I totally set myself up last January.
2009 was a year filled with really hard things for me. My disease [ankylosing spondylitis] had progressed, and I developed steroid-induced Cushings trying to treat it, which created more pain on top of pain than I thought possible. Added to all of that – my mostly homebound existence turned into a completely homebound one. I went from at least sitting on my patio for some fresh air to never being able to open a window or a door again.
I was pretty sure it couldn’t get any worse than 2009. I was so ready to jump into 2010 and revel in what I was sure was going to be a rebuilding year.
Ahhh… the best laid plans.
My disease continued to progress this year. I lost more abilities to do things within my home, my immune system depleted to the point where I now have to give a checklist to people before I can let them in to see me…
and worst of all…
I lost my dad.
I lost the most important man in my life, and I couldn’t even go home to his funeral. 2010 definitely exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t even have imagined one as tumultuous as this.
Now, here I am, knocking at the door of 2011.
Thankfully, it’s not in my nature to be pessimistic.
Instead, I’m thinking of something Dad said about his life and how he was living it. Dad believed that we are all just spiritual beings put here on earth to live out our human existence.
Think about that for a minute.
Imagine if we all went about our lives remembering the core of who we are… a Spirit born in the image of Christ… who is sent here to fulfill a purpose before going back home.
I forget that so easily. I want to make this life all about me. All about my human existence instead of my spiritual being. I want to worry about my health and my finances and my housing and my potential. I want less pain and more easy. I want I want I want.
But what I have is a mission. A purpose. I am here to live the best life I can with what I have been 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.
Dad died in the most random way. He is one of the less than 1% of people who got stung by an insect and died of anaphylactic shock. He was strong and healthy and full of life, but it was his time to go Home. We don’t know the day. We don’t know the hour. But we do know we have a purpose. And it’s the same one for all of us.
We are here to live out our human existence… as a Spirit born of Christ… before going back home.
So I’m not going to worry about starting over in a new year. I’m not worried about what 2011 might bring. I’m not setting myself up this January.
I am simply keeping in mind that this life isn’t about me and my goals and my wants and my worries. I am here to fulfill His purpose for me, and my job is to keep my eyes open so I don’t miss it.
How about you? Are you ready to embrace the life God has entrusted to you? Are you ready to live His purpose?
By Sara Frankl, Gitzen GirlLeave a Comment
This was my first post to read in the new year! Thank you for reminding me (us) about what we are here for, what is most important. Thank you for the beauty and the peace that you share by your life … for letting God’s sweetness shine through you in the midst of pain. I pray that you will feel God’s arms around you each day of this new year …
my first post too! Exactly what I needed to read as it goes right in line with my word for 2011. FOCUS. ” we are all just spiritual beings put here on earth to live out our human existence….We are here to live out our human existence… as a Spirit born of Christ… before going back home.” If I look at it this way, my focus is simple and it is with me all the time. In any moment I can go back into FOCUS and remember why I’m here. I can live in THIS moment and FOCUS on the blessing at hand. I can give my husband, my daughters, my lord, a friend my full attetion, my FOCUS when they seek it from me, not looking ahead or behind. Not being distracted by the world or consumed with it. With FOCUS I can live in the world but not of it.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecer of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” I can FOCUS on Him so I can run THIS race He gave me. THIS SPECIFIC RACE made only for me, no comparing, no worry, no want, no complaining. Just living in FOCUS. With FOCUS. Thank you Sara for jump starting my word post. I tried yesterday and though God reavealed the word (FOCUS) I couldn’t get my thoughts and emotions into sentences.(more to come at shineliketheson.)
I second the prayer from Cherry! May God’s love continue to SHINE through you!
that’s a great word… I thought about focus for awhile, too. But then I realized what my focus was all about and praise just pierced me. I love how you are looking at the race He gave you… it’s so easy to put our eyes on others and make our decisions from there. It sounds like you’re on the right track 🙂
I love that I was your first stop 🙂 Thanks for sharing the new year with me and for all of your kind words.
In tears. Needed to read this today and be reminded. Thank you for writing it.
thank you for reading it. life is better shared, isn’t it?
We all need to read your post…thank you for sharing and reminding me (or us) that we are just here on earth to be God’s spoke people…and just for a very short time.
I’ve always pondered eternity, but Dad’s death gave me a whole new way of looking at eternity during our life. I’m grateful for the lessons he’s still teaching me.
Such a beautiful, thought-provoking, inspiring post, Sara. I can’t tell you how timely this is for me, as I am 3 months post Ankylosing Spondylitis diagnosis, and trying to shake Fear and find Courage and remember that God is already in my future and He holds it and me and my diagnosis in His hands.
