Friday, November 28, 2014

PR and Love

Once again our lives have been filled with unusual happenings. But this time they have been of the fun kind! The Starlight Children's Foundation asked Victoria if she would be involved in their Christmas Campaign. When we explained to her that this was an opportunity to help raise money so other seriously ill children could have their 'wish' granted, Victoria immediately said 'Yes, I will do it.' The PR has involved various activities, including recording voice overs for television and radio ads.

Victoria did a great job in the studio, under close supervision of Dad! 

And found the whole process very interesting.

As some of you know Ken and I also did an interview for the Australian Women's Weekly December issue. The interview was about our journey with the Victoria, including how the Starlight Children's Foundation has made such a positive difference during our journey. We traveled to Sydney for the photo shoot, which was an experience in itself.

We all had our hair and makeup done. Some enjoyed it more than others!

The girls had never spent so much time doing their hair.

There was a lot of laughter in the room.

It was quite a shock to see Charlotte with straight hair, looking about 15!

The girls had the best day!

The children thought it was hilarious seeing Ken getting make up on and having his hair blow-dried.

For me, it was a little piece of luxury I think I could easily get used to.

I even had to get my nails done, just in case there was a close up photo of my hands.

After our hair and make-up was done,came the difficult task of choosing what to wear for the photo shoot.

Often in the hospital I would think, 'How did we get here?' Well, here we were in a completely different situation, and I was thinking 'How did we get HERE?',  at a photoshoot for a magazine with a 2.3 million readership both here and in New Zealand! I know it is by the grace of God that we are where we are today, a restored thriving family. 

We are grateful to the Australian Women's Weekly for enabling us to share our story. We had hoped the article would include something about the source of our strength, God, however that appears to have been edited out. We pray that God will still use the article for His purposes.

The Australian Women's Weekly gave a very generous donation to The Starlight Children's Foundation, which will fund a complete wish for another child. If you would like to donate to The Starlight Children's Foundation, please click here. (You may recognise the child on their front web page!).

The PR has also included posters in Woolworths, Trade secret and The Starlight Children's Foundation Christmas direct mail campaign. The Starlight Children's Foundation have looked after us so well during all these sessions, very mindful that we are sharing a very painful personal journey. Their level of professionalism has been fantastic.

All the children have enjoyed seeing their photo in the magazine. Marshall has even autographed a copy for his teacher!

So life here is full of fun and excitement at the moment as we immerse ourselves in the PR world. Victoria continues to diligently do her leg stretching each day. She has a new splint which has relieved a lot of the difficulties she was having with the old one due to a growth spurt. When we see how well she is today, all we can do is say 'Thank you God for the grace you have shown Victoria, and us as a family.' 

This week as I said good-bye to Victoria in the car park at school, she went off skipping and laughing to class, I thought about last year and the strong attachment she had to me and the tears we had each morning about school. I thought about the beautiful people who helped her with that transition, teachers, high school students who were her 'buddies' on the bus, school friends, school mums and of course her brother and sister. And then I thought what a truly amazing community we live in, and how blessed we are. I know I have said it before, but I am going to say it again, thank you to everyone that has at some stage comforted, cuddled or just held her hand over the past four years. The love you have shown her has helped her to know in her heart, that despite what is going on for her, she is loved.

Something a little different to finish with today. This was sent to my husband by one of his most faithful friends and I thought it was worth sharing. I found it to be a good reminder of God's rightful place in our lives.

Good morning: I am God

I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems.
Please remember that I do not need your help.

If the devil happens to deliver a situation that you cannot handle, DO NOT attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFJTD (Something For Jesus To Do) box. It will be addressed in MY time, not yours.

Once the matter is placed into the box, DO NOT hold onto it or attempt to remove it. Holding on or removal will delay the resolution of your problem.

If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution. 

Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep. Rest, my child. If you need to contact me, I am only a prayer away.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Hope lives in me

How I love this photo! It was taken on Saturday at the Cancer Council's Relay for Life, under the creative direction of a friend's father.  Hope is the key message of the Relay for Life. As Christian's 'hope' ... in Jesus, is the key message of our lives. 

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:13 The Message

It is that life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit that I see in Victoria in this photo. 

