Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Lord is My Shepherd

August 1, 2012
The Lord is My Shepherd

Psalm 23:1-6 (NASB) 
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures; 
He leads me beside quiet waters. 
He restores my soul; 
He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; 
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 
You have anointed my head with oil; 
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, 
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 

     After thinking and praying about it, I believe it is time to suspend regularly scheduled blog posts. I would never have imagined at the beginning of this journey that this blog would come to mean so much to me. I am most grateful that through the blog I have been able to keep in contact with so many of you.
     When is the right time to stop writing? I don't know. However, it will soon be one year since I was last hospitalized. At the moment, my condition has definitely stabilized.
     I appreciate so much those of you who have kept up with us and have prayed for us so faithfully. Your prayers have meant so much.
     The journey has not always been pleasant, it has not always been easy. Amyloidosis truly is a "nasty little disease." God has always been faithful! My own faith has been strengthened.
     We have many friends walking through "tall weeds." Hopefully this blog has been an encouragement to some of those people.
     This will not be my last blog post. If nothing else, I will keep you updated on the grandchildren with pictures. If anything significant changes (good or bad) I will let you know.




Dear God: Thank You for Your faithfulness. Your mercies are new every morning. Thank You for friends who have prayed for my family and have supported us. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

Until the "next time." God willing.
Bob

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Wonderful June

Sunday, July 1, 2012
A Wonderful June

From Bob

     June was a very good month. While I had a couple of episodes where I became lightheaded, I never passed out. Not one time!  That is a new personal record for me - an entire month with no syncopal episodes.
 
     I had no hospitalizations. It's now been 10 months since I was last in a hospital. Unfortunately, Adam and Sharon's daughter Avery (2) fell and hit her head on a table and required a "staple" at the emergency room. She is her father's daughter - Adam was the child that kept us busy with doctors. He had so many broken bones we felt that we paid for the orthopedist's office building.
 
     Because I am feeling better I want to increase my activities. My biggest "problem" now is fatigue. My doctors have adjusted my medication and while that helps, I still spend a great deal of the day sleeping. My goal remains to return to work part time and to do that, I need to increase my stamina. Progress is slow but I am improving. Recently I have started using a cane to get around the house. For the first time in 3 years I was able to get in the pool. Poor Andrew (7) thought I was going to drown.
 
     If I start to get discouraged, Patra reminds me how far I've come. It really is amazing to consider how different things were just one year ago. I'm not aiming to participate in the Olympics this month (although I can't wait to watch and cheer for USA) but I would like to be more independent. I really did take for granted the pleasures of walking, driving, working. I'm trying very hard not to take anything for granted now.
 
      On Father's Day, I had the privilege of sharing my testimony at our church. Jenny (and David), Emily, Adam (and Sharon), and all the grandchildren were there (the 4 youngest went to the nursery.) After I shared Jenny spoke as the representative of the family. If you are interested, I've included a video from that evening service at Starkey Road Baptist Church.



Video streaming by Ustream

     Psalm 8 has been a very special Psalm during this journey. I often enjoy slowly reading and meditating upon its truths.

(Psalms 8:1-9 CEV)

Our [Lord] and Ruler,
your name is wonderful
everywhere on earth!
You let your glory be seen
in the heavens above.
      With praises from children
and from tiny infants,
you have built a fortress.
It makes your enemies silent,
and all who turn against you
are left speechless.
  I often think of the heavens
your hands have made,
and of the moon and stars
you put in place.
      Then I ask, “Why do you care
about us humans?
Why are you concerned
for us weaklings?”
      You made us a little lower
than you yourself,
and you have crowned us
with glory and honor.
      You let us rule everything
your hands have made.
And you put all of it
under our power—
  the sheep and the cattle,
and every wild animal,
  the birds in the sky,
the fish in the sea,
and all ocean creatures.
  Our [Lord] and Ruler,
your name is wonderful
everywhere on earth! (Emphasis mine)

Dear God: Thank you for your goodness. We continue to pray for many friends who are walking through the "tall weeds." May they feel Your presence. Thank you for the prayers of friends. May I be faithful to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Until August 1. God willing.
Bob

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Celebrations of May

"The Celebrations of May"
Friday, June 1, 2012
From Bob


May turned out to be a busy month for me and for our family. The big event was Adam's graduation from Stetson Law School. As a graduate of the law school in 1976, I was allowed to present him with his diploma. Thank you Dean Roy Gardner for giving me that opportunity.






Stetson's graduation ceremony is held outside and it was a beautiful Florida day.  A beautiful Florida day in the middle of May also means that it was very hot. Stetson was most accommodating. The school provided a room so that I would not have to stay in the heat. Thank you Brianna for making those arrangements. I didn't pass out!   Together with Sharon's mom and dad, we gathered after graduation for a small celebration and lunch.

