When You Need A Sign of Hope

by | Jun 10, 2014 | Encouragement, Identity


A thread unravels from the edges of her old shirt in the dryer and winds tightly around the cuff of a stray sock, collecting bits of lint like a magnet. Cupping it in her hands, she decides it looks more like a ball of yarn she accidentally threw in the dryer than a sock; an apt metaphor for her life.

Lately, she is a tangled collection of incomplete thoughts, unfinished sentences and curious questions that threaten to strangle her inner voice. While her family sleeps, she grasps the purse dangling from a hook in the kitchen, tosses the sock on top of the laundry heap and drives five minutes to the beach. A brisk walk along the sea sorts out the knots.

The morning landscape on shore gives hints of the unseen battlefield raging in the dark waters beneath, like the ebb and flow of pieces of her life floating to the surface.

Starfish scatter among stray shells, arms curling toward the sun. As she steps over skeletal remains, her heart reaches to the Light too, like a woman longs for the sign of her lover’s return on the horizon, the warmth of his familiar embrace.

But today He seems distant. She writes letters in her thoughts; a series of questions pervading hallowed space, knowing His answers may be prolonged. And she resolves herself to it.

She admits: I don’t know how to parent teenagers; the landscape of their lives is different today than it was even last week. And why do I feel like I’m losing my voice? The cadence that sings of you in lyrical melodies now hums shallow, void of eloquence. I fear you’ve left me standing alone on the shore without a life boat. How long until you return?

He answers: You must first lose your life to find it. Sometimes that means dying to your familiar voice and the way you’ve come to know yourself as a mother. You must die to who you think you are in order to find yourself in me.

Surprised by the swiftness of His voice, she grieves her own forgetfulness about the simple petals of truth opened in the glory days of her youth. Her legs wilt at the base of the groin, knees press into wet sand, and her head bows over the rugged sea swept altar as petulant waves pop like champagne corks randomly unleashed.

Bending over, she surrenders herself to Him again.

And their conversation continues as she continues walking.

He asks her a question: What would you do if perception (the perceptions of others) weren’t a consideration in your life? Can you trust my love for you isn’t dependent on what you do because I love you for who you are?

Freedom.  It’s the only word bubbling to the surface through the mental knots. She will be free to be herself, she thinks.

Pondering these things in her heart, she drives back with the windows down, a warm breeze blowing hair in her face.  The house is still and quiet when re-entering through the kitchen.

Closing her eyes to think before writing out her thoughts, she remembers the starfish. A curious unrelenting nudge to excavate the meaning of the sea creature fills her mental space. Now, go look it up now, she feels herself think.


Tears drip down her cheeks when she reads that the starfish can represent guidance and direction. It is a symbol of love, intuition, and vigilance. The starfish is also able to grow limbs back that are damaged from the environment or predators. Because of this, the starfish is a symbol of rebirth and healing. The starfish represents positive change and salvation through trying times.

The sharp edges of Truth cut her free from the tangled knots of her thinking so she can hope again.

She was wrong.

He wasn’t silent, but loving her all along, from the first moment she stepped on shore, over the starfish.

And her voice returns as she strokes the keyboard with abandon.

A repost from July 2013. I’ve taken several walks on the beach this week with family as we celebrate my daughter’s high school graduation. And starfish seem to be scattered among us, a reminder that His love and promises are steadfast. His truth is unchanging in the midst of changing circumstances.  He may be silent but He is never still. He is loving you all along.


Linking with Laura and Kelli.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. soulstops

    What an encouraging truth wrapped in a starfish..Congrats on your daughter’s graduation, Shellie 🙂

  2. DeanneMoore

    Loved this the first time, love it again. So thankful for the starfish hope-givers along the path this weekend. Such a bittersweet time, a touchstone for us as mothers, the turning of the tassel. Nothing changes the next day, but the arrow of our children’s lives points in new directions. We so often must process to the uncertain knowing that nothing is certain. When we don’t have starfish, we always have the stars.

    • Lynn D. Morrissey

      This is such an eloquent comment, Deanne, and you have a post in here titled The Turning of the Tassel!

      • Shelly Miller

        I agree with Lynn, but then you know how I feel about your comments already, they are blog posts waiting to happen. Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation on a beach somewhere? Love that last line of your comment btw, brilliant my friend and eloquent as always.

  3. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, I”m so glad you reposted this, because I had never read it. It is one of the most eloquent pieces you have ever written–just breathtaking. I can say no more.

    • Shelly Miller

      It was at BibleDude the first time Lynn, possibly why you didn’t see it. Thank you for such a generous comment.

  4. Kimberly Sullivan

    How often we step over starfish that He has scattered on our path….breathtaking.

    • Shelly Miller

      I agree Kimberly. Did I tell you how much I love seeing you in my comments? Just making sure you know I’ve missed you.

      • Kimberly Sullivan

        You have been making me feel very special indeed! It has been good to be back.

  5. Jillie

    Thank you, Shelly, for this most beautiful and yes, breathtaking re-post. I loved it the first time I read it, and I love it even more now. Oh, the wanderings in the mind of a mother. I have been where you are. And today? My relationship with my daughter is richer and deeper than it’s ever been.
    (I’m going to have to find a starfish charm to wear around my neck–so rich in symbolism and meaning.)

    • Shelly Miller

      That is some hope you’ve just given me Jillie, thank you. And I hope you find that charm.

  6. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    Lovely, Shelly. I’m so glad you reposted this. Thanks for linking with Unforced Rhythms.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks for being here Kelly, appreciate you!

  7. michellederusha

    So glad for the repost, Shelly – I missed this beauty the first time around, and it’s much-needed today.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m glad this was timely for you Michelle!

  8. Laura Boggess

    “…she grieves her own forgetfulness about the simple petals of truth opened in the glory days of her youth.” This one line settled deep in my spirit today. Remember. I’ve been saying that over and over lately.

    I”m wishing for a beach walk with you, friend! Love and miss you!

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh me too Laura, you have no idea. I miss you too, much.

  9. Marie Bride

    Oh Shelly,
    Thank You this truly gave me chills and a warm feeling all at the same time.
    Especially as I read: Tears drip down her cheeks. The starfish can represent guidance and direction. It is a symbol of love, intuition and vigilance. The starfish is able to grow limbs back, because of this the starfish is a symbol of rebirth and healing. The starfish represents positive change and salvation through trying times.
    This is absolutely amazing that one small little starfish has so many astoundingly positive gifts of representation to offer us and perfect timing for my presently trying times. Even though I have read this about the starfish some time ago your posting this re post is perfect timing as the Spirit of our Lord leads us forward.

    Blessings to you and yours Shelly

    • Shelly Miller

      I was reminded myself Marie as I took a walk on the beach last week with out of town company, I remembered this post and looked it up. Then I decided to repost it. So glad God nudged me, it seems to be a timely word for many.

  10. Darlene

    You may never know the impact that the words “Can you trust my love for you isn’t dependent on what you do because I love you for who you are?” had on me a couple of days ago when I desperately needed to know God still loves me no matter what. I’ve never been totally accepted for “me” by my family…should have done this, shouldn’t have done that, You know how she is….so it is difficult sometimes to believe that God’s love for me doesn’t change. May I please share these profoundly impacting words of your’s? Thank you so very much for re-posting this…did not see it until a couple of days ago….just when I needed it most!

Pin It on Pinterest