Tag Archives: death

an unfading glory

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.

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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?
Serve selflessly?
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.

The cup of life

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.

Rekindling the fire

She knows time here is shortfor 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

**UPDATE Kara Tippetts went home to be with our Lord today, March 22, 2015. Well done dear Sister.

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Last week I danced on the fringes of this thought:

“Rescue and redemption are costly.”

If that’s true then, what am I willing to spend for wholeness? It’s a question lurking at the edges of my mind for a while. You know how you get to that place where you’ve travelled a path so familiar you’re not really paying attention? Then a day comes, perhaps when you have to take a slightly different route and suddenly you’re noticing things — little things that were always there but now you really see them.

It’s true with places and with people.

Simple circumstances or an earth shaking crisis cause shifts in our landscape and if we are halfway awake, we might begin to see and notice things differently. We might finally see what’s important.

Sometimes we find a deeper grace. 



I see it in often in my relationship with God and especially through the Scriptures.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened to a passage so familiar when suddenly, a new understanding pools and collects on the page before me.  Combined with my angle and attitude of approach, the Spirit speaks in just the way my wandering and wondering heart needs to hear.

It happened not long ago at a women’s conference as speaker, Kim Hardy taught from a passage I’ve travelled many times in my years walking with Jesus. In fact, it’s the first passage I ever shared with a group of women nearly twelve years ago.

Twelve years.
Now, that’s no coincidence.

Her somewhat familiar story is found in three of the four Gospels but Mark says it best:

A woman with a “condition”.
Twelve years and she’s spent in every way you can imagine.
So desperate for healing that when she hears reports about Jesus, she knows exactly what she must do.
She has to get to Jesus. He is her only hope.

There was a “great throng” of people crowding around Jesus as he travelled that day;  a shoulder to shoulder crush of people struggling forward all trying to have a moment with the Master.

{side note: I’ve never been in a throng but it makes me anxious unto puking just to think about it!}

It was a throng  so thick you just couldn’t walk through it. This woman had to crawl.. on the ground, through the dirt. Hands, knees, belly. Then,  with a final desperate push, her hand manages to graze the hem of Jesus’s garment.

And I’m just struck wildly by this picture. I mean, can you imagine what she was thinking? Her frame of mind …  …her freakin’ passion??!?!

She was healed….immediately.

Jesus stops in his tracks and in a throng-stopping voice asks, “Who touched Me?” And you know… those disciples testify truthfully when they basically say, “Hello?! Do you not see this throng of people pushing and grabbing at you? Master, you are getting touched left and right!” (Lorretta’s  imperfect paraphrase)

Now…here’s where I’m blown away anew. This woman is already healed. She got what she believed she came for.  And we all know Jesus knew exactly who touched Him and why because that woman didn’t just touch Jesus. No,

He touched her first.

Before she ever left the house the story of Jesus had reached her ears and her heart and touched her soul so deeply that she unquestioningly knew what she wanted to do. Before she ever got on the ground to crawl through the dirt to where He was, she was already touched by Him.  He released his power, she didn’t “steal” or take it.

So when she steps up to show herself, she then does the very thing that completes her healing. She confesses— she tells Jesus–and everyone else  by the way, the whole story.

The. WHOLE. story.

Jesus responds with these words: “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34)

She came for healing and Jesus showed her holy making her… whole and His.


This woman’s story of rescue and redemption just teaches me SO much on every level:

  • She was spent and desperate and willing to submit her whole self to Jesus.  …Am I?
  • She was brave. She spent her last bit as she stepped beyond her fears and confessed  the WHOLE story. She didn’t care who else heard or about possible retribution (c’mon, a hemorrhaging discharge?… use your imagination) ….Can I?
  • She testified then and her life is testifying still. ….Will I?

And just what is her testimony for me today? Faithfulness? Courage? Healing? Yes. All that and much more.

Because the story really isn’t about her is it?      It’s about Jesus.
And it’s not only about His power to heal a disease.     He can and sometimes does.
See, this woman wasn’t only healed; she was changed.    She was saved.

Oh, and what was her name?

We don’t know… maybe because it doesn’t matter, even to her.  So healed was she that from there on after, it didn’t matter if she had a name…

because she now has a Savior.
That’s where her story continues to point us to: Jesus.

God Reveals

Honestly, it kinda scares the waddin’ out of me. 
Because I don’t know exactly what it might look like to daily live this kind of spent and be the kind of desperate that no matter what else is going on, I just HAVE to get to Jesus because He is my only hope.

But I’m willing to try.  To try and tell only about Him with my WHOLE story because I’ve been so changed by his healing rescue and redemption that my story points other always to Him and nothing else matters.   Not even my name

I wanna stay spent because rescue and redemption are costly. Oh Lord help me be brave like her.

