On Mothers’ Day new mum reveals how family life weaves together with faith

published on 24 Mar 2017

“To be a strong mother doesn’t mean I can’t also be vulnerable – I just need to trust that through faith we are made strong.”

On Mothers’ Day, new mum Lieutenant Jenni Tomlin reveals how family life weaves together with her faith.

To Jenni, Mother’s Day is centred on understanding that women link the generations. Mothers invite their children not just to be a part of their family’s stories, but a narrative which has gone for generations about how God loves us and how we find strength in that love and the love of family.

While growing up, Jenni’s grandmother and mother used to tell her ‘Life at its longest will soon be past, only what is done for Jesus will last’. This saying has woven through her life in a powerful way, reminding her life is fuller when it impacts others in a positive way.

“Faith has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and the message of being a part of the story of God and in God’s family has been a big part of my life,” Jenni says.

While Jenni was growing up both her parents were Salvation Army officers. She spent most of her childhood in Wood Green, London, and became a Christian when she was 14 at a Salvation Army conference.

She said: “Even in my childhood I was surrounded by stories and songs about the love of God, and how I am welcomed into His family and how I am offered freedom and forgiveness and grace even as a child.

“To be given that narrative of your life as a child helps you to feel secure in a loving family, but something that goes beyond my family. It’s not just that my mother loves me, it’s that she is loved by God and the richness of her love comes from her faith.”

Her faith was enrichened while studying Theology at Oxford University, where she met her husband Sam. They regularly talked about how they were drawn to helping the poorest and most marginalised people in inner cities.

“The passions of our hearts that God had given us dovetailed with the purpose of The Salvation Army and what it was raised up to do in the worldwide church: focus on people who are more vulnerable, more marginalised, more excluded from community.”

After graduating she worked for a year at our church and community centre in Cambridge Heath as a community centre manager. She then went on to work for an international development charity in London and subsequently trained at Kings College to become a Religious Education teacher, a subject she taught for two years at a school in North London.

Throughout this time she felt called into officership, and started at training at William Booth College in September 2014.

Lieutenants Jenni and Sam Tomlin are serving in their first post as officers at Liverpool Stoneycroft, where they began in July 2016 when Jenni was already three months’ pregnant with their first child.

“Being a mum for the first time in lots of ways you feel very vulnerable all of a sudden,” Jenni says. “Coming from being indestructible and independent, all of a sudden I have a baby.”

“Something I’ve learnt from my mother and what you think about in motherhood is that it’s okay to be vulnerable. Lots of women have taught me that even in a place of weakness you can still have incredible faith.

“To be a strong mother doesn’t mean I can’t also be vulnerable – I just need to trust that through faith we are made strong.”

Alongside Sunday services they run a toddler group, lunch club, and Recycles Merseyside which offers free courses in cycle maintenance for young adults who have learning difficulties or who are vulnerable and receive housing support.