So I feel like we're in a Netflix series and we've watched part one and part two, and we can't wait to sit down tonight and watch and hear and listen to part three.
I know. Talk about like drama, real life, hard things, but also inspiring things. 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 familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app.
This is Family Life Today. If you've been journeying with us the last two days, and if you haven't, I'm just telling you, you should go back to part one, day one, day two. I think you're on the edge of your seat like we are because we're sitting back here with Rod and Rachel Brown, who are back in the studio. We can't ask you to tell your story all over again, but we'll just say welcome back. Thank you. And the short version would be Rachel was married twice, and both husbands died. And again, listeners, you went, what?
Go listen. Incredible heartfelt story. And now- And you had two children, a boy and a girl with your second marriage. Yeah, and they were six and four years old. And now you're married to Rod, who's sitting here. Which was a pretty sweet, romantic kind of story of how you met, got together.
It was pretty remarkable. Yeah, honestly, when you were telling that yesterday, I did not see where it was going to turn. Even though I've read through your book, I remember hearing this part. So I'm like, wow, this is awesome. You're married.
You've got your man. And then you talk about struggle with anger and depression. So that's where we were yesterday.
Well, now you're in a long-term struggle in a marriage, which is very different from what you've experienced before. And we brought you in to talk about your book, His Name, Our Hope and Grief. And we've barely skimmed the surface of the book because your story's been riveting and seeing God at work in both of you.
Yeah, so Kenny, catch us up a little bit about, okay, you're now married. Was this struggle with depression for you, Rod, and some of your anger, Rachel, was that like year one? Yes. Yeah, and it hit pretty hard and pretty fast.
Yes. I mean, I could feel it underlying, but I just did not know what it was until October when we were at this retreat serving together. And then I'm just finding myself unable to do something very simple. It was almost, we were actually making a pancake breakfast and I ran Chick-fil-A's for two or three years of my life. And I could be in the kitchen and be doing 16 things all at once and do everything. And here I was struggling to do this one thing. And that's kind of when I was like, something's really wrong with me, I think, besides just feeling this unusual feeling day after day after day.
I'm just kind of like the walls are closing in on me. And I don't know that taking your newly blended family on a mission trip is like the greatest idea, like six months into marriage. And your kids were how old? They were five and seven.
Yeah, five and seven. We were like, this is the greatest idea we've ever had. And Rod was like, I've always wanted to take my family. And honestly, we had a great time and our kids for years said that was their favorite vacation.
We were like, well, that was anything but a vacation. Let me just remind you. Rachel, you said yesterday, you're trying to cover this up for the kids knowing that Rod's going through this struggle of anxiety. And because you're trying to protect them because they've already lost their dad.
Yeah. Well, and I did not want them to see or own that we've caused this, you know, because I know how sensitive, you know, kids can be. And when they're like, Dad, something's wrong with Dad.
Did we do that? You know, we just got married, and they were so excited to have a dad. I really did want to protect Rod as angry as I was. I didn't want that to spill over. And the spill is real, as we all know, with illness in your family, but it was this hopelessness to it. I'm not going to lie. And sickness and in health, is that going to be like, like, there's not going to be any health?
Like, is this my new normal? Oh, yeah. And I mean, I wanted, on my worst day, I wanted out.
I'm not going to lie. I mean, I was just like, I want to quit this, you know, because we, me and the kids, we had it pretty good, you know. And that's marriage, you know.
I mean, it's like a single woman with two kids. And, you know, we were kind of living our best life. And this was like, upset in the apple cart, like, big time. And, you know, I mentioned yesterday before we left that the Lord sat me down and really taught me the power of communion. So as I broke the bread, because I will tell you, I really think that so many wives and husbands, like, impede each other's healing with unforgiveness.
And I think forgiveness is the root that unlocks marriages, it unlocks futures, it unlocks healing, it unlocks identity, because we hold things and the body keeps score. Now, had you told Rod? I mean, was this something you verbalized, I'm mad, I'm mad at God, I'm sort of mad at you? Well, I could see it.
