Fragments of Loaves and Fishes

The concept of loaves and fishes, and fragments of them, is always an important reminder for me. I was doing some religious reading this past weekend, and came across that story in the Bible again. The notion seems like a good one, that just when there seemed to be not enough food to go around, Jesus fed thousands with FRAGMENTS of loaves of bread and fishes, and thousands were fed. Not to get too religious on you, and even if you have no religious beliefs, for me the important word here is “Fragments”, just pieces of loaves and fishes, not whole loaves of bread, and no whole fishes. Life is so simple when we have a feast spread before us, everything tidy, and seemingly abundant, and beautifully served, and obviously enough for everyone who is hungry, but life just isn’t always that tidy, and abundance isn’t always that obvious, sometimes you have to look more closely to realize what you’ve got, and just how far you can stretch it.

Sometimes we don’t have the ‘whole’ of what we think we need, but if we make do with bits and pieces, astonishingly we find that we have more than enough. I find that that concept, of fragments, applies to many, many areas of my life. I wish that my kids still lived at home, full time, but sadly they don’t, and three of them live in other cities. I fly in to see them as often as I can, and always wish that it were for longer. But I’m always astonished to find that even 2 days with them can be so heart warming and fulfilling, that by the time I leave, I have had some very meaningful time with them, some really good times, some important talks, and shared some lovely moments. They are just fragments of time, but they sustain us until the next visit.

Sometimes, I don’t feel I have enough time to complete a project, usually a writing project, or another project with a time deadline. I’m pressed for time, or other things are wrestling for my time. I try to calm down about it and not panic (that’s usually the hardest part). Then I find a few hours here, a couple of days there, spend some late nights on it, find I can carve out a whole weekend…..and suddenly in bits and pieces, I discover that I had the time I needed, and all strung together, the time I wound up with is the time I needed to do the project—–even if that time came in ‘fragments’ and not a single block of time.

In my younger days, when I was struggling, a friend who was out of a job and desperate for money, remembered that she always saved pennies in big mason jars. And she had another jar where she always put the change she would find in the bottom of her handbag. She told me one day that those mason jars full of coins and pennies added up to a lot more than she expected, and she actually managed to live on it for a month or two—-not in luxury surely, but it met her need for the basics. Fragments again, that time in nickels, dime, quarters, and pennies. (Don’t underrate the small stuff!! however small the ‘fragments’).

And even now, when I am suddenly faced with a slew of big unexpected bills at one time (unexpected bills always come in clumps, and just when you don’t want them!!), and I sit groaning over it, I wish a big fat check would come in to cover it. Simple as that. And of course it almost never happens that way. Instead, I get a little check from one place that I didn’t expect, and find I had a little more saved than I thought, and someone pays me for something earlier than planned, and then a refund check comes in unexpectedly, and in the end, in bits and pieces (fragments) I get what I needed. You really can’t under estimate how important the pieces and fragments are, and sometimes they really add up to just what you needed, if you’re willing to be creative about it.

Similarly, sometimes I really miss having a husband, and sharing my life with a partner, a person to discuss things with, to share problems with, help with decisions, a person whose advice you respect, who will be supportive during a tough moment.(And of course fun to be with in the good times). And sure, I would love to see Prince Charming come riding in on a white horse to solve all my problems when I need him to (who wouldn’t?). But at times when I really need it, a friend has surfaced with valuable, practical advice, or an adviser with equally valuable advice, or someone I really didn’t expect to be there for me shows up at just the right moment, or one of my children shows great maturity and kindness and is supportive of me and says something important that helps me. I don’t always get what I need in one person or one big block, but I get it in bits and pieces and all added up, it gives me just what I need at the right time.

I think the practical message for me in that story of the loaves and fishes is not to overlook the fragments in our lives, of time, money, advice, support, affection, friendship. We may not always get everything we need from one source, in one obvious feast. But if you put all the fragments together, you find you have an abundance of all you need. I never under estimate the fragments now, and am always stunned to find that they give me exactly what I need when I add them all up. Don’t forget the fragments!!!! What we need in life isn’t always delivered in whole loaves or whole fishes, sometimes it comes in tiny fragments, and when we add them up—–it is just what we needed.

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12 Comments so far
  1. Joann November 21, 2009 11:45 am

    Good advice…thanks for sharing this. Hope you and your family are together for Thanksgiving. Have a happy one and enjoy. Love, Jo~

  2. P.J. Mayer November 21, 2009 6:55 pm

    You can as religious on me as you wish-this article moved me more than all the others–
    Good job–and THANK YOU!

  3. P.J. Mayer November 21, 2009 6:56 pm

    You can get as religious on me as you wish-this article moved me more than all the others–
    Good job–and THANK YOU!

