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The Rudeness of Grief

I created this blog – From My Heart to Yours – a couple of years ago as a tool of self-expression and to get the myriad of words out of my head and onto paper – or keyboard as the case may be. I  have never hesitated on the topic or regretted posting any of them. It’s doubtful that I offend anyone since I direct any and all criticism, growth, mishaps, or challenges at myself. Always. I choose truth in transparency, seeking always to bring glory to God in the midst. His strength in my weakness and failures.

 

So I’m not certain what the difference is in this one. Why the hesitation. Maybe because it’s so intensely personal… like you are reading my journal… like I am exposed. Maybe because it isn’t uplifting or has no real ‘take-away’… but it is real and transparent. About grief. I read it to a handful of  ‘safe’ folks who are on their own grief journey… and they encouraged me to share it. So, here you have it.

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Singing Isn't Just for the Birds

6:00 a.m. The deck is shady and cool. The coffee is hot. The neighborhood is quiet except for my cardinal friend singing at the top of his tiny lungs. He is never satisfied to be in the lower part of the tree. No, only the very top of the 40-foot evergreen for him. Every morning. He is proud and beautiful and facing the sunrise as if to say, "Good morning, God. You did it again!"

 

I love listening to the birds, especially their early morning chatter, trying to figure out if there is a pattern to their song. And as I tune in (pun intended) to this friend I shall call Chirp, I am struck by the fact that... not only does he have multiple patterns, but at least three - maybe four - different songs! He never worries if he is on key or as good as those around him. Doesn't ever wonder if he even has a song on a particular day. He just sings.

 

I want that... not the treetop experience as I have a fear of heights, but his confidence... the singing and the 'being' simply because that's what God designed him to do and be.

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Thankful for Legacies: Jacey Lawler, Volunteer

Our founder, Kristen Milligan, left a profound legacy with her family and the families we serve. As we approach the second anniversary of her death, we showcase members of our Inheritance of Hope family and what legacy means to them.
 
Jacey Lawler has volunteered at 17 Legacy Retreats®She is a favorite of the kids, parents, other volunteers, and staff -- everyone! 
 
In May 2013, I officially became “grandparent-less” with the passing of my last grandparent. They were all gone. This fact really hit me hard, and I knew life would be different. Instead of their physical presence, I was left with their memory. Happily, because of my many experiences volunteering with Inheritance of Hope, I knew the power and importance of legacies. 
 
My grandparents played an important role in my life, and I loved them dearly. Both my PopPop and Nana (my dad’s parents) passed away early in my high school years from cancer. My Grandma and Grandpa (my mom’s parents) passed away from illnesses last year, my senior year of college. All of my grandparents came to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior at varying points in their lives. For this I am beyond thankful, because it truly shaped the aspects of their legacies that I most value.
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Thankful for Legacies: Lanham Family

Our founder, Kristen Milligan, left a profound legacy with her family and the families we serve. As we approach the second anniversary of her death, we showcase members of our Inheritance of Hope family and what legacy means to them.
 
Larry Lanham attended our February 2012 Legacy Retreat® with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters. Michelle died on June 2, 2013.
 
Legacies -- we all have one, and we will all leave one. I want to tell you about Michelle's legacy.
 
I have to tell you about Michelle's closet. You see, Michelle was a planner and an organizer. Michelle's closet is in the entryway of our house, and it is neatly stacked from floor to ceiling with labeled boxes of clothing. Michelle knew the sizes of dozens of kids; she was constantly on the lookout for good used clothes, and she would store them according to size and season. It was her thing, and she loved sharing with friends and family. As the girls outgrew something, or if she needed to make room, she would find someone to bless with the clothes. But the primary purpose was so that she would always have clothes for Mattie and Maggie. 
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Grieving in Downton: What we can Learn

Sometimes there are television shows that teach us something meaningful about life & offer nuggets of truth that we can tuck away. Downton Abbey is one of those for me. [Spoiler Alert for anyone who has not watched the Season 4 Premier as there will be scenes I talk about specifically.]

One of the primary characters named Mary (pictured left above) is six months widowed. On the day she gave birth to her first born son, her husband Matthew died in a car accident. About a year ago, Branson (pictured right above) lost his wife Sybil, Mary's sister,  during the birth of their daughter. Grief & loss is a common theme in this first 2 hour episode of Downton & the paradox of joy in the midst of suffering

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Parenting Through Sickness: Part 1

my 2 year old son & I after my wisdom teeth removal

This is the beginning of a new series for Hope at Home this fall. There are a few families who have given me permission to share bits & pieces of their story of parenting through sickness, as both the sick parent & the caregiver in upcoming posts on this topic. As I speak with IOH families through the year & during retreats the common theme that emerges is that the parents long to be well enough to care for their kids in simple practical ways as they used to & enjoy daily life together; such as baseball games, dance practices, and making their lunches for school.

Some moms & dads go through various seasons in remission or treatment where this is more possible than other times. It is a rollercoaster of emotions in the ups & downs. In this series we will begin to unpack some of those emotions that arise when sickness prevents one from parenting the way we may desire & provide some tools to cope with these frustrations, for both you, your family members, & your children.

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Define: Home.

 
I long to find rest at home. To be still. To be with those I love. To feel settled.

How do you define HOME? It could simply be a place to eat & sleep when you get home from work, a space to decorate and make your own, a prized possession that must be sparkling clean at all times, a retreat from the outside world, an open door for people to come & go as they please, a chaotic mess of broken relationships and hoarded belongings, or even a place inside your heart that feels like your own to refresh.

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With Open Hands: Part 3

He loved us, before He knew us. 

My hands feel very full right now.

I have a son who just turned 4 years old, a 20 month old son, & a 6 week old daughter. My maternity leave just ended so I'm jumping back into the "real world" a bit this week. My to-do list is growing & growing. My responsibilities seem to have tripled in this new exciting, yet daunting season for our family. in short, I feel out of control in many ways.

My natural tendency when my hands feel full is to also feel overwhelmed & to want control of all aspects of my life. Ironically I want the most control, when I have the least. Do you ever feel that way in your life?

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With Open Hands: Part 2

Entrusting our kids is not easy.

After taking some time to process the tragic shooting at the elementary school in New Town, CT & speaking to some some IOH families over the holidays who recently lost a parent, it makes logical sense to cling to those we love even more. Yet,  I'm still reminded of the idea of having "Open Hands", even in such a time as this. Again I ask the question, how do you savor those around you without holding too tightly?

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With Open Hands: Part 1

Kristen Milligan

Kristen Milligan "With Open Hands" at 2011 NYC IOH Retreat

With Open Hands: Part 1

A few years ago I was in a book study with a few people who read the book “With Open Hands” by Henri Nouwen. I was a new mom at the time with my first son about 15 months old. He was at that “separation anxiety” stage where he clung to me every time the threat of me leaving him arose. When I started the book it was a confusing time for me with this baby boy of mine needing me so much on a daily basis, yet I was learning about having “open hands”. This normal developmental stage of course eventually passed, but while we were “in it” life was a day to day trial and error experiment of how much to let go & how much to let him cling to me.

I’m sure some of you relate to this idea of attempting to strike a balance between learning to let go & keeping loved ones close. It’s not an easy task, that I think I will struggle with possibly for my entire life, especially in regards to my little ones.

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