About the Author

Sara Frankl entered into the arms of Jesus on September 24, 2011, but her legacy of choosing joy lives on. Her blog, Gitzen Girl, is about her commitment to embracing the story God had for her. Her illness stripped her of the potential for a job and family and status,...

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  1. sara – i love how organized you are and how well you plan out things. your closet is fantastic! just looking at the pics inspire me!

    my life’s goal, right now, is…

    do it. even if i’m afraid…do it.

    you know that my One Word this year is clarity. but even when things don’t seem all that clear, and i know in my spirit what i’m supposed to do, regardless…then i’ve gotta do it.

    there’s more to it than just that…so i hope this makes sense.

    • it’s such a lesson, isn’t it, to discover that things being clear and being clear in your spirit are two very different things. it makes total sense to me, friend. 🙂

  2. Sara, I love your “aclove.” Thank you for sharing…. I love how you wrote .. it is beautiful. I think of you a lot. Still praying as I remember how tough it was when I lost my Dad in 2007.

    God is showing me that He wants me to dig deeper…. my word for this year is MERCY. I really thought this word would be intertwined w/ me becoming more involved with Compassion International but God continues to show me that what I think and what He thinks are two different things. MERCY for me…. for the children too…. for my situation… for me to cry out to Him… more.

    Thank you again for sharing.

    much love~

    • i have discovered that every single year that I’ve chosen my “one little word” … it takes on so many more meanings than I ever intended or imagined. sometimes that makes for hard but good lessons.

      and thank you for praying. i keep waiting for the day when i don’t wake up with him first on my mind, but maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. we’re all adapting, for sure.

    • it’s one of the reasons i started painting on canvases… i ran out of room on my wall. 🙂 that was my favorite thing about finally owning instead of renting. i love color!

  3. This is wonderful! I love the alcove and I may need to do that in my next home. I have my condo on the market so it wouldn’t be a good selling quality! But I really like it!

    My life goal: I think it would have to be what I said to my friend at church who has walked beside me for 3 years now. She has been helping me through some really tough times and teaching me so much along the way. I told her that one day when I grow up (I’m 40 yrs old 🙂 ) I want to be like her. I want my light to shine for Jesus just as bright as her light shines for him. I want to be able to help someone in their walk with Jesus just like she has helped me. I no longer want to have questions deep in my heart that start with “Are you sure He….” because the question or statement should be all the time “He will….”

    So I want to be a light for Jesus for someone who may be sitting in the dark somewhere. Someone who needs help walking out of the dark.

    Lisa

    • “to be a light for Jesus” … what a beautiful and perfect phrase. i think the fact that you can see that, say it, want it, means you are already shining, lisa.

  4. First of all, the alcove is darling and inspiring.

    Second of all, thank you for sharing your life goals. I think these are goals I subconsciously have, but need to write down. I will be discussing these with my husband tonight, as I see writing life goals in our near future.

    • that was the thing for me, Amber… i think they were always subconscious for me, but when I am struggling having them written down as a visual reminder was so beneficial. i’m a girl who sometimes needs things “in my face.” 🙂

      i love that you will do it with your husband. what a beautiful thing to have these kinds of goals for your marriage as well.

  5. The first time I am in a home where I can write on the walls I want to do that!! That looks super cool!!…although maybe I shouldn’t because if I tried the effect wouldn’t really come across very well–my art skills have not progressed much past the first grade level…

    • i’m sure your first grade level is fantastic. 🙂 and the good thing about doing the writing in a closet is that you can always shut the doors back up if you don’t like it. 🙂

  6. I love your wall of dooodles and inspiration! I may just do the same. Thanks for sharing it! I’m inspired and I love sayings and scriptures and colors too. :o)

  7. Sara, What an inspirational post, pictures, examples, and question. Thanks for giving us this peek into a significant corner of your world. I think my life goals always center around the concept of LOVING WELL. Loving Jesus, loving others– Intentionally and with utter lack of concern for self or gain.

