Rachel Solomon: Never under estimate the love that you can get from a “mom” that is not biological. That is what she is to me! Wisdom, a stern voice, a gentle hug and a nudge to look to God for the answers. I’ve seen the happy times for Rachel, the scary times and the heart breaking times and through them all, I’ve seen her seeking God. One can never have too many people in their life to help keep them on track. So grateful God put her in mine.
As I entered the world in 1939 as Rachel Ann Crews, I had no idea what my childhood years would bring. About age four, I became aware of our family life, I heard shouting, arguments, and profanity as my mother and father embroiled in domestic problems that continued throughout my teen years. When the problems turned into spousal abuse, we would call the police. Although it seemed I held my breath for years anticipating what struggle might happen next, fortunately, the struggles were interrupted periodically with good times, and we could exhale our fears for a while. Although there was strife at home, we went to church every Sunday and smiled as if everything was wonderful. Although I felt a connection to God at church, God was not present in my childhood home.
In my younger years, church and school became my safe havens. I looked forward to school during the week and to church on Sunday because these were places where no one was fussing at me. During my school years I excelled in my classes, made friends, played sports and found a sense of belonging. During my church years I studied the Bible, made friends, found mentors and felt a sense of acceptance far beyond my expectations. I came to believe that Jesus, indeed, did love all the little children.
Although there was ongoing turmoil between our parents, both parents were usually at home. There were occasions when daddy would be gone with no explanation. I learned years later that his absences were to dodge bill collectors. I went to three schools in the 7th grade, again with no explanation; just before, it was due to failure to pay bills, especially the rent. By the eighth grade, our family situation stabilized somewhat, and we bought our first home. I was able to go to the same school until graduation. During my high school years, our family deteriorated to the point where my daddy picked up my younger sister from school and left town; my mother had no idea where they were, and we feared they were gone forever. Although she had her share in the domestic problems, mother took us to church and saw that we had food to eat and a place to live.
I became engaged in my senior year of high school, and following graduation, I married my high school sweetheart Talmadge Solomon–one of the best decisions I have ever made. We shared a common faith and always went to church together. During our first year of marriage my daddy died while hundreds of miles from us. My baby sister was returned home and the funeral for my daddy proceeded as if we were a normal family. I did not cry because I felt no loss. Years later, as my husband held me, I wept uncontrollably over all the things my daddy had missed, most of all, my graduation and my wedding.
Although we married as teenagers, we began immediately to build our Christian lives together. We were serious about life, and over the next ten years, we had two children, moved to a state far away, worked so my husband could complete seminary, and we began full-time ministry work in NC and VA in the late 1960’s.
We reared our two children in a stable, loving home, and we were surrounded by hundreds of Christians who valued our Kingdom-work. In the late 1980’s, at the age of 47, I started to college. Some of my friends said, “But, you’ll be 50 by the time you finish!” I told them I would be 50 anyway, so I might as well get the degree I had wanted all my life–another one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I graduated with high honors for my degree in Criminal Justice in 1989. My subsequent career and retirement with the NC Department of Crime Control and Public Safety made my mid-life and senior years challenging and rewarding. My husband continued in the ministry, and I continued to be involved in every area where I could serve at our Church. Because of our mutual love for God and our mutual love for each other, our connection to all things spiritual continues to be who we are. I began writing an article, GRAY HAIR TALKING, for our church newsletter, which was well received. In a couple of years, I explored how to use my articles for videos on YouTube–another one of the best decisions I have ever made.
At the age of 70, with lots of help from my daughter and other experts, I entered the vast world of social media. My producer really did the whole “lights, camera, action” routine. In five years, we filmed 65 videos, had tens of thousands of hits, hundreds of subscribers, and responses from viewers in over 70 countries. The story of GRAY HAIR TALKING (GHT) entered another phase as I realized the value of this tool to share my faith.
At age 75, I discussed with my daughter a book based on the GHT videos. And at age 76, with my daughter’s expertise, we co-authored our first book of personal devotions, titled of course, GRAY HAIR TALKING, which became available in 2015 at Gray Hair Talking on Amazon.com. Now, at age 77, we are writing our second book, which will have video-driven lessons for any type of class or small group setting based upon the actual GHT videos on YouTube. November 2016 is our projected release date.
I hope the take-aways from this Solomon Saga will be encouraging to you. Your past does not have to predict your future. You can overcome whatever you do not want in your life. Get connected to positive people who can drown out the negativity from other people in your life. Identify your skills and use them for Kingdom-work. If you have a dream, and I believe we all have a dream, do something today that will put you one step closer to God and to that dream. Rachel Solomon
Lord, thank you for blessing me with Rachel. Please be with her and continue to bless those around her. Amen