The Keeper

Posted on Jun 10 2014 - 6:39pm by Kara Tippetts

I am the keeper of the smells, the sweet salty bedtime smells. I have an internal record of fears that need to be gently shepherded and braved. I collect the memories of the small moments and the victories. I know the edges of the relationships that need prayer and kindness. I move through moments collecting, keeping, naming treasuring moments. Not simply the happy moments, but the broken moments. I keep them, and in the quiet just before sleep I retell them.



I have told the story of each of your coming into this place over and over. The breaking open of my body and the entrance of grace through the pain of the coming. I add twists and memories that surface if for only a moment to be savored.

I know the flavors of your childhood, and the sacred moments shared around the table. I am the keeper of those treasures. They are hidden in the ordinary cavern that is my heart. I take out these treasures and wonder over the goodness of each moment. Ella- who never left her bed without permission. Harper who found speech at an impossibly young age. Lake who needed to fall asleep on my back- he felt he had me pinned and I would never leave. Many nights I didn’t. Story, the shadow of my going. My companion. The one I don’t remember not having with me- even though she came last. Wasn’t she always there? It seems like she was.



I keep it all- and I fear, how I fear those treasures being forgotten, because they are mine alone. I know the exact shape of each earlobe. I know the ones that struggle to big potty, and when it’s time to add more apple juice to our diet. I’m a keeper of the big and small places in our stories. I know what it means when you bite your nails. I know what if means when sleep won’t find it’s way to you. I know. It’s my privilege to know.


My prayer is that these memory treasures would surface over the lifetime of your going. Perhaps, you will remember me when you are chopping a pepper or sitting by a fire. Maybe a song will remind you of a time you sat near to me and were captured in my embrace before you scuttled off to play. Sweet Jesus, won’t you let those moments surface.


The news today was bleak. We left without words. Nothing pointed to us of hope in that place. I shattered in the car. I called my sister and shattered her going. I sent desperate texts. Everything felt broken and undone.

As I quieted in the bath, I grieved and enjoyed the roll of keeper I have been entrusted to be as a mama- like all you precious mamas out there. We are the keepers of the memories. We are the ones to treasure the speech impediments, we are the ones to know the victory of a difficult math concept captured, mundane victories- victories celebrated and kept by mamas. You know when it’s time to pull out the ice cream and bypass the broccoli. You simply know.


I grieve that my story may be taking me from that roll. And I struggle that my babies won’t know what a gift the collecting of those treasures has been. So I come to this place. I write, and I write, and I write. Because those small moments were celebrated by this mama, and they matter. They are important.

I’m sad I may not be here to collect the precious small graces lived next to the lives of my loves…… But I’m sad that they won’t have the sleepy time reminders next to my warmth that say- you are a child treasured. And in my treasuring of their hearts, I’m demonstrating to them the best of Jesus and HIs unconditional love.


Each appointment that shortens my days, well, it causes me to want to desperately share how very important these small moments are in the lives of our children.

You there- do you know how your job as the keeper is so important? Do you know? Do you know what a gift you have been given in your ordinary, boring going? It matters. It may not be sexy or what you imagined, but it matters.

I trust that my days are properly numbered. I have asked a friend that I would give myself a time to weep over this bad news, and then I would go and capture what life I have left. That I would give away all this love that pours into my life. That when I come to the end- I will have embraced all the grace, given away all the love, and given away to my children and Jason what I have kept all these years. That the small treasures would be taken out and placed on display to allow my children to know what cherished children they are.


My babies saw me come home streaked with tears today. They quieted as they listened to the hard in my story. Their faces saddened and quieted, but we all promised to enjoy now. Harper was the first to find laughter. Ella quietly tried to avoid the pain, and Story crawled into my lap, and Lake joined his daddy to clean the car. We all have our roles to play in this story. I’m the keeper. But I’m not going to keep it to myself any longer.


I never want to stop being the keeper of the moments. But if I’m asked to give up my role- I won’t do it without sharing all that I have treasured, kept, enjoyed. It’s not mine to keep.

Oh you dear keepers out there- you matter. Tell me the treasures you keep.


