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Hope When Life Goes from Bad to Worse: Rachel Faulkner-Brown

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2023 5:15 am

Hope When Life Goes from Bad to Worse: Rachel Faulkner-Brown

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 25, 2023 5:15 am

After losing two husbands, author Rachel Faulkner-Brown couldn't believe she might have found love again. Again, she collided with grief as life went from bad to worse. But God had more hope for Rachel.

Show Notes and Resources

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.

Don't widow alone. Find connection through Rachel's "Be Still" Ministry, along with resources for your grief and struggle at

Grab Rachel's 30-day devotional, His Name: Our Hope in Grief, or receive it free with any donation this week.

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We all have to live with a level of mystery. I think that's the biggest thing with suffering.

And when you go through things that are hard and to the degree that you can be okay with mystery is the degree that you will be able to really live. 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 if there's a question we ask when we're walking through the valley through a really, really dark time, at least in my mind, it's, God, are you here and do you see?

Do you know? I mean, I've felt that many times. Or where are you? I don't see you in this. You don't feel him. You feel alone. You're like, I know he's here. I know scripture. I believe he's here, but I just don't feel it right now. And sometimes, I don't know if you do this.

I beg him like, Lord, I need to feel your presence. I need to know that you're with me. Yeah. And we're in day two of a story with Rachel Faulkner Brown.

She's back in the studio. Which is a gripping story. Yeah. I mean, well, first of all, let's say welcome back.

Thank you. I mean, again, if you're a listener and you missed it. Go back. Hit pause right now and go listen because we can't go through everything that happened. But your story is full of, God, are you here, right? I mean, losing two husbands before you're 31 years of age. Again, the listener's like, what? Yeah, go listen to it. We're not going to go through the details.

But it's, I mean, it's hard enough to go through one to go through two. I was like, really? You really felt God's presence that strong in it.

That was so inspiring, Rachel. How can you ever know what he's doing until you look back in reverse? You know, I could never have known that in the moment what he was preparing me for. But it's funny, we went to Israel in 2019 and we were on this bus like everybody does in Israel. And I remember them looking out. We're right outside Galilee and they're like, crops only grow in the valley.

And man, y'all, it was as if the God of the universe said, that's right. Because the mountain is not where you grow your crops. It's in the valley. And so, I just— Where the rain comes. Where the rain comes. And, you know, I looked out on those date builds and all the beautiful things that they're growing and I just thought, I'm not going to despise my valley.

Just don't despise your valley because you just don't know what he's doing. Yeah. We're talking about the book that you wrote called His Name.

The subtitles are Hope and Grief. Tell us a little bit about what you do now. Well, in 2017, I got together with some friends in Birmingham. There were nine widows in Birmingham.

They kind of had all come out of Auburn University. And the friend was like, I want to get a massage and then we're going to do a nice dinner. And then we want y'all to come share a friend of mine, Paige Knudsen. And I drove over to Birmingham and then the next morning we were going to have a lovely brunch and then we're going to go home and pray for him, you know, pray for him and go home. I was like, oh, we would love to come over and do this.

And on that drive home, I looked to Paige and I was like, we could do this. Somebody needs to be doing what we just did for widows. Because widows make mistakes.

Young widows don't have anybody to look to. You know, it's like somebody who's 85 and has been married 55 years, like I just couldn't relate to in that moment. And so after losing two husbands, I was like, I kind of feel like I know what I'm doing with widows. Like I've lived enough life. I've made enough mistakes.

I want to help them not make mistakes financially and relationally and, you know, with in-laws and with their kids. And it's like I'd made enough mistakes that I was ready to like help somebody else not make those same mistakes. And so we threw together in six weeks a retreat. They had invited three other widow friends who had pretty big followings on Instagram. And I said, hey, will y'all help me get the word out? I raised money. I raised $250 for each widow coming. And we had 20 widows sign up in like less than three days who flew in from all over the country and did not know us from Adam's house cat except on Instagram. And that was the beginning of Never Alone Widows. And out of that, our prayer team and the widows that serve with us and women connected to the ministry, we wrote this little spiral-bound devotional called His Name, Our Hope and Grief.

