If you have followed me on Facebook or even on my other blogs then you may have heard about Kara Tippetts. Let me be upfront, I don't know Kara personally. I've never met her even though we live in the same town and have a lot of the same friends. I don't know her personally and yet I feel as if I do. Kara has the amazing ability to draw anyone in and make them feel like they are close, personal friends. Many people say, "To know Kara is to love Kara," and they are right. I believe she has allowed me, and thousands of others, to know her and she is loved. Deeply.
The brief back story is this. June 2012, Kara and her family move into a new-to-them home in Colorado Springs and one week later they are evacuating that home due to Waldo Canyon Fire having hopped the ridge and threatening all homes on the Northwest side of Colorado Springs. About a week after returning to their home Kara finds a hard lump and she knows. She just does. July 2012 Kara is diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer and treatment begins almost immediately. Spring 2013 things are looking up, the Doctors are confident of low recurrence. Fall 2013 Kara undergoes one last surgery and it is then the Doctors find recurrence, it has spread from breast to her uterus. Early 2014 she admits to headaches, Doctors look into it. The cancer has now spread to her brain. Summer 2014 Kara feels pain deep in her bones. Doctors discover it has spread into her skeletal system, her lymph system, her blood. Aggressive treatments are in progress as they try every option available to buy Kara more time with her husband and four children. It's all so unsettling and frightening. And yet Kara has and speaks of peace. She speaks of a hard peace in which God is found at the places she arrives in this journey. He is there waiting for her, to embrace her and comfort her. It is a hard peace but it is peace.
HOW? How does this woman, much too young and with a whole bunch of life to live yet, say that she has peace in all of this? With every bit of news or feeling of a new pain Kara knows she is one day closer to flying away with Jesus. But she smiles, she laughs, she glows, she extends to others as much as she is able. Kara is joy.
Right after the news of the brain being invaded Kara met, at their request, with a team from David C Cook. Someone there had come across her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, and was so moved, touched, and compelled by Kara's writing that they brought it before decision makers at Cook. They found no reason to object. With the understanding and urgency of the number of Kara's days being limited, the team at Cook helped her to focus and write a book in 4 months! FOUR!
The Hardest Peace is Kara's story from start to present. She gives us a snapshot of the messy of her life prior to faith. She introduces us to her husband and their story. She lets us peek in on her four children and the wonder of them in her life. She brings us to Colorado Springs from North Carolina and we hear of how tough moving to Colorado was from day one. She talks about the life she and Jason thought they were going to live and the life they have had to accept. She is candid about the life her family will live without her and how she is trying to prepare all of them for that day and time. Kara is dying. The cancer is not going to turn back and retreat at this point. All treatments are to buy as much time as possible. Just a few weeks ago she shaved her head for the second and last time. Kara knows she will die bald. The treatments ensure that.
Kara shares from a place of deep peace and grace. She can do so because of the big love she has experienced in Christ. She is thoughtful in her story and she invites the reader in with some questions at the end of each chapter. She doesn't want just people who have cancer, for example, to read this book. She claims, and I agree, that this book is for anyone who has experienced, is experiencing, or will experience hard. Well, that's everyone. We cannot escape the hard of life, the sharp and rough edges of people and circumstances. We cannot escape it but we can have peace, hard peace, in the midst of it. Unless you have walked through hard with peace you can't speak with any authority on it. You have to experience it to share it honestly and without cliches. Kara has the authority to show us and tell us that it is possible to have hard peace when life isn't so gentle. She has been well equipped to speak on this topic.
Kara isn't trying to win the hardest story award but she's modeling the way to live through a hard story. She is mentoring thousands of people, unknowingly, on how to live well now and in the midst of slowly fading from this life. Her story has filtered out among media sources and people near and far. Here's a sampling of the people Kara has talked to that have shared her story with their listening and reading audiences. I highly recommend listening in to her conversations with Dr. James Dobson and Warren Smith. I've also included the link to her interview with a local television station.
Listening In - Trusting God with Terminal Cancer with Warren Smith for WORLD Radio.
The Hardest Peace Parts 1, 2, 3 with Dr. James Dobson
'Today I Get to Live': Mother with Terminal Cancer Shares Her Faith on KKTV - Channel 11 in Colorado Springs, CO
The Passion of Kara Tippetts
The Hard Beautiful
To Die In Love
Kara Tippetts Severe Mercy
To Die a Good Death
The Passion of Kara Tippetts
Cradle in the Hammock
Snapshots of the Tippetts Life and Story on YouTube:
Kara Tippetts Chemo Story
Tuesday Grace Letters
You and I
Kara's blog, Mundane Faithfulness, is the place she challenges herself and others to live life well. To live it big and with grace. And she sees grace in everything, even in dying. She is dying slowly and she calls that a gift because it is a grace to be able to have a long goodbye. She's making the most of her long goodbye. And as she says, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." (A.A. Milne) Kara's book, The Hardest Peace, is a gift for the reader. The message Kara has lived to share is for anyone who has faced hard and that is each of us.
Pick up a copy for yourself and a friend today. You will be challenged and comforted by Kara's story.