Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Card & Newsletter 2014

Taking a break from the 'Joel. Michawn.' posts to post our Christmas card and Christmas newsletter from this year.  Here it is...our Christmas selfie.  :)  And I just love Cass' cute sign (she had a cute shirt that she wore at all the Christmas gatherings that says the same thing).  ;) 


The black spaces are magnets stuck onto the back of the card.

Hello friends and family,

We can definitely say that there have been many changes since last year’s newsletter.  Last year we were announcing that we were expecting a baby in August and were planning to return to Brazil before the birth.  Sadly, we found out at the end of my first trimester (at the end of January) that our sweet baby had gone on to heaven.  

Plans changed drastically after that.  And we faced a lot of facts after that too.  Most of you already know much of what our year entailed, but for those of you who don’t happen to be on the internet much, I’ll quickly bring you up to speed.  As we had written in an email newsletter in August 2013 and talked about in our Christmas letter last year, our marriage was suffering.  Just FYI for anyone wondering, there was no sexual sin or third parties involved.  If using just one phrase to describe our issues, it would be ‘a huge failure in prioritization and a huge loss of trust.’ The miscarriage didn’t make it worse because it really couldn’t get worse…but it did just make lots of things very clear.  

Long story short, Joel and I lived apart from mid-May until the beginning of September.  It was needed…and through it all, with the help of some friends who counseled us, the tide was turned, eyes were opened, repentance happened, and we started living together again.  The past 3 years have been so hard, to say the least. And it’s still hard…because a ton of damage was done and you have to wade through that.  But, it’s so much better than it was…and so much better now than it was even 2 weeks ago…and it’s getting better and we’re getting stronger again with each day.  We’re rebuilding.  And that will take some time.  But, we’ll just take it day by day.

I’m writing about it way more in-depth on my blog.  We are still passing through this time…still learning, still recovering, still healing.  I will continue to write about it…all the things we learn, how it changes us, etc.  If you are interested, you can read it here: 

But, we are grateful to be on the road to recovery and healing…and to be friends and a team again. We still feel a call to missions (and are still working in that area, see below), still feel a call to adoption, to all the things we felt before.  We’re just experiencing a little detour that we didn’t plan on.  We’ll keep you posted as to how it all works out and what that means for us in the future.  Right now our focus is only our family and rebuilding it…that is all.  Hopefully soon we will be whole again and can then reach out to others in the ways we did before.

The kids are all doing fine.  This has been a rough few years for Joel and me…and of course the kids haven’t been completely unscathed, but almost, thankfully.  We were honest with them, and walked through all our difficulties with them…and used it as a great learning opportunity for them.  They definitely know what detours in life are all about, and that life isn’t perfect.  But, that we can just hold on…and that we also can trust God always. They truly are amazing kids and despite everything, are thriving.

Grady is 10 now (will be 11 next month!).  He’s in the 5th grade.  He’s kind and patient and very self-disciplined.  He loves all things Legos, Minecraft, and engineering.  So, it was right up his alley when he joined a Robotics team that uses models made of Legos.  They went to a competition in November and even qualified to go to the state competition.  He plans to be an engineer when he grows up…we’ve suspected that bent from the time he was his little sharp, meticulous, precise toddler self.  :)  

Hadley is 9 (will be 10 in February).  She’s in 4th grade and is very creative.  Her new hobbies this year to add to her painting are sewing and knitting.  She also loves to write books and does so frequently.  She has said since she was about 4 that when she’s 18 she’s going to take a trip for God and then become an artist in Paris.  This year she added something…she wants to “help Mrs. Christine Caine” (in fact, she wants to be Christine Caine) when she grows up and wants her trip for God to include freeing trafficking victims. Again, right up her alley. She is very protective and compassionate…a truth-talker and a justice-seeker stick of dynamite, this one.  Our little lightening bolt.  ϟ

Eissa just turned 8 in October.  She is in 2nd grade and still loves horses and all animals.  She is our gentle, yet stoic one.  A perfect combination of fiery and sweet.  And sensitive.  She wants to be a spy girl when she grows up…she “knows it could be dangerous, but…” she’ll be careful she promises. She plans to be a full-time cowgirl when she retires.

Cass is 6 ½ (March birthday).  She is in 1st grade and is our little parrot.  We’ve always called her that…and she continues to amaze us at what she can pick up on.  She’s just very, very quick and clever…and tends to be wise beyond her years. She wants to be “a ‘dolphin girl’ and a teacher” when she grows up, teaching people all about dolphins and how to swim with them and such.  

All 3 girls are also in a tumble class, which they LOVE.  And there is a constant onslaught of round-offs and walk-overs and backbends and cartwheels in our house.

I continue to just work to get our lives back on track after this huge detour…with homeschooling and routine and life in general.  I’ve recently also taken up sewing again, inspired by Hadley…kind of fun.  I’ve also kept busy the past couple of months teaching a childbirth class…and will be a doula for that couple next month.  That couple happens to be my brother and his wife…so, it’s pretty special and I’m pretty excited.

Joel continues to work for Asas de Socorro…he serves as operations coordinator.  What does that entail you ask?  Almost a thousand flight hours!!  Yes, that is what Joel and his mission flight operation team has been up to this year.  Asas has safely flown a total of 1,806 passengers so far and about half a ton of supplies to 95 different locations in the Brazilian Amazon jungle.  All this…coordinated from right here in Saline, Louisiana of all places. 
:)  He says this about his role: “Coordinating ASAS flight operations is a full time job and involves such tasks as real time flight tracking, keeping track of the operational budget, updating metrics and statistics, overseeing the pilots, maintaining online airplane records, and responsibility for the flight operations website. Ahh yes, and plenty of meetings…never been on Skype so much. :) 

We are honored and privileged to be a part of this amazing team that is making such a difference to the remote and forgotten communities in Brazil…and you, our team of financial and prayer support, should feel that way too. All of us together are making a difference.

