Jeff Carter attended the May 2014 Orlando Legacy Retreat® with his family. Since his wife was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, he has taken up endurance fitness, and he paid forward his Legacy Retreat® experience by using his Florida Ironman training to promote Inheritance of Hope. Check out this video interview:
Cancer or other life-threatening illnesses are devastating for those diagnosed, and their families. In addition to the enormous expenses for chemotherapy, surgeries, medication, and other aggressive treatments, many patients are not able to work and maintain a steady household income. This can cause them and their families to be placed in a very difficult financial situation.
Fortunately, those who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and their families may be able to receive assistance in the form of financial benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are two forms of benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
This week, Dad took us on a vacation to Destin, Florida. The sun is shining (maybe a little too much), and the afternoon showers never fail to make an appearance. The sand is soft, and the water is refreshing. But you are missing.
Everyone who has lost someone they love may not feel the same way, but for me, when we go on vacation, I can’t help but notice that our number for dinner reservations is one shorter than it used to be. The whole family can’t be here anymore. On top of that, there has always been something about beach trips that makes me think of losing you, and I’m finally starting to understand why.
We began our group discussion with the normal “ice-breaker” small talk stuff. How long was your trip, how did you get connected with Inheritance of Hope, etc.? It was nice; it was cordial. One man stated that he wasn’t really into talking about these kinds of things. He quickly “passed” the conversational ball to his wife, the one with cancer.
Pretty soon, the honesty came forth... it was hard, refreshing, human. One woman, who had been battling cancer for some time, said, “Our whole life has been changed... they put me on a table, telling me to hold my breast, and moved me around like an animal…”
No words of mine could make that kind of experience make sense.
6:00 a.m. The deck is shady and cool. The coffee is hot. The neighborhood is quiet except for my cardinal friend singing at the top of his tiny lungs. He is never satisfied to be in the lower part of the tree. No, only the very top of the 40-foot evergreen for him. Every morning. He is proud and beautiful and facing the sunrise as if to say, "Good morning, God. You did it again!"
I love listening to the birds, especially their early morning chatter, trying to figure out if there is a pattern to their song. And as I tune in (pun intended) to this friend I shall call Chirp, I am struck by the fact that... not only does he have multiple patterns, but at least three - maybe four - different songs! He never worries if he is on key or as good as those around him. Doesn't ever wonder if he even has a song on a particular day. He just sings.
I want that... not the treetop experience as I have a fear of heights, but his confidence... the singing and the 'being' simply because that's what God designed him to do and be.
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the parents on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. — Exodus 20:5-6
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? — Matthew 27:13
What else is there to say after that? “My God! My God…” This text appears little more than a poor picture of parenting. Why is God absent? Why has God forsaken his only son? Why? With the commandment still echoing in our minds, we wonder how this jealous God deserts a faithful son. You and I expect a little more from our God here; we would expect more from our own parents.
One day someone asked me if I was interested in sponsoring a candle for the upcoming Relay for Life event in honor or memory of someone with cancer. Afraid to answer, I simply agreed and took the paperwork home. I asked myself, “Do I know anyone with cancer?” Nobody in my family had cancer, none of my friends had cancer, none of my friends’ family members had cancer. I didn’t know anyone with cancer. But they made it seem like I should?
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
With Open Hands: Part 1
A few years ago I was in a book study with a few people who read the book “With Open Hands” by Henri Nouwen. I was a new mom at the time with my first son about 15 months old. He was at that “separation anxiety” stage where he clung to me every time the threat of me leaving him arose. When I started the book it was a confusing time for me with this baby boy of mine needing me so much on a daily basis, yet I was learning about having “open hands”. This normal developmental stage of course eventually passed, but while we were “in it” life was a day to day trial and error experiment of how much to let go & how much to let him cling to me.
I’m sure some of you relate to this idea of attempting to strike a balance between learning to let go & keeping loved ones close. It’s not an easy task, that I think I will struggle with possibly for my entire life, especially in regards to my little ones.
The following is part of Inheritance of Hope co-founder Kristen Milligan's Bible study series. If your church, Bible study, team, or group has interest in experiencing together this study from Kristen's unique perspective as a nine-year cancer survivor, simply contact Aaron@InheritanceOfHope.org.
I have come across many people in the past several years who talk excitedly about a very exclusive club -- the Cancer Club. There is no ID card or dues expected when you are a member of this club. There are no official meetings, no speakers, no banquets. The only requirement to join is an unexpected and dreaded diagnosis. It is, in essence, an imaginary club with very real members. Members who are hurting and afraid.
I have always found talk about this club a bit odd. I was resistant to joining, but apparently once you qualify you have no choice.