And we all took a name of God that you related to specifically in your story. Because some of the women in there, they're not all widows. They were divorced or they were a child of a widow. So it's a very multi-voice book. But they've gone through a valley. But they've gone through a valley. They've seen the crop and they've seen who He wants to be in the valley.

Because if you don't have who He is right, you won't be able to get who you are right. And you have a podcast. Yeah, we do have a podcast. It's called There's More. And we're just listening to stories very similar to y'all and just trying to mine for gold for people. Because the world is hard.

The world is dark. But there's a lot of good. There's a lot of good. And people are doing amazing, beautiful things. And I've had beautiful encounters with the Lord, but a lot of times they just don't know where to share that.

So yeah, God has done amazing things. So we've helped around 3,000 widows. And then we're hosting a conference for 400 widows this year in 2023. And then we do three other retreats for small, curated retreats. And then curriculum called How to Widow Well, which is a 20-video series for women who are widowed.

And there's just not any curriculum out there. There's Grief Share, but that's kind of across the board. But there's not targeted for a widow. And it's different. It's different to lose a child than it is to lose a husband and to lose a grandmother. And widows really kind of want to be with other widows who get it.

Like you don't have to use words, those type of friends. Yeah, God is just, I mean. I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll years ago say, If we trust God, He will never allow our pain to be in vain. And that's what you've done.

You've done that. And we ended yesterday with the tragic death of your husband, who was a fighter pilot. And you were 31. How old was he when he passed away? He was, it was seven days before his 40th birthday.

Yeah, he was 39. So then did you ever think like, I will never get married again? Were you afraid? I would love to tell you no, but I was like, Oh, yes, I will definitely get married again. Because I'm not raising these kids by myself.

I mean, I didn't think that immediately, obviously. But I loved marriage. I'm like a professional married person. I love marriage. Like, love it so much.

I love big and I love hard. And I knew I wanted to give that away. And I wanted companionship.

And honestly, this time, I will say I wanted a ministry partner. That was a big thing for me. It was, you know, I knew like I was doing something in my life.

I shared my story for the first time a year after Blair died. And it's still so crazy to me. The altar was just full that night. And I was like, I don't know how when people respond to the call of God, and you're the one who shared his heart. I mean, it was just like, wait, what is happening?

You know, like, I don't ever want to not do this. I just feel the pleasure of God when I share, you know, and when I really invite people into a different life. That's what I was inviting those friends into. I was like, this is serious.

I shared Blair's surrender story. And I was just like, y'all, we're playing around here. There's no more playing.

Look what happened. I mean, life is short. You know, and that message, I always tell people, I'm like the wreck on the side of the road that you have to look at.

So that's why I get there. And then the reason people stay is because they're like, oh, she's happy. Like, she's full of joy. She still lives side. And he's still good. You know, he's still good to her.

He's not evil and mean because he's not. And so I knew I had a lot of place for that. And so Rod and I got introduced by a mutual friend.

No, wait, wait, wait. People don't know who Rod is. We hear this laughter over in the corner here.

I know. It's so fun that Rod's here. So Rod Brown is here. And he's always been here. He's been sitting here listening to this whole thing.

But our listeners didn't know that this is your third husband. And it's been 10 years. So Rod, welcome. Thank you.

Great to be here. I mean, you got to tell us the story. How did this happen?

Yeah. How did you guys meet? What was going on? Oh, this is good.

This is good. Rod, let's hear your story. So a mutual friend, I was at a lay council one weekend with a lot of single people. One of the women that were there, we just kind of bonded over smoothies, just, you know, talking. And the next time I saw her, she's like, hey, I've got this woman I really would like you to meet. I was like, great, you know, introduce us. And how old were you at the time?

And I was probably, I think I was 44, 43, 44. Okay. It took a while for this to happen. So the next time I see this person six months later, hey, I have this person I really want you to meet. Oh, great.

Why don't you introduce us? So I think it took a while. I think almost like a year, I think, for it to finally happen. And you had never been married. I'd never been married. Never been really that close before.

