Eternity: Making An Impact

7-4 Dandelion

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I only met her once in person.

Yet, she had a life-changing impact on me. Her gracious words, her honesty in her blog  and her love for her God, her family and those who crossed her path shone through her words and actions.

A friend first introduced me to the writings of Kara Tippetts when a loved one in my life was diagnosed with cancer. I began reading the words of this thirty-eight-year old mother of four and I was challenged, and convicted to look beyond the now.

Destin beach

As Kara’s life drew to a close, she sought to live every day well. And she was brutally honest in sharing how hard it was to watch her life begin to ebb. To lose independence, to lose energy . . . to watch others do the things for her family that she had once been able to do.

Her humility and transparency in each blog post ministered to thousands.

I only met her once.

Kara Tippetts and me

On a snowy day as she shared her story and her passion for Jesus. As she poured out herself to encourage those of us in the audience. Her green eyes . . . they shone with the passion of her convictions, and her desire to encourage those who came to hear her story. They shone with the love of Jesus.

It wasn’t about her. It was about Jesus in her. She poured herself out through her story and through answering questions from her listeners. And the answer she gave for my question? It was exactly the wisdom I needed to hear.

Autumn sunrise 2 copy

This unassuming wife of one and mother of four stood strong on convictions forged from God’s word. No backing down. But she shared them with grace and fervency.

Knowing you’re dying does that. It burns away the trivial and forces a person to focus on the essential.

Bare branches blue sky

I’ve been caught up in the trivial too many times in my life. As Kara Tippetts danced into glory this past weekend, I’m reminded that our days are numbered. We—none of us—knows the number of our days. Though some of us know the end is nearing.

Wall clock

What matters is what we do with the days we have. Are we going to walk the status quo? Or, are we going to live out the convictions God has imprinted on our hearts? We have a choice, and not to choose . . . is to choose.

Will we walk out each decision with grace, focused on the eternal picture?

White spring blossoms

In a world that moves at the speed of a click and focuses on the what I need/want now, it’s hard to step back and see my days with an eternal perspective.

This is a pattern I long—no need—to foster within my own life.

Summer blue sky

Only God knows the number of days I have left to walk this earth. What I know is I want them to count for Jesus. To make an impact for eternity.

What about you? When has someone’s death inspired life change in you? How do you maintain an eternal perspective?

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14 thoughts on “Eternity: Making An Impact

  1. Uhh…..

    I, too, was saddened to know that Kara had gone. I would have liked to have met her. Not sure she would have felt the same about me, as our modalities were pretty different!

    I can’t say that I’ve been inspired to change by death, since almost every dead person I know (horrible phrasing, sorry) died violently, and perhaps my takeaways were, at best, to learn from any mistakes they may have made…including “don’t have bad luck!”

    Then there’s always “save the last bullet for yourself”, but that’s another story, and a nasty one.

    Maintaining an eternal perspective, for me, starts by understanding that my current perspective is pretty limited. My body’s coming apart, and every movement, every breath is freighted with pain. Most people don’t live that, and for me to look down on them for being absorbed by triviality is unfair and wrong. Life is MADE of trivialities; grace is in the mundane (and I use that word deliberately, from the title of Kara’s blog).

    My position is not privileged; I’m a statistical outlier, and while I may have something worth saying, something worth hearing, I do not want to call people away from their place in the woof and warp of daily life, and force them to embrace the hope and the horror.

    I fought, and a lot of good guys died, precisely so people COULD enjoy ordinary lives of Mundane Faithfulness.

    I face the eternal with aggression, and Tourette’s on permanent send. I have to get up; there are things I must do, or feel I should do (such as commenting here!). It hurts. There’s nothing pretty or pleasant about accomplishing this stuff, nothing elegaic about forcing myself to eat and stay hydrated.

    I think about God and Jesus, sure, but I’m still alive, so I’m not bugging Them all the time. They left me with my duties, and as long as I can get it done, by hook or by crook, that’s what’s going to happen.

