A Second Chance

Note: Today’s blog post is written by a young lady who attends The Branch Church but can often be seen between services. I encourage you to pay attention to the advice of this young lady whose life demonstrates that God ALWAYS loves us.


Ashley Noel Slape

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.


How often do you pray? For me the answer to that question is easy. My mom has had me going to church since I was born. So, as early as I could start praying, I was. I was going with her until she got too sick. After that point, I had a teacher I loved who encouraged me to go to vacation Bible school at which I had a lot of fun, but it left me with questions. 

My dad didn’t go to church. I would have these questions, but he didn’t know how to help me. I will say he gave me free will to believe in whatever my heart desired. I had this friend whose mom would invite me over and we would talk about the Bible. For the first time I was getting some answers. I even went to church with them. My mom and my friend’s mom used to go to church together. My mom would sing at that church with my friend’s dad.

When I was almost 12, my dad passed away. This was one of the first traumas I would continue to endure in my life. Less than a year later, my mom passed away as well. I didn’t understand why God would take away my parents. Even after all that, I still believed.

I ended up living with my cousins who are Christians. I started to go to a private Chcristian school. I learned a lot, made wonderful friends, went to church, youth group, and went home and prayed. My whole life revolved around God and being Christian. I didn’t feel I was a good fit for my cousin’s family,  so I went to live with a foster family for a school year.

The new foster family would go to church on Saturday. It would be the longest service I ever went to. I joined the church choir just to make that time not feel as dragged out as it was. This would be the last year I would believe in God. Now at this point, I will write about the things I would have to go through.


I left that foster home and lived with what would become my adoptive family. They were not religious in the slightest. Something I learned about living with people I didn’t know is that the first few months to a year is a “honeymoon” phase. After that wears off, this is when problems start to show. I could write about all the bad things that family would do to me, but I will make that long story short.

I lived with my adoptive family from age 13 to 17. My mental health was visibly declining. I was able to get help and went into a psychiatric hospital. This is where I was diagnosed as having mental disorders (which I already knew I had). They started me on medication to help. 

The first week I was at the hospital, I met a girl, Katrina, who I would fall in love with. The problem with that was she was an addict. We worked on being able to live together, and soon we would have that. I was living in a large group home for youth my age and graduated high school around this time. This girl I would end up calling my girlfriend and soon after my fiance. We finally went to live together. We were always attached to each other but, of course, the honeymoon phase would end; things got real. We both were declining but continued to love one another unconditionally. 

After all we would do, she would relapse worse than the time before. I was there while she overdosed. She died and they got her heart to work again at the hospital. She declined that whole week, but I never left her side. This was a very memorable / traumatic week for me. Everything in her body was failing, and she was on life support. Her parents made the hard choice to take her off life support.


I was able to grieve with Katrina’s mom, Nancy. Nancy is a really great person who is a mother-figure for me. She loves and supports me unconditionally. At the end of the same year that Katrina passed away, my adoptive dad also passed away. This would cause a lot of problems for me. 

After two years living in a town, I became homeless. I had to give up my cats, ended up in a  bad relationship, and lived with friends here and there until I got to a point where I was left with  nowhere to go. Even my brothers couldn’t take me in. I reached out to my aunt, and she and my uncle took me in. Soon after moving in with them, I received my diagnosis that I am positive with Huntington’s Disease that my mom had. (Now that we have my life story, everything else will make sense).

You probably are asking yourself, “How does this relate to prayer?” I always prayed, especially when things were bad. The thing about prayer is God is always listening. He was there even when I wasn’t believing in Him. He always believed in me. If it’s His Will, He will do it and answer our prayers. If He doesn’t answer our prayers, there are bigger reasons why He didn’t. 


I recently got saved. Being saved doesn’t mean life will be perfect. You will still go through trials and tribulations. It does mean I choose salvation. I choose to accept God as my savior. I will dedicate my life to getting to know my God. We are all vessels for God. We will also have gifts; things we are good at. We need to use the gifts God gave us.

My journey has been hard, but I believe there is a bigger  reason as to why I went through all that. God doesn’t give you things He knows you can’t handle. I truly believe God gave me a second chance. What does this all mean for the person reading this? God is always with you. The second thing is to pray. He listens to our prayers. The third thing is to build a relationship with God. We may not always have the answers, but God does. He loves us unconditionally despite everything.

 God has a plan.


Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

This week I am thrilled to have Valerie Pilkington as a blogger for this site! She will be writing under the heading, “Musings From a Musician.” I am sure she will bring new insights as she talks about her own Walk With Jesus.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

Musings from a Musician

By:  Valerie Pilkington

I just keep doing my best,  pray that it’s blessed, and Jesus takes care of the rest!

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:  “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;  Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.   Jeremiah 31:3  NIV

I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me.  Proverbs 8:17  NKJV

When was the last time you had God draw you to Himself, and tell you He Loves You, He Wants you, or He cares about every part of you life?  Me, I hear it ALL the time,  when I read God’s word, hear God’s music or Listen to our Pastors’ sermons, I am reminded of this fact.  Actually I am sure you can agree with me,  the First Hymn or Christian song we all learned as children was  Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to him belong; they are weak, but he is strong.”  I cannot read those words, without thinking the melody in my heart”.    


I went on a search to learn more about this song, it was originally a poem written by Anna Bartlett Warner in the 1860’s and was spoken as a comforting poem to a dying child.  Later in 1862 William Batchelder Bradbury added the tune we sing and also added the refrain:  Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.  God exclaims His love for us in the Bible 310 times in 280 verses. The word ‘love’ is discovered 131 times in the Old Testament and 179 times in the New Testament in the KJV.   (Thank God for Google search)


I guess we should pay attention, I also wondered what the scripture references were.  Some are:  Hosea 11:3, Matthew 18: 1-6, Matthew 28:20, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17, John 13:1 and John 14:1-3  just to name a few.  If we follow His instructions to come to God (Jesus, and Holy Spirit) like a child, or with child like faith, or the lowly position of a child, we will not only be in heaven, but be among the greatest in heaven.  He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18: 2-4 NIV


Jesus loves me he who died, heaven’s gate to open wide.  He will wash away my sin,  let his little child come in.

Jesus loves me, this I know, as he loved so long ago, taking children on his knee, saying, “Let them come to me.”

Jesus loves me! He will stay Close beside me all the way; Thou hast bled and died for me, I will henceforth live for Thee.


I have also found some alternate verses I hope to sing until I go home to Father God in heaven.  (not sure who wrote them but they are cute)


Jesus loves me, this I know, Though my hair is white as snow.  Though my sight is growing dim,  Still He bids me trust in him.


Though my steps are oh, so slow, With my hand in his I’ll go.  On through life, let come what may, He’ll be there to lead the way.


When the nights are dark and long, In my heart He puts a song.  Telling me in words so clear,  “Have no fear, for I am near.”


Jesus died upon the tree Yes, he died for you and me.  On the third day he arose  Shout it out till the whole world knows!


We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, “Jesus is Lord,” you will be saved and spend eternity with God in heaven.