I just love her.
Even though we’ve never met,
I felt from the beginning that we would have been great friends.
Maybe because she was the kind of person who made everyone her friend.
Or maybe it was the way my heart connected with hers as she talked about her hopes.
Her fight for more time.
Her desire to see her good as a result of His nearness,
To find His grace meeting her every need,
And to know His sovereignty in her suffering.
I was looking for an example;
from someone who understood the struggles we all face in this life.
Someone who knew their own weakness
and what it meant to depend on Jesus for the strength to make it each day.
Someone who could put this struggle into words.
Kara did that.
Through phrases like "grace shows up" and "hard is grace too".
Through her prayers that even in sickness, she would be kind.
Kara knew her own inadequacies. She just expected Jesus to meet her there in them.
Which brings us to this book.
I still remember how I felt the day her blog crashed.
How glad I was that they were able to get it up and running again.
There was just one problem. The blog posts from earlier?
They had disappeared.
Before the crash, I wrote down some titles of posts
so that I could go back to read them at another time.
But they were gone.
Thankfully, for us, Kara, being Kara,
was always thinking about others.
She knew we would still want these words,
so she actually arranged for that to happen.
This book is a part of that arrangement.
"And it was Beautiful".
The book chronicles her story through her words from the early days of cancer up to the day she stepped into Heaven.
From the first chapter about her grace dress that she wore three days in a row - to the end where she shares a letter that she wrote "to my readers upon my death"
...the one that took my breath away when it showed up on her blog.
I was caught by surprise. But I shouldn't have been.
That was Kara.
"And It Was Beautiful" is an easy read.
You almost feel as if she is sitting with you in your house -
sharing her thoughts with you personally.
Before I realized it, I was halfway through the book.
At that point I was hesitant to read any further because I didn't want it to end.
And because I knew that it would.
In this book, Kara shares honestly about her hopes and fears.
She not only admits her own weakness and brokenness,
but points the reader to the one who made her strong;
who made her whole.
The same One who gives us the strength and the wholeness that we need when we are faced with our own hard situations.
While shared in the context of a story with cancer, it most certainly is not exclusive to cancer, but applies to anyone who has lived in the "desperate hours of faith".
"So I'm living a life I didn't expect;
living in the unexpected tension of an unknown future.
We all are aren't we?
In our many different ways,
we're all living in the desperation of life that hasn't turned out like we'd planned.
My unexpected turn is cancer.
For others it's singleness, unemployment, a disappointing marriage,
broken friendships, and the list unfortunately goes on and on."
What's your story? Your hard?
I am so thankful she wrote down these words.
But I am most thankful that she took Jesus at His.
As she writes out her day to day fears and joys,
we can see the beauty of His faithfulness in her story.
There is a chapter where she shared about finishing her first radiation treatments.
She invited family and friends to join her in celebrating the end of that treatment.
And she rang a bell.
There was a poem on the plaque that held the bell.
"Ring the bell
Three times well
the toll to clearly say
the treatments done
the course is run
and I am on my way"
Her treatments are done...and her course has been run.
But she is not on her way anymore.
She has arrived!
And she IS finished.
"And you can bet I rang the snot out of that bell...three times well!"
I received a free e-book copy of "And It Was Beautiful" from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for a fair and honest review of the book.
I ordered my own paperback copy of the book when it first became available ...
in August of 2015!
It arrived last week.
I am sending it to someone I love.