Joel also works as a pilot/mechanic in a few different places nearby (as ‘nearby’ as you can get here in the boonies, anyway…his work is about 45 minutes away).   We are very grateful for this opportunity for work in order to make ends meet while we are here in the United States.

While we are ‘laying low’ for a while to recover and rebuild our family, we do thank you for your prayers and emotional support.  As Joel still holds a full-time position for our mission organization, we also ask that you prayerfully consider financially supporting us.  Our desire is to return to work for them there in Brazil as soon as is possible, and that will require raising our monthly support again.  We are so thankful that Joel can fill this need in the mission and still be able to serve them in this role remotely while here in the states…and we pray that he can soon cut back on his pilot/mechanic hours at the nearby hangar in order to more efficiently do his job for our mission organization and meet their needs. 

Again, thank you for your continued support and prayers for our family.  We will keep you posted on Facebook and my blog.  We love you guys and hope you all have a very MERRY Christmas and a HAPPY New Year!!  

xoxo, the Ebersole family
Joel, Michawn, Grady, Hadley, Eissa, and Cass

Friday, December 12, 2014

Joel. Michawn. {Part 4 - Joel's Post}

First, this is Michawn.  I wanted to be very clear about something here before we dive in...and that is that we're not telling our story just to be 'revealing.'  There are people who don't think we should talk about these things...we have heard from a couple of these people.  They might not want to do that in their own lives...and that is fine.  But, we feel freedom to do this...and not only a freedom, but a order to ourselves heal, but also to, in the long run, possibly help others who might have something similar happen to them.  So, just know that. 

If you are going to learn anything from the things you go through, you have to look at the bigger picture.  In order to learn anything, you have to look at the truth of what happened, and then you have to see the details of what happened in light of the bigger picture.  So, this particular post is not a post to place blame, although there is some blame-taking here obviously...stating clearly what happened and taking responsibility for that...because without those first steps, there is no way to move on and get better.  This has been done in real life.  But, the reason we are posting it here for all to see is because 1) we like to be real and honest, 2) there has been much speculation and talk (as pointed out below)...and it's just time to clear things up, and 3) if you're gonna go through a really crappy season, others might as well hear about it and learn a thing or two from it too.  Otherwise we would feel like we were just hoarding our experience...when it could truly help so many others (and already has...we've heard from those people too). 

Every part of our story is interlaced.  What happened to us has already taught us so much...and we continue to walk out healing and figure things out and learn more and more things.  But, what's contained in this post is a part that can't be left out.  Without knowing this part, much of what we say from here on out wouldn’t make sense...and each part of our story that is talked about just builds onto the next and points out things that we can ponder and learn from.  So, keep that in mind.  Joel is me, by God, by himself.  But, it's important to tell the story...

Hi everyone, Michawn asked me to do this post explaining a little from my view of our situation, which I was glad to do. So this is my attempt to capture what happened these last three years.

In the first 10 years of marriage, Michawn and I operated like a well-oiled machine. She was my best friend and teammate for sure and up for just about anything….our marriage was exciting and fun.

Vibrant, energetic, hard working, low maintenance, disciplined, healthy, loving God and life kind of a person is how I would describe her.

Loved challenges and never let much bother her….. and as you probably know…..very engaged with the people around her.

Felt like we were always on the same page and connected as we discussed and made all our decisions together.  We were always doing stuff together and humbly focusing on God and each other.

When we did have different ideas or disagreements, we always came to a compromised solution. For all those years, our differences had never been a problem…we blend well together and we were a good team for sure.

We always had a very solid foundation of love, trust, and respect that God put us on as we sincerely ran after Him. God put us together….no questions or buts about that. 

We were doing well individually, taking responsibility for ourselves, free to be who we were in our marriage and could count on each other's support and understanding.

Throughout all our decision-making (and there was a lot) ….raising kids, when/where to move, going to the mission field, when and where to travel….those and many more…. we were always together.

Hindsight is mostly 20/20 and to summarize what happened after that first decade, I regrettably have to say that I somehow missed Michawn's heart and created much much damage in the process.

And saying it like that doesn’t even do it justice. I still continue to try to grasp the horribleness and devastation I brought about to my marriage and family by my mindset and actions these last years.

The toll has been tremendous.

When I think back to the different situations and circumstances we had to deal with over these past years, which Michawn has written some about previously, its just puzzling to me how I thought I was being a loving and caring husband.

It is very evident now that I trampled Michawn and beat her into the ground…..and why I thought it was okay to do/act/have the mentality that I did is beyond me……just super insensitive uncaring jerk to put it bluntly.

When I say 'missing her heart' I mean really being clueless about what was really going on with her, the struggles we were going through, the things she was facing….. truly being disconnected…...  and therefore not acting like a team.

She was down for the count…..and I was trying to drag her along….demanding she get up and “follow” me. 

I'm ashamed to say that... but it’s true.

I did not listen to Michawn and her needs and the things that she was telling me needed to change….back in 2010 while in the US, Michawn did sit me down and let me know that our lives were just too unstable and she could not handle this gypsy lifestyle for much longer. We had moved so many times since we had been married! Looking back I should have done more right then and there.

When we got back to Brazil at the end of the summer that same year, there was more instability. I did realize Michawn was becoming increasingly uneasy and had a lack of grace to deal with the constant instability in our living situation….again, how I wish I had done more instead of trampling on her and hoping she would just get over it.

We came back to the US in May of 2012 and I made things go from bad to worse. First we had no place to live and that brought a lot of stress, complications, and situations that I could have handled way better and truly cared for my family instead of putting my agenda first. Secondly, as if the way I was acting was not detrimental to our marriage and my family’s health enough….. I began then going behind her back and talking about her to others (this ended up lasting for 2 ½ years)….telling them that I just did not know what was going on with her, that she might be depressed, in crisis, was being difficult and unreasonable….things that were not true, I should have never said, and that completely ruined her good reputation with those people.