What about you dear friend?  What are you willing to spend for wholeness?


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one step closer to the light

I am learning that life with God
is a series of “beginnings.”


Looking back upon my journey with Him, I can surely see the Holy Spirit guiding me each step of the way and at those moments when it seemed I’d reached an end, it was really another place for me to die to myself and rise again to the next level of walking with Him.

It was this sort of experience during Holy Week nearly 12 years ago which brought me to a place of such radical insight, that I’ve never been the same since.

It was the beginning of a season of epiphanies…a moment of time on the edges of such gathering darkness that any light at all could seem bright but this Light…was breaking in and shaking me like none other. This Light was drawing sharp lines and outlining the shades and shadows of places I had yet to see and understand.

God was moving me… whispering into my soul in words and ways I can’t fully explain–calling me deeper and higher at the same time….moving in closer. 

and has been steadily moving me closer to Him ever since.

I’m sitting in her chair now.

A gift to me from her husband, soft amethyst and rose-budded. A wide and comfortable wingback with a matching fringed ottoman: perfect for late-night feedings and a new mother’s waiting arms. It had no doubt been arranged, close by in preparation for a day that would never come.

I barely knew her.

We hadn’t been there long ourselves when they stood to join the church one Sunday and she was already well along in her pregnancy. Conversations were brief and fell along pleasant lines but honestly, I don’t know that we ever had time to get past the idle Sunday morning chit-chat.

I like to think eventually, we would have.

Holy Week in this place was observed as a time of deep and almost mournful introspection. There was the labyrinth for prayerful preparation. Slots had been filled earlier in the month for the round-the clock vigil held in the sanctuary immediately following the Good Friday service…where the altar was stripped bare and black and the lights remained low. Dark-in-the-grave…no-stone-rolled away…silent, still and cold.

I had chosen two watches the week before…never knowing where they’d take me in that 48-hour period.

The word spread in a sickly slow-motion, shock wave rumbling beneath the surface of our congregation. A horror of words strung insensibly together: midnight, aneurysm, brain-dead mother, still-born child, father couldn’t save them…bone-crushing grief.

There, alone in the 3 a.m. dark of night I sat, keeping watch for those hours, dumbstruck and confused by the penetrating pain of that moment in time. It mingled with the dawning understanding of a moment in history nearly 2000 years before represented now in a black, cloth-covered cross.

Waiting and praying.
Not understanding the need for such loss…on either side of the cross.

Wasn’t it just a few months earlier that we celebrated and danced at the birth the sweet baby born in Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling cloths, heralded by angels to Shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night?

Wrapped in strips of linen then…wrapped again now and laid in a tomb..the baby…the Son, the God-Man…

Oh Jesus.
You saved others, could you not save yourself?
Oh Jesus.
Could you not save this mother and child?

These thoughts and scriptures held tight to my heavy heart all through the next day as I struggled to pull my head into the life of my family and muster up a spirit of celebration for the sake of my own children. But something had shifted inside of me and something else was taking It’s place.

My second vigil slot came again in the mid night hours which had seemed prudent at the time but now, felt like an unearthly excursion into a dark and difficult reality.

I almost didn’t go.

Head and heart bowed low I walked the few feet to the sanctuary and the scent met me moments  before my hand could reach the door…… lilies.

Lilies and light!

The room was filled with the heady fragrance and blinding whiteness of lilies and candlelit vestments on the freshly dressed altar. In preparation for the Sunday celebration taking place at dawn, the church had already been transformed from a place of mourning into one of celebration.

And I felt it..heard it nearly audible-like in my heart:

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here, he has risen!”

And I understood: the curtain torn in two from top to bottom opened the door so I could see…so clearly see:
the baby born in Bethlehem truly was a precious child gifted to us from a precious, loving God who knew that as miraculous as it is,

even an incarnation wasn’t enough.

  • Justice would have to be served.
  • God’s wrath would have to be satisfied.
  • The price would have to be paid.

We would have to know the weight of the price needing to be paid and why..

 Jesus paid it ALL.

As I was reminded in a Holy Week service today..He paid it willingly; modeling and ministering up until the very hour of His death. Even in agony, Jesus offered forgiveness and mercy–from the cross–letting us know that even  at that moment of darkness and despair, if we seek, we will find.

Our friend did

He found his strength in loving friendships and community and he found his hope where it had been before and is still now: in Jesus. He has remarried and now he and his wife are ministers who specialize in grief and counseling. He is a resurrected man living in the light of our resurrected Savior: Jesus— the light shining in the darkness that could not…will not be overcome.

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