a living, breathing canvas

I don't even know how to find words right now. I honestly don't. I've left this blog abandoned because I simply don't know how to say everything that needs to be said. My beautiful friend Sara -- known so affectionately online as Gitzen Girl -- is dying. There is no easier way to say that. I wish there was...

Sara has been sick -- very sick -- for a very long time. And from the confines of her tiny condo in Iowa, where she's lived completely homebound for 3 years, she has changed my life.

I can't even begin to find words to explain THAT right now... so that will need to wait. But I've had the gift -- the sheer treasure -- of visiting with her twice. Of spending several weeks as her roommate. And that is a gift I will cherish always and always.

And now my beautiful Sara is in the final leg of her race. The finish line is in sight, and she is about to cross it. And even in dying -- just as she did her whole life -- she shows me Christ. She infuses me with courage and strength. And she teaches me how to love well and choose joy.

Choose joy.

It's been her life mantra. It has defined who she is and how she lives. Despite her pain. Despite the challenges. Despite her limitations. Choose joy. She has shown me what that truly means.

She has lived well and chosen joy right up to the end...

And the mark she has left on my life? I want it visible to the world.

I am going to get "choose joy" as a tattoo on my left forearm. In Sara's handwriting.

I want it as a visible, permanent reminder of who Sara is and how she lived. And how I want to live out the rest of my days.

Sara is known literally around the world for her beautiful painted canvases. They are works of art that reflect her steadfast faith and point our eyes Homeward.

And now her words, her art, will be painted on the canvas of ME. A living, breathing Gitzen Girl canvas...

Oh my heart...

I know many of you have been impacted by Sara, either in years of knowing her or even in just recently learning of her amazing story. Maybe you want to get inked as well.

Tam and I had my amazing friend Trevor at Cross & Crown put together some designs using Sara's own handwriting. (So. Frickin. Amazing.) He also designed some more block-font options that aren't as scripty... Maybe you'd like one of these as a permanent reminder to Choose Joy... Or maybe these will spark an idea in your mind of a unique design you want to run with.

I'd love to hear if you're gonna get a Choose Joy tattoo. And when you do, take pictures and blog/tweet about it so we can all celebrate Sara's life and legacy together.

We are also working on some other things we can do as a tribute to our Sara (like a custom line of jewelry), and I'll share details as soon as they come together.

What an amazing community of people who Sara loved so well!

Today... as you go about your day... please pray for Sara. Pray for her family and all those who love her so dearly. And remember to...

Choose joy.

Choose Joy - Gitz's Handwriting