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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S1 - 5. Laura S.

In this episode, I am interviewing Laura, who is married to Tom, Cornerstone Church’s assistant pastor. She is also an emergency planner and a mum. Listen in to be encouraged to recognise our need of God and continually depend on him.

Transcript (Auto-generated)

Welcome everyone to the sister stories podcast.

This podcast is aimed at marveling at Gulfsoft in each of our lives as women, and as encouraging 1 another via our stories.

My name is Sophie, and today I am joined by Laura, Hi, everyone.


So first of all, Laura, can you tell us a little bit, who you are? Of course, So, my name's Laura Sweetman.

I am married to Tom Sweetman, who you will all probably know, who is the assistant pastor here Cornestown.

And I must just say I'm actually very excited that it's me behind this mic and not my husband, so I can say I've been there and done it too.

So, yeah, thank you, Sydney.



And, so obviously we're going to talk today a little bit about your testimony and how you came to know the lord Jesus Christ.

But I would like us to start with, your family background, what your childhood was like, how you grew up really.

Of course.


So I grew up in North London, which some of you might be able to tell from some of my accent.

Occasionally, I don't pronounce my teenage years, which I've had to rise to mad.

So, yeah, I grew up in in North London, with my mom and dad.

There was just there's just the 3 of us.

And my mom and dad, they're not they're not Christians.

My mom does, I think, believe that there is a god she can see kind of that the world is probably governed by something bigger and greater than us, but I was never really bought up, you know, to really appreciate that god wanted an involvement in our lives.

But, you know, yeah, happy childhood, of course.

Enjoyed, yeah, spending time with mom and dad and but, yeah, that that's kind of where where I started.



And so, Can you tell us a little bit how from that background you came to hear of the gospel? Yeah.

He's it's interesting, actually.

So, I did go to a church of England Primary School.

So I guess, you know, from a very young age, I I did learn truths about god, you know, in the hymns, you sing all those awful ones, you know, you can clap your hands and all the ones that are just, you know, sticking your head now for years.

But but I guess I did from a very early appreciate that there was something bigger than us.

And I did I did believe that there there there was a god I did look at creation and kind of think, this world is amazing.

You know, how can this just all be, by chance? So I did I did, grow up in that kind of environment, but there was a there was a wonderful family who lived down my mom and dad's road who, were a a family that attended a church around the corner from my mom and dad.

And my mum started to take me to their equivalent of Monday tots group, when I was a very small toddler.

And built kind of relationships with with that family there, and they live down my mom and dad's road.

And I think this is a real kind of testament to, people that are involved in things like Monday talks all the way through to youth group is don't give up.

Because basically what happened was as I got older and was then old enough, to go to youth group, which was however many years in between, their family down the road that attended the church remembered my mom remembered me, you know, saw us on the road and said, would Laura like to come along to youth group So that's really how I started to kind of, hear about god and think about god in a greater way than I had before when I started to go to youth group what the age of 11.


That's amazing.

I wonder what your first reaction was to being maybe diving a little bit deeper into these things.


It's an interesting question, and to to tell you the truth, I can't really remember.

I think probably I just soaked it all in probably for a long time.

And, I mean, I became a Christian at the age of 17, and I started going to youth group at the age of 11.

So it was a long old journey, I guess, in that sense, and and just probably just hearing truths about god and and Jesus for that whole time, really, and just slowly, probably understanding more of who he was and and what he'd done in that kind of gradual gradual way.


That's great.



So obviously, you are now in Cornerstone.

So somehow you've made your way from North London to Kingston.

How how did that come about? Yeah.

So, so basically, I I did so I became a Christian, at 1 of my friend's baptisms, he went to the youth group, and I I remember basically, just being blown away about I think I was, yeah, I was I was about 16, 17.

And I remember at his baptism, the pastor just just saying something like, you know, that if if you were not right with god, then we're in trouble, basically.

And I remember that really shocking me because I knew a lot about god, and I knew a lot about, you know, Jesus and what he'd done, but he never had really hit me personally.

And that night, I just remember thinking, goodness me, you know, I'm really not right with the lord.

But you're probably asking me more questions about that in a minute, but I I ended up basically the next year coming to Kingston to university.

And that's how I I ended up here at Cornerstone.



So, yes, what can you tell us a bit more what happened on that baptism nights? What, what hits you particularly and how you came to follow follow Jesus.



So it it I I guess it was just that realization if there was a god, which I believe there was, He wanted a relationship with me, and he died for me.

And I just was not living, like, that was the case, or ever really, I think, before that had seen my need for that.

And I just remember standing there at the end, during the last song and thinking, I'm not right with god and I need to be.


And if I'm honest, even though I'd had years of, teaching in that sense.

I guess I didn't really understand what we meant to be a Christian still.

