What would you do if you were going to die soon? What wisdom would you impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance? Sara Frankl's eventual death was indeed tragic, but the vignettes she presents are unforgettable. CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Her words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to "choose joy." Readers will find themselves contemplating what really matters and move to reassess their day-to-day perspective on life.
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About the Author
MARY CARVER is a writer of a personal blog, Giving Up on Perfect, and has been published in several blogs and magazines. Mary lives with her husband and two daughters in Kansas City.
Table of Contents
1 Roses in December: On Dreams and Stories 1
2 Silver and Gold: On Losing Abilities 12
3 Here to Be Changed: On Facing Pain 28
4 Resting Quietly on the Heart of Jesus: On Dealing with Fear 42
5 Giving Up and Letting Go. On Expectations and Goals 57
6 Rainbows and Rain: On Wanting What You Have 71
7 Placed Purposefully: On Surrender and Trust 87
8 Everything Is a Miracle: On Gratitude and Praise 100
9 Giving What We Are. On Serving and Community 115
10 God's Best: On Being Thankful for What You Had 133
11 The Life You've Been Given: On How I Want to Be Remembered 147
12 God Is Awake: On Living and Dying Well 158
Appendix: Tributes to Sara 177
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver is a tender love story between Sara & God, whereby she allows the reader to peek into her world of chronic illness. Her clearly communicated message of hope that life is really a precious gift from God, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, is one of encouragement and immeasurable faith! Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver is a newly released candid writing filled with inspiring advice that will not only make you "feel" joyful, but will actually teach you how to choose joy even if your plans don't line up with what the Lord has assigned for your life. The book is presented as a series of blog posts from the deceased Sara Frankl and narrated by Mary Carver. Where do I begin with this book? First off, I had no prior knowledge or connections with either of these writer's blogs. I simply chose this book for it's title, because I want to "choose joy" in my life. I mean who doesn't want that, right? However, this quickly became more than just "another book" for me. It's depth and stripped down simplicity for all things pertaining to the true meaning of a well lived life are present in every single chapter. Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times bestselling author writes on the back cover, "This isn't a story about dying. It's a story about living." I would have to disagree with part of that. I think this is a story about living and dying. The book is pertinent for all of us, but I would quickly hand this book to anyone with a terminal illness, as Sara's walk through the valley of death could be very comforting to another who is in the same situation. Her contagious trust in a loving God and her ability to express it in an encouraging manner are incredible! She brings an authenticity that only someone actually enduring such suffering and one having been given the finality of a death sentence could manage. Those of us who have never experienced this kind of life altering illness can talk about how we would respond, but until we are living it, we don't know. Sara knew. This book transparently reveals her choice to stand firm in her conviction that God is a loving God and that He only does good. She doesn't throw out cliche' phrases, but instead provides a blueprint on how she chose joy...and how we can too. That is what makes this book so unique. Sara shares that life is a series of moments. We need to make a conscious effort to be completely present in those moments with attentive intention, so that we don't miss a single opportunity that God has for us. Her statement that, "It's not easy, but it is simple," sounds like an oxymoron, but in fact is a profound thought that Sara applied to her everyday life and it served to fuel her fire to continually apply joy in every situation. Sara believed deeply that there was a purpose for her illness and she wanted to be sure she didn't miss the assignment God had given her by wishing for a different one. Mary Carver flawlessly utilizes her talented writing skills to connect each of Sara's blog posts throughout the book. This gives the reader insight into what was happening in Sara's life at the time of the different entries. Mary helps to give perspective into Sara's emotional, physical, and spiritual state and therefore provides even further dimension to Sara's story. The only regret I have in reading Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver is that I nev
Choose Joy. Sounds easy enough if you are a regular person having a sorta bad day like someone took your parking space or something like that. . .However, Choose Joy was a conscious choice that Sara Frankl made every day. She lived in chronic pain for many years as a result of a rare autoimmune disease. For several of those years she was confined to her home.Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver tells the story of Sara's life. It isn't the story of her disease but instead it is the story of how she chose to live each day for Jesus and reflected Him in her life. Choose Joy is Sara's words shared about lessons she learned while the disease progressed. Each lesson is pieced together with words of preface from her close friend Mary Carver. Sara blogged for several years as Gitzen Girl and was one of the writers at In-Courage. Before she became ill, Sara worked for a magazine and writing was a part of who she was. She was also a creative gal who designed her own type and made her words into art for her friends and family. I was amazed at how she continued to share and offer herself to all she came in contact with both on-line and in person. After reading this book, I can say she truly reflected God's love to all she knew. I highly recommend it to any Christian wanting to reflect God's love regardless of what is going on in their life. I think Choose Joy would also make a good gift for someone in a similar situation to help show them look to the good in their life. Sara Frankl passed away on September 24, 2011, but her legacy lives on. Besides reading her book, Choose Joy, you can also see her story on her blog at www.gitzengirl.blogspot.com. I didn't find her blog until shortly before she entered the arms of Jesus. At the time, I remember being intrigued by her positive attitude and joy in life despite her struggled and pain from her disease. I was also intrigued because she's another Iowa girl (like I am). I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.
