The Mixed Bag

Posted on Jun 12 2014 - 11:21am by Kara Tippetts

Each day presents us all with a mixed bag to carry, to face, to let go of, and to deal with. We all struggle with our bags. Jesus says a lot about letting him carry it for us, but we all stink at that, don’t we? We may pretend to hand it over, but do we really? My bag is my own idea of how I want each moment to be lived- then these horrible life stealing events happen and mess up my plans.

Yesterday- oh yesterday, I barely remember you. You were horrible. Horrible. The day before left us so shattered, we had little hope that yesterday would have anything good to offer. Jason and I woke before the sun and took the medicine to quiet my fears and help me through the snort where I’m used to being sedated in. They had no one to sedate me on such short notice. So we attempted it ourselves (with the advice from a doctor- naturally). But I was sent into a fog. Morning scan, afternoon scan, and a dizzying exit from the machine caused such a struggle and finally vomit and weep in frustration.

Then I slept, and slept, and slept the entire day away. The kids were in their happy place with friends, and I slept. Jason slept. Then we went, heads bowed to the doctor. He came to us smiling. I wanted to hit him. Until he said cancer was not in my spine. Then I wanted to kiss him. He did say the lymph nodes are large and pushing upon my spine causing my pain. He also said from his first glance my brain looks clear, that the old place on my brain has not grown.

Jason and I are on this journey exhausted. I’m sure a toast was in order, but our frayed nerves couldn’t manage it. So we simply napped. Our kind neighbor brought dinner, Jason grabbed the kids, my beautiful friend came and gave me a massage, and then we all fell in the bed and watched Man vs. Wild. The kids all snuggled close and held my hand. Their faces were awash with relief. They pressed in close, and I fell asleep again holding the hands of my children. I was certain I could not sleep through the night after having slept the entire day, but I did. My weary body needing the rest.

I woke this morning to the sweet presence of my sleeping guy beside me. He stirred and we looked at each other. We want so much to celebrate this victory, but all we see in each others faces is the struggle of the journey. My birthday, July 14, will mark the second year that we have been on this journey. We long for  many more years in this battle, but these moments, these harrowing moments wear us out.

This morning brought warm coffee, a visit from friends bearing flowers and pool passes. We have slowly started this day in pajamas and snuggles. We are trying to catch our breath and slowly receive this great news. It is a huge victory to not have cancer in my bones- specifically my spine. HUGE. There was talk of loosing use of my legs, needing to spot weld my back, terrible awful things you pretend you don’t hear your doctor say. But he did say it, and Jason and I were sent to a place we simply could not speak.

In all this,  I woke this morning to a kind message from a reader asking to be taken off my email feed. She didn’t want to tell me, but she is at the end of her journey with cancer. She was loving her husband by emptying her email so her husband doesn’t have too many details to attend to in her passing. Oh, how my heart breaks for this dear woman. It simply breaks.

So- I put on my lace up shoes, I move into the next thing. I encourage my children to read books, and all day I think of this reader and pray. I pray through our own next steps and her last moments. My radiologist wants to use radiation to shrink my lymph nodes and my oncologist wants stronger chemo. Decisions- forever decisions. This life is hard, but it’s also filled with moments- sweet moments that help us face the hard moments. And woven through it all- grace. Jesus, sweetly beckoning us toward himself in it all. He’s enough, he will always be enough.

Where are you today? Where is your story hard to stomach? Where does it feel too cloudy to see Jesus? Who can remind you of grace today? Put on your lace up shoes, move-even when you don’t feel like moving. Capture the best of today- even if you only want to stay in bed and stop. There is love- it’s there- go capture it.

I love you dearest reader! Thank you for your sweet support and endless prayers yesterday. We were carried, absolutely carried through the worst of it. Thank you. Thank you is not enough, but it’s what I have to offer. You cannot know how I love you.



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

  1. Maria June 12, 2014 at 11:43 am - Reply

    You are most welcome. It is my privilege.

  2. Jane June 12, 2014 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Sometimes I want to stop reading your story…my pain for you is too great. You speak so eloquently to my heart that I am not able to shut you out. I love you and I do not know you. I will continue to be here…listening, praying, crying and rejoicing… But it is hard. I know you will understand what my heart is saying.

    • Deborah Leazer June 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      You my dear put into words what my heart has felt every time I read her post. Prayers and God’s love to all.

  3. Lesley June 12, 2014 at 11:53 am - Reply

    ……speechless……and very happy for some news that will lift your hearts……praying always for you and yours.

  4. Jennifer Wigginton June 12, 2014 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    This is such an answer to prayer…my prayer that you would be provided with some light moments and some relief from some of your stress. Praise you, Jesus! You are in the prayers of so many who love you…

  5. Mary Ann June 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    Praise God for your news. Praying for you everyday and completely touched by your words.