Adam did much better than I did in law school. Much better. He graduated with honors and also received an award as the best public defender clinic student. The exciting part of the story is that he graduated on Saturday and started his new job with the state attorney's office on Monday. Now all he has to do is pass a little test (the bar exam) in July.

May was also a busy birthday month. Andrew is now 7. Anderson is now 1. Jenny and James (Emily's husband) are now... a year older.


From left: Austin (6), Andrew (7), and Anderson (1)

MOTHER's Day was another opportunity to celebrate together. Our children gave Patra a picture of the grandchildren - her favorite gift.


I had the privilege of sharing my testimony several times in May. I spoke to Bible study classes at Skycrest Baptist and Calvary Baptist churches and the Clearwater Men's Community Bible Study. I had hoped I would be an encouragement to others but I was the one blessed. Thank you. I had an opportunity to see long time friends and make new friends. People who have been praying for us came up and introduced themselves. Jenny spoke of the impact this type of illness has on the family. Many people shared their own journeys through "tall weeds." The common bond is that we have experienced God's grace and presence even in difficult moments. God is good... all the time.


Sharing with Lifegroup at Calvary Baptist Church



I am still doing well. I return to the cardiologist in July and want to discuss my medications. I'm thinking the medications may be part of the reason I'm always sleeping. At the same time, I'm doing so well that I am reluctant to change anything. My dry weight (weight goal) at dialysis is now 70 kg (154 lbs.) It wasn't that long ago I was at 130 lbs. I am still having some problems with becoming light headed and passing out. Even that seems to be slowly improving.

John 1:1-5 (KJV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Dear God:Thank you for another good month. Thank you for the opportunities to visit with others to share your faithfulness and goodness. You know all of our needs and You are able to meet our needs. More than anything we thank You for Jesus, the Creator of the world, the life and light of the world. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Until July 1. 
God willing.
Bob

Monday, April 30, 2012

God is Good... All the Time!

May 2012
From Bob

God is Good ... All the time! 


It feels like a long time since I have written. It feels strange not to write a Friday blog anymore, but I think it's time to write only once a month. I am still doing well. I'm feeling good most days and have been improving in most activities of daily living. I am gaining weight and I'm told that I'm looking more like myself again. I still need my walker to get around and I also have blood pressure problems which cause me to faint. My biggest issue seems to be fatigue. I feel like I could sleep all day. The grandchildren are such a joy. Last weekend the whole family gathered and we celebrated birthdays for Andrew (7) and Austin (6).


Austin, Andrew & Andrew's cousin Kristin at a birthday celebration!

Andrew

Austin
Megan (2) and Avery (2) are little princesses and dress accordingly. They will also talk your ears off.
The Princesses don't mind a little dirt to go with all that glitter...
The babies, Riley (1) and Anderson, who will be 1 this month, are growing too fast. Riley is walking everywhere and Anderson is crawling everywhere. I suspect he will soon be walking.
Riley

Anderson
Andrew finishes another little league season this month. I have been able to make most games which is quite a difference from last year when I was in the hospital so often.

Our son Adam graduates from law school this month. I look forward to reporting on his graduation ceremony next month. Please pray that I will be strong and able to attend the graduation - it promises to be a great day and one I am really looking forward to. Adam also has received a job offer. He will be an Assistant State Attorney here in Pinellas County.

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of teaching our Bible study class at our church. The class has been so supportive of our family since my diagnosis. This Sunday I have been asked to share my testimony with a young adult Bible study class at Skycrest Baptist (Clearwater.) At the end of May, I'll be sharing my testimony with a Bible study class at Calvary Baptist (Clearwater.) All of these classes have been praying for us. While we know many of the members of these classes personally, there are many I do not know. It is my sincere hope that my testimony will be an encouragement to those who are also walking through their own "tall weeds."

When I was a mediator, it was not uncommon for attorneys to ask if they could speak to me privately. They would share personal issues they were dealing with. If I had experienced similar issues (such as raising children - parenting issues), I felt more comfortable talking to them and trying to help. If it was an issue I had never dealt with, I always felt inadequate. Many times the only "help" I could give was to just listen. There were a few times where I felt there was nothing I could contribute and all I did was listen. As they left they would say "thanks, that was helpful." All I had done was listen! After everything that has occurred the last several years, I am more sympathetic to those with serious health issues. I've "been there, done that, and have the T-shirt to prove it."

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament describes Jesus in this way:
Hebrews 4:14-16 KJV
  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

In prayer, I have poured out my request for relief and have found HIS mercy and grace to help in my time of need. It may not always come as quickly as I wish, but as I look back over the last year, HIS timing has been perfect.

  Dear God: Thank you for all your blessings. Please give me strength to teach and share my testimony. May it bring encouragement to those who hear. May Your Name be praised. Until June 1. 

