Sunday, February 8, 2015
The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts
I first heard about Kara Tippetts's book THE HARDEST PEACE through Facebook. A former student, a young mother herself, wrote of weeping while alternating between reading the book and hugging her own children. Still she mentioned gaining such strength from Kara's words and her whole story.
I was fortunate enough to be able to ask David C. Cook Publishing for a review copy of the book for review purposes, and I am so glad they allowed me the chance to learn about Kara's journey and her message for us all.
Kara and her husband believed they were living the dream God had planned for them. Four healthy children that they loved to the moon and back, the chance to start a new church in Colorado, and a personal love that grew with each new year of marriage. Then within weeks of moving, Kara found a lump and a new story began -- a story of cancer that spread from her breasts, to her ovaries, to her brain and to the nodes. Rounds of chemo stole her hair, her energy, and her "pretty."
Radiation and surgery left a myriad of scars. As the disease progressed, morphed, and became the center of their lives, the question "How will my children live without me?" shouted at her daily, but then her faith allowed her focus to shift. As Kara says, there was no "pretty" left in her life, but everywhere she looked she sees beauty. It may be the visit from a congregation member, or a late night embrace from her husband, or the profound love and selflessness she's felt from even her youngest child. In each tiny moment or grand pronouncement she has chosen to see God. It is his strength she has chosen to feel and acknowledge, both in the book and at her blog MUNDANE FAITHFULNESS. When I checked the blog this week, I see guest posts from dear friends she's made along this journey. Her last posting, just a few days ago, indicate she is weakening. Her thoughts remind me so much of a brother in law who passed away from leukemia 8 years ago. She is eloquent in naming and describing the moments of grace and beauty that flicker even in the harshest moments of destructive disease; she's given words to feelings that I am sure my brother in law, his wife, and his daughters felt. I witnesses moments of that God given strength and grace, but cannot begin to share the impact it had on me and my husband. I will leave you to read Kara Tippett's THE HARDEST PEACE.
Note that this is not the typical "disease" memoir. Kara does not take us through a chronological
journey of diagnosis, treatment, and family chaos. From the beginning of the book and continuing throughout she focuses on how living in her weakness she has been able to see and experience life as it should be lived. Of everything in the book what affected me most was her conscious effort to continue to parent her children, not in the physical realm of everyday care, but in the greater picture of effecting their hearts and their understanding of love, sharing, and caring for others. She also has prepared her children for her eventual death and helped them to remain to see a loving God in their life story. Thank you to David C, Cook for allowing me to review this book.
Kara Tippetts knows the ordinary days of mothering four kids, the joy of watching her children grow ... and the devastating reality of stage-four cancer. In The Hardest Peace, Kara doesn't offer answers for when living is hard, but she asks us to join her in moving away from fear and control and toward peace and grace. Most of all, she draws us back to the God who is with us, in the mundane and the suffering, and who shapes even our pain into beauty.