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Hope in My Nightmares: Rachel Faulkner-Brown

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2023 5:15 am

Hope in My Nightmares: Rachel Faulkner-Brown

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 24, 2023 5:15 am

With two husbands in heaven and one here, Rachel Faulkner-Brown has walked dark roads. But she knows hope, & healing from profound grief, are possible.

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Learn More About How to Blend Your Family with Ron Deal: FamilyLife Blended® provides biblically-based resources that help prevent re-divorce, strengthen stepfamilies, and help break the generational cycle of divorce.

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I will tell you, you lose a husband, bury a husband, you immediately become, like, an old lady. I mean, you know, in my mind, I was 50.

I mean, because I had done things that people don't do till they're 70. And so when you go to the funeral home and you pick out a casket, you just age. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So probably one of the darkest moments in a person's life, obviously, is when you lose a child or a spouse.

Absolutely. And I've been in many hospital rooms as a pastor in that moment. You know, one of my good friends, Steve Roner, who we coached our boys in basketball, had this massive heart attack. And I literally had my hand on his chest as he breathed his last. And then walking with Karen through that was just— And our two kids, who, one of her sons is best friends with our son.

Still to this day, which is a beautiful thing. So anyway, with that as an intro, we've got Rachel Faulkner Brown in the studio. And we're going to talk about some heavy stuff. So welcome to Family Life Today. We're happy to have you. Such an honor to be here. Such a beautiful place. Rachel, you've had quite an experience.

Yes. And your book is called His Name, Our Hope in Grief. So share with our listeners your story because it hasn't been an easy one at all.

No, it has not. Yeah, sometimes I look back on my life and I'm like, that really happened. But yeah, I married my college sweetheart. We were married for almost four years and he went to play a game of pickup basketball and had a massive aneurysm on the basketball court right in front of all his friends. And actually, we were both pharmaceutical reps in front of one of our doctors, which was so amazing because he immediately was able to start CPR. How old was he?

He was 27 and I was 23. But in that fall from the aneurysm, it severed his spinal cord, which we did not know, which stopped his heart. So there was no chance. And if he had lived, he would have been on machines the rest of his life and he would have never wanted that.

He was a cross-country runner in college and had run five miles the day before triathlete. And his life was rich and full and active and he died doing what he loved, which is crazy. But of course, I was standing there just dumbfounded like, the rest of my life is ahead of me and now my life is over. We had just started talking about having kids that Sunday, actually.

And he died five days after September 11, 2001. So our world was kind of upside down and then my world got completely turned upside down. Well, take me back. Did you go to the hospital? We did, yeah, absolutely. I went to the hospital and ER had just kind of finished at that point. And it was just like you see in the movies. They came out and they said, Ms. Faust, we did everything we could. And I remember just thinking, why are you calling me Ms. Faust 1? You know, because I was like so young.

And the fact that this healthy person that I saw not even two hours ago was gone. And honestly, I walked back there, I laid myself over his body. He still had on his basketball shoes. I can still remember looking down and just seeing his basketball shoes and like, how is this?

I mean, I was in shock, like every widow is when this call happens. And my friend who he was playing at her house, she thought that he had broken his leg. So on my drive over, I thought I was just coming for a minor, you know, like a broken leg. Oh, they told you he was hurt on the basketball court?

She said, I think he broke his leg. And so on my drive over, I was not thinking this is the end. I mean, I was just like, okay, be right there. This is before cell phones were like, you know, it's 2001.

But honestly, I will tell y'all, and I don't tell the story that often, but three hours after Todd died, one of my friends in college, she saw Todd's sport coat. You know, life was happening. You know, death is so inconvenient. I say that to people all the time because it just happens like that. It stops the world. It just stops the world. And everybody goes on with life the next day and you're like, wait, what?

My life is over? But she, my friend from college, saw his sport coat on our barstool at our house. Everybody came back to our house after they realized Todd had passed away, and we were all crying. I went to church with about a thousand people. So the whole church, you know, pretty much, and Todd's church that he grew up at, we were in our small town. And she saw that coat on the barstool, and she was like, I've walked away from church.

I've walked away from community. She was walking away from religion, ultimately, because she didn't have a relationship with Jesus. And I had religion, but I did have a relationship. I was very connected. And of course, I had done evangelism explosion. I mean, I had done all the gospel sharing tools that my church had offered. I was there.

