Choose Joy!

I have a new friend.

Her name is Sara Frankl.

1 me rileyWell…In truth, I never met Sara…in person. I never shared coffee with her or chatted with her over the phone…I wish I had.

But reading her words and heart poured out on the pages of her book have given me a deep sense of knowing her…knowing her kind heart, her courage, her marrow deep faith…

I wish I had known her gentle spirit  and her grace-filled wisdom, but it’s her beautifully penned words that settle in my soul. Sara wrote for (In)courage, a division of Dayspring Cards and Gifts.

In Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts, author Mary Carver introduces her friend, Sara Frankl,  to us through her memories of Sara and Sara’s own words. Mary writes, “Sara Frankl lived with chronic pain as a result of autoimmune disease called ankylosing spondylitis and was eventually confined to her home before dying at 38 years old. If anyone had a reason to focus on the unfairness of life, it was her. Yet Sara accomplished something few can, especially those enduring intense pain: she chose joy.”  

IMG_2426And she did…

Sara’s humility and passion for others slams at the walls of my heart at a time when it seems our society and our world in general  scream, “It’s all about me!” Her transparency in dealing with an illness that trapped her and held her body captive left me amazed and humbled, but her honesty was always shared with subtle joy and encouragement. She made me want to fight a little harder in my own battles.

Sara writes, “Through the hardest times in my life, I stayed open enough to learn my greatest lesson: control is an illusion. Life will do with me what it pleases, my circumstances will change, my pain will fluctuate, my finances will come and go, my health will alter at will (and alter my weight right along with it), and the only thing I can do is stay open to letting God change me in those circumstances. He used the circumstances of my life to help me grow, He used those circumstances to change my heart. We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with Him. And more often than not, being changed hurts.” Choose Joy, p.40-41

 

As Sara’s physical world became smaller because of the progression of her illness, she realized her expectations and goals needed to reflect the new normal she was being forced to live. Sara crafted a list of life goals which she wrote on the wall of her closet, a creative space she had created.

IMG_2529

“I wrote my list of Life Goals on that wall, reminding myself that my goals weren’t things I could “do” or “accomplish.” They were goals for how I wanted to live in my spirit. It’s a list we all should sit down and make–a list I wish I had made when I was well and able-bodied…They are lofty goals. They’re not easy to reach every day. But they are what I was left with when I took away the idea of having a career, having a family, having financial security or some sort of status in society. I think it’s something I had to look at, but it’s something I should have been looking at all along.”

I must tell you that it has been a long time since I have poured over a book as I have with Choose Joy. I have read and reread her words. I have used them and her Scripture references as part of my daily quiet time…

Her words and life have made a beautiful impact on me and my Advent season this year. It is my deepest hope that many people will also be impacted by Sara and Mary’s words…by Sara’s life.

You may preorder your copy of Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts  today. The book is slated for release on January 5th.

Visit the The Sara Gitz Frankl Memorial Foundation to learn more about Sara and the Choose Joy Foundation.

I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have served as part of the Choose Joy Book Launch Team, and it has been my JOY to share this book with my friends.

Merry Christmas…Choose JOY!

 

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