Friday, February 3, 2017


I love examining puzzle pieces and seeing how it all comes together; however, it had been quite some time since I had put together a puzzle other than simple ones with my toddler. Based on childhood puzzle strategies learned from my mom, I always start with the border. On many it is easy to find the straight edges, and once in place, the border gives a sense of the shape and place for which the rest of the puzzle will be contained, a feeling of structure.

For this Advent I bought a 1,000 piece puzzle with a stained glass nativity scene. I wanted to work on it with my girls, knowing that a puzzle can link to anticipation and waiting as it doesn't just come together in an instant. While my girls were initially interested, it was perhaps more challenging than they anticipated and eventually they lost interest. Then I needed to take it down when we needed to clear the space while hosting a novena leading up to the Virgen of Guadalupe in our house. 

Eventually, I got started again rebuilding. The holiday season was busy, busy, busy, as can be expected, so for quite a while it felt like it was slow going. Christmas day passed and at the end of December, the puzzle was still spread out on the end of our kitchen table. However, as I dedicated more time and it started to come together, I started to reflect on life implications. There was that pull to be impatient or frustrated, to just want to know how it will all fit together (especially when I wanted to clear off the table!). However, instead I thought about how...
  • Just like my dissertation and other similar life experiences, it is about enjoying the process, rather than just marching forward to the finish line, always focusing too much on getting there. 
  • Some pieces stump us or don't make sense. We keep looking at them and considering what they might be a part of and where they might go until we get more of the surrounding pieces in place and then where they fit is suddenly obvious.
  • There are multiple ways to approach puzzles, no one right way to go about it when strategizing. After starting with the border strategy, I adjusted my strategy over time, seeing what seemed like a natural next step. Often the sequence of steps emerged naturally in the process, rather than being able to anticipate how it would unfold from the beginning.
  • I had to be patient and trust in the process.
  • The more that was complete, the faster things click into place, but this goes both for sections and the whole puzzle, so there was a sense of click-click-click and then slow down to step back and consider new areas to focus on. At which there was a slower start followed by an increasing pace. 

Can you think of how revisiting any childhood hobbies or engaging in creative activities have provided insight into life lessons? 

Lead me, Lord. Help me to be patient and trust in the process. Remind me that you will reveal the next steps to me when and how I should know. Support me in being able to embrace the rhythms and routines of life - the times when everything seems to be clicking in place, alongside the phases when I am stumped and need to slow down and wait. Among it all, help me to be grateful for the abundant blessings in my life.

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