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Imperfect progress

     More than a year ago my mother and I started a project.  Puzzles.  My kids love puzzles.  There were pieces everywhere - and broken boxes - and missing boxes (not to mention missing pieces).  I had the bright idea of getting rid of all the boxes, numbering the puzzles (so when I find a random piece I know where to put it) and hanging them, in order of course, in perfectly crafted plastic bags.  So we started.  We numbered the puzzles...well at least half of them - and then decided to go shopping for the perfect bags and/or rack to hang them on.  We couldn't find either.  So there I was with a whole bunch of puzzles out of their boxes and shoved into zip lock bags (and not even the kind with those cool slider things).  Well, there wasn't time to finish the project - so all the bags got shoved into a box and plopped in the basement.  I kept thinking I'd either find the perfect bags or at least borrow my husbands gromitt machine and make the perfect bags.  Well it never happened.  Occasionally the boys would pull out the box and try to find a favorite puzzle, but they'd usually give up.  A few days ago I went downstairs to find almost every puzzle all put together.  Our 4 year old had spent his rest time hard at work.  I was amazed that he could do so many puzzles in such a short amount of time.  After thanking God for the genius He has blessed us with :), I thought to myself - thats it, I've got to get these things organized.  So I grabbed a screwdriver, poked a hole in the zip lock bags and shoved child sized hangers through the holes.  I was supposed to be working on the mountain sized pile of laundry behind me, but once I started on the project - I couldn't stop.  I hung the puzzles in their highly imperfect zip lock bags on a rack above my head.  I knew the kids couldn't reach them, but at least they were organized...and, they could ask for one if they wanted to.  Today I was changing Avonlea's diaper and remembered that my mom and I had bought a few shower curtain rods thinking we could place them in the boys closet between their bookshelf and the wall - and hang the perfect puzzle bags on them.  Well, all of the puzzles were labeled and hanging in their bags downstairs...it wouldn't take long to move them to a new location.  So Blake (our 4 year old) and I spent our morning transporting and organizing the puzzles.  Cole (our 2 year old) was entertaining Avonlea (our 1 year old), so it worked out perfectly.  When we finished the project we spent over an hour putting together different puzzles - even Avonlea joined in on the fun.
     About an hour later, while I was in my prayer closet (the shower), I thought about the phrase that has been running through my mind over the past few days - "imperfect progress".  I stole the phrase from a book I haven't even read yet, Unglued - but have heard lots about on KLOVE (a Christian radio station).  I'm planning on reading it as soon as I can get my hands on it.  The little I heard about "imperfect progress" has been so encouraging - it has something to do with moving forward, little by little, even though we are far from perfect.
     The now complete (though far from perfect) puzzle closet is a perfect (no pun intended) picture of the idea of imperfect progress.  When we first started the project, things looked great - the idea to move forward seemed brilliant.  But, when we couldn't find the perfect bags or the perfect place to hang them, moving forward seemed pointless.  So the poor puzzles ended up shoved into the deep dungeon of our basement.  I thought the idea was forever lost.  Even though I couldn't see it at the time, however, they were still in "imperfect progress".  Eventually I dusted them off and moved forward.  And today, I am genuinely happy with our puzzle closet (though I wouldn't be surprised if I eventually do borrow that gromitt machine and make it even better.)
     Well, you can probably guess where I am going with this.  If you ever feel like you've messed up too many times to move forward, or your too far from perfect to even bother trying - don't give up.  Take little steps - progress is still progress, even if it is imperfect.  And if you happen to be in the dark dungeons (of which I am only recently stepping out from) - more than likely there is a whole bunch of "imperfect progress" going on...it's just a little too dark for you to see it.

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it".  John 1:5

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