Sister Stories - Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sister Stories

This podcast encourages us to reflect on how the Lord has grown and moulded us into becoming more like Christ.

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S2 - 4. Sarah P.

In this episode, I am interviewing Sarah, who is married to Pim, and has recently retired from her job as a nurse. She is also a mum of two teenagers. Listen in to hear about her walk to faith and how impactful the Church has been to her.

Transcript (Auto-generated)

Welcome everyone to the sisters stories podcast.

This podcast's aim is to marvel at gold sovereignty over each of our lives as women and to encourage 1 another by sharing our stories.

My name is Sophie, and today I am joined by Sara.

Hello, Sophie.

Hello, Sarah.


Thank you for having me.



First of all, can you tell us who you are? Yes.

As you've said, my name is Sarah.

I'm 55 years old.

I am married to him.

And we have 2 teenage children.

I trained and worked as a nurse, specializing in neurological cancers, and I recently retired.


Thank you.

So we're going to be talking about your journey, with Christ and and your faith in him.

But first of all, can you tell us about your family background, how you were brought up? Yeah.


So I grew up in the southeast of England, I'm the youngest of 4 children, 2 boys, 2 girls.

My parents were, very happily married for just short of 60 years.

My dad died in 2015.

But both my parents were from believing homes, my dad's family, actually, both his parents were officers in the Salvation Army, and his grandparents on 1 side were missionaries.

So he and mom did bring us up to go to church.

We belonged to a united reform church near where we lived.

And my dad was a serving elder there.

So they and we were were very involved and committed to that church congregation.

I I do remember it being quite a big part of our lives when we were younger.

But by the time I left home for university, I wasn't really going at all regularly.

So when I went to uni, it didn't really come into my mind to to find a a church to go to or to to join the CU.

I always believed in God you know, god the creator of everything and in Jesus.

And I probably would have self identified as a Christian if if I'd had form to fill in in a box to tick.

I I definitely would have ticked it, but I I wasn't living as a Christian, and I I didn't actually understand what that should look like or what that could look like.


Thank you.

I wonder so you said that you did have a belief in god was there anything in particular about god that you remember knowing or hearing about a lot in church or or maybe nothing in particular I suppose just the not hearing specific things as such, but just the just the foundation that We were brought up to pray before we went to sleep, you know, when we were small, we prayed with 1 or other of my parents.

When we went on holiday, we had a caravan.

We used to be in the same little space sleeping, and we used to say the lord's prayer together before we went to sleep, and, you know, going to church was a routine so I suppose I just, I didn't really question it as a as a as a younger child and then I didn't reject it as such.

I just didn't really embrace him either.


I see what I mean.



That's interesting actually similar.

I I remember praying as a young child as well.


But not not with knowing anything at all about god.

It's such really just quite old.



So can you take you take us through a little bit what the next few years of your life, look like, and how Eventually, you got to believe in Christ, really.


So, there there was 1 kind of more sort of formative experience when I was maybe 9 or 10.

I had a a best friend at school who went to an evangelical church locally And she, invited me and and 1 or 2 other friends to a holiday club that they ran, in the summer.

And I went to that really happily.

I remember really loving it.

So the the young leaders were really cool and it was really great fun and we were outside the whole time.

And, Sounds like solid rooted.



And I still remember a few of the songs that we learned, but I didn't really grasp the gospel, although I'm sure that they were they were teaching it.

And Katie, my friend did her best it evangelize us on the journey to school and, and she once caused a group of us when we were maybe about 10 or 11.

We were we were in a cinema watching a film, and she, like, I suddenly became aware that everyone was getting up and going, and the girl me said Katie wants to leave, and I remember being really annoyed.

But she was obviously uncomfortable with something in the film, and I Although I was quite annoyed and a bit kind of bewildered, I do remember that conviction was quite quite striking, you know, it did kind of make an impression.

So so moving on, after I finished university, then I, trained as a nurse.

I've I've moved to London And after I qualified, I lived and worked in London sort of throughout my twenties, And really, then my life was very secular and pretty hedonistic, really, to be honest.


Did you meet, Pim in that time then? Yes.

I met Pim kind of towards it.

I was 29.

So we met through some friends.

He is originally from the Netherlands, and he came over to do some study and then stayed.

Got a job and just has been here ever since.

So he wasn't really a Christian either.

But he had he had been to church a bit.

He wasn't brought up going to church, but he had a friend who went, and he used to kinda go to a youth group.

And so he had had a bit of an introduction.

