In the crazy lead up time to Christmas, we have been blessed to have a week's time out at the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Forster. These cottages, on the riverside, are just beautiful and were made possible by the very generous people and businesses in Forster and surrounding areas.
We are so very grateful to everyone who has contributed to the establishment and on-going upkeep of this retreat. It has indeed been a place of respite for our family. This break away has been another crucial part in the restoration our family has been experiencing in these past two and a half months since Victoria stopped having treatment.
One simple example relates to this boat, our Walker Bay dinghy. We have not used this dinghy since the week before Victoria was diagnosed, almost three years ago.
Life has been so hectic and unpredictable in the last three years and neither Ken nor I had the energy or desire to launch and use this boat. Yet now things are so different. We all had a great time using it this week at Smiths Lake, south of Forster. Marshall and Charlotte improved their rowing skills in this magnificent location.
The children have enjoyed hanging out together (well most of the time), without the interruptions of hospital visits for treatment.
Marshall has loved exploring on his Christmas bike, taking time on to reflect on whatever 10 year olds reflect on!
This time off treatment has given Victoria an opportunity to enjoy aspects of her life without being so worn out by the hospital routine, and so physically tired due to low immunity. You can see the difference in her face. Here is a school photo taken in March this year.
And here is a photo taken a couple of week's ago.
And check out the back of her hair!
Now a full head of hair once again. Praise God!
Personally I have used this time to evaluate how I am travelling along this journey. Having made it this far, I felt it was time for some reflection and also some consolidation and preparation regarding the future.
In terms of reflection, living in survival mode for so long takes a toll on some relationships. Expectations are unmet, often because they are unrealistic! Words are said in moments of high stress, words that never should have been said at any time. Understanding of and empathy for other peoples' worlds is limited as you try to navigate through your own circumstance. Relationships can definitely be a casualty of a crisis. I took the opportunity whilst a way this week to reflect on my relationship with my Dad and how it has been restored over the past couple of months. I wrote down my thoughts and submitted it to ABC Open. If you are interested in reading a story of restoration, please click here.
In terms of preparation for the future, I attended a Carer's workshop last month. The workshop focused on how to look after yourself when you are caring for someone. It split life into 4 areas, spiritual, physical, emotional and social. It looked at ways of building support and resilience in each of these areas. For myself it confirmed that the spiritual aspect of my life had been the key to getting through these last three years. The inner strength I gained from personal devotional time with God each morning. The wisdom God had given me in determining what steps we needed to take as a family each day. The peace and assurance God had given me on the not so bright days. The knowledge that God would provide all that we needed whether that was practical help, emotional support, finance or a holiday! God has definitely been the center of this journey, my Rock, and my refuge. His grace has certainly been sufficient on the days when I forgot that He had it all under control! He has taught me how to be thankful in all circumstances. Hebrews 13:15 sums it up ..
Through Him, therefore let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.
This course also reminded me that the physical and social aspects of my life had received very little attention during these past years. So now I am more than making up for that, especially on the social front!
Thank you again to everyone who has helped us in so many different ways during the past year. We are so absolutely grateful to you all and so blessed to have you in our lives. The victory we are witnessing is your victory too. Let us all offer up a prayer of thanks this Christmas to God and His faithfulness. Merry Christmas from the Robinsons.
And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honour, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favour, loving-kindness) and truth. John 1v14 (AMP)