Like a complete jerk, I talked about Michawn instead of protecting and standing up for her as we dealt with difficult furlough plans and difficult circumstances.

Another way I brought even more damage was:  I had promised her (twice) we would not miss a certain special event the next time we were in the U.S., but then another special event ended up falling on the same date.  Unfortunately, I tried to go back on my promise/word to her.  Long story…. I did not act honorably, did not put Michawn first, and in the process damaged her name with the people surrounding that other event when I tried to get out of my word.

All of this added up equaled the most stress to date we had ever encountered in our marriage. Like I said, huge story but to sum it up I made it very hard, stressful, damaging to our marriage.  And all this stress was added on top of the previous year of stress and instability that Michawn was needing to recover from.  

In Oct of 2012 when I finally had a roof over my family's head and thought I had solved all our problems, my focus turned to the demands of our furlough schedule that we had postponed for 6 months because of everything else that was going on (remodeling a house to live in, etc.)…..And that is when I started really making even BIGGER MISTAKES.

Michawn was barely able to function at this point (although she just kept pushing through), and needing for me to take care of her and protect her and I was way in left field focusing on schedule, trips, and other people!

As you can imagine, things just snowballed after that. We were not working as a team and the disconnect caused great damage in just about every situation we encountered or had to deal with. Things just got worse and worse. From the summer of 2013 to the summer of 2014 we worked with several different counselors, but none had really been able to help us.

Finally, this past August, I was awakened to the fact (with the help of a new counselor) of how I had just completely missed Michawn this whole time, and things began to change in my heart.  That was a huge turning point.

AlI the damage I had unknowingly inflicted. How I did not listen to or believe Michawn and the needs she expressed...and did not prioritize her.  My attitudes and behavior during all this time and the devastating effect on our marriage and Michawn's spirit and health…..all that pierced my heart and on Labor Day...

True God intervention.  I apologized in the most sincere way I have ever apologized before.

Since then I have been working to regain Michawn’s trust and win my family back.  Things are a lot better but are not perfect. Still different issues come up and at times I do more damage, but we are working together and doing our best to heal and recover from all the pain and damage I caused over the past few years. The way back to a healthy vibrant relationship is long and definitely not easy, but totally worth the while.

I pray that what I have written here, the lessons that I have learned so far will encourage you to truly actively listen to your spouse's needs and prioritize them no matter what is going on.

To truly work as a team is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Joel. Michawn. {Part 3 - What Happened To Us}

How did it all go south?  What the heck happened?  If we were this amazing team before and we never had any problems, how on earth did this all happen?  How did we end up here?

If you only knew how many times I ask those questions...daily still.  It's all such a shock to the system.  What on earth? 

In looking back over our lives together pre-marriage catastrophe (these past 3 years), we can see some of the things that led to our demise that were present all along.  I mean, hindsight is always 20/20, right?  But, everybody has their little things.  And they were no big deal...

Until they were.

There are some things that are present in your lives but they don't rule you and your actions...

Until they do. 

When things 'heat up' in your life, oftentimes what boils over is something that is terribly unhealthy and detrimental. 

For us, this is what happened in a nutshell.  We still don't have all the answers.  We still don't have some of the 'why' answers to what happened.  Someday, through working through all of this and investigating our hearts throughout this process (through teachings we're listening to and counsel), we might understand the whys of it all.  For instance, why is it that a certain set of beliefs were the ones that boiled over in a certain scenario...and why were those beliefs there in the first place?  Things like that. 

But...let's get into more specifics now.  What happened to us?

Our last year in Brazil was amazingly hard and traumatic.  A miscarriage, housing instability for 7 months, a big blow that came up that had to do with timing/scheduling conflicts, a failed adoption, etc. etc.  It was incredibly difficult and at the end of that year (Spring 2012), I was literally just completely exhausted.  I knew I needed to in an army battalion retreating from battle.  It had been a battle...the worst of my life.  The truth is that the change in us had started even before our hard last year in Brazil...let me back up.

Let me give you just a little picture of our lives, dating from January 2010 - the beginning of November 2010...just 10 short months...a very real picture of our lives in general since 2001.  The lifestyle we led (of complete instability) had been fine with me for the first 9 years of our marriage.  I was along for the ride and I just went with it.  It was always challenging (for all of it would be for anyone), but it wasn't a huge deal.  But...right around our 9th anniversary some things had happened that let me know that this kind of lifestyle had to be on its way out for us.  Some stability was needed.  At the time, we had just come back for our first furlough and didn't have a place to live.  It took us a long time to find somewhere...and then that fell through.  Then finally we were able to get into a loaned house of our own to 'camp out' and have as home base (because of course we also traveled a ton in the few months we were here) during our furlough.  Just FYI...most missionaries come back to a big city or at least a town where there are things like apartments or rent houses available.  That is not our case.  Our home base while in the states is my hometown...a town with a population of 300 people, one caution light, one little general store, and one little eating establishment...just to give you a picture of our reality.  There are no apartments here.  No rent houses.  You either own here, or you don't live here.  But, here is where we needed to be...otherwise it kind of defeats the main purposes of furlough...which are to recharge with family and friends and have a time of being in familiar surroundings (a debriefing, destressing time)...and to touch base with your supporters and update them on the work that you are doing overseas.  So anyway...I knew after that experience that it was time for stability.  And I even sat Joel down and had a big heart-to-heart..."I cannot get on a plane back to Brazil until we have a place of our own here to come back to."