God willing. Bob

Friday, April 13, 2012

Looking Back at the Tall Weeds

"Looking Back at the Tall Weeds"
Friday, April 12, 2012
From Bob

We hope you had a great Easter. Emily's family was unable to come and so they were missed. It is hard to believe how quickly the grandchildren are growing up. Because of their order of birth, we have three groups of grandchildren: the "Big Boys,"Andrew (6) and Austin (5); the "Girls," Megan and Avery, both 2; and the "Little Boys," Riley and Anderson, the babies. (It is very misleading to refer to Riley as a "little boy.")

Megan (2), Riley (1), Andrew (6), Avery (2)

Anderson (11 months), Austin (5)

I have decided it is time to write my blog once a month rather than every week. My next blog post will be May 1, 2012 and, God willing, the first of each month thereafter. In the event unexpected events occur, I will blog earlier. If you want to make sure you receive any blog posts, please leave your email address in the block in the upper right corner.

I am humbled by those who have faithfully followed our journey for the past 2 1/2 years. There is no doubt in my mind that the prayers of so many people have sustained us. Thank you!

Many factors have led me to the conclusion that now is the time to do this. While I will miss writing weekly, the reasons for my decision are based on good developments. Moffitt Cancer Center recommended that bone marrow transplant (BMT) patients keep family and friends informed through a blog. We were admitted on February 23, 2010 and spent 30 days in the BMT unit. I thought I would be declared cured and the blog would be the only thing to die a natural death. In March 2010, I began the draft of my "final blog." It is said that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Unfortunately the bone marrow transplant was unsuccessful and the blog continued. Today's blog post is #174. Rather than a quick cure, this "nasty little disease" has been a roller coaster ride with respect to our emotions and treatment. The blog continued to be an effective tool for keeping in touch. It also served as a form of therapy because it provided an opportunity to express my personal thoughts regarding our experiences and I could explain how God was working in our lives.

One of the best reasons for writing less often is that I am doing so much better. While I still have some problems, particularly orthostatic hypotension, there are only so many words to describe passing out. I believe I have exhausted all of those words.

I have not been hospitalized in almost 8 months. What an answer to prayer!

Another reason for writing only once a month is that there are other things I want to do. For those who read the blog regularly, you know that I really hope to present my testimony to Bible studies and other groups. For months, I did not think that would be possible. But God is good ... all the time. I am also "dreaming" about going back to work part time. (Dialysis, which I will need to have for the rest of my life, necessitates that anything I do must be part time.) I am studying my Bible more vigorously lately. While these may not sound like very significant goals, for a guy use to sleeping at least 15 hours a day for 2+ years, this Rip Van Winkle is exhausted just thinking about that much activity.

I am excited. I don't know what the future holds but God has led me in the past and I know He holds the future. It definitely feels like we have made it through the "tall weeds."

Dear God: Thank you for the blessings in my life. May I be faithful to you. Thank you for the friends who have prayed for us and supported us in so many ways.

Until May 1st. God willing.
Bob

Friday, April 6, 2012

He is Risen!

Friday, April 6, 2012 He is Risen
From Bob

Last Saturday I wasn't feeling well and walked from the bedroom to my chair and proceeded to pass out.

Monday
night we went to see Andrew (6) play baseball and after I pushed my walker from the car to the field I was exhausted. I became light headed and felt faint. Patra ran to the car and retrieved the wheelchair and took me home. Although I was only there for a few minutes, I did get to see Andrew hit.

So Saturday and Monday were busts…
but in between, there was Sunday which was a great day. I went to Bible Study class at church and was able to give my testimony of how God has worked over the last two and 1/2 years. Patra stayed home to take care of a sick grandson. Jenny went with me and spoke about the impact this type of illness has on a family and how she has personally grown through the journey. She blessed me and I think she blessed the class. She spoke of how all of our children kept in touch with each other almost every day to juggle schedules and be available as needed. She emphasized the necessity to be flexible during these situations. Jenny told the group how our family never misses an opportunity to celebrate - birthdays, holidays - no occasion is too small to celebrate. You never know when it may be the last opportunity you have to all be together.

Physically, I made it fine. (I did go to sleep as soon as we got home and didn't wake up until Tuesday. Only kidding.)

I hope to be able to share my testimony with other groups. When you have been through an experience like this and it seems like you are coming out the other side, you are compelled to share the good news with other people.

This Sunday is Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. I can't wait to see the grandchildren in their Easter outfits. I'll enjoy watching them hunt for eggs. But it is overwhelming to think of what the resurrection really means. Jesus conquered death and because of my faith in Him, someday I too will conquer death. If Christ had not done what He did, I would have no testimony to share.

(Mark 16:6 NASB) And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.

There is an empty tomb where Jesus was buried! He is not there. HE IS RISEN!