We got the results of Victoria's scan yesterday, and they were good, praise God. The word continues to be 'stable'. Of course we are always wanting 'gone', but for the time being we will gladly accept 'stable'. 

From a medical perspective this means the gap between scans will be extended to 4 months, with the next one being in March 2015. While this may not seem like a big deal to most people, it is huge to those who have lived this life. Three months comes around very quickly. For us normally 2 weeks before the scan we are fighting anxieties and then it takes 2 weeks after the scan to resume to 'normal' life.  So that only leaves 8 weeks in which we are living life without 'the scan' being the focus. Even though we have been doing this pattern for almost four years, we still struggle with the anxiety each in our own way. Please pray that we can get breakthrough in this area. It is a very draining way to live!

For me, around the scan time I find I become like Thomas (John 20;27), doubting that there will be victory for Victoria. Our previous experiences with the tumour, the doctor's words are all swirling around in my mind. Yesterday morning before getting the results, I felt Jesus say to me, 'Do you believe your family can have a life without cancer?' Given our experiences, that is a very big question! To be honest, some days I grapple with the answer to this question. 

My prayer is for the entire 4 months, right up until the time we walk into the oncologist's office, that I will be able to believe with faith like Abraham.

No unbelief or distrust made him waiver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He has promised. Romans 4:20-21 AMP

As I have said before, we are so grateful for all the restoration God has done within our family over the past 12 months. We will continue to be a family who runs to Jesus for promised hope. After all He has bought us through, how could we not?

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:18b-20 The Message

On a slightly different note, as Christmas approaches, why not consider giving the gift of blood? While Victoria has not had to have a blood transfusion, we have met lots of precious children who have required blood. Did you know that one donation can potentially save three lives? If you meet the strict donor requirements, please consider donating blood in the next couple of months.

Thank you for continuing to uphold Victoria and our family in prayer. Thank you for standing with us on this long and often overwhelming journey. Thank for supporting us in so many practical ways. Thank you for loving us. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Memories, Anxieties and Love

The countdown is on! I found Victoria in her room the other night accessing teddy's port, getting her ready for the scan on Monday. This is the very same teddy bear, given to Victoria by a Great Aunt, that was used by the wonderful play therapist at John Hunter Hospital, Veronica, to explain the steps of the 'port accessing' procedure to Victoria in July 2012.

What a faithful teddy!  And what a faithful God we have. It has now been just over 12 months since Victoria stopped chemotherapy treatment. She continues to thrive in every area of her life, physically, emotionally, academically, socially and spiritually.

Same smile, same zest for life despite all the challenges she has had to face. We are so very grateful for this treatment free 12 months, which has brought restoration, not only for Victoria but for our entire family. We have a faithful God.

The anxieties of a couple of weeks ago, in relation to the MRI on Monday, have almost completely gone. Praise God. Time spent meditating on scriptures, praying and worshiping have all been key strategies in dealing with the anxieties. During this time, God spoke specifically to me about how He carries us. If you are feeling like you need to be carried at the moment, please have a read on my God Girl Blog - Carry them forever

The lovely distraction of a family overnight visit to Sydney courtesy of the Starlight Children's Foundation has also helped reduced the anxiety. What a blessing to walk along Manly Beach as the sun is rising. The beach and ocean looked stunning.

For the majority of the walk I sang praises to God, rejoicing in all He has done and giving thanks for His grace on our lives. By the end of an hour of walking and praising I was literally in tears, overwhelmed with His love for me. As I was walking back past a beach-side cafe, I noticed this sign, which I hadn't seen at the start of the walk, as I was in complete awe of the light and the ocean.

As I read these words, more tears came, as the truth of these words resonated in my heart with what I had just experienced on my walk. God's heart for me and you is nothing but love.

And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him. 1 John 4:16 AMP

Thank you for continuing to uphold our family in prayer. We will receive the results of Monday's MRI on Thursday. We continue to choose Jesus as our Rock.

The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower. Psalm 18:2 AMP

For anyone interested, the final 2 posts of my writing on Speak Your Mind, have been published on the ABC Open site. In these posts I share strategies to help your children with their emotional health. Please pass the links on to anyone you think may benefit from these strategies.

Part 5 - Helping our children cope with fear and anxiety

Part 6 - Effective family communication and responsibilities