Posted in faith, foster care

What Jesus Feeding the 5,000 Taught Me About Fostering

We haven’t been fostering for very long. Our first placement came to stay with us in December 2017 and left the following November.

Of course, that’s the goal of foster care – to help keep families together by providing the guidance and resources necessary to make that happen…

But it doesn’t make life any easier or hurt any less when the children who’ve become a part of your family are no longer there. It almost killed me to say goodbye.

Time to grieve.

We decided to take some time to heal and mourn our loss after that first placement left.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop workers from contacting us to take in another placement. I couldn’t get upset or blame them. In our state (and many others) there is a severe shortage of foster families willing to take in foster children.

As hard as it was to say no, we just couldn’t open up our hearts and our home to another set of kids. We were still too broken.

The emotional roller coaster I went through during that time is incredibly hard to describe…

I deeply desired to take in every child they asked us about.

I missed having a house full of children running around all the time. It was way too quiet and the silence sometimes felt as if it would swallow me whole. I’d heard that phrase before, but it was the first time I actually understood it.

At the same time, I couldn’t imagine other children sleeping in the kids’ beds, playing with their toys, wearing the clothes they’d outgrown. And I knew I’d be comparing the “new” kids to the “old” ones, which wouldn’t be fair to any of us.

So we continued to turn down placements, convinced we were “doing the right thing.” And that saying no was “for the best.”

WWJD?

Our logic seemed infallible.

But as I sat alone one day, having my quiet time and reading the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Matthew, something changed. I saw something there I’d never noticed before…

If you’re not familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, it goes as follows:

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Matthew 14:13-21
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® 

I’ve read this story more times than I can count. I’ve heard it preached on Sunday mornings, listened to podcasts, and watched videos on it.

To be honest, I’ve read and heard it so much I tend to gloss over the miracle part of it. Like, yeah, Jesus fed a bunch of people with just a little bit of food… it’s Jesus. He could do things like that.

But this story has never really hit me in a way that I could relate to. As a disciple, it’s not one I’ve drawn strength from or looked to for guidance — at least, not until now.

If you notice, the beginning of this story starts with “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” That’s important as to what took place in my heart that day reading this story and having it hit me like it was the first time I’d ever heard it…

What was it Jesus had heard happened? John the Baptist had just been killed. He was Jesus’ cousin and friend. He was the one who’d baptized him! Jesus loved him deeply and fiercely.

Jesus was in mourning.

He took a short time to grieve and pray, but he didn’t shut down or shut people out. He could’ve turned the crowd away. Everyone would’ve understood if he had.

But he didn’t.

He took care if them, providing for their physical and spiritual needs despite his grief. If it was me, I wouldn’t have had any desire to care for the twelve apostles, much less some huge crowd I knew was gonna turn on me soon!

I wasn’t doing the same. I was wallowing in my own pain and grief and not willing to be Jesus’s hands and feet here on earth in the way He called me to be.

But were we “ready”?

I was already feeling the urge to take in more kids despite my heartache by this time. I felt a little lost and incomplete. Fostering is the one thing I’ve known, without doubt, that God has called me to. I felt selfish taking a break before my “WWJD” revelation.

But my husband didn’t feel the same. Neither did our kids.

Each time a call or text would come through, I’d start preparing in my head for new arrivals. Then I’d talk with the rest of the family about it and realize…it’s just too soon. Not only were we still dealing with loss, we had other issues we were also dealing with and taking in more kids during this time just didn’t make sense.

I think there are certain moments that the Lord just puts everything in place and softens hearts to bring him glory. The day I had the above heart change, He did just that.

I talked to my husband when he got home from work about accepting the next foster placement…and he agreed! This might not sound significant to you, but believe me, it was!!!

And the rest, as they say, is history.

We’re currently blessed with a new foster child in our home. She’s been here for about 3 months now and we’re enjoying every minute of having her here (even during the late night screaming parties).

I wanted to share this because I found it funny when I thought about it later. Jesus providing for 5,000 over 2,000 years ago led me to see past my own pain and provide for someone in need now. And out of all the passages in the bible about caring for orphans, widows, the least of these, etc., the one that pierced my heart never mentions them.

What do you think? Have you ever been surprised by what you’ve gotten from a seemingly random piece of scripture? Let me know your thoughts below!

Posted in blogging

2019 Blogging Goals

Another Year Has Come and Gone…

Well, It’s officially 2019 and I’m both excited and a little sad to say goodbye to 2018.

The last part of the year was especially hard. To name a few of the most difficult…

1) We said goodbye to our foster kids, which just about killed me. 2) The pain in my neck spread to my arm, back and even caused problems with my head and vision. (I just realized I never actually posted about that.) And 3) My youngest went to live with her dad so I only see her on the weekends.

Some really great things happened during that time too, though…

1) I was able to interview my dad for StoryCorp. 2) I changed the name of the website and went self-hosted! and 3) I was blown away by the love my post received as the blog of the day via The Write Reads (go check them out!)

And with both the good and the bad of the entire past year now gone, it’s time to look forward to a new year and all it will bring with it!

Goodbye Jess Combs, Hello Combing Through the Pages!

