Monday, November 5, 2012

Celebrate Them.

As we enter the month of November remembering all that we have to be thankful for, I want to share my heart with each of you.
"We came into this world with nothing. We will leave this world with nothing. What you give, lasts forever."
That was Pastor Vick's message on Sunday. All Saint's day Sunday. And as I listened and reflected on his message, my mind and heart went immediately to Dad and Sara.
I celebrate them, all they gave... and as Pastor Vick reminded me, all they continue to give, which will last forever!
They loved life and it loved them back...celebrate their passion.
They listened to their heart above all other voices...celebrate their wisdom.
They saw every ending as a new beginning...celebrate their resiliency.
They turned their can'ts into cans and their dreams into plans...celebrate their goals.
They had a way of turning obstacles into opportunities...celebrate their magic.
They went out on a limb, had it break off, and discovered they could fly...celebrate their faith.
They added so much beauty to being human...celebrate their presence.
They had a way of brightening the day...celebrate their radiance.
They made the whole world feel like home...celebrate their warmth.
They decided to enjoy more and endure less...celebrate their choices.
They decided to live the life they imagined...celebrate their freedom.
They colored their thoughts with only the brightest hues...celebrate their optimism.
They ran ahead where there were no paths...celebrate their bravery
They held their head high and looked the world straight in the eye...celebrate their strength.
They not only saw light at the end of the tunnel, they became light for others...celebrate their compassion.
They designed a life they loved...celebrate their JOY.
They made the world a better place...celebrate them.

They must have been something special. They were. Celebrate them.
~Adapted from the book She by Kobi Yamada

Monday, September 24, 2012


Sara treasured each of you. Sara treasured your friendships.

"Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." 
~Proverbs 11:14

It is so humbling to read all of your comments and e-mails about our sweet Sara. How she provided guidance and comfort to you personally, in a way only Sara knew how. Please know how much we, Sara's family, treasure your stories. Through your stories, there is a presence of Sara and that is so comforting.

What we want you to remember today, is the gift of friendship you gave to Sara. Your friendship provided guidance and comfort to her. When I reflect on Sara's illness and the last several years that she was not able to leave the four walls of her home, I turn to a place of gratitude. Gratitude for the friendships she found in each of you.

You helped Sara live life. You gave her hope and a reason for being. You gave her a purpose for getting up in the morning. You helped fill her heart with love and joy. For that, we are eternally grateful!

As I was reading through your comments, one of you reminded me of something Sara said. "...if I am still on this earth, it means He has intended for me to do something more. If I didn't have something more to do, He would reward me by taking me home to Him." God has plans for each of us and I believe that not only was her plan to make a difference in your life, but it was for you to also gift Sara. Gift her with your community, your friendships, your love.

Sara lived the plan He had for her with open arms, with an open heart, with joy. What I believe God and Sara would want from us, is to continue living the plan that we are here to accomplish.   Take what we learned from them and continue walking our faith journey with open arms, an open heart, with joy.

Sara trusted God and knew that whatever reason He had for her to live the life she was given, there was a purpose. She trusted that He had the bigger picture and she stepped forward in faith by living the life that was in front of her. I am going to make sure the pain and suffering as well as the love and joy she experienced to live the life that was in front of her, was not in vain. I am going to make sure that her purpose, her wisdom, her gift of teaching and modeling for us is carried on through my life. Will you join me in that?

Thank you for being Sara's friend. Thank you for being her counselor.  You helped her so she wouldn't fall, you helped her feel safe in fulfilling His plan. You helped her keep her faith.

And the Master said, "Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master's happiness."   ~Matthew 25:21

One year ago today, Sara journeyed to be with our Master, our Father. She is home, on Holy Ground, with Him. Sara is singing, dancing and praising Him joyfully.

Love and blessings from all of Sara's family! We are grateful to each of you for always being her friend and bringing joy to her life.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Grief and Joy

"When the heart grieves over what is lost, 
the spirit rejoices over what it has left."
 ~ Epigram, Sufi

One year ago today Sara started Hospice. 