    If anyone would ask my advice on how to face this sort of unpleasantly terminal situation, I’d just say, “Fight like hell. Fight for every movement, for every breath. Don’t give an inch you don’t have to give, and when you have to give one, claw it back.”

    “Don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel, or what kind of faith you should have. You have what you have, NOW. Use it. Anyone who tells you what to do isn’t in your shoes, and they don’t know anything.”

    “Accept that survival is ugly. It hurts, it’s tiring, it’s loud, it’s profane. All the ‘in the arms of loved ones’ is Hollywood. Survival is a bloody, stinking mess. Like the Cross. And it’s worth doing.”

    “Every day you survive, you’ve won.”

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    • Andrew, so much wisdom in these words. I always appreciate your perspective.

      You’re right that our perspectives are limited. We know what we know. We don’t know, necessarily what others know about living and dying. And far be it from me to presume that I do.

      I agree with you that there is a place for living out the Mundane well. And I am truly thankful for men like you (and women) who have sacrificed much so I can live in the mundane places my life leads me. Even in the trivial. I just want to be careful not to focus on the trivial at the expense of the eternal. I suspect most Americans do this more than we should. That’s what I am trying to become more aware of as I live out each day.

      I appreciate your words on survival. Thank you, Andrew, for sharing your insights. You’ve left me thinking . . . again.

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  2. You write from a warrior perspective for that’s what you are Andrew. Life is a battle for you, and I pray for you. You said you don’t bug Jesus all the time, just don’t forget He loves you enough to go through horrible violent death for you. Your sharing touches me and I will continue to lift you up in the best way I know~ in prayer.

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    • Thanks, Mary. I don’t forget about Jesus’ love, but when I concentrate on duty it’s easier to get through the truly nasty bits – and things have really gotten awful of late.

      Going out gracefully simply wasn’t taught at any school I attended, and it’s a bit late to learn now. My preferred way to finish is to metaphorically call in an airstrike on top of my own position. If I go – at least my enemy goes with me.

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  3. Jeanne, I was reading about her yesterday both in the Washington Post and in Ann Voskamp’s post. It was a hard read–I had to put it down for awhile and then finish it later in the day. So raw and touched so close to my own fears concerning death. Kara taught me to be sure to live well–focusing on the gift of each day–so that when I am dying, I might aslo die well–a testimony to my Jesus.

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    • Cindy, Ann Voskamp’s post touched me too. I read through it, and I’m pondering living well and dying well. Kara confronted death and walked out grace each day. Looking for grace in the places she found herself. And she said God always showed up in those darkest places.

      I’ve struggled with fearing death too. I guess it’s something we all have to figure out, and figure out how to trust God in the middle of the living . . . and the dying. Not to sound trivial, I just don’t know how else I’ll get through it. 🙂

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  4. Wise words Jeanne. I want to live like that. I have followed Kara’s posts and also Ann’s….such wise women. Our town has once again been reminded of the brevity of life in the death of a vivacious 17 year old high school girl. God is in control…not me. I need these reminders that we only get today. How we choose to spend it is our gift. May I spend it wisely. Great post.

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    • Gail, when young people die, it’s always heart-rending. I’m so sorry your community is walking through that. I need to remember that we do only get today. I need to spend it well. Thank you for that reminder.

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  5. So sweet, Jeanne. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. I was at a retirement service for my childhood pastor recently … that congregation held so many people I knew as a child but hadn’t seen in ages. I remember thinking that heaven would be like that … such a sweet reunion.

    And you know … infertility was like a death for me. And it changed me massively. It’s really a huge reason why I write today.

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    • I love this picture, Shelli. That of heaven being a reunion where we can meet up with those we knew in our past, and we can share all of eternity with them.

      Infertility was like a death for me too. It changed me and gave me a much greater empathy and compassion for others suffering. It’s part of the fabric of who we are today, yes?

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