  4. Lorraine November 21, 2009 7:09 pm

    This is so, so, true and actually very refreshing to read. We spend so much time worrying about what we don’t have, we really often do miss the big picture that all the little things, simple things, in life add up to.

  5. Gail November 21, 2009 9:41 pm

    I enjoyed the article, especially the part about realizing what we have and how far we can stretch it. I am a small business woman, a realtor, franchise owner of a small coffee shop publication, and an esl teacher, also a single woman for 12 yrs. now (not by my choice).

    I have travelled to several different ‘third world’ countries, always coming back with the concept that the world would be a better place if the wealthy North Americans (Canada and the U.S.) made it mandatory for students prior to graduation of grade 12, to take a third world country field trip. If we as North Americans gave up 2/3 of what we own, we would still be wealthier than most in these third world countries. We fill our lives with ‘stuff’ while in fact many in the world are living on ‘fragments’ of whatever they can glean off the street that day. I believe our youth need to see how ‘the other side’ lives.

    On the note of having a husband to share life with, I also at times miss having a husband to discuss things with, to share problems with, and to help with decisions. However, while I am single, I can utilize my time by giving to others in ways that I was not able to when married. It is simply, a different season.

    However, I am curious where you came up with the idea that the loafs and fish in the bible were not whole?? Matthew 14:17 speaks of 5 loafs and 2 fish – therefore whole if counting was possible. These 5 loafs and 2 fish were broken by Jesus and then shared with a multitude (thousands) of people.

    The lessens for me are:
    * the miracle of Jesus (Who but God alone could feed 5000+ people with 5 loafs and 2 fish??!);
    * to walk our lives based on this kind of faith;
    * to share with others as there are many that have even less than we.

    God’s Blessings to you,

  6. Sveta November 22, 2009 7:11 am

    Thank you, Danielle, for a very important Bible lesson. I have never pay attention to the moment that Jesus mentioned not the whole bread and fishes. Yes, the bits and pieces of our life are even more important than the whole part we rarely have. Thank you hor the encouragement I need these days. This post is very inspiring…

  7. Lori York November 25, 2009 6:39 am

    Well said. Thank you.

  8. simone November 25, 2009 3:11 pm

    This blog is very inspirational to me and I can totally relate. I am totally awe inspired at your success and struggles and you are a true definition of a woman who is not only a survivor but an embodiment of what it is to be a strong, independent woman. I aspire to be like you.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  9. Anamaria Nagy November 25, 2009 3:43 pm

    Wonderful, Miss Steel, I love your post, I think everything you wrote about also applies to my life, as I have lived it until now: the time that comes in pieces (like when I didn’t think I would ever finish my studies, with all the other things I had to do at the same time, but in the end, term after term, exam after exam I had achieved it, I graduated and got a great job in the end), the money that we earn or receive in fragments, the love and affection that also comes in pieces, since it doesn’t come all at once and only from one person. And even now, when I’m writing at my first book (and you are a great role model for me on my way of achieving a writing career), I feel exactly as you write: that between work and other appointments and seeing my friends and my family etc. I sometimes feel that I will never finish it, that I never have enough time to write at it. But then, after some time, I’m astonished at the many pages I have written so far and at the fact that I like how the pieces all have come together. I like the result, even though it hasn’t come in one block, but in many, many fragments.
    I think you wrote a very wise and interesting post, on a topic which makes us reflect upon our lives, and you could even consider writing a novel around this topic. It would surely become another bestseller and I would be among the first to buy it.

    Your fan from Germany,

  10. kimmi November 25, 2009 7:04 pm

    Danielle, a beautiful, insightful and inspiring post! One worth Tweeting. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. x0

  11. Catherine Amy Mignella November 27, 2009 4:10 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes as so many of your books have moved me to tears. I recently lost my job as a nurse and it has been very tough but God keeps showing up with the fragments we need at just the right time. I am amazed at how many good and caring people there still are left in this world but I still know that their hearts were moved by God. I am so thankful in these hard times that I have my 4 wonderful children and we will not have anything much for christmas but that doesn’t matter because we will be together and we have each other. I absolutely adore you and plan on reading every one of your books. Once I start reading one I can’t put it down. Have a wonderful christmas and God bless you and your family.

  12. Debbie rowe December 17, 2009 10:08 am

    I would like to at leastget one book pulished which it will not cost me anything to have it printed. do you know who would publish a book for me at no cost? how did youget started. this is a dream i would love to come true. Just one book would be a blessing to me to be in print. I read all your books and am a fan . Thanks for your time deb Have a Merry Christmas