A Puzzling Move

“Never again!”  Those were the words my husband emphatically spoke after our last move 19 years ago. Jerry was not saying we would never move again. His declaration referenced that we would never move again without professional help.

Nearly two decades later there is not one room in our house that does not have boxes.  Some are full, many more yet to be taped up for use. And there are no professional movers in sight, at least not yet. In fact, the nature of this change is that we know where we are moving, and why, but we don’t exactly know when. There are scores of shifting parts to synchronize. Everything may come together tomorrow, or it may be a couple more months. For a planner like me this is the ultimate challenge.

My home office has become “moving central.” It is where all the supplies are kept and where boxes come on their way to the garage. Furniture being given away or sold rests in my office until the new owner comes to claim it. And yes, I still carry out my job functions in this room.  My little corner counter holds my computers and Bibles. Active work projects are strategically placed so my back is to the moving madness and my eyes catch the beauty outdoors.

But that’s not the best part. If you were to walk in to my office now you might remark as most people do, “You still have a puzzle set up in the middle of all this?”

Why yes, yes I do.

IMG_5179[2] copy

I started this puzzle before my office took on the packing motif. As the piles grew around it I thought about giving up on the puzzle. Only partly because of space. There was also the fact that I was stuck. There were too many similar colors, and strangely shaped pieces. I wanted to call it quits.

But I couldn’t. Somehow, I felt that if I could walk in and see that puzzle, a favorite form of relaxation for me (even when stuck), all was ok. I needed the mental picture that my life did not have to be consumed by the myriad of details swirling around and inside me. It is a visual of peace to me in what often feels like a raging storm. I wish I could say I acted on that thought and took some breaks, but I didn’t. . . until my ten-year-old neighbor came over.

Becca saw the puzzle and noted it wasn’t any further along than the last time she visited. Since the next day had already been called a snow day she came over to help me.

For an hour, Becca and I worked the puzzle and shared our lives with one another.  Together we got past the hurdle of “none of these pieces fit together!”  Becca’s company and help inspired me so much that the next night I decided to not tend to any moving, household or work tasks.  Instead I spent several hours puzzling. This time not about how to get everything done, but real jigsaw puzzling.

The puzzle is not yet complete, but I moved it forward from about 40% finished to about 80% done. More importantly, I was reminded that a beautiful puzzle picture is IMG_5180made up of thousands of small, some very odd shaped, pieces. It may take some time, but as each piece is placed where it belongs the picture becomes clearer.

That puzzle is a picture of my life right now. No not the idyllic country scene with kids flying kites, dogs running and ladies gardening.  Rather, the thousands of pieces of our life and move will come together in God’s timing, and what an incredible masterpiece they will make. As much as I love to make lists and want every detail accomplished tomorrow (though yesterday would be preferable), that is not the path God has me on right now.

I look forward to the day when the pieces that now look like they will never fit anywhere will someday click and I’ll exclaim, “oh, that’s where that was supposed to go.” Thank you, God, that your picture is grander than anything I try to piece together.

Manufacturers Instructions

We have an electric bed that allows Jerry to change position easier.  Two weeks ago my side of then bed got caught under the headboard and broke.  Some bolts popped and broke and it seemed the motor burned out.  I went several days thinking I didn’t need to fi it, I can sleep flat.

After a few days though, I had to admit I was spoiled and needed to do something about the bed.  I stopped at the store to inquire about purchasing a new base.  The salesman was very helpful and told me the price of a new base.  He also suggested I call the manufacturer as they are excellent at helping with part replacement.

He was right; I had dealt with this manufacturer before and this call was no exception.  The lady on the phone listened to me and then listened to the noise the bed made and diagnosed the parts that needed to be replaced (at about one fifth the price of a new base), which was slightly different than what I thought I needed.

Today my niece Susanna and I tackled the repair.  The very first instruction did’t make sense to us and we could not find a diagram to show us what to do.  We decided that it wasn’t that critical, so we skipped it!  Bed underneath

We moved on to replacing the “brain” and then the head motor.  We plugged it back in, retrained the remote and tried the bed.  Both the head and foot raised, and lowered. They didn’t raise as high as I thought they should, but I figured I just didn’t recall properly.

