to demolish the red button. It's taunting me as I's bright red color is tormenting me. Argh.......Darn that red do not touch button!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Real Life...

Since my body seems to wake me up at 3am every morning I decided to spend the first few hours of my day watching footage we shot in Ethiopia. I brought 4 small video cameras with me on the trip. My goal was for each member of the team to have a video camera at all times and record our journey. That lasted for maybe an hour before Eyuel took charge of filming. He was awesome. He took charge of the cameras and was always ready to film. Um...some things were filmed with the cap still on, other tapes were blank until the last 5 minutes, some things I wish he hadn't captured (like announcing it was time for a shinty meta break....potty talk:) The camera was constantly in our faces. It caught the whole window falling off the van, running out of water mid-way through a crazy 8 hour drive, our epic bonfire night. I have an hour of footage of Eyob talking about the countryside, the donkeys, cattle, etc...We also captured picking up the 7-8 month pregnant momma on the side of the road and each of us trying to carry her load, giving away our 1st birthing kit, and Eyob and Amy in the back seat opening her bag to see what was inside. The constant footage of Amy diligently taking pictures.... I have video of Crystal rapping Salt n'Pepper, of her awesomely hysterical sense of humor thanking everyone for sending her to Africa during our crazy 8 hour drive where we thought vultures might be circling our bus. The footage of Crystal jumping out of the bus to hand out pencils/pens in rural areas and yelling, "tesalafu" (line-up) PRICELESS! Seeing Jodie's face as we were walking to Gedese's mom's hut and being stopped to check-upon a pregnant momma. Watching the team serve this momma who is pregnant with her 2nd baby and only 19. Sitting on the same bed she gave birth to her 4 year old. No words. My pathetic attempt to interview Gadese's mom through tears....12 pregnancies, 12 deliveries next to the cows. 8 children made it.
Memories captured. Stories made alive. A lamb being slaughtered in our honor even though everyone else was fasting for 2 months. Dark footage (only sound)around the fire of women bonding of all ages, background....laughter and love have no language. Oh my gosh! and Jodie milking a cow, a calf nursing from my fingers...The amazing women we met through CHglobal. Holding back tears meeting a 12 year old boy who was in charge of his home and siblings after his parents died...The beautiful mommas that BEMM is supporting through Project Hopeful. Me with shaking hand trying to clasp the Funky fish Because Every Mother Matters necklace around my twins momma's neck. The final jump over the fire (11th time) where I landed in the fire, then hearing my voice say,"Um...I think I broke my foot".
Success # 2....Capturing the journey...ALL OF IT! Real life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Success Number 1

Things are getting back to normal around here and I finally feel like I can take a deep breath and reflect on our trip. It was amazing. I can't wait to start editing the footage and share with you through pictures what I seem to lack in words to describe. This was BEMM's first official trip to Ethiopia on our own. AND IT WAS A SUCCESS on so many levels. I thought it would be fun to each day share with you all the different successes of our trip. It will also help me sort out all the things that were accomplished.

Our team was incredible....Jodie, Amy, Gedese and Crystal were rockstars. Each woman completely different...yet, all of them strong, wise, courageous, loving, beautiful and completely essential to the trip. Our staff/guides were awesome. Alebachew, Eyob, Dawit and Eyuel couldn't have done a better job. I think just having so many different people who start out as mainly strangers spend every moment of the day together for 2 weeks AND not only get along but end up loving eachother is HUGE! We truly became a family by the end of our trip. Yes, tears were shed. It's so strange not being with them everyday. That my friends is success #1!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Gift

For the past few days I have been ignoring my partially unpacked suitcase in my room...avoiding it really. Maybe if I never completely unpack then I won't have to deal with what's inside. I can just keep all the stuff zipped up. I won't have to see the two neatly wrapped presents at the bottom of my suitcase. I won't have to remember what's inside of them. I won't have to think about who they are from and who they are for. I won't have to deal with reliving one of the most heart wrenching nights in Ethiopia. If only......

But it's time to unpack. It's time to once again open the two neatly wrapped presents. It's time to relive the heartache. What's inside is beautiful. Hard, but beautiful.

On our 2nd day in Ethiopia we were driving into a small town. We had already made arrangements to stop there and spend the night. I chose this town for one reason only. This is where my twins are from. As we are pulling into town I see a beautiful woman in a bright blue sweater standing in the street. I screamed to the driver to STOP. I jumped out of the window or where the window should have been (It had fallen out hours before). In the street holding flowers were my twins parents. They had been standing there for hours watching every car drive by knowing I was coming. I walked hand in hand to the home(concrete outhouse) the twins were born in. I was greeted by smiles, hugs and warm cola. I was then physically dressed by them in a traditional dress they bought me. Then they showed me two wrapped presents. One for Diezel and one for Xia. They were concerned I might not know how to dress them, so..they unwrapped the gifts and Fekede ever so carefully showed me how to dress Diezel properly. He stood there with the tiny clothes draped on his body..a mirror image of our son. He then took Xia's clothes and lovingly laid them on Almaz to show me how to do it. She sat there covered in the very clothes and jewelry that they hand picked out for our/her daughter. We all just sat there. I was in the middle, dressed in a beautiful traditional dress that they put on my left was Fekede rewrapping the clothes for the twins. To my right was Almaz watching him wrap up the gifts with tears in her eyes. On the presents they wrote the names we gave them: To: Diezel...From Fekede and Almaz. To Xia...From Fekede and Almaz. You can see where the ink smudged from tears.
....and now I will open the presents with the twins and try my best to dress them with as much love and care as I was dressed. I will show them the pictures of their parents giving me the gifts. Then I will quietly go to my room, put my suitcase away and cry.

I spent the next night with them as well and at dinner they handed me a typed proposal of the needs in their community and ways that Because Every Mother Matters can help....but that is another story.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No Words

We landed a little less 36 hours ago and it already seems like a dream or forever ago. TIA (That is Africa). I have been asked to blog or write about the trip and to summarize it all. Um.....I can' try to write a post at this point would be a pathetic attempt to package all I learned into a neat little box. Nothing that is valid, important, sustaining, or real will ever fit neatly in a post. Life is messy. Serving is messy. Loving is messy. Our trip to Ethiopia was messy. Nothing went as we planned. NOTHING! We changed our plans constantly. I was stretched. I was uncomfortable. I was humbled. My heart hurts. I feel completely inadequate. I want to tell you that we helped 100's of mommas and our trip was uber successful. Truth is....everything seemed to go wrong. Yet, I know it went exactly as it should have.