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A Review of Two Books - The Hardest Peace & Just Show Up

I have a group of women I gather with each week to do Bible study. We’ve been meeting for about five years (can it be that long?) and in that time we’ve shared life with one another.


If you’re going to risk opening up your life to a group of people, sooner or later you’re going to walk through the valleys. Together. We’ve certainly done that. The sudden loss of a husband. The death of parents. Divorces. Numerous illnesses.


Every time, I wonder what to do. How can I let my precious sisters know I’m there for them. I care. I want to help. I really wish I could take the pain away. Don’t we all wish that for our loved ones?


Kara Tippetts had a blog. She wrote two books. In March 2015, this world lost Kara after a long battle with cancer.


If anyone can teach us about how to carry one another’s burdens, it’s her.




In The Hardest Peace, her first book, Kara starts out by telling her story. Regarding her earliest years, she shares these words, 

I am my father’s daughter, raised and bruised by his anger.


Throughout the book, we see how things from her childhood affected her in every stage of life. She became a Christian in her teen years and we start to see all the beautiful things our Redeemer can do in a life submitted to him.

It never discounts the pain. But the redemption of my hard yesterdays gives me a softened heart to walk in my tomorrows.


Kara meets her husband during these formative years of her faith. They marry and start their own family. Her husband serves as a pastor. They move to Colorado to start a new church. Life is moving along as it does for all of us.


Until. Cancer.


Their lives change when Kara is diagnosed with cancer. A diagnosis that she receives multiple times until the doctors realize there is little else they can do for her. Kara has to write about dying. That’s where the hardest peace comes in. How she accepts that God isn’t going to heal her this side of heaven. How she’s going to have to prepare her family for a life without her in it. How to let others help her and her family as they adjust to life with a terminal illness. How to die in such a way that others will see God. Kara always, always points to God. It’s hard but beautiful.

Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace.


Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts


The Hardest Peace, published in 2014, made way quite naturally for Just Show Up, the book Kara co-authored with Jill Lynn Buteyn in 2015. Unfortunately, Kara didn’t live to see this book published but her words teach us still. I’d recommend this book as required reading for anyone who participates in a care ministry at a local church. Really though, it's for all of us.


Written from Kara’s perspective, she writes about how to let others help you when tragedy strikes. In this case, what worked best for their friends and family as they lived with her terminal illness. I cannot imagine having to open up our private lives to so many others because we can’t handle it on our own.

Kara: We have opened wide our stories to people we love in hopes that they would take seriously their call to covenant living with our children after I breathe my last.


From Jill’s perspective, how to “show up.” Even though you’re going to get it wrong (she did) and you’re not going to feel like it’s enough (she didn’t). One of the things I most appreciated were the lists of practical things we might consider doing. 

Jill: If we go and serve not expecting to see them, even telling the family we’re not asking for their time, there is another gift we can give. Drop the meal off, do the laundry, or pick up the kids without expectations.


This book has so much to teach us about how to walk through the hard times together. In my own group of women, I’m thankful for the truths I read here that will help me do a better job with “the ministry of presence.”

Kara: There is so much power in showing up, humble power in saying, "Im here. I may not have the answers, but I’m here."



I received a copy of The Hardest Peace, written by the late Kara Tippetts; and Just Show Up, written by Kara and Jill Lynn Buteyn, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are from the books. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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