We were knocking on doors every Wednesday night. I mean, think about this evangelism explosion. The big question is, you're living it. If you died today, where would you go?

Where would you go to heaven? Oh, totally. And she did not know. She had no assurance.

And Todd's death, like her husband was Todd's fraternity brother. And so she was just flooded with just, what would happen to me? And she had no community. Who would be here for me? Because we were super involved in our Sunday school class.

I played in every party and had the sombreros forever. I mean, I had it all. And so here she is. And all I heard, when you can't speak for yourself, the Holy Spirit will speak for you.

And it says in Matthew. And all I heard was, she doesn't know me, Rachel. And we went to my bedroom. And it's still so bizarre to me that I had the wherewithal to sit down with her.

But it's like I knew. Wait, wait, you went to your bedroom. Went to my bedroom and prayed with her to receive the fullness of who God wanted to be to her. On the day of your husband's death.

Three hours after he died. And I get chills thinking about it, honestly. Because I will say, train of a child in the way they should go. And when they're older, they will not depart from it.

I did a lot of things that I'm not proud of in high school. But I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew Him. My parents were just entrenched in, this is what we do. This is who we are. We're Jesus followers and we're doing this thing. And we're going to share the gospel. And all those memories just came back on my darkest day. And she stood up that day.

I will tell you, it's so funny, I text her still every September 16th. And I say, Melanie, happy birthday. And her family ended up getting baptized. They're super involved in ministry. Even today, they're kids. They've got three kids now. They didn't have any children.

And Todd's death changed the trajectory of Melanie's entire family. And so I look at that and I just go, yes, there is an empty seat at the table. Todd will never sit beside us at holidays ever again.

But we'll never know this side of heaven, what God did. So you're all by yourself. Yeah. I'm with my dog.

With your dog. Oh, yeah. I can't even imagine the loneliness and the shock you were in. Oh, I was so shocked. It was 10 days before my 24th birthday. And we'd been together almost eight years. We dated all through college.

His family was my family. Did you pray that night? Yeah.

Oh, yeah. What did that sound like? I prayed the whole way to the hospital. It's like, God, I don't know what you're doing. I remember literally saying, God, I don't know what's happening.

I don't know what you're doing. But just save my husband. Once I realized that something bad was going to happen, I knew this wasn't going to turn out.

You don't walk up on CPR, and it turns out really well, typically. But I will tell you, I learned to worship in those days after. Ann Graham Lotz wrote the book, Give Me Jesus. Y'all remember. And it had a CD in the back.

This is back in CD days when I had my jam box on the floor. And in the back of the book, there was Fernanda Ortega's song, Give Me Jesus. And Ann did this thing in the middle of it where she would go, he is the alpha and the omega.

He is the beginning and the end. And she did the spoken word before that was even a thing. Nobody even knew what a spoken word was, but Ann was doing it back then, 2001. And I would play that CD every night. And I would sing, Give Me Jesus. When I am alone, give me Jesus. When I come to die, give me Jesus. And I learned to worship, you know.

I mean, I will say, and I still teach the widows today. I'm like, you know, when you don't know what to do, you just worship. That is like, worship is God's greatest gift to our heart and our bodies. And, you know, I just saw a study that, you know, when a song creates an emotional response, dopamine is released in the body.

And more so than even what a real antidepressant, you know, like a drug can do. And I just thought, that is our Creator. Our Creator knew. You know, I think about David when he was playing the harp and, you know, how many people used worship to come above their circumstances.

And I learned that hard way, unfortunately. It's so interesting because when my best friend was my sister and she passed away when I was 39, but I remember going to church, I couldn't sing. Yeah.

Oh, it's a big deal. When the music would come on, I couldn't sing. She would just cry. Cry. Yeah. But there was something about the worship music, the scripture that just flooded over me that also was so healing. Oh, yeah.

Even though I couldn't even get the words out because I would be a mess on the floor. Yeah. Oh, yeah. That's so interesting.

But it was healing your body, whether you knew it or not. Yeah. And that even on our retreats, for our widow's retreats, I always, most of them have not sung since their husband died.

