We are Inheritance of Hope. So, I was pondering: what is hope? If you ask most people about hope, they will tell you about their dreams. I hope to retire with enough money to live comfortably. I hope my kids grow up to be happy and healthy people. We think of hope as a maybe. I hope it doesn’t rain this weekend. We think of the word hope as a synonym for wish or want. Usually our false pursuit of hope is focused on a pain-free life without any suffering. But here we are, walking very realistically into people’s suffering with terminal illness. So, as we ponder our purpose here, are we offering an Inheritance of “I hope so”? I hope not! That kind of hope is disappointing. So, what is hope for us, who call ourselves Christians?
No one was there for me when I needed them! How many times have you heard or said this? When the Apostle Paul was in prison and his friends in Philippi weren’t there for him, you have to wonder if he was tempted to feel this way. If you were in prison, especially for a just cause, I imagine you’d expect your friends to be there for you. It seems like the time you’d need them the most! If they didn’t come through for you, you’d likely feel let down and like they must not have really cared about you. Paul shows us a different way to respond, though.
I’m going to start off by telling you about a family we served. This family went on the California retreat in August of 2018. The mama of this family passed away about 6 weeks ago. And a few weeks after she died, the dad texted this:
“Isn’t it hard for you to get to know so many people that end up passing away? And after asking you that, we couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity it was to come out to Cali and spend time with you and everyone else. I was texting Jon [their volunteer] and told him when I get things settled and in a routine I wanted to volunteer and give back to some families. Jon, Olivia, you, Brian... you will be lifelong friends for us. The experience you provide is priceless.”
We bet one of these ideas will make your dad feel special!
- Lots of dads are missing sports right now. Have a ballpark or stadium-themed night with hotdogs, nachos, and his favorite game day food. Don’t forget to wear your fan gear, and ask your dad about his favorite moments playing or watching games!
- Other fathers might be missing concerts or other cultural events. Let Dad be in charge of the playlist and entertainment for the evening--even if it means he sings along and plays air guitar!
- Write down your top ten favorite memories with your dad.
- Tell your dad exactly what you appreciate about him.
- Give him time for what he wants the most--even if it’s a long nap!
For Adam Hayden, “Storytelling is a pathway toward a meaningful life.” This nugget of wisdom, shared in his speech at the 2019 End Well Symposium, drives the narrative of Adam’s every day. Most people only think of death in the broadest of terms, but Adam, who holds a Master of Arts in philosophy, knows it is much more than an existential question. As a four-year glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor patient, one thing Adam claims to be most proud of is what he calls his relationship with the end of life.
Adam shares his story at the End Well Symposuim in December 2019
(Photo - Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography)
As we get ready to meet and serve so many families, what a joy it is to see and spend time with so many wonderful people on this amazing team. Everything we do well happens because of great teamwork, and that is true of these coming days, full of new ways of serving. I know there’s curiosity about how we’re serving these families, and we’ll certainly be sharing a lot of that. I want to kick us off, though, by emphasizing why we’re serving these families.
To illustrate the importance of why, think back with me, deep into history... to that time long ago when sports were a big deal. Can you remember that? Remember when sports even happened?!
It’s a friendship from the era of floppy discs and homemade scrapbooks. Chris Douglas and Greg Loerzel met in the computer lab of North Dakota State University as aspiring engineers, and Greg’s wife Maria has proof of the many adventures they have had ever since.
|Chris (left) and Greg have been friends for over two decades|
This blog post was originally published in 2016, and these families have both had many changes since then--happy changes! The Loners now have two healthy grandchildren they enjoy spending time with, and are proud to report that their three grown children are thriving as well. Niece Abigale has volunteered on three Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatsⓇ, and collaborated with Craig in making this video: https://youtu.be/hnDAtDqcHKE last May for ALS awareness month in 2019.
Heather Crawford Dodd, now on staff at IoH, began volunteering on retreats in October 2016, not too long after this article was written. In May 2017, she met Tom Dodd, also a former family member served-turned volunteer. They married the following December and live in South Carolina with their four boys.
When we first ran this story, little did we know it was just the beginning. Heather, Dana, and Craig are in touch weekly--by text and often in person. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Dana and Craig would drive over an hour to Heather's home every few months and help prepare materials for upcoming IoH retreats. Even now, they frequently check on each other, and provide love and support both ways--as Heather looks to Dana for advice on how to be a good stepmom, "She is an incredibly patient, strong, and selfless woman and a huge inspiration and encouragement to me," remarked Heather. Dana calls Heather an angel sent just when she needed her most, and describes Heather in just the same way as Heather describes Dana, “she continues to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to me.”
We are honored to call these folks family and celebrate the hope they maintain and give to others.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If they stumble, the first will lift up his friend—but woe to anyone who is alone when he falls and there is no one to help him get up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
One of the goals of Inheritance of Hope (IoH) is to connect families. Families who are grieving a life-changing diagnosis, struggling with fears, and facing new realities draw strength from each other as they share experiences and burdens. Through IoH, new friendships are often formed that offer a depth of understanding many families can’t find elsewhere.
The support that is shared is sometimes intangible and immeasurable, yet always tremendous. Sometimes, the support may be tangible yet also tremendously immeasurable, as was the case when Heather Crawford donated a wheelchair van to fellow IoH family Craig and Dana Loner.