Hardest Peace Book

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33 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Becky June 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    Oh Kara, I don’t pretend to understand the why, but I trust that God allows this and in some way He will be glorified. Thank you for telling your story and sharing snippets of you. I strive to be a better mama because of you. I think I may go hyperventilate now from bawling my eyes out. I guess I needed a good cry. :)

  2. Mary Beth June 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    I am at a loss as to what to say. I have prayed and cried as you have told of your life. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I know that you have love all around you. Perhaps, tomorrow you will dance.

  3. Eleven June 10, 2014 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    My heart is so sad. There’s much I don’t understand; so many whys. I totally get the keeper role as mom, but I have failed at writing them down for my kids. Thank you for the challenge. And thank you for sharing the hard, your heart, and your faith. Praying the days are numbered more than they think. I hope tomorrow does find you dancing, too.

  4. Amie June 10, 2014 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Oh, Kara. You are such a good keeper– because especially with your gift of words, your littles will be able to treasure how you see them, how you treasure them, how you trust them to the Lord. Words have a timeless power. I love reading your blogs, even when they leave me undone in a pile of tears. I am crying with you tonight at the hard in your story. My response to your text was @*#*#@@##! But I know that God has purpose and redemption in this that I won’t pretend to understand.
    Your post reminded me of a conversation I have with single girlfriends sometimes as we get older, lose our parents, become caretakers of them, reverse roles in a way. Because they are here, but they are not keepers anymore because they can’t keep up or can’t function. We have lamented at times that sometimes a spouse becomes a keeper, too, someone to know our stories and walk through life with. Yet even they don’t know the full story that our beloved moms and dads have. Yet, even in the pain of all of this, I and we sometimes are able to catch a glimpse of the Keeper–that even if we feel alone and bereft and unknown, we have someone that truly knows every second of our story, private and public and more than our parents knew. And I know I find comfort in that. I pray that dear Ella, Harper, Lake and Story will find that comfort in just the exact moment they need it, after you turn that keeper role over.
    Love you, Kara!

  5. Vanessa June 11, 2014 at 12:45 am - Reply

    My daughters scream, the scream that opened her airway and saved her life, when due to her auto immune disease her body shut down and swelled beyond recognition and her precious 2 year old skin split due to the pressure. How I love that scream… even when it comes out now as a 4 year olds tantrum. I praise the Lord every time I discipline her for her temper. It is a gift He used to save her life. And my son… the memory of his kind and loving smile along with his constant singing of worship music, every time he has been wheeled in for surgery and undergone tests and brain scans. Thank you loving Father for your grace and never ceasing comfort and thank you Kara for pushing and reminding me of the privilege I carry with these treasures I hold. That I will speak them to my babies so they will always know that there is treasure to be found in the midst of hard. Prayers of love for you sweet friend

  6. Donna June 11, 2014 at 1:13 am - Reply

    My heart is grieving for you and Jason and for your beautiful children. My prayer has always been that you would heal completely and yet they are telling you differently and only God knows why. Do you know how many lives you have healed in the midst of your hard? Lives that were riddled with pain from broken relationships, self-centered parenting, distance from Jesus while living mundanely, lack of enjoyment of simple moments due to going, going, going and this list can go on because you have written on so many topics that matter to life, matter to one’s heart and mind and you have healed so many of us though your love for us but especially from your love for Jesus. I won’t stop praying to our mighty God who can heal you and i will pray fervently for you, Jason, Ella, Harper, Lake and Story to live and love and remember every moment spent together. Big hugs and much love always, Donna

  7. Erica June 11, 2014 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Kara oh how you’ve changed my life. I’m a better momma because of you… it’s all your fault really! I had so many visions of who I wanted to be as a mom how I wanted to get the job done with perfection, pride and happiness. Yet somehow I just couldn’t get there. I couldn’t find a way to be the momma I longed for my babies to have. I’m not there yet but with your words your shared hard I’m embracing the messy and the mundane to truly be in this moment. A moment I’m so eternally thankful for! I’m learning my quest to be the perfect mom is getting in my way. After meeting you through your blog and learning what’s in your heart I’m confident that your babies can’t help but know how treasured they are… how special their moments are to you and Jason. Their moments are also treasured by friends from a far (like me) who have been touched by the way you so generously share their stories. I thank you and God for sending me your way! With constant prayers!

  8. jenny w June 11, 2014 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Your words undo me Kara. Far to often I have not treasured my role as Keeper. I let too many things get in the way… far too many unimportant things. Thank you for sharing your heart so freely and being willing to use your heartbreak as a gut-check for the rest of us who take so much for granted.

