Becoming a Christian: Share Your Story!

becomingachristian

I was in the seventh grade. I hadn’t been able to sleep well for days and would instead lay in bed wrestling with my thoughts…knowing I needed to DO something. I wasn’t at peace and I knew why. Even though I was being raised in a Christian home and had been a pretty good kid, I knew I was a sinner. I needed to make things right with God.

It was pretty cool, because while neither of us knew it, my brother and I had BOTH been wrestling with the same lack of peace. We made our decision to commit our lives fully to Christ at the same time. It was a special day when our dad baptized both my brother and me. I remember very clearly the moment I came up out of the water feeling like a new person! Whole…loved…clean…forgiven!

I’ve done a lot more wrestling since that night as I’ve learned more and studied more and grown into a deeper understanding of what it means to “take up my cross daily and follow Jesus“. 

I remember especially wrestling during my college years, when I was out on my own and needed to figure out for myself what I believed and why I believed it. I’m very thankful for that time, even though it was quite painful to tear myself away and make my faith my very own.

When my babies were born, it was then I realized how REAL God is and that truly, only He could create…well…anything so amazing and perfect.

The most humbling, terrifying, horrible, incredible and beautiful time of my spiritual life came while my mom was sick and dying. It was during those months of intense pain and grief that I learned to accept God’s comfort in a way that only He can give it. He gives His comfort at the level that we need it. At that time, I needed an incredible measure of comfort…and He gave it. I would lay in my bed and sob and cry out to Him, then I would feel His comfort and love so real and full as if there was no one else in the world and all the comfort He had in His entire Being was given to me at that moment. As an incredible result, all I could do was praise Him. He truly turned my mourning into dancing. It is powerful to feel so much pain and so much love, comfort…yes…even joy at the very same time. Powerful. 

God is so real. His love is absolutely unconditional. His forgiveness is for everyone. No matter what. I hope you know the same God I know. If not, please search for Him. He is an awesome God!
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So, what’s your story? How did you come to know Christ? Share with us, either by writing about it on your blog and linking up with us, or by leaving a comment on this post.

Also, please visit as many blog links as you can to be encouraged by everyone’s story!

  1. Jodi at One Blessed Mama (Lord, You’re All I’ve Got)
  2. Carrie Smyth at Heavenly Homesteading
  3. Hallee the Homemaker
  4. Laurie
  5. Rebekah
  6. Jolene ~ A Random Woman’s Life
  7. Shonda
  8. Jenna at Homemaking Pilgrim
  9. Jen
  10. Trusting in His Name
  11. A Voice Crying Out
  12. Stephanie
  13. Barb
  14. Travelin Pilgrim
  15. Elizabeth
  16. Melanie
  17. You’re Next!

Mr. Linky is acting up…if you have a post to link up, leave it in the comments and I’ll add it manually as I can! Thanks!

Learn About Laura: Becoming a Christian

When I opened up the opportunity for you to ask questions of me, both Carmen and Barbara asked:  “I was wondering how and when you came to know Christ?”

For some reason I’ve been dragging my feet on answering this one…mostly because I don’t feel like my “Christianity Story” is very exciting.

But wait a second! Becoming a Christian, no matter what the events are that surround it, is VERY EXCITING!!!! 

Choosing salvation through Jesus…having Someone who is always ready to offer true comfort when I’m hurting…understanding that success in this world is NOT my ultimate goal (which is a huge relief because I fail…a lot).

Yes, my Christian story IS very exciting. 

I’ll share specifics of how I became a Christian next Thursday, January 28.

BUT, I want to know YOUR story too!!!  If you are a Christian, please consider writing about how you came to know Christ. If you have a blog, share it there and then link up with us here on January 28. If you don’t have a blog, please plan to leave a comment that day to share your story.

If you aren’t a Christian or you’re searching for Truth, I hope you’ll consider sharing your struggles and where you are on your journey. 

No matter where you are on your Faith walk and what your story is…I know we will ALL be very encouraged to hear! 

