Rebecca Duvall

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Forgiveness

forgivenessDid you know that 1 in 9 American adults have Kidney Disease and 1 in 3 who don’t already have it, are at risk to get it? There are currently over 101,000 Americans on the Kidney Donor List waiting to receive a donor. Of that 101,000, twelve of them will die each day while waiting.

March is National Kidney Month and Thursday, March 10th, is World Kidney Day. It’s all about bringing awareness to the world how important the kidneys are, and different ways to keep them healthy.

The National Kidney Foundation lists 5 easy things we can be doing today to help keep your kidneys healthy.

  1. Find out the condition of your kidneys with an ACR urine test or GFR blood test. Go to www.kidney.org/KEEPHealthy to find out how you can be tested for free.
  2. Reduce your intake of over the counter pain meds with an anti-inflammatory component (NSAIDs).
  3. Eat more foods rich in nutrients and less that are processed. They suggest the DASH Diet
  4. Exercising at least 30 minutes per day.
  5. Manage your blood pressure and sugar levels. High blood pressure & diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure.

So what about those who already have kidney disease and are in kidney failure? There are many ways you can help them as well.

  1. Cash donation
  2. Donate an old vehicle
  3. Give a stock gift
  4. Join a kidney walk
  5. Participate in a NKF Golf Classic Tournament
  6. Volunteer
  7. Become an organ donor

You can go to the National Kidney Foundation Donate page for details.

The kidney is near and dear to my heart because over three years ago, God gave me the opportunity to save my husbands life by giving him a kidney. Since doing this, God has also given us many opportunities to share this story; a story about God saving my husband, as well as renewing our marriage. This video, from The 700 Club, is a peak into our story and how forgiveness played an important roll in how my husband received a new kidney.

Another way God has allowed us to share our journey to a renewed marriage is through the book I have written, In His Way, which is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Christianbook.com.

Throughout much of my married life, I lived under the illusion that I had it all together – it was everyone else that needed fixing. Several years into my second marriage my husband, a Deputy Sheriff, became a workaholic and was never home. Meanwhile, I became a volunteeraholic, too busy to face the fact that we had become two strangers under one roof, raising three kids.

God revealed Himself to me through the different women I volunteered with. As my heart slowly opened to God’s presence, my marriage came crashing down around me. As I cried out for God’s help, I discovered my husband’s affair. I found myself surrounded by faithful people who gave me the strength to face the problems in my marriage and the tools needed to begin fixing it.

Over the next four years, my husband’s health deteriorated and he was forced to retire. Through this God continually showed me I was In His Way and then, when He knew He had my attention, He would proceed to show me how to do things In His Way. In the end, what God told me to do, saved my husband’s life, and our marriage. What was broken is now fixed by the grace and love of God.

My prayer for us today~ Father God, thank you for the forgiveness we receive through Your Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins. I pray we would extend forgiveness to everyone in our life that has, or will, hurt us, Amen.

Faith and Hope

By Robert Duvall

faith hope loveFaith and hope are two words that we hear frequently when we are faced with serious challenges. There have been many times in my own life when I have lost my faith and given up on hope. I have taken a hard look back at times when those two words meant nothing to me. Friends and family with nothing but good intentions tried to encourage me during or after a traumatic event with faith and hope and what they said fell on deaf ears. Everyone experiences hard times, health issues, abusive and failed relationships, loss of a family member or friend, financial troubles just to name a few.

For me it was mostly anger and pain that kept me from turning to God to help me through my darkest hours. That’s when my faith was at its lowest, if I had any at all. I also had no hope. It all seemed to me like such a waste of time. I was blinded by anger, hopelessness, anxiety, depression and fear. I know that during those times I treated my family as if they were to blame for what I was going through.

Over a period of 5 years I had suffered 2 heart attacks, near fatal pancreatitis, a stroke and complete kidney failure. To top it off, I was forced to medically retire from my law enforcement career which I had served over 25 years. But one night I had enough. At 3 am I went to my downstairs living room, got down on my knees and gave it all to God. I promised that I would be a better husband to my wife and a better father to my children. I promised that I would rely on Him to get me through this. I stopped the pity party and worked on being positive and faithful. I now had hope.

Things didn’t change overnight but they did improve and continue to get better. I will be plagued with medical issues all my life. I just recently found out that the kidney my wife donated to me to save my life is now in rejection. I will soon have to endure chemotherapy. But my faith is strong and I have renewed hope.