You know, I could definitely see it. And you said you felt shame about it. Oh, yeah.
Tons of it, yeah. Judgment and shame, like, we're having a baby in our house and just perpetuating. I mean, my judgment and pride and, like, I didn't struggle with this and I've lost two husbands. Like, get yourself together. That's what people who have not struggled with depression, that's what they think.
Just, can you just, like, get over yourself? And they, that is not helpful. And I was being anything but helpful and probably a little passive aggressive. I mean, I'm sure a little bit of the silent treatment, like, I just, I can't deal with you. I see Rod shaking his head yes. Usually when somebody says a little passive aggressive, it's a lot more than we think. Is that what you're feeling that was happening a little bit?
Yes. And at the same time, I think that I choose to move past that time so I don't really try to remember it in details. I just know there was so many new things, you know, learning to become a father. I mean, the kids were calling me dad and, you know, they loved me before. I mean, Campbell, our daughter, like, the first day I met her, she started calling me dad, which was, you know, five months before we got married. The day we're getting married, Davis is up there with us and, you know, the guy's pastor's praying over us and he's just like, thank you, Mr. Rod. Thank you, Mr. Rod. Because I'm, you know, marrying his mom, going to be his dad.
So, you know, I just have these precious children in my life and a woman that I'm so excited to be married to. But a weightiness. Yes.
Yes. And this weightiness. And then, you know, you're learning to communicate, you know, with your spouse. I mean, we were been in two different states, you know, so you're learning. Her personality is very different than mine.
Our upbringings are very different, you know, so you're learning to navigate all that. And now I'm a father. She's been the mom to them for, you know, years, one of the early conversations we had because I'd seen this go wrong with friends. I said, hey, I'm not going to discipline them for at least six months and I'm not going to like demand they call me like that or, you know, they were already doing that. But I was just like, I'm not going to demand any of those things. I really want to come in as, you know, a supporter of yours and get to know the kids and just develop this relationship. Because for so many other people I'd seen, it was like coming in and now I'm the dad and, you know, demanding these things. I'm like, I don't want to demand anything.
I want to grow in love with them and become that, that they'll want, you know, want to have that type of relationship. I'm sure our blended families are totally resonating with all of this as well. Oh, man. Yeah.
Well, and Rod did it right. I mean, you know, that was like such a gift to the kids to not and, but he would always call it, they've been in a system of mothering. And as we all know, a system of mothering is not a system of fathering. That's true. And he would be like, they've been in your system.
I'm like, they have. It's just me, myself, and I parenting these kids, you know, because I mean Blair died really before he got to really parent. There was a little bit going on, but he would leave at six and get home at six thirty and they went to bed at seven. I mean, you know, there wasn't a lot going on parenting wise. Yeah.
And for me, it wasn't, hey, that's a negative. It's just a reality. And we need to face the realities. You know, there's reality, there's negative reality, there's real, you know, positive reality, whatever. But I've always just wanted to face, you know, just to name them and, you know, they're out there. There's just a, it's a reality.
And I don't know that that was a positive or negative reality. It was just is what it was. And we just had to learn, you know, to do that together, you know, for sometimes it felt like three on one. And, you know, and I just had to be patient through that. I was just like, this is going to take time for us to be a family together.
We actually went to a blended family retreat. Ron Deal, you know, he was saying, you know, it takes what, seven, eight, nine years. She's like, that's not going to be our story.
It's not going to take us that long. You know, I was a blender. I was not a crock pot. I was like, I just refuse to partner with that. Like, we are different.
I remember I heard Ron share that. And so I've shared that with blended families and they're shocked and angry. Like, it cannot take that long. And it takes every bit of that. And it just, yeah, it just takes time. I mean, I think children are different and that relationship with them is different. So with a father and son, it might take less time than a father and daughter. You know, for Campbell and I, it took a little bit longer.
