Dear Kara Tippetts,
When I first started reading your blog (I’m sure anyone reading my blog has read hers), and learning of your plight with cancer, I felt like I had something to offer to you. I felt like I wanted to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and tell you that your kids will be OK should your cancer progress. I wanted to tell you that they will be lovers of Jesus, heaven and you in the most genuine and pure way. That the lines between this life and life to come will in some ways blur for your kids. But after months and months of following your blog, I’m pretty sure I have nothing to offer you that you don’t already know. I am quite sure that I have learned more about living after the death of a family member, from you, even though I should be the expert.
Shortly after my husband died, I wrote a post about feeling like I was in a pile of hot coals, and to touch me, was to burn yourself. In a way, I feel a bit of a parallel with your story. Your story can feel so painful and so hot to the touch, that to even read your blog, it could burn a little. Sometimes, I even turn away for a time, so I can gear up to read your latest thoughts. But what I have found, in continuing to read each post, is that I find the warmth and not the burn. In a story that feels so wrong, so scary, so what we all don’t want to happen to us, you give it warmth. You offer Jesus as the safe, place in a story full of scary. You have reminded me that love never ends. You have encouraged me to extend grace, patience and love, even when I was in so much physical pain over the past year. You kept bringing my eyes back to Jesus. You make suffering, much more than pain. You even sometimes allow it to be named beautiful. You have given permission to love Jesus in the most difficult of circumstances. From the outside, you seem to have grown less and less fearful and more and more confident of grace and the road God has called you to walk. Yet, you have never pretended that this is anything, but the most difficult hard to walk through. I am so humbled by your story and your story has given me so much freedom in loving Jesus through every hard piece of life and every beautiful gift of life.
Having written all that, it turns out that I can’t help, but to tell you one little story that I want to pass on to you. I wasn’t planning on it, but after I started this letter on Thursday, we had an event at church on Friday night. It was a special worship service that revolved around loving our city. One of the pastors asked if our family would join a bunch of other families in holding up signs that read, “God loves the broken hearted,” or “God loves the homeless,” etc. . . The poster board that Spencer ended up with was, “God loves the fatherless.” When we went to the front of the church during the song, I had zero emotion. I was just wondering where I should stand. A few lines in, I saw Spencer a few people away from me on the top step, holding his sign, with such confidence. He kept pushing it forward and holding it higher, as if to say, “People, believe this!” I don’t even think that Spencer had any idea of what he was doing. He wasn’t intentionally holding his board like that trying to convince people that God loves the fatherless. But it was a Holy Spirit moment. During the song, I was not watching anyone else. I was just trying to hold my tears in (and I evidently wasn’t worried about my zipper that was down, while I was holding a poster board above my head in front of the whole church). At the time, I had no idea, what kind of impact this moment had on others until, countless people told me, with tears in their eyes every time, that they just lost it. Nobody could totally explain why, but they all talked about his posture, while holding the sign. Spencer was a walking testimony that night. And he is all the time. He has no agenda. He is just walking around as a whole child. Not broken. Not cracked. With a heart ten times the size as it was before Dave died. He is not perfect, but there is something that God has done in His life, from the moment Dave died. I believe that Dave sees it and that he knows all that, but it is something that I wish I could tell him. I have no idea what Dave’s death was like. I don’t know if he knew he was having a heart attack or if he just suddenly died, but if he knew what was happening at all, I wish that he could have supernaturally seen this moment somehow.
After Dave died, I was so beyond worried about my kids. I still worry and I hurt for them that they don’t have a dad, but it never occurred to me, when Dave first died, that my kids would walk around as little unknowing testimonies of God’s healing hand and redemption. I’m so fortunate to see it all the time. Kara, maybe this sound presumptuous, but I know that your kids will be the same. They get to just be them and God will be using them in every way to show His glory. After Dave died, a friend stated that God really will become so evident their lives. I didn’t totally believe her, because it seemed impossible that they would really be OK, but God has done immeasurably more in their lives than I ever could have imagined.
I’m still praying along with thousands of others that God will heal you. That you will be on this earth until you are 101 . . . no if, ands, or buts!