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My Reasons for Starting Inheritance of Hope

Inheritance of Hope was founded in 2007 by Kristen and Deric Milligan, and although Kristen passed away in 2012, her legacy is timeless. 

I am a woman fighting a terminal diagnosis of stage 4 liver cancer.  But this does not define me.  I am also a wife and a mother of three young children.  My greatest struggle is not the cancer, but my efforts to balance my fight of the cancer with raising my family.  My greatest concern is not the illness, but my children and how this illness affects them.  I have watched my gentle, sweet son yell angrily at me because he does not know how to express his anger at the cancer.  I have watched my older daughter insist that her siblings not talk about the fact that I am sick.  And I have watched my baby girl ask other mothers what kind of cancer they have, assuming all mothers are like me.  How do I help them navigate the scariness of my illness?  You see, it was not only I who was diagnosed with this illness, it was my entire family.

My husband, Deric, and I founded Inheritance of Hope to serve the entire family of young parents like ourselves diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.  Through our Legacy Retreats, we offer a community where parents can encourage, support, and advise one another, and children can meet other children who understand their fears and struggles.  We offer memories that families will cherish for a lifetime, regardless of whether their parent lives a month or 60 years.  We offer resources to help navigate raising their family in the midst of crisis.  And we introduce or remind each of these families of the faith that has not only brought our own family through this time, but has also greatly blessed us in the eye of our storm.

 

Read more about Kristen's legacy. 

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Ironman Competes for IoH

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:

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Life-Threatening Illnesses and Social Security Disability Benefits

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).

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As the Tide Rolls Out

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.

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Not Safe But Good - July 2015

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.

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Singing Isn't Just for the Birds

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.

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Cries of Pain, Cries of Hope – May 2014

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.

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Gaining a New Perspective on Life



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?

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Christ's Tenacious Love - April 2013

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

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With Open Hands: Part 1

Kristen Milligan

Kristen Milligan "With Open Hands" at 2011 NYC IOH Retreat

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.

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