‘That last kiss, that last warm touch, that last breath’ mattered

Colorado mother who advocated against assisted suicide dies

UPDATE MARCH 27-Kara Tippett’s memorial service 1:30 p.m. March 28 will be streamed and available for viewing at www.mundanefaithfulness.com beginning at 1:15 p.m. 

Kara Tippetts, a 38-year-old Colorado Springs woman who advocated against physician-assisted suicide, died March 22 after a long battle with breast cancer.

“My pain is gone, my fears are calmed, I’m in the sovereignly good hands of Jesus” was part of a message shared on her blog March 25 in a post titled “Letter to my readers upon my death.”

Tippetts, wife of Westside Church pastor Jason Tippetts, and the mother of four young children, gained widespread attention last October after reaching out to Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who publicly announced her move to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s law allowing physician-assisted suicide. In an Oct. 8 letter, Tippetts pleaded with Maynard, who died Nov. 1, not to take her life and expressed sympathy and understanding in being asked to “walk a road that feels simply impossible to walk.”

“Brittany, your life matters, your story matters, and your suffering matters,” she wrote in the letter shared more than a million times on social media. “I think the telling of your story is important.”

“That last kiss, that last warm touch, that last breath matters,” she continued, “but it was never intended for us to decide when that last breath is breathed.”

Her blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com, originally a site where she posted about motherhood, became a place where she documented her journey through chemotherapy and surgery, joy-filled moments with her family throughout her treatment, the experience of hospice care, and how she saw God’s grace “even in the hardest, messiest, ugliest places.”

“My little body has grown tired of battle, and treatment is no longer helping,” she wrote Dec. 29. “But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well.

“By degrees doing both, living and dying, as I have moments left to live. I get to draw my people close, kiss them and tenderly speak love over their lives … I get to laugh and cry and wonder over heaven. I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus—and He will provide.”

Tippetts continued posting until 12 days before her death, and expressed gratitude in her letter published after her death.

“I cannot begin to use this simple language to express the heart of what I feel for this community,” she wrote. “There is so much love in this community I can barely take it all in at times. I have been prayed for, cried over, my story shared over and over. You all can’t know the love I have felt from each of you.”

She requested prayers for her family that they know “the nearness and comfort of God.”

A fund benefitting the children has been established and donations may be sent to Jason Tippetts, P.O. Box 49727, Colorado Springs, CO 80949.

“The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard” (David C. Cook, 2014)
By Kara Tippetts
Available at bookstores and www.amazon.com

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.