  6. ISABELA June 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Praising and thanking God with you for the “mixed bag”:
    for the very good parts and for grace and strength for the hard parts. We will continue to pray for our Father to guide the doctors and you in the difficult decisions to come. Enjoy today with your loved ones.
    Praise GOd from Whom all blessings flow !

  7. nancy greve-shannon June 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Kara–for making time to write…it is a privilege to read your words and get an update….last night I slept by my Erin because she had two teeth pulled yesterday and just wasn’t comfy with that new gap in her mouth (but they had to make room for the big tooth trying to come in…those baby teeth were not ready to move…so she had 2 rows of teeth–like a shark with sweet brown eyes and freckles…). Anyway, I thought of you as we fell asleep and I told Erin about a mama in Colorado with 4 beautiful kids–3 girls and 1 boy–like us…Erin loved learning of your family…and this morning she asked if we could drive for a play date with you all–then she remembered how far away CO is from WI–so I told her I’d show her some photos and that pleased her. You are loved near and far…thanks again for the updates and the sharing of your life–so filled with grace and goodness.

  8. Eleven June 12, 2014 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Any good news is welcome to Eleven’s ears. No new cancer is good news. You still in the fight is good news. Your sweet (and sometimes mischievous) smile is good news. Your blog, although painful to read sometimes, is good news, because if we truly want to draw closer to the Lord and allow Him to work in our lives, we ask the deep questions, we cry, we pray, we process the madness of living in a fallen world. Thankfully the ugliness in the journey can be bathed in rich grace and unending love. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Sarah June 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    though our circumstances are quite different in regards to what is causing the hard in our lives, your post today has encouraged me. thank you. just a little bit ago I tried to “carry my own bag” and I’m pretty sure it didn’t help the situation at all. ugh! thank you for the reminder that Jesus wants to carry it and its ok to let him. and that its ok to keep moving because His grace is there. amen.

  10. Marcia June 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    I am listening, reading, praying for you, Kara! This may seem selfish, but I’d like to share my own “hard, a persistent, severe depression and loneliness that does not seem to go away. I’ve gone the antidepressant drug route for 45 years, trying one med after another. Nothing has helped, so I’ve given up the search in that direction. Waking up each morning with nothing to look forward to, and God’s promises difficult to grasp…Unlike with you, I only have a couple of friends, whom I don’t see very often, and I have no family. People seem to not want to be around someone who doesn’t seem to get fixed easily….So, I share this “hard” with very few people.. and hardly ever at church…If I do, I usually experience rejection… Feeling so utterly alone…even WITH Jesus!

    • Lynn June 12, 2014 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      Marcia, I will pray for you! Do not give up, you are not alone! depression is terrible and robs of joy and hope. There is hope. I pray you find relationships that can help bring some happiness and peace to you.

      • Marcia June 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm - Reply

        Thank you so much, Lynn. You blessed me today!!

  11. Stephanie June 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Ur so awesome! Praising God in this storm we call life and praising Him for blessing me with u who helps me put on my laced up shoes and face every day in my own journey and knowing that God loves me and is there! Love u dear friend!

    • Margaret E.Jones June 13, 2014 at 11:14 pm - Reply

      Rejoicing with you for the good news you received. I need to clarify–when you talk about “snorts” are you talking about MRIs? Why “snort”?

  12. J June 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    You are the brightest light shining for so many to really see the meaning of grace, the meaning of the cross, the reason Jesus came for us. Oh that Christianity would look like this to everyone…

  13. Lynn June 12, 2014 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing with us during the good and bad. There are so many who love you and whose hearts break for you. You teach us all so much.

  14. Andrew Ramsbottom June 12, 2014 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Dearest Kara, Jason and precious Tippetts children

    My flight is delayed and am frustrated. Then I sit to read and I read your post and my heart breaks. My hearts breaks for you all. BUT my heart breaks also because my day is nothing when I think of your past few days. I don’t give thanks enough for the small things and the big things. I hear God’s voice and choose to ignore it! God has spoken loudly through your post. He says, “Listen to Me, hear what I say, take action and do.”

    Your posts challenge and motivate me to be more like Christ each moment of everyday not just the days when I feel good.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers often.
    Your in His service

  15. Bonnie June 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    Our God is carrying you. You’re not heavy.
    I’ve never heard a story told like yours in quite the way you’re telling it. So honest and raw. Oh, if we could all be like that–if I could be like that. God bless you for being so candid. You will never know how much it has affected those of us who are following your story.

    I’m praising God today for the relief you got to feel at the doctor’s. For your doctor’s smile that brought the good news. For your long sleep. For a husband who walks it with you like your shadow, and for children who have learned to read you well.

    Keep on keeping on. You bless me, Kara Tippetts!

  16. Amy June 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Kara, I don’t comment often, but I am a faithful reader. I praise God for your good news, and continue in prayer for you and your beautiful family. Sending love your way.