I mean, dated seriously multiple times, but never had bought a ring, you know, hadn't gotten to that stage. And so she introduced us via email and then we connected and then she said to me, did she tell you anything about me? And I was like, no, you know, and she's like, well, I'd like for you to watch this video before we talk. So I was like, this is like not normal.

I've like never really was asked to watch a video before going out with somebody. So I was like, wow, what's this video going to be about? And so it was a video that her church in Columbus did really talking about her life, what you guys just heard in that last episode of her losing two husbands and going through all that. So I watched it and she said, what'd you think? And I was like, that was a lot. I mean, did you tear up like you just did when you watched it the first time?

Yeah, it was powerful. It was tough, you know, to see and to hear that someone go through that so young and then have two children the second time. Pass the Kleenex box over. So Rachel would say I was pretty weird, but I would say I was just trying to protect her. And I just said, hey, I really don't want to do a email a lot or talk a lot on the phone. I'd love to meet at some point because over the years and dating and in the different things, you can get pretty attached and you really don't know the person. And then you meet them and you realize, wow, this is we've kind of bonded somewhat and we really don't enjoy each other that much in person.

Really what you're saying is you didn't enjoy them. It could be one sided, it could have been two sided, it could have been both. So we got together one day, beautiful fall day in Atlanta. I lived at the time right near Piedmont Park, which is one of the largest parks in Atlanta in the Midtown area. And we met to go for a walk and that walk lasted for about seven hours. What? We walked. You got some steps in that day.

Totally were the wrong shoes. You really just kept talking for seven hours. Yeah, we stopped for coffee, stopped for lunch, you know, I think might have gone back for coffee again.

Was there immediate connection? Oh, yeah, yeah. He was so fascinating. I mean, Rod is the most interesting man in the world.

No, my husband is. I know, I know. He'd been to 63 countries. He had traveled the world. He had just worked for Chick-fil-A for nine years. I mean, I was like, what have you not done?

This is so fascinating. He wanted a ministry partner. He wanted to be married. He wanted to be a dad.

I mean, I was like, if this is an interview you're in. And then I dreamed about him that night. And I do not dream. I'm not a dreamer.

But that night, I dreamed the very thing. A widow's really miss, companionship, and then that just comfort of pillow talk. You know, just having that person just to be up in the crux of their arm. Your friend. Yeah, your friend, your buddy.

Like having somebody know where you are all the time is probably one of the number one things that widows miss. And I dreamed that night that I was in the crux of his arm just having pillow talk. And it was so real, y'all. It was like it was truly happening. And I was mortified. I was like, oh my goodness, I've come home and I've let this person in my— I mean, it was just real. And the Lord was just showing me, this is your reality.

Of course, praise the Lord. I did not tell Rod. I was going to ask. You didn't tell him. No, she did not tell me.

It wouldn't have been the wise thing to do. I'm glad that the Holy Spirit and her friends were like, hey, hold back, hold back, hold back. So yeah, we would get together in Atlanta some. She had several things that she probably didn't have to come to, but it was, you know, convenient things she wanted to come to. And then she bought something at what's called Scott's Antique Market, which is this big market in Atlanta. She needed to make it to her in Huntsville. And I basically said, you know, hey, I want to bring that, whether it's ready or not, I want to come, you know, see you. I think that was the night when I visited her that we talked more just for the first time. Talked more about, you know, relationship and where she challenged me of like, hey, I got two kids. Are you this? You know, this is a route.

I know we're early, but is this a route that you can see yourself going? I said, don't kiss me unless you want to be a dad. And then before I can answer, she kissed me. Is there any part of you that thought I haven't been married before? She's gone through a lot.

She's got two kids. Were you a little scared or were you like, no, this, this is a great challenge. It's a good question. I think they probably had both of that in me. You know, I had, this is a great challenge and I really want to do this at the same time. You know, and I'm a little scared.

So I think all those were together. I think in the very beginning of our relationship is you start thinking about those when somebody is in another state. All of a sudden more details start coming and it starts becoming a little overwhelming of like, okay, one of us needs to leave friends. One of us has to sell a house or both of us have to in my account.