Blogging and social media were waters which I had tread upon slowly and with caution. Over the last few years, they have proven to be a place where rich and meaningful bonds have been forged in my life. New friendships have been founded and old ones renewed. Life has been enhanced through each and every one. People have often questioned as to the authenticity of friendships made online. In looking back over the years, I have discovered those which were rooted in love – for God, His Word and people – have lasted the test of time. My longest online friendship began during Beth Moore’s first online study, Believing God. There I met Bev and over the pages of that study and our Bibles, our friendship grew as our love for God did as well. We have now shared children growing up, bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, anniversaries, and crises together. And through all of it, we have laughed, cried, and encouraged one another to hold onto our God. It was with this in mind, I signed up to join the launch team for Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. I had heard of Sara through social media but she had already left this earth by that point, so I did not ever experience the delight of getting to know her. The thoughts of her friends, as they wrote and shared of her, moved me. Every word of this book touched me deeply – growing in me the desire to connect better, reach out to others, and to always choose joy. This is a story of a woman’s journey with both life and death. Yet it is the living which speaks louder and more boldly with each page. Sara lived well and loved better. She valued the people God placed in her life, always sincerely more interested in them than in her own circumstances. In the midst of struggling with a rare autoimmune disease which would eventually take her life, she chose to make others laugh and share their lives with her. She chose joy – being joyful and spreading joy to those around her. This is what she noted about friendships: “I never cease to be amazed how, in every stage of my life, God has opened my heart to so many friendships. I love that I have friends who make me laugh until I cry. I love that some of my friends are so shy, until they get comfortable, and then they shock the life out of me with things they say or do. I love that some friends are intellectual and planners. I love that other friends go totally on emotion and spontaneity abounds. I have friends who are so much like me I think we may be the same person, and I have friends who are so opposite of me they keep me looking at life from different angles. I love that God knew I needed all of it and placed me right where I needed to be to find each and every one of them.” (page 7) This is a book about life and friendships and joy. I laughed. I cried. The book brought reflection about the mysterious way God weaves His people together. Sara challenged me to love well. Truly the most important gift we can give one another is the gift of our full and undivided attention. This is the gift that will long be remembered. Even after we are gone. Yes, I was given a copy of the book to review. It has truly been my joy, and to my own benefit, to read each word. It’s a powerful book which will impact every reader deeply.
