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.

Answered Prayer

praying hands bibleAs I mentioned in an earlier post, Overwhelmed, Robert and I both eventually reached out and asked for prayers after finding out Robert’s new kidney was being rejected.  Several friends and family had asked if they could add our prayer requests to prayer chains they were a part of.  Of course we said ‘yes’.  As far as I’m concerned prayer could only help, not hurt.  There were people all over the country praying for Robert the family and I.

Some were prayers for Robert and I to be filled with God’s peace as we waited for the day of the biopsy.  Others were for God to have His hand over all the details of the biopsy and for all to go well.  There were prayers for God to guide the hands of the doctor performing the procedure.  Many prayed for Robert and I to rest in the fact that God had it all under control.  Some prayed for the results of the biopsy.  Prayers the doctor would be told Robert’s kidney was healthy and it had not been affected by the rejection which had begun. trust & believe

I prayed for similar things but in a slightly different way.  I told God I knew how awesome and powerful He was.  I knew He could do anything and nothing was impossible for Him.  I believed God would protect the kidney Robert recently received.  I asked God for the doctors to be baffled by the results of the biopsy because it would show no damage having occurred.  I was asking God for a miracle because I knew He could do it!

At 9 o’clock on a Friday night, eight days after the procedure, which felt like a month, Robert received a call from the doctor.  While he was talking to the doctor on the phone, I couldn’t tell if it was good news or bad.  Robert had very little to say.  I think Robert was speechless.  The doctor was telling him the results showed the kidney had suffered NO DAMAGE!  They thought they mixed the results up with another patient because it didn’t make sense.  They were expecting to see damage.  The point of the biopsy was to find out how much damage had occurred, not if there was damage.

Keep Calm Powerful GodOur specific prayers, that were expected to be answered in a mighty and awesome way, were.  I wish I could personally thank and hug each and every person who has been praying for me and my family.  It means more than I can express with words.

All week I’ve been sharing, with anyone who would listen, how awesome God is and how He answered our prayers.  By sharing, I hope to encourage others to reach out to God with their requests.  I believe God will reveal Himself to those who do, in a wonderful way.  I believe God does answer EVERY prayer.  We might not get the exact answer we’re hoping for, but God will answer.  We must trust that God’s plans for us are far greater than anything we could imagine or hope for.

Do you pray for things in general or are you specific with details when talking to God?  Has God answered a specific prayer of yours?  If He has, I encourage you to share.  It’s encouraging to others and helps you remember the power of God and how much He loves you.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the gift of prayer.  May we take time, throughout each day, to be more specific when lifting up our prayers to You, whether it be praise, thanksgiving or requests, Amen

AskSeekKnock

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.

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

God’s Healing Power

Over the past few years I’ve participated in some way or another with the Alpha course, held at the church we attend, Covenant Community Church.  The Alpha course teaches the basics of Christianity.  It’s a place where you can express your opinion of the Christian faith in a safe environment.  It’s also a great place for those who are already Christians to deepen their relationship with God. 

The Alpha course meets once a week for 10 weeks with a ‘weekend away’ in the middle.  Toward the end of the course there’s a healing night.  This is an amazing night!  I’ve witnessed not only physical healing but spiritual and emotional healing as well.  The stories people would tell about their pain and how God healed them are definitely encouraging, uplifting and inspiring.

During these healing nights I usually prayed for those who asked for healing or helped out in the kitchen.  I’ve never asked for healing prayers.  Not because I don’t believe, but because I didn’t feel I needed to be healed in any way at the time.  That wasn’t the case on the last Alpha course.

When I had surgery 10 months ago (I donated a kidney to my husband~again, that’s a story for another time) I experienced nerve damage.  I was told, along with many other things, that it was a possibility.  My left hip/side was numb with occasional sharp pains running down my side.  When I talked to the doctors about it they told me it could last for a month, a couple of months, a year or even forever.  They couldn’t guess how long it would take for the nerves to heal, or if they would completely heal at all.

To be honest, I was irritated, but not upset.  I figured it was nothing compared to what my husband went through.  It was completely worth it because he was no longer on Kidney Dialysis and much healthier now!

God hadn’t healed me, but I hadn’t asked Him to either.  So during the Alpha healing night I decided to ask.   I was anointed with oil and everyone in my group stood around me.  Some even put their hands on my side where the numbness/pain was.  When the night ended, I went home feeling uplifted and excited, like usual.  I always felt God’s presence and looked forward to hearing how He moved in the lives of others.