    Thanks for the inspirational challenge this morning. I LOVE your list.

    • there is something so freeing about loving for no reason but to love. because we want to reflect Him. it’s in those moments of lack of concern for self or gain that i think we often gain the most. i love that goal. 🙂

  8. everything about your post put me at peace and gave me courage at the same time…truly a blessing!

    i really like your Life Goals, can I make them mine;)?

    • you can 🙂 i’d be honored to share my goals simply because following them and remembering them has so vastly improved my life. thanks, sweets.

  9. Your “alcove” is sooo charming! I loved the “Choose Joy” message the most. Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart and blessing us with your words. I know you know this already but God delights in you and you truly are a blessing!

    • you are so kind, stephanie. and choose joy is one of my favorites, too. it reminds me it’s not about receiving, it’s about choosing. i can do that every day.

  10. Sara, thank you for sharing your words of wisdom; for being a blessing to those of us trailing alongside you through your blog entries. You are an inspiration, and a friend who understands.

  11. Love the alcove…you have inspired me today. I noticed the “Intentional” on the left side of your alcove and that is what I plan to do…be intentional in everything I do. You are an inspiration…I will keep you in my prayers. I will be a follower of your blog from now on. Thank you for sharing your life journey.

  12. I needed your words today and the shot-to-the-heart dose of courage that they gave me to look in and define “me”. I’m in a season of huge transitions and stripping away… and it’s been HARD. Thank you for this post…

    • i know it’s hard and scary, but i promise you this time will also strengthen and free you. i’m so glad we can be a part of your journey as well.

  13. You have inspired me with your alcove… although I would probably call it a prayer closet 🙂 Words of encouragement and prayer for living life well.

    I am sharing a favorite quote: “I used to ask God if He would come and help me; then I asked God if I might come and help Him; then I ended by asking God to do His own work through me.” ~ Hudson Taylor

    God is doing His work through you… thanks for being an encourager! I’m looking forward to the “One Thousand Gifts” book club with you!

    • i LOVE that quote. thank you for sharing it. that was kind of my process, to be honest. finally getting to the point where nothing is more important than Him and what He needs from me. thanks for that.

  14. Wow. How you make the small spaces into something beautiful—whether a closet or an illness—is a skill we could all learn. Thank you for sharing your heart so that we can learn from you.

  15. God bless you, girl friend! That’s a lovely place…and you’re living your moments honoring Him in the ways you can. Cheers!

  16. First of all, I love that space! It’s so creative and inspiring. But, more important, I love your faith. Thank you for encouraging us even through your toughest times.

    Ginger

  17. Thank you, Sarah. It’s a balm reading this honest thought from you. It’s a joy to be reminded that HE is good and He is enough. Whispered a prayer for you – of thanks and of grace. Thank you. Psalms 73:26

  18. It is whimsical – and magical – and blessed – your wall. It helps of course that you are so artistic 🙂

    I think I saw an “intentional” in there to the left? No?

    And your words, “To love what I have and not yearn for what I lack.” I get it – I really do. My body also betrays me. Not like yours – and I don’t get all you are going through – but I get enough little snippets to be proud to just be reading you.

    My life goal? One word – LOVE.

    Thank you for this.

    God Bless

    • what a high compliment, bernice. i think especially in our health and emotional struggles, we find our only solace from it all is in Him. just like in the good times.

  19. I am so blessed by having found your writings. Thank you for being you and for inspiring and encouraging me and so many others!

    My life goals at the moment would look something like this…

    Be kinder & more patient.
    Love & Forgive EVERYONE for Everything (including myself 🙂
    Enlighten others about hidden illnesses and the struggles people who have them go through, and pray for people’s understanding and compassion for them.

    PS… Love your Alcove! You inspire me to create more freely! Thank you 🙂

    • isn’t that “including myself” part sometimes the hardest? i know for me it is. and then i remember it’s not my job, it’s His and He already took care of it. but I do have to remind myself often. 🙂

  20. sara… i LOVE this. and I’ve read your blog for years and never knew about your little “alcove.” what a perfect space for YOU!!! love that you’ve personalized it in such a way that brings you happiness. thank you for encouraging all of us!