So for the next few months, along with literally traveling the country by car, we also actively pursued finding a place of our own as a home base here in the states.  The goal was to also have a home base of our own in Brazil very soon too...therefore limiting our travel and 'instability' to just traveling between those two homes.  This was not only to preserve our sanity :), but would also be very, very important for when we did adopt...providing as much stability and security to those children who needed it most in order to heal from whatever instability and insecurity they had experienced before they got to us.  It all made perfect sense for our family.  And so, at the end of May before we were scheduled to leave in July, a piece of property came open and we bought it.  There was no house...but at least a step had been taken.  And so, we got back on that plane to Brazil.

We got back to our rental home in Brazil, unpacked our house a bit (because when we leave for furlough, we have to pack up our house and stuff everything into a room or two so that others can live in the house while we are and security reasons...they can pay rent for us and watch over the house), unpacked our suitcases, repacked our suitcases, repacked our house for yet others to stay there...and within less than a week, were on our way to southern Brazil (a 13 hour drive) for me to go to language school (that's right...I had just picked up the language as well as I could for the first 3 years we were there; now it was time for me to go to school).  We stayed there for 3 months and then headed back to our rental home in Anapolis to unpack again.  Which brings us to November 2010.

At that point, WHEEWWW.  ...And then we had a few months there again before things started getting really hard (Spring 2011). 

But, as you can see from that one little splice of our lives above from January 2010 - November 2010...which represents what our lives have been like constantly since we got's been tough...always shifting and transitioning and moving.  Nothing still or stable or lasting. 

More to come on this subject next time...I don't want to make these posts too long.  So we'll pick up here next time (in a few days) in 'What Happened To Us, 2.' 

What I will be documenting here on this blog as we go along will include the rest of the story about what happened and how we got here to this spot in our marriage, what we've learned so far and I'll post what we continue to learn, how it has changed us...our beliefs that have changed (because there are lots of things for me that have changed in a drastic way) from all of this and our family dynamics and such, what we see happening in our future, etc, etc.  When you go through something like this, there is lots to learn.  I just want to document it all.  And if you want to read it and possibly even learn from our experiences too, then great.  If you want to read it just to know what's really going on with us...that is good enough reason too.  :)  In fact, that is also a big motivation for me, as I've stated here you can 'hear it straight from the horse's mouth.'  I'll be the horse.  ;)  You’ll also hear from the boy horse (Joel) :) probably next blog post. 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  Until next time, with more of the story...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Joel. Michawn. {Part 2 - Detours}

First of all, thank you all so much for your overwhelming support after my last blog post.  I've been silent about this for literally years now...and it needed to be that way.  But, a couple of weeks ago, it was time to start talking...and I thank you for your grace and kindness and in many cases, for relaying your own stories too.  We are family after all, even you people who I don't know personally who visit this blog.  All part of the human family here on this earth...all moving and breathing and living together.  We might as well share and be a part of each others' lives.

As with anything, some days are better than others.  Most days are ok and filled with trying to get life back on track and back in order.  Things like homeschooling, focusing on a routine and health and feeding my family nourishing foods, making sure we get good sleep and enough of it, making sure we have clean clothes to wear, etc. etc.  You know, the usual things...but they are usual things that had fallen to the wayside (except for the clean clothes thing...we always had clean clothes :)) while I was just trying to survive.  Living in survival mode for years...guys, it just bites.  lol.  Truly, there's so much damage that can be done as a result...and so much damage that was done here in our lives.  So, climbing up from the pit of just takes time. 

Unfortunately, as I am trying to do that, other things continue to come up.  We're only 2 months in after all.  We've had 2 months only of trying to climb up from that pit that was dug over the course of almost 3 years (that's a long time of digging).  So, during that 3 years, lots and lots happened.  Lots of harmful things.  Lots of harmful actions and mindsets and beliefs and attitudes.  Lots of very damaging words...and words don't just come from your tongue...they come from beliefs and your heart.  It's never just a matter of stopping your tongue (although that's a good first step).  The important root issue is your heart and your mind. 

Anyway, lots of damage.  So, in real life world, what that looks like is that for the past 2 months, something will come up an average of every 48 hours that we have to work through.  Something that is hurtful and hard and super crappy.  And this trend (something coming up every 48 hours) doesn't lend itself to getting life back on track and healthy and out of 'survival mode living' and back in a routine. 

But, because of that Labor Day Miracle, we are one again.  We are a team again.  And because of that, we can tackle it...together again. 

So, although it's super super hard, we march forward.  It will just take time. 

As we continue to talk and share, I'll share more detail.  But, I wanted to share one of the hardest things with you guys today.


Loss can be good.  A loss of weight, hey hey.  ;)  Weight loss is *usually* a good thing in most people's lives here in the good ole US of A, lol.  A loss of a stressful situation.  A loss of a burden, etc. 

But, mostly when we think of loss, it conjures up a negative connotation. 

These past few years have been full of loss for us.  I mentioned last blog post how we had just come up against 'level 10 trauma after level 10 trauma' in the past few years.  Some of those traumas involved major loss.  To name just a few losses the past few years...

--the loss of a sweet baby in 2011
--the loss of security and stability in the form of housing in brazil, that same year (the threat of our house being taken away before promised...that threat lasted for 7 months)
--the loss of the hope of getting pregnant again before we had to stop trying in order to prepare to return to the USA for furlough
--the loss of an adoption that we thought might happen that God said no to...after we had already spent a whole weekend with the kiddos (although that wasn't the way we wanted to do it...out of our control) and loved them greatly; the loss of 3 sweet, precious children in our lives; and an added bonus through all of that...becoming something that I hated (even though I know without a shadow of a doubt what God said about the situation)...someone who leaves behind children who love you (are already calling you 'mama') and need a home; ripped my heart out
--the loss of the stability of housing here in the states upon return
--the loss of close friends and family members due to death (everyone dies at some point, but there has been more loss for us these past few years than normal)
--the loss of trust in my marriage
--the loss of friendship in my marriage...the loss of a spouse, basically
--the loss of triplets that would have been placed in our laps to adopt (it was an urgent, guaranteed situation) had we been back in brazil as we planned/should have been
--the loss of routine and health and progression in every area of our lives
--the loss of another sweet baby in 2014
--the loss of family relationships

These are just to name a few. 

