There’s something irreplaceable about intentionality, no matter how small the gesture. I, for one, would prefer a thoughtful, handwritten note over a lavish gift of my own choosing. However, it can be very difficult to find the time and energy to go out of your way emotionally. But, because I believe in the value of intentionality, I’ve found a few fun things to do that make it feel like less of an endeavor and more of a creative activity. The list is quite standard, but I have added a personal twist to make it a little more fun. As a huge bonus, the recipient of your gift will recognize the extra effort put into their gift, and feel all the more loved as a result!
A year ago today, in some muggy Tennessee heat, our family was gathering in Knoxville to get ready for the wedding of my brother and his lovely bride. This was a very celebratory time, both for the occasion and for the chance to see so many friends and family. It was the day before the rehearsal, and we heard that Ryan Hurst Carter, a good friend of our family, was in a car accident… and died. Boom. Just like that. He was a 27-year-old bundle of energy who never met a stranger because he was so convinced that God loves all those strangers.
Of course at the wedding we celebrated and had a great time, but it was a stinging reminder that death is always lurking, that in this life even the high moments of new beginnings full of hopes for a bright future cannot be separated from realities that crush hopes.
In December, our family was accepted for an all-expenses paid vacation courtesy of Inheritance of Hope (IoH). IoH provides Legacy Retreats for families with children age 18 and younger in which a parent has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. The four-day trip is full of fun, and intentional activities are planned to help families like ours with all we are facing.
|The Mosier family arrives in Orlando for their Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat.|
Inheritance of Hope (IoH) is a non-profit organization that inspires hope in young families facing the loss of a parent. Through all-expenses-paid Legacy RetreatsⓇ, parents who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, along with their caregiver and children, are given the opportunity to make precious memories, receive tools for navigating this difficult time in their lives, and meet others with the same fears and challenges. IoH will host retreats in Orlando, California, Colorado, and New York throughout 2018.
For almost every family Inheritance of Hope serves, the Legacy RetreatⓇ starts at the airport. Some of these families have children who have never flown, and some have parents who wondered how they would ever fly again. While the individual stories change, these families are all traveling at very vulnerable times in their lives, with health considerations that extend far beyond the needs of an average traveler.
It is only because of the persistence and compassion of our retreat team, and its corporate relationships, that our diverse retreat participants arrive ready for the life-changing experience that awaits them. Many IoH families fly Southwest Airlines to our retreats, and through our relationship, IoH has found a friend with heart.
Shortly after 9/11, Gina Roes answered a call for counselors to come to New York City. Without a guaranteed job, she packed up, sold her house, and moved, with her dog, to Manhattan. This spirit of trust, compassion, and courage allows her to best serve Inheritance of Hope’s families.
Shelby Jo Lewis and her family attended the Inheritance of Hope NYC Legacy Retreat in 2014, just after her mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. At the time, Shelby wondered if she would fit in with others on the retreat and in the big city. “I’m from a tiny town in the South,” she explains, “and I wasn’t sure about this whole experience; but as soon as I saw the smile on our volunteer’s face, I knew it was going to be a great retreat.”
|Shelby and her family on their NYC Legacy Retreat in 2014.|
Julie Hull sums up her daily goals succinctly. “In our house, we say that love is the highest order of the day. Not perfection, but love.”
Those in the Inheritance of Hope family who know and love Julie will recognize that this is exactly how she approaches everything--from her position as IoH Volunteers Manager to each interaction with the families we serve. Julie is transparent in her compassionate way of striving to best love those in her path. Mom to a rising high school senior, Julie, her late husband Ken, and their son Sam were introduced to IoH in November 2011 when they attended the New York Legacy Retreat. She is not one to shy away from the painful realities of grief and single-parenting, and is refreshingly honest in telling other families that while her path has not been easy, she finds hope everyday to continue being the best parent she can be.
A Facebook post and a few clicks led Heidi Benson to Inheritance of Hope, and she has served on almost every Legacy Retreat since. A friend of a friend posted about their retreat experience as a volunteer, and as she read more, Heidi says she immediately knew she wanted to be a part of IoH, “Everything in my heart, all my passions, lined up with this.” Before she knew it, Heidi was interviewing to be a volunteer.
Dena Austin and her husband Blake are veteran Legacy RetreatⓇ volunteers, and now Dena is stepping into the role of Legacy Retreat and Venue Coordinator. A volunteer since 2016, Coordinator since January 2017, and supporter since 2014, Dena knew she wanted to become involved with Inheritance of Hope as soon as she heard about the Legacy RetreatⓇ experience from friends John and Heather Crawford. John, Heather, and their boys were served on the August 2014 retreat to Orlando.
John Thomas, known to friends and family as “JT,” ran the Big Sur Marathon at the end of April in support of Inheritance of Hope. This was JT’s 27th completed marathon--yes, you read that right--27th!
JT was introduced to Inheritance of Hope through his wife, Jennifer Thomas. Jennifer has served as a counselor on 16 of our 31 retreats thus far. JT explains that through Jennifer, he has had the chance to witness the difference IoH is making. A few years ago, he brought their three children to a Legacy Retreat in Orlando while Jennifer was working. “We saw the names and faces behind the stories and were conscious of how fortunate we felt to easily enjoy our vacation time without a resource like IoH. I am so glad these impacted families could experience the fun of the parks with the help of the IoH program and volunteers.”