The next morning, while getting ready for the day, I realized I hadn’t felt any discomfort or pain in my left side.  Usually the pain was worse upon waking in the morning or after sitting for a period of time.  I’m embarrassed to admit, but at that moment I did not believe I had been healed.  I thought it would come back, soon.  Thankfully it didn’t!  The next week, when the Alpha course met again, someone asked if anyone was healed.  I told them how I had been healed.

I hesitated to tell anyone else.  Not because I didn’t believe God had healed me.  I know God healed me!  I no longer have numbness, pain or tingling in my left side.  I think I hesitated because I thought I might be mocked or people wouldn’t believe me.  Then I remembered we are to speak truth and share our stories.  That’s what helps others build their faith in God.

Has God healed you physically, emotionally or spiritually?  I would love to hear how God healed you.  Please consider sharing your story.  If not with me, then with anyone!  Sharing a story about God’s healing is very powerful!

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I pray you give those you heal the courage and opportunity to share it with others, Amen

Dealing with Death as a Public Servant

My husband, Robert Duvall, has been a public servant for many years.  He was first a Paramedic in Contra Costa County, CA.  He then became a Deputy Sheriff for Contra Costa County in 2000.  In 2009 he was injured on the job and medically retired in 2011.  For a few years, because of his health, he was forced to stay home and take care of himself.  His days were filled with many doctor visits, ER visits and many hospital stays.  In 2012 he had 2 massive surgeries.  In June he had a stint put in his heart along with an oblation done.   In October he received a Kidney Transplant.  Thanks to the God Almighty he’s now doing well.  Not quite 100%, but pretty close!

During Robert’s health trials he felt God tugging at his heart to become a Chaplain.  So with the support of our Pastor at church he signed up for Chaplain training as soon as he recovered from his Kidney Transplant.  He’s completed his class and put in all the hours and is set to graduate in September.  I am so proud of Robert and all the time and energy he has put into this.  It’s so exciting to see God working through him.

The Servant page is for Robert to share his stories.  He’s experienced many things over the last 25 years.  So please check back often to read them.

Please click here or click the Servant tab at the top to read Robert’s first post.

Wrestling with God

At the end of last year my husband and I had surgery.  I donated a Kidney to him, but that’s an entirely different story.  Anyway, we both needed to take some time off from our daily routines of life to heal after surgery.  I was told the surgery would be traumatizing to my body, so I needed to be patient and let my body properly heal.  My husband healed rather quickly.  He had been sick for so long that as soon as he started feeling better he jumped right back into life.

It took me much longer to heal completely, almost 3 months.  Once my body was healed and ready to get back to my regular routine, my mind wasn’t.  My mind had become lazy.  I kept hearing “sit down, relax, it can wait”.

While at a seminar on ‘Quiet time with God’, a lady shared how God started waking her up at 4am when she attended the seminar the previous year.  She didn’t like it at first, but when she gave that time to God her days began flowing better.  She was, and continues to be, blessed by God through the time she spends with Him each morning.

After hearing that story, I laughed inside and thought “God wouldn’t dare do that to me.  He knows I can not function that early in the morning!”.  Well guess what?  God did wake me up at 4am the next morning.  I wasn’t happy.  There I was lying in bed wide awake.  I refused to get out of bed.  I didn’t budge until my alarm went off at 6am.

This continued for about 2 weeks.  I would toss and turn for 2 hours upset with God for waking me up and refusing to get up.  I started each of those days exhausted from the moment I rolled out of bed.  I then continued my day feeling unorganized and discombobulated.  I felt lost!

I told a friend how I was feeling and how God had been waking me up at 4am every day.  As I was telling her how I was handling it I realized how lazy I had become since the surgery.  God was trying to get my attention.  It was time for me to refocus and get back to life, back to living for Him.

That night before bed I set my alarm for 4am.  To be honest, I was not cheerful about it.  I wish I could say I jumped out of bed joyfully the next morning, but I can’t.  I moaned and groaned for about 30 minutes before finally getting up.  I sat on the couch in the family room and prayed.  I thanked God for loving me so much to wake me up each day.  I thanked Him for putting up with my whining for weeks and patiently waiting for me to return to what He called me to do.  I then asked for his help.  To take the lazy thoughts away and fill my mind with the plans He has for me.

I now get up before the kids each morning, thankfully not 4am.  While I get ready each day I am able to chat with God about the day to come.  The house is quiet, so I find it easier to hear God when He has something to say.  Just like the lady who shared during the seminar, I find my days run smoother when I start it off with God.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord I thank you for the never ending love and grace you give to us each day.   I pray you convict us when we stray from the path You have laid out for us, Amen

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