It’s been four years since Kara Tippetts, blogger, best-selling author, and wife of PCA pastor Jason Tippetts, passed away. ByFaith’s interview with Tippetts, published in the 2015 spring issue, was one of the most-read articles in the magazine’s history. Friday, March 22, in commemoration of the anniversary of her death, Ocean Avenue Entertainment is releasing “The Long Goodbye: The Kara Tippetts Story” on DVD.
Produced by filmmakers and married couple Jay and Sofia Lyons, “The Long Goodbye” features interviews with Kara and her family, and with those she influenced, including Joanna Gaines, Ann Voskamp, and Ellie Holcomb.
Kara and the Camera
Jay Lyons, feeling overworked and spiritually drained from the life of a Hollywood TV producer, began daydreaming several years ago about making his own shows — particularly those that featured stories of faith. One day, a friend from Colorado Springs posted that her pastor’s wife was fighting stage-four breast cancer. Jay reached out to his friend and soon found himself on the phone with Tippetts. Instantly, he knew that a featuring Tippetts — that explored the way a Christian woman suffered and died — was the story he had been looking for.
“She was like, ‘Sure! Bring your cameras. Sounds great!” Jay remembers.
That first visit was just a couple of days, with Jay and Sofia getting to know Kara — her humor, gritty honesty, and raw faith.
“I’ve been involved in leadership in churches and ministry for a while, but I haven’t been around someone this young who is in that much physical pain, [and who] at the same time has such passion and life, and also a true love for Jesus,” says Sofia. “I haven’t seen someone so excited to see Jesus … that young, who has four little kids. I thought, ‘Would I be this way? Or would I be depressed in my bed most days?’ ”
Tippetts’ ease in front of the camera, despite her pain and frequent need for rest, made the couple feel at home, as though they were already fast friends.
For the next shoot, Kara and Jason allowed Jay to spend a couple of hours in San Diego as they enjoyed their last vacation together.
The final shoot took place just weeks before Tippetts passed away. Jay went by himself this time, stayed in a hotel, and popped over to the family’s home only for an hour or so every couple of days. She just couldn’t handle much more, he explains.
Inviting Us In
With Kara’s passing, the Lyons began the heart-wrenching work of turning raw footage into a documentary film.
“It was hard for me to edit this over four years,” Jay admits, “seeing her with her kids, watching Jason and her crying together.”
But now with the film is set for release, Jay and Sofia are excited to see how God will continue to use Kara’s story.
“I think her legacy will be pointing others to Jesus while she was suffering, and opening the dialogue about suffering in the Christian community,” says Sofia. “Many Christian women don’t feel like there’s a place for them in the church to talk about their suffering.”
“But Kara, she had people showing up to rub her feet with lotion because she wrote on her blog that she loved that … she invited people in to share, and I think that is going to be one of her legacies, to challenge all of us to create better communities in our own lives.”
“The Long Goodbye” is available on DVD and in digital formats starting March 22.