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.