Friday, May 20, 2016

Mercy and victory

This is Victoria getting ready for her 21st scan. 
She was excited and fully expectant for a good result.
And she was not disappointed.

The scan showed that the tumour was smaller than the September 2015 scan. This reduction in size was not due to any medical intervention. It was simply the hand of God - His mercy on Victoria's life.

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

We are both overjoyed and overwhelmed with this result. Thank you Jesus for your healing power. 

Following on from reviewing the scans two other decisions were made... 

After five years of have mostly quarterly scans, the next scan will be in six months time. For anyone who has been on this journey, you will know exactly what that means. It means six months free of thinking about scans and results. It means six months for Victoria to have a more 'normal' life, something she hasn't had for five years! It means six months of breathing space for us a family, allowing each of us time to more fully live our lives. Praise God!

Secondly, the portacath, which is being accessed in the above picture, will be taken out. This is an access point, under Victoria's skin, connected to a tube going into the top of her heart.  Praise God it has worked perfectly for almost four years. But now it is no longer required, in Jesus Name.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed so faithfully over the past five years, standing, believing that our God is able and willing to heal, and that He still heals today. We believe this is only the beginning of the manifestation of healing in Victoria - the best is yet to come, with complete disintegration of the tumour, and complete restoration of her left arm, hand, leg and foot. None of this is impossible for our God.

For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. Luke 1:37 AMP

We are so grateful to everyone who has stood with us, in prayer, and also practically. Thank you for being such a blessing to each of us. As you may have gathered from my previous posts this year, Term 1 was particularly challenging for Victoria with various muscle issues and pain. The Year 12 students at school have come alongside Victoria this year. They have been encouraging her, reminding her that she is loved. 

And not only have they done this for Victoria, but they have also included her whole class, who have lovingly prayed and supported her since Prep, by arranging a lunchtime bbq and games for the class. 

But what they, a group of 17 and 18 year old, did for us, as a family, this week, really blew us all away. It reminded me that despite what we watch on TV about the youth of this generation, there are youth who love, who know they have a purpose and who want to do good and bless others. 

On Wednesday when I picked Victoria up at school to go for the scan, there at the office for me was a beautiful bunch of flowers, a CD, and a little brown box. The little brown box was actually for Ken and I. There was also a parcel for Marshall at the office, with some of his favourite food, and a little brown box. When I found Victoria in the playground, she had three big helium balloons, and a little brown box. As we walked through the play ground, at least 20 children came up to Victoria and wished her well with the scan - 'the 21st scan' as she called it.

When we got to the car, Victoria opened her little brown box.

And inside were hand-written notes (including a beautiful sketch) to Victoria from each of the Year 12 students. She started to read them out aloud - what affirmation and love in those notes. So I opened our box and read the top one of the hand-written notes to Ken and I - only managed to read one and the tears started to come - so put them on the seat for later in the day. What a wonderful act of kindness. That Wednesday night after the scan, around the dinner table, we all sat there with our little brown boxes, including Charlotte and Alexandra with theirs too, and shared some of what had been written to each of us. How blessed we all felt.

Reading these notes, and seeing all of Victoria's friends wishing her well as she went off to the scan, made me think of something I read while sitting beside Victoria in the MRI machine. It was from a book called, 'God's Word Heals' by Derek Prince. There was a transcript from one of the his Healing Services ....

'Now, the more people who witness from close quarters, the better pleased I am. I particularly enjoy having children there. I've had children with their noses about half an inch from somebody's heel when it grew out, because I reckon that when a child sees a few legs grow out, it doesn't matter what the anyone (sic) says, that child will know forever there's a God.' (page 240 - 241)

I realise for some of you reading this post that will sound a bit 'out there', but as I read it in the MRI room, it reasonated with me. I could see all those children - junior school, and the youth in year 12, praying for Victoria, believing for her healing. And now, with the results this week, they can see what our God can do.

Victoria was adamant that she wanted to share the news with the students and teachers after the scan, asking me when I was texting, "Who are you texting Mum? I want to tell my friends". And so she did tell them, after all, this is her story of what God is doing in her life. More and more it is a testimony of her relationship with God and what He is doing in and through her. 

Thank you again for standing with us in prayer and in so many practical ways. Please continue to pray for complete healing in Victoria's brain and body, as we continue to choose to stick with God and His ways.

But me, I'm not giving up.
I'm sticking around to see what GOD will do.
I'm waiting for God to make things right.
I'm counting on God to listen to me.
Micah 7:7 The Message

Monday, May 2, 2016

He understands

Sydney Olympic Park - 6th April 2016
NSW primary schools state swimming competition

How did we get here? By the grace of God (and the train)

What a roller coaster couple of weeks we had at end of March and beginning of April. Victoria was experiencing pain in various parts of her body, sometimes so debilitating she couldn't get out of bed in the morning. We have since found out that is was likely to have been some sort of reactionary arthritis. Thank you to everyone who was praying for her during that testing time. 

Despite the pain, she managed to compete at the NSW Combined Independent School's State Swimming competition at Sydney Olympic Park in late March, complete with her support team....

