Our founder, Kristen Milligan, left a profound legacy with her family and the families we serve. As we approach the second anniversary of her death, we showcase members of our Inheritance of Hope family and what legacy means to them.
Larry Lanham attended our February 2012 Legacy Retreat® with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters. Michelle died on June 2, 2013.
Legacies — we all have one, and we will all leave one. I want to tell you about Michelle’s legacy.
I have to tell you about Michelle’s closet. You see, Michelle was a planner and an organizer. Michelle’s closet is in the entryway of our house, and it is neatly stacked from floor to ceiling with labeled boxes of clothing. Michelle knew the sizes of dozens of kids; she was constantly on the lookout for good used clothes, and she would store them according to size and season. It was her thing, and she loved sharing with friends and family. As the girls outgrew something, or if she needed to make room, she would find someone to bless with the clothes. But the primary purpose was so that she would always have clothes for Mattie and Maggie.
I had to tell you about Michelle’s closet because it is part of her legacy. Michelle knew that, if the doctors were right, she would not be able to see her girls grow up. She knew that we would not grow old together, but she walked away from the February 2012 Legacy Retreat® with a mission! She knew that our memories of her would be her legacy, and she was determined not to leave us sorting out a lifetime of scattered memories. Michelle couldn’t gather up our memories and put them in boxes, but she could give us keys — she could put handles on our memories; she could assemble them with us to make sure there were no missing pieces.
Michelle was a woman who had great faith in God; she was loving, kind, blunt, funny, forgiving, and she was brave. Just like the clothes in her closet, Michelle organized our memories … her legacy. For the girls that meant lap time, stories, touching, gifts, and doing things together. For me, that meant some very plain talking about the past and her prayer for my future. She flatly told me one day: “When I’m gone, I want you to find a good Godly woman to love my girls and to love you. I have prayed for her, but you’ve got to trim the hair in your ears! You look ten years younger when you trim those ear hairs!” I just about fell over; I interpreted that as if she were giving up, but I was wrong.
I am surrounded by Michelle’s legacy. I hear it in Maggie’s advice for a younger girl who is losing her mother: “It’s going to be okay. God is in control, and whatever happens, it’s going to be alright.” I can see it in Mattie’s eyes as she boldly and with supreme confidence wins an archery competition or calms a spooked horse. I could feel it when I gave an engagement ring to a beautiful, good, Godly lady. Michelle’s legacy is in our singing; it’s in our Bible study; it’s in our laughter, and it will be passed on.
We want to hear from you! What does legacy mean to you? What legacy has influenced you? What legacy do you want to leave? Send your words, images, videos, or other creative expressions to Eric@InheritanceOfHope.org for a chance to be featured in our legacy series in October!