Kara Tippetts went Home to Jesus on March 22, 2015, after a long battle with breast cancer.
Born Kara Lynne Thewlies on July 14, 1976, she grew up in Noblesville, Indiana, and earned her BS in English Education at Indiana University. She met her husband Jason Tippetts at Eagle Lake Camp, a Christian camp located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They were married on May 16, 1998.
Kara was led to Christ in high school after a youth leader read her a tract about Christianity and a friend invited her to youth group. Hearing a message about forgiveness prompted her to seek a relationship with Jesus, where she found total acceptance, kindness, and Grace. While she didn’t experience instant change in her life, dramatic changes were softly, slowly occurring in her heart as she trusted Christ’s love for her and allowed it to alter how she viewed the world and the people around her. She saw the difference a gentle word could make in response to an ugly remark, how an outstretched hand could break barriers of a hardened heart. Kindness became Kara’s passion; it defined her relationship with Jason, and then her four children: Eleanor, Harper, Lake, and Story Jane.
Answering a call to plant Westside Church in 2012, the Tippetts moved to Colorado where they soon after had to evacuate their home due to the Waldo Canyon Fire. It was this same summer that Kara received her breast cancer diagnosis. Despite beginning aggressive treatment for the cancer, Kara put her whole heart into growing and developing the new community that would become Westside, reaching out to others and teaching by example how to love and care for people well and sacrificially. An extrovert with a big, warm personality, Kara befriended neighbors, grocery baggers, those in line with her at Starbucks, other moms from her children’s school. She never hesitated to share a smile and a kind word. Her personality was magnetic, attracting people of all kinds, and she treated each friend as though they were her very favorite.
Her well known blog Mundane Faithfulness, where she originally posted about motherhood and living in kindness, became a blog about looking for God’s Grace to show up even in the hardest, messiest, ugliest places. It was a window into her life of chemo, church planting, spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen with her littles, her passion for Jason, her passion for those who don’t know Jesus, and her struggle to accept her growing cancer as God’s story for her life. Her self-described “mundane” life appeared anything but mundane to her readers who inevitably fell in love with her inviting, joyful personality and her love for and trust in Jesus; readers were attracted to her honesty, vulnerability, sense of humor, and simple faith. She never hesitated to share the hard moments, but she always pointed her readers—and herself—back to Jesus.
As the cancer spread, Kara courageously embraced her situation, trusting in a Sovereign God. She believed that cancer was not the point, but Jesus was; how she responded and trusted Christ in the midst of this hard was where she would find Grace. As Kara and her family processed what God was calling them to live out, she invited her community to join her journey through this seemingly impossible ordeal—how would she trust God in the midst of sickness? And then, how would she trust God in the midst of dying?
In the fall of 2014, David C. Cook published her story, The Hardest Peace. The response to Kara’s book has been overwhelming. In high demand, Kara toured and spoke as her physical condition allowed, touching even more people with the gift of her story and perspective. Christmas neared, and the physical became more difficult. Kara fought harder than ever to live well and love others well and with intentionality, especially Jason and their children. She refused to be defined by cancer and considered every moment a gift and an opportunity to learn more about Grace and trusting God; she believed suffering was not an absence of beauty, but an opportunity to understand God’s love on a deeper level. Kara recently wrote, My little body has grown tired of battle, and treatment is no longer helping. But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well. By degrees doing both, living and dying, as I have moments left to live. I get to draw my people close, kiss them and tenderly speak love over their lives. I get to pray into eternity my hopes and fears for the moments of my loves. I get to laugh and cry and wonder over Heaven. I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus—and He will provide. He has given me so much to be grateful for, and that gratitude, that wondering over His love, will cover us all. And it will carry us—carry us in ways we cannot comprehend.
Kara is survived by her husband Jason; her children Eleanor Grace, Harper Joy, Lake Edward, and Story Jane; her parents Carolyn and Dennis Thewlies; her sister Jonna McMahon (Mike) and their three daughters; her brother Dennis Thewlies, Jr., and his son and daughter; and countless other loving family members, in-laws, mentors, friends, and her Westside Church family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to a fund benefitting the Tippetts children:
P.O. Box 49727
Colorado Springs, CO 80949