Dear God: Thank you for the blessing of sharing with the class this Sunday. What a wonderful, supportive group of people. I am humbled and thankful for the prayers of so many faithful people.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, March 30, 2012

March 30, 2010
From Bob

I am excited! God willing, I will be sharing my testimony this Sunday during Bible Study. God has been so good the last several years and I look forward to sharing. It will also be quite an adventure. I pray that I will be physically able to do this. I still cannot stand alone and that is my preferred method of teaching or speaking. I do not want my voice to give out on me.

We are preparing several safeguards and fall back positions. Jenny is coming with us. I want her to talk about how my “nasty little disease” has impacted the family. If I falter she can pick up the slack. Also, Ben (our teacher) will be prepared to teach if needed.

Preparing this week has been very interesting. After about 20 minutes of working, I am worn out and have to take a nap.

I pray that my testimony will be an encouragement to others. There are so many people that are walking through the “tall weeds.” More than anything, I pray that God will be honored.

Our God is a mighty God and it is a joy to be able to talk about what He has done in my life. A testimony should be personal - what you have experienced. During our journey, we have personally experienced the love and presence of God in our life. He has placed people in our lives and they have ministered to us. Many of those are members of the class I will be speaking to.

King David’s testimony in the Bible was personal and passionate about his God. (Maybe I should just read it to the class.)

Psalm 57:9-11(NIV)
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let your glory be over all the earth.

That is my testimony as well!
I am a little concerned about how my testimony will go over. I was practicing this week and Riley was watching me. Below you can see how excited he was by what he heard.




Emily, Austin and Anderson are here for a couple of days. Austin (5) was telling us about “vehicle day” at his school. They had a Publix refrigerated truck (“not that cold”), a Walmart truck, an airboat, a helicopter and an army “missile vehicle.” Austin was allowed to climb into the turret. He told us that it was not loaded with any “missiles.” I was so relieved. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have discovered how to “launch” them.




Dear God: Thank you for another good week. Please give me the strength to give my testimony this week. You have been so faithful. Please be with those who are working through difficult times. I pray for their healing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, March 23, 2012

Baby Steps

"Baby Steps"
Friday, March 23, 2012
From Bob

It was an exciting week as Riley began walking. We knew the day was coming. He had been "walking" from one piece of furniture to another and sometimes he would momentarily let go and stand on his own. He finally got the courage to take off. There won't be any turning back now. Riley and Anderson are soon going to be little boys and not babies.





Last Sunday I was able to go to church, Bible study and lunch. What a blessing to feel good enough to enjoy a day. I think I am taking my own small steps. Although I probably won't take off like Riley, when I look back over the last two years' journey, I can't believe how far we've come.

Until this week, I have never gone back and read my blog. This week I read some of the early entries. So many thoughts came to my mind. First, I hope my writing improved over time! Patra, Jenny and Emily did a great job when I was unable to write. I appreciate them filling in the details of my treatments.

Faith, Family, Friends. I began this journey noting that we would rely upon our faith, our family and our friends. There was no way I could have known then how true that would be. Your friendship means so much. Thank you.

Most of all, as I read the early entries of my blog, I was reminded of and impressed by the grace of God. God is good... all the time. No matter what a day may bring, God is in control. Francesca Batiscelli sings a song "This is the Stuff." A portion of it's lyrics are:

"In the middle of my little mess, I forget how much I'm blessed."

As I continue to deal with this "nasty little disease," my own "little mess," it is my prayer that I will never forget how much I'm blessed.

Dear God: Thank you for your goodness. I am truly blessed. Thank you for family and friends who have been so faithful.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday, March 16

Friday, March 16, 2012
From Bob

It has been a great week. Sunday we celebrated Riley's dedication at church and his 1st birthday. Sharon did a wonderful job preparing for the "parties." I enjoyed being with our family and Sharon's family - and Riley was perfect.

(Sharon, Riley, Adam, and Avery)

(Riley enjoying his "smash" cake)

Tuesday night I attended the men's Bible study that I had been a part of for so many years. It was the first time I had been since they started a new year of study in September. As I told some of the men, until a few weeks ago, I was in bed and asleep by 7:30. Now that I am feeling better I am still in bed, just not sleeping at 7:30. I'm so glad I stayed up "late" Tuesday. Just being with the men as they study the Bible was an encouragement to me. Barry (the new Teaching Director) did a great job in his "wrap up" or summary of the night's study.


As I looked at the men at the Bible study I was reminded of Paul's exhortation to the younger pastor Timothy.

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

The men I was surrounded by were studying God's Word. They weren't just reading it but they were seeking to understand the applications to their own lives. They desire to be better husbands and fathers. They want to make a difference in their homes, work places, neighborhoods and communities. They understand the importance of correctly handling the Word of Truth if they are to be ambassadors for Christ.

Although I haven't passed out in several days, Wednesday was a "dialysis day" and afterward I suffered from "dialysis daze." I came home and took a nap. Patra fixed dinner and then I went back to bed for the night. I felt so much better when I woke up Thursday morning.

