Kara Tippetts was not famous. She didn’t need to be. Her life shined brighter than any Hollywood star during her journey on earth through her blogs, books and videos. She parted this world from terminal breast cancer as a faithful wife and mother, a devout believer, and as an inspiration to all who have experienced a life-changing diagnosis.
Kara was a successful blogger of Mundane Faithfulness. She faced her cancer with valor so others would find strength during their own pain, and people from all over the world responded. The viral parenting blogger also found a new support system as well. Powerful influencers joined Kara’s team. The host of HGTV`s Fixer Upper, Joanna Gaines, Joni Eareckson Tada, the founder of Joni and Friends, famed author Ann Voskamp of The Greatest Gift, and many more were drawn to Kara’s light. As Joanna Gaines says: “The impact of her life was huge. I’m was blessed to know her.”
Kara also penned the book, The Hardest Peace, published in 2014. She shares how we can move way from fear, and toward peace even during suffering. At the time of its release, Kara was fighting stage-four cancer.
Her story is not over. Thanks to filmmakers, Jay and Sofia Lyons who became friends with the family, and wanted people to learn from Kara’s shining example about dying with grace.
The couple accomplished this in the inspirational documentary, THE LONG GOODBYE: The Kara Tippetts Story, airing on Netflix this summer after its initial March 22nd release.
While many of us are afraid of funerals and death itself. The Kara Tippets’ story may change your perspective through Christ.
Sonoma Christian Home interviewed filmmakers Jay and Sofia Lyons about their friendship with Kara Tippetts and her love for Christ during her final fight with terminal breast cancer. Her story will not only inspire you but will encourage you during times of pain. SCH Contributor Corine Gatti-Santillo reports.
Clinging to God’s Grace While Dying
SCH: Why and how did you get involved with Kara Tippetts?
Jay Lyons: I met Kara through a mutual friend on Facebook, believe it or not. I had always been drawn to end of life type situations and felt like with my reality TV background that this type of story could be beautiful and inspiring, even in the midst of suffering and hardship. So, when a high school friend of mine posted “pray for my Pastor’s wife, she is not doing well,” I reached out and was introduced to Kara.
SCH: Has the film made you stronger as a Christian?
Sofia Lyons: Most definitely. I’ve always been afraid of death and had terrible experiences with funerals growing up in New York City. There was wailing, screaming, anger, and most of all I felt terror. I did not grow up in a Christian home so in my extended family death was “the end-period.” Kara’s perspective helped change all that for me. She truly lived out what we Christians believe, even facing life’s ultimate challenge-death. It’s not fun to think about, but for people like me, it helped me overcome my fear of death. And through Kara’s dying, she helps me live.
SCH: What is the biggest misconceptions people have about death?
JL: That it’s the end. I think our society is so focused on the here and now, what is currently happening in the cat video we are watching, or how many likes a post got on social media, or what movies coming out or which team won the big game, etc. Not saying those things are bad, but as a Christian-I believe in eternal life, and I think every person if they look deep inside, can feel that they were made with an eternal soul. That is why death doesn’t make sense to us from our bodily perspective. So no, we won’t die!! But only our souls live forever, not our bodies. Kara with her husband Jason. Photo courtesy of the Kara Tippetts blog Mundane Faithfulness
Loving God and Loving Others
SCH: What can people learn from Kara’s life?
SL: Kara, in her dying, taught me how to live. You hear “live for the moment” all the time- but what does that truly mean? For me, it means cherishing every day and seeing the positive in life-focusing on what truly matters, loving God and loving others. I can’t do that if I’m consumed with comparing my house or clothes to others, caught up in my physical ailments, or wondering why my life isn’t what I thought it should be. My story is what it is- and yes, I can change it or work on making things better, but it truly is about the “journey”, not the destination, and that is hard for me. Kara helped me see that time truly is precious.
SCH: Why has this film resonated so much since its DVD release?
SL: It’s pretty unbelievable the amount of people that can relate to this story on some level. It’s not just a film about suffering and dying- it’s about hope for the living! And so many, many people have been affected by cancer, suffering, and dying-whether it’s their own struggle or a close friend or relative. I would probably say 75 percent of adults can relate to this documentary on a first-hand basis.
The Biggest Challenge For Christians
SCH: How are you using your light and what is the biggest challenge for Christians in Hollywood?
JL: My biggest challenge is fear. I’ve worked for almost all of the major networks on shows-some of them very well-known. I’ve met some wonderful people and have had mostly good experiences in my TV/Film/Music career. But honestly, I feel like the more I’m open and vocal I am about my faith, the more it opens me up for persecution.
Being a Christ-follower is never going to be popular, and it’s always going to be counter-culture, and that’s to be expected. I don’t want to live in fear of what may or may not happen if I’m more open/vocal about my faith, because ultimately, I put my trust in Christ, not in a company or worldly opinions of me. But that’s easy to say but much harder to actually live.
SCH: Can you share a Scripture that has encouraged you through this project?
SL: Philippians 4:6-7. (Notice how it says “every” situation. That includes suffering and end of life issues as well.)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
She writes: “I want to be able to share this story – that suffering is not a mistake, and it isn’t the absence of God’s goodness, because He is present in pain.” Kara Tippetts encourages millions of readers not to fear death, but to embrace the One who will welcome us back home.
Go to The Kara Tippetts Foundation and watch the heartwarming film, The Long Goodbye: The Kara Tippets Story. In association with Freely, LLC, THE LONG GOODBYE: The Kara Tippetts Story was created by Jay Lyons Productions, and is distributed through Ocean Avenue Entertainment.