Tribute to a Friend – Sara Frankl (Gitzengirl)


Choose Joy - GitzenGirl

One of my online friends is dying.

UPDATE: Sara died on Saturday, September 24th, 11:14 PM.  Go here to read the most recent posts on her blog (Mourning into Dancing,  Arrangements)

I have followed her blog for over a year and her constant choice of joy in the face of her otherwise insurmountable obstacles has been a great blessing to me.  You see, to cut a long story short, she has had a set of diseases that have literally had her trapped in her own home for years.  She was allergic to or had some reaction to almost EVERYTHING. But I don’t want you to think that her disease defined her – oh NO…. she CHOSE joy where I would have crumbled, where most other people  would have crumbled.  Her strength of character has been unparalleled.

I have linked to her blog above …. I’m not able to articulate all I’m feeling at the moment.  I have posted my tribute that I left on her blog here as well. Please remember Sara Frankl – Gitzengirl or Gitz to her friends – and be inspired to CHOOSE JOY.

I am shaken to my core.  I am not a regular commenter here, but I have been a regular reader for a very long time – I have eagerly looked forward to your posts and your lifestyle of choosing joy….Who would think that the news that you are about to head home would be so devastating to me? I never thought it would be; I mean, I would read your words and go on with my day content, without so much as a thought of contacting you myself, the way that I have done with Mandy or Tam….But …. I am.Sweet Sara, I downloaded your songs that you posted on your blog and I have listened to them in rapt attention as your melodious voice caressed my ears and mind.I have followed Riley’s antics and smiled at every picture.

I have been with you as people come in and out of your life through the pages of your blog and some through the front door.

We have never met.  But yet, we have.

I am in Barbados.  Your life has reached me.

As Gandalf said in the Lord of the Rings, “I will not say, ‘Do not weep,’ for not all tears are an evil…”

My heart is breaking.

But I have to say two more words before you go home.

THANK YOU.

Update:  Here you can listen to one of my favourite songs sung by Sara.  My Soul’s Desire.   You can hear other songs from her on the website as well.
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Repost – First Guest Post: New Normal


Continuing with my Repost series, below is my very first (ok, ok … ONLY, I admit it – you satisfied? *hmph*) guest post by my friend Annie. She hasn’t been blogging, but you can still go check out the blog that she has there, and read the great stuff she has written. She will be back to blogging – I hope…

Enjoy!

This is my first guest post!  My good friend, fellow prayer warrior and all out good girl Annie consented to do a guest post for me…. part of the reason I hadn’t written anything myself is because I’ve been going through a lot of stuff… but I’ve also been waiting for her to answer me ;)

Anyway, here it is! My first guest post!  (And when you’re done, hop over to Annie’s place and read her stuff… she’s very good…)

______________________________________________________________________

“NEW NORMAL”

Have you ever tried to …

break an old habit?
go on a diet?
change a wrong behavior?

———————
I discovered about a year and a half ago that my intestines don’t digest dairy very well at all.  (Some people call this lactose intolerance.  I don’t like labels.  Or excuses.  So I don’t say this.  I say I don’t eat dairy.  It’s a choice, not a victimization.  Anyway.)

When I discovered this, several things happened.  Firstly, I was relieved.  It explained several things that had troubled me for almost all of my life, and which I had asked the Lord many times to reveal to me what was going on.  Secondarily I was chagrined.  Really?? No dairy??  But I LOVE milk, butter, and cheese!  I grew up on them.  Yummy, yummy, yummy.  Thirdly, I knew from Scripture that the promised land was ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ and I had already looked up in the past the first occurrence in the Bible of eating dairy, and God Himself actually was the one who did.  Abraham served curds to God when He visited him (as the three men) before He went down to investigate Sodom and Gomorrah.  So.  I believed then (and I believe now) that my particular problem is a problem, and not normal.  So I’m still believing for the revelation on that.

At any rate, since that time, it has been a constant battle for me.  It is really hard to go out to eat and find non-dairy options.  This country’s cuisine depends on the cow like you would not believe.  The real war though, was in my taste buds.  The stuff just tastes so good.  I may know in my head all the consequences of eating a piece of pizza or taking a bite of that yummy Alfredo sauce pasta, but my taste buds are in denial.  They don’t consider the fact that if I eat it I’ll have to deal with the consequences.  They just know it will taste good.  And that’s all they know.

So I am left at the point of this decision.  Do I give in to my tongue?  Or do I respect the entire rest of my body and force myself away from it?

You know, when the Israelites left Egypt their physical situation changed.  They were no longer in bondage; they had freedom.  Yet even though their physical condition changed, in their minds (or hearts, as the Bible puts it) they were still longing for Egypt.  Egypt was still their ‘normal.’  They didn’t take ownership of where they were and say, “I’m free, in a desert, and pressing forward to the promised land.”  Instead they expected what they had had in Egypt.   They expected provision a certain way; they expected comfort a certain way.  And even though they knew that the precursor for having those things was bondage, they still didn’t give up wanting the ‘good tastes’ of Egypt.