2 corinthians 5 7 walk by faith

Nothing that is good comes easy. Lessons that are painful are the ones you remember. Prayer is so powerful and it does work. Don’t let anything take away your faith and hope. Give it over to God, completely.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the trails you have placed in our lives. I pray Lord that we look for you in the trials of our lives to see the blessings and help that you alone can give, Amen.

Overwhelmed

sunflowerA few weeks ago my husband, Robert, was told, by the doctors, he needed to have a biopsy done on his new kidney.  The most recent blood work, which he has done every three months, looked a little suspicious. The doctors needed to see IF anything was going wrong.  The earliest date was about a month out.  So it was time to play the wait and see game.  No worries.  Both my husband and I know God is good. We began praying for the kidney to be well and this to just be a small glitch.  For the biopsy to show all is well.

A few days ago, while still waiting to have the biopsy, Robert had his routine appointment with the transplant doctor.  He found out he completely misunderstood the reason for the biopsy.  The blood work showed his body already started rejecting the kidney.  The biopsy was to find out how much damage, to the kidney, has occurred so far.

Thankfully, the doctors already have a plan set in motion.  Once the biopsy is done, and they know the condition of the kidney, they will start him on a 30 day plan.  It will begin with two days of 6 hour sessions of IV meds.  They say everyone reacts differently to the meds, but most patients get extremely sick for a week or so.  The next step will be 15 days later with an 8 hour day of IV meds.  This will have a severe side effect of nausea and exhaustion.  The last step, in this 30 day cycle, will take place 15 days later with another two days of 6 hour sessions of IV meds.  The point of the meds is to kill the antigen in his body, from the new kidney, so his body will stop rejecting it.  If it doesn’t work with the first 30 day plan of meds they have a couple more, stronger meds, they could try.

According to the doctors, this (AMR~Antibody Mediated Rejection) only happens to 7% of kidney transplant recipients.  They also say there is only a 50/50 chance of the meds working and his body going back to fully accepting the new kidney.Matthew 19 26

When Robert first found out about the biopsy he asked me not to tell anyone.  He said he didn’t want anyone to worry.  I told him I could not keep this to myself.  I said I didn’t think it was a good idea.  For one, I thought it would be best having more people than just us praying about this.  Second, how could he go around acting as if everything was ok when it wasn’t?  I’m happy to say he did take my advice and reached out to a few close friends he trusts.

When we discovered the seriousness of this and what Robert would be going through over the next few months I knew it was time for ME to reach out and ask for prayer.  This was much bigger than I could handle alone.

I am OVERWHELMED with love!  The calls, notes, messages, hugs and beautiful words of encouragement have filled me with God’s love.  I know the next few months may totally and completely suck in regards to what Robert will be going through.  But you know what?  That is okay.  I believe God will continue to be in every detail of my life as well as the lives of my family.  There will be many many blessings given to us along the way that only come from God.  I will search, each day, for these blessings from God.Love never fails

Will you pray for me and my family, please?  Prayers that we look past our circumstances and focus on what God has planned for us each day.  That we focus on the day in front of us and not worry about what the next day may bring.  Prayers to be filled, daily, with God’s love and His peace that surpasses all understanding.

The song Word of God Speak by MercyMe is my prayer for us today.

Second Chances

By Robert Duvall

second-chance sign cloudsMost of us have had second chances. In relationships, friendships, jobs and the list goes on. I have had so many second chances that I really can’t remember them all. But I do remember all the details of the most significant second chances of my life. First was when my wife forgave me for being unfaithful in our marriage. Second was the grace, mercy and the miracle of healing that God gave me.

For most of my life I have been blessed with good health. When you’re young you really don’t think about stuff like good health. You think more about material items you have acquired, status at work and so on. Working in Emergency Services for 20+ years was really hard on my body.

It all caught up to me in July of 2008. I was working 24 hours shifts, same as Firefighters, as a Deputy Coroner. On my shifts, it seemed that I never got any real sleep and was up most of the 24 hour shift. I was also supervising a county-wide DUI grant on my days off. My wife will tell you that I was working every day, and she was right.

I had a busy 24 hour shift and when I got home at 11 am and I didn’t feel well. I should heart-with-bandaidhave gone to bed then but I was restless and had some chest pain and sweating. I blew it off and told Rebecca that I was fine. I was up the entire night and when she woke up the next morning she told me I looked awful. She called the hospital and gave them my symptoms. She was told to take me to the hospital right away. I knew she was right.  I went even though I argued with her the entire 30 minute drive. When we got into an exam room and the tests came back, I was told I had had a heart attack.