    • thanks, friend! there really is something about surrounding ourselves with good words to keep us focused. it definitely helped me and my attitude 🙂

  21. I love your alcove! (You’re so right– alcove is waaay better than “closet office.”)

    Your life goals are so–trying to think of the right word– transcendent. I’ve been chronically ill for 4 1/2 years, and I still find myself in the vicious cycle of chasing after the goals of success that the world has created, and then chastising myself because I can never even come close to meeting them with my illness. But when it comes down to it, the world’s goals are worthless–something that your life demonstrates beautifully.

    Thanks.

    • oh, i get it, Kate. just know it’s a process… but it’s also the little things you do every day that can help you through that process. keeping focused on who you want to be instead of how you want to be really does make a difference. praying for you right now.

  22. I love the colors! The other day I told my friend that I was thinking about painting my living room. She said, “You should go with a neutral.” I looked at her and said, “Yeah….” She understood and said, “You’re not really a ‘neutral’ kinda girl, are you?”

    When my daughter was little, she started early to make her mark on this world. I’d be dusting her window sill and find she’d written her name on the back side of the curtain, or on the wall of her closet, or on her headboard. When we moved from that house, I left her name in all of the places she had written it. We’ve been gone from that house for over ten years and I imagine the “new” owners are still finding her name written…

    • you can’t tell in these photos, but the room that surrounds that alcove is all red. i LOVE color. i find it shapes my mood. now that i’m in the bedroom all the time, i am soon going to have the color in here changed. it’s a little too dark to be in all the time. 😉

      and i love that your daughter leaves her mark on the world. 🙂 i’m guessing she got that spark from her mama.

  23. I want to come once a week and stare at your desk-closet… it inspires me Gitz 🙂

    These are my values: Healing; Love; Lifelong Learning; Truth in All Things; Nurture Creative Expression; Compassion; Encourage; Build Healthy Relationships; Wisdom; Integrity; Model (Example)

    These are my goals: 5-10 Year Goals: 11.9.2006
    Finish my degree(s) (Be credentialed); To know who I am & be able to help others find their true identity (Be whole); Publish at least one book & several articles (Be a professional writer and a published author); Be actively involved in ministry wherever I am (Be locally impacting); Speak at women’s conferences (Be a speaker); Be married and have a healthy spiritual, emotional, physical, social, intellectual, and relational connection with my husband (Be intimate); Continue growing and enjoying my musical skills (Be worshipful); Define my ministry path (Be focused); Be involved in international missions (Be globally impacting); Learn Arabic fluently (Be multi-culturally available); Know Greek & Hebrew well enough to exegete (Be wise); Have healthy bonded relationships with friends & family (Be relationally connected); Develop an unquenchable passion for, and heart-level knowledge of God, His word, and His ways (Be connected and inspired); Be an example in my community of a woman of great faith and impact who has been a good steward of time, talents, relationships, and dollars (Be an example); Be in a helping profession (Be giving); Have school paid for with scholarships & grants (Be debt free); Have a good attitude in all things (Be flexible)

    Now, ask me how intentional I am being in these? I’m not so confident. I like your list better 🙂

    • oh, jenny, why am i not surprised? you live these values better than you think. just knowing you from here i would use them to describe you. i just love your heart.

  24. I loved reading your story. I love your Alcove. What a beautiful place you made for yourself. I *love* the doodling and all of the positive quotes that you have written on your walls. You are such an inspiration to me.

    My life goals are to live in the moment, to accept where I am in my life and to just do it on the days that I can. 🙂

    Mary

    • “just do it on the days that I can” … oh my word, Mary, I need to add this one. i get so frustrated with myself on the days I just can’t. good word. thank you 🙂

  25. I like your list! These are the most important things- but it is so easy to get distracted. The way that you allow your circumstances to not define you but just more clearly “focus” you is inspiring. thanks!

