The husband and wife behind the popular Earls Family Vlogs share their inspiring love story of how an expedition to climb Mount Everest deepened their faith, strengthened their commitment, and sharpened their vision to make a difference in the world.
As a senior at West Point, Harold Earls dreamed of summiting Mount Everest after graduation and bringing awareness to the issue of PTSD in soldiers and veterans. But as a novice mountain climber and newlywed, could he really leave his wife, Rachel, on the other side of the world to pursue such a dangerous quest? After all, Rachel’s dream was to be a wife and mother. She knew that her husband’s audacious goal might lead to her to give up everything.
A Higher Calling takes us on a beautiful journey through the ups and downs of their relationship, from their unlikely introduction and whirlwind romance to their fairy-tale wedding and the dreams they shared. Dreams that required tremendous sacrifice and faith—in each other and in God.
As their dreams are realized, witness how Harold and Rachel used their powerful bond of love to overcome obstacles and learn that life is about doing versus having, serving versus getting, being versus wanting.
A Higher Calling shows each of us that when God’s purpose and our passion meet, we can transcend any sacrifice we make on the mountains of adversity. And as we approach life with an attitude of thanksgiving, we realize that being joyful and living in love is worth it. Every time.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Captain Harold Earls IV is an active-duty Army officer currently serving as the Commander of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Harold is a graduate of West Point. He is a recipient of the Major General Smythe Leadership Award and is US Army Airborne/Ranger qualified.
Rachel Earls is a beloved vlogger, business owner, Army wife, and mother, and she is the founder of Earls Family Foundation. Rachel graduated cum laude from Florida State University, where she was heavily involved in service projects for organizations including the FSU Wesley Foundation and the Chi Omega sorority.
Read an Excerpt
My husband might die.
I’m wide awake, lying on my back, staring at the ceiling in an unfamiliar room, while these four words loop in my head. I am staying with a friend and fellow military wife in Colorado. Earlier in the day, I tried to keep my composure. But now, in the quiet darkness, I can’t hold back my tears. The worry has set in strong, as this possibility feels very real. Much too real.
Harold might die.
My husband, my best friend and the love of my life, chose to leave me to climb a massive mountain halfway across the world…and he wasn’t even a climber when I met him three years ago!
We haven’t been married for a full year yet. I decided I couldn’t sit at home waiting for Harold. I wanted my own story and my own adventure. I needed a change of pace if I was going to keep my sanity. I didn’t want to stop living a full life and feel stuck in a period of waiting. My plan was to make the most of our time apart, so I embarked on my own trip, leaving Georgia and flying to Colorado, with plans to continue on to several other spots.
Harold had called me a few hours earlier from Mount Everest’s Advanced Base Camp. He’d sounded exhausted as he told me about the significant snowstorm headed his way, forcing his team to climb back down to a lower elevation. I know with bad weather conditions, a tired body, and many hours of descending in low visibility, the chances of something going wrong are significantly higher.
I was feeling okay until I received an email from Tommy, Harold’s best friend and their team’s camp manager. I open it again, noting the parts that stand out.
I woke up this morning to a snowstorm at Base Camp.…
I do not know how extreme this snowstorm is up there but can imagine it has been significant.…
They are currently snowed in at ABC.…
The snow will delay any movement for several days.…
The trails are currently under snow and avalanches will be more prevalent with the fresh powder.…
Please pray that the weather clears up for our team and the others at higher camps and that everybody makes smart decisions, as I expect they will.…
Tommy’s email says movement is delayed, yet I know they are pressing on. Is my husband making a bad decision—perhaps a fatal one?
I’m terrified. I don’t know when I’ll hear from him next, if at all.
I am trying to be strong. To enjoy my own adventures. But deep down, I’m afraid of being left alone. I fear if something does happen, I will blame Harold for making the choice to leave. Or maybe I’ll blame myself for letting him go.
These aren’t the typical worries of a twenty-four-year-old newlywed, but they are my reality until Harold is finally home and in my arms. Every day I’m realizing how precious and fragile life is and what truly matters. It’s not the material things, the success, the money, or our physical appearances. It’s the people we love.
The little moments count.
Living with that truth in the forefront of your mind changes you. It’s changing me. I am starting to approach life with an attitude of thanksgiving, even in the midst of my trials. I realize my time with Harold is limited, and time is better spent being joyful and living in love than living in anger, frustration, or stress. I remind myself something I have told others: You are capable of more than you can imagine. And with God by your side, you will always come out stronger!
It would be easy to let fear take over, but I’m not going to allow fear to write my story. I won’t be controlled by my current circumstances. Tonight, I choose faith over fear. Just like I did this morning. Just like I will do again tomorrow and the next day and the next. Until Harold is back with me and we are facing our next adventure together.
As I lie in bed, wiping the tears off my cheeks, I think about all those moments early in our relationship, and I realize something. Little moments can turn out to be big moments, the life-changing ones. Like being contacted out of the blue by a stranger who turns out to be the love of your life….