I was in the hospital less than a week and back to full duty in 30 days. About a month later I was at home reading my son a bedtime story when all of a sudden my heart start racing. I began to sweat uncontrollably and couldn’t catch my breath. I called 911 and when the Paramedics arrived and got me hooked up to the heart monitor, the medic said,”Oh SH**.” I was rushed to the  hospital, lights and sirens. My heart was going over 260 beats a minute.  I spent another couple of days in a hospital.

It was during these events that the doctors told me I had become diabetic, had extremely high blood pressure and there were signs of damage to my kidneys. Over the next 2 years I would suffer near fatal Pancreatitis, have a stroke and eventually go into complete kidney failure. I had to medically retire from a career I loved. By the end of 2011 I started dialysis and literally had to live one day at a time. I opened my heart to God and came to grips with the possibility that my life was coming to an end. God told me that he had more work for me to do on earth, not as a cop, something else.

Romas 8 28In June of 2012 I had open heart surgery. We then found out that my wife was a perfect match for a kidney transplant and in October of 2012, we both went into surgery. She gave me a kidney, saving my life. It was through the grace of God that I had all these second chances. I now serve as a Law Enforcement Chaplain for several Law Enforcement agencies and I know that God saved me so that I could serve others. God is GREAT!!!!

My Prayer for us today ~ Lord I thank you for loving us unconditionally. I pray we see the good in each day that can only come from You, Amen.

Giving the Gift of Life

This Wednesday, October 23rd, Robert and I will be celebrating our Anniversary.  Not our wedding anniversary, that was last week.  Remember?  We’ll be celebrating the 1 year anniversary of our Kidney surgeries.  I had my left Kidney removed and given to Robert.

heart beatIn 2008 Robert was told his Kidneys were failing.  He was unable to have a biopsy done to find out why because he was also having heart problems.  The doctors decided it was more important to stabilize the heart before figuring out the kidney.  They would monitor his kidneys through regular visits to see a Nephrologist (Kidney Dr) and medications.  Robert’s kidneys slowly deteriorated over the next few years.

By the end of 2011 Robert’s kidney numbers were getting bad and he was getting very sick.  A biopsy was finally done.  It was confirmed, the heart and his unexplainable high blood pressure had caused the kidneys to fail.  Before Christmas that year, Robert was put on Dialysis.

I had heard about Dialysis but never knew anyone who needed it.  I remember Robert telling me they took the blood out of the body, cleaned it with a special machine and then put it back.  Robert received Dialysis a few times while at the hospital, but I wasn’t usually there when they did it because they tried to keep the room ‘germ free’ while doing it.  I had no clue how hard it would be on his body.  After each session he would usually sleep for a full day.  Dialysis was 3 or 4 times a week for 4-5 hours each time.dialysis pic

The first time I took Robert to the Dialysis clinic was surreal.  There were a few rows of recliner like chairs for the patients.  I remember the room being very cold and the nurses/doctors wearing masks and gloves.  Each patient brought a blanket and pillow to stay warm and comfortable as possible, considering the circumstances.  Robert said the Dialysis process made him very cold on the inside.  Dialysis reminds me a lot of the Chemo my mom went through when she had Breast Cancer.

2 puzzle piecesI look back now and can’t believe how selfish I was not to be tested to see if I was a kidney match sooner.  God knew how stubborn I was going to be and how to get my attention.  Thankfully God took care of Robert while he straightened me out!

It is so amazing what doctors and surgeons can do today.  Unfortunately, they can’t do it all.  They need the help of a Kidney donor.  I was recently reading the stats about Kidney transplants on the Living Kidney Donors Network and National Kidney Registry websites.  Did you know there are currently about 80,000 people on the Kidney Donor list?  That is crazy! What’s even crazier is they typically wait 5 years for a deceased kidney donor and about 4500 of them die while waiting.

I know it sounds insane to donate a kidney to someone if you don’t have to, but you can dramatically change someone’s life.  I have to ask, wouldn’t you hope for someone to do it for you or a loved one?   I’m not telling you to go out and get tested.  I am asking you to pray about it.  Talk to your friends and family about it.  Help get the word out about being a live donor.

A donor who receives a kidney from a deceased donor extends their life about 15 years.  A donor who receives a kidney from a live donor extends their life about 25 years.  The recipient of the kidney is less likely to reject the kidney from a live donor.

Not everyone can be a donor, but everyone can help spread the word about the need for live kidney donors.  Maybe you can make a cash donation to one of the kidney organizations.  You could even contact your local Dialysis center to see how you can help them and their patients.  Please check out the websites listed below and see how you can help change a life.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I thank you for the special gifting you give doctors and nurses. I pray you reveal to us how we may help those physically in need, Amen

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