Friday, 21 October 2016

Mike & Bev Robinson - Our Journey Through the Valley

 Introducing Paster, Mike Robinson author of Our Journey Through the Valley. He hopes the inspirational dynamic of the journey he shared with his wife, Bev, will positively impact on those who read this book and that it will be a valuable resource for all who are currently facing their own death or the death of a loved one.




There is something very private about death, so it is a rare and noteworthy event to be invited into the lives of a married couple, both of whom are dying of progressive, incurable, neurological diseases. Their book is written from a Christian worldview.

Welcome Mike. I'm so glad you are my guest today. Tell us something about yourself.


 I am well on my way to age 75. I was born and bred in Newcastle (NSW Australia) and have one brother 7 years younger than myself.

 Having completed High School, I worked for a Transport firm briefly and then entered Bible College for 2-3 years.
 
 I met Bev in our Church Youth Group. Interest soon became attraction and attraction turned to love. In 1964 I married Bev (the love of my life ) and subsequently we had 4 children.
 
In 1968 we moved to Sydney so I could attend Morling Theological College and train for the Baptist Ministry.
 
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease back in 2000. Although I'm limited in what I can do, I still manage life reasonably well.


And Bev?

 
Bev trained as a High School Teacher but during our time in Victoria she had the opportunity to train for something she had always wanted to be - a registered Nurse.

 For the remainder of her life she found great fulfilment in caring for people.
 
Bev was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2012 and subsequently died on April 12, 2015. The many tributes made reference to her life using such words as 'dignity', 'wisdom', 'joy', 'inspiring'.

 

Too young and vibrant, so sadly missed.

Mike, your book is Non-Fiction and written from personal experience. What compelled you to write it?


 Living under the reality of a predictable and inevitable outcome, Bev and I decided to keep a journal of our experience – the journal has become the book Our Journey Through the Valley.
We had assumed that, because I was the one who had Parkinson’s Disease, and Bev was a trained Nurse and a devoted wife, naturally she would look after me (!!) How things changed after Bev’s diagnosis.  

When we realised that Bev’s disease had no treatment or possibility of cure, we made a commitment to keep a journal, mainly for the benefit of our children.

But the idea of a book still hadn’t jelled.
 

So when did the idea of a published book came into focus?


 It was after her death, as I wrestled with how to keep people in my life,  I think I heard a whisper, "Why don’t you write 'Letters to Bev'?" So, as part of my own grieving, I began to write these letters. As I posted them on my website, the overwhelming response from friends and family was, "You must get these published".
 

As a Baptist Pastor, I often noticed how many Christians believe the deception that it is wrong to ask questions and even challenge their faith. They think it’s sinful to question God as if He is somehow accountable to us. This indicates to me there is a lack of integrity in how we respond to grief.

 
So, Bev and I needed to ask our own questions and confront our own struggles, responses and breakthroughs with honesty and transparency no matter how vulnerable that made us.  
 

 Frequent comments like:
  
'As I read your letters to Bev, I feel you are giving me permission to be honest with my own feelings and questions',
 
 
reassured me I can best liberate people from these crippling attitudes by telling my own story. Maybe even more than that, I wanted to write and capture the inspiration that Bev has been to so many people – myself included.  I believe people are more responsive at a heart level, not a head level.
 
Yes, this is truly a book written from the heart.  
 
 How did you come to choose this title, Our Journey Through the Valley?

This was/is a journey; a tiring, demanding, confusing journey and yet it has been a source of great comfort and reassurance.

'The Valley' is a reference to the 'valley of the shadow of death' mentioned in Psalm 23. This passage is often read at funerals which have a Christian emphasis. Bev and I often noted we were getting closer to that valley every day but we had no need of fear because the Lord was with her.
 
 Did the writing ever become so difficult you had to step away from it for a time?
 
 Physically the writing was always a problem because of the Parkinson’s factor. It affected my legs and every so often I would get the warning signals that my legs were about to become quite uncomfortable and I had to get up from the computer, move around for a while and only resume if the medication took hold. I never knew when that would happen so I was most often unable to predict or anticipate when these “bouts” would come.
 
But you persevered. Has writing about the journey you and Bev experienced been cathartic for you?
 
While the primary focus of the book is on the immediacy of Bev's illness (MND), writing “Letters to Bev” has been very helpful for me. Strangely, as I wrote them I was thinking of Bev (of course!) but I was also thinking of the people who would read the letters and find solace in what I was writing because it spoke to their own circumstances.
 
Readers have described Our Journey Through the Valley as 'inspirational and enlightening'. What would you like the reader to gain from this book?
 
a.     That no matter the circumstances, you don’t have to carry your load on your own.
b.     That they tap into the inspirational  dynamic that  was so evident in the life of Bev
c.     That their own situations don’t have to bring defeat.
 
 
 
I hope our journey will have value and significance for anyone experiencing great grief because of great loss of whatever kind.

 
 
 
 
What will you do now that the book is published?
 
 I expect to keep on writing. I find a lot of fulfilment in making resources available. Many years ago I heard that whisper, 'I don’t want anything I’ve taught you to die with you; pass it on!' I see the Internet to be a great vehicle to fulfill that directive.

 
 Before you go Mike, where can we purchase a copy of
 
Our Journey Through the Valley?
 
At this stage the book is not available in bookshops, so the best way to order is through the order form on my website:
 
 
For more details visit Mike at      www.barnabasnetwork.com
 
 
 Thank you for being my guest today, Mike. I wish you every success with your book and look forward to your next publication. 
 
 

 

3 comments:

Rosalie Skinner said...

What an inspiring story. The honesty and compassion you portray, Mike, in this interview shows a depth of love and faith you both shared. A wonderful legacy coming from tragedy. Wendy, another terrific post. As always you ask great questions.
Thanks for sharing this journey.

Wendy said...

Thanks for stopping by Rosalie, I agree this is a wonderful legacy. I'm sure this will be a healing book for many who are grieving.

Rosalie Skinner said...

True, Wendy, Mike shows how coping with grief both during and after losing a loved one can lead to something positive and healing. Amazing strength others can find useful.