Lessons Learned In the First Two Weeks of Puzzle Fundraising
     In case you haven't heard, the Shelton family is adopting a little girl from Haiti!  If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know this is a long, long story, but most importantly, you know that we're in line for a referral, and thus we are back in the fundraising game again. 
A couple of weeks ago, we launched our puzzle fundraiser.  We purchased a 1,000 piece puzzle to put together and hang in our daughter's room.  We'll be framing it in a double-sided frame that will display the puzzle picture on the front.  On the back will be the names of the people who helped to bring her home by sponsoring a piece of the puzzle.  Every five dollar donation equates to one piece of the puzzle.  So when it's said and done, we'll be $5,000. closer to the total amount needed to pay the adoption fees. paypal.me/sheltonadoption
     That is the end of the infomercial.  Here comes the fun part.  This is the list of things I have learned thus far from the puzzle fundraiser:
  • 1,000 is a really big number!  It seems so much bigger when that many pieces tumble out of a small box and bury the dining room table!
  • We have some friends with some really, really long names!  You know who you are!  Some of you are going to be required to purchase pieces in pairs just so we can get your names to fit! 
  • Surprise donations always make me cry!  It doesn't matter where I am when I get a donation notification - my kitchen, my desk at work, or standing in the middle of a crowded vestibule at halftime of a basketball game - instant tears!  I'm not even embarrassed by it anymore - some things deserve happy tears!
  • We really, really mean it when we say we want our friends' names on our daughter's wall!  We can't tell you how much we appreciate the support we've been given, and we love it when we get to add new names, so we can share them with our little girl some day.  We want her to know how much she was loved before anyone even knew her name!
And finally..........
     If you don't know, we have two lovely Labrador retrievers in our house.  We have a black lab, Catherine, who works very hard for me every day, and a precious yellow lab named Penney, whose main skill is being pretty.  She will not be working for me or anyone else anytime soon, I assure you.
The first night he worked on the puzzle, Steve labeled, took pictures, and posted to Facebook, as twenty-one pieces came together in two puzzle chunks.  He took pictures as each piece was added so he can later create a still-frame type video showing it all coming together, front and back.  This took a while, and required some serious organization and focus.
     The next night, we went into the dining room to add a few more pieces to our work in progress.  The unmated pieces were scattered all over the table, and the smaller chunk was there, but the bigger chunk, the first seventeen he put together - completely missing!  We immediately began interrogating the boys trying to ascertane who took them, where they were hidden and why.  We tried several theories, and all three denied any knowledge of them although one boy remembered seeing precious Penney standing on her hind legs looking intently at the pieces.  The youngest jumped immediately to blaming her.
     It seemed unlikely that Penney would have actually eaten the assembled pieces.  I mean, she ate nineteen candy bars once that we bought from a fundraiser, wrapper and all, but those would have smelled good.  Puzzle pieces, surely not! So we ramped up the questioning, making certain the boys, the five year old in particular, understood the importance of the pieces.  One of us (me) might have even threatened to give Penney away in an attempt to coax a confession out of the pre-kindergartener, but the boys all promised they knew nothing. So, the only logical thing to do after that was to send them on poop patrol!  (No, I'm not kidding!)  Either we had kids who were really good liars, or a dog with a very unrefined pallet.  We were determined to find out which! In the end, puzzle pieces are apparently very digestible.  We searched high and low, closely monitored the yard, and never found them anywhere. Penney is still a member of our household, but we all believe her to be the culprit.
So, we are now introducing Puzzle 2.0!  we're starting over again with a second version of the same puzzle.  We're just really glad we didn't spend a fortune on a custom order puzzle, and that Amazon decided to knock $7.00 off the price of this one.  We'll try a new strategy this time, and find a higher place to store it!  Somehow, it's fitting that this would happen to the Sheltons on the first night of a project that requires serious organization.  Fortunately, we can laugh at it now.  And in case you're wondering, I am keeping all 983 remaining pieces from the first puzzle just in case - and yes we've counted and know they're all there!
     If you want to join in and add your name to our daughter's puzzle, you can donate through Pay Pal, or send us a check or cash at your convenience.  (Don't worry, we won't let Penney anywhere near that!) One other interesting observation....Our youngest has grown up most of his life hearing adoption talk and taking in all kinds of fundraising and home study activities as we've worked through the process.  It has been within the last few months, however, that he's really started to grasp what it means.  He now asks me all the time when we're going to bring home his baby sister, what her name is, and all kinds of other questions.  The puzzle fundraiser is something that he understands will help bring her home, and he wants very much to be a part of it and to speed things along.  The other day he told me, "I know what will help bring that baby sister home faster - we just need to get a giant puzzle with giant pieces!"
     If only it were that easy!  But I love the simplicity of his point of view.  I am so anxious all the time to know how/when this story ends.  I love surprises, but I love being in control and planning almost as much.  This whole walking by faith thing is really hard for my Type A personality!
1 Corinthians 13 is a scripture I memorized over twenty years ago, but a portion of it has taken on new meaning for me lately, especially in light of the puzzle and the little one's perspective:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror.  Then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part.  Then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

     As I write this, I wonder whose name will be next, or if anyone will even read this post all the way to the end.  I wonder what our daughter's life is like, or if she has even been born.  I want to know her name, and when this waiting will finally be over.  But more than that, I am overcome when I realize there is one who knows all of these answers and who ultimately guides our story.  I see the next obstacle, and He sees the victory.  I see $5.00 puzzle pieces, and He sees the completed family. 
This journey is a lot easier when I put what I know in part in perspective and trust the one who fully knows.  Our journey is His puzzle in a way.  It will be amazing when we finally see how the pieces fit together!  "When perfection comes, the imperfect disappears."
"Give thanks to the Lord.  His love endures forever." 


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