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Posts Tagged ‘jigsaw puzzles’

Recently while at home recovering from Covid, I decided to tackle a jigsaw puzzle belonging to our daughter. Now, I am not usually a fan of such things. After all, why put ourselves through such torture to create a picture we can already see, only to pull it all apart when we finish?

I persevered for days with those thousand little pieces—at least, there should have been a thousand! Towards the end, I began to suspect I had lost a few—and, alas, I was right. Months earlier, our youngest granddaughter had helped me find all the edge pieces but had soon given up. In haste, I had bundled the puzzle back in the box, thinking we had not dropped any. Yet, days later, I can vaguely remember finding an odd piece or two on our carpet. Perhaps our vacuum cleaner had swallowed up even more pieces?

Whatever the case, when nearing the end of the puzzle, I realised none of those remaining pieces looked anything like the three I needed. However, I decided to keep going—and I’m glad I did.  Yes, finishing with an incomplete picture was disappointing. Yet in the process, I made some interesting discoveries.

For a start, I can now admit there may be something exciting and perhaps even addictive about finding the right piece, seeing it fit perfectly and watching that picture grow! This involved using a different part of my brain from that which I need when writing—a novel and refreshing experience indeed.

Then, to my surprise, I also discovered I could actually find the patience and perseverance required to complete this puzzle. Time and time again, I thought I had found the right piece, only for my hopes to be dashed—yet I was able to keep on trying. Perhaps this has to do with all the patience and perseverance God enabled me to have in recent years as I wrote and re-wrote and edited and re-edited entire manuscripts time and time again. And as I thought about this and thanked God for it all, I was also thankful for God’s own patience and perseverance with me over so many years.

My biggest discovery, however, was to realise how much unnecessary angst my perfectionist tendencies have often caused. Normally, I would have been much more annoyed about those missing pieces but, instead, I surprised myself with how calm I was—surely a clear indication of how God has changed me. It was as if God was saying, ‘See how far you’ve come? You did you very best with what you had. Well done!’ That picture I managed to put together, even with its three missing pieces, was still excellent—not perfect, but still excellent. After all, I had managed to match up all those pesky, cat-hair pieces with the right cat—quite a feat, in my opinion, and one I thought several times might well be impossible!

We can learn from God through every circumstance in life, big or small. I hope I continue to do this as I walk through the coming year with God—and I hope you can too.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:2a NLT

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This Christmas and New Year period has been a little different for us. Instead of perhaps catching up with friends or hitting the shops or going anywhere really, we have been at home in splendid isolation. Yep, somehow, we both contracted COVID. We are much better now but, during our time of staying put, we each learnt some interesting things about ourselves.

Of course, there were some foods we found we felt like more than others—and we did have some rather crazy meals, using whatever I could find in the house. For once, I was thankful for my tendency towards having a little too much on hand in my freezer or food cupboard. As a result, we had enough to last us for quite a few days, without resorting to ordering anything in or accessing the help others offered us.

I was happy too just to be quiet at home, edit a friend’s book, work on a jigsaw puzzle, read, watch cricket or tennis on TV—and sleep. I could have done without feeling sick and coughing and sniffling, yet there was still plenty I was able to do. On the other hand, my poor husband, who is much more extrovert than I am, began to become a little stir-crazy and even bored. I felt sorry for him—‘bored’, I realised, is thankfully something I have yet to experience as there is always some new idea in my brain to think or write about.

Needless to say, there were numerous jobs staring me in the face each day that needed to be done. Our Christmas tree was still up and there were other Christmas decorations that needed to be removed. There was the Christmas ham to cut up and do something creative with. There was vacuuming and mopping to do. Yet neither of us had any energy for such things. Now, normally, this would bother me. If I see a job to be done, I like to attend to it as soon as I can. But this time, I decided these things could wait—except perhaps the ham! Right now, our bodies and our health were more important.

But as I sat or lay in our quiet surroundings here, I realised God had things to show me too in this time. For a start, I saw how blessed we are in this country that, even on public holidays, we were able to access the medical help we needed via a teleconsultation and texted prescriptions. I thanked God indeed for such provision. But beyond that, I began to see all over again that, when we feel quite helpless, when we have nothing to offer God or anyone else, God is still there, loving us totally and wanting to reach out and care for us in every way. Here was an opportunity, a window in my life, when, even though feeling unwell, I could draw close to God, receive God’s comfort and healing and be at peace. One day, I read the following words in James’s letter:

Come near to God and he will come near to you. … Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7. 10

May I continue to do just that as I step into whatever God has ahead for me in the coming year.

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I am not a seasoned solver of jigsaw puzzles. I enjoy them when I have time—and I enjoyed helping my husband with the two puzzles I gave him last year, even when he did not want or need my help! But the one-thousand-piece puzzle he gave me for Christmas certainly exacted any revenge he might have wished to exact—and then some! Eventually, however, I conquered the challenge and felt quite chuffed when I did. Then I saw that extra puzzle piece lying on the table nearby. I had noticed it on and off while doing the jigsaw and wondered where it could possibly fit. It did not look quite the same as the other foliage pieces in the puzzle, so each time, I put it aside. Now there it still was, with no more spaces available where it could possibly go.

For a while, I gazed at it in disbelief. Surely a jigsaw puzzle company would not make that sort of mistake? I checked the completed puzzle again—nope, definitely no spare spots. Then my mind jumped to the possibility that, somewhere out there, some other poor person was trying to complete their own puzzle, only to find one crucial piece missing! I would certainly hate that to happen to me, after all my efforts. Someone else then suggested the puzzle creators might have put that extra piece in just to make things harder or to tease their poor victims. But again, surely not! Or… could they?

Soon I will pack my completed puzzle away, spare piece and all. And maybe sometime in the future, I will do it again, forgetting about that pesky extra piece! But there is one memory I will never forget that surfaced as I worked on my puzzle. A few times, I tried to put a piece in place that seemed right, yet I did not hear that soft, little ‘click’ that would tell me the piece was a perfect fit there. And those little ‘clicks’ brought back a memory that is almost sixty years old now.

In 1963, a friend invited me to a youth camp run by the then Methodist church. One night, after the speaker had invited us to commit our lives to Christ, I was one of the first to move quickly to the front. I was overwhelmed with the thought that God knew me and loved me—that I mattered to God. And somewhere deep inside, I felt and heard a loud, satisfying ‘click’ like the sound of the last piece of a child’s wooden jigsaw puzzle falling into place. Suddenly, the fact that Jesus Christ loved us and died for us made sense to me. It was as if a veil lifted from my eyes and I knew I had found the reason I was on this earth—to love and serve God.

One day, we will see the whole, completed picture of our lives from God’s perspective. One day, we will understand fully. But for now, let’s keep believing and trusting in the one who loves us totally and can bring all the pieces of our lives together in the best way possible.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

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