So you’d think that after a year and a half I would have got this dairy thing down.  I mean, it’s the same decision every time.  But in my head you know … I always held on to the prospect of how good it would taste to eat it.

And finally I had an epiphany.

Psychologically, I hadn’t accepted that there had been a change.  I let my mind keeping thinking that ‘normal’ was everything I used to eat.  And therefore not eating it was ‘abnormal’ and ‘temporary.’  Light bulb!  I decided to change that.  So now, instead of looking behind me and ‘longing for Egypt,’ I created a ‘new normal.’  In my new normal … I just don’t eat dairy. It’s not something that’s forced on me; it’s not even something I regret.  It’s just … normal.

You see, in the past, feeling bad was normal.  And in my mind, I couldn’t break away from that.  Feeling good (when I didn’t eat dairy) was just a nice perk.  A temporary fluke.  It wasn’t normal.  I had put up with feeling bad for so long that it had come to feel comfortable to me.   And regardless of the fact that I had plenty of evidence to tell me that a ‘new normal’ was possible … my heart had never accepted it.

The epiphany came when I was willing to look at that and say, “It’s not normal for me to feel bad.  And look bad.  It’s normal for me to feel good.  And look good.”  The choice to not eat dairy was just a part of my new normal.

So I am happy to report that the last month or so I have lived in my new normal.  I’m not longing for Egypt anymore.

Normal never felt so good.
———————-
Has there been a ‘new normal’ in your life?  Would you like to share?

PS: for those who are interested in my symptoms and results, I would love to answer questions.  Most people, I think, wouldn’t, so I haven’t made that a part of this post.  🙂

Annie

http://callingtodeep.blogspot.com
http://www.myspace.com/callingtodeep

Personal Devotions: Sonship


Welcome to the first Personal Devotions post for 2011!

I have started to use Youversion on my Blackberry to get back into reading the Word.  Last year I was interacting with the Scripture using the Daily Audio Bible website and community, but in November I couldn’t keep up the momentum… it petered out.  So although I almost made it, I didn’t finish reading the entire Bible last year.  It was becoming a lot to take in all at once – Brian reads from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Psalms and the Proverbs every single day – as well as gives his own inspired commentary on what was read.  Then he would pray, and there was also be a section where people from the community could call in and ask for prayer, pray for others in the community or give a praise report.

It was  great. But it was a lot to take in as the year progressed and my battle with depression deepened.   So this year, on the advice of a few good friends, I have endeavoured to look for another strategic Bible plan that will ease me back into the reading of the Word.

I had downloaded the Youversion app on my Blackberry for a while, but hadn’t really used it much until I was challenged to read the Word more – specifically the Psalms.  I decided that I would find a short Bible plan using the smartphone.  And this is day two.  I’m reading a Psalm and a Proverb.  that’s’ it.

But today I heard God speak through his word in a way that I have not heard in a while.  I was arrested by Psalm 2:7

I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.

I heard him: YOU ARE MY SON.  I cried out to him, “I have not felt like your son in ages!”  But in spite of what I feel or don’t, his word still rings true to my heart today.

This Scripture naturally makes me think of Romans 8:15 as well

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, Abba,[b] Father.”

And looking at Proverbs 2, I was also arrested by the beginning two words: “My son”  The entire chapter spoke to me, but I am picking out the part that I really feel impressed on my heart right now.

1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

I have had so many depressed moods, so much negativity, so much pain – that focusing on the positive was a welcome change.  So here is my devotion for today.

Lord, I have not felt like your son for ages. I can say like the Prodigal, “I am not worthy to be called your son.” But you call me son anyway. Even if I fail.  Even if I fall. Even if I decide that I am still feeling rebellious… all of this time you still call me son, and still seek my heart turning back to you. I ask that you will acknowledge my baby steps, and help me to increase my momentum. Thank you Jesus. AMEN

One Word 2011


In an earlier post I mentioned my friend Alece who shared her concept of focusing on one word as the guiding post for the entire year, rather than coming up with a laundry list of New Year’s resolutions.  Last year her word was RISK, mine was RESURRECTION.  This year, she chose to LOOK more to find Christ in even the mundane things, I have had a personally rough year and have chosen to move forward, gaining MOMENTUM along the way.

As I was perusing my Facebook page just now, I realized that this concept has been extended to Facebook!  Alece has created a One Word 2011 page at  http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Word-2011/182416081777208?v=wall.

This concept seems to be taking off! It seems so much easier to focus on one word rather than a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’.  I can attest to the fact that ‘resurrection‘ has yet to manifest itself in my life in a full way – but you can’t resurrect something until it is dead.  In fact, I would say that there’s been a lot of death in my life recently – emotionally, relationally, even spiritually – but I would also say that that is the reason I chose my word for this year as MOMENTUM.  In order to get the resurrection I seek, I have to find a way forward; I may start with baby steps, but intend to pick up the pace as I continue.

So here’s my plug for this concept – Even as Alece exclaims “Holy Crap!” at the explosion around this concept – I’m doing my part to spread the word!

So come along! Focus on One Word tis year… and be revolutionized by God!

My Last Post…..


