Monday, December 11, 2017

Be strong and courageous

It's been a while since I've written a post here, and that is not for a lack of goings-on but rather that I am aware that our children are getting older and I need to be conscious of their privacy. With that in mind, I asked Victoria if she was okay about me writing this post.

It's okay for me to write about me and my thoughts and struggles, but this story is not just about me, it started with a three year old girl with a tumour in her brain. And it includes three siblings and a father who each continue to process pain and grief in different ways. 

It is hard to believe it is almost seven years since Victoria was diagnosed. Here is a video we found the other day, when Victoria was four and on chemotherapy treatment, a reminder of just how young she was. 

Now she is 10 years old and full of life, praise God! Her understanding of what has happened, where she is now and what her future holds, is very tricky emotional ground. 

After the scan in May, which showed that the tumour was stable, thank you Jesus, Victoria went through an intense period of anxiety for a couple of months. We are so grateful for the support Victoria received during these months, especially from the wonderfully caring teachers at school. 

A Redkite Social Worker advised that it was normal for children around her age to re-process their cancer diagnosis, and that she is likely to do more re-processing around the onset of puberty and in her late teens. All I can say to that is praise God we don't do this journey alone!

Alongside that re-processing, there is also the continual need to attend to the physical implications of having one side of the body growing slower than the other side. We continue to pray that God will do a  miracle in this area in her life, but in the waiting Victoria is doing all she can (with the support of some great people) to keep the left side of her body functioning well.

Around the end of June, just as the anxiety was starting to subside, Victoria started to experience great pain in her left knee and pain. She was advised not to swim, run and dance until the pain subsided. 

In this 'resting' time, she was advised to start working on building up the strength of the muscles on her left side. So under the guidance of a physio Victoria has been going to the gym for the past couple of months.

In October she had some casting on her leg to help re-position her left foot (first photo). Although, even having a leg in a cast doesn't hold her back, as you can see in this video.

So I guess the essence of what is happening now in this journey, is that Victoria is no longer a little child, who easily accepts the re-assurance of her parents, "It's going to be okay". No, she is older, with more understanding. She knows what she has been through physically. She knows what she needs to do each day to keep her body functioning well. She sees her peers dancing in ways that she can't, wearing pretty sandals that she can't wear, and she has to process her anger and disappointment. She has to wrestle with that question of why hasn't God healed me yet? A question that Ken and I don't have the answer for. 

She has to find strength to keep living with hope. One morning, during those weeks of anxiety, when it was just too hard to go to school, Victoria found some songs written by Moriah Peters, including Brave; Oh hear my God is near; Stand Strong; Born to be free; Waterfall. We spent the morning together singing these songs, getting their words of truth into our hearts. 

Victoria's next scan is drawing nearer, Monday, 18th December (We will get the results on the 19th). A couple of weeks ago I found Victoria at her desk, listening to some of Moriah Peters' songs, stop/starting them and writing down the lyrics...

She asked me to laminate them. It wasn't until a few days later that God opened my eyes to what I had seen - here was our daughter, preparing herself to fight against the anxiety that so often comes prior to the scan. She is learning how to find her strength in Jesus.

We are expecting only good results from this next scan, believing that God continues to hold Victoria, and indeed our whole family in His hands. 

Thank you for your continued prayers for Victoria. Thank you for the emotional and practical support that is continually given to her. We are blessed to have you in our lives. Next week I will post the results of the scan

Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Love and kindness

The scan indicated that the tumour is stable. Thank you Jesus for your mercy. Thank you everyone who continues to stand with us in prayer, believing for complete healing in this little body. At the results appointment there was a confidence expressed that the tumour would not grow again. Again thank you Jesus for Your mercy and that You have the victory always.

Charlotte came to the hospital with us on Monday to support Victoria preparing for her scan. There is nothing like this sisterly love to add some hilarity to the goings-on.

These last two weeks Charlotte has been all we hoped a big sister would be. She has managed her own anxieties and encouraged her sister with a reassuring love and patience.
And Charlotte hasn't been the only one pouring out love and grace to Victoria in the past two weeks, when anxiety about this scan rose it's ugly head and caused some havoc.