  26. Sara… this is so fantastic! Quite amazing. How wonderful it must have felt to break out the markers and start writing your inspirations on the wall. Something we all wanted to do at one time or another… but never just did it! Such a great reminder to surround ourselves with all that GOOD stuff! 🙂 You share your heart beautifully… thank you.

    • you create all the time, so I’m sure you already have that great release, but I HIGHLY recommend breaking out the sharpies and writing on walls. it is so fun. i started painting canvases for the first time not long after running out of wall space. it’s harder and harder for me to be creative, but i find it so worth fighting for.

      thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  27. Gitz, you are living these goals and helping all of us do the same. Thanks for being brave, beatiful, a reminder of what truly matters most with every breath. XOXO

  28. I think my list would be
    1. To follow Christ, no matter what to trust Him
    2. To love
    3. And to live an honest life
    4. To focus on what is good

    • i went and looked… so fun! i think the kitchen would be the most appropriate place for most families. mine, however, is the least used room in my house. 🙂 becky homecky i am not!

  29. Thanks for sharing your list. I just spent time this weekend on my current list and I love your statement “the list that comes to fruition when you strip away all the world has to offer and uses to define us.” I will have to go back and review your list and weird you wrote this as God was also speaking to me about what defines me this morning. I too need to keep my list close. The word intentional has hit me hard for a year or two and I think a current and ever present list will help. Thank you for your encouragement to us!

    • don’t you love how God starts with a whisper and then ends up beating you over the head eventually if necessary??? 🙂

  30. Thank you for this post. I also read ‘Define Joy’ (Nov 10, 2008) on your blog and both articles have been like little seeds of hope planted in my heart. They have also been like neon construction signs telling me to go in another direction – the way that veers me away from danger.

    I’m going to write that list down in my diary. I’ll also write down your definition of joy – something I’ve realized that I’ve been missing and want to have, again.

    Thank you.

    • oh, dannielle. i’m so glad they meant something to you. and i want you to have that joy, too… choose it every day and hold onto it. pray that He helps you choose it. it will be worth it every moment.

  31. What a blessing you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you never knew the purpose of your life THIS IS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You inspire everyone who comes in contact with you to be better! Your heart is so big I don’t know how it fits in your chest. God had a very special plan for you dear girl. Every time I read your words I am uplifted and in awe. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being. XO, Pinky

    • Pinky, you are SO kind. and you give me way too much credit. it’s your heart that hears the words and applies them. thank you for showing up and reading and taking it to heart.

  32. What an inspiration you are! I love your alcove and I want one! Sooner or later we’ll figure it out 🙂 I have no extra closets or rooms but we have an area in the laundry room that we’re going to transform. I am so looking forward to reading more of your work and I am praying for you!!!

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

    • the laundry room would be a perfect place! it’s a room where you don’t like to be [usually] and the inspiring words would set your heart right. i love it!

  33. i’ve been overwhelmed lately. i can’t even put into words everything that’s been coming at me and i turned to my devotions this morning and then began seeking out blog posts asking God to “please give me some perspective and direction…”

    sara, THANK YOU. thank you for allowing the Lord to use you to speak to others, to provide encouragement and to provide perspective.

    • that right there makes all things worth it. i’m sorry life has been throwing you curve balls, but you’re already winning by turning to the One who has it all figured out. 🙂

  34. I have always loved seeing the glimpses into your wall of doodles! I absolutely love your list. So much more meaning to it than most life “goal” lists, and infinitely more important to think about and focus on. As always, you are so inspiring. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers, both for your health and happiness and for your grief. Praying for peace for you in all things.

    • you are in mine, too, kaycee. i still thank God your dad turned out ok. it’s one of those blessings i like to hold onto… it’s a great reminder of the good things that happen. 🙂

  35. oh, sara. once again you nearly stop my heart with the poignancy and Spirit-directed beauty of your words and life. i love your goals, and i want to live my life defined. thanks for encouraging me to do this exercise.

    i want my never-changing life goal to be to be willing to grow toward God like a sunflower grows toward the sun, never taking my eyes off of the source of all things necessary for living the godly life He has invited me to, called me to. may He allow me this privilege.

