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31 Days: Pause

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31 Days: Pray

I don't think I look quite as pious or hopeful as the woman in the lower right of this painting from a church in Rome but I have prayed with this fervor. I pray for big things like the health of someone I know and I pray for things like a working heater.

I find that praying for things as they happen is a great way to stay positive. When you constantly think about what God is doing in your life, it's hard to be negative.

It is also a great way to turn things around and think about others. A frustration in traffic turns into an opportunity to pray for the person's safety who just cut you off. If someone is frustrating you at work, pray for what may be going on their life that is making them be difficult.

I do my best to start my day praying. It is a way to push reset in the busy activities of getting ready for work and get my mind right for the day ahead.

Whether it's praying for small things or big things, for me or for others, turning things over to God in prayer is o…

31 Days: When

This is St. Mark's Clock Tower in Venice. Not only does this clock tell the time but it also keeps track of the moon phases, and the zodiac sign at the moment.

I have written about this clock before because to me it symbolizes my walk with God. When is one of my favorite questions for Him. After praying, I always expect to be able to use a clock as I wait for my answer or to receive what I have asked for. But that isn't always how God works. Sometimes the when can be better measured by a calendar. Lots of calendars.

It is in that waiting for when that we can find God's grace and mercy. It is in the waiting for the when that we learn that when God doesn't give us what we want, He may be giving us what we need. And it is in those moments when we are waiting that we realize that we are safe and sound in the palm of His hand.

I'm not always good at this. I find myself counting the chimes as I say when instead of counting the blessings in the waiting. There is beauty i…

31 Days: Ask

My church is conducting its annual stewardship drive. Every Sunday someone gives a testimony about his/her decision to give to the church and why tithing is important. Then the pastor encourages us to think about the ways we can help the church and the Church with our monetary and volunteer support.

When I worked at a university, I learned that this is called "the ask." It is the moment that after telling someone how great your organization is, you ask for a person's help to continue the greatness.

God asking us for 10% is nothing compared to what he gives us. I can't tell you the number of times I have wondered how I was going to make ends meet. Eleven years ago when X told me he wasn't sure he would ever move back in, one of my first thoughts was how will I support myself. I didn't have to worry about that for too long because God sent me a job that paid twice as much as I was making and let me keep my old job part-time for additional income.

My church ask…

31 Days: Talk

It was a busy weekend for me and my sister. On Saturday night, we went to the Francesca Battistelli concert. We splurged for the VIP packet, which allowed us to attend a pre-concert talk with her.

It was so interesting to hear her talk about her process of writing music and choosing songs for an album. And it was interesting that she said she didn't feel like she was a singer until her second album. The woman with her in the photo, her friend and backup singer, was shocked that she hadn't realized how talented she was until her second album. Up until then, Francesca had thought of herself as a songwriter, not a singer. How amazing that she didn't fully appreciate her ability until that point.

She also told a story about a time in her life when she fully put her trust in God and canceled a surgery to correct her scoliosis because she felt that she was hearing from God that he was going to heal her.

Throughout the concert, she took some time to talk about her doubts in who …

31 Days Five Minute Friday: Praise

The reason I didn't post on Friday was I attended a Lauren Daigle concert that night. It was in one of the older, intimate venues in my town and it was a wonderful night of music and fun with my sister. This is one of my favorite ways to praise God, by listening and singing along with a favorite artist. I really like it when they throw in an old hymn that I know by heart. It is like combining church and entertainment all in one.

Many people wouldn't consider this as praise but if you saw the people standing with their arms raised to heaven, how could you argue that attending a concert isn't a type of praise.

Praise comes in all forms. I praised God tonight that my heater worked when I turned it on for the first time this season. I praise him when a car misses hitting me at an intersection. I praise him for giving me wonderful parents and a sister that is my best friend. I even praise him when I survive something difficult.

Praise isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition.…

31 Days: Door

I know this isn't the best photo but I thought it was such a coincidence that this was October's image on my Mary Engeldark calendar that I wanted to show it in its original state.

On October 1, I was sitting in the Buffalo airport, jotting down ideas for 31 Days while waiting for my flight home. For the word door, I wrote down "they open as well as close." As if it was a sign, when I flipped my calendar from September to October, this is what I found.

When I was a kid, I had the game "Mystery Date." You picked an outfit by drawing color-coded cards, then spun the handle on a plastic door to reveal whether your outfit matched the date's behind the door.You kept spinning until you got the match you needed, while trying to avoid the "dud."

What if life is like that? What if we can keep opening the closed doors to reveal new opportunities for our life? What if we can keep opening the doors until we get a match to what we want? And even if  we re…