For the first time in as long as I can remember, one year ago today, Sara was provided with enough medication to ease her pain and keep her from getting physically sick. As we watched the medication begin to work, we also saw the many years of pain leave her face.  She looked like an angel! An angel ready for her journey to heaven.

In keeping with Sara's motto of, "It's not about me," over the course of the next two days, her focus was on making sure those of us left here on earth were taken care of. That we were o.k. Sara said to us, "I will be fine." "Isn't this exciting?" "It is all of you who are left here to grieve." I want to make sure you are o.k."

She was so COURAGEOUS! Without shedding a tear, and filled with joy and excitement, she told us how excited she was to meet our Heavenly Father. She continued teaching us. Teaching us how to love, choose joy, and be courageous.

Our hearts grieve over her loss, but we are so grateful and our spirit rejoices over what she has left us. She has left us so much of herself through her writings and the life she lived. The life she lived for God and others! For this we will be forever grateful. 

Thank you dear sister. 

We love you all the way around the world and back...and into the heavens! 

Blessings and thanks to all of you who loved Sara. She loved you too!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grace and the Holy Spirit

September 12, 2011, one year ago today, I answered a call from my sister Sara and she asked me to come. Come and be with her. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’m okay, I was just wondering if you could come be with me.”

Of course! Where else would I be? Sara asked me to come.

Sara always loved to have people come visit, but she rarely asked. Sometimes it was because she wasn't feeling well, but mostly, she didn't want to be a burden to anyone. Typically, if I was going to visit, I had to be the one to tell her I was coming. There was only one other time I recall her asking me to come because she needed help.  It was when her disease, her pain, was more than she could handle. The only other time she asked me to come, was when she had Cushings, she needed the doctor’s help, and couldn’t get to them.

Sara said, “Don’t worry,” but I did nothing on that four hour trip but pray and worry!  Asking God, “please help me know how to help my sweet sister Sara.”

I felt like this time was different.  She had been getting worse. She had just received IV’s the week-end before because of dehydration. Steve was with her that week-end. He said when he left on Sunday that she seemed to be doing better.

But, she had taken a turn for the worse. Again.

God's Grace is "the power of God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves".  And the fact is, we cannot do anything for ourselves.  Jesus says, "...without me you can do nothing."  ~John 15:5

I needed God’s grace. I always wear the necklace Sara gave me that says, “By Grace Alone.” Those words kept going through my head and I asked for His help, His grace. Without His grace, I was lost. How was I going to help her? How could I ease her suffering and pain?

I walked through the door of her condo.  Sara's dear friend Meg was with her, sitting next to her in bed. I hugged Sara (as much as I could without creating more pain) and I said, “Is this time different?” She said “Yes, I think so.” We cried, Meg left, and throughout that night I helped her as she struggled constantly. She hardly had a moment without relief from pain and getting physically sick.

Morning finally came and her friend, home nurse, our angel, Tabatha came to see how Sara was doing. After Tabatha saw Sara, we had much conversation, blood tests were taken, the results were received, and the words came…

”You may want to consider HOSPICE.” My tear filled eyes met Sara’s and she said, “YES.”

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.   ~Romans 8:26
My head said No, but my heart felt hers as excitement filled her face. Sara was finally going to meet our heavenly father. She said “Yes.” And her journey began…one year ago today, she began her journey to be with our heavenly father and, our dad!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Celebration and Sorrow...

"Change is inevitable, Growth is intentional."

The last couple of weeks I have found myself with feelings of sorrow.  Sorrow anticipating that on July 9th, it will be two years since dad died. On July 9, 2010, we were getting ready to celebrate...celebrate my oldest son, Thomas' 17th birthday. My phone rang as Rebecca and I were picking up some last minute items for Thomas' party...our celebration turned into sorrow.

I was looking through some of Sara's quotes tonight and this one stood out to me..."Change is inevitable, Growth is intentional." Isn't that true with everything in life? Things are always going to change, whether it is at work or in our personal life, change is inevitable.

Two years ago on July 9th, was the start of significant changes in my families life. We lost one of the greatest men on earth (according to us anyway). I know Sara already shared a lot about dad...his gentleness, unwavering trust in God, gentle spirit, LOVE for life, family and friends, and on and on it goes.

