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Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of  joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for ever more.  Psalms 16:11

Challenging Puzzles

By Ron & Vicky Broadfield



“The challenging puzzles I enjoy now are our children.  Sometimes life will be sailing by smoothly, and then (ugh!) something happens out of the blue!...”


            Who doesn’t enjoy a good puzzle?  In our home we have become avid Sudoku solvers, although our favorite is still the old stand by - jigsaw puzzles.  Now be honest, how many of us, when doing a puzzle, quickly go from relaxation to frustration when we reach for that last piece and (ugh!) find it is not the last piece, that there is still one missing!

            Another puzzle I enjoy is income taxes.  This may sound crazy, but I used to prepare income taxes for fun (and a living).  I loved it when a client would bring all their pieces of information and I had to put them together for the complete picture.  It was both challenging and enjoyable!

            The challenging puzzles I enjoy now are our children.  Sometimes life will be sailing by smoothly, and then (ugh!) something happens out of the blue!  Bewildered, I find myself standing in front of my child and saying, “What are you doing?!” while thinking, “Why are you doing this? What am I missing here?”  Children can be so puzzling.  There are times that I feel like I don’t have the whole picture and there are pieces missing or else, I have a piece that doesn’t fit anywhere that I have to simply set aside – thus the challenge.

            Psalms 139:14 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each child is unique and there are many elements (pieces) that make up their being.  As parents we have the God-given responsibility to oversee the development of these areas.  Ron and I have made our first resource book in raising our children the Bible.  We read other “helps” books, but endeavor to always compare their information to God’s Word. 

            Some of the books we have read over the years have addressed such topics as: personalities (type A or B ...?); love languages (gift giving, quality time,...?); how kids learn (concrete thinkers, abstract, sequential or random?); the most effective way they take in information (audio, visual, kinesthetic?)   One piece of the puzzle we are taking a closer look at today is nutrition.  Is what we feed our kids affecting the way they think and consequently the way they behave?  My professional opinion—based on my Master of Mom’s degree—is yes!  I have seen it first hand!  For our child it plays a big part.  The puzzle is what to do about it. 

            We have known people on opposite ends of the “nutrition spectrum.”  Some think it doesn’t make much difference what they eat; or else they have not given much thought to what is in the food they are eating and simply make unhealthy choices by default.  We have also known people on the extreme other end.  I am convinced we need to have a balance.

            Our family is carefully looking at what we eat and making decisions on what foods or ingredients we need to eliminate from our diet as well as what we need to add to it.  For example, most of my family loves potato chips.  Instead of just eliminating them, we have looked for healthier varieties.  They cost a lot more, so we eat less, but we still get to enjoy them.  I know, you may be of the opinion that chips are considered junk food and that we should just cut them out altogether.  In that case, I would have rebellion on my hands. Instead, we have found a healthy compromise.  Each family has to decide what the balance is for them.  Let me encourage you, if you have not done so recently, take a good, close look at what you are feeding, or allowing your kids to eat.  Read up on nutrition.  Search the web.  Nutrition by itself is not a fix-all to everything, but, it may be a piece that helps. 

            One of Webster’s definitions for puzzle is: “a problem, . . . requiring clever thinking to solve . . . to solve after hard thinking; to think hard over.”  When looking at all the pieces of our children’s lives, I would have to say my definition of a puzzle is:  a problem. . .requiring hard praying to solve . . .to solve after hard praying; to pray hard over!

            Happy puzzle solving!


Ron and Vicky Broadfield are Co-Founders of JoyQuest, and serve with the Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) as liaisons for families of special needs and struggling learners.