Thursday night Andrew had a baseball game. I haven't missed a game this year! I know that it's not a contest to be there every game. But to a six year old, who shyly waves at me when he catches my eye when he is in the on deck circle preparing to bat, it is incredibly important to me that he knows his Grandpa supports him. I've missed too many games the last two years.

Dear God: Thank you for another good week. I'm glad I was able to enjoy Riley's dedication and the family time together. Thank you for giving me the strength to go to Bible study Tuesday night. I am also blessed by an outstanding Bible study at church. Thank you for those who teach me Your Word. You know my friends that have needs. Father, be with them, comfort them, encourage them and if it be Your will, heal them.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, March 9, 2012

What A Difference A Year Makes!

What A Difference A Year Makes!
Friday, March 9, 2012
From Bob

(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I do not know all of God's plans for my life. I do know that God is sovereign and that He does have a plan for me, just as He has a plan for you. Now it appears that God's plan for me includes a future here on earth. Fourteen months ago, my oncologist told Patra that no more treatments could be done and her advice was to keep me as comfortable as possible. Her advice seemed correct as I continued getting worse each day. I spent most of the next 8 months in and out of the hospital before my health slowly started to improve. It has now been 6 months since I've been hospitalized.

THEN... I received some really good news this week! In February I had an Echocardiagram to evaluate my heart function. This is measured by the heart's "ejection fraction" or EF. Last year when I had an Echocardiagram the "ejection fraction" was 30%. That was confirmed last April during my heart catheterization. Before the recent procedure I was told that the doctor wanted to determine whether I had lost any heart function. I was told that someone with Amyloidosis in their heart would not see improvement in heart function over time.

Surprise, surprise. My heart function now is 50 - 55%! (for the record, I obtained a copy of the Echocardiagram report a couple of weeks ago but wanted to wait until I saw my cardiologist before I got too excited.) To clarify, a normal EF is between 55 - 65%. If the EF is below 45%, it means generally that there is a decrease in the heart's ability to pump blood. If the EF is below 30 - 35% that generally represents a significant decrease in heart function. In the past year I have gone from concern about a significant decrease in heart function to a NORMAL heart function.

When we were discussing how this might have happened, because it is contrary to what the medical literature suggests as a natural progression of this "nasty little disease," I told my doctor that I knew how it happened. It was the answer to many, many prayers that have been offered on my behalf.

Thank you for your prayers. They mean so much. Combined with great doctors and medications and surgeries, my heart is better.

God really is the Great Physician. All glory and praise belong to Him.

I am not totally out of the woods. The Amyloidosis has caused a thickening of the heart which inhibits some functions of the heart. Although it is presently well controlled by medication, there is still an issue with arrhythmias. I must be careful with my fluids so I don't pass out. One glance in the mirror says I am not ready to compete in any body building contests even though I have gained 15 pounds in the last several months. Despite the injections, I still have significant back pain. So please don't quit praying.

What is God's plan for me? I believe in my life, He will reveal it day by day. I hope His will includes walking unassisted, driving and working again. Right now, I am satisfied to see prayers answered and to feel so much better.

This weekend is very special for Adam and Sharon. Riley Robert Bugg will be dedicated at church. We will also be celebrating his first birthday. When Riley was born I was in ICU at the hospital and we were all concerned that I'd not get a chance to meet him. What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time I was clinging to life in hopes of meeting my newest grandson. It will indeed be a special celebration. All of Sharon's family will be in town as well as ours.


Last week a friend died unexpectedly. He had been a part of our men's Bible study since the beginning. Patra and I attended the "celebration" of his life and his promotion to heaven. We pray for his wife and sons.

Dear God: Thank you for all the blessings you give to us. We thank you for Riley and pray that he will grow up loving You. We thank you for all of our children and grandchildren. We thank you for all the friends who support us with their prayers. Whatever Your plan is for me, I want to be faithful to You. I know that my heart functions best when it is turned to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Until next Friday, and maybe several more Fridays. God willing.
Bob

Friday, March 2, 2012

Baseball & "Bernie"

"Baseball & Bernie"
Friday, March 2, 2012
From Bob

While I am not promoting the movie, I must confess that I have seen "Weekend at Bernie's" and I laughed at many of the scenes. It was a 1989 comedy where some wild and outrageous characters pretend that their murdered employer is still alive. To accomplish their ruse they are forced to prop up and animate the dead body in numerous situations. Adam claims we created our own scene from "Weekdays at Bob's" on Monday. When I finished dialysis my blood pressure was low. After drinking some fluid and resting, my blood pressure rose to an acceptable level and I was released from the dialysis center although I was still feeling puny. In the car I drank more water and reclined the seat back.