    I am praying for you this morning as you endure these tests that are SO difficult on so many different levels.

  9. Allie W. June 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    Sweet Kara, I don’t have words. But I’ve spilled many tears tonight reading this. Thank you for always looking to Jesus the way you do in the midst of hard.

  10. Debbie June 11, 2014 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    What a treasure you are to me Kara – a blessing sent by God. I am walking in your shoes. Scans today – the unknown waiting for me in the reports that will come. I have fought the battle for 15 years now and my prayers for myself as well as you sweet Kara are for a miracle. I have prayed that if that is not on the paths that we walk that we will “do it well” on our journey to our heavenly home. I do not have the gift of writing that you do, but you speak the words in my heart. I have many friends who are now reading your blog because I have shared bits and pieces of your writing over the past few months to express exactly how I feel. You put the fears, hopes, sadness, my need of Jesus into words with your gift that I am unable to collect on my own. You strengthen me to gather in as much as I can from each and every day – trusting that God is right there with me. Others ask me how do I deal with facing the fact that I have a terminal disease. My response is that when I’m in the hard, hard places I repeat to myself the things that I know, that I know, that I know. I am a daughter of the one true King. He loves me more than I can comprehend. He promises to work everything out for my eternal good. I trust that He is always with me – especially in my hard because His word says it is true. You are an amazing woman with tremendous faith. You radiate God’s light in your beautiful smile. Thank you for showing me how to walk this path and for giving me a precious example of how to do it well. Thank you for sharing your heart and for writing the words that are helping me to communicate my feelings to those that I love. Your children, husband, family, friends, and those who read your precious words will never forget you Kara. You have touched our hearts in ways we will always remember.

  11. Jessica June 11, 2014 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    i keep the sweet mispronunciations of my girls from when they were toddlers finding their voices. the inevitable messes. the hugs, the first sung songs, the softness of their cheeks. i keep the love of my amazing mother, and the wisdom-filled lectures from my father. i keep the love of my chosen soul mate very, very close to my heart and marvel in all that god has given us. i keep the stories of people like you – read and filed away in my brain for the hard times that will come – as they come for us all. i am so grateful for it all – the beautiful mess of life and the boundless, universal, divinely-given love that connects us all and gives it all meaning.

  12. Gert June 11, 2014 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you for encouraging us even while you walk through such a valley! You are such a blessing to me though I am so desperately sorry that in part it is pain which brings out such beauty in you.
    Some treasures that I am storing up in my mama-heart are my son’s eager helpfulness when his leukemia makes him miserable but wants so much to encourage me when he sees the toll it takes on me, my youngest son joyfully creeping into bed with me when he wakes up before I do, and my daughter’s joy when I take the time to talk in her room at bedtime and she can share with me her joys and struggles. Special times that make all the parenting mountains well worth it.

  13. Beckie P. Potterfield June 12, 2014 at 4:56 am - Reply

    “I never want to stop being the keeper of the moments. But if I’m asked to give up my role- I won’t do it without sharing all that I have treasured, kept, enjoyed. It’s not mine to keep.”

    Kara, like everyone else here I thank you for sharing the hard. I thank you for sharing all that you have treasured, kept, enjoyed. I thank you for reminding me that sharing is. It “is”. That is active. You are active in the hard. I want to follow your example of sharing. I want to stop keeping to myself what I have treasured, kept, enjoyed. This morning I am reminded of morning smiles from two boys who woke up full of energy 20 something years ago, of first days of school with excitement, of moving mattresses into the den for a camp out when my husband was away on a business trip, of a trip to the ER for stitches because running fast was the way to travel, …. Thank you for helping me to remember this morning and to begin writing it down.

  14. Joni H June 12, 2014 at 6:38 am - Reply

    As always, I thank you for sharing, Kara! I not a mom and will never be, but I understand what you’re sharing. Much love and prayers for many more treasures for you keep.

  15. Natalie June 12, 2014 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Thank you for this post, and all of your posts about being a mama. God is using them to gently guide me as a mom, a mom with freedom and confidence and reckless love. I long to love big and keep the moments as you do. Reading of how you love and share your love is such a blessing.

    Thank you for continuing to share with us for as many of the days you are given. You are treasured.

