Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sara's Story -- All about Love

As I have walked this journey of publishing Sara's story and now walk the path of spreading her spirit led discipleship, I am overwhelmed by the stories we receive about how people are being blessed by reading Sara's story. The outpouring of love and support has been amazing. God has put many angels on this path to help spread His love through Sara's story.


One example of the angels I have met are two ladies, a mother and daughter, Jenni and Joanie. They have a strong love for God and trust His plan. This trust led them to start up JB Square Media. Their mission is to provide people with positive messages...messages of love.



JB Square media produced the above video for us to use in the promotion of Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. These wonderful women are using their talents for God's good. Thank you, Joanie and Jenni!

Below is a post that Sara wrote giving us her perspective on the talents God blesses us with...

I have had so many conversations about heaven and our spirits and what I believe in the past month and a half. Very few of them have been instigated by me. Most of them are discussions with friends who are trying so hard to figure out why the things in our lives happen, and they want to know what I think about it all. They want to know if I’ve had any revelations about life and death and Dad.

The truth is, I haven’t.

The truth is, I believe what I’ve always believed... and I’m living life after Dad’s death the same way I did before. I just keep trying to do the next right thing, while stepping forward in faith and trust.
I know, it’s not a sexy answer. But it is the truth.

Shortly after Dad died, I was having one of those conversations with Katie, my best friend from high school. Katie and I grew up in each other’s homes, and my dad loved her like another daughter. Despite “Katie” being her full given name, Dad liked to lengthen it to Katherine or Kathleen... just to be a stinker and get a rise out of her. And I think he especially enjoyed her because she was as ornery as he was. She laughed at his jokes even if they weren’t funny, and threw as many back at him as she could think up.

But he’d give her hugs and tell her he loved her as easily as he’d poke fun at her, and that’s why losing him broke her heart as well as mine. She lost her second dad. And when we were talking she said that she didn’t understand why Dad had to be the one to go. She kept trying to understand why God needed him in heaven more than we needed him here.

I realized how many people had said the same thing to me over the previous weeks... that he was such a good man, but that God must have needed him more. And I have to tell you, I just don’t believe that’s true.

God is God. He can do all, see all, be all.

God doesn’t need us for anything.

WE NEED HIM.

I think the truth is that we all need Dad here more than God needs anything. But because God is God, He knows the big picture that we don’t. And if it was Dad’s time to be with Him in heaven, then it was for Dad’s sake, or for us to learn something by his absence, or to spread the lesson of his legacy.

I think it was just something God foresaw in a greater plan that He sees and we don’t.

That’s why we have faith. We are simply called to trust that He knows better than we do. Whether we like it or not.

For me, it’s a lesson I learned as I got sicker and lost so many abilities. I remember thinking that it made absolutely no sense to me that God would give me so many talents and gifts, and then not let me have the opportunity to keep using them. So many things I loved to do were slowly being stripped away, and because I had used them for His glory I couldn’t understand how being without them could be the right thing.

He gave me a voice to sing His praises, and I used it to lead worship at church, sing at wedding celebrations and to bring peace to those at funerals. I spoke at and led retreats, I was social and did good deeds for others when I was out and about in the world. I lived life happy, dancing and laughing and trying to bring joy to people.

I couldn’t understand why he gave me the gifts if they were just going to be taken away.

But then I learned that I had the gifts when He needed me to use them. I didn’t squander and waste my talents, and they brought Him glory when they were supposed to. And I realized that if my talents were gone, if they were taken from me, then it was because I wasn’t supposed to have them anymore.

I trusted that He saw the bigger picture, and I stepped forward in faith by living the life that was in front of me. I stepped forward, knowing that whatever He wanted from me now, He would make sure I had the gifts to use in the moment. My gifts back then served God’s purpose, and if they were gone, so was that purpose.

I believe the same is true for Dad. He took the gifts God gave him at any given time in his life and he used them. He didn’t squander and waste his talents, and he brought God glory when he was supposed to. And if Dad is gone, if he was taken from us, it’s because He’s not supposed to be here anymore.

Trust me when I tell you that I would rather lose all my abilities and freedoms a million times over than to lose Dad. He was a gift in all of our lives, and we cherished him. But we have to keep stepping forward in faith, trusting that God sees the big picture and knowing He will give us what we need to get through any given moment.

