I love the Christmas season. For several weeks, everything takes on a special quality. Special foods and drinks appear. Special music fills the air. Parties and family gatherings celebrate special relationships. Special traditions remind us of special memories. Decorations and lights transform ordinary trees and buildings. Perhaps you
Inspirational Christian Writings
Our family is gradually recovering from the loss of our son Jonathan at age 43. He died on October 12, 2011, after being diagnosed with stage 4, untreatable colon cancer. It was hard to wrap our minds around those words when we first heard them. It still is uncomfortable to re-live those days and weeks in our minds.
But we are surviving. And despite the fact that
I had scanxiety. I didn't sleep much ... just thinking and thinking. Looking at the clock at 1:45, 3:00, 4:00. I could feel changes in my body. For one, I didn't hurt in my breast or side anymore. My back still hurt, but not in the same location, and I was pretty sure that it was more muscular pain ... or lack thereof. I was really hoping that eighteen weeks of Taxol and seven infusions of two other drugs had done the trick. If I wasn't Ned (no evidence of disease), maybe I'd still be hanging out with Reggie (regression) or meeting up with stable boy (stable). I honestly felt really good about everything, but for some reason I still had the anxiety. Maybe it was just due to not knowing what treatment was next. I would be really nervous if I did nothing except stay on my two drugs ... guess that would feel like not fighting hard enough? There is a website I go to that has a stage 4 forum. It is really interesting. Women from around the world leaning, loving, and learning from each other. It's also a little heart-wrenching. If I weren't on so many meds I would just cry and cry. I appreciate the boards, though, because people say just about any thought that goes through their mind. It is weird that strangers understand better than family and friends. Until you have had cancer, you don't know what it feels like. You may understand, but the feeling is different. I don't know how else to say that. If you have had chemo, then you know how it feels ... well heck, that's not even true because there are so many different kinds of chemo. And then even on the same chemo, every person responds differently. This is just such a strange journey I am on. Not one I ever thought I would be on. It has made my marriage stronger. It has helped me to see and hear from friends I had lost touch with. It makes me appreciate my physical self ... what I used to be and gives me a goal to get back into shape. That is really important to me. I don't know why facing your own mortality makes you want to travel, but it does. I've always appreciated each day and lived it to the fullest. I try to see the positive in every situation, but I don't think I'll ever feel positive about this disease. It's amazing how many lives have been affected. As you can see, my thoughts are everywhere ... I have more thoughts, but will stop now before I get lost. I'm going to go take my medicine and then snuggle up with my best friend. I'll say a few more prayers and ask God to give us all strength for the days ahead! Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:5-6 Kristin attended Inheritance of Hope's Legacy Retreat® in May 2013 with her husband and two children.
My mother once told me that she was grateful for the church, because I would have someone to turn to if anything ever happened to her. She wanted me to be safe, secure, and loved. She believed the church is to be a place that offers love and support for all those who enter.
Little did I know that would be the last conversation I would have with her outside of a hospital room.
We often think of grief as a response to death, but grief comes from other losses too. Families facing a young parent’s illness grieve the loss of health, loss of finances, loss of productivity, loss of relationships, loss of opportunities, loss of future plans, even the loss of hope. Their grief and their illness make them feel isolated. Renowned preacher Thomas Long describes such grief as “living in a land where nobody speaks your language.”
What is the language of grief?
I have been volunteering for Inheritance of Hope for almost four years. In those years of witnessing amazing moments, my eyes have been opened to the significance of support and encouragement. I want to focus on the loving assistance that we volunteers strive to accomplish for these families living with a parent who has a life-threatening illness.
I do not take lightly
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35, 37-39
What good news! Nothing in this life
March 18 of this year would have been Inheritance of Hope co-founder Kristen Milligan’s 40th birthday. Though something about that number creates discomfort for those reaching it, Kristen was not the sort of person to be bothered by a number. I know I am not alone in wishing that she had reached that milestone and many more. Some people joke that they are “39 and holding” rather than
February is sometimes referred to as the month of love. We celebrate Valentine’s Day and there are many reminders to spend time with our loved ones. As an Inheritance of Hope volunteer, I recently saw an amazing amount of love at the January Legacy Retreat®. The families were able to have fun and enjoy time together. The volunteers loved by joining the fun and serving the families, walking with them through the difficulties of their illnesses. Each of us needs someone to walk beside us in every circumstance in our life – to love us in the good times and in the hard times. Jesus promises to be with us through every circumstance of our life. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We don’t use yokes much anymore, but they were wooden bars that joined two oxen together while plowing a field. Often a stronger ox would be yoked with a weaker ox, thus making the shared burden easier for the weaker one to carry. Jesus is telling us that He will be beside us sharing the burden, helping us when we are too tired and the load is too heavy. I love this image of Jesus walking beside us, helping carry our burdens. I often needlessly carry my own burdens – not just physical burdens, but emotional burdens as well. Jesus promises rest for our souls, and often that is the rest I need the most. This is one way that Jesus spends time with His loved ones.
Dana (right) serving at a Legacy Retreat® in Orlando.