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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Amish pumpkin harvest (click for larger photo)
Amish pumpkin harvest
(click for larger photo)

"A Testimony Of Restoration"

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"He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6).

Al Worthley 7/11/13One of the greatest faith builders is personal testimonies. We enjoy reading of how the Lord is working in the lives of others. Some stories take a long time to work out and these can be of special encouragement to others who are also in a long wait.

This summer we stopped by our chaplaincy office in Springfield, Missouri where I hold my official endorsement as a chaplain. We had lunch and visited for awhile with Al Worthley my chaplaincy supervisor. Al has been a tremendous blessing and source of encouragement to us in our chaplaincy ministry, both to companies and over the internet through Daily Encouragement.

Valla Martin with Brooksyne

We also visited for a moment with Valla Martin and had her photo taken with Brooksyne. I see Valla's name in my inbox practically every day with prayer requests from chaplains from all over the country. Last Friday I received one from a correctional chaplain who requested prayer as he was to baptize a death row inmate on Wednesday, September 18, and then be in attendance at his execution the following day (today). There must be a tremendous testimony in that story.

Valla herself has a wonderful testimony. She spent most of her life not knowing her biological father. She knew his name, but very little else was known about him – good or bad. She always longed to know more about him. What was he like? Was she like him at all? Did he wonder the same things about her? Fear of negative answers kept her from pursuing her dream of one day finding him.

Eventually she thought, “Enough wondering is enough.” If she found him for no other reason than to learn family history, that was okay. She had been very happily married for 33 years, had two kids and three grandkids, so her life was full…well, almost full. If he didn’t reciprocate her feelings, she could go on. She had made it this far just fine. But, what if???

On August 12, 2010, she threw caution to the wind, sat down at the computer, and asked a simple private question on Facebook to the man she thought must be her long-lost dad: At 2:56pm she wrote: “Are you the Dean from Kansas who has a sister named Barb?”

She shut the computer down and didn’t look at it again until the next morning. Little did she know that later that day at 6:48pm, he had responded: “Yes I am. My heart gave a little jump when I saw this on my email. I've not used Facebook much, so don't know much on using it. You are beautiful by the way. This is a lot more answer than you asked for, hope you don't mind. Please let me know all about you and your family. I'm thrilled to hear from you.”

From there phone numbers were exchanged, and the first phone call happened the next day. An hour passed by in a flash. So much to know! Where to start?! It didn’t matter! Valla had found her daddy! And guess what? He only lived about an hour away! He could have lived anywhere, for all she knew!

He had grown up and was deeply repentant of his previous behavior. He wasn’t the irresponsible young man who had abandoned her and her mom so many years ago. He had thought of her often and always thought of her on her birthday – Valentine’s Day, and hence the name “Valla.” He LOVED her! He had become a Christian, and they shared the same conservative values and outlook on life. They processed information remarkably the same. They had the same type of personality and sense of humor. They “got” each other.

Valla Martin with her fatherA week after the first interaction, they were able to meet face-to-face. So much communication had happened in that first week that it was a very comfortable meeting. Since then, they have seen each other almost every week. Phone calls happen several times a day – sometimes very short calls, sometimes they solve the world’s problems, sometimes just plain silliness, but always just because they CAN!

It wasn’t long before Valla learned that her dad was experiencing health problems – SERIOUS health problems. He only had one working kidney, and its function had begun to decline. With no hesitation, Valla offered one of her kidneys IF she was a match. (Of COURSE, she would be a match!) The question was never:  “SHOULD she do it?” It was always: “Why SHOULDN’T she?”

In the fall of 2012, Valla went through all the testing that followed the confirmation that she was indeed her dad’s match. She passed the tests with flying colors. On January 22, 2013, the kidney transplant occurred. Both donor and recipient have recovered very well. On April 8, 2013, her dad was told that his health following the transplant is far better than many other kidney recipients.

Valla had looked for maybe just medical history, but she found her identity and a sense of belonging that was totally unexpected!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we rejoice with Valla in her new found relationship with her birth father. How wonderful that they share the same faith and same values enabling them to build a loving bond as father and daughter in their later adult years. There are millions of fatherless children who don't know their birth fathers and feel unloved, unimportant and unwanted. We pray for responsible parenting and Biblical morality to be restored in our land. How desperately we need a revival where people will be saved, delivered, and reconciled to You, and seek to reconcile themselves to those they have cast aside. We pray for those who are still in the waiting period for a miracle such as Valla's. May they find their sense of belonging and acceptance through You, our loving Father, and as joint heirs with Christ who gave His all that we might be adopted into Your eternal family. Amen.

We grieve for all who lost their lives in the shooting Monday. I saw this brief snippet of info that will help many of our readers to especially identify with Marty Bodrog, one of the victims.

"Bodrog loved God, family, country and the Boston Bruins. …There were three daughters -- Isabel, 23; Sophie, 17; and Rita, 16 -- and Bogrod was active in the children's ministry at Immanuel Bible Church, where Bodrog led 3-year-olds in Bible study. He was also active in the Christian outreach program Young Life.

"Bodrog, a longtime member of the congregation, was bulky, but he made himself small at in the presence of children at the church, crawling around on the floor and singing songs. …

"Bodrog was born in Woodbury, NJ, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1981. Officially, he served 22 years, retiring as a Surface Warfare Officer. …

"Stephen Jasper, a retired Naval aviator, struggled to process his friend's death. 'Marty Bodrog was special,' recalled Jasper… 'He was a superb naval officer. He was a caring father and a good friend.'" Here's a fuller testimony from the church website.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Turn Your Heart Toward Home"  Video 
Steve & Annie Chapman

"The Family Prayer Song"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"I Loved Her First"  Video  Heartland

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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