Really? And so it is such a big deal, which is why we have worship for every session because we want to retrain their hearts to override their souls. I mean, that's what this is about. Life is about overriding the soul and letting the Spirit of God sing through you. Yeah.

And what do you mean, overriding the soul? Well, we're a three. That could be a book title. Yeah, I know. I know. I was like, that's a great phrase.

That's my life. That should be my life song, Override Your Soul. David commanded his soul to do things.

Yeah. And we're a three-part being. So you have a spirit and you have a soul and you have a body, and most people live out of their soul their whole life, which is where the wounds happen, the lies, the traumas, all the things.

All the emotional things. But our spirit is alive to Jesus, and Jesus, you know, He's like, you have the mind of Christ. Well, that's because you have the Spirit of Christ in you. And so when you say yes to Jesus and you become a new creation, your spirit comes alive. I mean, every day I am, I mean, what I think about every morning when I wake up is spirit lead. I mean, think about that song, Ocean, spirit lead. That is like your own spirit that is alive to Christ. And so to me, overriding the soul is choosing to let the spirit lead.

So as you walk out of that, tell us the next step in the journey. There's a one-year rule for all widows. Look, you can't date for one year. You know, it's so dumb, which clearly I busted that rule like so hardcore. I was like, let me just date like nine months in, like, am I going to, you know, like fall off or, you know, fall off the face of the earth by going to date at nine months. But there is this unwritten rule, but whatever, you know. But God was bringing people and, you know, kind of moving things into place.

And my in-laws are best friends with the, were best friends with the Faulkners who had a son who was a fighter pilot in the Air Force and had a very cool job, loved Jesus and needed a wife. And I was like, I should be her, you know, like, I love Jesus. You're single. You're 10 years older. You're very mature. And I will tell you, you lose a husband, bury a husband, you immediately become like an old lady. You know, it was like, in my mind, I was 50, I mean, because I had done things that people don't do till they're 70. And so when you go to the funeral home and you pick out a casket, you just, you just age, you know, hopefully my face, it didn't show it, but Blair was living his best life. And I was like, wow, I should go out with him. So we had our first date.

This is like Maverick. Yeah, he was. He really was.

He flew the A-10, he dropped bombs every day. And I mean, he was my, it was so funny. He would bring back rugs from Afghanistan when he would go on tours of duty for our whole family.

Like Judy had rugs and Glenda, my mother-in-law, had rugs and I mean, Blair was our rug dealer, which was hilarious. And anyway, so it was just this, it was a perfect setup. He was home and we went out on Christmas the day before Christmas Eve and I knew, I was like, two weeks later, I told him I loved him. We got engaged. I was like, that's not shocking. And I told people I could fall in love with the wall. I just love big, you know, and of course I'd been married.

I knew what I was looking for, you know. Blair was just hilarious, you know, so accomplished, but yet was praying for his fellow fighter pilots to meet Jesus like every day. I mean, we had a list of fighter pilots who didn't know the Lord that we prayed for every day and he, it's so interesting because Rod and Blair both, they love their friends so much. And that was the thing. On the road trips, Blair would call all of his friends, like the whole trip. He would just, one after another after another, keeping up with them.

How are you? I just thought, God, it's so unusual. And then I married another man who does the same thing, which is just so precious. But Blair was, we moved to New Orleans. We got married, you know, super fast. Not like two weeks later.

Yeah, kind of. I mean, you know, no, no, we got engaged in April and we married in July of 2003. You know, life was great.

We were dual income, no kids, living in New Orleans, I mean, you know, just living our best life. And did you think at this point, okay, that season that happened, that's long ago, now God has this great plan for my future. Oh, yeah.

Oh, a hundred percent. Blair and Ty grew up together. They camped together as children. I have pictures of both my husbands, like burying each other in the sand at Jekyll Island. I mean, it was like, God, you like see me, like you've created this just amazing family that I just get to keep my in-laws and I have really amazing relationships with both sets of in-laws. And I was like, I just get to like add people on in to the family and we can all do Christmas together.