I would definitely need to because mine was small. All these things start flooding and it definitely increased over the months. And then we got married in June and I was just feeling some things, feeling some things, feeling some things. I had no idea what it was. I think in years past I would have gone, oh, that's the Holy Spirit telling me that, you know, slow down or back up or whatever.

But I'm like, no, I'm married. And so I think we were at an event in October of that year. I've been on the board of a ministry called Lighthouse Family Retreat. Amazing ministry that helps families that have a child with cancer just have a week at the beach and we serve them. And it's amazing.

Couldn't wait to do that with my family. And all of a sudden, you know, that week I'm just almost becoming like paralyzed in some sense and called a friend and just tell them what they're experiencing. And he's like, you have anxiety and you probably have depression.

It's probably, you know, that. And so, unfortunately, I have to tell Rachel that day something's wrong with me. And here she is, husband number three, but this one has something else that's really different. So that started that journey for probably two and a half years of, you know, just working through that, you know, counseling for both of us, counseling for me. And I tell you, really, the big part for me was even though being in ministry forever and probably getting dribs and drabs of it over the years and maybe even being really solid in it at some point, but not at this point. But it was really coming back to how God loves me. I'm completely loved, completely forgiven, 100%, can't like me anymore tomorrow than he does today. And it was really grabbing on to that identity in Christ that, you know, freed me from all of that. That's not an easy walkthrough, is it?

No. Do you think the marriage was something that brought that to the surface for you? Yes, I definitely think that it's something that I had experienced in small doses over the years, but I did not know what it was. And being single, you know, you could manage that a little bit. I think with all of it coming together, you know, you talk about the big things in your life, you know, your spiritual life, finances, your home, your family life, career and all that, things changed.

Same place of employment, but what I did really changed a lot. We moved about 20 miles north from this little place I had, you know, to a large home, neighborhood, all of a sudden I have two children. You know, there's no warm up, you know, all of a sudden you come back from honeymoon, there's two kids there and you're a dad.

And they're busy. Yeah, right. And then I'm, you know, husband for the first time, you know, and Rachel is strong and beautiful and wonderful and has the past of what she had, you know, bringing in those things. So there was all these things that, you know, you look at, you're like, well, no wonder you were overwhelmed. I mean, Rachel, how did you respond?

Yeah, not well. The spouse going through something that their spouse is going through, that's often really hard. I always say, you know, if you skip one of the faces of grief, you will eventually find it.

And I skipped anger. And I was mad, you know, I was like, God, you've let me bury two husbands and you've seen me through that and then you let me marry a man who's sick. And I will say for any wife who's listening that's going through this with their own husband, like depression and anxiety feels like water in your hands. Like there's nothing to grab, you know, it's not like you can just go, oh, your pancreas is failing, let's just give you a shot.

I mean, it's so like multifaceted approach and does this medicine and this counselor and this psychiatrist and this friend, are they going to all say the right things to make you better? It felt pretty hopeless. You know, I'm going to be really honest. It felt like, is this what I've signed up for? And I was just mad, frankly, because I was like, could you have not taken care of this like before we got married, you know?

Because you've gone through this season, but that wasn't the plan. And I will tell you, for someone who doesn't struggle with depression and you've woken up every morning of my life just happy to hear the birds singing, there is judgment for people. There is a judgment and a pride when that has not been your story. And this is embarrassing to say, but you're like, well, I mean, I've been through a lot and I didn't have that problem. I would never have articulated that, hear me? But there was a level of judgment in my heart that the Lord was like, we're done with this. Probably something like, that's nothing compared to what I've been through.

Kind of even the comparison. Well, it was almost like you got kind of everything you wanted today. How could this create such unrest in your heart, you know? And did you know this was coming? And that's the thing with depression. A lot of times there's no trigger sometimes.

I mean, you can look back and you can go, oh, there was a root there and there was a root there. And as a mom, did you feel a protectiveness? Oh my God. The dog and pony show that I was doing to not make them look at Rod and the hard things he was going through. I was like, look away, kids.

