Isaiah chapter 42, verses 8 through 11:
Isaiah chapter 42, verses 8 through 11:
A few months ago, my husband, Blake, and I were at a friend's house for dinner, and I commented on a few of her original paintings I hadn’t seen before. Our friend is a very talented artist, and she was telling me about a new technique she was experimenting with -- cold wax and oil painting with only scrapers, spatulas, and palette knives; no brushes! I was immediately intrigued and I told her I wanted to give it a try. So, before we left her house that night, we set a date to paint together!
I hadn’t painted in almost 25 years. Looking back, I think that’s because I was never really confident enough declare myself a ‘real’ artist; I never felt ‘good enough.’ But, the next weekend, I bravely showed up at my friend’s house with a blank canvas, on an unusually warm January day, and spent the afternoon painting in her driveway. I was afraid to spread any paint on my pretty white canvas, but finally mixed some soft hues of blues and greens and before I knew it, I had spent 2 hours mixing colors, spreading paint and building layers upon layers of color and texture, creating interesting shapes that hinted at a mountain landscape.
I was fully immersed in the process and I loved it. Part of what made this experience so freeing for me is that I had no expectations going into it, except to enjoy learning something new and allow myself enough grace to make a mistake or mix the wrong shade of paint. I knew my painting wasn’t going to be perfect, and I was okay with that.
Of her family’s Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ, Amanda Coleman comments, “It’s pretty amazing what three days came to!” Amanda, her late husband Mike, and their daughter Leah joined IoH in May 2013 for an Orlando Legacy RetreatⓇ, while Mike was battling glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer.
Mike had vacationed at Disney World as a child himself, which Amanda describes as “his favorite place on earth.” Some of the family’s best memories from their trip were Leah meeting Princess Merida and Mike insisting on carrying his small daughter through the park when she began to tire out. Amanda remembers, “He said he didn’t know how long he would be able to do that, and he wanted Leah to remember that it was her Daddy who carried her.”
Amanda, Leah and Mike on their Legacy RetreatⓇ
The camp counselor/elementary school teacher in me thought about having everyone do a trust fall as our intro this morning, but then on the off chance that that activity was not successful… Betsy might not be thrilled if I break our volunteers before Kids' Day Out! So instead I am just going to talk to y’all about trust and open up with a verse from one of my favorite parts of scripture.
Our family is growing. Inheritance of Hope now has a roster of 300+ amazing volunteers! On our Orlando Legacy Retreat in April, we were thrilled to welcome the following into our ranks:
Ethan Baur, Clara Beovich, Caroline Braun, Mara Caples, Ally Dee, Anna Latimer, Emileah Most, Micah Most, Sara Theisen, Ethan Trejo, and Cheryl Yeaton.
Get to know them a little better here!
Long after all other retreat-goers are tucked in for the night, Mikki Skinner and Rachel Streelman tuck into a bag of gummy bears, a little wine, and reruns of Friends. The professional photographers have cumulatively snapped their way through 13 Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatsⓇ, and still eagerly open their computers each night to see what they’ve captured. On a typical day, the team might shoot up to 800 images, then back in their hotel room, with the help of late-night provisions and a little background noise from the TV, cull those into a well-edited 300 or so photos.
|Rachel (left), and Mikki always have camera-ready smiles themselves!|
On any Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ, Anna Conti’s hands are full. With little hands. Our chief “hand-holder” and “sticker-sticker” is rarely without a charge of adoring little ones basking in the sunshine of her undivided attention. Anna knows that debates about princesses and villains are just as important as conversations about pets, career opportunities in the superhero field, and whether to choose the kids’ mac and cheese meal or pizza. Adept at navigating Dr. Seuss Landing or Magic Kingdom, Anna is proud to call herself a “Disney girl.” She can distract from a sugar-induced meltdown, welcome the most shy preschooler into a group, and ease any parent’s separation anxiety, because she recognizes and loves each child wholeheartedly.
|This Disney girl knows how to rock a pair of mouse ears!|
Being at Legacy Retreats is a blessing. This is the visible and tangible culmination of many months of less visible work: fundraising, event planning, family coordinating, all sorts of communications, technology, office work and supplies, big-picture visioning and strategy.
All of that work takes a lot of people, and many of them cannot be at every retreat. In fact most of them aren’t on site at any given Legacy Retreat. Our staff and coordinators alone now are more than 30 people, and there are more than 300 people among our board, volunteers, and group facilitators. Plus there are thousands of donors.
To get to be at a Legacy Retreat, then, is to be at the highlight, the fun payoff of so much other vital but less visible work. The flip side is that being away from a retreat is hard! I can speak from very personal experience; I was not at the California retreat at the end of last summer, and that frankly was not easy for me. I knew I was missing a great team, I knew I was missing IoH history, I knew I was missing the face-to-face impact of months of work. Others who also missed that retreat described it like experiencing withdrawal, and that is how it felt. It’s hard to miss this!
1. “Don’t assume just because someone looks fine on the outside that they are OK.” Variations of this comment came up in multiple interviews with our IoH families affected by brain cancer. Wives described husbands who sleep afternoons in order to save up energy for cheering at a child’s big game that night, or the frustration of large gatherings where others may not understand that noise and questions can be too exhausting.
2. Anxiety can accompany any activity, and sometimes only a close caregiver is able to recognize signs of an impending seizure or other complication.
This collection of work was inspired by my mom for her perseverance and strong will. She has always been my role model and is the strongest woman I know. In the summer leading up to my junior year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with a stage four brain tumor called a glioblastoma. After my mom’s diagnosis, I became very involved in her treatments and doctors’ visits. I enjoyed accompanying her to appointments and often would ask the doctor and surgeon questions, so I could better understand what my mom was going through. At each appointment we would go over MRI and CT scans. First, to prepare for surgery, in which they would remove as much as they could. Secondly, to continue observing the growth or shrinkage of the tumor, post operation and treatments.