When I think about my life I think about all of the things that God has blessed me with. God also gives me tests, great, beautiful, blessed tests. However, I have to believe that those things ARE blessings. Otherwise, you can get a really great idea that things are perfect, because God makes us perfectly, imperfect. in that imperfrctiin, you must CHOOSE JOY each time there is a test. as Sara Frankl and Mary Carver say in this fabulous book, Choose Joy. It is a matter of Choosing Joy. Sara's life was full of those kinds of tests. an auto immune disease that confined her to her home, allergies that would make her severely ill, and in all of that, she CHOSE JOY each and every day. Sara learned to see the good side in everything. Between her real life world and her blogging world, Sara changed lives with the movement Choose Joy. This book explains that. I highly recommend it and the blessings you will receive while reading Choose Joy
Getting to know Sara through her blog changed my life. We were both bloggers in our 30s when we met in 2009. I was captivated by her bouncy red curls and her infectious spirit. Faith was another thread that wove us together. At the time, Sara was living with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease that attacks the spine and joints, and I was being tested for it. She was gracious to reach out to me during that time. Over the following couple of years, I was diagnosed and both of us experienced worsening pain and quality of life. There were many nights of severe pain, when I would lie awake in bed and re-read her blog posts. Sara was one of two bloggers living with severe health problems and pain that inspired me to adopt an attitude of joy, gratitude and positivity. I credit Sara with showing me how to live life with a debilitating, painful health condition with no cure. Joy has been as much a part of my toolkit as any treatment program. I firmly believe that without knowing Sara and reading her blog, my life with AS wouldn’t have been as manageable as it has been. Sara passed away from complications in 2011 and I grieved along with so many others who knew her. A light went out when she died, but her candle of joy had lit so many others’ that her legacy has created a glow that burns brightly still. That’s why I was so thrilled when I heard that Mary Carver, another of Sara’s blogging friends, was working with Sara’s family to put together a book of Sara’s writings. It was titled in tribute to Sara’s motto: Choose Joy! I knew this book would help continue to spread Sara’s remarkable legacy of choosing joy. I have no words to express how thankful I am to Mary for putting this book together. Putting Sara’s blog posts into book form, while not taking over the spotlight, must have been no easy task, but Mary masterfully pieced her own thoughts, explanations, and transitions together with Sara’s words in a way that only highlights Sara’s writing voice. I was privileged to be part of the Choose Joy Book Launch Team and receive a copy of Choose Joy to read in advance. Faith was a big part of Sara’s life and outlook, and as such, references to Heaven, God, and an eternal perspective are woven throughout Sara’s book. Whether you are religious or not, I think reading Choose Joy can be a deeply life-altering experience that will leave the reader thoughtful for some time to come. Although Sara’s circumstances were extreme, I believe anyone going through challenging things (be it illness, pain, isolation, loneliness, or loss) will benefit from Sara’s words. You may very well find your perspective changed for the better from reading this book. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
This book is a MUST read for the new year. I read it straight through in 3 hours. I found Sara's blog the year before she passed and was always encouraged by her. This book is a journey through her hard, unimaginable struggles where she fought to find and really life joyfully regardless of how she felt. We all have a choice how we are going to respond to life...I want to choose joy like Sara did.
I was one of the many people who was both challenged and encouraged by Sara's blog for about a year before she passed away. Sara had a deep relationship with God and a pretty remarkable understanding of hanging on to joy when life is hard. Like most of us, I've experienced some difficult things through the course of my life, including recently starting over after a tornado. I truly believe that Sara was one of the people that God placed in my path to prepare my heart for the journey. The new book Choose Joy Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver pulls together many of the things Sara learned and shared on her blog during her illness. She wisely chose to trust the God who loved her and this enabled her to be joyful in suffering and let her joy flow over on everyone she encountered. I love the wisdom in the following quote from Choose Joy: "He (God) fixes the problem when I ask Him to fix me. I believe He can do anything. I think He can physically heal me, I think He can stop a tornado and halt a flood. But I think what is most powerful is when He lets natural things happen and lets people use their free will, and at the same time fixes my heart and spirit to handle them." Such a wise perspective enabled Sara and all of us to face the difficult and the unknown with joy. Choose Joy is one of those books that will change your perspective on today and prepare your heart for whatever tomorrow brings.
I loved meeting Sara Frankl through the pages of this book and through the words of her friend, Mary Carver. One of Sara Frankl's life goals was to spread joy, not fear. She did so in the lives of the people she loved, the life-affirming words she wrote, and the way she lived her life in courage and humility. Read her story...her words continue to encourage and spread joy. This book...Sara Frankl's words, her life made me want to live out my faith in a deeper, more intentional way. It profoundly impacted this whiny self-absorbed girl. This a memoir about the life of a woman who battled ankylosing spondylitis and leukopenia. Homebound for the last two years of her life, Sara chose to live a life of JOY in spite of excruciating physical pain. Her faith, friends and family define the imprint she left on this earth. Sara's overwhelming gratitude kept her planted when life seemed too hard, too big, and too lonely. "I'm learning how to fully live right in the middle of the hard, in the here and that which is known, because if this is my life, if this is where I am - then this is where God is, too. And if I'm wasting all of my time and energy trying to control the unknown of the future rather than fulfilling what He many need from me right now, then I am wasting God's time as well. It all boils down to this: none of it is unknown to Him." Sara Frankl It was a tremendous honor to be allowed to read this book as part of the book launch team. This is a book that will linger with my heart for a while and I know I will share it with many...