Stella' s favorite thing is nature. She loves it all - plants, flowers, rocks, bugs, the sky, the ocean, animals, and how all of it works in the world. She specifically enjoyed animals the most. She behaved like one about eighty five percent of her day. She would even comment on how she wished God had made her an animal instead of a person. The animal of the week would vary on the attitude she was in - from a dog, to a cheetah, a jaguar, a lizard, a wolf, and the list goes on. She loves all living creatures, great or small, land or sea.
My husband's family always gave each child of theirs a "symbol". It really does not carry a great deal of meaning but they enjoyed having one. For instance, Phillip's symbol was a teddy bear so on his Christmas stocking growing up he had a bear on it. The symbol chosen might resemble the child in some way. Anyways... One day Stella's cousins, Mariana and Grace were talking about their symbols. Mariana's is a butterfly, Gracie's is a hummingbird. Phillip and I hadn't really carried this idea down to our children, but since the cousins had one, Stella wanted one too. So she asked me, "Mom, what is my symbol?" I replied how I hadn't really thought of it before but then said, "Stella, OH! It's a star! Because your name, Stella, means star!" Her face did not return the same look of enthusiasm. Stella, the animal lover she is, was not satisfied because she wanted her symbol to be animal related. So I thought about it and said, "How about a starfish?! Because your full name is Stella Maria which means "star of the sea". Her eyes lit up and so her symbol became a starfish.
My sister Alexis came to visit a few weeks ago bringing pictures on her iPad of a little ceremony she and her three girls did for Stella. They got balloons and attached little notes and prayers to Stella and let them go on the beach. Alexis told me when they went to the party supply store the girls wanted to get a balloon with an animal on it because of Stella's love for animals. And she shared how out of all the balloons at the store, there was only one balloon with an animal on it. Do you want to guess what that animal was? Yep. You got it, a lamb. The only animal balloon they had was a lamb. Another heavenly confirmation of our sacrificial lamb. Anyways, as I sat looking at the pictures on her iPad, I saw a picture of a GIANT PINK STARFISH in the wet sand on the shore. I immediately stopped and asked, "What's this?" Alexis replied, "O, I took a picture of this gigantic starfish on the shore because we have never seen one like it just lying right in the wet sand." I told her how Stella's symbol is a starfish. We both were pleasantly shocked, noting how we grew up there by the beach and how my sister takes her girls weekly and we have never seen a starfish on the shore like that. And typically any starfish we have ever encountered are the small orange or reddish ones. And then Alexis added,"Yeah, there were five of them just right there where we let the balloons go." Five?! Stella was five years old. She was there with them. And of course not only did she send five starfish, but FIVE GIANT PINK ONES!
God communicates with us through the natural. We often look for the supernatural from Him, but we must remember this is His world that He created. He runs it and put it into order. Why wouldn't He use it to speak to us? He does. And on that very day I saw the pictures, Phillip had a random encounter with a priest who was telling him how God uses the "natural" to communicate with us - on that same exact day! We must work on not getting too caught up in our busyness to miss it and to try not to disregard the natural as not being supernatural just because it's not always a "lightning striking" experience. He often comes quietly and comforting to us, through things we already know and feel safe with - the natural. He is so gentle.
Secondly, as I sat praying tonight and thinking of Stella. I was thinking of how seeing her again couldn't come soon enough. The idea of "fasting" came to my mind. I pondered this thought. I realized since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, I only have to "fast" from my daughter. I read one time words from a saint (I forget who it was. I could go check, but don't really feel like it.) who talked about fasting that really helped me view it with different eyes. I would struggle with fasting because well, let's just say patience is not one of better qualities. When I want something, I want it NOW. I crave it. But this saint said that when we fast, we are not giving that item up forever, just for a limited time and then we will have it again. Our spirit tells our body that we are giving it up just for right now, but we will enjoy it once more. For example, we are celebrating Lent in the Catholic Church as we prepare for Easter. We use this time to strengthen our spirit by offering up or giving up something that is difficult for us to give up. I gave up sweets. I know - typical. However, this is actually really hard for me. I LOVE my chocolate. My body craves it and sometimes even demands it. And every time I want to pick up dessert the thought of "offering it up," doesn't work for me. It makes me feel like I want it more because I am tricked into thinking the next time I will get to have it is indefinitely (even though I know that's not true). So I calmly tell myself, "Francesca, you will get to have chocolate again, just not right now during Lent." When Easter comes, you better believe I am going to eat my share of chocolate. I will enjoy it more since I haven't been able to have it for six weeks. I am teaching my flesh that my spirit is stronger, it is in control.
So as I was praying that is what came to me. That I am just in a time of fast right now from my daughter. I will get to have her again, but just not right now. Meanwhile, my spirit will grow stronger and my flesh will diminish. And again, you better believe on the day of MY homecoming, just like I'm going to enjoy my chocolate on Easter, I am going to INDULGE in perfect Love with my Stella and my Beloved Creator. Oh, Lord give me patience! Stella pray for patience for mom!
*Oh, and Anna, I responded to your comment under the last post in the comment section. I'm trying to figure out the best way to respond to others. This is all still in progress.
(photos courtesy of emmy belding)