Friday, September 30, 2011


Before Sara died, she asked me to speak at her wake. She didn't desire that I share with others memories of her. Rather, she asked that I speak about who she was in this world. She told me that she wanted people who came to see her as I spoke.  She also told me I wasn't allowed to cry. It would, she stated, "Make things less effective." Love her.  A friend who was present asked that I (Shannon) put it up for all of you, who were unable to join us at the service, to read.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .

Gail Caldwell wrote: "It's an old, old story. I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that too."  

Words are powerful. Uniting. They shape our view of the world, ourselves, each other. Words, in the best cases, make us immortal. Words are how I found her. Faith is what brought us together.

A friend send me an email, asking me to pray for a mother who knew she was going to lose her baby girl and carried her to term anyway. I immediately prayed, and then got online to read something called a blog. First time I'd read one. In. My. Life. I took in the entries from first to last, with tears streaming. My heart ached. I prayed. I returned again and again to follow this mom's story. In the process? 

I found Sara.

Our friendship was wildly unexpected. I linked to and as I read I heard her voice. Honest. Full of Faith. Strong. True. Her words? They were her, and like a book waiting to be opened, I dove in. Heart first. Because that's how all of the great things in life are to be done. I sent an email explaining the similarities in our stories and assuring her that I'd never written to someone like this before, I wasn't creepy, and um, if she had some time, could we possibly correspond? She immediately replied with an, "Of course! I'd love to get to know you..." And, as it's said, the rest, for us, for was history. Day in, day out, doing "life" together. Only now, knowing what I do about her, does this response make me laugh. I'm quite sure that is how Sar answered every single person who contacted her. .

Sara did everything full throttle, both feet in, filled with intention and limitless enthusiasm, shown by the sparkle in her eyes for what most interested those she loved. She told me that the most important gift you could ever give someone was your full and undivided attention. Sara got it. She knew that to live well meant to treasure moments and seem them as gifts. She chose joy. Not happiness, which is as flimsy as a shirt blowing on a line in the breeze, but true heart joy which sustains through obstacles, disease, death. She make the hard choices. 



She chose community . Using her words to a build a life when her body failed her. She shared her faith boldly. She was real. Alive. Present in every moment. She made those around her and those who shared her world via her words desire to enjoy their days as she would have...

No going back

No regrets

...taking the time to feel the sun kiss their cheeks and cause freckles, which she so missed seeing on her own. Sara lived. 




She was a daughter, a sister, a friend. She loved to sing. She loved to dance. She made the world's best volcano cake. She adored cheese...and Oreos, frozen and dipped in peanut butter. Some have called her inspirational. She was, but not intentionally. Honestly though? To me? She's simply Sara, my best friend. The one with the snort-filled laugh who made up songs for everything. She had eyes that twinkled and hugs that filled you up way past overflowing. She was my heart.

And here she is, proclaiming that it's not about her, in full Sara-get-the-last-word fashion. But this time? I have to disagree. Because it is about her, what He's done through her.It's about her taking the time to teach us through her words and her beautiful life how to be genuine and honest. How to love the Lord and follow Him. How to make our lives more outward focused than in. Loving well. Living well. Choosing joy. That was our gitz. And because here, in this place, she deserves the final word, I'll leave you with hers...

"Make it about Him, not you. Enjoy every second. Choose joy."

Well said, good and faithful servant. Well said.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Live Ustream of Cedar Falls Memorial Service NOW

I literally just walked in from the airport after travelling home from Iowa and Sara's funeral yesterday, so I apologize for the late notice on this; I didn't know a live stream was going to occur until I was on my way home from the airport.

There is a live Ustream video of Sara's Cedar Falls Memorial Service going on here if you'd like to join and watch.

If that does not work, please click here.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Live UStream of Sara's Funeral

Last night was Sara's wake.

Hundreds attended.

It was amazing. Friends and family laughed and cried, shared stories and viewed a video slideshow of her life.  A deacon from her St. Stephen church family talked about joy, and then those in attendance were asked to share memories of Sara.

Sara was beautiful. Frail, but beautiful. She laid in her casket, wearing her "It's Not About Me" shirt, her jeans, and holding 2 rosaries. Even in death, our friend proclaims her life was about something bigger....she desires people to see it's about what God does through her rather than what she could do on her own.

The scope of her life continues to grow.  I was contacted before her death by a reporter named Emily who  wanted to discuss the positives of social media and friendship with me.  Reluctantly I did so, mostly because I was uncomfortable being out front in a story that is all about Him, how He brings people together, how He worked through her. This was published yesterday, and Sara's story continues to grow.

The Frankl family will be streaming the funeral live this afternoon at 1:30 CT if you'd like to attend along with us, please click here. The link is located at the bottom of the page, beneath Live Video from SCCS Sports. Sara told me she wanted her death to be a celebration. She was home with her Savior.

I can think of no better reason to have a party, can you?