And when he came to London, he started going to the Dutch church in the city.

I think he would probably agree that was more the motivation for that was more social than spiritual at the time.


But it was still quite an important part of his life.

But when we decided to get married, it it was important to both of us that we got married in church that, you know, that we had a Christian ceremony.

And, so when when we got married, we had the the UFC minister who I knew from childhood, and the Dutch minister both kind of officiating.

It was really lovely, actually.

It was it was, they they they hadn't kind of practiced beforehand, but they suddenly suggested that the Dutch people say the lord's parent Dutch and the English people in English.

And, like, we've been funny at Cornerstone recently, the kind of cadence is very similar in other languages, so it really it works really.

It was it was quite meaningful.

It was really lovely.

And after we were married, we we did decide we wanted to find a church we could go to together.

Because the Dutch church didn't really work for me.

Was it in Dutch? Yes.

Oh, okay.


And that doesn't help? No.

So is that how you came to Cornerstone, or was that a little bit later on? A little bit later on.

So, we were living in battersea, and we we tried 1 or 2 churches, but didn't really find anywhere that we, felt that comfortable, I remember going to 1 where we were kind of easily the youngest people there.

There were about 10 people there.

So we'd we kind of dipped into 1 or 2, but didn't really, find anywhere.

And then, I think over over a period of maybe 3 or 4 years, after we were married.

There were kind of a number of significant things, really, 3 or 4 significant things that that changed everything.


Because it seems like so far, at least you were trying you were going to church and trying to commit to that, I guess, through your marriage and and being quite intentional about that, but would you say that either of you were committed Christian at that point? No.

Definitely not.



And and we didn't we didn't really know.

We couldn't have told you the gospel really.



We wouldn't really have known what that meant, I don't think.


But I think we were more thinking we wanted to have a family, and so that's that would be a good thing to do.

Not really thinking about our own convictions and yeah.

That's really interesting because, I mean, I guess it it I find it really interesting to see how god draws Yes.

Different people Yes.

For different reasons, actually.

And then actually that producing real fruit in your life and and real conviction and faith because I guess we were with hindsight, we were wanting, you know, they needed something.


But we didn't really know what that was.


That's interesting that both of you together went on that journey or similar journey address.



It wasn't like 1 was thinking what? You know, maybe we're not yeah.



We were both kind of on the same page, but, but having said that, the the first kind of significant thing that happened really was that PIM Kim kind of started on that journey before I did.

So he was working in the city, and I think a colleague of his told him about, a lunchtime service that was happening at St.

Helens in Bishop Bishop's gate.

So he started going to that every week, and he Just had lots of questions, and he he met 1 to 1 with, William Taylor, who was 1 of the the Pastors there.


And sort of, you know, went into things a bit.

So he didn't really say much to me about it at the time, but, but he was clearly, you know, seeking answers and you know, was kind of off on his journey, and I was I was a bit blissfully unaware.

And then the another thing that happened was that we moved from battersea to Kingston, and I had a a a relative who was a Christian who who was at St.

Helens, who told me about a new church plant that was happening in Kingston.

She was clearly keen for us to start going to church.

So she gave us the details and, I think some friends of hers were among the planting team.

So Pim and I, coincidentally attended the first cornerstone service.


And we were just made really welcome and just kept kept coming.


And then probably the the biggest thing that that brought me to faith and the biggest factor looking back was, Kim and I, were given a a diagnosis of infertility.

We had found that out actually prior to moving to King's in, and we had actually started treatment, before we went to that first cornerstone service.

So I realized that this is, you know, potentially quite a controversial issue for many and and also, you know, potentially quite a painful subject for many women and couples and people who may be listening.

So I can only speak from my own experience, you know, and I'm sorry if I say anything that, I'm sure it's fine.

By stressing for anyone listening.

But, but it is a very fundamental Yeah.

It is helpful to hear your experience as well.


So I think, although I'm I I'm had never kind of been someone who was particularly gifted with small children.

I always knew that I wanted to to be a mother and and have a family of my own And it never occurred to me that it wouldn't just happen when I wanted it to happen.

Until it didn't, and, we were then given a reason why it wasn't going to.

So it was a huge blow for both of us.

And also quite a challenge at that time for for both of our developing understanding of of Christianity, and what that meant So we were we were so new at Cornerstone.

It's a bit of a blur, but I don't really remember discussing it with anybody.

And I think maybe subconsciously, I didn't want to have any different views.

You know, I'd I just wanted to keep on with the fertility treatment and get what I wanted.


