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Marriage Vows - September 2016

Carrey, a wife and mom with ALS, originally shared this post here on August 4th.

 

On this day 15 years ago, Eric and I vowed to unite as one. We joined at the altar in a small, white, Little-House-on-the-Prairie-type chapel. We stood side by side, no bridesmaids or groomsmen, no fancy flowers, no fancy musicians. My dad did all the readings, Eric's dad officiated the ceremony, and we filled the little chapel with our family and closest friends. Having Eric by my side made it a real dream wedding. As we stood at the altar and shared our vows, it would take almost 15 years to fully understand the commitment he made to me.

 

Carrey and Eric in 2001
Carrey and Eric in 2001

 

"I will love you forever, and under all circumstances.
I will stand by your side always.
I will have faith in you and encourage you in everything you do.
I will be here to listen to you, to laugh with you, and to hold you.
I will strive every day to make our relationship stronger.
I will love you, honor you, respect you, encourage you, and cherish you, in health and in sickness, through sorrow and success, for all the days in my life."

 

What that meant was:

 

I will enjoy all of our friends and family with you, socializing, meeting new people, tailgating, and going to our favorite restaurant with you.
I will join you as your doubles partner in tennis and snow ski down the mountain with you.
I will support you leaving the work force to raise our children as you support me as my career developed.
I will be the behind-the-scenes guy for all of your party planning adventures.
I will support you with all your volunteer work.
I will give you free reign to decorate our home just the way you want it.
I will travel around the United States for all of your doctors' appointments.
I will remodel our home to make it accessible for you.
I will bathe you, wash your hair, and shave your legs.
I will scratch your head and eyebrows every time they itch.


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How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving - November 2015

Sheryl Sandberg recently shared movingly about what she has learned about motherhood through grief. But how do we help someone who is grieving?

 

We don’t know what to say. So, too often, we say nothing. Or worse, avoid.


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Donor Spotlight: Sandy Huffstetler

Click here to see how!
Sandy Huffstetler gives to Inheritance of Hope because she strives to be intentional in how she lives each day.
 
“The emphasis IOH places on living intentionally really resonated with me. Love is a verb. We should always be asking ourselves what we are doing to show love.”

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A Letter to be Read at My Memorial Service

October 26th, 2016, marks the fourth anniversary of Kristen's death. She revised the letter below in February 2012.
 
Dear loved ones,
 
Click to watch nowAs I write this I admit feeling a little sad. Sad because my greatest earthly desire was to grow old with Deric … 17 years of marriage was not nearly long enough. Sad because it is a mother’s job to be there to comfort her child when that child experiences her first broken heart, or when he sits on the bench during a much-anticipated game. Sad because my heart hurts to think I will not be there to share in my children’s joys and inevitable accomplishments, their weddings, or for the births of their own children. Sad to leave my mom and my sister with yet another loss after the premature death of my dad. Despite the sadness this illness has brought, when I consider my life I quickly realize that God has blessed me abundantly … how can I feel anything except overwhelming thankfulness?

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Thankful for Legacies: Larisa Gjivoje, Team Inheritance of Hope

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.
 
Larisa Gjivoje ran the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon with Team Inheritance of Hope. She raised $8,301 -- more than enough to send an entire family to a Legacy Retreat®
 
The Legacy of Love: My parents created a loving home environment. We told each other "I love you" when leaving for the day, ending our phone calls, going to bed, and many other times. My husband and I do the same in our family with two young children. Expressing love for each other is powerful and everlasting.
 
The Legacy of Family Togetherness: My family usually ate dinner together, which was a tough feat. Because both of my parents worked, it was late sometimes. But the trade-off was priceless; it was an important tradition to share each other's day and be connected. My mom even insisted on candlelight during our meals. My husband and I follow this legacy with our children –- and even use candles!

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Christ's Tenacious Love - April 2013

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   – Romans 8:35, 37-39

What good news! Nothing in this life


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Life's Lessons: What Cancer Taught Me as a Caregiver



Several years ago in 2005, my wife Heather was diagnosed with cancer. She had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a very rare and deadly form. It was devastating to our family, particularly because we had just celebrated new life. Just three months prior to her diagnosis, she had given birth to Lily, a beautiful baby girl. We thought that we would be spending the rest of that year celebrating the holidays with our new bundle of joy, but we were in for something much different.


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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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An Instrument of Peace

St. Francis of Assisi largerEarlier this week, my family and I were walking on the grounds of a chapel in St. Augustine, FL.  While strolling through this beautifully manicured piece of our nation's history, I came across a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, who is highly revered in the Catholic church.  Next to the statue was a prayer that is often associated with St.Francis.  As I read the prayer, my heart was immediately grabbed by how closely this prayer parallels the heartfelt service offered by Inheritance of Hope volunteers.


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Service and Sacrifice

My brother-in-law is a treasure for so many reasons.  He is the most thoughtful and compassionate of the 3 Thompson brothers. He is an extremely hard worker and a very loyal and dedicated man.  He is smart and silly. He has three daughters and a lovely wife which leaves him VERY outnumbered in his household.  I think he is awesome.

Brandon with the twinsHe is a professor of engineering at West Point and a Major in the Army.  I respect him for these roles that he leads and feel very proud of him for his accomplishments professionally.

However, I have never loved my brother-in-law more then last week when I saw this picture of him on facebook.

