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Showing posts from October, 2018

31 Days: Close

This 31 Days has come to a close. I haven't always written every day but I have written 31 posts. That is pretty close to perfect to me.

As this year's exercise ends, I'm grateful for it for igniting my passion for writing. Even though I have sometimes dreaded it, often I would find myself writing more than one post at a time. It was hard to stop once I got started.

I'm hoping that my emphasis on writing positive posts has turned into a new way of looking at things in my life. Taking 5 minutes of my day to search for the good suggested by a single word has forced me to put the negative thoughts that flood my mind during the day to the side and focus on the bright spots in my life.

So as we close the books on another 31 Days, I hope I am 31 posts closer to being a better writer and closer to finding what God wants me to do with this blog.

31 Days: Voice

I think all of us want to find our voice and to have that voice be heard. Whether it's a singing voice, a voice to stand up for yourself, or a voice to help others, our voice is important. Especially in this election season, we need to have our voice heard by voting.

Lifting your voice in praise is like this glass on the ceiling of a building downtown, it fills the air with beauty. Using your voice to help others is also a beautiful thing. I hope that these 31 days have helped me find my voice and get me back on track with this blog.

I want my posts to bring beauty to people's lives and help them find their voice too. Hopefully my words can be as beautiful as this glass and like this exhibit, draw people's eyes to above, to the one who gaves us our voice.

31 Days: Together

When my cousin visited from Texas this summer, we both bought this sign. I love that together we share a desire to write. And I love the feeling that we are both looking at this sign and together we are writing, even if we are separated by more than 450 miles.

Together with our siblings we share family history, memories of cherished relatives, and annoyance by bad grammar and typos. We have found ourselves together more over the past few years, both in sadness and in joy. Together the sorrow was eased and the happiness intensified.

I hope that we have many more times together ahead of us. We have dreams of the four of us traveling together or even simply spending time on a beach, just being together.

Even though we all are separated by 7 hours of highway driving, we fell like we are going through things together and that's the best way to be, together.

31 Days: Song

This song, Reckless Love, has been an inspiration to me since I heard it at a concert last February. I have belted it out in my car, sung it to myself as I puttered around my house, even sung a duet with my sister as we ran errands.

The lyrics remind me of how God's reckless love has saved me. How no matter what I've done, God has fought for me. And how no matter what I do, He will leave the 99 and search for me. It will be my favorite all my days.

Reckless Love Cory Asbury
Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me You have been so, so good to me Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me You have been so, so kind to me Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me You have been so, …

31 Days: Whole

Because I am divorced, it is so easy to think of myself has half of something that doesn't exist anymore. No longer a part of a whole, I am somehow less than I was when I was married.

But this is not true. I am whole, thanks to my God. Just like this art installation in Philadelphia, He has taken my broken pieces and made something beautiful.

My life is whole with a wonderful family, kind friends, and work I enjoy. My spare time is whole with tickets to the ballet and Broadway shows, a monthly book club, and dinners out with my sister. And most importantly, my spirit life is whole, thanks to a return to church, something that probably wouldn't have happened if I was still married.

I am whole. God has taken the jagged edges of a life that broke into pieces and has put them back together, stronger than they were before and in so many ways, so much better. The whole may not look like what I had planned but it is still something beautiful.

31 Days Five Minute Friday: Moment

This was the view at the end of my driveway this morning as I headed out to work. The moon, still up and bright at 8am. I took a moment to soak it in, to take a photo so I could take another moment later on to remember the majesty of that moon in the sky.

I will admit, I was grumpy this morning. I hadn't slept well and it had been a long week. I am so glad that I took a moment to look up and see this sight. It put a smile on my face and in that moment, I realized what a truly amazing God we have that He put something so incredible in the sky.

Life is made of little moments like this, taking a breath and appreciating what is around us. We spend so much of our time in front of screens -computers, cell phones, and televisions - that we think we don't have a spare moment to relax. But I want to be sure and lift my eyes and take in these moments when I can be reminded of the wonder in this world and just who is responsible for it.

It only took that moment to change my mood, to be …

31 Days: Capture

When I was in Niagara Falls last month, I was fascinated by the power of that wonder. I wanted to capture the sound of the water as it rushed down. I wanted to capture the feeling of awe that I felt as I stood there by this awesome God-made marvel of nature.

