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A Letter to be Read at My Memorial Service

October 26th, 2019, marks the seventh anniversary of Kristen's death. She revised the letter below in February 2012.
 
Dear loved ones,
 
Watch Kristen's story in 4 minutesAs I write this I admit feeling a little sad. Sad because my greatest earthly desire was to grow old with Deric … 17 years of marriage was not nearly long enough. Sad because it is a mother’s job to be there to comfort her child when that child experiences her first broken heart, or when he sits on the bench during a much-anticipated game. Sad because my heart hurts to think I will not be there to share in my children’s joys and inevitable accomplishments, their weddings, or for the births of their own children. Sad to leave my mom and my sister with yet another loss after the premature death of my dad. Despite the sadness this illness has brought, when I consider my life I quickly realize that God has blessed me abundantly … how can I feel anything except overwhelming thankfulness?
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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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Happy New Year!

Now is the time of year when we consider all that the past year held for us, and ponder what the year ahead will bring.  This can stir up a vast array of emotions . . . hope, worry, excitement, fear, gratitude, fatigue, doubt, peace, longing, joy . . . sometimes several at once.

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Athlete Spotlight: Kathy Midkiff

Kathy Midkiff ran the Chicago marathon—her first—this past October in support of Inheritance of Hope (IoH). Her fundraising goal was to raise enough money to send an entire family on a Legacy Retreat®. Kathy’s daughter-in-law, Kerri Midkiff, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2009, and since then Kathy has seen firsthand the difficulties that IoH families face.

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Times Square Countdown

When most people think about a Times Square countdown, they think of a giant ball being lowered from a tall pole in the center of New York City while millions of people count down to a new year. 

 

Confetti. Music. Celebration.   

 

Well, Inheritance of Hope is about to begin a Times Square countdown of our own, and we are going to focus on lifting the burdens and lightening the loads of 21 families from all over the country who have young children facing the loss of a parent.

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Storm Chasers - October 2016

Hurricane Matthew is quickly approaching Florida’s east coast, and a bunch of hope-inspirers are leaving their comfortable homes and flying, driving, swimming their way to Orlando to serve 19 families facing storms much bigger than this hurricane.

 

These families have been counting down the days until their Legacy Retreat, and no hurricane is going to spoil this priceless experience for them.

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A New Twist on Mother's Day - May 2016

[This post was originally published on May 2.]

 

Mother's Day 2016 is only a few days away. Hallmark will claim record-breaking sales, and florists will hire extra delivery staff to make sure that the roses and daisies make their way to the doorsteps of moms old and young, new and seasoned.

 

I recently sat for hours going through my own Mother's Day cards… or as my youngest used to say, “polishing and tumbling the memory agates,” alternately smiling and weeping. Smiling over the stories and weeping over the ever dear and precious words in cards, notes, and letters over five decades. Joybox after joybox. Words of encouragement, words of gratitude, tender words of love and appreciation for being an example in hard times… for pointing them to Jesus… for loving them unconditionally.

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Experiencing God When You are Gripped by Fear - April 2016

Fear - it’s a powerful emotion. Have you ever experienced fear so intense that you couldn’t move - that you couldn’t breathe? Maybe had a panic attack? We all experience fear, but God has an antidote for it.

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Wait with Eager Longing - February 2016

One day, they told us, an enormous snake—much longer than a man—slithered its way right through their front door and into the kitchen of their simple home. Terrified, they ran outside and searched frantically for a local who might know what to do. A machete-wielding neighbor came to the rescue, calmly marching into their house and decapitating the snake with one clean chop.

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Everlasting Father - December 2015

A year ago, I reflected on the wonder of “Unto us a child is born,” which took on fresh richness as Allison and I experienced new parenthood along with Advent. Now we can hardly believe that we have been parents for a year already! Our baby girl has grown and changed so much, and so have we. As Advent scriptures and songs once again circulate, different parts of them grab my attention. In a recent reading of Isaiah 9, the phrase “Everlasting Father” struck me. I love my little girl to death, but that is tragically literal – some day death will interrupt my fatherly love. An “Everlasting Father” is worthy of reflection.

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