What I also know about dad, is that he would not want us to be sorrowful, he would want us to be intentional about celebrating.  Celebrating a life lived to its fullest, celebrating a man who was the greatest dad, husband, son, brother, uncle, friend, etc. that God could have blessed us with.

Thomas told me he and grandpa now share a very special day. Sure, there is our human sorrow that will always be there because we miss his big heart...his big life. But, we will not only celebrate Thomas' birthday on July 9, we will also celebrate dad.

Dad was not only a role model to me, but was also a role model to my children, his grandchildren. Dad taught us all to live intentionally, so that is what we will do. We will take the change that God gives us and intentionally use it to grow...grow in His glory.

Because as Sara would say..."This world is not about us, it's about what He does through us."

Let's intentionally celebrate life today...July 9th...

(Happy 19th birthday, Thomas)

I am going to celebrate the life of my dad and my son, Thomas.  I am so very proud of and grateful for them both!  Thanks, God for blessing me...big! I love you both..."all the way around the world and back." ~Gitz
...and into the heavens...

Thanks also for each of your continued love and prayers....we are grateful for all of you!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Honoring Dad and Grandma

Today is an extra special day...It is Grandma Rita's 90th birthday and Father's day.

To all you dad's out there that have been faithful readers and friends to my sister Sara, Happy Father's day and blessings to each and every one of you.

With both Dad and Sara in Heaven, I never think of one without thinking of the other.

I was visiting with my son, Thomas the other night, reminiscing about Dad and Sara, when he made the comment that Sara reminds him so much of Job in the bible. He commented on how Job was tested with pain and suffering and yet never lost his trust in God.

Through no fault of his own, Job lost his wealth, children and health. But, the greatest trial for Job was not the pain or loss; it was not being able to understand why God allowed him to suffer.

In the early years of Sara's disease, we all questioned and wondered "why." Why would God put someone so wonderful, one of His children through so much pain and suffering? Although none of us could fully understand why Sara had to go through the pain she endured, it did lead her (and me) to discovering God more fully. Sara was so obedient and faithful...Sara chose how to respond, and she chose to respond faithfully to God.

Job and Sara showed us the kind of trust we are to have in God. When everything is stripped away, we are to recognize that God is all we ever really have or need. God gives us himself, but not necessarily all the details of his plans. We must remember that this life, with all it's pain, is not our final destiny.

Our final destiny is with our Heavenly Father, and that's exactly where dad and Sara are.  I was reading the post Sara wrote called, "Our Earthly Existence." In this post, she talked about a dream she had 2 months to the day after dad's funeral.

Sara had a dream about a place that was familiar, warm and comforting. Yet, it was better...more beautiful, more warm, more complete. Sara saw dad...and dad said she could stay. He told her "that all was put right again."

I do believe that for dad and Sara, "all is put right again." And, one day for all of us, it will be too.

This Father's day, Sara is personally celebrating Father's day with our Heavenly Father AND my dad! A true dream come true for her. Dad and Sara are sharing the dance they had been waiting to share for so long.

Please dance one for me, Sara! I really miss you both.

Happy Father's day, dad! Thanks for being a remarkable father and role model.


Happy 90th Birthday, Grandma! You and dad were so very much both made life happier. You were both so loving and selfless; full of strength and faith. May God bless you today and always! I love you so...

I am so very blessed with such a wonderful family and treasured memories!!


Monday, May 28, 2012

In Memory

Memorial -- "Something, such as a monument or holiday, intended to celebrate or honor the memory of a person or an event."

In past years, Memorial day for me has been a day to pay special tribute to those in the armed forces who served our country and gave of themselves for our freedom. Today, that is obviously still something I am forever grateful for...but my gratefulness has broadened.

Today became a day for me to also reflect on how dad and Sara gave of themselves. Dad and Sara both dedicated their lives to serving God and others. They taught me so much about life and priorities. They taught me how to be intentional.

They were intentional in everything they did and their intention was to put God and others first. 

So, in celebration and honor of their memory, my focus is on being intentional. Being intentional in my walk with God and others.  

Being intentional in Choosing Joy!

