Thursday, March 12, 2015

Results and Riding

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for Victoria. The scan process on Monday went extremely smoothly, in fact each step happened early! Victoria was her normal cheery self, choosing to wear her Onesy which bought many smiles to staff and patients traversing the corridors of the John Hunter Hospital.

Thank you to everyone who sent messages of support and encouragement, and to my Mum and Dad who were here to support us at all the hospital visits. 

The MRI indicated that the tumour is stable, which means no more treatment is necessary at this stage. The next scan is booked for July 22, 2015. We are so grateful to God for this result, and for another four treatment-free months! We are also grateful that Victoria experienced virtually no anxiety leading up to the scan. The rest of us travelled well until 'results' day, and then I, in particular, fell apart! Next time, I will have to follow Victoria's example.

The goal of riding the 50km section of the Loop the Lake served as a fantastic distraction for me in the lead up to the scan. We crossed the finish line with much satisfaction. It was great to ride the last couple of the kilometres with the family, including Marshall on his skateboard. Thank you to Jenny who rode with me on the Loop the Lake, and to Kris, my weekly riding partner who helped me get to a level of fitness that meant I had no sore muscles anywhere after the ride.  And thank you to my parents, Ken's parents and Robyn for coming to welcome us across the finish line. It was a fantastic family event, and hopefully raised a lot of money for the John Hunter Children's Hospital.

So, getting back to Victoria, we are still on this roller coaster ride, with the blessing of larger 'straights' now. We will continue to trust God in this journey, knowing that He loves Victoria even more than we do. I have been reading the book 'Emotionally Healthy Spirituality' by Peter Scazzero, and have just started Chapter seven - Enlarge your soul through grief and loss. Today, I wanted to share these couple of paragraphs,

'Our culture routinely interprets losses as alien invasions that interrupt our 'normal' lives. We numb our pain through denial, blaming, rationalisation, addictions, and avoidance. We search for spiritual shortcuts around our wounds. We demand others take away our pain. 
Yet we all face many deaths within out lives. The choice is whether these deaths will be terminal (crushing our spirit and life) or open us up to new possibilities and depths of transformation in Christ.' page 135-136

For our family, we are choosing the latter. We are choosing to stand on Christ our Rock, and let Him transform us through this circumstance.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging in us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. 
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:22-28 The Message

Thank you for standing with us, supporting us through prayer, messages of support and practical help. We are so grateful to have you in our lives and on this journey with us.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Be brave, trust God

Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.  Psalm 23:6 AMP

The other day we were looking through each child's box of "special things". In Victoria's box we found the invitation to her Dedication when she was a baby. Psalm 23:6 was the scripture God had given us to put on the invitation. What truth this scripture has been in her short life so far! God's goodness, mercy and unfailing love has been so evident in her life. That huge scar on Victoria's head that you can see in the above photo is testimony to God's unfailing love for her, an unfailing love He has for all His children.

Thank you to everyone who has been upholding Victoria and our family in prayer as we draw closer to another scan. A couple of weeks ago Victoria was asking every day, 'What day is my scan Mum?' 'How many more sleeps until my scan Mum?' It was clear that the upcoming scan was consuming much of her thinking. So I thought, if that is what she is thinking about, lets not just ignore it, let's get it out there, 'front and centre'. So after some consultation with her teacher, I decided to make a 'Scan countdown chart', similar to a Christmas Calendar. But instead of opening windows with dates, on each day I wrote a positive activity that was going to occur on that day.

The aim was for Victoria to know for herself exactly when the scan was going to happen, but also to know that there were many positive things going on in her life too. The chart has worked wonderfully. Victoria has great delight reading it each day to see what is going to be happening.

The Loop the Lake training has certainly helped to keep my mind focused. I can highly recommend setting a physical goal to help keep the anxiety at bay. We are looking forward to a memorable family day on Sunday. Please pray for our safety as we ride.

In early February we went to a Camp Quality family camp at Toukley, about 45 minutes south of here. Once again we had a fabulous weekend, with lots of activities to participate in, surfing, tennis, water gun fights and a visit from a reptile zoo. Thank you so much to all the volunteers and people who donate to Camp Quality to make these camps become a reality, and such a necessity for families experiencing childhood cancer. Alexandra and Victoria enjoyed making and flying kites.

Saturday afternoon two Redkite social workers came to facilitate a parents discussion group. I was unsure whether emotionally I could cope with the discussion group. I couldn't stop thinking about one of the scriptures God has given me as a 'theme' for this year is 1 Chronicles 28:20,

Also David told Solomon his son, Be strong and courageous, and do it. Fear not, be not dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail or forsake you until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.

Basically in my mind I have summed this scripture up in four words, be brave, trust God. So with that scripture top of mind I attended the group. It was confronting, and emotional, and I had to be brave to stay in the room. But I was glad that I did, as later during the camp, because I had stayed and listened, I was able to have some very fruitful conversations, leading to the deepening of relationships. 

Sunday morning at the camp Marshall, Charlotte and I headed over to the Giant Swing activity.

Charlotte was the first of the three of us to have a go. She went two thirds of the way to the top.

The Giant Swing involves being harnessed, attached to a long rope, being hauled by the 'tow team' (the other campers) to a height of 18 metres (or less if that is what you want), and then self-releasing the rope, free falling before swinging!

Marshall went second.
He went two thirds of the way to the top.

Following on with the theme of 'be brave, trust God' I went third, all the way to the top! One kind parent videoed my swing ..... click here to watch the video. While it was absolutely terrifying free falling, I was so thrilled that I did it. 

In the weeks since 'the swing' there have been a few situations I have had to face where I have thought back to the moment I pulled the cord to release the rope, and thought, Yes, I can do this, I can be brave. I can trust God to get me through this.

One of those situations involved the writing of my book about our journey with Victoria and the brain tumour. I had been progressing well with it, until I reached the part about her brain surgery (the day prior, the operation day and the post op day). It has taken me four months to get the courage to write about those three days, knowing that I would have to re-live all the emotions as I recalled the conversations, the waiting, the unknowns and the fears. Reading the 'be brave, trust God' scriptures God had given me (they are in various places around our home) and remembering how good it felt once I had let go of the rope on the Giant Swing and was swinging through the air, gave me the courage to 'push through' and write about those three days. I finished writing that segment yesterday, and now I feel so elated! I did it! Yes, it was emotional and exhausting. But having completed that section, I now feel encouraged and even excited about continuing on with the book, praying that it will inspire and encourage others.

So thank you again for everyone who is praying for Victoria and our family. The lead up to this scan has been the most peaceful ever, especially for Victoria. As you know, the scan in on Monday 9th March, and we will get the results of Tuesday 10th March. 

We continue to claim Victoria's namesake over her life - Victoria - victorious, conqueror; Grace - blessing and favour. And we declare God's goodness, mercy and unfailing love over her.  Thank you for standing with us.

Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.  Psalm 23:6 AMP