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.