And none of it was within my control.  That was the ultimate hardest part. 

Loss of things I held dear and trusted would always be a certain way (the right and good way). 

Loss of who I was and had always been (a healthy, athletic, disciplined, fun, carefree, determined, young, successful homeschooling mama)...and always hoped to be (a fun mom; someone who championed healthy living and taking care of orphans, and being a mama to least 5 bio kids was my hope, but at least adoption of several sweet kiddos and encouraging and helping others to do the same...that is, caring for orphans in some capacity; not to mention, one half of a stable, fun, 'easy' marriage...because yes, it had been 'easy,' relatively speaking, up until 3 years ago, because we were best friends and functioned as an incredible team). 

All that I have always held dear has literally been put on hold for 3+ years.  When, 3+ years ago, our lives seemed to be just following a path that would bring about those things hoped and dreamed for within the next few paces.  But it wasn't to be.  And it was all out of my control.  Not only did those things happen...things look drastically different now.  Will those things still happen, ever...and if so, how in the world?

I know I'm not the first.  I know that these issues of loss and lives not being what was planned and even felt called for by God...all of these things are not new.  They are age-old. 

Adam and Eve...disobedience landed them in a place they never imagined.  Abel...a good man who pleased God...yet he was slain by his brother.  He had no control over that.  Joseph...his life took quite the detour (several times) that he had no control over.  Age-old I say...starting with the very first people...all of those examples in the very first book of the Bible.  We can all think of many, many more examples throughout the ages, some which I will be talking about as we go along here. 

There's nothing new under the sun, guys.  And some of you have been waiting out your 'detours' (for some, self-made detours; for others, out of your control) for way more than 3+ years.  Detours are hard.  And finding yourself in a place where you don't even recognize yourself in the mirror (figurative mirror, nor literal) or your life doesn't look like you had hoped and planned or even how you thought God Himself wanted it...that's a really hard place.  And it could be that God Himself didn't want it this way.  Lots of times that is the case. 

It's hard.  And for us, our detour has even included a very literal detour of a whole different country and a whole different house and life (jolting to say the least).  But, no matter the circumstance of how you got where you are...and whether it was within your control or not...God has a plan in the detours.  What was meant for harm in our lives, He can (and will) turn for good. 

It's not a new life lesson.  I taught in a college/career class this very thing years ago...Joel and I were newlyweds at the time.  I had just seen a movie about Joseph...and this scene touched me like no other (and I used it in the teaching).  It touched me not because I was going through something like this at the time.  And definitely never something of this magnitude.  But because this is life.  And detours happen. 

Thank you for your prayers during this time of often having to deal with the things that continue to come up (the consequences and collateral damage of the past few years).  Thank you for your prayers during this time of focusing not on the detour and the things that aren't, leading to bitterness...but on how God will work it all out and turn it for good and bring about even grander things than we had hoped for. 

And be encouraged in your own life...that He really does know better.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Joel. Michawn. {Part 1 - It's Time to Share}

This is hard to post.  Not because of any of the normal feelings that surround this sort of thing.  No shame, no embarrassment.  But, it's just risky.  It's always risky to put yourself out there.  You never know what people are going to think, or say, or come up with about you (many times, just complete misconceptions about you...and that's hard).  But, with something like this, it's esp. risky...and esp. in our 'line of work' (should it be that way?...maybe not...but, it just is.).  Plus, I just hate to post it...again, not because of shame or embarrassment or anything like that...but just because I honestly hate that this is part of our story.  But, we pray that this all will be used for our good...and that it will be an encouragement to others. 

It was also hard to decide whether it was time to do all of post.  Some of you might think that it's not.  Some of you might think that we should never post such things, ever.  But, the truth is that a few events have led us to believe that it's time to share.  I would much rather people just know the truth, out of my very own mouth, rather than speculate.  So, here we are...sharing.

[First of all, I'd like to fill you in on us as far as *missions.*  Joel continues to work for Asas de Socorro, our mission organization, from here.  We love them.  We still hope to someday, as soon as is possible, be able to go back to Brazil and work with them there in person.  But, until that time, Joel continues to serve them in a remote role, working several hours with them each day/week here (he also works as a pilot/mechanic locally in order for us to make ends meet, as our support has understandably gone down since coming back to the states...a special thank you to those of you who have held on with us through this journey in a non-foreign land).  So, that's us as far as missions...still plugging away...but still hoping to return to do missions non-remotely as soon as we can.  Read on to be encouraged in the progress being made so that that can be sooner rather than later.]

You all know that I've always been a super honest person.  You can read my blog in general, but also most recently, my accounts of my latest miscarriage, really shows that I'm pretty much an open book.  The only time I'm not able to be an open book is when whatever I'm wanting to be open about concerns others too. 

Therefore, for the past few YEARS, I haven't been able to be completely open.  Sure, we've mentioned a thing or two in our newsletters, so it's not like it's just completely unknown.  And...we're still in the states, so people know that something must be up.  But, to just be able to share openly...I haven't been able to.

That's so hard for me.  To not be able to.  I'm a sharer.  But, when you're going through some really hard things, and there's no end in sight...1) there's really nothing to share, unless you want to just sound like you're complaining all the time (nobody enjoys a constant visit from Debbie Downer) and 2) you have to focus all your energy on survival you literally have nothing left in you with which to share (or answer questions or have conversations)...because you are literally just exhausted...always.

