Life without a Bucket List

I’ve read so many articles written by beautiful hearts sharing their journeys, lessons, thoughts, and experiences along life’s path. This one touched me deeply I had to share.

Rest in peace, Kara. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart with us.

Editor’s Note: On March 22nd, 2015, Kara Tippetts went home to be with Jesus after a long and difficult battle with cancer. While she was here, she touched so many lives, and helped people understand how you can find God, even in the midst of suffering, even in the midst of the mundane. Kara’s response to her terminal brain cancer was filled with grace, hope and peace. This devotional comes from her final book, And It Was Beautiful. We hope these words will speak to you in a special way today.

 

Life without a Bucket List  

 by Kara Tippetts

I can confidently say I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see or complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry. I could picture it, the life of routine created by the land and its rhythms.

But beyond that, I’ve never longed for having a list and checking things off. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire pit in my backyard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.

Last week, when I heard I may have another long road to travel on this journey, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street, this place sometimes feels so [vulgar], so wanting my money without care for my heart.

Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds me here is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people who grip my heart.

Suffering has a way of exposing our theology, certainly our practical theology, where what we believe about God collides with where we live. My heart always hurts a little when someone hears my story and begins to question God’s goodness.

I have found that suffering makes my faith more childlike, more simple. Our ideas of God are not necessarily made bigger or more grandiose through suffering, but they are simplified as we wade through the unknown of what comes next.

Last week, in that unknown, I was smooching on [my son] Lake and the thought hit me that I won’t be around to help him navigate his first heartbreak. I was in a public place and I nearly lost my footing because of the fear that gripped me in that moment. I looked up and saw my growing girls and was almost suffocated by the thought of who will help them during the awkward years of puberty. Shouldn’t it be me? That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Can’t I stay and be here for them when they need me?

The truth is none of us know the length of our lives. So we pray for daily bread and say thank you when it comes. For today I have a little boy who will cross the room to give me a hug. I have a baby girl who gives me 10 kisses when I ask for five. I have a preteen who still holds my hand in public, in front of her friends even. I have a second born who loves to tell me every tiny detail of her day. I have a guy who makes coffee just like I like it.

A bucket list? No, I don’t need one. I’m so rich. It’s relationships that matter. And for me, paying attention to the precious gift of today is the only thing on my list.

Dear Lord, thank You for the blessings that I have, the friends, family, relationships, even the material possessions I own. But Lord, please let my heart not rest in these. Let my heart not grow hard, or grow weary when You decide that something should be taken from me. May You forever be my ultimate rock and resting place. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Alzheimer’s – the slow death

My Aunt AnClockn has Alzheimer’s. She is the fifth person in our family who is suffering with it.

Even though this is my 5th family member with the disease, it isn’t any easier than it was when my dad died in 1986.

He was the 1st family member to have it – early onset. He died at age 57; buried with full military honors (Lt. Col. Charles Parrish). He was exposed to nuclear testing and Agent Orange during his military career; they say that’s most likely what caused his early onset and early death.

At the time of my father’s death, our family provided a 3 generation genetic bank for the Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, which helped researcher’s worldwide locate and identify the APOE e4 gene. <click the links to learn more>

My grandmother (Ann’s mother), father (Ann’s brother), and Ann’s oldest sister (Aunt Laura) have all passed away.

Ann’s ‘just older’ sister, Peggy, is at the blissfully unaware stage. By that I mean she doesn’t know anyone & no longer speaks or worries about anything. Peggy is lost within her own world now.

Ann is 79, and is well into the disease, but remains cheerful and pleasant to all. When she meets someone, Ann will say – with a big smile on her face, “Hello. My name is Ann and I have Alzheimer’s so I’m going to be repeating myself.”

I bring this up not only to spread the word about Alzheimer’s but to share the opportunities it gave my family; and hopefully someone reading this will benefit from the information.

The advantages of our family’s Alzheimer’s experience is that we’ve learned that time is fleeting and memories are precious.

To help you and your family, I like to offer the following insights to the benefits of The Slow Death.. .

  • My family had the chance to ‘soak up’ each member of our family because we knew their mind and memories would soon be gone.
  • We shared the stories, names & important dates of our past family members; so future generations would know their heritage.
  • We labeled photographs so the names of the people and the event when it was taken wouldn’t be lost to us forever.
  •  We learned how to help them cope with their deteriorating memory by offering them a notebook to write every visit, thought, memory in. And once, they lost the ability to read and write, we kept it for them and read it to them.. repeatedly.
  • We all learned to be more patience than any Parrish ever had before! We are strong willed and outspoken usually, but learned to react more slowly and empathetically with each new challenge.
  • We have all been advocates for Alzheimer’s – participating in studies, Alzheimer’s Walk to Remember
  •  We learned that even with a lot of time to prepare – we never quite were.
  • We talked about funeral wishes… and butterflies, flowers or gifts… a PRICELESS discussion when the time came.
  • We laughed over our proposed Epitaphs..
  • We shared our past losses, things that left a hole in our soul.
  • We ALL have preplanned and paid for our funerals.

To quickly sum it up, we grabbed every moment, every memory, every piece of information and planning ahead for the inevitable while we could. Because as anyone who has gone through A Slow Death of any type they KNOW how fleeting these precious moments are.

HELPFUL LINKS: (if you don’t see what you need, leave me a comment below, I’ll find it for you)

I recommend that you look these up NOW! Don’t delay.. you and your loved ones will be so very grateful you did.