  17. Anita June 12, 2014 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    I am so thankful to God for the good news. You are an inspiration to me . . . . how you are able to take care of each day . . .always looking to Jesus. ((hugs)) from Western NC

  18. Bill Bond June 12, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Kara, we pray for you and your family often, as does our church. Thank you for sharing his awful part of your journey this week. My daughter-in-law’s 26 year old brother with rare cancer knows he will never have children because of his treatment. If God gives him five years it will be a miracle. His mother’s own biopsy is awaited.

    But the fact that God gave you, and us, another day is a miracle as well. His grace is sufficient, and it better be, because each day gives me a chance to surrender. And in so doing miss out on the miracles.

  19. ruth ann June 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Dear Kara, Thank you for sharing your heart. The last two days have been hard for me, too – for very different reasons – but for me – hard. I have cried because I am weary and I don’t know if I can do all that is in front of me. In the midst of my tears – I think of you and wonder if my Heavenly Father has given these uncomfortable days to me to remind me to pray for you. Please know that you are loved and prayed for here in GA. Blessings in Christ.

  20. Claire June 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    You are amazing – in your brokenness, in your weakness, you encourage – you inspire. You inspire others to be real – in their hurt, in their hard – to be real. Women (and men too), but women, for real, need that message – to be vulnerable – to love well and deeply and not fear it. To be a mess and allow others to see it – You not only talk about this – you live it. You inspire so many – We are praying!!

  21. Char June 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    In a celebration of Praise to God with you. Pairing for you and yours strength, wisdom, peace, and grace as you continue your journey. Love you-Big!

  22. Nancy M June 12, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    Beautiful sweet God-glorifying words! You have been gifted with the beauty of putting your thoughts and words into writings that overflow. As difficult as your journey you always graciously turn to Jesus, the One and only One sufficient for it all. Bless you Kara. I wish I knew you personally. I feel I do. I am praying!

  23. Mary June 12, 2014 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    I am grateful for your good news, but I hear your context, and the knowledge you carry that some days the news will not be good. Praying Jesus will always carry you to that next place of peace, peace, peace just as you need it.
    By the way, in those 2 parallel photos at the end of your post… the first is certainly a pretty young woman, but I always find myself drawn to the woman in the second one. Her eyes look like she has a secret well that she draws from. Thank you for sharing her source with us.

  24. Tanya June 12, 2014 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    I was so happy to read that your results came back with good news. I don’t know you personally, but you bare your soul to your readers and I feel for you with each post. I hope you can take some comfort knowing that the cancer isn’t in your spine and continue to move forward. Relish in each minute with your beautiful family.

  25. Brenda June 12, 2014 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I am so thrilled for this news! Praying as you listen and make decisions as you move forward in this fight. You are a true inspiration and I have shared your writings with several people. A young momma in Michigan with breast cancer that has returned and spread to her liver and spots on her brain. So much sadness … She knows Jesus and has a great support system ! God is using your story and thanks for being HIS vessel!
    Loved the picture of your littles all in bed and snuggles all through the night! Love you have friends who wrap you up in love in so many specific ways..
    They are being Jesus’s hands and feet! Prayers prayers I promise not just words!! Sweet Kara. Sleep well love from Ohio

  26. Mary June 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Sharing your joy for the good news. I follow your story and admire your courage so much. I will be praying for you and your family, dear one. He is near you now. Rest in Him.

  27. Carley June 12, 2014 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Praise God!!! So happy to hear good news, Kara! Jesus, thank you for letting Kara see Story Jane turn five and Ella turn 13 and then to receive the news of no new cancer for her own birthday. Happy, happy, happiest of birthdays. My soul is lifted out of the dirt tonight upon reading this news. Celebrate big with your sweet family!


  28. Heather June 12, 2014 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Our little family has had a lot of hard the last several years. We made the decision last August to step away from almost 16 years of vocational ministry after several church wounds. I’ve found your blog and it has pointed me to the goodness of God and hope of Jesus. Your reminders have been timely and helped my myopic eyes over and over. I am so grateful.
    I read the play “Our town” by Thorton Wilder when I was a junior in high school and it stirred me. The themes in the play are themes you wrap the beauty of grace around in your blog. I named my oldest Emily after the main character. My favorite quote from her: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?” You remind us to capture the beauty, every, every minute. You are walking so well and so faithfully and I know you feel so broken doing it – but so many are cheering you on!
    Awhile ago you blogged about read alouds and asked for recommendations. I don’t usually comment – but since I am now and if you are doing that this summer you will have to check out George McDonalds The Princess and the Goblins. I think you would resonate with some wonderful themes in it – there is a part where Irene is guided by an invisible thread from her grandmother and it leads her to a brick wall. She can’t understand why her grandmother would do this and lays down to cry – then after a bit realizes the thread goes through the wall. She understands her grandmother brought her to this hard place where she must get her hands bloodied, but there was a reason on the other side of the wall! I won’t give any more away – but I am sure you and your children would connect with the story.
    Another beautiful one (though you might have read it already) is The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis – it might be too tender to read to your sweet ones – but it might also give them something very precious to hold onto. I read it to my kids while my mom was in hospice and finished it just days before her Great Story that goes on and on forever began. The way it framed it was a great comfort to me.
    Thank you for the gift of your words in the middle of your hard. Praying you would know “you are loved with an everlasting love” and you would feel strongly that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”