When we arrived home Adam was there to pick up his children. He came to the car as Patra was getting the kids out. When I stood up, my world began to spin and fade. I told Patra I was faint and she called out to Adam. I passed out and when I came to, Patra and Adam filled me in on what had happened. When I passed out, Adam caught me, and he and Patra carried me from the driveway into the house. Adam held my shoulders and upper body and Patra lifted my legs. When they got me in the door, they remembered the little ones were outside, so they ran through the house and deposited me on the couch. Adam was convinced that if any neighbors saw "the body" being transported into the house, the police would soon be arriving. They deny it, but my back says I "fell" onto the couch. If only we had filmed it. We might have gone viral.



Once again I was protected from any injuries when I passed out. God is good.

Thursday night we went to Andrew's first little league game of the spring season. How exciting to see so many boys and girls learning to play baseball under the lights.



Patra held Megan (2) so she enjoyed the evening also. Andrew has improved so much. In many ways it seems like a hundred years ago that I was in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit at Moffitt Cancer Center and missed Andrew's very first T-ball game. (It was only two years ago.) Jenny brought me a video in the hospital. It is much better to be there in person.



Two years ago, I don't believe anyone (including my doctors) thought I would feel as good as I do and be able to go to a game. I need to be very careful not to hurt myself when I pass out and I am working on my mobility. My new walker is wonderful but I would love to be able to walk without assistance.


(James 5:16b KJV) "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

When I was a young boy I memorized this verse. While I had no idea what the words effectual, fervent or availeth meant, my teachers did instill a sense of what the verse means. It is easier to understand in a different translation.

(James 5:16b HCSB). "The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. "

Patra and I know that we are where we are because of the "urgent requests" that have been made on our behalf. We again thank you for your prayers on our behalf. They mean so much. There are so many people that we need to be urgently praying for.

Dear God: I thank you for the goodness you have shown to me. Thank you once again for protecting me from injury. Thank you that I am able to enjoy my family. No matter what tomorrow brings I want to be faithful to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, February 24, 2012

Not Just A Survivor

Friday, February 24, 2012
From Bob

This turned out to be a "typical week." Sunday was a great day. I went to church, Bible study and Patra and I went out to lunch. It was wonderful but I was exhausted when we arrived home. I took a long afternoon nap.

Monday, after I left dialysis I passed out.

Tuesday, I had my fourth Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI.) This shot was in the low back. (Last Friday the pain had gone from my back to the quadriceps muscle in my right leg.) As I was getting up off the table the nurse told me my color didn't look right. I told her I was light headed and she had me sit on my walker. I vaguely remember her calling for help. I thought I had seen it all with respect to passing out. This was the first time that someone used "smelling salts" and I can testify that is one of the worst smells I have smelt. While I "reacted" to the "smelling salts" that did not revive me. When I did come back to reality, I was in a bed with my head lowered , the doctor taking my blood pressure and a nurse holding a cold compress on my head.

When we got home, Adam was at the house and he came to the car to help me in. "You passed out again?". I told him everybody deserves to pass out once a day! I went to bed and slept almost 4 hours.

Wednesday was a very good day at dialysis. They were able to get all the excess fluid off and I had no problems with my blood pressure.

So a "typical week." Two days up and two days down.

As I write this on Thursday, it has been a good day. My back and leg feel significantly better after the ESI.
God is good. I can hardly believe that as many times as I have passed out over the past two years, I have never hurt myself.


Almost every day I hear someone say, "I am a cancer survivor." What exactly does that mean? I wanted to know if I was a survivor of this "nasty little disease." Does a doctor have to say you are a survivor? None of my doctors have said that. Does a doctor have to say you are in remission? None of my doctors have said that either. Do you have to live a certain amount of time after diagnosis? Is two years enough or do I need to wait longer to make that claim?


I decided to do a little research and went to Wikepedia. I was a little surprised to learn that I am apparently not the only one who has ever pondered this issue. There are differing definitions and even differing preferred terms, including "alivers," "thrivers," and even "diers."
Remembering that my grandson Austin (5) had cautioned me that Wikepedia is not always a reliable source, I decided to go to the web site of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS.) "Founded by and for cancer survivors, NCCS created the widely accepted definition of survivorship and defines someone as a cancer survivor
from the time of diagnosis and for the balance of life."

As I was reading my Bible this week I realized that it really didn't matter what the definition of cancer survivor is.

Romans 8:35-39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


I am not just a survivor. I am "more than a conqueror." My "nasty little disease" was conquered before I was even born.
Andrew (6) starts little league this week. I know I'm old but this week we were watching ESPN and Jenny noted they were doing a segment on Michael Jordan. Andrew piped up, "Who is Michael Jordan?" Jenny, isn't it great getting old?

Dear God: I am so grateful that I am "more than a conqueror." You are always good. Thank You for your presence and protection. I want to be faithful to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Until next Friday.
God willing.

Bob

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Big Office Move

The Big Office Move
Friday, February 17, 2012
From Bob

There is something new in the upper right column of my blog. You can enter your email address and every time we publish a new post, you will receive an email with a link to the blog site. Unless something dramatic happens, it is my intention to continue to only write a post once a week, on Friday.

