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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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