I think well, I know because he's told me since that Kim did discuss it with the 1 of the pastors at the time.

And I I was kind of aware of that, but he didn't really share all that with me.

But I, and I didn't really want to ask him because I I kind of was frightened that he would say, actually, you know, we need to stop this.

And I I didn't wanna hear that.


But you know, God's mercy and kindness was amazing, and I began to really be able to see that and to understand if not completely accept that I wasn't in control.

So I guess that was the kind of biggest biggest leap, really, the biggest step, just realizing that actually if god doesn't want this for me, then it's not gonna happen.

So something I'd always kind of assumed I could have was, you know, it's not my right.


I think it's interesting how in many well, in all our in our lives in general, we just expect that god would do what we want when we want it.

And it's very hard to, understand that that probably won't be the case.

So at least we don't really know what we really need.

So, that's a really good example of that, I'm sure.


And it's helpful to see that I mean, it can be something maybe really small in our daily lives, but also something of a bigger issue, like you're mentioning.


And we can trust in him, even in that situation.


So Yes.

And there's a verse, isn't there that that Pin was always quoting but I'm gonna say it wrong.

But, you know, it's something like in his heart a man plans his course or plans his steps, but god determines Actually, you know, you you can plan as much as you like, but Yeah.

Where you're going is where God wants you to go.




That's right.

I'm quite interested to see that all these, I mean, obviously, these different things, 1 after the other brought you closer, to understanding who God was.

But again, I remember talking to Lauren last time in the last episode and and talking about how chips and and trials and how they do make us think, and people who probably hadn't considered god previously, actually are in front of that decision to follow him or not to, to, to know Christ and to follow him.


And, yeah, it really puts us in front of what our lives are about.



And I suppose particularly when it's those kind of essential, you know, it's life.

It's death.

It's Yes.

It's yeah.





So that's the 3rd thing, isn't it? But you said there was a 4th element.

And just, I suppose, ought to finish that a bit of destroyed, not to go into lots of detail, but, I think it's it's probably important to say, that we were we were kind of spared through god's kindness being presented with with lots of decisions about discarding embryos or freezing embryos.

So, the first time there was only 1, and that was implanted, and then he's now 17.

And then the second time there were a new 2, and 1 of them carried on growing, and she's now 15.

So I think the the point I'm trying to make is that we really felt god's hand in that kind of sparing us.

But also just blessing us.

So, richly.



So I've I've kind of come to see through that that I I didn't I really didn't deserve anything, but, you know, been given so much.


So all all these things were kind of going along on a track together.

And then the the last thing that that was really important, was that, just before our son was born, Pim lost his job, and struggled to to find another 1, but then he was offered a job in Jersey in the Channel Islands, and decided that he had to take that.

So we went there and ended up being there for a couple of years, from when, Ollie was quite newly born, And, we tried to we we looked for a church.

We we joined the kind of church that was closest to where we lived, and we tried to get stuck in as we'd kind of learned that we ought to.

And we met some very lovely Christian people, but we realized and I realized particularly to my absolute surprise that I was really missing Cornerstone.


And what I was what I was actually missing was the teaching.


I think I'd I'd kind of left Kingston still feeling a bit nervous and a bit suspicious.

You know, I I was brought up in a family, you know, I I the the church was quite liberal, you know, and I was I'd kind of felt slightly reticent about this heavy gospel message kind of being hit over the head with it all the time, but being away and not being at all challenged or stretched.

Really made me see how much I I did need to learn and grow and and how much I actually wanted to.

So when we came back home to Kingston, I felt really committed to Cornerstone, which was a really good thing.


And really excited to learn and, you know, try to kind of become part of the church family.


That sounds great.

And again, It it's really interesting how looking back into our into each of our lives, we can see these kind of things happening where God was trying to teach us something really specific in that time that we probably would have missed completely at the at the at the specific time, at least.

And then we look back and we realize why that was.

And that's really I really like that because it just shows us how limited we are.


And how in control he is, but also it's really precious to see that afterwards actually and to be encouraged by that.

So that that's really nice.

And I suppose it should if we can try and hang on to that and remember it, it should help us wherever we're at because we don't know how god may be using that.

That's right.


That thing that we're living through right now.



That's right.

So I guess the next question is really, whether there's anything specific that you've learned in in the last couple of years.

We've had quite a bumpy couple of years, really.

If there's something specific you'd like to share about about these last couple of years that you've learned that you feel god has taught you in that time? I think I think a couple of things.