Plan to join us next Thursday, January 28!

becomingachristian

Learn About Laura: Down Time

Julie in Australia asked, “I am wondering whether you take time to yourself? You give me the impression that this is not a “need” in your life in so far as you obviously love spending time with the boys each day and your husband. However, how do you unwind? Do you enjoy time by yourself or do you find the time with your family is where you find yourself re-energised”

Oh yes…I am an introvert through and through. I very much feel the need for alone time each day. I spend a lot of time with people and I love it…but it does make me tired. 

I never get tired of my husband because he just isn’t home enough to get tired of. ;)    But my boys? I don’t need NEARLY the breaks from them that I used to need when they were all teeny tiny at the same time and hanging on my legs and hanging on my sleeves and hanging on my…well…you know…when they were nursing. {ehem}

When they were all little bitty, any quiet time I could get was wonderful and so, so needed. Now that they’re older and not so dependent on me, I don’t feel quite the need to “get away from it all”. Do you hear that, Moms of Little Bitties? It will get EASIER!!!  Wahoo!

All that being said…I do still need to have some down time each day (if possible) to just “feel the quiet”. I need to be able to have some time to not answer any questions or make any decisions or work anyone through an argument with a brother.

You might be happy to know that my “down time” is almost always my blogging time. My blog is my hobby, business, ministry and “down time” all wrapped up in one! How great is that?

When I’m writing…I am all alone in my own little writing world. Well, all alone except for all of you…but bless youyou are all incredibly well behaved and quiet. 

This usually happens for me in the afternoons while the boys have their reading time/play time/TV time. Sometimes I have a little more time after the boys go to bed and if Matt is working the late shift.

Crazy as it may sound…whenever I happen to have the entire house to myself (like if Matt’s at work and the boys are all playing at a friend’s house)…I almost always choose to work on my website or ebooks or articles. Part of that is because I always have work waiting for me and emails to answer…so a quiet moment means uninterrupted and guilt free work time. Plus, I LOVE it.   Every once in a blue moon, I let myself read a good Christian fiction novel.   

I used to feel selfish because I needed some time to unwind all alone with everyone “out of my face”.   I believe that if we take the “me time” idea too far…it does become selfish. But…if you are the kind of person (like me) who needs quiet and alone time to re-gain your energy…that’s not selfish. It’s smart.

So…what do the rest of you do for “down time” whenever you happen to have some?

Learn About Laura: Cooking, Careers and Parenting Confessions

Jen B asked:  Where did you get your mad cooking skills from? Were you always a wonderful cook?

I’ve just ALWAYS loved cooking. I was always looking through cookbooks and cooking magazines and experimenting with recipes when I was growing up. 

I come from a long line of wonderful cooks. My mom was a great cook. Both of my grandmothers were good cooks. My aunts are all wonderful cooks. 

My mom enjoyed cooking (although maybe not quite as much as I love it and consider it to be a hobby). I loved cooking with my mom and with my grandma. I shared more of my cooking memories in this post if you’d like to read more.

And no, I made many cooking mistakes back when I was a beginner (still do of course). Did I ever tell you about the first time I made gravy for Matt on our sixth month dating anniversary? He had to spread it onto his meat and potatoes with a butter knife. I am SO glad he married me anyway.

Kathy Shaner said:  Speaking as one who had years of the single life with a great career, then marriage at 40– I wonder what career you would have pursued if you’d gone that direction? Maybe I should know this after reading all about Laura, but I don’t. What ‘outside’ interests have captured your attention and might have launched a career if you hadn’t built a life with your wonderful family?

I got a degree in Elementary Education and taught first grade for a very short time in a Public School before our oldest was born.

Growing up, I always told my mom that when I grew up I wanted to be a mom, a teacher, a baker and a hair cutter person.

How great is it that I now get to be everything I always wanted to be when I grew up?! (Never in a million years though did I ever dream I’d also have a website.  That might have had something to do with the fact that computers hardly existed yet…)

I suppose if I would have continued in a career, I would have continued teaching school. That all seems like another life to me now…the days when I taught school. Good memories…but I’m so, so happy with what I’m doing now. Although, I will say…I miss having a janitor. :)

Becca Banana asked:  What do you wish you had known about marriage and/or parenting before learning lessons the hard way?

Oh my goodness sakes…how long do you have?

