by Terri Blanchard

I couldn’t believe I did it again. Then I turned around and did it again. I kept making the same mistakes over and over again! When was I ever going to learn? When would I stop repeating the same mistakes? If it had been me I would have given up on me a long time ago. God could have just given up on me. He could have, He should have, and He ought to have. But He didn’t.

I am encouraged by the story of the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 12:37, 13:18). The Israelites left Egypt to go to the Promised Land. It was a three day journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. But it took them 40 years to get there! God did not give up on the Israelites during that whole time. They kept making the same mistakes over and over but God gave them so many chances.

Sadly, it took me almost 40 years to finally stop making the same mistakes over and over (I am a slow learner). Sometimes I felt like giving up on myself or even worse that God had given up on me. But He never did. I am so thankful that He didn’t. For me, God was not only the God of second chances, but the God of many chances!    

The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and abounding in mercy. The Lord is good to all, compassionate toward all your works.” Psalm 145:8-9

Have you ever felt like you just keep making the same mistakes over and over? Do you ever feel like just giving up? Well, I have good news for you!  God has not given up on you.  Just like the song says, “His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me”.

So if it feels like you are in the wilderness, keep walking. If you think you should give up, keep trying. Don’t give up on yourself. God has not given up on you. Thankfully, He is the God of many chances.

O give thanks to the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

Terri Owens Blanchard is very happily married to John Blanchard. She is also a mother, a Mimi to her granddaughter, a Mary Kay Consultant, and a small group leader for the Military Wives group. She loves to shop, travel, and shop as she travels! She also enjoys spending time with family, friends and her crazy pets. 

by Renee Scott

In 1996 my dad was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.  It was the most devastating news that I ever received in my 23 years of living.  What in the world were we supposed to do with the news that my dad might not live to see me or his grandkids grow up?  I always believed that God was a healer, but this experience would force me to know it beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Days after the diagnosis, we were learning more than we ever wanted to know about forthcoming cancer treatments, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  I remember hearing the doctor tell us the prognosis wasn’t good.  Very little could be accomplished medically outside of chemotherapy and radiation.  Seeing my mom boldly ask God for ten more years with my daddy was one of the most difficult moments of the journey.  Despite the dim news, we were going to believe God for supernatural healing.  We didn’t want to know how long he had to live, we just wanted to trust God and fight the spiritual battle that was placed before us. 

My mom was a wonderful warrior.  There were times that my faith wavered but it seemed like hers never did.  She recorded herself reading scriptures that she played in the house day and night.  Every healing scripture that she could find was recorded on that cassette tape.  She anointed every door and window with oil so that the peace and healing power of God would saturate every crevice of her home.  She took to heart Ephesians 6:12 (NIV), “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  She knew the battle they were fighting was spiritual and they would use every strategy and tactic afforded to us through Christ Jesus.

God showed us His healing ability throughout our seven year journey with dad.  It wasn’t easy.  There were battle wounds he would have to endure until the day he died but we kept the faith.  When God decided to transition daddy, in April of 2003, I was mad.  I didn’t care that my dad lived seven years with stage 4 cancer (which was a miracle that only God could perform).  All I knew that he was gone and he wasn’t coming back in his physical form anymore.  My heart ached for weeks after his death.  How could God not do more?  We prayed, fasted, believed, and praised.  We were owed this because of our diligence to His word. 

I lost faith in God’s ability to heal (at least the way I wanted him to heal).

Despite my hurt and frustration, I found a way to move beyond the moment and dig into God’s word.  A great friend of our family reminded me one night over dinner that my daddy was healed. 

Divine healing was God’s desire for him. 

I realized over time that when I prayed for healing, I couldn’t then dictate to a sovereign God how he would manifest it in my father’s life.  That simple statement of words gave me a second chance at faith in God’s ability to heal.  I felt like I could breathe deeply again.  I still had my moments of grief but I was able to move through them and not stay stuck. 