Victoria's school friends have been giving her cards of encouragement throughout the week, and comforting her as best they can. Yesterday after getting the scan results we decided to bless the Year 4 students with a party to say thank you for the love and kindness they have shown Victoria. Charlotte took on the role of event co-coordinator and table design. Alexandra was her helper. Victoria decided she would like to go to class (probably a good idea after she hasn't been in her own classroom much in the past two weeks!).

What a blessing the school community has been to our family over these past two weeks (and indeed the entire 6.5 years of this journey). Showing the practical love of Jesus in our time of need. Thank you.

At the end of this post is the entry from my God Girl Blog last week explaining more of what has gone on in these weeks leading up the scan.

Now we now looking forward to returning to that lovely normal life that we have begun to so enjoy. The next scan will be in December, with a view to then having the scans further apart.

Saying thank you again for your prayers and support, seems so inadequate, but that is all we have, so thank you. Thank you for not giving up in prayer. We have seen the goodness of God, and can testify to the truth of this scripture....

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10

We continue to stand on The Rock that is Jesus.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13 NKJV 

God Girl Blog Entry - May 11 2017

For us, it's that time when the scan-anxiety starts to take hold. How do you teach a nine year old to find refuge in God?

Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3 NKJV

Can you remember what you were doing when you were 9 years old? I was at a little primary school in Auckland. We would walk to school carefree. On Sundays we would roller-skate in the local Supermarket car park because there was no Sunday trading. We would have fun (and some scary moments) sailing around the Hauraki Gulf on the yacht my father built. I was part of a family that loved me and encouraged me. There was probably some stress in my parents life, but I was oblivious to that, and that oblivion was okay because they were adults and I was a child. Kid's lives are supposed to be stress free. Aren't they?

On the news we can see that there are many kids whose lives aren't stress free. No, for some every day is a fight for survival. 

In our little world here of Valentine, our little nine year old's world has been punctured by fear and anxiety for the past week or so, as her next scan draws nearer. It is heart-breaking to watch.

How do you teach a nine year old to find refuge in God?

My answer - by letting her keep living life, not isolating and withdrawing her from life and the hardships. But rather, letting her experience the many ways God has provided refuge for her.

Refuge - a shelter from pursuit or danger or trouble; a person or place offering this; a person, thing, or course resorted to in difficulties. (Oxford Concise Australian Dictionary)

Here are some of the ways that God has provided refuge for Victoria over the past 10 days......

With the swimming coach - who took the extra time to encourage her to try something new this week

With the school teachers - who have gifted her with grace as they have moved her from class to class finding distractions, and given her beautiful physical gifts.

With the school office staff - who provide cuddles, a comforting word and the phone call to mum.

With the sports teacher - who takes extra time to help her prepare for the school athletics competition next week

With the 4WD clubs - who gave up their Sunday to give the Camp Quality families fun on Stockton beach. 

With her brother - showing her a new app on the ipad (although I don't know if it was entirely appropriate)

With her sisters - as they blast out Toby Mac songs in my car, singing at the top of their lungs - this is not a test, this is the real thing!

With Ken - taking her out on a donut date for afternoon tea

With me - sitting in the back seat of the car together after arriving home for school. Just sitting together, few words spoken.

With her journal - writing her thoughts to God and drawing love hearts.

With my missing bible - reading with the torch at night, when the lights should have been out.
And all this with the prayer covering of many who have stood in faith with her for the past six years.

This is the refuge that only a loving God can provide. 

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God in Him I will trust." Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler." Psalm 91:1-4 NKJV

Thank you to everyone who has provided refuge to Victoria in some way this week.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A future and a hope

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

Just over four years ago in 2013, in my post I wrote the following prayer request regarding Victoria's sporting activities at school.

Please pray that Victoria will not lose confidence and will not stop trying to participate in these physically challenging activities. We believe she will indeed be victorious in all areas of her life and that she will know the peace of her heavenly Father.

And today, by the grace of God, Victoria is continuing to gain confidence and see victory in her life. Thank you to everyone who has stood with us in prayer, believing that Victoria would live her life to the full.