This is going to be my last post.

Ever.

For 2010.

I’m sorry if I scared you…. I just wanted to take this time out to thank every single person who passes through these virtual doors, meanders through these cyber corridors and those who bunk here, soaking up the electric ambiance.  Thank you for making the decision to take up the blogging banner again (after my failed attempt for a couple months in 2007) one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Relationships were forged and nurtured here, and lives have been impacted here.  People have met God here and I have found lifelong friends.  And for all of that – I’m thankful.

I want to close the chapter on 2010 by challenging all of us to go after something in 2011.  For some, the pursuit of freedom from oppression is foremost on your minds.  For others, walking through emotional trauma in 2010 has left you cynical and jaded (I know that describes me pretty much!)  Others look forward to the new year with anticipation, as 2010 rocked and was the best year you ever had!

Whether you are anticipating or dreading the turn of the clock from ’10 to ’11 – I am gonna encourage you (and myself) to keep going forward.  Like I said in my last post, my one word focus for 2011 is ‘momentum’.  Specifically ‘forward momentum.’  (Yes, that’s cheating, that’s two words.)  But if I can’t cheat on my own blog, where can I cheat, huh?  Right.   Anyway, where was I?  Okay, so I am encouraging everyone reading to start moving and pick up your momentum next year.  I don’t know what that entails for any of us, but I know that on a personal level I am going to take what one of my friends said to heart: that it is insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

So, here again – this is my last post for 2010.  But I’m looking forward to many more in 2o11!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

One Word – Momentum


(Author’s note: I will return to Bajan culture in my next post. This, however, is where I am right now…)

My friend Alece of  Grit and Glory has started a tradition at her blog called One Word … where you condense the tradional New Year’s Resolution into a single word and focus on that one word all year.  You can read about it in her latest post.

My word for last year was ‘Resurrection’.  In a lot of ways, there has been a lot of death in my life.  Death of relationships, of trust, of the passion that once drove me into the arms of the Saviour… a whole lot of death.

I have had some great friendships and people who have pulled me from the brink of the abyss, and some who have even walked through the valley of the shadow of death with me.  I have great respect for them, and, though the majority of them I have never met in person, I hope to rectify that pretty soon.

As I stated in an earlier post, “I guess I’m in the perfect place for God’s resurrection that he has been talking to me about since last December, because I have no fight left in me whatsoever.”  But that has changed somewhat.  I now am feeling the urge to MOVE – to move forward and not stay in my state of death.  Now I am convinced that the only one with the power to lay his life down of his own accord and pick it up again is Jesus himself, but I also acknowledge that resurrection is possible only through him.  I can’t do it.  I can’t make myself get up and be back to my old self – but I can move forward as much as I can and continue to press in whatever way I can.

Therefore, my One Word for 2011 is momentum.  This is defined by http://www.dictionary.com as:

force or speed of movement; impetus, as of a physical objector course of events:

The car gained momentum going downhill.

I have started to try to work on myself and will continue to come out of my cocoon of pain along with some wonderful friends, both here and online.  But as I have started, I will attempt to continue.  Here’s to FORWARD MOMENTUM!!!!

What areas in your life do you need to focus on for next year?  Go over to Grit And Glory and read the post – and come up with your own One Word focus for 2011!

Personal Devotions: Fulfilled (Joel 2:19-20)


Dead Sea

Dead Sea (via Wikipedia)

 

As I was replying to a friend’s post this morning I started to comment on her blog.  This is what I said:

I feel fulfilled being used by God to encourage and uplift people, seeing joy as they come through their dark stages of angst and fear and out into the marvelous light of their liberation. I feel fulfilled when my words inspire and bring a sense of “Yes!” to someone’s soul and spirit.

I haven’t been feeling fulfilled or fulfilling lately – and it isn’t for lack of trying.  I have been feeling depressed and burnt out for a little while now, but this comment reminded me of what I feel called to do, who I am called to be.

As I was writing this post, I started to remember a passage that was prophetically given to me by my friend Annie last year.  She was saying to me that God wanted to fulfill me – to satisfy me fully.  This is the passage she used, Joel 2:19 – 20

19 The LORD replied[a] to them:

“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,
enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you
an object of scorn to the nations.

20 “I will drive the northern horde far from you,
pushing it into a parched and barren land;
its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea
and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea.
And its stench will go up;
its smell will rise.”

I remembered crying out to God after reading that passage – “God! Satisfy me!  I need you to satisfy me fully!  I need you to be the centre of my life again!”  I was crying out in such passion and anguish – begging God to save me, that I remember waking my wife up in the next room….

The ‘northern horde’ in verse 20 referred to the demonic oppression around me, Annie explained, and God was promising to deliver me fully from all of it .

As I ponder this verse again, looking back over the past couple months…. I think it’s time for me to cry out to Him in the same manner…

“Deliver me… make me want you again…. fulfill me… I want YOU to satisfy me FULLY… not anything or anyone else….. I can’t do this without you… HELP ME!!!!!!!

I pray that all who read this today are inspired to call out to him on their own, and again reach for fulfillment in HIM.