Thursday, December 7, 2017

10 things that I'm into right now:

here are 10 things that I currently love- although if you know me, these will be no surprise to you-

1. the Polaroid zink printer-
it takes pictures from your phone and makes little stickers out of them! I use these when I'm recording a memory in my journal, or when I'm sending mail to my volunteers or students, or when I just want to put a memory on my refrigerator door. The printer is about the size of a cell phone and connects through bluetooth- so its portable, wireless, and way cheaper than a regular photo printer.  also- its better than a regular Polaroid camera, because you know exactly how the picture will turn out.

2. vibram five-fingers

I love these shoes. I would wear them all the time if I could get away with it. they change the way you run so that you land with the front of your foot instead of your heel- which makes running painless. they look goofy- but I swear by them. they are a little pricey, and they take some getting used to, but I think they are well worth it. in the last 6 years I have put almost 13,000 miles in shoes like these.



3. russian blue cats.

these cats are super-cool. they don't shed! they are clean and quiet- and the way they are bred their faces appear to be smiling. who wouldn't want a clean, mellow, smiling cat?






4. noodles and company
this place is making a fortune off of us. Its delicious and I could seriously eat there every night. its pasta, but without the waiters and menus. jane gets the mac and cheese- I get the alfredo- deanna gets the soup. I don't know if you have one of these in your town, but if you do, treat yo-self.




5. checkers

when we are at noodles, (or anywhere else) we play checkers. over and over. we have checkers at the house, checkers in the car, big checkers, small checkers- and we know all of the places that have built-in checkers-tables. its a simple game that everyone knows- its a great way to exercise your brain and to teach your kids how to think ahead and to make wise choices. 


6. curse of oak island

this show is fascinating. there is an island in canada that is rumored to have a giant treasure hidden underground. is it pirate treasure? solomon's treasure? no one knows! people have been searching for it for hundreds of years.
on this show, two brothers have brought in giant drills- and they have been pulling up all kinds of mysterious objects from 170 feet below the surface- like bits of pottery, gold, coins, buttons from military uniforms, chains, and human bones. their drills sometimes run into "voids" or underground rooms- sometimes they run into solid objects- which could be concrete walls hiding chambers- sometimes they run into booby-traps that flood their drill holes with sea water. there are clues all around the island- like faces carved into rocks at different parts of the island and all looking in the same direction. what's at the bottom of the holes? will we ever find out? I'm hooked.


7. toy story faces for apple watch

every time I check the time, a different animated toy story character appears on my watch face and does something hilarious. As I work with kids, they love to look at my watch and tap on it to change out the characters. I like to do that too. 



8. miniatures!
I have been making miniatures models of local sights, bible stories, and families memories on my office plant every day. you can find them on instagram at @robsplant. I have discovered that everyone is secretly fascinated by miniatures and small models of things. when I was at disneyland recently, I was blown away by their models of disneyland and the rides. I love to look in craft stores for miniatures and to dream up how I could display a memory or a place in miniature. 

9. my hydro flask and my mios

I have been off of soda for almost 2 years- I have been drinking water flavored with my mio water enhancers. the hydro flask keeps my water cold for multiple days! and they come with cool accessories like shoulder slings, cup holder attachments and different lids. the mios can come with vitamins or caffeine- and you can get all kinds of flavors. I was drinking close to a six pack of soda a day- and now I won't go back to soda. I'm hooked!



10. ear plugs
I love the sound of silence. I'm able to think better, work better, pray better, memorize verses, quote verses and read better in silence. I started using ear plugs in college- and now I rely on them more than ever. I use them when I'm reading in a public place, or when I'm walking on the trail, or even when I'm working in my office. I keep them everywhere. I have experimented with a bunch of different ones and have found the make and model that are best for me. recently I was walking and praying and thinking, and there were some loud people on the trail that just seemed to be going at the exact same pace as me. I didn't have any ear plugs on me, and I realized just how much I appreciate them when they weren't there. 

in all of these things- they aren't for everyone- and they reveal how quirky I can be. they also reveal how little things in life can bring us joy. 