And it was really healing, you know, it was healing me and I felt like it was healing for Ed and Glenda, Todd's parents, to just watch me come alive again, but yet still know that they were going to be a part of it. And like, if we had kids and we did, we had two kids, we moved from New Orleans to Columbia, Memphis, Mississippi, where he became an instructor in the T-38. And in 2008, I had a five-month-old little girl, Campbell, and then Davis was two years old and Blair went to fly on this gorgeous, what we would call a VFR, a visual flight reference day, where it's like, you know, clear for a hundred miles. How old were you at this time? I was 31.

Okay. Yep, 31. And he went out with his student pilot who was 22 and his wife was seven months pregnant. And it was so funny, on the taxi out, I had just, I was making bread at this point. I was making Amish Friendship Bread, y'all remember those days? And Blair loved Amish Friendship Bread, so he was telling Matthew all about this Amish Friendship Bread.

You got to get a starter, you got to get your wife a starter so you can have Amish Friendship Bread. And he was naming their son Laban and Blair was like, I mean, don't you know Laban like really wasn't a good guy in the Bible? Why do you want to name him that? Listening back to the tape, it's like hilarious. Like, why did you say that? And they took off and the cable in the wing was the aileron had a fissure in the wing and they took off with a full tank of gas and immediately crashed. And so, I mean, honestly, you know, I came back to my house, the chaplain was looking for me. I came into my neighbor's house where the wing commander was waiting for me and they said, Ms. Faulkner, you know, we're sorry to tell you, but at 1230 today on the runway, Blair and his student pilot were killed and the US Air Force is going to take care of you and your little children. And all I heard, I didn't know that scripture, I knew the story of Joseph, but all I heard was Genesis 50, 20. What you intended for harm enemy to take out my entire family, God intended for good and for the saving of many lives. And then he goes on to say, Fear not, I will take care of you and your little children. You heard that go through your mind.

Yeah. I mean, I just, it was like I knew like God was just like he was doing something so much bigger than me. And I had this massive awareness that like my life, which I'm sure Elizabeth Elliot felt the same way, like my life wasn't my own. And I'd had this encounter with Jesus in November of 2007.

This is April 2008. I'd had this encounter where I just felt like the Lord is inviting me into this deeper level of intimacy and kind of like a marriage, like, you know, my Song of Solomon moment. But I did not have a frame for it. I'd never had anybody in my life like have an encounter with God that I knew of that they talked about. But it was just like, I didn't have a place for that to land.

It was just this isolated event where I was being invited into something special. And then he dies in April and I'm like, I knew God was doing something. And of course, I knew. I was just like, Rachel, people are going to meet Jesus, like, I mean, Blair's death.

And I'd seen just a tiny taste of that with Todd. And so I had a history that God was showing me, look what I'm going to do. I'm going, Romans 8, 28, it is going to work out for good. You know, I was still like serving the Lord. I wasn't receiving from the Lord because I didn't know how to do that. But I was serving, you know, and I was seeing somewhat of the tapestry coming and then he passes away.

But this time I have kids. And it is like, totally different story. I can't even imagine. Yeah, I know.

I think my mind would be so blown and there's a part of me too. How sweet of God to give you this encounter with him because a lot of people would be thinking, really? Oh, yeah. Really, God? Yeah.

I'm barely out of my 30s and I've lost two husbands. Yeah. Like what kind of God, you know, those questions that are hard. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Did you wrestle with any of those or? Yeah. So in that season of marriage, it was very hard because I had a secret. I had been abused when I was 10 years old. And I was constantly trying to push this secret down.

And it is going to come out. I mean, obviously, it comes out in every marriage. And so I was like pointing the finger at Blair and his career, like, you're running my life, you're not here enough, you're not doing enough, you hadn't changed enough diapers. And so I was like this anger and this shame, which I didn't know. You didn't know it was shame at the time. I didn't know what I didn't know. I mean, y'all, I mean, it's like I'd never been to a counselor. I'd lost a husband, but depression wasn't my story. I woke up every day like, what are we doing today, God?

And so it was all of my training wheels were falling off my beautiful life that I'd created. And then, you know, I have this encounter and Blair had gotten a mentor right before he died and that mentor, I love sharing this because it did change the trajectory of my life because of Blair's surrender. So the mentor met with Blair four times before he died. The first time was just, hey, how are you?