    • that is the perfect goal … it’s the one that all others fall under in subtitles. because if your eyes are on him, jenn, you’re going to keep going through life beautifully.

  36. I loved seeing the flow of the Holy Spirit and creativity through your alcove. I would love to flow like that too in freedom and art. 🙂 There are times I think about taking some art classes to be able to minister with words and simple illustrations. So fun, so free, so encouraging, and so deep. Your courageous spirit encourages me. I recently picked up calligraphy pens to start playing with words in a creative outlet. Love it when one senses that Spirit of God flowing through the creativity He gives us. Peace, joy, sunshine, grace and glory shine over your life. Sweet restful dreams to you tonight. Sending you a hug from God and me to encourage you today.

    • I LOVE doing calligraphy. i don’t hold a pen as well as I used to, but I gave a starter set to a little 10 year old friend of mine for Christmas this year. There really is something about letting words flow out beautifully that makes everything art. I hope you keep it up. we are meant to be creative, i believe.

  37. Sara, I’ve been following your blog for the past several months and am in awe at your faith and courage. Having just turned 65, my plan was to retire from church ministry – and all of a sudden God has me starting on a whole new career! My goal has quickly switched to ‘Trusting the Mystery’….. I don’t understand but that’s ok, because He does! God bless you!

    • it’s amazing how God has plans regardless of our own, isn’t it? i admire you so much for being open enough to say ‘yes’ even when yes wasn’t in your thoughts.

  38. I love your alcove! Isn’t that a great word?! When I was little I always wanted a house with nooks and alcoves like some of my older relatives had! I’m in the process of dreaming my little “spare room” into a sewing/craft room…or maybe “studio” since that sounds more exciting. (I’ll still have the love seat with the hide-a-bed, so it can double as a spare room.) My orderly personality won’t let me write on the walls…but I’m thinking maybe a poster would be fun! Or a whiteboard…or a blackboard…hmm… I like your life goals – I think maybe it’s time to write some down. I like your word on the wall “intentional” – I need that reminder too frequently. Thanks for sharing your personal space and encouraging so many of us!

    • another idea for your craft room: get some white canvases from a craft store, paint them and write on them. i make them and it’s so fun to do. it might suit your orderly nature 🙂

      • this morning I was lying in bed and staring at the cream wall above the closet door and desk/shelf unit facing my bed… (With10′ ceilings, it’s a fairly good-sized space.) I was picturing how I could paint poster or foam core to match the walls and after I’ve written and doodled on them, putting them up there to be an encouragement when I wake up. Thank you, my friend – I think I’ll do it! I’ll have to write big – these middle aged eyes don’t see quite as clearly as they used to, lol! Maybe you need to do something like that in your bedroom since you’ve not been able to be inspired in your alcove lately…and I’ll pray that you’re able to be up and about soon! I also found a darling mini journal in a thrift shop yesterday with blank unlined pages…and I decided to use it similarly – I was touched recently by an e-mail message by Chuck Swindoll. He wrote about how his mother kept little encouragement journals…just verses and thoughts…and gifted them to others. Seems the Lord is telling me to do this in the mouth of two or three witnesses, so I’d better do it! Blessings to you today.

  39. I came across this as I was reading about another blogger my friend posted on Facebook.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and your heart. and it is not by mistake that this has happened to me, it was His plan ALL ALONG. I once told God I loved him, and gave my life to Him to do with what He wanted, and although I meant it, I was not prepared for HOW God would do this. I see now that God was just answering my prayer–just in a way that I did not want or expect–but that He is still GOOD and HOLY and He still deserves my LOVE. I was selfish for almost 6 years, forgetting all the blessings of the past because of the trials of the present.