Searching for answers beyond that is just me trying to do God’s job... and I trust that He has that covered without me.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Community is Love

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some have the habit of doing, but encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25

I have always thought of community as those who I am physically with. Typically that includes church, work, family and friends. As I have walked this journey of continuing this Choose Joy ministry that Sara began, my community has expanded to include each of you...this online community that loved Sara and that she loved right back. 

Below is a post from Sara on finding love in community.

"learning that home bound doesn't limit
your life, just your location."

That's a section of my bio, and it's been taunting me a bit lately.

Of course, the way I meant it is still true. I still mean, through this blog and the internet and the phone and the mail, I get to touch people's lives and they flood mine with beauty and grace. You all have made sure my location doesn't matter when it comes to community.

I am so grateful for that.

It's not the home bound part that feels like it's limiting my life these days, it's life itself.

A few months ago, my nurse suggested we have physical therapy start coming to the house again for a short period of time. I had to stop doing any sort of therapy when Cushing's hit, and my abilities have changed fairly drastically since then. I thought it would be a great idea to have someone come in and refresh me on what I should be doing.

They key here is that I thought I'd still be able to do it. Do something. Do anything.

I can do nothing.

I joke about it a lot, but my physical therapist went from talking about exercises to saying that my goal should be getting out of bed periodically and walking to the kitchen and back.

I was ready for stretches and lifts and maybe some stretchy bands. Turns out, I can barely move my ankles without them swelling. Forget about the rest of me.

I was in shock. Everything he talked about I would respond with, "Oh, I can do that…" and then I would try, and I couldn't move. I have fused and been made limited in ways I never dreamed. I thought I could move my neck, until he held my shoulders still and I realized I had been moving my whole body.

It's all about our perspective. Mine was skewed until someone came along, put their hands on my shoulders and said, "Wait. Look. Realize."

Physical therapy no longer comes to the house because there is nothing for them to do. The little ways I can still move, I do repeatedly to make sure I don't lose it… but if I move too much I enflame the joints and am worse off.

It's a balancing act.

A perspective-shifting balancing act.

I had the same "wake up" moment when Nicole and the girls came last weekend. I knew I would be in bed most of the time, but I thought I would at least get up and sit on the couch a little or sit at the table during a meal here and there. I thought I would still be a participant in their visit.

Until they came on Saturday, and after I sat at the table with them for all of 15 minutes I was barely able to make it back to the bedroom without passing out. By the time they left for the hotel that night I was shaking and vomiting from trying to be "active" earlier.

It broke my heart. It broke my spirit. It was in that moment I came face-to-face with something I knew to be true but was trying so hard to make false. I had moved from feeling like a sick person to feeling like an invalid.

And I hate it.

I stayed in bed the rest of their stay, only getting up to use the bathroom. I got up once to go through some of the stuff Nicole was throwing out of cupboards and I was so weak I could barely sit on my walker, George.

Admittedly, I am fighting an infection… but fighting infections has become my norm more than a random event. When I am here alone, I do nothing but stay in bed, rest, do little bits on the computer here and there and try my best to exist with a good attitude. I can get by on my own, get to the kitchen and back, bathroom and back. I am safe and capable.

But that is it.

Throw some people and activity in there, and I can't accomplish even that. Activity for me is now defined as sitting up in bed and talking and being animated.

Talking now requires a nap.

I have no stamina.

It's like a dagger to my heart every time I have to make these realizations. Every time I see myself physically slipping to another level. The invalid level.

But I have to look at it, otherwise I constantly set my sights on things higher than I can achieve, and I end in failure. I have to recognize my limitations so I don't end up making myself worse because I'm trying to make my life into something it isn't.

It's a balancing act.

Just like my physical therapist put his hands on my shoulders to give me perspective, God is putting His hands on my shoulders and telling me to live the life He's given me, not the life I'm trying to wish into existence.

My perspective has to come from a still space in this bed. It has to come after long rests and acceptance of where I am. If there is a purpose for me on this earth, and there must be because I am still here, then I need to keep my eyes open to the here and now and find it where I am.

I am feeling like an invalid these days. And I hate it. But I know He sees more in me than my location. He will not let my life be in–valid.

