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The rollercoaster of life

 A mother's journey of rediscovery...

THE life and faith journey of Anne Wooldridge has been something of a rollercoaster

From the lows of a divorce, and miscarriage to the highs of motherhood and new-found love, she is now more certain than ever that God has been with her.

The seeds of her faith were sown at weekly Sunday school sessions. Her parents sent her there even though they were not churchgoers themselves.

Anne later attended a weekly group for teenagers at St Michael le Belfrey Church in York, which was experiencing a period of revival under the leadership of the renowned evangelist David Watson.

"I first became a Christian at the age of sixteen at St Mikes," Anne said.

"A couple of years later I went to university and gradually moved away from God after becoming more interested in boys and partying.

"I totally lost my faith and didn't go to church for about ten years."

Anne was married during that period and gave birth to the first of her two children – but she still felt there was something missing from her life.

"After so long in the spiritual wilderness I wasn't sure what I believed any more," she said.

"I decided that if there was a God it would be the most amazing thing in the world so I set out to discover if it was true once and for all."

Anne's journey of rediscovery saw her try to make sense of it all by quietly attending her local Anglican church every Sunday. She also regularly met up with a Christian friend to discuss spiritual matters.

"Gradually I came to realise that I couldn't have all the answers but I did have the faith to believe that God was real," she said.

"After recommitting my life to Christ I began to get to know him more deeply through reading the Bible and prayer. He has become very real to me."

Anne said her faith was vital in getting her through a distressing miscarriage and later when her husband of 18 years left the family to move abroad.

"When you become a Christian it doesn't mean that everything works out perfectly for you," she said. "When I lost the baby it was the worst thing that I've ever experienced, but God was with me throughout.

"At my most painful moments I believe he sent someone to comfort me and I felt carried along by other peoples' prayers and care. If anything the experience strengthened my faith."

After predicting she would always remain single, Anne found love again at her church with property developer Jonny Wooldridge. They were married six years ago and now run Christian summer holiday camps together for children aged nine to eleven.

"I really believe that God brought Jonny and I together," said Anne, who worships at St Stephen's Church, in York and recently trained as a counsellor.

"We work really well together as a team and running the camps is a real privilege.

"Some of the children already know Jesus which is fantastic, but the holidays are a lot about sowing seeds. We hope and pray that the experience stays with them so that in years to come the kids will remember what they heard about Jesus and respond to him."

Anne said she is "amazed" at how God has provided for her.

"I have absolute faith that God adores me and I spend my life trying to stay on the path he lays before me," she added.