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Hello Friends,

Stopping in to let all of you know the arrangements for sweet Sara.

The wake (visitation) will take place on Tuesday evening, September 27th, from 5-8 p.m. at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Algona, IA.

The funeral will also be at St. Cecilia's at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, September 28th, in Algona, IA.

There will be a memorial service on Thursday, September 29th, at St. Stephens Catholic Church in Cedar Falls, IA at 6:30 p.m.

The family is exploring the feasibility of doing a webcast of the visitation/service. I'll post further details as they become available.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

Algona is a small community, but as of this posting, rooms are available at Sisters Inn and Burr Oak Motel. West Bend, IA also has a few hotels and is in close proximity to Algona.

For further information, please visit the funeral home site that is handling arrangements here.



I've received many comments/emails regarding correspondence and memorial contributions. I've updated below with that information, as well as links to the organizations that were close to Sara's heart.

Cards may be sent to the family, care of Jane Frankl (Sara's Mom) at the following address:

Jane Frankl
405 Timber Estates
Algona, Iowa 50511

Memorial Contributions/In Lieu of Flowers:

Sara was quite passionate about World Vision, Relay for Life, and St. Stephens Catholic Church in Cedar Falls, IA.  In lieu of flowers, she suggested that you purchase books and donate them to an organization close to your heart.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mourning into Dancing

Hi Friends,
Shannon here to let everyone know that at 11:14 pm tonight, Sara died peacefully with her mother and brother at her side.  Arrangements are pending, and I'll be back with information on the family's wishes as how best to honor her; please continue to hold them close in prayer.

I know that in Psalm 30:11 it says, "You have turned my mourning into dancing..."

I'm quite sure that there's a whole lot of that going on right now in Heaven.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Update

Just a quick note to let everyone stopping by know that our Sara continues to hold on as of 1:45pm EST. Although her body is restful, she is showing more signs of it shutting down fully.

Please accept my apology for not updating sooner, I was trying to be sensitive and post when pertinent information was available.

Sara's family appreciates all of your prayer and support as they've gone through the last week and a half and welcomes the continuation of it as they travel this road.

As soon as something changes, I'll be back to let you know.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Choose Joy

Hi Friends,

This is Shannon. It's Friday evening, and Sara is resting peacefully.

Laura, Sara's sister, told me she's been still most of the day and that her last few nights were restful. Steve, her brother, shared with me how beautiful she is when she's asleep. That friends, is joy.

I imagine it's a whole mix of happy and sad in the condo right now. Sara is finally finding peace in her body, something many of us have not witnessed in years.


She'll soon be enjoying an easy breath, laughter that does not cause pain, sweet vocalization, and a reunion with her Dad.


Her finish line is in sight, a well paced race run with determination and endurance.


Sara is a woman of countless friends...friends are writing to and about her, linking up over with Jessica. Sara's family is reading the posts and is so thankful for the ways you all love her so well. Just last month, Sara held Jess' sweet, pink, beautiful bundle. A baby in her arms. She ran cars off of the bed with Elias. Memories that Jessica will treasure for a lifetime.


This place has always been one of honesty. Gitz is all about real. Even when there's pain mixed in.So, we'll walk together on this road, surrounding each other, lifting Sara and her family up, celebrating her life. We'll do it for her, because she's amazing. We'll also remember that it's okay for us to feel, to cry out, to lean on each other. She's taught us that. Who knew that as she was posting on her grief she'd be giving us a guidebook to what our lives may look like just a year later? He did.


She's headed home to Him.


I'm choosing it. Now. In this moment. Through the tears, the pain, the memories. In loving Sara, I've made my choice.

I Choose Joy

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Looking Homeward

The journey is coming to an end, or perhaps a more “Sara” way to look at it is that it’s just beginning...

Sara is getting ready to head home to Him.

Through rainfall tears I read the blog through the night, and thought her words might bring you comfort as she travels home.

... I have lived in this condo since I was 29 years old. I haven't left it, ventured out, even open a window in years. It's where I am, where I will always be, and yet when someone says the word 'home' I don't think here.

I don't think anywhere, really. I think who.

Because my home rests in the hearts of people.

My home is with my mom as I think of her sitting on the porch outside her bedroom, sipping coffee and looking out over the beautiful landscape that nature created.

It's with my sister as I think of her busy in her kitchen, rushing to prepare something for Becca who is on the go, or organizing Thomas as he readies for college.

It's with my brother as I think of him sitting in his living room, helping Cooper with homework or listening to Avery as she tells him stories of her day.

It's with Shannon and the girls as they sit in the dance studio and practice for Nie Nie's solo competition, or in their living room as Yodi sketches and colors and dreams her own dreams.

Some days my home walks right into the condo, like it did today, when Tyler and Jonboy helped their grandma deliver groceries. Sweet Jonboy, who asked if he could do anything to help me. So he filled up my bird feeders and swept in the kitchen because his heart, my home, is filled with more love than it can hold.