Swimming is one of those physical areas where Victoria is going from strength to strength. For example...

February 2016 - Victoria could barely swim 25m freestyle.
October 2016  - she swam her first 50m freestyle at a NSW Multi-class competition - with a time of 1:33:51 seconds.
February 2017  - Victoria swam the 50m freestyle in 1:12:08 at the school zone competition, an improvement of 30 seconds.

Her Breaststroke seen similar improvements, with her personal best time improving by over 30 seconds from 2016.

The hidden blessing in all this is that swimming is the best activity Victoria can do to keep the left side of body functional and growing in strength. So how good is it that God has put this love of swimming in her heart. It is not a struggle (usually) for her to go to training, and she is always keen to receive instruction on how to improve.

Thank you for your prayers for her. Please continue to pray for physical healing to manifest in her, and for the strength she needs to make it through the emotionally challenging days (thankfully these days are becoming less and less). 

Again it has been a blessing to have six months between scans. Each of our children has had a great start to the school year, without the interruption of scanxiety

Victoria's next scan is on the 15th May. We will get the results on the 16th May.  We continue to believe for the complete disintegration of the tumour, in Jesus Name. We would appreciate your prayers for peace for Victoria and our family as that date draws nearer. 

Finally, the scripture from that February 2013 post still holds true for today,

When I said, "My foot is slipping", your love, O LORD supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:18-19 

Thank you again for your prayers and support. We will continue to give testimony to God's faithfulness. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Four and a half years later

For four and a half years ago Victoria had a portacath inserted in her left chest. A little medical device designed to make the intravenous delivery of medicine easier. It has a tube that goes to the tip of the heart to get the medicine into the blood stream as quickly as possible.

For Victoria the portacath was inserted in June 2012 and was used to deliver chemotherapy into her body. Even though she stopped chemotherapy treatment in October 2013, the Oncologist had left it in her body with the view that she could need at least another 12 months, potentially 24 months, of chemotherapy. Praise God that has not been the case, and after the recent scan in November he said it could be removed.

So last week that is exactly what happened, the port was removed! 

This time we had coloured caps ... 

 Unlike in June 2012.

And out it came. Victoria wasn't allowed to keep it for News at school. So, thanks to a very accommodating surgeon, a photo was the best we could do. It was the same surgeon who had inserted the portacath 4.5 years ago. He said it was one of the longest times he had known a port to be in. The insertion scar had stretched and thickened, so the surgeon removed that scar too. We are grateful to him for his thoughtfulness, and grateful to God for continuing to show His love for Victoria in so many unique ways.

And so with another huge milestone reached, our life moves onwards and upwards again, so very thankful to God for where we are today. Over the weekend the children participated in Christmas Carols at church. Such a different scenario to Christmas four years ago, when Victoria was on treatment and in & out of hospital each week.

Please pray for those families who find themselves in that circumstance this year. No matter how wonderful the doctors and nurses are (and they are truly wonderful), it is not where you want to be at Christmas time (or any other time). 

This year has been a year of declaring that God is good - no matter what. Sometimes we have made that declaration in faith and expectation, and sometimes in response to what we have seen God do. 

In January our year started with Victoria wanted to have a celebration, declaring victory in Jesus Name, and so we went to the local park with family and friends and celebrated, declaring Ephesians 3:20-21 over Victoria's life.

 Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dream] - to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it). Ephesians 3:20-21 AMP

Sometimes we have declared that God is good, among pain, waiting on the manifestation of God's healing in her body ... in March and April Victoria experienced great pain in her wrists, ankles and legs. Some mornings she couldn't even get out of bed. This caused distress not only in Victoria, but made mornings very chaotic, impacting on the whole family. At the time a friend said to me, "Wendy, this is the storm before the calm."

Victoria continued swimming despite the pain. After a couple of races in Sydney she said, "Mum, I started to cry half way because of the pain, but I knew I had to keep going." Living up to her name - conqueror. 

Sometimes it has been a case of declaring God is good, in response to what God has done ... in May when we received the scan results indicating that the tumour had reduced in size with no medical intervention.