Grandmothers, Aunts and ever faithful sister.
What a beautiful family we are blessed to be a part of.

My sister - who acts as a pseudo manager now at these events, sorting out where we need to be, speaking to officials on our behalf when we are not sure what is going on - such a blessing to me.

My girlfriends - who transported us as my car was not certain to make it! Again what a blessing to us.

School friends who help Victoria navigate these events. Here is one of the girls doing Victoria's hair so she can wear the swimming cap.

Victoria came second in her race - multiclass 50m breaststroke. To watch the race please click here.

Coming second in this race meant that she qualified for the next level of competition - all the primary schools in NSW. So back down to Sydney we went on the 6th April. This time with both my Mum and Dad who happened to be visiting from NZ.
And we had the rest of the support team too! What wonderful opportunities for our family to come together, so much better than the hospital crisis times of the past. 

It is really only today as I write this blog that the magnitude of these swimming days is hitting me. As I was looking back through the photos, the worship song, How great is our God, by Chris Tomlin is playing. Indeed how great is our God in the life of this little girl. 

As she stands ready to race, I wonder what is going through her mind and marvel at what God has put in her to be such an overcomer, so full of the conquering spirit. She swam so well, coming fourth and improving her personal best time by 5 seconds. This improvement was mainly due to a technique change that Victoria's new physio suggested.  And that is another blessing, the new physio is also a swimming teacher who has plenty of tips for Victoria. To see the race, please click here - If you watch it I am sure you will notice a difference in Victoria's swimming, especially in the first 10 metres.

These swimming events are so much more than swimming events for Victoria. They are part of a journey for her to accept her body, knowing that while it isn't perfect, she can still do things, and do them well. It is also an opportunity to see other children who face similar challenges living life to the full despite their disabilities. With the multi-class events the winner is not necessarily the person who reaches the end of the pool first. There is a process which can take up to half an hour after the race where the officials calculate the times of the swimmers based on their classifications. During this waiting time, the swimmers sit in a room together, chatting as they wait for the results. A very supportive and encouraging environment to be in.

On to something different .... Alexandra has watched her siblings go off to Camp Quality camps for the past five years, but this year was her turn!

She was so excited as she went on the Junior Camp down to Sydney for a night with her great companion Jess. 

Victoria went too, with her beautiful companion of the past couple of years, Naida. Note the matching t-shirts - yes that was pre-arranged!

They had a fabulous time (photo-bomber Charlotte didn't get to go), lots of archery, a visit to the Manly Aquarium and 'Wannabes'  where the children get the opportunity to dress up as 'what they want to be when they grow up'. We love Camp Quality and are so grateful for all they have done for our family. The intangible benefits to our children are indescribable.

This past weekend we had the opportunity to participate in a Camp Quality four-wheel driving day on Stockton beach, including sand-boarding. Once again it was a fantastic day, which lots of great new family memories made. Here are some photos of the day.

Marshall and the dune in the background


It was quite a trek back up the top do another ride down.

One of the best sisters in the world, Charlotte, carried both her and Victoria's boards up the dune more than once!

It was a very memorable day. So grateful to all the four-wheel drivers who gave up their day to take us out and about, and have their four-wheel drives filled with sand. Thank you.

So it has been a couple of months full of adventures in addition to all the normal life activities. But you know what? We are so blessed to have all these adventures and be able to live each day to the full. These adventures help to keep our mind off the things in our lives that aren't so great - one of those being that tumour!

People often ask me how Victoria is, sometimes I answer, 'good' or 'alright' (even if she isn't). Sometimes I say, 'she is struggling today with the pain'. But a month or so ago I felt God say to me, 'when people ask that question tell them I am holding her in my hands.' Okay, so that is quite a response. I wasn't sure if I had the emotional strength to use those words - even though they were so true. Then a month ago, in the midst of all the pain turmoil, a friend sent me an email. She wrote that she felt God was saying, 'I am here, I've got this, I have her in the palm of my hand'. 

And so I thought, okay God, I am listening, I will use that response. And I have, the first few times with tears, but each time with more and more confidence. One morning during a bike ride near our beautiful lake, I felt inspired by God to write this song / poem about how He is indeed holding Victoria in His hands.

He’s holding her in His hands
He’s holding her in His hands
And I just don’t understand

Some days it just breaks my heart
And I don’t have the strength to start
Being the mum she so needs
That’s ok, He’s all she needs
He’s holding her in his hands
And I just don’t understand

But I know He’s there
And I know He cares
And I won’t let go
Of what I know

He’s holding her in His hands
And I just don't understand
He’s holding her in His hands
But I know He understands

Victoria's next scan is on 18th May, we will get the results on the 19th May. Thank you for continuing to uplift her in prayer and believe that she will continue to know God loves her and He understands, for her continue to live her life to the full despite her circumstances and for her complete healing. He's holding her is His hands.

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide and shield me], I shall not lack. 

He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. 

He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him - not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake. 

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of depth, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over. 

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 AMP