But I do remember just thinking very vividly, I need to do something about this I don't feel comfortable with this and feeling really just uneasy in my in in myself and in my heart and in my head about about this all.

And I remember that they were giving out tracks at the end, And some of you would know, I think it was John Tealcock preaching who, if you've ever been to contagious, you might know Jonty or you might know Jonty can some kind of circles it at contagious or FIEC and things like that.

But I took this track that they were giving out at the end And I remember, again, really, really vividly just taking it home, saying hi to my dad, going upstairs, sitting on my bed, I'm reading reading this reading this, information.

And it was then really as I read it, I thought I've got to pray this prayer at the end.

I've got to ask Jesus to be my savior.

And I don't really really understand what that means for me now, but I've got to do this.

And I remember praying that, and I would say that was the night I I became a it was then kind of a real gradual process of growth for me, but that was really vivid.

And interestingly, It's funny how the lord does these things sometimes, isn't it? The tract that I actually took home is called crossover to life, and it's written by Pete Woodcock.

So yeah.

And I remember coming to uni and going to something that was, called Late Night Church then.

And walking into the old hub and seeing these booklets on the side, and I was like, oh, I I became a Christian, you know, through using 1 of those, and then it turned out that Pete wrote it.

So, hey, isn't that? Isn't that? Isn't that test Pete.

Thank you, Pete.

You've been very influential in my life.


And clearly, direction of come to connoisseone.


That's amazing.

And so, how you said that then you was a kind of gradual growth as as we've all experienced throughout our Christian lives.

Can you describe that a little bit more? What what did you maybe learn after that.


Lots and lots.

I think so so that was when I was 17 and it wasn't long after.

I was baptized not too long after I became a Christian at my church back in in Enfield.

But really when I came to university, because I was still such to young Christian.

I did actually struggle at first to settle into a church.

I found that really hard.

And, some of you will probably laugh at this, but I remember, you know, flitting between different churches and, you know, people like Rachel and Naomi, I was friends with at university through the Christian Union in the end were like, why don't you come to to corner I remember going to an open home at the Cooper's house and Phil was like, why are you here? You don't even come to this church, which is fair enough.

Which is where recruiting people isn't it? Exactly.

In any way, ended up ended up here.

And I think things like we used to do student breakfast where you'd come before university and you could just ask any questions and just hearing faithful teaching, biblical teaching, week in, week out, just really grew me and really impacted me.

And having real conversations with, you know, Christian friends who I met here and at Christian Union and just learning to live out what it meant to be a Christian was just really, really huge for me in my university years.



And church is obviously the place to do that.

So that's really precious that you found Cornerstone and was able to continue to grow after that.

I wonder what your parents reaction was when you, became a Christian because surely that must have been maybe a little bit strange for them.


It was.

And I think in many ways, I'm sure they won't mind me saying it.

It still is.

I think they I think they saw it become a big thing in my life.

And, you know, my my mum won't mind me saying, but she's questioned what is it Laura's involved is in? Is this a cult? Is this some kind of weird thing that she's kind of dedicating all of her time to But I think I think that's missing the point that actually my dedication and involvement to church and the people here is stems from a love of lord Jesus.

And that's why I spend so much time doing what we do.

I think probably it's fair to say that, they thought it was a stage in my life that I might grow out of it.

But actually, they saw that it became a a bigger thing, probably.

And then And then when, after university, when, I started dating Tom, and then Tom was like, yeah, I'm gonna start a a job in tree.

I think they were just like, okay, this is this is now never gonna change in Nora's life.

Like, this is this is a thing, and you know, obviously still love and accept me, for who I am, but I think they, you know, they don't believe that you need a personal relationship with with Jesus like I do.

And so, yeah, they have found they have found that weird, but if anything, it's only you know, from a worldly point of view made me a better person.

So in that sense, you know, they kind of happy in that sense with it, even if they find it a little bit strange.

That makes sense.


You haven't told us much about Tom, actually.

What happened there? I think there's quite a story, isn't it? Oh, that's a story there.

That's a big story there.

Yeah, I mean, we so Tom wasn't a Christian when we first met each other at university.

So we did similar modules together.

So he studied geology.

I studied environmental hazards and disaster management but had to do some geology modules at university.

So I met some kind of, as a friend through that, Yeah.

And then, you know, we were really good friends.

And, his brother became unwell.

His brother had a brain tumor during our time at university.

And Tom's parents are Christians, and Tom knew that I was a Christian, was the only friend he had that was a Christian, and that obviously just made him really contemplate life and death and, you know, what might happen and how would it be if he was in that position? And just just, I guess, brought all that kind of to the surface and It's like reverse evangelism, really.

He then asked me whether or he could come to church with me and I didn't do anything and just bought him along.

And then, anyway, he he became a Christian and loads of people thought he was coming to church just for me, which is totally wrong.

