Isaiah chapter 42, verses 8 through 11.
Isaiah chapter 42, verses 8 through 11.
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!
John 10:10-15 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
My aunt Kristen was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on her 30th birthday. She and her husband, Deric, had 3 kids, who at the time were 4 years old, 2 years old, and less than a year old. Their life, their whole world, suddenly was turned upside down. You could say that a thief had come to steal, kill, and destroy.
In May 2017, when we had a big Legacy Retreat in Orlando, I got to know one of the families, the House family, pretty closely. We had four days with the House family, and they flew by like they always do. We do these retreats trusting that the impact is not only for four days but goes far beyond that, and with this family, I got to see that lasting impact in a powerful way. Matt House died less than two months after the Legacy Retreat, and there were memorial services in Texas where he lived and Minnesota where he grew up, and I was able to go to the Minnesota one. And what a funeral experience it was!
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.
At the start of this year, the youth ministry director at my church gathered all of the middle school small group leaders. He wanted to check in on how we were, hear how our groups were going, and encourage us. He shared how, when he has worked at Christian camps, everything is designed to help kids experience great moments, “highs,” and you have a very focused time with each group of kids to bring those highs about. In contrast, in congregational ministry, there are many distractions, and kids often are weighed down by day-to-day concerns.
Each type of ministry has its challenges, but how do you handle all the distractions and burdens kids bring week after week and month after month? Our youth director had wise words. He said you love the kids, let them know how much God loves them, welcome them with all their challenges, and pour yourself out for them. Then, when you get home at the end of the day, you cry with hope.
Cry with hope! What a beautiful phrase to express the hardness and goodness of Christian ministry. We cry because there is so much pain even as we hope because God is good. Cry with hope is an especially fitting expression for the ministry of Inheritance of Hope.
On January 19-22, Inheritance of Hope, in partnership with Kendra Scott, hosted 10 families facing a terminal metastatic breast cancer diagnosis on a life-changing experience in Orlando, Florida. The Legacy Retreat®, Inheritance of Hope’s signature offering, is an all-expenses-paid experience where families create lifelong memories and receive tools to navigate the challenges of a parent’s terminal illness. The event, presented by Kendra Scott, included visits to Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld.
After years of both physical and mental decline for my Grandmother Milligan, the moment we’ve tried to ignore finally hit on Friday morning:
Grandmother Milligan’s health is very poor and she will likely pass away today and perhaps in the next hour or so. Please keep the family in your prayers.
I cannot think of Grandmother without thinking of the striking way she was described by Kristen Milligan, Inheritance of Hope’s co-founder who died in this month five years ago. Kristen's book Consider It Pure Joy begins with her going to the hospital for surgery, commencing what became a nine-year journey with cancer. She had a special visitor:
To speak of hope implies that there is a problem. If there were no problems, there would be no need for hope. The problem that generates our particular mission of hope was stated with remarkable simplicity and power recently by a young lady named Makenna Wehe, a Legacy Scholarship winner. This 18-year-old girl really struck me with her articulation of the kind of hope-needing situation Inheritance of Hope serves. I encourage you to watch her say it herself, but these are her words, talking about her mom:
“We had to replace her entire spine with synthetic bone… she hasn’t really been the same since… Over Mother’s Day weekend we found 4 more tumors scattered up and down her spine… It caused us to appreciate the time that we have with each other… Cancer just tears at you and tears you apart, and when your family’s afraid to be vulnerable with each other, it’s like a wedge between you and your relationships… I’m just afraid of losing my mom; I’m afraid that she’s gonna die. I think there’s a childish fear, a child that still lives within me that is still really afraid – it’s a little girl afraid to lose her mommy.”
Carol Lacert and Theresa Whyard-McKinley, whose families have both been impacted by terminal illness, love helping other families in similar situations enjoy Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreats®. They enthusiastically fundraise so that more families from Northern Colorado can have the Legacy Retreat® experience. They recently joined forces with Resurrection Christian School in Loveland, Colorado, with great success.