Kindred Spirits: Stephanie’s Story Part 1

The Tippetts family charged (and I mean charged) into our family's life the summer of 2012. I remember the first time I saw Kara and Jason in the pew in front of us, waiting to be introduced to the larger church body as our new church planters from North Carolina. We casually met and welcomed them during the often awkward "meet and greet" minute. I was stricken with Kara's bright green eyes. I have always wanted green eyes. I just love them. And hers were stunning. The four of us smiled warmly, exchanged names, we told them how happy we were that they were finally here, and they moved on to the next hands extended out to them.

A couple of weeks later our dear friends Drew and Jen invited us over to have lunch and spend time with Jason, Kara, and the kids. The 15 of us gathered in Jen's living room and kitchen, Kara still wearing the bruises from a scary fall that left her unconscious while unpacking, sharing her story, so engaging, asking lots of questions, sharing lots of answers herself amid the noise that comes with this many gathered. We loved all of it, and we left just knowing we were going to be close.

It was that July when the Waldo Canyon Fire descended onto the west side of our city, engulfing our beautiful mountains and so many homes and livelihoods, Kara and Jason's newly-purchased-and-still-being-settled home was threatened among them. I was chopping veggies for dinner when my phone rang.


“Steph, it's Kara. Can you hear me?” (I could hear the hum of the car and kids talking loudly in the background)

“Hey there!”

“What are you doing?”

“Just making dinner. What are you doing?”

“We're being evacuated, and we're coming to your house. I hope that's ok!”

“Yeah...of course! We'll get the rooms ready. Hurry up!”

It was “Tippetts’ Charge”—a full week of stress, laughter, lots of sadness, hanging on to news, the chaos that seven kids and an evacuation brings, and getting to know each other amidst it all cemented it. We were hooked, and all in. We called them our “family crush”.

It wasn't but a couple of weeks later, that Kara discovered the lump. My husband PJ and I were walking to our Sunday community where we always passed Kara in the sunshine coming from the community that would become Westside Church. She couldn't contain her tears when we met up. “I have cancer,” she told us through shaking words. We were in shock hearing them. They didn't seem real. I don't think they ever can when you hear them from someone you love. She hadn't had the official diagnosis, but she just knew. A little later, we went to Jason and Kara’s for a bit to sit and support. Pray. Be. That was a hard day. It would be the first day of this crash course called “Community in Suffering” that God had on the agenda for our family and friends’. I’m not sure we would have signed up for it on our own had we seen the syllabus. But they had us, those Tippetts. They had very quickly become family.