I thank you for your thoughts. You are loved.
He is with you, Jennifer. And I just want to remind you that it can turn out well. If I was able to take the right meds, my body would be so different. I have a lot of hope for you… hold onto it, too, friend.
What a mind-blowing post. Thank you for reminding me of this, today.
thank you, Claire. praying your new year is filled with joy.
Lisa H says
YES, I am ready. Am I afraid to step out in faith–yes on some levels. Is it, the fear, better? Yes it is because over the last year my prayers have changed from – God why me, help me, heal me, love me to show me where I can work for YOU! Thank you for this post and I hope 2011 is a year where you can focus on Him!
sometimes I don’t think it would really be faith if we weren’t a little afraid. the fear keeps us reminded that we can only do it with Him. fear comes from doing it alone.
Thank you, Sara. I’m realizing that we all have areas in which we need overflowing amounts of grace in living out His purpose. Mine were threatening to overwhelm me in the wee hours of this new year, and I needed this reminder. Thank you for being used.
i’m glad we were here when you were overwhelmed. thank God that He meant for us to do life together.
Thank you for this Sara! I have gone from year to year hoping for a better year than last year, hoping my dreams will come true, constantly wrangling with my desires versus my desire to do God’s will and why aren’t they the same? I’m still hoping for a better year and for my dreams to come true but I am going to follow your lead and try to make my spiritual existence my main focus. There is no doubt that you are fulfilling that minstry God has given you! It is to inspire people like me through your writing. Something that is not dependant on you leaving the house but that you can do from your bed! Thank God for laptops and wireless broadband! God bless you this year in whatever way he sees fit -) love Teri xxx
i think we’ll be pleasantly surprised that when we focus on our spiritual selves, our dreams will come more in line with His. at least that’s what I’ve noticed in my life. my definition of a better year changed completely.
Susie Hollams says
my heart breaks for you and your pain. I have been in pain and suffering such as yourself and the despair that I am sure that you sometimes feel and I know that there is light sweetheart and it will be so beautiful when you do experience the joy all the more because of the pain, double dutch but I think you know what I mean. My prayer for you this year is that you get to find some meds that you can tolerate that will give you relief, that will allow you to have flashes of a “normal” life and that your courage and don’t poo hoo me there because it is courage Sara allows you to continue your blog so that you inspire people like me and I am sure thousands of others to live out their lives the best way they know how. I too have decided on “joy” and “praise and worship” is my best “pain” med. God bless you honey and may His grace fill your life
my focus on praise this year is exciting to me. i know that God is good all the time… that is what gives me the courage. thanks for coming along for the ride with me 🙂
Thanks again Gitz for giving us the bottom line since we get too wrapped up in the other stuff.
thank you, John. I’m not very good at beating around the bush, am i? 🙂
I have been pondering not setting a bunch of MY OWN goals this New Years. I want His goals for me. I choose to stand firm in what God has ‘given’ and not let the enemy rip it from my grip by fiery darts of doubt and fear, causing me to be distracted from what God has set before me. (Numbers 13 &14) To face my giants, standing firm in my faith in Christ.
Thanks for sharing your heart, Gitz.
there’s so much that goes into wanting His goals isn’t there? the first thing I had to learn was to surrender and really listen so I could understand His goals from mine. praying you find that clarity as well, Sharon 🙂
Gitz ~ this is a beautiful post! Thanks for spreading JOY!
that’s the best compliment… spreading joy. thank you.
Thanks for the post and the reminder. Just what I need to start my new year out with. Last year was difficult for me in other ways, but so need to be reminded that this life is about my spiritual purpose here and not all about me.
What an inspiration you have been to me.
that’s humbling, Amy. thank you. i’m sorry for your difficult year, and i’m praying that you see God surrounding you in the year ahead.
Rose in Ohio says
Your beloved dad was a very wise man and his words worth repeating. And you, dear one, are gently guiding us towards our real purpose. I will come back regularly to learn from you….
Here’s to a new year of purposeful living!
He was amazing. and he’s still teaching me.
this is my first time reading your writing. i appreciate your honesty and your tender heart. thank you for sharing. my word for th eyear is hope. and your post speaks to it, loud and clear.
hope is one of my favorite words. it’s also the one i struggle with. isn’t that always the way? 🙂 i hope your year ahead is filled with amazing things.
To be this resolute, this brave, to remain in the eye of the hurricane, as the storm swirls around us. This is a gift only those who have made it through the storm barrier seem to possess. I thank you for your gift, hard won, and elusive I’m sure, but imprinted on every phrase you write.