Thank you for clarifying that.

That's okay.

So, anyway, I just wanna put that out there.

So it's on record.

That is not the case.

But we were very good friends and he became a Christian and then, yeah, we we started going out after university.


Oh, wow.


There we go.

Rest of History.



As we say, Great.

So I would like us to focus a bit more on the near history, if that makes sense, not based history yet, but just, talking about, this year, which has been very strange for all of us, and we've all had different experiences.

But is there something you've learned in particular that god has taught you, throughout this year? Ah, Sophie, honestly, it's just a lesson I have to learn my whole life I mean, I think I think that that, there's there's a smaller thing, which I just wanna say first.

I think the lords really shown me what I took for granted as well.

I mean, just a privilege of of having a church that does so much.

And, you know, you can be so involved in people's lives and in relationship with people to kind of have that taken away so much.

I think really has shown me how much I took for granted.

Like, I'm not gonna lie.

Sometimes on a Sunday, the last thing I wanted to do was bring a slow cooker to church and have another long day.

And, you know, be exhausted by the end of it, but but it's always such a joy when you do it.

And actually when you do strip that back, It's just just made me realize how grateful I should be and how much I love everyone at Cornerstone and how much, you know, is such a blessing.

So I think, you know, that that's a that's a lesson I need to keep hold of.

But I think I think bigger lessons you know, which has kind of been a constant theme in my life for a few years, you know, since we kind of started trying for children and that wasn't necessarily as easy as I thought it might be for us, or, you know, dealing with Venn COVID when he was pregnant and whatever else.

I I think I think the lord's always always trying to show me that he has a plan for my life.

And as it's the best plan there is, and I don't need to fret, and I don't need to worry that he works out all things.

And actually, you know, the verse be still and know that I am God is something I have to cling on to constantly.

Also the verse in in Jeremiah 29 around you know, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, because who would have said going into lockdown and shutting down church would have been a best thing.

I would never have said that was the best thing for me.

But actually, you know, he's shown me how to depend upon him again, how to trust him, how to remember he is sovereign over all things and to hold on to kind of his greatness.

And that's a that's a constant theme that's been running throughout my life in many different many different ways.

And again, it's a shame I have to keep learning it in many ways.

It's a real shame.

I have to keep learning it, but, you know, the lord is gracious and kind and has reminded me more than ever to just cling on to those things.

And cling on to him and remember, he is big, much bigger than I am, and that's a great thing.


That's right.

I think we all have to learn that lesson constantly, don't we? We haven't mentioned that you have 2 beautiful children.

I'm I'm very sorry.

We give them The best for last, I guess, Circailavan Imaging.

How has that been with 2 children at home? Yeah.

I mean, a real, yeah, a real a real blessing, but I guess I did find it difficult being in lockdown and then having imaging.

I think you just I mean, some people take to, parenthood very naturally.

I had known.

I I just I did find it quite difficult for the 1st few months.

You know, that's I'll admit saying that.

I just found, the transition from 1 to 2 particularly hard and particularly in lockdown when you couldn't just go around someone's house and have a cup of tea and let the kids play.

I found that really hard.

But but, again, you know, the lord's been teaching me to depend upon him, actually, that I don't have to try and struggle on in my own strength, which I do all the time.

I can admit that I can't do it on my own.

And call upon him for help because in in my weakness, he has proved to be strong, right? And that's something he has reminded me of but they are they are a joy.

They are, yeah, 2 wonderful children.

Image in such a chilled baby blessing.

So it's just it's just, yeah, really lovely.

We have a lot of fun together as a family.


They're they're they're lovely.



That's that's a huge blessing, isn't it, and to the church as well.


And, so lastly, I wonder if she, have some advice that you would like to share maybe with younger Christians, or maybe younger parents, as well.

That could be really precious.

I'm sure I guess I guess it's probably similar to what I've said.

I think I think we just need to remember that we don't have to struggle on in our own strengths, and we don't have to try and pretend we have everything under control, because we don't really do we.

We're not over our own lives and actually for me, certainly, when I when I think I'm in control, it all falls apart and I'm not in control.

And actually, you know, just just remember, it's it's okay to, you know, remember we're not okay and we need the lord's house and to just depend upon him that that he's so much bigger than we are.

So I would say keep on, you know, doing that, pour out our hearts to him, when we need to cast our cares upon him, you know, lighten our loads upon him.

And to just just be reminded of all the times in our lives that that we can look back effectively and remember that he is in control, because I think if you're anything like me, you forget that.

And then the next struggle comes on in life or something, can you forget? Yes.

You forget he's in control, and you have to be reminded.

And, yeah, just just keep on clinging to him, really, I guess.

That would be my advice.

Oh, thank you so much.

And thank you for your story and for sharing that with us.

So that's all for this episode, everyone, but join us again next time.


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