Last week, declaring God is good for the milestone of having the portacath removed. We are looking forward with great anticipation to what 2017 will bring. It is a new day dawning for the Robinson family, in Jesus Name.

Thank you for continuing to stand with us in prayer throughout this year, and for your encouragement and practical support. We are so grateful that we are not on this journey alone, but rather we are wrapped in love from family, friends, church family and school community, and of course the love of our Heavenly Father.

We pray that during this festive season, celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Saviour, you will come to know more of God's love for you.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. John 3:17 AMP

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Stable - Praise God

The scan on Tuesday indicated the tumour is stable. Thank you for upholding Victoria in prayer. God has been so gracious to us. We will continue to believe for complete disintegration, but for now we will be more than content with 'stable.'

Ken asked the oncologist if we could have the next scan in 12 months time. He replied 6 months, but again we are more than content with that, it is much better than 3 or 4 months. And means we can all start 2017 without the normal January/February scan hanging over our heads.

We are so grateful for this outcome, as Victoria continues to thrive in her life, growing in confidence in who she is, and understanding that in Christ she is more than a conqueror.

During the appointment there was some laughter with the comments that at Victoria's 50th birthday party, instead of a display of baby-photos, there would be a display of brain MRIs!
Thank you again to everyone who has prayed for her. We are especially grateful for all the staff at school who, over this past week when the anxiety has risen up, have showed her so much love, patience and grace. We are so blessed to be part of the Belmont Christian College community.

From the physical perspective Victoria continues to improve. Earlier this week Victoria had an appointment with her Occupational Therapist. At the end of the session the OT said to me, that when she first started working with Victoria in 2015 she didn't think she would see Victoria improve to the extent that she has, in shoulder and arm range of movement and strength, and fine motor skills with her fingers.  At  Monday's session Victoria reached up with her left arm fully extended and used her left fingers and thumb to pull a small pin out of the pin-board. This is something that she would not have been able to do two years ago. Again we are grateful that Victoria's physical function continues to improve, even almost 6 years later. And we are grateful for the character that God put in her, knowing that she would need to persevere in many areas of her life.

Finally Starlight Children's Foundation approached us a couple of months ago, asking if Victoria would let them use her story again for their Christmas campaign, as they had such a great response two years ago. We asked Victoria if that was okay, explaining that it would mean more children could have their wishes granted. Straight away she said yes. So you may see her around on various promotions. Apparently they are planning to play her story at the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Melbourne. We are praying that people will google her name, read this blog and get the full story.

Thank you again for your prayers and support. It is hard to imaging how it would be doing this journey without it. Thank you. And thank you to our God who never leaves or forsakes us.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

Or, as The Message Bible says,

"Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you." Deuteronomy 31:6 The Message



Monday, November 7, 2016

We choose to trust

Tomorrow Victoria has her scan. Here is a poem I wrote today as I reflected on the emotions that come during the lead up to a scan .....

Ten days out
the sore tummy starts
in the morning before getting out of bed
Tears come too
“I can’t go to school
My head hurts, my tummy hurts.” Nine years old

Big blue eyes
looking up at me
looking for the reassurance I can’t give

“Let’s get up
I’ll help you today
which uniform do you wear to school today?”

“I’m scared Mum,”
I respond, “I know”
Pause, asking for the right words, “We have to trust Him.”

“It’s hard Mum”
I respond, “I know”
I look into her eyes, together we cry

We hug close
I begin to pray,
“Dear Jesus, we’re trusting You for healing here

Only You
Your mercy and grace
Will do what is needed here, please bring your peace

To this child
this beautiful child
who loves You so much, and knows You love her too.

We trust You
Jesus, on this day,
that you won’t leave or forsake her. Amen.

We hug close
precious child of God.
She needs You Lord, please show her Your love today.

One day out
sore tummy again
tomorrow brain MRI at hospital

Six years now
many scans she’s had.
Tomorrow again we choose to trust You Lord.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I want to be an Olympian

Victoria turned 9 a couple of weeks ago.
What a walking testimony of God's grace. 
In this photo she is trying on a 'birthday hat'. 
What a different picture to four years ago.

Although the smile is still the same!