  29. Kimberly June 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    Kara, praising God with you and yours. Your words speak eternal truth to my heart. I thank God for your blog and how it stretches me, encourages me, challenges me, makes me laugh, cry, rejoice, pray, give thanks, love my husband more, love my kids more, reminds me to enjoy the everyday and I could go on and on. Thank you Kara for sharing your life and this great news.

  30. Jennifer Hartman June 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    I have silently followed you for over a year now. You don’t know me but you know my great friend Tracey Adkins from Marion, NC. She told me about your blog and how inspirational it was. So I started following, with my best friend and sister going through cancer. Your blog has had its great ups and sad downs, as my sisters journey with cancer has been. She’s a rare case. But she’s got lots to do left in this world. She’s got 2 girls to raise and 3 young step children with no mother. I see you look at this world with so much promise of mothering when the medical field tells you otherwise. I see you find peace and happiness and grace when the world is opposed to all of that. I love you’re stories, your strength, you’re absolute imperfect ness in the sight of God! It’s awe inspiring and makes me long for a more perfect relationship with our Lord and Savior in a world that tells us otherwise. Thank you Kara! May god bless you and keep you all the days of your life!

  31. Renee June 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Praise God for your good news! I’ve been on pins and needles every time I have opened up your blog lately. You have such a way with sharing your thoughts and God’s love with your readers. Praying that you can rejoice in this news!

  32. Barbie June 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    I keep coming back to read your story. I pray for you as I read. I know you do not know me, but your story draws me so much closer to Jesus. I am asking the Father for healing, and I am praying for so many more moments with your precious family.

  33. Abbie June 13, 2014 at 1:16 am - Reply

    Dearest Kara – I have never commented before, I dont feel I have much to offer to such an inspired and inspiring woman. But your news has just filled my heart with JOY. I pray – oh I pray – for you and your precious family and for wisdom and peace in the coming days of decisions. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    So much love being sent from Zimbabwe – Africa xx

  34. Beautiful Light June 13, 2014 at 6:10 am - Reply

    And we, your privileged readers, love you too xx

  35. maggie bruehl June 13, 2014 at 7:15 am - Reply

    I’m a new follower, also dealing with cancer (considered incurable). The Lord has granted me days I never expected. I appreciate your transparency and the number of people it is affecting far beyond your own family.

    Since God has given me a slight reprieve right now, I’m working on a book about living with a disease and would like to use some of your quotes. I don’t know that I will live to see it published, but I feel as if it is part of the purpose of extended days.

    My prayers are with you and your family. Keep up this wonderful gift of writing — Maggie

  36. Robin Troxell June 13, 2014 at 8:17 am - Reply

    Why should thank you not be enough? You asked, we prayed, you were helped, we were blessed to help you. Thank you for letting us do that. And now I will pursue my day with more intention and more kindness in my bones. hugs, robin

  37. Kelly June 13, 2014 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Praises for every victory. Continued prayers for each of you.

  38. Kelly Mayer June 13, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Kara, I am so thankful that the Lord has provided sweet rest in the midst of this heart-hurricane that tears the body as well. I praise God with you for this wonderful news and I will continue to pray for His wisdom in decisions about treatment. One day at a time. One hour at a time! Five seconds at a time . . . He is so faithful. Thanks for sharing with us just how faithful He is. You are Jesus-balm to my weary soul. Praying He will bless you and yours in a special way today . . . Love you!

  39. Deana June 13, 2014 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Powerful stuff Kara. Prayers to your reader that she is met in a place of peace in her final days. Prayers to you dearest Kara that The Lord continues to extend your fight and hopefully a win! Xoxo- Deana

  40. Nikki June 13, 2014 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Dear Kara,
    I read every single post, but don’t comment much. Thank you for always pointing us back to Jesus and being grateful for the grace in each moment and each breath.
    Continual prayers for you, dear one.

  41. Jodi June 13, 2014 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    I found this husband, father, blogger’s story so touching, just like yours. Prayers dor both of you.

  42. Margaret E.Jones June 13, 2014 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Rejoicing with you in your good news.

    Need to clarify, when you say “snorts” do you mean MRIs? Why snorts?

  43. marla June 15, 2014 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    love you back!!!!

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