God is love.
-rev-rob


Monday, June 12, 2017

adventures in candidating

candidating is a church word that means applying for a new pastor-job. I spent the last few months candidating- and I noticed a few things:

1. there are a lot of little churches out there. 
most churches are pretty small- like 400 people or less. and that means they don't have much to spend on employees. they require most of their employees to have multiple jobs. I was often asked, "so...do you know anything about web design?" one church wanted to hire me to be the children's pastor, the youth pastor, the missions pastor, and to fill in in other areas as needed. what?!

2. janitors are a luxury.
most churches can't afford a janitor. they lean on volunteers to clean up. and that means that a lot of churches are messy and cluttery. I found one small church that was immaculate. I don't know how they did it, but I was shocked by how clean everything looked and smelled. one church I went to had walls that were literally dirty. It took a ton of effort to not go and find a clorox wipe and clean it up. when finances are tight, there is a reluctance to throw stuff away- so they end up keeping things that are broken, work out, and out of date. 

3. theology is really important
many of the churches that I talked to were really into their specific brand of theology; or their specific denomination. they were very up front and told me that if I didn't fit their brand, that the conversation should end now. one church told me, "if you're not into john calvin the way that we are, you're not going to fit here." I met with one pastor and the very first thing he said to me in the interview was, "tell me about creation." I asked him what he meant. he said, "you know- Genesis 1-3. is the earth older than 6500 years? was the entire cosmos created in 6 literal days?" I paused. the interview didn't last long. 

4. churches move slow. 
so many of these churches make decisions by committees, and those committees can only meet when everyone is present, and can only make a decision when everyone agrees. I am still getting responses from applications that I sent in months ago. 

5. youth workers are underpaid
many of the churches that I talked to had a budget for their youth worker that was less than minimum wage; yet they required this worker to oversee multiple areas of the church and had extremely high expectations for these workers. many more expected their workers to work 70+ hours a week at half time pay. 

6. every church has a kitchen-
and without fail, it is usually bigger, nicer and cost more than the space used by students. 

7. many churches are run by volunteers with strong personalities.
I interviewed at multiple churches where I caught volunteers and church members bossing their pastor around. they intimidated them and belittled them in front of me. they often tried to intimidate me and warned me of what would happen if I changed their favorite program. 

8. I met a sad pastor...
I met with one pastor who led a small church. he used to work at a big church, but he got fired abruptly. that was almost 20 years ago; but to talk to him, the pain was still so fresh in his mind. he told me, "I don't want to be a big church. been there, done that. I don't want to be a hip church, or relevant. been there, done that. I don't want to have cool music or a cool atmosphere, been there, done that." he was content to keep on serving his small church until he retired. 


so I've been thinking, and I've come to some conclusions:

1. if you have a job- whether its a church job or not- you should be grateful for it; because being out of a job is really scary. if you do have a job, give it your very best- it is a gift from God. Be fun to work with. Be a team player and have a good attitude- it is a good thing to have a job, so enjoy it and do it well.

2. we need to always look at our environments with new eyes- what do other people see and hear when they come into our spaces? do they see clutter and dirt? have we stopped seeing it?

3. I don't ever want to be like that sad pastor. I don't want to be defined by my past. I don't ever want to stop dreaming. I don't ever want to become content. 

4. if you go to church, give to your church! help them to have the money they need to make the decisions and the hires they need to make. while you're at it, help out a little church on the corner if you can- (in ANY WAY you can) they need it!

5. listen to your encouragers
in my search, there was a consistent message given to me: 
its going to work out. 
God has a plan for you.
God loves you, and God is good. 
God has your back.
God isn't done with you. 
you need to trust.

a lot of days, those words went in one ear and out the other. I was so worried, that I was convinced that this was my problem to solve, not God's. I have met so many pastors who used to be a pastor, and now they are doing something else- and I was so worried that I would never get to serve God in church again. but then I found a job. and I was reminded that God has my back; and that I need to trust.

6. pray for your church- and for all of the churches. they don't have the resources they need. pray for your pastor- there are people in their lives that intimidate them. pray that God would provide all of the resources that your church needs to reach their city. churches depend on the generosity of their members to make it- let's all pray for the success of the churches across our land. 

