Friday, January 27, 2012

Small Potatoes

Friday, January 27, 2012
"Small potatoes"
From Bob

"So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17 KJV)

The above scripture passages are taken from The Message, a paraphrase, and the King James Version, a translation. While it is important to note the difference between a paraphrase and a translation, I often look at verses in a paraphrase because I enjoy that interpretation of the verse. Here, I like the phrase "These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times..."

It is not always easy to think of the hard times as small potatoes. It is easy to become frustrated or discouraged during hard times. This week a good friend passed away unexpectedly. Thankfully, because of her faith in Jesus, she is now enjoying the "lavish celebration" prepared for her. Another good friend was diagnosed with cancer. He will begin to walk the journey fortified by his faith, his family and his friends. My prayer list grows longer every week. Often, I forget that these are "small potatoes" because I lose my focus. Recently I completed one year of dialysis. I did the calculation and I spent 624 hours last year hooked up to a dialysis machine. Why would I waste my time figuring that out? Because I become obsessed with the "small potatoes."

The last part of that passage says that the things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever. Eternity, that's what we need to focus on! "I can only imagine" what eternity will be like.

I confess that it is often easier for me to understand that these are only momentary afflictions AFTER the moment has passed. It is not easy as we grieve the loss of a friend or loved one, or hear the doctor's diagnosis of cancer, to think in terms of light afflictions that will only last a moment. Our minds don't automatically go to the lavish celebration being prepared for us. But that is the promise of scripture!

This "nasty little disease" has lasted much longer than I thought it would. I have no idea how much longer I will live. Compared to eternity, this life on earth FOR EACH AND EVERYONE OF US is but a very brief moment. It is hard for me to say and even harder to live my life always believing it, but it is true - this "nasty little disease" is "small potatoes!"

This week was a small setback for me personally. Those precious "little princesses" I wrote about last week, turned out to be "carriers" of the cold virus. Patra and I both caught it. Jenny, Emily (who made a quick trip to Clearwater) Adam and Sharon got it. In addition to Avery and Megan, Riley, Anderson and Andrew got it. Yep, most of the Buggs got the bug.

I basically just had a cough. But every time I coughed it irritated my low back. I did get an injection into my mid-back and I go back in several weeks for another injection into my low back. My blood pressure dropped significantly at the end of dialysis on Wednesday so we had to use the wheelchair to leave the center. "Small potatoes!"

Dear God: Thank you for the preparations you are making for your people for eternity. Sometimes life is difficult. It is painful and we often despair. Yet, we have the hope of eternity! Help me to keep my eyes focused on You. Be with my friends who are hurting and in need. In Jesus name, Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, January 20, 2012

Exceedingly, Abundantly More

"Exceedingly, Abundantly More"
Friday, January 20, 2012
From Bob

Another good week! I could get use to this. I overdid it last Saturday and my doctor thinks I pulled a muscle. I've been resting a little more this week. Unfortunately we were unable to go to Gainesville last weekend. James (Emily's husband) was sick and so they had to postone Anderson's baby dedication.

I am enjoying my new walker. I "walked" into dialysis Monday surprising the nurses and staff. The problem is being able to walk out. Walking requires an acceptable standing blood pressure before you are allowed to leave. Because I still have "orthostatic hypotension" my blood pressure often drops dramatically when I stand up. Patra brings my wheelchair in case we can't get my blood pressure up. (Being in a wheelchair only requires a sitting blood pressure and I do better at that.) So far this week I've done OK (barely) with the standing blood pressure.
I will receive another epidural steroid injection next week. I am looking forward to that.

Ephesians 3:20-21 " Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." I have been the recipient of God's promises in these verses. He has done "exceeding abundantly" above what I have asked or thought or even thought was possible.

Jenny's husband, David and I celebrated our birthdays on Monday night. It was a good family time. I told Patra later that night that I will always cherish the memories of the family laughing together. We were entertained by two princesses.





Two years ago, when I first started this blog, I knew that I would need my faith, my family and my friends to encourage and sustain me. One of my nurses was talking to me on Wednesday and asked how people can make through life without faith in Christ. It made me think that it is not just people going through the "tall weeds" that need Jesus. As the song said many years ago - "People need the Lord."

"Dear God: Thank you for another good week. Your grace and goodness have exceeded anything I could have asked for. We have so many friends going through tough times. Several have been in the hospital. Several are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. Several have recently lost loved ones. Father, may they all know your presence and comfort. Help me to be faithful to you."

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!
Friday, January 13, 2012
From Bob

(Note from Adam - I was in charge of posting the blog this week and noticed that Dad had failed to mention that today is his birthday! On behalf of all the children and grandchildren, we want to wish him a very happy 61st birthday. Several months ago, I would never have imagined being able to celebrate this birthday. We all love you very much!
-Jenny, David, Andrew, Megan, Emily, James, Austin, Anderson, Adam, Sharon, Avery, & Riley)

Patra and I have enjoyed another great week. This week we have been able to go out to lunch and dinner. The other day, I asked Adam to take me to the grocery store. It was a "junk food junket." I bought donuts, chips, cookies, bagels and soft drinks. (Because of my concern for eating healthy, I also bought grapes.) It was great exercise - I was able to go up and down several aisles. Although I was pretty worn out by the time I got home, I'm thinking it's time for another grocery store trip! (I am a firm believer that you can never have enough "junk food.") Patra was finally able to breathe again when we walked back in the door.