Wherever you are in your life, take a moment to let His hands rest on your shoulders. Don't let life get so busy with your own ideas and vision that you miss His perspective for you. Because I promise He has one.

Just for you.

You can find more of Sara's perspective on community in her book, Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. Keep spreading the love through your community, my friends!

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Month of Love

Hello Friends! This is Sara's sister Laura.

Tomorrow is February 1st. The beginning of a month that we will begin preparing for lent. A month of celebrating those we love and a month focused on the wellness of our heart.

John 3:16 says:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

As a Christian, the church Holidays have always held a special place in my heart, but after losing dad and Sara, those Holidays have become even more meaningful. As we begin the month of February...a month of love, I am thinking about how grateful I am that God loved us so much that He gave us His only Son! Because of this sacrifice, dad and Sara... all our loved ones, will have eternal life! Without this ultimate love, we would not be meeting the people we love in Heaven.



As I read and re-read Sara's book, Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts, I also am reminded of her wish of making sure we Savor our moments. Sara told us... 

"I want you to STOP. I want you to FEEL and SMELL and ACKNOWLEDGE the gifts that God puts out in front of you every single day when He makes the sun rise from it's slumber and beat down on your skin. I want you to look up in the dark of night and see and feel the magnitude of the heavens and the stars and the full moon. I want you to be fully awake to the blessings in your life and not miss a moment. Take them in and savor them in your senses as if you might lose them tomorrow. Savor your life and blessings. And thank our God for the gift of it all. That is the best gift...To know that my life taught you something about your own."

Yes, Sara...you taught us much, but one thing you taught us most of all, is to savor our moments. You never know when those moments will be gone.

So, as we begin this month of love, I want to express my gratitude to all of you who loved our sweet Sara and continue to love my family so well. For joining us in this ministry of Choosing Joy...

May God bless you always and in all ways...

Laura

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts

My Angel Sara…

As I sit here looking at the blinking cursor on the screen, millions of thoughts are rolling through my head. What do I want to say to you on this joyous day? The problem is, none of the thoughts seem to be coming out in any sort of logic!

Ugh! Is this how writers feel?

You are the writer you know. You were the one who could make the words flow as if God was whispering in your ear with each word you wrote.

So, as I begin typing and putting all these thoughts and emotions into words…I first want to say, THERE ARE NO WORDS to fully express what I am feeling right now. The feelings are too great for actual words. I also know that you are fully aware of how I feel...we were always connected like that. :)

I am going to start with a post that you wrote in August of 2010. You had posts called Blog Peep Questions, where your readers asked you questions and you promised to answer them honestly.


Two questions that were asked in this August post, were…
  1. If a movie were made about your life, what would it be called?
  2. Are you writing a book?
 Your answers…

“I said this line in passing to a friend of mine a few years ago, and it immediately struck me that it would be the perfect title for a book [and, in turn, a movie]: My Life is So Crazy My Dog is on Antidepressants.

Right? Isn’t that perfect? And, sadly, totally true!

Aren’t I kind of already writing a book for you all? I’m just doing it in tiny little daily installments here on the blog. :) Think of it this way... if I wrote a book, I wouldn’t have the time or energy to write here every day.”

That you did, sweet sister! You wrote a book and we have been blessed that your friend and fellow blogger, Mary Carver, took your tiny little daily installments from your blog and did a beautiful job of making them flow... adding her own special thoughts and creativity.

Sara, today, January 5, 2016 is the launch of Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. I am sorry we didn’t use the title you predicted back in August of 2010, but I think you will still be pleased. :)

What a journey this has been!  Since September, 2011 we, your family, began walking the path of making your wish come true. The wish that people would continue to learn, trust and believe in God as you did. That your spirit lead discipleship would continue. And, most important, make sure people know that it’s all about Him…not us.

My prayer each day as I walked this path is that I would have an open mind, a humble heart and faithful feel, to walk where He leads. You are right my dear Sara. It is all about Him. He has led this from the very beginning and has opened doors that I never thought were possible.

It has been a joyful journey. A journey full of wonderful people who worked together to publish a book that will continue your spirit led discipleship. 

I have read your words so many times, Sara. Each time I read them I hear the whispers of God even stronger...the connection you had with our heavenly Father. How awesome and humbling. You spent time truly listening, learning and living as He wanted you to. 