7. get in the game- if you're not serving at your church already- let's get on with it! they need your help and skills. they could do so much more through you and your help! 

again- I want to thank you if you prayed for me, or encouraged me while I was searching for a new job- I can't express enough how much I appreciate that!

God is love.
rev-rob

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

team rob

I don't know who reads this, but if you do, then you probably know that I recently started a new job at a new church! I might be guilty of wasting time, but I wanted to get this down before I forgot.

So- I transitioned away from my job of 16 years at the end of last month. (I will always be grateful to that church for the many years that I got to serve there, and the many memories that I made, and the many friendships that were developed there. I have nothing negative to say about them.) I began looking for a new role maybe 2 months ago. I put out resumes, filmed videos, made a zillion phone calls, skype calls and facetime calls- and I traveled all over speaking and having face to face meetings. At one point, I was sitting on my sofa talking with my wife and she said, "It seems like team-rob is out there working hard for you." 

team-rob? when she said that, I realized that there was this dedicated team of friends that did not let me go a single day without being prayed for and encouraged and advised. I just want to take a minute to recognize and thank some of the members of team-rob.

first there is niki- she met with me, and prayed for me, and told me how to do an interview, and how to make a linkedin profile. she checked in on me and told me that I was going to make it. she sent me job opportunities and gave me advice.

then there is mike. mike prayed with me, and hugged me, and told me that I was a good pastor. he listened to my options and gave me wise counsel. he was one of the first people that I called when I got my new role, and he cheered for me.

paco listened to me. he was one of my references, and he must have taken 20 calls from different churches. he represented me for hour and hours when you add it all up. I couldnt ask for a better guy to represent me. 

carlo fought for me- he was also one of my references, and he took many, many calls for me. he even tried to get me hired on at his church.

Trent called me several times, just to encourage me and to make me laugh. there was one day that was especially hard- I had recieved so many ejections, and I was feeling hopeless. I was sitting in a togo's and trent called and just said, "I just want to remind you that you are a good pastor." I was so fragile that I cried uncontrollably in the middle of togo's for an uncomfortable amount of time. when he heard that I got a new job he called me and just said, "yeah you did!"

Chris has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. His mother recently passed away, and he and I shared many, many tears together over the last few months. He called almost every day just to see how I was doing. 

I called my friend jim just to tell him what was going on, and just the sound of his voice made me cry and cry. I did a lot of crying over the last few months; jim prayed for me, and gave me perspective and encouraged me. he called almost every day to remind me that God is good, and that He has good plans for me.

I have a friend named chuck who is a pastor in the midwest. I called him to get his advice- when he spoke to me he referred to me as "pastor rob." I had not been called that in so long, and I doubted if I would ever be called that again. hearing him call me that gave me the ugly tears and it blessed my soul. he called me every day and prayed for me. he loudly  cheered for me when I got my new role. 

josh met with me- he went to bat for me. he tried to get me hired on at his church, and got me a meeting with his pastor, even though his pastor didn't really want to meet me. he and his wife faithfully prayed for me. 

andrew listened to me for hours. 

scott gave me contacts.

makepa hugged me and cried with me.

tahereh prayed for me faithfully every morning.

my mother texted me every morning, and reminded me that she had prayed for me; and that God is faithful. 

marvin fought for me, and gave my name to every pastor that he knew.

matt texted me, prayed for me, and encouraged me.

and deanna listened to me,
and prayed for me,
and hugged me,
and supported me,
and believed in me.
even when I didn't believe in myself. 


and there are so many others- parents of students, volunteers that I worked with, co-workers at my former workplace- its overwhelming how much support I have recieved over the last few months.
thank you friends.


even if your name isn't rob, I hope that you have a team-rob. I hope that your dark days are brightened by close friends. whatever you go through, I hope that you don't go through it alone. this was a scary chapter for me, but above all else, I was reminded that I am surrounded by a dear group of friends. I want to be a friend that is there on another friend's dark day- and I hope you do too.

