Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you for continuing to uphold Victoria and our family in prayer during 2014. It has been an amazing year for us all, full of health and adventures, Praise God. In late November we attended the Vision Australia Christmas Party at Corlette, Port Stephens. We all had a fabulous time, including motor bike rides to Nelson Bay and back, courtesy of the American Motorcycle Association.
Reflecting on the photo above, it is hard to believe how well Victoria looks, so healthy, strong, long hair, loving her life. We are so grateful to God for where she is at physically and emotionally today. I must admit I did say a few prayers as she drove away on the back of the Harley.
Watching Victoria drive off gave Charlotte the courage to have a go too. Charlotte's words were something like, 'If Victoria can be brave, so can I.' So off she went too, and I said another prayer.
Of course, I had to be brave then too!
Alexandra desperately wanted to go for a ride too, but couldn't because of her age. So she had to be content with a 'sit' on the bike.
Alexandra did however get the opportunity to go in the stretch Hummer. For the past couple of years, via Camp Quality, we have had the opportunity to go for a Hummer ride around Newcastle. But Alexandra has missed out both times due to her age. So when she heard there was going to be stretch Hummer rides, she was so excited.
When she got inside the Hummer, she didn't stop smiling!
Marshall and Ken opted out of the motor bike rides, but rather decided to take up the offer of a sail. It was a glorious day for sailing, plenty of wind and sun.
Charlotte was still looking for more adventure, so went out for a blast on a jet ski.
We had a fantastic day and were once again amazed at the generosity of people, all volunteers who gave of their time and shared their 'toys' so the Vision Australia clients could have so much fun. It was another learning experience for our family, as we shared in the fun with other vision impaired children. God continues to build compassion and understanding in all our lives.
Victoria has continued to be amused to see her photo in various places, including the Trade Secret shops. We pray that Starlight Children's Foundation will have received sufficient donations to meet their target of having enough funding to grant 200 wishes. Thank you to everyone who has donated to Starlight Children's Foundation to help make a huge difference in the lives of seriously ill children.
One of the unexpected outcomes of being involved in this PR arrived in our post last week. It was a Christmas card that a Starlight supporter had sent to us via the Starlight Children's Foundation. It reads,
Ken and Wendy you have a beautiful and brave little girl, and no doubt her siblings are likewise. Go on being loving parents - I know "Our Lord" is watching over you all. God Bless You, Carmel, aged 87
I still cry when I read this card, to think that someone we don't know, took the time to send us this card, and pray for us, and is aged 87! The love in the body of Christ continues to amaze me.
Victoria continues to do her daily leg stretches to compensate for the muscle tighening due to the hemiplegia. (weakness of muscles on her left side). Over the past few months, with more time and better headspace I have been able to do some research into the acquired hemiplegia Victoria has due to the tumour and a small stroke she suffered during surgery. I have found a very interesting organisation in the UK called HemiHelp. The information on their website and handbook has helped bring clarity to all the physical therapy Victoria has had to do over the past four years to keep her left arm, hand and leg functional. It also helped me to put into context other impacts such as visual field loss, sensory issues and secondary physical issues.
Regarding Victoria's left arm and hand, we have been told by medical staff that it is a situation of 'use it or lose it'. When you have a part of your body that doesn't work so well, the tendency is not to use it. In Victoria's case, choosing not to use her left arm and hand will have long term detrimental effects. The latest therapy plan is to combine both leg stretches and left hand usage, whilst constraining her right hand.
Please pray that Victoria will have the motivation and emotional strength to continue to use her left hand in every day activities despite it's lack of physical strength.
As you can see in this photo, Victoria also has her right taped with Physiotherapy tape. The aim of the tape is to encourage her right leg to walk heel-toe. This tape is currently on for 6 days and off for 1 day, repeatedly. Anyone who has used this tape would know that it is painful to remove. We have found an excellent product that helps us to remove the tape pain-free, it is called, Zoff, a product by Smith & Nephew.
All this therapy and continual attention to Victoria's physical needs can be very draining on Victoria and the rest of our family, so we certainly take the opportunity to enjoy the "adventures" that come our way. Thankfully due to the many generous people in this country, there are many of these 'respite' opportunities. Just before Christmas we went to see the Sydney Kings play courtesy of Camp Quality. To see Victoria here you would have little idea of what she has to do to keep her body functioning physically well.
Reading through both The HemiHelp Handbook, and The Brain Tumour Alliance Australia Handbook, it can be very easy to become overwhelmed. The impacts and challenges presented by both Hemiplegia and Brain Tumours do not make for pleasant reading. However, for the sake of Victoria, I believe we cannot have our 'head in the sand' regarding her daily struggles and the medical implications. We need to be informed so we can help her the best way possible.
But there is one thing we need to never lose sight of, and that is that God is in the midst, and that is why I read The Bible every day. A book that is full of hope, love and promises. A book full of testimonies of God's goodness and faithfulness. A goodness and faithfulness we have continually seen in the last four years. Four years of God's grace in our lives. A month ago a friend gave me this perfume, not for the perfume's sake, but rather for it's name.
I have the box sitting next to my desk, a constant reminder, to believe.
And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes! At once the father of the boy gave [an eager, piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my weakness of faith! Mark 9:23-24 AMP
Another friend gave me some perfume too. Maybe there is a message I am not getting! Although, this gift came from New Zealand, so I think not. Have a close read of the name and brand of this perfume.
It sits right next to the Believe perfume. My friend sent The Love is heavenly by Victoria's secret, with this scripture reference.
Love never give us.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be cancelled. 1 Corinthian 13:4-8 The Message
'Believe' and 'Love', two wonderful things to do in 2015!
Thank you for believing in and loving our family. Thank you for praying for us and for supporting us in so many different and necessary ways. We look forward to sharing our journey with you in 2015 and pray for God's blessing on you and your family.