I always struggle with capturing moments. I am tempted to take as many photos as I can, so that when I get home I can remember it all. I love having the photos, they take me back to the wonderful sites I've seen. But I also find that looking at places simply through a lens or screen, I miss the things around it that make that place special. You can't capture a smell or an electricity in the air of a place by taking photos or videos. You need to stand still and take it all in to capture the essence of a place.

I am still glad that I have this short video of Niagara Falls. It does capture some of the amazement I felt that night. But I will always treasure the memories that I captured in my mind of that special moment when I…

31 Days: Brief

Ok, they are technically briefs but Spongebob makes me laugh.

Some of my posts this October have seemed brief and they aren't always done every day but I am really enjoying getting back into writing. Even a brief five minutes can help you find your passion again. And I hope reading these brief posts lead people to finding their passion.

31 Days: Common

This actor was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the word for the 23, Common.

I first saw him in Hell on Wheels, a show about the building of the railroad across the United States. It was an interesting historical account of construction of the rail system and it also told the story of a soldier's life after the Civil War. My friend got to meet Common when he visited my city and I was so jealous when I saw her photo of him on Facebook.

I love TV and movies. As I say in my profile, Netflix is one of my favorite inventions of this century. Hulu is a close second. My DVR is usually around 90% full and I'm desperate to get it cleared before the Hallmark Christmas movies start airing this weekend.

TV and movies are something my sister and I have in common. Talking about the week's episodes is what keeps us occupied as we round the track at the gym. I find that an obsession with Hallmark movies is a great conversation starter and finding out that we have the …

31 Days: Help

This photo of a flower bed in my backyard was taken a couple of years ago but it still looks like this. Unfortunately after my dad helped me get it to looking like this

a wet spring and summer has it looking like the top of the photo.

I'm trying to convince myself that my front yard looks like a tallgrass prairie, I'm sure my neighbors think it is more like a tick magnet because the guy who was mowing my lawn hurt his back and is done for the season.

I really wish I had help with yard work. But then again, I get all independent and think I can do this. I even went so far as to buy a push reel mower like this off of Amazon one summer.

I used it once. But I'm staying positive that I can do this on my own. It will be good exercise, right?

I'll keep you posted.

31 Days: Start

It is the first day of a new week, a day and time we set aside to bring our hearts before God in worship and praise. It is a new day. It is time to stand up and be the church.

This is how every Sunday worship service starts at my church. I love the thought that Sunday is a new start. We also say a prayer of confession each Sunday. That gives me the feeling that I am starting with a new, clean slate as I go into the new week.

I've heard that we shouldn't wait to start something until every duck is in its row, until you have this, or you have that. Just start. My one word for the year has been progress. I try to do at least one thing each day that gives me the feeling of progress, even if it's something as simple as putting my shoes away or getting the paper read. I was so bad about waiting for a special day on the calendar to start a goal but I have found that starting anything, even something as small as folding laundry, gives me the energy to start the big things.

So on t…

31 Days: Audience

One of the first things I thought about when starting my blog was who did I want my audience to be. When I chose the name "One Is Just A Number," I wanted the title to let people know that they were more than whether they were part of a couple. I wanted to help people going through a painful divorce like I was.

It is hard to stay positive though when you focus on the pain. It felt like I would be stuck in that moment of recovery if I stayed with that emphasis. So I thought about moving towards the subheading, "Finding The Life Waiting For You."  I think concentrating on making your life what you want it to be is more positive.

So my audience is anyone who wants to take a different view of their life, to see the positive, even if that life isn't what you thought it would be. I hope that my audience realizes that one is just a number and it doesn't define or limit what your life can be, that there is a positive in any circumstance.

31 Days Five Minute Friday: Who

When I think about the question "who am I," I tend to list the things I want to be. I want to be brave, like I was this day on this surprise gondola ride in Venice. I want to be adventurous and take a vacation on my own. I want to be...the list goes on.

But all I really need to know is whose I am. I am a child of the most high God. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. All of that is enough of a who.

Because when it comes down to it, I am brave. I pushed away the worry of dropping every thing of value into a canal in Venice and got in that gondola. I was adventurous and as soon as I made it to Niagara Falls last month, I made my way to the dock for the Maid of the Mist and felt the spray of the falls on my face from the deck of a boat. All of those things I list when I think of who I want to be are within reach because of whose I am.