So when I started blogging three years ago, it was a short-lived experience that revolved around me. It made sense for my blog to just be my name.

But I’m boring!

I quickly got tired of talking about myself and the Jess Combs blog died a quiet death.

One of the most exciting things about 2018 was combining the fun of blogging with my passion for reading and bookishness. Enter the name change and the birth of “Combing Through the Pages.”

Now that I have a new bookish name and it’s a new year, it’s time to start making some goals for 2019!

Blogging Goals for 2019

There’s a lot I want to do with Combing Through the Pages in 2019! Some of my goals are far-fetched dreaming, some are just practical things I should have been doing all along, and others are exciting ways to connect with other book lovers and bloggers.

Without further ado, I give you my goals list for 2019:

1. Catch Up on Review Posts!

My top priority for 2019 is to catch up on all the books I planned to have reviewed before the end of 2018. It’s no excuse, but with everything that happened from October-December, I got behind. There are some great books I’ve read that haven’t been written about yet, and a couple I didn’t get finished in 2018.

So my first goal is pretty simple… get caught up!

2. Finish Becoming “Combing Through the Pages”

So simply changing the site name from “Jess Combs” to “Combing Through the Pages” was pretty easy. But as I quickly learned, it takes a lot more than that to actually make the change!

A new logo, new about page, new headers, new social media banners, etc… There’s a lot that still has to be done to finish “re-branding.”

In a way, this one probably could go under catching up, but it’s a whole other beast to tackle and so it’s number 2 on my list!

Among the major things #2 requires, is settling on my logo. What do you guys think of the one I’m using currently? Do you have suggestions? I would absolutely LOVE any and all feedback on the site! I’m still learning so please leave your ideas, thoughts and opinions in the comments or send me a message through the Contact Me page!

3. Hit 1,000 WordPress and E-mail Subscribers

This is one of those far-fetched, if all my dreams came true goals.

I’m currently at 343 WordPress/E-mail followers. So I’d need 657 new people to subscribe to Combing Through the Pages before the end of the year. If I average 2 new followers a day, I’ll hit it, so even though it’s a “daydreaming” goal, I think it’s possible.

4. Spend 2+ Hours Every Week Supporting My Followers Blogs

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I want to be intentional in 2019 about supporting those who support me.

So my goal is to take at least 2 hours every week and just visit, comment and use affiliate links on my followers blogs. Those are all things I appreciate others doing for me, so I want to be sure to do the same for them!

5. Show More Love to Other Book Bloggers 

The book blogging community, as a whole, is amazingly supportive!

When I started reviewing book, I was lucky enough to stumble across two incredible ways to get connected, find support, and discover other great blogs!

The first was the New Bloggers support group run by Evelina at Avalinahsbooks. Whether you’re new to the book blogging thing or you’ve been at it for a while, she’s an invaluable resource! If you’re a book blogger and haven’t already, you should go check it out right now!

Again, with everything going on, I haven’t been able to participate a whole lot this past month or so on the app and I’ve missed it terribly! So part of this goal is to make full use of the community Evelina has made and retweet, reblog, and support in any way I can my fellow book bloggers!

The second great resource for me was The Write Reads on Twitter. The Write Reads makes it super easy to support other book bloggers! Every day, a different blog post is featured as the blog of the day. Others visit and retweet the post.

I’ve discovered a lot of new bloggers, new books, and great posts through The Write Reads. There have been days when the only other blogger I’ve been able to visit was the blog of the day so I’m super thankful to be a part of it and want to keep it going through 2019!

6. Create and Stick To an Editorial Calendar!

I am great at scheduling months in advance for my family, but I am horrible at it for my blog!!!

I tried to use a calendar to come up with ideas and a schedule for last year, but when I actually used it, I never followed through.

So… my goal is to actually make use of an editorial calendar. This should keep me from needing to play catch up in 2019!

7. Post 5+ Times a Week

This one kinda goes with #6, but I decided to give it it’s own number.

One of the great things about planning out posts for a month, is that I know what’s coming up! So I can write posts in advance and schedule them to post!

I’ve been getting better about this, but I want to do even better in 2019! If I stick to it, I won’t have any problem making sure I’ve got posts Monday-Friday.

8. Host 3+ Giveaways in 2019

I think I entered almost every bookish giveaway I saw at the end of 2018!

While I wasn’t fortunate enough to win any of them, I loved the idea and am really excited to do some myself! So stay tuned as I’ll be giving away books and gift cards soon!

9. Post more about Fostering.

While this blog is mostly about books, I’m also a foster parent and I want to talk more about that.

Fostering isn’t easy and people aren’t always supportive. There are things that people don’t talk about and there are some things that are just down right funny. I want to bring it all out in the open – the good, the bad, the funny, and the sad. I’m hoping to connect more with other foster parents and other bloggers who blog about their experiences.

10. HAVE FUN!

My last goal is just to have fun. Sometimes, blogging can feel like a chore instead of a hobby. So in 2019, I want to just keep enjoying what I’m doing and sharing with all of you!

So I’m looking forward to having fun as we comb through the pages of life together!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!