God is love.
-rev-rob


Sunday, February 26, 2017

elm street mission 2/24

last week was our annual service trip with the students. every time we go on this trip, one of the highlights is going to elm street mission in santa cruz and serving the homeless. this place is an old-time gospel mission, and they preach a firey message every night, and every night, those homeless Christians sing their hearts out from the hymnals.

every time we go, I always enjoy listening to the preacher, Mike Crane. he is a true hero to me, and the patron saint of santa cruz. this year he asked me to speak and it was one of the biggest honors of my life.

right before I went on to speak, we sang the hymns from the hymnal- and it made me remember all of those sundays sitting in my grandpa roger's church as he led singing through the hymnal; and I got pretty emotional. the song leader led out in the first few words of "how great Thou art" and I almost lost it. I found myself holding the hymnal one-handed just like my grandpa roger- and I knew that he was smiling on my from Glory as I was about to deliver the gospel in an old-time gospel mission. I did deliver that message- and God was in the room.




no particular point to share here- just a happy memory.
God is love.
-rev-rob

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

my plant- bible scenes

I have a plant in my office that I decorate with a different scene every day. here are the ones that I have done that have bible scenes in them:

sermon on the mount:


david and goliath

Daniel in the lions den:

moses at the red sea:

zaccheaus in the tree:

jesus walks on water:

Jonah and the whale:

noah's ark:

Elijah on the mountain:
 
 
I'll post more later!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

lectio divina:: otters


its been awhile since I’ve posted here!

I’ve been working on an idea- I thought I’d throw some ideas out here and see if they work. I’ve been reading this book on speaking, and the author suggested that the best things to talk about are the things that you’re interested in and passionate about- and it got me thinking that my daughter and I are really passionate about otters. then I started wondering how I  could talk about otters and faith at the same time. here are some ideas. throw some more out there for me if you get any ideas:

fearfully and wonderfully made

otters are obviously cute. they are the cutest animals out there. everything they do makes me smile. otters aren’t just cute- they are important. otters eat sea urchins. and sea urchins eat the kelp forest. and thousands of species of marine life live in the kelp forest. so if the otters disappear, then the urchins eat all of the kelp forest and all of those sea creatures die because their home is gone. so really, especially in the Monterey bay, if the otters die, everything else dies with them. in short, they are cute, but they have an important job to do.
and that’s the same for you and me- God has made each of us amazing. our brains, our eyes, our lungs, our hearts, our spines are all amazing feats of engineering. but God didn’t just make us fascinating or pretty or cute, each one of us has an important job to do with our lives- we all have a special purpose from God. we are the keystone of our own environment- and if we don’t do the special job that God has planned for us, then things are in danger of falling apart.
the bible says in ephesians 2:10, “for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, hich God planned in advance for us to do.” we are God’s workmanship- He made each of us to be an expert at something. He made each of us significant; and just like otters, we are a delight. and just like otters, we don’t even realize that the work we do every day is making a huge impact on someone.

water tight

otters were almost hunted to extinction because of their fur. otter fur is the thickest fur in the animal kingdom. it has over a million hairs per square inch. when you look at a cat, or a dog, you can spread out their fur and see down to their skin- but not with otters. their fur is so thick that you can’t get down to their skin. many marine mammals have blubber to keep them warm, but otters don’t- they don’t need it- they just need that thick pelt.
this fur does cool things too. its essentially water-proof. not only that, it can hold air so that they don’t sink in the water. they have a built in life-preserver. this is why otters can sleep and float at the same time. otters have been seen actually blowing air into their coats to increase their buoyancy. otters spend a lot of time cleaning their fur in order to keep it working correctly.
otters live in the water, but they don’t get wet. that’s crazy isn’t it? they live in the cold pacific ocean, but they don’t get cold. they are perfectly insulated.
it reminds me of something that jesus prayed in john 17: “ I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
we are in this world, but we are not supposed to be worldly. we are here to make a difference, but not to be OF this world. romans 12 says, “do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” we’re in the world, and we need to make a difference in this world, but we are not to become like this world.
how can you do that? look at otters- they are in the ocean, but they don’t get wet. they insulate themselves. they keep themselves clean. they make a difference in the ocean, without letting the ocean freeze them out. and that’s our job too- to make a difference in the world without becoming worldly. and just like otters, we need to keep ourselves clean, and be intentional about ridding our lives from the gunk that can sink us.