31 Days: Search

Sometimes this staying positive things is harder than at other times. Since changing jobs 11 years ago, I have kept on working at my previous job for about 20 hours a week. It is a job I can do at home, making my own schedule, and it gives me extra money for trips and unexpected expenses.

Several months ago, the university that I work for announced that it was going to try and sell the service that my part-time employer offers. I was put into an instant panic about how I would cover my bills. And my heart hurt for those who could be losing the only job they have. I fretted over it for days, losing sleep and finding myself distracted from my full-time job.

Then one day I was walking to my car on my way home for lunch, still worrying about how I would make ends meet and God spoke to me. "You will have more time to write."

Suddenly I saw the situation in a different light. What might look like a negative could be a positive. What might leave my checkbook with fewer dollars cou…

31 Days: Pause

About a month before my sister and I went to Europe five years ago, X texted me to tell me that he'd gotten engage. The man who left because he was just too independent to be married, was getting married. That knowledge weighed heavy on me in the time leading up to this vacation we'd been planning for months. It was the trip of a lifetime - London, Paris, Florence, Venice, and Rome - so many places that I'd dreamed of seeing. But my thoughts were going to X and the hurt is engagement had stirred up in me.

On my second full day in London, my sister and I were walking across a bridge to ride the London Eye and I paused for a moment and thought to myself, "I am in London!" I looked in another direction and say this.

I decided to shake off the rejection and hurt and embrace this wonderful chance to see all of the sites I could and to make this trip everything I dreamed it would be.

It was in that simple action of pausing and looking at the positive in the situation …

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…

31 Days: How

How can we stay positive when the news is all so depressing? How do we find the joy when there is so much sorrow? How do we ignore the bad and concentrate on the good?

Sometimes it feels like finding the positive in a situation is as daunting as fighting a dragon.

I googled "How long does it take to create a habit?" and also "How long does it take to break a habit?" The answer to both questions is 21 days. I guess they are basically the same, re-wiring your brain to either do something or not do something. Hopefully both have a positive outcome.

I have 21 days left in the 31 Days challenge. My goal is to answer the question "how" differently by October 31. Instead of "How can I be positive" I hope it is "How can I NOT be positive?"

Here's hoping that on November 1, that dragon is defeated.

31 Days: Inspire

I skipped posting yesterday because I wasn't sure I could write a positive post. It would have been my 25th wedding anniversary and I just wasn't feeling too positive. The sting of the rejection, even 10 years after my divorce, hits me hard on milestone days like that.

Today is better, and the positive thing is that over the years, it has taken less time for things to feel better.

One of the biggest reasons I started this blog was to inspire people who were going through something similiar. I wanted to inspire people to move on and to look at the hurtful experience in a positive light.

So I'm back at it for 31 Days of positive posts, hoping that I will succeed at inspiring people, even if it is something as simple as knowing that the bounce back time of a bad memory does get shorter if you can just stay positive.

31 Days: Comfort

I'm cheating a little on this Monday - I am using a post that I wrote 5 1/2 years ago for Five Minute Friday. I visited my family yesterday and this feeling of comfort can still be found with them. Before seeing them, I had a church meeting that made me feel as though I am getting closer to living the life God has called me to live. And the photo - those are my favorite pair of comfy pants.

Comfort - we all want it. We seek it in familiar people and places. We seek in a favorite pair of comfy pants. We seek it in food and drink. 

Every Sunday I go to my parents' house. I share a meal with my family and stay for a couple of hours. There is a comfort in those hours spent in the house I grew up in with the people who have loved me since the day I was born. Those hours of comfort recharge me for the week ahead.

I crave that kind of comfort in every aspect of my life. I'd like to find that comfort in my own skin - to have confidence that no matter what I say or how I look, I will …

31 Days: Hope

Hope is a tricky one for me. I don't know that it has so much to do with my trust in God as my trust in myself but sometimes hope escapes me.

This is going to sound really weird but the fact that I have started watching Hallmark movies makes me think that maybe I'm getting better at the hope thing. When I watch a Hallmark movie, I actually think I might get my meet cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after story. Watching those movies that ALWAYS have a happy ending give me hope that my story will have a happy ending.

Like I said, I know it sounds really weird, but it seems like a baby step to having more hope in the future. How can that be a bad thing?

