TITLE: And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye
AUTHOR: Kara Tippetts
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2016, (208 pages).
With these words, the late Kara Tippetts boldly faced an uncertain future with emotional certainty. In 2014, at the age of 38, the author entered hospice care to prepare for her looming death. She died on March 22nd, 2015, in Colorado Springs, leaving behind a pastor-husband Jason, and four young children. Less than three years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her death, the editors of David C. Cook decided to compile her writings from her blog (Mundane Faithfulness) about her journey through the valley of the shadow of dying. Published posthumously, their aim is to let the words of Tippetts encourage the living, especially those who may be going through a difficult period.
The book comprises Four Acts of her life. Act One is filled with stories about mundane moments of life, Tippetts was able to capture her emotional ups and downs in what is uniquely Tippetts-style. It was a style that believed she was not facing cancer alone. She believed that her family would be taken care of even after her death. She pondered about the perfect peace God had promised, amid the pain she was going through. She encountered what it means to be sufficient by God’s grace. She got frustrated with constant attention for her to get well. She appreciated her husband for constantly pointing her attention to God, and in the process less focused on her own self. With moments of fear come peace. With feelings of ugliness come the awareness of the beauty around her. With existing pain comes anticipated relief. She even felt a special connection with the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. She was poetic when remembering the birthday of her husband.
Act Two described the many difficult times at the place of neither here nor there: The middle. The journey through cancer was made more difficult with the certainty of death but the uncertainty of when. This was not helped with worry and exhaustion. Thankfully, she found joy in mentors and being a mentor to others. Out of the pits of physical despair came moments where she appreciated life, growth, and adventure. She found herself waking up in the mornings praying for her family. She called the cancer diagnosis as “the grace fog” in which her family was the recipient of much grace. Without the pressure of trying to fulfill some bucket list of things to do, she tried to live as normally as possible. She continued to write. She continued to love her family and friends. She continued to have fun. She continued with daily reflections on God’s Word. She found comfort in expressing her struggles in a thoughtful poem called “Time.”
Act Three began with a recognition that peace can be very hard for a cancer-strickened person she was. She shared about that in her first book, “The Hardest Peace.” Why hard? She shed tears for her children as they watched her having to suffer through endless rounds of chemotherapy. She confessed her fears over the heavy burdens the family had to bore over her medical bills. She shared her difficult but authentic peace in a graduation speech given to the Evangelical Christian Academy Class of 2014. With increasing pain came rising hopes in seeing God finally. She even wrote a letter addressed to CANCER that even though physically she felt weak, her inner self continued to grow stronger each day. Her “Five Thoughts on Dying Well” is an excellent piece of writing that inspires.
Act Four seemed to be last, but is actually the beginning of the end. All in all, the chapters are short and to the point. There are ups and downs described throughout the book. Readers ebb back and forth with the thoughts of Tippetts. I believe these would resonate very much with people who understood what she was going through.
If you are needing some encouragement while going through a tough patch in life, this book will provide a needed perspective to remind us that if Tippetts in her weakness and her despair can do it, so could we. Even though the book was not put together by Tippetts herself, the book emanated everything that Tippetts stood for, that life is difficult but ultimately beautiful.
Rating: 4 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me courtesy of David C. Cook Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.