I wish everyone a belated Happy Valentine's Day. It seemed apropos that Patra and I spent the morning of Valentine's Day at the HEART doctor's office. The Echocardiagram went smoothly, but it will be several weeks before I get the results. This week I get my low back epidural steroid injection which should continue to help manage my back pain.

Last Saturday was moving day for my office. We knew that the responsibility would fall mostly on Adam, Emily and Jenny to pack up and move everything (I offered to move the heavy stuff myself, but no one took me up on it), and they did a tremendous job. Jenny put the word out to her church small group, and many volunteered their Saturday morning to help us. With the large moving truck James was able to bring down from Gainesville, our moving "team" got the entire office packed up into one load (plus a few truck beds). Everything was finished by lunchtime. Patra and I are so appreciative of everyone who gave of their time and effort to help us out. It meant so much.

**From Jenny: I try not to overstep the boundaries, but I'm hijacking my dad's blog for just a moment here! The "Big Office Move" last Saturday was an amazing experience for me, personally. When we decided that we needed to get everything moved out, I was once again reminded of how grateful I am for the relationship I have with each of my siblings and their spouses (Emily, James, Adam, Sharon & my husband David). Each of them sacrificed their own plans to do what needed to be done, just as they have done time and time again over the last few years.

In addition, I am overcome with gratitude for our little home-group from church. Their overwhelming response to help just confirmed to me that my Dad's motto (Faith, Family, Friends) is spot-on. Many of the guys who helped us Saturday have never met my parents. They just helped because they heard of a need and wanted to show God's love to someone in a tangible way. Words just don't do it justice. But I thank God for showing me yet another example of the community of believers who have done SO MANY things for our family over the last 2 years. Thank you all! (Ok... back to my Dad, who might just be changing his password after this - haha!)

Patra and I continue to count our blessings. Last year at this time we were making regular visits to the hospital. While dialysis continues to be a challenge, we understand that it is essential. I am learning to cope better with spending 3 days a week at dialysis and then feeling the effects when I come home.

2 Corinthians 12:9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Just before this portion of his letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul has referenced his own "thorn in the flesh." Paul says that he asked the Lord 3 times to remove this infirmity. What was the Lord's response? "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." God didn't "heal" Paul, God didn't remove the "thorn in the flesh."

All of us experience problems. Some are physical illness, some relational, some vocational, some financial. My current problem is a "nasty little disease." We really want our problems to "go away." Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. The fact that Paul asked 3 times suggests that he really wanted the problem removed and he knew that God could do it. I have prayed more than 3 times that God would heal me. I know He could and I would really like that.

What is most important is OUR response. Paul responded: "Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

It is my prayer that I will respond to my illness in a way that glorifies God.

Thank you for your continued prayers for me and my family.

Dear God: Your grace is amazing. May all glory and praise be lifted up to you. In my weakness help me to find the strength You have promised. May You be with all of our friends who are ill or have other needs. In Jesus name. Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, February 10, 2012

Justice, Mercy, Humility

Friday, February 9, 2012.
"Justice, Mercy, Humility"
From Bob

I have an Echocardiagram next Tuesday. I'm anxiously awaiting the results. The last couple of times I've "sweet talked" the technician into telling me what they thought. However, their impression didn't always agree with the doctor's interpretation so I may just wait this time to hear directly from the doctor. It usually doesn't take long.

We are having this test done to see if there has been any change in my heart function. My heart catheterization several months ago confirmed my previous Echocardiagram that my heart function was 30%. (I was pleased to learn that a "normal" heart functions at 60%, not 100%.)

Tomorrow we (not me) will be cleaning out my office for an anticipated sale. Jenny's friends from church volunteered to help so we have plenty of people-power and trucks lined up. What a blessing! While there is really no choice but to rid ourselves of the financial obligations associated with the office, it is still emotional. Patra is having a harder time than I am. She physically painted every wall and installed all of the interior woodwork. We spent many wonderful days there together running our business. I have been told that my biggest contribution this weekend would be to stay out of the way. My back is still very painful so I will comply with that request.

The grandchildren continue to be a blessing. Andrew (6) has started little league practice. I told him I am feeling better this year and want to go to more games. He asked me if I could go to ALL of his games. I hope I can. Austin (5) continues to amaze and entertain us with his "Austinisms." He already knows more about exotic animals than I do. The other day Patra asked him why God made an animal a certain way. He told her he didn't know but he would google it and tell her the answer. Megan and Avery (2) are like sisters. They play together so well and are beginning to talk all the time. We can already see that Riley and Anderson will soon be little boys and not babies.