Regarding marriage…I actually am planning to write a little series addressing some of these things…so if it’s okay, I’ll save that topic for a few weeks from now.

What I wish I would have known about parenting? What I wish I could change?

I really, really didn’t know that my kids would be naughty very often. I really thought my  household would always be blissful and calm and my children would always behave and be clean and never have crusty noses. I was very organized and on top of things (before marriage and motherhood) and my children were going to be practically perfect except for a tiny little episode that they might have once every six months or so. And only then if they were sick.

Because that didn’t really happen (not even close)…I was pretty hard on Asa (our oldest) and didn’t always respond to his challenging two year old (and three year old and four year old) normal behaviors the way I should have. I sort of expected him to “perform”, if that makes any sense.

I wish I would have understood then that parenting is constant “Godly character training”…not “create perfect people so everyone will think you’re a great parent” training.

Also, when we started homeschooling I thought I needed to be a Nazi about schoolwork so that I’d have the smartest kids ever. I almost made Asa hate school by the time he was six. I backed off a WHOLE lot, and by the time he turned ten, I had finally convince him that it really was okay to miss a math problem or spell a word wrong.

Our schooling is SO much more relaxed now. Guess what? They’re still smart. Go figure. Of course, “smart” is relative. ;)

More Learning about Laura coming up tomorrow…

Learn About Laura: Movies, Make-Up and Vacations

This post is the first of several that will answer your questions here.  :)

Josette said:  You always make me laugh…so I am thinking your sense of humor is the same as mine (I could be totally wrong), just wondering what your favorite “funny movie” is?

I am SO SORRY that this is the most boring answer ever and surely not the one you were hoping for.

I can’t even think of the name of any funny movie. Although Veggie Tale movies always crack me up. Love the humor in those. I’m guessing that’s not quite what you meant?

Watching movies is one of my least favorite activities. I don’t know why. I don’t like sitting still for that long (unless I’m blogging/writing or reading a good book).

I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what my favorite funny movie is. I even asked Matt, “Hey, what’s my favorite funny movie?”  Blank stare.  Yeah, he likes movies as much as I do.

Isn’t that pitiful?

Why don’t you all tell me what YOUR favorite funny movies are and maybe I’ll watch them and say, “AH!! That WAS funny!!!”

What great movies am I missing out on?!?

Sharon asked:  What skin care products and make-up (if you wear it), do you use? Where do you purchase it?

You can read about my favorite Soaps and Sundries here. Otherwise…there isn’t too much more to tell.

Here is my daily skin care routine:  I wash my face with Tropical Traditions coconut soap. I then rub on some Tropical Traditions lotion. The end.

On Sundays and special occasions, I go all out and wear mascara (just the gross stuff from Walmart). 

I used to never leave the house without make-up thinking that I could never get away without “having my face on”. Now (mostly because my husband really doesn’t care for me to wear make-up because he really – thankfully – likes my natural look) I just don’t wear it. I LOVE not messing with it. 

If any of you have any natural make-up products you’d recommend…do tell!

Dani asked:  What is your favorite vacation memory with your family and what are your vacation traditions? Especially in the car with FOUR boys.

Well, we have never actually gone on a vacation that doesn’t involve a family get-together of some sort. At this point though…those are the best kind of vacations. 

Every other year we travel to California to visit Matt’s family. We’ve been able to go to Disneyland several times thanks to Matt’s brother who works for The Mouse (that would be Mickey). 

It always cracks us up when we go to CA in the wintertime. Everyone there is wearing a long wool coat and apologizing that we had to come out for a visit “when it’s SO cold”. Yep, that 50° to 70° weather is just a killer on us Nebraskans. We hardly know what to do with ourselves without the wind chill factor.

Oh, and the day after Christmas several cousins always like to plan a trip to drive three hours to the snow!!!! ‘Cause wouldn’t that be fun to play in snow together?

Yes, I suppose it would if we didn’t have to “play in the snow” with a shovel in order to get out of our driveway on a regular basis. Couldn’t we just not drive to the snow and play together in the yard? In a t-shirt?

Other than those fine pieces of vacation information…I’ve got nothin’.   Unless you count this trip… Yeah, that was a good one.

