Over the past month Victoria has had the opportunity to compete in various school swimming carnivals. Praise God.
What a testament it has been to God's goodness and faithfulness in this journey.
And a testimony to the preservering, never-give-up spirit He has placed in Victoria. Here she is aged three, six weeks after brain surgery, doing hydrotherapy to improve the movement and strength in her left arm and leg.
Years of wearing aids, day and night to help keep her muscles stretched and working, things we can easily take for-granted because our body "just does it".
Challenges galore, but still smiling in the midst of chemotherapy, surrounded by her loudest cheer squad - her brother and sisters. Praise God for four children! I was reading this scripture the other week, and felt God was reminding me that despite all the difficult times, children are one of His biggest blessings to us.
Don't you see that children are GOD's best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Psalm 127:3 The Message
And what a cheer squad these siblings are, each with their own particular role to play. In preparation for the school carnival Marshall took on the role of coach. Victoria had decided to compete in the 50m breaststroke, as that is the only stroke she can actually swim 50m in. She had one goal in mind, reaching the end of the pool. She knew if she could make it to the end of the pool, she would be able compete at the Zone swimming carnival, in what is known as the 'Open Multiclass' category. Marshall gave his sister plenty of advice and encouragement, although he did get distracted somewhat by the water polo competition in another part of the pool. Please Click here to watch the coaching session.
On the day of the Primary school swim carnival, Charlotte picked up the baton of 'encourager', and along with other classmates and parents cheered Victoria to the end of the pool. Please click here to watch (and listen) to the race. No prizes for guessing who has the loudest voice.
So with the help of Marshall, Charlotte, a very supportive PE teacher and her friends Victoria achieved her goal and finished the race, enabling her to qualify for the Zone swimming carnival.
At the Zone swimming carnival, similar to the athletics, there were no other girls in the Open Multiclass, so Victoria chose to swim by herself. So as she tells everyone, she came first and qualified for the State swimming carnival. Then at the State swimming carnival there were no other girls in the Open Multiclass, so she swam by herself again.
It was very surreal sitting in the stands, watching your child compete in a race by herself, and have hundreds of spectators and the commentator clapping and cheering her on. It was an emotional challenge to not flood the place with tears. At the Zone carnival we saw one of the Oncology Nurses who has been such a blessing to Victoria, it was very emotional for her too.
We found ourselves in another surreal place the other Saturday, when Victoria was being 'classified' for swimming by the Australian Paralympic Committee. This classification gives her a 'rating' regarding her physical ability to swim different strokes and exceptions for where she cannot meet all the technical requirements of each stroke. Having this classification allows her to swim at higher level competitions. For anyone interested, Victoria has been classified as a S7, SB7 and SM7.
When we were waiting for the classifiers Victoria and I read the Jesus Calling devotion for the day March 5th. It included this,
Make friends with the problems in your life. Though many things feel random and wrong, remember I am sovereign over everything. I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Me. Every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I created you to be.
And so now with this classification Victoria is off to swim in the Olympic Pool at Homebush in Sydney next week! There are likely to be other girls in the Open Multiclass category. No doubt it will be another amazing experience on this both ever-challenging and equally rewarding journey. Please pray that Victoria's health and strength is maintained, enabling her to compete.
Finally, here is a message a friend sent me last week about Victoria's swimming. It pretty much sums up what is going on here.
"Praise God! She's in the pool. She's getting stronger. God has placed boundaries around her life. We don't deny the existence of tumours but we do deny their authority. With every kick and splash she makes today it is a testament to God's miracle working power and a punch in the Devil's gut."
Yes indeed, we are choosing to live beyond these circumstances, which if you focused on them, could have your curled up crying like a baby in the corner, every day. While we wait for complete healing to manifest, we are determined to make the most of everyday, IN JESUS NAME. It is exactly as the rest of Psalm 127 says
Like a warrior's fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don't stand a chance against you;
you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.
Psalm 127:4-5 The Message
We are not going to lose sight of the blessings God has given us. Thank you for continuing to stand with us believing for complete healing and restoration in Victoria's life, but above all that she will continue to know and grow in her understanding of God's unfailing love for her.