We’ve rounded that sharp bend in the calendar, barreling straight into 2015 with images of 2014 quickly receding in the rearview of the mind. It’s been an unrealistically amazing year in my world with so many things I can point to and know:
THERE…those moments right there… they shaped my life.
Changed me deeply.
I’m marked and branded more eternally by them.
Although markings include the painful news regarding a loved one, a ministry opportunity taking me half way around the world and back— and the exciting addition of a new family member, one person has had more shaping influence on my life than most any other in this last year.
She wouldn’t know me from Adam’s house cat.
We’ve never met and it’s doubtful….very doubtful, we will ever meet on this side of heaven. Yet, without a smidge of exaggeration, I can tell you this woman has made an eternal impact on my life in ways I pray I’ll never forget.
Since discovering her story online, pieces of the Jesus in her have met me in my moments all throughout this past year, carrying me through many things frustrating and fantastic. They’ve met me in the months leading up to the holidays and all the typical calendar crazy, combined with the preparation for an out-of-state wedding.
Additional pieces were gifted during quieter moments of recent holiday celebrations and I thought about her often while I worked through the final week leading up to my daughter’s wedding day. When that day came, I smiled w i d e r. I loved harder and I danced in slow circles with my husband— all while her Jesus whispers settled in my soul.
I thought of her— and her daughters— a lot that night. I was humbled.
She didn’t ask to be there in the ways she was there. I mean, I’d gladly have invited her to come, but the way it has happened…the way it seems that it has to happen…. Well, I know I’m one of so many who wish ….. it could be different.
I’d want to be her friend in real life.
I want to imagine we could share all the things: flowers and tomatoes from our gardens, recipes and accessories. We’d swap stories and all those grubby nuggets and precious pearls of hard-won wisdom about how to live and love well.
We’d argue sometimes but make up easily. We’d cry a little and we’d pray and laugh a lot. I’d like a friend like that. She seems so real in these ways…even in her earnest and honest struggle with life, love, cancer and now dying— God’s love through her is so evident and real.
Without even trying, she causes me to ask myself the hard questions:
Could I do this?
What do I have to complain about?
Can I live the remainder of my life with this kind of love for others?
Point always to Jesus?
Her real life friends are struggling too.
They’ve sat by her in the long dark hours of chemo. They’ve held her hand, made her smoothies and loved her husband and children. They’ve laughed and listened and have possibly argued a little along the way. They supported her while she wrote and released her second book. They’ve watched her make up her mind to fight and live. They’ve stood by her decision now to love well and die with grace.
With grace…. IN Grace.
I so grateful to know her in this pathetically small way I do.
It’s been her gift to us all— teaching us, leading us and guiding us as she is taught led and guided along the Isaiah 42:16 paths we can barely understand or know. She’s done her best to show us that God is here… now. With her husband right beside her, she’s given us the greatest gift:
the courage to live and die… well.
She’s also given the gift of perspective. Last night I read how she clearly remembers driving for the last time although then she didn’t realize it would be the last time. I thought of this tonight, as I drove myself to the grocery store and exercise class with my hands about frozen to the steering wheel from the bitter cold.
And I thanked God for the van and the cold and the privilege…the health I have to simply drive. Her legacy is a life of chosen gratitude. I want that to be mine too.
Not long ago, she also wrote about how she’s not a hero. I won’t argue with her. I understand. All the world loves a hero and there are plenty of media outlets willing to exploit and make a hero’s story out of many. But this woman– she’s not trying to be anyone’s hero.
As the most Pro-Life and Pro-Love person I’ve ever witnessed, she’s simply courageously spending her last days pointing us to the One who is THE Hero: Jesus. She’s invited us to draw closer to her story and as a result, she’s invited us to draw nearer with her to God, allowing Him to use her journey to teach us how to love Him and one another better and trust Him more.
She knows time here is short–for all of us really, and though her story here on earth will soon come to a close, it continues— on another page and in an unending chapter at Home in heaven.
Where someday, we will most definitely meet. I don’t know if there will be chairs in heaven but I’d like to think there are many. If so, then I’ll draw one up close beside her and there I’ll say,
“Thank you, Kara. Thank you for being my friend.”
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” John 12:24-26