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I was born into a Catholic family. My parents were not exactly religious, but they did make sure their children participated in all the required Catholic ceremonies and attend church each Sunday.
I was definitely not the best theological student. If I forgot what I learned in my religious studies as soon as the class ended or I fell asleep for the better part of each weekly sermon, I did not think I was missing much.
Over the years I would occasionally call out to a higher power when I was in trouble or was struggling with a life lesson, but the truth is, I treated God like a 911 operator. Once the crisis passed, I forgot about Him and any possible help he may or may not have sent my way.
All that changed on August 20th, 2001 when my 16 year old daughter Kalei was killed in a car crash. In the months after her death, He received copious amounts of my undivided attention as I struggled to understand His will and why my child had to die.
It was a turbulent time, as there were many days that I hated God with every fiber of my being. I often swore at Him and promised to bury faith and thoughts of Him as deeply as the body of my child. On other days I was a pitiful repentant soul begging for forgiveness and the life of my child back.
After 10 years of grief I found nothing to ease the ache in my heart. One day a woman I worked with suggested I might find help and guidance in the preaching of her pastor at the Calgary Full Gospel Church. I thought, why not? What do I have to lose?
I ended up attending service after service, each time leaving the Church feeling more and more healed. I knew it was time to make a decision — take His hand and step out into the light, or try to live a hate filled existence where faith cannot exist. I wanted the enlightened path but I was afraid to take that first step. It turned out this special church provided my spirit with exactly what it needed.
On June 26th, 2011 I participated in a water baptism. Unlike the one that took place when I was born, this time it was my decision to commit to living a faith-based life. As I stood in the water, I was asked this question, “What brought you here today?”
With tears pouring down my face and a voice trembling with no-turning-back-now emotion, I spoke these words, “Faith, faith brought me here today. It used to be a part of my life but I think I lost it when my daughter died.
One day, when I was alone, I felt a hand on my back. It felt like it was trying to guide me towards something. I did not hear any words but somehow I knew it needed to be here today. If I want to open up my heart to God again, I needed to be baptized, again, by my choice this time. That is why I am here.”
It was only after that baptism that I came to appreciate that Forever Kalei’s Mom, written during the darkest of times, was more than just a book about life, death and grief. Embedded in each and every chapter, although sometimes painfully hidden, are words of faith. It was never lost after all.