So, when interacting with others or when doing anything publicly (for instance, posting on Facebook), you just act like that hard part of your life is not happening...not because you are fake or because you want to live a lie.  But, just because you can't do it any other way.  And...there is nothing to tell yet. hope and pray that things will change...and that there will be something to tell one day.

Praise the Lord, that day has come!!  :)

This is the story of how 'Joel and Michawn,' of the Joel and Michawn Story, came to be 'Joel. Michawn.'  In other words, there was no 'and.'  We were no longer a team.  We were no longer one.  There was Joel.  And there was Michawn.  And we were far, far apart.

Here's the super condensed version: 

We had a super terrific marriage for the first 9 in sync, so in step with each other.  Perfect team, best friends, etc. etc.  All the good things.  It really seemed as close to perfect as you can get.

We had a pretty good marriage for 2 years after that. 

Then the 2 1/2 years after that...basically like hell on earth. 

Obviously compared to some people's lives...where there is literal starvation, torture, sex slavery, war, etc. was not like hell on earth.  Please do know that I know how to keep my perspective.  But, compared to the first 11 years of our marriage, and compared to what we both knew that God wants and has for marriage (and the things that we felt we were supposed to be doing in our own lives personally)...for us, it was the closest thing to hell on earth. 

As one of our counselors put it, we just experienced 'level 10 trauma' after 'level 10 trauma' for a few years there.  Add on to that some major marital issues that really, really took its toll. 

It finally resulted in Joel moving out this past mid-May.  Yes...we lived separately.  On purpose.  Not job-related. 

Let me just pause here to future posts, I will go into more detail about the traumas and marital issues that we experienced.  Not right now though.  But, I did want to let you know that it had nothing to do with any '3rd parties' or any sexual sin whatsoever...just so you know that.  Those are common causes to marriage breakdowns, so it is very understandable that that is where our minds tend to go first in wondering what went wrong.  But, I just wanted to assure you that those were not the issues in our case.  As I said though, we'll talk more about some of the specifics later.

But, truly miraculous things started happening in the wee hours of Labor Day, 3 1/2 months after Joel moved out. 

Things that the HOLY SPIRIT alone could do.  Blinders that were removed, true and deep understanding that had been completely nonexistent for literally years...just came.  Just appeared.  Just like that. 

The work began.  And Joel moved back with his family. 

There has been LOTS of damage done.  Lots.  Sadly.  But, we are doing it.  It is really hard.  Not every single minute of every single day.  We have our good times.  And we're so very thankful to have made the progress that we have.  But, it's hard.  Because of the damage done, there are just things that come up, and will continue to come up, to work through...and that will just take time.  But, so far, we are just taking it step by step...and learning as we something like this NEVER ever ever happens again.

Back to the subject of sharing this news...

I had actually written out a newsletter that I wanted to send out when Joel moved out (I might share it at some point).  I wrote it before he moved out and planned to send it a few days after he left.  But...then I told a trusted friend our news, that Joel was moving out.  And I literally spent the next few days consoling her and answering questions and helping her to understand and assuring her that everything would be ok.  Truly? was exhausting.  And I knew after that experience that there was no way I had the energy to do that with literally hundreds of others.  So, we decided to save it for later...and to just focus on the task at hand. 

But, since Labor Day when it all began to turn the course toward healing (finally...2 1/2 years can be a very very long time), I wondered when it might happen that we would feel the release to share.  I wanted to do it then...but just didn't feel the release or peace to share. 

Enter our sweet, sweet babies.  :)  Something came up recently in a conversation during school.  They told me how they had been asking for prayer requests at church in their classes 'for our family to get all better,' etc.  I love their little hearts and how honest they are and how open they are.  I never want to discourage that.  And I never want to discourage them from going to God and His people when they have a burden to bear.  Apparently, they thought it was time to share.  They've never been in the dark about anything...we've been honest with them about it all (on their level, which is very high...people sometimes underestimate children, but if you explain it well, they get it).  But, they've chosen only recently to really ask for prayer.  They see the road to healing...they see that it's incredibly wonderful to finally be on that road...and they also see that it's hard.  They are here...they know. 

So, our kiddos have let us know that it's time.  Perfect really...they were another reason we were being silent on the whole matter.  But, they're ready.  And so are we.  Plus a few other things have just made it clear that it was time to share.  So, here it is...all laid out for you. 

So, what now?  Now that you know, just continue to pray for us.  The miracle that happened on Labor Day was just the beginning.  And that was less than 2 months ago.  We are far from out of the woods here.  We are still healing.  We are still becoming one again and becoming a team again.  Things still come up, almost daily, that are hurtful and damaging and stressful, and that have to be worked through.  But, I can tell you that we are literally 180 degrees from where we were before.  Truly, truly miraculous.  So, just continue to pray if you will.

And, hopefully some of you will be encouraged.  It's been a looong road.  Some of you are on the same kind of road.  For some of you, it's even been way longer.  You have been waiting for your 'Labor Day Miracle' for a very long time.  Just be encouraged.  Look to Him...*wait on Him*...He will direct you.  He will sustain you.  He will.

I'll continue to talk about this.  I'll share...because now I can.  We're still on the road ourselves, so who might look sloppy at times.  Grace, grace...we pray for it from God...we pray for it from you.  But in time I will tell more of our story and how we got here, I'll talk more about what it was like.  I'll share some of the things we are learning.  And please...feel free to share your story here too, even if you want to do it anonymously, and we can pray for you too. 

Thank you for being supportive.  And thank you for your prayers and love. 

Until next time...

Thursday, July 03, 2014

This Is a Miscarriage - Follow-Up 2: Celebrating (the final chapter)

February 6th.  That was my last miscarriage post...almost 5 months ago. 