rafts

otters stick together. a group of otters is called a raft. I have seen giant rafts of otters- with maybe 100 or more. they stick together. in moss landing, there is a group of otters that chill at the beach. they are always there- they never move. they famously hold hands when they sleep so they don’t float away.
not only that, they train each other and learn from each other. the biologists at the Monterey bay aquarium have discovered that otters are not born with natural instincts. they need to learn to hunt, and dive, and groom their fur from their mother. all otter-knowledge has been passed down, otter to otter.
for you and me to see our faith survive in the turbulent times that we live in, we need to stick together. we need to link arms and help each other. we need to learn from each other and mentor the next generation. romans 12 tells us to, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
every one of us needs people in our lives investing in us, praying for us, asking us the hard questions. and each one of us needs to be responsible to help others.
anyhow- those are some fun ideas. some of these ideas are better than others. otters are cool animals! do yourself a favor and check them out the next time you’re in Monterey!

God is love.-rev-rob

Saturday, June 27, 2015

happy stories, june 2015

I've had a pretty great couple of weeks.
last week we had our annual elevation summer camp- and it went perfectly. great weather, great leaders, great students. it was the perfect mixture of fun and serious.

 
like every year, we spent a lot of time at the lake, we went to the outdoor movie theater, and we had out door teaching and music. we also had jiffy pop and smores over an open fire.



this year I taught on joseph, and talked about how God gave Joseph a dream for his life- and how Joseph got clues of God's dream when he was a teenager.
at the end of the camp, I urged the students to dream and consider what God's dream might be for them and their lives. I encouraged them to paint a picture of how God might use them in the future. the students sat quietly for about 15 minutes and painted their pictures. I walked around and peeked over some shoulders to see what they were making. some drew teachers, some drew doctors, and one drew...me. it was a painting of my little green youth room, with tvs on the wall with the (678) logo on them- and at the front of the room was a man teaching the students- except it wasn't me- it was the grown up version of himself.
his dream was to be like me.
how cool is that?
when I was a teenager, my dream was to be just like my youth pastor, and by God's grace- that dream moves past me and forward to this student.

when I got home from camp, I got this cool father's day card and went to Malibu grill to get ribs and French fries! I think the painting is supposed to be of me- even though I don't like wearing ties.



jane got to go to her last VBS this year- and she didn't get sick this time! she loved all of the teaching and the music.


on the second to the last day, we got tickets to go to a giants day game, but she refused to leave town until VBS was over. she said, "VBS is more important than sports, DAD!" I told her that I agree 100%. The game was a blast, and it was so cool to go to the place that we have seen so many times on tv.

 
on the way home from the game I snapped this picture of a happy kid with her mermaid toy in her hand and with a cherry lollipop in her mouth-
 


the other day we were driving to dinner and we saw a news reporter outside of our house- jane was so excited and we stopped to meet her and to take a quick picture- she showed us her news van and told us how she films her stories:

 
back to VBS- I was delighted to watch my wife lead so many volunteers and be respected for her leadership abilities and not just for being the pastor's wife. I was also thrilled to see so many of my current and former students serving God and helping kids.
 
 
my favorite story of the week happened on the last day of VBS. I picked up Jane and took her to lunch. I asked her how everything went and she told me about the songs and the dramas and the games. and then she said, "in the big group someone asked the teacher how old David was when he became king." apparently the teacher walked around the room and asked students what they thought his age might have been when he was crowned king. Then Jane said, "then I raised my hand and said, 'well, I read in my adventure bible that he was 30 when he became king.'" apparently someone googled it and confirmed that jane had it right.
 