Thank you, Sara for being faithful. For not losing faith when life was hard. For continuing to teach us through your words and life how to be faithful and trust in the One who can show us joy.

So my dear Sara...this journey continues and my prayer continues…

God, please give me an open mind, a humble heart and faithful feet to walk where you lead!

All my love…all the way to the heavens and back…

Laura

P.S. Give dad a big hug from me!


Friday, January 1, 2016

Our Earthly Existence

Re-Post of Sara's words from January 1, 2011...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I totally set myself up last January.

2009 was a year filled with really hard things for me. My disease [ankylosing spondylitis] had progressed, and I developed steroid-induced Cushings trying to treat it, which created more pain on top of pain than I thought possible. Added to all of that – my mostly homebound existence turned into a completely home bound one. I went from at least sitting on my patio for some fresh air to never being able to open a window or a door again.

I was pretty sure it couldn’t get any worse than 2009. I was so ready to jump into 2010 and revel in what I was sure was going to be a rebuilding year.

Ahhh… the best laid plans.

My disease continued to progress this year. I lost more abilities to do things within my home, my immune system depleted to the point where I now have to give a checklist to people before I can let them in to see me…
and worst of all…

I lost my dad.

I lost the most important man in my life, and I couldn’t even go home to his funeral. 2010 definitely exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t even have imagined one as tumultuous as this.

Now, here I am, knocking at the door of 2011.

Thankfully, it’s not in my nature to be pessimistic.

Instead, I’m thinking of something Dad said about his life and how he was living it. Dad believed that we are all just spiritual beings put here on earth to live out our human existence.

Think about that for a minute.

Imagine if we all went about our lives remembering the core of who we are… a Spirit born in the image of Christ… who is sent here to fulfill a purpose before going back home.

I forget that so easily. I want to make this life all about me. All about my human existence instead of my spiritual being. I want to worry about my health and my finances and my housing and my potential. I want less pain and more easy. I want I want I want.

But what I have is a mission. A purpose. I am here to live the best life I can with what I have been given. I am here to live out this human existence as a spiritual being… a servant to God and His people… before I head back home to Him.

Dad died in the most random way. He is one of the less than 1% of people who got stung by an insect and died of anaphylactic shock. He was strong and healthy and full of life, but it was his time to go Home. We don’t know the day. We don’t know the hour. But we do know we have a purpose. And it’s the same one for all of us.

We are here to live out our human existence… as a Spirit born of Christ… before going back home.
So I’m not going to worry about starting over in a new year. I’m not worried about what 2011 might bring. I’m not setting myself up this January.

I am simply keeping in mind that this life isn’t about me and my goals and my wants and my worries. I am here to fulfill His purpose for me, and my job is to keep my eyes open so I don’t miss it.

How about you? Are you ready to embrace the life God has entrusted to you? Are you ready to live His purpose?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You can read more of Sara's inspirational words in her book, Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. Pre-order yours today at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Family Christian.




















Friday, December 25, 2015

Believe...He has come!



The angels announced the good news of a Savior..."I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

Great JOY for all the people...

Christ is JOY!

Believe...

Believe and let Him lead us.
Believe and trust His plan for us.
Believe that He loves us and will not let us fall.
Believe that if we choose Him, we can choose joy.

Listen as Sara sings for us...Emmanuel God with us...

https://soundcloud.com/gitzengiirl/06-emmanuel-god-with-us

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Frankl's!

Peace!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Advent week 3: JOY

"Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you; now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete."    ~John 16:20-24

With Christmas comes so much joy and yet for many, Christmas also brings sorrow. To have joy in trials and suffering is not to deny the pain that comes with it. It is realizing that we can have both. As the verse tells us...with the birth of a child comes pain, but with the birth of the child there  is joy in thinking of what is to come. 

Joy is a choice. 

We can choose to live in an attitude of anger, sorrow and fear or we can choose to pursue the joy of Christ! It starts with trusting in a God who promises He is always with us and loves us! When our focus turns to gratitude, we will find JOY.

As my mom always told us ... "An attitude of gratitude can go a long way."

Pre-order Sara's book, Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts today on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Family Christian.

Have a blessed week!

Laura