I love you and miss you both, more than you can imagine.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Choosing Gratitude

We are choosing Gratitude today, Sunday, May 13. It is a day to celebrate mom as well as celebrate the wonderful 38 years we had with our Sara!

I am so very proud of my mom! On July 9, 2010 she lost her husband very unexpectedly and then on September 24, 2011 she also said good-bye to her daughter. But through it all, mom has chosen joy, gratitude and trust.

Mom and dad raised 6 children. Through their sacrifices, love, faith and teaching, each of us are first and foremost, Godly adults who are successful and blessed in so many way.  Thanks, Mom!!

The youngest of the six, Sara (Gitz), in my opinion, was the wisest, strongest and most successful of us all. It was through the journey that God chose for her, that she taught us all so much about life and faith. For that I will be forever grateful.

Sara would have been 39 today and I know we all miss her in our own way, but today I am choosing to be grateful for the 38 years that I was able to have her in my life. In Sara's early years, I was blessed as the oldest daughter and therefore was her second mom in many ways. Later in life I was blessed to not only be her sister but her best friend.

And, we can't forget the one that made Sara a mom...Riley!! Many of you have been asking about Riley, so here is an update on the blog dog.

Riley is living with my Brother Steve and his family, Patience, Cooper and Avery.  As you can see from the photos below, he has adjusted well and is living the good life!

Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there.  Enjoy your day and God Bless each and every one of you!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sara's Story

Dear Ones,

It's Shannon, stopping in to share an incredible gift with all of you.

One that requires a box of tissues at the ready. 

This past weekend, (in)courage the site Sara wrote for regularly hosted (in)RL, an incredible virtual conference attended by women all over the world. Over 1,700 of us spent time learning, growing, laughing, community with each other.

It was an event that would have been right up Gitz's alley. 

A few months ago, I was humbled and honored when (in)courage approached me about creating a segment for(in)RL about Sara and how she impacted didn't take much to persuade me or anyone else to join in. Our girl? She could get me to do just about anything. Smile.

Sara's Story  is one that we all need to share from the rooftops. Her faith, love for others, trust in the unknown, heart joy...these parts of Sara? They leap through the screen and into your heart while viewing...all while breaking it a bit all over again too.

This morning, (in)courage released the video for public viewing. Jessica, a heart sister of Sara's, wrote a post about it here.

If you'd like to know more about the (in)RL conference or how to obtain access to the videos shown during it, please click here.

So...please find 30 minutes and a quiet nook. Grab some tissue. Press play.

See our girl.

Then? Go look in the mirror.  There's a piece of her woven into you, too. Will you consider sharing within the comments how she's impacted you? 

Let's celebrate her together.

Much Love,


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Head and Heart

Sara's sister, Laura here...

Do you ever have a conversation with yourself or probably more accurately, an argument with yourself.

Since I have lost Dad and Sara I have daily (feels like constant) conversations with myself and sometimes when I am really frustrated with myself, it turns into an argument between my head and my heart.

I miss them so very much. I long for their hug, their conversation, their wisdom (that is my heart speaking). Then my head argues with my heart.  “You know they are so much happier”. “How selfish of you to want them back for your own needs.” “They are still with you in spirit.”

So, the question is, how do I get my head and heart to agree? Like other things in life when conflict happens, how do you come to a compromise?

So, I come here to find the wisdom Sara left behind…what did I find… CHOOSE , JOY, PRAISE, GOD, FAITH, etc.

“He knows my past, present and future. He is surprised by nothing. He is with me, never leaves me even when I feel alone, and holds me up even when I think I am standing on my own two feet. He is good. All the time. And I am going to praise Him through it.” – Gitz

Oh…her wisdom…

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Oh… God’s wisdom…

As I am preparing this Lenten season for the Resurrection, I am so very thankful. Thankful for all Jesus endured in order for us to experience eternal life.  Now that I have experienced the loss of ones that I have loved so deeply, that thankfulness has even become even more meaningful. Knowing that dad and Sara are together with the risen Lord helps both my head and my heart!

So, why do I keep arguing with myself? I think it's because I am jealous that God has them now...I am thankful he shared them with me as long as he selfishness wanted them longer! J

I am choosing…peace, joy, kindness, faithfulness…I am choosing to trust GOD!