I almost wrecked the car.
I said, "wait. there was a question about the bible- and YOU answered it?!" I was beaming with pride. I high fived her. I said, "Jane- that is awesome! I'm so proud of that!" she said, "I'm feeling my cheeks get red!" MY KID read her bible and knew the answer to the bible question. to me- that is the coolest thing ever.
 
jane was telling me that she wants to serve at VBS next year and keep on serving until she is a senior citizen like miss carol. I told her that I plan on serving kids until I'm a senior like miss carol too.
 
what a great week!
God is love.
-rev-rob
 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

found wisdom:: part 1

recently I was leading a bible club at a local middle school and I was handing out candy to some students. there were some youth workers there from another church- I said to one of them: "it really bugs me when I'm handing out candy to students and they grab at it like savages."

we were borrowing a classroom from a Christian teacher. she overheard what I said and said, "you know why that happens don't you?" in an instant I thought to myself, "no- I don't know why it happens- does she know?"

she said, "you have trained them to have that behavior by repeating it and rewarding them with candy. you need to manage your class through clear expectations. In the future I would say, 'I have some candy for students who are sitting and listening.'"

for a second I thought, "why are you listening in on my conversation? and what do you know about youth ministry?" but that was just a second. I quickly realized that this lady is a WEALTH of knowledge about how to manage rude students. I said, "that is genius. tell me more. I want to know everything that you know about classroom management!" she didn't give me anymore free advice.

a few weeks ago I took some students to the boardwalk, and we rented a big school bus. we were cruising down the road, and one of the leaders was talking about how she had just got her driver's license and how she was a little unsure about driving on the freeway and changing lanes. I started giving her some driving advice (because after all, I DID used to drive a little church bus!) but the bus driver chimed in, "you know what I do to change lanes?"

and again, I thought, "why is she listening in on my conversation?" but that lasted only a second. after that I thought, "what DOES she do to change lanes?! I'm curious!"

she said, "I listen to my blinker. when it has clicked ten times, then I feel like I have given the people behind me plenty of notice that I am about to change lanes. so after ten clicks, I just make my way over." then she said, "here is another tip: don't worry about the drivers behind you. its not your job to keep them happy. if they think that you're driving too slow, they can pass you- but don't drive faster just to make them happy." she had a few more bits of advice that I didn't really catch.

in both of those situations, I got some pretty good advice! I wasn't looking for it, but I found it and accepted it. people like to tell me what I'm doing wrong from time to time, but rarely do they share what has helped them, and what can help me. I think at some point, you get to an age when people don't think you want to be coached anymore- but when I am getting coached by someone who is clearly smarter than me, its refreshing.

there is a story in the book of genesis, when the king of Egypt had a dream that the land would have 7 good years followed by 7 bad years. he didn't know what to do with this information. but a Hebrew slave that had just been plucked out of prison said, "why don't you save up for 7 years to plan ahead for the 7 bad ones?" the king could have easily said, "what do you know? you're a slave that was just pulled out of prison!" but instead he said, "that's genius!" and put him in charge of the whole operation.

well if the king of Egypt can accept advice from an unlikely source- why can't we?
we need to be on the look out for wisdom. you never know where you may find it. a school teacher and a bus driver gave some advice to a youth pastor and now I'm better for it. where will you find wisdom? the book of proverbs says, “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.”

there is a treasure chest of wisdom out there- you can find it in books and teachers and seminars- but you can also find it in everyday people and in everyday life- if you tune your ears to it.

God is love.
-rev-rob

graduation stories

my kid is a home schooler-
every year during her promotion story she reads one of the books that she had written in the previous year- here are the books and their presentations:

kindergarten:



jane's graduation story from rob walter on Vimeo.

first grade:



amanda pig and the lemonade stand from rob walter on Vimeo.

second grade:



amanda pig's slumber party from rob walter on Vimeo.

third grade:



3rd grade graduation story from rob walter on Vimeo.


and just last week- 4th grade-
4th grade graduation story from rob walter on Vimeo.

you can see how she gets taller each year, and how she grows in confidence as she reads. this last year she seemed a little self conscious- but what do you expect? she's a pre-teen now!

sigh. my little author!
being a dad is fun.
-rev-rob

Monday, May 18, 2015

puzzles&projects


lately my family has been really into working on puzzles. we like doing those big 1000-piece-puzzles. when I do them, I often think of the parallels between working on a puzzle and doing a big project at work. here are some work/life lessons that come from assembling a puzzle:

1.       get organized.
when you open a puzzle box and see 1000 pieces, it can be overwhelming. where do you begin? how will this ever become like the picture? it helps to get organized. use a big table that can hold all of the pieces. separate the pieces into groups, make sure you have good lighting and seating.
this works with work projects too. get organized. write things down. make a list. make a chart. whatever helps you to think straight. clear out the clutter on your desk. do the things that will help you think clearly.