Like, nothing to see here. He's an amazing dad and he's awesome. And I was wanting them to just not see. Because I know how kids are.

They're going to think, I did this to dad. I mean, like, he's in the bed and he can't function or whatever. And he was never, you know, it really wasn't that bad. But at the end of the day, it was more like you felt like you were having a heart attack every day.

More than like, I'm in the bed all the time. It wasn't that. It was just he lived with this level of like an elephant on his chest.

Which made you more tired and not wanting to do life. And I bet you felt incredible shame and guilt. Oh, tremendous. All of that. Yeah, which you already, you know, like she said, there's probably this judgment that you feel.

And then you're already, you know, heaping your other stuff on top of yourself as well. And I was speaking with somebody a few months ago whose child dealt with that, with depression. And he said, kind of like Rach did, like I grew up every day.

I couldn't wait for the day. I'm like, wake up and ready to go. I couldn't understand. When anybody had depression, I'd say, go exercise, go outside.

You know, go this, go that. And then he said, one time I had put on this medication for a little bit. I can't remember what he said the issue was, but it put him in a state of depression. And he said, I really thank God all the time for that because it really changed my view of my daughter's deal. And anybody that ever tells me they have this, you know, I have a whole nother view.

Because there is no quick solution to go to the gym and work out in endorphins or whatever. I now learned that that is not possible because I experienced it, you know, myself. And I will say for the listener too, you know, who is the wife like me, when you're one with your husband, I had unforgiveness towards Rod's body. And because we were one in the, you know, one, I mean, we were one, we were married. I was impeding his healing with my unforgiveness because I was literally holding his body hostage like, do better, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, which is what I'd done my whole life. I really learned, to be honest, the power of communion. I remember I just sat down with the Lord and I was just crying out.

I can't remember, his mom was supposed to come over and I was just like, I don't want to see anybody with the name of Brown. I mean, I was just kind of done. I was done. I was like, ugh. And the Lord, you know, it was so great. I just was like, I just needed to be in your presence. You know, I was just going back to what I knew.

I was just like, I'm going back to your presence. And he sat me down. He was like, I'm going to teach you communion today. And I just got schooled.

I can't really tell you all the things that the Lord said to me that day, but it was like, as I broke the brim, I realized that, you know, it was like the Lord was just breaking off unforgiveness from my heart. And then, what do you mean, like take us back to that room? Here's what I want to say. I want to save that. Sure.

For tomorrow. Sure. Because I really want you to explain that to us because what I've heard so far is, you know, we have this third marriage and we have an angry woman and a depressed man.

And I think a lot of couples get there. And my question is, OK, how did you get out? And you're not going to be able to tell us that in one minute, but you can take a day to tell us. So let's let's push pause and say let's hear the rest of the story tomorrow. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to David Ann Wilson with Rachel Faulkner Brown and Rod Brown on Family Life Today. You know, it can feel so exasperating when life seems to keep kicking you down right when you think you'll be able to get back up. And Rachel's story has certainly shown us a living, breathing example of that. You know, in the midst of things in my life that have felt relentless in their kicking.

You know, I've been a chronic pain patient for almost 14 years with a herniated disc in my back. I have often wondered, where is God? Where is he?

And what is he doing? Well, maybe you're like Rachel and me. Can you relate to that?

Have you ever wondered where is God and what is he doing? You know, I've genuinely appreciated this conversation today because it helps me to feel like I'm not the only one who struggles with this stuff. Well, Rachel has written a book called His Name, Our Hope in Grief. And we want to send you a copy of that book as our thanks when you partner financially with us today and help more families.

Hear more conversations like the one you just heard today that are helpful to people like you and to me. So you can partner online at or by calling 800-358-6329. That could be a one time gift or it can be a recurring monthly gift. Again, the number is 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And you can feel free to drop us a letter via snail mail.

Our address is Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. And coming up tomorrow, we're going to hear more of Rachel's story about how when she finally surrendered everything over to God, it made it possible to forgive and extend kindness and love. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. . .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-25 07:25:15 / 2023-04-25 07:36:57 / 12

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