But, you know, the last five, six years have been amazing. But, you know, there was some stuff going on, you know, before that of her at some point wrestling with the grief of her father, who she never really knew. And all of a sudden, when she started grieving that, she didn't know, like, how do I love him and love Rod? I don't know how to do that. And so around 10 years old, she was really confused of, you know, how do I do both of these?
And I don't know that I'm going to call you dad because I have a dad already. And, you know, some of those things that are heartbreaking at the same time, I was just so excited that she shared them out loud. And then we could start, you know, working through that, which was very fast once she started admitting it.
It was a, like, fast journey back to a beautiful place. And let's say also, you have a high pressure job that you're doing on top of that as well. Yes, yes. And ministry.
Right. And it was changing a lot and a lot of dealing with a lot of new things there. And I think I would tell, you know, you've been kind of sharing some advice. I would say anytime you're in trouble in anything, and I was in a lot of trouble in those months, you know, whether it be asking for help, parenting, asking for help at my job, like, hey, can you go on this trip with me? Because I just don't feel like myself.
I would love your help. Friends, whatever. Just ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help.
And I'm so grateful that my pride didn't get in the way of that because it easily could have, but I'm so glad it didn't. Yeah. Okay, Rachel, let's go back to, are you in your house? Are you in your house alone?
Yeah. As you're about to do communion. Yeah, my mother-in-law was going to come over and I told her she couldn't come.
And I was like, I can't see the Brown family this day. I was just, you know, it was kind of like the tip of the iceberg for me this day. And the Lord sat me down. I just was, you know, in my own quiet time doing what I do. And it just became apparent to me that I was in, you know, judgment and pride against Rod.
And, you know, I tell women this all the time because I do think forgiveness is just such a, you know, it's such the key to the door that we all wish we could open so many times, but we're just not willing to admit. And it was certainly that for me. And when I took communion that day, I broke the body. I just went and got a cracker in it. I don't even think it was grape juice.
I didn't have any. And I broke his body and it was just like I had revelation around what I'd been doing my whole life. And I broke the body. It was like, I'm breaking this for Rod's body to be healed and for you to be healed and for you to extend healing to Rod. It's very difficult to articulate because it was just such a moment between me and the Lord. There almost like aren't words like adequate and then I just remember like really seeing Jesus on the cross with the crown of thorns on his head. And I truly believe for anybody who's experiencing depression, anxiety, like really focusing on the crown of thorns being pressed on his head because there was something about like Rod's brain was being just pressed. And I just think Jesus took all that with the crown on his head for depression, for anxiety, for all these things.
He was bloodied. And so that was like the thing. And I just saw myself extending forgiveness to Rod, extending forgiveness to myself for the judgment and the pride that I'd had. And then just drinking and just really assuming that forgiveness for myself, for giving Rod's body. I mean, it was just this mashup of all the things that I'd really missed in communion. I just never fully understood it. And too much has been forgiven, too much do you want to forgive.
And I'd just never really gotten it. And after that, I think it was like that moment where I just released him to heal and just stopped kind of holding him in contempt. And I think as wives we can do that and our oneness creates that. And so that just freedom for Rod to heal, freedom for my judgment, freedom for my pride, freedom for my unforgiveness.
There was a walking out of it as with anything, but it was definitely. And then I went and prayed with a woman. My friend invited me to go have prayer on this little cottage in Milton, probably about a month after Lighthouse Family Retreat when he really had his breakdown. And at this prayer session, which I didn't want to be at and I'd never been to anything like this. And she looked at me and she was like, Rachel Brown. And she was like, she opened her Bible and she didn't know me at all. And she looked at me and she was like, the picture I see is a crocus coming up out of a winter snow. And she was like, has your life been really hard? I mean, it was this random woman who I didn't know. It was like God Himself said, Rachel, I see your life's been hard.
