First, I took all of the pieces out of the box and turned them right side up so I could see what I was working with. Then I separated the edge pieces and built the border or the framework to define the perimeter of the picture.
This was when my analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to life began. I need to examine what I’m working with and know what my boundaries are.
Within this framework are multiple pieces. Some come together quickly. Others require much trial and error before they find their own place. It is quite common to be working on several different areas before discovering how one or two pieces are able to join them together.
I attempt to put similar colours and patterns together. The dark or shadowy ones aren’t as appealing but serve to make the brighter ones even more vibrant. The picture is starting to take shape.
I hold a piece in my hand and think I know where it belongs. It isn’t quite right but I attempt to make it fit. This is where I want it to go, why isn’t it working? If I force it, the space will not be held for the piece meant to go there and the picture will not live up to the potential shown on the box. This is more difficult that I imagined and I wonder if the puzzle is ever going to come together.
I move to a different position to view my work in progress. Another perspective helps me figure out where some of the extra pieces fit. I stand back to take an overall view and am happy with the progress made so far.
My life, like the jigsaw puzzle, still has some pieces to be put into place. The time and effort I put into it now will one day result in a beautiful picture of who I was and how I lived my life.
The radio announcer posed an interesting question. He asked if there was anything we learned from a teacher that still had an impact on us today.
Although it’s been many years since I was in school, it wasn’t difficult for me to think of something.
In high school, I was fortunate to have the same English teacher two years in a row. He was widely respected as being firm but fair. At the beginning of my second year with him, I turned in an essay that received a much higher mark than I expected. At the end of the class I was called aside and told this essay didn’t deserve the grade I’d received but he knew I was capable of high-quality work so had marked this one with my potential in mind. I was given grace I didn’t deserve.
This teacher’s faith in my ability gave me the confidence to believe in myself. I worked hard to affirm his decision and reach the high standard he envisioned.
Since that time I have had many teachers or mentors in my life. Some have taught me work-related skills while others have taught me compassion and resilience. All have helped to shape me into the person I am today.
Jesus is the greatest teacher of all. He taught not only with words but with example. The lessons he taught over two thousand years ago are still impacting people today. The model given through his life inspires all of us to be better people. He gave us grace we didn’t deserve and I, for one, want to live up to the potential he entrusted me with.
I am convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 GWT)
We have an area set aside in our backyard for a vegetable garden. Every year we look forward to the harvest of fresh produce to come.
Before seeds can be sown, the soil must be prepared. If the dirt is hard and compact, it needs to be broken up and turned over. The soil also needs to be fertile enough to sustain the growth we hope to achieve. The task of a gardener is ongoing throughout the season and I’m grateful my husband has taken this on.
He knows that hard, unyielding soil will not allow roots to push through and grow. Stones and undesirable roots left in the soil can hamper the growth of seeds planted.
If we are not careful weeds will quickly grow and choke the life from the seedlings. One of the roles of a gardener is to tend the plants, removing anything that will impede their growth. Without proper care, they will be unable to reach their full potential.
I think of myself as one of these seeds. Sometimes I put myself in situations that hamper my growth. God wants me to have deep roots so I can reach my full potential. When I am hard and unyielding He may need to do some digging into my life and break up the clumps of stubbornness and rebellion. The weeds of my wrong attitudes need to be removed.
This process can be quite uncomfortable but the results are worth it. The thought of being a seed, planted by the loving hands of my Heavenly Father is reassuring. There is no better gardener to nourish and care for me. His love and protection will help me reach my full potential.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (John 15:1 ERV)
While in Arizona recently, I learned about a type of cactus called saguaro. While the name (pronounced Sah WAR oh) may not be familiar, its appearance certainly is.
Easily recognized for its height, which can be over twelve meters or forty feet tall, as well as the arms coming out of each side; this tree-like cactus is often depicted in artwork. Many years ago I purchased a wall hanging with a saguaro as part of the design.
I found it fascinating to learn it can take up to fifty years before the plant blossoms and approximately seventy-five years before appendages sprout. After the first one appears, there is no limit to the number it may produce. We counted twenty arms on one!