This is what we want to do. The second time was I want you to read Hebrews Hall of Faith. And if you're not willing to surrender your career, including being a fighter pilot to the cause of Christ, then I can't meet with you. And Blair was like, whoa, dude, like, I mean, I'm just kind of like wanting to walk through some Romans, you know? And he was like, way serious. And Blair came home and he was like, listen to what this guy said, like, he's like in it to win it. And he's very serious. Like if you're not willing to leave this job that a pilot would say, being a pilot flows in my veins, you know, like, it's not like, it's not like a career. It's like, this is who I am.

It was an identity, 100% an identity. And he said, we're going to pray about it. And of course, I'm like, oh, no, no, no, no, I'm the stay at home mother. This is our insurance. This is how we roll. You make a great life.

We live in a tiny town and have everything we need. No. I mean, like, come on. Like, he can't be that serious. And y'all, we're like in church. I mean, we're like leading the studies and doing the things.

I'm in mops. I mean, you know, I'm like living the Jesus life. But yeah, that was like stepping on my toes.

I mean, I was kind of like, I mean, I might want to be a missionary, but really not. You know? Would I give up everything? Right.

Would I give up everything? And Blair, the next day, he was like, I'm going to meet with him. And I was like, oh, here we go.

What is this going to mean? Of course, you know, I'm still meeting with a mentor at this point, and I had this encounter. And Blair died two weeks after.

Yeah. And his funeral was a different funeral because of that surrender, because Hugh stood up at his funeral. I mean, we had six men share, and Hugh stood up at his funeral and told all those men what he agreed to.

And I look back on that day and hundreds of people, you know, they were probably, they would have said, I go to church, but they would not have called themselves Jesus followers. And so, you know, even in his funeral, it was just like, I could just see the hand of God in my family. I knew it was going to take care of us. I had an encounter, another encounter seven days after Blair died, where I just had this total peace wash over me. And it was like I knew, it was like the tent of meeting and the Spirit of the Lord was so thick in my room that I was terrified, but it was like, I wasn't afraid. It wasn't like I was going to see God or anything, but I knew he was there. And I was alone for the first time I did sleep. My two best friends slept with me for seven, like in my bed, in our king size bed.

I slept in the middle of the two of them for seven days as we planned the five funerals that we had. And they left and I had this encounter and I think it was to remove fear from my life because I could have locked my kids in a closet and never let them out. And I could have never driven again. And I could have never gotten on an airplane the rest of my life because somebody might die. I mean, I could have been gripped and the Lord was just like, that is not my plan for you. So I'm going to give you this and you're not going to have a frame of reference for that either because you don't know what you don't know.

And anyway, I mean, sorry, that's a lot. It's amazing. Like what a story.

Hi I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Rachel Faulkner Brown on Family Life Today. You know, when something bad happens in our lives, we have a tendency to be terrified about what could happen to either us or our spouse or our kids or whatever. And that fear can become a prison of sorts. I remember that this happened to me. I was sexually abused when I was five and when my kids turned the age that I was abused, I was terrified to let them out of my sight, even letting them go for like kids ministry at church. I was scared to do that. And I realized very quickly that I was forming a prison around myself about what could happen.

I was not trusting the Lord in those moments. And the reminder that Rachel has given us today has been super helpful for me. Rachel has written a book called His Name, Our Hope in Grief.

Many of us have been through a lot of grief and Rachel herself has been through a ton of grief as you have heard today. And we want to give you a copy of Rachel's book as our thank you when you become a partner with us at Family Life. This continued dedication that many of our partners have with us is one of those things that really encourages me. Family Life Today is a donor-supported ministry and it wouldn't exist without people who give to the ministry. And we wholeheartedly appreciate you if you are a partner with us. And if you have yet to join us, we'd love it if you would consider partnering with us today. You can go online to or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329.

Now that can be a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift if you want to. Again, the number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And if you wanted to drop us a note on snail mail, our address is Family Life, 100 Lake Heart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. Now tomorrow, Rachel Faulkner Brown is going to be with Dave and Anne again here in the studio to continue to talk about her story about what happened when her third husband Rod was diagnosed with anxiety and depression that ended up becoming a paralyzing thing for him for almost two years and how Rachel became sad and depressed herself and even angry. We'll be honest about her story continuing tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-24 07:22:53 / 2023-04-24 07:35:20 / 12

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