  16. Amanda Jones June 12, 2014 at 7:43 am - Reply

    I feel like I’m always thanking you for reminding me with your posts…reminding me to treasure these days, to not wish them away, to embrace my role as keeper to my family. Tears for all you’re enduring, Kara. How I wish I could show up at your doorstep with a mess of flowers and a hug. You are dear, and your precious family is blessed to have you as their keeper. <3 from Michigan

  17. Sherry Costain June 12, 2014 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Oh Kara, you are SUCH an amazing woman! Your kids will “keep” that FOREVER! I am the keeper of every memory of my mother – big and small! I even have her heating pad, when I turn it on I can smell her :). I try very hard to be that mom to my girls! And I know your girls will do the same and Lake will look for that woman in his wife! God Bless all of you! Lots of Love! Sherry

  18. jeanne June 12, 2014 at 8:19 am - Reply

    On the last day of preschool, I gave the moms (almost 200) your blog titled Distant Hearted Living. It is beautiful.
    Now I want to give them this one too!!! You are changing moms. Your writing is exquisite and you have a way of sharing the beauty and purity of the gospel and giving us ways to incarnate that into our lives. Write, write, write….
    Tears, prayers, admiration,

  19. Kay June 12, 2014 at 10:46 am - Reply

    I’m praying for you and your family.

  20. Tracy June 12, 2014 at 10:54 am - Reply

    I have followed your story and thought about replying many times. One of my closest girlfriends is losing her life to a brain tumor little by little each day. Shelly was always a friend of mine but as I have visited her through these past months, we have become sisters.
    We each have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls.
    We each have a love for living with organized chaos that is 4 children.
    We each have a undying love for Target and the way that a mom can lose herself in that store and get everything on the list and then something for herself. Even if it’s a candy bar, we treated ourselves!
    We each have an undying love for our children, the struggles that one has, the triumphs that another has, the dreams that another has, and the emotions that another has. All of that might be the same child in the same day.
    The thing we don’t share, is a love from a husband. I am blessed beyond words to also have a Jason, to have a man in my life where my memory will live on, he will struggle to make the meal taste the same, to make sure the dresses match, and to cheer as loud as I do at a football game. He knows to celebrate the good grades and worry over the less than good grades and to know the difference between trying hard and hardly trying. The head tilt always gives it away! :)
    He will keep the Christmas Eve family only movie tradition alive.
    He will buy them new Nike shoes when they need them and blink hard at the price, but whisper to himself “She would have bought them and told me they were a really good deal.”
    He will make sure that my birthday is celebrated and that Mothers Day will be a day to check in and see how they are doing.

    I know Shelly grieves that her painful divorce 5 years ago from a man who never loved her as much as she loved him, leaves her children leaning on family and not a father who will share in their upcoming important moments.

    As I watch Shelly leave this earth so slowly, and watch her level of ability to participate in conversation fade, I try not to speak for her. I try to just be in that moment with her and be mom to mom, and woman to woman. I am sorry that those special moments will be missed by you, that your gorgeous family will have to see you in the clouds and the sun and the smiles and the shared kept moments.

    My sincere thank you to you, for calling it out once again to me that being a keeper of the moments is a gift that I will treasure and love forever to the end of my days, be they early or later, those moments will lift my heart to the sun.

  21. Susan Gossner June 12, 2014 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Once again the tears and prayers are falling all over and out. I’m not good with words, but please know you and your family are in my heart. You are such a wonderful woman, friend, wife, and mother. Your struggle has given me new ways to reach towards my family, to love bigger, love more intentionally, look for grace, and draw towards the hard. Yes, I too am a Keeper. So many little things tucked away. Places I go that bring back long ago memories of my long flown away mama. Thank you Kara for being so vulnerable.

  22. Tammy June 12, 2014 at 11:51 am - Reply

    I love you, Kara. Thank you for continuing to be a teacher to me – even in the hard times. xoxo

  23. Kelly June 12, 2014 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I continue to pray for you and your five loves.

  24. Anita June 12, 2014 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    I am a keeper of three and a half beautiful years with our firstborn beautiful daughter. She never spoke a word that anyone could understand, but she and I, we had our own language. You have written so well….a keeper of memories and hearts. My daughter is waiting for me in Heaven. I hang onto each of those memories like a lifeline, until the keeper of our hearts reunites us. We will worship Him in fullness…when we get there and see what He has done! God give you grace and strength for the happy and sad of each moment!