    But God opened my eyes and I have asked Him to forgive me for not loving Him when things didn’t go my way, and I finally realized that God hadn’t given up on me–I gave up on Him. 🙁 But I thank Him for mercy and 2nd chances–and HIS unchanging character and love. I now believe with all my heart that God really loves me, and I now know I really LOVE HIM, TOO. <3 Love isn't shown when we embrace the easy and happy times, it is proven when we accept the suffering and trials as well. I honestly think I love Him more and trust Him more now than I ever did before. I used to look at that time in my life without pain and disbility as a time of great faith and love for God, but I now see how shallow that was, and that God is teaching me the true meaning of it everyday that I pick up my cross and endure the physical and emotional suffering with faith and a happy heart. :0)

    I look forward to reading your blog. And I want you to know that my heart embraces you as I read it, I am where you are to a certain degree, and although I am not house-bound I know what it is like to feel like I'm in a prison in my body, and a slave to disability and weakness.

    Keep the faith dear one, The sufferings of this present time are truly not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us. 😀
    ~Edythe~

  40. A portion of my comment was somehow not included, hope you don’t mind me reposting it…

    I came across this as I was reading about another blogger my friend posted on Facebook.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and your heart.

    I suffer with spine and neck problems, not the same kind you have, but I too have had to embrace the “after” life in 2004 when my health suddenly and forever changed. It was a long grieving process to “bury” the person I was and embrace the person God now wanted me to be. I used to think that I was the only one so young (20 years old at the time) who had so much pain and limitation after living a somewhat “normal” life. It just seemed unfair that I had to modify my dreams and had to completely revolve my life around deformity and pain. But I don’t feel that way anymore. God has really shown me that although others may not understand my losses and suffering, HE DOES> and it is not by mistake that this has happened to me, it was His plan ALL ALONG. I once told God I loved him, and gave my life to Him to do with what He wanted, and although I meant it, I was not prepared for HOW God would do this. I see now that God was just answering my prayer–just in a way that I did not want or expect–but that He is still GOOD and HOLY and He still deserves my LOVE. I was selfish for almost 6 years, forgetting all the blessings of the past because of the trials of the present.

    But God opened my eyes and I have asked Him to forgive me for not loving Him when things didn’t go my way, and I finally realized that God hadn’t given up on me–I gave up on Him. 🙁 But I thank Him for mercy and 2nd chances–and HIS unchanging character and love. I now believe with all my heart that God really loves me, and I now know I really LOVE HIM, TOO. <3 Love isn't shown when we embrace the easy and happy times, it is proven when we accept the suffering and trials as well. I honestly think I love Him more and trust Him more now than I ever did before. I used to look at that time in my life without pain and disbility as a time of great faith and love for God, but I now see how shallow that was, and that God is teaching me the true meaning of it everyday that I pick up my cross and endure the physical and emotional suffering with faith and a happy heart. :0)

    I look forward to reading your blog. And I want you to know that my heart embraces you as I read it, I am where you are to a certain degree, and although I am not house-bound I know what it is like to feel like I'm in a prison in my body, and a slave to disability and weakness.

    Keep the faith dear one, The sufferings of this present time are truly not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us. 😀
    ~Edythe~

  41. I had a dream; I Googled it and there you were with the message I’ve been writing about Choosing Joy: ” From the moment your creator opens up your eyes, you should feel light as you can see light. That reality should give you joy; that feeling of being alive and being able to see light and life should make you want to jump for joy and as you do, praise his holy name Alleluia!
    The more you exercise the right to be joyful, the more aware and appreciative you’ll be when there is something to be joyful about.”~Ashinkele
    Keep letting your light shine. Perhaps the dream was to let me see, feel and understand what true debilitation is; as everyday My neck and back sometimes keep me from being able to walk and look around, but I’m still able to get around. Praise God! As for you dear one, can you take some pictures (have someone take them) of your Heavenly ALcove and place them in the room you’re getting ready to paint to keep you inspired. There are so many that is strengthened and enlightened by your courage, will, unselfish love, and inspiring words, and life. Always the best, simply because it’s your season.
    Yours in Joy
    Ashinkele