In my better moments I stand right with you. This life is about being the best servant of the Only God I can be. I know some of what it is to have a body that has been attacked and subdued – by itself. It doesn’t matter. We are to be where we are – and keep moving forward, in his will, to arrive at his will, and abide there – each moment – until moments slip into eternity.
God Bless you, and I pray that you remain ever so close to Our Lord. Thank you.
blessings on your year ahead, craig.
God bless you, Sara. I, like many others, struggle with a disease that robs me of a “normal” life. My life as I planned it took a major turn 16 years ago when a job as a school nurse in a “sick” building lead to chronic fatigue syndrome. God has been with me each step of the way. Often when words fail me and prayer is too difficult, the songs of praise fill my mind and lift my spirit above the circumstances. He always has a song to encourage me. I thank you for your words of faith and for sharing your life with us. You are an encouragement…even when you share your struggles! You have added much to my life, my friend.
I have found that, too, Susan… that sometimes my mind is too exhausted for words. I find myself telling God that very thing. I think He understands and reads our hearts until we find our words again.
Thank you for the reminders about living life with His grace. Heading over to you blog now.
I’ll keep an eye out for you there 😉
I Live in an Antbed says
Wow! What a testimony! He is so Faithful even when we don’t feel like we have enough strength to draw our next breath. While reading your post, it made me think of C. S. Lewis’ quote: “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” I forget sometimes that the spiritual realm is truly reality. What we see here is like a mirage. Thank you for reminding me.
Oh, I like that so much and had never heard it. But C.S. Lewis is right… I’m going to need to write that one down. It was so evident when Dad was gone that the whole of him was gone. I didn’t get to be there, but my siblings said it didn’t even seem like his body anymore once the spirit of him left it. It created him wholly.
What a beautiful legacy of living your dad left you. Thanks for sharing it here today.
Praying 2011 is filled with all grace and His glory.
praying the same for you right now, stacey.
Such a good reminder for me to keep my expectations in check. The Lord is sure speaking loudly to me lately about what I want, what I think I need or deserve. When those thoughts creep up, they quickly begin to reign in my life. I’m tired of wanting what I think is best…it’s exhausting! Lord, help me see things and people as You see them. Give me desires that come from Your Spirit in me.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
it IS exhausting, isn’t it? that’s what I’ve discovered being sick. i have so little energy that I don’t want to waste it on the things that don’t serve Him. good words. thank you.
Sara, I’ve been reading some of your blogs about your disease and daily life. You remind of Paul – writing the letter to Phillipi congregation while he was in prison. Today, thank you for reminding me of who and what I am. Every day, it is a struggle not to think about myself first. I live my life as though I’m convinced that it’s all about me…
I’m going to write that down and tape it to my bathroom mirror so I can remind myself of that truth every morning. Bless you dear.
it’s a human struggle of all of us, thel. we are just so blessed to be in it together so we don’t get lost in our human nature. 🙂
So honored to come to know your dad through you. He left his mark on you, and his teachings… its quite the legacy that goes on in you. “Fulfill HIS purpose for me…” Taking this gem with me and praising God today, that you ARE fulfilling his purpose today, and every day you share your talented and spirit-filled writing with us.
Love you sweetie!
you fulfill His purpose greatly, too, friend. in every way that you are a friend to me, you are showing me Him. i mean it.
Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama says
I just find you to be a completely remarkable person Sara Frankl.
Thank you for helping us start this next year with the right focus.
you humble me, miss gypsy 🙂
I am so thankful that you have an optimistic personality. I think you inspire so many, I know I am one of them, to live life as fully as we can. To live with purpose and grace. To remember what our life is about. Thank you for that. I hope 2011 brings peace and healing for you, and continued drive to write to us. 🙂
it’s also going to bring the energy to make your canvas. i promise 🙂
Living the Balanced Life says
Thank you so much for this post! I am at a turning point in my life and I was hoping for a better 2011. Your words help me get a better perspective on what I am here for!
those turning points are all consuming until we get our focus aren’t they? praying for you right now that you see God’s hand in the turns you make.
I am not experiencing anything related to your specific circumstances. Unrelenting, intense physical pain is the worst suffering (besides constant hunger) a human being can experience. Emotional pain comes and goes. Your pain is always there. Bless you for your beautiful testimony!
