Sara Head Shot

Joy Defined- “The unwavering trust that God knows what He is doing and blessed me with the opportunity to be part of it. Not despite what is happening in my life, but because of it. When everything earthly feels heavy, He gives me an internal lightness that can’t be touched”. – Sara Frankl

Sara ‘Gitz’ 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, but that didn’t stop her from chasing down community. While most of her life was spent isolated, she loved living in the age of technology where authentic relationships formed at the touch of her fingertips, and Skype allowed her to see her 10 nieces and nephews growing into amazing adults. She fully embraced every day moments, loved boldly and exemplified that being home bound doesn’t have to limit who you are in life, it just limits your location. You can read Sara’s story in her book Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts.

Sara’s Story

Raised on a farm in Northwest Iowa, Sara Frankl was the youngest of 6 children who grew up in a home with parents who role modeled Christian faith, and a love for the Lord.

Upon graduation from high school, Sara attended the University of Northern Iowa, studying English and Communication. One Sunday afternoon toward the end of Sara’s junior year in college, she was traveling back to college from a visit home and was involved in a rear end collision.

The accident spurred an HLA-B27 gene she had in her body, which is known to be a cause for a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. That collision proved to be the beginning of a changed life and a journey that she never dreamt she would be faced with.

Sara wrote for a magazine a few years after college before the disease made it impossible for her to work. Through the years of living with this disease, Sara lost her strengths and talents one by one, including her ability to work outside the home. After years of trying new medications and therapy that would take her on a physical and emotional roller coaster, she decided to write a blog to make a life (www.gitzengirl.blogspot.com).

In July, 2010, Sara lost her dad suddenly. The stress of her dad’s death took a further toll on her health and on September 24, 2011, Sara passed away at the age of 38. One of the last things Sara said was, “I want people to continue learning, believing and trusting in God as I have tried to be God’s disciple, BUT, she said, “It’s not about me, it’s about HIM. That is the message I want people to hear.”


Laura ‘Jo’ Frankl Pedersen

Laura’s Story

Laura Frankl Pedersen, Sara’s sister, is an organizational development consultant with over 25 years of experience in Human Resources, Leadership, Coaching, Training and Development.

In 2011 after losing her dad and sister, Laura found herself being called to continue the spirit lead discipleship of her sister, Sara Frankl.  After 3 1/2 years of walking a path through the publishing industry, Laura and her family were blessed by the release of Sara’s book, co-authored by Mary Carver, called Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts. The book is based on Sara’s writings about her journey of discovering joy.

Laura has battled her own struggles as a breast cancer survivor. Read more about her story here.

Now Laura’s path turns from the publishing industry, to continuing Sara’s spirit lead Ministry of Choosing Joy. Sara touched literally thousands of people’s lives across the globe, through her online presence. Laura’s belief is that this ministry does not have to end even though Sara is not physically present with us.

Laura would love to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.


The origin of the name…

The Frankl family has been known to be a little quirky at times. Like when as a child we couldn’t wait until Friday nights so we could all gather in the living room to dance to Lawrence Welk. Didn’t everyone have this kind of togetherness as a family? Didn’t everyone’s mother arrange the birth order of her children to match the boy/girl, boy/girl, boy/girl ratio and create built-in dance partners? Maybe that’s a story for another time… One of our other quirks is that we didn’t grow up using our real names. Oh, in public we managed to be presentable, but at home it was another story. The oldest brother is Goose, followed by a sister Jo-Babe, brother Humpy (so unfortunate), sister Spook and brother Hoody. And then there’s Sara, Gitz. Or Gitzen Girl. Or Gitzy-mama. Or Fritz. You get the idea.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Barton Jahn says:

    Looks like a wonderful story…will read more. God bless.

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