Monday, January 2, 2012

"It's How I want People to Remember Me"

Laura here...

It's 2012 and with a new year, also comes new goals and a look back at what we have to be thankful for, as well as lessons we have learned.  In my reflection with the new year upon us, I have been struggling.  Struggling for peace and understanding, along with how to let go of being in control and the plan God has in store for me and my family.

And then, Sara talked to me...I went to the one place where I knew her wisdom was still her writings.

I thought it might be helpful to all of us if we took a look at Sara's Life Goals. Sara's life here on earth was lived to its fullest and she wants people to remember her through how she lived out these life goals...

1. To not be ashamed to stand before God.

"By now you've probably realized you have a distinct choice to make: just let life happen, which is tantamount to serving God your leftovers, or actively run toward Christ."

"Do you understand that it's impossible to please God in any way other than
wholehearted surrender?  ~ Francis Chan

Sara definitely wasn't afraid to stand before God here here on earth, and if I were to guess, when she met our Heavenly Father, she wasn't ashamed to stand before Him in Heaven either.  As Sara said it, "I realized that being a servant meant all or nothing. A line was drawn in the sand and I had to choose my fear, or I had to choose to completely trust Him. It was an all or nothing choice because one cannot exist if the other is true."

Sara chose to trust.  It didn't mean she didn't have extremely difficult days, but I do know that she was never fearful of what was to come, because she knew He was in control.Sara trusted His control and she was open enough to walk where he lead her.  She never missed the opportunity to be a servant to Him through the circumstances in her life.

2. To fulfill God's plan by living the best life I can with what I am given.

"We are all spiritual beings put here on earth to live out our human existence."

This is something that dad held on to and said about his life and how he was living it. In my humble opinion, Sara and dad did this very well. They were good about remembering who they were...a Spirit born in the image of Christ.

Sara wrote in one of her posts, "I have a mission. A purpose. I am here to live the best life I can with what I am 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."

3. To be aware and present in every moment.

"Even though we think of our goals as some future state to achieve, the real goal is always the life of this moment, this moment, this moment." ~ Charlotte Beck

One of the things Sara said was, "just because my hands and feet no longer serve me well physically, I don’t want that to be an excuse to not be the hands and feet of God." Sometimes when our focus is living until (fill in the blank), we aren't really living... the until may never come and then we stop living all together.

I think Sara did a great job of focusing on the goal of "this life of this moment, this moment, this moment." But, she also didn't give up on her dreams in life.

4. To love what I have and not yearn for what I lack.

"It's not about me."

Sara was so great about living a life of...It's not about me. It's about what he can do with her life. She looked at the life she was blessed with as having a purpose. A purpose for others to see their life or relationship with God in a new light. "We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow."

And, that's exactly how she left this world and went to the next...with dignity, grace and teaching us all that "it's not about us."

5. To Spread the Joy, not the fear.

Joy: the unwavering trust that God knows what He’s doing and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it… not despite what’s happening in my life but because of it. When everything earthly feels heavy He gives me an internal lightness that can’t be touched.

Sara made a decision early on to choose joy... and she made that choice every day. She always said, the major word in that rectangle isn't joy... it's CHOOSE. It's looking around when life is difficult and trading every complaint for something beautiful in life that far outweighs it. I know for a fact that she definitely met this goal because there are a lot of people out there that have it "etched in their skin." :)

6. To be intentional in all things.

Sara had a true belief that everything we do, no matter how big or small, it carries with it an impact. She taught us that if we come in contact with someone, we either leave them feeling better about themselves, or worse, but never unaffected. Living intentionally also brings in her 3rd goal of really being present in the moment. We need to be conscious about giving people our complete focus and leaving them knowing they are special.

For Sara, "being intentional is paying attention to what the need of the other person may be and doing my part to fulfill it." I don't know about you, but she was always there when I needed her and always made me feel special!

Sara also wanted to be intentional in being open to whatever God had in store for her. She prayed for guidance and always paid attention to the ways in which God talked to her.

Sara's life Goals were met and then some!  I miss you and love you, Sara!