It's with friends who are near and loved ones who are far. It's with people I've shared my life with but may never meet face to face, until we all go to our final Home.

Our Home in heaven where my Dad is. He is my home, his own heart so close to Jesus' I can almost feel both of them beating in mine, so close in my thoughts and so far from my touch.

My home is not here. It's not in a country or state or town or walls. It's in the hearts of the people I love.

And their home is in mine.

Well said, dearest Sara. You will  forever be in all of ours...



Sara received information late yesterday afternoon that her body was beginning to shut down, and things have moved quickly since. Hospice arrived this morning and Sara is comfortable. Her family is surrounding her and reading her texts, facebook posts, and emails, so please feel free to contact her and share your love; she will not be able to reply but is taking great peace in your words, your heart.  I know how thankful she is for each of you, how much joy you’ve added to her days, and what purpose sharing Him has given her. I will continue to post as things change and want to thank each of you for the ways in which you have loved sweet Sara so well.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Greetings  Friends,

This is Shannon, popping in to offer all of you an update on our sweet Sara.

Gitz is continuing to remain still. She’s working with her nurses and physician to unravel just what is going on with her body, which is NEVER a straightforward process.  Sara is sick. This statement could mean a variety of things, but right now it involves labored breathing, pain, a lousy stomach, and a weekend of IV fluids.

To say that this entire situation totally and completely stinks doesn’t come anywhere near doing  it justice.

I’ll just go ahead and voice what everyone who’s reading this update is feeling  ... It’s not fair. 

Nope. It’s not.

Life isn’t fair.

Sara wouldn’t want us to focus on the not fair.  That’s not who she is or who she’ll ever become.  Not fair isn’t a phrase that pops up in her vocabulary.  She focuses on her purpose, the beauty around her, loving people well, and the story that we cannot yet see.

Sara doesn’t ask to see the ending.  She simply trusts in the One who planned it all out before she came into being.  Sara’s belief in the Lord is HUGE and her faith is beyond measure. She trusts Him implicitly with the details of her life. She’s a part of His story. Her main desire is for others to come to know Him like she does;  As a Father, a provider, a refuge. Sara's trust in God is what I love most about her. I also adore her sparkling eyes, hugs that make you feel melty inside, the way she always listens before she speaks, her freckles that have faded from lack of sun, the way she puts everyone first...

Okay, I need to stop and be completely honest. I love everything about her, from the way the corners of her eyes crinkle when she smiles to the way she fills your heart all the way up, far beyond overflowing, when you're in her presence.

So, to say I love something most?  It means it’s something I honestly believe we all can take from her and put into practice in our own lives.

Less  it’s not fair...

More trust

A whole lot of faith.

Please continue to join me and others in this community in prayer for Sara as she travels this road. I’ll continue to update as medical and other information changes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Territory

Hi friends. This is Shannon, mama to NieNie and Yodi and heart friend of our Sara. I must admit I’ve written this first line about a dozen times and keep hoping for it to end in a different way.  But it’s not going to, and both Sar and I are okay with it.

But we can still hope...

Hope. Wait. Repeat.

Because right now? It’s what she’s doing... Waiting. Resting. Hoping. Waiting some more. 

Her health isn’t where she or I want it to be, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t know exactly where she is.  I’m trusting on Him to provide for her, fill her, and grant her peace.

With all of that said, I need to ask you to support Sara as she ventures into territory not yet explored.  My friend is taking a blog sabbatical for a bit, to catch up on her rest and see if she can’t get into a new groove that will work for both her body and her spirit. 

The blog? This place we all come together and share our hearts and faith? It’s as much a part of Sara as Riley is nuzzled against her side.  It has been a struggle for our girl to put fingers to keyboard and ask that you’ll join her in this time of quiet; I’m stepping in and doing it for her.  She’s not giving anything up, just slowing it down for a bit to see if she can find more of her to be with all of you.

As she breaks from the blog, she’ll also be “on pause” (as Yodi says when she needs to stop something) from answering email. I promise to pop in from time to time and post updates for you because I know how much you all love her.  It’s her desire that none of you fret a bit, or feel ignored if she doesn’t get back to a comment or email.  Her main focus is on getting herself back to where she needs to be...and currently that doesn’t include a whole lot of sitting up, reading, or typing. It involves complete and total rest which her body desperately needs.  I’m so proud of her. She’s not pushing it too hard, and she’s listening to what she’s supposed to be doing instead of pursuing what she desires to do. 

That takes strength.

So, as this sabbatical begins, her plan is to check in from time to time. It’s my hope that you’ll all stick tight as she ventures this new road. I know that it is her heart’s desire to come back to you refreshed, renewed, and ready.  I’m declaring it here in print nonetheless that I trust in her plan to succeed, at least, as Dr. Seuss says, “98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.”