We both know that the good days may end at any time, but we are living in the moment and not fearing what tomorrow may bring. We are both learning to trust in the goodness of God. He has never failed us.

I was able to go to Bible Study this week at church. I hadn't been in several months. It was wonderful to see so many friends and Ben did a great job teaching the class. We are blessed to have him teaching.

During dialysis this week, I have been reading about the Kings of Judah that governed the southern Kingdom after the death of Solomon. Some were righteous and some did evil in God's eyes. When Jehoshaphat became King, after the death of his father Asa, Jehoshaphat sought the Lord and the Lord was with him. One of the important things Jehoshaphat did was send out his princes, Levites, and priests to teach the Word of God. 2 Chronicles 17: 9 "And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people." Jehoshaphat knew the importance of his people being familiar with the Word of God.

We need to know what the Bible says. 2 Timothy 2:15 instructs us to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." The Bible provides a standard by which to live our lives, a ruler by which we can measure our lives. We live in a day where too many do "what is right in their own eyes." I am very cautious when discussing important issues and someone prefaces their comments with "I believe" or "I think." Does God have anything to say about the issue? Surely His opinion is important. It seems that we have minimized the importance of studying God's Word.

I'm getting some new "wheels" for my birthday. No, not the Porsche I have dreamed about. Patra ordered me a new "walker" this week. The wheels in front swivel. I've had some problems turning my present walker. I never thought I'd get excited about getting a new walker for a birthday present.

(Bob's "Porsche")

The wife of a man who was a leader in my men's Bible Study class passed away this week. I appreciate so much their testimony. Our prayers are with Bob, their daughter and extended family. Our prayer list gets longer and longer.

We are headed to Gainesville this weekend for a dedication service for Emily and James' son Anderson (7 months.) In our church, we believe the service is about the parents dedicating themselves to bring up their child to know Jesus and hopefully when he is older, Anderson will make a decision to accept the gospel (believing the truth of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.)

Dear God, thank you for another wonderful week. Thank you for another birthday. We pray for Bob and his family. We also continue to pray for so many friends with serious needs. God, thank You for Your written Word, the Bible. Help me to study it and to understand the truths and instructions it contains for living my life.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baffled Doctors

Friday, January 6, 2012
From Bob

I have begun 2012 feeling the best that I have in a LONG time. I woke up last Saturday morning and the pain in my back was so much better. (Thank you for your prayers!) The relief of the back pain means I can get out of my bed unassisted.

I would love to be able to walk again. Since Saturday, I've been pushing my walker around our kitchen island, and am up to 3 laps. Patra cheers me on like I'm in a horse race..."and he's rounding the first lap..."

I felt so good on Tuesday that I asked Jenny to drive me to my office. It has been over a year since I'd been there, and I miss it. I sat at my desk and looked at my books and papers still laying on the desk... it felt good and so normal. We only stayed about 15 minutes, but it was great! Patra watched the grand kids and was a nervous wreck until we got back home. I did very well and really enjoyed the outing. When we got into the car to go home, Jenny asked me where I wanted to go next. I was pretty tired but I will take her up on the offer soon.

Sometimes success ( defined here as pain relief) interferes with our relationship with God. I remember so many times being in the emergency room and praying out loud "God, please help me." I would repeat that simple prayer over and over. During my hospitalizations, I thought often about my relationship with God. When I am in pain, "who can I turn to but the Lord." Throughout the years I have known many men who lost their focus when they achieved success (defined here as accumulating lots of money or material things). Many partnerships have endured the hard times and fallen apart after becoming successful financially.

Do we really believe that we do not need God when we are successful? (Define success however you want to). Could it be that we may need a strong relationship with God even more when times are good?

To those who have prayed that I would continue to "baffle" my doctors, thanks and please keep praying. There is no human explanation to why I am doing so well. My blood tests were perfect this week. A year ago, my albumin numbers (protein) were at 1.7 (the reason I couldn't stand without passing out)... today they are 4.0 - perfectly normal.

I am determined to remain close to God during this good time. First, I thank Him for the relief from pain. The Bible tells us in James 1:17 that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.". I consider the way I am feeling this week a very good gift. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

I must daily stay in God's Holy Word, His Bible. Hebrews 4:12 says "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." I need to continue to spend time in prayer. Not simply for my own self but for the many friends who are not having good weeks.

I had an Epidural Steroid Injection in my low back yesterday (Thursday.). I'm excited that it may give further relief.

"Dear God, I praise You for the relief I've felt this week. Thank you for answered prayers. Please draw me even closer to you in these good times. I know this week has been a good and perfect gift from You. Please bring comfort to those who are hurting and struggling this week."

Until next Friday,
God willing,
Bob
 

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