And I still go back to that day because I just, as much as all of us have been through hard things, you just want to know that God knows, you know, and you know that He knows. But yet you don't know. You know what I mean? It's like, does He see me?
Like, this is really sucked. I mean, does He see how sad this has made me to have Rod so sick? And I'm deep in it at this point. And y'all, I start like dry heave crying. And there were two other people in the room that knew my story and they were just, they were crying with me because it was like she said, the God of the universe knows your heart.
He sees you. And then she said, you will declare the goodness of God before the nations. And I knew it was true. I was not in ministry at this point.
I mean, I'm like just a mom with a depressed husband in Milton, Georgia, and two kids. But I knew, I knew I had a story to tell. I knew, yeah, I knew God was calling me into this life and that's when I started Be Still was about six months later. Wow. Yeah.
So Rod, how did you dig out? I mean, did you sense a change in Rachel towards you and did that help or? Yes, definitely. I mean, I don't know, you know, exactly when the timing of it, but I definitely remember a switch.
I think, you know, some great counseling, some great truth, us learning how to communicate with each other better. And I was actually on some medication for probably 26, 27 months at the time. And even when it came time, even at some point I told Rachel, you know, on the medication, I was like, I'd be fine staying on this the rest of my life. I mean, if I need to be on medication, I'm okay with that. But I knew that I wasn't fully experiencing life.
I think there was a tad dull on it. And so I just, you know, talked to my doctor about getting off and I never, you know, I didn't have any problems getting off. And so, yeah, slowly. And then, yeah, so it's been probably been six and a half years, I guess, something like that.
You know, maybe seven, but at least six and a half. Well, and now you get to help men who are in the same situation, which is like so hard for men to talk about because it's embarrassing. And, you know, a lot of times they're suicidal. I can't tell you how many men I've talked to who have expressed that, you know, whether it be anxiety or depression or early in marriage or about to get married and having a bunch of things. It's just amazing how many people, somebody will tell somebody, I won't even know the person. They'll, hey, I've referred to this guy to you.
It's okay if he calls you. Yes. You know, and so, and so many pastors too, you know. And we're living in silence and darkness. And when it's there, Satan can have a heyday with us personally in our marriages. So people have really surrounded you guys and helped you as you are now helping so many.
Yeah. Well, and on our retreats, on our widow's retreats, we take 20 women on the small retreats. And I would say of those 20, 25 percent are suicides. It's a rampant problem and you cannot heal outside of community. And, you know, as the nation becomes more disconnected, I do think it is a symptom of a disconnected people, world. I think for us, it's just like staying connected to people and being honest. Like vulnerability is where it's at. To me, there's just, you know, hiding is the most miserable place ever. And yeah, I'm just so thankful for Rod that he was able to heal and able to heal to a place to help others.
You know, that's the most amazing part of healing is how can I learn from this and how can I help others. Right. I mean, you've been married 10 years now. Ten years. So that was all year one-ish? Yeah. Yeah. That was in the first five months. It's been a while.
Yeah. What's it like now? What's your marriage? How has this impacted the kids? How's the family? I mean, you know, I mean, maybe one day we get, I get to talk to the kids and see if they even noticed anything.
Really? You know, I have talked to both of them in the last year just because just I feel like my son is old enough for him. You know, so I've shared things with him. And then something happened with our daughter this fall that kind of I felt like opened the door for me to share a little more with her.
But I'm really not sure to this day how impacted. But I know for us, you know, I just feel like we have grown for sure. I can say for sure every year, you know, since then we've grown together more closely as we have really more owned our identity. I think more and more every year just learned how to support each other. I mean, that's why I feel like my role is in this ministry.
What can I do to support her? What kind of, you know, is it folding chairs? Is it, you know, is it speaking at a fundraiser? Is it, I was on her board for the first few years just to, you know, I've been on board of other ministries, but I wanted to come on. But I also wanted to get off as soon as possible just because it's hers, you know, and, and, you know, family being on the board.