If you find yourself being recently diagnosed or loving someone with cancer, just know that God is with you.  I know it sounds cliché but it’s so true.  No matter what process you have to take to move through your journey, God knows the end and He has equipped you for victory.  I am fully confident that I wouldn’t be the woman of God I am today had it not been for the experience with my dad.  Thank God for my second chance at faith!

We would love to hear about your second chance at faith in healing.  Leave a comment below and bless someone during their healing journey.

Renee ScottRenee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog, where she doubleportioninspiration.blogspot.com shares encouragement and inspiration to men and women all over the world.  She’s been a member of Grace Family Church for four years. She loves to run and recently completed her first half marathon. She is a wife of over 14 years and mother of two children.

by Dawn Smiling 

As a pre-law student, one of our assignments was a visit to the Orient Road Prison in Tampa, Florida.  As I toured the facility, I could not believe how many women were there.  These women represented someone’s daughter, wife, and mother.  Due to bad choices and decisions, these women found themselves in a facility where the first order of business is to lose your identity.   This is part of the punishment given for breaking the law.

The fashion statement is non-existent.  Everyone is wearing the same uniform in the same color.  You are not known by your name, you are known by your number.  You are assigned a time to get up in the morning and a time to retire at night.  Your meals and outdoor activities are scheduled.  You have lost your identity while you are doing time.

Most of these women are doing time and dreaming of when they will be free again.  They promise themselves, their families, and their friends that they will live better.  Take on a new identity and follow their dreams.  Yet, when they are released, life does not move at the pace they thought it would.  A job application will not let you forget your identity.  If you had a criminal record, you must put this information on the application.  Many women are denied employment due to their past.  How does she get a new identity?  Sometimes, family and friends will not let you forget what you did in the past.  How can a women move past the pain of the mistakes and see herself anew? 

The women who was about to be stoned for adultery could not escape her past of the mistakes she made.  We do not know if she was trying to make a change.  We don’t know if she was tired of living in the situation she was in, but one thing was for certain, the people in the town wanted to brand her to her old identity.  Jesus was so gracious to her.  He doesn’t deny her faults or mistakes; he acknowledges them and asked the question to the person who has never made a mistake to through the first stone.  How profound.  Jesus did not reprimand her, he simply said “go and sin no more”.   He allowed her to take hold of a new identity. 

No matter what your past was, it does not dictate your future when you choose Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Will all of your mistakes go away?  No.  Will there be obstacles you will face and hurdles to move past?  Yes.  But God made us a promise in Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze”.    When you become a new woman in Christ and make the decision to take on the identity of salvation, God will carry you, open doors for you, and use your past mistakes to propel your future.

I pray that every woman will welcome the second chance of salvation we received from Jesus with a new identity in him.  As you walk with your heavenly father, each day is a new day with a new identity to accomplish everything that God has gifted you to do.  Hold on to your new identity in Jesus.  It is truly a second chance to do great things!!

Have you had a second chance at a new identity? Share your comments below!

 

Dawn Smiling enjoys volunteering at Grace Family Church as a prayer counselor, part of the soul care ministry, and as a table leader for Beautiful Monday Nights. 

 

by Tammy Berard

I have always been very involved in church since giving my life to the Lord in 1997. We practically lived at our first church since my husband and I both worked there. But in 2007 my second child was born and I hit rock bottom spiritually. I was sad all the time, struggling as a mother and questioning my faith. I withdrew from friends and church, and even thought about walking away from the “Christian life.”

I finally shared that struggle with two spiritual mentors in my life, hoping for a second chance at my faith. They immediately picked me up, prayed with me and scheduled weekly meetings with me. In these meetings they would speak the word over my life and they walked me back to a healthy place spiritually and emotionally. They also helped me in the area of nutrition which was beneficial to my emotional struggles as a new mom.

I had two years of amazing spiritual growth after that. We were at a small church at the time and I started a Moms’ ministry in my home. I also took over running the nursery and began helping with the women’s bible studies. I had always organized moms’ groups but this is really where my desire to mentor young mothers and women began.  The enemy of course did not want me to do that and tried his best to fill my head with lies and doubt. I could have easily taken the easy way out and walked away from God, but I didn’t. The women around me didn’t let me, and I am so grateful for that. God takes what the enemy means to hurt us and uses it for our good.  The renewing of our minds through scripture is how we overcome adversity and add fellowship with other believers and we can make it through every trial that comes our way.

