Michaela, her baptismal name in Orthodoxy, was born Alexandra Marie in NYC in 1958 to Roman Catholic parents who studied Chemistry at Fordham University. The family made its way west and landed in Berkeley, California in about 1965.
After the changes made by the second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church, her parents stopped practicing their Christian faith and Alexandra chose a life devoid of God in high school, embracing secularism, feminism and hedonism well into college.
During the summer between graduating from UCLA in 1981 and entering a graduate clinical psychology program at SUNY Stony Brook in fall 1982, on the urging of her mother, she attended a series of experiential group courses that came out of the Human Potential Movement and she eventually embraced a westernized Hindu meditation group that her mother had become a part of.
In late 1994, after an expose of her meditation group was published in the New Yorker Magazine (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1994/11/14/o-guru-guru-guru) Alexandra cried out to God for Him to bring her into a "safe" religion and found herself crying out for "a Savior!" much to her own surprise.
Two months later, on Thursday, January 5, 1995, she had an intense conversion experience to Christ at the ICU bedside of her brother. After that she wandered in Protestant groups until, growing dissatisfied with what she saw was the dead end of the "health and wealth" gospel and emphasis on "speaking in tongues," she returned to the Roman Catholic faith of her birth, thinking that she was now safely home in Christ.
She was able at last to draw her mother out of the Hindu group and back into Roman Catholicism. In 2008 they visited Rome when Benedict IV sat on the papal throne. Alexandra was very uncomfortable with the modernism and ecumenism present in the Roman body and tried her best to practice this faith as a Traditional Catholic, attending the daily mass as often as possible and spending time at the Carmelite House of Prayer in Oakville, California. She was eventually able to draw her father back to the Roman Catholic faith and he died in 2011 inside this body.
In 2013 the ascendance of Francis caused her great discontent and spiritual anguish. It was only then that she finally began researching the origins and errors of Western Christendom and discovered Eastern Orthodoxy online through a blog authored by a man who became one of Abbot Tryphon's (https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/) spiritual sons.
During the season of Pascha in 2014 she visited her local Orthodox Church, St. Susanna's (http://www.stsusanna.com/,) in Sonora, California. She was overwhelmed with the beauty of the Divine Liturgy, the joyous Pascal Feast and determined to pray for discernment about whether to convert to Orthodoxy. Her last attendance at a Roman Catholic church was on Pentecost, 2014.
Alexandra made her life confession to Father Michael Rome at the Monastery of the Life Giving Spring in Dunlap, California (http://www.stnicholasranch.org/monastery/). In the 1970s, Elias and Fr. Michael were part of the Weekirk Church in Ben Lomond which saw many conversions to Orthodoxy in the 1980s. Alexandra entered the catechumenate in July and was baptized "Michaela" into Orthodoxy by Father Basil Rhodes at St. Nicholas Church (https://stnicholassaratoga.org/) in Saratoga, California on October 4, 2014. Two dreams in which St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco appeared to her gave her the sure knowledge that she had made the right choice and was finally in the True Faith. Sadly, Father Michael died at St. Anthony's Monastery as Hieroschemamonk Athanasius in November, 2014 while Michaela was visiting the monastery where she was able to receive a final blessing.
Michaela had wanted to become a Discalced Carmelite nun as a Roman Catholic and now she was determined to follow a monastic path in Orthodoxy. She often visited the new ROCOR Monastery of St. Silouan in Sonora which was consecrated in 2015 (https://stsilouanmonastery.com/, https://wadiocese.org/saint_silouan_monastery_sonora_ca, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=Du51fsBuDfk&feature=emb_logo).
However, God had other plans!
After his beloved Matushka Anna Union died in 2016, the Deacon Elias Union at age 70, knowing that he needed to retire from the diaconate after almost 30 years of active service for health reasons, asked Michaela to join him in marriage so that the two of them could continue to serve God by running his beeswax candle business together.
He eventually asked to be laicized and after a civil marriage in November of 2016, he was granted his request and the couple received a blessing for a church wedding which took place on May 27, 2017.
You can read about Michaela's life story and Orthodox struggles in her book, Confessions of a Controlaholic: Don't Destroy Your Second Marriage Too! (https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Controlaholic-Destroy-Second-Marriage-ebook/dp/B07B9K2PML/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=confessions+of+a+controlaholic&qid=1599252402&sr=8-1)
She is currently re-editing this book and is writing a second book that focuses more on her Orthodox experience. The working title is "Finding the True Faith: My Journey Through Hinduism, Protestantism and Roman Catholicism to Spiritual Fulfillment as an Orthodox Christian."
After being married for a few years God brought the icon mounting equipment that Elias had helped purchase in Ben Lomond, California at Sts. Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church (https://www.ssppaoc.org/) many years earlier. This equipment had been used by Conciliar Press, now Ancient Faith Publishing (https://www.ancientfaith.com/publishing,) and it is an amazing example of God's providence that the couple can now offer quality print mounted icons by Father Luke Dingman (http://www.lukedingman.com) from St. Lawrence Orthodox Christian Church (http://www.slocc.com/) and Daniel Ogan who is currently the iconographer in residence at the new ROCOR St. Innocent of Irkutsk Church (http://www.stinnocentorthodoxchurch.org/) which is under construction in Rogue River, Oregon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=X65odh83WKM&feature=emb_logo).
As someone once said, "Orthodoxy is the best kept secret in America," but it is through God's grace that the Union's have been blessed to do everything in His power to make Orthodox Christianity well known, and they pray for many conversions to the True Faith through their ministry/businesses.
Thank you and may God richly bless you!