1 thing I think a number of people have said, when they've been talking to you on other episodes, the I think the the lockdown and COVID and everything.

It's it really made me so appreciative of of Cornerstone leadership and the youth team, the music team, all those people who really worked so hard to to try and keep us together and keep us united, and it it just made me really value everybody, I think.

And when we first kind of saw everybody on zoom and those cough these.

It was just so exciting.

And all you could do is just keep scrolling through and saying, oh, that's, you know, it's just so lovely.


And just how hard the team worked to try and keep everyone united and, you know, growing and supporting each other even though it was it was not an easy thing to do.

And and I think I've appreciated it much more kind of talking to other people whose churches have not been able for whatever reason to to do the same.


And you know, since since things have opened up, we've had so many people coming to Cornerstone Yeah.

Because their churches haven't been able to keep going for whatever reason.

And Yeah.

I think, you know, we've just been so blessed.


We have.

And then thinking about kinda more recently, I mentioned at the beginning that I've just retired a couple of weeks ago, and, I suppose I started thinking about weather and when to tire.

A few years ago, when I discovered that I could retire at 55, it's sort of lodged in my brain, and I thought, Lucky.

But, but for ages, I really shied away from it because I, just thought, oh, no, I'm not ready for that.

And but it was also because being a nurse was, you know, a big part of my identity.

I've been doing it for such a long time, and, you know, I've loved it.

And, and it's 1 of those jobs that, you know, on the whole, you tell people you do and they think you're wonderful.

And, you know, it's you bask in the glory of of that.

You are wonderful, Sarah.

And people don't really know what to do all So I think I was I was quite scared to lose that.

So over the past year or so, I've kind of had to really think about it and pray and kind of work quite actively to to try and work at letting that go.

Because, you know, I know as a Christian, my true identity is not that I'm a nurse.

It's being in Christ, and I have honestly found that quite challenging.

And I'm sure I still will at times because it's very early days.

But that's been very interesting.

And, you know, we'll obviously still need a bit of work in that, but Yeah.

Something we all need to remember all the time, isn't it? Yeah.



That's right.


So to end with, could you tell us a little bit if you've any advice for perhaps younger Christians, maybe even younger parents, or I don't know.

Whether you find is most applicable and and most relevant I think sometimes I still feel like a very young Christian.

I feel sometimes that, you know, I'm 1 of the older women, but I think, oh my gosh, I've learned so much from so many of the younger women.

Now and again, I've sat in the women's bible study and said something so stupid.

I'm sure you haven't.

And someone much younger has very graciously kind of steered me in the right direction.

So you know, we all have so much to learn from each other.

And, but I think the the thing that I would that I've learned myself, particularly even quite recently, is to kind of recognize and and acknowledge the importance of being honest with at least 1 other woman in the church.

I think It's very easy speaking personally to kind of put your Sunday face on and go in and be welcoming and chat superficially with people.

And, you know, Sunday morning is not necessarily the place to have a a deep and meaningful you know, knowing your soul kind of conversation, but I I think it is really important, to try and identify someone, you know, 1 or 2 people in the congregation that you, are prepared to be open and honest with.

Because I think growing as a Christian is very difficult if you don't open up, to anyone.

It so it is something I've learned more in recent times, actually.

It's kind of been reinforced when situations have arisen, or I've had to to face things in myself, and I haven't known what else to do other than pray, and and speak to someone in the church you know, for help.

And it's really not easy making yourself vulnerable and and admitting to things you'd rather keep hidden.

But it's actually, you know, it it does really strengthen the relationship if you can, and it, you know, being honest is it's how we're supposed to be with each other.

You know, you're not gonna want to be like that with absolutely everybody, but Yes.

That's right.


If you if you can I would say, try and find somebody that you can be like that with? Yeah.

I think that's really good advice because Yeah.

As you say, we come on the Sunday and we might see so many people in the church especially at the moment with so many new people coming.

It's really hard to obviously you know, pull someone aside and have that conversation on the Sunday, but then being able to do that during the week is reinforcing these relationships, isn't it? So Yeah.

I think that's really important, and we are family at the end of the day.

So we need to look out for each of us.

And you need to to to feel confident that if if something does happen and you just need somebody, that person will, you know, they know you already, and That's right.

Be there.



Oh, thank you so much for sharing your story, Sarah.

Oh, thank you so much.

And thank you for sharing even some of the harder things, in that story I know it's not easy to do.

Yeah, that's all for today's episode of sister stories, everyone, but join us again next time.


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