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

This is a great verse to memorize since it so clearly gives us directions for living our lives. I will just talk about walking "humbly with thy God." It is so easy to see ourselves as the center of our universe, to think we are in charge. I confess that as a grandparent that is the message I am giving my grandchildren. It's their parents responsibility to teach them the truth about themselves. The other day I was thinking about how great it is not having to be the disciplinarian. It will no doubt be harder for this generation. What with television, video games and the Internet, our children must be more diligent than we were. My grandchildren won't be watching "Father knows best," "Mary Tyler Moore," or "Bonanza."

Having this "nasty little disease" has taught me so much about walking humbly with God. He is the center of the universe, He is the One in charge. That is a very good thing -if I were in charge, I would really mess things up.

Dear God: We continue to pray for many friends who are ill. May they know your presence in a special way. I pray for relief from back pain. Help me to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you. Thank you for teaching more about You every day. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, February 3, 2012

"Living Water"


Living Water

Friday, February 3, 2012

From Bob

(John 4:7-15 HCSB) A woman of Samaria came to draw water. "Give Me a drink," Jesus said to her, for His disciples had gone into town to buy food. "How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus answered, "If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would ask Him, and He would give you living water." "Sir," said the woman, "You don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do You get this 'living water'? You aren't greater than our father Jacob, are You? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock." Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again-ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life." "Sir," the woman said to Him, "give me this water so I won't get thirsty and come here to draw water."

February, 2012. I have made it another month. It has been 5 months since I have been in the hospital. What a blessing! God is good - all the time. God is good - every month!

I had a good day at dialysis on Monday. My sitting blood pressure stayed high enough to get me released. In fact, my dialysis went so smoothly that I finished before Patra arrived to pick me up. That had never happened before. The nurse pushed me in my wheelchair to get my weight and then opened the door to the waiting room. That is the last thing I remember for several minutes. One of our friends waiting for her husband later told us she knew something was wrong when I didn't respond to her. She touched my arm and it was clammy. I think she thought I had died. She said she yelled for help and several nurses responded. I have no recollection of any of that.

When I was "coming back" a nurse had pulled back on my wheelchair and I was looking at the ceiling. They put me on oxygen and were preparing an IV to give me fluid. Fortunately, by that time Patra was there and stopped the IV from being inserted. (I've had enough "pokes.") Patra knew I just needed to drink some water and I would be OK. (Unfortunately we are now somewhat "expert" at handling my "syncopal"episodes.) The nurse in charge agreed and Patra gave me water to drink. Soon I was back to normal. My new normal is not what it used to be!

On Wednesday, my blood pressure problem started early in dialysis. My systolic (upper number - "the phase of the heartbeat when the heart muscle contracts and pumps blood from the chambers into the arteries.") blood pressure began falling very quickly. When we first noticed, it was 102, then 98, then 89. I think it bottomed out at 79. The nurses tilted my chair back, gave me fluids, and decreased the amount of fluid they were taking off. Soon I was feeling much better. My nephrologist talked to me about these episodes of "hypotension" and he adjusted my "dry weight." If I am still having problems, he will consider changing my blood pressure medications.

In the story related above from the gospel of John, Jesus is traveling through Samaria and encounters a Samaritan woman. It was bold of Jesus to go through Samaria because at that time the Jewish people would "walk around" Samaria. It was even bolder for Jesus to engage a Samaritan woman in a conversation. As the Bible says above, "Jews do not associate with Samaritans." The Samaritans worshipped in the Temple on Mount Gerizim and the Jews worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus interrupted this woman's life. I imagine she had made this trip for water on many occasions. As she walked along, I imagine she thought of the many chores she needed to accomplish that day. Then she meets Jesus and her plans are interrupted by His questions and prophetic utterances. Just as does today, He offered her eternal life by telling her he could give her water and she would never again thirst. From the Biblical account, it appears she didn't understand at that point what Jesus was really offering. She didn't want to be physically thirsty and have to keep coming back to draw water.

When I was first diagnosed with this "nasty little disease, I was told I would have problems with my fluid levels. Over the last two years, I have been instructed to drink more water and I have been instructed to refrain from drinking water or any fluids. For months, I had daily IVs of significant amounts of fluid and now I have fluid removed three times a week. I have never been more thirsty than when the doctors limited my fluids. I would eat ice chips, chew gum, and eat hard candy trying to calm the thirst. While I still drink more than I should, the situation has improved.

I think I know how that Samaritan woman felt. "Jesus, give me water so I don't thirst and in my case don't give me too much either."

More importantly, Jesus interrupted my life when I was a young boy and I received His gift of eternal life. He quenched the real thirst of my life and I will never be thirsty again-ever.

I hope He interrupts your life. He goes where you are, even to Samaria. We just need to accept His offer. He gave His life for you and me.

Dear God: I pray that we will be able to correct my blood pressure problems. Thank you for the staff and nurses and doctors that respond so quickly and work so hard in treating me. I thank you for your gift of eternal life. I pray that I will be faithful to you always. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.

Bob

 

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