A short time later (after everyone left) I was resetting our room.  When I tried the bed remote it did not work again.  Seriously!!??

So once again I flipped the bed over, and looked to see if I could find the problem.  Suddenly I saw it – the part we were supposed to do first of all but had skipped.  Of course to fix that now I had to remove the parts we had just replaced.

Doing it alone was hard, and several times I felt tested beyond my capabilities.  But perseverance won and finally I got it together and working properly.

Yes, it does feel like an accomplishment I am proud to have made.  But the lessons were not lost on me in the process . . .

  • I thought I knew what part needed to be replaced and called to order that.  The manufacturer could tell from the sound and my description which parts I really needed.How many times do I think I know what I need to deal with in my life, but as I spend time with my manufacturer He points out the real issue.
  • When we couldn’t figure out the first instruction we skipped it.  Turns out it really was important.  How often do I try to skip to the “easier parts “of following Jesus only to find following Jesus requires full obedience – there are no short cuts!

What do you know . . . the Manufacturer really does know best!

bed up

99 Beautiful Places

99 Beautiful Places is a puzzle that I received as a Christmas gift this year (thanks again C).  I started it a little over a week ago.  I put some time into it on my own.  The next day “our girls” (daughters of our heart*; you can read an early part of that story here) came for a visit. After dinner we gathered in the den and B and I worked on the puzzle while A and Jerry watched and chatted.  We made good progress on the puzzle, but even more we made good progress in continuing to grow our family ties.

As always happens with any kind of a visit, the time came for the girls to leave.  I spent a little more time on the puzzle, but it’s just not as fun working on it alone.  As the week progressed I was telling God how I would love to see our dear DooH*again soon.  That very evening B texted and said they’d like to come back again to visit and work on the puzzle together.  Wo hoo!

This past weekend we enjoyed other afternoon together.  With B, A and I all focusing on it we were able to complete the puzzle.  The title of the puzzle fits -there are indeed 99 beautiful places from around the world highlighted on it.  Twenty two of those places I have already visited, another twenty six are on my travel wish list.

As lovely as all those places are, or seem to be, I can tell you they missed at least one!  To me the most beautiful place is with those I love.  Whether that’s at Christmas with my nieces and nephews, sharing dinner with my sister and her husband, playing a game with Jerry or doing a puzzle or coloring with B and A; that’s true beauty!

Pondering Puzzling

Puzzle Day 1

We must be in the later part of autumn moving into winter.  How do I know?  Well yes, the calendar and the weather both point that out, but for me the definitive clue is I broke out a puzzle today.  For me puzzling is my fall and winter Sunday afternoon activity.

When Jerry and I took a walk today he asked me why I like to work puzzles (he clearly does not!).  Is it that puzzles add another “p” word to my vocabulary – like my much loved word pondering?  I think it goes deeper than that.

Take the puzzle I started today; my sister in law gave it to me last Christmas.  It’s a reproduction of an Italian painting and it’s a tough one.  I was tempted to put it aside, but that would be admitting defeat without even trying. I am a bit too competitive to do that.

I like the challenge of taking something that seems impossible and breaking it down to “can do” steps. I truly thought at the end of the day today I may not have anything other than the border done, but I am pleasantly surprised! Persistence paid off.

Puzzles sharpen my problem solving skills. They help me

  • see that details matter.  Paying attention to the shading differences, or subtleties of a piece are sometimes the only way to make a match
  • things aren’t always how they look – how often have I searched over and over for a particular piece, then when I finally find it I am surprised to see it was that piece.
  • realize that everything doesn’t have to be done at once; sometimes a break from puzzling allows me to come back to it with a fresh perspective and I can tackle an area that had stymied me before.
  • the end result doesn’t come overnight (unless one of Jerry’s attendants finishes it for me, but that’s never happened!). Often it takes a lot of hard work and every piece is necessary to make a beautiful completed picture.

I don’t usually consciously ponder these points while puzzling, but I do see how they have been influential in developing the way I tackle projects or problems in my personal life and in my work life.

So here’s to a new week that I enter refreshed and rested with the knowledge that the goal that seems so far away can be broken down and be within my reach.
Need that reminder too? Feel free to stop by and puzzle with me. You’ll find one in process for the next several months.