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Sara Frankl lived with chronic pain for almost two decades as the result of a rare autoimmune disease, eventually becoming confined to her home before dying at the age of thirty-eight. If anyone had reason to focus on the unfairness of life, it was her. Yet Sara accomplished something few can--she chose joy.
Choose Joy is a compilation of the lessons Sara learned while she was dying, written in her own words and lovingly collected and introduced by her dear friend Mary Carver. It is a reminder to see the beauty of life, even when it looks nothing like you hoped or planned.
Number of Pages: 192
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 8 X 5.25 (inches)|
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The~Wiser~Way5 Stars Out Of 5A profound story of hope and joy!February 18, 2016The~Wiser~WayQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Choose 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 never got to meet Sara. I'm pretty sure, however, that if she were sitting here and heard me say that, Sara would laugh and inform me that God had another plan for our meeting and the timing of that introduction wasn't to be on this side of heaven. In honor of Sara and her life mission, Sara's blog (click here to go to blog) continues and there is a link to the "Choose Joy Sara Gitz Frankl Memorial Foundation" (click here) that clearly identifies the importance of spreading joy through the love of Christ to all who will listen. It is also a place for community, which was one of Sara's many passions.
I will leave you with Sara's "favorite all-time quote" by Victor Hugo:
"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones.
And when you have finished your daily task, got to sleep in peace. God is awake."
Thank you to FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc for this review copy of Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. The opinions within this review are strictly my own. I was not required to write a favorable review, but only to read this book in it's entirety in exchange for honest feedback.
RachelAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Encouraging, Inspiring, ChallengingJanuary 17, 2016RachelAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Sara Frankl was one of my favorite bloggers. She wrote about her life with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a chronic illness that caused great suffering for Sara. She was completely homebound in the last years of her life, and she lived in extreme pain at all times. Yet through it all she chose to live with joy and to faithfully submit to Gods plan for her life.
Sara passed away on September 24, 2011, but her words and her legacy live on. Some of Sara's best blog posts have been made into this book! Reading Sara's words in her book has been such a gift. I have been encouraged, challenged, and inspired again by Sara's life.
Choose Joy was co-written by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. Mary introduces each section of Sara's, giving the reader background information, sharing stories from friends, or sharing stories of her own.
One thing that stands out in reading Choose Joy is Sara's absolute trust in God's plan and purpose. She was okay with being completely homebound for the last several years of her life. She was okay with being in severe pain. She gladly submitted to God's plan for her life. She chose to live faithfully and with joy, and she showed others how to do the same.
There are many words of Sara's that have encouraged and challenged me. I cried on a few occasions while reading Choose Joy, and I don't typically cry when I read! It is good, but hard, to read a book by someone who was homebound from a severe chronic illness. It's hard because it is hard to see her pain. It is hard because I see some of what I am currently going through in what she went through, and that reminds me of my reality. But it is good because I am encouraged by her perseverance in the midst of loneliness and extreme pain. I am encouraged by her absolute trust in God's plan and purpose.
This book will be encouraging for anyone, whether you are familiar with Sara's story or not. I especially recommend this book for those who have chronic illnesses, are homebound, or are living with a disability. Sara will help you to keep things in perspective and to choose joy when life is hard.
One thing that I found especially nice about this book is that it is primarily made up of short blog posts. For those who struggle with brain fog, this book will be easier to read than many others since it can be read in very small sections at a time.
I had the privilege of being on the launch team for Choose Joy, and I received an advance copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
JenniferLORAge: 25-34Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Sara changed my life... her words may change yours too.January 5, 2016JenniferLORAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Getting 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 wouldnt 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.
Thats why I was so thrilled when I heard that Mary Carver, another of Saras blogging friends, was working with Saras family to put together a book of Saras writings. It was titled in tribute to Saras motto: Choose Joy! I knew this book would help continue to spread Saras remarkable legacy of choosing joy.
I have no words to express how thankful I am to Mary for putting this book together. Putting Saras 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 Saras words in a way that only highlights Saras 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 Saras life and outlook, and as such, references to Heaven, God, and an eternal perspective are woven throughout Saras 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 Saras circumstances were extreme, I believe anyone going through challenging things (be it illness, pain, isolation, loneliness, or loss) will benefit from Saras words.
You may very well find your perspective changed for the better from reading this book. It will hold a special place in my heart .