I’m so thankful that God used those two beautiful women to show me my true identity in Christ and help me discover the gifts God had placed in me. It is my desire to do the same for other struggling moms and women that God has placed in my life. We all need spiritual mentors and friends of faith in our lives! We weren’t meant to walk through this journey alone.

Do you have spiritual mentors in your life that you can call on when you are struggling? Leave your comments below!  

Tammy has been married to her college sweetheart, Raymond Berard, for 17 years. They have three children ages 12, 6 and 3. Tammy is a previous teacher and school administrator who now enjoys being the keeper of the schedule for her busy family. She is also the current leader of Beautiful Moms and hosts a small group for Married Life. She loves to shop, cook, dance and cheer on her Gators!

by Leah Martorana

I grew up in church and had a pretty fantastic childhood.  I had wonderful parents who loved me unquestionably. They took me on amazing vacations and we had a cozy little home on a quiet street where I had lots of friends. I attended a Christian school where we had Chapel every Thursday morning.  I remember hearing testimonies of teens that struggled with drugs, alcohol, sex, and rebellion before they found relationship with God.  That wasn’t me and it always struck me that these teens knew something I didn’t know.  Their connection with God was somehow deeper. 

Years later, I realized, I didn’t fully understand the love of God until I experienced a significant second chance of my own.

My story is simple and repeated over and over in the hearts of young girls everywhere.  I fell in love.  It happened so quickly I didn’t consult anyone…not my mom, not my friends and especially not God.  It was an incredible feeling.  I was so happy and I didn’t want anyone to ruin it.  It took no time for me to make this relationship the number one priority in my life.  Before I knew it, I was in over my head and making choices I never thought I would. It started small and it happened gradually. 

Making excuses about being home late… that turned into lying about where I was.  That turned into sneaking out of the house.  That turned into compromising purity and standards I never thought I would. 

Fast forward seven years and I had completely given my heart away and hurt a lot of people in the process. Deep down I knew that I had settled and compromised and because of this I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame.  But I struggled because I felt this boy loved me.  He had so many great qualities and so many things going for him! Why couldn’t it just work?  Couldn’t we fix it somehow?

It was around this time that I read something that was so profound and life changing.  It made realize it wasn’t about the boy but more about God and me.   

I wrote these words in my Bible:

“Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone, to have a deep soul relationship with another.  But God to a Christian says, “No.  Not until you are satisfied, fulfilled, content with being loved by Me alone.  Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found, will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you!” 

And the good news….

“And when you are ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you would ever dream.  You see, I am working at this very moment to have you both ready at the same time.  Until you are both satisfied completely with me you won’t be able to experience the perfect love.  And dear one; I want you to have this most wonderful love.  I want you to be in flesh a picture of your relationship with me and to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.  Know that I love you utterly.  Believe and be satisfied.”

Those words were a wake up call.  After reading them, I felt I had a glimpse of the depth of God’s love for me.  I realized I had shut him out and it was time to put things in the proper order.  I ended my seven-year relationship and began chasing after God.

It was amazing what happened next.  Just as promised, He “surprised me with a love far more wonderful than I had ever dreamed”.  This time around God was number one in my life and that made everything different.  I viewed this relationship as a second chance.  A chance to do things right.

We involved our mentors, friends and family in our relationship. We set boundaries together and talked about our standards. People who loved us kept us accountable.

Within a year we were married and we stood pure and shameless in front of our family and friends and listened to the words I wrote in my Bible just a year earlier….

“And dear one I want you to have the most wonderful love…”

 Leah Martorana has been married to her husband, Mark, for 5 years.  They have a son named, Maxwell, who they welcomed to the world in January of 2012.  Leah is the co-leader of Beautiful Moms at Grace Family Church. When not home with Max she works as a “Wellness Warrior” helping companies promote healthier lifestyles for their employees. She also enjoys anything creative, from cooking to crafting.