The last two years have brought poverty and humility into our lives. I recognize your mindset–your wisdom–as that which comes only through intense and long-lasting suffering. Some days are so hard (also have a special-needs child here), I don’t know how I’ll bare it another day. I don’t know if we’ll always be poor, or if a better economy will help. Husband is past age fifty, so getting beyond part-time jobs will be more difficult now.
Most of the time, I see clearly what God is doing. He is grooming us to be instruments of his Grace toward the poor in spirit, who are so often judged by the fortunate ones. I know what hopelessness feels like, what ridicule feels like. I would never have owned those emotions without knowing underemployment.
Intense, unrelenting suffering truly is a gift. The line “blessed are the poor in spirit” is so true. They know God intimately–his grace, his faithfulness, his will. They understand that He gives and takes away, for his purposes, and that we don’t make ourselves. Anything we are, anything we have, comes from Him.
I will pray for a less painful, less isolating 2011 for you! And I look forward to your penned wisdom. So glad to see you writing here! Bless you.
I know what you mean, Christine. As much as we want less hard in our lives, the hard teaches us. It reminds us who we are and whose we are. praying you find your way in it this year.
Kiersten Johnson says
I too lost one of the most important men in my life. My grandfather (My Bukka) died from a disease he was fighting for 20 years. I am sorry for your loss and sorry for your pain of not being able to go. But be at peace knowing he still lives in you. What you wrote spoke straight to my heart. What a beautiful way to express our purpose in life. I will use your father’s saying as my guide for the year ahead. So THANK YOU for everything you do. You are amazing woman of God!
I’m so sorry about your grandfather… losing someone who resides in you so wholly changes everything, doesn’t it? Praying you see him often in your moments in the year ahead.
Laura@Life Overseas says
Wow, so true and such perfect timing for a good perspective-shift. It’s so easy to get caught up in the temporal that we neglect the eternal. You are a gift to us, Sara. Thank you for choosing to serve and give and live-Upward,
no matter what.
It’s inspiring and beautiful.
“we neglect the eternal” … that’s what I need to always keep in my forefront. thanks for simplifying the words 🙂
Holley Gerth says
Wow, Gitz, you always know how to bring things back into perspective. Your heart is so beautiful–in the happy and hard. Starting off this year with lots of thanks to Jesus for you, friend…
as I am thankful for you. praying this coming year showers you with more blessings than you can hold.
Thank you for sharing your gift . I’m so sorry to know of the loss of your dad. I’m not sure I could accept the Why surrounding his passing but you are a remarkable soul. I pray that your pain dissipates and that one day you will be enjoying that front porch once again! God bless you in this coming year!
I don’t think I’ve accepted any “why” surrounding his death, either. i’ve just accepted that the “why” isn’t mine to understand.
does that make sense?
Thank you, dear Sara, for giving me the correct perspective that I needed so much today – and, at the beginning of a new year! You inspire me to greater faith, hope and LOVE – each time I visit your blog.
I’m praying that God will enfold you in His love, in a very personal way this coming year. May you feel His tender touch, and experience His joy and peace, despite …!
I pray only His best for you, for 2011!
thank you, Rita. what a beautiful comment. i love your heart.
Friend… you are so beautiful, inside and out. I couldn’t help but think of what Paul said on more than one occasion… that he was “being poured out like a drink offering” but in his sacrifice of service, others grew, developed, learned, and were blessed.
It seems so unfair, where you are, what you have had to experience. Yet… you have allowed it to refine you instead of crush you… to inspire you rather than defeat you… to teach you to fight harder to embrace joy instead of accept defeat…. I have so much to learn, and I’m so thankful for YOUR ordained purpose on this earth to be an example to so many, like me 🙂 Thank you for pouring yourself out in so many selfless ways for others…
I actually think that perspective is what makes my life easier to handle. that I can be the behind the scenes encourager of others who can get out there and do. i told that to Tam… she is the one with the book in her. I’m the one who tells her she can write it. I like that role in people’s lives.
And I adore you, my jennyrain.
Robin ~ PENSIEVE says
S i g h….
Sara…just w o w…
Sometimes I think I’ve got a great perspective on life and then I see pure radiance, in this case from you…and I’m blessed and convicted all at once. This is a lovely tribute to your father (and to your Father) and it has transforming power within; not because of what you say but because of the POWER of Christ as Truth!
I love this post…love it love it love it. Thank you for writing it to challenge and inspire me (and so many).
I love you.
Kirsten Victor says
My uncle died of the same thing a year ago, and he was so strong (6’6″) and healthy too. It was a shock for all of us. I wanted to design you a card when (in)courage offered that, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Great post. Hang in there.
reading this, my breath just catches in my throat…
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