2.       break the project into steps.
when you see a big pile of puzzle pieces, it just looks like a big mess that will never come together- but if you break the puzzle into steps, it becomes manageable. so make sure all of the pieces are face-up. find the corners. then find the edges. work on the main characters, or the easy parts first.
again- this helps with a project too. instead of aiming to finish the project, aim to finish the first part of the project, then the second. make a list of what the parts of the project are- and then cross them off one by one.

3.       see things from a different point of view.
a lot of times when I’m working on a puzzle, I get stuck. I always think that I must be missing a piece- because I know that there is a missing piece of a cloud or a tree, but I can’t find it anywhere! sometimes it helps to see things from a different point of view. stand up and take a break. come back and look at things again. or change your seat around the table- or use a desk lamp to see the pieces better. use a magnifying glass if you have one. literally, step back and look at the bigger picture.
when I’m working on a project at work- sometimes I get stuck on those too- it helps to see things from a different angle. step back and look at the bigger picture. look at things as if you were your customer- or your employee or volunteer. ask a friend to look at things- what do they see? often times a different way of looking at things is the perfect way to get unstuck on a project.

4.       every detail is important.
when you have a thousand puzzle pieces in a pile- it looks like you could spare a few. it looks like it wouldn’t matter if you lost one or two- but at some point, each and every piece is going to be important. each piece has the potential to be the very last piece of the puzzle. each one has the opportunity of connecting one major section to another- so you can’t lose even one.
it’s the same for projects too- every detail is important. and if you get careless and miss one- you may discover that the detail that you lost was a very, very important detail! and losing it leaves a big hole in the project! so treat every detail like a piece in the puzzle and make sure it get the attention it deserves.

5.       work with a friend.
I like working on puzzles alone- and I like working on them with my family too. I like working on the easy parts of a puzzle- but my kid is so good at those difficult sections- like the sky in a picture- where everything is the same color. everything goes faster when you work with a friend. and the experience is more enjoyable too. there is a certain satisfaction that you get when you look at a puzzle and say to yourself, “I did that all by myself.” but there is also much to enjoy by finishing the project together.
when we work on projects- try to include others on every aspect- the planning, the execution and the review. include others in the resource gathering. ask people for their help and advice. its doesn’t make you less competent- it adds to the experience and makes everything go faster.

6.       don’t force a piece to fit.
if you have to force it, its not meant to fit there. its in the wrong spot.

7.       resource yourself.
there was a moment when we discovered that we weren’t just casual puzzlers anymore- we were serious puzzle experts. so we decided to invest in our puzzle-habit. we got a portable desk lamp to attach to our puzzling table so we could have good lighting even at night time. we got magnifying glasses. we got one of those puzzle mats so you can move your puzzle- although we decided we didn’t like it.
in your work projects- resource yourself. get the tools you need to finish the job well. get the software and the hardware you need. get a book on the subject. take a day trip with your team to get on the same page. upgrade your workspace. if you need it, get it! sure its expensive; but once you have it, you’ll have it for a long time and that resource will pay off in the help that it gives you.

8.       put first things first.
I recently did a wizard of oz puzzle- first I assembled Dorothy- then the other characters- then the yellow brick road- those were the easy parts. after that, I did the flowers and the trees- those were the harder parts. it helps to do the big parts first.
when you’re doing a project, do the big parts first. get the date on the calendar. rent the facility. order the supplies. then take care of the smaller details.

9.       be diligent
keep working on it- even if its just a little bit a day- any progress is good. don’t rush, but don’t be lazy. it will all come together in the end if you don’t give up.

10.   take pride in a finished project
when we finish a puzzle there is a temptation to crumple the thing up and get onto the next puzzle; but most of the time we just leave it all assembled on a table for a few days. we’re proud of what we did. some people even put glue on the backs of their puzzles and mount them on the wall! we don’t go that far.
when you finish a project at work, take time to celebrate it. have a meeting with everyone involved. tell stories. laugh. eat cake! you did a good job and that needs to be recognized before you move on to what’s next.

God is love.
-rev-rob