    • Kara Tippetts June 12, 2014 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Anita, thank you so much for sharing this with me. What a beautiful keeper you are Anita. Beautiful. Oh- just think of that beautiful reunion.

  25. Brenda June 12, 2014 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Oh Kara I am newer to your blog. I haven’t ever commented but I quietly read and pray and weep with you. This idea of the Keeper is so beautiful and so true of mommas! I’m a grandma as well and I find myself keeping even more treasures with my grandbabies then I did as a busy Momma. your family is true ly blessed to call you Momma and Honey. What treasures you are making for them and for us all… Hugs and prayers ..sharing tears with you.

  26. Julie knox June 12, 2014 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Kara ….you are such an encouragement in the midst of your “hard” and grief. Thank you, Jesus, for you, your life and your huge desire to live for Him. We are all human and struggle . Andbwe certainly have to live and trust in Gods grace to live with these moments that take our breath away….I know because I have cancer as well. I thank God for your words, your spiritual mentoring, and for you being so so honest. I will pray for you, Jason and the children. Life hurts so much…. But , god promises, he promises to uphold us especially in our weakness…. he will comfort !!

  27. Sande June 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    Kara, I don’t even have the words. I do know that you have changed my life forever. In my hard places of parenting, I hear your grace words. In my daily struggles of the mundane, I see your face in the great pursuit of love! My mom fought a 10 year battle of bc and when I was 18, we set her free to dance with Jesus. I still had a very young little brother. My pretty momma often said how she regretted not writing the millions of thoughts she wanted to share with her 6 kids. I only have a couple hand written notes, but can still 26 years later, hear her heart. Your writings and your words of faith, are an amazing gift and legacy that will carry with your husband and children for generations even yet to come! I am still praying for Gods grace and miraculous healing upon you. Daily, sometimes hourly!

  28. Hannah June 12, 2014 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    I keep the smells of their hair, the love languages of their hearts; the one who needs reassurance with a hug or a stroke of her cheek, the one who needs gentle words of praise, and the one who will beam over a treat from the store. I keep their giggles and their cries; their hurt cries, their scared cries, and their deeply sadly wounded cries. I cherish each new sense of them I experience each day, and I savor them a little longer, to make sure I never forget. Within these living treasures I keep, I also hold onto the lingering of my youngest girl’s fingers, her baby shampoo, her snorting little cry, her eyes which spilled her heart even though she couldn’t tell me. I snuggle the soft fluff of her blanket and remember the weight of her on my chest, hoping, praying that my children are also keeping treasured their own sweet rememberings for the day when we are apart. That veil became ever so thin when I had to say goodbye, and I dream of the new memories there I will keep and never have to forget.

    You are a precious mom to your littles, and they will never forget all the important things about you. They will remember your smile, your smell, your grace, and your strength. They will remember the woman who practiced what she preached, and the feeling of always having her love. You will never be forgotten by them or any of the rest of us. We all are keeping pieces of your story, until someday, we won’t have to be keepers, we will all rejoice in our own keeping, by the Greatest Keeper.

    Love you dear Kara. We continue to pray for you and your family.

  29. Eleanor Harmon June 13, 2014 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    How Beautiful! Your your life’s message is a beautiful, poignant, and God breathed reminder for all of us to live life as if we have so little time, because in truth, we do not know the reality of our fragile brevity! Thank you for this, your words are a blessing. I will be praying that everything verbal, physical, and spiritual will be expressed to those you love in the fullest, richest and non forgettable ways that only Jesus can do through you! God Bless you! Please speak to my dear sister Esther when you meet her on the other side. She was 35.

  30. Mairi June 17, 2014 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your impossibly hard journey with us. Your relationship with The Lord and how it intertwines with everything in your life is how I long to be. I am praying for you each step of the way, and praying that The Lord would bless you for having the courage to share so graciously, honestly and eloquently. You have given us all a gift, and your precious children will be gifted through it too. Prayers for Jason and the whole family.
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12 v 9 xx

  31. Jacquey Riser June 19, 2014 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    I, like Jane Neal, have been a coward about searching out your condition.
    If you do leave this life before your children and husband, you leave a rare and unspeakably precious treasure in your written words. Thank you for cautioning us regarding superficial living of our days with the ones that we are privileged to share our space with……..sincerely, thank you.

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