31 Days: Belong

When I decided to find a church home, I did a lot of research online but the church I joined is the only one I visited. From the moment I walked in, I knew I belonged there.

We do cool things like create stained glass windows like the one above out of pony beads as the pastor preaches. We are on a college campus so we have the opportunity to be a church home away from home for students. And we are the site of the neighborhood's food pantry.

I have never felt anything but welcome in this church. No one asked my marital status or if I had children. I belonged from day one.

The friends I have found here are not a thing like what I thought I was looking for. I have never felt like I needed to be anything but who I am, which wasn't the case so often when I pursued friendships with the people I so desperately wanted to be friends with. I think that is the definition of belonging, a community of wonderful people where you can be yourself.

I belong here and this community belongs to …

31 Days Five Minute Friday: Share

This is a photo of a hot dog in Paris, right across the street from Notre Dame. My sister and I shared it on our trip five years ago. I still dream of that hot dog and can't wait until I have the chance to return to Paris and have another one of those delicious, different than American hot dogs.

In this day of social media, we all concentrate on the share. It seems like it isn't a true experience if we don't share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Did we really do it if we don't post a photo of it? Was it really all that fun if we don't tell everyone about it?

But the upside of that is, we get to experience our friends' lives through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I have a friend who recently returned from a trip to Scotland with her daughter. She posted photos everyday on Facebook. Everything she saw looked amazing. It made me want to go there. I even posted on one of her photos that she needed to share her travel plans with us by publishing a travel…

31 Days: Why

Why did I chose to do 31 Days of positive posts? Because there are so many negative things around me right now that if even it is for only 5 minutes, I want to put the emphasis on the positive in my life.

The reason I chose to do the free write prompts is because, we don't always get to chose where we find the positive. Sometimes we have to find it in the places we don't think of and in unexpected ways.

Negativity often feels like a a weight around my neck. After a difficult situation or conversation, I can feel it in my shoulders and sometimes in my jaw bones. Right now my second employer is in the process of being sold and my future there is uncertain, I have loved ones going through difficult times, and of course the news is always unsettling. I wanted to take a break in my day to remind myself that the positive can be found in something as simple as a one-word suggested topic.

Take for example the photo above. I had found out that day that my second job hours were being c…

31 Days: Believe

I believe when I see this from the window of an airplane

and as I look at this beautiful sight as I hear God's word.

I believe in God's goodness when I gather at this table with the people I love the most

and when I reflect on all the happy memories of my childhood.

I believe I am the luckiest girl in the world when I look up and see this

and when I see this collection of family photos in my own home.

I believe I can do anything when I cook a meal like this

and I believe in God's love for me when I see a menu filled with this much goodness.

There are reasons to believe all around us - from the magnificent to the simplistic. Whatever causes you to believe, grab on and never let go.

31 Days: Afraid

On Sunday, I was in Niagara Falls taking a hike with a fellow conference attendee. We set out on what we thought was an easy trail that began at the top of this photo. But when we chose to take the lower trail, things got a little challenging. The photo above was taken from the level we ended the trail on. I don't think it completely conveys just how far it looked like we had traveled down that hill.
I was so afraid on that hike. Afraid we wouldn't ever find a place to return to the level we had started at before we started our descent on the trail. Afraid that I would take a step and loose my footing and have to be rescued off the side of that hill. Afraid that the trail would never end. At one point I suggested we go back but not long after I made that suggested, we finally saw some other people and we felt like we were saved.
I prayed almost constantly on that hike. And it wasn't until I arrived safely and thanked God about a jillion times that I realized that in those…

31 Days: Story

I've chosen to do Five Minutes Free Writes as my 31 Days project but with a twist. I'm going to do a post on positivity using that word. I will tell you why on Day 4 when the word is why. Stay turned.

My church is highlighting a different member every month is the Sunday bulletin. It's a way for the members to find out more about each other and also for the students who join us from the nearby college campus to learn more about the church and who might serve as mentors to them. I was asked to tell my story on a recent Sunday. Have you ever written a bio of yourself? You'd think it would be easy but it's not. Am I serious or funny? How many details do I give? I worked on it for awhile and found myself  tempted to list the ways I fall short - the plans I haven't carried out, the goals I haven't achieved. I was listing all of the things I wasn't instead of telling the story of who I am.

This is what I came up with: Andrea was born and raised in Tulsa. She ha…