Looking at the plant, it appears to have accordion-type pleats. These expand as it stores water. This method of self-preservation is able to keep it alive for an incredible two years without moisture.
What have I learned from these facts to apply to my life?
I expect to achieve my goals in a minimal amount of time. In reality, it can take many years to blossom and grow into my full potential. Once I’m mature enough, there is no limit to how productive I can be.
If I store up things that nourish me, such as the beauty of nature, wisdom of those who have gone before me and encouragement from friends and family, I am able to draw on these to keep me going during the dry spells.
When I model my life after these truths I will be committed to do what is necessary to reach for my goals and dreams. Then I will be able to stand tall and proud with outstretched arms to welcome whatever comes my way.
Our aquafit instructor asked us to do a cross-country ski movement with our arms and legs. The added twist was we had to do this without letting our feet touch the bottom of the pool.
She said, “The resistance will be felt in your whole body, from the neck down.” While completing the exercise I thought, “My resistance is normally felt from the neck up!”
I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. My mindset controls what I am capable of achieving.
Years ago I clipped a cartoon out of the paper and had it displayed on my fridge. One character said, “I’ve realized that I’m the only one keeping me from reaching my full potential.” The other replied, “And a mighty fine job you’re doing of it.”
This served as a powerful reminder to get out of my own way. Too often the resistance I face doesn’t come from outside sources but from myself.
I read an excerpt from the book, Trade Your Cares for Calm by Max Lucado that addressed this very well. He said the widest river in the world is not the Amazon or the Nile. It is a body of water called ‘If Only’. He talked about the number of people who stand on its banks wanting to cross but never doing it. They are convinced the ‘If Only’ river is what separates them from the good life.
We all have a choice to make. Are we going to let the resistance in our minds stop us or are we going to cross the ‘If Only’ river?
“The good life begins, not when circumstances change, but when our attitude toward them does.” Max Lucado
A couple of months ago a friend celebrated the birth of a new baby. This child was eagerly awaited and loved long before she drew her first breath. The baby is not the first child in the family but this doesn’t diminish the devotion lavished on her.
She is loved unconditionally even though she can give nothing in return. She is loved for her very existence in this moment and not for what she may become in the future. Her family is committed to nurture and guide her as she grows.
This is the way God loves each one of us. I know he loves me just as I am. Even when I have nothing to give back, he still cares.
He is watching over me and is always there to nurture, support and guide me to reach my full potential. When I cry out to him in prayer, he takes care of my needs.
I can have this relationship with God because he sent Jesus to demonstrate his great love for me. Jesus left his heavenly home and came to earth as a helpless baby. He knew the sacrifice he was making. It was for you and for me. This is the greatest gift known to mankind.
Let us think of that sacrificial love as we celebrate the gift of the baby Jesus this Christmas.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
Early on a Saturday morning, I was on the highway heading to an appointment an hour from home. Although I’d allowed extra time, it looked like the slowdowns for road repair would eat up every minute of it.
I hate to be late and it looked to me as if that was going to be the case. The tension was starting to build.
Near the end of a lengthy slowdown, was a flag person holding a sign reminding us to proceed slowly. What made her memorable was the big smile and friendly wave she gave to the passing vehicles.
I couldn’t help but smile and wave back. Her simple gesture of kindness relaxed me. When I arrived at my destination (right on time) my stress had dissolved and I was in a positive state of mind.
This woman understood the pressure drivers feel when forced to add extra time to their commute and did something to break the negativity. The effect of this would have reached more than the motorists she encountered. When I’m in a better state of mind I treat those I come in contact with in a more positive manner. They, in turn, pass along positive rather than negative emotions to those they interact with. The ripple effect of one act of kindness can be staggering.
A friendly smile, a sincere compliment, holding a door open for the person behind me; these cost only a minute of my time but have the potential of changing someone’s outlook that day. The more I practice random acts of kindness, the more opportunity I have to change the world. What an exciting concept!
“Kindness carries no price tag neither does it require making a purchase. A random act of kindness can change someone’s life…choose to be kind always.” ― Kemi Sogunle