How I found faith in church after losing my child

Picture the scene: It’s Sunday morning. Our church holds three morning services. Early doors for the quiet ones, 9.30am for the traditional worshippers (organ and choir) and 11.15am for the ‘modern’ worshippers and those with children. With three children, you can imagine which one we go to!

We rush, ever on the side of being late rather than early. Our older children are dragging their feet, having been forced away from the comfy sofa and electronics. Our toddler is charging ahead, keen to get to the toys!

We enter to smiling faces from the welcome team, people who volunteer to say hello and help visitors when they arrive. The church is bustling, so much so that I think there must be an event on! There are familiar and new faces mingling together. The last of the coffee is being served and our three head straight for the biscuit barrel (a bit of bribery on the way!) and each choose one before taking their usual seats.

My hubby busies himself with coats and chatting to another dad about football. We are seated with other families with children, old and young, and new parents with babies in prams. There are also couples soon to be married seated somewhat nervously at the back, waiting to hear banns read. There are couples who’ve been married for decades, there are single people and friends sitting together. There is a pretty even spead of men and women, and the congregation includes people from many different backgrounds and heritages.

I take in the mix of people attending this service and it is pretty humbling and also uplifting- especially having read only a few days before how church attendance is dwindling as the elderly population die off! To see the range of ages was really encouraging. The people in this place were not ‘strange’ or ‘a minority’, they were there simply to be with like-minded people to worship the God of creation, to take time to reflect on their lives and situations. It didn’t feel ‘religious’, it felt natural.

Continue reading

A reflection on grief in the Bible

I wrote and adapted this old post of mine for the recent Service of Remembrance at my church earlier this month. This annual service is aimed at those have lost loved ones in the past year or so. Indeed, we attended during the year of Abi’s death and it was incredibly moving.

With memories of that, two years on, I was somewhat anxious about what to say. Preparing words of comfort for people at pretty raw stages of grief was more challenging than I thought. It’s easy enough online when people seek out the kind of words I write, but to stand up and speak about my view of grief was daunting. Continue reading

Having faith living in such a broken world…

I’ve been so saddened by recent events in the world, including in Paris, that I felt I needed to write about it and to be more vocal about my beliefs.

It started this morning when I read a Christian devotion someone had written online which encouraged those of us who believe in Jesus to talk about it and live our lives through Him.

Firstly, I tend to keep quiet about my deep beliefs because I feel people misunderstand me. But as I wrote this post, I realised that this is what I am doing, today, choosing to open up so that maybe some of what I share will be understood.

Secondly, when I attended church this morning, naturally we prayed for Paris and other parts of the world affected by violence, and sometimes prayer alone can seem so futile in the midst of such sorrow, but also there was an overwhelming sense of people coming together, uniting, in faith and peace, singing all the louder to drown out evil. And knowing the freedom we have to worship together at all was incredibly humbling.

Regardless of what you believe – and I expect many will already be heading for the ‘x’ button to close this post now that I’ve mentioned J already – if we all lived as Jesus himself actually taught us, this world would be filled with peace and love. It wouldn’t stop all bad things from happening – He never promises that! – but it would put an end to humans hurting each other. Where is the threat in that?

So, if you’ve read this far, here is my take on it.

When atrocities happen, to us, to others, people seem to get angry at God, yet when they come together in such unity and strength I always feels this demonstrates exactly how God is working. Predominantly people of no faith will rant and rage with passion about religion and ‘our God’ allowing us all to suffer and perish in the most horrible ways.

It’s undeniable that heinous crimes have been committed in the name of Christ and God, through the centuries. Horrible things have been done to people who follow a religion. But religion and belief in God are not the same. Religion is supposed to provide a system for humans to worship and share a common belief, which, as we humans like to meddle so much in things, we have used and abused in the name of power – we just love hierarchies, riches, control! Atheists have a form of ‘religion’ too, as others – that is, they all believe there is no God at all. It’s still a universal belief system and they have their ways to support their ‘faith’. And it’s important to remember that many major world atrocities have been committed with no reference to God at all.

Continue reading

Book review: Through the eyes of a lion, Levi Lusko

I was contacted by the publicist in Nashville, Tennessee, for the pastor and author Levi Lusko, to review a copy of his first book, Through the eyes of a lion.

51Glh1S+4CL__SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

The press release said:

‘On December 20, 2012, five-year-old Lenya Lusko went to heaven while in her parents’ arms after a massive, unexpected asthma attack. With a ferocious personality and hair that had been wild and mane-like since birth, they called her ‘Lenya Lion’. But a few days before Christmas, Levi and Jennie Lusko had to leave the hospital without their vibrant daughter.

After Lenya’s death, Levi had to make a choice – one that anyone going through dramatic events has to make – to give up or to live. In Through the eyes of a lion, Levi explains why he chose to live, and not just survive – but live with the fire and passion that comes from acknowledging that there is more in this life than what can be seen with the naked eye.’

One afternoon, I had a few hours to myself so I decided to start the book. I couldn’t put it down! In fact, I got a highlighter out and highlighted sections that reached out to me most. I read the book in two sittings, which is pretty impressive as reading for ‘pleasure’ for any length of time has been hard for me since Abi died. I have only managed an hour at most. It even inspired this post which I shared about my faith.

There was much about the story which resonated with me. From the way Lenya died so suddenly. That her parents were with her when she passed. That she was one of four children. And that Levi encourages us to see life with fresh eyes – to see what has been invisible to us until now.

Continue reading