Teacher | Catechist
Being a visual learner, I always feel the need to produce a mental image for my students. Building up students to be out-of-the-box thinkers, while watching them gather together some basic life-long tools for their shed, is a wonderful privilege. Whether we’re engaged in creative activities, discussion with thought-provoking questions, or silent in prayer, the ingenuity of my grammar school students always drives our class to experience more.
There are several ways of teaching, but the most efficient way to pass on information is when it’s from the heart. When we speak through experience and connect through understanding, our vision tends to rapidly expand while stimulating the brain.
Several years ago, my sister had asked me to take care of my niece and nephew for the night. After working all day, I stopped in a Hallmark store to find a fun game to play with them. They were both under the age of eight, yet all the games they had seemed to be for older kids. As my eyes scanned the shelves, I noticed a beautiful Coca-Cola home town winter village puzzle. I thought to myself, “This is great!” I didn’t notice where it said, ‘1,000′ pieces. That evening, my Aunt joined us (puzzles were her past time hobby) and she noticed! As I excitedly presented the box to them, her eyes opened widely, as she laughed at my humorous error. Giving it our best shot, we worked on it for all of about 5 minutes before they walked away.
As I put the pieces back in the box, a desire to continue and not give up lingered. Feeling as-though this puzzle was a gift to me, I saved the few pieces we put together and placed them on the top. While working on it over the course of time, early mornings, late nights, and sometimes in-between things, I couldn’t help but see that the process of putting this puzzle together was a great reflection of life itself, a lesson to be learned.
This is what I learned in connecting puzzles to life:
It’s best to first spread out every single piece, making sure the picture side is facing upward.
We all have been given time in this world. In living a healthy, well-balanced life, it’s so important to Recognize the Blessings given to us daily. I remember reading a commentary page in one of my Bibles that said, “Take notice today of ten things God has created.” Leaving our home that day, I saw buildings, houses, the highway – way more concrete than nature. Praying about it, “Lord, it’s so hard to find you in all this cement,” was like being flipped over to the picture side of my life. I started to see more blessings than I had before. I looked up and saw the most beautiful sky, I noticed God’s presence more than ever.
Next, sort the pieces.
The corner and edge pieces should be set aside into piles, the interior pieces into smaller sections. Getting Organized is one of the toughest challenges for many of us today. The good news is, if we are not born with this great skill, we can learn it! Being organized gives us more free time for God, family, friends, and ourselves. It also reduces stress. The organization gives us more space and can simplify our life by allowing us to work smarter and not harder.
Third, when putting together the puzzle, it’s best to start with the border, that defines the space when working through the other piles.
When our Priorities are kept in order, it plays an important roll in becoming all that God has called us to be on this road to success in managing our time. In setting small goals, it helps to lead us to larger ones. Identifying our responsibilities helps to set-up our daily list of priorities, family, commitments, personal time.
Homestretch, when a piece doesn’t fit, and it seemed like it was the perfect one…This can happen often, but don’t worry.
It’s easy to get frustrated or even give up too soon, but here is where Patience is needed. Remember, every piece has a part in it, even when it seems like it doesn’t meet the required purpose. When we envision how the puzzle needs to look or what piece needs to be found and placed, then the connection between the brain, eyes, and hands start to work together to find the perfect fit. Paying attention to detail will help to find that certain piece in the pile and to place it where it belongs. Nonetheless, we can often find ourselves rotating the piece and trying to force it where it doesn’t belong or trying it in a different spot, maybe even placing it aside and getting another piece, only to once again achieve the opposite of success. – That’s okay, challenges help us grow.
Last but not least, practice helps build up skill levels before taking on even bigger puzzles.
Our memory will recall how to do a puzzle once completed; knowing where to start, paying attention to detail, shape recognition, problem-solving, planning, etc… By keeping it close at hand so that we can work on it whenever we get a chance, is the fact for attaining and achieving any goal towards which we desire.
So to Recap:
*Recognizing the blessings
*Put your priorities in order
These are all stepping stones in putting together a deeper, brighter, and more dynamic version and vision for our lives.
As my friend and I were driving home from a beautiful day at the beach, I asked her what she thought about the Parable of the ‘Workers in the Vineyard’ ~ Matthew 20:1-16. As the story goes, those who started work later in the day earned equal pay as those who started early in the morning. Her response was that she was ok with that. Referring and relating it to God being equally generous to all (Many debates how they feel about this parable.) Truth is, we need to step out of the box, so we can grasp a broader point of view. We are all like the workers in the Vineyard, and the day is a representation of the fact that we all can receive equal treatment in heaven no matter what age we turn our life around. However, when the eyes of the heart are opened, our vision expands and our brain is stimulated by the fact that the workers who started early had the privilege and responsibility to be a worker and gather up a treasure that would go beyond, what the eye can see. This treasure is lives touched through sacrifices made, little things that go unnoticed and generosity. In other words, it’s not just about what we will receive at the end of the day ~ yet, what will we bring?… When we stand at the gates of heaven will we stand-alone or will we stand in awe as we hear those beautiful words, “My child, look around you for great is your reward.”
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ [Matthew 25:21]
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [Matthew 28:19-20]
A teacher is not so much responsible for what our students know, but more so for the seeds, we plant to help them grow.
Father in the Name of Jesus, by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, be our protection, direct our minds, watch over our paths, help us to listen, understand, and believe. Guide us with Your gracious love… Amen…
Sweet blessings always,
This article was originally published on 201boulevard.
About Deanna Danielle
As a self-published author of two books, I am a recipient of a Mom’s Choice Award for ‘An Ordinary Person, An Extraordinary Gift’ and ‘Christmas Morn’, which launched a year prior. I am well versed in Christian teaching, having been a catechist for 18 years, and I am passionate about sharing the love of God with children and adults alike. I am extremely involved in several fundraising efforts, blogs, and stage and video productions. I have served as a Consultant for Sadlier’s Catechist Guide and am currently seated on the Parish Council at The IHM Church in Scarsdale. I am also a co-founder and board member of the non-profit Lovenevergivesup.com. I have several hundred followers on social media and have received many awards and recognitions for my work and writings. Married to my high-school sweetheart, I am a mom to four wonderful children, excited to share that I just entered the grandparents club :) and I am Master Stylist at the Ritz-Carlton Salon, Westchester.