Chapter 1: The First Message
Spoiler alert! I didn’t choose the princess. This love story is a bit more unconventional. In this tale, the guy meets the gal, falls in love, and instead of conquering the dragon, takes off to conquer the world’s tallest mountain, leaving her to question if there will even be a happily ever after.
For my entire childhood, I was dead certain I would meet a girl and it would be love at first sight. No question about it. I was sure God had a grand, crazy plan for the way I was going to meet my wife.
I grew up knowing what I wanted out of life and never being scared to go after it. Wild adventures filled my bucket list, from visiting the Maasai tribe on the plains of Africa to exploring the Amazon Rainforest. However, climbing Mount Everest topped the list.
I don’t hold back from dreaming big, and once I have a dream in mind, I can’t stop thinking about it until I make it happen. If I say I’m going to do something, I will do it or literally die trying. I can’t say that’s the healthiest way to live, especially if the dream is deadly and means leaving behind the ones you love, but that’s who I am.
I had just started my sophomore year at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I was playing baseball and was part of the Corps of Cadets.
One weekend I was able to get away and meet my best friend, Tommy, at Disney World. It wasn’t long before I made eye contact with a very pretty girl. She had long hair and attracted quite a crowd. Kids flocked around her, staring as they waited in line to talk to her. She was none other than Princess Jasmine.
As Tommy and I passed, she looked straight at me in her turquoise two-piece and waved. Or maybe she was motioning for the little kids to walk around us. Either way, I immediately got butterflies.
Maybe she’s the one, I thought.
After she was done signing all the kids’ booklets and foreheads, she walked up to us and smiled. “Are you boys too nervous to talk to a princess?”
I fainted. No, not really, but I felt like I could have. Jasmine must cast spells in addition to granting wishes, because I was hooked! I finally got my nerve up, chased her down, and asked her on a date. Take that, Aladdin! Maybe it was a little cocky of me to think God had set aside a literal princess for me, but nothing is too big for God!
After my date with Princess Jasmine, though, I realized there wasn’t much there besides an initial physical attraction. I knew the type of relationship I wanted would require a deeper emotional connection and a foundation rooted in God. I imagine God chuckles at us when we think we have it all figured out according to our own master plans, when what we really need to do is loosen our grip on being in control and see what He has in store for us.
Little did I know, God had someone for me who far exceeded any princess I could have dreamed of. Instead, she was an everyday, sweatpants-wearing, brownie-loving, strong, independent, God-fearing woman. She didn’t wear makeup often, she rarely woke up before nine in the morning, and her car was usually missing a hubcap. But, man, did I fall head over heels for her…and fast.
Let’s all take a moment to laugh at the fact that Harold thought Princess Jasmine is the one who grants wishes. The genie would be so offended! That’s my husband for you: master of mixing up story lines and butchering song lyrics. I can’t say those were qualities I was looking for in a spouse, but I’ve come to love his quirks.
When I began looking for a partner in life, it was important to me to find someone who was ambitious and passionate about working toward his goals, and, boy, did I find him. I met a man who believed big dreams were possible and chased them down with everything he had. This relentless drive, a quality that made me fall in love with him, would also lead him to pursue a dangerous dream that placed both of us on a precarious journey. A journey that easily might have killed Harold.
Like most girls, I have always loved love. Chick flicks are my jam, and I often dreamed about how my own love story would play out. I wanted a love better than what was in books and television shows, better than anything I could imagine. I’m not going to lie, though; I didn’t know if that kind of great love actually existed in the real world.
By the time I was a sophomore in college, I was discouraged by the thought of love. Actually, discouraged doesn’t do justice to the intensity of my feelings. I felt broken, confused, angry, and lost. I had all but stopped believing in love. I had just ended a relationship with someone I thought I saw my future with, and I had never felt that kind of heartache before. It was a deep ache in my soul that wouldn’t go away. It lingered and festered. Truthfully, I listened to some of the lies it created in my head. I allowed questions to consume me until I was drowning in self-doubt.
It’s natural to hold on to things for too long, but healing can’t happen until we finally let go. I was hurt, and I didn’t want to be hurt again. I built walls, became closed off, and pushed away interested guys for a time. I still longed to be loved and to give love in return, but I didn’t feel like it would ever happen for me. Quite frankly, I had a lot of healing to do.
Table of Contents
1 The First Message 3
2 Love at First Phone Call 12
3 "We're All a Little Weird. And Life Is a Little Weird." 21
4 A Million Times Yes 30
5 A Dangerous Dream 35
6 Short End of the Stick 44
7 When Nothing Is Certain, Everything Is Possible 54
8 The West Point Girlfriend 62
9 No Food, No Cake, No Condoms 70
10 An Extra Seventeen Swiss Francs for the Funeral 78
11 That Could Have Been Me 88
12 The Dirty Truth of Achieving Big Dreams 98
13 Promises I Can't Keep 110
14 The What-Ifs, the How Comes, and the Why Me's 121
15 Beautiful Things Along the Way 127
16 Summit Fever 133
17 The Death Zone 141
18 Snow Blind 152
19 Dancing with Death 160
20 Homecoming 172
21 Ranger School 181
22 The Next Adventure 192