The Christmas season is a great time to make family memories. However, discovering lice in your home, as a friend recently did – while hosting an extended family Christmas gathering – is not the kind of Christmas memory anyone wants! It’s hard to think of anything more universally despised than these nasty bugs that take up residence in our hair. We describe things we dislike as “lousy,” which literally means infested with lice. Even the mere idea of lice is so potent that some of you may get the sensation of itchiness on your heads just by reading this!
This post was originally shared by Inheritance of Hope co-founder Kristen Milligan in November of 2010. As we prepare for our largest New York City Legacy Retreat® yet (21 families), we look back at her reflections from the first Legacy Retreat® there.
"They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” -- Daniel 3:27
As I write this devotional, Inheritance of Hope is hosting its first Legacy Retreat® in New York City. My prayer is that the seven families gathered there are being blessed with memories, community, and support, just as my life has been changed by these blessings at previous Legacy Retreats®. This is the first Legacy Retreat® which I have not attended, and my heart hurts to miss meeting the families God has brought together this weekend. Instead I am home recovering from a difficult surgery, feeling broken and useless despite wonderful family support and an ever-patient and encouraging husband. I know those of you who have battled illness and the inevitable treatments know what I am feeling.
I grew up in Brainerd, MN, at a small family resort where I learned to clean cabins at a very early age and got to play in the lake all summer. I come from a family of swimmers and was a competitive swimmer form 3rd grade through college at St. Olaf in Northfield, MN. I got a biology degree from St. Olaf and then changed directions and went to Luther Seminary in St. Paul for my master's degree in youth and family ministry. I worked in youth ministry for 5 years before spending the last 12 years as a stay-at-home mom to our 3 kids: Anna (12), Andrew (11), and Julia (9). My husband, Brian, and I recently celebrated our 15th anniversary. We live in Rochester, MN, where I spend much of my day driving my own little swimmers to the pool for practice.
How did you become involved with IoH?
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.
On May 8, 2015, I traveled to New York City to receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. As I prepared for the trip, I thought of all the people I would have loved to join me to share in our accomplishment together. I decided I would write an account of the weekend. When we started Inheritance of Hope eight years ago, I never dreamed of us getting this kind of recognition. I can’t wait to see where we will be eight years from now!
“We knew about Inheritance of Hope (IoH) for a while but never realized how incredible it was until we were a part of it,” said Jay Maier. Jay, his wife Tara, and their five children lived near IoH Legacy Retreat® Director Jill Thompson in Rochester, Minn. Tara said her family prayed for the families that went on Legacy Retreats® but didn’t expect to attend one themselves.
Phyllis Young learned about Inheritance of Hope when a local North Carolina television station featured the organization. She immediately knew her family would enjoy going to an IOH Legacy Retreat®.
“I knew we took things for granted and we needed to take some time to step back and enjoy being a family,” she said.
Kristen Milligan passed away one year ago tomorrow. She was a truly amazing person and my very best friend. One of her favorite verses is found in James 1:2-4 and she referenced it often in her speaking engagements, books, and daily life. This is what it says in the modern day Message translation of the bible:
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."