Kindred Spirits: Cathy’s Story

Pinwheels, Parties and Prayers…

When thinking about writing the story of my friendship with Kara, I left the inspiration to God, trusting that He would gift it when the time was right so that I could express well my feelings about this special girl.

 Sure enough, He was faithful! It happened just after my annual ironing session the other day; as I went to put away the freshly ironed linen napkins that we had used at last Thanksgiving, I encountered this: colorful, vintage pinwheels. A whole bag full of them. Sitting there in the drawer. My breath caught itself short, and I had to sit down. The time to write my Kara story had come. 

I remember meeting my friend Joan, the wife of one of the elders at Village 7 Presbyterian Church, to help set up the house for the Tippetts family when they moved to Colorado Springs. Such fun we had! I delighted over hearing the creative and fanciful names of Kara’s children, and we prayed over Ella, Harper, Lake, and Story Jane as we filled the house with all manner of goodies. Joan had the cupboards and fridge filled to the brim with delicious snacks, coffee, special treats. We set up a small table with candles and welcome cards. Joan even had supplies for a wonderful first night in town for an indoor fire and s’mores.

My husband and I were looking forward to getting to know this family who would be starting a church plant, so we invited Jason, Kara, and the kids over for dinner soon after they arrived. It was a super fun night. As our children played in our giant sand box, we cut right to the chase, diving in deep to wonderful conversation. We spoke of the Bible, parenting, in-laws, real-estate investing, what brought them to a relationship with Jesus, and how moving to the Springs had come about. I will never forget Kara saying that she and Jason had been given the gift of bringing people together. How true this would prove to be in the coming months.

Kara and I also discovered that night that we shared a love for all things vintage.

As an ebayer, I am constantly scouring estate sales for amazing treasures to sell. A week later I was at a five-star estate sale and came across these lovely vintage fabric pinwheels. They were sitting amid all kinds of lovely crafty stuff, and there were two bags of them! I couldn’t resist picking one up for Kara, and of course I had to text her and tell her about the sweetest vintage aprons that were there for sale, ripe for the picking, and cheap. Kara loved a bargain! I gave her the bag of pinwheels and we had fun planning how we would each use them. She wanted to sew them onto a curtain for one of her girl’s bedrooms. I had all kinds of fun ideas too, but my pinwheels were left untouched, tucked away until another day.

Pinwheels are fun and colorful, just like Kara’s personality. Kara and I are both extroverts, perhaps even extreme extroverts, and yet, when I think of the friendship I had with her, I would describe it as quiet and gentle. We did not spend a lot of time together, but texted quite often. I am older than Kara, but we had two kids in the same grades, which created an instant bond. She was sharp, astute, and funny. One of the things I thought remarkable is that she immediately noticed that the kids in our daughter’s 2nd grade were mostly first born, and in our 5th graders’ class, most were last born. It created interesting dynamics among the kids. We shared our hearts openly about our children. Our worries, their victories. With some moms, honesty comes easily, and that’s the way it was with Kara.

Kara also loved art. It tickled her when she found out that my husband is a fine art painter. She taught her kids how to live creatively and with passion, and that resonated deeply with the kind of life we seek to create for our kids. She and my husband, Lindsay, spent time together talking art when the class went to Santa Fe on a field trip. Her love of art would be celebrated in a special way at a later time…

A few short months passed. There was the fire that caused the Tippetts to evacuate. And then her diagnosis came. Surgery. Chemo. Radiation. The hope of a cure. Kara weathered it all with her bright green eyes always hopeful.

“I’m thinking of starting a blog,” she told me one day. I thought it sounded like an awesome idea.

“You have lots to share,” I told her.

“Just something simple. About my journey,” she said as she lovingly looked at the iPad her sister had just gifted her. And so, Mundane Faithfulness was born.

Then devastating news hit my family: The summer of 2013, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and began her own journey of treatment. At the same time it appeared Kara might be in remission. My mom told me one day that she was so happy Kara was getting better because she still had so much life left to live. She said she was glad that it was Kara who was getting the miracle. My sweet mom lost her fight and went home to Jesus on February 1, 2014. Kara was present and loving during my time with my mom in her last days. She encouraged me and prayed for my family.

The miracle of healing we prayed for Kara was not to be. The cancer had metastasized. Years hoped for became more months, more weeks, more days. And, yet, Kara was LIVING through it all! Joyfully! Expectantly. Creatively. How she authored The Hardest Peace while battling cancer was astonishing to those of us who watched the process unfold. Just amazing.

Every book release needs a big celebration party, right? What a joy to come together with Jill and Heather to host a party to celebrate Kara’s achievement. We decided to make it a “favorite things” party for her. It would be a vintage theme. Mason jars, old-fashioned candy and soda, yummy sangria.

Heather booked a bluegrass band. Jill made fun banners. Shelley and Connie jumped in to help too. We had booths for the kids, who wore vintage aprons and made jars of cookie mix and did miniature paintings. We set up an easel to hold a beautiful painting of a vase Lindsay had done where adult guests could add their own creative touch to the canvas with flowers. Kara joked with me that we were both “includers,” and had it been left to us, we would have had 2,000 folks there. But our yard is only so big. We barbecued and had a huge feast. Kara read from her book on the back patio and wept as we listened earnestly to the truth and grace God had given her to share. It will remain a treasured memory for me always.

The painting from the party that everyone had a hand in was one of Kara’s most beloved gifts, and it brought me joy to see it close to her when I would visit her in later months.

I will end my Kara story with this prayer that my 10-year-old daughter Hope wrote when she was heavily grieved for “dear Mrs. Tippetts.” The loss of her Nanny had hit Hope hard, and to learn Mrs. Tippetts might be going to Heaven soon was a large burden for her sweet heart. I asked her if maybe she would like to make a card for Mrs. Tippetts. Her face lit up and she set to doing it. I call this a prayer because it is a prayer only a child’s heart could express. On the front, she wrote boldly, Get Well Soon and Welcome to Heaven! Hope had an intuition that Kara would need to get to Heaven to be completely healed. On the inside, she wrote out John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten son that whoever believes in him, will have eternal life.” She drew a picture of a lion, which in her mind is the bravest of all of God’s creatures. Sweet and simple, but profound.

One of Kara’s last texts to me was to ask if I felt the prayers of my mom from Heaven. I told her I absolutely did, and often heard her sweet voice echo in my heart as I faced a challenging decision, or a hurt feeling, or a victory for one of my kids. It was a joy to assure Kara that her prayers for her children into eternity would never fade.