It seems I’m coming up to (and in one case I’ve passed) some big anniversary markers in my life. Most people have a lot of changes in their life around the age of 18 so I’m sure I’m not the only person who finds at 28 that the last ten years has been quite a ride.

Like others I went off to university and just over ten years ago on October 5th 2004 I turned up in Bath ready to study and meet new people. One of the first people I met was my now husband, Phil (yes I did declare my undying love to the first guy I met at University and yes I’m aware you’re not meant to do this) although it’s still quite a few weeks away from the anniversary of us getting together as a couple.

While I was getting to know Phil he invited me to go along with him to church and I couldn’t see any reason to object to the idea so off I went with him. It was quite an experience. Within minutes of the service starting I found myself overwhelmed with the feeling of being safe and peaceful, something I hadn’t felt in years for one reason or another (I didn’t come from the most stable of family backgrounds and despite my mother’s best attempts to make our family life safe and carefree I was a little too good at getting myself into trouble), and on the 26th October 2004 I decided I was going to try to follow Jesus and the things he taught. That makes it my tenth birthday this Sunday. I later discovered that the same feeling of safety came back every time I worshiped.

Shortly after that I went to Freedom Bath and Bristol, one of the churches in Bath, and accompanying the feeling of safety I got every time I reached out to God, I also felt very much at home. There’s never been one person specifically or one event or moment. I just walked into Freedom on November 13th 2004 and knew I was home, and almost ten years later it’s still the same. Every time I walk in I know it’s where I belong. That feeling and concept often comes up in the stories I write and I know it’s because I get to feel that sense of belonging each and every week.

Within my ten years at Freedom I’ve also seen some pretty awesome things. I’ve personally been healed twice. The first time my right leg grew by about 2 inches (it was shorter than my right and had been causing back problems, including scoliosis), and the second time I was healed of some internal bleeding which I blogged about already here. I’ve had several financial miracles where money has turned up right when I needed it, once so I could quit the day job and start my writing career, and another time so my husband and I could buy our first house.

Being in Freedom has also meant I’ve had great teaching from the leaders, I’ve been supported, encouraged and often inspired as a writer and part of the creative community within the church, and I’ve had plenty of mentors, friends and people to do life with. I am so much more emotionally stable and have a greater understanding of who I am, what makes me me and what I want to do with my life than I ever have before. Bad stuff still happens occasionally, but it helps to know I’m not alone in facing it, unlike how I used to feel before I came to Bath.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next ten years with God, Church, my husband and my friends.