How wonderful it has been to have the blessing of six months between scans. I cannot begin to describe how that increased time has been for our family, other than to say we feel almost like a 'normal' family. 

Since my last blog update in early July, there has been a lot going on. All three girls organised their own Dine at Mine fundraising events. Charlotte's was a breakfast.

 Victoria had a BBQ Lunch.

Alexandra had a morning tea. Together they raised over $700. A big thank you to their friends who came and made generous donations, supporting Camp Quality. 

Our family continues to enjoy, and be very grateful for the  support of Camp Quality. Just the other week we participated in a family Fun Day,  and we definitely had fun.

Victoria continues to enjoy the athletics and swimming competitions. Over the past few months she has been to three school athletic competitions in Sydney.  Always with a faithful group of supporters ....

My sister and mother (who just happened in to be in Sydney on this day), supporting Victoria at the Christians Schools State Athletics competition. 
Ken's Mum, Aunt and a friend (who is pretty much an Aunt now!) - each at least 80 years old, supported Victoria at both the Combined Independent Schools State competition and the All Primary Schools State competition. 

Victoria won a bronze medal in both the 100m and 200m at the CIS competition. Here is a link to the 200m race. I apologize in advance for my enthusiastic cheering - but I am the mother, and I know first hand what it has taken for Victoria to get to this place. It is a really cheering her on in life, not just this running race. I am getting a bit teary now after just watching that race again.

A week ago, Victoria swam her first 50m freestyle race at the NSW multi-class championships. She won a silver medal for her classification. Charlotte came down to Sydney for the day to help support and encourage Victoria. What a blessing Marshall, Charlotte and Alexandra are to Victoria, and what compassion and understanding God is growing in them. Not only as they watch their sister live her life, but as they see other children who are overcoming the challenges in their lives.

These sporting events have all served as a very welcome distraction as our period of six months until the next scan, comes to an end. Victoria's scan is on 8th November and we will get the results on 10th November. Last week she started to talk about it, about feeling nervous wondering what the results will be. The sore tummy has come back. This morning I had a 'kitchen meeting' with Marshall, Charlotte and Alexandra, doing my best to explain to them what Victoria is going through and asking them to be gracious if she over-reacts to the normal sibling banter. How do you explain that to a six year old? Praying once more that God's grace will be sufficient in all of our lives.

But He said to me, My grace (My favour and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear trouble manfully]; for my strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and complete) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP

There is a beautiful worship song - Find me at the feet of Jesus - by Christy Nockels.  And that is exactly where I will be spending a lot of time during this next 10 days.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs God has been doing a gradual restoration in our family over the past three years, since Victoria stopped chemotherapy.  Over the past couple of months one of the things God has been restoring to me personally has been laughter. Since early September there have been three occasions where I have laughed like I haven't laughed for years - to the point of tears (happy tears) and tummy ache ( a good tummy ache) - a dinner with some friends who have journeyed with us closely over the past six years, our church womens' retreat which I just attended, and in my cousin's butchery. The last place may sound a little strange - but picture this - we had the blessing of using the Harry's House Mobile Home again in September and went visiting my relatives in country NSW.  We visited my cousin's butchery in a small country town. He asked us if the children wanted a tour. Of course they did. Into the freezer room we went. And what squeals of laughter when the children saw ...

... a pigs bottom. And it wasn't a short time of laughter, it continued on and on and on and on and on.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven .... a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,3,4 AMP
I praise God that I am in a season of laughing. But I am well aware that many are in a season of healing, weeping and mourning. I felt prompted a few months ago by the Holy Spirit to start another blog called - Requiring His Presence It is for people in those seasons, who do not have the energy to pick up their bible, who are exhausted by the crisis they are currently in. It has a simple daily post with a word of encouragement, one or two scriptures and a link to a worship song. My pray is that reading the words, scripture and listening to the song will encourage you to keep seeking God's presence despite the circumstances.

Thank you for continuing to stand with us in believing for full healing and physical restoration in Victoria's life. After the Olympics had finished, Victoria said, 'I know I can be a para-Olympian, but I want to be an Olympian.' And I believe by Jesus healing power she can be.

Now to Him who is able to exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV