Recently I watched an incredible documentary on the life of Kara Tippetts. Kara was a wife and mother, a vibrant Christian with a beautiful smile and warm personality. She lost her fight with breast cancer four years ago and went home to be with the Lord. I was so drawn in by Kara’s story. Maybe because I could relate to much of her life. She was only one year older than me, was married to a pastor, and had four children similar in age to my own. Yet she received a terminal diagnosis, and she died 2 years later.
I love Kara’s heart and determination to live each day to the fullest. Her legacy was one of selfless love and care for others- whether it was her own children or the woman at the grocery store. Her friends shared that “she made each of us feel like her best friend.” Kara gave others her full attention, loved having friends in her home, and created sweet memories with her kids. Like visiting each of their rooms at night with a bottle of lotion in order to rub their feet and hear about their day. This image particularly struck me as I can so often plummet into exhaustion at night, trying to make bedtime routines as quick as possible.
The documentary is raw and transparent. In one of the most heart wrenching scenes you watch her 8-year old son lying beside her saying, “I don’t want you to go.” As a mom, I can hardly imagine how heartbreaking it would be to hear those words. Kara was honest about her struggle with wanting to stay on earth with her husband and children even though she knew that Jesus was better. “To live is Christ and to die is gain” can be a difficult verse to come to terms with. Kara acknowledged feeling jealous as she watched healthy moms shuttle their kids to and from activities, when she could hardly get out of bed. But she also knew her trial was not outside the sovereign hand of God, and was thankful for the time the Lord gave her to have “a long goodbye” with her loved ones. “Everyone is dying..” she said, “I’ve just been given the gift of knowing.”
Watching this documentary was good for my soul. It helped me try to put myself in Kara’s shoes. How would I spend the last two years of my life on earth if I knew the end was near? Why am I acting like I have an infinite amount of time when I don’t know what the future holds? Sometimes we need to be reminded of our mortality. It can be easy to get caught up in complaining about the monotony of life: one more carpool trip to swim lessons, another load of laundry, the endless menu planning and grocery shopping. But Kara’s story reminded me that all of these mundane things are gifts to be cherished, privileges of being a wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend.
Lord, when I’m tempted to open my mouth in complaint, help me to exchange my grumbling for gratitude (Philippians 2:14-15).
When I’m tempted to tell my five- year old that I’m too tired to help him practice bike-riding, help me to be thankful for a healthy body that can move and run.
When I’m tempted to sit on the couch and shout up a goodnight, help me make the extra effort to tuck-in each child with a kiss and a prayer.
When I’m tempted to scroll through my phone when others are present, help me to set the phone down and give my full attention to those beside me.
When I’m tempted to hold a grudge against someone who wounded me, help me be quick to forgive and extend the same mercy and grace God has shown me (Ephesians 4:32).
When I’m tempted to take for granted the myriad of ways my husband serves our family, help me to be quick to tell him “thank you” and hold him a little tighter each night.
Kara’s life was lived to the glory of God as she refused to fall into self-pity, but persevered in gratitude through loving those around her. And now Netflix is proclaiming the Gospel through her life story. It’s a life well-lived, and one to emulate