As far as traveling in a car with four boys…you can just imagine the musical numbers I must put up with.  Need I say more?

The Story of My Sleeves

I promised you here that I would share this. Oh how refreshing it is to take a break from all the hard work of writing and sharing healthy recipes and gardening tips… so that I can make myself look ridiculous.

Really. This story is ridiculous.

It happened on a day soon after we had moved back to Nebraska (about seven years ago). I was extremely exhausted from the move. I had three kids ages four and under. My youngest at the time was four months old. I blame this story all on post-partum brain. And whatever else I can possibly blame it on.

Matt and I, along with the kids, were in the home of some fellow church members. The husband was a Bible professor at the college…the wife a psychology professor. That means they are both smart. And also incredibly brilliant.

You know…the kind of people you want to sound intelligent in front of?

Anyway…we were getting ready to leave, and our kids were doing their kid thing, because they were ages four and two and four months old.

I don’t remember exactly what brought it up, but the wife and I got onto the subject of mothering…and how we have to always be on our toes in order to keep the kids under control.

And then I said it.

I said, “Yep, I’ve got some tricks up my sleeves.”

Doesn’t sound too bad does it?

That’s because I THOUGHT I said that I had tricks up my sleeves.

What actually came out of my mouth was,

“Yep, I’ve got sleeves.”

That’s all I said. 

“I’ve….got….sleeves.” 

Then I stood there nodding and looking all smug because I was a good mother with tricks up her sleeves.   At least I thought I did. But no…apparently all I had was sleeves. Nothing up them. And certainly no tricks.

It took way too long for me to figure out what I had actually said…at which point I sort of lamely mumbled, “uumm…I mean tricks up my sleeves…”

The lady was kind enough to act like she didn’t really notice…even though I know she did. It didn’t help that I’m pretty sure I was wearing a sleeveless shirt that night. Good grief.

I’ll end this story with a word of encouragement and blessing to all you moms out there:

May you get enough rest to enable you to formulate entire sentences. May you always sound intelligent around those you wish to sound intelligent in front of. And more importantly…

May you always, always, forever and ever amen…have sleeves.

Well, That Was Brilliant

Every once in a while (often) I say something that is perfectly ridiculous. Two Sundays in a row, I’ve proven myself to sound less than brilliant talking to people at church. Just in case you ever do something similar (although I’m sure you never, ever do)…I thought I’d share these stories with you. I’d hate for you to ever think that you were alone in saying something ridiculous. 

Let’s begin with a story from last Sunday.   

If you recall, last Sunday was Mother’s Day. From the moment we arrived at church, everyone was wishing all the mothers a happy Mother’s Day. Much of our service was centered around motherhood and celebrating women. The children got to get up at the end of the service and get a flower to bring back to their mothers. It was lovely. I was feeling loved, appreciated and cheerful.

The service ended and we all began greeting each other. The person sitting in the pew in front of us turned around and said to me, “Happy Mother’s Day, Laura!”

Out of habit (because I had been saying it all morning), I returned the greeting with, “Thanks!! You too!”

Which was so, so kind of me. Except for the fact that the person who greeted me and wished me a happy Mother’s Day was a MAN.  And also he was not a mother. 

We had a nice chuckle together. At my expense. Hey, it’s easy to do. You know…like when you’re going on a vacation and your friend says to you, “Goodbye! Have a great time on your trip!”  And you say, “Thanks! You too!”, even though they aren’t going on a trip. You know you’ve done it. (Please say you’ve done it!)

Skip ahead now to this Sunday.

We had just finished our Bible study time. We were visiting with people in the foyer before going into the auditorium for worship. I went to the “great meeting place for women”. You know…the bathroom. Really, if you want to be sure to greet the womenfolk at church, just go to the bathroom between class and worship. You’ll find them there.

Anyhoo.

I greeted all the ladies that I always see about one time a week in the uh…same place each week. Then, I saw Ruth, whom I don’t normally see in the bathroom on a Sunday morning. Delighted because it was such a surprise to see her there, I brilliantly said, “Oh! Are you here today?!”

This brought a nice laugh from all those who heard because…yes, of course she was there today. See? There she was, right there.  Today.