I just really want but I did that for a few years. So I feel like my role with her ministry is just like introduce people, talk to people, you know, whatever she needs. And I just want to help her in all of those things.
If it's taking care of the kids for, you know, the retreat, whatever it is. My role with her is to support her and be still, never alone and all those kind of things. But in marriage, I feel like we get it better all the time. We understand each other better all the time.
We laugh about what we used to cry and yell about. We can now just like our different personalities and just know each other. It's just fun to be able to really trust each other. And the trust took a long time, you know, to really go, I believe in your advice and your wisdom. And then I think for both, you know, both ways, you know, it took us a long time. Yeah, Shelly Giglio posted probably four years ago, don't be afraid to love the hardest.
And I mean, I'm telling you what, like, you know, you just live by statements that you hear other people say, like, whatever you want to call those mantras, whatever. And I remember it just pierced my heart because I was just like, I never want to be afraid to love the hardest. And I feel like we've lost, financially, you know, a person that was very close to us that, you know, stole from a lot of us.
We just checked our daughter out of a residential treatment program for an eating disorder in December. And that was, you know, hardest thing I've ever done besides losing two husbands. It was worse.
It was exponentially worse. And we did it well. I feel like we weather well. And I think one of the big things for me is I just realized that, you know, when you sign up and when you surrender, you know, life is just going to be probably pretty hard. And when you can just get to that place where you're like, life is hard, and yet all of these beautiful things are happening to me, and life is still hard, you know, and Ryan and I are at that place.
And I don't think there's anything that we couldn't go through. And yet I know that, you know, we're doing it and we're just laying our children at his feet because we truly, they're not ours. And it's hard to do that, isn't it?
It is so hard. But we're learning it on another level. And everything that we go through is for us to learn and to give away to others. And, you know, our kids, I tell them, your pain is your superpower.
It is. All of our pain. Collectively, all of our pain is our superpower. And, you know, I look at the Gospels and I'm like, their lives just weren't easy.
At all. So I'm kind of like, why would we think ours is going to be easy? But I'm glad I get to do it with Rod. Hi, 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 might seem to a degree that Rachel's story is all wrapped up with a bow, but we know that's not the case. And she and Rod know that that's not true either. Destinations in the Christian life are rarely what satisfy us, but often what we look for. Because a relationship with God in the good and the bad, in the process, is just as important, if not more so than the actual destinations. Well, Rachel has helped us to see that. And she's written a book called His Name, Our Hope in Grief. This is a book that we believe in so much that we want to send a copy to you as our thanks when you give today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported ministry, and it would not exist without the dedication of our Family Life partners. We wholeheartedly appreciate you if you give. And if you have yet to join us, we'd love it if you'd consider partnering with us today. And when you do, again, as our thanks, we're going to send you a copy of Rachel Faulkner Brown's book called His Name. You can partner with us financially today at familylifetoday.com, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329.
That could be a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift. Again, the number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, let's hear more from everyone to be encouraged about what we often fail to remember. You guys are such a light. You're such an inspiration. Thank you.
Yeah, thanks. Your realness, your honesty, your story. But your surrender to Jesus continually has been just so empowering to all of us. And you guys, our listeners, you're going to want to get this book.
Oh, I'll just say … Yeah, it's so good. As I read through it … It's a devotional. Yeah, it is. It reminded me of what I often forget.
Your story does, but just as you go through, He's our peace. Yeah. He provides. Yeah. He's Yahweh. I mean, He's the great I Am.
I mean, it's just a reminder that we all need to lay our foundation on. This is who He is. Yeah. We're not alone.
No. He is seeing us. He is with us, and He will provide. Yeah, He will. He will.
He has. Coming up tomorrow on Family Life Today is our very own, the man, the myth, the legend himself, Bob Lapine. He's going to be talking to us about forgiveness in marriage, resolving conflict, and seeing patterns in our marriage that aren't healthy that we need to bring to the Lord. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David Ann 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.
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