**(I wrote this post a few days ago, but had to figure out a way to share the video and that took a while.  It was still June when I wrote it.  I'm not changing the wording, so just keep that in mind when reading it...that it was written in June).**

When I last wrote, I was only about 2 weeks into the miscarriage process.  You can read the post from Feb. 6th here

I had gone back to my midwife for a check-up.  Most everything had passed we thought...but then the ultrasound showed that there was still some more to happen.  My uterus wasn't quite back to pre-pregnancy state just yet. 

I went back in March for a check-up and ultrasound.  It still wasn't back to pre-pregnancy state.  I still hadn't had a visit from Aunt Flo.  So, we just continued to be patient and monitor. 

Finally, the very last few days of April/first few days of May, Aunt Flo came to see me.  I had the miscarriage at the end of January.  3 months later (!), finally Aunt Flo returned.  I had another check-up and ultrasound mid-May.  And everything was back to normal.  I also had my first pap smear since May 2012 (had one done right before we left Brazil)...all normal. 

So, yes...I may not have updated here since February.  But, that was because it all just got resolved only *last month.* 

I'm very thankful that all has been resolved.'s time for more of life to get back to normal.  I'm working on it.  More on that at another time though.

So that's the update on the physical.  It was a drawn-out process.  But, it's over.  Emotionally, regarding the's one of those things that just will always be sad.  You think of those babies from time to time.  Not always...but sometimes.  I think of my first miscarriage and think, that kiddo would be turning 11 next month.  I think of my second miscarriage and think, I would have a 2 1/2 year old.  This miscarriage is still new...I would be 34 weeks pregnant now.  6 weeks away from meeting the new little Ebersole. 

Those thoughts do come.  When I'm watching a TV show and a character says his birthday is August 11th (what my due date was).  When I go to the store and see the cashier who is visibly round and pregnant and says her due date is in August.  All of the special people in my life who are pregnant...and I could have been pregnant with them.  When I glance over and see the Christmas gifts we had gotten for the new little Ebersole.  All just little twinges in my heart. 

But, it happens.  Miscarriages happen.  For many different reasons.  It's one of those things that you just live through.  And, the goal is to live through things like that well.  Hard things come.  *Really* hard things.  You get through them.  And they do make you stronger.  And wiser.  And more grateful.  And more gracious.  And you live.  You live on. 

Although I was almost to my 2nd trimester when the miscarriage happened, I had still never had a chance to post pictures or video or tell how we broke the news and celebrated the news of this little life.  You hadn't gotten the chance to celebrate with us fully, through these pictures and video.  So today?  Today we celebrate!!  :) 


The first pregnancy test.  Taken Dec. 7th.
(remember you can click on any picture to make it bigger)
All dressed up for the Christmas Gala...had to take a picture, even if it was just in Wal-Mart.  ;) 
The poinsettias were pretty.
But, of course, all that day and night...I knew something. 
Nobody else knew (except Joel), but life was forming inside of me.
Pregnancy test #2.  Because you can't just take 1.  ;)
The first test I had had for a while.  And although
you're more likely to get a false negative than a false
positive, I wanted to make sure.  "Pregnant"
I took pictures right away...complete with sleepyface and bedhead.

Later I went back and had a little photo shoot with my pregnancy
test stick, showing all the different emotions I was feeling. 
LOL, this collage cracks me up.  Soooo funny...and special. 
Love it.
This scene always made me laugh.  But, I add it here because it's sooo typical.
All the ladies know that pregnancy symptoms and menstrual symptoms
are really so very similar...breast tenderness, bloated feeling, etc.
Before I took the first test on Saturday, that Thursday
I had taken that tampon in the bathroom with me...because I just knew I had,
or was about to, start.  Two days later and still nothing...I took the test.
Then another test.  So, this scene was funny to me.  Yay for not having
to use the tampon.  ;)
Because my pregnancy in 2011 had ended in miscarriage, I went to
a doctor (Dr. Elza Robinson in Shreveport...I really like him) right away...
just a couple of days after the positive pregnancy tests.
We hadn't had insurance in the states since 2005, so we were paying out of
pocket.  I asked for just the minimal.  I wanted to have my levels drawn...
progesterone, etc.  So, that's what we did.  Dr. Robinson really wanted
me to have an ultrasound.  I have never had an ultrasound early on in pregnancy...
midwives just use other measures (palpation, etc.) to make sure the pregnancy is
in your uterus rather than a fallopian tube, etc.  So, I wasn't worried about it.
He didn't palpate...but, I still just wasn't worried.  But...he was insistent.  I only
got the labs done that first day.  Dr. Robinson called me himself with the lab results...
everything looked great.  And he once again asked me to get an ultrasound.  I sent him
a text explaining our issue...and that we just couldn't do it budget-wise.  If there is something
I am super concerned about, we always find a way, regardless of budget.
But, I was ok and not ultrasound would be nice, but
I was ok without one.  And budget was tight.  He texted back saying, "Come in for Sono
next week.  Don't worry about cost."  So...we went in.  I was exactly 6 weeks along.

(Note the crown-to-rump length...the CRL)

So tiny.  It's hard to get good pictures at 6 weeks.  Because mostly what
you see at 6 weeks is just a little blob that beats.  The beating is the most prominent
thing you see at 6 weeks.  And you can't take a picture of that.  It's such
a wonderful sight though.  Such life, even at such a young, tiny age.

These were taken Dec. 16th.

Dec. 16, 2013
We had a plan for our Christmas cards...we had taken pictures already in November.
We were ahead of schedule and would get them out early this year.  But...hahaha...then we
took a pregnancy test.  ;)  So, we changed our plans.  After the ultrasound, I took
pictures of the options I had so far.  We re-took pictures announcing the pregnancy
and added them in later.
We didn't end up using this one, but I loved what the card said.  "Bring on the Merry!!" :)
And thought it was cute the way it was announced here too..."Love, the Ebersole family of 7."
And now just some of the pictures that we took to announce the pregnancy.
(Some are cropped, some aren't.)