He and his wife just added twin girls to their family a few months ago and when my sister-in-law got the opportunity to go out he did not even pause when he sent her out to have fun with her friends. I'm sure things weren't all smooth the whole time she was gone but that didn't stop him from making the best of it and giving his wife a much needed break.

I admire this attitude.  I have seen it in so many relationships and it is always very touching.  It is an attitude of sacrifice and service. Many loved ones in Inheritance of Hope do this for one another.  A spouse who takes on an extra job while her husband goes through chemo.  A teenager who makes meals for his younger siblings while mom and dad are at the hospital for mom's most recent surgical recovery. An IOH volunteer who for 4 days on a Legacy Retreat does everything he or she can do to give all members of the family a much needed break.  It is a beautiful picture of love though service and sacrifice.

I am privileged to love and serve alongside these people and I can't wait to grab both of these babies and give both my brother and sister-in-law a break when I get to see them in July. Strap on the baby carrier and hand me two bottles.  I'm ready!


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One Body, Many Parts


Charis, Amy, & Adam Patwa

Charis, Amy, & Adam Patwa

A few weeks ago we returned from the May 2012 retreat in Orlando, Florida. This was a special retreat for me because it was the first time I was able to invite a family I knew personally to come on a retreat & see them be cared for & enjoy a few days together outside of their normal routine fighting cancer. Amy & Adam Patwa, & their adorable daughter Charis, attended this retreat and blessed me & so many others with their transparency & hope in the midst of a life-threatening illness. Something really amazing happens on these retreats. Staff & volunteers love families. Families love each other. Everyone ends up serving each other in some way, shape, or form... maybe without even realizing their impact.


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Enjoy the Here-and-Now

With 16 families eagerly and nervously getting ready to head to Orlando in the next day or so, much is being anticipated and much is unknown.  This trip will changes lives, not only the lives of the families that are attending the retreat, but also the lives of volunteers and others who will encounter the families this weekend.

Make every second count

Make every second count


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How Hope Helps

My grandma reading "Consider It Pure Joy" by, Kristen Milligan

My grandma reading "Consider It Pure Joy" by, Kristen Milligan just before her first biopsy for lung cancer in April

Today it is rainy outside. Here in North Carolina the pollen has finally subsided and the trees are full of green leaves. We are in the midst of spring. I was just sitting at my kitchen table with my young boys watching them eat their breakfast. They are ravenous as soon as they wake! My 3 year old asked me why it was raining. (He is in the "why" everything stage!) Over the past six months I have been reading a book that I cannot seem to put down. Clearly it is teaching me old truths with new perspective that are enticing. So trying to put together some logical answer for why indeed it was raining outside, while still trying to wake up at this early hour, all I could come up with was this: "honey, God lets it rain so that things around us can be more beautiful". You know what followed that... "but why mommy?"  I smiled.

Why does it rain in our lives? Sometimes it just sprinkles. We find out news that could lead to worse news. Sometimes it pours. We feel like the whole world is beginning to fall apart around us. Sometimes it floods. We feel like we may drown in it all.


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Traditions Tell a Story

Easter egg crafting traditions

Easter egg crafting tradition

I've noticed something about myself over the past few years since I've become a mom. I view traditions in my family in many different ways than I used to, especially ones around holidays of special significance for us. It's like I view them through my kid's lens instead of my own now! When we got married we started decorating our house in little ways that signified our new family unit. We did things like decorate our mantle above the fireplace for Christmas. I bought a journal to record "firsts"... first 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. We started forming our own traditions for what would soon become our growing family! A few weeks after our first son was born Easter arrived. I must admit, Easter is my favorite celebration of the calendar year! We live in North Carolina, so we are blessed with four very distinct seasons for the most part, this year being quite an exception. I love Easter because the leaves are growing back on the trees, the flowers are in full bloom, there is more daylight emerging everyday, birds chirp, bees buzz, & most of all I get to share my Hope with my kids as I share the story of Easter! It's a JOYOUS time for us, even in the midst of the unpredictabilities life brings. I am always reminded of the simple things, small & big, this time of year. I then grow very thankful.

What is your favorite holiday?
What comes to mind for you when you think of that time each year?
What traditions do you have as a family?


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Love is Listening.

A healthy way to relieve bottled up stress...

A healthy way to relieve bottled up stress...

We are just a few days away from Valentine's Day, the holiday of LOVE. When I think of parents & kids... I think "Love is Listening". Many of you just returned home from the latest retreat in Orlando. Some of you have attended past retreats. Some are only passing through on the website & stumbled upon this post just now. Whatever category you fall into, you clicked on this most likely because you are home, back in the reality of your daily routines... & want to know how to live life fully in the midst of your circumstances & enjoy each moment. You want to know how to best love & care for your kids (and each other for that matter).


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Bull in a China Shop

I live in Atlanta, Georgia.  Home of the Braves, high temperatures, and southern hospitality.

I love hospitality!  In fact, I think if you quiz my closest friends and relatives they would tell you that hospitality is in my blood.  I enjoy having guests in my home for dinner or for weeklong visits. It is a joy to feed them a meal (or meals), take care of their needs, and make them feel very welcome in my home.  It makes me smile just typing about it.


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Why They Serve - February 2011

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

Last month, I was honored to participate in the most recent Legacy Retreat held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.Because my body was not strong enough 


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