Hey.  She knew what I meant. Her husband preaches each Sunday in a town several miles away and she usually goes with him. I don’t usually have the pleasure of seeing her at church on Sundays. And there she was! Right there. Today.

Ah, fun times. 

It just occurred to me that I’ve never shared the story of my sleeves. Brilliant conversation, it was. You know you want to hear that one now don’t you?

Learning About Laura: Chapter Five

So let’s see…we’ve covered some childhood memories and how Matt and I met. Now what should we talk about? 

Matt and I married after our junior year in college. I got a degree in Elementary Education…Matt got a degree in Biblical Studies. I taught first grade for a couple of years before Asa was born (in York).   Justus and Elias were both born in Colorado where we lived for about four years. Malachi was born after we moved back to York. Matt worked as a youth minister for 13 years before we made a difficult decision (about a year and a half ago) not to be in employed ministry anymore. 

I stay at home, cook a lot, homeschool the boys, and have a website (I guess you knew that already?)…and Matt is working for himself doing construction as well as coaching soccer in season.

The End.

Yeah, I realize I skipped a few details in there. Sorry. Some things are a little difficult to write about….and I seriously don’t want to bore you with a million details of the past 35 years.   Plus…my Christmas break is almost over and I’m planning to get back to normal blogging stuff. Because, you know, reading my menu plans is much more exciting than reading about what my nick-name was in high school.  ;)

Some of you have requested to hear more about my Christian upbringing, specifically about my relationship with my mom. I’d be happy to share! Just give me some time to work on those posts after I unpack and recover from being away from home and on the road for many, many long hours. (Has anybody seen my hairbrush?)

Let’s see…let me think of a few more random facts about my life to finish up this little series for now….

  • Matt and I took a trip to West Africa after we’d been married for about 10 months. It was enlightening and life changing. We got to know God in a whole new way.
  • I was a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator when we lived in Colorado and I loved it. 
  • My favorite color has always been, and as far as I know, always will be pink. I love pink.
  • I had never seen a soccer game until I went to York College. 
  • My high school nick-name (that I’m going to go ahead and sheepishly tell you and then I’m going to crawl under a table) was Farba. I don’t know why.  Maybe you should ask my brother Kevin.  Or, maybe you shouldn’t. Oh…and if you are one of the people who actually know me in person and see me on any kind of regular or irregular basis…you are NOT…I repeat NOT allowed to start calling me that.  Understand? Okay.
  • I know you’re still laughing about my nick-name. Stop it. :)
  • We aren’t planning on having any more babies. I had some weird uterus issues after my last two pregnancies (that you probably don’t want to hear about on a blog). We made the decision at that point that we probably better not take any chances.  And well…nothing gets a person’s mind off of a weird nick-name than the mention of a uterus. Am I right?

Thanks for taking the time to read my short little chapter book about my life and memories. Feel free to ask more questions and I will be happy to share more about my life than you ever wanted to know.

If any of you had a crazy nick-name you’d like to share to make me feel better…please feel free to embarass yourself along with me in the comments!

Learning About Laura: Chapter Four

Let’s skip ahead a little bit onto college, shall we? 

I was SO ready to get out of my hometown after graduation that I couldn’t get away fast enough. I went to York College, in York, Nebraska, which is a small Christian college. I LOVED my experience at YC and am so thankful for my time there.

And yes…it’s where I met this tall, good looking blond soccer player named Matt. 

I suppose you might like to know how we ended up together? Yes, it’s a pretty good story. Would you believe me if I tell you that Matt and I started dating because he LOST a coin toss? Yes, it’s true. 

He and I were in the same Bible class our freshman year which is where I first got to know him. At that time there were about seven or eight of us guys and girls that would get together and study for our Bible exams together….then we all just started hanging around together in general. Matt and I were a part of that gang. 

Skip ahead to our sophomore year in college. (And, I’m sorry, but I have to take you into the guy’s dorm for this part of the story….hold your nose.)

One night in October Matt and several of the guys were hanging out (not studying) in one of the guy’s dorm rooms. The topic came up of, “who are you going to ask out this year?”  At one point in the conversation, both Matt and another guy (I’ll call him Bob) said that they’d like to ask out Laura Hamm (yes, if you didn’t already know my funny maiden name…there you go).