I soooo love all of these with the kids holding their year signs.  Funny thing...
We hadn't told them about the baby yet.  They had no idea I was pregnant.
But hey...we're always asking them to do things...crazy, random things...things they don't
understand.  Whatever.  And I'm constantly taking pictures.  So they just held the signs
and took fun pictures.  ...Normal.  Haha.
I love them.
"What's this?  Oh...these are the years we were born.  O.K."

Then I brought out my sign.  "August 2014?  Why are you holding that sign?  That's not your year."
I just told them that's just what I wanted to put on my sign.  And then they got distracted with questions and a discussion about how dates work...what a century is and such.  LOL.
When you have a 'few' children, distraction is easy to come by...
and you usually don't even have to be responsible for that distraction.  Hahaha.
  Again...LOVE them!  LOL.
  So funny.

Eissa's our quietest one.  But, she can also be super animated too.
It's so fun.  I love her pictures and all her different expressions...
and her little snaggle-tooth mouth and crinkly nose.


The following is the video of us telling the kids about the pregnancy.
It is far from professional.  LOL.  But, you can see it and that's the
important part.  We told the kids on the 23rd...before we were headed
to Christmas with my immediate family, where we would be announcing
it to them.  I think we may have told Joel's family that day too.
We got together with my dad's family during the day on Christmas Eve
and told them then.  Then my mom's family Christmas was that night
on Christmas Eve.

This video: 
The kids really overwhelmed us with their reaction. Haha. We loved, loved, loved it. They were SUUUUUPER excited!!

As with any change, there comes mixed emotions. And that shows up very honestly here in this video. Even when you've lived with constant changing circumstances your whole entire life, as our kids have...change is just challenging...even when it's good change. Loved Grady's honest response. Just FYI, he never again reacted this way. He worked through it here...and was super excited from then on out, dreaming out loud about his new little sibling...preferably a brother, understandably...but, he'd decided that if it was a girl, it would be 'his' little girl. Sweet big brother. And, LOVE all the squeals from the big sisters. And Cass' newfound role as ultrasound tech. lol. And all the questions and jumping and hugging.

I just love everything about this video.
(you can click on 'YouTube' to go directly to the
YouTube site and view it's bigger there)


And here are all the pictures of that same announcement.  Even
if you watched the video, these pictures are worth looking at.  :)

THIS PICTURE!!  I LOVE this picture!!  :)

:( ;)  Getting comforts from Daddy.
I promise he was all better after this. 
At Granny's Christmas, I got to sit by her this year.  I'm so grateful
for that, since we lost her less than 4 months later.  Cass came out in her shirt
and people started noticing.  I just held my phone down around where Joel was sitting
and snapped pictures of Granny and her reaction.  So glad I got some good ones. 

And now you know another reason why I love my current Facebook
profile picture so much.  Not only is it just a fun recent picture of
Granny...there's a great story behind it.  :)
  And I know what she was
giggling/smiling about.
Christmas 2012, Gillian was pregnant with her little boy.  Ariel and I took a picture
with her and her little baby bump.  This year, the roles were reversed.  :)  Fun picture.
Another fun and super special fact:  Before I had the miscarriage, Gillian had found out
she was pregnant with baby #2.  So...all three of us girls, despite there being a
5 year age difference between Ariel and me, and a 15 year (!) age difference
between Gillian and me...all three of us were pregnant at the same time.  I just LOVE that.
So special.  Would have been so very neat to have babies all the same age.  But,
still a very special thing to at least have been pregnant all at the same time.  Super special. 
Christmas morning, with little baby Ebersole all snug in my belly, wrapped up
in the cute monkey robe one of the kids gave me Christmas 2012.  ;)
I was super sick that whole week of Christmas...really nauseated. 
Had even had some, I thought it was a little something
that had been going around, on top of just regular pregnancy nausea. 
Christmas day around lunch time, I went to the bathroom with another
bout of diarrhea.  But...I also noticed some spotting.  It happened a couple
more times that day...just a tiny bit of spotting.  But, enough to worry me of course.
The next day we went to the doctor...and I got an ultrasound.  I was 7 weeks 3 days.
Everything looked perfect.  Perfect measurements, perfect beating heart. 
I was a bit surprised was the BEST kind of surprised. 
I was prepared for the worst news. 
And received the best news.  Total relief. 

(Remember the CRL from last picture?  In just 10 days the CRL size had increased
from 0.34cm to 1.25cm.  And so much more visible on the ultrasound pic, right?
I was also able to get an abdominal ultrasound as opposed to a vaginal one here.
Lots of changes and growth in just 10 days.
The process of growing a baby inside of you is just such a miraculous thing!)
This is what our Christmas/New Year's cards ended up being.  This is the front.  I LOVED them!!
(Huge shout-out to Patti Martin Warren and Patti Warren Photography...and her Santa
assistant, her husband, Greg...for the gorgeous professional pics!)
The back of our Christmas/New Year's card 2013.
These were taken in January.  The 4 Ebersole kiddos and new little baby Ebersole.

The new big sister, Cass, wanted to hold the picture.  ;)
And now, this series is a wrap.  Again, thank you ALL so very, very much for your kindness and concern and support during that time of miscarriage, and since.  I'm so glad to finally report that my body is back to normal.  There are tons of other things going on with us now...and with me personally in regards to health.  Someday I'll be able to post on all of that.  I posted about getting #fitby40 on Facebook 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant.  Then all of this happened.  So, I wasn't able to achieve that 'fit by 40' status.  My new goal? at 40.  ;) 

Again, thank you for your kindness during this all.  And thank you for celebrating with us today.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures and video as much as we do.  Celebrating life, no matter how short, is a very good thing.