I am so excited that Kendra Scott has partnered with Inheritance of Hope to sponsor Legacy Retreats. She sponsors Legacy Retreats to honor her friend Holley's legacy, and the reason that I am involved with Inheritance of Hope is because I am carrying on my friend Kristen's legacy. I can definitely relate to Kendra's heart in this mission, and it is such a pleasure to team up with her to honor our friends together.
Inspirational Christian Writings
I’ve been thinking about Martha from the Bible a lot lately. Martha often gets a bad rap due to her busyness in wanting to serve the Lord, while her sister Mary was content with just being at Jesus’ feet. It’s often preached to us that we should be “a Mary in a Martha world,” but there’s a piece of Martha’s story that we often forget about.
I have the privilege to work with 1st-3rd graders at the church I attend in California.
A few weeks back I was teaching about the anointing of young David to be the next king of Israel, and I really loved the truth that we were driving home for the kids, so I’d like to share it with you. Of course it’s slightly adapted as y’all aren’t 1st-3rd graders... but it’s a timeless truth that I think is SO fitting for Legacy Retreats.
There is a popular song by Matthew West about a person who looks around the world and sees people living in poverty and people in trouble and all kinds of struggles. He shakes his fist at heaven and says, "God, why don't you do something!?!?!"
God says, "I did! I created you!"
We don’t always experience life the way we think we should, or the way we expect it should be. Each of us at one time may have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Many of the families we are serving have that on their minds on a daily basis. It can be overwhelming. All of us are in different places in our lives and different seasons, and if you are currently in a season of pain, this may be hard to understand or even see right now, but God has shown me that there can be joy and even purpose in our pain.
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!
As a new or experienced volunteer, the days leading up to a Legacy Retreat can be quite nerve-wracking. There is a lot of information to read through prior to the retreat and then abundantly more poured at you during the volunteer meeting (the night before families arrive). Beyond all that information, I knew this devotion would also be good to deliver.
I was inspired to do this devotion from a sermon my pastor, Brandon Bruce (Church Experience), gave back in February of this year. I actually wrote “IoH Devotion” on my sermon notes and held on to these, you know, in case I ever actually got the courage to give a devotion. I kept it all this time waiting for the right time to share, and God made it abundantly clear to me that now is the time.
On my sermon notes, I wrote several things, but there are three I want to share with you. If you remember nothing else from this devotion, please remember this:
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.
I want to applaud our volunteers and staff for doing so many things well. One of the hardest things to do is to create a place for grief to be shared without needing to "fix" it. I've seen it happening throughout Legacy Retreats. Here is our challenge in the words of Glennon Doyle Melton (Love Warrior - 2016, Part III, Chapter 12):
"We think our job as humans is to avoid pain, our job as parents is to protect our children from pain, and our job as friends is to fix each other’s pain. Maybe that’s why we all feel like failures so often—because we all have the wrong job description for love... People who are hurting don’t need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What we need are patient, loving witnesses. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpless vigil to our pain.... (I'm committed to being) that kind of friend. I’ll show up and stand humble in the face of another person’s pain.