Well, since both Matt and Bob were nice guys…they felt bad since both of them were interested in the same girl….and they didn’t want to step on each other’s toes. So, they made an agreement. They’d flip a coin. (I know this sounds so mature doesn’t it?)  Whoever won the coin toss could ask me out first. If I said yes…the other would back off, wish them well, and get on with life. If I said no…the other was free to ask me out. 

So, the coin was flipped…and Bob won. Matt lost. 

Now all this time, I’m sure I was in the girl’s dorm doing something much more productive like studying or sleeping, innocent of the fact that two guys were tossing a coin over me. (I found out all the details later.)  :)

So, the next day, Bob asked me out. Hm. Bob was really, really nice. But I didn’t really think going out with him would be a very good idea because he quiet and shy…and well..I just didn’t want to. I gave him the “friends speech”. Blech. You’ve gotta love the dating game.

Well, since I told Bob no…that meant that Matt could go for it. And so he did. And I said yes.

I remember so clearly that night. I ran up to my friend Mary’s dorm room to tell her that Matt had asked me out and that we were going to the play over the weekend. I couldn’t put my finger on it…but I remember thinking how differently I felt about this upcoming date than I’d felt about any previous ones with other guys.  Without any reservations, I was so excited about this date. 

Matt and I have laughed a lot (and so have all of our friends, including Bob) about the coin toss. It was funny to me after I found out what happened in the dorm that night. Hey, in a weird kind of way, I was honored. 

But here’s what else happened in the dorm room that night that Matt’s best man told me on the night of our wedding rehearsal.

Matt sat for a long time pondering if he should ask me out or not. He told the guys, “I’ve gotta decide if I’m ready to ask out someone like Laura. She’s not the kind of girl I’d want to ever break up with.”

Wow. 

Learning about Laura: Chapter Three

Okay…my favorite childhood farm memory….

I LOVED the Boxcar Children book. I read that thing over and over and acted it out over and over when I played.

One day when I was around 9 or 10 years old…my cousin Carie and I were playing outside at Grandma’s house. We ventured into territory we had not explored yet AND YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT WE FOUND!!!!

Tucked away behind some trees was an old boxcar I KID YOU NOT. I about wet my pants..and my cousin Carie was pretty excited too. 

Okay, and it gets better!

We went and asked Grandma if she knew it was there (of course she knew it was there) and if we could look inside it. She said we could.

GUESS WHAT WAS INSIDE THE BOXCAR???!?!?!?

There were a couple of rooms….and in the biggest one….my grandpa had put someone’s old kitchen cabinets and countertops and it even had a kitchen sink!!!!! The boxcar had a KITCHEN inside.

Okay, now first of all…I’m thinking:  HOW DID GRANDPA FORGET TO MENTION THIS GOLD MINE TO ME?

Carie and I were running all around and jumping up and down and shouting with excitement over this treasure. I mean…who finds a BOXCAR to play in…and one that has a kitchen inside it to play with?!?

We kept running into the house to tell Grandma more that we’d found….and she’d chuckle in delight at us. She gave us some old dishes and rags and we spend HOURS fixing up our little boxcar. We rigged up some kind of table and chairs and beds and fixed up our kitchen. 

It was THE most fun I ever had. Everytime I went to Grandmas for the next several years (when it wasn’t 11 degrees outside), I’d play in “my” boxcar. It was always more fun when one of my cousins was there…but oh, it was fun anyway. I wonder how many hours I clocked in that thing.

The only disappointing thing I remember about the boxcar (okay, two disappointing things):

Once we found mice scampering about the boxcar (how dare they)…and it really just ruined our fun for the day. 

And another day…there was a big snake curled up in the window that completely freaked us out and made us run faster than we’d ever run before. And Grandpa…the nerve….wouldn’t even kill it for us because he said snakes were good for eating mice. I’m pretty sure he did get it out of the boxcar and fling it somewhere else, but still. We were too freaked out to go back in it again that day. 

Oh, but I loved that boxcar. I have warm fuzzies now just thinking about it. Hmmm, and now I also miss my grandma. Oh it’s so good to have such wonderful memories.