Kara died. I have wondered much the last two months about the words that she left us. While her family and friends mourn her loss and choose joy, we who did not know her intimately remember her words and her actions and her love with awe.
The pastor speaking at her funeral said that the hardest funerals are not ones like Kara’s (even though her funeral was hard), but the most difficult farewells are when no one has anything good to say about the person who has died.
The wealth that Kara poured into those she encountered was evident. It was written all over her life and death- so many were touched by her presence and words.
She has left many of us with much to ponder.
With that in mind, I have wondered a lot about the words I put out there: in this space and in my home, and around my neighbors and with my family and out in the world.
- What if these were my last words?
- What if these were my last writings?
- What if these were the last thoughts I had the opportunity to share?
I find the answers I am seeking in The Lessons Kara Tippetts Taught.
What if These Were My Last Words… to My Children?
I think the place where this has influenced me the most – even more than my writing voice – are the words that I speak over my children and in our home.
- I am more conscious of when I am being too harsh.
- I am more aware of when they need me to be more disciplined with them.
- I am conscious of my not great word usage (I love Jesus and I cuss a little).
- I am seeking more ways of opening our lives to the everyday presence of God: in knowing Him, sharing Him, Praying to Him, and demonstrating that humbly in our family’s midst.
There is an intentionality to parenting well – that can get lost when we are “going through the motions.”
There is an intentionality to life that we often miss – in the ordinary things.
- In between laundry piles
- In between school and work
- In between piles of dishes
- In between piles of bills and junk mail
- In between the abundance and the want
In between the lines of life we miss the experience and presence of all things Divine when we forget that every ordinary thing is sacred.
I want my children to know what it is to have a mother who continually prays blessings over them – not words of frustration or doubt, anger or haste.
I do not want them to walk away from me feeling cursed.
I want to be the mom who stops for a sunset – wakes them up for a sunrise, stops to celebrate the bunny they found in the backyard, can name the neighborhood birds, is not afraid of the bugs they bring me, and rejoices over every single flower they think I need.
I want to delight in them – because I do.
I want them to know how much I delight in their presence and who they are becoming.
I love who we are becoming together. I love the woman I have become since they came into my life. I love how they honestly point out my messy – and how they love me anyways. I love how they looked after me when I was weak and unable to do all the things that mommies do.
Kara’s lessons and this winter when my life twisted scary has helped me to pause and consider all the reasons we chose each other in marriage and why we live this life with all these wonders the way that we do.
Giving Them Permission to Live
Kara taught us how to die well (Ann Voskamp wrote a beautiful piece on this)
and HOW to live well. She taught us how to suffer well and to prepare our families for the hard places.
These are lessons I am not prone to forget.
Even in the sorrow and the grief, she gave her family permission to to live life beyond her.
“I remember asking Kara to help me plan this year of firsts. I assumed a long and hard conversation, I would take notes and then feel better about the plan. But instead Kara’s answer was, ‘You will be great. You will know what to do!’ Not the answer I wanted but it was the answer I needed. I needed to know that I could fumble through this, that I would do okay. That I could process through decisions without her input. I needed to know that whatever we as a family decided to do was okay. I so appreciate that freedom she gave me.” (Jason Tippetts, Firsts)
A godly woman can graciously accept the separateness of her husband and children.
She doesn’t have to control it all. She doesn’t have to dictate what will come next or what needs to be.
Because she loves and knows a God who takes delight in her – she is able to take delight in her family even when God is calling her home: whatever they choose, however they live, whoever they are, and no matter what that makes her look like.
She can rejoice with them and weep with them. She does not need to compete with them. She does not need their every future moments to be about her.
I want my children to know that I DELIGHT in them just the way that they are…
- They can come to me dirty-faced and in need of bath.
- They can make math or daily goofs.
- They can and will make many life mistakes… and my love for them will be no different.
My love is not based on how they perform or how they represent themselves (or how they represent our family) in the world.
My love is based on them and who they are.
And who God says they are… that’s a trump card I can’t compete with.
I want them to know that they are complete before God – because of Jesus.
He delights in them even more than I do.
He can be trusted.
And He can be trusted to know which words are my last words – when I will get to write them and when I will get to speak them.
He is the one that gets to use them.
I need not be afraid of what my ending is going to look like…
And I needn’t worry about what that might be like for my family.
He has them.
Kara Tippetts taught me that God has me – and He can be trusted with all these little ones He has given to us.
Even if I am not able to be here with them… HE IS.
“When you come to the end of yourself, that’s when something else can begin.” (Kara Tippetts)
*My Facebook Thoughts from the Day we learned that Kara had passed away: